Preparing for ‘Sunday of the Word of God’

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Catholic communities throughout South Jersey this weekend will celebrate the newly-created “Sunday of the Word of God,” as Pope Francis calls Catholics to break open sacred Scripture and “experience anew how the risen Lord opens up for us the treasure of his word and enables us to proclaim its unfathomable riches before the world.”

In his recently published Apostolic Letter Aperuit Illis, the pontiff decreed that this Sunday, Jan.26, the third Sunday in Ordinary Time, would be “devoted to the celebration, study, and dissemination of the word of God.”

For example, at Church of the Holy Family in Sewell, “our 40 Nazareth Academy home school religious education families will come in on Sunday for their monthly discussion, with this month’s focus on the Bible,” says Julianne LaRosa, the parish’s director of faith formation.

The community also reflects on the Holy Word through morning and evening Bible studies throughout the year, she says.

In these sessions, she and her catechists “try to make the Bible relatable, so the faithful can get comfortable with it.”

Patricia Lipperini, faith formation director at Collingswood’s Saint Teresa of Calcutta Parish, calls this weekend “a jumping-off point, that our parish will be building off of.”

At each Mass, all the parish’s lectors, the readers of the Word, will be called forward to receive a blessing, and all faithful will receive a copy of “Walking in Love With Scripture,” a collection of reflections and prayers.

“The Bible is so vital and enriching,” Lipperini says, adding that from personal experience and others’ testimony, “lives have been transformed” in its reading.

“Studying his word is the best place to get closer to Jesus,” believes Laurie Power, director of mission and discipleship at Christ the Redeemer in Atco. This week, parishioners are invited to bring their Bibles up to the altar for a blessing.

At the Parish Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Lindenwold, the Word of God will be enthroned in front of the altar with candles, parish priests will base their homily off it, and the parish’s weekly Gospel reflection group will be promoted.

At Mary, Mother of Mercy Parish in Glassboro, “Priests will be preaching on the importance of reading Scripture, and we have Bible bookmarks, with suggestions on Scriptures to read in different happenings of life to hand out at all Masses,” said Meryl Cerana, pastoral associate/business administrator.

Reminding the faithful that “the Bible cannot be just the heritage of some,” but belonging to all “those called to hear its message and to recognize themselves in its words,” Pope Francis in his Motu Proprio called for “renewed efforts … to provide members of the faithful with the training needed to be genuine proclaimers of the word.”