Monday, December 11, 2017

Thomas Merton on the Psalms

Yesterday was the 49th anniversary of the death of Thomas Merton.  Anyone who has taken the time to read his works knows that the Psalms were vitally important to him.  Praying them in choir as a monk, as well as on his own, the Psalms helped to form him and his writings.  Liturgical Press publishes a short, but very insightful book by Merton on the Psalms called Praying the PsalmsIf you haven't read Merton before, it is a great entry point for his writings. 

"...the Psalms not only form our minds according to the mind of the Church, not only direct our thoughts and affections to God, but they establish us in God, they unite us to Christ. But they do this only if our hearts follow their thoughts and words back to the inspired source.... Therefore the sentiments of the Psalmist, which are the thoughts and sentiments of God Himself in His Church, must lead us into the hidden sanctuary of God. Where our treasure is, there will our hearts be also. The function of the Psalms is to reveal to us God as the 'treasure' whom we love because He has first loved us, to hide us, heart and soul, in the depths of His infinite Light. The Psalms, therefore, lead us to contemplation." -Praying the Psalms

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

RNJB Delayed

As expected, the listing on for the Revised New Jerusalem Bible (NT and Psalms) was false.  It had said it would be published at the end of November, but I received an email from Amazon letting me know that they had cancelled the order.  Of course, this is all likely due to Amazon getting incorrect info on the date of publication, which according to Darton, Longman, & Todd will be January 2018.  The full bible is expected to be published later in the year.  We shall see. 

If you missed it the first time, here is the description from the publisher:

Presenting the world’s first modern English Bible in a new light.
In 1966, Darton, Longman and Todd published the Jerusalem Bible, the first full translation of the Bible into modern English, with an acclaimed set of study notes. In 1985, it released the New Jerusalem Bible, an update of the Bible text for a fast-changing world. Now, after more than thirty years, DLT is preparing to publish the Revised New Jerusalem Bible – a substantial revision of the JB and NJB texts, and one which applies formal equivalence translation for a more accurate rendering of the original scriptures, sensitivity to readable speech patterns and more inclusive language. The RNJB is accompanied by a new, comprehensive set of study notes and book introductions enabling the Bible to be read with the insight, wisdom and understanding of the most up-to-date biblical scholarship.
The New Testament and Psalms will be published in January 2018, and the Full Bible will be published later in 2018. Both editions will contain the comprehensive study notes and book introductions.
The RNJB has been translated, and the notes and introductions written, by Dom Henry Wansbrough OSB, a monk of Ampleforth Abbey and one of the foremost biblical scholars of our day. Fr Henry was the translator and general editor of the NJB.
Dom Henry Wansbrough OSB is a monk of Ampleforth Abbey and one of the foremost biblical scholars of our day. Fr Henry was the translator and general editor of the NJB.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

So What Are You Reading This Advent?

Although my wife and I wrote ACTA's Advent devotional Expectantly Waiting in Wonder, it would be a little weird for me to use that as a daily devotional during this upcoming season.  (I don't know, maybe it wouldn't.)  I decided, however, to go with a recently released Advent devotional by NT Wright entitled Advent for Everyone.  It has been a few years since I read Wright, so I thought this might be a nice companion during this upcoming (and very short) Advent. 

What are you reading?

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Our Advent/Lent Devotionals

A blessed and happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

One of the things I am most thankful for this past year was the opportunity to have an Advent (and Lenten) devotional published by the fine people at ACTA Publications.  The best part of the process was being able to compose these daily reflections along side my beloved wife, Rakhi.  Having been married a little over eight year now with three wonderful children, the entire process of selecting a portion of the daily lectionary reading, reflecting and praying about each passage, and composing daily insights together as a couple was something I will cherish.  To be honest, at first I was a bit worried that we might not be able to find the time to do this project.  Yet, God did provide the time and energy (and hopefully insight) to complete both devotionals.  (A special thanks to my mom for watching for the kids at various points for a few hours during the day which allowed us to go off somewhere quiet to write.)

Two things struck me as we working on both of these devotionals.  First, I was really amazed by my wife's insights and creativity.  Now, I have known this for the many years that we have been together, but most often she likes to work quietly on her own, like most artists do.  Yet, during this project, I was able to accompany her more directly as we reflected on the day's lectionary passage as well as watching her do the illustrations for the cover and text.  It was truly a blessing to see her work, one that I will treasure.  Secondly, I came to appreciate The Message: Catholic/Ecumenical Edition even more than I had originally.  Of all the translations out there, and yes it is a paraphrase, it remains the only one that consistently elicits emotions from me when I read.  Now this is not to say that I will be using The Message for serious bible study (whatever that may be) but I have now found a place for The Message in my daily prayer time.  This was not something that I would have expected almost ten years ago when I started this blog.  But to each their own.

The Advent and Lenten devotionals were designed to give you short reflections and action steps for each day of the season, accompanied by illustrations designed by my wife.   It was important to me that these devotionals would be small (in order to be easily carried around with or placed in a Bible case), contain room for personal notes, and inexpensive (the Advent one is .99 cents and the Lenten is $1.25).  In the end, I think we achieved these three goals.  So, if you are looking for a devotional during this upcoming Advent and Lenten seasons that is a little different than most, utilizing a translation of the bible that might cause you to reflect, rethink, laugh, or simply just pause for a few more moments than usual, ACTA might have the one you are looking for.

The Advent devotional: Expectantly Waiting in Wonder

The Lenten devotional: Walking Together in Freedom

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Guest Post: NABRE vs. NRSV vs Neither (Part II)

We now move on to part II of this series initated by guest blogger Dominic.  He wants to open it up to those of you who have a different favorite translation, while also referencing the NABRE and NRSV.  This is part II in a multe-part series.

Part 2 allows for dissent of one or both of the aforementioned transitions. Also, you now have an opportunity to speak more on your favorite translation if it’s neither. Please follow the guidelines.

Ground Rules:
1) State your favorite translation

2) Even if you do not like either, please give pros and cons to both in a charitable and respectful way. You can express dislike without being “ugly.”

3) Why is your choice of translation preferable? Please be detailed. 

4) If you chose “neither” then which translation do you still think is better between the two (NRSV vs. Nabre) even if you don’t like either and why. 

5) If you are critical, please do it in a respectful and understanding way. It’s easy to get “ugly” behind a keyboard but don’t lose track of the decor you would show if you were face to face with those you disagree.

Once again, your comments will only be posted if you fill out all five parts.  You are encouraged to cite any references if possible.  

Friday, November 17, 2017

Guest Post: NABRE vs. NRSV (Part I)

This is meant to be more of a participatory guest post by Dominic, who wants to know your thoughts comparing the NABRE and NRSV bibles.  He has listed some ground rules for this, which I encourage you to read before commenting.  Dominic has been going over both translations for years now, and is interested in hearing what you all think.  This is the first in a multi-part series.

Here are the ground rules:

1) Must have an appreciation for both translations and you must state that. 

2) State your favorite Bible Translation (doesn’t have to be the NRSV or NABRE)

3) Pros and cons of each translation

4) No other translation may be introduced other than only naming your favorite translation. 

5) Which Translation do you prefer between the two, and why?

At minimum, you must follow the five points or your comments will not be posted.  If at all possible,  post links to articles or essays about said translations and translation philosophies that may be read for further reflection for both series.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Review: The Spiritual Warfare Bible (RSV-CE)

It was about seven years ago that Saint Benedict Press/TAN released the Catholic Scripture Study International Bible (RSV-CE).  When I reviewed it, I remember appreciating a lot of what went into its production, even though I thought there were some key components, like cross-references, missing.  I still have that bible today, and when I need an RSV-CE I will often refer to it.  It has held up pretty well over the years, which is a good thing since I was concerned about the glued binding.  I wasn’t then, nor do I remain today, a fan of glossy inserts, but they were placed well and the paper was fairly thin, thus not causing any issues when flipping through the bible or when laying in flat on a table. 

Now back in 2014, SBP/TAN released Manual for Spiritual Warfare, which was a handbook of prayers and reflections on engaging in spiritual warfare.  The book, authored by Paul Thigpen, sold quite well.  Now enter the brand new Spiritual Warfare Bible (RSV-CE) from Saint Benedict Press, which utilizes much from the Manual for Spiritual Warfare, integrating into the RSV-CE text.  While the description of this bible says that it contains “nine special Spiritual Warfare inserts” written by Dr. Thigpen, in truth, that is a bit misleading, but in a good way.  Each of these nine topics take up, on average, at least ten pages of print.  The topics range from “Scripture for the Battle” to a “Spiritual Warfare Topic Index”.  In particular, the section titled “Prayers for the Battle” contain a number of very beautiful prayers, including one entitled ‘Prayer to Our Lady, vanquisher of the Enemy’.  Compared to the CSSI Bible, this bible contains considerably more content than the CSSI Bible.  The inserts in the CSSI Bible were typically one page in length, on a variety of apologetic topics.  The glossy inserts in the Spiritual Warfare Bible also contain some well-placed and beautifully rendered classical art, which is nicely placed at appropriate locations within Thigpen’s text.  Many of them, like the one of Our Lady (pictured below), are great to pray with.  While there are no maps or cross-references in this bible, it does contain an appendix which has all the Mass readings, both for weekdays and Sundays. Also, the words of Christ are in red.

In regards to construction and overall look, the Spiritual Warfare Bible is very similar to its older brother, the CSSI Bible.  The RSV-CE is presented in a fairly large script, with the words of Christ in red.  I have always found this to be one of the best visual representations of the RSV-CE on the market today.  The text is quite easy to read from, even though it is not line matched.  It contains three handy black ribbons, which should certainly be mandatory for a bible like this.  The binding is glued but the cover is a smooth premium ultrasoft synthetic leather cover.  The cover has a much nicer than the CSSI Bible cover, which was a more stiff bonded leather.  The cover has a blind imprinting, which is also a step up from the early CSSI Bible.  The size of the The Spiritual Warfare Bible is 6.75 x 9.5 x 1.5, which is roughly the same size as the CSSI Bible.

I could see this new volume to be popular in certain prayer groups, as well as in charismatic Catholic circles.  The content would certainly fit into those who are associated with apostolates dedicated to doing spiritual warfare or intercession.  The Spiritual Warfare Bible has a very nice overall feel to it and is a true joy to read from.  The question will be whether or not the reader is willing to pay $69.95 for this bible.  While it does have some wonderfully composed and organized content on spiritual warfare, it suffers from having a glued binding.  In the end, I can see that some might purchase this, while others may take a pass on it. 

Thank you to Saint Benedict Press for providing me a review copy for this post.