Sharing the Treasures of the Bible

Me with the brilliant Walsingham House Team!
I was honoured to be invited to give a lecture at our diocesan Youth Retreat Centre, Walsingham House this week by Michael Barwick, Director of Walsingham House and Leighton Walker, Assistant Director. The subject was, as regular readers might guess, one of my great passions: Sacred Scripture.

I really wanted to light a fire within our young leaders hearts and show them how incredible the Bible really is. I put together a talk which I hope gave them some insight into the extraordinary complexity of the Bible while unlocking some of its secrets and the powerful connections which have led so many to faith in Jesus Christ through the last two thousand years.

These talks can go one of two ways really. If the audience is unresponsive and fail to engage or ask any questions, it can seem like a painful eternity. However the Walsingham House Team were very bright and eager to learn. There were lots of questions and the whole thing was very animated. Although I spoke for over two hours, it seemed to go very quickly indeed and there were lots of positive comments afterwards.

After some facts about what the Bible is, its history, language, Canon, etc., and what Dei Verbum teaches us about studying it, we looked at whether we can trust what it says. I briefly explained the Fall narrative in Genesis and was impressed when the team very quickly expressed what a powerful and relevant message this was for society today. We then looked at the Decalogue in Exodus 20 and the explanations in Exodus 22 and saw how we can see the basis of the Catholic teaching on morality as expounded in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This led to a bit of a discussion about Catholic morality in modern society, consequencialism and intention, which was really interesting and demonstrated how well grounded the team were in this regard.

Moving on from the Old Testament, I then attempted to explain the explicit divinity of Christ in the New Testament. We looked at the Prologue of St. John, discussed what λόγος means and the Word's "Tabernacling" amongst us. This sparked off a great conversation that led us to Mary as the Tabernacle of the Word. The team have been deepening a devotion to Our Lady of Walsingham and this is clearly having a wonderful effect on them, as one would always anticipate when anyone grows nearer to our Blessed Mother.

We also looked at the ἐγώ εἰμί sayings of Jesus and related these to the Tetragrammaton and how the LXX translates Exodus 3:14 for example, as ἐγώ εἰμί. I then tried to pull all this together with Psalm 22, Isaiah's Suffering Servant, and the Passion narrative in John with this image.

The last section of the talk was about how this knowledge effects our lives and changes us. To illustrate this, I used a powerful description of the Mass from Scott Hahn's book, The Supper of the Lamb, which describes Scott's first experience of coming to Mass, it ends like this:

I really enjoyed the experience and felt very comfortable in the company of such wonderful young Catholics, hungry for the faith. I would like to thank Michael and Leighton for inviting me to talk and I look forward to seeing the team again soon.

Walsingham House offers valuable retreats for young people, details here. I think such retreats form an important, if not essential part of any formation process like Confirmation. They tend to be formative for our young people and something they will always remember.

Please also remember Leighton's dream of a Catholic library at Walsingham House, and get in touch if you have any spare books knocking about you could donate.


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