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Celebrate the Feast of St. John Chrysostom with a Verbum Special Offer!

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

“The Lord God has given me a well-trained tongue” (Is. 50:4)

JohnchrysostomSt. John Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople from 398-404 AD, was given the title Χρυσόστομος or “golden-mouthed,” in recognition of his gift of preaching. It is said of the relics of St. John Chrysostom that all but his tongue have shown the corruption of the grave. We continue to have much reverence and respect for this holy saint, and Verbum gives us the opportunity to experience his eloquent preaching through his writings in the Fathers of the Church series from Catholic University of America Press.

In honor of St. John Chryfathers-of-the-church-greek-fathers-of-the-nicene-era (1)sostom’s feast day, Verbum is offering the Fathers of the Church: Greek Fathers of the Nicene Era for $100 off with coupon code CHRYSOSTOM9. This series will give Verbum users access to 9 volumes of St. John
Chrysostom’s works, as well works of Greek fathers, St. Basil the Great, Gregory Nazianzus, Cyril of Alexandria, and many more. Among the writings from John Chrysostom, you will find his Commentary on St. John the Apostle and Evangelist, one of the earliest commentaries on John’s Gospel. There are many pearls of wisdom which one can pause and reflect on, but considering the state of the world at present, I found one passage to be particularly encouraging:

For this house is a spiritual surgery, that whatever wounds we may have received without, here we may heal, not that we may gather fresh ones to take with us hence. Yet if we do not give heed to the Spirit speaking to us, we shall not only fail to clear ourselves of our former hurts, but shall get others in addition.

The image of the Church as a “spiritual surgery,” binding up and healing the wounds of her members, is an image to take to heart in the midst of the brokenness of the present world. John’s emphasis on the need of synergy, or cooperation, with the grace of the Holy Spirit for true healing is an important reminder and call to active participation in the life of the Church. This participation not only heals our own brokenness, but also gives us the grace to deflect additional injury to our interior life. St. John Chrysostom’s words are an important reminder and a deep theological reflection on the healing witness of the Church and the comfort which only comes from active engagement with the Holy Spirit.

This is just one excerpt from St. John Chrysotom in Fathers of the Church: Greek Fathers of the Nicene Era , and  you can receive $100 off your purchase with coupon code CHRYSOSTOM9! This would make a great addition to any Verbum library! The ancient wisdom of the Church has and always will be exalted, take this opportunity to carry forward the wisdom of the past into our present world.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux and the Historians

To commemorate the feast day of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Doctor of the Church, enjoy this excerpt from Dr. Adriaan Bredero’s masterful study, Bernard of Clairvaux: Between Cult and History.  Bredero’s personal story is fascinating: he began his career-long study of St. Bernard of Clairvaux as a college student, while hiding from the Nazis in 1944 Amsterdam.  Here, Bredero re-evaluates many of the primary and secondary sources about St. Bernard, allowing a carefully considered historical portrait of the saint to emerge. Importantly, Bredero’s erudition raises enduring questions about the use of scholarly sources in history and hagiography.

bernard-of-clairvaux-between-cult-and-historyBernard and the Historians

Through the centuries many historians have paid attention to St. Bernard, all with their own motives and from their own perspectives. As a result, this medieval abbot inevitably was characterized incidentally and evaluated by some in an almost inimitable way. More than once we find an emotional appreciation or disapproval of his actions. Thus developed—even outside of the hagiographic tradition—a number of historically questionable portraits of his person, which persisted for a shorter or longer period. Alexander Lenoire in 1814 provided a remarkable example of this phenomenon. This lodge member argued that Bernard’s unblemished life and compassion resulted from his intimate knowledge of the deepest secrets of freemasonry, which enabled him to draft the Rule of the Templars.

Obviously not all more or less cursory portraits of Bernard were as flattering as that of Lenoire. At times we find extremely negative judgments, based on just a few isolated passages from Bernard’s writings or from the vita prima. To these a commentary or interpretation would be added, with no attention to the context within which these passages were written or, rather, dictated.

It has been established that the frequent presupposition that Bernard was anti-intellectual is based on a remark with an ironic undertone made by Bernard around 1125 in a letter to Henry Murdach about Henry’s armchair learning. The fact that the addressee was completely addicted to his learning, and that this remark of Bernard’s was clearly relativized by William of Saint-Thierry in the A-redaction of the vita prima, is totally ignored. In redaction B this relativizing remark was eliminated. This suggests that this hagiographer intended to confirm this anti-intellectual image of Bernard; the more so, since none of the versions of this vita, which incorporated some passages from redaction A, pay any attention to William’s comments. They seem to be utterly unaware of its existence.


A passage at the beginning of his treatise De consideratione, where Bernard deals with the meaning and the usefulness of “considering,” shows how ill-conceived it is to accuse him of anti-intellectualism. This is what he has to say:

First of all, “considering” purifies the source from which it springs, i.e., the spirit. It also regulates our emotions, gives direction to our actions, corrects deviations, builds our character, bestows honor and order to our lives; to put it in one word: it provides knowledge of divine and human things. It clarifies what is confused, unifies what is disjointed, collects what is dispersed, grasps what is hidden, searches for truth, and discovers what is treacherous and disguised. It foresees and organizes what must be done, checks what has been done, so that nothing remains in the spirit that has not been improved of needs no further improvement. In times of prosperity it foresees misfortune, and it hardly feels the latter when it has arrived. This last ability is called strength, the first one prudence.

There are other dubious portrayals of Bernard by historians, based on biased or incorrect interpretations of particular passages from his writings. Two of these have become rather widespread. The first of these, to which we already referred in the Introduction, concerns Bernard’s observations in his Apology with regard to the luxuriance of the abbey church that was being constructed in Cluny.

Read more by getting Bernard of Clairvaux: Between Cult and History today!

Catholic Scholarship On Sale Now!

Although Jesuit priest and scholar Cornelius à Lapide died in 1637, his impressive erudition and passion for Scripture are still greatly admired today. The 8-volume Great Commentary of Cornelius à Lapide is just one of the commentaries featured on the Verbum Monthly Sale during the month of August.

359px-Cornelius_a_Lapide_(1597-1637)The following excerpt is from Cornelius à Lapide’s  discussion of the Gospel of Matthew.  The author is obviously steeped in scripture and also conversant with the writings of the Church fathers, but he chooses a moment from Matthew that every believer will recognize. As Lapide mentions, the moment of conversion, of answering the call of Christ, is one that spans the centuries.

Lastly, St. Matthew is pre-eminent amongst the Evangelists in the following respects:[…] Because St. Matthew, who was perfectly conversant with business affairs, for he was over the tribute, was converted to Christ, not by seeing His miracles, not by hearing His preaching, says St. Chrysostom, but by a single word, “Follow Me,” obeying this with the utmost promptitude, he was straightway changed into another man, even into an Apostle, so that he left all things, and followed Christ.


The Calling of St. Matthew by Caravaggio

I may add, that after this he never left Christ, but was a beholder and a witness of His miracles, an imitator of His life, a companion of His journeys and labors a partaker of His cares and griefs, and thus was conversant with Him during the whole period of His earthly ministry. Matthew means in Hebrew, given, as Origen and Isidore say—or a gift, as Pagninus thinks—from matthan, a gift. Anastasius of Antioch gives a different interpretation, Matthew, he says, means the “command of the Most High.” St. Gregory makes the following remarks about him: “Iron is taken out of the earth. Was not Matthew found in the earth, when he was immersed in worldly business, and served the customs’ board? But when he was taken out of the earth, he possessed the strength of iron. For by his tongue, and by the dispensation of the Gospel committed to him, the Lord, as by a most sharp sword, transfixed the hearts of unbelievers.” Clement of Alexandria says of this Evangelist, that he was not wont to eat flesh, but to live on seeds, berries, and herbs. […] The last thing I will mention is, that St. Matthew made himself known to St. Bridget, when she was praying at his tomb in the city of Malphi, and said to her, “When I was writing my Gospel, so intense was the heat of the Divine flame which abode with me, that even if I had wished to keep silence, I could not, because of that burning heat.”

Discover the riches of Lapide’s vast scholarship with a monthly special from Verbum until the end of August!

Author Interview, Part 2: Dr. Mary Healy and Dr. Peter Williamson

This post is a continuation of the interview with authors Dr. Mary Healy and Dr. Peter Williamson.  Verbum users enjoy special savings on their 7-volume Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture through the month of August!

6. What impact have you seen with your seminary students using this commentary? What effect has it had on homiletics?

MH: Some of the most enthusiastic comments we have received are from seminarians, some of whom had previously only used commentaries designed for scholars that left them rather perplexed or uninspired to preach on particular Scripture passages. Our commentaries have helped them see the richness and spiritual depth of passages they had not paid attention to before.

7. What impact have you seen on lay ministries?

PSW: We’ve especially seen Bible Studies and Bible Study leaders make great use of the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture. Our series website,, provides additional resources including Questions for Reflection and Discussion. Many Bible studies use these questions, sometimes adding others of their own.

Q. How has the series been received outside of the Catholic arena? What channels of dialogue being opened up from the quality scholarship of the commentaries?

PSW: I have been very encouraged at the response of Protestant and Orthodox Christians to the series. It helps them to see how much common ground we have in common; that in turn builds trust which enables fruitful conversation regarding the points on which we differ. I was delighted to learn that my niece, who attends Moody Bible Institute, found the series in their library and had some of her professors recommend it as a good Catholic commentary.

8. What is next from the series?

PSW: My volume on Revelation will be published in November or December. Then in January or February our volume on the Gospel of John will be published; it is authored by Fr. Francis Martin and Dr. William Wright.

In 2015 we will publish Dr. Mary Healy’s volume on Hebrews and a volume that covers both James (Kelly Anderson) and 1-3 John (Daniel Keating).

After that we’re looking forward to Romans by Scott Hahn, Galatians by Cardinal Albert Vanhoye and myself, Luke by Fr. Pablo Gadenz and Tim Gray, and 1-2 Thessalonians by Nathan Eubank.

Author Interview: Dr. Mary Healy and Dr. Peter Williamson

Verbum interveiwed two authors of Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture. See what they have to say about this stellar commentary, on sale this month.

1. What sparked your desire to produce this series?

Williamson, Peter 9579PSW: Both Mary and I have experienced great grace in our lives through reading and studying Scripture. The benefit we received was due in part to gifted teachers who opened up the word of God to us. We noticed that many Catholics needed the kind of help we ourselves were blessed to receive.

There seemed to be a gap in the Catholic biblical resources available. On the one hand, there were study Bibles and simple introductory books on Scripture. On the other hand, there were academic works that tended not to focus on Christian faith and life, but on scholarly questions. So we set out to write and edit commentaries of theological depth whose aim is to help Catholics deepen their faith, hope, and love.

2. What questions in modern Scripture scholarship are you hoping to answer through this series?

PSW: Actually, we’re not trying to answer scholars’ questions, but the questions of ordinary Catholics and of the clergy and lay leaders who teach and preach to them. Our goal is to gather the best insights of Scripture scholarship and make it accessible. We ensure that our authors write in ordinary language that does not require translation for preaching and teaching.

3. What aims/goals do you wish to obtain through these commentaries?

photo_29MH: We hope Catholics will fall in love with the word of God and learn to read it the way the Church has traditionally read it: as a diverse library and yet a single word that speaks of Christ. We also hope to help overcome the enormous gap that has divided theology from biblical studies in recent years, by interpreting each biblical book in light of the whole canon of Scripture and the tradition of the Church.

4. What benefits have you derived in your own scholarship from the feedback obtained from the series?

MH: The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Part of the reason is that each of our volumes goes through an extremely rigorous editorial process in which it is reviewed and edited eight to ten times by different sets of eyes. I have benefited enormously by the insightful and sometimes critical comments of my fellow editors and other reviewers. They have caused me to read the text more carefully and to ensure that there are no gaps in my explanations.

5. How are these commentaries accentuated by the tools and functionality of Verbum?

PSW: Our commentaries include many biblical references to support or illustrate what is being said, as well as footnotes to church documents. They also include cross references to the Catechism and Lectionary of Sundays and Special Seasons. Verbum makes checking out cross references so easy!


Get the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture on sale today!


Cyril of Alexandria—Saint & Scrapper

Today’s guest post is by Robert Klesko, Verbum’s Catholic Educational Resources Product Manager

It is zeal for your house that has consumed me – Psalm 69:9

The above quote from the Psalmist seems especially appropriate to the life and ministry of St. Cyril, Pope of Alexandria (c. 376-444). He was zealous. Zealous for the authentic Christian faith. But zeal without a bridle can lead to failures. Cyril certainly made mistakes in regard to his dealings with the city’s Jewish population and Orestes, the Roman Governor in Alexandria. He was prone to be hotheaded and unflinching in what he viewed to be unjust persecution against his flock from rival religious and political authority. However, Cyril is not honored as a saint and doctor of the Church for his political savvy. In fact, I believe it was precisely these early failures which caused him to refocus his ministry on the Christological questions of his time.

Cyril of course is known for his dispute with Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople. This dispute produced some of the most prodigious theology of the Patristic Age. His theology is available from Verbum as part of our special monthly sale. Our six-volume set of the Works of St. Cyril of Alexandria will introduce you to the zealous champion of the orthodox faith. Included in this collection are the Five Tomes against Nestorius, which set the groundwork for the Council of Ephesus (431AD) and Chalcedon (451AD). In Tome II, Cyril makes the following affirmation of the dual nature of the human and divine in Jesus:

Yet how is it not obvious to all that the Only-Begotten being God by Nature has been made man, not by connection simply […] considered as external or accidental, but by true union, ineffable and passing understanding. And thus He is conceived of as One and Only, and everything said befits Him and all will be said of One Person.

This statement, and others like it, heavily influenced the Church’s doctrine of hypostasis, the understanding that Christ is one person with two natures, human and divine. The “hypostatic union” articulated by St. Cyril would become one of the key doctrines of Christological and Trinitarian theology.

Beyond his Christological writings, this six-volume set will introduce you to St. Cyril as a Biblical scholar. Included are his two-volume commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke and the companion two-volume commentary on the Gospel of John. Composed of sermons delivered by St. Cyril on themes in the Gospels, these commentaries offer a rich exposition of the Alexandrian school of theology. Anyone interested in Patristics or Biblical theology would benefit greatly by making these resources part of their Verbum library.

Verbum’s sale on the Works of St. Cyril of Alexandria is for a limited time, so don’t let this opportunity pass by. Studying Cyril’s theology will give you a clear understanding of the development of the Church’s doctrine on the divinity and humanity of Christ. What a great opportunity to look at Christ through the eyes of one who was among the first to grapple with the classic theological question, “What do you think of the Christ?” (Mt. 22:42). Let the study of St. Cyril’s work ignite the zeal for Christ in your own life. Order today and take advantage of the savings!

Pre-Publication Special: The Joseph A Fitzmyer Collection

Save 25% on the Joseph A Fitzmyer Collection today!

Joseph A Fitzmyer is one of the most esteemed biblical scholars alive today. A Jesuit priest and professor emeritus at the Catholic University of America, Fitzmyer is a master of biblical languages and has made invaluable contributions to his field.

­­In this collection, Fitzmyer presents essays on Pauline studies and the historical-critical method, answer questions on Christology, examines the impact of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and updates Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises to include more emphasis on Pauline texts and the Holy Spirit. You’ll get 5 of his key scholarly works:


Don’t miss the chance to save big on this important collection: Get the Joseph A. Fitzmyer collection for 25% off today!

Get Masterful Commentary on Balthasar and Pope Benedict XVI

Better understand the writings of Balthasar and Pope Benedict XVI with the Aidan Nichols Collection—33% off in Pre-Pub!

Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) and Hans Urs von Balthasar are two of the most important Roman Catholic theologians of the twentieth century. Their thought has been integral in the development of modern Catholic doctrine, and their writings have greatly shaped the lives of millions around the world.

Though they are very different thinkers, they share much in common: they are both brilliant, they both communicate the truths of the Faith in profound and impacting ways, and they both know how to speak to the modern reader while reeling against many modernist philosophical traps. But Benedict XVI and Balthasar also share this: their thought can often be complex, difficult to understand, and very dense.


Aidan Nichols is an internationally respected Catholic academic and priest who has published much on Balthasar (most notably his famous trilogy, The Word Has Been Abroad: A Guide through Balthasar’s Aesthetics, No Bloodless Myth: A Guide through Balthasar’s Dramatics, and Say It Is Pentecost: A Guide through Balthasar’s Logic), and also has an authoritative text on Benedict XVI, The Thought of Pope Benedict XVI: An Introduction to the Theology of Joseph Ratzinger. Devoting a large portion of his academic career to studying these two key figures, Nichols includes thoughts and investigations on Balthasar and Benedict XVI, bringing fresh insights into these great authors’ writings.

Nichols masterfully investigates Benedict XVI’s and Balthasar’s works, reflecting on the wide theological influences and implications of their thought: Augustine’s ecclesiology, early Franciscanism, Christian brotherhood, the unfolding of the Second Vatican Council, and more. In this collection, Nichols also demonstrates an authoritative understanding of Balthasar with commentaries on The Glory of the Lord, Theo-Drama, Theo-Logic, and several lesser-known works by the great Swiss thinker.

Pre-order these brilliant commentaries and theological investigations today and save 33%!

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