The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Temple and the Presence of God

Jean Danielou, S.J.
Many years ago -- I'm guessing it was about 35 years ago -- I read a little book by Jean Danielou, a French Jesuit and one of the early advocates of the nouvelle théologie, or new theology, that was so influential in the mid-twentieth century and made its mark on the Second Vatican Council. An English translation of the book appeared in 1959 and was published under the title, The Presence of God. It's a wonderful read and introduced me to a whole string of ideas I had never before considered. In some ways it was the catalyst that really sparked my interest in Sacred Scripture.  Sadly the book is now out of print, but I suspect a copy or two can be found on one of the used book websites. 

After first reading Danielou's little book -- the English version is only about 60 pages -- I thought it could form the basis of a brief, but powerful, adult faith formation course. Because the subject matter ran through the entirety of Scripture, both Old and New Testaments, it could be the sort of course that would lead people into a deeper relationship with the Word of God. I put this thought on my unlit back burner and basically forgot about it.

These days I facilitate our parish Bible Study program, which consists of two sessions each Wednesday, one morning and one evening. Parishioners can choose which they would like to join. But every summer we take a break, mainly because here in Florida we have so many snowbirds, and they don't want to miss anything while they're cooling off up north. In recent years, however, I have offered some kind of relatively brief Scripture-based course for those parishioners who like me remain here during the summer months. This spring, as I considered the possibilities, I happened to spot Cardinal Danielou's little book in one of my bookcases and decided to prepare and offer a course addressing all those wonderful concepts to which he introduced me so many years ago.

Yves Congar, O.P.
By the way, another book that has helped me during my course development is The Mystery of the Temple (1962) by one of Jean Danielou's contemporaries, the French Dominican Yves Congar. Unfortunately it too is out of print, so if you want the book you'll have to search for used copies.

I divided the course into five sessions, each approximately one hour in length. I conduct it every other Wednesday evening, and we just finished the second session. (I need two weeks between each session since I'm developing the course as we go.) So far it's been pretty well received, with over 50 people participating. What a joy that so many parishioners are interested in deepening their faith through their study of Sacred Scripture.

The course includes PowerPoint presentations for each session, along with a number of other pertinent handouts. If you're interested in checking out the course material, just go to the documents page of my Bible Study website: Click Here and scroll down to the section describing our summer course. Right now I have posted only the material for the first two sessions. As we progress I will add additional presentations and their accompanying handout material.

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