The Catholic Family Connection Bible, which Saint Mary’s Press kindly sent me to review, aims to be “Where family, faith, and life connect” with God’s word. Since the edition has a Catholic emphasis, the translation used is the highly acclaimed New American Bible Revised Edition, which I, too, acclaim for its thoroughness and accuracy, especially if you want to read, as I did, the intertestament books.
The word “Catholic,” of course, means universal, wide-reaching, and all-embracing, so you can be confident it includes you. Nevertheless, you can expect to find pages with “Catholic Practices and Prayers,” which I also recommend regardless of your denominational preference simply because the more we understand where each other is coming from, the more apt we are to show respect and appreciation for fellow Christians with views we might not have considered.
As stated in an opening page, “The Bible Is Multicultural”:
“In the Bible, God is revealed as the God of all nations and all cultures….” and since we “live in a multicultural word,” this edition “includes additional articles representing cultural perspectives from around the world” – namely, African American, Asian American, Hispanic and Latino, and Native American.
For example, a “Cultural Connection” sidebar on Mark 1 tells us:
“Most Native American peoples would not be surprised by all the angels and spirits in the first chapter of Mark. Many Native American cultures believe in the presence of good and bad spirits in the world. They view good spirits as personal helpers and message bearers, like the angels who take care of Jesus in verse 13.”
The “Cultural Connection” alongside Mark 4 reminds us how “Jesus teaches about God’s Reign through parables” or stories. Then,
“In some Hispanic families, it is customary for young people to hear their abuelita (grandmother) tell stories about their family history, traditions, and faith. Many of the stories are true; others may be created to give a moral teaching, like the parables.”
Still in Mark, the “Cultural Connection” for chapter 15 says:
“According to Mark 15:21, the Roman soldiers compelled a North African black man from Cyrene by the name of Simon, a passerby, to carry the cross of Jesus. We do not know anything more about Simon of Cyrene, except that Mark identifies him as the father of Alexander and Rufus. The reference to Simon’s sons by name and the possibility that Rufus is the same person Paul greets in Romans 16:13 indicate that they were known among the early Christians. This is significant for African Americans because it is evidence of the prominence and influence of African people in the early Christian Church.”
Each of those cultural references came in sidebars only from the Gospel of Mark, but such perceptive jewels have been scattered throughout the entire edition.
Other unique articles and sidebars encourage us to “Pray It!,” “Study It!,” and “Live It! Additionally, inserts such as “Praying with the Bible” go into more detail:
“As Catholics we believe that God speaks to us in the words of the Bible. The words are not just human words but rather God’s own communication of love to us. When we pray with the Bible, God speaks to our hearts and can deeply touch us and change our lives.”
The next two pages of that insert instruct us in the ancient prayer practice of Lectio Divina – “a prayer technique for reading the Bible slowly and contemplatively, allowing God’s word to shed insights on your life. It cultivates the ability to listen deeply, to hear the word of God with the ear of your heart.”
Another insert focuses on “Family Faith Conversations” that provide:
- thematic Bible passages to help start family faith conversations
- prayer ideas for dealing with the death of a family member
- ideas for family service activities
Can you see why I’m so impressed with this edition? And I haven’t even mentioned the helpful introductions to each book, the pages in the back matter that help readers find a wealth of topics, an explanation of “The Church Year,” a glossary, a timeline, and maps including one I always like to find (but rarely do) “The Holy Land in Modern Times.”
Like a good mother, this edition gives us almost everything a family might need!