Thank you, Pope Francis for reminding us in your recent address of January 23rd that this is the Anniversary of your Apostolic Letter Aperuit illis issued September 30, 2019, on the 1,600th anniversary of the death of St. Jerome, who translated the Bible into Latin in the fourth century. The celebration of the Sunday of the Word of God is to be held every year on the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time. You have asked that this special day be devoted to the celebration, study and dissemination of the Word of God. An icon of the encounter of Jesus, the Word, on the road to Emmaus is the official logo for this worldwide celebration.
Regarding the commemoration of the Sunday of the Word of God, Fr. Scalia (The Catholic Thing 1/23/22) urges us to be “in” the Word at Mass saying: We should find ourselves in Ezra’s assembly. When we hear the Word of God at Mass, we shouldn’t do so as detached, aloof listeners. The readings aren’t just an interesting historical narrative or ancient philosophy. They are about us as God’s people. They describe the human condition, the ongoing struggle we experience between God’s goodness and our weakness. We should see and hear ourselves in the searching, fickleness, and rebellion of the Israelites, in the joy and sadness of the Psalmist, and in the virtues and vices of the early Church. So, in listening to the readings at Mass, please – please – don’t sit in the pew with your arms stretched out and your legs folded as though the proclamation of God’s Word were intended for your entertainment or intellectual interest or subject to your approval. The Word is about you and the God who saves you. Sit attentively, intent on hearing His Word not critiquing it. And ask the Spirit to help you receive the truth that saves.
I want to get as excited as those faithful to whom Ezra, the priest and scribe, preached to on New Year’s Day after they returned from the Babylonian captivity. (Nehemiah 8:2-10) .The people stood in an open square outside the destroyed Temple they were rebuilding with the smallest pieces of remnant stone. They were hungering for the Word of God after their time in captivity when they could not access it. They begged Ezra for the book of the law of Moses which the Lord had commanded to Israel. Ezra positioned himself on a raised platform to be seen and heard in the best acoustical and visual advantage. He was accompanied on each side by prominent laymen. Were they there to hold up Ezra’s arms as others had done for Moses? Ezra began the Word as we all should begin the Word by blessing the Eternal. All the people assembled jumped up and raised their hands high and shouted, “Amen!! Amen!!!” and bowed down and adored God with their faces to the ground. “Hush! Hush!”, they were admonished, “ so can hear the Word of the Lord.” [This context is from a quick look at the text and footnotes and cross-references in my personal collection of 6 Bibles in print and several Bibles online.]
In my church in the United States in my desire to celebrate, study and disseminate the Word of God, I served as a lector at Holy Mass. Working long and carefully using every skill I know including varying breathing techniques and persuasive rhetoric, it is all for naught because it is impossible to read the text of the New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE) to sound inspiring and meaningful to remind the faithful of the Eternal, and thus for them to feel like jumping up and waving their arms and shouting “Amen!! Amen!!! I could be reciting my grocery list for the impact made on the person in the pew. Of this same NAB translation, Anthony Esolen (The Catholic Thing 9/25/19) vehemently says: Jacques Maritain, who said “Stupidity is always a vice as are bad taste and slovenly work should have been the editor of the New American Bible, copyrighted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and of the lectionary in use in America – a tenebrous mystery if ever there was one. Please, your excellencies, put these ugly and dispiriting creatures to death. Everywhere – drab for colorful, vague for sharp. Everywhere the translators avoid the concrete thing that bears itself and its figurative meanings and poetic echoes. It is almost as if they wanted us to think less of the text and more of their footnotes. God help us.
The texts of the NABRE is a completely new translation throughout. “Conscious of their personal limitations for the task thus defined those who have prepared this text cannot expect it will be considered perfect; but they can hope that it may deepen in its readers “the right understanding of the divinely given Scriptures” and awaken in them “that piety by which it behooves us to be grateful to the God of all Providence who from the throne of his majesty has sent these books as so many personal letters to his own children” (Divino afflante Spiritu). As lofty and admirable as these goals of translation, it is almost as if they did not see the forest for the trees—the forest being the Eternal.
Emphatically, the NABRE and its Lectionary in use by the United States Conference must be put to death/burned/buried. Not only does it dispirit the Faithful to a state of acedia, it is also tainted by having Theodore McCarrick as a Collaborator. Need we be reminded, McCarrick was the only Cardinal defrocked and by you, dear Pope Francis, for Cause. Can the NABRE and Lectionary be verified to be untainted by the same duplicity and moral impurity McCarrick is said to have typified throughout his life?
Dear Holy Father, please act in advising the USCCB to “burn” the NABRE and its Lectionary from all aspects of our precious Faith.
The Unites States Bishops Conference is not the only one that has veered from meeting Jesus on the road to Emmaus, the Sunday of the Word of God. Ezra took out the book/scroll, the Word of God, and instructed the people of God. Today the Word of God is piled under a context heaped with meeting goals of papal documents, papal pronouncements, and even synods on the Word of God. A quick search among Bishops conferences has netted that the Bishops of England and Wales; the Bishops of Scotland; the Bishops of India; and the Bishop of South Africa English-speaking Catholic Christians; and Anglican Ordinariate have now adopted The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® Catholic Edition (ESV-CE). It is an essentially literal translation in elegant, contemporary English. The ESV-Catholic Edition emphasizes word-for-word accuracy, literary excellence, and depth of meaning. This Catholic Edition was reviewed in accord with the norms of Liturgiam authenticam and abides by Catholic hermeneutical principles. It was granted the Imprimatur by the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India in 2018 and was approved for liturgical use by the Vatican’s Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in 2019.
The ESV-CE is an instant and ready Bible and Lectionary for adoption by the USCCB. May it “encourage everyone to be passionate about Sacred Scripture and to be willing to immerse themselves in the word of God, which “reveals God’s newness and leads us tirelessly to love others.”(PF)