Pope Francis is inviting Catholics across the world to deepen their appreciation, love and faithful witness to God and his Word.
That’s why, as established by a papal decree – the third Sunday in Ordinary Time, January 26 this year, is to be observed as a special day devoted to “the celebration, study and dissemination of the Word of God.”
As Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation explained during a press conference on Friday 17 January, it is an initiative that the Pope has entrusted to the whole Church so that “the Christian community may concentrate on the great value that the Word of God occupies in its daily existence” (Aperuit illis 2).
Fisichella said the occasion offers Christians an opportunity to renew their commitment and understanding of “the inexhaustible richness that comes from God’s constant dialogue with his people.”
He said it foresees a host of creative initiatives “that will stimulate believers to be living instruments of transmission of the Word,” and comes in the wake of the many different pastoral initiatives spurred by the 2008 Synod on the Word of God that aimed to increase and enhance the knowledge, diffusion, reflection and study of Sacred Scripture.
The Archbishop mentioned a series of projects and programmes that have been launched across the globe since that Synod, to learn to pray with the Bible and to make the Word accessible in different languages and formats.
He said that by establishing this Day, the Pope intended “to respond to the many requests that have come from the people of God, so that throughout the Church the Sunday of the Word of God may be celebrated in unity of purpose.”
He underlined the great ecumenical value that this Sunday possesses as it falls close to the Day of Dialogue between Jews and Catholics and the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
As with other initiatives of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, Fisichella said this too has a characteristic logo that is immediately identifiable and may provide inspiration for a catechesis that helps to understand the meaning of the celebration of this Sunday.
Noting that Pope Francis will celebrate Holy Mass on Sunday of the Word of God, he revealed that at the beginning of the Liturgy “there will be the solemn enthronement of the Lectionary that was used in all the sessions of the Second Vatican Council.”
At the conclusion of the Eucharistic celebration, he said that in a symbolic gesture the Pope will give a Bible to 40 people representing “different expressions” of our daily life: “from the bishop to the foreigner, from the priest to the catechist, from the consecrated person to the policeman, from the Ambassadors of various continents to teachers of all grades, from the poor to journalists, from the ‘Gendarme’ to the prisoner serving a life sentence.”
A representative of the Orthodox Churches and of Evangelical Communities will also receive a Bible from the Pope.
Pope Francis, Fisichella concluded, wants to make sure everyone is entrusted with the Word of God:
“This Sunday, he wants to stimulate all Christians not just to place the Bible on the shelf as one of many books, perhaps filled with dust, but as an instrument that awakens our faith.”
Catholic publisher makes material available for Word of God Sunday
Responding to the Pope’s desire that “the Church experience anew how the risen Lord opens up for us the treasure of his word and enable us to proclaim its unfathomable riches before the world,” Prions en Église is making material accessible in digital and print formats. In a statement released by Bayard, its parent company, the editors of the missalette explained how their own mission coincides with Pope Francis’ thought expressed in the Motu proprio:
“These words contain a great teaching. The Bible cannot be just the heritage of some, much less a collection of books for the benefit of a privileged few. It belongs above all to those called to hear its message and to recognize themselves in its words” (no. 4).
Through both the French-language missalette, Prions en Église, as well as its English counterpart Living with Christ, Bayard has distinguished itself for over 30 years “in the field of accompaniment with the Word of God and making it accessible”, the statement said. Now they are making material even more accessible on their French-language Prions en Église website, specifically for the occasion of this first Word of God Sunday.
Living with Christ in the United States and Canada has developed an App in addition to the hard copy Missalette. It contains material to accompany one’s spiritual life with the Word of God and the daily liturgy. The App is available in both English and Spanish. In addition, Twenty-Third Publications, a Catholic publisher in the Bayard Group, has published a booklet ideal for use in parishes. Short reflections and prayers taken from Pope Francis’ Motu Proprio make it the “perfect resource to celebrate the Pope’s words with everyone in the parish community.”
Vatican News and Linda Bordoni – Sunday of the Word of God: making the Scriptures part of our everyday lives
Vatican News and Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp – Catholic publisher makes material available for Word of God Sunday