Bible Sunday and what’s next...
Msgr Ireneusz Skubis talks to Archbishop Marian Golebiewski, Metropolitan of Wroclaw, who is responsible for ‘Dzielo Biblijne’- the Bible Society called after John Paul II in Poland.
The Third Sunday of Easter begins the First National Bible Week in Poland. The motto of this evangelisation project is the words taken from St Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, ‘Life to me is Christ’ (1:21). It perfectly suits the motto of this pastoral year, ‘Let us care for life’ and the celebration of the Pauline Year all over the world.
Rev. Msgr Ireneusz Skubis: – You are responsible for the John Paul II Bible Society in Poland. Your excellence, what is your opinion about the presence of the Holy Scriptures in the Polish pastoral work and Poles’ awareness?
Archbishop Marian Golebiewski: – From the formal point of view, as far as the presence of the Holy Scriptures in the liturgy is concerned it is regulated by the liturgical formulas. We have new liturgical books, prepared in the spirit of the post-counciliar reform, including the Lectionary, which gives the faithful, participating in the liturgy, easy access to the table of the Word of God. We also have good different translations of the Holy Scriptures, good biblical commentaries and many proposals of homilies. We have biblical periodicals and a large group of biblical scholars who officially deal with the biblical texts and make the contents of these extraordinary books understandable to numerous readers. Various Bible contests are popular with young people. But this does not have practical application in pastoral work. The influence of the Bible on Catholics’ lives is still little visible. The thing is that the faithful should form their moral attitudes and viewpoints in the light of the Word of God. During the last Bishops’ Synod in Rome it was suggested that the whole pastoral ministry should be biblical so that the Bible would penetrate all sections of religious and ecclesiastical life. Here we must do a lot in our Polish pastoral work. We should create Bible prayer groups, Bible circles and develop prayerful reading of the Bible called ‘Lectio divina’; we should popularise reading Sacred Scripture in families through the practice of family biblical quarter, etc.
– What do you expect most from the present actions undertaken during this Bible Week?
– There can be many initiatives. They depend on the creativity of priests to a large extent. I count on young priests who have received more contemporary biblical formation. The thing is that we should make the Bible closer to the faithful through strictly biblical homilies, talks, symposia, contests, lectures, service of the Word of God connected with the Coronation Ceremony for the Holy Scriptures in churches, including a peregrination of the Bible in Christian families.
– Will the Bible Week be an established institution in the Polish Church?
– First of all, we want the Bible Sunday be celebrated in the entire Church in Poland and connected with one date. And the Bible Week as an established institution is to be closely related to that. So in some sense we make the Church in Poland face a fact because the Polish Bishops’ Conference has not approved the Third Sunday of Easter as Bible Sunday yet. Some bishops have already established this custom in their dioceses but others have not made decisions because they have already had a programme of biblical initiation (Neocatechumenate) in their dioceses and other bishops have proposed another date. Because of the lack of agreement this issue has been suspended. The idea of the Bible Society is that by accepting one date for the whole country we will help the media popularise the initiative. That’s why we have prepared materials that can be helpful to prepare and experience this important pastoral initiative.
– Will it be connected with the Bible Society?
– This is the main merit of the Bible Society that has been involved in the promotion and development of the biblical pastoral ministry in our country from the very beginning.
– Do you think that knowledge of the Holy Scriptures will contribute to the increase of the level of pastoral ministry?
– Without any doubts, but with the participation and collaboration of educated laity. In my opinion the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures is the most effective antidote to the increasing process of laicisation that proceeds throughout the world.
– What do you think about the efforts of our editorial board that has distributed the particular Books of the Bible with ‘Niedziela’ for many years, popularising them among Polish Catholics?
– I appreciate these efforts very much. Thanks to that readers have received the Books of the Bible and they can read them, entering into relationship with the Word of God. I mean the Word that goes beyond the framework of the Book and in the Church it is a vivid reality that ‘was made flesh and lived among us.’
– Has the last Bishops’ Synod been publicised sufficiently in the Polish pastoral ministry?
– Whether it has been sufficiently publicised is always an open question. Certainly, one could do more. But I must admit that the Catholic press and media have done a lot concerning this issue. ‘Niedziela’ dedicated many pages to the works of the Synod, too. Numerous scientific and pastoral articles have been published. And they informed readers about the matters discussed during the Synod’s sessions. Perhaps this subject has been less discussed in an average parish. The problem is not to put this out to pasture but we should constantly return to this issue – return to the Bible and deepen our knowledge of the Bible in the pastoral reflection of the Church. We are looking forward to the post-synodal exhortation of Benedict XVI that will give guidelines and direct our further efforts to get to know the Bible and follow its message in the pastoral life of the Church.
– ‘Gazeta Wyborcza’ proposes its readers to buy three sacred books: the Bible, the Torah and the Koran. What do you think about the publication of the sacred books of various religions in one go and how does it relate to the biblical pastoral work?
– Proposing to buy three sacred books the editors have omitted the fact that the Torah, i.e. the Pentateuch of Moses, is present in our Bible, used in the liturgy. Therefore, there is not need to buy the Torah separately unless they mean the Hebrew version or some specific translation connected with the Judaic tradition. The Millennium Bible is enough for an average reader. As far as the Koran is concerned the number of the followers of Islam in Poland is small and the number of readers is not big. But publishing the Koran for scientific purposes is very appropriate. It can also be useful in the dialogue with Islam. Speaking practically, I would respect the following priority: first to know the Bible well so that based on this knowledge we can examine other sacred books.
You can order the Books of the Bible published by ‘Biblioteka Niedzieli’ writing to: Redakcja Tygodnika Katolickiego „Niedziela”, ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, ksiegarnia.niedziela.pl or calling (0048 34) 365-19-17; (0048 34) 369-43-00 or firstname.lastname@example.org