Tag Archives: scripture

More interesting interventions at the Synod

Card. Angelo Scola, Patriarch of Venice

Angelo Scola.jpgDei Verbum
, 25 exhorts all the faithful “to move voluntarily towards the sacred text through pious reading (“per piam lectionem”)”, linked to prayer: “so that dialogue between God and man may take place”. Pious reading is not merely study, but a personal relationship with the Lord, because “one can read the Bible without faith, but without faith one cannot scrutinize the Word of God” (IL 26a). Sacred Scripture is the inspired and normative testimony of revelation. The source of the testimony of Scripture is Jesus Christ himself, the faithful witness of the Covenant of God with men. The testimony of the work of salvation of Jesus is at the origin of Scripture. Therefore this can only be adequately understood by the witness. So to be pious, the reading of Scripture has to pass from Witness to witness. The category of witness places the Church in the front line as the subject of pious reading. This is the road of realism that avoids every fundamentalist and intellectual drift, obstacles in reading that exclude the witness of the Church, where the Word is heard in faith. This understanding of Scripture guarantees the primacy of the personal meeting with Christ, against every reduction of the Word of God to a book.


Rev. Father Adolfo Nicolás, S.I., Superior General of the Society of Jesus

In these days of the Synod we have heard a good number of those aspects that make the
Adolfo Nicolás.jpgHoly Scriptures such a precious gift from God.

And yet we continue to feel that there will always be new or unanswered. The questions that reach us most often are of a pastoral character. The people of God continue to ask the pastoral question: How can we read the Scriptures so that they produce in us, in our hearts, in our families and in our communities all the good effects that Christian Tradition has proclaimed through the Centuries?

Allow me to address just one concrete aspect within the wider pastoral breadth of the question. This aspect is the so-called “Medicinal” or “Transforming” power of the Word of God. It is my conviction that the Word of God can claim in a high degree a ”therapeutic” role in the life of the Christian community.

Every time we “enter” the World of the Bible, we are exposed to a New World: God’s World; God’s action; God’s teaching of his people. The encounter, if real, can be shocking, surprising, enlightening, soothing or consoling. It can also be misunderstood and lost.

Thus the conditions of the encounter are all important. Pastors and Ministers of the Word have to become good helpers for good and fruitful encounters. We need to know where people really are (diagnosis); we need the skills for presenting the Word (teaching, preaching, biblical catechesis); we are expected to be good company in the search for depth (contemplation); and we are ordained or commissioned for good Christian leadership (service of love for community and Christian living).

Which means that Pastors and Ministers of the Word need training for good diagnosis, for wise application of forms of reading, for deeper prayer and interiorization of the Word of God, and for a meaningful accompaniment that helps the faithful discern the action of the Spirit in and through the reading of the Bible.

Since this is a fine skill that requires deep spiritual sense, adequate training and discerned commissioning, it seems highly needed that this training be included in the preparation for pastoral minis1ry and in programs of ongoing formation for all Priests. Moreover all Parishes and/or Dioceses should have access to Centers or Trained persons that can offer this service to individuals or communities and who can train catechists and other lay ministers in this important service.


Card. Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches

1. I thank the Lord and the Church for the powerful return to the Word of God, thanks to
Crdl Leonardo Sandri.jpgthe impulse of Vatican Council II. That was a Biblical renewal according to the Life-Giving Tradition of the Church. That renewal is still ongoing, and it may receive helpful stimuli from the Synod. I thank the Holy Father for this convocation that involves us in a collegial discipleship dealing with the Divine Word. Making ourselves listeners to and disciples of Christ, who speaks in the Church (Ipse loquitur duro sacrae Scripturae in Ecclesia leguntur … SC 7), we offer the highest example of our being “Christian shepherds”: the Word of God is the evangelical gate by which we enter the fold. Whoever does not enter by this gate is a hired man not a shepherd (cf Jn 10:2).



2. Constant personal and community commitment in favor of all Biblical initiatives in the academic field, such as in ordinary Catholic education and making the daily pastoral an act of obedience to the Word, are to be encouraged in attachment to the Word. The Word of God will always lead us to the Sacrament, especially the Holy Eucharist, from which springs forth ecclesial communion. From the perspective of daily obedience, I would like to highlight the importance of the further study and personal appropriation of the Word of God after the liturgical proclamation.

3. The priority of Biblical formation in all the categories of the people of God should be reaffirmed. The criterio princeps, though, in the approach to the Biblical sciences should be that they do not negate, through their sometimes exaggerated criticism, the sense of an existential meeting with Christ. What is indispensable, therefore, is the zeal of the shepherds, above all in the homily, and in order not to extinguish the prophetic charge of the Word of God, we have to insist that it never transforms itself into an opportunity for secular or even personal argumentation, and that it be the moment of highest obedience to the Word in a true sense for the preachers of the Word. Formation in the seminaries and ordinary updating of the clergy and of us bishops remain a priority and should be accompanied by the “prayerful” Biblical spirituality, in which we decide ever more each day to look for and find Christ and with Him the brothers we should lead with us on a daily basis in obedience to the faith.


5. The Eastern Churches were able to evangelize cultures that were very far from the thinking of Christ and generate admirable liturgical, theological and spiritual traditions, lived by disciples who were faithful to the point of martyrdom. I render homage to those who remain faithful to the Word of Christ, especially in the East, in the darkest adversities of the present, and I unhesitatingly invite the Synodal Fathers to pray as brothers and as shepherds for the present and future of the Christian East. Thank you.


Rev. Father Carlos Alfonso Azpiroz Costa, O.P., Master of the Order of Preachers

The “primacy” of the Holy Scripture has its basis precisely in Trinitarian life.

Carlos Costa.jpgThe great Medieval Doctors (Saint Albert the Great, Saint Bonaventure, Saint Thomas Aquinas) fully understood this; for them, the procession of people, within the unity of the divine essence is “the cause and the explicit reason of the procession of the same creatures.” The Word, genitus creator, has from the Father the will to make itself flesh and to suffer for us ab aeterno.

God wished to reveal Himself to mankind in human form, through human culture, people and languages and through the very life of Jesus. While this form is for us a guarantee of the value of our nature , of history and of human cultures – with their different languages – it also poses complex problems of interpretation.

As the reality of the creation is not rationally understandable without an adequate grounding in metaphysics – l’analogia entis – so knowledge of the Holy Scripture requires profound knowledge of the cultures and literary genres in which it was expressed; thus making possible a less inadequate perception of its literal sense and also the recognition of the analogical quality of the terms used.


Christian faith, for all the fact that it is “religion”, must first of all be considered as “religion of the Spirit”, because the New Testament is principally the same Holy Spirit which in us produces charity and only secondarily, being “letter” may be considered “religion of the Book”.

This process of revelation and of salvation is also the unveiling of the veritas iustitiae of our life, of the justice of God which is the foundation of the truth of our being and which is, for us, above all “justifying justice” that is to say based on its mercy which is the permanent precondition of divine justice, because it is the first root and also its crowning.


Card. Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon

In the Bible, all must be read! At the heart of the Word of God, Scripture is a source that
Philippe Barbarin.jpgirrigates the path of the Church. The liturgy of the Word must be surrounded by a beautiful solemnity, this is a requirement, because this is the usual meeting place between God and His people. The liturgical readings should be chosen with one essential criteria in mind: unity of the message offered by the Word. Even if the cutouts pose various questions, certain absences pose greater and more questions. This is due to the rooted fears that one must give up.


An eyewitness of the Transfiguration, he recalls that Scriptures allow us to learn about the Presence of Our Lord. Its objective is to not lose the memory, or contact with Scriptures, the accomplishment of Jesus’ life. This word contains, so as to say in the Bible, the value of a spiritual testament given to the entire Church: Beware of pride that will lead you to thinking that the ancient words are no longer of any interest. On the contrary we must hold “more firmly to the prophetic word”. This exhortation is not displaced only for the Jews, Does this not welcome the prophetic word especially as a renewed invitation in obeying the Torah? In truth, the prophets remind us that God can freely burst in on the life of His people. Let us therefore hold on to their word more firmly, after Jesus showed us its meaning and depth.

It is always up to the son of the centuries, we have seen this sad tendency to “forget” the Holy Scriptures in the Christians, to look at them like “sophisticated fables”. On the contrary, we need “through the Holy Spirit, that men continue to speak to us on behalf of God”. The Scriptures remain “a shining lamp” in our present shadows. She keeps us in humility, “waiting for the day to shine and the morning star to rise in our hearts”.

This is why, until the coming of the Lord, we must continue reading all Scriptures.

Lectio Divina

Bishop Santiago Jaime Silva Retamales, Auxiliary Bishop of Valparaíso, (Chile) presented this Explanatory Exposition of Lectio Divina at the Synod of Bishops today:

This explanation is not as much to understand, but to make Lectio Divina  more systematic, to live it personally and help the community to live it.

The first aspect to be considered in Lectio Divina is a spirituality understood as the dynamism of holiness:

God moves towards humanity and invites it to live in communion with Him. The revelation, understood in categories of dialogue and encounter, requires a reading of the Word of God as the place for communion. The Holy Scripture and Lectio Divina require a theological and a personal approach.

God offers Himself completely through His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus the Son of Man, is the vocation of man, inasmuch as a human being. The encounter with Jesus “leads us to ourselves”: personality, history, motivations, intentions, and “recreates” us, a new creature in Jesus, the new Adam.

The second aspect, the identity and the function of the Holy Scripture in the life of the Church.

The Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum shows that the Holy Scripture is:

– the written Word of God, that must be interpreted;
– is inspired by the Holy Spirit, is an actual and efficacious Word, which must be realized;
– is entrusted to the Church for the salvation of all: it is the Word that calls and that one must proclaim

How can we nourish ourselves with the richness of the Holy Scripture to follow the Lord and grow on the path to holiness?

The practice of Lectio Divina is the prayerful reading of Holy Scripture, individual or in a group, to “learn the heart of God through the words of God” (Saint Gregory the Great). The Holy Scripture is the written Word of God. In reading (re-interpreting), we ask ourselves: What does the Biblical text say? We must understand the Word to discover what God teaches us through the inspired author.

The Holy Spirit is inspired by the Holy Spirit. In meditation (personalizing), we ask ourselves: “What does the Lord say in His Word?” We must practice the Word to call upon life, learn its meaning, better our mission and reinforce hope. In prayer we ask: What do we say to the Lord, motivated by His Word? We must pray the Word for dialogue with God and celebrate our faith in the family or in the community.

The Holy Scripture is entrusted to the Church for salvation. In contemplation-practice (proclaiming), we ask ourselves: “What conversion is asked for by the contemplation of the Lord?” We must contemplate the Word (Jesus) to live according to the criteria of the Father (conversion). Practical example: (John 1:35-42), encounter with the first disciples of Jesus.


Prepare the external setting (ambo, Bible…) and the spiritual one (“be seated”, “clear heart”…).

·         Invoke the gift of the Holy Spirit

·         Look for the Biblical passage

·         Reading: proclaim the text, making the silences important as well. Read the passage personally and mark with a question mark what you do not understand, or underline it when it seems to be the main message of the reading.

In a group, discover the main message following the signs. Continue reading the passage, putting an exclamation point, for meditation, when the passage calls for intentions and actions; with an asterisk, for prayer when the passage helps us pray.

 Reading – Meditation – Prayer – Contemplation



No tiring of the Bible

Biblical commentaries:

Opening locked gates we didn’t know existed!

By Sister Genevieve Glen, OSB

bible reading.jpgTake out your Bible. Look at it. It’s not really so big, is it? You could read a bestseller that size during a week at the beach. Yet Jews and Christians have spent centuries studying and pondering the books that make up this one “book,” and still they discover new questions, new insights, new information.


God, being tricky, has given us a book full of open doors, mysterious holes and sudden surprises to keep us wondering, searching and asking.


There is no tiring of the Bible — unless we just skim across the surface.


The most common excuse for empty skimming is, “I don’t get it.” The Bible is not like the morning paper or your favorite cookbook or the latest tech manual. All those come from today’s world, speak today’s language and provide information you can grasp quickly.


The Bible comes from faraway places; it was written in Greek and Hebrew, and not even modern Greek and Hebrew; the ink dried centuries ago. Yet, because it is God’s word to us, it speaks to us even when we just sit down and read it attentively as part of the conversation with God we call prayer.


However, it says a great deal more to us if we make use of the maps left by other explorers, those who have spent a lifetime studying the intricacies of old manuscripts, the subtleties of the original languages, the literary, religious and cultural world that produced the various books of the Bibles. Their commentaries open up locked gates we didn’t even know existed.


Commentaries come in all shapes and sizes. Among the most interesting are commentaries that shed light on the cultures of the Bible.


Did you know, for example, that salt was used as a fire starter in Jesus’ day? When Jesus shows concern about salt that has lost its zing, he isn’t talking only about flavor but about the failure of old, tired salt to light the fire that makes us the “light of the world” — because, of course, fire from the sun, lamps or hearths was the only source of light in Jesus’ day.


It’s no surprise then that Jesus speaks of salt and light in the same Gospel passage (see John A. Pilch’s Cultural Dictionary of the Bible, Liturgical Press, 1999). Pilch’s fascinating books are only one example of the richness students of the history of culture can provide for us.


More demanding commentaries shed light on details of the historical or literal meaning of biblical texts so that we can get a firm grip on what the text actually says and sometimes on what the human author seems to have meant.

Raymond Brown.jpgThe late Sulpician Father Raymond Brown left us a magisterial commentary of this kind in The Death of the Messiah (Doubleday, 1994). After reading his account of the many possible meanings of the “cup” Jesus asks the Father to take away (Mark 14:36), you could spend all of Lent thinking about your answer to Jesus’ question, “Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?” (Matthew 20:22).


Other commentaries explore what Christian tradition calls the “spiritual” meaning of biblical texts. These books, some as ancient as the first Christian centuries, some as recent as last week, are really extended homilies. They seek to connect the biblical texts with our spiritual growth and decisions in the midst of everyday life.


If you’ve ever been in love, read the fifth-century Sermon 147 “On the Incarnation” by St. Peter Chrysologus for an eye-opening reflection on Moses’ plea (Exodus 33:18) to see God’s “glory” (The Fathers of the Church, Vol. 17, 1953).


The word “disciple” means “learner.” To be faithful disciples, we must become lifelong learners of the Bible — and we are rich in teachers!


Benedictine Sister Genevieve Glen is a nun at the Abbey of Saint Walburga,
Mother Maria Michael  and Sr Genevieve Glen.jpgVirginia Dale, Colorado. She is a frequent contributor and assisting editor of
Magnificat. This article appeared 4 February 2008. Copyright (c) 2008 Catholic News Service/U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Focus on the Synod on Scripture

As you know, there is a synod happening in Rome. It will be working on themese related
Thumbnail image for bible.jpgto the sacred Scriptures. This synod and our study of the Bible is essential to our spiritual life and our life in the Catholic Church, so spend time with materials that will broaden your scriptural horizon. The synod and the Year of Saint Paul are apt for our times.


The 29 September 2008 issue of America Magazine published worthwhile articles on the
Synod of Bishops on the Word of God. They are worth your consideration.


Abbot John B. Klassen, OSB, “Ever Ancient, Ever New


Bishop Richard J. Sklba, “Nourished and Ruled By Sacred Scripture


Father Richard J. Clifford, S.J., “The Original Testament


Father John R. Donahue, S.J., “A Hymn With Many Voices


Father Ronald D. Witherup, S.S., “From Council to Synod


Doctor Pheme Perkins, “Sowing the Word


AND when you’re finished with the above, read John Allen’s article here.


Synod on the Word of God: Are YOU praying for it? What are you doing to know the Scriptures better?

Are you praying for the Holy Spirit’s
holy-spirit.jpgintercession? Will you following the Pope’s meeting on the Bible?  Prayer to the Spirit is always key to the work of our Church: the scholars, pastors, students and faithful rely on our intercession on their behalf.


A meeting was called by Pope Benedict XVI to study the role of the Bible in our lives as Catholics. The meeting (October 5-26) is technically called by the Church a “Synod of Bishops” which is a gathering of invited bishops, experts and others to offer input on a particular subject to the Holy Father who will later write a paper as a follow up setting a direction in which he thinks the entire Church should go. It was Pope Paul’s intention that “Synod [is] in response to the desire of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council to keep alive the spirit of collegiality engendered by the conciliar experience.” The Holy See’s own understanding of the role of a synod is:


A Synod is a religious meeting or assembly at which bishops, gathered around and with the Holy Father, have opportunity to interact with each other and to share information and experiences, in the common pursuit of pastoral solutions which have a universal validity and application. The Synod, generally speaking, can be defined as an assembly of bishops representing the Catholic episcopate, having the task of helping the Pope in the governing of the universal Church by rendering their counsel. Pope John Paul II has referred to the Synod as “a particularly fruitful expression and instrument of the collegiality of bishops.


Nikola Eterovic.jpgThe commission which coordinates the Synod of Bishops is headed by Croatian Archbishop Nikola Eterovic. In collaboration with the cardinals, bishops and experts, and of course with the Holy Father himself, a theme and an agenda is set for the Synod participants to work on. Therefore, the coming Synod is thus…


The topic of the XII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church” can be understood in its christological sense, namely, Jesus Christ in the Life and Mission of the Church. This christological approach, linked by necessity to the pnuematological one, leads to the discovery of the Trinitarian dimension of revelation. Looking at the subject in this way ensures the unity of revelation. All the words and deeds, recorded in Sacred
Bishops.jpgScripture by the inspired authors and faithfully guarded in Tradition, come together in the Person of the Lord Jesus, the Word of God. This is seen in the New Testament, which narrates and proclaims the mystery of his death, resurrection and presence in the midst of the Church, the community of his disciples called to celebrate these sacred mysteries. Because of the grace which leads to the destruction of sin (cf. Romans 6:6), his followers seek to conform themselves to their Master so that each might live Christ (cf. Galatians 2:20). Such is also the case in the Old Testament which, according to Jesus’ own words, refers to himself (cf. John 5:39; Luke 24:27). Reading the Scriptures from a christological and pneumatological perspective leads from the letter to the spirit and from the words to the Word of God. Indeed, the words often conceal their true meaning, especially when considered from the literary and cultural point of view of the inspired authors and their way of understanding the world and its laws. Doing so leads to rediscovering the unity the Word of God in the many words of Scripture. After this necessary and ardent process, the Word of God shines with a surprising splendour, more than making up for the labour expended.


Pope Benedict XVI’s general prayer intention for October is: “That the Synod of Bishops may help the pastors and theologians, the catechists and promoters who are engaged in the service of the Word of God to courageously transmit the truth of faith in communion with the entire Church.”


So, let’s remember the Synod members in prayer. Perhaps we should offer a rosary and fast for the Pope’s intention.

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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