Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Haydock Bible Giveaway!

The folks at Catholic365.com are having a giveaway for a Douay-Rheims Haydock Bible.  You can follow this link to enter.  

Additional info:
This giveaway will run from September 8 through October 13, 2014 at 12 AM EST. Entries will be verified. Winners will be notified via email – winner will have 48 hours to respond and claim prize or another winner will be selected. This giveaway is in no way endorsed, affiliated or associated with Facebook, Twitter or any other Social Media Networking Site. 

The Douay-Rheims Bible was the original translation of Scripture for English speaking Catholics. The New Testament was first published in 1582 by the English College of Rheims, France, while the Old Testament was published in 1610 when the University moved to Douay, another city of France. Translated from Saint Jerome’s Latin Vulgate, it contains the most pure and most genuine passages expressed in eloquent English common during the 16th and 17th centuries. This same text is used during the Liturgy of the Word in the Latin Tridentine Mass. Among the various translations of the Bible, the Douay-Rheims is ideal for those searching for a deeper understanding of Holy Scripture. 

First published in 1884 and digitally reproduced in order to ensure an exact duplication of the original text, this new edition in hardback includes the Illustrated Bible Dictionary and a history of the books of the Bible in one volume. 

The cover uses the pattern which appeared on the original 1884 edition - a gold cross with rich Catholic symbols patterning the entire front of the cover stamped on burgundy color leather.

Monday, September 29, 2014

NRSV Hardcover with Deuterocanicals by ABS

I would like to start off by thanking reader Daniel for pointing the edition out to me.  As I have mentioned before, but not often enough, I have some wonderful readers of this blog.  Thank you!

The American Bible Society, which has become more and more involved in providing Catholic resources in recent years, provides various Catholic editions of the Bible.  This includes not only a number of NABRE volumes, but also some NRSV Bibles as well.  Last year they published the intriguing Poverty and Justice Bible Catholic Edition, which utilized the NRSV-CE text.  I like it in many ways, unfortunately like most of the NRSV Bibles on the market, it did not include any cross-references.  This remains a continual issue for those who want a nice edition of the NRSV with them included.

Well, reader Daniel recently pointed out to me an economy Bible the ABS publishes called the NRSV Hardcover with Deuterocanonicals.  Let me say this up front: It is not a premium or HarperOne type edition in any way.  In many ways, this would make a great pew Bible if Catholic Churches actually utilized pew Bibles in our churches.  (That is, of course, another issue for another time.)  For this edition, the paper is thin, the printing is not very bold, the maps are laughable, and the binding is glued.  Yuck right?  Rebinding this edition may not be either an option or desired.

However, there are two things going for it.  First off, it only costs $10.99, making it a fairly cheap purchase for most.  Those of you who are a bit suspicious of the NRSV, might like to consider this edition.  You can also purchase it in a case of a sixteen for under nine dollars each.   Secondly, and most importantly, it contains cross-references.  Yes, this is an NRSV with cross-references.  I will repeat that statement one last time, it is an NRSV with cross-references.  Such a rare thing really.  Most other editions that have cross-references are study bibles or expensive (or out-of-print) reference Bibles.  Now get this, not only are there bottom-of-the-page cross-references, they even reference the Deuterocanonical books.  Take for example the image I have for you here on the right.  It comes from 1 Corinthians 15:14-50.  If you look, you will see references to 2 Maccabees, as well as 4 Maccabees.  The Deuterocanonical books, themselves, have cross-references linking to both the Old and New Testaments.

So, this is a nice find.  If ABS would consider creating a Catholic edition of this, with a little bit nicer materials, it could make a great candidate for a rebinding.  

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sunday's Message: 26th Week of Ordinary Time

I am continuing a new weekly series which will be posted every Sunday morning called "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? 

Ezekiel 18:25-28
“Do I hear you saying, ‘That’s not fair! God’s not fair!’?
“Listen, Israel. I’m not fair? You’re the ones who aren’t fair! If a good person turns away from his good life and takes up sinning, he’ll die for it. He’ll die for his own sin. Likewise, if a bad person turns away from his bad life and starts living a good life, a fair life, he will save his life. Because he faces up to all the wrongs he’s committed and puts them behind him, he will live, really live. He won’t die.

Psalm 25
Show me how you work, God;
School me in your ways.
Take me by the hand;
Lead me down the path of truth.
You are my Savior, aren’t you?
Mark the milestones of your mercy and love, God;
Rebuild the ancient landmarks!
Forget that I sowed wild oats;
Mark me with your sign of love.
Plan only the best for me, God!
God is fair and just;
He corrects the misdirected,
Sends them in the right direction.
He gives the rejects his hand,
And leads them step-by-step.

Philippians 2:1-11
Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.

Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.

Matthew 21:28-32
“Tell me what you think of this story: A man had two sons. He went up to the first and said, ‘Son, go out for the day and work in the vineyard.’ “The son answered, ‘I don’t want to.’ Later on he thought better of it and went. “The father gave the same command to the second son. He answered, ‘Sure, glad to.’ But he never went. “Which of the two sons did what the father asked?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said, “Yes, and I tell you that crooks and whores are going to precede you into God’s kingdom. John came to you showing you the right road. You turned up your noses at him, but the crooks and whores believed him. Even when you saw their changed lives, you didn’t care enough to change and believe him.

Friday, September 26, 2014

A Poll

What is your preferred translation of the Hebrew word "Hesed?"
Steadfast Love
Great Kindness
Poll Maker

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Most Rev. Blase J. Cupich and the NABRE

For those of you in Chicagoland, or who are interested in ecclesial appointments, will have noticed this past weekend the appointment of Bishop Cupich to the See of Chicago.  One issue that has not been mentioned in much of the coverage about the appointment is that he was one of the members of the Subcommittee on the Translation of Scripture Text for the NABRE OT and re-revised Psalms.  I am unsure if he will be associated with the upcoming revision of the NABRE NT.

Also, I read the following excerpt from Deacon Kandra's blog about the soon-to-be Archbishop of Chicago:

When he came to Spokane in June 2010, he left 12 years of experience as bishop in Western South Dakota to come to an area where he had never lived.  He asked what God’s Word had to say to him with that change, not knowing how he would deal with issues or serve people.

He said his starting point in Spokane has not been his experience but what God wants him to do in the new situation.

“The Word is my barometer helping me focus on what I should be doing,” he said.  “God says for me to open my eyes and see what good is happening.”

Monday, September 22, 2014


From my friend Paul of Theandric:

Last year around the time of the feast of St. Matthew, I described how God put on my heart to begin devoting time to the memorization of major sections of Scripture.  I’m happy to say that I have continued to devote myself to this challenge, even if my initial enthusiasm has waned at times, requiring me to re-commit myself on more than one occasion. 

After my last guest blog at CBB, a reader wrote to me expressing an interest in beginning some memorization.  I offered some tips, and in doing so it reminded me of the element of spiritual warfare that is an important aspect to consider when we’re trying to grow in our love of God.  The truth remains that Satan is real, and just as he tried to do disrupt God’s plan in the life of Christ, he will also try to halt, twist and altogether destroy God’s plan in our own lives.  

Before we address the issue of scriptural memorization itself, let’s first consider some of the tactics of the devil.  I am going to offer this passage from Matthew’s gospel to serve as a departure point of our reflection.  To provide context, this passage recounts what occurred after the magi failed to return to inform Herod that they had found the Christ Child.

“When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi.” Matthew 2:16

Fortunately, before Herod ordered the massacre, the Lord had already warned Joseph that Herod intended to destroy the child.  After the warning, Joseph obeyed the Lord’s directive and fled to Egypt with Mary and the infant Jesus. 

Now this passage can tell us so much about how the evil one thinks and operates.  The first thing we should note is that the devil wants to destroy life itself.  As Jesus warned us, the devil is a “liar and a murderer from the beginning.” Murderers earn the name by committing murder, that is, by destroying life.  In contrast, Jesus proclaimed, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” 

In the case of Herod, we can be certain that his own heart had been corrupted by the influence of Satan, for Herod, corrupted by the sin of pride and lust for power, would not abandon his plan to destroy Life.  Since the magi did not inform him of the whereabouts of the Christ child, he then devised a diabolical plan to commit a full-scale massacre and to destroy life that was still in its nascent stages.  This led to what we know as the “massacre of the innocents” -  the barbaric destruction of innocent, weak and vulnerable children.  But again he failed in his quest to destroy Jesus. 

This shows us a second aspect of how the jealousy and pride of the devil causes him to seek the death of something holy and humble.  If he cannot destroy life at its beginning, he won’t give up on trying to kill it when it is still weak and vulnerable. 

So now get back to considering the challenge of learning God’s Word by heart.  If we’ve prayed about it and discerned that God is inviting us to memorize His Word, we know it will take time, effort and daily devotion.  And just as a child does not become a man in a day, we won’t be able to learn God’s Word by heart in a day.  If we say “yes” to the Lord, we must be aware that the evil one is going to be saying “no” to our desire to do the will of God.  So we can acknowledge at the outset some important lessons of spiritual warfare:

#1. The devil will try to stop you before you begin a good work.

#2. If he can’t stop you from starting, the devil will try to stop you after you’ve begun, especially in the nascent stages.  While old habits die hard, new habits die young!

Let’s take #1 first.  How would the devil try to stop you from memorizing the Scriptures before you begin?  Here’s some of my ideas how.  Feel free to share your own. 

a. He will try to make you believe that the whole idea is too ambitious, and only suitable for those who have no full-time job, no children, no hobbies, etc. 

b. He will keep you preoccupied with finding a “perfect translation” such that you don’t bother beginning at all, since we are exposed to a variety of translations in our worship, spiritual reading, etc., making you worried that somehow becoming more familiar with one translation will “confuse” you… 

c. He will keep you preoccupied with surfing the internet throughout the day so that you never commit to memorizing even one passage of scripture, or at least stall your efforts to make progress.  (This was and is the tactic that continues to plague me!)

d.  He will tempt you with a slew of other tantalizing forms of spiritual reading, that will take priority over reading the Gospels themselves.  The secondary sources, while certainly helpful for the spiritual life, should always remain just that, secondary sources.  Should we not seek the Primary Source itself, the Word of God, in whom we live and move and have our being? 

Thanks again to Tim for this great blog and the chance to share some of my reflections.  Next time I intend to comment on how the devil will try to destroy your good work after you’ve begun. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sunday's Message

I am continuing a new weekly series which will be posted every Sunday morning called "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? 

Isaiah 55:6-9
Seek God while he’s here to be found,
pray to him while he’s close at hand.
Let the wicked abandon their way of life
and the evil their way of thinking.
Let them come back to God, who is merciful,
come back to our God, who is lavish with forgiveness.
“I don’t think the way you think.
The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
        God’s Decree.
“For as the sky soars high above earth,
so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
and the way I think is beyond the way you think.
Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth
not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.

Psalm 145 
I’ll bless you every day,
and keep it up from now to eternity.
God is magnificent; he can never be praised enough.
There are no boundaries to his greatness.
God is all mercy and grace—
not quick to anger, is rich in love.
God is good to one and all;
everything he does is suffused with grace.
Everything God does is right—
the trademark on all his works is love.
God’s there, listening for all who pray,
for all who pray and mean it.

Philippians 1:20-24, 27
Through your faithful prayers and the generous response of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, everything he wants to do in and through me will be done. I can hardly wait to continue on my course. I don’t expect to be embarrassed in the least. On the contrary, everything happening to me in this jail only serves to make Christ more accurately known, regardless of whether I live or die. They didn’t shut me up; they gave me a pulpit! Alive, I’m Christ’s messenger; dead, I’m his bounty. Life versus even more life! I can’t lose. As long as I’m alive in this body, there is good work for me to do. If I had to choose right now, I hardly know which I’d choose. Hard choice! The desire to break camp here and be with Christ is powerful. Some days I can think of nothing better. But most days, because of what you are going through, I am sure that it’s better for me to stick it out here.  Meanwhile, live in such a way that you are a credit to the Message of Christ.

Matthew 20:1-16
“God’s kingdom is like an estate manager who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. They agreed on a wage of a dollar a day, and went to work. “Later, about nine o’clock, the manager saw some other men hanging around the town square unemployed. He told them to go to work in his vineyard and he would pay them a fair wage. They went. “He did the same thing at noon, and again at three o’clock. At five o’clock he went back and found still others standing around. He said, ‘Why are you standing around all day doing nothing?’ “They said, ‘Because no one hired us.’ “He told them to go to work in his vineyard. “When the day’s work was over, the owner of the vineyard instructed his foreman, ‘Call the workers in and pay them their wages. Start with the last hired and go on to the first.’  “Those hired at five o’clock came up and were each given a dollar. When those who were hired first saw that, they assumed they would get far more. But they got the same, each of them one dollar. Taking the dollar, they groused angrily to the manager, ‘These last workers put in only one easy hour, and you just made them equal to us, who slaved all day under a scorching sun.’ “He replied to the one speaking for the rest, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair. We agreed on the wage of a dollar, didn’t we? So take it and go. I decided to give to the one who came last the same as you. Can’t I do what I want with my own money? Are you going to get stingy because I am generous?’  “Here it is again, the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.”

Friday, September 19, 2014

Now You Know Media

I am not sure how many of you are aware of Now You Know Media, but I plan to do some reviews of their recordings over the next few months.  I was first introduced to Now You Know Media while flipping through an edition of First Things.  There was an ad there for receiving Fr. Donald Senior's audio recording study on the Gospel of John at a great introductory price.  I decided to purchase it and found it to be a great 12 lecture walk through John.  The production quality was high and Fr. Senior's theological and pastoral explanations I ended up using in my own teaching.  Many of the conferences are more on the academic side.  In particular, those of you who are familiar with the scholars involved with books like The Catholic Study Bible or the commentaries from Little Rock will find some familiar faces.  There are a ton of conferences devoted to Scripture, with scholars like Fr. Senior, Fr. Felix Just, Sr. Dianne Bergant, Fr. Michael D. Guinan, Fr. Ron Witherup, as well as many others.  Many of these scholars are the most highly respected in their academic fields, but, perhaps, less known by contemporary Catholic audiences.  

There are also collections focusing on spirituality, history, and theology.  I have enjoyed each set that I have received and, like I said above, plan to devote some future posts, including reviews, about what they are doing at Now You Know Media.  

More about Now You Know Media:
Now You Know Media began in 2006 with the mission of bringing you the best in Catholic spirituality and scholarship. Since then, we have produced hundreds of audio and video programs, from Bible studies with leading Scripture scholars to life-changing retreats.
After searching the world for the best professors, authors, and retreat leaders, we record them in our studio and make their teaching accessible to you. Lifelong learners and inquisitive Catholics cherish these masterful lectures and retreat conferences. You can enjoy our audio programs in your home or car, and our video programs are perfect for visual learners as well as group settings.
On our website, you will find spiritual retreats, as well as courses on history, spirituality, saints, Scripture, theology, literature, and much more. Also, through our exclusive relationship with the Thomas Merton Center, Now You Know Media remasters and releases the moving talks delivered by renowned twentieth-century mystic Thomas Merton at the Abbey of Gethsemani. These archival treasures are now available for you to enjoy.
Our presenters hail from top universities and seminaries, such as the University of Notre Dame, the Catholic University of America, Georgetown University, Catholic Theological Union, Boston College, and the Franciscan School of Theology. They combine exceptional scholarship with engaging teaching styles.
Most of our Catholic courses also come with free study guides, including lecture outlines, suggested readings, and review questions. Each course is backed by our 100% satisfaction guarantee.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Illuminating the Word: The Making of the Saint John's Bible (Second Edition)

Illuminating the Word: The Making of the Saint John's Bible (Second Edition) will be published in February 2015.  I have the first edition and love it.  The author is Christopher Calderhead, who did the first edition.

The time has come to tell the entire story of the creation of The Saint John s Bible. This completely revised and updated edition of Illuminating the Word devotes a separate chapter to each of the Bible s seven volumes. Readers get a behind-the-scenes tour of the creation of each volume, with a fascinating window into the activities, challenges, and struggles at Donald Jackson s Scriptorium in Wales. We can practically watch, through the eyes of every artist and calligrapher who participated in the project, the Bible s stunning illuminations move from conception to completion.

This edition includes a completely new chapter, on the scripts used in The Saint John s Bible that will fascinate calligraphers and lovers of the art. Still another new chapter details the production of the Heritage Edition, a high-quality, fine art facsimile of the original that makes The Saint John s Bible available to a wider audience than the singular manuscript.

Monday, September 15, 2014

7 Questions: Alice Camille

Alice Camille is an author, religious educator, and parish retreat leader. She received her Master of Divinity degree from the Franciscan School of Theology in Berkeley, where she also served as adjunct faculty in ministry formation, preaching and proclamation. Alice has worked in parishes and campus ministry, supervised a shelter program for homeless women, and been active in ecumenical settings.  Alice writes the monthly commentary, "Exploring the Sunday Readings" (Twenty-Third Publications) and collaborates on the homily series, "Prepare the Word" and daily reflections for "Take Five For Faith" (both from TrueQuest Communications.) She is the regular "Testaments" columnist for US CATHOLIC magazine (Claretian Publications) and a regular contributing essayist to "Living With Christ" (Bayard, Inc.) and "Give Us This Day" (Liturgical Press.)  She is currently working on a three volume lectionary commentary for ACTA Publications called This Transforming Word.

1) First off, thank you for taking the time to answer the following questions.  I wanted to start off with a question about your personal involvement with Sacred Scripture. How has Scripture played an important role in your prayer life?  Has it always been that way?
From childhood on, I was a big reader and in love with stories. But I didn't take the Bible to heart till I was about fourteen. One Sunday I heard a really good lector read a passage from Jeremiah like he meant it. It was such a passionate lament, delivered so dramatically, it resonated with my teenage self. Jeremiah sounded the way I felt, most days! I admit I vandalized the missalette that day, tearing the passage out so I could spend more time with it. It had never occurred to me before that anything in the Bible had anything to do with me. All of a sudden, I knew that Scripture was meant to speak right to me.

Some years later in college as an English major, I studied the Bible as Literature and developed a sense of how it tells its Story. When I was 22, I made the commitment to read the entire Bible cover to cover. They always say that's the worst way to do it, but I'm a bit of a kamikaze once I commit to something. It took eleven months to read all the way to Revelation. By then, I felt like a different person. I saw God, the world, human history, and my place in it all in a radically new and significant way. Reality was on fire for me. Eventually, I made my way to a seminary program at the Franciscan School of Theology, to study Scripture formally. I had no plan in mind to do anything with such a degree. I just wanted to know all I could about what had become a crucial Story to me.

2) Greg Pierce, President and Co-Publisher at ACTA Publications, called you "a true treasure to the Catholic Church in the United States" for your ability to open up the Scriptures and make them come alive for the average Catholic.  With such a wonderful endorsement of you and your ministry, I was wondering what you thought about the current state of Catholic Biblical literacy in the United States in 2014, particularly as we approach the fifty year anniversary of the publication of Dei Verbum?
Greg Pierce is a gracious man. I hope not to be a liability to the Church, at least. I try to be clear that I'm not a Scripture scholar, but rather an eager student of these books. It's made such a difference in my life to have encountered Sacred Story that I've become evangelistic about wanting to share that experience. But are we there yet, all of us together, in terms of biblical literacy? We're certainly much, much better than we were before the Second Vatican Council. I meet lay Catholics all over the country who are in small groups reading and studying Scripture; lectors taking their calling seriously and becoming students of the texts they're charged to read; older priests who barely got introduced to Scripture in their seminary training who have since embraced the need to know these texts more intimately and thoughtfully. What impresses me is that, while many Protestants of my acquaintance have often memorized more Scripture and can summon up chapter and verse, practicing Catholics have internalized much more Scripture than they realize through their exposure to the lectionary.  When a Catholic finally comes to Scripture intentionally, they already have an instinctive sense of how to appreciate what it's saying. Especially if they've been graced with good preachers in their parish!

3) Recently, you have been involved in The Message: Catholic/Ecumenical Edition project by ACTA Publications.  What attracted you to this project and this unique translation? 
A good friend gave me The Message years ago when it just included the New Testament and the Book of Psalms. The author, Eugene Peterson, expanded his unique translation gradually. At the time I got this older volume, I was writing mostly lectionary-based commentary that required the New American translation, and so I didn't have a professional use for The Message. I gave it away. Later on, I was leading a pretty sophisticated group of parishioners in a Bible study that lasted seven years. We started using different translations to spice things up. I got interested in Bible translations and how they inform meaning. The more I made textual comparisons, the wider my appreciation of a passage became.

When ACTA got involved with The Message: Catholic/Ecumenical Edition, I was very interested. One problem I'd had with some translations I favor is that there are "holes in the plot," so to speak. I love my Jewish Study Bible, for example, but it's only good so far as it goes, which is the end of what we call the Old Testament. Some Protestant translations are interesting to use but without the Catholic books, the Deuterocanon, they leave me hanging in some of the work I'm doing. The chance to see The Message paraphrase translation "completed," from a Catholic perspective, was exciting. To be part of that completion, even in a small way as a first reader/consultant, was an adventure.

4) What was your role in the new translation of the Deuterocanonical books done by William Griffin?  Do you remember any specific renderings that you helped influenced to be included in the final, published version?
As I mentioned, I'm no scholar and I don't read ancient Greek or Hebrew. The paraphrase translation of the Deuterocanonical books you see in the Catholic Message is entirely the work of William Griffin. I didn't and couldn't have written a word of it. Most of what I did was ask questions that I thought would concern the average reader. Such as: is this macho-sounding phrase here necessary to be true to the text, or is it creative license gone a shade into the valley of testosterone? Ancient texts are nearly always sexist-sounding from a modern perspective: it was a man's world back then, for sure. But translators can also contribute to and exacerbate that impact by their word choice. I compared each verse of the paraphrase to the more familiar New American Bible, which is based on different original materials than the ones Bill Griffin and Eugene Peterson employed for The Message. Where there were significant departures in meaning, I tried to discover why. Bill usually had a good reason; a few times he modified a phrase that was strictly playful, for the sake of cultural sensitivity or greater fidelity. 

5) Connected to your work with The Message, you are in the process of completing a three volume commentary on the Sunday and Feast Day lectionary readings called This Transforming Word.  The volume for Cycle B of the lectionary calendar will be available for purchase shortly, and like the one for Cycle A, is keyed to The Message Bible.  I have been enjoying reading your commentaries for Cycle A these past few weeks in preparation for Sunday Mass.  I appreciated your reflection back in the commentary for the twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time on Isaiah 22, where you noted that God is the divine hand that hammers us in as imperfect nails into the walls of history.  I was really taken by the image, particularly in the end when you related it to the nails of the cross.  I am interested to know what your hopes are for this series of books and what inspires you when you are composing each reflection?
I was first asked to write Scripture commentary for the Sunday readings twenty years ago. Not having a scholarly background, I could only write about them as a believer who deeply cares about these words and ideas. I made a promise that I wouldn't pretend to be smarter than I am, or to have answers I honestly don't. The goal wasn't to do what the scholars rightfully do with their special expertise. But I didn't want to go the devotional, sentimental, or pragmatic routes either: becoming the Ann Landers or Helen Steiner Rice of the lectionary! My job was to do what the thoughtful reader should do: allow the word of God to fall on my heart and to ask its burning questions of me. I read each passage. I let it talk to me. Then I try to faithfully transcribe that conversation for the reader.

What are my hopes for This Transforming Word, Cycles A, B, and C? Every book is an invitation launched into the unknown. Sort of like stuffing a note in a bottle and casting it out to sea. I hope people find it and read it. I hope it begins a conversation within them that brings them something useful, personal, and wonderful. I hope the encounter with Scripture becomes, for each reader, full of grace. I judge the success of everything I write by the one-sentence rule. If the reader finds in a book one sentence worth posting on the bathroom mirror or bulletin board, one idea that opens a door, then it worked.

6) How do you think the average Catholic could best utilize The Message:Catholic/Ecumenical edition and your lectionary commentary volumes?
The Catholic edition of The Message is not going to replace the New American Bible—or the New Jerusalem, NRSV, or whatever folks are already reading. Until the day he died, my Dad preferred the Douay family Bible he'd had all of his life. Of course he did. It was the voice of God in his head. And I have a special affection for all of these translations and more, each for different reasons. No one should, or will, abandon all other Bibles for the Catholic Message. And yet—

—no one should disregard a new translation just because they like a familiar one. The cardinal rule to keep in mind is that every translation is an interpretation. There is no "right" Bible, and all the rest are somehow wrong ones. Every translation is an interpretation, so it can be fascinating to see what this interpreter discovered in the text versus that interpreter. Some translations have just the right solemnity and cadence to be declared in front of the assembly. And others sound friendly and engaging in a little gathering of friends, or with young people; on retreat, or for personal reflection. The folks who use This Transforming Word with its excerpted passages from The Message: Catholic/Ecumenical Edition will most certainly be hearing those same passages proclaimed from the ambo that Sunday from the New American Bible translation. That will be a formal public encounter. This Transforming Word provides an intimate, personal experience. Ideally these two collisions with the Word will complement each other and make the Sunday encounter richer.

7) Finally, do you have a favorite passage or verse from the Bible?  Why?
I have three. They each came into my life when I needed them. First was the Jeremiah passage that led me to missalette vandalism: "You have duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped." (Jer 20:7-9) The Message renders this wonderfully as: "You pushed me into this, GOD, and I let you do it." So true!

The second is from the Letter to the Hebrews: "God's word is alive, it strikes to the heart; it pierces more surely than a two-edged sword." (Heb 4:12) I think that's a Grail translation I used to pray with a lay community years ago. It describes my experience so powerfully I used it for the title of my first book.

Last but not least, Romans 8: "Who will separate us from the love of Christ?" (Rom 8:35-39) Most translations say"What will separate us," but the Grail insists on who. The whole passage describes all the forces of earth and heaven that are very strong, but can't do it: can't keep us from such great love. The Message says gleefully: "There is no way!" I'm wagering my whole life on that hope.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

New Release Date on Didache Bible

Thanks again to reader James for the heads up on the publication of the Didache Bible being pushed back to January 2015.  This is confirmed on Amazon and the fact that the Fall Ignatius book catalogue doesn't mention anything about it.  

Sunday's Message: Exaltation of the Holy Cross

I am continuing a new weekly series which will be posted every Sunday morning called "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? 

Numbers 21:4-9
The people became irritable and cross as they traveled. They spoke out against God and Moses: “Why did you drag us out of Egypt to die in this godforsaken country? No decent food; no water—we can’t stomach this stuff any longer.”  So God sent poisonous snakes among the people; they bit them and many in Israel died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke out against God and you. Pray to God; ask him to take these snakes from us.”  Moses prayed for the people. God said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it on a flagpole: Whoever is bitten and looks at it will live.” So Moses made a snake of fiery copper and put it on top of a flagpole. Anyone bitten by a snake who then looked at the copper snake lived.

Psalm 78:1-2, 34-35, 36-37, 38
Listen, dear friends, to God’s truth,
bend your ears to what I tell you.
I’m chewing on the morsel of a proverb;
I’ll let you in on the sweet old truths.
When he cut them down, they came running for help;
they turned and pled for mercy.
They gave witness that God was their rock,
that High God was their redeemer,
But they didn’t mean a word of it;
they lied through their teeth the whole time.
They could not have cared less about him,
wanted nothing to do with his Covenant.
And God? Compassionate!
Forgave the sin! Didn’t destroy!
Over and over he reined in his anger,
restrained his considerable wrath.

Philippians 2:6-11
Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.

Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.

John 3:13-17
“No one has ever gone up into the presence of God except the One who came down from that Presence, the Son of Man. In the same way that Moses lifted the serpent in the desert so people could have something to see and then believe, it is necessary for the Son of Man to be lifted up—and everyone who looks up to him, trusting and expectant, will gain a real life, eternal life.

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again."

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Feasts Blog Tour: The Solemnity of Christ the King

"Calendars form us.  Calendars help to define us as the people we are."

I am once again happy to participate in another blog tour conducted by the fine people at Image Books.  This time around, I will be analyzing a chapter in the upcoming book The Feasts: How the Church Year Forms Us As Catholics by Cardinal Donald Wuerl and Mike Aquilina.  This new volume is the third book in a series that the two have published together, following the success of The Mass and The Church.  All three are wonderful resources that examine key elements of the Church's life.  One of the great things that I have noticed with this series of books is that they are engaging to the newcomer as well as one who has been involved in the Church for years.  In particular, I highly recommend them to all who are looking to explain the faith to those Catholics who are disengaged from the faith.  These books are great resources for the New Evangelization.

The Feasts is focused on the liturgical calendar and how it shapes our faith life.  As the promotional material puts it: "Each chapter uncovers the biblical origins and development of one of the great feasts or fasts — Advent, Epiphany, the Holy Angels, all the Marian feasts, and even this very day."  This is a wonderful help, since I think must of us are unaware of the history behind many of the great feasts of our Church calendar.  While we may certainly feel pretty confident in our understandings of feasts like Christmas and Easter, what about the various feasts of Our Lady or Corpus Christi?  One particular joy for me was to see that the first feast to be discussed in this book is Sunday.  How often do we forget that every Sunday is meant to be a feast day where we can celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord?  Some get caught up in the idea that for Catholics Sunday is an obligation, yet Wuerl and Aquilina remind us that Sunday worship was something distinctive for early Christians (56).  It marked out their identity in a Roman world that was at times hostile.  They realized that coming together to celebrate the feasts of the Lord was deeply tied into their identity.  However, it wasn't a simple group meeting time either for fellowship, but rather a time when they could be empowered by the living God.  The authors remind us that "God wants to feed us and fill us, so he gives us banquets at which we can feast spiritually (11)."   The early Christians knew this, so we need to remind our fellow Catholics, those who have perhaps lost their way, that Our Lord desires to nourish us.

I have been asked to comment on chapter 13, which is entitled: "The Solemnity of Christ the King and the Other Feasts of Jesus."  I love the feast of Christ the King.  Being an American, the idea of kingship can at times be a bit foreign, however, if you spends anytime in the Old Testament you can't avoid the importance of kingship.  It pervades the historical book, the prophets, as well as the wisdom literature.  See Psalms 93 and 97 for some examples.  When we move to the New Testament what do we see?  We see our Lord who is hailed as the Messiah (which is a kingly term meaning "anointed one") as he enters Jerusalem riding on a donkey.  The entire Passion narrative in John focuses on the fact that Jesus is truly a king, with his throne being the cross.  So, kingship is an important biblical theme, even if it seems "outdated" or "irrelevant" in today's world.  

That is one reason why the Church instituted this feast, in order to remind us of this reality.  Of course, this feast is not an ancient one, but one of the newer ones.  It was added in 1925 by Pope Pius XI and given a different date in the post Vatican II calendar.  The full title of the feast, which is really important, is: Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe (113).  He isn't just the king of Europe or America or Mexico, but the true king of the entire universe.  His reign extends to every inch of the created cosmos.  Our authors remind us that this feast was instituted in reaction to the rise of totalitarian regimes that based their authority on man and not on God.  For Christ, all things are under "his feet (Ps.110)."  Unlike those who claim kingly authority on their own, Christ shows what is the meaning of true kingship: He is a king who came to serve.  He is the model king of Deuteronomy 17:14-20.  His kingship is one, not of domineering, but of love: "Christ conquers not by violence but by persevering love (115)."

One final note on this feast, which is placed at the end of the liturgical calendar.  It reminds us that while Christ has conquered on the cross and his Church proclaims this victory, we still await the return of the king.  The king who came into Jerusalem on a humble donkey, will come again in glory and power, "on the clouds."  I think that is one of the reasons I so love this feast.  It reminds me that God is in control and that the whole universe is his dominion.   "Your kingdom come!"  "Come Lord Jesus!"

Thank you to Image Books for providing me with a review copy.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

“Dei Verbum” and the Biblical insights of Joseph Ratzinger

The talk Dr. Scott Hahn delivered at the American Bible Society in New York as part of "The Living Word" series of lectures, co-sponsored with America, can be read here.   An audio recording of the talk can be found here.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

7 Questions: Fr. Michael Patella OSB

I would like to thank Fr. Michael for participating in this edition of "7 Questions." Fr. Michael Patella, OSB, SSD, is a professor of New Testament at the School of Theology/Seminary of Saint John's University, Collegeville, where he also serves as seminary rector. He is the author of The Death of Jesus: the Diabolical Force and the Ministering Angel (Paris: Gabalda, 1999), The Gospel according to Luke of the New Collegeville Bible Commentary Series (Liturgical Press, 2005), The Lord of the Cosmos: Mithras, Paul, and the Gospel of Mark (T&T Clark, 2006), and Word and Image: The Hermeneutics of the Saint John's Bible (Liturgical Press, 2013). He has been a frequent contributor to The Bible Today and also served as chair of the Committee on Illumination and Text for The Saint John's Bible. He is a member of the Catholic Biblical Association.

1) Not only are you a Benedictine, an order so intimately connected to the reading of Sacred Scripture, but you have also studied at Rome's Pontifical Biblical Institute and the École biblique et archéologique française de Jerusalem.  What inspired you to focus your education on the study of the Bible?  
The Bible is so much a part of Benedictine spirituality in particular and the Church’s Tradition in general.  I concluded, with Saint Jerome that “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ”.  Graduate school is a long and arduous process, and I figured early on that if I were to spend any time in earning a doctorate, it would have to be worth my while on every front, professionally and spiritually.  Only then would I have something worthwhile to give my students.

2) What are your thoughts about Catholic biblical literacy today, particularly here in the USA? 
 I think things have improved over the last 50 years in some areas, for example, the lectionary cycle. Consequently, homilies have improved as well.  I wonder why more young Catholics are not interested in pursuing degrees in Scripture, however.  I fear that it is because younger people feel that to study theology or Scripture is to become a fundamentalist and intolerant.  Consequently, either they walk away from the faith and thus theBible entirelyor the few who want to study turn to fundamentalism. Too few see critical thinking as an inherent part of biblical study.  Interestingly, one reason Saint John’s undertook the writing of the Bible was to generate excitement for Sacred Scripture among Catholics by using the medium that had been so much a part of Catholic tradition.  The fact that you have this blog is indicative that our intuition was correct.

3) Are there any particular resources you think are most helpful for the average Catholic in learning what the Catholic approach is to studying the Bible?  
I would direct them to any good Catholic Bible commentaries such as, the New Jerome Biblical Commentary and the New Collegeville Bible Commentary.  Also good (and the best place to start!) are any of the annotated editions of the New Jerusalem Bible, the NRSV, and the RNAB.  Catholics should always read a Bible with good notes and commentary by reputable scholars.  Biblical criticism reflects our Catholic heritage of faith and reason.  And it is enjoyable!

4) Could you talk a little bit about your role in the creation of the majestic Saint John's Bible?  
I was the chair of the Committee on Illumination and Text (=CIT) and the New Testament scholar on the committee.  Other members included an Old Testament scholar, a Systematician, a Church historian, an art historian, a Patristics scholar, a professor of Asian artist, a designer, and a media artist.  We met about every two weeks during the academic year from fall 1999 until spring 2011.  We selected all the images for artistic treatment and then provided the briefs that supplied the theology for the artists.  Each brief for each image was divided into exegesis, scriptural cross-references, local associations, and free associations.  We never told the artists what to do; we only sent them our thoughts and discussions to engender their own thoughts and creativity.  Sketches and drafts would come back to us from Wales, and in the end, we would sign off on them.

5) In your most recent book "Word and Image: The Hermeneutics of the Saint John's Bible" you devote an entire chapter to explaining why the NRSV was chosen as the English translation used for the SJB.  Could you explain to my readers the process and reasoning behind choosing the NRSV?  
The NRSV is a revision of the RSV, which is descended from the King James.  So, for English speakers, it has a great pedigree.  Also, as a translation, it is truly an ecumenical effort with nearly every major Christian denomination represented among the translators, including Roman Catholic.  We wanted this project to look to the future, not the past; hence, any biblical translation that used antique language was not even considered. It also uses inclusive language, which was the CIT’s requirement from the very beginning.  These factors made the NRSV the best translation for 21st century readers.

6) Ultimately, what do you think will be the lasting legacy of the SJB project? 
I think the lasting legacy will be a realization of the role of art in faith and theology.  Scripture is more than a text.  Truth is more than a treatise or essay.  Some things can only be expressed with color, design, and image.  The Saint John’s Bible will probably be cited as that work which reopened the door to the world in which scholarship, faith, and art worked in tandem.  That door had been firmly closed and locked in so many places since the Enlightenment, much to the detriment of our theology and expression of faith.

7) Finally, while I am sure there were more than a few, I am interested to know, from you, what particular illumination from the SJB that helped you to see a passage of scripture differently?  
The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes in Mark and Romans 8.