Review: New Catholic Bible Giant-Type, Saint Joseph Edition

One of my most favourite Catholic publishing houses is Catholic Book Publishing Corporation (CBPC). The thing with CBPC is that with over 100 years in Catholic publishing, their publications have consistently remained dignified, high-quality and affordable for Catholics. Their publishing team have published a wide variety of publications ranging from ritual books, bibles, catechisms and other spiritual works, a number of which have been reviewed on this blog.

Their latest initiative was the publishing of the New Catholic Bible (NCB) – a new translation of the Bible under the direction of Fr. Jude Winkler, OFM. If you recall, in 2018, my sister reviewed a handsome copy of the New Testament and Psalms of the NCB as part of the first ever 12-Days of Catholic Christmas Gifts series in 2018 which also for me is a beautiful New Testament volume to have on hand, especially when travelling.

Now, the full Bible is out, currently in giant type editions with several different types of bindings. A look on their site gives one a comprehensive view of all of the bindings available at the moment:

https://catholicbookpublishing.com/new-catholic-bible

Now for this review, I am not going to go into the bindings – all I can say is that publications from CBPC are dignified and beautiful. I have reviewed Bibles from CBPC in the past and you can go through this blog to see them, including other publications published CBPC. Also note, I will not be giving any critiques of the translations of the NCB – I am not a Biblical scholar, thus I am not able to speak much about the translation… there are other bloggers that do that.

In this review, what I will be speaking about is its content, its practicality for everyday Catholics like myself and the significance of a large-print Bible in the first ever published edition of the NCB by CBPC.

Is this edition a Catholic study Bible? Not exactly – if you really want a study Bible, I would recommend a copy of Oxford’s Catholic Study Bible Third Edition. What about for travelling? With the giant type size and overall size of the Bible, I would not recommend it for travelling. I would recommend CBPC’s New American Bible Personal Size Gift Edition. But what if I just want to have a copy of the Bible on hand at home for… let’s say prayer and spiritual reading? Then I think this Bible is the one you would want to get! Now I like to have a copy of the Bible for study, one for note taking, one for travelling, one on my desk for reference… but I never really had one for prayer and spritual reading. Ok… it may seem like I am being too extra here – but I believe there is a Catholic Bible for every situation. Some are more suitable for different moments of life than others, either because of the size or binding itself, or the content. I have found the content of the NCB more suitable for praying with the Word of God – to be used in private or group prayer for several reasons.

First, this edition contains notes at the end of each book. There are “extensive notes” at the beginning of each book of the Bible and also at the end, in which an asterisk in the text indicates a note corresponding to the end of the respective book. While I have criticized this fact in some other Bibles reviewed on this blog, if I were to use this Bible in prayer, I personally would not want to have the notes below. The reason for this is sometimes, we need to read the text as it is when praying with Scripture. We want to see what the Word of God speaks to me at a certain moment of prayer. While certainly we don’t want to interpret the Bible on our own accord like some other Christian denominations, but in light of the official teachings and tradition of the Church, keep in mind that the act of praying of the Scriptures is not a time to create a Catechetical lesson or a seminar for a class or Bible group… those times must be separate from Scriptural prayer time. When praying with the Scriptures, I want to read the text as it is, meaning without footnotes, without commentary – just sinking into the moment of Biblical history. That allows one to go into an encounter with God in His Word. However, if one wants to get some clarification of a specific Scripture passage before or after praying with the text, there are great notes in here – the only exception is that for the notes within the Scriptural text, they are endnotes rather than footnotes so that may mean some flipping back and forth.

Second, the giant type is a big factor why this Bible is ideal for prayer. Some may think that giant type prints are for “older people”. While the giant type edition was published “with the needs of an aging population and those with limited vision,” I do like large type Bibles for prayer. This is the first giant type print I now have, but not the first one I’ve seen. I know the Archbishop of Toronto, Thomas Cardinal Collins uses a large print Ignatius Bible, and sometimes, you can see it during his Lectio Divina meditations. The words pop-out at you in this giant type Bible and for me, that emphasizes that the Word of God is made the protagonist without the distractions of commentary or notes. All you have to focus on is the Word of God in front of you.

However, that said, there are some wonderful resources that I find useful. Beside the family record pages which in this edition have been printed in matte paper for easy writing, I love the glossy colour inserts which is found in some of their editions of the New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE). However, things seemed to have been “revamped” in this NCB. It is nice that the coloured pages no longer contain merely renderings of Biblical events (which are beautiful), but more practical, this edition contains not only maps, along with the Mysteries of the Rosary and Stations of the Cross, but pages with the following useful charts and tables, namely:

  • Fascinating Bible statistics
  • How the Bible is Organized
  • Bible means of writing
  • Old Testament and New Testament Timelines
  • Some coloured photographs, depictions and explanations of places of the Old Testament and New Testament
  • Parables of Jesus Easy Finder
  • Miracles of Jesus Easy Finder
  • Events of Jesus’ last week
  • Lists of the Gospels, including the Seven Last Sayings of Jesus on the Cross, Appearances after the Resurrection and the I Ams of John’s Gospel
  • A list of people on the New Testament
  • Seven churches of Revelation
  • Key Ideas in the Bible
  • Fifty Very Important Passages

As you may sense, these resource pages are not only lively, but presents information in very simple means.

At the back of the Bible, there are some helpful resources, including: Books of the Bible by Religious Tradition, comparing the books included in the Jewish Old Testament, Protestant Old Testament and Catholic Old Testament – which I found to be fairly interesting. Included also is a List of Popes up to our current Pope, Pope Francis with the recently canonized Popes including Pope John Paul II, Paul VI and John XXIII with the title of “Saint” in front of their names. Closing off the NCB is a Doctrinal Bible Index – fairly useful if you want to search up a doctrinal concept in the Bible.

Something I am a bit disappointed is that unlike the NABRE editions, there are no Lectionary Readings tables – tables that indicate a specific passage of a Mass. I think that would make praying with this Bible a better experience – sometime you might want to pray with the Scripture passages of the upcoming Sunday. Another feature that I would like to see would be one to two pages of common Catholic prayers – a feature I have seen in some Bibles, particular those compact editions from Oxford University Press such as the NABRE Black Zipper Duradera Compact Edition previously reviewed on this blog. I am surprised to find that the Prayer to the Holy Spirit before reading Scripture is not included alongside the copyright page in this edition – I did recall seeing that in the NABRE editions by CBPC and unfortunately I don’t see it in this NCB which is such a pity… a feature I would love to see in every Bible. I think these additions will make this Bible better suited for praying with the Scripture.

(Click on images to enlarge)

That said, another job well done by CBPC in bringing the Word of God to Catholics from all walks of life. I believe this New Catholic Bible Giant Type Edition will be of great aid to help one in reading and praying the Scriptures. Note, it will also make a great gift as well! It comes in a nice presentation box. Mine came with a small rip at the top of the box lid, likely during the shipping process – but not a big deal for me.

Again, thank you CBPC for offering me the chance to review another one of your publications. I look forward to reviewing and showcasing more on our blog!

You may purchase a copy of the reviewed NCB Red Imitation Leather here.
You can also check out some sample pages here.
To learn more about the NCB and explore its other bindings, click here.

On Faith: Lessons from an American Believer by Antonin Scalia

On Faith: Lessons from an American Believer: Scalia, Antonin ...

While there are many cons that comes with this time in history, being stuck inside, going through Lent and Easter without the celebration of Mass and Holy Week, one of the pros is that now that my University exams are completed, I am able to dedicate a lot of more time to reading. There is a title that I have been reading on and off for over a year now – that is On Faith: Lessons from an American Believer by the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

I did not know much about Justice Scalia prior to reading this book. The only instance I learned of Justice Scalia was a coincidence: I was surfing the web one day in early 2016 and bumped into a livestream of the Mass of Christian Burial for Justice Scalia. What lingered with me the most from the funeral Mass was Fr. Paul Scalia’s (the late Justice’s son) homily for his father’s Mass.

As a Canadian, why read a book by an “American Believer”? I honestly don’t know why… but I was attracted this title. “On Faith” – such a bold statement in today’s society. The reason why this book took some time to read for me – more than a year – is that I did not spend time reading it in one sitting. Rather, I read it in segments and pondered upon what Justice Scalia said in his speeches. His speeches in my opinion is a mouthful to take in but it really gives you some food for thought.

It was interesting to read such bold Catholic speeches from not a bishop, priest, deacon, not even a religious brother or sister, but from a regular lay Catholic who happens to be a Justice working at the Supreme Court. However, as a lawyer and a Justice working with the law, it is evident throughout the book (and Fr. Scalia also affirmed this) that Justice Scalia always distinguished his identity as a Catholic and as a Justice. He did not let his religious beliefs affect the way he interpreted the law. But outside of his day-to-day job with the law, he was a devout Catholic and when he had the opportunity to give witness to his faith, he did so – and his speeches contained this book is a testament to that.

However, this book has also showed me a Catholic who was a sinner, but strived his best to seek “the best”. He loved traditional Catholic liturgy, and upon reading, that picture Justice Scalia clutching that missal that was mentioned in this text really captivated me – he treasured the Catholic liturgy. While Justice Scalia had his own ways, there was something about the role of faith in Justice Scalia that made a positive impression on people and the testimonies located at the end of each section of the book were really helpful in doing that.

The book consisted of mainly Justice Scalia’s speeches and testimonies from people who knew him well is crowned with his son, Fr. Scalia’s homily from the Funeral Mass on February 20, 2016 at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. No eulogy – the Mass of Christian Burial for Justice Scalia was summed up well in the homily his son gave, as everything pointed to Jesus Christ, the one whom Justice Scalia longed to imitate. However, like everyone of us, the late Justice is a sinner as he recognized indirectly in his speeches, “We are here, then, as he would want, to pray for God’s inexplicable mercy to a sinner; to this sinner, Antonin Scalia. Let us not show him a false love and allow our admiration to deprive him of our prayers.”

I found reading the homily and this interview on EWTN between Fr. Scalia and Raymond Arroyo really gave me a better understanding of Justice Scalia’s life and legacy.

Overall, this was a very interesting read. It comes to show how even lay Catholics holding high positions in an American society understand and live their faith, especially those in the legal field where yes – there are major challenges and obstacles to leap over. At the end of the day though, like Justice Scalia recognized, we are all sinners but knowing that, how are we striving to live our faith in Jesus Christ?

You can purchase a hard copy of this title here.
Or, you can also order an e-copy here.

Disclaimer

Book Review: Let Go – Seven Stumbling Blocks to Christian Discipleship by Fr. Casey Cole, O.F.M.

I began Lent reading Let Go: Seven Stumbling Blocks to Christian Discipleship written by Catholic YouTuber Evangelist, Fr. Casey Cole, O.F.M. and published by Franciscan Media. (If you are not yet familiar with Fr. Casey’s work, I suggest you visit Breaking in the Habit YouTube Channel.)

Fr. Casey previously wrote a book, Called: What Happens After Saying Yes to God published in 2018. With Let Go and Called, Fr. Casey wants to convey to people the steps it takes to truly become a follower of Jesus.

Let Go was personally for me a book that I needed. As someone involved in youth ministry at my parish, and other parish ministries, it is easy for me to get caught up with things but fail to spend time to receive spiritual nourishment. This book was one that came to me at the right place, at the right time and I just simply could not put it down since I began reading.

There was something about Let Go that spoke to me that I kept wanting to read on and on and on, even late into the night. While I have read interesting novels or biographical Catholic titles, this book was different. The book spoke to me because honestly, I have a lot of flaws. Sometimes, I fail to “let go” of the things that Fr. Casey laid out in his book. I felt a personal connection with every chapter… it was sort of like an Examination of Conscience or rather, an “Examination of my Ministry Life”.

While reading Let Go, one may be tempted to think of others within the parish or even in your own family who fail to “let go” and stumble upon the seven blocks explained in the book. However, the point of Let Go is not for you to (mentally) point fingers at people. It is a call for each Christian to look at oneself, and determine, “What do I need to ‘let go’ of in order to live up to my vocation as a follower of Jesus?” That is what Let Go was effective at – it prompted me to think about my spiritual life, my relationship with Jesus. Sometimes one may think, “I am pious and have a strong relationship with Jesus.” But when we think that, that is when we fail to grow in our relationship and strengthen our vocation as Jesus’ followers.

Let Go was a nudge for me, or rather a “wake-up” call for my spiritual life. Sometimes, especially those in ministry are constantly on the go, go, go, and busy serving others but fail to reassess ourselves. For some, this can go to the point where we are completely depleted of spiritual resources, or worse, we abandon our vocation to follow Jesus. That is why I find it important to read books like Let Go that allows us for a reassessment of our spiritual lives so to better serve the People of God.

On a personal level, as a Youth-Leader candidate in the Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Movement, Let Go was and still continues to be a helpful tool in my discernment as I asked myself questions, “Am I serving because I want X, Y, Z,? Do I want to serve to please a friend? Or do I serve for the greater glory of God?” The reflection questions Fr. Casey poses at the end of each chapter are very helpful in any process of vocational discernment. It would even be more effective if you were to reflect on the questions and record your answers in your Spiritual Journal.

Are you a youth minister? Are you discerning a vocation? Are you someone the Church and need some time of retreat? Are you a Christian who wants to reassess your spiritual life? Then Let Go: Seven Stumbling Blocks to Christian Discipleship is the book for you.

Purchase a paperback hard copy here from Franciscan Media.

During this COVID-19 Pandemic, and need a spiritual read to end off this Lent on a strong note, but worried your book will take forever to arrive? Franciscan Media got your back with e-copies and even audiobook copies of Fr. Casey Cole’s Let Go.

Note: Disclaimer here.

Inspire Catholic Journaling Bible – NLT Translation

Hello everyone! Ivy returns with a journaling Bible from Tyndale. Some may remember that I have previously reviewed a journaling Bible from Zondervan, which I will be referencing in this review as a comparison point. If you are looking for options, I suggest taking a look at that review as well.

Time to jump right in!

The design team chose to call this Bible Inspire. I suppose it’s common practice to give journaling Bibles a more whimsical name; Zondervan did the same. I’m glad that on the cover, it still says Catholic Bible, because 1. I appreciate that the main purpose and contents of the book is still clearly shown, and 2. It’s nice to know that you’re getting a Catholic translation, because people of different denominations are going to want a Bible that is used within their denomination. The cover is a hard cover wrapped in rose gold, faux leather-esque material. I think the website photos make the cover look more pink than it is in real life. There is a bookmarking ribbon in a matching shade of rose gold. The text and designs on the cover is etched in a metallic finish. There is an elastic to hold the book shut which I think is useful for shelving because it keeps all the pages together as you slide it onto the shelf, but I think it is worth noting that since the cover is a softer, slightly squishy material, the elastic does leave impressions in the cover. At certain angles, I can see the lines outlining the spot where the elastic sat during shipping and the ribbing on the elastic. It is not obvious, and doesn’t really take away from the look of the Bible overall, but it is something to consider. (Please note that I had to edit the photos a little because my fluorescent lighting changed the book’s colour. I really did try to make them as close to the real thing as possible, but please excuse any minor inconsistencies)

A lot of books have metallic gilding the outer edges of the pages, or it’s left plain. This Bible has a pattern with butterflies and flowers instead; very appropriate for the overall feminine aesthetic. That being said, it is a little “busy” for my taste, and the pink, I think, is a bit too bright and cool tone for the rose gold cover. I like them better as separate components rather than how they look together. That being said, my mom loves it, so it really does come down to personal preference. +Note that there is a color difference here as well. I found this part of the book to look much more cool toned. The web photos look like they’ve been tinged yellow or something. Also, be gentle the first couple times you flip through the pages; the ink that creates the design sticks the pages together, so if you’re too rough you might tear the pages.

The pages are VERY thin. If you wanted to do some journaling in marker, paint and maybe even gel pen, this is not the journalling Bible for you. The drawings are beautiful. I really like that the book names can be coloured, which is different from the Zondervan Bible. If there is a big space at the end of a book, there is art there too; another detail I really like. You can colour the end pages as well, and they are among my favourite pages. This Bible doesn’t have any art pieces that take up two pages, a feature that sets it apart from the Zondervan Bible.

I like that there is an index of pages with designs at the back of the Bible. It makes it easy to see if your favourite verses have designs. There is a Table of Contents at the front as well. I wish there was a page that listed all the artists (assuming there was more than one) and which pages contain their designs.

Overall, if you were eyeing this journaling Bible, I don’t think you would be disappointed. It’s feminine, sleek and the illustrations are stunning. It would make a great gift if you know someone that would enjoy this.

If you would like to purchase your own copy, you can do so here.

Disclaimer: The Catholic Man Reviews may earn a small commission from Amazon URLs and Holy Art affiliate links. Your purchase helps support The Catholic Man Reviews’ mission and work of evangelization.
Please note that all the products received by Vincent or Ivy, unless explicitly stated, have been provided free-of-charge in return for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my our own and not influenced by the publishers or business owners, and/or its affiliates, in any way.

Review: Melville House’s edition of Laudato Si’

It has been almost five years since the publication of Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ and today on The Catholic Man Reviews, I would like to reflect on this encyclical, specifically with Melville’ edition of the encyclical, which consists only of the english title: Encyclical on Climate Change & Inequality – On Care for Our Common Home

I like this edition compared to others published by other Catholic publishers is because there is an essay by Naomi Oreskes featured at the beginning of the encyclical, which gives the reader more context into the text. Orestes is a “Professor of History Science and Affiliate Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University”. The book also states in her bio that “In May 2014, she attended “Sustainable Nature, Sustainable Humanity,” a meeting of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences that helped to lay the foundations for Pope Francis’ Encyclical.”

Laudato Si’ has been, in my opinion, one of the most publicized Papal texts in the secular media. While Pope Francis has published several documents such as Lumen Fidei (Light of Faith), Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) or Gaudete and Exsultate (Rejoice and be Glad), or even the controversial Amorim Laetitia (The Joy of Love)… these texts, by the very title itself, sounds Catholic, and its messages are geared towards a Catholic audience. 

However, as I presented to my classmates in the “Biodiversity and the City” at the University of Toronto, I said that Laudato Si’ is not merely a Catholic text. Rather it is a “call of a world leader asking us to care for our ‘common home’ so to sustain it for the years to come”. Laudato Si’ is a text that could be read in various lenses: as Catholic text, a scientific approach, a political approach, or even just an informative approach. An interesting thing I found about this edition is that it is not categorized in the Christianity/Catholicism, or the Ecology section, but rather in the category of Political Science. Therefore, the essay that is presented at the beginning of this text is taken through the lens of Political Science, which in my opinion, is an eye-opener for me who have read many Papal Documents through merely a Catholic or Theological lens. To read Laudato Si’ through the lens of politics is to step outside Catholicity and Theology and see Pope Francis as a highly influential political figure because the Holy Father is not only a Spiritual Father, the Vicar, but in politics, he is a Head of State. 

While the Pope is the Head of State of Vatican City, there is something about the political figure of the Pope that is different than, for example, the Prime Minister of Canada or the President of the United States. In all sincerity, the Pope’s voice does not advocate for his own country, but rather, a “voice for the voiceless” in the world. There are world leaders who turn a blind eye to the misfortuned, vulnerable people of society such as the poor, those who live on agriculture in third world countries, etc… yet these people are rarely mentioned by these world leaders. Unfortunately, these misfortune people are the ones who must suffer the effects of climate change, suffer the effects of the lavish and consumerist lives people in developed countries produce. In all that, Pope Francis is the world leader who advocates for the “voiceless” in the world, particularly with Laudato Si’. However, it is not just people who suffer from the changing environment that Pope Francis has advocated for. As a spiritual leader and political leader, Pope Francis has advocated for refugees, those suffering from the effects of war, those suffer from terrorism, racism, divisiveness in their society and condemning acts of division and terror. In a sense, the Pope is a paternal figure for the world and advocate for the most vulnerable people in society. It therefor makes sense that this edition calls it not, “Encyclical on Climate Change & the Environment” but I like the fact that those chose to title it “Encyclical on Climate Change & Inquality,” because Laudato Si’ is not just a document about the state of the environment, but speaks to the inequality present within the world. That is what Oreskes strives to frame in her introduction. She not only speaks of Laudato Si’ as an environmental document, but what the document speaks of the common good and justice within the world on a general picture through the lens of political science.

I think it is precisely for that reason that “general” documents addressed to the whole world like Laudato Si’ has drawn much attention. While some may think the Catholic Church is all about getting money out of people to build churches solely for prayer, in reality, the Catholic Church uses its voice to speak out against the injustices of the world. 

Laudato Si’ is a document needed now than ever. As people in developed countries continue to live a consumerist culture, tragedies such as masses of dead fish in Vietnam or Australia’s ongoing wildfires should open our eyes to what Pope Francis has said in Laudato Si’

No matter which lens you may put on to read Laudato Si’, it is a text for everyone who shares this “common home”. We have a responsibility to not only care for the environment, but mitigate the injustices in which the most vulnerable in the world must face its consequences.

Book Review: Breakthrough by Fr. Rob Galea

Need a book to help you get you on the right tone for a new year and new decade ahead? Fr. Rob Galea’s book Breakthrough published by Ave Maria Press was a very inspirational read for me. While reading Breakthough, I kept on thinking about how Fr. Galea’s story is like a modern version of St. Augustine’s Confessions.

Fr. Galea captures a story of conversion, discernment and change in Breakthrough. Specifically, Fr. Galea touches upon the ups and downs in his life that many youth my age face, from dark times even suicidal thoughts, to his journey to sing on the World Youth Day stage in Sydney to his ordination to the priesthood and reaching the X-Factor stage.

The thing with books like Breakthrough is that it really resonates and touches the heart. As an emotional man, I had a couple tears reading some pages because Fr. Galea’s storytelling speaks to a reality that many young people face.

What does God want me to do? As I read Breakthrough, I noticed that that seems to be the thread that gathers all the chapters together. While our human desires are what we want to pursue, as Catholics, we do so in a spirit of discernment and sometimes, our will does not align with that of God. Sometimes, our parents’ aspirations may not be be in line with God’s plans. Fr. Galea’s story shows that total surrender to God is difficult not only for an individual but also for parent(s), but by surrendering our lives to God, many good fruits are borne because God, as a Father, only wants what is the best for his children. God’s plans are greater than our plans.

On a personal level, I found Breakthrough to somewhat help me form my thoughts about seminary life. As someone who is seriously considering entering the seminary, Fr. Galea’s book has helped me to see the ups and downs of seminary life and the decision seminarians must discern. Reading this book has helped me understand the challenges that come in pursuing a vocation – being a priest is not an easy road, and Fr. Galea’s book showed that. However, Fr. Galea did not despair in challenges, but rather, took them on in a spirit of joy and optimism.

Breakthrough serves as a word of encouragement to youth and young adults. As we enter a new year, Fr. Galea’s inspiration story and music will help many young people like myself to keep our heads high and look the future with optimism, surrendering our lives into God’s guiding hands, because whatever God has in store for us may be challenging, but certainly good and rewarding.

Purchase the book from Ave Maria Press here.

Read a sample of Breakthrough here.

Day 11: Dynamic Catholic’s RSV-CE Bible

Have you ever owned a Bible that had a light green leatherette cover that just looked really youthful? Those were my first remarks about Dynamic Catholic’s Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition (RSV-CE) Bible. From what I have seen on their site, their Bibles are ideal gifts for youth since their cover designs really brings about the spirit of a youthful Church that Pope Francis has called for in his Apostolic Exhortation addressed to young people, Christus Vivit. The front cover is bright, and screams at the Catholic, “Pick me up! Read me!” The Bible should not be a book collecting book, and this bright colour evokes that thought to the Catholic. I’ll go back to my remarks about the cover later.

The RSV-CE is the English Bible translation used in most Church documents, so in a sense, it is the standard English Bible translation in the Catholic world.

Unlike the Oxford’s edition of the RSV-CE that I reviewed years ago, when I first started this I blog (and it is also one of the most read reviews to date), it is fairly straight forward, without any presentation pages, fancy paper, etc. It is a very simple Bible.

I would like to remark on a few things about this Bible. First, it is the style of fonts used. I really like how they kept a “youthful” theme. The headings are done in a Sans Serif font. The title of the Biblical books are done in a unique block font, while the headings within the Biblical books are done in a Sans Serif font, likely Century Gothic or a font of that family. The body text is done in a Serif font, something like Garamond, which allows the text to easily be read, and in my opinion, gives reference, “seriousness” towards the text of the Word of God – I have not come across a Bible with Sans-Serif body text (unless I haven not come across one yet?).

A unique feature I have found with this Bible that the text is single column. I know most of the Bibles I have reviewed on here have two columns per page with the exception of Doubleday’s The Jerusalem Bible that was also single column. With this specific Bible, however I have mixed thoughts about a single column. The numbering system of the verses in Doubleday’s edition of The Jerusalem Bible made me see the practicalities of a single column. However, in this case, I saw it a little unusual since I do not often see this translation in the single column layout. I personally prefer double column layout since I find it easier to read that way, but some may find it closer to their taste.

Going back to the cover, I like the debossed cross and “HOLY BIBLE” on the spine. I also really like the texture of the leatherette – it feels very nice when in the hand. There is also a light green ribbon that harmonizes well with the Bible.

A critique I have of this Bible is that the notes are at the back. Dynamic Catholic said on their website that “it’ll keep you turning pages”. I personally dislike this – the notes in Catholic Bibles are meant to help you read the Bible better, why do you need to rush through the reading of the Bible? Yet again, this is my personal preference.

Overall, this is a very simple Bible, in my opinion, ideal for beginners who do not want a very thick study Bible that may seem daunting to some. It is however, not an ideal Bible for Bible Study – there are several Catholic Bible geared solely for what purpose.

Click here to purchase the Bible from Dynamic Catholic.

Day 4: Our Sunday Visitor Catholic Notetaking Bible

Welcome back to The Catholic Man Reviews! It is Day 4 of 12 Days of Christmas and his sister brings you Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Notetaking Bible.  

In all honesty, it’s a pretty standard Bible.  I don’t think there’s a crazy amount of things you could do to spice up a Bible anyway, but that is my opinion; feel free to disagree.  The size and type of paper used is also pretty standard for a Bible. It stays true to the note taking aspect as it contains two columns of lines per two page spread.  They’re around 1.5 inches in width and I think that is a good size so that it doesn’t compromise the space for the Biblical text too much. I enjoy having the annotations; it could aid you in your note taking, or whatever you choose to do with the lines.  

This Bible is set up kind of like a reference book in the sense where the chapter is written at the top out corner by the page number.  This, along with the table of contents makes it easy to follow. I don’t find the main text to be too small, but they are not large by any means.  This makes the superscripts very small, and I feel like that may present problems for some people.  

The font used for the main text is like that of many other Bibles (essentially any font that resembles Times New Roman), but the headings and annotations are done in a more modern font.  The names of the books are in another font. I think this gives it a nice balance between the old and new. The cover picks up on the more modern vibe with the black soft-touch cover (I’m sorry; I don’t really know how to explain it).  While I think it is really nice, the shade of black leans more charcoal. I wish it was a true, deep black, but I understand that doing so would obscure the words “Holy Bible” and their cross that is imprinted on the cover, so I respect the publisher’s decision.  As much as I love the feel of the cover, it picks up a lot of dirt. I have gotten oil from my skin and dust on it, even shimmer particles from my face highlight ended up on it. While the nature of the material allows it to be wiped down, not everything comes off.  For example, those shimmer flecks I mentioned – those aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.  

If you wanted a notetaking Bible, I think this is a nice option.  I think it is a good price (it’s around $50 USD) and it would be a really good gift for someone who writes in their Bibles.  It is also a great “free-range” Bible for those who like to do Bible journaling from scratch, without any templates. You can check it out here.  

That is all for today; come back tomorrow if you want to see what The Catholic Man has for Day 5 of 12 Days of Christmas!

Day 1: German Bible Society’s Biblia Sacra Vulgata

Whoa, what is The Catholic Man doing, reviewing a Latin Bible at the start of The Catholic Man Reviews’ 12 Days of Christmas Gifts series?

If you’ve followed The Catholic Man Reviews blog since the beginning, you would know that I love reviewing Bibles and up to now, I have reviewed a variety of them and my shelf is stocked full of them, which I use from time to time, with Bibles for various needs such as personal use, scholarly use, devotional use, etc. As promised, I will be publishing a post on finding the perfect Bible for you in a blog post in 2020.

Almost all my Bibles are an English translation, and some in Vietnamese. However, I had much difficulty finding one in the Latin Vulgate, said to be translated by St. Jerome. Even while in Rome this past March, I found it difficult to find a copy of the Vulgate. But even once I located one, the prices were crazy.

When you do a Google search of, “The Vulgate Bible” or “Biblia Sacra Vulgata”, you would likely land on an edition of a green cover. It took me quite some time to locate who was the publisher. I finally found out the publisher of that edition is from the German Bible Society (Deutesche Bibelgesellschaft).

I didn’t really know what to expect with this specific Bible, whether its quality would be cheap, or bad quality, or extraordinary on the other hand. However, when I received it in the mail, it was of superior quality compared to the others I have reviewed on the blog. It seems like a very dignified, well constructed and bound Bible. It is of green hardcover, gold stamped text on the cover and spine, with thick cream endpages and cream pages. There is also one ribbon marker, but it is not of the typical type of ribbon that you would find with most Bibles. It contains a very unique weave that is not burnt on the end, but yet, does not fray. If someone can identity for me this type of ribbon marker, that would be appreciated! There are also end bands as well on the spine.

Moving toward the interior of the Bible itself, I have to say, the layout is quite unique for each book:

  • The name of the book is in capitals.
  • There is a preface to each book, in Latin.
  • Drop caps are used at the start of the preface, and on the first chapter. marking the point where the actual text of the Biblical book starts. I have not reviewed Bibles with drop caps. I like using drop caps; it bring me back to medieval style manuscripts, and easily helps the reader know where a particular piece of text starts.
  • Each verse starts on a new line, even if a verse is continuous of the verse before. This makes finding a particular verse very easy, as all the verse numbers are clearly seen in the margin.
  • A down side is that the chapter numbers are the same size as the verse numbers, but bolded. Unlike other Bibles I have reviewed on here, their Bibles have large chapter numbers.
  • On the outer margins are cross references to other parts of the Bible. This is a feature I do not see so often. Cross references are often found before the footnotes at the bottom of the page.
  • Footnotes are located are found in their usual places, at the bottom of the page.

Included in this edition is a leaflet of what seems to be a timeline and reference of different Biblical manuscripts of the both the Old and New Testaments – a feature that could be of interest to scholars.

But I have a confession to make: I don’t know Latin! I know some words here and there, and some phrases. I can read it aloud, but not at the stage where I can comprehend.

With that in mind, this Bible is not useless, even for illiterate Latin readers like myself. The Vulgate has been the official Bible translation of the Church for centuries. It is my hope that the more I attempt to read it, the more terms I will understand, and more insight I will receive when reading the Bible because some terms cannot be translated into English or Vietnamese, or other languages. I learned of someone who learned Vietnamese because he faithfully read the Bible in Vietnamese and paralleled it with an English translation. I will hopefully attempt such reading.

Sometimes, the Bible stories we read may become to common, and when we encounter it whether in personal reflection or at the celebration of the Liturgy, we no longer become attentive to it. I hope that by reading the Bible in another language, I may not only learn a different language, but come to understand the Bible in a different way.

Overall, a handsome, and dignified volume. I wish more Bibles were constructed in the same quality, and durability as this edition from the German Bible Society.

Click here to purchase a copy of the Biblia Sacra Vulgata.

Review: University of Toronto’s Bibliomania

For this month, The Catholic Man is reviewing something rather unusual compared to other reviews done on this blog. Most of the time on this blog, I have reviewed mostly books, products and services. This review today really doesn’t fall into any of those categories specifically. However, I think it is worth talking about here on The Catholic Man Reviews because my Catholic library has grown because of it, and I hope many Catholic bibliophiles in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) will benefit from it – I am speaking about the University of Toronto Used Book Sales.

One of the perks of being student of the University of Toronto at St. George Campus is that you are in the middle of a whirlwind of activity all the time. Outside of the lecture hall and the tutorial classroom, there are activities that will engage students. No matter what your likes and hobbies are, there should be at least something that suit your preferences. The University of Toronto Used Book Sales are one of my most anticipated events in this first year in University. You will likely know why, especially if you are reading these blog posts, but these Used Book Sales are unlike any other you would find, whether it be at a Bazaar, or marketplace in Toronto. If you are bibliophile, you are bound to take a couple books home.

There is something about Book Sales that is different than shopping at a new books store like Chapters or Indigo. Besides the fact that most of the books are obviously used, there are some finds that will simply surprise you, some out of print, some with little notes or prayer cards tucked into them, and some with sentimental value – perhaps a book contains a name of an owner you know.

There were four annual Book Sales this year, each hosted by 4 different Colleges in the University’s Faculty of Arts and Science: Victoria College, St. Michael’s College, University College and Trinity College. I have learned that each book sale has its own “strength” in its category of books. I want to rank the four categories according to my preferences, which as you can imply, are the number and selections of good Catholic/Christian books… after all, this is The Catholic Man Reviews.

Am I biased to say that Trinity College has the best book sale because it is the college I am affiliated with? Well, no. As well-versed book buyers may know, Trinity College is one of the best Book Sales in general due to the wide variety and well categorized in over 70 different categories, with this year’s inventory of approximately 60,000 books. With that many books, you are bound to leave at least with something. However, I’d say Trinity Sale’s forte is the Christian section which was categorized into sub-categories, including Biblical studies, Liturgy and Prayer, Christian Life, Church History, Theology, Christian Ethics, etc. The strongest of these was the Biblical studies which makes sense, since Trinity College has an Anglican affiliation, so it seems that Anglican donors donate their books there. I also saw a lot of Common Prayer and Anglican history. However, I saw also a fair amount of Catholic books there including Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) , and good Biblical Resources that can be used by Catholics, including a very good condition copy of the New Jerome Biblical Commentary. I bought from there a copy of the St. Andrew Sunday Missal (1953), The Spirit of the Liturgy (Ratzinger) and a two-volume set of The Death of the Messiah (Brown). However, the section that brought me the most surprises was the “Rare book and collectable” section. I was strolling across the book and found a 2-volume set of black leather bound books, titled Breviarium Monasticum (1953). I knew what Breviarium meant, in the context, Breviarium Romanum, but never heard of Breviarium Monasticum. I bought it anyways for $20 CAD. Upon research, it turned out to be a Breviary of the Benedictine Order.
Overall, Trinity’ sale is good for any book lover, but I loved the Christian section and the surprising find in the rare book section for very reasonable prices. I got privileged access the day before the sale opened, since students who helped set up the book sale got a pass to purchase up to 20 books the day before the sale opened and it was honestly worth my time coming to help setup the sale.

Total Spent: $36

Pros:

  • ⁃ Very good Christian section, and sub categorized
  • ⁃ Great find in the “Rare books and collectable” section for very reasonable prices
  • ⁃ Wide variety of genre of books, very well categorized and clearly marked
  • ⁃ Great volunteers from the Friends of the Trinity Library, always there to answer questions

Cons:

  • ⁃ Long lines the first official day of the book sale. The book sale took place in a large hall on the second floor, and I saw that lines reached all the way to the dining hall on the first floor.
  • ⁃ $5.00 admission fee for everyone on first day, even U of T students
  • ⁃ Best selections are gone by the end of the first day. I came back Friday, the second official day of the sale, and a number of titles I had on mind to consider buying were gone. By Monday, the last day of the sale, the boxes of overflow books were all gone, and shelves much more bare
  • ⁃ $25 a box sale on the last day (not including rare books), but no 50% off all books sale
Finds at Trinity College’s Book Sale

I was told by upper years students that if you want Catholic books, the best bet out of the four used book sales was St. Michael’s College and they were right. This sale had the most Catholic books I have seen out of all the book sales. However, I only placed this second after Trinity’s because while they had the largest selection of Catholic books, the inventory they had this year was quite common of what you would find, nothing really special. They had a lot of Catholic Bibles, I have to remark, but I had almost every Catholic translation on hand. What I did get was a book I’ve wanted for a long time, the New Jerome Biblical Commentary . They did not have just one copy what approximately five, both the older edition and the newer edition. I realized after I bought it that there was supposed to be a dust jacket with it, but nevertheless, the content mattered. I was looking for copies of pre-Vatican II missals, but surprisingly did not locate any. I mostly saw post-Vatican II missals, which were useless, since they predate the updates of 2011. I bought a copy of The Church Visible (first edition) by Charles J. Noonan, also another book I was trying to locate. Despite it is an older edition, I bought it since I wanted to have on hand a handbook with the ceremonial life and protocol of the Catholic Church. The last book I bought was Volume II of Vatican II Documents by Costello Publishing. I had Volume I at home, and was considering buying Volume II online, but it the prices on Amazon were ridiculous.
The prices throughout the sale were flat rate: $1.00 for mass paperback, $3.00 for softcover books, $5.00 for hardcovers.
I left with those books in hand, but I came back the second last day of the sale when they had 50% off all books. I picked up a copy fo the Diary of St. Faustina (2018 printing), as well as a copy of the Grail Psalms for singing use.. I also found a poster with the Popes up to John Paul II. I was given the poster for free (it was not priced), and the two books combines were only 50 cents. I don’t know if the cashier miscalculated, but yeah… 50 cents for those two books.
A part of the St. Michael’s College Book Sale that I did not mention yet was the “Special Books” room where all the art books, collectable books and rare books are kept. I went there the first day, and was underwhelmed by the amount of books in the Religion section of that room. There was a very old Summa Theologica set, but the binding was in very bad condition. There was not as many Catholic books in this section as I imagined. I even saw a copy of the “Sacramentary”, the edition used before the revisions of the Roman Missal in 2011, sold for a ridiculous price of $125 (hint: I will be doing a blog series on edition of the Roman Missal and other liturgical books in 2020). However, what I did keep my eyes out on was the Harper-Collins Catholic Encyclopedia with the price of $15. I waited until Friday to see if it were still there to get it for 50% off and yes, it was still there. Is there something about that Catholic Encyclopedia that no one likes? I saw an exact edition at Trinity College and by the end of the book sale, still no one fetched it.

Total Spent: $19

Pros:

  • Flat rate prices for mass paperback, softcover and hardcover books, except for book in the “Special room”
  • ⁃ Wide selection of Catholic Bibles
  • ⁃ A lot of Catholic-specific books
  • ⁃ Free admission for U of T students on the first day; everyone else $5.00 admission on first day
  • ⁃ 50% off all books (including books in the “Special room”) second last day of the sale
  • ⁃ Box sale the last day (I believe it was $10/box)

Cons:

  • Even though there were a lot of Catholic books, underwhelming selection and variety in my opinion
  • “Special room” did not have many “special” books compared to Trinity College
  • Expected there to be some pre-Vatican II publications and Missals, but rather, saw some post-Vatican II missals that are honestly useless. Pre-Vatican II missals can at least be used for Masses in the Tridentine Rite
  • Other sections (outside Catholic books) poorly categorized. Fiction books were just “all over the place”, with no organization by author’s last name
Finds at St. Michael’s College’s Book Sale

The first of four book sales that I went to this year was Victoria College’s. They advertised “large Religion section” and I was honestly quite excited about that. The book sale spanned two floors, and the Religion section was located in the “Chapel” (that I think is out of use). It took me some time to find it due to lack of maps that were not posted or distributed (at least I did not see any). However, the part that I disliked was the books were put on chairs in the Chapel, that were fixed to the ground. So only one person can pass through a row at a time, or else you will “bump” into the other person, meaning you would have to go all around to get to the other side. That was an inefficient system. There were certainly a lot of boxes in the Religion section, with even a Catholic subsections. I was there the first day, and already, I saw people just digging through the Religion section with overflowing boxes! So by the time I looked into the boxes, some were only half full. However, what was in stock were not the best, but fairly interesting. I managed to buy two books by Fr. Raymond E. Brown, Introduction to the New Testament and The Birth of the Messiah (now that answers why I just had to get The Death of the Messiah at the Trinity Book Sale!). I honestly never paid much attention to Fr. Raymond E. Brown, until his name came up in a show, I think it was a Witness episode from Salt and Light Television, in which Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB, the host of the show brought Fr. Brown’s name up.
But that was it – for me at that book sale. I was going to get a Concordance of the New American Bible, but it had a dedication written on the inside, so that turned me down. I came back on the last day of the book sale for the 50% off sale, but found no Catholic books really worth buying. What I did get for my sister though, was a two-volume set of The Complete Sherlock Holmes for only $5 with the discount.
The “Rare books” room was quite small in selection to be honest. It seemed to have a lot of poetry books and some posters. My friend, however, got a copy of The Life of Pope John Paul II comic book by Marvel. It was the only comic Marvel ever did of a pope and he got it for $8… a steal if you would ask me.

Total spent: $10

Pros:

  • Fair religion section
  • Religion section was sub-categorized
  • Fair prices. About $5 for hardcovers, and $2-$3 for paperbacks
  • Free admission to U of T students, others pay $5.00 admission first day
  • ⁃ Wide selection, and well categorized fiction section. Also a lot of local, national and world history

Cons:

  • Disliked the fact that books in Religion category and several other categories were put on top of chairs in the Chapel, making it very difficult to navigate
  • Not many rare books, mostly poetry, I noticed
  • Religion section was said to be “large”, had some interesting titles, but must be quick… the good titles are grabbed up right away with people filling boxes, upon boxes from the Religion section to purchase
  • Need to look at signs posted to find the category you which to search for. No maps to help with navigation
Finds at Victoria College’s Book Sale

This was honestly, out of the four, the one where I was most disappointed with. While the books were nicely categorized, and well compared to most of the Books Sales, I saw the selection from here not suiting my likes. It is the only Book Sale that I left empty handed, and the only Sale that I did not return for the discounted day(s). First, of all, while very well organized by category, like Victoria College, I was unable to locate a map of the area where the categories were located, so it took me a fair bit of time to find the Religion section. When I finally found the Religion section, I was disappointed. I thought that there would be a lot of Christian books, but instead, I saw a lot of Judaism themed books, which was surprising. The selection of Christian stuff that were there were mostly Protestant. There were very few Catholic books but the ones that were there were modern, no classics. By that, you can deduce that the approximate 20 Bibles were there were all Protestant translations… so the Christian section was just useless to me. The “Rare and Collectable” section contained quite a few classics with beautiful bindings. Some sold at very reasonable prices, but none really appealed to me. I was looking for some old Breviaries, Catechisms or Missals, and I found none. I saw some Bibles but they were all Protestant. I was looking at the Fiction section for my sister, but found none of which she requested (and the ones on the list were said to be common finds). Overall, University College’s Book Sale was not one suited to my interests.

Total spent: $0

Pros:

  • Books very well organized and spacious compared to the other Book Sales
  • A lot of Judaic books for those interested in Judaism and Jewish history
  • Free admission to U of T students, others pay $5.00 admission first day

Cons:

  • Very poor Christian section, mainly Protestant materials
  • “Rare and Collectable” section had nothing really appealing in my opinion
  • Some books were not consistently priced
  • Bag check inconveniently placed and clearer signs needs to be posted for directions

____________
Overall total I spent on my books: $65
____________

My Overall Remarks

I really liked the experience of being in a room just full of books of a whole lot of different categories for people of different interests. There are two things about the people at the book sale that fascinate me.

The Volunteers: there are many, many volunteers who may or may not be alumni of the respective College. Yet, I have heard that some volunteers come year after year to help out. You may think that these Book Sales are easy – you set up, sell and clean up. However, I learned that these Book Sales take almost up to a whole year to prepare. Throughout the year, the volunteers would come in to sort through donations, categorize them, price them, etc. Then days leading up to the Book Sale would involve set up, placing the books, keeping track of inventory, paying student workers (at some of the Book Sales), etc. But in the end, it is all worth it for them and for the College hosting the Book Sale. I was one of the student workers from Trinity College who came to assist the volunteers in bringing the boxes of books to their respective sections. I really like the volunteers – they were cheerful and enthusiastic about their books. While I was paid, it was generous of them to allow the student workers access to the Book Sale before it officially opened. Even if I were not paid, that alone would be worth a lot for me. I will for sure write a thank you e-mail to the Trinity volunteers. But next year, if you do see the volunteers, smile and thank them for their service

The Customers: I was surprised at dedication of some of the customers. While crossing campus to get to my next class, two hours before the opening of the Victoria College Book Sale, I already saw people lining up in a long line from the entrance to the Victoria College stone gate with boxes in their hand – and that was $5 admission day! I saw similar scenes with other Book Sales, with people bringing boxes and even suitcases to these Book Sales. The number of books that I bought was nothing compared to these buyers. These scenes were the most vivid at Trinity College’s Book Sale. People lined up first day from the first floor stairs of the bag check, all the way to Strachan Hall (the dining hall) for $5.00 admission day. I have been told that people at Strachan Hall would be waiting about 1 hour to 1.5 hours to get into the Sale, and again $5 admission was charged on the first day. The doors of Trinity College were open earliest at 6:00am so people can line up and they said that was the earliest they can let people in, even to their most loyal customers. I imply that past years, people would line up earlier than 6:00am. As I approached Trinity however, I saw people, husband and wife with boxes full of books. I was surprised that people were willing to spend hours waiting just to get their hands on some bargains. On the last day of the Trinity College Book Sale, I saw two or three people will barcode scanners, some with a physical device, while some used their phones.

I found some bargain deals at these Book Sales, and some I never expected. For bibliophiles, these Book Sales are not to be missed. Please know that this review was based on my own experience and interests at these Book Sales. You may have different interests such as in History books, Photography, Travel, etc… The categories are endless. For any interest, there are books waiting to be picked up by customers at these Book Sales on the University of Toronto St. George campus every Fall. Find me at any of these Book Sales next year!