From November 15–21, 2015, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops invites families, parishes, schools, and other Catholic groups to participate in a National Bible Week in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Second Vatican Council Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum.
This year's theme, "The Bible: A Book for the Family," builds on this year's Synod of Bishops on the Family and Pope Francis's visit to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families. It responds to the call Pope Francis issued in his post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii gaudium:
“The study of the sacred Scriptures must be a door opened to every believer. It is essential that the revealed word radically enrich our catechesis and all our efforts to pass on the faith. Evangelization demands familiarity with God’s word, which calls for dioceses, parishes and Catholic associations to provide for a serious, ongoing study of the Bible, while encouraging its prayerful individual and communal reading. We do not blindly seek God, or wait for him to speak to us first, for ‘God has already spoken, and there is nothing further that we need to know, which has not been revealed to us.’ Let us receive the sublime treasure of the revealed word.” Evangelii gaudium, 175 (notes omitted)
This week-long observance offers an opportunity for dioceses, parishes, schools, and other Catholic groups in the United States to highlight the many excellent efforts already underway to promote biblical ministry in the United States. For example, several dioceses have thriving multi-year Bible schools, parishes have a variety of Bible studies, catechetical works include increasing amounts of Scripture, and lectio divina is increasing in popularity. During National Bible Week, parishes may wish to invite broader participation in such activities.
Similarly, ordinary school and parish activities can focus more precisely on the importance of Sacred Scripture in the life and mission of the Church. For example, Catholic schools and parish religion programs can model prayer with Scripture and can introduce age-appropriate principles of Catholic biblical interpretation. Parish and school libraries or bookstores can exhibit Scripture resources, especially Bibles. Parishes may wish to offer a special blessing to Bible study group leaders or to lectors in the context of the Sunday Eucharistic liturgy (appropriate blessings are found in the Book of Blessings, Chapters 4 and 61, respectively). Parish meetings might begin with lectio divina or a brief reading from Scripture.
A special emphasis for all Catholic organizations should be encouraging love for the Bible in Catholic families. While most Catholic households have a Bible, Catholic leaders should encourage families to make sure that the Bible they have meets the family’s needs. Is the language understandable to the family members? Do the materials included in the Bible (maps, glossaries, study guides, etc.) help the family members delve into the text with the mind of the Church? Does the family have resources that help the parents assume their role as their children’s primary educators in the faith? Parishes can assist in this effort by including resources in parish bulletins or school newsletters. These resources might include a listing of the Lectionary readings assigned to each day in a week or month, suggestions for Bible stories to read aloud, or brief discussion questions to help families prepare for their participation in the Sunday Eucharist.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has prepared a variety of resources to assist in the celebration of National Bible Week. These resources, available in English and Spanish, are formatted as pdf files for free download and distribution.The resources for families include a rite for Enthroning the Bible in the home and a brief introduction to the practice of lectio divina. Parish resources include a faith formation session, a family retreat, and a parish checklist to assess the use of Scripture in parish ministries. A variety of articles written by biblical scholars for use by non-academic audiences complete the offerings.
In addition to efforts by the USCCB, Catholic publishers, through the Association of Catholic Publishers , blogs, and other groups are offering special resources and social media outreach to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Dei Verbum, to make Catholics aware of the celebration, and to encourage an ever-greater knowledge of and love for God’s holy Word.