The Great Adventure Catholic Bible Study 73 Books. One Story. Your Story. Wed, 18 Oct 2017 16:15:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time Wed, 18 Oct 2017 16:15:14 +0000

In this week’s Encountering the Word video for the Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jeff Cavins challenges us to identify the “gods” in our lives. The readings are:

First Reading: Isaiah 45:1, 4-6
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 96:1, 3, 4-5, 7-8, 9-10
Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5B
Alleluia: Philippians 2:15D, 16A
Gospel: Matthew 22:15-21

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The Rosary: Mary’s Favorite Bible Study Wed, 11 Oct 2017 16:48:29 +0000 Recently, I met up with an Evangelical friend of mine for coffee to catch up on family, work, ministry, and college football. In the course of the conversation, he asked me, “So if you had to pick one Bible study, which is your absolute favorite?”

He, of course, meant which “series” or “author” or “format” do I take the most from as a husband, father, catechist, etcetera.


“Actually, the Rosary is my absolute favorite Bible study,” I responded sincerely (in a way designed to hopefully elicit a follow-up question from him).

“No, I don’t mean your favorite form of prayer … I mean your favorite Bible study.” He retorted, seeking to set me straight.

“Yes, exactly. The Rosary is my favorite Bible study. It’s far more than a form of prayer, it’s a deeply scriptural, contemplative, and interactive study.”

The conversation that followed quickly turned into an impromptu history on the Rosary, its significance, growth as a Catholic devotion, and, ultimately, its supremacy over other forms of study.

The Rosary is one of the most well-known and popular forms of prayer that we have as Catholics. As such, it’s rare to move through the day and not see a rosary: either in hand, on a nightstand, or a table, or strung around the nearest rearview mirror. Sometimes, we forget what an enigmatic symbol and “device” it appears to be to our non-Catholic brothers and sisters, and conversations like the one with my Evangelical friend remind me that not everyone understands why we Catholics might appear so “Mary crazy.”

Roses from Mom

In the early thirteenth century, the Blessed Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to a young Spanish priest we now know as St. Dominic. While the roots of the rosarium (Latin word meaning “rose garden”) date back even earlier, St. Dominic is credited as being the one who first gave this prayer to the Church in its current form, on the expressed wish of Mary, the Mother of God.

Over the centuries, the Rosary has grown into a timeless family prayer, one that has been prayed by billions of souls in virtually every language around the world. At any moment of the day, in almost every conceivable corner of the earth—in homes and in churches, in hospital rooms and in schools, in jail cells and on battlefields—the Catholic faithful join their prayers and dive more deeply into the mysteries of Jesus Christ’s life through the Rosary.

Over the past several years, October has come to be known as the “month for the Rosary.” Since the Feast of the Holy Rosary is October 7th and the anniversary of the Blessed Virgin’s final appearance at Fatima is October 13th, we pause for a month and offer a renewed devotion to this timeless offering and bask in the intercessory graces which flow from it. In her appearances in both Lourdes and Fatima the Blessed Mother reiterated her desire for her children to dedicate themselves to this devotion. Given her own admonition for us to pray it, I’d submit that the Rosary is not only my favorite form of Bible study but, also, that of Mary’s … who, as Sacred Scripture affirms, “ponders all things in her heart” (Luke 2:19); Mary is the first Christian contemplative.

More than a Prayer

The mysteries of the Rosary are inexhaustible. Regardless of how many times you meditate on one of the twenty mysteries or read through its corresponding Scripture passage, the Rosary allows pause for the Holy Spirit to come and dwell in us, too. As we grow older and wiser, the Rosary invites us ever deeper into the heart of God, through the intercession of Mary’s immaculate heart. Stop and consider what a gift the mysteries are to us, no matter what season or struggle life currently brings your way.

As you reflect on the twenty mysteries, you have the opportunity to see the characters from a new point of view. The Rosary brings lectio divina into a whole new context. Put yourself into their sandals as they walk. In each mystery, place yourself in the story. Hear their voices. Watch their reactions. See how God’s plan to send a redeemer unfolds. Pause to consider these first five mysteries preserved on the pages of Sacred Scripture.

At first glance, the Joyful Mysteries might not appear all that joyful. A teenage virgin is pregnant, but not with her husband-to-be’s child. She leaves home for months and later travels over ninety miles in her third trimester. She gives birth in a cave. She learns from a prophet that both she and her child will suffer greatly. Years later, the preteen Son of God goes missing for three days. Most people would not consider these moments very joyful. Far easier scenarios have sent parents straight over the edge. Prayerful reflection—true Bible study—on these mysterious events, however, reveals a cause for intense joy. God was on a foretold rescue mission to save us, and that mission included courageous souls fighting through incredibly challenging situations.

The Luminous Mysteries extend Christ’s invitation to you to be a light in the world. As the world and culture around us grow increasingly dark and seemingly hopeless, these five gospel moments enliven our minds and enrapture our souls, once again. As you reflect on them, you’ll enter into some of the most miraculous and amazing moments of Christ’s life on earth. We are reminded not only to be Christ’s light, but of its necessity and power.

The Sorrowful Mysteries demonstrate all that is evil in man and all that is beautiful in God. Have you ever felt abandoned or alone? Our Lord did in the Garden of Gethsemane. Have you ever suffered physical or emotional abuse? Jesus did, and he knows your pain. Have you ever been mocked for who you are or what you believe? Christ was, yet still he loved his enemies. Have you ever felt that living the Christian life every day was just too difficult? He suffered betrayal, desolation, and humiliation completely, even unto death, and he did it for us. We have a Savior who would rather die than risk spending eternity without us.

The Glorious Mysteries remind us that God our Father doesn’t merely keep his promises to us; he exceeds them. Not only did Jesus rise from the dead; his victory offers you the opportunity to live forever. He ascended into heaven, where he now reigns. And as the Bible reminds us, “If we endure, we shall also reign with him” (2 Timothy 2:12).

When the Holy Spirit descended in power, he gave birth to our Catholic Church and ensured, through the sacraments, that we would never be without Christ. Our Lord gives us the gift of his own mother (John 19:26–27), and in Mary’s assumption and coronation, we are assured that she prays for us and with us. She is calling us to look to her son, to serve him and him alone.

A Call to Arms

The Rosary is more than an invitation to prayer and, even, more than a Bible study. The Rosary is a declaration of war on sin and darkness. The Rosary, like the Word of God, is living and effective (Hebrews 4:12). When you pray the Rosary, things happen, hearts change … grace flows. As Pope St. John Paul II said, “the most important reason for strongly encouraging the practice of the Rosary is that it represents a most effective means of fostering among the faithful that commitment to the contemplation of the Christian mystery.”

In a time so filled with busyness and overstimulation—where screens and noise abound—the gift of the Rosary cannot be overstated. Every bead is an invitation from our Blessed Mother to kneel beside her in prayer and reflection upon the gift and life of her son. Contemplate these realities through her perspective. Allow her to swaddle you tightly as only a mother can.

I’m meeting my friend for coffee again next week. We’re going to walk through the Joyful Mysteries passage by passage. We’re both bringing our Bible, but I’m also bringing him a gift. The Rosary on my rearview will soon be his, for in those beads I’m introducing him to my mother who, it turns out, is his mother too.


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Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time Wed, 11 Oct 2017 15:29:54 +0000

In this week’s Encountering the Word video for the Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jeff Cavins explains what Scripture really means by “the land of milk and honey.” The readings are:

First Reading: Isaiah 25:6-10A
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 23:1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6
Second Reading: Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20
Alleluia: cf. Ephesians 1:17-18
Gospel: Matthew 22:1-14

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Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time Thu, 05 Oct 2017 14:57:49 +0000

In this week’s Encountering the Word video, Jeff Cavins offers a solution to anxiety as he reflects on the readings for the Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time.

First Reading: Isaiah 5:1-7
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 80:9, 12, 13-14, 15-16, 19-20
Second Reading: Philippians 4:6-9
Alleluia: cf. John 15:16
Gospel: Matthew 21:33-43

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23 Keys for Unlocking the Mystery of Gender, Identity, and Human Sexuality Thu, 05 Oct 2017 14:14:38 +0000 Who am I? GenderGraphic

This fundamental question is asked ultimately by every person ever born. What is this great mystery of human life? What is our origin, and what is our destiny?

As Catholics, informed by Sacred Scripture (God’s Word) and the great gifts of reason and human experience (man’s understanding), we propose the following points to serve as a kind of manual on this mission of self-discovery.


1. The Catholic understanding of the human person is that we are more than just a biological organism.

Our body is animated by a soul. We are, in fact, a body and soul marriage, a harmony of spirit and matter. We have a transcendent and immortal destiny that makes us different from the animals. We laugh, cry, sing, love, hate, and yearn more than any creature in the world for something more than what the world can give us. Deep in our hearts is an unquenchable thirst for an unending happiness that lies somehow beyond us. “My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God” (Psalm 84:2).

2. The human person, however, never departs from the body.

This immortal destiny in God is for the whole person, body and soul. Catholics believe we are not ghosts in a machine, or spirits trapped in bodies waiting to be set free. Nor would we ever say something like “the real me” is a disembodied thought, or a detached mind that’s opposed to our body. We are our body.

3. Our quest for identity is always and deeply linked to our sexual nature.

Because “what God has joined, (body and soul) no one may separate.”

4. In the beginning, God made us in his image, male and female.

Biologically, existentially, our quest for our identity flows then from a mother and a father. Not a single person on earth comes into existence without this combination of male and female. Catholics believe this means something. This signifies something that is us and is also pointing beyond us.

5. Because of original sin, we are born into a kind of identity disorder.

We are born into a kind of identity disorder, a struggle, a wrestling match with ourselves and the world. We’re always searching “through a glass darkly” for our true identity. It is always inescapably linked to our sexuality.

6. We are all the fallen sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, and our beginning in this world is already a “trail of tears.”

Our beginning in this world is already a “trail of tears”—a pilgrimage to a wholeness we know somehow must exist but which our parents could not give us. We all have a mother wound and a father wound.

7. In the quest for our identity, we should all prayerfully ponder our relationship (or lack thereof) with our mothers and fathers.

There are significant graces and crosses in this self-reflection.

8. The gender dysphoria and the myriad of gender variations offered to us today are all cries to find a peace within our given masculinity or femininity.

The gender dysphoria and the myriad of gender variations offered to us today through gender ideologies are all cries to reconcile the mother wound and the father wound within us; to find essentially a reconciliation and a harmony within our heads, hearts and bodies, a peace within our given masculinity or femininity.

9. There are many variables and factors that come to play within us and outside us to form us in our human identity.

It would be a disservice to pretend we are only spiritual, and ignore the body, just as much as it would be wrong to imagine we can be reduced to only our physiology or genes, at the expense of the soul.

10. This isolation and separation of body from soul, gender identity from sexuality, will only deepen our mother and father wounds …

… and distract us from our quest to discover authentic femininity and masculinity.

11. Nothing in our quest for identity should compel us to do violence to a healthy body or act in a way against the nature of our sexual organs and their procreative dimension.

12. We should listen to creation, it speaks a truth.

We should listen to this potentially procreative, generative meaning inscribed in us as male and female.

13. Every one of the trillions of somatic cells in the human body has forty-six chromosomes, except the gametes, or sex cells, which hold twenty-three chromosomes.

Only the sex cells hold half the number, as if to say, “We hold the two halves of a key to the mystery of every human life!”

14. Catholics believe we are made in the image of God, who is a blessed Trinity of love, a communion of persons; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

We believe man, woman and child, the human family, are theological, imaging the love of the three Persons of the Trinity.

15. So motherhood and fatherhood—expressed either physically in marriage or spiritually in loving service to others—are the true ends of all women and men.

All human beings are made for relationship through either form of life-giving complementarity.

16. The goal of a man is to have a “feminine-integrated masculine heart, and a woman to have a masculine-integrated feminine heart.” (Roch Gernon)

17. There are certainly abnormalities and anomalies, but none of these should negate the norm or cast a cloud over the deeper spiritual sign of the human body.

There are certainly abnormalities and anomalies, like rare intersex births, deep-seated same sex attraction, impotence and infertility in individuals today, but none of these should negate the norm or cast a cloud over the deeper spiritual sign of the human body as an image of the life-giving love of God as a Blessed Trinity, in whose image we are made for this life-giving communion.

18. An over emphasis on epigenetics, hermaphrodite anomalies, or certain genetic proclivities as the defining factors of our identity puts more weight on the flesh than the spirit.

It is a deterministic approach that ends with taking away our freedom, our free will, and our hope.

19. We must not place our whole identity on a feeling or attraction, but on the whole arc of the human person as an embodied thirst for the infinite.

In the words of the late Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete, “We talk about different ‘sexual orientations’ in human life. But the ultimate orientation of human sexuality is the human heart’s yearning for infinity. Human sexuality, therefore, is a sign of eternity.”

20. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church observes, “the number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible …

“This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided” (CCC, 2358).

21. Through the body, God is teaching us about love.

Especially in the incarnate body of Jesus, the Bridegroom, the Word who became flesh! “Jesus Christ fully reveals man to himself and makes his supreme calling clear.” (Gaudium et Spes, 22)

22. Rather than attempt to redefine the meaning of our gender, we should recall our genesis in Genesis …

… wherein God generously generated human life to generously generate the generations of men and women who would continue to reflect the image of God in this great dance of human life and love, of the masculine and the feminine.

23. “The dynamics of the relationship between God, man and woman, and their children, are the golden key to understand the world and history, with all that they contain …” (Pope Francis)

This article was originally published on


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