This is Dr. Steve Smith … thanks for visiting ‘TheGodWhoSpeaks’! I can’t wait to share a little about this exciting project. First, here’s a little about me:
I’m currently Associate Professor of Sacred Scripture at Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD (near Gettysburg, PA). ‘The Mount’ is one of the oldest, largest and most respected Catholic graduate seminaries in the United States. It’s amazing teaching Scripture at ‘The Mount’; we prepare men for holy orders and in dioceses from across the United States. "It is an incredible privilege – responsibility.
In 2008, I earned my Ph.D. from Loyola University of Chicago, where I graduated Summa Cum Laude. There, I studied in New Testament and Early Christianity, became proficient in biblical languages (Hebrew and Greek), and also studied ancient Judaism.
Technically, my “specialty” is the Gospel of John: my doctoral thesis focused on John’s unique Christology. Yet, as I like to say, I love every page of the OT and NT, including Tobit (actually, especially Tobit, which is one cool book)!
My wife Elizabeth and I are "re-verts," having been raised Catholic, then spending some years in a Protestant mega-church before returning home to the Catholic Church in 2000. Here’s the scoop on that:
Like far too many Catholics, as I grew up, my own faith was not as deeply rooted inside me as it should have been. So, in my late teens and early 20’s … well, you know the rest of the story.
But by the grace of God, I re-encountered biblical Christianity and made my way to Willow Creek, one of the nations most influential Evangelical churches. From humble roots in the 1970s, ‘Willow’ was booming in the 1990s, with over 20,000 people attending their ‘seeker-friendly’ services. A ‘theater-style’ auditorium replaced the magnificent Catholic sanctuary of my youth. There was no crucifix, no Stations of the Cross, no priest, alter, or Eucharist. Definitely no incense.
What it did have was a passionate pastor, with a compelling personality who preached from the Bible, summoned us to become “fully devoted followers of Christ,” and urged us to evangelize our family and friends. Little did I know that about 70% of Willow Creekers were “ex-Catholic," one of whom later became my wife – Elizabeth Serritella. Like me, Elizabeth was drawn to Willow’s dynamic approach to church.
Elizabeth and I met as leaders in young adult ministry (18-late 20s)– and something we are still very passionate today about is reaching out to people in this age group.
At Willow, I became enamored with the Acts of the Apostles, and like many of my friends, considered our modern mega-church to be the “living manifestation” of the biblical church of the New Testament (see: Acts 2:42-47).
At that time, I felt God was calling me into full-time pastoral ministry, and pursued my Masters degree in Theology at nearby Wheaton College (home of Billy Graham). Wheaton is considered the leading evangelical university in the U.S., and some call it the “evangelical Harvard.” Its an incredible place – and if you’re near Chicago, be sure to visit Wheaton’s “Wade Center,” a permanent exhibit which celebrates the life and literary achievements of C.S. Lewis, as well as J.R.R. Tolkein and G. K. Chesteron, among others. (Nice!)
Ironically, it was at Wheaton where my heart began to be re-directed home to the Catholic Church. It was especially from reading the early Church fathers—figures like Irenaeus, Augustine and Athanasius (among dozens of others)—that helped the scales to fall from my eyes. In particular, the writing of Justin Martyr blew my mind. Already in the early second century, Justin was describing the early Mass: on “the Lord’s Day” (Sunday) the presbyter (priest) read aloud the “memoirs of the Apostles” and they partook of the Eucharist.
At Wheaton, discovered that for 1,000 years, not a single figure disputed that the Eucharistic meal was truly the body and blood of Christ. The liturgy, confession, infant baptism – and the blessed Virgin Mary—all re-emerged out of the shadows of my very modern (and two-dimensional) practice of mega-church Christianity. I came to see that my favorite “Acts 2 – Part 2” church was just that, part 2 of the whole story (and just a small part of the whole of Christianity). I came to see that what St. John Henry Newman said was spot-on: “to be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant.”
Both Elizabeth and I returned to the Catholic Church in 2000 and have never looked back. Still, we gained a lot of riches from our excellent journey through evangelicalism: a love for Scripture, an experience of a very dynamic local parish, and a tremendous passion for the New Evangelization … sharing Christ – especially with ‘cradle Catholics’ such as us. We truly fell in love all over again with the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of our youth – and since returning, have invested all of our time and energy into building up the Body of Christ.
Mostly, that’s through our family—we’re very invested in our parish, and homeschool our girls, as members of a vibrant Catholic homeschooling network in Frederick, Maryland. For Elizabeth, among other things, its through being a wife and mother. Yet, Elizabeth is a powerful speaker in her own right. And in addition to homeschooling, is certified in Natural Family Planning.
For my part, its of course my teaching seminarians at The Mount. But part of my teaching ministry—and this is where you come in!—is through my teaching beyond the classroom.
When not in the classroom or at home with the family, I travel across the country, speaking at numerous events, both small and large. I just love seeing people's eyes light up when something clicks, and they “get it”—understanding something new about God and / or the Bible.
In 2012, I released my first book, The Word of the Lord: 7 Essential Principles for Catholic Scripture Study. I'm just so thrilled that the book is now available - it's been a labor of love getting it out there! In the book, I try to explain, simply and clearly, the key “principles” that all Catholics need for reading, studying, and praying Scripture more fully. These are the nuts 'n' bolts of bible study -- things that we all need to be on the right track. All seven principles are rooted in the Church's teachings: inspiration, Scripture and Tradition, OT & NT, the canon, etc. I believe Word of the Lord does a pretty good job, all in one place, of giving Catholics the tools necessary for growing in biblical faith.
I'm a huge fan of Pope Benedict, so there are tons of quotes and insights from his biblical work. I'm grateful for its reception - having Scott Hahn write the Forward means a lot. And I'm appreciative of Francis Cardinal George's kind words.
Finally, I now have a number of full-length bible studies for Catholics—available for purchase on professional quality CDs. I am so proud of each of my studies! I’m still struck, for example, at the success of my series one The Biblical Mysteries of the Rosary. In the 18-CD series, I explain the history of the Holy Rosary – which goes all the way back to the liturgy of the OT. I explain I detail each of the 20 mysteries—including the Luminous ones. The entire series is over 20-hours of dynamic Catholic bible study.
By the way, you can order the Rosary series, as well as my series’ on The Gospel of John, the Resurrection of Jesus, and others here. I even have a 5-CD companion series to The Word of the Lord, called “The God Who Speaks.” And that’s the name of this website. In his Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini (“The Word of the Lord”) Pope Emeritus Benedict Xvi wrote, “"The Word of God draws each of us into a conversation with the Lord: the God who speaks teaches us how to speak to Him."
The God Who Speaks – that’s our God!
I’m happy you’re here! Look around … and may God bless your and your family. All the best,