The other day while reading and contemplating Luke Chapter 1 in my Catholic Journaling Bible, I came across this quote, “Mary is so steeped in scripture that when she breaks out into praise the words that naturally come to her lips are the words of scripture.” The author of the quote was referring to the similarities between the song of Hannah in the Old Testament and Mary’s Magnificat found in the first chapter of Luke.
This year I’m going to be sharing some Bible journaling and verse mapping from my Inspire Catholic Bible. Although I love the Blessed is She Catholic Journaling Bible, I’m primarily going to be using this one for two reasons.
First, so many of you have shared your desire to start Bible journaling but are afraid to start. I totally get that! The Inspire Bible makes it so easy! There are lovely designs on many of the pages that you can just sit down with colored pencils and start coloring.
Coloring these word art graphics in the margins can and is a spiritual discipline in itself. You literally have your hands on the Word of God and as you color, your mind reflects and ponders the Word. What a great use of time! These word art margins allow you to begin to stretch and then trust your creative instincts in Bible journaling.
Second, I love using this translation for my Catholic Journaling Bible. The New Living Translation was what I read from everyday last year and I fell in love it for daily reading and Bible journaling. I have said and will say again, this is not a translation I would use for in-depth study. It’s very reader-friendly and easy to “use.”
The Blessed is She Bible Catholic Journaling Bible is more of a “Study” Bible. It has amazing and fairly extensive cross-reference notes at the bottom of the page along with verse notes. The Blessed is She Bible uses the New American Bible Translation which is not my favorite. Really translation is such a personal decision that I would advise you to Google and compare different translations if you’re in the market for a Bible. (Here’s a post where I compare the two Catholic Journaling Bibles side by side.)
Catholic Journaling Bible: Luke Chapter 1
One of the first notes I took in Luke 1 was from verse 13 where the angel tells Zechariah, “God has heard your prayer.” One of my favorite commentators is quoted as saying, “Prayer of faith are filed in heaven and not forgotten.” (Matthew Henry)
Another Matthew Henry quote relates to verse 20, “But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born.” Matthew Henry states, “God dealt kindly with him, he prevented him from speaking any more distrustful, unbelieving words.”
Now a couple of notes. First, no, Matthew Henry is not Catholic. He was recommended to me by a faithful, Traditional, Catholic priest. I have not come across anything anti-Catholic so far. I believe, not in a prideful way, that I am formed well enough in the faith that I could spot a direct heresy or at least be able to pause and seek clarification either from my spiritual father, a faithful priest, the Catechism or a search of Catholic commentary or the teachings from the Church Fathers.
As a matter of fact, I love this quote from Matthew Henry, “The written Gospel which we have to this day exactly agrees with the Gospel which was preached in the first days of the Church.” That quote friends directly affirms Tradition. There wasn’t a book called the Bible that the Apostles walked around preaching from. In the early days of the Church so much of it was passed on orally and this is the foundation for the Tradition, capital “T” Tradition.
“Sacred Tradition comes from Christ. It’s the full, living gift of Christ to the Apostles, faithfully handed down through each generation. It is through Tradition that the Holy Spirit makes the Risen Lord present among us, offering us the very same saving Word and Sacraments that he gave to the Apostles! The word “tradition” actually means handing down something to another person.
Scripture testifies to this meaning of Catholic Tradition as the normal mode of transmitting the Faith:
“So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.” (2 Thess 2:15) “For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you….” (1 Cor 11:23) “For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received….” (1 Cor 15:3) “…I know whom I have believed [i.e., Jesus], and I am sure that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus; guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.” (2 Tim 1:11-14) “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Tim 2:1-2) “…I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” (Jude 1:3)”
Secondly, Wow! I love how Matthew Henry sees Zechariah’s “punishment” as a kindness from the hand of God. How many times in our own lives do we see a punishment when in fact we can later see it was a kindness?
I’m always surprised, that I’m surprised when I remember this. I am a mother and sometimes what my children might view as punishment is, in reality, a preservation. Why am I always surprised when I remember my heavenly Father acts in the same way?!
A final couple of notes I made while verse mapping in Luke 1. In verse 28 the angel greets Mary, “Hail Mary, the Lord is with thee.” And then later her cousin Elizabeth greets her, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb!”
Rev. Cornelius Cornelii a Lapide makes the connection between Elizabeth’s words calling Mary blessed among women to the same words used to describe Jael and Judith in the Old Testament Judges 5:24 and Judith 13:18 respectively. I love it when obvious connections can be made between the Old and the New Testament!
And finally, in Mary’s Magnificant, she exclaims, “my soul praises the Lord” and “my spirit rejoices…” Notice how joy follows praise. I know this is something I need to be more aware of every single day.
Oh, one more note, and again from Matthew Henry in considering the opening of Zechariah’s mouth. “Unbelief closed his mouth and believing opened it again. When God opens our lips, our mouths must show forth his praise; and better to be without speech than not use it in praising God.”
Nothing to add to that other than, “Amen and Amen!”