A Catholic reads the Bible, Week 29: Inside the fortune cookie factory

After reading the Book of Proverbs, Laura Bernardini came up with her own proverb.

This is Week 29 of a yearlong series: A Catholic Reads the Bible. Read Week 1, Week 2 and Week 3. Laura Bernardini is director of coverage in CNN's Washington Bureau. The views expressed in this column belong to Bernardini.

Laura Bernardini

(CNN)I have spent the past week in a fortune cookie factory.

The Book of Proverbs reminded me a bit of the tiny papers you pull out the hard cookies and discard after eating at a Chinese restaurant. Far from being disposable, though, Proverbs' pithy sayings have permeated our popular culture and become beloved parts of both the Jewish and Christian faiths.
To be clear: I don't mean any disrespect by equating proverbs to fortunes. But, seriously, that's all I could think about while reading them. Well, almost all. But try reading straight through the Book of Proverbs for a week and you'll see what I'm getting at.
    The word "proverb" is defined in the dictionary as a short, popular saying. But, it also has a definition applied to the Bible: a profound saying, maxim oracular utterance requiring interpretation, according to Dictionary.com.
    Here is my own Bernardini Proverb, based on the messages conveyed by the overwhelming majority of proverbs: Be humble. Don't fight. Be wise. Don't cheat on your wife. And God is good.
    Sorry, I am no poet.
    But, if you do open your Bible, don't do them in order like I did. This is not a book to read straight through. Rather, go back to them every once in a while to augment your other reading.
    That's my pearl of wisdom gained from reading the Proverbs.
    In the introduction to the chapter, you are told that these short pieces of poetry are intended to "teach wisdom."
    They do accomplish that.
    For example:
    "The fool immediately shows his anger, but the shrewd man passes over an insult."
    Or: "Pride goes before a disaster and haughty spirit before a fall."
    "The start of strife is like the opening of a dam; therefore check a quarrel before it begins!" (exclamation point included!)
    Proverbs even teaches readers how to deal with difficult co-workers:
    "Rejoice not when your enemy falls, and when stumbles, let not your heart exult."
    And I almost forgot about dealing with adultery, there were quite a few to choose from:
    "But he who commits adultery is a fool; he would destroy himself does it."
    Of course, I do have a favorite because this is such truth to me -- it's the cornerstone of the faith that my parents taught me:
    "In his mind a man plans his course, but the Lord directs his steps."