The Great Adventure Bible: The Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth

We all want it: the whole truth and nothing but the truth. It’s what makes us confident and secure.

crucifix on top of bible

And what about the truth about ourselves?  Everyone eventually asks the questions: 

Who am I? Why am I here? 

Where am I going?

For these ultimate truths, people have for centuries, turned to the Bible as God’s Word, but we’ve often struggled to piece the whole truth together. We don’t know where to start and it can be such a challenging read!  All sorts of opinions about how it should be read abound!

We’ve had questions and need teachers who have already studied the whole library collection of books from different authors, genres, and historical backgrounds.

We’ve lost our way, given up, and been confused.  So we need clear cut instructions and a map.

God’s desire for us to have the whole truth is even greater than our own. And He’s provided the whole truth and nothing but the truth, most beautifully and clearly explained, in The Great Adventure Bible.

It is first and foremost, the complete Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Second Catholic Edition.

Additionally, this Bible’s team of editors and consultants have tied together and explained every book- categorized its key people and provided a timeline of biblical events.

The timeline begins with The Early World, telling the story of Genesis chapters 1-11. Before the Scriptural text there is a summary, an explanation of how the narrative goes, and clarification on the significance of these chapters, like God’s purpose for human dignity, creation as a cosmic temple, and the drama of sin and redemption.

The systematic presentation incorporates a color-coded Bible timeline that organizes the different stages of our powerful and magnificent salvation story.  One cannot easily forget that color-coded black section signifies Israel’s darkest period in history, or that purple reminds us of the Royal Kingdom.

The Great Adventure Bible gives clear instruction about God’s overarching covenantal plan for loving and saving us, and provides colorful charts and maps that show the progression of time and historical place.  Who would doubt that an eye-catching map of the desert wanderings could enhance the reader’s understanding of the Israelites’ 40 years of waiting in hope for a Promised Land?

Separate articles enhance the reader’s understanding of the important covenants God has made throughout history and suggest how to interpret the Bible. And a well thought out reading plan helps students know how to begin to see the overall picture, before adding some of the more supplemental books.  Lectio Divina, a way of praying with Scripture is also introduced.

And underlying each teaching tool is the Catholic understanding of the Bible- seen in its entire context and unity.  Centuries of saintly commentaries and magisterial teaching undergird the structure of the Great Adventure Bible’s contents and lend to making all the parts create a whole.

The whole truth and nothing but the truth…so help us God!  And He does.  Through the thorough and clear presentation of God’s Word, the Great Adventure Bible draws us into the knowledge of the truth:  we are the beloved children of God’s steadfast covenantal love and we’re destined to live with Him in that love forever!

 

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Mending the Heart: A Catholic Annulment Companion by Lisa Duffy

Lisa Duffy has offered her own mended heart to a growing number of Catholics who have experienced the painful reality of divorce.

Mending the Heart:  A Catholic Annulment Companion is a clear and loving explanation of the process in the Catholic Church called an annulment. Duffy leads her readers through the purposes and practical definitions of this process while regularly addressing the emotional challenges and difficulties of those facing a broken marriage situation.

She accompanies her readers as credible witness- as one who has shared the road.

Many myths persist in regards to the annulment process, which by definition, seeks to declare that a marriage bond (unbreakable covenant) was not a valid sacramental one.  Duffy debunks each misrepresentation of the truth and explains terms like “invalid” and “impediments to marriage”.  She walks readers step by step through the annulment process and names the specific canon law grounds that might constitute an annulment being granted.  With continual warmth and concern for her readers’ hearts, she simultaneously assures readers of the true existence of a marriage relationship and gives encouragement for when the going gets tough.

Concerned with her readers dignity and worth, she lovingly encourages them to bravely confront what may have been real obstacles to a valid marriage and suggests to them that the efforts are well worth it.  The interior work required ends up being the very path to true healing and joy.

Having someone calmly explain something when emotions are complex or intense can be a great gift for someone experiencing divorce.  Like a loyal friend Duffy accompanies her readers in their confusion and pain but also places her focus on the great graces that come with using this time to enter more deeply into a relationship with God.

The book is filled with the stories of many others who have traveled the road of devastating divorce, but who have allowed God to transform their crosses into glory. Since so many divorced people as well as their families and friends find themselves in confusion about what the Catholic Church ultimately offers, Duffy’s book is extremely timely and will likely welcome many hearts back to a deeper relationship with God and fellow Catholics.

In this reader friendly Annulment Companion, Lisa Duffy is your faithful companion. As she generously shares her own story,  readers find the haunting and daunting task of annulment becomes less insurmountable.  The warmth, humility, and expertise of Lisa’s own mended heart serves to accompany  and encourage others to begin the beautiful process of finding theirs.

 

 

 

 

Forgiving Mother: A Marian Novena of Healing and Peace by Marge Steinhage Fenelon

Have you been hurt by your mother?  

The pain of that relationship can paralyze our thoughts, actions, and future relationships.  Stuck in the past and the wound that has not healed,  sometimes we’re lead to despair.

In a transparent and courageous sharing of her own experience with an abusive mother, Marge Steinhage Fenelon takes her readers through an interior journey of the heart, that leads them out from the dark places of suffering and anger to hope, healing, forgiveness, and freedom.

All of us have broken parents because we live in a fallen state since the first sin.  

Our environments growing up can leave us disabled in differing degrees. Whatever the personal experience has been, Fenelon’s words can be applied, and her guidance sheds light on way to finding true peace.

And the way?

 A new relationship with Mary, Our Mother.

Beginning with tapping into a desire to want to heal is the logical first step.

Often, however it’s just easier to stuff the past and not deal with it.  That’s why Jesus asks the ill man if he wants to be healed.

Fenelon uses Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church to help readers understand Mary’s role in bringing us to Christ, the Divine Healer. 

That proposal can be scary.  We necessarily have to look back.  The key is never to process alone, and to seek God in prayer, and the right persons to walk with us.  Fenelon mentions her spiritual director often, and the need in some situations, for good counseling as well.  Practically, it may mean a time of distancing, while continuing to work through emotions and pain.

When we are able to receive the grace and the truth that

our mothers are children of God, just like we are,

we can place them and all their fallen brokenness in our Mother’s arms.  

There’s a sense of freedom that comes from surrendering the past to God’s healing power, and our present lives into the loving arms of a perfect Mom who has the power to comfort us and intercede for us.

The book prepares the reader for the beautiful novena at the end.  

It truly blessed me in moving through the days, taking the time to journal and pray, and opening myself up to my own healing.

Moving through it slowly,  praying to want to be healed,  surrendering my past and the wounds,  seeing my mother as a child of God with her own brokenness, helped me to move toward seeing her in new ways, and knowing that God had a plan and a purpose for it all.

That might be the greatest lesson.  God makes good come out of even the most difficult situations, if we allow Him in to heal us and draw close to His Mother.

With love and real vulnerability, I must thank Marge Fenelon for offering her own life example as a way to help others move closer to Christ.

And so many of us need the love of the Good Mother, Mary.  My prayer is that this book finds its way into all the hearts who need her most.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Lady of Fatima – 100 Years of Stories, Prayers, and Devotions by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle

It is the Eve of the 100 Year Anniversary of the Mother of God’s first appearance to the shepherd children, Jacinta, Francesco, and Lucia in Fatima, Portugal in 1917.

There is a sense of anticipation.  She’s made herself known before.  

She’s come to help us back to our faith.  She’s a Mother and she longs for her children to be at peace.

Will we hear her call to draw near to her?  Will we help our brothers and sisters on the way back to life?  Does it matter to us still today?

The message of her tender concern is hard to refuse.    

Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, a well known Catholic author, has given us a great gift in this book as she writes about the awe inspiring events at Fatima.  Adding to the accurate and well described historical background, O’Boyle offers readers other little known stories, the words of notable people on the subject, and a way to “bring it home” by applying the messages of Our Lady to our own lives today.

Details of each apparition and how the children responded with heroic love to the call of our Lady, leave us examining our own consciences in regards to our journeys in faith.  As we read of their suffering and offering of many sacrifices we find our hearts convicted to to the same.  

Francisco and Jacinta die young, but not without modeling how to pray.  Lucia lives on many decades more to spread devotion to the Immaculate Heart. From seeing the horrors of hell to witnessing the miracle of the sun, the shepherd children reveal for us the reality of the life beyond time on this earth.

Mary asks for Five First Saturday devotion- confession, Holy Communion, and recitation of the rosary.  These requests are now made of us, so that we might obtain peace.  And so that many souls might be saved by our prayers.

Countless Popes devoted to the Mother of God, are described in the book, and how they all had a role in Fatima’s story. All knew of the consecration to Our Lady.  They fostered the devotion, approving of the the apparitions, and wrote to encourage the faithful to turn their hearts back to the Lord.  They consecrated themselves and the world, just as Mary had wished.

With prayers and devotions in each chapter, the book becomes an opportunity to change and to grow.  When our hearts receive the message of Fatima, they are moved to seek shelter in the arms of our Mother.

What is the significance of this great appearance and anniversary feast?  Mary is perhaps giving us time and an invitation to seriously consider our relationship to God.

Do we not long for a time of peace- maybe in our families, in our communities, in our country, in our world?  Are we not finding in our own hearts

a spirit of discouragement or concern?

Which one of us would not want to be comforted right now? 

Mary wants to help.   O’ Boyle’s book can bring us right into our Mother’s arms.  Perhaps today Mary is sweetly calling you back home.

Will you answer her call?

“Littlest Suffering Souls” by Austin Ruse

 The little wren outside is pecking seeds off the wooden deck- so small and seemingly insignificant.

What could this poor little creature teach me?  

How often we ignore the littlest among us.  How often we ignore the simple of heart, those who go about their purpose in life, while the rest of the complicated world whirls around them.

Especially when it comes to suffering human beings, we’re slow to take notice of those who can’t keep up with the pace.

The book, Littlest Suffering Souls, by Austin Ruse, reminds readers of the great graces available to those who are faced with the care and responsibility of little ones, and additionally, the humility it takes to learn from life’s sicknesses and pain.

And there may be no greater pain that watching a child suffer.  

Our Mother Mary knew that ache.

Ruse shares the blessed heroism of three modern day children and their families. And he shows us that each family is unique in the crosses they bear, but that all are called to embrace them with love.

And then, miracles happen!

Devotion, faith, openness, and littleness of heart

bring exaltation, blessings and unexpected joys.

Ruses’ book is about three small children who suffered greatly from physical illnesses.  Struck with Downs Syndrome, leukemia, spinal bifida, and all their complications, the short lives of Brendan, Margaret, and Audrey were a marathon of enduring pain. The untimely deaths of these little ones, though, continue to bring about great conversions.

Their example teaches us how redemptive suffering which is offered up and united to Christ’s, can be a powerful force.  Readers are led to consider how accepting one’s own crosses in life while keeping hope in expectant trust, can lead to peace and even joy.

Referencing great writers and saints in the Church, Ruse helps us understand this sometimes unpopular Catholic view.  Suffering united to Christ’s changes the world.  Brendan, Margaret and Audrey received wisdom beyond their young years, and suffered incredulously, with joy. Their parents’ stories, and those of their friends, are proof that these littlest suffering souls had a great mission.

All Catholic children, these three little ones became catechists and evangelizers to the family and friends they encountered.  How close they were to Jesus in the Eucharist- many of them requesting an early reception of this sacrament.  Priests who ministered to them and their families, were drawn to their saintly sides and remain forever changed in their own self sacrificial lives.

When the powerful, influential, and the worldly recognized the true Presence of Christ in Brendan, Margaret, and Audrey, they were changed. Renewed by watching them, even popes like St John Paul II, found renewal to serve the Lord and His Church in new ways.

Readers will find themselves privileged to have been given a glimpse of these saintly children, just as one catches a glimpse of a poor simple wren on a spring morning.

 As Ruse tells their stories, the heart and mind are given a new vision.  Our Lord tells us the same in His Word,

Yet we do speak a wisdom to those who are mature, but not a wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age who are passing away.Rather, we speak God’s wisdom, mysterious, hidden, which God predetermined before the ages for our glory,and which none of the rulers of this age knew;

for if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

But as it is written:  “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart,what God has prepared for those who love him

(1 Cor 2: 6-9)

Brendan, Margaret, and Audrey, pray for us!


Couriers of Grace: My Daughter, the Sacraments and a Surprising Walk of Faith by Nancy Jo Sullivan

Tangible, real signs of God’s love-

these are the children that God gives as gifts to the family.

Tangible, real signs of God’s love as well –

these are the seven sacraments of the Catholic Faith.

Any parent will tell you, as Nancy Jo Sullivan does, that children are our pathways to sanctity.  And inevitably, the ones who present us the most challenges, are the very ones who purify us the most— if we allow God make Himself known through them.

Similarly, for the body as well as the soul, Our Creator has instituted the seven sacraments and has found a way for us to receive His powerful presence in our lives.  At these special times, He intervenes with His grace.

And Nancy Jo Sullivan shows us how the two –

children and sacrament- are together, a great walk of faith.

In Couriers of Grace, My Daughter, the Sacraments, and a Surprising Walk of Faith, Sullivan weaves the beautiful story of her life as a mother, in and out of all seven sacraments.  Sullivan’s firstborn Sarah, is perhaps her greatest professor of love.  Unexpectedly born with Downs Syndrome, Sarah’s innocence and purity of heart, open up new pathways to hearing God speak, even if it means painful struggle and trial.

A lover of fairy tales and the glories of a Kingdom,  little Sarah, the Princess is baptized and saved.  Her mother recalls a near drowning experience of her own as a child, and is given a certain closure in her understanding of dying and rising to new life.

Little Sarah’s stuttering encouragement to “f-f-forgive” bring her mom back to confession, after spending years away. And even when families are broken, (Sullivan experiences a painful break up of her marriage) she sees how they still come together, to celebrate Mass week by week.  It is Sarah’s twirls down the communion aisle,  to receive her Bridegroom Prince that teaches Sullivan and her readers that we are indeed called to be bride!

As sacraments are received through the beauty of ordained priesthood, Sullivan embraces and also struggles with those whom God has chosen for this vocation.  In men who truly are the face of Christ to her in spiritual direction and who treat Sarah with incredible dignity as a person, she is able to reconcile conflicting feelings. Though the Church and even the priesthood itself is not immune from the diseases of sin, Christ is in our midst to heal us!   A lay worker in the Church’s vineyard herself, Sullivan comes to understand her call to “everyday priesthood” – to be priest, prophet and king, living the truth of Christ in her family and in her work.

And even through the painful loss of little Sarah, whose body was created to be here on earth just for a time, Sullivan is given an increase in grace, as God makes Himself known through the tears.  Sullivan witnesses Sarah’s fear of death dissipate as she becomes  certain that she is going to leave earth to see “her Prince”.    She blesses her mother’s forehead-  almost as an “anointing of the sick” for them both, and falls asleep peacefully….only weeks later to rest in peace for all time.

Tangible real signs of God’s love- our children and our Church in her sacraments.  Sullivan shares the beauty of her walk of faith, which comes from them both… and the lessons that emerged as she contemplated their depth.

This book is a gift to any parent raising children, especially in faithfulness to our promises to pass on the Catholic faith to their hearts.

So often we think they will be the only recipients

as we strive to make sure they are covered in the graces the sacraments offer.

But as so often happens in our relationship with God, He surprises us with His generosity and love.

We find we’re the ones who grow in knowledge of His power.

 We’re the ones who are doubly blessed!

Faith Under Fire by Matthew Archbold

a1msna2zn4l Messages of hope are gifts from the Lord.  And when told in the form of a real life story, the impact is even greater.

Archbold writes as if he is sitting in  your living room, telling the kind of story that draws  people overhearing them, in from the other rooms.

This book is full of powerful stories of courage….stories that leave you with hope.  Reading through them gives the opportunity to see how these apply in one’s own life.  How have I been challenged to stay faithful?  How can I be a witness to Christ?

Most of us will not likely be asked to give to the extreme that most of these people have.  Our tasks are more ordinary, our encounters more subtle.  But more and more we are being confronted.  The line is being drawn in the sand.  Do I really believe what I say I do?  Does that really affect my speech and deeds?

From stories of war to stories of career challenges, the drama comes down to one thing- faith.

Looking for inspiration?  Looking to draw strength from others in the conviction of faith?

Pick up Faith Under Fire, and be moved to pick up your daily cross, and follow Jesus to the hope and joy of the Resurrection!

“The Church is Our Mother” by Gina Loehr

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In about a week I’ll begin facilitating my third ENDOW class. ENDOW stands for Educating On The Nature and Dignity of Women. Women of all ages gather in small groups to study the writings of the Church. They read, discuss, share, and bring what they learn out into their world. This year we are studying St John Paul II’s document On the Dignity and Vocation of Women.

Timing is everything. Also just this week I began reading Gina Loehr’s book called “The Church is My Mother”, only to find the following in her introduction:

“‘The Church is woman, she is mother, and this is beautiful. You must consider and go deeper into this’.

When Pope Francis spoke these words to me and my companions…I felt a personal tug on my heart. We were commemorating the twenty-fifth anniversary of Pope St. John Paul II’s apostolic letter Mulieris Dignitatem (On the Dignity and Vocation of Women), a document that profoundly touched my life….

I had sworn off motherhood, not surprisingly, at the same time that I had sworn off Mother Church. But Mulieris Dignitatem helped me to return to the embrace of my mother, the Church, and personally to embrace my vocation to marriage and motherhood as well.”

It seems that this St John Paul II’s document was a springboard for Loehr’s conversion, and helped her gain deeper understanding of the great gift of holy motherhood-her own and that of the Catholic Church.

Reciprocally, Loehr’s book seems to have come to me as a gift . As I prepare to dive into the “dignity and vocation of women”, I’ve been reading through the chapters of Loehr’s book, as she describes seven ways the Church inspires us to love and how she shows that love in much the same way a mom would to the children she has borne. Moms are given the great privilege to help create, and then to care, teach, accept, sacrifice, heal and celebrate these precious lives.

Loehr reminds us that the title of Mother for Church is not new. Saints and the early Church Fathers used it often in describing her role in our lives. In a real and tangible way, the Church too gives us life, cares for and teaches us, accepts all and offers sacrifice ( the ultimate one in Christ’ death!), offers healing and celebrates our personhood.

Knowing how much encouragement is needed for moms, young and old, Loehr weaves in personal stories as a way to lift her readers up and offer a feminine heart who’s “been there”. And a study guide for each chapter makes the book perfect for small group sharing and discussion. For moms who yearn to integrate their faith into their vocation, the book can be a great way be inspired.

I’ve been…lifted up and inspired….and I feel more ready than ever to open up Momma Church’s pages in Mulieris Dignitatem – and read about her love and her gratitude for all women.