Category Archives: Sacred Scripture

Being deeply transformed by the Word of God: more on Lectio Divina

Renewed interest in lectio divina has given many people the opportunity to know Christ better. Our attention to this timeless prayer of the heart has been captured in a variety of publications such as by Trappist Father Michael Casey, Trappist Father Charles Dumont, Benedictine Archbishop Mariano Magrassi, Catholic biblical scholars Stephen Binz and Scott Hahn, to name just a few. In the last 2 years the archbishop of Toronto, Thomas Collins, has done the yeoman’s work in getting his flock to dig deeply in the Word.

Vatican 2’s document, Dei Verbum, iterated: “All…should immerse themselves in the scriptures by constant spiritual reading and diligent study … in order to learn ‘the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ’ by frequent reading of the divine scriptures. ‘Ignorance of the scriptures is ignorance of Christ'” (25).
Last year’s Synod of Bishops on the Word of God spoke to the value of practicing lectio divina and the Pope has named this practice in many of talks on prayer and the spiritual life many occasions in an effort lead us closer to Christ through Revelation.
Follow Archbishop Collins’ Lectio Divina.pdf. It’s brief.
Dare to try!!!!

100 years of the Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome

Biblicum.jpgHere’s Benedict XVI’s October 26, 2009 address to the professors,
students and staff of the
Pontifical Biblical Institute, on the centenary of
its foundation. Carefully note the key points the Pope raises for the authentic study of Scripture as Catholics!

Cardinals, Most Reverend Superior-General of the Society of
Jesus, Illustrious Rector, Illustrious Professors and Beloved Students of the Pontifical
Biblical Institute

I am delighted to meet with you on the occasion of the
100th anniversary of the foundation of your Institute, desired by my holy predecessor
Pius X, in order to establish in the city of Rome a center of specialized
studies on sacred Scripture and related disciplines.

I greet with deference
Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, whom I thank for the courteous words he addressed
to me on your behalf. I likewise greet the superior-general, Father Adolfo
Nicolás Pachón, and I am happy to take the opportunity given to me to express
my sincere gratitude to the Society of Jesus, which, not without notable
effort, deploys financial investments and human resources in the management of
the faculty of the Ancient East, the Biblical faculty here in Rome, and the
headquarters of the Institute in Jerusalem.

I greet the rector and professors,
who have consecrated their life to study and inquiry in constant listening to
the Word of God. I greet and thank the staff, employees and workers for their
appreciated collaboration, as also the benefactors who have made available and
continue to make available the necessary resources for maintaining the
structures and activities of the Pontifical Biblical Institute. I greet the
former students united spiritually to us at this moment, and I greet you
especially, beloved students, who come from every part of the world.

hundred years have gone by since the birth of the Pontifical Biblical
Institute. In the course of this century, it has certainly increased interest
in the Bible and, thanks to Vatican Council II, especially the dogmatic
constitution Dei Verbum — of whose elaboration I was a direct
witness, participating as theologian in the discussions that preceded its
approval — there is much greater awareness of the importance of the Word of
God in the life and mission of the Church.

This has fostered in Christian
communities a genuine spiritual and pastoral renewal, which above all has
affected preaching, catechesis, the study of theology and ecumenical dialogue
Your Pontifical Institute has made its own significant contribution to this
renewal with scientific biblical research, the teaching of biblical disciplines
and the publication of qualified studies and specialized journals
. In the
course of the decades several generations of illustrious professors have
succeeded one another — I would like to remember, among others, Cardinal Bea
— who formed more


 than 7,000 professors of sacred Scripture and promoters of
biblical groups, as also many experts now present in an array of ecclesiastical
services, in every region of the world.

Let us thank the Lord for this activity
of yours that is dedicated to interpreting the biblical texts in the spirit in
which they were written (cfr Dei Verbum, 12), and that opens to dialogue with
the other disciplines, and with many cultures and religions
. Although it has
known moments of difficulty, it has continued in constant fidelity to the
magisterium according to the objectives themselves of your institute, which
arose in fact “ut in Urbe Roma altiorum studiorum ad Libros sacros
pertinentium habeatur centrum, quod efficaciore, quo liceat, modo doctrinam
biblicam et studia omnia eidem adiuncta, sensu Ecclesiae catholicae
promoveat” (Pius PP. X, Litt. Ap. Vinea electa (May 7, 1909): AAS 1
(1909), 447-448).

Dear friends, the celebration of the centenary is an end, and
at the same time a point of reference. Enriched by the experience of the past,
continue on your way with renewed determination, aware of the service to the
Church required of you, to bring the Bible closer to the life of the People of
God, so that it will be able to address
in an adequate way the unheard of
challenges that modern times pose to the new evangelization
. It is the common
desire that sacred Scripture become in this secularized world, not only the
soul of theology, but also the source of spirituality and vigor of the faith of
all believers in Christ

May the Pontifical Biblical Institute continue,
therefore, growing as a high quality ecclesial center of study in the realm of
biblical research, making use of modern methodologies and in collaboration with
specialists in dogmatic theology and in other theological areas
; may it ensure
a careful formation in sacred Scripture to future priests so that, making use
of the biblical languages and of the various exegetical methodologies, they
will be able to have direct access to biblical texts. In this regard, the
already mentioned dogmatic constitution Dei Verbum has stressed the legitimacy
and necessity of the historical-critical method
, reducing it to three essential
elements: attention to literary genres; study of the historical context;
examination of what is usually called
Sitz im Leben. The conciliar document
maintains firm at the same time the theological character of exegesis,
indicating the strong points of the theological method in the interpretation of
the text. This is so because the foundation on which theological understanding
of the Bible rests is the unity of Scripture
, and this assumption corresponds,
as methodological way, to the analogy of the faith, that is, to the
understanding of the individual texts from the whole.

The conciliar text adds a
further methodological indication. Scripture being only one thing starting from
the one People of God, which has been its bearer throughout history,
consequently to read Scripture as a unit means to read it from the Church as
from its vital place, and to regard the faith of the Church as the real key to
. If exegesis also wishes to be theology, it must acknowledge
that the faith of the Church is that form of “sim-patia” without
which the Bible remains as a sealed book: Tradition does not close access to
, but rather opens it; on the other hand, the decisive word in the
interpretation of Scripture corresponds to the Church, in her institutional
organizations. It is the Church, in fact, which has been entrusted with the
task of interpreting authentically the Word of God written and transmitted,
exercising her authority in the name of Jesus Christ (cfr Dei Verbum, 10).

brothers and sisters, while thanking you for your pleasant visit, I encourage
you to continue your ecclesial service, in constant adherence to the
magisterium of the Church and assure each one of you the support of prayer,
imparting to you from my heart, as pledge of divine favors, the apostolic

Here’s the Rector’s PIB Centenary.pdf for the 100 years’ observance and the video clip of the papal audience.

Synod of Bishops on the Word of God was truly ecumenical

Last week you might remember a note on the secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, addressing the American Bible Society and friends in NYC on Tuesday, 28 July.

Here are two news clips about yesterday’s event and a forthcoming meeting at University of Notre Dame.
And…the archbishop looking at historic bibles.

A second look at the bishops’ work on the Bible with Nikola Eterovic


His Excellency, the Most Reverend Nikola Eterovic, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, Vatican City State, will deliver a talk titled “Pope Benedict XVI, the Bible and the Synod of Bishops.” 

The archbishop will review the seminal work of the of the world-wide gathering of bishops and other experts on the Word of God which happened in October 2008.

The talk is sponsored by the American Bible Society and is being presented at their NY Offices.


Date: Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Time: 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Location: The American Bible Society

1865 Broadway (between 61st & 62nd Streets) New York, NY 10023

RSVP Alicia DeFrange at 212-408-1260 or by emai 

The Bible is for Catholics

How often do you hear that Catholics don’t read the bible? How often do you think (or say) that you aren’t a bible thumper? Do you know bible basics? Do you have a bible in your home? Do you know where to find a bible in your Catholic church? I’d be willing to bet that you can’t even find a copy of the bible in the church. Just today a college student asked me if there was a bible in the church and I had to admit that I wasn’t sure if we had one available. Ironically, today began the parish’s Vacation Bible School with a 140 little kids so the question of how we use the bible is in the forefront of our minds. Mary Elizabeth Sperry compiled a Catholic’s approach to the bible-praying-reading-study-meditation.

The Bible is all around us. People hear Scripture readings in church. We have Good Samaritan (Luke 10) laws, welcome home the Prodigal Son (Luke 15), and look for the Promised Land (Exodus 3, Hebrews 11). Some biblical passages have become popular maxims, such as “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Matthew 7:12),” “Thou shalt not steal (Exodus 20:15), and “love thy neighbor” (Matthew 22:39). 

Today’s Catholic is called to take an intelligent, spiritual approach to the bible.

Listed here are 10 points for fruitful Scripture reading.

  1. Bible reading is for Catholics. The Church encourages Catholics to make reading the Bible part of their daily prayer lives. Reading these inspired words, people grow deeper in their relationship with God and come to understand their place in the community God has called them to in himself.
  1. Prayer is the beginning and the end. Reading the Bible is not like reading a novel or a history book. It should begin with a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to open our hearts and minds to the Word of God. Scripture reading should end with a prayer that this Word will bear fruit in our lives, helping us to become holier and more faithful people.
  1. Get the whole story! When selecting a Bible, look for a Catholic edition. A Catholic edition will include the Church’s complete list of sacred books along with introductions and notes for understanding the text. A Catholic edition will have an imprimatur notice on the back of the title page. An imprimatur indicates that the book is free of errors in Catholic doctrine.
  1. The Bible isn’t a book. It’s a library. The Bible is a collection of 73 books written over the course of many centuries. The books include royal history, prophecy, poetry, challenging letters to struggling new faith communities, and believers’ accounts of the preaching and passion of Jesus. Knowing the genre of the book you are reading will help you understand the literary tools the author is using and the meaning the author is trying to convey.
  1. Know what the Bible is – and what it isn’t. The Bible is the story of God’s relationship with the people he has called to himself. It is not intended to be read as history text, a science book, or a political manifesto. In the Bible, God teaches us the truths that we need for the sake of our salvation.
  1. The sum is greater than the parts. Read the Bible in context. What happens before and after – even in other books – helps us to understand the true meaning of the text.
  1. The Old relates to the New. The Old Testament and the New Testament shed light on each other. While we read the Old Testament in light of the death and resurrection of Jesus, it has its own value as well. Together, these testaments help us to understand God’s plan for human beings.
  1. You do not read alone. By reading and reflecting on Sacred Scripture, Catholics join those faithful men and women who have taken God’s Word to heart and put it into practice in their lives. We read the Bible within the tradition of the Church to benefit from the holiness and wisdom of all the faithful.
  1. What is God saying to me? The Bible is not addressed only to long-dead people in a faraway land. It is addressed to each of us in our own unique situations. When we read, we need to understand what the text says and how the faithful have understood its meaning in the past. In light of this understanding, we then ask: What is God saying to me?
  1. Reading isn’t enough. If Scripture remains just words on a page, our work is not done. We need to meditate on the message and put it into action in our lives. Only then can the word be “living and effective.”(Hebrews 4:12).

Mary Elizabeth Sperry is Associate Director for Utilization of the New American Bible.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
coat of arms



Humanities Blog Directory