Make the Word of God a priority in 2020

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By Dr. Nicholas Lebish

On Sept. 30, 2019, the Holy Father declared that, “the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time is to be devoted to the celebration, study and dissemination of the word of God.” This year, that Sunday falls on Jan. 26. This is a momentous opportunity to reflect on the role of Sacred Scripture in the life of the Church in general, and in our own personal lives in particular.

The Word of God is the unique source of revelation by which our Lord communicates his divine truths to us. Our Heavenly Father truly speaks to us in the Sacred Scriptures; we have only to pick up the Bible and engage in a prayerful dialogue with him. Here are some very practical tips and goals on how you can commit to making the Bible an integral part of your life this New Year:

Read the Bible every day, even just a little bit
That could mean simply spending time with the daily Mass readings, regardless if you cannot make it to Mass that day. Or you can go through the whole of Scripture according to a trusted plan, such as the Augustine Institute’s wonderful book, The Bible in a Year, which also contains short, inspiring reflections. Find a quiet place for reflection for regular reading either first thing in the morning, during a lunch hour, before bed, or whenever works best for you.

Pray the Bible every day with Lectio Divina
(If you’re new to this form of prayer, definitely check out a great book we recommend at the Biblical School entitled Praying Scripture for a Change by Dr. Tim Gray.) Trust me, just a few minutes of faithfully praying over the Word of God daily can transform your relationship with God and others. You can either take the gospel passage from the daily Mass and pray over that, or you can slowly work through one of the gospels, story by story (of course, any part of Scripture is fruitful, but the Gospels are preeminent because they communicate to us the life, teaching, and actions or our Lord Jesus Christ (see CCC 125). Again, develop a routine for this at any time of day. You only need a few minutes for this, but it’ll reap rich dividends for you.

Join a parish Bible study
There are various, wonderful Bible studies hosted in parishes regularly on specific books of the Bible or on particular topics. Those include the popular Ascension Press studies, the Walking With Purpose program, Endow, etc. Naturally, I would also recommend that everyone join the Denver Catholic Biblical School at some point in the near future when the location and time is right. There simply is no other program in the country that takes you through Scripture from Genesis to Revelation for a solid foundation on the entirety of the Bible. Our 2020 locations will be announced in April. If you cannot join a Bible study at this time for any reason, pick up a good commentary to consult when you have questions. The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible is wonderful, as is the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture series.

God bless you and your New Year’s resolutions to dive into a prayerful study of Scripture!

COMING UP: Archbishop Aquila on ad limina visit, Pope Francis and more

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During his ad limina visit Feb. 10-15, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila was granted an audience with Pope Francis for over two hours where they discussed several topics pertinent to the Church today.

Archbishop Aquila was among a contingent of U.S. bishops representing Region XIII in the United States, which includes the states of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Wyoming and Utah. He along with the bishops of those states met with the Holy Father Feb. 10. With the release of Querida Amazonia scheduled just a few days later on Feb. 12, Pope Francis discussed the document produced from last year’s Amazon Synod with the bishops.

“He brought up the question of celibacy, and he said [his] primary concern is that Gospel be proclaimed in the Amazon and that all of us need to focus on Jesus Christ and the proclamation of the Gospel first,” Archbishop Aquila said in an interview with EWTN. “If they proclaim the Gospel and are faithful to the Gospel, then vocations will come forth.”

Archbishop Aquila with Pope Francis during his ad limina visit Feb. 10. (Photo: Servizio Fotografico Vaticano)

With much discussion surrounding the Amazon Synod and possible implications it would have for the universal Church, Archbishop Aquila was reassured by the Pope’s comments on synodality and the Church’s application of it.

“Even in the understanding of synodality, which we spoke about, it always has to be ‘under Peter and with Peter’ and that synods cannot be going off and creating things that they want done,” the archbishop said. “He made it very clear: that is not synodality in the Catholic understanding. That was very reassuring.”

Among the other topics the bishops discussed with the Holy Father were some of the challenges faced by the Church in the United States and how to address them.

“The Holy Father was very clear: He said transgenderism is one of the great challenges in the United States right now, and the other is abortion,” Archbishop Aquila said. “Both of them really deal with the dignity of human life and the understanding of human life and do we truly receive from God the gender that he has given to us.

Bishop Jorge H. Rodriguez with Pope Francis during his ad limina visit Feb. 10. (Photo: Servizio Fotografico Vaticano)

“There are only two genders, male and female, and so how do we open our hearts to receiving that as gift.”
Archbishop Aquila said that they Holy Father also “spoke of media, and how the far left goes after him and the far right goes after him, and neither one really presents who he is.”

In a time where Pope Francis’ comments can be rather polarizing and even mischaracterized, Archbishop Aquila was struck by the depth of the Holy Father’s faith in his audience with him.

“[The Pope] has a very, very deep faith. He is convinced of the Gospel, he is totally convinced of Jesus Christ, he is convinced that there are teachings in the Church that can never change and that we have to be faithful to the Church.”

Hannah Brockhaus of Catholic News Agency contributed to this report.

Featured image by Paul Haring/CNS