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Ash Wednesday: The Lenten Journey Begins

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, and thus the start of our Lenten Journey!

As you begin fasting, observing penances, or taking on new spiritual disciplines, consider joining the Verbum Lenten Journey. Hundreds of faithful Catholics are banding together for study, prayer, and discussion.

Learn about this season with weekly “Lenten Moment” emails. Study the Sunday readings with Lent: The Road to Redemption (now 50% off!). Share notes, questions, and responses with other Verbum users. Whatever you’re hoping to get out of Lent, Verbum is here to help.

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

New in Verbum 6: Wikipedia

Verbum 6 makes Wikipedia work for you.

If you still find yourself starting from Wikipedia—handy for quick overviews of foreign concepts—start from Wikipedia in Verbum. Verbum helps you go from Wikipedia to in-depth answers and allows you to uncover deeper layers of scholarship.

Say I’m reading the Summa and I encounter David of Dinant. I can right click and immediately pull up Wikipedia in the software:

David of Dinant

But besides giving me quick information about who he was, Verbum’s Wikipedia tool lets me take notes and highlight right in the Wikipedia article. So I can flag this or save it for future reference.

Wikipedia

Once the note is in place, Verbum keeps track of edits made to that page on Wikipedia, so my note won’t get lost or deleted.

If you already use Wikipedia as part of your workflow, you will find that Verbum has made it even easier and more powerful.

Check out the Wikipedia tool in all our Verbum 6 libraries.

Communion and Liberation: An Encounter with Christ

This post is by guest blogger Kathryn Heltsley, a member of Verbum’s Product Creation Team.

Across the United States, small groups of people are meeting weekly in parish halls, Sunday school rooms, and private homes. We sing a few songs—anything from traditional hymns to The Beatles—say a prayer, and then break out a text written by founder Don Luigi Giussani, or the current leader, Father Julián Carrón, and discuss how it relates to our lives. We challenge each other not to let the reading remain abstract, but to examine how it is relevant to our circumstances, the drama we live day-to-day.  We take vacations together in the summer, engage in retreats and cultural events throughout the year like the New York Encounter, a cultural event in downtown Manhattan open to the public. We share meals, we share our lives.

wipf-and-stock-catholic-studiesWe don’t do this because we’re best friends. We’re called together by something stronger than preference. We’re called together by the Mystery, an encounter with Christ. And what we’re living is a movement called Communion and Liberation. Read about the founder of this popular lay movement, Fr. Giussani, in the Wipf and Stock collection from Verbum.

Communion and Liberation (CL) is a lay movement within the Catholic Church. Originating in Italy in the 1950s, CL grew out of the charism of Don Luigi Giussani (1922–2005), a Catholic priest and high school teacher in Milan. In 1954, Giussani noticed how disconnected his students were from their faith. “Religion” to them was something abstract—an outside addition to their lives—rather than a way to live. In order to educate them toward an awareness of a concrete relationship with the person of Christ, Giussani began a method of catechesis with them that eventually became known as School of Community.

Today, CL is present in over 80 countries. It is mostly made up of lay people, but there are also groups of religious and consecrated laity—notably Memores Domini and the Priestly Fraternity of the Missionaries of St. Charles Borromeo. John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis were all favorable to CL. In fact, Benedict XVI’s papal household was made up of members of Memores Domini, and he attended weekly School of Community with them.

Schools of Community range from thousands of people in a conference room in Milan, to two or three in a living room in Bellingham, to women suffering from HIV at a medical center in Uganda. Groups of high school students, university students, retirees, adult workers, and families all find a common thread in the charism of Luigi Giussani.

When curious people ask, “Hey, what’s this CL thing? Do you have a mission statement?” The general response is, “Come and see.” We’re not trying to be cagey, it’s just that CL isn’t something you explain, it’s something that you live. It is based in amazement at the fact that Christ is present, here and now. That at some point, he entered history, became a person who awakened us to our own humanity. The method of CL is, in part, developig the way we respond to that reality. Around the globe, the Schools of Community are singing together, praying, and reading the same text—often books written by Giussani, or reflections such as the annual Fraternity Exercises given by Carrón. The goal of these readings, prayers, and companionship, are to educate us toward Christian maturity. Communionand Liberation doesn’t solve our problems; it helps us live them!

 

Steve Ray’s Summer Picks

Today’s guest post is by Steve Ray, popular speaker and author of St. John’s Gospel, Upon This Rock, Crossing the Tiber, and host of the popular TV series, The Footprints of God.

When Verbum asked me what books I would recommend for summer reading, it was easy to come up with some great titles.

I use Verbum every day, and there are certain books I use over and over again. The books are all interconnected, so while you could sit and read any of the books I picked (they’re all that good!), I use them more like reference works.

Home pageFor example, from the Verbum homepage, I like to start every day by simply clicking on today’s Gospel. Verbum springs into action. It opens an entire screen of windows—like having dozens of books all open to the exact right page. I have the Great Commentary of Cornelius à Lapide prioritized as a favorite, so it shows up automatically, and I can easily use parallel resources to switch to the Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture, and the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. With just these three commentaries, I’ve uncovered spectacular insights about the Gospel (and Verbum has plenty more).

parallel resources

At any point in this process, I can run a Verbum Topic Guide or Passage Guide, and I’m presented with default collections of links to the Catechism, Church Documents, and the writings of the Church Fathers. The last category is often primarily populated by the Early Church Fathers Collection available in most of the Verbum Libraries. However, I’ve found the addition of the CUA Fathers of the Church Series invaluable in my study of any passage. I couldn’t even capture all the results I got just from today’s Gospel reading! Such easy access to our rich Tradition!

passage Guide

anchor yaleFinally, the Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary is my go-to source for definitions. See more on why Bible dictionaries are awesome in this video. The Anchor Yale Dictionary has extensive definitions for over 6,000 entries. And it gets pulled right into the Bible Facts frame and opens on a double click of almost any word. With definitions this extensive, even clicking on words I already understand yields new discoveries.

The rest of my recommendations are just great titles that everyone should read or be familiar with.

For a marvelous Catholic Bible Study program that anyone can start in their parish or community, I’ve always recommended Catholic Scripture Study International. It is the best program you will find anywhere!! And it’s even better in Verbum. All the Bible links are connected directly to Scripture and the verse memorization works right in the software.

I used Verbum to write all my books, including Crossing the Tiber, Upon This Rock, and St. John’s Gospel. They take on a whole new dimension within the Verbum software.

See my complete list of recommendations here.

 

 

Addendum (by Alex Renn):

Steve asked me to address a question from a user on his blog: “What does your entire screen look like after you click on the daily reading?” Here’s the basic answer plus some additional considerations:

Steve’s layout will look something like this:

steve ray screenshot

1) The Lectionary layout does not actually change as far as panels are concerned. Setting priorities will change what appears in each panel. This post, though old, is a great tutorial on setting priorities. You will be able to customize the order of the Bibles that appear in the top middle pane, and the commentary that populates the bottom middle. This is where he mentioned the Great Commentary of Cornelius à Lapide appearing in his post above.

2) It looks like some of the screenshot panels were pulled out of context to reveal more information (that may be why they look different from what you’re seeing.)

3) The topic guide was accessed by right clicking the Gospel in the Lectionary, making sure “Bible” is selected on the right, and Clicking “Passage Guide” on the left. Scroll down to see the Church Fathers section (pictured above).

open passage guide

4) Lastly, the dictionary was also prioritized as shown in number 1, so that double-clicking will open the Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary if possible. If you double click a word that isn’t an entry, it will open a different dictionary instead.

Hope that helps!

Enrich and Deepen Your Faith with Scott Hahn’s 2-Volume Set!

This guest post was written by James Battle, Catholic Marketing Specialist here at Verbum

As a Catholic convert, two Verbum books have especially encouraged and accelerated my faith. I own hard copies of both of them:  one I read cover-to-cover, but the other was far denser, and I never finished it. Buying a book I do not finish is not unusual for me. I know, like many other bibliophiles, that there are many books bought in the heat of the moment, and sit on the shelf unfinished, waiting for the proper mood or motivation. What is unusual, though, is that both books were written by the same author: Scott Hahn.

The Lamb’s Supper  is a book I picked up early in my conversion process, shortly after I began attending Mass. I was consistently struck by the way the liturgy is packed full of scriptural references and symbolism from the book of Revelations. It was truly eye-opening! The Lamb’s Supper very quickly made the initially confusing Mass sensible, especially since I was an outsider who had a particular fascination with St. John’s prophetic and strange symbolism. It was easy to read, and served as a guidebook that tied scripture to the liturgy. I enjoyed Dr. Hahn’s writing so much that I eventually picked up Hail, Holy Queen—although I was warned that it was not bedside table reading.

That advice turned out to be quite accurate. Hail, Holy Queen was not merely peppered with scriptural references—there were often many in each paragraph—but also, there were many references to Catholic tradition: the Church Fathers, Vatican II documents, papal encyclicals, and the Catechism. These were all much newer to me at the time, and so the book sat.

After picking up the 2-volume Scott Hahn collection in Verbum, however, The Lamb’s Supper turned from a scriptural guide into a base camp for scaling the mountain of Catholic tradition regarding marriage, the Communion of Saints, apostolic succession, and much more.

It was Hail, Holy Queen that I found most profoundly transformative, however. Since all of the footnotes and references to Church documents and tradition are just a click away in Verbum, I ditched my hard copy and read the digital version. Using my Verbum library, I followed Dr. Hahn’s line of thought much more easily than with the printed book, because I could read up on source material instantly and was able to fully understand what the author was communicating. In short: I didn’t know what I didn’t know. That is, until I was able to dive in with just a few clicks.

Even if you have favorite books in paper form—get the Verbum edition! You will love reading your favorite passages in a new light with the source material right at hand. If you have books in print that you’ve never finished—get the Verbum edition! Regardless of what motivated you to purchase the book in the first place, Verbum will make all the information contained with the text easier to access and understand. Also, you can always join the Verbum group on Faithlife, and find like-minded friends who will be glad to read along and explore the Faith with you.

This 2-volume set from Scott Hahn is discounted through the end of July. Take advantage of the opportunity to enrich and deepen your faith today!

 

What Does It Mean to Be a Saint? (Part 2)

Last time, we explored the etymology and usage of the word “saint ” throughout the centuries. Today, we’ll see what we find in the Catechism, Church documents, and other sources on the subject of sainthood. What we found last time is that a “saint” is one who is holy—one who is set apart.

madonna-enthroned-with-the-child-st-francis-and-four-angels-1280

Let’s start our study today by looking at the word “saint” in the Catholic Topical Index. Since we looked at the word “saint” in the Scriptures last time, we’ll start with the “Church teaching” segment.

Saint Results

I’m interested right now in any Church documents I can find on the matter, so I’m going to start with Lumen Gentium from the Vatican II documents.

This first result is interesting. Here we see that saints share in a part of Christ’s office:

“The holy people of God shares also in Christ’s prophetic office; it spreads abroad a living witness to Him, especially by means of a life of faith and charity and by offering to God a sacrifice of praise, the tribute of lips which give praise to His name. The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One, cannot err in matters of belief.  . . . the people of God adheres unwaveringly to the faith given once and for all to the saints, penetrates it more deeply with right thinking, and applies it more fully in its life.”[1]

We also find that sainthood is not simply an individual phenomenon, but is fully realized in the context of the whole community of believers—it is within the context of the Church that the saint is truly realized:

“The Church, whose mystery is being set forth by this Sacred Synod, is believed to be indefectibly holy. Indeed Christ, the Son of God, who with the Father and the Spirit is praised as ‘uniquely holy,’ loved the Church as His bride, delivering Himself up for her. He did this that He might sanctify her. He united her to Himself as His own body and brought it to perfection by the gift of the Holy Spirit for God’s glory. Therefore in the Church, everyone whether belonging to the hierarchy, or being cared for by it, is called to holiness, according to the saying of the Apostle: ‘For this is the will of God, your sanctification.’ However, this holiness of the Church is unceasingly manifested, and must be manifested, in the fruits of grace which the Spirit produces in the faithful; it is expressed in many ways in individuals, who in their walk of life, tend toward the perfection of charity, thus causing the edification of others; in a very special way this (holiness) appears in the practice of the counsels, customarily called ‘evangelical.’”[2]

There’s more here, too: We learn that not only is “everyone . . . called to holiness,” but also that those who make up the Church are called to “edify others.” This edification is more than a simple “being nice” to others, but it is pointedly evangelical in nature: the saints are called to encourage each other in the faith, helping the unbelief of not just the unbelievers, but also the believers themselves (cf. Mark 9:24).

There’s one more component I’d like to highlight from this document:

“The Son, therefore, came, sent by the Father. It was in Him, before the foundation of the world, that the Father chose us and predestined us to become adopted sons, for in Him it pleased the Father to re-establish all things. . . . All men are called to this union with Christ, who is the light of the world, from whom we go forth, through whom we live, and toward whom our whole life strains.”[3]

The universal aspect here is very important. “All” people are called to be in union with Christ—and it is Christ who calls us to this holiness. Sainthood isn’t just for a select few of us, it is for all people.

As we continue our study on sainthood, let’s not forget to look at the saints who stand as icons for us here and now. John Paul II and John XXIII were both men who exhibited the forms of holiness we read about here; they stand as a model of the faith that we can look up to.

* * *

Right now, in honor of John Paul II and John XXIII’s canonizations, we’ve put together a huge collection of both of their works at a special price. Check out the John Paul II & John XXIII Canonization Bundle (92 vols.) today!

[1] Catholic Church. (2011). Dogmatic Constitution on the Church: Lumen Gentium. In Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

[2] Catholic Church. (2011). Dogmatic Constitution on the Church: Lumen Gentium. In Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

[3] Catholic Church. (2011). Dogmatic Constitution on the Church: Lumen Gentium. In Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

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