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The Year of Faith: A Bible Study Guide for Catholics Paperback – August 15, 2012
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About the Author
Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J., Senior Fellow of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, is a Jesuit priest and popular television host of several EWTN television and radio programs, including EWTN Life and The Holy Rosary in the Holy Land.
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Fr. Mitch Pacwa's The Year of Faith: A Bible Study Guide for Catholics is an excellent way to honor the pope's call and counter the attacks on faith. By highlighting key points in the pope's apostolic letter Porta Fidei ("Door of Faith" - see Acts 14:27), which called for this Year of Faith, Fr. Mitch takes the student on a journey through the Bible and the liturgy that will reawaken, renew, or refresh one's faith.
The Year of Faith celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, the twentieth anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the Synod on the New Evangelization happening the month the Year of Faith begins. Fr. Mitch, echoing the pope, begins by calling Catholics to read the documents of Vatican II and the Catechism. With an entire year devoted to strengthening one's faith, this is a wonderful opportunity to take time on a regular basis to work through these documents so important to the Faith.
The Bible study itself consists of six sessions each of which are broken up into sections. "Consider" and "Study" provide historical background on, doctrinal considerations of, and insight into the week's theme. "Investigate" segments give many opportunities throughout to look deeper into session themes in Scripture with encouragement to ponder these passages and often to answer questions about them ("The Creed and Scripture" exposition, in which Scripture quotes underlying each statement of the Nicene Creed, is, itself, worth the price of the book). Each session closes with "Discuss" and "Practice" assignments: the former has three questions that encourage reflection on the material studied and allow for sharing insights gained; the latter encourages use of the time until the next session to ponder further the week's theme and to apply it in a practical way to one's life.
In addition, the text is happily interrupted by boxes designated as "Information," which go more in-depth on topics like the early Church councils, the Samaritans, the parts of the Mass, and the liturgical calendar, and "Stop and Read" which provide plentiful opportunities to turn to Scripture and ponder it.
Whether working through the text alone or with a group, appropriate time must be taken to do this study slowly and reflectively. To get the most out of it, the reader must work carefully through the text (which is helpfully broken up into short sections), read and contemplate all Scripture texts referenced, and thoughtfully consider and answer all questions.
With study group tips at the beginning of the book and writing that is very accessible and engaging, there is no reason why involved Catholics should not encourage their pastors to allow them to do this six week Bible study in their parishes or, at least, conduct them in their own homes.
It is an excellent guide and has opened my eyes greatly to an understanding of God's mercy and covenantal love in the Old Testament and the New. If you read this you will learn a great deal about mercy. The scales have fallen from my eyes.
That said, it is probably not for everyone. First, it is much heavier than I expected on Old Testament readings. Not what I expected, frankly, but undoubtedly necessary to understanding mercy!
Second, there are a LOT of readings per chapter.
Third, if you are leading the study group, I suggest you develop your own questions for discussion - there simply are not that many questions provided for discussion.
So, bottom line, it is an EXCELLENT book and you will learn a lot. But if you use it in group study, you will be reading a lot and will need to prepare in depthfor your group sessions.
It has several great points and ideas but they are all thrown together in a salad format. The sections within each study do not flow well together. The questions are not as deep as I would expect from a great teaching Jesuit.
The study seems that it was rushed to get to press to ensure it would be available for The Year of Faith and the editor did not or was not able to complete their job.
Unless you know little of the Bible or the teachings of the Church, I would not recommend this study. And again, I make this recommendation with a heavy heart because I was looking forward to his insight.
His bible study guides, this being the third one I have completed, are laid out in a simple , yet through format, making it easy and interesting for even the neophyte.
His study of the sacraments through the eyes of St. Paul, is an excellent way for Catholics and Protestants alike , to learn what the Catholic Church teaches and how it relates to our daily life and our eternal salvation.