Journey Through Scripture This Lent
The Bible and the Sacraments is a free DVD series offered by the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology.
Still look for something faith-filled to do for Lent? Take part in the free video study series called The Bible and the Sacraments (BibleandtheSacraments.com). It’s the latest addition to the Journey Through Scripture program from the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology (StPaulCenter.com) founded by biblical scholar Scott Hahn.
The 11-lesson series is being offered cost-free (the full DVD set normally sells for $99.95) to aid the faithful during the penitential season.
“We’re offering it for free during Lent because it’s a phenomenal way for people to make Lent matter,” Matthew Leonard, the executive producer in charge of all media at the St. Paul Center, told the Register. Leonard also appears as the host of this series.
“The center is really focused on helping people fall in love with Jesus through sacred Scripture,” Leonard added.
Last year, St. Paul Center offered The Bible and the Virgin Mary as its first such free series. The phenomenal response saw an estimated 100,000 people in 140 countries participate.
“The Journey Through Scripture series is the flagship to our outreach to the laity,” Leonard emphasized. “We want to show, as Pope Benedict XVI so beautifully stated, that Scripture is ‘the soul of theology.’”
Leonard added, “It’s biblical catechesis, really focusing on where the sacraments come from, what they mean and why they’re so foundational to what we believe and do as Catholics.” Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington reads Scripture in the series.
“We look at Scripture as an entire story, so this study goes all the way back to the beginning. We show how God has always dealt with humanity in a sacramental manner.” Once you understand that, “it changes your outlook,” Leonard explained.
Naturally, the series illuminates how the New Testament is hidden in the Old and the Old revealed in the New.
The series, which clearly illuminates how the sacraments were prepared for in the Old and realized in the New Covenant, is based on Scott Hahn’s book Swear to God: The Promise and Power of the Sacraments.
“What he shows and what we bring to life in this study are that the sacraments of grace are the way we swear our oath or covenant to God,” Leonard clarified. “Covenants are not something just in the Old Testament.”
“Jesus fulfilled these signs and transformed them,” Leonard said, explaining that “since God had always been dealing with humanity in the covenantal manner, Jesus came to do the same. The sacraments are not add-ons; they manifest the grace of God in our lives.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines sacraments as “‘powers that comes forth’ from the Body of Christ” and “are ‘the masterworks of God’ in the new and everlasting covenant” (1116). The consecration of the Precious Blood at every Mass contains the words “the Blood of the new and eternal covenant.”
Radically Biblical and Beautiful
Hahn emphasized this series is “radically biblical” and a covenantal look at the Old and the New Testaments. The series points out “the sacraments are not what we do for God as much as what God does for us and for what we lack,” he explained.
“The Lord is doing for us what we often can’t do without his grace,” he told the Register.
“We really wanted to show the beauty of the sacraments through the beauty of the presentation as well,” Leonard emphasized.
“It’s a big-budget production,” Leonard said, explaining that it was mainly filmed at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Pasadena, California, but the production traveled on location too, nationally and internationally. The 11 episodes run 25-30 minutes each, with leader and parish kits available.
The first two segments begin on Ash Wednesday. Through Lent, two lessons go online each week. Register at St. Paul Center’s website, (BibleandTheSacraments.com/Streaming).
“Lent is a season to connect more deeply to the core of our faith through a time of intense praying, fasting and almsgiving. It’s so beautiful that this Lenten season we have access to the beautiful new resource The Bible and The Sacraments to help us fall even more deeply in love with the Church and her sacraments,” observed Lisa Hendey, author of The Grace of Yes: Eight Virtues for Generous Living (Ave Maria, 2014) and founder of CatholicMom.com.
“By tracing the direct scriptural parallels between our sacrament life and God’s word to us in Scripture, we’re offered the opportunity to understand why we do what we do, why God calls us to a sacramental life, and how the sacraments can radically transform our commitment to Christ’s Gospel calling for each of us,” she added.
Hendey concluded, “I look forward to learning from and praying with this resource. It’s also perfectly timed as a real gift for those who are journeying toward the Eucharist and full initiation into the Church at the Easter vigil.”
Aims and Hopes
Edward Sri, professor of theology at Augustine Institute and author of A Biblical Walk Through the Mass: Understanding What We Say and Do in the Liturgy, knows the value of looking at the sacraments this way.
“The rituals, symbols and prayers of the sacraments are rooted in sacred Scripture,” Sri said. “The more we can understand the biblical background, the more we will be able to understand what we say and do in the sacraments and encounter Jesus more profoundly in these sacred rites.”
The St. Paul Center hopes that this series will help people appreciate and desire the sacraments, these masterworks of God, and “make use of them more and more because these are the paths to heaven,” Leonard said.
“We really do become sons and daughters of God through the sacraments,” Leonard added. “The sacraments are designed the make us the children of God. They grant us a share in God’s own life. So why would we not want to make use of God’s channels for a share in his divinity and a seat at the family table in heaven?”
Looking at the overall goal, Hahn concluded, “The real purpose is not only to impart a deeper understanding, but a much greater appreciation, to see how the sacraments not just transform, but transform sinners like me into true saints. It doesn’t make it a simple matter to become a saint, but it makes it really possible in personal, practical, powerful and beautiful ways.”
Joseph Pronechen is a Register staff writer.
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