Divine Word Missionaries
Fr. General’s Circular Letters
August 6, 2019
To all Provincial /Regional/Mission Superiors of the Society
in re: Celebration of the Year of the Word of God
Dear Provincial/Regional/Mission Superior,
“Throughout the world today, many people hunger and thirst for the life, the healing, and the peace that only Christ can bring. We know that out of the abundance of His love, Christ speaks to people as friends (see John 15:14-15) and lives among us so that He may invite and bring everyone into fellowship with Himself (Dei Verbum 2). In this perspective, the Church, since its earliest days has sought to proclaim Christ and make him known (see 1Cor 2:2). This mission is the very heart or raison d’etre of the Church (see Matt 28:19-20; Mark 6:7-12). We cannot deny however, that many people remain deprived of that ‘easy access’ to the Lord in Sacred Scripture and preaching which the Council sought (see Dei Verbum 22 and Verbum Domini 115).”
With these words, in his letter of January 25, 2019, Cardinal Luis A. Tagle, President of Catholic Biblical Federation (CBF) announced to all its members the intention to mark 2020 as a “Year of the Word of God” beginning from the First Sunday of Advent (December 1, 2019) and lasting until the feast of St. Jerome (on September 30, 2020).
We, members of the Society of Divine Word – as a Congregation and associate member of CBF, would like to support this initiative. It perfectly matches with our path confirmed by the last General Chapter 2018 that reminded us of our rootedness in the Word. “Our name is our mission” (GC 2018, #17) is a strong echo of the Chapter that keeps us oriented to the core trait of our missionary discipleship consisting of listening to God who speaks to us, Divine Word Missionaries. The upcoming Year of the Word thus becomes an occasion to continue our process of renewal and transformation in “attentive listening to the Word and putting it into practice” (GC 2018, #23).
The CBF left the coordination of activities for the Year of the Word of God to the National Episcopal Conferences and to the members of CBF. In some PRMs, biblical coordinators in cooperation with their superiors as well as their bible teams have already designed their plans and programs for the Year of the Word of God, others not yet. Thus, we would like to especially encourage you, PRM superiors, the first animators of the confreres, to undertake this initiative and renew our intimate relationship with the Word as part of our identity. With this letter we propose some initiatives on personal, community/district and pastoral levels (please see attached document).
We ask you to make this letter known to each confrere and to animate the communities / districts to discuss it (the earlier the better) and to draw up their own plan for the Year of the Word of God. It is desirable that each confrere and community make a concrete commitment to be evaluated during and at the end of the Year of the Word of God. At the same time, we encourage you also to share about what is being done in your context (via Arnoldus Nota, witword.org, etc.), as an inspiration for others. Your good experiences might help in the process of renewal and transformation of others.
May the love of Christ impel you and all confreres in your Province/Region/Mission to be rooted in the Word and committed to his mission!
Fraternally in the Divine Word,
Paulus Budi Kleden, SVD
José Nicolás Espinosa, SVD
Attachment: Proposed activities for the Year of the Word
CELEBRATION OF THE YEAR OF THE WORD OF GOD
SOCIETY OF THE DIVINE WORD
August 6, 2019
Circular Letter P08/2019
AT THE PERSONAL LEVEL
to read the entire Bible during YWG (approximately 4 chapters a day);
to study the papal documents concerning biblical pastoral ministry since Vatican II (Dei Verbum): the Apostolic Exhortations (Verbum Domini, Gaudium Evangelii), as well as the documents of Pontifical biblical commission (Interpretation of Bible in the Church, Jewish People and Their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible, Bible and Morality – Biblical Roots of Christian Conduct, Inspiration and Truth of the Holy Scripture);
to participate in a biblical retreat of at least 5 days.
AT THE COMMUNITY/DISTRICT LEVELS
to celebrate a Bible Feast at least one day (Sunday) or a week or a month (especially September 2020), to focus on the Word during their meetings, and in celebrating our feasts like January 15 etc., but in particular our special feast of the Annunciation;
to have regular “Lectio Divina” or sharing the Word of God in listening to the Scripture and to the life of confreres (recommended by GC 2012, #28 and reaffirmed by GC 2018 #33);
to renew the tradition of reading a passage of the Scripture (Gospel of the day) at the beginning of the main meal;
to share with one another through the platforms on social media reflections, thoughts, stories and other ideas related to liturgical readings for the Sunday homily (eg. Buena Noticia of EVD, and many personal, local or provincial initiatives);
to organize, in cooperation with the biblical coordinator and biblical scholars, at least one ongoing formation program for all confreres to update themselves in biblical matters (more pastorally oriented) lasting one or more days.
AT THE PASTORAL LEVEL
Together with our lay partners and people to whom we are sent (in parishes, schools, etc.), we focus on formation and animation and thus commit ourselves:
to mark the opening of the Year of the Word of God with a particular attention given to the Word of God – making an enthronement of the Bible that might be repeated as a solemn entrance at the celebration on each Sunday;
to build Bible teams with lay partners on the local level to reflect in the light of the Word of God on both global and local challenges, and, inspired by God’s word, to be active in approaching people in the margins;
to prepare bible youth camps, biblical retreats in the parishes, Basic Bible Seminars or biblical courses focused on in-depth knowledge of the Scripture books (inviting biblical scholars or other qualified people); as well as trying new ways of making the Word close to people (bibliodrama, dances, audio/video presentations, etc.);
to encourage the biblical aspect of popular devotions (Bible processions) and in the Marian devotions, propagating the image of the “Mother of the Word”;
to celebrate the Eucharist with appropriately prepared preaching (cf. Dei Verbum 22, Verbum Domini 115), helping to acknowledge the importance of the “table of the Word”;
to read the Bible together with the people (continuous reading);
to organize a pilgrimage to the Holy Land; etc.
These are just some suggestions. However, we encourage initiatives of creativity in the line of our four Characteristic Dimensions: making use of social media, in our JPIC activities, in evangelization with “dialogue partners” (faith seekers, poor and the marginalized, etc.). Feel free to adapt them to your local needs.