Martini Mix

Martini Mix

Karl A. Schultz

A special concoction has been prepared for those seeking a slightly more advanced and in depth selection of spiritual reading titles. I’ll preface it with a basis for its conception.

Mediocrity has become a plague in American culture and church. People allow themselves to become swept up in mass society mentality and conformism, anesthetized by an unhealthy celebrity culture and an economy where the haves increasingly cast aside the have-nots. Talent, production, potential, and merit have been trumped by image, convenience, comfort, and connections. Consequently, a levelling effect occurs in which life is brought down to the lowest common denominator.

Even within the Church mediocrity and worse is rationalized and even excused. If necessary, biblical and traditional values are eclipsed out of a misguided attempt at accommodation. For example, haven’t most of the biblical passages regarding gender been neutered and robbed of their vitality and potency. Don’t we allow feminist-sympathetic scholars and teachers to relegate them to historical curiosities reflective of a repulsively patriarchal culture? As if our culture is superior!!!

Now that we can’t turn to Scripture in matters of gender identification and formation, where do we turn? Popular culture? Catholic popularizers and ideologues, who often unconsciously bring in remnants of their former traditions and lifestyles?
Intellectual life has been mostly cast aside, or relegated to academics. The quest for principle and progress has been eclipsed by practicality and comfort.

In the realm of spirituality, this consists of the rise of popularizers, in many cases an ideologically-based network of individuals with similar backgrounds, pedigrees, or perspectives who exclusively develop a largely closed network of self-proclaimed authorities on Catholic and biblical spirituality. As in the culture, popularity and image tends to obscure substance and reality.

One of the consequences in the American church has been the marginalization of two supreme resources, the works of Cardinal Martini and the publications of the Catholic Biblical Federation. Put simply, their resources on biblical spiritualty and lectio divina are unsurpassed in breadth and depth. Through collaboration with the Catholic Biblical Federation (headquartered in Germany), I have acquired permission to share over twenty of their finest articles on lectio divina from their quarterly journal Dei Verbum. This international assortment includes several by Cardinal Martini, and papers by Cardinal Kasper and other noted scholars and leaders. This is a wonderful resource for serious-minded individuals, DREs, bible study leaders, and parishes.

The articles are accessible but not dumbed down, a refreshing change from what has become the norm at the grass roots level within the Church. The Martini mix includes the complete set, which ways more than a pound!

The Martini mix includes two copies of my book “Journaling with Moses and Job”, which is based on Martini’s classic out of print book “Through Moses to Jesus.” It includes numerous extensive excerpts from it. Also included are several other Martini titles.

Why Martini?

He is the most prominent promoter of lectio divina in the post-Vatican II church. He has over 40 titles published on the subject, and they have been translated into various languages.

Outside of the pope, he has the most impressive resume in the Church:

1) A doctorate in theology from the Gregorian and in Biblical studies from the Pontifical Biblical Institute, where taught for ten years.
2) Former rector of the Gregorian and Pontifical Biblical Institute.
3) Former member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, the pope’s advisory board on biblical matters.
4) A world class text critic (expert in the biblical languages and manuscripts) and former member of the American Bible Society’s committee for the establishment of the Greek New Testament.
5) Emeritus Cardinal of Milan, the world’s largest Catholic diocese.
6) Former president of the European conference of bishops.
7) A contender at the 2005 papal conclave, despite advanced age and having Parkinson’s disease.

What is most amazing about Martini is not his accomplishments, but his message and modality. He is able to integrate and communicate in an accessible manner his intellectual acumen and pastoral experience and understanding of the human sciences. It is rare for a renowned scholar to communicate accessibly, insightfully, and pastorally. Most simply can’t come down to earth, or if they do, they overcompensate and teeter towards “dumbed-down’s ville.”

Of his many literary, formational, and evangelical merits, four stand out for me:

1) He humanizes the Bible and its character, circumstances, and challenges, thereby enabling me to personalize it and recognize its timeless and personal applications.

2) He demythologizes the Bible, that is, he makes it a living, breathing document founded in timeless and existential values. He helps you read between the lines and recognize the continuity between ancient and modern times, and the unchanging qualities of the human nature and condition. Within biblical studies the term demythologize has been associated with the great twentieth century German exegete Rudolf Bultmann, but that is not the sense in which I use the word.

3) By reading his books, through a process of what I call spiritual osmosis, I gradually assimilate his methods, which are often spelled out, and at other times implicit in his writings. Thus I learn how to interpret and apply the Bible personally, confidently, and competently, but without pride, rationalism, or intellectualism.

4) He integrates biblical studies and spirituality with Ignatian spirituality, the human sciences, and pastoral sensitivity in a way that bears directly on grass roots needs, without ever compromising orthodoxy or intellectual integrity.

Frankly, I don’t think there are any resources in the Church, including mine, that hold a candle to the combination of Martini, the Catholic Biblical Federation, and Pope Benedict.

The resources of the former two are disseminated extensively in many third world countries, and much of the western world, with the curious exception of North America. I have spoken directly with the executive director of the Catholic Biblical Federation about this, and they are trying to assume a higher profile in the United States. I have spoken and written frequently in the media about this.

Incidentally, the CBF (website c-b-f.org) was established in 1969 by Pope Paul VI to further biblical study, spirituality, and ministry at the pastoral level. Though supported by scholars, it is not oriented towards academia or highly technical issues. It is in over 80 countries and over 130 bishops’ conferences are members. It is the official pastoral biblical ministry association in the universal Church.

Pope Benedict gave his seminal exhortation on lectio divina in a 2005 address to the Catholic Biblical Federation. He is increasingly promoting it, and his lucid addresses and writings are amenable to it. His message is a wonderful compliment to Cardinal Martini’s.

Reflecting their different backgrounds, they approach and communicate the Word differently, but with similar values and objectives.

So, if you want an unbeatable literary mix for combatting the mediocrity of modern life and mainstream politically correct spirituality, you can hardly do better than Martini, the CBF, and the pope. The Martini Mix is designed to bring these superior resources to you in an affordable and manageable package. Call Karl at (412) 766-7545 or email karlaschultz@jun.com for details.  Also see karlaschultz.com for a more indepth discussion of available resources.

Christmas and New Year’s Reading

It has been well documented that reading, particularly from a book, as opposed to electronic media, is becoming a lost art and pastime. However, that in in way reduces its value. To the contrary, in a culture that overwhelms us with noise and images, reading enables us to enter into dimensions connected to yet removed from our times. And so, it seems fitting as a New Year beckons to share some book recommendations on topics I have published and spoken on.

I have concentrated on titles from the Liturgical Press for three reasons:

1) They have not published me, so I don’t have any conflict of interest issues.

2) I probably have more books in my library published by TLP than any other press.

3) They have both popular and academic titles, and some in between, and therefore in doing a review I can cover a substantial amount of ground.

I will be discussing these on an upcoming Relevant Radio program, which I will disclose whenever it is finalized.

Because everyone is busy at this time of year, I’ll keep my comments brief and to the point.

Although it is unfair to compare books on different subject, it is also helpful to proportionately rate titles. Accordingly, I’ll start with my favorite of the titles I reviewed, and explain why, and then go in descending order. That does not mean that the last title is deficient. It just may be that it is on a topic where there are a ton of good books, and it is very difficult to stand out.

All of these titles are available from The Liturgical Press. Their website is www.litpress.org. Their phone number is 1-800-858-5450. If you decide to purchase these books, please buy them direct from Liturgical Press or your local bookstore, rather than online. Online vendors are helping put bookstores out of business, and they also cut greatly into author’s royalties.

1)  Scripture in the Church: The Synod on the Word of God (James Chukwuma Okoye, Cssp)

This is an accessible yet erudite book on a very important topic. It is always best to go to the source on a subject, and what better sources for contemporary Church teaching on Scripture than a synod and an apostolic exhortation?

The author also provides a condensed overview of late twentieth century developments in Catholic biblical scholarship. This is very helpful for understanding the context for the Synod and the Pope’s synthesis. By the way, the latter is very long and detailed, yet quite readable. Hey, were you expecting a summary, superficial treatment from a former German theological professor?

I must caution that both the book and subject are not amenable to speed reading. You are going to need to take your time with this book, as it is packed with helpful information which will require digestion. Because of the timeliness of the topic and the competence of the treatment, this gets my number one rating.

2) Lectio Divina: The Medieval Experience of Reading (Duncan Robertson)

I have written ten books on this subject, yet I found this very fresh, deep, and thoughtful. This is not a rehashing of previously published material. This is not for the beginner, however. Any person who has practiced lectio divina, read at least one or two books on the subject, and who is interested in the medieval roots of the subject, set against contemporary academic thought, will find this extraordinarily helpful.

Again, this book draws from the original sources and shows their relevance to today. An excellent book quite suited to a serious reader and devotee of the subject.  It is refreshing to see such a seminal book published in a market where the breezy and superficial so often garners attention.  The author has worked with the leading authorities and resources on the subject, and articulated them in a very comprehensible and coherent manner. Nothing less than a must read for serious students of lectio divina.

3) The Faith of the Early Fathers, 3 volumes by William A. Jurgens

Patristics, the study of the teaching of the early church fathers, experienced a renaissance in Catholic theology in the mid-twentieth century, and has continued to regain its prominence. Of course, it never went away, but great thinkers (e.g. Henri de Lubac, Jean Danielou, etc.) came along and helped us rediscover it.

This book is an excellent source for learning both about the early Church fathers and what they taught. Assembled chronologically in three volumes, this contains a wealth of insightful and reflection-inspiring excerpts from ancient but also timeless writings. Though perhaps a bit advanced for an absolute beginner, it has much to offer for both scholar and layman. An outstanding resource on an important but oft-overlooked subject. For good reason this has remained in print for over forty years. That alone speaks volumes.

4) Desert Banquet: A year of Wisdom from the Desert Mothers and Fathers by David G. R. Keller

I loved this book! Eminently readable and thoughtfully put together. It follows quotes from the Desert mothers and fathers with explanations and applications.  This is well-written survey of desert wisdom with modern relevance.  The author has good psychological insights and pastoral sense.

For personal growth value, I would take this book over  contemporary self-help titles any day. I also found it enjoyable to read, though you have to take your time with it. The author, an Episcopal priest, tackles very practical issues and provides substantive food for thought that will need to be processed deliberately. A good source for lectio divina as well.

5) By What Authority? A Primer on Scripture, the Magisterium, and the Sense of the Faithful by Richard R. Gaillardetz

This is an accessible, not overly academic treatment of important, inter-related, but oft-overlooked subjects. If you teach the Bible, and want to go deeper in your understanding of its role in the Church, this is ideal. However, I see this as being an excellent text for graduate theology courses. It goes a bit beyond popular questions and explores areas of ambiguity in contemporary thought. As with the Bible, everything the Church teaches can’t be abundantly clear, as life certainly isn’t.

This is a well-reasoned, readable book by a very competent thinker on the subject. highly recommended.

6) I would like to highlight two series published by the Liturgical Press. First, the New Collegeville Bible Commentary. Actually, this is the third edition of this series. The first was published in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The second in the mid-1980s. Both were excellent, among the finest popular commentary series available, and my review of early titles of this series indicates that the tradition of excellence will continue. To quote a popular expression, “this is what they do”: The Liturgical Press publishes excellent popular resources on the Bible by outstanding and widely respected scholars.

Containing the newly published and episcopally approved English translation of the Bible, this is an excellent resource for Bible study/sharing groups and introductory classes on the Bible.  The tradition continues!  Very highly recommended.

Second, Berit Olam, an academic commentary series on the Hebrew Bible. For the reader with an intermediate or advanced understanding of the Bible, this series is a must read. Combining outstanding scholarship with literary excellence, and reflecting a variety of traditions, I see it as a more focused and accessible Catholic equivalent of the superb Anchor Bible series. Focusing on the literary dimensions of the text, rather than obscure source-critical questions (hypothesized developments of the text over time), this serves a valuable purpose in contemporary biblical studies, bridging academia and popular studies of the Bible.   Its goals are aesthetic as well as intellectual and formational, suiting precisely the texts it explores. The endeavor is ambitious but well conceived and executed.

A worthy companion to the outstanding New Testament series published in the early 1990s and continuing into the new millennium.

Let’s end our review on a light and practical note. The Liturgical Press has long been known for their outstanding inventory reduction sales. I always got a kick out of the pictures of the publisher that would accompany the catalog. And the deals were great. Coming out in the spring, there are always excellent titles available, and often at below-wholesale prices.  Remember that a book’s sales numbers are not necessarily indicative of its value.

If you are not on the Liturgical Press’ mailing list, contact them and get on it. Their catalogues are well organized, descriptive, and colorful. They have long been a premier Catholic publisher, and remain so despite earthquake-like upheavals in the industry. From my vantage point, unlike many presses, quality has not slipped, and superficial popular trends have been avoided.  For Bible, spirituality, theological, and liturgical titles, they truly excel, and are worth keeping track of.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at karlaschultz@juno.com, or submit a posting for the blog.

Murphy’s Book

Fr. Jerome Murphy O’Connor, OP, professor at the Ecole Biblique de Jerusalem since 1967, is one of the finest Pauline scholars in the world. He is refreshing in that he is not afraid to go out on a limb, but he does so carefully and respectfully. He does not seek to polemicize or sensationalize. He is a teacher at heart, and a scholar who writes well.

I have attended Fr. Jerome’s lectures, and spoken to him individually. He is engaging and funny, as well as lucid. I still remember some of his dry wit.  He is very sincere and professional.

Fr. Jerome published an interesting book entitled “Paul the Letter-Writer; His World, His Options, His Skills.” The Liturgical Press is the publisher, from 1995.

Fr. Jerome states that this is a book for beginners, though a bit involved.  I would qualify that by saying that the beginner better like scholarly writing. It is not overly academic or technical. Other works by Fr. Jerome are far more involved. However, this is not a dumbed down book (to its credit), so be ready to think.

I found it to be very interesting and practical. It sheds light on Paul’s letter by humanizing their context. Fr. Jerome is very good about drawing out the human Paul. This can really help us avoid misinterpretation.

There aren’t many books on this subject. And it is a practical, as well as intellectual topic. Fr. Jerome writes accessibly, and in a dialogical manner. He writes conversationally in that it is like he is teaching you. This is refreshing.

You’ll have to muddle through some scholarly references, but they are necessary, and won’t overwhelm you. The book is of manageable length and tone. If you want to get a better grasp of Paul’s situation, what he had to work with, and how it affected the letters, this book is invaluable.

It can be ordered from TLP, phone 800-858-5450. litpress.org.

If you are willing to invest the time in this book, you will be richly rewarded. It is like taking a class from a master craftsman, a scholar held in high regard the world over.

I have trouble putting it down, and you likely will as well.

Worth checking out.

Fr. Brown’s Pastoral Magnum Opus

There are very few books that I can recommend to almost any serious student of the Bible. Even fewer would be equally applicable to homilist and person in the pew. This is definitely one.

Within fifteen minutes of perusing this compendium of Fr. Brown’s popular commentaries on the Sunday lectionary readings, I determined that it was a must read — first, for me, and then for those crazy enough to listen to me. It exceeds the current roster of popularizer commentaries on the Bible by a country mile. Fr. Brown comments on subjects I thought I knew well, and open up new avenues of reflection and application and background.

It offers incredible and concise insights into familiar biblical texts. It is amazing how much Fr. Brown can say with so few words. That is an uncommon gift, even for good authors.

This book is a great investment. It’s not cheap, but it’s worth every penny. The introductory articles by Brown’s colleagues, Witherup and Donahue, are also excellent.

This book is a goldmine. Its like having direct access to one of the greatest biblical scholars of the late twentieth century — who also happens to be a lucid and accessible writer.

You don’t have to be a scholar to enjoy this. Any serious beginner can handle it. With the increasing scarcity of formation available in parishes, this book fills the void.

Here is some info from the Liturgical Press website, litpress.org

Christ in the Gospels of the Liturgical Year
Raymond E. Brown, SS (1928-1998)
Expanded Edition with Essays
by John R. Donahue, SJ, and Ronald D. Witherup, SS
Ronald D. Witherup, SS, Editor
Paperback
2009 Catholic Press Association Award Winner!A decade after the untimely death of renowned Scripture scholar Father Raymond E. Brown, SS, he continues to inspire and inform scholars and preachers, students and pastoral ministers, lay and ordained. It… ISBN: 978-0-8146-1860-8
Price: $29.95

The phone number is 1-800-858-5450

If you mention my name, you won’t get an additional discount, just a certain amount of sympathy.

Start off the Easter season right with this classic, invaluable compendium.

The highest of recommendations.

Sermon on the Mount Book Review

Word Among Us Press has recently published an outstanding book on the Sermon on the Mount. It is entitled “Building Our House on Rock: The Sermon on the Mount”, and is written by Dennis Hamm, SJ.

Fr. Hamm is a widely respected and published biblical scholar. He has written insightfully on the beatitudes as well.

It is available from WAU at their website, wau.org at a price of 11.66, 20% off.

This book combines spirituality and study in an accessible fashion. Fr. Hamm is a trustworthy guide who writes well, making things understandable without becoming simplistic.

A note on WAU.

In my opinion, they are a bit of an eclectic publisher. I see this as a good thing. They are not ideologically driven. In addition to mainstream material, they publish scholarly works that are also accessible. Any serious layperson can read them profitably. Many presses shy away from these because of their lack of mass appeal. Not WAU. If a book is good, and fits their audience, they don’t let marketing concerns trump substance. Thus they publish works by very reputable authors who perhaps aren’t as well known as popular authors, but are every bit as good, and in my opinion, often significantly better.

Highly recommended.

Martini book review

Word Among Us Press has recently published an outstanding book by Cardinal Carlo Martini. It is entitled “The Gospel Way of Mary: A Journey of Trust And Surrender.

It is available from WAU at their website, wau.org at a price of 8.76, 20% off. In a word, Buy!

If you want to meet the biblical Mary, buy this book. It is free of the syrupy sentimentality and sanctimonious piety that sometimes distances us from Christ’s mother.  Martini brings us to the virgin of Nazareth in her human context, yet attuned to the Spirit.

I couldn’t put the book down. You won’t be able to either.

WAU also published Martini’s newest book on St. Paul. His first, The Testimony of St. Paul, is a modern classic. This follow up is also outstanding. You can’ t wrong with any of Martini’s books.

Kudo’s to WAU for making them available.

The Easter season is a great time for sampling Martini’s work.

Highly recommended.

Nourished by the Word

Nourished by the Word is a 90 minute dialogue on lectio divina between Fr. Andrew Campbell, OSB, Ph.D., and Karl Schultz. Fr. Andrew was chairperson of the Communications department of St. Vincent College, Latrobe, Pennsylvania.  This was previously published as an audiocassette by Ave Maria Press. It was filmed at the St. Vincent’s television studio with a two camera shoot in October, 1992. 

It is by far the most popular DVD program produced by Karl Schultz.  It is an outstanding teaching tool. The rapport between Karl and Fr. Andrew is stimulating, the pace fluid, and the content outstanding. People will sit through the entire program on a Saturday night lectio retreat and rave about the animated and expressive Fr. Andrew, while saying nothing about Karl Schultz, who sits humbly present in the audience. His ego has never been the same.

Nourished by the Word is bundled on this DVD with a one day lectio retreat by Karl Schultz at Pope Paul VI Retreat Center, Wheeling, West Virginia.  The retreat was 2 ½ hours, and occurred in April, 1996. 

This double length, 4 hour DVD is available for $42 shipped. It is an outstanding resource for parish bible studies and libraries, as well as individuals. It is like bringing two excellent speakers to your parish, and getting multiple perspectives on lectio divina.

If you wish to order the DVD, you may do so in two ways. Either send a check for the total amount, made out to Genesis Personal Development Center or Karl A. Schultz, at the following address:

3431 Gass Avenue; Pgh, Pa  15212-2239.

Or, send me your email address, and I will forward a Paypal payment request that you can validate. If you have any questions, please email me at karlaschultz@juno.com or (412) 766-7545.

School of the Word Public Television DVD

 In July, 2007, Karl Schultz presented a53 minute public television program on lectio divina entitled School of the Word. It also serves as a helpful guide to Karl’s books. It was filmed in a television studio with a 3 camera shoot, so it has superb production quality. Its manageable length makes its ideal for Bible sharing groups and classes, as well as individuals. 

 

It is available through the Easter season at a price of $18, shipped.

 

If you wish to order the DVD, you may do so in two ways. Either send a check for the total amount, made out to Genesis Personal Development Center or Karl A. Schultz, at the following address:

3431 Gass Avenue; Pgh, Pa  15212-2239.

Or, send me your email address, and I will forward a Paypal payment request that you can validate. If you have any questions, please email me at karlaschultz@juno.com or (412) 766-7545.

The Bible for the Young at Heart workshop

The Bible for the Young at Heart DVD

On January 15, 2007, Karl Schultz gave a presentation on lectio divina, along with a basic introduction to the Bible, for the Toledo diocese. The presentation was 2 hours, and is available on DVD for $18 shipped.

If you wish to order the DVD, you may do so in two ways. Either send a check for the total amount, made out to Genesis Personal Development Center or Karl A. Schultz, at the following address:

3431 Gass Avenue; Pgh, Pa  15212-2239.

Or, send me your email address, and I will forward a Paypal payment request that you can validate. If you have any questions, please email me at karlaschultz@juno.com or (412) 766-7545.

Lectio Divina Weekend Retreat Presentation

In October, 2007, Karl Schultz gave a Lectio Divina Weekend Retreat at Bishop Lane Retreat Center in Rockford, Illinois. 3 DVDs totalling 5 hours were recorded.  

All 3 DVDs are available for $45 shipped, through Easter Season.

If you wish to order the DVDs, you may do so in two ways. Either send a check for the total amount, made out to Genesis Personal Development Center or Karl A. Schultz, at the following address:

3431 Gass Avenue; Pgh, Pa  15212-2239.

Or, send me your email address, and I will forward a Paypal payment request that you can validate. If you have any questions, please email me at karlaschultz@juno.com or (412) 766-7545.