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Online Edition:
November 2008

“The Bible Day and Night” Televised During the Synod on the Word of God

Beginning on the first day of the Synod of Bishops, October 5, and concluding seven days later, an around-the-clock marathon Bible reading took place. The event was televised by Italian state television, RAI. All 73 books of the Catholic canon of Scripture — about 800,000 words — were read aloud and broadcast from the 4th century Roman Basilica of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme (Holy Cross in Jerusalem).

On the first day, Pope Benedict XVI read the first chapter of the Book of Genesis: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…” - Gen 1:1. The Scripture reading concluded the following Saturday as Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, read the final chapter of the Book of Revelation (Apocalypse), which ends “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev 22:20).

An estimated 70,000 people packed the basilica to hear the readings, presented by about 1,500 readers from 64 countries. Between the readings on Sunday, famed Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli sang.

Seventeen Jews and six Muslims took part in the readings. Organizers wanted to make it clear, the Vatican said in a statement, that “the Bible belongs to everyone without any discrimination or cultural or ideological barrier”. This message was underscored by Pope Benedict’s decision to take part, as he explained in comments after Sunday Mass October 5 at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

“In this way the word of God can enter homes to accompany lives of families and individuals”, Pope Benedict said. “A seed that if well received will not fail to bring abundant fruits”.

“The reason the pope has agreed is to give his support to a program intended to bring the listening and reading of the Bible to a wider public of every age and condition”, said Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, in an interview. “The Church encourages the faithful to read and understand the Holy Scriptures.… The pope, therefore, intends to give a personal example … at a moment when the entire Catholic Church is reflecting and praying on the centrality of the Holy Scriptures in its life”.

Pope Benedict did not attend the Bible reading in person for security reasons and to avoid being a distraction, organizers said. Instead, he opened the 139 nonstop hours of the “Bible Day and Night” program in a live video link from the Apostolic Palace, broadcast on a huge video screen inside the packed basilica.

— Compiled from various news sources

USCCB, Vatican Synod Reports on Web

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) highlighted Catholics and Scripture during the 2008 world Synod of Bishops in October, on a web section dedicated to the synod: www.usccb.org/synod.

The October 6-25 synod, “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church”, included bishop delegates from the US, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the USCCB; Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Arizona, USCCB vice-president; Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Galveston-Houston; Archbishop Donald Wuerl, Washington, DC; and Bishop Basil Schott, Archeparch of Pittsburgh for the Byzantines.

Other US participants in the synod included Sister Sara Butler, Missionary Servant of the Most Blessed Trinity, of St. Joseph’s Seminary in the Archdiocese of New York; Monsignor Timothy Verdon, Canon of the cathedral in Florence; and Father Peter Damian Akpunonu, University of St. Mary of the Lake and member of the International Theological Commission, as experts (periti); and Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus; and Sister Clare Millea, Superior General of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, as auditors.

The USCCB’s synod web site featured daily updates of synod activities from the Rome Bureau of Catholic News Service (CNS), and a blog report by Bishop Kicanas.

The Vatican Press Office issued daily summaries of the synod events, which appeared on the Vatican web site: www.vatican.va. Of particular interest are the bishops’ interventions, which appear both in a plurilingual edition (in the bishops’ original languages) and translated into a variety of languages.

Musical Offerings: St. Louis Institute of Sacred Music

Musical settings of the Ordinary of the Mass and various Propers for the liturgical seasons, saints’ feast days, the sacraments, and other occasions are made available on the Archdiocese of St. Louis Institute of Sacred Music web site. The music is now available for free download as PDF (Portable Document Format) files.

Settings for Advent and Christmas are currently available. Additional settings will be made available in the near future.

To access the music, go to www.archstl.org/worship/ and select the Institute of Sacred Music.

The Director of the Institute, Father Samuel Weber, OSB, in addition to composing music for Mass, is also instructing seminarians at Kenrick School of Theology in Gregorian chant. Because many of the students are unfamiliar with either Latin or chant, Father Weber said, “we are beginning very simply”.

First the students are introduced to the Gregorian psalm tones; then the more complex chants of the Graduale Romanum, and other Mass chants. The entire seminary sings the chants, led by the Schola Cantorum. A current project is to learn the Requiem Mass for All Souls Day according to the 1962 Missal.

Architect Addresses Liturgical Institute

Professor Thomas Gordon Smith of the School of Architecture at the University of Notre Dame presented the Hillenbrand Distinguished Lecture at Chicago’s Liturgical Institute on October 30. In his address, “Today’s Classical Renewal in Church Architecture: Theory and Practice”, Dr. Smith discussed how the theology of architecture has met the realities of church building in his own work. (His article, “At New Monastery, Ora et Labora Represented in Building” appeared in AB September 2008.)

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