This year, on the liturgical memorial of St. Jerome, Pope Francis announced that the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary time, “is to be devoted to the celebration, study, and dissemination of the Word of God.” Similar to Catechetical Sunday, this will be a yearly observance.
In the apostolic letter, titled Aperuit Illis, on Instituting the Sunday of the Word of God the Holy Father writes,
The relationship between the Risen Lord, the community of believers, and sacred Scripture is essential to our identity as Christians. Without the Lord who opens our minds to them, it is impossible to understand the Scriptures in depth. Yet the contrary is equally true: without the Scriptures, the events of the mission of Jesus and of his Church in this world would remain incomprehensible. Hence, Saint Jerome could rightly claim: “Ignorance of Scriptures is ignorance of Christ”.
It was at the end of the Year of Mercy that Pope Francis initially proposed setting aside a Sunday where the Church would focus on the Word of God, to grow in understanding of the dialoge between the Lord and his people. The letter also mentions both Dei Verbum, from the Second Vatican Council, and Verbum Domini, by Benedict XVI, as important sources of Church teaching on the Word of God.
Some suggestions that Pope Francis makes in terms of how to observe Word of God Sunday are:
- Enthronment of the sacred text during the Eucharistic celebration.
- Highlight the importance of the proclamation of the Word of God by emphasing in the homily the honour that it is due.
- Bishops could celebrate the Rite of Installation of Lectors or a similar commissioning of readers.
- Renewed efforts at training members of the faithful to be effective proclaimers of the Word.
- Pastors could give away Bibles or a book of the Bible to the entire assembly combined with emphasising how to read and pray with the Word of God.
Importantly, for the work of Catechists, the document reads,
Catechists… in their ministry of helping people to grow in their faith, ought to feel an urgent need for personal renewal through familiarity with, and study of, the sacred Scriptures.
Stay tuned for more updates as we approach Word of God Sunday.
The artwork on this blog post is Still Life with Bible, c1885 by Vincent Van Gough. It is in the public domain and is available here: https://www.wikiart.org/en/vincent-van-gogh/still-life-with-bible