2021 Association of Catholic Publishers third place award in Scripture
2021 Catholic Media Association Award honorable mention award in popular studies
Ponder: Contemplative Bible Study is a three-volume series designed to accompany hearers and preachers of the Word as they pray with and ponder the Sunday readings throughout the liturgical year. The Sunday readings are provided, along with brief commentary, engaging reflections, and clear guidance on how to use this resource alone or with a group. This volume guides readers through the Year B lectionary.
Mahri Leonard-Fleckman is assistant professor of Hebrew Bible in the Religious Studies Department at the College of the Holy Cross. She is a contributor to Give Us This Day (Liturgical Press), the co-author of Ruth in the Wisdom Commentary Series (Liturgical Press), and the author of The House of David: Between Political Formation and Literary Revision (Fortress Press). Leonard-Fleckman has years of experience as a Bible study facilitator at her home parish in Worcester, Massachusetts.
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Seldom is there a book that joins scholarship with practice—Mahri Leonard-Fleckman’s scholarship is in service of prayer. Ponder is for those of us who do lectio of the lectionary with like-minded practitioners. There are other resources, but I’ve not seen anything better than this book. It is sheer gift.
Mary Margaret Funk, OSB, Author of Lectio Matters: Before the Burning Bush
Finding new, intriguing resources for pondering the Sunday lectionary readings each year can be a challenge. This book, aptly named, fits the bill for Year B. The author, an expert lay biblical scholar with pastoral sensitivity and experience, offers pithy, concise, and fresh observations of the Sunday readings guaranteed to foster good reflection, whether in group or individual settings. A novel dimension is the combination of lectio divina and the Ignatian use of imagination from the Jesuit tradition. With this book, Liturgical Press continues its excellent track record of offering resources for the liturgical year that are at once reliable and innovative.
Fr. Ronald D. Witherup, PSS, Scripture scholar and superior general of the Sulpicians
Ponder is the perfect companion to the Sunday readings. Providing just enough background and commentary, Leonard-Fleckman spurs readers' imaginations and leads them to their own encounter with Scripture. The book's origin in parish Bible study shines through its pages. Reading it is like joining a thoughtful study group led by a gifted scholar and teacher who wants to bring you closer to the Word of God and its authors, both human and divine.
Andrew R. Davis, Associate professor of Old Testament, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry
Lectio divina as a form of individual and communal prayer with the Scriptures has grown in popularity. This book will help those who wish to combine prayer based on the Sunday Scriptures with some study of the texts. The bulk of the book is devoted to reproducing the Scriptures assigned to each Sunday of Year B. Next, the author provides a very brief commentary on the texts that were the subject of prayer. The final element, called ‘Ponder’ offers suggestions that lead the reader to probe more deeply into the significance of the Scriptures for the Christian life. Both prayer groups and individuals will welcome this book as they center their prayer on the Scriptures.
The Bible Today
Ponder has a creative way of inviting participants into an experience of the Word of God and its spiritual power. Mahri Leonard-Fleckman is a solid and trustworthy guide in this spiritual journey, bringing to bear the fruits of Catholic biblical scholarship as a support for the insights of the participants. Highly recommended.
Fr. Jerome Kodell, OSB, Scripture scholar and cofounder of Little Rock Scripture Study
Pope Francis has designated the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time each year as “Word of God Sunday,” reminding Catholics of the centrality of scripture in our tradition and inviting deeper study of our sacred texts. Mahri Leonard-Fleckman’s Ponder will be an invaluable tool in helping to realize Francis’ vision. Using a simple, accessible format, Leonard-Fleckman empowers even those who have never studied the Bible to enter into the Sunday readings in a meaningful, potentially life-changing way.
Ann M. Garrido, Associate professor of homiletics, Aquinas Institute of Theology
Mahri Leonard-Fleckman's contemplative Bible study is a gift to the church. Grounded in her professional studies and—even more importantly—her experience of leading a parish Bible study, this volume invites the study of texts as most people experience them: as proclaimed in the church's liturgy. I appreciated, in particular, insights she offers on texts from the Old Testament. The “Ponder” sections contain much fruit for prayerful appropriation and, I dare add, homiletic possibilities.
Thomas D. Stegman, SJ, Dean and professor of New Testament at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry
Born of her experience leading a Bible study group in an urban Northeast parish, Mahri Leonard-Fleckman has crafted an ideal resource for groups and individuals seeking to study and pray with the lectionary readings. Her concise and forthright biblical commentary and ‘Ponder’ sections suggesting possible themes, connections, and questions for reflection will undoubtedly inspire readers to delve further into their relationships with our loving God and our neighbors near and far.
Elizabeth A. Donnelly, Cofounder and preacher coordinator, Catholic Women Preach