Over the following months I would like to open up a conversation with you, our readers, especially so in this our twenty-fifth year of publishing Bible Alive but also in the light (and aftermath) of the global pandemic. I’d like to invite each one of you to consider: If you were editor for a month, what issues, topics or features would you cover? What are the things closest to your heart and on your mind that you would like to see addressed and covered in our features and daily reflections.
Every magazine rises or falls in relation to its understanding and appreciation of its readership. It’s the same for a hospital: the administrators, medical and nursing staff, ancillary workers, need to understand (and appreciate) the needs and wants of their patients. And, indeed, never has it been more true that our parishes, and dioceses too, need to be sensitive and understanding of what their parishioners and benefactors want
However, whilst Bible Alive is simply a Catholic scripture magazine, it is also an instrument, a tool of faith if you like. We can work together in making God’s word grow and spread, both by word of mouth, the most effective marketing tool of all in our parishes, more challenging than ever and through establishing satellite offices in other countries, for example, Malta Ireland.
If looking back on twenty-five years of publishing, and the global pandemic, have taught us anything, it is this: necessity is the mother of invention, or to put it in a context of faith, the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, is the inspiration of dynamic and creative ways of sharing and handing on
In the aftermath of the Second World War, as life returned to some semblance of normality, people used to ask of each other, ‘Did you have a good war?’ Of course, the irony was lost on no one, for there was no such thing as a good war. What people meant by this seemigly innocent question was: how did you get on? What kind of suffering or loss did you endure? And are you OK? Are you holding up? Is there any way we can help? As we emerge from the global pandemic we ask each other the same thing – what kind of Covid-19 pandemic have you had?
We all have a story to tell; the pandemic has had an impact on us in different ways. Many lost loved one’s who succumbed to the virus; others were seriously ill but pulled through; some have lost their business and livelihoods; and the national lockdown has kept us apart. The closure of churches was a terrible blow and cut us off from receiving the Eucharist – a virtual Mass, whilst laudable, isn’t the same as being physically present at Mass. Thankfully, slowly but surely, life is returning to normal, but it is a new normal and it will take some adjusting to.
One of the blessings for Bible Alive during the pandemic is that subscriptions grew inordinately, and our mail order business was stretched to capacity as we worked long and hard to fulfil the increase in demand. The churches might have closed, but the same hunger, thirst and desire to grow closer to God through prayer and reading remained stronger than ever. We worked very hard to keep up with the demand for new subscriptions, book sales and remarkably increased donations to our prison and faith outreaches. If we had a pandemic motto it was this, ‘Bringing faith straight to your door.’ The pandemic highlighted more clearly that we are a publishing company, which rather like the beer Heineken, reaches parts other beers can’t reach! So too, Bible Alive and Alive Publishing’s wide range of books and resources reached directly into your home. In addition to necessity being the mother of invention, it also showed us that when the going gets tough, the tough turn to the Holy Spirit, who inspires and encourages us to be creative, and think of ways outside of the box.
ONE TO ONE, PERSON TO PERSON, HEART TO HEART
From the moment we launched Bible Alive in June 1996, our goal has been a simple one: to encourage as many as possible to read the Bible following Bible Alive, accompanying the liturgical cycle (the daily and Sunday Liturgy of the Word). The beauty about the daily readings from the liturgical cycle is that we join together with believers all over the world in contemplating, meditating on and praying with the same Scripture readings. Our hope is that, inspired by the Holy Spirit, this isn’t a dry or sterile experience, but one in which we discover the Scriptures, the Bible, as a living and dynamic way to encounter the
We hope that the articles, features and teachings we carry inspire and encourage us to live the Christian life with joy and confidence, and grow in our knowledge of faith, but also to think and reflect on some of the real issues we face today.
This much we do know: a reader who enjoys and benefits from reading Bible Alive wants to share and spread the word and the joy. We want to make this as easy and straightforward as possible. You don’t need to give away your own copy – just ask your friends, relative or work colleague, if they would like us to send them a free copy of Bible Alive and we will happily put one in the post. Our policy is ‘the more the merrier’ we love nothing more than sending out sample copies of Bible Alive on behalf of you, our readers. Obviously, we hope those who receive a sample copy of Bible Alive will subscribe, but we completely understand that the timing of this is different for everyone. If the timing is right, we love nothing more than welcoming a new subscriber or reader to the Bible Alive family. Conversely, if the time isn’t right for any reason, we completely understand. Having said all that, through the generosity of our readers we have established a fund called The Cheerful Giver Fund, through which we can gift subscriptions to Bible Alive for anyone who is struggling financially.
PARISH LIFE AFTER THE PANDEMIC
We believe that every parish has a small number of people who enjoy reading the Bible and want to get to know it better, and they appreciate a reflection which serves as a point of entry, a doorway if you like, to the biblical text. However, we know that the parish priest or assistant priest, is busy enough already. The administration and promotion of Bible Alive is a task for someone who values and appreciates the magazine and for whom basic administration and promotion isn’t a chore but rather a joy. To facilitate this we can provide free sample copies for every parishioner as part of a parish trial – one copy for every parishioner or, if a more modest trial is preferred, we can send 50 or 100 copies. We can also provide a parish bucket, through which parishioners can make a small donation and contribute to our International Prison Outreach.
Send us your views/feedback if you were editor for a month: firstname.lastname@example.org