March 8, 2014
The Saints Devotional Bible
When Our Sunday Visitor sent me a review copy of this lovely edition of the New American Bible revised edition (NAB+), I welcomed the opportunity to get better acquainted with inspired Christian writers, who became known by the early church as saints because of their strong faith and exemplary lives. With the inspired writings of 200 saints highlighted in the front pages and their bios in the back of The Saints Devotional Bible, I discovered Christians with whom I identified and connected as though being introduced to timeless friends I now look forward to meeting in person in eternity.
Meanwhile, we have the good company of saints on earth as the King James Version of the Bible (KJV) refers, about 100 times, to those who love Jesus Christ, while the Douay-Rheims provides 119 such references, according to my search on Bible Gateway.
So, how do we become more recognizable as the saints we’re intended to be? Or, to put it another way, what do “The Saints and The Bible” want to tell us today? In the article by that title, we see these headings to headline our quest:
Saints Study Scripture.
Saints Memorize Scripture.
Saints Pray Scripture.
Saints Use Scripture in Spiritual Warfare.
Saints Seek Guidance in Scripture.
Saints Proclaim Scripture.
Saints Apply Scripture.
To further guide us, this highly recommended edition includes “Readings from the Saints,” a list of 94 key topics or themes, helpful footnotes throughout the text, and additional inserts, which provide “a mini-course on understanding, praying, and applying Scripture drawn from the teachings, writings, and examples of the saints.”
In the section inserted for “Saints On Scripture,” for example, I met and fell in love with St. Ephrem (306-373), who said, “The Lord has colored his Word with many kinds of beauty, so that everyone who scrutinizes it can contemplate what he loves. And he has hidden all treasures in his word, so that each of us might find a treasure in what we ponder.” Yes! Then, as St. Ephrem wisely cautions, “Let him who discovers one of the riches of his Word not think that there is nothing else in the word of God but what he has found. Let him rather realize that he has been able to discover only one thing among many others.” Again, amen!
As the Living Word, the Bible continually has more to offer to those who seek. Another favorite, St. John Cassian (360-433) put it this way: “In order to keep God always in mind, you should frequently pray this verse: ‘Come to my help, O God. Lord, hurry to my rescue’ (Ps 70:2). With good reason this text has been selected from all of Scripture as a method of continual prayer. It encompasses all the emotions that human beings can experience. We can effectively apply it to any circumstance and use it to resist every temptation. “ For example, “When a headache or drowsiness interferes with my spiritual reading, I must say, ‘Come to my help, O God. Lord, hurry to my rescue.’ When I cannot fall asleep at night, I must sigh and pray, ‘Come to my help, O God. Lord, hurry to my rescue.’” And, “When anger or envy threatens to disturb my peacefulness and embitter me, I must force myself to pray, groaning, ‘Come to my help, O God. Lord, hurry to my rescue.’” Amen, amen, and amen.
Although space and publishing rights prevent my including all of the wonders found in the “Saints on Scripture” section, the headings let you know what early Christians wrote about with saintly wisdom and inspired words unbound by time or space:
Experiencing the Power of the Word of God
Reading Scripture: Essential for Christian Living
Pursuing God in Scripture: Practical Advice on Reading the Bible
Scripture Leads Us to Eternal Life
Understanding Scripture Through Faith in Christ
The Inexhaustible Richness of God’s Word
We Need a Guide to the Bible
Scripture and Tradition
Understanding the Spiritual Sense of Scripture
Putting God’s Word into Practice
Scripture as a Mirror of the Soul
Finding Her Way in Scripture
Patterning Their Lives on Scripture
Minding Our Thoughts with Scripture Meditation
The Benefits of Mediating on Scripture
Meditating on a Scripture Verse
Praying With Scripture
The Psalms and the Christian Life
The Gospel and the Christian Life
A Method of Continual Prayer
When God Speaks to Us in Scripture
Using Scripture in Daily Life
Formed by God’s Word
From Study to Action
© 2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer
The Saints Devotional Bible, paperback