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Dublin gears up to celebrate world’s first Word of God Sunday next week

By Cian Molloy - 20 January, 2020

“You may be surprised at the power you find in the Bible,” says Fr Pádraig McCarthy.

The Dublin Archdiocese has produced additional resources for use in the run-up to next week’s Word of God Sunday and on the day itself.

Word of God Sunday is a new annual observance announced by Pope Francis last year on 30 September, the Feast of St Jerome, the fifth-century saint who translated the Bible from Greek and Hebrew to Latin. The announcement was made in a motu proprio, a document that is issued solely at the pope’s own initiative.

The new annual observance is to take place on the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, which this year is next Sunday 26 January, and the day is to be “devoted to the celebration, study and dissemination of the Word of God”.

In his motu proprio, Pope Francis said of the Word of God: “These words contain a great teaching. The Bible cannot be just the heritage of some, much less a collection of books for the benefit of a privileged few. It belongs above all to those called to hear its message and to recognise themselves in its words.”

In Dublin, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin is using the observance to focus on the work of lectors at Mass and on how to get the best out of Lectio Divina, the traditional monastic practice of scriptural reading, meditation and prayer, which is intended to promote communion with God and to increase the knowledge of God’s Word. These resources can be downloaded from the Archdiocese of Dublin website here.

Among the documents available for download is an article written by Thomas O’Loughlin, professor of historical theology at the University of Wales, which looks at how our experience of the Word of God has changed.

Professor O’Loughlin notes that it is now quite common for a priest to approach a lay person and ask “Would you read?”, but that question was unthinkable only a few generations ago – the main reason being that the vast majority of people today are able to read.

There is also a leaflet available on ‘Reading the Bible’ prepared by Fr Pádraig McCarthy of Balally Parish in Dublin 16. In response to the question “Is it not dangerous to read the Bible?”, Fr McCarthy replies: “Well, yes! But it’s dangerous to have gas and electricity in the house, [but] that doesn’t usually prevent us having them. You may be surprised at the power – of a different kind – you find in the Bible.”

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