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Diving into Bible Study

Author Interview with Laurie Watson Manhardt, PhD, Come and See: The Synoptics.
by Lisa M. Hendey | Source: Catholic.net
Interest in bible study resources written from a Catholic perspective remains strong, as evidenced by the close to 5.5 million results yielded from a recent Google search on the topic. The challenge, however, is selecting a study that is both spiritually productive and in line with the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Emmaus Road Publishing, a Catholic organization, has a strong commitment to providing Catholic bible study resources. With the recent publication of Come and See: The Synoptics, the latest in the Come and See Catholic Bible Study series, Emmaus Road augments the resources available to Catholics looking to study scripture. As an added benefit, the series provides an opportunity for Catholic parents to share their love of the Bible with their children. The series’ children’s books combine learning with craft activities for a result that is both educational and entertaining. A new addition to the Come and See series is the video component, which provides added commentary in a visually and intellectually stimulating format.

I had an opportunity to speak with series co-author Laurie Watson Manhardt, Ph.D. concerning recent developments in the Come and See Catholic Bible Study series.

Q: Please give an update on the series.

A: "Come and See - Catholic Bible Study" is currently being used by about 35 groups around the country in a variety of ways. Some homeschooling families are doing the study for a "Family Night." Couples are doing the study for neighbors in mixed marriages. Parishes are doing the study for Moms and pre-schoolers. Teenagers are doing the study with Fr. Ponessa in Montana and inmates are doing the study in a prison in Florida. The Lord seems to have a wide variety of ideas for inviting His people into the study of His Word.

Q: Please describe the new Synoptics study. How does study of the Synoptics vary from your study of John?

A: The Synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke are studied side by side to gain a deeper appreciation of the evangelists' insights into the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, Our Redeemer. Monsignor Jan Majernik, STD from the Franciscan School of Biblical Studies in Jerusalem, who has been a spiritual director for pilgrims to the Holy Land for two decades brings a rich understanding of Catholic theology along with the biblical geography of the Holy Land. A series of videos offer short wrap-up lectures that include scenes of the Holy Land and classic Christian art to draw hearts and minds into the beauty and mystery of the life, ministry, passion and death of Jesus Christ, Our Savior. These are particularly appealing for the visual learners among us.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about the new members of your team who are assisting with your work and writing?

A: Fr. Jan Liesen, SSD, the Pontifical Institute of Biblical Studies in Rome, who currently teaches at the Seminarie Rolduc in Kerkraade, the Netherlands taught us in the Summer Catholic Bible Study School offered by Renewal Ministries at Ave Marie College in Michigan last summer. He spoke about the Gospel of Mark pointing to the Eucharist. This year, he will be writing our next book in the series on the Old Testament book of "Sirach."

Q: What led to the development of the video resources that accompany your study and what benefit do they bring to those who use them?

A: Fr. Ponessa and Monsignor Majernik have thousands of slides of the Holy Land. I have been collecting classic Christian art depicting biblical scenes from the life of Jesus from museums and churches around the world. We pooled our resources and I cut up my art books to share with those who want to delve deeper into the Sacred Scriptures and for those who learn better through visual images than the printed word. The result is an additional short commentary with visuals to add to the written commentary in the book.

Q: Please let us know, once again, the value of a solid Catholic bible study program?

A: God wants to draw each of us deeper into His great and personal love for us. The Sacred Scriptures are one way that God speaks to us, comforts us, leads and guides us. Studying the Bible along with the Catechism of the Catholic Church allows us to grow into Christian maturity and understand more clearly the beauty and fullness of truth of the Catholic faith. Catholic Moms have a responsibility to KNOW their Catholic faith, so they can LIVE their Catholic faith, and TEACH the Catholic faith to their children.

Q: What comments and feedback have you had from participants in your Bible Study programs?

A: Last week a doctor from Michigan e-mailed that he had tried a Bible Study, which was too difficult for the people in his parish and they became discouraged. The found the "Come and See ~ Catholic Bible Study" to be both orthodox and lay person friendly. It was something that busy lay people could manage in their regular prayer time.

One young Mom started doing her study and reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Suddenly, she looked up and found that two hours had passed and she had spent her children's whole nap time enthralled in her reading.
After studying "The Gospel of John" in a prison in Montana, all the inmates (even the ones who weren't Catholic!) decided they wanted to go to Confession in Holy Week. Several wanted to study for baptism and confirmation in the Catholic Church.

Fr. Ponessa was too busy to start an RCIA class for one lady, so he gave her "The Gospel of John" book to read and do on her own. She completed it with members of her family and they all asked to be baptized and come into the Church.

Several ladies in a class in Florida encouraged one another in their small group to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation after having been away for several decades. They all went one Saturday morning to pray for and encourage one another as they went to Confession.

A home-schooling family in Michigan learned that the children could memorize scripture better than the parents. And the youngest daughter completed almost all of the crafts in one sitting!

Q: What words of encouragement would you share with those who have perhaps never studied the Bible or do not have an opportunity to do so in their home parishes?

A: Just do it! Pray for one or two other people to study the Bible together. One young Mom from your web site contacted me from a small parish in a small town in Texas. She put an ad in the bulletin and prayed for just one other Mom to study with. In the middle of the winter, I got an e-mail requesting a book to be sent to another young Mom in the same town and learned that they had more than a dozen women doing Bible Study together! God answers prayer. God is pleased when we study His Word, whether there are 2 of us or 200 of us. Whether we are Moms and tots or couples or teens or older folks, God is inviting us to draw deeper into His Word and to grow closer to Him.

Q: What's next? Can you share your future plans for this wonderful bible study series?

A: Presently, we have four adult books and two children's books. Come and See KIDS: Friends of God should come out next summer, along with Come and See~Catholic Bible Study: Sirach.

For those who are interested, Renewal Ministries will offer another wonderful Catholic Bible Study School this summer from July 13-16, 2006 in Michigan. Go to www.RenewalMinistries.net for more information. We hope to have Fr. Ponessa and Fr. Jan Liesen there to teach us once again. Everyone is invited and expected to be blessed and inspired!

Q: Are there any additional comments you'd like to share?

A. If God puts a desire in your heart to study the Bible, please GO FOR IT! You don't need to be a scholar. You don't need special training or a college degree. St. Catherine of Siena couldn't read or write and she is a Doctor of the Church! Don't be fearful or intimidated. Pray about it. Get a Catholic Bible and start with "The Gospel of John." God will draw near to you as you make an effort to study His Word. The Holy Spirit can give you insights and understanding beyond your years or your expectations.

Contact CatholicBibleStd@aol.com and we will be happy to answer your questions or give you some encouragement.

To order a Catholic Bible, Catechism of the Catholic Church, and our Come and See ~ Catholic Bible Study books and videos contact Emmaus Road Publishing at 1 (800) 398-5470 or www.EmmausRoad.org

May God bless you and draw you deeper into His Word and deeper into His immense and personal love for you!

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