Psalm Study Shows Parents that We Are Never Alone

Interview with author Laurie Watson Manhardt, Ph.D.
by Lisa M. Hendey | Source: Catholic.net
Increasingly, Catholics are becoming interested in serious scripture study and are seeking out resources from a growing pool of Catholic bible study volumes. Emmaus Road continues to meet this demand with a new installation in its popular Come and See ~ Catholic Bible Study series. Their latest study is Come and See: David and the Psalms by Fr Joseph Ponessa, S.S.D. and Laurie Watson Manhardt, Ph.D (Emmaus Road Publishing, July, 2006, Paperback: 208 pages). Series co-author Laurie Watson Manhardt shared the following comments on Come and See: David and the Psalms in a recent author interview.

Q: Hello Laurie and thanks so much for your time and participation in this Catholic Book Spotlight interview. For our readers who may be unfamiliar with your "Come and See" Catholic Bible Study series, would you please briefly introduce the series and give us an overview of the format?

A: Come and See ~ Catholic Bible Study is an orthodox Catholic Bible Study co-authored by a Catholic priest and biblical scholar, Father Joseph Ponessa, SSD, graduate of the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, and a lay person, me. Regis Flaherty, Editor of Emmaus Road Publishing Company www.EmmausRoad.org makes sure that this Bible Study is faithful to the teachings of the magisterium and also lay-person friendly. Bishop John M. Smith of Trenton, NJ gives our imprimatur, assuring that our materials are free from doctrinal or moral error.

This is a perfect study for busy people who don't have lots of time, but still want to go deeper into Sacred Scripture. Any busy Catholic mom or dad, teen or child, even priests and religious sisters can sit down with a Catholic Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church and use this study to draw closer to Christ and explore the mystery He came to reveal to us.

All you have to do is:

1) Pray
2) Read the Bible chapter
3) Read the commentary in the book
4) Answer 20 short home study questions
5) Share your answers to those questions in a small group
6) Watch a short videotaped wrap-up lecture given by Father Ponessa.

It’s as easy as that! Young moms can do this. Couples can do it in the evening. Teens can do this study. Home-schooling families can do this study together for a family night. Inmates in prisons do this study. It works equally well as a home study or as a parish study.

If you can read, you can do this study and expect God to bless your efforts. If you can't read you might be a pre-schooler, perhaps an adult will help you and read the children's book to you, and then you can color the pictures and do the crafts.

Q: Please say a few words about your latest study, Come and See: David and the Psalms - how did the study come about?

A: Come and See: David and the Psalms brings us into the exploration of "The Psalter," the prayer book of the Church. For thousands of years, God-fearing people have been singing and praying the psalms and expressing their emotions to God. Psalms express joy and sorrow, pleading and thanksgiving, praise and exultation, discouragement and repentance. Just about every human emotion can be found in the psalms. This is a beautiful and enlightening study.

Regis Flaherty thinks "David and the Psalms" is our best study in the series thus far, and I'm inclined to agree with him.

Q: What value will Catholic women (and men for that matter!) find in studying the Psalms?

A: The psalms show us that we are not alone in our human condition. David and Solomon weren't perfect. They sinned grievously. We try to be perfect, but we fail, too. We sin. And we get discouraged. We aren't the Christians we want to be. But, we turn to the psalms and pour out our souls and find refreshment and consolation. We turn our hearts back to God. We repent and start anew.

You will even get to try your hand at writing some psalms to God in this study. You can do what David and Solomon did and pour out your thoughts and emotions to God. Write down some of the challenges in your life and give them over to God. Pour out your heart to Him.

Q: This study begins with a look at the books of Ruth, 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel prior to delving in to the Psalms. Why are these books such an important foundation for studying the Psalms?

A: Ruth was the great-grandmother of King David and Father Ponessa shows us the importance of family life in the plan of God. Family was and still is very important to God. Family was God's idea after all. So, the study starts with the life of Ruth and then examines the life of her great-grandson David and shows how events in David's life are mirrored in the psalms he prayed.

Q: Would you please discuss the connection between the Rosary and the Psalms?

A: Since most people could not read up until the last century or so, they had to memorize their prayers to God or speak to Him spontaneously. There are 150 psalms and 150 Hail Mary's in the three sets of five decades (Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious) mysteries in each rosary. So, the rosary has been called "The Poor Man's Psalter." If you couldn't read or couldn't afford a Bible, you could pray the rosary and focus your thoughts on the mysteries of Christ's life. Both are beautiful ways of lifting one's heart and mind to God. Both are wonderful prayers of the Church offered for our spiritual growth.

Q: Do you have a "favorite" Psalm and why is it special to you?

A: Psalm 63:3-4, 7 "Because thy steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise thee. So I will bless thee as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on thy name... for thou has been my help and in the shadow of thy wings I sing for joy."

When I was 35 years old, my husband was killed in an automobile accident, leaving me with a 10 year old daughter and 15 year old son to raise alone. At that time, I prayed Psalm 30:5 "Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning." I would cry myself to sleep at night. But, in the morning, God's grace enabled me to carry on and care for my children. I clung to the truths of my faith and the promises of God. God alone could bring joy in the midst of my sorrow.

At that time, 20 years ago, I couldn't quite understand how God could bring joy out of such sorrow. But, I faced the choice to turn to God or away from Him. I turned to God and He has shown His steadfast love and faithfulness to me. God never fails. God's grace is always present, in good times and in hard times. God turned my "mourning into dancing" Psalm 30:11. After a few years, God brought a wonderful man from a different part of the country into my life. He has been a godly husband and a fabulous father to my children. He surpassed my hopes and dreams.

No matter what happens in the future, and there will be good times and hard times yet to come, I know that "His steadfast love is better than life and I will praise Him as long as I live." I will continue, by God's grace, to cling to Him.

Q: Could you please bring us up to speed on some of the recent and upcoming developments in the Come and See series, including your DVDs and children's resources?

The Psalms should be sung and people have been singing the psalms for ages. Hence, in videotaping the psalms, I asked some friends to sing some of the psalms they have put to music. So, you can hear a psalm sung at the beginning of each chapter on the videotape, before Father Ponessa's lectures. The music can lift your soul to God and set the tone for studying the psalms.

All five of our adult books now have videotaped wrap-up lectures to accompany them. So, you don't have to do research to write a concluding lecture or bother someone at the parish. Just pray, pop in the DVD or videocassette, and then share the answers to your home study questions in your small group.

The adult books in our series thusfar are:
The Gospel of John
Genesis
Prophets and Apostles
The Synoptics: Matthew, Mark and Luke
David and the Psalms

The children's books in our series are:
The Life of Jesus
In the Beginning (Genesis for children)
Friends of God (will be published in 6 weeks, please God! Call Emmaus Road at 1 (800) 398-5470 or go to www.EmmausRoad.org to find it.)

Q: What advice would you give to a woman who may want to start a Bible Study group using your resources? Is there support for individuals who have never undertaken bible study before?

A: Go for it! You can do it! If you can make a pot of coffee and open your home to some friends or neighbors, God can use you to advance His kingdom. God isn't asking us to become bible scholars, He wants us to become SAINTS! Some of the saints couldn't read or write, but God made them into saints nonetheless. We study God's Word, not so that we can become smart, but so that He can make us holy and transform us into the people He wants us to be.

Go to our website
www.CatholicBibleStudy.net and you can see a sample introduction, which tells you everything you need to know to get started. You can also look at a sample chapter. You can even click onto "Flyers" and print up a flyer to personalize and put in the foyer of your church (with Father's permission, of course) or to mail to some friends or neighbors.

If you'd like a complimentary DVD, just go
www.CatholicBibleStudy.net and click onto the icon that says "Contact Us" and give me your name, home mailing address and phone number and I'll be happy to send out a DVD for you to look at. It will have an introduction and two or three short wrap-up lectures for you to look at.

Should you encounter questions in your bible study that you can't answer, just Email me and I'll ask Father Ponessa for an answer to your question and we'll get back to you very quickly. So, if you get a challenging question, just say, "I don't know, but I'll try to find out for you by next week." Then send the question over to me.

Q: Are there any additional thoughts or comments you'd like to share with our readers?

A: My husband and I do Come and See ~ Catholic Bible Study in our home in Florida with some couples in mixed marriages. We have been meeting together once a week during the school year for several years now. We are growing closer to Christ and closer to one another. We are learning more about God and His wonderful plans for each of our lives. We pray for one another and study God's Word together.

Pray about who God might want you to study with and who you can serve. Does God want you to start a Young Moms Bible Study, or maybe a study for teenagers? Perhaps you and your husband could start a Couples Bible Study. Or God may be inviting you to ask your pastor about starting a study in your parish for everyone, men and women, young and old. God might even invite you to study with just one other person. It’s OK! Go for it.

If you open your home to others and invite them to study God's Word, God will do the work. God isn't as interested in our ABILITY as He is in our AVAILABILITY. Just make yourself available to God. Soon, your children and your friends and neighbors will see the joy and the peace in your life. They will come to you with concerns that are troubling them. And you will be equipped with the Bible and the Catechism to point them to the truths of God, which bring love, joy, peace, patience, goodness and self-control.

For more information on Come and See: David and the Psalms visit
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1931018375/catholicmom

Lisa M. Hendey is a mother of two sons, webmaster of numerous web sites, including http://www.catholicmom.com and http://www.christiancoloring.com, and an avid reader of Catholic literature. Visit her at http://www.lisahendey.com for more information.


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