The Bishops of England & Wales have designated this weekend as the “Sunday of the Word” in this Year of the Word which began on the first Sunday of Advent. The logo of the year is “The God Who Speaks….” You can read about it in Pope Francis’ letter “Aperuit Illis” to mark the moment we will bless & give a copy of St Matthew’s Gospel to each family in the Parish, for you to take home & read regularly, possibly weekly & as a family, the evangelist’s account of the life & teaching of Jesus Christ. It offers a wonderful opportunity to read the story unabridged, rather than listening to the sound bites we are offered each Sunday during this year of Matthew’s Gospel. To sharpen our awareness of the importance of the Word of God, where the Liturgy of the Word is offered to us in the first half of the Mass, up to the conclusion of your bidding prayers, after which the second half of the Mass, the Liturgy of the Eucharist begins, we will process in at the beginning of Mass carrying the Book of the Gospels, which will be displayed, underlining the importance of the Divine Word being among us, to be proclaimed, heard, digested & taken home within our hearts & minds, alongside the Body of Christ to be shared with all those we meet in family, in locality & at work in the coming week. As St Leo said as he gave Communion at Mass “become what you receive, the Body of Christ”, as indeed we receive the real presence of Christ both in his Word spoken & received in Communion. Today we will also have a Rite of Rededication of our Ministers of the Word, an opportunity for us to offer our spiritual thankfulness to then for all they do. Please also remember today, & throughout this Special Year, our Community in Zimbabwe at the Monastery of Christ the Word. Last Friday St Benedict’s Primary School had a Service of Blessing in anticipation of today, when each child received & took home a copy of St Matthew’s Gospel, & we will ensure that the sick & the housebound will also receive copies as a sign of our continued unity & need of them, the youngest & the oldest albeit “at a distance”, in their loving prayerfulness.
Some words of wisdom for this Day of the Word: “Reading the New Testament would “bring you the living image of Christ’s holy mind, & the speaking, healing, dying, rising Christ himself, & thus render him so fully present that you would see less if you gazed upon him with your own eyes. (Erasmus) “The memory of the faithful, like that of Mary, should overflow with the wondrous things done by God. Their hearts, growing in hope from the joyful & practical exercise of the love they have received, will sense that each word of scripture is a gift before it is a demand.”( Pope Francis: Evangelium Gaudium) “The greater or lesser degree of the holiness of the minister has a real effect on the proclamation of the Word.” (Pope John Paul: Pastores dabo vobis) “Ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ” (St Jerome)
Living God, you walk alongside us & speak to us throughout the Scriptures. Your Son, Jesus Christ, listens to our hopes & fears & shows us how to live for one another. Send us the Holy Spirit to open our hearts & minds so that we may be your witnesses throughout the world. Amen. V. Your word is our path & your truth is our light. R. This day & every day. (Prayer of the Word for the Year of the Word)
We will be contacting the parents of those children in St Benedict’s Primary School in Class 3 who are eligible for their First Holy Communion this year, on the Feast of Corpus Christi Sun 14th June 2020. If you are aware of any child of similar age at schools other than SBPS who would like to receive their First Communion & join with our preparation course, which will begin next month, please ask their parents to be in touch with me very soon. With my love & prayers Fr Bede.