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Using Faithlife This Lent

This guest post is by Alex Renn, Verbum Marketing and Operations Team Lead.

Today we’re going to look at Faithlife, Verbum’s social component.

This post will give you a basic understanding of how to use Faithlife. In a future video, we’ll take a deeper look at how to create and manage your own groups.

If you haven’t set up your profile yet, you’ll want to do so right away. Signing up for Faithlife only takes a few seconds, and if you already own and use Verbum, all you need is your account’s email address and password to get started.

Start by going to Faithlife.com and simply sign in or sign up.

If it’s your first time on Faithlife, you’ll be guided through some basic profile set-up. The more information you provide, the richer your experience will be.

Now that your account is set up, let’s join the Verbum group. You’ll see the option to “Join” in the upper right.

Now that you’re in a group, let’s take a look at group navigation. The tabs at the top of a group page allow you to move around while remaining in the same group.

Most tabs are self-explanatory, but I’d like to draw your attention to a few:

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News is the tab you’ll see most often: think of this as the group’s “wall.” Post whatever you want here and engage in discussions with others.

The Documents tab is where you’ll go to find the Lenten reading plan and other documents that group members have shared. From Verbum you can share notes documents, reading plans, prayer lists, and more.

The Community Notes tab is a big one! When you take community notes in the software, and select the Verbum group, this is where they will be displayed. Of course, they’ll also display in your resource within the software, so it may be easier to engage with them there. The advantage of viewing them in Faithlife is you can see all of them in one place, and participate from any device—even a public computer.

Finally, the Discussions tab is where we’ll be encouraging dialogue. Think of this as a mini-forum for specific topics that will garner lots of engagement. This will be where we host the Discussions each week for the Lenten Journey.

Now that you’re familiar with the tab menu, let’s take a look at the rest of the Faithlife environment. To the left is the primary navigation bar where you’ll find five main menu items.

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The first of these is the “My Faithlife” section. My Faithlife includes posts from all your other groups, as well as any posts shared to “My Faithlife” by people in your groups. It’s a more general space, and comments shared here are visible to a wider audience. Anyone who is in a group with you can see the content you share to My Faithlife.

Right under My Faithlife is the Notifications section. This lets you know whenever anyone does something interesting in your groups. Once you’ve selected this section, you can define what you think is interesting in the “Notifications settings” on the right.

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I recommend you set email notifications for receiving messages, new posts, and community notes in the Verbum group. You can hover to see an “edit per group settings” option if you’re in multiple groups and only want emails from the Verbum group.

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The Messages section is a simple and useful feature that allows you to see all the private messages sent between you and other Faithlife users.

The Calendar and Community Notes sections collate all of your Community Notes and events from the groups you’re in and let you see them all in the same place. These are especially helpful if you’re in multiple groups and want to make sure your events don’t overlap, or if you want to see the most recent community notes across all your groups.

Below the five main tabs are all of the groups you participate in. If you are in a lot of groups, there is a drop-down icon at the bottom of the column that allows you to view all of your groups on a separate page. Plus, you can pin groups within the sidebar for easy access. I recommend you pin the Verbum group, so that it always shows at the top of your groups list.

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That’s it! Join us in the Verbum group for our Lenten Journey and start getting even more out of your study!

Deacon Kevin on the Permanent Diaconate

Our guest speaker is Deacon Kevin Bagley, Verbum Director.

Deacons likewise must be serious, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for gain; they must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience” (1 Tim 3: 8,9).

The Diaconate was established in the days of the early church. When we read in the Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 6, that there was concern that the widows of the Hellenists were being neglected in the daily distribution of food, the Twelve called together the community of disciples and appointed seven men to assist them in the various corporal and spiritual needs of the community, and to assist in preaching the word of God (Acts 8:40). Because of this important ministry, the deacon was expected to be a man of religious and moral integrity (I Tim 3: 8-11).One of the first deacons, Stephen, also became the first known martyr for Christ.

In the Catholic church, there are two kinds of deacon, those who receive the order as they progress on to priesthood (transitional deacons), and those who receive the order and remain deacons (permanent deacons). While the transitional deacon has not changed much from the time of its inception, the order we call the permanent diaconate flourished in the first four centuries. Then, for rather complex reasons, the order went into decline in the Roman Church. In the Eastern church, the order flourished and is still an integral part of their clergy to this day, playing an active and dominant role in church functions.

The Second Vatican Council restored the diaconate as a permanent ministry in the Church. In Article 29 of Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, the diaconate was restored as a proper and permanent rank of the hierarchy. Deacons rank at the lower level of the hierarchy, upon whom hands are imposed by the bishop—not into the priesthod, but into a ministry of service to the bishop. The permanent deacon is ordained into the distinct ministry of service. This ministry of service occurs in three distinct areas of the Church’s life: in the proclamation of the word, in the celebration of the sacraments, and in the community’s social ministry and charitable works.

One who aspires to the permanent diaconate publicly proclaims his will to offer himself in service to God and the Church in the exercise of a sacred order. By the administration of Holy Orders, the deacon becomes a cleric and is incardinated into a diocese for service to the Bishop. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Holy See to restore the permanent diaconate in the United States in April, 1968, and the first permanent deacons in the United States were ordained in May and June of 1971.

If you’d like to learn more on the history and purpose of the permanent diaconate, check out the Paulist Press Diaconate Collection, on pre-pub now!

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Are You Ready for Lent?

Join the 2015 Lenten Journey!

Pope Francis, in one of his general audiences last year, prayed that “each individual member of the faithful and every Church community will undertake a fruitful Lenten journey.” In response, we created the 2014 Verbum Lenten Journey. Hundreds of Verbum users joined us in meditating upon the Scriptures and discussing them in community.

This year, we’ve partnered with Catholic Scripture Study International to host the 2015 Lenten Journey! With CSSI’s fantastic Scripture study resources and Verbum’s unique tools and community integration, we think you’ll be well-equipped to deepen your prayer life during this Lenten season.

Learn more and sign up at Verbum.com/Lent!

 

 

St Thomas Aquinas on Knowing God

We hope you have enjoyed our introduction to St. Thomas Aquinas throughout January’s Verbum Monthly Sale!

Let’s close with a few of Aquinas’ thoughts on knowing God, from the beginning of his masterpiece, Summa contra Gentiles:

That certain divine truths wholly surpass the capability of human reason, is most clearly evident. For since the principle of all the knowledge which the reason acquires about a thing, is the understanding of that thing’s essence, because according to the Philosopher’s teaching the principle of a demonstration is what a thing is, it follows that our knowledge about a thing will be in proportion to our understanding of its essence. Wherefore, if the human intellect comprehends the essence of a particular thing, for instance a stone or a triangle, no truth about that thing will surpass the capability of human reason.

But this does not happen to us in relation to God, because the human intellect is incapable by its natural power of attaining to the comprehension of His essence: since our intellect’s knowledge, according to the mode of the present life, originates from the senses: so that things which are not objects of sense cannot be comprehended by the human intellect, except in so far as knowledge of them is gathered from [the senses]. Now [things we grasp from the physical senses] cannot lead our intellect to see in them what God is, because they are effects unequal to the power of their cause. And yet our intellect is led by [sense experiences] to the divine knowledge so as to know about God that He is, and other such truths. Accordingly some divine truths are attainable by human reason, while others altogether surpass the power of human reason ( 1, 5).

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Jacobs Ladder by Jacques Stella, 1650.

This is the last day to enjoy these special savings!

 

Celebrate the Feast Day of St. Thomas Aquinas

On the feast day of  St. Thomas Aquinas, we will feature him in his own words! Here is this Sunday’s gospel reading from Mark:

And they went into Caperna-um; and immediately on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit;  and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching! With authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee (Mk 1:21-28).

To demonstate the tremendous scope of his erudition, we excerpt the Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels. St. Thomas Aquinas’ masterful treatment of this same passage includes the works of the early church fathers, as well as scripture:

BEDE. (in Marc. i. 7) Since by the envy of the devil death first entered into the world, it was right that the medicine of healing should first work against the author of death; and therefore it is said, And there was in their synagogue a man, &c.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) The word Spirit is applied to an Angel, the air, the soul, and even the Holy Ghost. Lest therefore by the sameness of the name we should fall into error, he adds, unclean. And he is called unclean on account of his impiousness and far removal from God, and because he employs himself in all unclean and wicked works.

AUGUSTINE. (de Civ. Dei, ix. 21) Moreover, how great is the power which the lowliness of God, appearing in the form of a servant, has over the pride of devils, the devils themselves know so well, that they express it to the same Lord clothed in the weakness of flesh. For there follows, And he cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus of Nazareth, &c. For it is evident in these words that there was in them knowledge, but there was not charity; and the reason was, that they feared their punishment from Him, and loved not the righteousness in Him.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) For the devils, seeing the Lord on the earth, thought that they were immediately to be judged.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) Or else the devil so speaks, as if he said, ‘by taking away uncleanness, and giving to the souls of men divine knowledge, Thou allowest us no place in men.’

THEOPHYLACT. For to come out of man the devil considers as his own perdition; for devils are ruthless, thinking that they suffer some evil, so long as they are not troubling men. There follows, I know that thou art the Holy One of God.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) As if he said, Methinks that Thou art come; for he had not a firm and certain knowledge of the coming of God. But he calls Him holy not as one of many, for every prophet was also holy, but he proclaims that He was the One holy; by the article in Greek he shews Him to be the One, but by his fear he shews Him to be Lord of all.

AUGUSTINE. (ubi sup.) For He was known to them in that degree in which He wished to be known; and He wished as much as was fitting. He was not known to them as to the holy Angels, who enjoy Him by partaking of His eternity according as He is the Word of God; but as He was to be made known in terror, to those beings from whose tyrannical power He was about to free the predestinate. He was known therefore to the devils, not in that He is eternal Life, but by some temporal effects of His Power, which might be more clear to the angelic senses of even bad spirits than to the weakness of men.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) Further, the Truth did not wish to have the witness of unclean spirits; wherefore there follows, And Jesus threatened him, saying, &c. Whence a healthful precept is given to us; let us not believe devils, howsoever they may proclaim the truth. It goes on, And the unclean spirit tearing him, &c. For, because the man spoke as one in his senses and uttered his words with discretion, lest it should be thought that he put together his words not from the devil but out of his own heart, He permitted the man to be torn by the devil, that He might shew that it was the devil who spoke.

THEOPHYLACT. That they might know, when they saw it, from how great an evil the man was freed, and on account of the miracle might believe.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) But it may appear to be a discrepancy, that he should have gone out of him, tearing him, or, as some copies have it, vexing him, when, according to Luke, he did not hurt him. But Luke himself says, When he had, cast him into the midst, he came out from him, without hurting him. (Luke 4:35) Wherefore it is inferred that Mark meant by vexing or tearing him, what Luke expresses, in the words, When he had cast him into the midst; so that what he goes on to say, And did not hurt him, may be understood to mean, that the tossing of his limbs and vexing, did not weaken him, as devils are wont to come out even with the cutting off and tearing away of limbs. But seeing the power of the miracle, they wonder at the newness of our Lord’s doctrine, and are roused to search into what they had heard by what they had seen. Wherefore there follows, And they all wondered &c. For miracles were done that they might more firmly believe the Gospel of the kingdom of God, which was being preached, since those who were promising heavenly joys to men on earth, were shewing forth heavenly things and divine works even on earth. For before (as the Evangelist says) He was teaching them as one who had power, and now, as the crowd witnesses, with power He commands the evil spirits, and they obey Him. (1 John 5:20. John 17:3) It goes on, And immediately His fame spread abroad, &c.

GLOSS. (non occ.) For those things which men wonder at they soon divulge, for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. (Mat. 12:24)

PSEUDO-JEROME. Moreover, Capernaum is mystically interpreted the town of consolation, and the sabbath as rest. The man with an evil spirit is healed by rest and consolation, that the place and time may agree with his healing. This man with an unclean spirit is the human race, in which uncleanness reigned from Adam to Moses; for they sinned without law, and perished without law. (v. Rom. 5:14. 2:12) And he, knowing the Holy One of God, is ordered to hold his peace, for they knowing God did not glorify him as God, but rather served the creature than the Creator. (1:21.25) The spirit tearing the man came out of him. When salvation is near, temptation is at hand also. Pharaoh, when about to let Israel go, pursues Israel; the devil, when despised, rises up to create scandals.

Be sure to take advantage of all the excellent St. Thomas Aquinas resources as we come to the close of January’s Verbum Monthly Sale!

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Jesus Casting Out Demons, Strasbourg Cathedral

What are people saying about Verbum 6?

Verbum 6 introductory pricing ends in less than a week. We’ve spent a lot of time explaining the new features and telling you how excited we are.

Now, with prices going up on February 2, we thought we’d let other people tell you about Verbum 6. Feel free to click the citation to read the full review.

“I’ll admit — at first I was skeptical of it. I’m not a scholar, and even though I’m in full-time lay ministry, so much of what I do is practice-based: I teach people how to pray, not how to read Greek or interpret difficult Bible passages. So I wasn’t sure how this professional-grade software could really be useful for someone like me. Well, six months later I use Verbum every day. I repeat: every day.”
Carl McColman

“I can’t tell you how stunned I was when I first opened and explored Verbum. Navigation was a breeze. The library was huge and everything read very well. My library was on my phone, tablet, and computer. I was able to customize my home-page with daily updates on content that was relevant to me. Citations and creating references in Verbum saved a ton of time. I’m still learning more and more.”
Shaun McAfee

“Verbum provides a treasure trove of insights both on Scripture and on countless other faith-building resources, including the Church Fathers, Church councils, and the great saints and doctors of the Church. I use Verbum constantly, I am convinced of its value, and I enthusiastically recommend it to others.”
Jimmy Akin

Read even more endorsements here, then go get Verbum!

Celebrate the Genius of St. Thomas Aquinas, Part 4

Bloomsbury Studies on Thomas Aquinas is on pre-pub for 18% off!

bloomsbury-studies-on-thomas-aquinas

In his book, On Aquinas, Herbert McCabe tells the story of a propitious meeting between St. Thomas Aquinas and an Irishman named Peter (Petrus Hibernicus), who introduced St. Thomas to “some bewildering and exciting new thinking that was filtering in from Islamic sources” (1).

McCabe goes on to indicate that discovery of Aristotle’s method from these newly-translated sources was an intellectual turning point for Aquinas:

A whole  lot of texts of Aristotle were beginning to make their way through Naples into Europe, texts that nobody there had seen before.

Aristotle, a student and critical disciple of Plato, and a teacher of Alexander of Macedon, was a marine biologist who not only observed and classified his specimens but used the same methods in all sorts of other areas like physics, astronomy, the study of society, and of what makes human begins tick. He found time to invent logic in the modern sense, and moreover was intensely interested in what we would nowadays call philosophy of science—questions about what it means to pursue such studies, and questions about language itself and so on. Medieval Europe was being quite suddently hit by systematic scientific investigation and thinking. Many of Aristotles’s answers turned out to be wrong, but that didn’t matter. It was the method that mattered. This is what the young Aquinas fell in love with. One outstanding feature of it all was that it seemed completely subversive of Christianity, especially as it came through Christendom’s main enemy, Islam. This didn’t worry the Emperor too much but it must have presented an exciting challenge to Thomas. Anyway he spent much of his life painstakingly showing that if you found Aristotle right, broadly speaking, that didn’t mean you had to stop being a Christian; and indeed it sometimes helped you to express the Gospel (2).

Take advantage of the pre-pub savings for this 13-volume scholarly resource!

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The Triumph of St. Thomas Aquinas by Benozzo Lozzoli, 1468-1484

Time is Running Out!

February 2 is your last day to take advantage of special introductory pricing on a Verbum 6 library!

Whether you’re upgrading from Verbum 5 or purchasing your first library, you’ll save 15% or more on any Verbum 6 library. Our 15% off introductory sale stacks with other discounts—like dynamic pricing—so you can be sure you’re getting the best possible price on our newest libraries.

Find the library that’s right for you at Verbum.com/Compare.

If you haven’t seen all the new tools and resources in Verbum 6, here’s a taste:

  • Factbook: Get comprehensive information on people, places, topics, and more.
  • Treasury of Sacred Art: Browse over 800 paintings and illustrations from the Church’s rich artistic heritage.
  • Cultural Concepts: See how Scripture influenced—and was influenced by—ancient culture.
  • Interactive Media: Sort the Psalms by author and genre, convert biblical weights and measures, and gain insight into what you’re reading.
  • And more!

To see all the new features, check out Verbum.com/6.

If you’re still on the fence about Verbum 6, don’t worry! With special introductory pricing, budget-friendly payment plans, and a 30-day money-back guarantee, there’s nothing standing between you and smarter Scripture study.

Don’t miss out on introductory pricing—get a Verbum 6 library today.

Celebrate the Genius of St. Thomas Aquinas, Part 3

The Verbum monthly sale features several valuable resources from St. Thomas Aquinas, leading up to his feast day, January 28th.

Contemporary moral issues are considered by academics and experts in several fields from the Georgetown University Press Aquinas Studies Collection, specially priced through the end of January!

aquinas-studies-collection

This 4-volume set has been highly praised. Here’s a review of The Ethics of Aquinas, edited by Stephen J. Pope:

[A] must have for every theology library and an invaluable resource for moral theologians, philosophers, and students alike. Pope has gathered some of the best Thomistic scholars and ethicists in Europe and America to contribute to this book.

Horizons

Included in the set is Aquinas on the Emotions, lauded by Jean Porter,  John A. O’Brien Professor of Theological Ethics at the University of Notre Dame:

Diana Cates’ book thus fills a real need, offering us a comprehensive, reliable, and engagingly clear guide to Aquinas’ complex theory, firmly placed within the wider context of his thought. What is more, by comparing Aquinas’ account with that of central contemporary theories of the emotions, she draws Aquinas into our own conversations, where he proves to be a surprisingly illuminating interlocutor. This fine book makes an important contribution both to Aquinas studies and to contemporary religious ethics and moral philosophy, and it deserves, and I expect it to have, wide influence.

Be sure to take advantage of the savings and add to your library now!

Celebrate the Genius of St. Thomas Aquinas, Part 2

The Verbum monthly sale is featuring several works of St Thomas Aquinas.

Here’s an excerpt from Commentary on the Gospel of John: Chapters 1-5, part of the 8-volume set, Thomas Aquinas in Translation.

Get a hint of the capacious and lucid intellect of St. Thomas in his Prologue to the Gospel of John:

I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, and the whole house was full of his majesty, and the things that were under him filled the temple (Is. 6:1)

These are the words of a contemplative, and if we regard them as spoken by John the Evangelist they apply quite well to showing the nature of this Gospel. For as Augustine says in his work, On the Agreement of the Evangelists: “the other  Evangelists instruct us in their Gospels on the active life; but John in his Gospel instructs us also on the contemplative life.”

The contemplation of John is described above in three ways, in keeping with the threefold manner in which he contemplated the Lord Jesus. It is described as high, full, and perfect. It is high: I saw the Lord seated on a lofty throne; it is full: and the whole house was full of his majesty; and it was perfect; and the things that were under him filled the temple.

As to the first, we must understand that the height and sublimity of contemplation consists most of all in the contemplation and Knowledge of God: “Lift up your eyes on  high, and see who has created these things” (Is. 40:26). A man lifts up his eyes on high when he sees and contemplates the Creator of all things. Now since John rose above whatever had been created—mountains, heavens, angels—and reached the Creator of all, as Augustine says, it is clear that his contemplation was most high. Thus, I saw the Lord. And because, as John himself says below (12:41), “Isaiah said this because he had seen his glory,” that is, the glory of Christ, “and spoke of him,” the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne is Christ.

Now a fourfold height is height is indicated in this contemplation of John. A height of authority; hence he says, I saw the Lord. A height of eternity; when he says, seated. One of dignity, or nobility of nature; so he says, on a high throne. And a height of incomprehensible truth; when he says, lofty. It is in these four ways that the early philosophers arrived at the knowledge of God.

 

 

 

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