VATICAN CITY, DEC. 4, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here are translations of the synodal propositions 11-15, which were submitted to Benedict XVI at the end of the world Synod of Bishops on the “Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church,” held in October at the Vatican.
ZENIT will publish a translation of the remaining propositions in subsequent services.
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Word of God and charity toward the poor
One of the characteristic features of sacred Scripture is the revelation of God’s predilection for the poor (cf. Matthew 25:31-46). Jesus of Nazareth, Word of God incarnate, went through this world doing good (cf. Acts 10:35). The Word of God, willingly received, generates abundantly in the Church charity and justice towards all, above all towards the poor.
As the encyclical “Deus Caritas Est” teaches, the first to have the right to the proclamation of the Gospel are in fact the poor, in need not only of bread but also of words of life. However, the poor are only the recipients of charity, but also agents of evangelization, in as much as they are open to God and generous in sharing with others. Pastors are called to listen to them, to learn from them, to guide them in their faith and to motivate them to be architects of their own history. Deacons in charge of the service of charity have a particular responsibility in this ambit. The Synod encourages them in their ministry.
Inspiration and truth of the Bible
The Synod proposes that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith clarify the concepts of inspiration and truth of the Bible, as well as their reciprocal relationship, in order to understand better the teaching of “Dei Verbum” 11. In particular, it is necessary to highlight the originality of the Catholic biblical hermeneutics in this field.
Word of God and natural law
The synodal fathers are well aware of the great challenges present in the current historical moment. One of these touches the enormous development that science has realized in regard to knowledge of nature.
Paradoxically, the more this knowledge increases the less one sees the ethical message that stems from the same. In the history of thought, ancient philosophers already used to call this principle “lex naturalis” or natural moral law. As Pope Benedict XVI has recalled, this expression seems to have been made incomprehensible today “because of a concept of nature that is no longer metaphysical, but only empirical. The fact that nature, being itself is no longer permeable to a moral message, creates a sense of disorientation that makes decisions of daily life precarious and uncertain” (Feb. 12, 2007).
In the light of the teaching of sacred Scripture, as recalled above all by the Apostle Paul in the Letter to the Romans (cf. Romans 2:14-15), it is good to underline that this law is written in the depth of the heart of each person and each one can access it. Its basic principle is that one must “do good and avoid evil”; a truth that is evidently imposed on all and from which other principles stem that regulate ethical judgment on the rights and duties of each one. It is good to recall that to be nourished by the Word of God also increases knowledge of the natural law and allows for progress of the moral conscience. Hence, the synod recommends to all pastors that they have special solicitude in which the ministers of the Word are sensitive to the rediscovery of the natural law and its function in the formation of consciences.
SECOND PART: THE WORD OF GOD IN THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH
Word of God and liturgy
The assembly, convoked and gathered by the Spirit to hear the proclamation of the Word of God, is transformed by the same action of the Spirit that is manifested in the celebration.
In fact, there, where the Church is, Lord’s Spirit is; and where the Lord’s Spirit is, the Church also is (cf. Saint Irenaeus, “Adversus Haereses,” III, 24, 1).
The synodal fathers reaffirm that the liturgy is the privileged place in which the Word of God is fully expressed, both in the celebration of the sacraments as above all in the Eucharist, in the Liturgy of the Hours and in the liturgical year. The mystery of salvation narrated in sacred Scripture finds in the liturgy its own place of proclamation, listening and acting.
For this reason, it is imperative that:
— The book of sacred Scripture, even outside liturgical action, has a visible and honorable place in the church.
— Silence should be encouraged after the first and second reading and after the homily is finished, as suggested in the General Order of the Roman Missal (cf. No. 56).
— Celebrations of the Word of God are provided, centered on the Sunday readings.
— Readings of sacred Scripture be proclaimed from worthy liturgical books, namely the lectionaries and the Gospel, to be treated with the most profound respect for the Word of God they contain.
— Highlight the role of the servers of the proclamation: readers and cantors.
— Men and women lectors be adequately formed, so that they can proclaim the Word of God in a clear and comprehensible way. The latter must be invited to study and witness with their life the contents of the Word they read.
— The Word of God be proclaimed in a clear way, with control of the dynamics of communication.
— Persons for whom the reception of the Word of God, communicated in the usual way is difficult as well as persons with sight or hearing disabilities not be forgotten.
— Competent and effective use be made of acoustic instruments.
Moreover, the synodal fathers feel the duty to remind of the grave responsibility of those who preside over the Eucharist so that the texts of sacred Scripture are never substituted by other texts. No text of spirituality or literature can have the value and wealth contained in sacred Scripture, which is the Word of God.
Homiletic updating and “Directory on the Homily”
The homily that updates the proclaimed Word: “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). It leads to the mystery celebrated, invites to mission and shares the joys and sorrows, the hopes and fears of the faithful, thus disposing the assembly both to the profession of faith (Creed) as well as the universal prayer of the Mass.
There should be a homily in all Masses “cum populo,” even during the week. It is necessary that preachers (bishops, priests, deacons) prepare themselves in prayer, so that they preach with conviction and passion. They must ask themselves three questions:
— What do the proclaimed readings say?
— What do they say to me?
— What must I say to the community, taking into account its concrete situation?
The preacher should above all allow himself to be questioned first by the Word of God he proclaims. The homily must be nourished by doctrine and transmit the teaching of the Church to strengthen the faith, call to conversion in the framework of the celebration and prepare for the action of the Eucharistic paschal mystery.
To help the preacher in the ministry of the Word, and in continuity with the teaching of the post-synodal apostolic “Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis” (No. 46), the synodal fathers desire the elaboration of a “Directory on the Homily,” which should show, together with the principles of homiletics and of the art of communication, the content of the biblical topics that appear in the lectionaries that are used in the liturgy.[Translation by ZENIT]