Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Saint John's Bible at McDonalds

My friend Jason, who is an ambassador for the Saint John's Bible, has committed a great deal of his time sharing this masterpiece with people.  Last October, he traveled up to the high school where I teach and presented the Saint John's Bible Heritage Edition: Gospel and Acts to all my classes.  It was an amazing day, one which I will never forget.  One of the stories he shared with us is recounted below.  I am glad that Jason has allowed me to share this with you.  It is an excellent example of not only the power of the Word of God, but also the committment of one man to share it in any place and circumstance.  May I have the same love and patience to share the scriptures with others, in season and out.   

In July of 2013, I had scheduled a presentation about the Saint John's Bible at a major university in downtown Chicago. At the time my wife was just a couple months into her fight with cancer, and I couldn't schedule anything in my life a week in advance much less months out. Thankfully, Jim Triggs, the director of the SJB Heritage Edition program agreed to come to Chicago from Minneapolis to give the presentation for me. As luck would have it, on the day of the presentation my wife was feeling OK (or feeling irritated by my constant pampering of her, I'm still not sure which), so I was able to join the presentation after all. As always, Jim's presentation was smooth, experienced, and professional, and after that we split duties and each took a different Heritage Edition volume to different parts of the room to give our audience plenty of opportunity to explore the pages and ask questions. It was an exciting night, all the more so because it was held in a large cathedral and attended by many theology degree, graduate, and even doctoral students who all had great questions and insights.

The event ended. We all went our separate ways.

As was my custom after a presentation, on my way home I stopped at a McDonald's restaurant to have a burger and to read in my little blue pocket Bible that I take with me everywhere. That's when Michael saw me. He walked up to me while I was waiting to order and asked, "Are you a Christian?"  "Well, yes, I am." I was holding a Bible in McDonald's, not easy to dodge that question.

"Me, too," said Michael. There was something slightly ... different ... about him. "I'm homeless." Well, that explained a few things. "And I used to be a drug addict." And that explained a lot more. "But Jesus saved me a couple months ago. My name's Michael. Do you want to have dinner with me?" "Yeah, sure." Suddenly, all those Benedictine values I learned about as an undergrad at Saint John's University came flooding back, and there was just something really intriguing about Michael. So we took our food and found a table and sat down to eat. Michael had just spent his last $3 on a cheeseburger and a soda. I gave him my fries.

Over the next half hour, Michael told me about how he used to be a really bad drug addict and he wasn't proud of several "bad things" he had done. I could tell as I listened to him that his addiction had cost him a lot, mentally and physically, but still he exuded this peace and calm. He told me how Jesus saved him just a few months ago and he had been sober since then and found a bed at a shelter, but he missed the last bus home that night so he was back to being homeless until tomorrow. I gave him half my burger after he finished his, and got him a refill on his soda.

"Now I write poetry for Jesus. Would you like to hear some?" It was getting very late, but there was just something so ... different ... about Michael, something that made it so hard to consider saying No to him. He started searching his coat pockets, then his pants pockets, but gave up with a sad look on his face. "I think I lost my poetry book. Can I just say some to you?"

After seeing such unhappiness suddenly cross his face, there was no way I could decline. "Lay it on me, Michael. Bless me with your poetry."

Oh. My. God. Bless me he did. Michael proceeded to recite poetry from memory for almost an hour. Grand poetry. Beautiful poetry. His words expressed such pain and misery yet soared to the heavens with gratitude and a love for God so profound I lost track of time listening to him. He may have lost most of his intellect and everything else to his addiction, and here he was moving my soul with his joyful spiritual fervor. It was as if he was singing new psalms inspired by God.

When finally he stopped I could think of only one thing I could do in return. "Wait right here, Michael. I need to go to my car and get something. I want to share something with you now."

I walked back in a moment later with a volume of the Heritage Edition of the Saint John's Bible in hand. Now, for those of you who don't know what I mean about "Heritage Edition", allow me to explain in brief. The original hand-written hand-illuminated Saint John's Bible resides in Collegeville, MN, in the abbey and university's rare arts vault. In order to better share it, the university spent years creating fine-art replicas of the original pages, 299 sets in all. These Heritage Editions are the same size as the original - more than 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide when open. These are HUGE books, much larger than the coffee table versions you can buy at a book store. They are bound in Italian leather, printed on special cotton paper, and all of the artwork illuminated with gold and silver in the original is also illuminated with gold and silver foil in these replicas.

Yes, I had just set down a $25,000 book on a table at McDonald's and opened it to the beginning of Genesis, to share it with a homeless drug addict. And I began to give my presentation.

Every single time I have ever had the pleasure of sharing the Saint John's Bible with people, they have this reaction. This awe. This child-like wonder. And then come all the questions. Like the graduate theology students just hours before, Michael started asking me all kinds of questions about the meaning of each illumination we explored together.

No long passed before an elderly woman joined us at the table where I was giving my impromptu presentation. While Michael turned pages, I asked her about herself. She hesitated, "I'm... I'm a widow. And I don't like to leave home much. Sometimes I come here to watch TV at night when all the kids are gone and it's quiet. But tonight I heard the most wonderful poetry, and now I get to see this amazing Bible." So as I looked on and occasionally answered questions, Michael and this elderly widow turned pages of the Saint John's Bible together, and read scripture to each other.

Clearly, this was not a normal Sunday night at McDonald's, and the staff could tell something strange was going on in the booths. First one teen walked over and peeked shyly. Then another. Then all of them, about a half-dozen at least. They listened to Michael and the widow read from the Bible. Their manager came over a moment later, angry that all her staff had left their posts and were standing around a table. That is, until she saw what we were all looking at, an enormous hand-written Bible. Apparently not all of the teens could read or speak English, so as this strange blend of people touched pages, asked questions, pointed at illuminations, and read scripture aloud to each other, one girl would translate into Spanish.

So yeah, that's how the Saint John's Bible shut down a McDonald's restaurant one night and converted it into a church whose members included a homeless drug addict, a lonely widow, a bunch of immigrant children, a harried restaurant manager, and me. Our communion table had a McDonald's logo on it. We broke cheeseburgers together and drank diet soda. I know Jesus was present because I saw him in every person around that table.

Around midnight, I watched Michael walk down the road and into darkness, on a search for a place to sleep. He had asked me if I could give him enough money to buy breakfast, I gave him enough for lunch and dinner, too.

Today, my photo of my print edition of the Saint John's Bible was taken at that same McDonald's restaurant.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Dei Verbum at 50 (Paragraph 20)

In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Vatican II's Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, I will be posting twice a month, on Mondays, a paragraph from this important document.  There are a total of 26 paragraphs, so this will take us through to the Fall when we reach the anniversary of its promulgation by Pope Paul VI on November 18, 1965.  I look forward to our discussion.  May I suggest a helpful book by Fr. Ronald D. Witherup called The Word of God at Vatican II: Exploring Dei Verbum published by Liturgical Press.

20. Besides the four Gospels, the canon of the New Testament also contains the epistles of St. Paul and other apostolic writings, composed under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, by which, according to the wise plan of God, those matters which concern Christ the Lord are confirmed, His true teaching is more and more fully stated, the saving power of the divine work of Christ is preached, the story is told of the beginnings of the Church and its marvelous growth, and its glorious fulfillment is foretold.

For the Lord Jesus was with His apostles as He had promised (see Matt. 28:20) and sent them the advocate Spirit who would lead them into the fullness of truth (see John 16:13).

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Knox vs. The Message: Numbers 11:25-29

It has been a few months, but I have decided to resurrect the old "Knox vs. The Message" Sunday post.  If you like it, I may continue with it into the future.  Each week I will pick one of the Sunday readings to compare between the two translations.  While done in different ways, I think both Knox and Peterson desired to make the Bible more accessible to the average reader.  Let's see if they were successful.

And when the Lord came down, hidden in the cloud, to converse with him, he took some of the spirit which rested upon Moses and gave it to the seventy elders instead; whereupon they received a gift of prophecy which never left them. This same spirit rested even upon two men, Eldad and Medad, who were still in the camp; their names were enrolled among the rest; but they had never gone out to the tabernacle. There in the camp they fell a-prophesying, and a messenger ran to bring Moses tidings of it. At this, Josue the son of Nun, that was Moses’ favourite servant, cried out, My lord Moses, bid them keep silence. What, said he, so jealous for my honour? For myself, I would have the whole people prophesy, with the spirit of the Lord resting on them too.

The Message:
God came down in a cloud and spoke to Moses and took some of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy leaders. When the Spirit rested on them they prophesied. But they didn’t continue; it was a onetime event. Meanwhile two men, Eldad and Medad, had stayed in the camp. They were listed as leaders but they didn’t leave camp to go to the Tent. Still, the Spirit also rested on them and they prophesied in the camp. A young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp!” Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses’ right-hand man since his youth, said, “Moses, master! Stop them!” But Moses said, “Are you jealous for me? Would that all God’s people were prophets. Would that God would put his Spirit on all of them.”

Friday, September 25, 2015

Weekly Knox: Original Sin

"Original Sin is the only key which fits the whole puzzle of existence."

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Guest Post: A Resource for Praying Sacred Scripture

Thanks again to Chris for this wonderful guest post.

If you pray the Liturgy of the Hours, you may be interested in a new resource for use with the expanded two-year cycle of the Office of Readings.

Coming out of Vatican II, Sacrosanctum concilium took the first steps toward restoring the Divine Office to its historic place as “the public prayer of the Church,” “the very prayer which Christ Himself, together with His body, addresses to the Father.”

For he continues His priestly work through the agency of His Church, which is ceaselessly engaged in praising the Lord and interceding for the salvation of the whole world. She does this, not only by celebrating the eucharist, but also in other ways, especially by praying the divine office. (Emphasis mine)

Theologically, the Church teaches that all who participate in the prayers of the Divine Office anywhere around the world are exercising an essential aspect of their “common priesthood” they share as members of Christ’s body on Earth. It has become my primary means of reading Scripture.

The Divine Office makes this easy for laity who, unlike clergy and religious, are not obliged to pray the Office in its entirety. In addition to the Morning, Daytime, Evening, and Night offices that sanctify specific hours of the day, there is also an Office of Readings. Each day, it pairs one scriptural reading paired with a second patristic or other non-Biblical reading. The full official translation in the US is the four-volume Liturgy of the Hours published by Catholic Book Publishing, or excellent Divine Office apps like iBreviary (US texts) or Universalis (UK texts).

However, having prayed the Office for many years, I recently switched to the one-volume abridged Christian Prayer and discovered something that I’d missed all along. Without much explanation, the single-volume edition contains a table of an alternative two-year expanded scriptural lectionary for the Office of Readings. This allows the reader a much deeper dive into scripture each day which, when combined with the readings at Mass, are a thorough daily tour of almost the entirety of the Bible. If you’ve only prayed from the four-volume set or one of the apps, you will be as surprised as I was to learn we’ve been missing out!

Originally the two-year cycle alone was produced, it was only when the practicality of printing the whole of the Office and the lectionary together was faced that the idea of a single year lectionary was suggested. (From the Company of Voices blog)

Though the four-volume edition includes the texts for both readings every day of the year, the shorter one-volume “Christian Prayer” does not, including only a few selections and the full two-year lectionary references. That’s given me the freedom not only to spend time with the longer passages, but also to rotate through many different Catholic translations, and not just the old NAB lectionary printed in the full set. Ironically, as a praying Bible reader, I get to spend time with more Scripture each day using the abridged volume! (I also get musical settings to the hymns.)

But, as always, there’s a catch.

The table only lists the scripture readings for each day, not the paired readings from the Church Fathers. Try as I might, I couldn’t find an official list anywhere of the specific texts approved for the second readings in the longer two-year cycle. As it turns out, it was never formally approved and promulgated, only the texts for the one-year lectionary. So, over the years, various publishers and religious orders have produced their own proposed patristic lectionaries for the expanded two-year Office of Readings. And of course, most are out of print.

However, I stumbled across this newer resource I wanted to share: a two-year patristic lectionary for the Divine Office the University of Edinburgh’s School of Divinity prepared for Scotland’s Pluscarden Abbey. This collection contains not only the scripture readings specified for each day in the two-year cycle (from the RSV) but also a paired patristic reading specific to each Biblical passage.

As a commentary by the Fathers of the Church on almost the whole of Scripture this should be a great resource for homilies and catechetics, as well as a text for the liturgy.
The lectionary is in use in monasteries in Scotland, England, the USA, Ghana and South Africa. We hope that its inclusion as a free resource on the website of the Durham University Centre for Catholic Studies will enable it to be of use to the wider Church beyond the monasteries of the Benedictine Confederation. (Stephen Mark Holmes, New College - School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh)
Confirmed from the Episcopal Church, I often say that it was praying the Divine Office in the Book of Common Prayer that taught me how to be Catholic. So it continues to amaze me that the Church as a whole seems to downplay what is essentially the second half of our public liturgy (remember, the Apostles met for the breaking of bread and the prayers). According to Sacrosanctum concilium:
Pastors of souls should see to it that the chief hours, especially Vespers, are celebrated in common in church on Sundays and the more solemn feasts. And the laity, too, are encouraged to recite the divine office, either with the priests, or among themselves, or even individually.
Really? What happened?! If we were following our own mandate, after 50 years, I would have expected every parish in the world to be celebrating Morning and Evening Prayer, at least on Sundays and major feast days. Having recently moved to Seattle, I’m thrilled to find that both my parish and cathedral celebrate portions of the Liturgy of the Hours as principal services for the congregation. In the San Francisco Bay Area, to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, I’d have to visit the Episcopal Grace Cathedral.
Projects like this, even if not yet fully adopted by the universal Church, at least show that the wheels are turning. Perhaps the revised Liturgy of the Hours, underway since 2012, to go along with the revised Roman Missal will adopt some of this flavor.
Do you pray any part of the Divine Office? And if so, what scriptural resources do you use for the Office of Readings?
Download the entire Patristic Lectionary here. (.zip file)

Christopher Buckley holds an M.A. in Religion from the Claremont School of Theology. He began as a United Methodist and passed through the Episcopal Church before being confirmed into the Catholic Church as an adult. He lives and works in Seattle with his wife and two children, and blogs occasionally at StoryWiseGuy.com. Connect with him on Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Flickr, and LinkedIn, and Bible.com.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

OSV Pocket Gospels and Psalms (NRSV)

OSV will be publishing a paperback The Pocket Gospels and Psalms in the NRSV translation sometime in late October.  If you go to the Amazon listing, you can take a look inside.  It looks quite readable.  I may have to pick one up myself.  It is great to see more editions of the NRSV come out, particularly from different publishers.

Pope Francis encourages us to read the Gospels and even to carry a small version with us, so we can take moments during the day to grow closer to Christ. This new pocket-sized collection of all four Gospels is an easy way to answer that call, and as a special bonus it includes the Psalms to aid in daily prayer and meditation. The Pocket Gospels and Psalms, just 3.5" x 4" is just a little larger than a deck of cards, so it will fit easily into pocket or purse, and the flexible cover is especially durable. The New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition is easy to read and pray with. Makes a great gift or evangelization tool.
"Take it, carry it with you and read it every day. It's Jesus Himself who speaks to you in the Gospel. It's the Word of Jesus, this is the Word of Jesus." Pope Francis

Monday, September 21, 2015

Another Rebound Knox

I am always delighted to share with you pictures and stories of people who have had their Bibles rebound.  Today, I am happy to introduce you to Tom, who had a vintage 1950's Knox Bible rebound by Leonard's.  Enjoy!

I've long wanted to do a Leonard's rebind since seeing one via Tim's blog.   I narrowed the choice of translation down to the Knox due to the clarity and freshness of the language, and briefly considered the Baronius Press edition but don't like the page layout. Instead, I settled on an 1950s Knox hardback from Sheed and Ward found on eBay.   Leonard's did a great job smoothing and repairing a few flawed pages in Jeremiah.  I chose the pebble grain cowhide, a semi-glossy black - love the traditional look and the raised edges along the spine.  Great feel as well, and I think of how this creature of God's (cow) gives praise to Him by covering the Holy Word. 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sunday's Message: 25th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Welcome back to another edition of Sunday's Message. Here, I will reproduce the readings for Mass from The Message: Catholic/Ecumenical Edition. (I want to thank Greg Pierce at ACTA for giving me permission to do this weekly post.) While this is not an "official" Catholic edition, one of my hopes for doing this new series is to have a lively discussion on the renderings, compared to the more formal ones we are use to reading and hearing at Mass. Is there a place for a translation like this? Could this be a good Bible to give to a Catholic "seeker" or young adult? I have used it while teaching my high school theology classes, along with the NRSV and NABRE, and have had positive results. 

I would like to also propose a question or offer an encouragement each week to reflect upon, particularly in light of the rendering found here in The Message: I am always taken by the thought of Jesus gathering the little child to him and embracing him.  So often, I decide to stay at the margins with Jesus, perhaps being too afraid to allow him to gather me to him.  So, let us consider this week what areas of your life need to be given to the Lord and how might you approach him more often with greater trust? 

Wisdom 2:12,17-20
“Let’s give the just the run-around; they’re no good to us. They’re always underfoot, always better-than-thou when it comes to observance of God’s word. What they accuse us of amounts to nothing more than a few white lies do.”
And, “Let’s see if the words of the just are true; they have to die just as we do."
And, “If they claim they’re true children of God, let’s put them to the test; let’s see if God will take up their cause and prevent them from getting hurt.”
And, “Let’s interrogate them endlessly and torment them mercilessly; then we’ll see how faithful they really are; let’s stretch their piety to the breaking point.”
And, “Let’s condemn them to a really messy death and see if, as their very words always promise, God comes to save them.”

Psalm 54
Outlaws are out to get me,
hit men are trying to kill me.
Nothing will stop them;
God means nothing to them.
Oh, look! God’s right here helping!
God’s on my side,
Evil is looping back on my enemies.
Don’t let up! Finish them off!
I’m ready now to worship, so ready.
I thank you, God—you’re so good.
You got me out of every scrape,
and I saw my enemies get it.

James 3:16-4:3
My friends, this can’t go on. A spring doesn’t gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it? Apple trees don’t bear strawberries, do they? Raspberry bushes don’t bear apples, do they? You’re not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you?
Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others' throats.
Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.
Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don’t have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn’t yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it.
You wouldn’t think of just asking God for it, would you? And why not? Because you know you’d be asking for what you have no right to. You’re spoiled children, each wanting your own way.

Mark 9:30-37
Leaving there, they went through Galilee. He didn’t want anyone to know their whereabouts, for he wanted to teach his disciples. He told them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed to some people who want nothing to do with God. They will murder him. Three days after his murder, he will rise, alive.” They didn’t know what he was talking about, but were afraid to ask him about it.
They came to Capernaum. When he was safe at home, he asked them, “What were you discussing on the road?”
The silence was deafening—they had been arguing with one another over who among them was greatest.
He sat down and summoned the Twelve. “So you want first place? Then take the last place. Be the servant of all.”
He put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said, “Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me—God who sent me.”

Friday, September 18, 2015

Weekly Knox: Sanctity

"Sanctity is not a work done, it is a life lived."
- Occasional Sermons

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Guest Review: Christian Community Bible Revised Edition (2013)

Thank you to Chris for this review of his CCB:

One of the pleasant surprises coming out of last week's Catholic Bible Taxonomy was getting to spend time with some less familiar translations. This week, let's take a closer look at the Christian Community Bible: Catholic Pastoral Edition.

 This is the English translation adapted from Father Hurault's Biblia Latinoamericana in 1986. Although it's been in print consistently since then, and older editions are widely available used and online, it's very hard to locate new in the US. (Thanks to Lenny for locating new copies on sale through St. Paul's Press.) Because I wanted to review the latest (59th!) Revised Edition published in 2013, I contacted Claretian Publications in Macau, who makes this Bible available to English-speaking Christians in China, India, and the Philippines (where the Imprimatur was issued).

The volume itself is quite attractive and very comfortable to read. Using it for a week in Morning Prayer, I can say it's probably my most comfortable Bible to hold and read. It has a surprisingly large typeface for a Bible that's not large print, and a compelling "global" design.

Consistent with Fr. Hurault's desire for a Bible that can be read easily by "ordinary poor people," the distinctive pen and ink drawings for each book of the Bible interpret key themes of the book through the experience of the working poor in the developing world. Here are some of my favorites.

Though I don't have an older copy to compare it to, I rather like the translation of the 2013 Revised Edition. It's definitely a translation, and not a paraphrase. If the New Jerusalem Bible and the Good News Translation (Catholic Edition) had children, this would be their firstborn. Liked the NJB, it uses the Divine Name to render the tetragrammaton. Like the GNT, it is conversational without being dumbed down. To be glib: this is the NJB for pastors instead of scholars, or the GNT for grownups. You can sample the text online, and here are some passages for flavor.

Gen 1:1 In the beginning, when God began to create the heavens and the earth, the earth had no form and was void; darkness was over the deep and the spirit of God hovered over the waters.

Is 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The Virgin is with child and bears a son and calls his name Immanuel.

Jer 20:7 Yahweh, you have seduced me and I let myself be seduced. You have taken me by force and prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all day long; they all make fun of me.

Jn 1:1 In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God and the Word was God

Eph 1:3-14 (One sentence in the Greek!) Blessed be God, the Father of Christ Jesus our Lord, who, in Christ, has blessed us from heaven, with every spiritual blessing. God chose us, in Christ, before the creation of the world, to be holy, and without sin in his presence. From eternity he destined us, in love, to be his adopted sons and daughters, through Christ Jesus, thus fulfilling his free and generous will. This goal suited him: that his loving-kindness, which he granted us in his beloved might finally received all glory and praise. For, in Christ, we obtain freedom, sealed by his blood, and have the forgiveness of sins. In this, appears the greatness of his grace, which he lavished on us. In all wisdom and understanding, God has made known to us his mysterious design, in accordance with his loving-kindness, in Christ. In him, and under him, God wanted to unite, when the fullness of time had come, everything in heaven and on earth. By a decree of him, who disposes all things, according to his own plan and decision, we, the Jews, have been chosen and called, and we were awaiting the Messiah, for the praise of his glory. You, on hearing the word of truth, the gospel that saves you, have believed in him. And, as promised, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit, the first pledge of what we shall receive, on the way to our deliverance, as a people of God, for the praise of his glory.

Earlier versions use a much criticized two-size typeface to pop essential passages off the page for visual emphasis. That's still here in the 2013 Revised Edition, but it's not as distracting as I feared, so maybe they've dialed it back a bit. Traditionalists and original language purists will not like the extensive use of horizontal inclusive language. One strange choice I think everyone will find jarring is the highly unusual decision to print the Old Testament not in Catholic or Protestant order, but rather in the order of the Torah!

Essentially this gives us a Catholic Bible built out of the New Testament with an English-language Tanakh in front of it. The guiding editorial principal of this translation is a pastoral focus on Catholic community organizing, so I can't imagine what real-world scenario made this a necessary choice. Perhaps a polemic strategy to counter some Protestant sect in the field?

For my money, the real star of this edition is the commentary. It's quite different, at least to North American ears. Where most Catholic Bibles hew either to  historical-critical academic notes or dogmatic-catechetical notes, the Christian Community Bible: Catholic Pastoral Edition reads more like the preaching notes of a missionary trying to make clear the sense of Scripture that will help group leaders build and organize communities around the gospel for dignity and survival. That's because they are: essentially the commentary is Fr. Hurault's homiletic notes from his missionary work in 1960s / 1970s Argentina.

To that end, it finishes with a few handy charts of the Liturgical year for easy reference guiding Bible study or planning Liturgy. 

I could imagine a revitalized interest in this text given that it shares a common culture with the Holy Father. I could easily see teen and college ministers leading groups with this Bible in one hand and the Didache NABRE in the other.

What do you think? Especially if anyone has older editions, I'd love to hear how it compares and how you've encountered Scripture through it.

Christopher Buckley holds an M.A. in Religion from the Claremont School of Theology. He began as a United Methodist and passed through the Episcopal Church before being confirmed into the Catholic Church as an adult. He lives and works in Seattle with his wife and two children, and blogs occasionally at StoryWiseGuy.com. Connect with him on Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Flickr, and LinkedIn.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Isaiah 45:15-26 (Knox)

Yesterday, I chatting on email with a reader of this blog, who reminded me of the beauty of Msgr. Knox's translation.  So, I wanted to share with you a passage from the 45th chapter of Isaiah (Isaias), beginning with verse 15, because it is passage of great hope and trust in the Lord.  I know that this is something I am in need of more and more, particularly as the world seems to get crazier with each passing day.  (I should add that there are portions of the prophets in the Knox translation that do not read like this one.  Some can be a bit tedious to get through.)

"Truly, God of Israel, our Saviour, thou art a God of hidden ways! All the makers of false gods must needs be disappointed, must go away ashamed and abashed.  Israel has found deliverance in the Lord, eternal deliverance; while ages last, no shame, no disappointment for you.  The Lord has pronounced it; the Lord who made the heavens, and the whole frame and fashion of earth, moulded to his will. He did not create it to lie idle, he shaped it to be man’s home. And he says, It is the Lord that speaks, there is no other to rival me;  it was not in secret, not in some dark recess of earth, that my word was spoken. Not in vain I bade the sons of Jacob search for me; I am the Lord, faithful to my promises, truthful in all I proclaim. Gather yourselves and come near, flock together to my side, heathen men that have found deliverance; who still, in your ignorance, set up wooden images of your own fashioning, and pray to a god that cannot save.  Tell us your thoughts, come, take counsel among yourselves; who was it that proclaimed this from the first, prophesied it long ago? Was it not I, the Lord? There is no God where I am not. Was it not I, the faithful God? There is no other that can save.  Turn back to me, and win deliverance, all you that dwell in the remotest corners of the earth; I am God, there is no other.  By my own honour I have sworn it, nor shall it echo in vain, this faithful promise I have made,  that every knee shall bow before me, and every tongue swear by my name.  Then shall men say of the Lord, that redress and dominion come from him; all those who rebelled against him shall appear in his presence abashed.  Through the Lord, the whole race of Israel shall be righted and brought to honour."

Monday, September 14, 2015

Giveaway Winner

Congrats to Victoria T.  You are the winner of the Pope Benedict books.  Just send me an email with you address (within one week) and those books will be sent off to you.  Thanks to all who participated.

Dei Verbum at 50 (Paragraph 19)

In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Vatican II's Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, I will be posting twice a month, on Mondays, a paragraph from this important document.  There are a total of 26 paragraphs, so this will take us through to the Fall when we reach the anniversary of its promulgation by Pope Paul VI on November 18, 1965.  I look forward to our discussion.  May I suggest a helpful book by Fr. Ronald D. Witherup called The Word of God at Vatican II: Exploring Dei Verbum published by Liturgical Press.

19. Holy Mother Church has firmly and with absolute constancy held, and continues to hold, that the four Gospels just named, whose historical character the Church unhesitatingly asserts, faithfully hand on what Jesus Christ, while living among men, really did and taught for their eternal salvation until the day He was taken up into heaven (see Acts 1:1). Indeed, after the Ascension of the Lord the Apostles handed on to their hearers what He had said and done. This they did with that clearer understanding which they enjoyed  after they had been instructed by the glorious events of Christ's life and taught by the light of the Spirit of truth.  The sacred authors wrote the four Gospels, selecting some things from the many which had been handed on by word of mouth or in writing, reducing some of them to a synthesis, explaining some things in view of the situation of their churches and preserving the form of proclamation but always in such fashion that they told us the honest truth about Jesus.  For their intention in writing was that either from their own memory and recollections, or from the witness of those who "themselves from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word" we might know "the truth" concerning those matters about which we have been instructed (see Luke 1:2-4).

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Sunday's Message: 24th Week in Ordinary Time (B)

Welcome back to another edition of Sunday's Message. Here, I will reproduce the readings for Mass from The Message: Catholic/Ecumenical Edition. (I want to thank Greg Pierce at ACTA for giving me permission to do this weekly post.) While this is not an "official" Catholic edition, one of my hopes for doing this new series is to have a lively discussion on the renderings, compared to the more formal ones we are use to reading and hearing at Mass. Is there a place for a translation like this? Could this be a good Bible to give to a Catholic "seeker" or young adult? I have used it while teaching my high school theology classes, along with the NRSV and NABRE, and have had positive results. 

I would like to also propose a question or offer an encouragement each week to reflect upon, particularly in light of the rendering found here in The Message: How does your faith lead to good works on a daily basis?

Isaiah 50:4-9
The Master, God, has given me
a well-taught tongue,
So I know how to encourage tired people.
He wakes me up in the morning,
Wakes me up, opens my ears
to listen as one ready to take orders.
The Master, God, opened my ears,
and I didn’t go back to sleep,
didn’t pull the covers back over my head.
I followed orders,
stood there and took it while they beat me,
held steady while they pulled out my beard,
Didn’t dodge their insults,
faced them as they spit in my face.
And the Master, God, stays right there and helps me,
so I’m not disgraced.
Therefore I set my face like flint,
confident that I’ll never regret this.
My champion is right here.
Let’s take our stand together!
Who dares bring suit against me?
Let him try!
Look! the Master, God, is right here.
Who would dare call me guilty?

Psalm 116
I love God because he listened to me,
listened as I begged for mercy.
He listened so intently
as I laid out my case before him.
Death stared me in the face,
hell was hard on my heels.
Up against it, I didn’t know which way to turn;
then I called out to God for help:
“Please, God!” I cried out.
“Save my life!”
God is gracious—it is he who makes things right,
our most compassionate God.
God takes the side of the helpless;
when I was at the end of my rope, he saved me.
I said to myself, “Relax and rest.
God has showered you with blessings.
Soul, you’ve been rescued from death;
Eye, you’ve been rescued from tears;
And you, Foot, were kept from stumbling.”
I’m striding in the presence of God,
alive in the land of the living!

James 2:14-18
Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?
I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, “Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I’ll handle the works department.”
Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.

Mark 8:27-35
Jesus and his disciples headed out for the villages around Caesarea Philippi. As they walked, he asked, “Who do the people say I am?”
“Some say ‘John the Baptizer,’” they said. “Others say ‘Elijah.’ Still others say ‘one of the prophets.’”
He then asked, “And you—what are you saying about me? Who am I?”
Peter gave the answer: “You are the Christ, the Messiah.”
Jesus warned them to keep it quiet, not to breathe a word of it to anyone. He then began explaining things to them: “It is necessary that the Son of Man proceed to an ordeal of suffering, be tried and found guilty by the elders, high priests, and religion scholars, be killed, and after three days rise up alive.” He said this simply and clearly so they couldn’t miss it.
But Peter grabbed him in protest. Turning and seeing his disciples wavering, wondering what to believe, Jesus confronted Peter. “Peter, get out of my way! Satan, get lost! You have no idea how God works.”
Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Weekly Knox: The Rosary

"The reason why we get tired of saying the rosary so much, is because we think about it so little.  We don't treat it exactly as it if were a prayer-wheel, but we treat it very much as if it were a prayer wheel; we don't really want to say it, we want to get it said.  And of course that can't be the right was to go about it." - The Laymen and His Conscience

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Pre-Order: Christ in the Gospels

Tan Books/Saint Benedict Press has been re-publishing a number of older titles from the Confraternity of the Precious Blood recently.  You can pre-order this here for $11.95.  I would assume that it is the Confraternity translation.  I think it would be interesting if a Catholic publisher could obtain the rights for the Confraternity NT and combine it with the Douay OT in order to publish a new edition in an updated, contemporary format.  We see this all the time with the KJV.  It would be great to obtain an edition of the classic translations in a format the is from the 21st and not 19th century.

Thank you to Tom for sending me info on this.

Live the Gospel from a disciple’s point of view!
 Inspired by the words of the Gospels, andupdated and arranged for daily reading, Christ in the Gospel is an indispensable pocket devotional. Designed specifically to bring Christ into your busy life, each day features Our Lord’s words as well as a how to incorporate them into your daily life.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Back to School Contest

It is back to school time for almost everyone.  I have been back for almost a month at this point.  So, in celebration of this, I am going to offer a special Benedict XVI giveaway.  The winner will receive the following books, all of which are in excellent condition.

The Books are:
Come Meet Jesus by Amy Welborn
New Outpourings of the Spirit (Ignatius)
God's Word (Ignatius)
Europe: Today and Tomorrow (Ignatius)
Pilgrim Fellowship of Faith (Ignatius)
Great Christian Thinkers (Fortress)

Rules for the contest:

1) If you have a website or blog or an active Facebook account, please announce this contest. If you don't, that is OK. You can still enter the contest.

 2) Please enter your name in the comment section of this blog post. I (or my wife) will randomly draw one winner at the conclusion of the contest, which will be on Sunday September 13th at 11:59 PM.

 3) I will announce the winners on Monday September 14th. The winner must contact me, via email, within a week with their full name and address.

 4) One entry per person.

 5) Contest is only available to those who live in the United States.