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Verbum and Preaching, Part 2: Preaching is Christocentric

In part 2 of Verbum and Preaching, we’ll look at the first of four videos aimed at helping priests and homilists familiarize themselves with the basics of Verbum.

In this video, Jason walks us through some foundational features in Verbum, focusing on the Christ-centered nature of preaching. We’ll take a look at the way that Verbum cross-links books and resources and how to begin researching for a homily:

Pre-Pub Special: Pontifical Council for the Laity Collection (9 vols.)

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We’ve talked about the Pontifical Council collections before (here and here), and today you can get a special price on one of the most relevant Pontifical Council collections ever: The Pontifical Council for the Laity Collection.


The nine volumes in this collection examine various ecclesial movements and important topics relating to the laity, such as:

The Pontifical Council collections are essential documents for understanding modern Church teaching on a plethora of pressing issues the Church faces today. Curated and published by the Vatican itself, these documents represent some of the best in modern Catholic theology and scholarship.

Fully integrated into your digital library, this collection connects to a wealth of other Catholic resources. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other texts in your digital library, and Scripture citations link directly to English translations.

Pre-order the Pontifical Council of the Laity Collection today and get 27% off!

Verbum and Preaching, Part 1: A Brief Introduction

This post is by Jason Stellman, Adult Education Specialist here at Verbum.

Hey everyone, my name’s Jason Stellman. I’m the new Adult Education guy at Verbum.

The reason I’m writing is that I’m planning to start a new series of posts on homiletics and preaching. Until a couple years ago, I was a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America, and my conversion to “the dark side of the Force” caused something of a stir in certain conservative Protestant circles. (If you’re interested, you can view my resignation letter here, my appearance on The Journey Home here, and my address at last year’s Defending the Faith conference in Steubenville here.)

For the past two decades, I’ve been teaching Scripture and theology on a regular basis, predominantly in official, ordained capacities both in broad evangelical and staunch Calvinistic contexts, and more recently to Catholic audiences. My career as a teacher of Scripture to everyone from poor African villagers to European university students to wealthy American suburbanites has enabled me to learn a bit about how to communicate deep truths to diverse audiences with credibility and understanding, in ways that are simple, clear, and engaging. It’s our conviction here at Verbum that the tools we offer can and should be directed toward our clergy, with a special desire to help priests with their weekly preaching ministries.

All that to say, I have a few ideas marinating in my head for how Verbum can help meet this serious need. So stay tuned for more posts and videos on preaching, as well as opportunities for you all to get involved in our efforts to get Verbum into the hands (or onto the screens) of as many Catholic priests and preachers as possible!

Learn to use dictionaries in Verbum

In Verbum, dictionaries are extremely powerful, but also very easy to use. Check out the video below to learn more about the intuitive dictionary functionality in Verbum:

Expand your theological vocabulary with A Concise Dictionary Of Theology—29% off in Pre-Pub today! 
You can also enrich your understanding of Scripture with Scott Hahn’s Catholic Bible Dictionary, now 23% off in Pre-Pub:

Pre-Publication Special: Crossing the Tiber by Steve Ray

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Steve Ray’s conversion story is a moving account of a Baptist turned Catholic. You’ll learn how hostility towards the Church was overcome by a combination of serious Bible study and copious amounts of research into the writings of the early Church Fathers.

Steve Ray offers an in-depth treatment of baptism and the Eucharist in Scripture and the ancient Church, while narrating the story of his conversion. The book is replete with biblical and patristic quotations, pointing to other books and stories for further research.

Crossing the Tiber is a fantastic apologetics resource for anyone wanting to better understand the Catholic faith, and it offers a sound response to some of the most popular and persisting Protestant critiques against Catholicism. The last two parts of the book, “Baptism in the Scriptures and in the Ancient Church” and “The Eucharist in the Scripture and in the Ancient Church,”are chock-full of helpful historical analysis, but the first section is what really sets Crossing the Tiber apart—Steve and Janet’s compelling personal story is sure to resonate with readers everywhere.

Karl Keating, founder and president of Catholic Answers remarks,

“This is really three books in one that offers not only a compelling conversion story, but documented facts that are likely to cinch many other conversions.”


This volume is particularly useful in Verbum, where all of Steve’s footnotes and citations are linked to Bibles, Church documents, and other resources in your Verbum library.

Pre-order Crossing the Tiber today for 20% off, and add this fantastic book to your library!

Share Verbum with Your Friends!

If you haven’t heard, we’re giving away a brand-new laptop in addition to our largest and most comprehensive digital Catholic libraryVerbum Capstone.  You won’t want to miss this opportunity to win over $3,500 worth of Catholic study tools and books!


Whether or not you own Verbum, this giveaway is well worth entering and sharing with your friends, family, and anyone interested in studying the Faith. (If you already have Verbum and you win, you’ll get the value of Capstone credited to your account.) Verbum is the very best Catholic study software available anywhere, and a brand-new MacBook Air is the icing on the cake!

Help get the word out—share this awesome opportunity to win a MacBook Air and Capstone. And, of course, make sure you enter yourself!

Enter and share the Verbum Easter giveaway today!

What It Means to Be a Saint (Part 3)

 In the previous post, we looked deeper into the meaning of sainthood by digging into some of the Vatican II documents. We learned that we are all called to sainthood—that a major part of being a saint is loving and edifying others, and that we’re called to be saints not as detached individuals, but as a part of the body of Christ.

Today we’ll take a look at some concrete examples of saints’ lives using just a few of Verbum’s tools and resources. We’ll begin on the home screen, making sure “saints” is checked in the bottom left panel.


The easiest way to start studying a saint is to simply click their name in the Saints Database:


The Saints Database automatically shows you the feast days and saints for any given day. It’s a great way to begin a study on a saint in conjunction with the Lectionary, or to simply get to know a saint you may have never heard of before. You can, of course, search for a specific saint by simply typing in their name in the “Go” box, but let’s take a look at the saint celebrated in today’s feast day: we’ll start by clicking “Athanasius of Alexandria.”

The Saints Database opens, giving me a brief overview of this particular saint, including a link to his feast day, plus two other resources where I can learn about Saint Athanasius. Opening these up, I get a layout like this:


Here I have the lectionary on the Layout, along with the two saints resources on the bottom-left panel. I learn that Saint Athanasius was widely known for defending the Church against the Arian heresy. We can also see to what pains he underwent to protect the Faith:

On the refusal of the Saint to restore Arius to Catholic communion, the emperor ordered the Patriarch of Constantinople to do so. The wretched heresiarch took an oath that he had always believed as the Church believes; and the patriarch, after vainly using every effort to move the emperor, had recourse to fasting and prayer, that God would avert from the Church the frightful sacrilege. The day came for the solemn entrance of Arius into the great church of Sancta Sophia. The heresiarch and his party set out glad and in triumph. But before he reached the church, death smote him swiftly and awfully, and the dreaded sacrilege was averted. St. Athanasius stood unmoved against four Roman emperors; was banished five times; was the butt of every insult, calumny, and wrong the Arians could devise, and lived in constant peril of death.[1]

We learn here of Athanasius’s persistence in the face of adversity and his zeal for truth. This courage, in conjunction with a passion for truth, is a hallmark of saints throughout history. Going back to the bottom-left panel, we can read more on Athanasius’ life or turn back to the Saints Database and learn about other saints we might be interested in.

If we wanted, we could continue to research different saints to find out more about their lives and writings. Scrolling down a bit, for example, we find Saint Augustine of Hippo:


This entry lets us see even more information, including a media panel that allows us to see an image and references to other documents in Verbum, Wikipedia, and elsewhere.

We’ve really only scratched the surface of Verbum’s capabilities when studying the lives of the saints. Stay tuned as we walk through more features, resources, and tools!

[1] Shea, J. G. (1887). Pictorial Lives of the Saints (pp. 207–208). New York; Cincinnati; Chicago: Benziger Brothers.

Pre-Publication Special: The 1917 Code of Canon Law in English & Latin

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The 1917 Code of Canon Law is an important document for understanding many of the basic tenets of the Church today. The 1917 Code was foundational in writing the Second Vatican Council’s decrees, and of course provided the groundwork for the 1983 Code of Canon Law.


Published in 2001, the 1917 Pio-Benedictine Code of Canon Law is the first time a comprehensive English translation of the Codex Iuris Canonici has ever existed. Dr. Edward N. Peters’ faithful translation of the original 1917 Latin text, along with his detailed references to such key canonical works as Canon Law Digest, gives researchers direct access to this great work of ecclesiastical legal science.

The original Latin codex (780 pages) was the fully developed legal system for the Church, in effect from 1917 to 1983. The history this codex is fascinating: it begins after the First Vatican Council (1870) as Pope Pius X and his clergy began collecting and canonizing the ancient collections of canon laws. These laws included Pope Gregory IX’s Liber Extra from 1234, Pope Boniface VIII’s Liber Sextus from 1298, and Pope John XII’s Clementines from 1317. Finally, in 1917, Pope Pius X synthesized these documents into a single systematic canonical code, rendering the Codex Iuris Canonici contained in this collection.

These important juridical works are enormous assets in Verbum. References to the canons will appear on mouseover in the reference texts in the rest of your library, letting you see the exact citation without losing your place. Read the Latin and the English side by side, and use the dictionary lookup tool to investigate English or Latin words and concepts.

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Pre-Publication Special: the Walter Kasper Collection

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Walter Kasper is a cardinal and the president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. He has written extensively on a number of topics related to ecumenism and ecclesial unity.


In this collection, Kasper shares his vision for the Church’s future and reflects upon the theological importance of acknowledging God’s triune nature.

In The Catholic Church: Nature, Reality, and Mission, Kasper emphasizes the need for the Church to be continually renewed: it is a call for the Church to continue being a spiritual home for its people.

Kasper’s The God of Jesus Christ calls for a “theological theology,” which makes the explanation of the confession of the triune God its first priority. Kasper masterfully synthesizes complex theological thought and practical teaching accessible to any reader, making this an invaluable resource for questions on God and the Trinity.

Both of these volumes are augmented in the context of a fuller Verbum library. Read Kasper’s brilliant thought on the Trinity, Christian unity, ecumenism, evangelism, and more with active citations linking to his referenced works and an entire set of theological and scriptural tools at your disposal.

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“The Secret of All Joy”: Finding Mary in the Month of May

This post was written by Kathryn Hogan, acquisitions editor here at Verbum

The intriguing title of Thomas Merton’s essay, “A Woman Clothed with the Sun,” comes from St. John’s Revelations. Merton’s main point is that God tells us very little about Mary. Paradoxically, as Merton points out, the little we know about Mary proclaims exactly what God wishes us to know about her: she is hidden and obscure, and that is the key to her sanctity.


What I had never considered, before reading this essay, is that God wants it that way; and that, in fact, what Merton calls Mary’s “hiddenness” is a model for us in our search for holiness. Mary’s selflessness allows God’s will to be brought to fulfillment in her, above all the other saints. Merton argues that Mary’s emptiness allows her to act as a window that most perfectly lets the light of God’s grace into her soul and to amplify it in her life. We can find Mary “living in the midst of Scripture,” as Merton states, and we can be confident that her example will always lead us to her son, Jesus.

Perhaps the most compelling aspect of Merton’s prescient essay is that he discerns one of the biggest problems of our current age: the relentless and obsessive drive to expose ourselves, to seek recognition, and even renown, at all times, for even the most mundane aspects of our lives. In stark contrast, Merton identifies Mary’s example of being unknown, and being willing to be unknown, as the highest priority in spiritual life: “to vanish from the sight of men and be accounted as nothing by the world and to disappear from one’s own self-conscious consideration and vanish in to nothingness in the immense poverty that is the adoration of God.” Strong words—and he continues: “This absolute emptiness, this poverty, this obscurity holds within it the secret of all joy because it is full of God.”


At a time when our society seems to push us toward more and more self-revelation, to expose everything, from the trivial to the truly tasteless, on Facebook, selfies, and viral videos, it might be difficult to regard obscurity—not being known—as a benefit.

But Merton assures us that it is essential. The key to the essay, I think, is in a Latin quote from Proverbs, which Merton includes in the essay without comment or context:

For those who find me find life

and receive favor from the LORD (8:35).

The idea of “finding” threads through Scripture, from the parable of the man who found the pearl of great price to one of the most wonderful promises of Jesus: “Seek and you shall find.” Instead of revealing ourselves in a culture that exposes too much, and too much that is unimportant, let us instead find life by seeking what is hidden and consenting to be hidden, so that God’s will can be completed in us as it was in Mary.

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