Sunday of the Word of God
January 26, 2020
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.

Responding to Pope Francis:

 A Proposal for a More Biblical Prayer Life

 

     Pope Francis’ recent apostolic letter on the Bible makes it clear he is not only speaking about an annual celebration on the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time:

Regular reading of sacred Scripture and the celebration of the Eucharist make it possible for us to see ourselves as part of one another. As Christians, we are a single people, making our pilgrim way through history, sustained by the Lord, present in our midst, who speaks to us and nourishes us. A day devoted to the Bible should not be seen as a yearly event but rather a year-long event, for we urgently need to grow in our knowledge and love of the Scriptures and of the risen Lord, who continues to speak his word and to break bread in the community of believers. For this reason, we need to develop a closer relationship with sacred Scripture; otherwise, our hearts will remain cold and our eyes shut, struck as we are by so many forms of blindness.

            The Catholic liturgy offers precisely such an exposure to Scripture by providing an opportunity to encounter practically the whole Bible over a three-year span: a) in the daily Office of Readings from the Liturgy of the Hours when following its full two-year cycle; b) in the two-year cycle of readings for daily Mass, and c) in the three-cycle of readings for the Sunday liturgy.  These readings are readily available from multiple online sources.  The following service provides the easiest and most complete resource for all the relevant texts: https://universalis.com/readings.htm. There is a modest one-time license fee for the full version that is well worth it and is the only one I am aware of where you can find the two-year cycle for the Office of Readings. A close runner-up is http://www.ibreviary.com/m2/breviario.php and is free of charge although donations are welcome. These resources can be viewed on a variety of devices and platforms.

            While it might appear rather daunting to encounter all these texts, the following practices could be adopted with a view toward making Pope Francis’ hope for “a closer relationship with sacred Scripture” possible:

  1. Read the biblical text from the Office of Readings in a “Bible Study” approach by locating the passage at the following website and paying attention to the footnotes: http://www.usccb.org/bible/books-of-the-bible/index.cfm.  For something more intensive, a Google search for “Catholic study Bible” will disclose numerous resources, for example https://www.amazon.com/Anselm-Academic-Study-Bible-American/dp/1599821249
  1. A traditional practice when attending daily Mass is not feasible is the “Spiritual Communion” whereby one expresses an interior desire to receive the Sacrament and the grace of union with the Lord.  A liturgically oriented method would include the following: a) the day’s Collect; b) the daily Scriptures; c) the Lord’s Prayer; d) Spiritual Communion using the formula from Mass, “Lord, I am not worthy....”  If desired, other elements of the liturgy could be added such as a penitential formula (“I confess…”),  intercessions or the Prayer after Communion.
  1. The resources found at Sanguis Christi can be employed at any time during the week to prepare for the following Sunday’s liturgy and reflect on its appointed readings.