SALT LAKE CITY — Deacon Scott Dodge, of the Cathedral of the Madeleine, will offer a 12-week Bible study course on Letter to the Hebrews beginning June 19.
Pope Benedict XVI declared the Year of Faith beginning Oct. 11, 2012 and concluding Nov. 24, 2013.
"The Year of Faith began as a way to observe the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council," said Deacon Dodge. "One of the things we are encouraged to focus on over the course of the year is the documents of the Second Vatican Council."
For example, last fall the Cathedral’s director of liturgy and parochial vicar offered a series of sessions on Vatican II’s dogmatic constitutions, one of which was Dei Verbum.
"One of the main focuses of Dei Verbum is the importance of scripture to the faith and the way revelation is transmitted along with tradition," said Deacon Dodge. "There is also a lot in Dei Verbum on how we, as Christians and Catholics, read Scripture. The document speaks of the relationship of the Old Testament to the New Testament and how we read the Old Testament through the lens of the New Testament, and the Letter to the Hebrews demonstrates that."
The 13 chapters of the Letter to the Hebrews are unique in that they form a homily, not an epistle, that offers one sustained argument: that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the covenant God entered into Israel, and how that covenant is to be lived out, said Deacon Dodge.
"It’s called the Letter to the Hebrews because it is written to Jewish Christians who were starting to fall away from the Christian faith," he said. "They were falling away, probably due to persecution or being socially ostracized. So it is an exhortation to continue to believe in Christ as the fulfillment of Israel’s hope."
Many of the challenges that the Letter to the Hebrews deals with are still relevant, said Deacon Dodge, "so as we move into the study, it will be important to see how it applies to life today and how it will help people make decisions, and know how to live and to be a Christian in a time when it is not always that easy, when there are a lot of challenges to face."
Deacon Dodge said he hopes people taking his course will gain confidence in their ability to read and understand Scripture, and that they will see how Scripture applies in their lives.
"That is the whole idea of the homily at Mass," said Deacon Dodge. "The homily ideally has two parts, where we look at the Scriptures to see what they say in and of themselves. The homiletic part comes about when we ask ‘Why should we care?’ or ‘What does this have to tell me about the things that I face daily?’"
A Bible study course builds on those concepts, said Deacon Dodge. "One of the focuses of the Second Vatican Council and the Year of Faith and the preaching of Pope Benedict XVI, and now Pope Francis, is the idea that scripture study should be a part of our daily lives," said Deacon Dodge. "This course will help people acquire some skills and confidence in doing that."
To register for the course, email Deacon Dodge at firstname.lastname@example.org.