IEC pilgrims urged: Back to the Bible, please

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Fr. Francis J. Moloney, SDB (Photo: Dominic Barrios)

Fr. Francis J. Moloney, SDB (Photo: Dominic Barrios)

CEBU City, Jan. 26, 2016 – Echoing the Second Vatican Council, one of the speakers in the ongoing 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) in Cebu City invited delegates on Sunday to avail of what the Bible has to offer in terms of enriching their faith.

“Vatican II, in its all-determining agenda of returning to the sources of the faith, asked all Catholics, to rediscover the original sources of their faith and practices. This was very challenging. This necessarily summoned the whole Church to return to the Scriptures,” said Fr. Francis J. Moloney, SDB.

In “The Word of God, Jesus Christ, and the Eucharist: Christian Hope in the Secularizing World,” the Don Bosco priest bemoaned the tendency of many Catholics to emphasize tradition at the expense of Scriptures.

Bible is Catholic

“Passing traditions with a small t—not the great Tradition which is our 2,000 years of Tradition—generated by a given time and place, became much dearer to Catholics than the Word of God. The acceptance and observance of these traditions, practices that we do that are very good, that demonstrate faith … can sometimes become the touchstone of Catholic orthodoxy,” he explained.

He noted that a faith-filled reading of the Bible among Catholics is uncommon and often viewed as “irrelevant” and “Protestant.”

According to him, this should not be the case considering that the Church has always valued the Bible alongside Sacred Tradition, since the time of the Christian fathers like Tertullian and Irenaeus, and earlier as well as the Great Ecumenical Councils from Nicea to Chalcedon.

Pre-Vatican II voices

Moloney pointed out that less than a century before Vatican II, Leo XIII had already been calling Catholics back to the Bible amid the extreme rationalism of his time in his 1893 encyclical “Providentissimus Deus,” but was largely ignored.

Likewise, the few decades leading to Vatican II, saw the release of “Divino Afflante Spiritu” in 1943 where Pius XII insisted on the centrality of the Word of God in the Bible as a pillar of the Christian faith.

The priest said this document particularly encouraged scholars to study Scriptures using all the critical methods as well as the scientific and literary tools available to them to understand the Word of God better and what it means to people today.

Same Divine well-spring

Moloney went on to highlight the contribution of Vatican II in the history of Catholic theology, which he described as “breaking through the stranglehold of the two-source theory,” that of Tradition and Word.

Quoting the Council Fathers in “Dei Verbum” (DV) No. 9, he said, “Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, then, are bound closely together, and communicate one with the other. For both of them, flowing out from the same divine well-spring, come together in some fashion to form one thing, and move towards the same goal.”

One Table of Body and Word

The priest, moreover, lauded Vatican II’s conviction in DV 21 that the Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures “as she has venerated the Body of the Lord,” stressing how it “never ceases, above all in the Sacred Liturgy, to partake of the Bread of Life, and to offer it to the faithful from the one table of the Word of God and the Body of Christ.”

“We receive Jesus Christ from one table, and this one table consists of the Body of Christ and the Word of God,” he added. (Raymond A. Sebastián / CBCP News)

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