17 Aug 2013

18th August 2013 - 20th Sunday in Ordinary time (Year C) - Year of Faith: Exploring Our Church's understanding of Divine Revelation (Part 1 of 4)

On this weeks programme as part of its coverage of the Year of Faith, SS102fm begins a short series on exploring the Catholic Church's understanding of Divine Revelation as set out during the second Vatican Council in 1965.
We have our regular reflection on the gospel and liturgical odds and ends including our celestial guides of the week.
This weeks programme can be heard in full on podcast HERE.
You can listen to the Dei Verbum element of the programme excerpted from the programme HERE and it will also be linked on our Year of Faith page which we encourage you to visit which you can click to here or use the links at the top of the page.
The Church's understanding of Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum, Part 1)
Pope Benedict XVI announced that the universal Church would celebrate a Year of Faith beginning on October 11th 2012 and ending on the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King on November 24th 2013. This is a special year in which we are asked as to reflect on the gift of faith as the universal Church, diocesan level, parish, community and individually. The Year of Faith has a three-fold focus: knowing our Catholic faith, living it out sacramentally within the church and in the world, and sharing the faith through evangelization and catechesis.
October 11th 2012 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) and the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Both of these occassions mark important moments in the history of the church in the last fifty years; moments of history to which we are only now beginning to see bear fruit.
As part of SS102fm's contribution to the Year of Faith and given our focus on scripture and lectio divina on the programme we decided to do a short introductory series on the Church's understanding of Divine Revelation with a particular focus on a document called "Dei Verbum".

The book that we are using as the basis for our programmes on Dei Verbum is a wonderfully accessible and insightful book by Canon John Redford called Treasures of Dei Verbum. It has the text of Dei Verbum on the left hand side of the page and an explanation of the text on the right hand side of the page. It is available from Alive Publishing (

Dei Verbum (the Word of God) is the short name used for the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation. A dogmatic constitution is a “document of the highest authority, issued by the Pope, or by a Church Council with the Pope's approval… When used to proclaim a Church dogma, [it is] called a Dogmatic Constitution”. The constitution went through 5 drafts before finally being approved unanimously by the whole Council in 1965.

This was a controversial document. Pope John XXIII disbanded the preparatory commission because it was not working satisfactorily and formed another which turned out more successful. Pope Paul VI promulgated the document on November 18th 1965, but it was a document issued by the whole body of bishops of the Catholic Church. As Church documents go, it is a very short document – only 26 paragraphs – but it deals with a very important topic, Divine Revelation.
The structure of the document:
Preface (Paragraph 1)
Chapter 1 – Revelation Itself (Paragraphs 2 – 6)
Chapter 2 – Handing on Divine Revelation (Paragraphs 7 – 10)
Chapter 3 – Sacred Scripture, Its Inspiration and Divine Interpretation (Paragraphs 11 – 13
Chapter 4 – The Old Testament (Paragraphs 14 – 16)
Chapter 5 – The New Testament (Paragraphs 17 – 20)
Chapter 6 – Sacred Scripture in the Life of the Church (Paragraphs 21 – 26)

This programme will look at the Preface and Chapter 1. Programme 2 in the series will look at Chapter 2 and 3; Programme 3: Chapter 4 and 5 and Programme 4: Chapter 6
In accordance with a long tradition of the Church, Popes and Councils name an important document from the first two or three words of the document. These words indicate what the document was about. Dei Verbum (the Word of God) names the subject of this document, the word which God addressed to us through four thousand years (2,000 years before the coming of Christ – the Old Testament) and 2,000 years since.
It is important for us Catholics to realise that the Word of God does not refer to the Bible alone, but also to the living Tradition of the Church. In the Preface, the document refers to the Council of Trent which was convoked in 1545 and the First Vatican Council which met in 1870. These were two defining Councils in the Church’s history – the Council of Trent defined that the revelation of God is contained in the Sacred Scripture and also in the living Tradition of the Church (e.g. the Sacraments). Trent declared that the Word of God is “contained in written books (i.e. the Bible) and in unwritten traditions”.
Revelation means ‘to uncover’, ‘to remove a veil’. The First Vatican Council affirmed that that some truths about God can be known by human reason (e.g. that God exists), but some truths about God can only be known if God reveals that truth explicitly. For example, we could never have known by reason alone that God was Trinity unless He revealed that to us.
So this document, Dei Verbum, builds on the teachings of previous Church Councils and teachings. It is important to remember that the Church’s knowledge about God through scripture and tradition is not static, but grows and develops throughout the centuries. The bishops of the Second Vatican Council saw the need to place more emphasis on the goal of divine revelation. The whole point of divine revelation is to give us all a share in the divine life, fellowship, communion with God the Father through Jesus the Son and in the Holy Spirit. That is the good news we have to give the world.
You can listen to the Dei Verbum section of this programme HERE.
Resources which may be of use to you on reading and understanding Dei Verbum:
Gospel - Luke 12:49-53

We are presented with a tough little passage from Luke this weekend. People think Luke is all nice and cuddly, highlighting the mercy of God, but He can really pack a punch too!

From Sean Goan's "Let the Reader understand":

The idea that the kingdom of God is both a gift and a challenge is very present in the extract from the gospel that is put before us today. The encouraging opening words inspire confidence in the hearers as Jesus reminds his ‘little flock’ that there is no need for fear because the kingdom has been given. So if the disciples are not to fear, what should they do? Jesus answers this question in a most challenging way by telling them to think differently about the world and their place in it. They should not be concerned about wealth or the exercise of power; rather they should busy themselves doing what the Lord asks of them as any good servant would do. Jesus puts it to his disciples very sternly — much has been given you, so much will be expected from you. This is not to inspire fear but to inspire reflection on how gifted we truly are.

Reflections on this weeks gospel:

Word on Fire
Sunday Reflections
Centre for Liturgy
Blue Eyed Ennis
English Dominicans

Liturgical Odds and Ends

Liturgy of the Hours - Psalter Week 4 - 20th Week in Ordinary time

Saints of the Week

August 19th - St John Eudes (priest)
August 20th - St Bernard of Clairvaux (Abbot and Doctor of the Church)
August 21st - St Pius X (pope)
August 22nd - The Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary
August 23rd - St Rose of Lima
August 24th - St Bartholomew (Apostle)

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