January 28, 2005

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

The Bible's timeless lessons and inspiration

Earlier this month, my sister, Beverley, e-mailed me to say that she and her husband, John, started reading Today’s Light Bible: New Inter­national Edition every day. Their daughter, JoAnne, gave it to them because the Zion Lutheran Church in our (Belleville, Ill.) hometown is sponsoring a two-year journey through the Bible in 15-minutes a day. Thanks to them, I now participate, too.

We are doing this in memory of our paternal grandmother, Emma Vogler. During her funeral, her pastor mentioned how not long before she had asked him to provide her with a new Bible. In the eight decades of her life, she had worn out several.

Impressed, I decided to understand the Bible better myself. I attended study groups that were forming in our parish and among area friends. Then Catholic friends told me about an interdenominational Bible Study Fellowship ( BSF) at a Protestant church.

The first time I went, I was surprised to find hundreds of women in the sanctuary. After prayer, we separated into smaller groups. Every available space was used, even vestibules to restrooms and the stairwells.

One morning as I drove to the BSF gathering—in torrential rain—I nearly turned back, thinking, “No one will be there today.” Instead, I found more participants than the previous week. In time, I fully understood the grace coming from studying various books of the Bible with BSF for several years.

Although my reading slowed down considerably in private study, I still referred to the Bible often.

During the last decade as a volunteer discussion group leader at St. Augustine Home for the Aged in Indianapolis (operated by the Little Sisters of the Poor), we have incorporated the Bible in various ways.

Years before, I also studied the “Bible as Literature” as well as “Women in the Old Testament” through IUPUI (Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis).

Now, I not only read Today’s Light Bible, which includes helpful notes and commentaries, but I parallel that reading with the same text in my late mother’s Bible, the one I gave to her for Christmas in 1973: The New American Bible sponsored by the U.S. Bishops’ Committee of the Confraternity of Christine Doctrine.

Beth Kuczkowski, who with Cathy Papesh are co-owners of three Village Dove Catholic stores in Indianapolis and Greenwood, recently suggested someone should publish separate, smaller guides that could be used with any Bible. What a helpful idea!

Beth also told me about an amazing book that Oxford University Press offers, The Catholic Bible: New American Bible: Personal Study Edition, which includes a reading guide, glossary, lectionaries, biblical maps and a concordance.

Meanwhile, readers can find information about Bible Study Fellowship for men, women or children at
www.bsfinternational.org or by calling (toll free) 877-273-3228

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)


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