At Christ the King Cathedral, after Mass: front row from Left, Oblate Brother Michael Koostachin, Oblate Father Rodrige Vezina, Oblate Father Maboee Matsau, participant Michelle Nauchasak; at rear, Oblate Father Pali Pitso, Oblate Bishop Vincent Cadieux, Father Kennedy, and participant Tony Jardino.
'This document, “Verbum Domini,” gives us many theological and practical and pastoral ways of encountering Christ through the Word of God’
Silence. The pope is asking for silence? And he wants us to memorize the Bible? The answer to both of these questions is “yes.”
Not many months ago, a recent document from Pope Benedict XVI entitled “Verbum Domini” (meaning, ‘The Word of the Lord’) became widely available, although it was presented to the Church on October 2010. This publication was something like a summary of the teachings and presentations that were given at a Synod of Bishops in Rome 2008, with the pope’s own contributions.
The wonderful gift of the Word of God that is the precious gem of the Church and the world, and a true guide to living out the faith, leads us all to worship God by reading and listening to the very utterances the Lord presents. We grasp eagerly to these gifts, and can become aware of how they lead us into the mystery of the Eucharist, with grace for daily life.
The Pope covers the theology of the Word of God in his booklet of about 140 pages, but then reasons clearly about practical matters that can enhance our relationship with God through the celebration of the divine liturgy. That’s where remarks about silence come in. This is not new for those who have prayerfully celebrated at Mass for the last several years, but Pope Benedict and the bishops urge us to think about how silence leaves us open to Christ’s presence and action in worship, and points out special times at Mass where we should all foster silence, which leaves us open to the Word Incarnate, in imitation of Mary the greatest disciple.
There is attention in this document paid to Readers at Mass, and the need for training of Readers, in Scripture and proclamation, while admitting that Readers in many places are lacking in understanding of Scripture. Occasions should be made available for all Readers at Mass to grow in their knowledge of the Bible and the Christian call that arises from Scripture. The Pope even hints that it ought to be a practice for all Catholics to memorize small parts of the Bible, to make it part of their very spiritual life.
The Synod participants spoke again and again about the need to keep the Word of God a central part of our faith, our meditation, and our study. We keep in mind though, that the Church is the primary setting for Scripture, as Peter said, “no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation.” (2Pet 1:20)
Marian Prayers, such as the rosary and the Angelus, are taken from Scripture, and are encouraged once again for daily spirituality. The Synod members also proposed broader use of Lectio Divina, a biblical method of contemplation and prayer, and the Pope even gives a detailed account of the steps to follow in praying this way.
This document, “Verbum Domini,” gives us many theological and practical and pastoral ways of encountering Christ through the Word of God, and it is something great which will be slowly presented into the worship and prayer of the Church in the years to come.