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The Mystery of the Eucharist

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

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you …” (Ex. 16:4)

“…and the bread that I give is my flesh, for the life of the world” (Jn. 6:52)

These two passages thrust us from Moses forward to Christ, revealing God’s great care for his people. Yet as plain as the words of Scripture are, we continue to ask like the Israelites “What is it?” (Ex. 16:15) and to proclaim “This is a hard teaching” (Jn. 6:61). The Eucharist is “a hard teaching,” and this is why the Catholic faith has written eloquently and often on the theology of the Eucharist. This theology is compiled in Fr. James T. O’Connor’s The Hidden Manna: A Theology of the Eucharist, available on sale this month from Verbum.

The Hidden Manna takes you on a journey through the Church’s development of the doctrine of the Eucharist from apostolic times through Vatican II and the pontificate of Pope St. John Paul II. The journey, in many respects, mirrors the journey of the people of Israel. Israel, when encountering the manna, asks “what is it?” (Ex. 16:15) and the Church echoes the same question before the great mystery of the Blessed Sacrament. For truly, who can conceive of God raining down bread from heaven, and who can conceive that that same God would take on our human flesh and give us that same flesh as Eucharistic food? The word “mystery” appears again and again in O’Connor’s exposition of the theology of the Eucharist, and rightly so.

When we grapple with a mystery, we are prone to grumble—and this is another way in which the journey to understanding the Eucharistic mystery is like the journey of Israel. O’Connor states:

Israel’s grumbling never ceased.  “Now these things occurred as types to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did” (1 Cor. 10:6). It was then all a type of the Passover of the new Lamb, who has freed us from sin and misery, fed us with a more miraculous Food and Drink, and endured our grumbling.

“We never see anything but this manna! We detest this miserable food!” Even the miraculous wearied them, and they grumbled against it. Type that it was, it is sobering to reflect that we can say the same of the Eucharist: we are sick of it; it bores us; it does not satisfy. And we turn to other foods.

O’Connor captures an aspect of Christian life that Pope Francis has often spoken of, joylessness even in the face of such a great gift. Like Israel, many modern Catholics grumble and become disenchanted with the gift of the Eucharist.

Perhaps you have someone in your own life who has fallen away from the faith because the Eucharist, the central act of worship of the Christian people, has become ordinary. When reading of the Church’s understanding of the doctrine of the Eucharist, “ordinary” is a word that is never used. Perhaps all we need to draw the fallen away back to Eucharistic fellowship is to expose them to the beauty, mystery, and truth of the theology of the Eucharist. O’Connor quotes the great author, poet, and Catholic, J.R.R. Tolkien on his journey from spiritual darkness to the intense light and truth of the Eucharist:

Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament … There you will find romance, glory, honor, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves upon earth, and more than that: death: by the divine paradox, that which ends life, and demands the surrender of all, and yet by the taste (or foretaste) of which alone can what you seek in your earthly relationships (love, faithfulness, joy) be maintained, or take on that complexion of reality, of eternal endurance, that every man’s heart desires. (Letters, 53-55).

The journey from darkness to light, falsehood to truth, which so permeates all of Tolkien’s writings, is a direct result of his profound love of the Blessed Sacrament. The Hidden Manna draws on the theology and experience of Christendom’s greatest champions and provides pages of deep insight and inspiration.

The Hidden Manna would make an excellent addition to any Verbum library, but perhaps it would be best given as a gift, like the Eucharist itself. Whether you take advantage of this sale to deepen your own understanding of the Eucharist or give it as a gift to a friend in need of being brought back to the table of the Lord, The Hidden Manna is a tremendous asset to the Church. The secret of The Hidden Manna is the paradox that Christ is never really hidden, he is there waiting for us in every tabernacle, at every Mass—there waiting for us to partake of this truly wonderful gift!

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: Crossing the Tiber by Steve Ray

Get Crossing the Tiber: Evangelical Protestants Discover the Historical Church for 20% off today!

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.”

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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!

Pre-Publication Special: The Way of the Lord Jesus

Get The Way of the Lord Jesus for 29% off

The systematic study of revealed truth—a question-by-question reflection on Scripture, reason, and history—is not always at the forefront of our minds. In fact, unless one is a systematic theologian, sitting down to hammer out questions about morality and theology is rare. If we’re honest, most of us have neither the time nor the faculties to approach Scripture and the teachings of the Church with such rigor.

This is why great works like Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica are so immensely helpful. They stand as compendiums that the Faithful can refer to regarding pressing questions. Works like the Summa also help us categorize our thoughts, doctrine, and study.

baptism-of-jesus-1643.jpg!BlogGermain Grisez does precisely this kind of work with his three-volume series The Way of the Lord Jesus. Focusing on the moral dimension of systematic theology, Grisez walks through the most pressing questions we face today. His first chapter in the first book begins with these questions:

1) What is theology?

2) What is moral theology?

3) What is the role of the teaching of the Church in the method of moral theology?

4) What does Vatican II say about renewal in moral theology?

Grisez’s method is similar to Aquinas’ in that he takes each question and gives a systematic answer. For example, the answer to question #1 begins as follows:

1.“Theology” in the most general sense means thought and talk about God. Theology is also about ourselves and everything else, considered in relation to God. Philosophical theology (sometimes called “natural theology” or “theodicy”) is distinct from sacred theology. The former proceeds by the light of reason, while the latter proceeds by the light of faith and uses reason only as a tool of faith (see S.t., 1, q. 1, a. 1; a. 5, ad 2; a. 8, ad 2; S.c.g., 1, 9).

2.Sometimes the word “theology” is used to refer to the systematic features of a scriptural author’s appropriation (that is, personal reception) of divine revelation: We speak of the “theologies” of St. Paul, of St. John, and so on. It should not be supposed, however, that Scripture and our reflections on faith are theology in the same sense. Since it was essential to the completion of God’s act of communication that revelation be personally received and made their own by persons whom God chose for that purpose, the Scriptures, together with sacred tradition, constitute the supreme rule of faith (see DV 21). We receive Christian faith only by understanding and using the books of the Bible as the Catholic Church understands and uses them in her teaching, liturgy, and life. Hence, the “theologies” in Scripture itself are normative—that is, they set the standard—for our reflections on faith.

Grisez gives five more points, each following up the questions brought up in the last. He continues this method throughout the entire series, masterfully covering hundreds of theological topics and moral questions.

the-way-of-the-lord-jesusIn Verbum, this resource—amazing in and of itself—becomes truly invaluable. Because Grisez makes so many references and citations to Scripture and other Church documents, these volumes come to life in Verbum: each resource links to your other books and resources.

Grisez’s brilliant work of moral theology is 29% off on Pre-Pub.

Get it today!

Pre-Publication Special: Catholic Bible Dictionary


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Catholic Bible Dictionary for 23% off!

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Scott Hahn’s Catholic Bible Dictionary is a landmark publication in its own right, but in Verbum it’s full potential is unlocked. It’s an enormous compendium of biblical topics, characters, and definitions; all 5,000-plus entries are replete with Scripture references and detailed definitions.

Imagine a page like this in Verbum, where each of the entries are easily searchable and linked to other resources in your digital library:

Abel 1

The Catholic Bible Dictionary doesn’t just give you simple definitions. Key characters and concepts have pages devoted to themes, questions, and other relevant topics. Here’s an example from the entry on Abraham:

Abraham 1

In print, this volume is big, heavy, and difficult to carry around. With Verbum, you can carry around this 1,000-plus-page volume on your phone, tablet, or laptop—with all the added functionality and tools that you need for thorough, powerful study.

In this massive work, Scott Hahn draws from two millennia of scholarship to create an accessible, comprehensive tool for deeper and more rewarding biblical study.

A perfect study companion for layman and serious scholar alike, the Catholic Bible Dictionary is an invaluable asset to your Verbum library.

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The Rule of Saint Benedict

benedictine-studies-collectionThe Benedictine Studies Collection is 33% off on Pre-Pub for just for a little while longer, so make sure you get it before the price goes up. In light of this great collection, I wanted to take some time to simply examine and meditate on a bit of Saint Benedict’s Rule. Here’s an excerpt from the prologue:

To you, therefore, my words are now addressed, whoever you may be, who are renouncing your own will to do battle under the Lord Christ, the true King, and are taking up the strong, bright weapons of obedience.

And first of all, whatever good work you begin to do, beg of Him with most earnest prayer to perfect it . . . For we must always so serve Him with the good things He has given us, that He will never as an angry Father disinherit His children . . .

There’s so much here to unpack, but there are two central themes here I’d like to focus on: Benedict’s focus on warfare and his focus on perfection. There are biblical precedents for both. For the first—warfare—we might look to Ephesians 6:10–17:

Warfare:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the comic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

Benedict understands life as a spiritual battleground on which we are called to fight. But he precedes this call with the call to “renounce our own will.” This implies that being a soldier for Christ requires a deep self-sacrifice. Our “enlistment” requirement, as it were, is a rejection of our worldly desire. This is at the foundation of all Benedictine thought.

Perfection:

In Matthew 5:48, Jesus says,

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly father is perfect.

Saint Benedict’s Rule declares not only that we are in the midst of spiritual warfare, but that God has called us to be skilled warriors. It asserts that we always have something to give, something to strive toward, no matter the burdens we bear.

Benedict is also forward about the consequences of laxity; we risk not using our gifts (like the man who hid his talent, cf. Matthew 25:14–30) at the threat of being cut off from God himself. The Christian life is one of continual striving, and Benedict’s Rule makes this striving explicit.

These are only a few lines from Saint Benedict, already revealing deep truths about the Christian faith. This collection, including original texts and commentary, has much more to offer.

Get it today for 33% off.

Bid now to get 82% off the Best Latin Dictionary for Historical/Theological Study

The Latin language holds a central place in the Christian tradition. It was the official language of Christendom for over a millennium, and continues today to be the primary language in which the Church operates on an official level.

The authority on classical and early-modern Latin

The Lewis and Short Latin Dictionary is an essential resource for studying classical, medieval, Renaissance, and early-modern Latin texts. With over 2,000 pages of detailed lexical data, it’s hands-down the best single-volume Latin dictionary to have in Verbum.

Quickly and easily move from individual words in the Latin Perseus texts to their entries in Lewis and Short. Consult definitions, explore contextual usage, and grasp the nuances of Latin with confidence.

Understand scriptural context

Knowing Latin gives you the ability to understand the primary texts of the Roman era, which in turn help you better understand the context in which the New Testament and early Christianity emerged.

Take Pliny the Younger, for example. This high-ranking Roman official wrote letters that help us understand the inner workings of Roman imperial society—including the early imperial persecution of Christians. In a letter to Emperor Trajan (Letters, vol. 2, p. 405), Pliny asks how he should carry out the trials of suspected Christians. He describes his current method of interrogating them, and how their worship practices seem to be “nothing more than depraved and excessive superstition.” The earliest surviving Roman document to refer to early Christians, Pliny’s letter is of great historical importance for understanding the unfavorable conditions in which Christianity first spread.

A language of Christian tradition

lewis-and-shorts-latin-dictionaryBetter understanding Latin gives us key insights into the foundations of early Christian theology. The early apologetic works of Tertuallian and Minucius Felix, which laid the foundation for Latin Christianity, give us a glimpse of how early Latin Christians combated paganism. Augustine composed his Confessions in Latin; Thomas Aquinas‘ magisterial Summa Theological, also written in Latin, represents Christianity’s highest theological expression in the medieval era. You can’t fully engage these important theological works without some acquaintance with Latin. What better dictionary to have in your Verbum library than Lewis and Short?

Bid now on Lewis and Short’s Latin Dictionary to help put this important resource into production. You’ll get it for 82% off, but you need to bid quickly—it won’t be on Community Pricing for much longer!

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Contemplative Prayer throughout the Ages

Get the Thomas Merton Collection for 32% off and the Thomas Keating Collection for 28% off in Pre-Pub today.

The topic of inwardness in Catholic spirituality is discussed by some of the greatest saints: St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross—both Carmelites—expound on how we are to enter into union with God by removing our attachments to the things external to us and focusing on Christ in us.

This focus on contemplative prayer—often controversial in nature—has been picked up and discussed by various theologians throughout the centuries. Part of this controversy is due to the very personal nature of prayer and the questions that arise from deeply subjective experiences: How does one discuss the ineffable? What are the right and wrong ways to pray?

st-onuphrius-1637.jpg!BlogIn the twentieth century, Thomas Merton and Thomas Keating both contributed to the tradition of contemplative prayer and living, adding both insight and often-controversial points in this dynamic discussion. Both authors draw on the historical tradition of interior and mystical prayer, gleaning from sources such as The Cloud of Unknowing.

Even so, both Merton’s and Keating’s works are sometimes found in the midst of theological controversy. Thomas Dubay makes a rather open critique of Keating’s works and presents alternative contemplative methods in Deep Conversion / Deep Prayer. Some of Merton’s later works have also sparked a discussion about syncretism. But in no way do these controversies make these collections less valuable.

In Verbum, these collections become part of the discussion that exists within the Church. Cross-reference Scripture and Church documents that both Merton and Keating mention. With the Cited By tool, you can see everywhere in your library that either Merton or Keating are mentioned, so you can see what other authors have said about these two figures.

Order the Thomas Merton Collection for 32% off and the Thomas Keating Collection for 28% off on Pre-Pub today, and study these engaging authors alongside the rest of your Verbum library.

Get $100 off Edward Schillebeeckx!

For a limited time, get a steep discount on the collected works of Edward Schillebeeckx. If you pre-order this collection, you’ll save 33%—that’s $100 off!

 
SchillebeeckxEdward Schillebeeckx was among the twentiethcentury’s most influential Catholic theologians. Born in Belgium in 1914, and ordained to the priesthood in 1941, he studied—and later taught—theology and philosophy. As a member of the Dominican order, his intellectual and academic approach to the study of theology garnered him much acclaim with the Dutch bishops prior to the Second Vatican Council. As a result, Schillebeeckx became one of the most active theologians in the discussion of a wide range of issues, including the nature of the Church, the priesthood, and engagement with contemporary culture. His insights and perspective were crucial in the development of such pioneering constitutions as Dei Verbum and Lumen Gentium.
 
Despite Schillebeeckx’s important role surrounding the Second Vatican Council (or perhaps because of it), some of his works have stirred up controversy. How are we to engage with works such as Jesus, an Experiment in Christology? How, precisely, did his thinking influence the Church?
 
With Verbum’s suite of tools, you can read and understand Schillebeeckx’s entire works in one convenient location. Furthermore, each of these works is fully searchable and cross-referenced to every other resource in your library. With Verbum, you can see the connections between Schillebeeckx’s thoughts and their corresponding ideas in the Vatican II Documents. On top of all this, the collection includes Schillebeeckx: A Guide for the Perplexed, which guides readers through his more difficult points, and weaves them into the Church’s Tradition.
 
This unparalleled, fourteen-volume collection includes the entire body of Schillebeeckx’s work, as well as a collection of newly translated essays, contemporary academic discussions of Schillebeeckx’s writings, and a useful reader’s guide written by Stephan van Erp, a distinguished Schillebeeckx scholar.
 
Pre-order this resource today and get 33% off!

The Way of The Lord Jesus

The realm of moral theology exists to press into and understand the will of God for our lives. God created us to be free agents—entities with the ability to choose which actions we’ll take. But being free and having a will means we must always face a particular set of questions. How should we act? What is the best way to go about doing things? This is what moral theology is all about, and these are precisely the kinds of questions that are answered in the great moral theological work The Way of the Lord Jesus.

the-way-of-the-lord-jesusFinally making its way into Verbum, this series is split into three volumes—each addressing a crucial element of Catholic moral theology. They are constructed primarily as a textbook in fundamental moral theology for students in Catholic seminaries. However, those already ordained to the priesthood, teachers of religion, parents concerned about the catechetical formation of their children, and others will find this book extremely helpful. This series is written to “treat the specific moral responsibilities common to all or most lay people and those common to clerics, religious, and lay people. It aims to treat its subject matter in accord with Catholic doctrine as it has been developed by the Second Vatican Council and recent papal teaching” (xi, vol. II).

Volume 1: Christian Moral Principles primarily considers the fundamental parts of moral theology. In the later two volumes, Germain Grisez takes up the specific responsibilities of Christians and clarifies their responsibilities in light of these principles.

Volume 2: Living a Christian Life looks intently at the teachings of Vatican II, applying them to today’s moral questions. Whereas Christian Moral Principles treated the foundations of Christian morality, this volume deals with the specific questions that concern all or most Catholics.

Volume 3: Difficult Moral Questions deals with questions not yet the subject of explicit or clearly applicable Church teachings. Grisez takes neither an authoritarian nor subjectivist approach to moral guidance—rather, he offers detailed answers justified in terms of the moral principles developed in the first two volumes.

Published in 1983, The Way of The Lord Jesus stands out as one of the clearest and most important Catholic moral works of our time. In Verbum, these theological texts connect with the rest of your library. Cross-references to Church documents, the writings of the saints and Church Fathers, and Greek, Hebrew, and Latin texts will bring you right to the source text in your library.

Pre-order The Way of the Lord Jesus today and get 29% off!

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