Cathy Inkley believes that no matter where you place your finger on the pages of a Bible, you’re going to land upon a passage that has meaning.
This fall, Inkley will crack open her Bible to the Old Testament and study the prophets. Some of the more well-known ones, such as Elijah, Isaiah and Ezekiel, will be prominent in The Cornerstone Catholic Scripture Study. But Inkley also looks forward to diving deeper into some minor prophets, including Zephaniah, Habakkuk and Obadiah.
The beauty of Scripture is that “whatever you’re reading, there’s something that applies to your daily life,” Inkley said. “But when you share Scripture with other people and hear their interpretations and then pray together, it puts everything into a real and holy perspective.”
Since the program started in St. Louis almost 40 years ago, the founders of The Cornerstone Catholic Scripture Study have sought to deepen the personal relationship between God and His people through prayer and the study of His Word from a Catholic perspective. The Scripture study program has since grown to include more than 1,200 men and women in 19 groups (known as branches) across nine states. A group of volunteers recently piloted the Scripture study at a military prison in Kansas.
A new study on the prophets of the Old Testament will begin in September at six branches in the Archdiocese of St. Louis and one in O’Fallon, Illinois. The program typically runs through April or early May, and participants are encouraged to commit to the entire study.
How it works
The Cornerstone is a fully integrated study of Scripture, offering participants four exposures to each of the books of the Bible that are studied. Those include a daily individual study guide, weekly small group sessions, commentaries written by a Catholic theologian and spiritual reflections given by a branch facilitator, focusing on the personal application of Scripture. Materials receive an imprimatur from the Archbishop of St. Louis.
The structure encourages a movement from the private dimension of answering questions alone to a public dimension of sharing answers and listening to the input of others within a group setting. The goal is to uncover the richness of Scripture and how God touches individual minds and hearts.
The program’s name was inspired by Scriptural references to Jesus as “The Cornerstone.” Psalm 118:22, for example, says, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.”
Inkley has participated in The Cornerstone for decades, most recently with the branch hosted at St. Monica in Creve Coeur. She finds the written commentaries helpful as she dives into the Scripture for the first time through the individual study guide.
“The commentary is helping you understand what’s going on in the readings,” said Inkley, a parishioner at St. Anselm in Creve Coeur. “So when there’s something I don’t understand, I go back to that commentary.”
The weekly group sessions also allow participants to share their perspectives on how each passage relates to their lives. “Seeing the human perspective and how the reading lands on your heart through your interpretation and life experiences … it’s incredible,” she said. “The answers might be similar, but the perspectives are going to be different based on our life experiences.”
There’s a timelessness in Scripture, in that the same truth found in the Bible is the same truth that people of faith seek today, Inkley said. “The words these holy people have written down and their experiences, whether it’s how they argue with God and didn’t believe Him or came together … it’s still happening today” in the human experience. “You wake up each day and there’s a new perspective. That’s why it’s important to be grounded in Scripture.”
Laura Kozak, who has been a part of the branch at Mary Queen of Peace in Webster Groves for 15 years, said her prayer life has been deeply enriched through The Cornerstone.
“It has deepened and changed how I know prayer, how I pray with others and how people pray for me,” she said. “It’s given me a prayer community, and it’s given me a bigger Catholic family beyond the boundaries of my parish. I am amazed at the joy you find when you are together with people who love the word of God.”
The group reflections bring the significance of the Scripture alive, and working through the lessons together adds to the richness of the experience, Kozak said. “There is no wrong answer once you pray to the Holy Spirit,” she said. “It’s a comfortable community to explore Scripture in, and wonderful experience for a first-time Bible reader or anyone who wants to grow in faith.”
The Cornerstone Scripture Study is a reference to Jesus as The Cornerstone. He is the very foundation upon whom our lives are built. In Isaiah 28:16, Jesus, our Messiah, is described for us “a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation.”
In Ephesians 2:19-21, it says we are part of a “household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple.”
The Cornerstone Catholic Scripture Study
The Cornerstone Catholic Scripture Study will explore the prophets of the Old Testament beginning in September. No prior knowledge of Scripture is needed.
Annunziata in Ladue (meeting at Webster Hills Methodist Conference Center): Thursdays from 9:30-11:15 a.m. beginning Sept. 7.
Mary Queen of Peace in Webster Groves: Thursdays from 7-8:45 p.m. beginning Sept. 7.
St. Clement of Rome in Des Peres (St. Joseph Branch): Wednesdays from 9:30-11:15 a.m. beginning Sept. 13.
St. Cletus in St. Charles: Mondays from 11 a.m.-12:45 p.m. beginning Sept. 18.
St. Monica in Creve Coeur: Tuesdays from 9:30-11:30 a.m. beginning Sept. 19.
St. Clare of Assisi in O’Fallon, Illinois: Wednesdays from 9:30-11:30 a.m. beginning Sept. 20.
Mary Mother of Church in south St. Louis County: Wednesdays from 9:30-11:30 a.m. beginning Sept. 27.
The Cornerstone also offers several virtual groups. For more information, see thecornerstonescripturestudy.org.