Lectio Divina Bible Study: The Mass in Scripture

Catholic parishes worldwide prep for clarification of new Roman Missal

HUNTINGTON, Indiana, May 4, 2001. In an era of low Mass attendance and sketchy Catholic catechesis worldwide, the implementation of a new Roman Missal at year's end can either confuse Catholics, or spur them to embrace their faith more deeply.

Crystallizing the connections between ancient liturgy and the modern-day Mass, its roots in Scripture, history, and theology, average parish-Catholics will need to understand what's happening and what it all means. Many will benefit from the new turnkey primer – The Mass in Scripture (Our Sunday Visitor, 2011) – which author Stephen Binz designed as a resource for every parish's preparation for the revised Roman Missal rite(to commence in December 2011).

Binz leads the faithful on an incredible voyage of enlightenment, utilizing an exceptional combination of one of the most ancient forms of Scripture study with the history, theology and scriptural perspective of the Eucharistic liturgy – the Mass. “This work ought to be a part of every parish's preparation for the revised Roman Missal. This study emphasizes that the preparation is not just a matter of learning new words to pray, but an opportunity to deepen the liturgical understanding and Eucharistic spirituality of Catholics” says Binz.

Using the new translation of the Roman Missal, Binz explores the biblical foundation of each element of the Mass, offering 30 lessons to deepen love for the Eucharist, moving readers through study, reflection, prayer, and action. The Mass in Scripture explores the biblical roots of the Mass and each of its parts. In this way, participants learn not just new vocabulary, but enrich their understanding and Eucharistic spirituality.

This study is ideal for seasoned Catholics who desire a deeper understanding of the biblical roots of the Mass, and may also be helpful for inquirers who are searching for the biblical foundations of Catholic worship. The work uses the method of lectio divina, as encouraged in Verbum Domini, and is designed for individuals or parish groups, making it an ideal instrument for the New Evangelization.

Lectio divina, is the ancient practice of Scripture immersion, and is at the heart of this process. Combined with the tradition and scholarship of the Church, it explores complex topics with sequential steps of study, meditation, and internalization. Specifically, every chapter leads you forward through a sequence of:

  • Listening — Reading Scripture with expectancy, trusting that God will speak His Word to us through it
  • Understanding — Seeking to comprehend the meaning of the text, encountering God there and being changed by that encounter
  • Reflecting — Linking the truth of the Scriptures to the experience of faith in the world in which we live
  • Praying — A dialogue with God: we listen to God, then we respond in prayer
  • Acting — After prayerfully listening to God through a passage of Scripture, we should be inspired to make a difference in the way we live

The following scholars and spiritual leaders recommend The Mass in Scripture:

Stephen Binz’ The Mass in Scripture provides every reader with an opportunity to learn how to pray the parts of the Mass with devotion and understanding. In particular, Binz’ small book helps to clarify an often misunderstood, but central part of everyone’s participation at Mass: the Eucharistic prayer. Traditionally thought of by many Catholics as only a “priest’s part”, the Canon or Eucharistic Prayer is really the joint prayer of priest and people. Recognizing this fact, Binz gives his lay readers an especially helpful tutorial on how to join in the Church’s praying this sacrificial prayer to the Father. Binz’ straightforward writing allows readers of all levels to benefit from learning what the Second Vatican Council set out as one of the great goals of its suggested liturgical reform: the increased participation of the faithful at every Mass.

-- Most Reverend Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York

With the new translation of the Roman Missal in English there is a resurgence of interest in understanding more clearly the extraordinary gift that is the Eucharistic Liturgy. The Mass in Scripture is an insightful resource for individual and group study by Catholics who wish to further their understanding of the biblical roots of the Mass and the meaning of the coming changes in the Mass prayers. Stephen Binz has provided a well-organized and clearly written guide that can only heighten appreciation for the inexhaustible riches of our Catholic Mass as it has developed through the millennia.

-- His Eminence Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, author of The Mass: The Glory, the Mystery, the Tradition

In his book, The Mass in Scripture, Stephen J. Binz does a brilliant job in using Lectio Divina to help Catholics grow in a deeper understanding of and appreciation for the Mass. His writing is strongly based in Sacred Scripture and draws the reader into a deeper celebration of the Mass and a commitment to live out their life as a Eucharistic person. The book also provides guides for discussion with others. It is also profound resource for catechists and parents preparing their children for Holy Communion.

-- Most Rev. Gregory M. Aymond, Archbishop of New Orleans, Chair of the USCCB Committee on Divine Worship

Stephen Binz invites us to move beyond the surface words we say to the meaning of what we do. He has provided a remarkable tool for just such reflection. Using an ancient pattern of reflection, prayer and action, and grounding his work in the historical and theological underpinnings of what we celebrate today, he provides a unique exploration of the various parts of the Eucharistic liturgy, at once solid and accessible. Individuals and groups alike will profit immensely from this book.

-- Kathleen Hughes, RSCJ, former Professor of Word and Worship at the Catholic Theological Union, Mission Consultant in the Network of Sacred Heart Schools

A very serious yet “user friendly” prayerful appreciation of the Eucharist based on the Scriptures.Readers who apply themselves to the guided prayer and group discussions outlined here will have their experience of the celebration of the Eucharist enriched beyond words. Particularly helpful is the author’s familiarity with the Old Testament bases for Christian worship. This initial offering in the “Lifelong Mystagogy in the Catholic Way” series augurs well for what promises to be a series that has the potential to change minds, hearts and souls.

-- Rev. Msgr. Kevin Irwin, Dean of the School of Theology and Religious studies, The Catholic University of America

The Mass in Scripture yokes solid biblical scholarship, liturgical history and theology, and pastoral insight into a wonderful resource for individuals and groups wishing to deepen their appreciation for the celebration of the Eucharist in the Roman Rite. Adapting the monastic meditative savoring of scripture to the texts and ceremonies of the Mass, Stephen Binz both instructs and models how eucharistic mystagogy might be fruitfully engaged. It is one of those rare books that could be used with profit by clergy and religious professionals, cradle Catholics, and new initiates.

-- Rev. Jan Michael Joncas, liturgical theologian and composer, Associate Professor of Catholic Studies, University of St. Thomas

This book, the first in the Lectio Divina Bible Study series, is a timely gift to the People of God who worship in English. The Lectio Divina framework, as Stephen Binz applies it, is a marvelously apt guide for preparing individuals and worshiping communities for the new translation of the Roman Missal and for a more profound participation in the liturgy. The biblical and liturgical scholarship is solid yet accessible. Binz’s approach is creative, non-polemical, and traditional in the best sense of the word.

-- Judith M. Kubicki, C.S.S.F., liturgical theologian, Associate Professor of Theology, Fordham University

Stephen Binz’s timely book provides an integrated approach into the experience of worship, employing the Scriptures as a pathway to unfold the mysteries which engage the worshiper. Utilizing a creative method based on lectio divina to uncover the biblical roots of worship, Binz invites the reader to reflect on both the Tradition of the Church and personal memory, illuminating the experience of each part of the Mass. As a result readers are led to discover the implications worship has for their lives in the world.

-- Rev. Thomas Ranzino, Pastor of St. Jean Vianney Church, Director of the Office of Worship, Diocese of Baton Rouge

Every Catholic would like to get more out of the Mass, and the revised translation is encouraging everyone to think more deeply about the words we hear and say. Stephen Binz provides a very helpful guide for those who wish to enter this process prayerfully, in community, and with the Bible in hand. This book will give the reader an experience of Christ and the church that will enrich every celebration of the Mass.

-- Rev. Paul Turner, Pastor of St. Munchin Church, diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Facilitator for the International Commission on English in the Liturgy


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Interview Questions

Stephen J. Binz
The Mass in Scripture

  1. In what ways might The Mass in Scripture be helpful for Catholic parishes during 2011 in preparation for implementing the revised Roman Missal?
  2. Why is it important that Catholics understand the biblical foundations of the Mass and the biblical roots of each element of the Mass?
  3. What does this work offer to Catholics in addition to the other books that have been published in anticipation of the revised Roman Missal?
  4. What are the advantages of combining the ancient method of lectio divina with a biblically-rooted study of the Mass?
  5. How does this book demonstrate that the new translation of the Mass brings out the biblical references far more clearly?
  6. How can this book deepen the liturgical understanding and Eucharistic spirituality of Catholics?
  7. What are the future plans for this Lectio Divina Bible Study series?

About The Author

Stephen J. Binz

Stephen BinzStephen J. Binz is a Catholic biblical scholar, award-winning author, and popular speaker. Following graduate studies at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome and Hebrew University in Jerusalem, he has founded Ancient-Future Bible Study and Threshold Bible Study, and he has written over two dozen books in biblical theology and commentary. As a speaker, he addresses national and regional conferences and churches on biblical studies, theology, and spirituality. His books are popular around the world in six different languages. He currently lives with his wife Pamela in Baton Rouge, LA.