Day 12: St. Joseph New Catholic Bible, Gift Edition – Large Type

Catholic Book Publishing Corporation‘s (CBPC) beautiful Bibles and devotional titles have been featured on our blog on several occasions. The quality and design of these publications are, in my opinion, one of the finest (and affordable). The thing with CBPC’s publications is that there is a sense of simplicity, yet a nobility that speaks to the importance of the texts that they publish. Last June, I (The Catholic Man) reviewed CBPC’s New Catholic Bible (NCB) Giant-Print Edition. Well throughout the latter half of 2020, and throughout this year, the review for this Bible have been one of the most read Bible-reviews on our blog.

This year for the 12 Days of Christmas series, my sister and I are joining forces together to bring to you this last review for season 4 of this series, a review of one of the CBPC’s newer NCB Editions,the St. Joseph NCB Gift Edition – Large Type. It contains the same translation as the NCB Giant-Type Edition, reviewed last year, but there are also many special features in this Gift Edition – Large Type, not only in terms of type size as the title suggests, but well beyond.

Please note, just like other reviews of Bibles on this blog, I will not be taking a critical look at the translation, for several reasons. First of all, I am not Scripture scholar. I do not have any authority in the Church or in academia to publically speak about this translation. Rest assured though, as with any other Bible translation published by CBPC, care is taken to include the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, all of which could be found in the Bible. The NCB translation though, unlike the New American Bible (in the USA) and the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (in Canada) is not a Liturgical translation. Even then, the translations listed have been adapted for liturgical use (more on that in a future posted). The NCB, as CBPC clearly states in the Frequently Asked Questions is that,

The NCB OT, NT and Psalms are not intended for liturgical purposes, as is the case for several other Catholic Bible translations, but it can be enjoyed for private use and study.

(emphasis added)

And indeed so, the NCB as I remarked in the review for the Giant Type edition last year, is ideal for prayer and study, especially since this particular translation, is “classified as a formal or verbal equivalence Bible translation, which emphasizes a literal translation (word for word) of the Scripture text to make sure to preserve the original word order and capture the nuances found in the ancient biblical text.” (NCB, FAQs) If you would like to know more about the translation, I suggest you take a look at their helpful Frequently Asked Questions. The goal of bible reviews on this blog is to provide a viewpoint of a day-to-day Catholic on using these bibles. Thus, we take a look at readability of the texts and their user-friendliness for “common folks.”

NCB Giant Type on left; NCB Large Type on right

As mentioned, the NCB Gift Edition – Large Type contains many features similar to the NCB Giant-Type edition. This review will speak of several features that I think merit attention. By the end of the review, I will have spoken about the ideal audience of the NCB Gift Edition – Large Type in comparison with the NCB Giant-Type Red Imitation Leather. (Note, from now on, the terms ‘Large Type’ will refer to the NCB Gift Edition – Large Type while ‘Giant Type’ will refer to the NCB Red Imitation Leather – Giant Type.

Fonts, Font Size and Notes

When I first opened the box to see the Large Type Bible, I honestly did not know what to expect with the font size. I thought the terms “Giant Type” and “Large Type” were interchangeable, but upon comparing the font size of both version, it became apparent to me that that is not the case with CBPC’s NCB Bibles. The Giant Type is larger than the Large Type… I honestly cannot count by how many points, but approximately, I would say the font size of the Large Type version is about 12pt, while the Giant Type is about 13-14pt.

There is a difference I have found reading with the Large Type than the Giant Type. The benefit of having the 12pt font is that there seems to be more room to include more on a page. I notice that the notes of the each book of the Bible, unlike the Giant Type edition, are put as footnotes rather than endnotes. That creates for a much more pleasurable experience if you were using this edition for studying the Bible. This was one of the critiques I had with the Giant Type edition.

However, that does not mean that one should dismiss the benefits of having the notes as endnotes. I would personally prefer the Giant Type for prayer, since the notes would not get in the way, causing a distraction. From top to bottom of that edition is just Scriptural Text. I think both the Large Type and Giant Type’s placement of notes have their own pros and cons that would better be suited to the needs of an individual. If you are purchasing an NCB Bible for study, the Large Type would be more ideal, while the Giant Type would be suited for those who want strictly a Bible for prayer.

Returning to the talk on fonts and font sizes, CBPC clearly put a lot of thought into the use of them. I thought the Large Type would be like the Giant Type, simply having the Gian Type’s fonts shrunken down a couple points, but it seems to me that both editions utilize different fonts. I think this is rightly so. Different fonts have different “looks” when readjusted in size, and for some fonts, it is not a matter of “one font fits all.” Same with printing liturgical texts… as a Liturgical MC at my parish, I strive to use fonts that are readable for the celebrant, that would suit the small 10pt font for red rubrics, and 14pt font for spoken text. I am glad that the same consideration is being considered here for Scriptural texts.

Another factor for choice of font might be the use of red for the words of Christ in the New Testament of the Large Type edition. Fonts, their sizes and the colours are factors that go hand-in-hand when producing any liturgical and Scriptural text for ease of reading. More on the “words of Christ in red,” some may think that CBPC is going too far, or ‘Protestantizing’ a Catholic Bible. I do not think so. I think it is a feature that should appear more in Catholic Bibles. Even though the whole Bible is the Word of God, with God as the principle author of the these texts, the Gospels receive special reverence at Mass, as all stand to listen to it because the Gospel texts contain the words of Christ, the Words from the ‘Word made flesh.’ When we want to emphasize the words of somebody, even in academia, would you not give some external emphasis in bold or italicization? I am sure one would… and so why not do so with the words of Christ? Red text also has helped me with finding verses in Gospel passages a lot quicker too… I just wish more Catholic Bibles had it. Yet, I would not be surprised why Catholic Bibles do not include them perhaps out of cost factor too. Two-colour printing might prove to be more expensive than grayscale printing.

Illustrations and Supplementary Features

One of the things that immediately captured my attention with the Large Type edition was how richly illustrated that specific edition is in comparison with the Giant Type edition. The boxes of both editions say, “Beautifully Illustrated,” but I suggest the Large Type edition to say, “Richly Illustrated.” CBPC always does a great job with illustrations, especially with the illustrations in the coloured inerts. However, the Large Type edition goes beyond the usual. Before each book, there is a nice width-wise illustration depicting a key even in the book. This is amazing… it really gives the reader a break from page after page of text, and to show that a new book has come, instilling a sense that we are starting to walk into another door as we read this book.

Compared with the Giant Type edition, the Large Type edition features not 20, but 40 full-colour photographs, not counting the many grayscale photographs scattered throughout. Like the Giant Type version, there are 8 full-colour maps, but also grayscale maps interspersed throughout.

CBPC also always have great inserts- those have only been amplified in the NCB editions. I remarked about this extensively in the review for the Giant Type edition, which you find here. Here’s the truth: many people will use the Bible for study, for prayer, but certainly some who are gifted with a Bible, but might not open it frequently. Yet, perhaps one of the colour-panels might catch their attention. Who knows what curiosity might be sparked by such charts, such inserts? That in turn, may prompt them to open their Bibles and read more in-depth. These are small details for a Bible, but can change the way one may approach the Scriptures in general, in a very positive way.

The last feature I will speak about is one that I critiqued for a lack of in the Giant Type edition – a table of Sunday Lectionary readings. I am so glad to that feature at the end of this Large Type edition. I always enjoy having such features of a Bible, because no matter if it is a study bible, prayer bible, personal travel bible… it is so good to have something to reference the Scripture readings of the upcoming Sunday. It serves as an aid to pray not only individual but with the Church in its lectionary readings.

Exterior Qualities

I have been gifted several Bibles from CBPC over the years from loved ones and received some for review here, but I honestly have to say, I think that this Large Type edition is one of the most magnificent yet. The Dura-lux burgundy cover is elegant. It is not real leather, but nevertheless, very handsome and has a sense of quality to the material. My sister will say more about the aesthetic qualities:

This Bible has a soft cover with a faux leather texture but seems that it will last for generation to come. There is a cross debossed onto the the front. While I think it looks nice, we have found it can collect dust which isn’t very easy to remove with all the ridges. The book feels well bound.

The gilding is also very even. I find that the gilding here comes off on your hands a little but no where near as much as I usually see so I found this quality impressive. The gilding does stick some of the pages together though, so I recommending being extra careful when flipping the pages for the first time since the pages are super thin; about as thin as what you usually see in Bibles and dictionaries.

There are two bookmarking ribbons. There seem to be nice quality – rich colour, very smooth, the ends well cut with no fraying. The printing for both colour and black and white are well done. the edges are all very defined with consistent pigmentation throughout. I also think the text is a good size.

Overall, I think the visual aspect of this Bible is all great save for one thing. I think because the gilding sticks the edges of a lot of the pages together, I noticed a small amount of rippling and buckling on some of the pages. I assume this is from opening and closing the Bible with pages stuck together and thus pulled weird angles, only to be closed, the pages still at a weird angle. It’s a very minor flaw, and if my theory is correct, the person you gift the Bible to likely won’t even notice this until they’ve used it a couple times. I just thought I would bring it up nonetheless.

CBPC’s NCB Gift Edition Large Type is a beautiful Bible. As the name suggests, it is suited as a gift not only for Christmas, but for Weddings and Graduations. Sacramental events like First Communions and Confirmations are applicable too (but such occasions may merit also looking at CBPC’s special Sacramental editions of their Bibles.) This is a Bible that can be passed on from generation to generation, especially because of the inclusion of the Family Record… however, more importantly, it is a Bible to be opened, read, and prayed upon. I would rather pass down to my family a Bible that has been well read than one that looks new, as if never opened since the time I received it.

You can purchase a copy of the reviewed St. Joseph NCB Gift Edition – Large Type here.
You can also check out some sample pages here.
To learn more about the NCB and explore its other bindings, click here.

Disclaimer: Vincent Pham was provided a review copy of NCB Gift Edition – Large Type to provide an honest review of it on this blog. The Catholic Man Reviews thanks CBPC for the opportunity for us to review this title on our blog and look forward to future collaborations. All thoughts and opinions expressed in here are our own and reflect our sincere thoughts about the product.

The Liturgy Series: Prayer Tools On-the-Go

For the 15th installment of The Liturgy Series, I am going to take things on a little bit of a different route. We have talked about albs, breviary covers, missals and even a paschal stylus… all sorts of liturgical items for use in a reverent celebration of the Mass. However, I want in this installment to go back to the basics. What is beautiful about the liturgy is that no matter where you are in the world, the structure of the celebration of the liturgy (i.e. Mass, Liturgy of the Hours, sacraments and other rites prescribed in the liturgical books) are the same. The only difference is the use of language in which after the Second Vatican Council, the vernacular can be used so to foster an “active” and “conscious” participation in the Sacred Rites. As travel picks back up in the next couple months for North Americans and Europeans at least, I thought it would be fitting to feature some “prayer tools” that I carry with me to ensure that I can actively pray and take part in the liturgy of the Church wherever I am at, whether it be at a church celebrating Mass in a language I do not know, and some sacramentals that I think would help one “stay fit” spiritually, especially on vacation, pilgrimage or retreat. I have featured some of these items on our blog throughout the years, but never managed to compile them – so here they are!

1. A Good Backpack – Starting with my journey to Europe in 2019, I began using a High Sierra Overtime Fly-By Laptop Backpack. When I think of a “pilgrimage,” an image that comes up in my mind is that of a personal with a backpack. Oftentimes, we come on a pilgrimage and a retreat at a certain point in our lives where we would be carrying with us much “baggage.” It may be physical (a.k.a. overpacking), but moreso, I speak of here in a spiritual sense – we come with our worries, concerns and even our sins on a pilgrimage or retreat. The backpack that I have used throughout pilgrimages and retreats bears sentimental value to me because I am reminded of this reality of a pilgrimage. I find moments of consolation when reminded of these pilgrimage or retreat moments because I am reminded that only in God can I let go of all this baggage that is weighing me down, the baggage that prevents me from having a sincere relationship with Our Lord.
On more practical terms, a good backpack (especially on flights) allows for ease in carrying your necessities both physical and spiritually. On flights, I would often bring a laptop to get work done, so a backpack with an accessible laptop compartment is the most ideal. However, I care the most about the many compartments to compartmentalize be toiletries, shirts, socks… and spiritual tools that I will outline further.

2. Crucifix – When I was a part-time sacristan at St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica, I remember seeing a prayerful woman who was there often, both weekends and weekdays in the first pew of the Cathedral, near the Blessed Sacrament. She often had many prayer cards laid out in front of her but what stood out for me was a large crucifix which she would often carry in her arms.
The crucifix is the sign of salvation. The cross that was once a symbol of shame, of death, through the death and resurrection of Jesus became for us a sign of victory and life. Therefore, I think it is important for one to have a crucifix with them wherever they go. It does not need to be a big one – there are many high quality crucifixes from reputable Catholic shops. Some you might want to consider is the indulgenced pardon crucifix. I personally carry a simple crucifix that has a depiction of Mary at the back. I bought it some time ago at the Liturgical Centre in Toronto but unable to locate it online. Interesting fact: this crucifix has served as an altar cross twice for a camping retreat, in which unfortunately the liturgical team failed to prepare an altar cross. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) no. 297 states that, “The celebration of the Eucharist in a sacred place is to take place on an altar; however, outside a sacred place, it may take place on a suitable table, always with the use of a cloth, a corporal, a cross, and candles.” (emphasis added)
In brief, the cross with the crucified Lord is a symbol of our faith, and let yourself be reminded of this sign of salvation always.

3. Rosary – a sacramental that helps with travelling on long roads is the rosary. I remember sitting on the bus one Sunday travelling from Barcelona, Spain to Nice, France. I remember praying with the scenery as the bus was passing by mountains and cities. Praying is not an act to pass time, but rather, a connection with God at a certain moment in time. You can bring any rosary, a ten-decade or a five-decade rosary. I have many but have a few that I use frequently. Throughout my time in Europe, I used a Pocket Rosary from Catholic Milestones which I often carry with me on travel. I do recommend Rugged Rosaries as well, which provides rosaries in all shapes and sizes, including pocket rosaries. I recently bought their Catholic Gentleman Rosary and highly recommend that one, especially if you don’t mind the little bit of extra weight.

4. Breviary – pilgrimage and retreats allow one to immerse further into prayer and if you have a breviary, I highly recommend you bring it along. I have mentioned countless times on the blog that I can not recommend enough the use of a paper, hard-copy for breviaries, missals and prayer books. May I recommend a breviary cover as well? This protects your breviary and even missals, from wear and tear. Have not been able to purchase a breviary? I highly recommend Universalis or the free-alternative, iBreviary or Divine Office.

5. Missal – pray with the Mass readings on your journey and at Mass with a hand missal such as the Daily Roman Missal. Along with that, I highly recommend if you are going to another country and have the chance to participate in Mass in a foreign language, The Order of Mass in Nine Languages by Liturgical Press which includes the Order of Mass in English, Spanish, French, Italian, Latin, Polish, Portuguese, Tagalog and Vietnamese. (Note the new Order of Mass in Italian with minor revisions in the new edition has not been reflected in this current publication.)

6. Journal – it is a noteworthy practice particular on retreats and pilgrimages is to have a journal. It is also a worthy practice to do spiritual journaling everyday in which one would be able to record the ways in which you see God working in your life. On pilgrimage or retreat, you may find yourself in a thought and mode to jot down a prayer from the heart. Journals as one may know, come in all shapes and sizes, but choose the one that fits you. Personally, I prefer a small sized, passport-sized journal. Some people may prefer larger. One journal I would recommend is a leather cover traveller’s notebook. I purchase mine from an AliExpress vendor, IPBEN which has very affordable styles and even free customization for their traveller’s notebooks. I was somewhat skeptical at first, but the purchase proved to be very smooth and the item is of good quality. I have also used pocket composition notebooks throughout the years which have proved to be a fine companion as well.

7. Bible – especially on a pilgrimage, you want to have a bible with you. I have reviewed a variety of bibles on our blog, and if you have read through the various reviews, there are various bibles of different formats and sizes that will suit your needs. For on-the-go Catholics, I recommend the The New American Bible Revised Edition – Black Zipper Duradera Compact Edition from Oxford University Press or the feature-filled New American Bible Personal Size Gift Edition. If you are leaning towards the New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, I would recommend either the NRSV Catholic Bible Personal Size Standard Edition or Thinline Edition (to be reviewed soon on our blog) both from Catholic Bible Press. You can even bring only the Gospels with you if you think that is sufficient for you in a particular point in time. I have seen the paperback New American Bible translation Pocket Gospels and Acts of the Apostles published by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Recently, I just bought from Amazon a leather copy of Ignatius Press’ pocket New Testament and Psalms of the Revised Standard Version, Second Edition translation. I have seen Cardinal Collins’ copy and admired it and therefore, recently, decided to get a copy for myself and may hopefully review it on this blog in the near future.

8. Prayer Book – it is in the moments of silence in a church that I have had the opportunity to flip through my prayer books. While the Mass and Liturgy of the Hours are the prayers of the Church, there are countless litanies, prayers of the saints that speak to your heart in a specific moment. A beautiful traditional prayer book is the Manual of Prayers published by the North American Pontifical College in collaboration with Midwest Theological Forum. A prayer book that I have brought with me so many places is the Handbook of Prayers – Student Edition published by Midwest Theological Forum, edited by Fr. James Socias, the figure who was also behind the Daily Roman Missal. I have that copy stuffed with prayer cards. For a truly portable prayer book, I recommend the beautifully illustrated St. Joseph Pocket Prayer Book from Catholic Book Publishing Corporation. I often keep the two – Handbook of Prayers and St. Joseph Pocket Prayer Book together when travelling.

Am I missing anything from the list? Maybe? Each person is different and may bring along with them other items that will aid their spiritual life, that will help them become connected with the liturgy and prayer life of the Church. Which other “prayer-tools” do you bring along when on-the-go? Put them in the comments below! I would love to know.

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:

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 are 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.

Day 5: CBPC’s The Imitation of Christ

Catholic Book Publishing Corporation (CBPC) always has a fine selection of books, and many Christian classics of great quality. This year, I am featuring CBPC’s leatherette edition of Thomas a Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ. As I do with most classics, I will not be reviewing the content itself, but rather the features of the edition itself.

Besides the Holy Bible, I think a title from CBPC that has variety of bindings for a single title is The Imitation of Christ – four different bindings + an audio book + a “spiritual gems” edition + an abridged edition. It is a beautiful spiritual book in which every Catholic should read. Sometimes, it is difficult to pick up a book with plain text and read it. I often like editions that contain illustrations, and have some “finesse” to it and this No. 320/19 edition of The Imitation of Christ does just that.

You may ask, why I am attracted to the bindings, the “extra features”, the aesthetics but not the text itself when it comes to reviewing Bibles and Christian classics on The Catholic Man Reviews. While I do pay attention to the translation of certain texts, particularly the Bible, I find that aesthetics to a book makes you want to pick up and read a book. The extra features, including illustrations brings the texts to life and are a great tool for prayer.
I admire the faux leather covers of CBPC’s editions. Like the daily devotional that I reviewed last year, there is a great textured portion which is great to touch. The text on the cover is embossed onto the cover. I like how it is not foil stamped since I have found that after frequent use, devotional books and prayer books lose the foil stamping. The spine, however, and some decoration on the front contains gold foil stamping – but if those fade away, I would not mind as much as if it were the title of the book.

I am taking a course at the University of Toronto called, Beauty, Human and Divine and reaffirmed the importance of beauty, even in aesthetics and I believe that Christian texts should be beautified and bound in a dignified manner. Beauty elevates one’s mind God.

Enough with beauty… while the content of the text itself is beautiful, I really love the use of illustrations throughout this edition. They are printed in grayscale and depict scenes of Christ corresponding to verses from the Gospels. There is also clip art scattered throughout to fill white spaces. I like the selection of clip art used by CBPC in their books – they are simple, but they are not “cheesy” in any way.

I would also like to note the use of colour plates – 4 for the Stations of the Cross and 6 for the Mysteries of the Rosary. While it makes sense why these plates appear in the various Bibles CBPC have, I do not know why they are relevant in this volume of The Imitation of Christ – I do not think it is necessary since it is a book consisted of reflections and meditations, not a treasury of prayers. But maybe, since it is a devotional tool, the publishers thought that it would be relevant to add them in this volume. However, these colour plates as they appear in various publications by CBPC are eye-catching to the reader.

The font size is very good on the eyes, approximately 12pt font. I never have to worry about readability of text when it comes to CBPC’s publications – even their Personal Sized Gift Edition of the New American Bible that I reviewed last year was compact, but its text is easily readable. I like the use of drop-capitals for every chapter. As I mentioned in various reviews, drop-capitals are very useful in indicating a new break or section and its use is very practical, especially when it comes to editions of the Roman Missal.
At the end of the text of The Imitation of Christ, I like how there is a section called, “Passages in the Imitation of Christ suitable to the different states of life and spiritual necessities of the faithful.” I find this a unique feature because sometimes, you need some source of spiritual encouragement or need to give someone else that’s spiritual encouragement they need. While the Bible is always a great place to start, The Imitation of Christ is another secondary source. This is a very helpful feature, rather than going through the whole book to find a specific theme.

Back to the aesthetics now, I like how there is a ribbon marker and CBPC is great in providing marking ribbons for these type of leatherette editions. The edges are stained, not gilded. I think I mentioned this with the Personal Sized Gift Edition of the New American Bible – I do not need to fear me scratching the gilding. Everything are in harmony – I love the light brown colour of the cover, the edges and the ribbon. Everything in uniform and CPBC has always done this well with their books. CPBC always produces volumes that are handsome and dignified for every Catholic, making us want to pick it up and read or pray.

If you are looking for a devotional read for a friend this Christmas, I highly recommend this edition of The Imitation of Christ.

Click here to purchase this title from CBPC.

Year Long Bible Reading Challenge – An Invaluable Experience

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On September 30, 2019, I completed The Catholic Bible in 365 Challenge with the help of two Bibles I have reviewed on The Catholic Man Reviews: Oxford’s Catholic Study Bible (3rd Edition) and Catholic Book Publishing Corporation’s New American Bible Personal Size Gift Edition. Today on this All Saints Day, now that the challenge is completed, I reflect on the Challenge and hope that by reading this, you might have the urge to want to do it as well.

When I was in high school I was asked by some of my friends, if I ever read the Bible in its entirety before. I shamefully answered, “No”. I was ashamed because of my lack of commitment to reading the Word of God and lack of motivation to read it in its entirety.

From September 30, 2018 – September 30, 2019, I undertook a Challenge that I have been longing to do, but throughout the years, found excuses and lack of commitment to undertake a Challenge I called The Catholic Bible in 365 Day Challenge.

In the Summer of 2018, I was scrolling through YouTube and encountered a video of (now Father) Casey Cole, OFM, who said that he was going to read the Bible in its entirety before his priestly ordination. I contemplated joining him in the Challenge, but I wanted time for spiritual preparation. Shortly after, I chose September 30, 2018 to officially undertake this Challenge because September 30 is the memorial of St. Jerome, priest and doctor of the Church.

St. Jerome is the saint of the Scriptures. He spent much of his life working on the translation of the Bible from ancient sources to Latin, into the Vulgate Translation that we use today. The year 2019 marks the 1600th anniversary of his death, so what better way to commemorate this than reading the Bible in the time period leading towards this anniversary?

I put out the Challenge out on social media and invited other fellow Catholic friends to join me and people positively responded to the Challenge, willing to attempt it with their family and friends. (I don’t know how many people actually went through the Challenge until the end, but God knows!)

The Challenge is a commitment of spending 15-20 minutes per day for a year reading a specified chapters of a book in the Bible. Some may argue that it is very difficult to do so everyday for a year – but consider how much time we are on social media. We spend copious amounts of time from 20 minutes to several hours on social media, casually liking and scrolling through Instagram, SnapChat and Facebook, and we never complain. Yet, we complain when committing to an hour of Mass a week, or praying 5-minutes a day, or spending 15-minutes of reading Scripture.

From experience doing this Challenge, I understand that Bible reading is not always easy and may be discouraging at times. Some section are interesting to read while some are just dry or difficult to understand. Those, however, are not excuses to not read the Bible.

The more we question, the more answers we will get. There are many resources out there that will assist us in the reading of Scripture. The number one thing that I found helpful was using an appropriate Bible, a Catholic one (that contains the Apocrypha) with good notes. The New American Bible Revised Edition contain a lot of good footnotes. As a companion to that, I recently just bought a used copy of the New Jerome Biblical Commentary and it has proven to be a very valuable resource in understanding various parts of Scripture.

For me, travelling both locally and overseas this past year has added to the experience of the Challenge. It was the act of reading the Bible in various places throughout the world that made the Challenge memorable. Most of the time, I read the Bible at my desk at home, the living room, or bed before I go to sleep. But there were times throughout the Challenge when I read the Bible in a chapel during a retreat, on a flight thousands of feet above land, in a seat in the Charles-de-Guelles Airport, on the shores of a beach in Spain, or in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel in St. Peter’s Basilica. The portability of the Word of God was worthwhile. It kept it me constant prayer and reflection anywhere I was in the world throughout the year.

The biggest reward I got out of the Challenge was being able to gain a deeper appreciation and reverence to the Word of God. Sometimes, we attend Mass and know some readings such as the Birth of Jesus, or the Passion narratives and we know the events by heart. However, having read the Old Testament and the New Testaments, I was able to see how Biblical events connected together. When I hear a Gospel passage at Mass, seem to I have a much clearer context of what is being said. For example, when Jesus said, “And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up.” (Jn 3:14) Having read Numbers chapter 21, the Gospel passage makes a lot more sense and becomes rich in meaning.

Pope Francis in his recently published Moto Proprio, Aperuit Illis, in which he instituted the Sunday of the Word of God on the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, reminded Catholics, “A day devoted to the Bible should not be seen as a yearly event but rather a year-long event, for we urgently need to grow in our knowledge and love of the Scriptures and of the risen Lord, who continues to speak his word and to break bread in the community of believers.” (AI 8)

I hope every Catholic will try to read the Bible in its entirety at least once in your lifetime. It may not be a year-long commitment like my Challenge, but can span two or three years, depending on one’s level of commitment. However, this Challenge not only gave me a spiritual disciplining, but also a great love towards the Word of God, which is something that will last a lifetime, and I hope you will experience the same. St. Jerome, lover of the Scriptures, pray for us!

Once again, thank your Oxford University Press and Catholic Book Publishing Corporation for giving me the chance to use your Bibles for this challenge!

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