As a child I was fascinated by the color pictures in our family Bible and by the Bible stories I learned in Catholic elementary school. In high school I set it aside but was exposed to all the readings of daily Mass in the junior seminary. In college seminary I began to use a Jerusalem Bible during meditation before Mass and started reading the commentaries included. Sometime in the early 70s I decided to read the Bible from cover to cover. It took me about a year but it was one of the most profound experiences of my spiritual life. I realized that I was reading every word that God had intended to be included in revelation and that I could only really begin to know Him if I read and treasured every word. Like a father's memoirs to his children, this was a tremendous gift. I firmly believe that if we are serious about knowing God, we need to read the Bible in its entirety. This experience enables us to see Him in the context of every word He spoke. We come to know Him in the Word, Jesus Christ, and in the Word, the Bible. As time goes on we realize that this Word is one. But this Word can become distorted unless readers avail themselves of a good commentary rooted in Catholic tradition. I recommend the Jerome Biblical Commentary, the annotations in the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, and the commentary found in the Navarre Bible. These commentaries help readers avoid misunderstandings and distortions which are bound to happen without them.


To introduce the Bible and to see it in historical context I recommend Jeff Cavin's Unlocking the Mystery of the Bible. To study the Bible more thoroughly I recommend Scott Hahn's Ignatius Catholic Study Bible. The danger is concentrating too much on the tree before getting an overview of the forest. So I believe the best approach is to read the Bible cover to cover with a commentary nearby praying to meet the Lord in His Word. If motivation is a difficulty, start with Jeff Cavin's Unlocking the Mystery of the Bible. He gives a tremendous presentation of the "forest" to help you get started. Once this has been accomplished, commit yourself to reading every word. Following the cover to cover reading, focus on the trees with the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible. Jeff Cavin also provides a ninety-day reading plan to read the entire Bible.


On the issue of inclusive language I concur with the Magisterium of the Church as summarized in Colin Donovan's article. Great care must be taken not to change any word in scripture which would change the meaning intended. I cringe when I hear well-meaning Catholics, both clergy and laity, ad lib word changes in scripture and in the liturgy as they read from the missal, lectionary, or Bible. This usually results in changing the meaning of the passage and in grammatical error. At the same time I believe that every effort should be taken to be inclusive in our everyday speech. I will conform with any Church approved changes in the Bible, missal, or lectionary language.


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