When I first heard the news that Catholic Scripture Study International was going to be going under the umbrella of Saint Benedict Press I was anxious to see what this meant for their already superb bible studies. Well the wait is over and our questions are answered as the first bible study has been released under this new partnership. Luke: The Gospel of Mercy is the title of the study and it is fantastic!
The study can be purchased in a Group Leader pack. This consists of Leader Guide, Study Guide, 3 DVD Set, and a Streaming Video GROUP license. Also available is a Home Study (Study Guide, Streaming Video Individual license) – NOT for Group Use. The Leader Guide and Study Guides are available for individual purchase as well.
Both the Leader Guide and Study Guide are in full-color. This really makes these guides stand out. I was very impressed with their look. Worth a mention here are the 325 beautiful works of art spread throughout the books. The Study Guide is packed with additional resources including biblical commentary, excerpts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, papal encyclicals, and the writings of the Saints. The previous Catholic Scripture Study offerings were solid in content but this added touch takes them to the next level.
The Leader Guide itself contains valuable tips on how to run a group Bible Study, a task most shy away from, but one that can be highly rewarding. Essentially the Leader Guide is the Study Guide bookended by two additional sections. The front section contains aids relative to leading the course including tips on how to build attendance, and how to organize and prepare for your Study Sessions. The back section contains detailed notes on the videos as well as answers to the questions from each lesson.
Not only are the books impressive but now for the first time ever this CSS study comes with the afore-mentioned 3-disc DVD set that is used throughout the course. Dr. Paul Thigpen and Father Jeffrey Kirby are the hosts on this well produced DVD. There are two types of videos used. Paul Thigpen presents the “Teaching Videos.” These range from 10-15 minutes in length. Father Jeffrey Kirby presents the “Pastoral Life Application Videos.” These last about 5-7 minutes. All videos were filmed in Assisi and Rome.
The study is 18 weeks long and here is how each lesson is handled. There is a Self-study section at the beginning of each unit. The intent is to review these pages of material prior to the group session. On the day of the session it opens with prayer followed by watching the “Teaching Video” of Paul Thigpen. The attendees than break into small groups to discuss a few questions relative to what the just saw. The full group will then watch Father Kirby’s “Life Application Video” for the unit. The attendees will then consider as a whole how they will live out what they learned for the week. The session then ends with a closing prayer.
Overall I am extremely impressed with this initial offering from the new partnership of Saint Benedict Press and Catholic Scripture Study International. They continue the foundation of excellence began by CSS and added features that really take this study to the next level. I anxiously look forward to what future studies are on the way.
Visit Saint Benedict Press to learn more about and purchase Luke: The Gospel of Mercy.