“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” (Psalm 119).
Words matter. “Thank you.” “I am sorry.” “Come with me.” “I love you.” As a people we are always looking for the words that will convey understanding about a concept, relationship, experience or situation. Words matter in faith as well. How do we put into words our experience of God? What images can we use to describe God to others? Are there really any words that can express this mystery of faith?
The word for God in the Jewish tradition is Dabar. The Jewish sense of Dabar is different from our concept of the word. In Judaism the word holds power. To say the name of God is believed to manifest God’s presence immediately. The word, in and of itself, holds power and presence. The word is so sacred and powerful that the name for God in Hebrew, Yahweh, is always spelled without vowels, YHWH, and it is never spoken aloud. The word YHWH speaks more like a breath---inhaling (YH), exhaling (WH). The very word YHWH is beyond words, a breath, God dwelling within and moving outwards.
It is no wonder that in Catholicism the Word of God is held so sacred. Praying with the Word of God enables one to reflect on the inspired word for insight and images and the story of God’s presence in the lives of a people. As Catholics we revere Sacred Scripture along with Sacred Tradition, the rituals and teaching passed on from the beginning of the Church. Scripture gives us a language for the Story of faith where we come to know Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the Word made flesh. We call scripture the Living Word because, in reading it, we bring who we are and new experiences to the text. As Catholics we hear the same passages over and over in a three year cycle. We sing psalms. We have access to the Office, or prayer of the Church, which offers more scripture for reflection. We can read the Bible on our phones! Words matter. The Word of God matters.
Sharing the Bible as a family reveals the sacredness of the word. Children need to hear the stories of faith and talk about what is happening in the stories. Through listening and interacting with these stories, young people will have heard the stories of creation, exodus, the birth of Jesus and Jesus’ teachings. This will enable them to relate to the stories and read them in different ways throughout all of life. Bible stories create a language of faith that enables families to engage in faith conversations that support formal religious education.
On August 26, the Office of Catechesis will host a Formation Day for catechists and all interested in exploring Scripture. Joe Paprocki will speak about new ways of praying with and understanding the Bible. There will be breakout sessions addressing ways we can share Scripture with adults, youth and children. There will be prayer and engagement with and about this Living Word that will nourish your spirit. Encountering the Word of God leads to encounter with Jesus Christ. St. Jerome reminds us that “to know Christ, one must know Scripture.”
If you would like to know more about Formation Day or would like to register you will find the information on the website for the Diocese of Evansville under the Office of Catechesis. If you would like to speak with someone please call Andie Gunter at 812-424-5536, or ask for anyone in the Office of Catechesis.
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16).