Category Archives: Sacred Scripture

Scripture is to fill us head to toe

Bishop Pates' Ordination.jpgAt a priest’s ordination as bishop the Book of the
Gospels is held open over the man’s head by two deacons, a way to communicate that the
Scriptures are crucial to the life of the bishop and that Christ has infused
His Word in his heart and mind. Archbishop Timothy Broglio said this when he
ordained Bishop Spencer in 2010: 


“Those
writings inspired by Almighty God and identified and transmitted over the
centuries by His Church must fill you from head to toe.  You must be imbued with that word so
that whatever comes from your mouth will be an expression of what you have read
and heard.  You will have a special
opportunity to deepen the faith of those to whom you are sent.” We are to be
similarly filled.

The Word of God is everything: hearing what the WORD has to say

I am reading Verbum Domini with great eagerness. I am talking my reading seriously and trying to ponder what the Pope has given us as a path to Christ and to live as an authentic Christian today. Let’s recall the extraordinary address of Pope Benedict XVI on October 6, 2008 where he said: 

lectionary.jpg

“the Word of God is the foundation of everything, it is the true reality. And to be realistic, we must rely upon this reality. We must change our idea that matter, solid things, things we can touch, are the more solid, the more certain reality. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount the Lord speaks to us about the two possible foundations for building the house of one’s life: sand and rock. The one who builds on sand builds only on visible and tangible things, on success, on career, on money. Apparently these are the true realities. But all this one day will pass away. We can see this now with the fall of large banks: this money disappears, it is nothing. And thus all things, which seem to be the true realities we can count on, are only realities of a secondary order. The one who builds his life on these realities, on matter, on success, on appearances, builds upon sand. Only the Word of God is the foundation of all reality, it is as stable as the heavens and more than the heavens, it is reality. Therefore, we must change our concept of realism. The realist is the one who recognizes the Word of God, in this apparently weak reality, as the foundation of all things. Realist is the one who builds his life on this foundation, which is permanent.”

Scott W. Hahn, Covenant and Communion (2009), p. 22.

 

In another place we read: 

You cannot put revelation in your pocket like a book you carry around with you. It is a living reality that requires a living person as the locus of its presence.

That is, the believer becomes real insofar as he becomes the Word by hearing such that he does it. That seems to be the only reality that perdures. Revelation is an act in which God shows Himself. Faith is a corresponding act of hearing and doing the Word heard. Outside of that, everything else perishes into nothingness.

J. Ratzinger, God Word: Scripture – Tradtion – Office, Ignatius (2008): 52.

Revised Grail Psalter text available online


The Revised Grail Psalter is now available
online
. This is version of the psalter that will be used in the sacred Liturgy at some point. These are the Psalms that were translated by Abbot Gregory Polan and his brother monks of Conception Abbey. Kudos to Abbot Gregory!


Lectio Divina in Verbum Domini

In the Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini released today, I immediately started reading the document for what the Pope had to say about lectio divina. You may recall the Pope’s remarks for the 40th anniversary of Dei Verbum in 2005, he said lectio divina will bring about a spiritual springtime in Church. His words were:

“the diligent reading of Sacred Scripture accompanied by prayer brings about that intimate dialogue in which the person reading hears God who is speaking, and in praying, responds to him with trusting openness of heart (cf. Dei Verbum, 25). If it is effectively promoted, this practice will bring to the Church –I am convinced of it– a new spiritual springtime.”

No less than 16 times does His Holiness use the words lectio divina.

Here are some points of interest in Verbum Domini regarding lectio:

St Dominic with Scripture.jpg

46. Listening together to the word of God, engaging in biblical lectio divina, letting ourselves be struck by the inexhaustible freshness of God’s word which never grows old, overcoming our deafness to those words that do not fit our own opinions or prejudices, listening and studying within the communion of the believers of every age: all these things represent a way of coming to unity in faith as a response to hearing the word of God.

48. The interpretation of sacred Scripture would remain incomplete were it not to include listening to those who have truly lived the word of God: namely, the saints. Indeed, “viva lectio est vita bonorum.” The most profound interpretation of Scripture comes precisely from those who let themselves be shaped by the word of God through listening, reading and assiduous meditation. It is certainly not by chance that the great currents of spirituality in the Church’s history originated with an explicit reference to Scripture.

82. Those aspiring to the ministerial priesthood are called to a profound personal relationship with God’s word, particularly in lectio divina, so that this relationship will in turn nurture their vocation: it is in the light and strength of God’s word that one’s specific vocation can be discerned and appreciated, loved and followed, and one’s proper mission carried out, by nourishing the heart with thoughts of God, so that faith, as our response to the word, may become a new criterion for judging and evaluating persons and things, events and issues. Such attention to the prayerful reading of Scripture must not in any way lead to a dichotomy with regard to the exegetical studies which are a part of formation. The Synod recommended that seminarians be concretely helped to see the relationship between biblical studies and scriptural prayer.

student does lectio.jpg

86. The Synod frequently insisted on the need for a prayerful approach to the sacred text as a fundamental element in the spiritual life of every believer, in the various ministries and states in life, with particular reference to lectio divina.

Devote yourself to the lectio of the divine Scriptures; apply yourself to this with perseverance. Do your reading with the intent of believing in and pleasing God. If during the lectio you encounter a closed door, knock and it will be opened to you by that guardian of whom Jesus said, ‘The gatekeeper will open it for him.’ By applying yourself in this way to lectio divina, search diligently and with unshakable trust in God for the meaning of the divine Scriptures, which is hidden in great fullness within.

For this reason, the privileged place for the prayerful reading of sacred Scripture is the liturgy, and particularly the Eucharist, in which, as we celebrate the Body and Blood of Christ in the sacrament, the word itself is present and at work in our midst. In some sense the prayerful reading of the Bible, personal and communal, must always be related to the Eucharistic celebration. Just as the adoration of the Eucharist prepares for, accompanies and follows the liturgy of the Eucharist, so too prayerful reading, personal and communal, prepares for, accompanies and deepens what the Church celebrates when she proclaims the word in a liturgical setting. By so closely relating lectio and liturgy, we can better grasp the criteria which should guide this practice in the area of pastoral care and in the spiritual life of the People of God.

87. The documents produced before and during the Synod mentioned a number of methods for a faith-filled and fruitful approach to sacred Scripture. Yet the greatest attention was paid to lectio divina, which is truly “capable of opening up to the faithful the treasures of God’s word, but also of bringing about an encounter with Christ, the living word of God.”

Apostolic Exhortation “Verbum Domini”

The Pope released his post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Verbum Domini, following the 2008 Synod of Bishops on the Word of God. It’s available in eight languages in at least 200 pages. 

Verbum Domini – English

Verbum Domini – Italiano

Verbum Domini – Español

The press conference:

Word of God.jpg

At midday today
in the Holy See Press Office, the presentation took place of the Post-Synodal
Apostolic Exhortation “Verbum Domini” of Benedict XVI, on the Word of
God in the life and mission of the Church.

Today’s press conference was
presented by Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for
Bishops; Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for
Culture, and Archbishop Nikola Eterovic and Msgr. Fortunato Frizza,
respectively secretary general and under secretary of the Synod of Bishops.

The
Apostolic Exhortation, which is dated 30 September, Memorial of St. Jerome, is
the fruit of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops,
which was held in Rome from 5 to 26 October 2008. The document, which has been
published in Latin, Italian, English, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese and
Polish, is made up of an introduction, three parts and a conclusion.

Achbishop
Eterovic explained how in part one, entitled “Verbum Dei”, the Pope
highlights both “the fundamental role of God the Father, source and origin
of the Word”, and “the Trinitarian dimension of revelation”.
Chapter one – “The God Who Speaks” – underscores “God’s will to
open and maintain a dialogue with man, in which God takes the initiative and
reveals Himself in various ways”. It also dwells on “the
Christological aspect of the Word, while at the same time underlining the
pneumatological dimension”. This section of the document also focuses on
the relationship between the Eucharist and Tradition, and on the theme of the
inspiration and truth of the Bible.

“Our Response to the God Who
Speaks” is the title of chapter two of part one. “Man is called to
enter into the Alliance with his God, Who listens to him and responds to his
questions. To God Who speaks, man responds with the faith. The most suitable
prayer is that made using the words which were revealed by God and are
conserved and written in the Bible”, said Archbishop Eterovic.

Chapter
three has as its title “The Interpretation of Sacred Scripture in the
Church”. The secretary general of the Synod of Bishops explained how
“Sacred Scripture should be, as the Dogmatic Constitution ‘Dei Verbum’
says, ‘the soul of sacred theology’. … The biblical hermeneutics of Vatican
Council II must be rediscovered, also in order to avoid a certain dualism
evident in secularised interpretations which could give rise to a
fundamentalist and spiritualist interpretation of Holy Scripture. Correct
interpretation requires complementarity in a literal and spiritual sense, a
harmony between faith and reason”. This chapter also examines relations
between Christians and Jews, noting that they enjoy “a very special
relationship … because they share a large part of the Scriptures”.

Part
two of the document is entitled “Verbum in Ecclesia”. Chapter one –
“The Word of God and the Church” – underlines how it is thanks to the
Word of God and the effect of the Sacraments “that Jesus remains
contemporary to mankind in the life of the Church”, said the archbishop.

“The
Liturgy, Privileged Setting for the Word of God” is the title of chapter
two, in which the focus turns to “the vital link between Sacred Scripture
and the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist”. The importance of the
Lectionary is mentioned, as is that of the proclamation of the Word and the
ministry of reader, with particular emphasis being laid on the preparation of
the homily, a theme of great importance in this Post-Synodal Apostolic
Exhortation.

Chapter three of part two concerns “The Word of God in the
Life of the Church” and highlights “the importance of biblical inspiration
for pastoral activity, the biblical dimension of catechesis, the biblical
formation of Christians, the use of Sacred Scripture in great ecclesial
gahterings, and the Word of God in relation to vocations”. Attention is
also given to “lectio divina and Marian prayer”, said the
archbishop.

Part three of the document published today has as its title
“Verbum Mundo”. It draws attention to “the duty of Christians to
announce the Word of God in the world in which they live and work”.
Chapter one – “The Church’s Mission to Proclaim the Word of God to the
World” – explains how the Church “is oriented towards the
announcement ‘ad gentes’, to people who do not yet know the Word, … but also
to those who have already been baptised … but need new evangelisation in
order to rediscover the Word of God”.

“The Word of God and Commitment
to the World” is the title of chapter two, which recalls how
“Christians are called to serve the Word of God in their most needy
brothers and sisters and, hence, to commit themselves in society for
reconciliation, justice and peace among peoples”.

Chapter three of part
three is dedicated to “The Word of God and Culture”. It expresses the
hope “that the Bible may become better known in schools and universities
and that better use may be made of the social communications media, exploiting
all the modern possibilities of technology. The theme of the inculturation of
Sacred Scripture is also linked to the translation and diffusion of the Bible,
which must be increased”, said Archbishop Eterovic.

“The Word of God
and Inter-religious Dialogue” is the title of chapter four. “Having
established the value and topicality of inter-religious dialogue, ‘Verbum
Domini’ … supplies some important guidelines concerning dialogue between
Christians and Muslims, and with members of other non-Christian religions,
within the framework of a religious liberty which involves not only the freedom
to profess one’s faith in private and in public, but also freedom of
conscience; in other words, of choosing one’s religion”.

In the
conclusion, Archbishop Eterovic concluded his explanations, the Holy Father
reiterates his exhortation to all Christians “to become increasingly
familiar with Sacred Scripture”.

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]yahoo.com.
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