Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Scripture: Historia Salutis, Chapter 3 (The Word of God in the Mission of the Church)

Part 4 of the Historia Salutis series.

  1. Proclaiming the Word of God in the Contemporary World
    • From pastoral experience, describe the factors which foster a listening to the Word of God and those which hinder it?
    • Can a certain interior unrest or the stimulus of other Christians, etc., lead to a renewal of faith?
    • Can secularism, the continual bombardment of various messages from the world, life-styles opposed to Christian teaching, etc., hinder it?
    • How must the Word of God be proclaimed in light of these challenges?
  2. Easy Access to Scripture
    • How does the directive in Dei Verbum 22, "Easy access to Sacred Scripture should be provided for all the Christian faithful," correspond to fact? Provide some data, even if it be approximate, on this.
    • Can an increase in listening to God’s Word in the Bible be detected among individuals and whole communities?
  3. Spreading the Word of God
    • Describe the biblical apostolate in the diocesan community? Is there a diocesan programme? Are those working in the programme properly prepared?
    • Are people aware of the Catholic Biblical Association?
    • What are the means of encounter with the Word of God (Bible study, listening groups, courses on the Bible, a Day of Celebrating the Bible and lectio divina) and which are most frequented by Christians?
    • What translations of the Bible -- complete or partial -- are available?
    • What is the practise of the Bible in families?
    • What programmes are offered to people at various age levels (children, adolescents, young people, adults)?
    • How are the means of social communication employed?
    • What elements are seen to have value?
  4. The Word of God in Ecumenical Dialogue
    • Proclaiming the Word in today’s world requires a coherency with one’s witness of life. Is this noticeable in the lives of today’s Christians? How can it be fostered?
    • In ecumenical dialogue, how have the particular Churches taken up the principles contained in Dei Verbum?
    • Does Sacred Scripture enter into ecumenical discussion with Sister Churches? What role do they attribute to the Word of God? What are their points of encounter with the Word of God?
    • Is collaboration possible with the United Bible Societies (UBS)?
    • Are there conflicting situations in the use of the Bible?
  5. The Word of God in Dialogue with the Jewish People
    • Is priority given to dialogue with the Jewish people?
    • What points of encounter on the Bible might prove beneficial?
    • Are biblical texts used to ferment attitudes of anti-Semitism?
  6. The Word of God in Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue
    • Describe any existing experiences of dialogue based on the Christian Scriptures with those who possess their own sacred books.
    • How can those who do not believe in the divine inspiration of Sacred Scripture come in contact with the Word of God?
    • Does a Word of God exist even for those who do not believe in God?
    • Is the Bible also approached in its character as a "Great Code," which contains a richness for all?
    • Describe any experiences of intercultural dialogue which uses the Bible as a reference point.
    • What procedures can be followed to support Christian communities in dealing with the sects?
  1. The Church's Mission is to Proclaim Christ, the Word of God Made Man
    The Word of God proclaims the Kingdom of God, "a kingdom of truth, justice, love and peace, which is offered to everyone". The Gospel of this Kingdom is "to be proclaimed to the ends of the earth (cf. Matthew 28:19)". St. Paul's words in 1 Cor 9:16 are particularly relevant today: "Woe to me, if I do not preach the Gospel". It is our vocation "to serve the Gospel for the world's sake". There are people throughout the world who have not heard (or have heard and forgotten) the Gospel, and many are yearning to hear it. There are many difficulties that make it difficult to listen to the Lord; one in particular is the multitude of sects of Christianity that question the "proper interpretation of the Bible". This calls to mind our need to "bring the Word to others [...] cum Ecclesia" ("with the Church"); it requires "boldness, courage, a spirit of poverty, humility, coherence of life and amiability". The Word cannot be proclaimed without also being lived, "putting love into practice through acts of justice and charity". St. Augustine put it succinctly: "Whoever, then, thinks that he understand the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but interprets them in a way not leading to building up this twofold love of God and neighbor, does not yet understand them as he should" (De doctrina Christiana I, XXXV, 39).
  2. The Word of God is to be Accessible to All, in Every Age
    The Church "proclaim[s] the Word of God with the boldness of the Apostles" and seeks to provide easy access to Sacred Scripture to all Christians. However, "most Christians [...] do not have personal contact with the Scriptures; and those who do, have many theological and methodological uncertainties in communicating their content". Care must be taken so that the Bible does not become "open to subjectivism and arbitrariness" or reduced to "an object of private devotion". The Church seeks to promote the practice of lectio divina to both youth and adults, so that "the communion of priests and laity, and thus entire parishes, communities of the consecrated life and ecclesial movements, will be grounded in and make manifest the Word of God". This and other Apostolic activities focused on the Bible and faith formation will help realize that goal. Those in the consecrated life "must have a specific role in bringing the word of God to others". As the Church Fathers did, they must "make the Bible text the object of daily 'rumination'". Clearly, lectio divina is held in great esteem as clear way in which "the Word of God is brought to bear on life, on which it projects the light of that wisdom which is a gift of the Spirit" (Pope John Paul II, Vita Consecrata 94).
  3. The Word of God: the Grace of Communion Among Christians
    Catholics share the Word of God and Baptism in common with Christians of all confessions, uniting us in some (incomplete) sense. But our differences make it clear that "only a return to the Word of God interpreted in light of Church Tradition can guarantee a full encounter with Christ and his followers" (cf. Unitatis Redintegratio 21). The words of Pope Benedict XVI remind us of the Church's origin and commitment: "Listening to the Word of God is a priority for our ecumenical commitment. Indeed, it is not we who act or who organize the unity of the Church. The Church does not make herself or live of herself, but from the creative Word that comes from the mouth of God." (Homily: Our World Awaits the Common Witness of Christians in L'Osservatore Romano, 31 Jan 2007)
  4. The Word of God: A Light for Interreligious Dialogue
    "Interreligious dialogue today poses new demands and unprecedented tasks." There are two general categories of ecumenical dialogue: that with the Jewish people and that with people of other religions.
  5. a) With the Jewish people
    "Special attention is give to the Jewish people" because of their heritage (cf. Romans 9-11). They have a special connection to God because of the Mosaic Covenant. As Pope John Paul II put it, the existence of the Jewish people despite hardships today "is a supernatural fact. This people perseveres in spite of everything, because they are the people of the Covenant, and despite human infidelities, the Lord is faithful to his Covenant" (To Participants at the Symposium, The Roots of Anti-Judaism in the Christian Milieu, in L'Osservatore Romano, 5 Nov 1997). It is important in our dialogue to recognize "the original character of the Jewish understanding of the Bible" and the need to avoid "every form of anti-Semitism".
  6. b) With other religions
    The Church's mission is "to bring the Gospel to all creation" (cf. Mark 16:15). This includes those "followers of other religions who have their own sacred books and way of understanding the Word of God" (but that does not imply that their sacred books are the Word of God). There are people "who are actively searching or simply waiting unawares" for the Gospel. To these too "the Church feels duty-bound to the Word which saves" (cf. Romans 1:14). Christianity is not a "religion of the book", but a "religion of the Word of God, Incarnate in the Lord Jesus Christ". When dealing with the sacred texts of other religions, care must be taken "so as not to fall prey to syncretism, superficial approaches or a distortion of the truth". Attention should be paid to "the purity of the Word of God, authentically interpreted by the Magisterium". It is important to understand these "non-Christian religions and their respective cultures so as to discern the seeds of the Word present in them".
  7. The Word of God: The Leaven in Modern Culture
    Given the secular state of the world, it is clear that "engaging in a dialogue of culture is more urgent than ever". The Word of God must be "as leaven in a pluralistic and secularized world". Given the multitude of so-called paths to salvation and enlightenment in other religions, "a catechesis on Jesus Christ as 'the Way, the Truth and the Life' (John 14:6), not a casual treatment, but one which adequately prepares a person to confront opposing positions" is necessary. "It should be done in a way which clearly sets forth the Christian mystery and its beneficial effects in people's personal lives."
  8. The Word of God and Human History
    "The Word of God, planted by Christ as the seed of God's Kingdom, makes its way through human history" (cf. 2 Thess 3:1). The Word of God "can be read in the events and signs of the times with which God manifests himself in history". The Second Vatican Council recognizes this: "The Church has always had the duty of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel. Thus, in language intelligible to each generation, she can respond to the perennial questions which people ask about this present life and the life to come, and about the relationship of the one to the other." (Gaudium et Spes 4) The Church needs to know how to "decipher authentic signs of God's presence and purpose in the happenings, needs and desires in which this People has a part along with other people of this age" (Gaudium et Spes 11), and thereby "assist humanity to encounter the Lord of Life and History".

No comments: