The Great Adventure Catholic Bible Study 73 Books. One Story. Your Story. Wed, 07 Dec 2016 20:24:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Hail, Full of Grace: The Immaculate Conception Explained Wed, 07 Dec 2016 19:30:18 +0000 We celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary on Thursday, December 8. In this video from “Mary: A Biblical Walk with the Blessed Mother,” Dr. Edward Sri explains Mary’s Immaculate Conception and shows how this teaching is supported by Scripture. He describes how the Angel Gabriel’s greeting to Mary, “Hail, full of grace” (Luke 1:28), points to a deeper spiritual reality about her.


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Third Sunday of Advent Tue, 06 Dec 2016 21:30:57 +0000

Jeff Cavins talks about the authenticity of Christ in this week’s Encountering the Word reflection for the Third Sunday in Advent. The Sunday Readings are:

First Reading: Isaiah 35:1-6A, 10
Resposorial Psalm: Psalms 146:6-10
Second Reading: James 5:7-10
Alleluia: Isaiah 61:1 (cited in Luke 4:18)
Gospel: Matthew 11:2-11

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A Biblical Reflection on the Hail Mary Thu, 01 Dec 2016 05:19:24 +0000 The first thing to note about the “Hail Mary” is that it comes right out of Scripture. The heart of the prayer comes from the angel Gabriel’s greeting to Mary (“Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with you,” Luke 1:28) and Elizabeth’s response to Mary in the visitation (“Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb,” Luke 1:42). In what follows, we will reflect upon the biblical meaning packed into these phrases.


The Lord is with You

The phrase “the Lord is with you” (or its near equivalent) resonates deeply throughout the Bible, occurring at key junctions in salvation history—where one is at the cusp of some great moment in the progress of redemption. The phrase ensures God’s presence and assistance in carrying out a special mission that will have far-reaching implications. Thus, the phrase occurs with Moses when he hesitates to accept his mission to lead Israel out of slavery (Exodus 3:12); it occurs with Joshua as he prepares to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land (Joshua 1:5); it occurs with Gideon as he continues the on-going work of Joshua, protecting the people both physically and spiritually from pagan influences (Judges 6:12). It occurs with Jeremiah, as he begins his difficult (and unpopular) prophetic ministry of calling the people to repentance, as the Babylonian threat looms imminently in the late seventh century BC (Jeremiah 1:8). And it occurs with Zerubbabel who begins the arduous process of rebuilding the Temple and the city (and the renewal of their faith) after the exile in the late sixth century BC (Haggai 1:13; 2:4).

In other words, this phrase “the Lord is with you” signals to the biblically-minded reader a momentous stage in salvation history; and the “yes” of the individual will have momentous consequences for the unfolding of God’s great plan of salvation. With this in mind, Gabriel’s words to Mary (“the Lord is with you”) should resonate thunderously for the reader—making us aware of the absolutely pivotal moment taking place.

Blessed Among Women

The phrase “Blessed among women” also has biblical precedents. It occurs where some heroic woman has defeated an enemy of God’s people—and has done so by striking a mortal blow to the head. In Judges 4 and 5, Jael drives a tent peg through the temple of Sisera (Judges 4:21). And in the next chapter, we read: “Most blessed of women be Jael.” Similarly, Judith strikes down Holofernes, severing his head from his body (Judith 13:7-8). Then Uzziah praises her saying, “O daughter, you are blessed by the Most High God above all women on earth” (Judith 13:18).

The fact that this phrase (“blessed among women”) shows up in conjunction with the striking of the head of the enemies of God’s people draws us back to Genesis 3:15, a passage known by the Tradition as the protoevangelium, the “first Gospel”—the first promise of redemption: “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” This saying foretells a time when a woman and her seed would crush the head of Satan himself, ultimately referring to Mary and Jesus.

These are the resonances we should hear when Elizabeth says to Mary, “Blessed are you among women” (Luke 1:42). Mary is here presented as the New Eve, the woman who would bear the seed who would defeat the Devil once and for all. And as Eve participated in the work of Adam’s downfall, so too this New Eve will participate in the work of the New Adam. Her participation begins here in the Annunciation in her great “yes” to God on behalf of all humanity; it continues in her faithfulness at the Cross where she unites her will to God’s will and offers her Son to the Father on behalf of all humanity; and it continues in her constant maternal love and prayers for each of us, as she earnestly seeks to lead us to her Son.

How can we grow closer to Mary this Advent Season, thereby growing closer to our Lord Jesus Christ?

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Second Sunday of Advent Tue, 29 Nov 2016 21:49:08 +0000

Jeff Cavins shares how St. John the Baptist’s message for the Second Sunday of Advent can help us prepare for the coming of Christ. The readings are:

First Reading: Isaiah 11:1-10
Responsorial Psalm – Psalms 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17
Second Reading – Romans 15:4-9
Alleluia – Luke 3:4, 6
Gospel – Matthew 3:1-12

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What Happens When the Next Generation Isn’t Taught the Bible? Fri, 25 Nov 2016 05:17:08 +0000 As our society becomes more and more secularized, the children of today are less and less exposed to the Bible and the gospel message. At one time, biblical quotes and allusions to Bible stories were understood within the broader culture, but today, those references are lost or misunderstood. One misrepresentation of the concept of “church” is greatly disturbing. There are two popular songs with the theme of “church” in the lyrics, but they only belittle the traditional idea of going to church. One song says listening to music is “my church” and the other reference is all the more shocking as it equates “take me to church” with a sexual encounter.


With this onslaught of secularism, the only way to communicate the truth of the gospel is to ground the next generation in the gospel story revealed to us in the Scriptures in a way the modern child absorbs information. The things that children learn most easily are the things that are applicable to their situation, circumstance or point of view. Unconnected facts such as the dates of the early American explorers will evaporate soon after a test, but an adventurous story about an explorer or a visit to an outpost will implant a connection to that historical person that will remain in the brain.

So too we must present the story of salvation to the next generation by distilling the basic story and presenting it to them so they can retain information long term. That is the beauty of the new Great Adventure Storybook: A Walk Through the Catholic Bible. It simplifies the Bible and connect the stories and concepts to today’s world. Introducing children to the characters and themes of the Bible is one way to engage them in their growing faith life. How many of us who have gone through The Bible Timeline program as adults wish that we had learned this long ago? Children who can understand their place in the story of salvation history are better equipped to make good choices and to know that they have a part to play in the life of the Church. Making connections to Christianity is critical in raising children who remain solid in their belief in God.

As parents and educators, it is our responsibility to raise children in the instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” What better way to respond to St. Paul’s words than to teach children the story of salvation? The challenge grows greater in our modern era to find life’s meaning and a place to belong. By establishing in the hearts of children the deep love that God has for them as revealed in the story of the Bible, we can better equip them to deal with the pressures of making life’s choices.

The goal of the new Great Adventure Storybook: A Walk Through the Catholic Bible is to aid parents and educators in the quest to raise children who are familiar with their roots and appreciate the profound love of God that he revealed to humanity over time, culminating in the Incarnation of Christ. This incarnate reality is the basis for the Catholic Faith: Christ becoming human to redeem us. To better grasp this mystery, the history leading to this pivotal event should be understood. We have the privilege and responsibility to make this known to the next generation and hopefully teach them to seek for even more answers so they can be even more equipped than ourselves.

It is the basics of evangelization to teach our youth. We have the opportunity to pass on with clarity the beautiful story of salvation, which we have been entrusted to pass on. There is no one else out there who plans to explain the gospel to your children and grandchildren, so it is up to you to do it. Ascension is making available a game-changer: a storybook that follows the story of salvation using the fourteen narrative books of the Bible, the Timeline colors and periods, plus connections to the sacraments, creed, Rosary and Mass responses. We can teach the next generation what it really means to be part of the Church.

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