Auditors at 14th General Congregation

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 14, 2008 ( Here are summaries of the interventions given this morning by the auditors at the 14th general congregation of the world Synod of Bishops, which is underway in the Vatican through Oct. 26. The theme of the assembly is «The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church.»

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— Mr. Andrea RICCARDI, Founder of S.Egidio Community (ITALY)

Gregorio Magno teaches: the Word grows with he who reads it. It enlightens the poor, guiding us to understand that to be close to them is to be close to Christ Himself . Thus emerges the structural dimension of the Christian: the disciple. He became this at the Sea of Galilee, listening to Jesus, before being called a Christian at Antioch. In a time of a whirlwind of words, the Word matures in silence. From this springs forth a prayer which keeps watch over the world. At times the Word is chained up by projects, protagonists, and ideological readings. Today people feel lost; they fear for their future. We speak of difficulties in evangelizing. But people want to listen. How do we help them? By nourishing ourselves on the Word of God. People sense those who love the Word.. Some Christians and ministers of the Word do not seem to be able to transmit the sense of the Word. It is enough to hear certain sermons. For everyone there is but one way: diligence in reading for a life. He who listens to the Word knows how to speak to the heart. To evangelize is not a technique, but to overflow with the Word. The Synod can be the right moment to promote a mature season of love for Scripture in the people of God.. Strengthened by a century of biblical culture, is it not time to develop devotion to the Sacred Page among the people of God? Christian men and women will thus become-as Chrysostom says-«simple with intelligence» in a complex world.

[Original text: Italian]

— Ms. Maria VOCE, President of Focolare Movement (ITALY)

From the dawn of the Focolari Movement, Chiara Lubich, together with a small group of friends, took up a spiritual path indicated by a profound rediscovery and life of the Gospel.

The effect of this life was the birth of a community formed by those, coming into contact with each other, who began in turn to live the Gospel with commitment and enthusiasm, sharing their many surprising experiences.

The Word of God occupies a central position today as well.

The Word is experienced as a spring of God (cf. DV 7) from which to drink, with which to nourish one’s soul, in the same way as with the Eucharist (cf. DV 21).

The custom of mutually sharing experiences resulting from a life of the Word leads to the rise of evermore authentic evangelization.

Therefore, we can understand Chiara’s yearning to leave the Gospel to those who would follow her. She said: «That which remains and will remain forever is the Gospel, which is not subject to the erosion of time» (…) «thus the Work of Mary will remain on earth truly as the other Mary: all Gospel, nothing but the Gospel, and, because it is the Gospel, it will not die».

[Original text: Italian]

— Mr. Luis Fernando FIGARI RODRIGO, Superior General of the Sodalitium Vitae Christianae (PERÚ)

In Ecclesiam suam, Pope Paul VI pointed out the communicating dimension of the divine Revelation. This same aspect is expressed in that beautiful passage of Exodus in which we are told that «the Lord was talking with Moses face to face, like with a friend.». Having reached the fullness of times, God pronounced His Word, which was with God since the beginning and that is God, and became flesh in the Immaculate Virgin Mary by means of the Holy Spirit.

The incarnated Eternal Word speaks a human language and manifests the mystery of God and his Plan as the mystery of the human being, the greatness of his vocation and the horizon of his personal realization.

The Word of God written by inspiration of the Spirit, questions the depths of the human being and invites him to the inspiring and indescribable encounter with Jesus the Lord.

Fundamental to this path is mastering an active silence that involves not only hearing but acting upon it in Ecclesia, which will open the heart to interiorization and following the Word of God. The listened and embraced Word inspires faith of the intellect in us, transforming our criteria into «the mind of Christ», to awaken faith in the heart so that «Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus»; and promotes faith in action, conscious that those who «listen to the Word, put it into practice» are blessed.

The Virgin Mary is the model of listening and the response to the Word of God.

[Original text: Spanish]

— Ms. Michelle MORAN, President of International Catholic Council of Charismatic Renewal Services (I.C.C.R.S.) (GREAT BRITAIN)

Commenting upon the essential relationship that exists between the Holy Spirit and the Word of God( IL.3). The Charismatic Renewal helps to foster a new openness to the graces and gifts and of the Holy Spirit. It is involved in producing resources to help people not just to have access to the Scriptures, important as this is, but also to have life changing experiences through encountering the Word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit.

When people come alive in faith there is a hunger for the Word of God. Some people fail to have this hunger satisfied due to poor homiletic preaching. Undoubtedly, there is more to be done in the area of clergy training in homiletics. However, if preaching is to come alive it requires an openness and docility to the power of the Holy Spirit. I would like to suggest that all those involved in the ministry of preaching and proclamation are also offered opportunities to experience a renewal of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

In IL, part III ‘the Word of God in the Mission of the Church,’ before beginning his public ministry we are told that Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit and led by the Spirit (LK 4:1). The Holy Spirit is therefore an essential prerequisite for effective Evangelisation and Mission. Prayerful attentiveness to the Word of God guided by the Holy Spirit will protect us from over activism and lead us into fruitful missionary engagement with the World.

[Original text: English]

— Prof. Thomas Hong-Soon HAN, Professor of Economy «College of Business and Economics», «Hankuk University of Foreign Studies» (Seoul); President of the Council for the Apostolate of Catholic Laity (KOREA)

My intervention refers to numbers 38,39 and 41 of Instrumentum Laboris.

There is urgent need•for a solid formation of Christ’s faithful on the Word of God. And this should be more than a mere transmission of knowledge. Formation in the Word of God must be «performative».(Spe Salvi, 2). It must be life-transforming and should aim at combating . «structures of sin» to create a better world to live in.

Performative Formation in the Word of God should integrate into it a solid formation in the Church’s social doctrine. The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church can serve as a valid instrument in this regard. We need competent educators in the field of social doctrine and in the study of the Word of God. The Church should invest human and financial resources in the formation of educators.

A performative formation in the Word of God requires that the whole Church and all its members must bear witness of actions. We must recognize that people are more persuaded by holiness of life than by intellectual argument.

The Church leaders need to make a serious examination of the lifestyles and possessions within the Church in light of the Word of God and take every measure possible to implement the social doctrine. Moreover, while making commercial contracts, the Church must ensure that principles of justice, living wages and good working conditions are included in them. Unfortunately, the Church’s record has not always been satisfactory.

I hope that this Synod will establish a biblical lifestyle proper to a witnessing Church and promote a performative formation of lay faithful.

[Original text: English]

— Sr. Evelyne FRANC, F.d.C., Superior General of the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de’ Paoli (FRANCE)

1. The Word of God at the heart of our lives (Instrumentum laboris no. 24, 38, 52)

The Word wakes us every morning and follows us t
hroughout the day, in the liturgy of Hours, the Eucharist, the times of prayer and the service. It is at the same time sweet as honey and bitter as bile; it comforts and moves, makes us go forth, and disorients us.

Sharing the Word (Lectio divina) reanimates our apostolic commitment, it is the unifying factor and the way to forgiveness, reconciliation and discernment. It is even more necessary today when, in the five continents, the Sisters close to the heart and the lives of the poor, are sometimes confronted by situations of extreme difficulty. Sharing the Word then strengthens their feeling of belonging to Christ, ties them once again to the community that sends them, to the mission of the Church.

2. Proclaiming the Word through our service for the poor. (Instrumentum laboris no. 36, 39, 43, 44)

The Word moves us to serve not only to fight material hunger, poverty, it moves us to work for a world where all are respected, it moves us to denounce injustice. A dual reading of the Word imposes: to live the life of the poor in the light of Scriptures and to read Scriptures from the viewpoint of the poor. They are sacrament of Christ among us, these poor who evangelize us.

In conclusion, two words on the proclamation of the Word in the pastoral ministry of youth and popular piety.

The youth from the five continents enthusiastically answer the challenges mentioned during the World Youth Day: «You are salt for the earth… You are light for the world.» (Mt 5:13-14) in Toronto, we «have come to do him homage» (Mt 2:2) in Cologne, «you will receive the power of the Holy Spirit which will come on you, and then you will be my witnesses» (Ac 1:8) in Sydney. The young persons await these challenges from us and are ready to pick them up when we walk by their sides, living of this Word and knowing how to explain it to them.

Number 36 of the Instrumentum laboris mentions popular piety, let us give an example: The miraculous medal offered to so many persons throughout the world is a humble catechetical instrument, a summary of the history of salvation that allows the proclamation of the Word of God.

This Word, Mary, the Eucharistic woman, our model of spiritual life, fully received and shares it with us completely.

[Original text: French]

— Prof. Rafael Chainarong MONTHIENVICHIENCHAI, Vice Chancellor of St. John’s University, Bangkok (THAILAND)

The role of parents in the development of the faith in children cannot be overemphasized. In the past and present, most Catholic parents will still teach their children to make the sign of the cross and recite simple prayers – all before the children even go to school.

For most parents, unfortunately, their role decreases substantially as soon as the children go to school. Teachers become more influential than the parents, especially regarding the formation of the faith in young children.

Catholic education and dedicated catechists/teachers with effective teaching methodology can help to form a long-lasting and solid faith in their young students who naturally refer to the Word of God when times are good and apply it when trouble arises

[Original text: English]

– Mr. Moysés Louro DE AZEVEDO FILHO, Founder and General Moderator of the Catholic Community Shalom (BRAZIL)

Through the ecclesial movements and the new communities, thousands of people have set out on the path to meet the living Jesus Christ and discovered the joy of being Church. This personal meeting with the Risen One who suffered the Cross and who breathes the Holy Spirit is the event that transforms the person into a disciple, allowing them to discover the beauty and strength of His Word.

Starting from this experience, the vital need arises in the heart of Christ’s disciple to feed on the Word of God and, at the same time, they feel impelled to meet it in a prayerful reading of Sacred Scripture, the Eucharistic Liturgy and in the missionary commitment to testify to that same Word with strength and courage, that is, with parresia.

In the experience of the Catholic Community of Shalom, the disciple follows a systematic and prayerful formative path at a personal and community level, relating to the Sacred Scriptures in the light of the living Tradition of the Church and following the indications of its Magisterium. In this way he nourishes his intelligence and his heart and the Word of God becomes the powerful force that transforms his life, at a personal, community and social level, urging him towards the mission.

We are certain that, in reality, we possess the full understanding of the Word of God when, through the power of the Spirit, we put it into practice in our daily lives and share it with others. The Word welcomed and transmitted in faith makes a witness of the disciple.

It is impressive to see how contact with a witness, nourished on the Word, prayer and the Eucharist, can transform itself into an experience with Christ Himself, in a meeting that is capable of changing lives.

Today we contemplate a multitude who hunger and thirst for the Word of God. These faces ask us to go to them and, as passionate witnesses, with parresia and creativity, to allow them to deeply know and love the Word made Flesh! And this is the only answer we can give. Thank you.

[Original text: Italian]

— Ms. Ewa KUSZ, President of the World Conference of Secular Institutes (C.M.I.S.) (ITALY)

In this Synod, I represent the secular institutes, whose members wish to be a sign of the unlimited belonging to Christ in the world.In my intervention I would like to focus attention on man, who must embrace and live according to the Word of God. To listen to the other – be it God or man – the person must first have experienced being heard by someone. We are living in a world where too many words are spoken without being listened to, because it is almost impossible to find a silent place in which to hear them. It is a world where man listens to, above all, his own needs and tries to satisfy them.

1. Therefore, if we wish to have people listen to the Word of God, those that proclaim it must first practice it in listening to the Word. They must learn to listen to God and to men. I believe that formation in the major seminaries, but also the permanent formation of priests, should not only transmit the intellectual knowledge of Holy Scripture, but also find the time to encounter God and practice the ability to listen to His Word. Apart from the ability to communicate, above all, the availability and the ability to listen should be developed.

2. The Working Document encourages the laity to «proclaim the Good News to men in all situations of life». I would like to underline that this «proclamation» of the Word of God by the laity often occurs without a word being said. In fact, it occurs through the simple daily witness at home, at work and in the neighborhood. This «silent» apostolate, comparable to leaven, is our main task. Only secondarily, some of us are animators in the various Bible groups in the parishes and elsewhere. Therefore, I ask that those responsible give the laity more trust, because we truly practice in our daily lives the hidden «service of the Word». I think it is important that the experience of the laity committed in the Church should be taken seriously and together we should find proper ways of «proclamation», since, in life we are closer to those to whom the Word is proclaimed.

[Original text: German]

— Sr. Jocelyne HUOT, S.F.A., General President of the «Les Brebis de Jésus» Movement, Québec (CANADA)

«I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me […] «I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full.» (Jn 10:14).

These are the founding words of the evangelical movement «The Flock of Jesus» (born in April 1985). Love unveils itself, Love thirsts for us. Who welcomes this revelation of mildness and force at the same time? The child, because he thirsts to be loved. «Here I am Jesus, I am your flock. Through your Holy Spirit, lead me into the heart of the Father
!» This Biblical image of the shepherd and the flock is not attained by breaking the parent-child relationship. Therefore, it offers a marvelous path of discovery of the love of God for each of us.

The entire pedagogy of the movement is based on the power of the Word of God. It is presented as the seed of life, called upon to bear fruit. It asks to be received in an open and attentive heart. Each encounter is privileged by this listening and is placed in the presence of Love.

The Word of God is also presented as the loving nourishment prepared by the Shepherd for His flock. Each evangelical experience is comparable to a banquet where the nourishment is offered to each child personally, shared and eaten in an atmosphere of joy and communion.

Finally, the Word of God is presented as a light of love. At the same time that intelligence is enlightened, the heart is set ablaze by a new flame which brings with it a missionary breath. The movement grows by the force of its witness and in the mystery of the Cross.

[Original text: French]

— Ms. Agnes Kam Leng LAM, President of Catholic Biblical Association of Hong Kong (CHINA)

1. The Word of God for the Church to shepherd today’s people in today’s world.The Church should respond to the daily behavioural pattern of today’s people, by adjusting her mode of showing forth the Word of God, so that today’s people may come to know Jesus Christ, follow him, finding in him the destiny of their lives.

– Simple method for the complex world. Examples of simple method: recitation, Lectio Divina

– Reading bible is like eating, a home-made soup prepared with love and time is delicious, while fast food is tasteless.

– Strive for living out the Word of God today and invite for taking part in the life and mission of the Word of God.

– Invite the Holy Father to open a multi-language blog to shepherd today’s world: daily scriptural verse with simple reflection, brief text and plentiful images

2. The Word of God for the Church to shepherd today’s faithful

Bible formation for the laity

– Drill on close listening to the Word of God: ‘Reading the Bible, entering the heart of the Lord.’ (Sr. Maria Ko, FMA, cf. Jn 14:20; Ph12:5)

– Basic drill on opening the Book of the Bible including formation on the attitude of Bible reading: attend to what the bible says, more than exegesis

– Survival kit on basic bible knowledge.

– In view of the demand for speed, return, variety and touch of life, try to stimulate a stable interest in Bible reading for the laity, through a basic bible program of sufficient length, so that the faithful may accustom to settle themselves at the feet of the Word of God.

Encourage Bible reading groups

– Laity needs community experience or partner support in bible reading and sharing

– Reminder on the skills and attitude of bible sharing

– Bible Pastoral Ministry Formation for the facilitators for Bible reading or sharing groups, including the development of methods for Bible sharing, should be tailor-made from or in response to local situation.

I propose to adopt «simple method for a complex world».

[Original text: English]

— Ms. Teresa Maria WILSNAGH, Regional Director of the Bible Foundation «Catholic Bible Foundation» (C.B.F.) of Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg (SOUTH AFRICA)

Not many people are aware of the Catholic Biblical Federation who, next year celebrate their 40th anniversary. The CBF is involved in the biblical pastoral apostolate with members all over the world. Within the CBF there is a strong network of support among the members concerning the different means of bringing Scripture to all people.

Within South Africa we have developed different programmes in a creative way on how to bring the Bible to all people in an exciting way.

The word «formation» does not sit well with me – I prefer the word «empower». We give the people of all ages – from the very young to the not so young – an encounter of the living presence of God / Jesus in the Bible. Many people are afraid to open their Bible and we show them you come as you are; God speaks to us in our every day lives, God speaks to us through others & God speaks to us in His word.

I find it impossible to share Scripture with others if I had not made the word my own – internalised it myself and listened! The following comment had been made within the Synod – our lives are a witness to others, what we do is much stronger than what we say!

Our programmes incorporate simple methods of Bible study, sharing & prayer. We show people you do not need to be a scholar to hear God speaking. Within Lectio Divina, they see how they can come to text several times; read, reflect and respond to the message that God has for them through a specific text.

With the young we invite them to share in a creative way eg. song, drama, protest march etc, their understanding of a specific text. Even a simple Lectio Divina has been developed for the youth. People are encouraged to use the coming Sunday’ s Gospel reading, so that when they come to Mass they have already spent some time with the Word. God speaks to them again when the Word is proclaimed and when the word is opened within the homily.

We have encountered people who can not read or write but have memorised texts; their love for the Word is powerful. We have had the occasion where we were given time within the Mass, at the time of the homily, to bring of our programme to the parishioners. As we know, for most at Mass, it is their only encounter of Scripture and many walk long distances for this opportunity to celebrate the Eucharist and the Word.

We empower people to take Scripture and make it their own; empower people to bring Scripture to others by training them in our methods so that the Word can spread even further!

The word of God is powerful, able to achieve anything it has been sent out to do. You just need to accept it in faith!

[Original text: English]

— Mr. Amel Diockel SARR, Catechist in the Dakar archdiocese (SENEGAL)

Most Holy Father and dear Synod Fathers,

I am participating in this Synod as a Catechist auditor, proposed to the Holy See by His Eminence Cardinal Theodore Adrien SARR, Archbishop of Dakar for this assembly. Our intervention leads obviously to the Word of God, but we believe that we cannot pronounce ourselves on this Word without an allusion to those who help you in a special way to proclaim the message of the Lord: we, the catechists.

By inspiring us with Truth: «Jesus the Word of God Par Excellence», we often tell the catechists that we are forming, that by proclaiming the Gospel (or the Word of God), in actions above all, the Catechist himself becomes gospel or word, that is to say a model.

This means that the Catechist, himself initiated in the Church and already a teacher, must be the first to respect the Word of God and live what it teaches us: he must be his own true catechist.

In catechetical pedagogy, we also say that we teach not only the catechesis between four walls, the teaching must continue in the city through the witness.

The catechists were a part of the «pioneers» during the first evangelization in many nations. Filled with our different cultures, tied to the Gospel, they were and remain the inescapable collaborators in the translation and the transmission of the Word of God.

Consequently, if we have taken the word, it is up to you to ask, dear Synod Fathers, for greater attention and support for their formation and their ministry.

Most Holy Father, on behalf of all the catechists, I wish for longevity and good health in view of the mission. We also pray for you, in union with our Bishops and our priests.

[Original text: French]

— Mr. Daniele BOSCARO, Head of the Italian Catholic Scouts Association (A.G.E.S.C.I.), Padova (ITALY)

Scouting has among its characteristics: contact with nature, the primacy of education through experience, the spirit of community and service to our
brothers. This can be translated as: the search for the traces of the Word of God to be found in the created world, in the ability to reread our history as the history of salvation, in sharing in the life of our brothers and choosing to serve them. The frame of reference is that there cannot be integral education of the person without a proposal of faith linked to it.

In our experience it appears urgent that the Word of God involves the whole person passing from the head to the heart to existentially involve people in their fundamental decisions that involve their being before their doing. This means working on an integration between Faith and Life that is capable of offering an approach to the Biblical text from the perspective of the full realization of man: today God and happiness are often seen by the young generations as being disconnected thus nourishing deluded attempts at self-salvation. To head and heart we can add hands: they bring to light the need for a faith that has its natural end in the service of one’s neighbor, so that faith will be described in its acting.

What emerges as primarily necessary is a personal relationship with the Living One, and to do this starting out, once again, from the announcement of the God News. Kerygmatic and catechetical paths, especially if supported by a personal accompaniment, are capable of leading to a rereading of the history of salvation with reference to one’s own personal history. This is why, starting from the centrality of Sacred Scripture approaches to the text that aim more at the interior lives of people (dramatization, body language, games) might be useful.

For the young, the central point is that they are the young adult Christians of tomorrow and on the basis of how much the Word of God will be present in the period of their fundamental choices, they will care for it and grow into a living and passionate Church.

As for lay people and the definition we heard here of «sleeping giant»: the word giant reveals the power and visibility they might be for the Church but also how much space they need to move in. The being «sleeping» highlights the need for a wakening and, probably, the time to prepare themselves and draw up an agenda of things to do.

[Original text: Italian]

— Sr. M. Clare MILLEA, A.S.C.J., Superior General of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)

The Instrumentum laboris, with its seven specific references to consecrated life, as well as three references to community life clearly challenges our congregations and each of us personally to contribute to this ecclesial event. As religious, the following of Christ set forth in the Gospels is our supreme rule, and union with God through the profession of the evangelical counsels is our purpose for being. (Perfectae Caritatis, 2a, e).

The founders and foundresses of religious congregations were enlightened by a spark of the Word of God which the Holy Spirit ignited in their hearts, causing each charism and Rule to spring from that Word and be an expression of it. (cf. CIVCSVA, Starting Afresh from Christ, no. 24).

The charism of the Servant of God Clelia Merloni, Foundress of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, has its origin in the Heart of Christ pierced on the Cross for the redemption of the world (cf. Jn. 19,34). She calls her daughters to bring to all people the Word that illuminates, the faith that saves, the example that convinces, the self-sacrifice that redeems, and the infinite and merciful love that bursts forth from the very Heart of Jesus.

In occasion of the preparation and celebration of this Synod, many of our local communities have recommitted themselves to personal and community lectio divina and are seeking ways to promote prayerful reading of the Scriptures among the people with whom they serve, particularly young people.
We have also begun a Congregation-wide campaign of solidarity to provide Bibles for youth and families who cannot afford one and who are willing to learn to read and pray Scripture along with our Sisters.

Apostles from 13 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America have been sharing with me their experiences of personal transformation through the power of the Word, even in the lives of non-Christians.

We are grateful for the Synod’s encouragement and prayer for all of us who have chosen to follow Christ in the way of the evangelical counsels. We promise you our faithful and loving obedience and our joyful collaboration in the great evangelizing mission of the Church.

[Original text: English]

— Sr. M. Viviana BALLARIN, O.P., Superior General of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, President of the Union of Superiors Major of Italy (U.S.M.I.) (ITALY)

I refer to numbers 25 and 52 of the Instrumentum Laboris.

There is a mysterious and very close bond between the Word and woman.

It is the experience of a many consecrated women who, called by name, have not resisted the attraction of the Divine Word pronounced in their lives, women who with the concern of Mary run along the paths of many human stories, carrying the Word in their bosom and extending it to those who hunger and thirst for the truth, to all, even to those who do not know how to seek it. Women, conscious and pleased to make their energies available so that hope, love, dignity, tenderness, and even beauty might live within every human heart.

In an orphaned society, turned inward onto itself, consecrated women become a living exegesis of the Word of God which continues to embody itself in the concreteness of their lives which are consigned, itinerant, filled with good works, completely dedicated, at times even to the point of martyrdom.

They are this for all people, even for those who do not recognize them, for those whom it is difficult or even dangerous to approach, those avoided. Reaching the most hidden corners of human existence, spaces or situations where homilies cannot be given, but only shouted with the power of silence which becomes presence and following, action and service, caring caress..

Many consecrated/religious women tireless witnesses, dispensers of the Word of God which is Father and mother. They live amidst school desks and prisons, hospital beds and on the streets, near the drug addicts, those suffering AIDS, women exploited by prostitution, by the elderly’s side and by abused children, close to destroyed families, or the homeless or the unemployed, close to all the sick of any sort, the tender presence in every corner of the world. This multitude of untiring women dispensers of the Word are the face of the Mother Church with their mother’s hands and heart, they are her fruitful womb, they are the place where God can meet man and man can meet his God.

That this mother’s face and heart, reflected by a passionate Love which seeks its children, may be expressed with effectiveness in the final document of the Synod of the Word of God and even more so in the daily word of the Church Herself.

[Original text: Italian]

— Ms. Natalja FEDOROVA BOROVSKAJA, Professor at the State Humanistic University in Russia and at the Russian Academy of Fine Arts (RUSSIAN FEDERATION)

I am a teacher of the History of art so my intervention is connected with §22d of Instrumentum Laboris where art shows us as an instrument of «a spiritual reading of the Bible». We have just listened to the beautiful reflections of the ex. bishops from Roumania and Germany about the role of art in our contacts with the Holy Scripture. For me the Christian art, especially Russian icons and Italian Renaissance painting became a route to the space of God’ s life. I was born in the USSR – the country of state atheism. I’ve never thought about the God and nobody spoke with me about Him except the works of art, music and literature.

Today I teach the history of art. And the main question for me – what methods and conception of the teaching can help my students to meet the love of God through their studies. And it’s evident: they will find the
ir Father only if I’ll be able to remain in the space of His Word. But how to stay there in the situation of lecture or seminar when it’s necessary to decide the concrete professional problems? In this case three moments are important:

1. To receive the work of art in the heart like a prayer of painter. Giving a lecture to understand that you are staying in the atmosphere of this prayer like a priest for his liturgical celebration stays in the eternal prayer of Christ.

2. To look at the history of art with the spiritual attention trying to read its deep religious symbolism. I think that the Church must pray constantly for all the masters and art historians because the life of art in the world is the sacred history of God’s mercy.

3. To look at the person of artist in the light of the God’s love. We see that often the painter’s biography is the crossway, and the content of the cross consists of his sins, mistakes and temptations, that unfortunately are too well-known. Not every painter lived like fra Beato Angelico. Why in spite of the dark circumstances of their life they could create their high-spiritual works? The concept of these phenomena is not only scientific. This is a history of art as a history of the Word of God, the history of Salvation for that the Eternal Word – Jesus Christ – is ready to suffer, to be crucified and to die in the soul of every painter for the rising in his talent that was created by the Farther like a language of His Beloved Son.

[Original text: English]

— Ms. Silvia SANCHINI, National Woman’sPresident of the Italian Catholic University Federation (F.U.C.I.) (ITALY)

Two fundamental considerations: the importance of the Word in the lives of young people and the link between Word and life and therefore also between Word and study.

The Word can and must be a real beacon, lighting the path for young people, helping them understand, helping them to discover their vocation, especially in this difficult phase distinguished by what the Pope has defined a real «educational emergency»characterized by new forms of malaise and violence.

Study too can help in the discovery of the importance of hearing and living the Word. The Gospel and culture, faith and intelligence are not opposites. On the contrary, they can provide mutual nourishment and foster the growth of a mature and believing conscience.

I would suggest that serious and well-defined proposals are made to help promote the encounter between young people and the Word. Above all the experience of the Lectio divina, for personal and communal prayer, but also days and weeks devoted to youth Bible study – preferably in collaboration with monastic communities. My hope is that more and more young people rediscover the primacy and centrality of the Word in their life.

[Original text: Italian]
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