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— Most. Rev. Ab. Michel JORROT, O.S.B., Abbot of the Benedictinw Abbey of Clervaux (LUXEMBOURG)
Most Holy Father, Fathers of the Synod, Brothers and Sisters,
My gratitude is immense for being able to participate in this Synod. I owe this to your taking into account the sixty years dedicated to the critical edition of the Vulgate elaborated by the Benedictine monks of Clairvaux (among others), at the Abbey of Saint Jerome, founded by Pius XI in 1933.
I would also like to add my thanks to you on behalf of my community, because you quoted four times Dom Jean Leclercq (+ 1993), a monk of Clairvaux, in your speech to the Bernardins in Paris. The title of his book on the monastic culture and spirituality in the Middle Ages is significant: “The Love of Learning and the Desire for God”. Thank you Holy Father “gratia Benedictus et nomine” St. Gregory the Great.
Receiving the Word of God
“The Love of Learning and the Desire for God”” is inscribed in the Rule of Saint Benedict. This is realized with a main recommendation to the Cenobite monks: “do not prefer anything over the work of God”, that is to say: liturgical prayer.
IL no. 34: “We are what we hear!”
A considerable assertion in relationship to the attitude of hearing. The listener allows himself to be modeled internally by the thoughts of God. This attitude to listening could be considered as an a priori acceptance of all that comes from God, as opposed to the recrimination if presented in the Gospel. Allow me to summarize in the four letters of the word “amen” this a priori acceptance.
4 points of reflection
A as in Abba (IL no. 9). With this new name for God, Jesus wanted to tell us all about His Father and about Himself. This Abba is the one who wishes that all men be saved in making them one family of sons and daughters in His only Son. This Father constantly acts through .foreseeing (?)grace coming from the heart of all men to make him able to welcome His Word made flesh. The Immaculate Conception is the most foreseeing grace And the most sanctifying at the same time, allowing the Virgin Mary to say “Fiat”. Amen.
M (2nd letter) as in Memorial. The sacramentality of the Word has been stated. The proclamation gives back the force of something said to Scripture. Also, Scripture is often written under the form oriented towards memorization. Through memory the Word penetrates and acts in persons. Like Mary, we must retain what we don’t even understand and meditate upon it in her heart.
E (3rd letter) as in Explanation. The Word addresses the intelligence in faith. It must be explained. This explanation is necessary for all ages and is based on the characteristic of dialogue which is revelation. Should not this explanation of the Word be given gradually just as LG speaks about a hierarchical presentation of the dogma themselves?
N (4th letter) as in Nourishment (Especially IL no. 38). The lectio divina is not reserved for monks alone. This nourishment effectively allows “becoming what we hear” which is the evangelical radicalism of monastic life. Also, he who prays already accomplishes the Word which is the calling to prayer. When this prayer is chanted it penetrates and fills the soul because singing (especially Gregorian Chant) expands the words of the Word of God to the point of becoming an immense space where listening becomes one with the center of one’s life.
The Reading of Saint Paul by Saint Theresa of the Baby Jesus shows up to what point she became what she had read: “At the heart of the Church I will be love”. She writes: “O luminous beacon of love, I know how to reach you. I found the secret in appropriating your flame”. Amen.
Thank you very much.[Original text: French]
— Sr. Janice SOLUK, S.A.M.I., Superior General of the Handmaids of the Blessed Virgin Mary the Immaculate, Rome (ITALY)
Our congregation founded in Ukraine in 1892 is of Pontifical rite, the first Apostolic Congregation in the Eastern Byzantine Tradition, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. Being a Ukrainian Catholic congregation we are very close to the heart of our people. Even during the Communist era the sisters never abandoned our people. As an underground church and at great risk to themselves, the sisters continued to catechize, encourage and strengthen believers as well as to arrange for priests to visit the sick and dying in the hospitals. The Eastern mentality is one of the heart rather than of intellect and as such the 5 senses are very much involved and are central to our celebrations. The reading of Holy Scripture in all services is very important.
Before Vatican II, we did not have any Bibles available in the vernacular — Ukrainian — they were only in old Slavonic which most did not understand. If one did have a Bible, it was placed in a special place, kissed and shown great reverence, but not read for daily nourishment. In Ukraine under Communism the Bibles taken away and prohibited. Only since 1990 have Bibles and spiritual books began to appear, to be hungered for and to have an impact. Today Sacred Scripture is the Sisters most important rule of life.
3 traditions show the importance and value the people have placed on the reading of the Bible from earlier times until today.
1 )Individuals kneel under the Gospel Book as the scripture is being read. They then kiss the book and return to their places.
2) During the Gospel reading adults, families or children are called to the front, and hold candles -a great privilege. All kiss the Scriptures at the end.
3) Local women beautify the altar, icons, and pulpit from which the Gospel is read by intricately embroidering linens on which the Bible rests. In Ukraine our sisters are again teaching children, youth and adults how to use scripture, to read and pray them so as to meet Jesus the living word.
We as women religious, a Congregation dedicated to Mary the Mother of God take her as our model. We try to incarnate the Word of God in ourselves, in order to continue to transmit the Jesus life within us to others in our ministry, so that Christ may ever be the light of the world to all.[Original text: English]
— Sr. Apollinaris SHIMURA YURIKO, C.S.M., Superior General of the Sisters of Charity of Miyazaki (JAPAN)
My home land is Japan, where only 0,4% of the 120 million inhabitants are Catholic. However, Japan is also a country where the Bible is one of the books most read and appreciated also by non Christians and especially among cultured people. For the children Bible is available in cartoons (MANGA) and for the lovers of sacred music a vast repertory of excellent music is available.
Despite so much admiration and sympathy for Christian culture and ethics, Japan remains a “Land of Mission” where many people have never heard the Gospel and are awaiting it to be proclaimed a first time.” (instr. Lab. N. 43).
The first task of religious persons who live and work in Japan, is to make the First Proclamation of the Word of God. This is done through the witness of life, different works of charity, among which teaching is particularly useful. For example, it always moving to see the impact that Nursery School children have on their parents when they tell the story of Jesus they have learned in school.
However, the first evangelization implies walking slowly, waiting patiently awaiting and the certainty that God makes His Kingdom grow in silence, without our knowledge and despite our limitations.
In these 60 years since World War II Japanese society has begun an un restrained rush towards economic development. But this has also provoked grave harm, including the fact that Japan has the tenth highest suicide rate in the world, especially among young people. “If we listen, we can hear from the families, and from the workplace, the cry of people in continual pain, because they are crushed by the utilitarian structure of a society that looks exclusively at economic well-being (Message by Japanese Bishops 2001).
Face with the challenges posed by such societies, we religious men and women feel weak and inadequate, but we cannot close our ears to the cries of suffering or to God’s call to proclaim to our people the Gospel of life and of universal brotherhood to oppose the violence, which as well as destroying natural resources also causes discrimination and death.
As noted in Instrumentum laboris no. 43, there are many obstacles to proclaiming the Gospel. In Asia and Japan, in order to follow Christ as true disciples, we feel the need to open ourselves more and more to His Friendship through the interiorization of the Word of God.
On the 24th of next month (November) at Nagazaki in Japan 188 Japanese martyrs will be beatified. The Church in Japan, as in other Asian nations, has as the foundation of its faith the testimony of many martyrs. By following their example and with their intercession, we too will be able to face the difficulties without discouragement and we will be able to complete the mission of prophecy with which we have been entrusted. For this, I would ask all of you to take part in a special prayer.[Original text: Italian]
— Sr. Marija Ana KUSTURA, S.M.I., Superior General of the Handmaidens of Baby Jesus, President of the Union of Superiors Mjor of Croatia (CROATIA)
From the Instrumentum laboris (III, chapter 7), I will only refer to apostolic consecrated life. Too often in the lives of our communities and congregations, the Word of God is not sufficiently the Word of Life, which must be translated into a commitment in the concrete life of the Church. Often, we first think about the communities, constitutions, congregations, without keeping in mind the concrete needs and problems of the local Churches. The general tendency is turning in on oneself, blocking us from hearing the needs of the Church. Sectarian drifting can come from this, blocking us from hearing the Word of God and different calls from the Magisterium of the Church. The Word of God should lead us to keep in mind the teachings of the Holy Father in his different interventions, of the Magisterium as well as the pastors of our local Churches who for us, religious persons, should be a guide and a reference in our life as consecrated persons. It is up to the Superiors who are responsible to watch over this, so that this dimension of the tie is lived correctly in a spirit of charity.
In this month of October, Saint Theresa of Avila can introduce us into this mystic life of communication with Jesus and his teaching through the Word and his love towards the Church.
And the Little Theresa of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face teaches us how we, the consecrated persons, can be missionary at the same time as being his example, the love in the heart of the Church our Mother.[Original text: French]
— Mr. Francisco José GÓMEZ ARGÜELLO WIRTZ, Co-Founder of the Neo-Catechumenal Way (SPAIN)
I am grateful to the Holy Father for the invitation to participate in this Synod, and, above all, we are profoundly grateful for the definitive approval of the Statute of the Neocatechumenal Way, that recognizes it as a fruit of the Council, defines it as a way of diocesan realization of Christian initiation and permanent education in the faith, that grants it a public legal personality and offers it to the Bishops as an instrument at the service of their evangelical mission.
The announcing of kerygma: that God raised Jesus from the dead and made of Him Kyrios so that He might announce to all men conversion and eternal life: God allowed us to live and experience this in a spirit of surprise and wonder amidst the poor in the slums of Palomeros Altas in Madrid, where we discovered the tripod on which to base Christian life: the Word of God, liturgy and community.
Thus one of the three pillars of the way is the Word of God, celebrated in small communities. In early catechesis, the neocatechumenates listen to the preaching of the Kerygma and receive the hermeneutic keys that are necessary to listen to the Word: to see in Jesus Christ the center and the completion of the Scriptures and to examine the facts of their own lives under the light of His Word. This Scriptural initiation is sealed in a celebration of the Word in which the participants receive the Bible from the hands of the Bishop, the guarantor of its authentic interpretation. This is how the path to the rediscovery of faith in the light of the Word that illuminates its own history as the history of salvation.
The Neocatechumenal Way, that has now been definitively approved by the Holy See, is thus an instrument offered to the pastors of the Church to carry out the New Evangelization, that opens a path for Christian initiation for the distant in the parishes.[00263-02.05] [UD019] [Original text: Italian]
— Dr. Ponpuzhakottayil Cherian ANIYANKUNJU, Public Relation Officer of the Archdiocese of Changanacherry of the Syro-Malabars (INDIA)
Many fathers referred to a spiritual hunger in the midst of plentiness of food. Is it not the problem with the ways we serve it? Every proclamation whether through silence, words or deeds finds fruit to the extent of the awareness, readiness and preparation of the preacher to incarnate. We address a person with his or her particular context of life, feelings etc. For the Gospel message to be received well we should take the pain of’ going down’ to the level of the listener. A genuine ‘going down’ involves suffering in its true sense, like putting aside our ego and laboring hard to understand the people. It adds to our credibility as a servant of the Word of God.
Incarnatin also means, as I understand, ‘going up’ to the level of the target group.
Sometimes we underestimate people when we preach. This also affects the extent of reception. We have to update ourselves in matters of different but related areas of knowledge of the theme taken. This is of special importance in the case of homily.
The principle of incarnation equally applies to parents and teachers. The Christian sense of humility springs from it. The Council teaches that parents are the prime teachers of faith to their children (AA.11 ). It is they who are to introduce the Word of God to their children. The first and foremost thing is to develop a sense of reverence towards the Word of God. The Council in the very opening sentence of the Constitution (DV.l) exhorts to approach the Word of God with reverence. This is to be taught at the stage of infancy which only the parents can do. Their prime duty is to transmit this sense through their ways of handling the Bible. They have to cook the Word of God for their children so that they can digest it. As children grow they attach themselves to the Book. In fact, our Lord dwells in the family through the Holy Scriptures and helps the couples to live the sacrament of marriage. Do the parents try to witness the Word of God in the family and in the profession? For this, proper orientation should be given to the faithful such that the passive majority become the active majority in proclaiming the Word of God.
From my personal experience as the head of a family, the Liturgy of Hours is an effective way to familiarize with the Scriptures and an easy means to pray using the Word of God. When a child is reluctant to take milk, its mother often mixes it with other items and see that it goes to the stomach of the child. Church, our mother through the Liturgy of the Hours do the same thing in the case of the Word of God. Here again special theological, liturgical and biblical training given to the laity is very important (AA.28). In India certain dioceses have taken initiatives in establishing Theological centers for the Laity.[Original text: English]