Thursday, October 15, 2009

Living the Word - Drawing New Life from the Scriptures

Happy Thursday to one and all. It's cloudy, rainy, and raw here in Chicago. Reminds me of my first year in the Midwest, after having lived in Florida for eight years. During the first Thanksgiving Day Mass at my new parish, the homilist began with the words, "I don't know why we are so thankful today; we haven't seen the sun in 29 days!" Ah, Autumn and Winter in Chicago!

Every once in a while I offer you a brief commercial message. Today is one of those days. One of my favorite resources, a sleeping giant really, published here at World Library Publications, is a little gem called Living the Word. This is an annual resource that contains the texts of the Sunday and Holy Day readings, along with scripture commentary, a thought-provoking reflection, some discussion questions, and suggested actions for the week to help people really "live" the word of God. This content is written anew each year by some wonderful scripture scholars and pastoral folks who are truly "living the word." The authors for the new edition are Dennis D. Sylva and Rev. James A. Wallace, C.Ss.R. 

The 2009-2010 edition is the 25th anniversary edition and we've done some great work here giving the book a new look. Folks, this is one valuable resource. Every time I am speaking with RCIA ministers, I tell them that this is a "must have" for their resource shelf. It's perfect for those who "break open the word" with catechumens and candidates Sunday after Sunday. Small faith sharing groups use the book in their scripture sharing sessions. Some choir directors make the resource available to their cantors and choir members so that their music ministry will be more firmly rooted in the word of God.

When I was in Hawaii presenting a parish mission earlier this year, I noticed a copy on the rectory's dining room table. The priest with whom I was staying told me that it is his indispensable resource for preparing his Sunday homilies. We know of many parishes that purchase this book in bulk, making it available, either free or at a nominal charge, to their parishioners for personal preparation for Sunday Mass or for use in Scripture groups meeting during the week in peoples' homes.

Just this week, we received an email from a parish that had purchased 400 copies. What a wonderful testimonial they offered us:

"Pope John Paul II, in his 1998 pastoral letter, Dies Domini, said that 'If Christian individuals and families are not regularly drawing new life from the reading of the sacred text in a spirit of prayer and docility to the church's interpretation, then it is difficult for the liturgical proclamation of the word of God alone to produce the fruit we might expect' (#40). When our leadership team read that, we said, 'we have to get the Sunday scriptures into folks' hands.' We now provide Living the Word free of charge to any household in our parish who desires it. Not only does it provide the texts of the Sunday readings, but a thoughtful commentary and reflection, as well as thought-provoking questions and challenges to help us bring the word to life. Thank you for this wonderful resource for our assembly; WLP is helping us make the Liturgy of the Word what John Paul II envisioned: 'a dialogue between God and his people, in which the wonders of salvation are proclaimed and the demands of the covenant are continually restated.' "

When I read this testimonial, I was thrilled that this particular parish found Living the Word to be so helpful in their mission and ministry. Please consider purchasing the 25th Anniversary edition to help inspire your own living of God's word. There is bulk-pricing available, making the resource very affordable for parishes. You can find more information about Living the Word on WLP's web site. The link is right here.

Thanks so much for listening. Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

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