Upcoming Events

Event:
Franciscan University Conferences
Institute of Applied Bibilcal Studies
Defending the Faith 

Location:
Steubenville, OH

Date: 7/26-30/17

Conferences Registration

more scheduled events

 

Pilgrimage Updates!

January 2018 Annual Holy Land Pilgrimage:

Registration is now open for January 11-25, 2018! Also available Post-tour to Petra. Click here for forms and more information

April 2018 "Faith of the Irish" Pilgrimage

Registration Now Open for April 21-30, 2018 with optional pre-tour and Discipleship Seminar with Jeff Cavins. Tour Hosts: Jeff & Emily Cavins and Fr. Matt Guckin.

May 2018 "Time of Decision" Holy Land Pilgrimage

Registration now open for May 14-24, 2018 with Fr. Mike Schmitz and Jeff Cavins. Click here for forms and more information.

Please view Cavins Tours photo gallery for a glimpse of some of our past pilgrimages.

Here is what a recent pilgrim had to say about our annual Holy Land pilgrimage!

 Thank you for a most wonderful, spiritual experience these past 2 weeks. The pilgrimage surpassed any expectations I had. Your teachings, Jeff, were so meaningful at each site. You are able to pull together all the history, the spirituality, the geography of the area, the archeological aspects, etc. so well to make the whole story make sense. You have challenged us to grow spiritually not only with questions to ask ourselves, but ways to ponder those question in our lives, and the wonderful "weapons" we have to tackle them, grow from them, and make necessary changes in our lives so that we may be better disciples of the Lord and spread the Good News to others. Certainly my times in adoration, and daily prayer will be enriched because of this Holy Land experience. ~~ Barb K

Please feel free to contact us at Cavins Tours phone number --763-420-1074.

 

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Wednesday
Oct182006

How Do I Read The Bible?

The Bible.

For some, the very words evoke feelings of warmth and wisdom, but for many Catholics today, the Bible can be chronologically confusing and its meaning hard to grasp. How tragic this is in light of the fact that as Pope Leo XIII said, the "Scripture is a Letter written by our Heavenly Father" to his children for the purpose of revealing Himself to them.

Those who come to the Holy Bible for the first time could expect to open at the beginning of Genesis and read on through to Revelation with the same ease and excitement as reading the novel Gone With The Wind. But it doesn't take the novice long to figure out that the Bible doesn't read like a popular novel. In fact, it isn't put together as a sequential narrative, rather the books are grouped by literature types. Consequently, the once excited inquirer puts the untapped treasure back down on the coffee table with a sigh of "what's the use?"

God Reveals Himself To Man Gradually

An important challenge facing the reader is to find and understand the basic story line of salvation history within the Bible's pages. We are not talking at this stage about understanding detail, rather grasping the scope of the divine story, the "big picture."

The Bible, although made up of many stories, contains a single story. In a nutshell, it is about God and His relationship with mankind, the most complex of His creation and the true object of His love and affection. It is mankind that would betray God, and yet God in turn would die for them.

Starting with the first chapters of Genesis on through the book of Revelation, God gradually reveals His plan to re-establish the broken relationship between Himself and His treasured creation. It is only in God's revealed plan that mankind once again finds its intended purpose for being "because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for" (CCC #27).

It is important for the modern Catholic to understand that, although the Bible is a mystery on one level, it is also a book of history. There should be no misunderstanding--it is true history as opposed to cleverly devised tales. Pope Paul VI said in Directorium Catechisticum Generale, "the history of salvation is being accomplished in the midst of the history of the world." The Bible gives a wide range of examples of how through word and deed God has entered the life of His people.

God's strategy to redeem all of humanity was to start with one family first and then progressively influence more and more people to the point where all of mankind would have the opportunity to be a part of His family.

The Catholic Church is the culmination of salvation history and the fulfillment of the Old Testament covenants with Israel.

God established His first covenant, the marriage covenant, between Adam and Eve, one couple. The story progresses to Noah and his three sons totaling four marriages, making one holy family with Noah as the mediator of the household. In Genesis 9, God makes a covenant with Noah, but it extends beyond Noah, for God said that this covenant is "with you and with your descendants after you" (Genesis 9:9, RSV).

Next we find the number of people included in the covenant expanding to one holy tribe with Abraham acting as the tribal chieftain. God makes a three-part covenant with Abraham, promising him a land, a royal dynasty and world-wide blessing through his descendants. "I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. . . all the communities of the earth shall find blessing in you" (Genesis 12:2-3, NAB).

Abraham's grandson Jacob, whose name was later changed to "Israel" had twelve sons. These twelve tribes of Israel spent four hundred years in Egyptian bondage where the covenantal expansion plan silently progressed. It was in Egypt that God raised up Moses of the tribe of Levi to lead Israel out of bondage to become one holy nation. Genesis 24 describes the dramatic scene as the nation of Israel is gathered around Mt. Sinai after leaving Egypt through a miraculous deliverance. There at Mt. Sinai Moses spoke to the Israelites the words of the covenant he had received directly from God, and they agreed to enter into a national covenant with Yahweh.

God's covenantal plan takes a major leap several hundred years later as God begins to draw other nations together under the leadership of King David. Through God's covenant with David (2 Samuel 7:5-16), this new conglomerate blossoms into one holy kingdom where Israel mediates the divine revelation of God to other nations.

Finally, all of the Old Testament covenants find full expression in the New Covenant which was made between Jesus Christ and His Church. This New Covenant is the grandest of them all for it is a world-wide covenant where God rules and reigns as the head of His one holy Church.

The Bible Becomes A Catholic History and Book

One may ask how the ancient Hebrew Scriptures relate to the modern Church? Though the divine history recorded in the Old Testament focuses primarily on the nation of Israel, the history and truth that the Hebrews passed on to their children would one day become the history of a people they knew not. Their history with all its triumphs and disgraces would one day become our history as twentieth century Roman Catholics. So with the dawn of the New Covenant, Jesus integrated the nations into His universal kingdom, opening wide the gates to Yahweh's covenantal family. Those who enter through that gate, Jesus, take on a new identity, including a new personal history. Suddenly, all that went before us in that small land of Canaan becomes intimate and important for us today.

Understanding The Big Picture

The difficulty facing Bible readers is how to make this personal yet ancient story of salvation history come alive. They must discover the critical plot and, through the guidance of the Church, understand its meaning in order to make it their own story.

The first step to understanding the Bible chronologically is to identify which of the seventy-three books are of historical nature. The term "historical" refers simply to those books that keep the story moving from one event to another. The historical books provide us with continuity, or give us an ordered account of connected events from Genesis to Revelation.

There are twelve historical books in the Old Testament and, for the sake of simplicity, two historical books in the New Testament. (Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, Ezra, Nehemiah, 1 Macc, Luke & Acts.) By contiguously reading through these fourteen books, the reader will cover the entire Bible historically with a sense of continuity. The books placed above and below the fourteen historical books indicate where the remaining fifty-nine books fit chronologically. These books read within the context of the historical books. For example, the book of Psalms should be read in the context of 2 Samuel, and the prophet Malachi should be read in the context of Nehemiah.

By reading about four chapters per day, the reader can go through the historical books in about three months. The chart below outlines the order in which to read the fourteen historical books. After the reader has finished, he or she should go back through them again but this time incorporate a few of the non-historical books.

The new Catechism of the Catholic Church is the perfect companion to read along with the Bible because sacred Scripture along with the sacred Tradition make up the full deposit of faith. When questions of faith or morality come up, the index of the Catechism is valuable for finding official Church doctrine.

Once readers familiarize themselves with the "big picture" of salvation history, they can build upon this framework for the rest of their lives. This will result in a more profound appreciation for Scripture and a deeper understanding of the master plan contained within it.

Wednesday
Oct182006

The Meaning of Suffering!

Suffering, unlike anything else, causes us to reflect on life. Where is God in my suffering? Did I do something wrong? What will be the quality of my life from here on out? Simply, we want to make sense out of that which doesn't seem to make sense.

Understanding the meaning of suffering became an urgent personal concern for me not too long ago when I began to develop excruciating pain in my neck and arm. I discovered after repeated visits to the doctor that the cause of my pain was a split disk in my neck, and I would need a cervical spine fusion. Previous to my injury, I was well acquainted with Catholic Church teaching on redemptive suffering, but I found that in the midst of my pain, my clear theological understanding was reduced to sloppy, emotional and inconsistent application. To say the least, I wrestled day and night with this issue of suffering and pain, disappointed with my level of courage and trust in God. After months of prayer, questions, and many books, my quest for answers led me right into the very heart of the Trinity. It was only then, when my heart was in union with God, that my suffering took on significance.

Through this experience I came to see how an academic study of suffering can only go so far. Suffering cannot be completely taught in the objective; suffering is a vocation, a calling that can only be truly understood in the school of suffering. Only by living through it can we more fully understand its redemptive power.

Most of us have unanswered questions about suffering. We wonder how God, if He loves us, could allow us to suffer. Yet throughout salvation history we see that the ways of God are often not the ways of man. Like the pearl fisherman seeking a treasure embedded in the dark heart of the oyster, we too must seek the shining pearls of grace hidden in the darkness of suffering.

When we survey human history, it becomes evident that suffering is an inextricable part of the human condition. It's not a matter of whether we will suffer during our lives, but when. And more specifically, how will we suffer: poorly or well?

When we fail to find meaning in our suffering, we can easily fall into despair. But once we find meaning in our suffering, it is astounding what we can endure, both mentally and physically. The key is not the suffering itself, but the meaning found within it. At the beginning of my ordeal my faith was inconsistent, focusing more on myself than the opportunity Christ had given me to join myself to Him. As the months rolled on, I spent more time before the Blessed Sacrament, more time in prayer and study. I longed for answers that would make my suffering meaningful. I desperately wanted a revelation of the meaning of suffering that would result in one of those "aha" moments. I was not disappointed.

The hurdle I had to overcome was a long-time question of mine; didn't Jesus suffer so that we wouldn't have to? No doubt Jesus suffered and died that we might become a part of the family of God, spiritually healed and sharing in His nature. But He didn't eliminate suffering here on earth. In fact, the gospels record very few people healed by Jesus.

In his Apostolic Letter "On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering," Pope John Paul II speaks of two types of suffering; temporal and definitive. We experience temporal suffering, both moral and physical, as a consequence of sin. But there is a suffering that goes much deeper than depression or cancer, a definitive suffering. Concerning this definitive suffering Pope John Paul II says, "Man perishes when he loses 'eternal life.' The opposite of salvation is not, therefore, only temporal suffering, and kind of suffering, but the definitive suffering: the loss of eternal life, being rejected by God - damnation. The only-begotten Son was given to humanity primarily to protect man against this definitive evil and against definitive suffering" (Salvifici Doloris 14). In temporal suffering "there is concealed a particular power that draws a person interiorly close to Christ, a special grace" (Salvifici Doloris 26) that acquaints us with pure love.

The work of Christ doesn't guarantee an escape from suffering. No-instead, He has changed the meaning of suffering. We are now joined through baptism with Christ in His death and resurrection, and we have become intimately united to Him, so much so that we are His Body. Because of our union with Christ, even our suffering is changed; it becomes redemptive. Because Christ loves us so much, He invites us to participate in His redeeming work by allowing us to offer up our sufferings in union with His.

Pope John Paul II said, "in the cross of Christ not only is the redemption accomplished through suffering, but also human suffering itself has been redeemed" (Salvifici Doloris, 19). In other words, our suffering is changed and is worth something if it is in union with Christ. Every time we suffer, we have an opportunity to either run from Christ, or embrace the suffering as an opportunity to love and walk as He walked.

If the weakness of the Cross-the point at which Jesus was emptied and lifted up-was confirmed by the Resurrection, then our weakness is capable of being infused with the same power manifested in the cross of Christ. St. Paul experienced much weakness and suffering, but when he prayed about it, Christ answered: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." As a result, the apostle could proclaim, "I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (see 2 Corinthians 12:7-9).

St. Paul understood that our life is a cooperation with the work of Christ when he wrote: "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church" (Colossians 1:24). Think about that: Paul said that something is lacking in Christ's afflictions. What could possibly be lacking in Christ's afflictions? Our part!

Our part may be miniscule compared to His. Nevertheless, as Pope John Paul II has said, our sufferings are "a very special particle of the infinite treasure of the world's Redemption" (Salvifici Doloris, 27). This is how our suffering can take on meaning: when joined to Christ, suffering is changed and actually becomes fruitful. We participate with Christ in redeeming the world.

Today, Jesus tells us that if we are to follow Him we must deny ourselves and take up our cross daily (see Luke 9:23). Our lives become an imitation of and participation in the love of the Trinity when we offer up our complete lives in union with Christ. As St. Paul put it:

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. ... knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into His presence" (2 Corinthians 4:8-11,14).

The resurrection is our guarantee that we can trust our heavenly Father. We can participate in the life-giving love of the Trinity by laying our lives down for the sake of His kingdom. Now that we are "in Christ," the fruit of our suffering is raised to a supernatural level; it becomes eternal in nature.

I have discovered that it is in the midst of suffering that I experience most deeply the love of God. I enter the very heart of the Trinity, and it is there that I come to know God. By the end of my ordeal, I understood that Christ was allowing me to participate in His cross because that is His means of allowing me to share in the very inner life of God.

This is why sometimes "bad things happen to good people." Remember Mary, the mother of Jesus, who said yes to God prior to the Incarnation. This yes, her fiat, would result in great pain; as Simeon told her: "A sword will pierce through your own soul also" (Luke 2:35). But what was the fruit of Mary's suffering? Life for the entire world.

The fact that Jesus suffered and died does not mean that we won't suffer. In fact, we are told that we can expect some measure of suffering if we follow Him (see Matthew 16:24). By being united to Christ, He empowers us with His life and enables us to love as He loves by offering our lives in union with Him. During the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass we have the best opportunity to join ourselves with Jesus and "offer up" our pain.

If you are suffering now, do not despair. This is your opportunity to draw close to Christ and entrust yourself to God (see 1 Peter 2:23; 4:19). It is by taking up your cross and following Christ that you come to know that indeed "all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28). I have indeed learned that through suffering, I'm given a wonderful opportunity to walk as Jesus walked, in self-donating love. This understanding of suffering has changed every aspect of my life and it has taken much of the fear of suffering from me. It has made me a better husband, father, and friend. I can now honestly say, thank you Jesus for allowing me to pick up my cross and follow you.

Wednesday
Oct182006

The Prayer of Ephraim

Many times I have mentioned the wonderful prayer of St. Ephraim. I wrote this down on a card and I often pray it before I study God's word. Enjoy!

Prayer of St. Ephraim (4th Century AD)

"Lord who can grasp all the wealth of just one of your words. What we understand is much less than we leave behind; like thirsty people who drink from a fountain. For your word, Lord, has many shades of meaning just as those who study it have many different points of view. The Lord has colored his word with many hues so that each person who studies it can see in it what he loves. He has hidden many treasures in his word so that each of us is enriched as we meditate on it.

The word of God is a tree of life that from all its parts offers you fruit that is blessed. It is like that rock opened in the desert that from all its parts gave forth a spiritual drink. He who comes into contact with some share of its treasure should not think that the only thing contained in the word is what he himself has found. He should realize that he has only been able to find that one thing from among many others. Nor, because only that one part has become his, should he say that the word is void and empty and look down on it. But because he could not exhaust it, he should give thanks for its riches.

Be glad that you are overcome and do not be sad that it overcame you. The thirsty man rejoices when he drinks and he is not downcast because he cannot empty the fountain. Rather let the fountain quench your thirst than have your thirst quench the fountain. Because if your thirst is quenched and the fountain is not exhausted, you can drink from it again whenever you are thirsty. But if when your thirst is quenched and the fountain is also dried up, your victory will bode evil for you.

So be grateful for what you have received and don't grumble about the abundance left behind. What you have received and what you have reached is your share. What remains is your heritage. What at one time you were unable to receive because of your weakness, you will be able to receive at other times if you persevere. Do not have the presumption to try to take in one draft what cannot be taken in one draft and do not abandon out of laziness what can only be taken little by little."

Wednesday
Oct182006

How Did Jesus Use Questions?

As many of you know I love to study not only what Jesus said, but his methodology as well. As a first century rabbi Jesus was well acquainted with the popular teaching methods of his time. Questions had an important place on Jesus teaching palette; the four Gospels record more than one hundred questions asked by Him. His questions were not merely to obtain information. They served a variety of purposes. I thought I would share with you twelve ways that Jesus incorporated questions into his teaching.

1. Some questions stimulated interest and formed a point of contact. He asked the disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of man is? (Matt 16:13)

2. Some questions helped His pupils clarify their thinking; for example, "What did Moses command you?" (Mk 10:3)

3. Some questions expressed an emotion, such as disgust or amazement. He responded to the Pharisees, "How can you, being evil, speak what is good?" (Matt. 12:34)

4. Some questions introduced an illustration. "Suppose one of you shall have a friend..." (Luke 11:5-6)

5. Some questions were used to emphasize a truth. "for what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul?" (Matt 16:26)

6. Some questions helped pupils apply the truth; for instance, "which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers' hands?" (Lk 10:36)

7. Some questions were to provide information for Himself. "how many loaves do you have?" (Matt 15:34)

8. Some questions helped establish a relationship between the teacher and pupil, as in, "Who touched me?" (Lk 8:45)

9. Some questions were asked to rebuke or silence His opposers: "The baptism of John was from what source?... And answering Jesus, the said, We do not know." (Matt 21:25-27)

10. Some questions were rhetorical; they needed no answer. "is not life more than food, and the body than clothing?" (Matt 6:25)

11. Some questions were asked to bring conviction; for example, "Have you never read...?" (Mark 2:25)

12. Some questions were examinations. "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" (John 21:15-17)

Tuesday
Oct172006

Pilgrimages

August 2009

Alaskan Scripture Cruise: July 29 - August 5, 2009

Join Jeff and Emily and family for a 7-day Alaskan Cruise August, 2009!

During the at-sea portion of the cruise we will be offering the Seminar at Sea with teaching sessions brought to you by The Great Adventure. We will have "Sailing with the Psalms" for adults by Jeff, "The Book of Matthew" for teens by Fr. Mike Schmitz and "The Great Adventure Kids" for children by Emily Cavins and Kirstin Rau. What makes this cruise extra special is the opportunity to attend Mass daily.

Many details can be found on the website such as information about the Holland America ship, an itinerary, the pricing, and a description of the speakers and seminars. We are delighted to have Kelly Wahlquist serving as hostess of the cruise, so please be in touch with her if you have questions at: kmwahlquist@mac.com.

There is plenty of opportunity for family adventure at sea and in the Alaskan wilderness as well as spiritual growth through seminars and daily mass. Brochures are available here, and information is currently available at www.cavinstours.com. Also, you can click here to download a registration form.

Holy Land Pilgrimages

Jeff and Emily lead pilgrimages each year to the Holy Land. For information regarding Holy Land trips or pilgrimages to other locations, please check this page for the latest travel updates! We'd love to have you join us!

January 2010

Join Jeff for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land January 5-16, 2010. We are taking deposits for this exciting tour now. Click here for our brochure. Click here for registration form.

A reservation of $300 ($75 nonrefundable) will hold your spot.

A pilgrimage to the Holy Land will change your life forever! Mass will never be same, praying the Rosary will take on new meaning as you are transported in your mind to those locations and the memory of walking where Jesus walked will linger in your prayer time. For more information on this upcoming pilgrimage, contact Emily Cavins at cavinspilgrimages@gmail.com or Bonnie Lane at 952-474-0903.

Footsteps of St. Paul

March 2010

Turkey/Greece Pilgrimage --   Information Coming Soon!

We will follow in the Footsteps of St. Paul as we journey through Turkey & Greece accompanied by Bishop Aquila of Fargo. We will soon be taking deposits for this trip where pilgrims will experience Scripture teachings at the sites where St. Paul established the first churches and from where he wrote his letters. Flights depart from Minneapolis, Denver and New York. For more info contact Emily contact Emily Cavins at cavinspilgrimages@gmail.com or Bonnie Lane at 952-474-0903.