Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Bishop Barron & The Message & Merton, Oh My!

This morning, I just wanted to share a few things that are going to be coming available in the coming weeks and months.

First off, thank you to Kenneth for pointing out that in the most recent Word on Fire Show podcast, hosted by Brandon Vogt and Bishop Robert Barron, they announced that later this year they would be publishing a new bible with commentary from Bp. Barron and other theologians.  It is aimed at the "nones", a growing demographic in America that most often identifies themselves as agnostic or atheist.  Nothing more was said about the content of this bible or the translation that will be used.  More info will be shared here when I get it.

Secondly, I want to thank those of you who purchased the Advent devotional that my wife and I created for ACTA Publications.  If you enjoyed it, we do have a Lenten devotional out now called Walking Together in Freedom.  Similar to the Advent one, this edition has a selection from the daily Lenten readings (in The Message: Catholic/Ecumenical Edition translation) presented, with a short reflection and space for daily journaling.  Also, once again, my wife has done the cover art work and a number of beautiful hand-drawn illustrations to supplement the text.  Below is a short description:

What does it mean to “walk together in freedom”? Here is our chance to find out during this time of Lent. The words from the daily Mass readings, as taken from The Message: Catholic/Ecumenical Edition, practically jump off the page, inviting us to prayer, conversion, and our own vocation as Christians at our jobs and studies, with our families and loved ones, and in our community and civic involvement. Combined with Rakhi’s whimsical art and Tim and Rahki’s short but insightful reflections and ideas for practical action steps that anyone can take, this booklet makes a wonderful companion for a spiritually productive Lenten journey.

So, if you are looking for a Lenten devotional this year, consider picking up Walking Together in FreedomAnd heck, it is only $1.25!  

Lastly, I am honored to have an essay included in an upcoming book about Thomas Merton being published by Ave Maria Press in March.  The book is titled What I Am Living For: Lessons from the Life and Writings of Thomas Merton.  Edited by Jon M. Sweeney, there are contributions from Bishop Robert Barron, Fr. James Martin, Fr. Dan Horan, Sue Monk Kid, Robert Ellsberg, as well as a number of others.  Here is a short description:

What I Am Living For offers readers new to Merton, as well as longtime enthusiasts, an opportunity to see how the influential twentieth-century monk and writer continues to encourage the awakening of faith in the twenty-first century.

The book is in two parts. Each contributor to part one focuses on an aspect of the spiritual life that is of vital importance today and on which Merton made a profound impact. These include:

  • Martin—Finding who God intends you to be
  • Ellsberg—The spiritual need for solitude and stability
  • Oakes—The importance of coming to terms with our sexuality, whether married, single, or celibate
  • Horan—The importance of dialogue with God, culture, society, and people of other faiths
Part two features shorter, often more personal reflections on the future of faith, the life and teachings of Merton, and what he still says to anyone who seeks a relationship with God.

My contribution comes in the form of a short essay in part two of the book, where I write about how I came to appreciate Thomas Merton after many years of actively avoiding him.  So, if you are a Thomas Merton fan or simply curious about him, this book promises to have plenty of insights about this man who helped to nurture and rediscover the importance of contemplation for both monks and lay people, while also being active in the non-violence movement and inter-religious dialogue.  This book, conveniently, comes out in this 50th anniversary year of Thomas Merton's death.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

This Is Amazing and I Love It In Every Possible Way

The Babylon Bee is magical:

KJV-Only Pastor Tests Positive For NIV

HOLLY SPRINGS, MS—In a somber announcement, Pastor Philip Wallace confirmed to his congregation at Hartford Ave Fundamentalist Baptist Church, AV1611 Wednesday evening that he has tested positive for NIV.
The man has pastored the congregation of seventeen people for the past thirty years, staunchly defending the purity of the Scriptures as handed down to mankind in the Authorized Version, but confessed he may have contracted NIV while “experimenting” with other translations during his college years.....(click here to read the rest)

Monday, January 8, 2018


Three years ago I spent a year using one bible for the entire year. I did a series of posts focusing on that experience.  It was an important year for me, I must say.  It showed me that I really do need to stick with one primary bible for my daily reading.  Sure, I look at different translations when I need to, particularly since I teach scripture.  But I can honestly say that because of that experience back in 2015, I feel like I am finally not simply reading the bible to seek info, but actually being taught by it in a slow, relational way.  It is hard to explain to be honest, but I just read to read, without looking for doctrines or proof-texts or anything of the sort.  And even though the bible I use now is not that one I used in 2015, I am immensely grateful for having spent a year with my NRSV.  

Recently, my friend Kevin has decided to start this year attempting to do the OBOY challenge.  I wanted to pass along a link to his site, where he goes over what he is attempting to do by taking on the OBOY challenge.  Give it a look!  Consider doing it yourself!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Guest Review: Augustine Institute's Bible in a Year

Thanks to Jason for providing this guest review!

When the Augustine Institute announced earlier this year that they were producing a new Bible in a Year with daily commentary and in a leather-bound edition, I pre-ordered it immediately. I’m a big fan of editions of the complete Bible arranged in daily readings. They are prevalent in Protestant editions, but Catholic ones are harder to come by. The One-Year Bible, which was first published with the NLT text and later with other translations, is the gold standard, arranging the readings with a little OT, NT, and Psalms/Wisdom literature read each day. 

To my knowledge, the only Catholic contender until now has been My Daily Catholic Bible from Our Sunday Visitor, which has been published in RSV-CE and NAB editions. It has some nice features, such as a quote from either the saint of the day or another saint speaking about the day’s feast or about the Scriptures. It also gives you readings from the OT and NT each day, although the wisdom literature is included in the OT, as opposed to being a third reading on its own. I felt at times that the readings were quite uneven in length from day to day, though I haven’t done a close study to confirm that. Also, the only binding available is paperback.

The Augustine Institute’s Bible in a Year (RSV-2CE) is also available in paperback, but for a bit higher price a leather edition is also available. This latter edition you can see in the photos. Though I’m not an expert with leather, it is almost certainly bonded, so far from premium (despite the publisher’s description), but it has a great size and weight. It’s glued instead of sewn, which is easily the biggest knock against it at a $50 price point. The paper is white with clear dark text. There is some ghosting but it appears to be line-matched, and it is very comfortable to read. I’m not sure about the type size, but it appears to be the same as the standard Ignatius RSV-2CE. With the bright white paper and darker text, though, I think it’s easier to read than the Ignatius edition. There is one yellow ribbon, which is perfect for this type of Bible.

As for the content, this is every bit the equal of The One-Year Bible. Each day has a manageable reading from the OT, a short reading from the Psalms or Wisdom lit, an NT reading, and a closing reflection. This really is an ideal way to read the Bible in a year. Flipping through the volume, it appears that each OT reading is a bit over two full pages, and seems more or less consistent. Each of the three sections reads through in (RSV-CE) canonical order (Genesis-2 Maccabees, Psalms-Song, Matthew-Revelation). This is perhaps my one disappointment in the layout. Why not spread the Gospels out over the course of the year, reading the epistles in between? But this is a minor quibble. The daily reflections are, as you can see from the photos, the length of a long paragraph and provide a bit of background and give you something, in the form of a closing question, to think about in light of the day’s readings.  All in all, I think this is an excellent resource.

One closing note: I ordered this in October and just received it in on December 20. They sent out an email saying they had printing issues which delayed the first pre-orders being shipped until now. If you notice on the order page now, it warns that new orders won’t ship until late January. So, be aware that getting one before January 1 is likely impossible.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

A Couple New Items

Thank you to Michael and Dr. von Peters for letting me know about the following two items:

The Catholic Youth Bible 4th Edition from St. Mary's Press.  It will be available in both the NABRE and NRSV translations.

What is new?
The completely refreshed Catholic Youth Bible®, beautifully illustrated in living color!

Create a Lived Faith:
We know that faith means little unless it is lived, so these Challenge features charge youth to bring the Scriptures to life through specific, suggested actions!

Interact with Scripture:
In Scripture Highlights, encouraging verses are featured to offer an opportunity to reflect and are designed so youth can color them!

Nourish Relationships:
The Searching for God features offer reflections and prayers that focus specifically on aspects of our relationship with God, and the Who Is My Neighbor? features focus on our relationship and responsibility to others as a Christian community.

Explore the Bible:
Young people can explore the scripture easily with themed Reading Plans, as well as When I'm Feeling verses that help youth explore what the Bible might say to them about their own life experiences and feelings.

Navigate with Confidence:
Easy-to-use navigation enables faster Scripture reading for youth at all levels of Biblical knowledge


Dr. von Peter's alerted me that he's finally gotten the REAL Douay Old Testament Red Letter download available.  You can find it here for download.  

Christmas Special, only good until Feast of the Magi, and then the price will return to the normal price of $79.95. NOTE: This is for the download version only, and not with CD, at the low price of $59.95.

For more on the REAL Douay-Rheims Bible, you can see my interview and review here.

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