Friday, January 6, 2012

A Reader Question

From time to time I receive a question from a reader that I think would make for an interesting discussion on this blog. The following comes from a reader who is the DRE of a parish and in charge of the parish's RCIA program.

He provides a little background information before getting to his main two questions:

One of my DRE joys is being chief catechist and bottle-washer for RCIA. Each year we provide everyone in the process a Bible and a CCC. The small white Doubleday hardback of the CCC is fine and not excessively expensive. The Bible, for the past 10years, has been the NAB in the Fireside Study Edition with flexible cover.

It met all our criteria:

1. We wanted everyone to have the same edition for our classes because we use the Scripture a lot for instruction and being able to give out page numbers saves us oceans of time in a class that is usually 95% Bible illiterate. They know a lot more about how to find their way around a Bible by the time Easter comes, but use 10 references in a class and wait for everyone to locate 2 Maccabees, then 1 Corinthians, then…well, we did that one year and vowed never again.

2. Translation as close as we can get to what they will hear year after year in the Mass. And a translation that is standard for Catholics in the US. [It irritates me no end that the bishops don’t insist that our liturgical texts and personal Scriptures agree, but that’s a different topic.]

3. Easy of use.

a. Those page numbers we need are prominent and easy to find in the upper right and left corners of each page.

b. Equally important, the verse numbers are also prominent and easy to see (bolded throughout the text, all along the left in poetry).

c. It also has blacked-in tabs along the sides, which helps us help them begin to locate some larger books (such as Psalms) we use each meeting.

d. Reasonable size print. Good contrast between print black and page whiteness.

e. Footnotes on the page with the verses they refer to. Ditto with cross references.

f. Paper quality and thinness that allows a 1400 page Bible and 200 pages of extra materials to measure 1.25 inches thick. Handy to carry, not too heavy, too.

g. The 200 extra pages include Dei Verbum, brief intro to how we got the Bible, chapter and verse divisions, etc., in the front. At the back it has an encyclopedic dictionary chock full of useful Catholic definitions, devotions, and general knowledge, 3 year reading cycle, and maps.

4. Quality—made to last for many years. It’s not a top-of-the-line Bible, but it is far from shabby or disposable-looking. A paperback Bible is no way to show them we consider the Bible important. We like to send them off with this basic formation tool in a near-permanent form.

5. Affordable. Buying in bulk we could get them for around $16-$18 apiece (plus shipping).

1) What do others use for RCIA?

2) What, if anything, are they going to do now that all the publishers are issuing new Bibles NABRE-form?


Anonymous said...

Interesting, especially #2.

rolf said...

We give everyone a St. Joseph paperback NABRE to start with and a 2012 Sunday missal (paperback). Since we have switched over to lectionary based catechesis, I teach the Sunday readings right out of a Lectionary, and they can follow along with their missals. They can bring their missals to mass with them, it also contains the new order of the mass which helps them understand what is going on. Catholic Book Publishing sells these missals for $1.94 each (they are sold out right now).

Theophrastus said...

I also found requirement #2 interesting.

Rolf's idea of using the 2012 Sunday Missal is rather ingenious. The item is here on Amazon (although it appears they are sold out) and at a price of $1.94 with free shipping, it was a real bargain.

The general question, though gets back to the sorry state of NABRE Catholic study Bibles. Not only do they all vary from the lectionary, but they all also contain notes that are just too confusing to a first-time Bible-reading catechumen (or anyone who doesn't have the equivalent of a bachelor's degree in Biblical Studies.)

I would love if Collegeville or a similar organization would produce a single-volume NABRE that had commentary aimed at beginners and general readers (as they do with their multi-volume series.) I'd even be happy if Oxford updated its Catholic Study Bible so that the reading guide actually matched the NABRE text.

And if those volumes included the alternative text when the lectionary does vary from the NABRE text, then we might have a study Bible that would really be appropriate for American parishioners. (At least they should include the Revised Grail psalter as a supplement.)

Leonardo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leonardo said...

After some considerations, I want to say that sometimes my feelings tend to criticize situations in a very strong way. But my words reflect my feelings, and not exactly those situations. But when my words judge persons that evidently I do not know, then I pass the barrier of good sense, to the area of the unknown, and I do not want to live in that place.


Timothy said...


No worries. Your thoughtful comments are always welcome on this blog.

Dr. Dan McNamara said...

It might be worth a couple of calls/ emails to your (arch)diocesan Catechetical and Liturgy Offices. Usually there are people in one place or the other who are well aware of possible resources, or at least know who might be. Frankly, this is likely an issue for a lot of DREs and thus something that these offices need to work into their agendas. Sometimes DREs and RCIA leaders hesitate to suggest issues like this to "the office". But this is a mistake. These people are not "mindreaders" and would usually appreciate such suggestions. I am also sure that your (arch)bishop would suggest the same. Oftentimes people who wrk on the (arch)diocesan levels have access to "resource networks" and contacts that the rest of us simply don't. So just ask about it. I did this sort of work for four years and always found the suggestions people made to me some of the best advice I ever received. Hope this helps. Dr. Dan McNamara, former editor "Catholic Resource Newsletter"