This evening at the Catholic Chapel at Dover Air Force Base I spoke on spiritual childhood, an important part of the spirituality of Advent and Christmas. “Unless you become like a little child, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven,” Jesus said. Isaiah saw a child at the center of the Peaceable Kingdom.
In the short catechesis as our service began, I recommended the bible as a way to know Jesus Christ as a teacher of faith and prayer. I like the New American Bible, Revised Edition (NABRE) because it’s the version we use in our liturgy and it’s got great notes. Its recent revision takes into account newly discovered biblical manuscripts, the latest archeological finds and historical and biblical scholarship.
The New Jerusalem Bible and the RSVP translations are also good.
Many still use the King James version of the bible, one of the great literary treasures of the English language, but it has drawbacks. It hasn’t benefited from the advances in biblical scholarship that have taken place since its creation in the 16th century.
According to a recent survey of Catholics in England, most English Catholics still don’t read the bible much; usually they only know it from Mass on Sundays. That’s also true here in the United States, I think.
It’s important that we take our direction from the 2nd Vatican Council which sees the bible at the heart of our spirituality and a bridge to better relationships with other Christian churches.
Pope Benedict offers a fine example of how to use the bible in his three volumes entitled Jesus of Nazareth. His last volume, on the infancy narratives, was just published before Christmas.
I spoke in my main presentation about the spirituality of childhood, reflecting on a description given by St. Leo the Great. To be a child means to be free from crippling anxieties, forgetful of injuries, sociable and wondering before all things.