Auditors at 20th General Congregation
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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 21, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here are summaries of the interventions given this morning by auditors at the 20th general congregation of the world Synod of Bishops, which is under way in the Vatican through Oct. 26. The theme of the assembly is on "The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church."
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-- Mr. Carl Albert ANDERSON, Supreme Knight of the Order of the Knights of Columbus (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)
(A) For many years the Knights of Columbus has promoted a form of Lectio Divina within the context of Marian devotion through the Rosary and Marian Hours of Prayer. We consider such communal proclamation and meditation on the Word of God within the setting of traditional Catholic devotions - especially recitation of the Rosary - to be part of an effective response to the advances of the sects especially in Latin America, where communities are disadvantaged because of a priest shortage. In this way, we may more fully grow in the knowledge of Mary as "every believer's model for receiving the Word" and as Cardinal Quellet observed, like her, respond in a way that is "dynamic, dialogical and contemplative."
(B) To provide greater formation and catechesis for the laity, we suggest that a compendium to the Lectionary be developed that coordinates sections of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to the Sunday readings in order to provide a greater richness in Sunday preaching and a greater connection between the fundamental truths of the Catholic faith and Holy Scripture.
(C) To enhance greater formation of the laity in "higher studies" of the Word of God so that "the newness and the power of the Gospel shine out every day in their family and social life," we recommend Catholic universities enhance their core philosophy and theology requirements to include the entire New Testament with the intention of promoting a realistic and loving knowledge of the faith by encouraging, in the words of Dei Verbum, "a pious reading of the Bible."
[Original text: English]
-- Rev. Daniel Pablo KERBER MÁS, Professor of Bible Theology at the Theological Faculty; Director of the Pastoral Institute of Catechesis of Montevideo, Parish priest of St. Alexander and St. Peter Claver (URUGUAY)
The Church exists in order to evangelize because She herself listens every day to the Gospel that the Lord proclaims. How does the Church turn itself every time into a witness of the listening in order to be mistress of the listening?
Talking about the Word of God means letting us encounter the God of the Word. How are all these efforts around the Word marked by this key to the encounter?
It is necessary to change the paradigm of formation, centralizing the live Word of God.
There are already many tools, CEBIPAL, FEBIC, SBU. How do we reciprocally become rich with these initiatives which the same Spirit rouses in the Church?
[Original text: Spanish]
-- Ms. Elvira GO, Assistent of the Bible Pastoral (PHILIPPINES)
My involvement with the National Catholic Family Bible Quiz in the Philippines has been an experience of choice, change and challenge inspired by the Holy Spirit.
An experience of choice. It was in 1997 that I experienced the Lord' s presence with his message "I exist". The Holy Spirit, "the Lord, the giver of life" reawakened my faith in the living God. This religious experience led me to many surprises beyond my personal choices like my involvement with the National Catholic Family Bible Quiz.
An experience of change. The participants in the Family Bible Quiz experienced the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in their lives. This experience of change reflects no. 41 of Instrumentum Laboris:
"The Word questions, exhorts and incites the believer on the road of discipleship and in the following of Christ; prepares a person to accept the transforming action of the Spirit; greatly promotes communion and the creation of deep bonds of fellowship; and inspires commitment to spreading the Word."
An experience of challenge. The Family Bible Quiz in the Philippines is a collaboration of families with the support of our lay volunteers, religious, priests, bishops and the media. How to continue this project is a challenge for all of us but we trust in the Holy Spirit who inspires and gives life to each of one of us. It is the Word of God that "nourish the life of the believer, there by creating a biblical spirituality: a deep interiorizing of the Word; persevering in trials with the Word's inspiration ... " (no. 41, Instrumentum Laboris). To persevere is to face the challenges of this work.
[Original text: English]
-- Sr. Euphrasie BEYA, President of the Union of Superiors Major in the Democratic Republic of Congo (U.SU.MA.) (CONGO R.)
My intervention refers to no. 51 of the Instrumentum laboris on the duties of the laity. “As members of the Church through Baptism and sharers in Christ’s priestly, prophetic and royal office, the lay faithful participate in the salvific mission which the Father entrusted to his Son for the salvation of all peoples (LG 34-36)... They are also called to allow the newness and the power of the Gospel to shine out everyday in their family and social life”.
I think about the role that the women in Africa play in the proclamation of the Word of God, the catechists who are mothers, the readers, the teachers, the educators, the professors.
I think about the action of the mother, in a special way, in the initiation of children to Holy Scriptures in the family. She lives with the child more than anyone else, she knows how, to raise her hearing for the Word of God and to help enter this personal relationship with God. Often it is the mother who communicates to the child Christian values, such as forgiveness, sharing...
To better fill this educating mission, the African woman needs, not only the Word of God but also Biblical formation. She is in search of the knowledge of her faith: to know not only the traditional values of the culture but also the roots of faith in the tradition of the universal Church so that she may “grow firm in power with regard to your inner self” (Eph 3:16) in the love of Christ and through her life and her words that she may “always have [her] answer ready for people who ask you the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Pet 3). From here the importance of Biblical formation to better enter within the Scriptures because knowledge is the source of Love, the gift of the Holy Spirit who leads to the gift of our being of God in charity. This is the example of the Blessed Annuarite, a religious woman who died a martyr for the radicalism of her evangelical counsels.
This Biblical formation is even necessary for the mothers in the villages who are often the victims of sects’ manipulations.
For the woman who cannot read or write, it is important to promote the oral transmission of Bible passages because, being of an oral tradition, they are very capable of memorizing and internalizing. For mass media, to organize Biblical formations according to their level.
[Original text: French]
-- Prof. Rigoberto ANGARITA, Professor at the Institute of St. Joseph of the Salesian Fathers at St. Cristobal (VENEZUELA)
I wish to glorify God, One and Triune for his infinite goodness and mercy, which allows me to participate with all of you in this assembly.
My joy is even greater in listening to the speeches presented in these days, which underline the concerns that, as shepherds of our Church, emerge with regard to the splendid theme chosen by His Holiness for this Synod.
As a lay person, I share many of these concerns, as our people are needy on economic, political and socio-cultural levels; but, without a doubt, the greatest need consists in the thirst and hunger for God and His Word; the Word that gives life, the Word that transforms, frees, heals and redeems.
The Word of God allows us to know true hope, filling us with strength and enthusiasm to face any kind of problem. It is the Holy Spirit Himself who speaks to us and calls upon us, for this, I believe that the content of this Synod should be widely spread, studied and applied in all dioceses and parishes that constitute the Universal Church.
In our diocese, the Bishop His Excellency Monsignor Mario Del Valle Moronta Rodríguez, in answer to the Plenary Council of Venezuela, called a Synod that was attended by all the priests, the representatives of the religious communities and the laity of the apostolic movements and of all parishes. It was a marvelous experience which truly allowed us to “walk together” as a Church, animating us and planning the different pastoral activities for the next three years.
This experience allowed the planning of pastoral program called “Participated Parish, community in the community”, where the subdivision of the parishes into small communities to foster the life of faith among neighbors is proposed.
The goal of this is to create authentic Christian communities, reproducing the beginnings of our beloved Church presented in the book of the Acts of the Apostles 2:42. We are convinced that in the small communities one can contemplate, meditate and live the Holy Scripture, therefore in virtue of the fruits of this diocesan Synod produced, may I be allowed to suggest, with due respect, that the realization of a Diocesan Assembly or Diocesan Synods should be motivated with the specific theme that we are facing here and which, in the light of this Holy Synod, may study the strong and weak points of every parish to plan pastoral strategies that are pertinent and in step with diocesan reality today.
We, the laity, also wish to commit ourselves and offer our lives to the service of the Word of God, with a missionary spirit, in our work places, places of study, residences and above all in our families, the crib of the life and love of the Lord.
Dear shepherds, count on us so that “Walking together” we may reach the blessed goal.
[UD029] [Original text: Spanish]
-- Sr. Maria Antonieta BRUSCATO, F.S.P., Superior General of the Society of the Pious Daughters of Saint Paul (ITALY)
I thank the Lord who, in his mysterious and providential design, led me here, in your midst, to reflect upon the role of the Word of God in the life and the mission of the Church, of every Christian; a reflection which becomes more stimulating and courageous every day.
And I am profoundly grateful to the Holy Father for this joyous opportunity. I feel that all the Daughters of Saint Paul are present with me, who have always been committed to the “preaching of the Divine Word”, according to the example of the Apostle to the Gentiles, as our Founder, the blessed Giacomo Alberione, loved to repeat to us, who in every part of the world urged us to the most abundant spreading of the Bible and the Gospel.
My intervention refers to that which is affirmed in Number 52 of the Instrumentum Laboris (IL) regarding the service to the Word of God carried out by consecrated persons.
Through the centuries, consecrated life, in both men and women, contemplative and apostolic, has always nourished its life and its mission at the table of the Word. It could be no different. Religious life is, in fact, called to be prophecy, and prophecy is born with its ear “at the mouth of God”, sustaining itself on hearing: “Morning by morning he makes my ear alert to listen like a disciple” (Is 50:4). It is the experience of the same Word of God, directed constantly toward the Father (Jn 1:1), reaching out to Him, to His Word, to His will.
I am convinced that we consecrated persons become disciples of the Master to the extent that we welcome the Word with attentive, docile, and praying heart, allowing ourselves to be evangelized by the “supreme advantage of knowing Christ” (Ph 3:8). In the last decades, thanks to the repeated invitations of the Magisterium, the table of the Word occupies a place of importance in our personal and community life. It is food for the spirit, light and strength for persevering along the ways of the Lord, source of creativity and apostolic audacity.
How much the Word runs through our day! We should be “kneaded” into it so that we speak of it with our life, to be ourselves the Word. In reality, we are well aware that we have not yet attained that spiritual quality and apostolic fruit of the abundance of the Seed continually planted in our life. We risk being suffocated by the thorns of the present moment: advancing age, the lack of vocations, works to support, inadequacy when facing the challenges of the world and apostolic emergencies...We would like to do more, to have more: personally, economically, in professional preparation.
[Original text: Italian]
-- Rev. Fidèle MABEGLE, Director of the School of Theology for Laity and the Archdiocese of Yaoundé (CAMEROON)
No. 51 of the Instrumentum laboris, among other things, mentions the formation of the lay faithful so that they may “exercise their mission in the world [...] to proclaim the Good News to mankind in the everyday circumstances of their lives.”
This was also underlined by Pope John Paul II in his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa, number 53. The Holy Father, of joyous memory, asks us to focus attention on the formation of the lay faithful, because of “their indispensable role in the evangelization of Africa” (The exemplary case of catechists is very eloquent).
The Supreme Magister’s wish coincided with the hope of the African lay faithful, in general, and in particular with the laity in Cameroon. And the Church in Cameroon answered positively and efficiently to the Pope’s request and to the call of the laity. The Faculty of Theology of the Catholic University of Central Africa, in Yaounde, forms many lay persons of our sub-region. Several dioceses of Cameroon have begun the experience of the theological school for the laity (Douala, Yaounde, Buea and Bamenda among others). I would like to mention the experience of the Archdiocese of Douala, of which I am the moderator.
Three years ago, His Eminence Cardinal Christian Tumi, Archbishop of Douala created the “Cathedral School of Theology St. Jerome of Douala” which is a house of formation for the lay faithful. His motto is: “To ignore Scripture is to ignore Christ”. His fundamental objective is to form Christians, adults responsible for their vocation in today’s world; lovers of the Word of God who dominate it without complexes, loving Christ, of his Church and of man according to the plan of saving in GOD, who they will have learned to better know in this kind of open seminar lasting three or four years.
The stake is that the fundamental principles of theology and philosophy that they need to fully live the Christina commitment in the world and announce with efficiency the saving message transmitted by the Word of God are accessible to all our laymen. This way then, on the road of this Word of God, they will no longer be passive simple listeners, but active participants, competent and useful knowledgeable collaborators.
Our laymen, in order to become acquainted with the Word of God contained in the Bible, and with the Catechism of the Catholic Church are introduced to philosophy, to the Sacred Scripture, to Catechism, to dogma, to canon law, to spirituality and to the history of the Church. At the end of this formation, we have well-prepared pastoral agents.
In a world where men do not find the time to dedicate to the study of sacred things, we want to emphasize the implicit challenge to deny this minimalist concept. That is why we have organized this period of formation in free time for active people in society. Our school is one of our best activities of pastoral and deep evangelization of our faithful and we pray God that His Word becomes the principle of their choices and of their guidance in life.
[Original text: French]