‘THE ROYAL WEDDING WILL BOOST MARRIAGE’ MARY KENNY ON THE BENEFITS OF NEXT YEAR’S BIG OCCASION PAGE 12
November 19 2010 £1.20 (Republic of Ireland €1.70)
Pope calls for renewed study of Bible Laity encouraged to read Scripture before Confession Pontiff appeals for training of male and female Readers Sacred Scripture placed at the heart of liturgical reforms
BY ANNA ARCO
POPE BENEDICT XVI has released the most significant Church document on Scripture since the Second Vatican Council.
Almost three years after the world’s bishops met in Rome for the Synod on Scripture, Pope Benedict published the Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini, using the Synod’s findings to lay out Catholic teaching on Scripture.
In the 200-word document the Pope called for Scripture to be at the heart of the Church. He said it was the Church’s “gift and inescapable duty to communicate that joy, born of an encounter with the person of Christ, the Word of God in our midst”.
The Church’s greatest priority, he said, was “to enable the people of our time once more to encounter God, the God who speaks to us and shares his love so that we might have life in abundance”.
He said: “With the Synod Fathers I express my heartfelt hope for the flowering of ‘a new season of greater love for sacred Scripture on the part of every member of the People of God, so that their prayerful and faith-filled reading of the Bible will, with time, deepen their personal relationship with Jesus’.”
Verbum Domini is the first papal document on Scripture since Divino afflante Spiritu, issued by Pope Pius XII in 1943, and contains a number of suggestions and recommendations concerning Scripture in the life of the Church. It was published on the Memorial of St Jerome, who translated the Bible into Latin.
The Pope recommended that male and female lay Readers should be “truly suitable and carefully trained”. Training should be “biblical and liturgical, as well as technical”, meaning that readers should have “the ability to understand the readings in context and to perceive by the light of faith the central point of the revealed message” as well as “some grasp of the meaning and structure of the Liturgy of the Word and the significance of its connection with
Pope Benedict XVI holds up the Book of the Gospels during Mass in St Peter’s Basilica CNS photo/Dario Pignatelli, Reuters the Liturgy of the Eucharist”. The document acknowledges the role of women Readers, who have been active for at least 20 years but are not officially approved by the Church.
Pope Benedict also urged priests to avoid preaching homilies which distract from the Gospel readings and to prepare short sermons for use during weekday Mass. He said:
“Generic and abstract homilies which obscure the directness of God’s word should be avoided, as well as useless digressions which risk drawing greater attention to the preacher than to the heart of the Gospel message. The faithful should be able to perceive clearly that the preacher has a compelling desire to present Christ, who must stand at the centre of every homily.” Priests preparing their homilies should ask themselves: “What are the Scriptures being proclaimed saying? What do they say to me personally? What should I say to the community in the light of its concrete situation?”
In Verbum Domini the Pope also recommended the use of “judicious memorisation of some passages which are particularly expressive of the Christian mysteries” for catechetical work. The
Pope said: “Catechetical work always entails approaching Scripture in faith and in the Church’s Tradition, so that its words can be perceived as living, just as Christ is alive today wherever two or three are gathered in his name.”
The Holy Father also called for wider use of Scripture in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Those preparing for Confession should meditate over passages from Scripture and use prayers based on the Bible during the sacrament.
During the liturgy, the solemn proclamation of the Gospel should be sung wherever possible, the Pope said. In a Church, the ambo
, the lectern from which the Gospel is proclaimed, should be in a fixed place and “decorated in aesthetic harmony with the altar,
in order to present visibly the theological significance of the double table of the word and of the Eucharist”.
The Pope also warned priests against the practice of reciting poetry and other non-Scriptural texts during the Liturgy of the Word.
Religious communities and parishes should promote the Liturgy of Hours with lay participation, the Pope said, to lead to greater familiarity with the Scriptures. He urged the lay faithful to start praying the Liturgy of the Hours which was made more widely available thanks to the Second Vatican Council.
All the faithful have a responsibility to proclaim the Gospel, the Pope said.
He said: “No believer in Christ can feel dispensed from this responsibility which comes from the fact of our sacramentally belonging to the Body of Christ. A consciousness of this must be revived in every family, parish, community, association and ecclesial movement. The Church, as a mystery of communion, is thus entirely missionary, and everyone, according to his or her proper state in life, is called to give an incisive contribution to the proclamation of Christ.”
Priests must have a great personal familiarity with the word of God, the Pope said.
Knowledge of its linguistic and exegetical aspects, while necessary for a priest, is not enough. A priest, he said, “needs to approach the word with a docile and prayerful heart so that it may deeply penetrate his thoughts and feelings and bring about a new outlook in him – ‘the mind of Christ’ ”.
Priests were not the only ones the Pope said needed to be trained. He urged the laity to be trained to “discern God’s will through a familiarity with his word, read and studied in the Church under the guidance of her legitimate pastors. They can receive this training at the school of the great ecclesial spiritualities, all of which are grounded in sacred Scripture”.
Editorial comment: Page 13
Pope Benedict interviewed!
What caused the clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic Church? Was there a “cover up”? Can there be a genuine dialogue with Islam? What hopes now for
Christian unity? How does the Pope think we should respond to climate change? How did the Pope feel when he was elected? Can the Church re-think its approach to Aids?
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A D H E 2 0 1 0
Number of priestly vocations rises to highest level for a decade
BY HUW TWISTON DAVIES
THE NUMBER of candidates entering the priesthood in England and Wales reached its highest point in a decade in September this year, with 56 men becoming seminarians.
Fr Stephen Langridge, chairman of vocations directors for England and Wales, said that the number of seminarians had been “rising slowly but surely”, and that there may be further increases “as people respond to the visit of Pope Benedict”. The rise has also been attributed in part to recent work in vocations, and in particular the Invocation festival held in Birmingham in July for those aged 16 to 35 trying to discern a vocation. About 300 are thought to have attended, and a second festival has been arranged for June next year.
Other elements credited for the increase include various campaigns run by the bishops’ conference since 2005 to promote the priesthood, including a series of advertisements placed on beer mats and the London Underground with the slogan “Get Collared for the Challenge of a Lifetime”.
At the annual conference of vocations directors at Oscott College earlier this month Fr Christopher Jamison, director of the National Office of Vocation, said that vocations would increase when the Church follows the example of Blessed John Henry Newman. He said: “When everybody in the Church takes seriously Newman’s insight that ‘God has created me to do him some definite service’, then a greater number discover their call to the priesthood and religious life.”
The news of an overall increase comes just a month after it was announced that the number of seminarians at Allen Hall in Chelsea had risen to 46, with a new intake of 11 men, including two seminarians aged 18 and 19, a figure which also represents an increase.
Man escapes prison by becoming pilgrim
Bush pays tribute to pope’s stand for life
BY STAFF REPORTER
AN IRISHMAN who was promised by a judge that he would be spared time in prison if he undertook a pilgrimage and said “a few prayers” has completed the task and raised about £2,500 for charity in the process.
Joseph McElwee had been convicted of drunken behaviour and verbally abusing a police officer and faced a prison sentence. But in March, Judge Seamus Hughes came up with a novel opportunity for Mr McElwee to avoid prison time and ordered him to climb Ireland’s holiest mountain, Croagh Patrick in County Mayo.
Mr McElwee reported to the court this week and showed the judge photographs of himself and 13 friends on top of the 2,500ft mountain where St Patrick fasted for 40 days in the fifth century. He told the judge he felt the climb had been “therapeutic”.
BY ANNA ARCO
POPE JOHN PAUL II influenced George W Bush on life issues, the former US President has said in his memoirs.
In Decision Points Mr Bush describes meeting the late pope at Castel Gandolfo in 2001, less than a month before he outlined his policy on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.
He said John Paul II
“was firm in his view that human life must be protected in all its forms”. Mr Bush wrote: “I thanked him for his example of principled leadership. I explained that the Catholic Church’s steadfast support of life provided a firm moral foundation on which prolife politicians like me could take a stand.
“I told him I hoped the Church would always be a rock in the defence of human dignity.”
DON’T MISS: CHURCH FACES SHORTAGE OF EXORCISTS PAGE 5