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Deacon Kevin’s Reflection for the First Sunday of Advent

This guest post is by Deacon Kevin Bagley, DMin, Director of Verbum.

Happy New Year! The church begins its liturgical year as we prepare for the birth of our Savior. Our readings this weekend point us in a direction of change, of looking toward the Kingdom, and ask us, “Are you ready?”

This time of year we make all kinds of preparations. Preparations for Thanksgiving, shopping lists, getting ready to mail Christmas Cards, decking the halls, and putting together the Christmas menu. So much to do, so little time. The Christmas rush is upon us!

May I suggest that you carve a few minutes from your day to reflect on the wonderful gift that God bestowed upon us in the form of his Son? Take time by yourself, and as a family, to recall the birth of the infant who changed the world.

We make many preparations for one very special day, but how are we preparing for eternity? We prepare for eternity in the many ways we live and exercise our gifts and talents in service to the community and to the parish. Maybe God is calling you to give of your gifts, time, or talent in service to the church as you exercise your stewardship.

This Advent, take some quiet moments to reflect, to pray, and to thank God for your blessings and gifts. Take time to reflect on your willingness to be a steward of the gifts you have received, and how you are demonstrating your love of the Lord. Take time to appreciate the wonderful gift we have in each other. Take time preparing for eternity.

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New in Verbum 6: Custom Reading Plans!

One of the many exciting new features of Verbum 6 is the Custom Reading Plan. Get the most out of your study time with a Reading Plan, newly customizable to help you learn what you want to learn, when you want to learn it.

Schedule your reading to fit your own calendar—shorter selections for weekdays, for example, and longer sections for weekends.

Highlights:

  • You can choose your own pace and customize your reading according to your schedule
  • You can create a plan from multiple resources—anything in your Verbum library

In Verbum, select the Documents tab and open “Reading Plan,” just as in Verbum 5.

What’s new is the third option, Custom Reading Plan:

FINAL!!!

Then, choose a book from your Verbum library, and highlight, left click, and drag a reading into the Reference box.

Let’s say I want to start a reading plan about the New Evangelization and the Catechism on Sunday, November 30, the first day of Advent. I choose 2 short readings from Pope Saint John Paul II’s encyclicals on the New Evangelization for Sunday. Monday  is my day off, let’s say, so I include a longer reading from the Catechism on Monday. Tuesday I know I’ll be booked, so I only have one article from Chapter 2 of the Catechism.

Here’s my plan in progress with multiple readings. The orange box indicates where I drag selected text to create my next reading:

reading plan paint

With the Custom Reading Plan, you can drag and drop the sections you wish to read from multiple sources, creating a reading plan that suits your needs.

Verbum 6 makes it even easier for your faith to flourish! Upgrade today.

 

 

New in Verbum 6: Inline Search

The inline search tool integrates the power of Verbum searches with the convenience of the “find” function.

See how this search works, and imagine how it can change the way you use Verbum.

Inline Search is available in all* Verbum libraries.

*EDIT: While the Inline Search function is available in all libraries, advanced searching capabilities are still powered by special datasets (and reverse interlinears). These may not be available in the lower libraries. Reverse interlinears (which power original language searches like “<Lemma = lbs/el/λόγος>”) are not included in Verbum Basic. You must have Foundation or higher. To access searches like “<Person Jesus>,” you need the “Biblical Referents Dataset” which is available in Scripture Study and above.

New in Verbum 6: Treasury of Sacred Art

As Catholics, we celebrate and enjoy the physical senses. We approach God through the Sacraments, we deepen our prayer with sacramentals, and we gather to worship in beautiful sacred spaces. Our faith is supported by what we see and experience in mass, with “architecture, sculpture, paintings, icons, and stained glass lend[ing] an ambience that speaks of the mystery of God” (US Catholic Catechism for Adults 171). Sacred art, then, forms a vital aspect of our tradition—and it is newly accessible in Verbum 6!

The newly-catalogued Treasury of Sacred Art contains over 800 comprehensively tagged paintings and illustrations. Let Verbum accompany your faith journey and draw you closer to God. Watch the video below to see it in action!

The Treasury of Sacred Art is only available in Verbum 6 Foundation and above. Don’t miss out on all this art—upgrade today!

Verbum Monthly Sale: Man to Man, Dad to Dad by Brian Caulfield

Explore a wide range of contemporary Catholic writers on the topic of fatherhood during the Verbum Monthly Sale.

Here is an excerpt from Man to Man, Dad to Dad by Brian Caulfield, 10% off during November!

 The joys of fatherhood are many. Yet today, there exist many questions and uncertainties about the role of a father in the life of his children and family. What does it mean to be a man and a father in today’s world when some even question the need for a father? The slippers-and-pipe image of the all-knowing dad from the 1950s has long since passed—perhaps for the better—but have we developed any workable image to take its place? Indeed, we have few guides in this new world of easy divorce, widespread single motherhood, and women choosing children alone through sperm donors and in-vitro fertilization or adoption. We men may wonder if our paternal role is valued at all in the law or the culture. Some may feel that their instinct to protect and provide for a family is negated by women who have better educations and higher-paying jobs. In the wake of such seismic changes in relations between the sexes, in what way can we men be valued for our unique masculine strengths and virtues? (2)

From the publisher:

The value of fatherhood in contemporary society is more uncertain than ever before. This collection of faith-filled reflections by 14 Catholic men affirms the value of a Catholic father’s identity and purpose in the context of modern society. Acknowledging the constant struggle to strike a balance between family life and work life, this volume provides fathers with a realistic approach to making their relationships with God, their wives, and their children more involved and fulfilling.

man-to-man-dad-to-dad-catholic-faith-and-fatherhood (1)Blending personal anecdotes from Catholic fathers, biblical teaching, and allusions to Church doctrine and figures of authority, this guidebook helps Catholic dads find the path to living as faithful family men.

With Logos Bible Software, this valuable volume is enhanced with cutting-edge research tools. Scripture citations appear on mouseover in your preferred English translation. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Powerful topical searches help you find exactly what you’re looking for. Tablet and mobile apps let you take the discussion with you. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

New in Verbum 6: Psalms Explorer

The Psalms Explorer is one of Verbum’s new interactive media features. It is available in Verbum Master and Verbum Capstone, and it allows you to engage the biblical text in a whole new way.

I really enjoyed digging into the psalms and discovering the poetic beauty of their structure.

And I know I’m only scratching the surface in this video.

Verbum 6 is Here!

We are proud to introduce the latest version of our software, Verbum 6!

The new software includes many new features, such as Inline Search and Interactive Media.

We think you’ll agree with us that Verbum 6 is a product worth celebrating!

The Fifth Luminous Mystery: The Institution of the Eucharist

This post is by Juan Pablo Saju, Verbum’s Representative to the the Spanish-speaking world. He is based in Argentina.

In this luminous mystery, I invite you to meditate on Pope Saint John Paul II’s reflection about the relationship between the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Holy Eucharist. This contemplation will help us to prepare to receive Jesus in our hearts in the best way.

In his 2003 address, Ecclesia De Eucharistia, “On the Eucharist in its Relationship to the Church,” Pope John Paul II says:

“If we wish to rediscover in all its richness the profound relationship between the Church and the Eucharist, we cannot neglect Mary, Mother and model of the Church. In my Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, I pointed to the Blessed Virgin Mary as our teacher in contemplating Christ’s face, and among the mysteries of light [the luminous mysteries of hte rosary] I included the institution of the Eucharist. Mary can guide us towards this most holy sacrament, because she herself has a profound relationship with it.

At first glance, the Gospel is silent on this subject. The account of the institution of the Eucharist on the night of Holy Thursday makes no mention of Mary. Yet we know that she was present among the Apostles who prayed “with one accord” (cf. Acts 1:14) in the first community which gathered after the Ascension in expectation of Pentecost. Certainly Mary must have been present at the Eucharistic celebrations of the first generation of Christians, who were devoted to “the breaking of bread” (Acts 2:42).

But in addition to her sharing in the Eucharistic banquet, an indirect picture of Mary’s relationship with the Eucharist can be had, beginning with her interior disposition. Mary is a “woman of the Eucharist” in her whole life. The Church, which looks to Mary as a model, is also called to imitate her in her relationship with this most holy mystery.

Mysterium fidei! If the Eucharist is a mystery of faith which so greatly transcends our understanding as to call for sheer abandonment to the word of God, then there can be no one like Mary to act as our support and guide in acquiring this disposition. In repeating what Christ did at the Last Supper in obedience to his command: “Do this in memory of me!”, we also accept Mary’s invitation to obey him without hesitation: “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5). With the same maternal concern which she showed at the wedding feast of Cana, Mary seems to say to us: “Do not waver; trust in the words of my Son. If he was able to change water into wine, he can also turn bread and wine into his body and blood, and through this mystery bestow on believers the living memorial of his passover, thus becoming the ‘bread of life.’”

As a result, there is a profound analogy between the Fiat which Mary said in reply to the angel, and the Amen which every believer says when receiving the body of the Lord. Mary was asked to believe that the One whom she conceived “through the Holy Spirit” was “the Son of God” (Lk 1:30-35). In continuity with the Virgin’s faith, in the Eucharistic mystery we are asked to believe that the same Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Mary, becomes present in his full humanity and divinity under the signs of bread and wine.

Do this in remembrance of me” (Lk 22:19). [...] In the Eucharist the Church is completely united to Christ and his sacrifice, and makes her own the spirit of Mary. This truth can be understood more deeply by re-reading the Magnificat in a Eucharistic key. The Eucharist, like the Canticle of Mary, is first and foremost praise and thanksgiving. When Mary exclaims: “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour”, she already bears Jesus in her womb. She praises God “through” Jesus, but she also praises him “in” Jesus and “with” Jesus. This is itself the true “Eucharistic attitude”.

Institution of the Eucharist by Nicholas Poussin, 1640.

Institution of the Eucharist by Nicholas Poussin, 1640.

At the same time Mary recalls the wonders worked by God in salvation history in fulfilment of the promise once made to the fathers (cf. Lk 1:55), and proclaims the wonder that surpasses them all, the redemptive incarnation. Lastly, the Magnificat reflects the eschatological tension of the Eucharist. Every time the Son of God comes again to us in the “poverty” of the sacramental signs of bread and wine, the seeds of that new history wherein the mighty are “put down from their thrones” and “those of low degree are exalted” (cf. Lk 1:52), take root in the world. Mary sings of the “new heavens” and the “new earth” which find in the Eucharist their anticipation and in some sense their programme and plan. The Magnificat expresses Mary’s spirituality, and there is nothing greater than this spirituality for helping us to experience the mystery of the Eucharist. The Eucharist has been given to us so that our life, like that of Mary, may become completely a Magnificat!”

 

 

The Fourth Luminous Mystery: The Transfiguration

This guest post is by Robert Klesko, Catholic Educational Resources Product Manager at Verbum.

“They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God” (Is. 35:2).

The Transfiguration of our Lord on Mount Tabor is more than an event which shows forth the glory of God and the divinity of Christ. To simplify it to a mere miraculous occasion is to miss the meaning. For it was not merely done by Christ to demonstrate his power and glory as proof of his Godhead, it was an unveiling, a theophany, of what humanity is destined for.

Pope St. Leo the Great provides an insightful commentary:

And in this Transfiguration the foremost object was to remove the offence of the cross from the disciple’s heart, and to prevent their faith being disturbed by the humiliation of His voluntary Passion … But with no less foresight, the foundation was laid of the Holy Church’s hope, that the whole body of Christ might realize the character of the change which it would have to receive, and that the members might promise themselves a share in that honour which had already shone forth in their Head (Sermon 51).

In seeing God’s glory, Peter, James, and John were fortified and buffered from the profound grief and confusion of the Cross. Yet, more importantly, Christ bathes them in the light of Mount Tabor in order for them to realize their role as prophets and heralds of the eschaton, or Judgment Day. Surely this was on St. Peter’s mind when he wrote, “… through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature” (II Pet. 1:3-5).The Transfiguration concerns our deification and the deification of the entire cosmos and the final victory of God and his New Creation.

This gives hope to every person engaged in every holy endeavor and when compared to the various motivations of the “the corruption that is in the world because of passion” (II Pet. 1:4), we see we are bound for a much more glorious future. In this world so full of the misery or war, violence, despair, and just plain apathy, isn’t the message of the Transfiguration needed all the more?

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Mary: Star of the New Evangelization

There is a beautiful icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe entitled “Mary: Star of the New Evangelization” and in the background are beams of light radiating from the Blessed Mother. She is depicted in the uncreated light of Tabor, arms outstretched heavenward as if saying to her Son, “thy Kingdom come on earth, as it is in heaven.” When meditating on this mystery during this month of the Holy Rosary let’s remember our vocation to be prophets and evangelists of the Kingdom, calling our friends and neighbors, young and old, rich and poor, marginalized and broken; in fact, calling all to the hope of New Creation in Christ.

Let us ponder like the theologian John, “Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (I Jn. 3:2-3). We have so much to hope for, so much to be joyful for, and so much work to do in spreading that joy to others! We work with the Blessed Mother and the entire communion of the saints in ushering in God’s kingdom!

The Third Luminous Mystery: The Proclamation of the Kingdom

This guest post was writtten by Brandon Rappuhn, Marketing Copywriter at Faithlife.

“This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel (St. Mark 1:15).

The proclamation of the Kingdom of God is a mystery broad and deep, inviting us to meditate on any of Jesus’ teachings, his mission, and/or the teachings of the Church. But for today’s meditation, I’d like to dwell on the fourth chapter of St. Mark and what Jesus has to say about his parables.

They May Not be Converted and Forgiven

Jesus says,

“The mystery of the kingdom of God has been granted to you [the disciples]. But to those outside everything comes in parables, so that

‘they may look and see but not perceive,

and hear and listen but not understand,

in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven’” (Mk 4:11-12).

This is a striking passage. Would Jesus intentionally muddy his teachings to confuse people? Would he do such a thing to keep people from being converted, and from being forgiven?

At first glance, Jesus’ statement might appear malicious and ruthless—not at all like the gentle and forgiving Jesus to whom we pray our Divine Mercy chaplets. But reading further invites conversation with the Word concerning this very difficult passage. Jesus then indicates that he knows the parables might confuse people:

Jesus said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand any of the parables?” (Mk 4:13).

Immediately, we can see that even the disciples misunderstand the parable of the sower, given a few verses earlier:

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The Sower, Icon from Biserica Ortodoxa din Deal, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it had not much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil; 6 and when the sun rose it was scorched, and since it had no root it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among thorns and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. 8 And other seeds fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold” (Mk 4:3-8).

The Parable of the Sower Explained

Jesus’ explanation helps us understand his statement about those who “hear and listen but do not understand.” In the parable the sower sows seed on 4 different types of soil, but the seed only takes root in only one type of soil. The other soil types refused to support the plant the seed was meant to become

The sower sows the word—the Word of God, the Gospel, the proclamation of the Kingdom. This could possibly even extend to the Sacraments. Consider the reasons why the Word did not take root and survive as a plant. And the word sown on rich soil represents those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit 30, 60, even 100-fold.

Many who would read this passage might initially think that the state of the soil represents the state of a person’s heart and mind before deciding whether or not to become Catholic (or Christian). But we see all around us that the Word of God is being sown upon us all the time—through the daily Gospel readings, through daily Mass, through our fellow Catholics, even through this very blog post you are reading. The state of the soil in the parable, I believe, represents our daily receptivity to the Word of God being sown into us.

Whoever Has Ears to Hear Ought to Hear

Thus, this parable answers the paradox presented by Jesus’ statement that “some may hear and not understand.” If we have good soil, and are receptive to the Word of God, we might see and perceive the teachings of Christ, and thus be converted and forgiven. But what do we do to have our soil receptive to the Word?

We get out our spades, shovels, hoes, and till the soil. This is where our good Catholic disciplines come into practice. Fasting on Fridays, praying the rosary, and performing the penance we’re given after a good confession—these are the things that create a good soil for God’s Word to be sown upon. We can even assign ourselves little penances to prepare our hearts to receive God (St. Francis de Sales taught me this). Penance prepares us to receive Christ again in the future, and when Christ calls upon us once more, we’ll have to decide again whether we’ll refuse to let the seed take root and bear fruit—or listen and let it grow in us.

 

 

 

 

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