Monday, November 15, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI Verbum Domini Summary : Introduction

In October 2008 there was a Synod of the world's bishops on the theme of the Word of God in the life and mission of the Church. Pope Benedict has released a very beautiful document summing up the fruits of the synod. In this post I will give a summary of what he says in the introduction of the document.

First he gives the background about the Synod. Here he reminds us that "we find ourselves before the mystery of God, who has made himself known through the gift of his word." The Word became flesh in Jesus Christ. This is the good news of our salvation.

In speaking about the joy experienced at the synod in sharing the word of God, Benedict wants to encourage all the members of the Church to renew our living relationship with Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh. Sharing in God's life is "complete joy." And it falls to us to communicate that joy and truth with the people of our own time.

The Bible in Catholic life
The Pope then traces some history of how the Church has grown in its appreciation for the Word of God. He points out that the Church has always "found strength in the word of God." And he goes on to speak of some important developments in the last century or so.
First, Pope Leo XIII wrote an important encyclical on Scripture, Providentissimus Deus. Later Benedict will say more about that and speak of other documents as well. For now he points out that this biblical movement culminated in the important document of Vatican II: Dei Verbum, the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation. This document is short yet holds a wealth of important teaching about Scripture in the context of divine revelation. Dei Verbum spurred an important movement in the Church toward a deeper appreciation of Scripture.

The experience of the Synod
In speaking about this, the Pope says,

Together we listened to and celebrated the word of the Lord. We recounted to one another all that the Lord is doing in the midst of the People of God, and we shared our hopes and concerns. All this made us realize that we can deepen our relationship with the word of God only within the “we” of the Church, in mutual listening and acceptance.

He'll develop that theme more later. He also points out that the synod took place during the year of St. Paul, the great Apostle to the nations. More than anyone, Paul's zeal for the spread of God's word is a model for the Church of today and always.

St. John's Prologue
Benedict says that throughout the document he will often refer to the Prologue of St. John's Gospel, "the Word became flesh." He sees in this profound Scripture a synthesis of the entire faith. The Pope also hopes that the synod will have a real effect in the life of the Church, on our personal relationship with the Scriptures, to liturgy, catechesis, and scholarly research.

That brings us to the end of the introduction.


Ruth Ann said...

Thank you for this introduction to Verbum Domini. Sister, I hope you will continue to summarize the document. It's like having a road map for reference when trying to navigate the original.

Sr. Lorraine said...

Thanks, Ruth Ann. Yes, I do hope to continue to summarize it, as time allows.