Knowledge of God’s Word. That the Word of God may be better known, accepted, and lived as the source of freedom and joy.
B.I.B.L.E, says one popular song awhile back, stands for Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. True enough. The Bible is a manual for living in peace, freedom, and joy, both here and hereafter. It’s the Word of God and contains everything essential for our good.
Pope Benedict XVI in his September prayer intention reminds us of the power of knowing, accepting, and living God’s Word. We pray that people everywhere may deepen their personal experience with the Scriptures.
Historically, the Jews are known as The People of the Book because they believe their Bible, our Old Testament, was inspired by God. To the Old Testament, Christians add the New Testament, both together comprising the inspired Word of God.
The Church gave us the Bible and teaches us from it at every Mass, yet Catholics are not known as the People of the Book. Why not? The answer is actually in the Bible. St. Paul called the Church the “pillar and foundation of truth” (I Timothy 3:15). The Church itself rests on the foundation of Jesus Christ, who promised the Holy Spirit to lead the Church into all truth. Thus inspired by the Holy Spirit, Scripture must also be interpreted by the Church which in turn is guided by the Holy Spirit.
The Church’s authority over the Scriptures does not mean that we should be afraid to read the Bible, as many Catholics are. The Bible is a living book that can speak to our hearts and help us in our daily struggles. Reading it stirs up faith, hope, and love. It gives us insights. It inspires us to pray. It helps us draw close to God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In close friendship with God, we are able to obey his commandments and do his will. If we are reading Scripture on a regular basis, we appreciate anew how Jesus asked us to live, loving one another, and we discover new ways to do that. As we live in the Word of God, we find supernatural peace, incredible freedom from fear, and unspeakable joy in being a child of God. Let’s pray together that many will come to know, accept, and live God’s Word.
How will you find regular opportunities to read the Word of God?
James 1:22-25 — Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.
Christians in Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar. That by trusting the Holy Spirit, Christians in Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar may, amid great difficulties, courageously proclaim the Gospel to their brothers and sisters.
Christians make up a tiny percentage of the population of Indochina, where people are predominantly Buddhists. Laotian Christians number about 100,000 Christians out of 7,000,000; Cambodian Christians number about 20,000 out of 14,000,000; and Myanmar (formerly Burma) Christians number about 1,720,000 out of 45,000,000.
Not only are Christians in the minority, they are often persecuted in this part of the world. In some places, Catholics are allowed to worship, but Protestants are not.
European missionaries (mostly French) evangelized Vietnam in recent centuries, and Vietnamese missionaries evangelized Laos and Cambodia, where tribalism made missionary work extremely dangerous.
Another difficulty in the region is recovery from the Vietnam War and the subsequent Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia, when all religions were suppressed.
Pope Benedict met with the bishops of Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar last year, in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis that had destroyed so much of Myanmar. The Holy Father praised the bishops for their “solidarity with the poor and needy.”
The Pope also commended the growth of Catholicism in all three countries, evidenced in part by the rising numbers of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life. He observed as well that the laity in Myanmar have founded “many new catechetical and spiritual initiatives, often involving great numbers of young people.”
Faced with both great difficulty and great opportunity, Southeast Asian Christians need our prayers. The Holy Father directs us to pray that Christians there may trust the Holy Spirit to help them to proclaim the Gospel to their brothers and sisters. If the Holy Spirit is with them, their work will bear fruit, whatever the difficulties.
How would your faith be different if you found yourself among a Christian minority of less than 1 percent?
Acts 4:31 — As they prayed, the place where they were gathered shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
Prayer of the Month
Lord, inspire us to read your Scriptures and to meditate upon them day and night. We beg you to give us real understanding of what we need, that we in turn may put its precepts into practice. Yet we know that understanding and good intentions are worthless, unless rooted in your graceful love. So we ask that the words of Scriptures may also be not just signs on a page, but channels of grace into our hearts. — A Prayer from the Early Church Father Origen Adamantius (185-254)