Monday, January 28, 2013

Catholic Monday: Walking Toward Eternity

Welcome back to Catholic Monday here at Stuart's Study. I have a product to recommend to you today that I have been working through and enjoying for the past two months. I know y'all are thinking, "Two months?!" Don't worry. This isn't some 1,000 page tome I've been working through. (Though, I do have one of those I am slogging through.) This is a wonderful eight part Bible Study series entitled Walking Toward Eternity: Daring to Walk the Walk. Written by Jeff and Emily Cavins and sold at the BEST place to purchase Catholic Bible Studies - Ascension Press.

After reading the book Praying Scripture for a Change: An Introduction to Lectio Divina (also published by Ascension Press), I felt that I had a great beginners understanding of what Lectio Divina was but longed for a way to actually start practicing it. I know that you can find a Gospel passage on your own and go through the steps, but I didn't feel brave enough to start without more direction. The series "Walking Toward Eternity" provided just the tools and help I needed to get started.

This is an eight part series, with the first part prepping you on what exactly Lectio Divina is and how to hear the voice of God through reading and meditating on the Scripture. After you make it through the introductory lesson, it starts to pick up and you learn about seven key virtues (Love, Forgiveness, Humility, Prayerfulness, Faithfulness, Sacrifice, and Thanksgiving) and how to live them in your practical life. I know I could stand to have more of all seven of these virtues (and others) in my life.

For three days you do Scripture readings and journal entries that help you understand the meaning, importance, and practice of each virtue. On the fourth day is when you really put the Lectio Divina in practice with the Scripture passage that had the most meaning to you from one of the previous three days. All of this is done on your own (or with your spouse like I chose to do). On the Meeting Day, you join up with the other members of your group to share insights and watch the DVD (or listen to the CD) lesson for that virtue.

With the first lesson, I felt like I was just spinning my wheels and that this was going to be just like every other Bible Study I had ever done. However, when I got to Day 4 and actually begin to truly do Lectio Divina, I truly started appreciating the series. It tied the first three days together and made me realize that you can't just dive head first into something new. You have to take baby steps and crawl before you can start to walk or run. The DVDs are also great and Jeff Cavins is masterful as usual. It feels like he is there in your living room to teach you personally.

This is by far a 5 star Bible Study series. If you approach it with a sincere heart and put a lot into it, you will get even more out of it If this sounds like a series that would be good for you and your circle of friends, pool your resources to buy the DVDs or CDs. You could also see if your Pastor or Director of Religious Education would consider purchasing them for the parish. I would recommend using this series for a group of 10-12 people. It can be done with fewer, but the conversation might start to lull on meeting days. On the flip side, with more than a dozen and it could start to get a bit loud and unruly with all the voices trying to chime in with their personal reflections.

I also think that the perfect time for embarking on this series is Ordinary Time, though it would be great at anytime. I just find that for myself, and perhaps others feel this way too, Ordinary Time can feel like a particularly long period with no major fasting like Advent or Lent to humble us or major feast like Christmas or Easter for us to celebrate. There is also a second series called Walking Toward Eternity: Engaging the Struggles of Your Heart that focuses on obstacles in our lives for us to overcome such as Envy, Anger, and Greed to name a few. I hope to get a chance to review that series in the future.