EUREKA: Discovering Catholic Treasury – through a Lenten lens!: Dei Verbum”

A. What is it?

>> “Dei Verbum” is the Vatican II Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, promulgated by Pope Paul VI on 18 November 1965

>> The phrase “Dei Verbum” is Latin for “Word of God”

>> It is one of the smallest Vatican II Documents (26 paragraphs or roughly 3,000

words in Latin)

B. What does it speak of?

>> “Dei Verbum” addresses the Catholic Church’s beliefs in regards to Sacred Scripture.

>> “Dei Verbum” is laid out into 6 Chapters:

1. Chapter 1: Divine Revelation Itself

>> Speaking on the Nature of Revelation, this chapter demonstrates God’s desire to communicate with human beings, revealing the mystery of the Divine Will.

>> It offers a summary of the Salvation History

>> It also emphasizes the Truth of this Revelation and the fact that it is accomplished in such a way that human beings can comprehend it.

2. Chapter 2: Transmission of Divine Revelation

>> The Truth of Revelation, is rooted in Christ’s very person and in his own proclamation of the Gospel; having commissioned the Apostles to carry it forward…, the truth of the

Gospel also lies in the Apostolic Tradition.

>> Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal devotion and

reverence”.

>> Tradition and Scripture make up a single Sacred deposit of the Word of God

3. Chapter 3: Sacred Scripture: Its Divine Inspiration and Interpretation

>> It affirms the importance of both- the Old Testament and New Testament

>> It adopts the threefold-process of the Formation of the Gospels with the three levels: (i) the time of the Historical Jesus (ii) The oral preaching of the earliest apostles (iii) The time of the Evangelists

4. Chapter 4: The Old Testament

>> The plan of salvation was spoken through the authors of the Old Testament.

>> Its purpose was to prepare for the coming of the Christ and to show to all, how God interacts and deals with mankind in justice and mercy.

>> God wisely arranged for the New Testament to be hidden in the Old, and the Old to be made manifest in the New. While Christ made the new covenant with His blood, the Old Testament sheds light on and explains this mystery.

5. Chapter 5: The New Testament

>> The New Testament stands as a Perpetual and Divine Witness to the Reality of Salvation.

>> The Gospel Authors wrote about things handed on by word of mouth or in writing, sometimes a synthesis, sometimes as a proclamation, but always the honest truth about Jesus.

6. Chapter 6: Sacred Scripture in the Life of the Church

>> The Church has always venerated the scripture together with the Tradition as the supreme Rule of Faith.

>> The Church encourages the study of the Church Fathers as well as those exegetes who so well illuminate the teaching within the scriptures.

>> Individuals should read with enthusiasm, following the mind of the Church.

>> All clergy must read the scriptures with diligence. The same is encouraged for the laity and Religious. All faithful should not forget that prayer should always be the companion to reading God’s Word.

C. Pointers for Reflections

1. “Dei Verbum” is considered as one of the important achievements of the Vatican Council II since its implications is for the treatment of Sacred Scripture itself.

>> It accords rightful significance to the Bible as the special locus of Divine Communication or Divine Revelation.

2. It presents three key principles of Catholic biblical interpretation:

(i) Pay attention to the content and unity of all the Sacred Scriptures.

(ii) Read and interpret the Bible within the living tradition of the Church.

(iii) Keep in mind the coherence of all the truths of revelation

3. The understanding from “Dei Verbum” is enshrined in the Catechism of the catholic Church (CCC), affirming reading Scripture for its four classical sense – the literal sense, and then the spiritual sense divided into three: the allegorical, tropological, and anagogical senses.

>> The allegorical sense (Typology) concerns how the Old and New Testaments relate, the tropological sense is the moral sense, and the anagogical sense concerns the soul’s progress to heaven.

D. What virtues/points can we pick up from the “Dei Verbum” for this Season of Lent?

1. Making it a Daily Habit to Read the Bible

2. Studying the Bible and going deeper into understanding the meaning of Scripture in our daily life

E. Tips to practice these virtues

1. Set apart a time, daily, to read God’s Word.

>> Just as our meals become a daily “must”, so should the Bible be part of our daily “sustenance for strength”

>> “Ignorance of Scriptures is ignorance of Christ” says St Jerome

>> Christ is the primary and ultimate revelation of God. So the more we read and reflect on Scripture, the more we can know Him and love Him

2. Learn, practise and revive the Catholic Tradition of the “Lectio Divina”(= a Latin term, means “divine reading”)

(i) The first stage is LECTIO (reading): Read any passage of the Word of God, slowly and reflectively so that it sinks into us

(ii) The second stage is MEDITATIO (reflection): Think about the text we have chosen and ruminate upon it so that we take from it what God wants to give us

(iii) The third stage is ORATIO (response): Leave thinking aside and simply let the heart to speak to God.

(iv) The final stage is CONTEMPLATIO (rest): Let go of our own ideas, plans and meditations and also holy words and thoughts. Simply rest in the Word of God and listen, to God, who speaks within us with a still small voice.

>> As we listen, we are gradually transformed from within and this will have a profound effect on the way we actually live.

May this Lent and the familiarity with “Dei Verbum” – the Vatican II Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation – help us to grow in our acclamation: “Eureka – I have found the Lord”

(The Full Text of “Dei Verbum” can be found at:

http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19651118_dei-verbum_en.html)

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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