Friday, June 24, 2016

Praying the Gospels (The Word Among Us Press)

In recent years, I have used Fr. Mitch Pacwa's Bible Study books available from Our Sunday Visitor, and I have always been pleased with the books. When I found out that The Word Among Us Press had a new Bible Study series by Fr. Pacwa, I knew that I had to give this a try. The series is called Praying the Gospels and the first two books are Jesus Launches His Ministry and Jesus' Miracles in Galilee. Each book is designed to help you reflect better on specific events in Jesus' life and ministry. Let me tell you about the books.

Jesus Launches His Ministry is an approximately 175 page book that is divided into the following eight chapters:

1. The Baptism of Jesus
2. Temptations in the Wilderness
3. Between Baptism and Capernaum
4. The Wedding Feast at Cana
5. Jesus Inaugurates His Public Ministry
6. The First Exorcism and Manifestation of Jesus' Authority
7. The Transition from Capernaum to the Galilean Ministry
8. Put Out into the Deep

Jesus' Miracles in Galilee is also an approximately 175 page book that picks up where the first book left off. It is divided into the following thirteen chapters:

1. Jesus Begins His Preaching Mission throughout Galilee
2. The Cleansing of the Leper
3. The Healing of a Paralytic
4. The Healing of a Man with a Withered Hand
5. The Centurion's Request for a Healing
6. The Raising of the Widow of Nain's Son
7. Storms at Sea
8. The Healing of the Hemorrhaging Woman and Jairus' Daughter
9. The Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish
10. Walking on the Storms of Life
11. A Syrophoenician Woman
12. Jesus Heals a Deaf Man
13. Sailing to Bethsaida

Within each chapter, there are several meditations, which break apart subsections of the Gospel passage. For example, in "The Baptism of Jesus." we see six meditations, which cover topics such as John the Baptist, Jesus' journey to the Jordan River, and the manifestation of the Trinity. Within these meditations, Fr. Pacwa instructs us with other Scripture passages, both Old and New Testament. He then probes the reader with reflection questions to answer and provides several lines at the end of each meditation to give you ample room to answer the questions and write your thoughts.

The books are nice in that they chronologically and thematically walk us through the Gospels. No one Gospel is the focus of these books, but instead Fr. Pacwa draws from all four of them to give us a complete picture. I also like the fact that each meditation is only a few pages long and only focuses on a tiny bit of the Gospel. Too often, when we read Gospel, we try and read a whole chapter at a time. These chapters contain a lot of parables, miracles, and other events that make it hard to grasp all at once. Fr. Pacwa eliminates this with his bite-size approach. I wish there had been a book before these two that focused on Mary, Joseph, and the infancy passages of Jesus, but the focus of this series seems to be the three years of Jesus' ministry and not the thirty years prior. That wish aside, I would highly recommend these books, for someone looking to take a slow, deliberate, and meditative walk through the Gospels. I look forward to seeing how many more books there will be in this series and am sure to recommend them as much as I recommend these two.

These books were provided to me for free by The Word Among Us Press in exchange for an honest review. If you found these reviews helpful, please click here and/or here and hit Yes!

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