By Marc Cardaronella
For those of you that don’t know, I run the Bishop Helmsing Institute (BHI), part of the Office of Catechesis and Evangelization at the diocese. BHI teaches faith formation courses in parishes around the Kansas City Metro area and St. Joseph. In the nine years since its inception, the Institute has taught over 2800 students from roughly 80 parishes and built a reputation for faithful, quality Catholic adult formation in the diocese. It’s about to get better.
This year, we retooled our curriculum to give it a new theme—Connections. This new approach will filter down to everything in the BHI catalogue eventually, but this year our focus is on the Bible.
The Bible: Random No Longer
The Bible Connections Curriculum is all about connecting the Old and New Testaments to Jesus, to the Church, and to everyday Christian life. Let’s face it, the Bible can be confusing. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out how the Old Testament fits with the New Testament or even with the rest of Christianity. It seems random and unrelated…but really, it’s all connected.
The Bible is like a jigsaw puzzle. Without the cover picture, you can’t figure out how all the individual pieces fit together. The new Bible Connections courses will be that cover picture. From beginning to end, we’ll show you the inner unity of the Bible and its connections. In the process, you’ll understand the true nature of the human person, our destiny to be united with God, and the divine plan to save mankind—and you—from the distorting effects of separation from God.
Connect to God’s Plan
In our first courses, “Creation & Covenant” and “Kingdom, Exile, & Promise,” we’ll connect the Old Testament to Jesus. You’ve heard of foreshadowing, right? It’s a literary device where events at the beginning of a story connect to what’s going to happen at the end. Foreshadowing helps you follow the story and understand the character’s motivations. Well, in the Bible God uses foreshadowing.
God writes the events of history like we write words, and he configured events in the Old Testament to foreshadow and connect to Jesus’ life and actions in the New Testament. Understanding these connections gives you new insights into what God has done in history, but more importantly, it helps you understand what he’s doing in your life now and where he’s leading you.
Connect to Jesus
Next, in the “The Synoptic Gospels & Acts,” you’ll meet Jesus face to face in the Gospels. You’ll look at how Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament, learn how the Gospels present the plan of salvation, and understand how that connects with the Catholic Church. In the Book of Acts, you’ll see how Jesus’ life and mission was lived out by the early Church.
After this, we’ll consider how St. Paul and the other apostolic writers connect Jesus’ life and actions to the lives of every Christian believer. In “Writings of Paul” and “Hebrews & Catholic Letters,” you’ll understand what difference Jesus makes in your life and how that affects what you do. We end the year with a different perspective on Jesus’ life in the “Writings of John” course, and consider the “end times,” where all of time and existence is going, as presented in the Book of Revelation.
Connect to Life
We retooled our class format as well so every class includes Bible study and time for discussion. We’ll strive to deliver practical teaching and make a life application in every lesson.
Who is Jesus? What difference does he make? How does he save us? How should I live my life in response to him? These are the questions we’ll consider in the Bible Connections courses. The Bible is not just a book. Sacred Scripture has the power to change you…the way you think, the way you look at the world, and your perspective on life. In the Bible Connections courses, you’ll get insight into what makes a great follower of God, learn how to trust him more, and draw hope for a better life.
I think you’ll be pleased with our new direction. If you haven’t taken a course in a while, consider jumping back in to get a new perspective. If you’ve never tried BHI, now might be a good time to give us a shot.
The Bible speaks one name, Jesus, and communicates one central idea, the union of mankind with the love that never ends. Take some time this year to delve into the Bible’s internal connections, increase your faith, and comprehend the key to a fulfilled Christian life. Or, live your life on your own, without a clear idea of how to harness God’s help and strength. The choice is yours.
Marc Cardaronella is Director of the Bishop Helmsing Institute for Faith Formation at the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. Visit www.mybhi.org/bible-connections for more information and detailed descriptions of BHI’s Bible Connections courses.