Monday, April 5, 2010

devotional aids: St. James Daily Devotional Guide for the Christian Year and Alexander Scourby's recording of the Bible

A great blessing to me this Lent was the St. James Daily Devotional Guide for the Christian Year (what a mouthful!), put together by Fr. Henry Patrick Reardon (author of such wonderful books as Christ in the Psalms and Christ in His Saints). That, and Alexander Scourby's recording of the Bible.
I thought I'd share a bit about them, in case they could be of use to anyone else.
Last year, I read through the whole Bible. I'm very glad I did it, but I'll be the first to admit that it was a big job. (In fact, I didn't actually finish within the year alloted. I think I finished in early March, maybe late February, of this year.) I did, though, want to keep up with regular Bible reading. So I took another look at something I've often seen advertised in Touchstone, the St. Jame's Guide.
It fit the bill exactly. I hate to gush, but this is what I've been looking for for years. It has daily readings, from Old Testament, New and the Psalms. It has you go through the New Testament once a year and the Old every two years (a much more manageable pace than the whole thing in a year) and through the Psalms, well, a lot (very traditional, that). And, if that weren't enough, the readings are arranged to match the liturgical year (so last week, for instance, I was reading the passion passages from the gospel and Lamentations, among other thigns, and this week it's all Resurrection and triumphant Psalms). And it has suggestions for ways to fit the readings into morning and evening prayer. And it has commentary on the selected scriptures. And additional commentary online (which you can subscribe to in your RSS feedreader).
So, pretty amazing.
But, I admit, even though it is a manageable schedule, I still have had trouble keeping up this Lent. (Diapers, pottytraining, homeschooling, cooking, sleep, writing, SLOTH, etc . . .) Which brings me to my second devotional aid: this audio recording of the Bible.
I actually first ran into this at my local library. They have it on cassette and I brought it home and listened to it, and was amazed to find the narrator was reading a genealogy, and I wasn't bored! His voice is that good, and so is his skill at interpreting the text. You can tell that he has studied it, and thought about what it means, because it comes through in his tone and pacing. My husband and I bought it a few years ago on mp3 (only about $25! amazing for that much material - 72 hours worth) and it's seen a lot of use in our house (and out - my husband listens to it on his commute).
So, when I have had trouble keeping up with the reading schedule in the devotional guide, I've caught up by listening to the selections on mp3, while I do dishes or clean the bathroom or what have you.
I know that's not perfect - listening while doing chores - and probably there will come a time in my life again when I'll actually read by eye and not by ear most of my devotional texts. But right now, these two tools together are a Godsend (and I do mean that). I am very grateful for them, because they mean that, at this busy time in my life (four kids five and under), I am still attending to the word of God, in greater volume than I think I otherwise would.
So, I thought I'd pass on what I found, in case anyone else might be able to use either resource. They're both really good, and I think more folks should know they're out there. So helpful! And, in both cases, such high, high quality work.
peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell


TwoSquareMeals said...

My husband used to do layout and design for Touchstone! Thanks for the link on the audio Bible. You can listen to the ESV translation from their website (and the reader is pretty good), but I love the beauty of the KJV, especially if it is a really good reader.

Jessica said...

TwoSquareMeals, I think that makes you cool by association. :) I'm such a fan of Touchstone and the Society of St. James.

Thanks for the info on the ESV audio version. I like reading different versions, to get a better feel for what the original must sound like. We're so blessed to have so many good English translations.