Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Synod on the Word of God

Today, September 30, the Church celebrates the life of Saint Jerome. Jerome may have had a crusty personality, but he was sure an untiring writer and researcher. Christianity owes him a huge debt for taking all the languages in which the Bible was originally written and translating them into Latin. Latin had become the language of the common people of the Roman Empire. Pope Damasus recognized Jerome's extreme talents in the line of translating, so he asked Jerome to undertake that gigantic task of putting the Scriptures into a language understood by the majority of people in the world at that time. His work was called the "Vulgata"--which meant the "common" translation. His work remains a benchmark even today.

St. Jerome should be smiling today thinking that in just a few days the Church will gather more than 300 bishops, priests, nuns and laity in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome to begin the Synod on the Word of God. This meeting of people from around the world will ponder the meaning of Scripture--the Word of God--for people of today. The Synod will no doubt consider how believing Catholics can fall more deeply in love with this Word, or this Letter written to them by God our Father. In his usual direct manner, Jerome wrote: "Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." To put a modern positive spin on his words, we can say, "If you want to know more about Jesus, read the Bible!"
Let's pray for the success of the Synod on the Word of God. We Daughters of St. Paul are pleased that our Superior General, Sister Antonieta Bruscata, was called to be an auditor at this Synod. It is an honor for all of us Paulines, and a recognition of our mission to bring the Word of God to all through the various forms of communication.
When St. Paul was sending off his letters to the people whom he had converted to Christ, he was probably not thinking of our times when at Mass we end each reading of his letters with the declaration: "the Word of the Lord!" His words had become Word of God. As is true of the rest of the Bible, God used words of men to transform them into his words. In the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament), God told Moses and his people to "write" his directives not only on parchment but also on their hearts.
Some people call "Lectio Divina", or Divine Reading, a prayerful reading of God's written Word. Vatican Council II issued a small document called "Verbum Dei," on The Word of God. Officially it is called The Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation. The Latin title is simply "Dei Verbum." Most new Catholic Bibles actually print the text of this document as part of their introductions.
The Bible is also our strong bond between us and non-Catholic Christians. The Hebrew Scriptures too link us to our Jewish brothers and sisters who have the Torah (the first five books of the Bible); the Prophets and the Historical books are common to both Judaism and Christianity. As Pope John Paul II said, the Jewish people are our "elder brothers" in the Lord. I wish a blessed New Year to the Jewish friends who may be reading this. In a week's time, they will be celebrating Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. It begins on the evening of October 8 and lasts through the day of October 9, 2008. The dates vary from year to year, because of the differences in the Jewish calendar from our current way of marking time.
May St. Jerome pray for us that we may become good readers of God's Word and good listeners to the message God wants to give us in his Word.
The photo above depicts a missal, or altar book, from the original Jesuit missions in North America in the 1600's. The picture of St.Paul writing is from a collage of Paul's life in the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul in Mississauga, Ontario.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

September Sunday

Today is a beautiful Fall day in Toronto. A marathon is taking place in the downtown area. In Queens Park, which is also in the heart of downtown, there is a huge book fair called Word on the Street. Authors, publishers and booksellersof all sorts are gathered there in tents to reinforce the idea that "reading is good for you;" "writing is a viable career;" and books are fun; etc.
There is at least one Catholic publisher there. Because of several factors, we are not "on the street" with a book display this year.
In my last post I wrote about the Holy Family Institute. Here are a few of the scenes from that event.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


To all my blog readers, welcome back!
It's been a really long time since I sat down to write to you. After a brief home vacation in early June, I cameback to Toronto for about a week. Then I went to our retreat house outside of Boston for a week of silent retreat, and then a further week of meetings with several of our Sisters from around the USA and English Speaking Canada.
On returning to Toronto, I found myself immersed in the activities of our book centre on Dufferin Street in Toronto. We were short staffed due to the vacation schedules for employees and the retreats and vacations of some of our Sisters.
On September 12th, I gave an hour long introduction to St. Paul at the Newman Centre in downtown Toronto. The group to whom I spoke is called The Theology of the Body. This year these (mostly) young adults are delving into the life and letters of St. Paul the Apostle. The Newman Centre Chapel where I spoke has beautiful stained glass windows of some very "modern" saints, such as St. Teresa Benedicta or Edith Stein; the martyred Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador; and several others. I was pleased to find a whole window dedicated to the life of St. Paul.
On September 18, I drove to Ohio to join about 250 families from all over the USA and Ontario. The events we attended were part of the Triduum of the Holy Family Institute. This year Canada was well represented by almost 20 persons.
I will post some of the photos on my very next blog.
The site of the meeting was the Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon in North Jackson, Ohio. North Jackson is west of Youngstown, Ohio and about 40 minutes east of Akron. The spot is spacious and serene. There are farms nearby as well as the Meander Reservoir with its lake and pine trees.
Sisters Irene and Helena joined me from our Chicago convent.
Since my time this morning is limited, I will continue soon!
God bless your day.
Sister Mary Peter