Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service
October 28, 2009 // Uncategorized

Pope calls for more attentive, prayerful listening to Gospel readings

Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI invited all Catholics to listen more carefully and prayerfully to the Gospel readings, especially during Sunday Mass, and to set aside a bit of time every day to meditate on the word of God.

“A purely theoretical, profane reading is not enough in order to reach the heart of sacred Scripture. One must read it in the spirit in which it was written and created,” he said during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square Oct. 28.

The pope began a new cycle of talks by dedicating his catechesis to the renewal of theology during the 12th century.

Two basic models of or approaches to theology emerged at the time: monastic and scholastic theology, he said.

“Monastic theology grew out of the prayerful contemplation of the Scriptures and the texts of the church fathers, stressing their interior unity and spiritual meaning centered on the mystery of Christ,” he said.

For example, he said the practice of “lectio divina,” a form of prayerful meditation on the word of God, was a fundamental part of the life of monastic theologians because “for them the simple reading of sacred texts was not enough for perceiving the deep sense, inner unity and transcendent message” present in the texts.

This form of theology was characterized by meditation, prayer and songs of praise and led to “a sincere conversion,” the pope said.

The spiritual heritage of these early monastic theologians represents “an invitation also for us to nourish our existence with the word of God,” he said.

One way to do this, he said, is by “listening more attentively to the Gospel readings, especially during Sunday Mass.”

“It’s important to set aside a certain amount of time every day for a meditation on the Bible so that the word of God becomes a lamp that lights our daily journey,” he added.

But one must be motivated by a desire to know and love God, “who comes to meet us through his word,” Pope Benedict said. That desire will lead Christians to try to deepen their understanding of the Bible “in all of its dimensions.”

God’s word is there to be welcomed, meditated upon and practiced in everyday life, he said.

Unlike monastic theology, “scholastic theology sought to clarify the understanding of the faith by studying the sources and the use of logic,” he said.

The teacher, representing authority, and the student, representing inquiry, engaged in a form of debate where the aim was to arrive at a deeper understanding of God’s word through both authority and reason, he said.

Applying reason to one’s approach to sacred Scripture “creates a faith that is deep, more personal and, therefore, also more concrete in a person’s life,” he said.

“Even today this confidence in the harmony of faith and reason inspires us to account for the hope within us and to show that faith liberates reason, enabling the human spirit to rise to the loving contemplation of that fullness of truth which is God himself,” said the pope.

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