The Word of God Rekindles Hope| National Catholic Register

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Pope Francis celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the fourth annual Sunday of the Word of God, during which he, for the first time, officially conferred on lay Catholics the ministries of reader and catechist.

On Word of God Sunday, Pope Francis reminded Christians that God speaks to them through Scripture, filling them with hope and guiding their faith journey.

“The word is central: it reveals God and leads us to man,” the pope said Jan. 23.

Pope Francis celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the fourth annual Sunday of the Word of God, during which he, for the first time, officially conferred on lay Catholics the ministries of reader and catechist.

Pope Francis conferred on Catholics the lay ministries of catechist and reader during a mass for Sunday of the Word of God on January 23. | National Catholic Register / Vatican Media

In his Mass homily, Francis reflected on the “God of proximity” who guides us with his word.

God “wants to ease the burdens that weigh you down, warm your winter coldness, brighten your daily gloom and sustain your faltering steps,” the pope said. “It is what he does by his word, by the word he speaks to rekindle hope in the midst of the ashes of your fears, to help you find joy in the labyrinths of your sorrows, to fill hope your feelings of loneliness. It takes you forward, not through a maze, but on a daily journey to find it.

Following the proclamation of the Gospel, the candidates for the ministries of catechist and reader were called by name, to which they replied: “Here I am”.

Pope Francis established the ministry of catechesis as a vocational service instituted within the Catholic Church last May.

The newly instituted ministry is for lay people who have a special call to serve the Catholic Church as teachers of the faith. Ministry is lifelong, whether or not the person is actively engaged in ministry at every stage of life.

The pope amended Church law in January 2021 so that women can be formally instituted to the lay ministries of lector and acolyte.

A lector is someone who reads scripture—other than the Gospel, which is proclaimed only by deacons and priests—to the congregation at Mass.

Pope Francis conferred on Catholics the lay ministries of catechist and reader during a Mass for Sunday of the Word of God on January 23, 2022. Vatican Media

Pope Francis celebrates Sunday of the Word of God on January 23. | National Catholic Register / Vatican Media

In his homily, Pope Francis noted that, “in this celebration, some of our brothers and sisters will be instituted as lectors and catechists.”

“They are called to the important work of serving the Gospel of Jesus, of proclaiming it, so that its consolation, its joy and its liberation can reach everyone,” he said.

“It is also the mission of each of us: to be credible messengers, prophets of the word of God in the world”, he continued.

Pope Francis conferred on Catholics the lay ministries of catechist and reader during a Mass for Sunday of the Word of God on January 23, 2022. Vatican Media

Pope Francis conferred on Catholics the lay ministries of catechist and reader during a mass for Sunday of the Word of God on January 23. National Catholic Register / Vatican Media

He encouraged everyone to be passionate about Holy Scripture and to be willing to immerse themselves in the Word of God, which “reveals the newness of God and leads us tirelessly to love others”.

He also warned against the temptation of rigidity, which he called a perversion and an idol.

“Let us put the word of God at the center of the life and pastoral activity of the Church,” he urged. “So we will be free from all rigid Pelagianism, all rigidity, free from the illusion of a spirituality that puts you ‘into orbit’, careless of caring for our brothers and sisters. Let us put the Word of God at the center of the life and pastoral activity of the Church. Let us listen to this word, pray with it and put it into practice.

After the homily, Pope Francis continued the rite of conferring the ministries of reader and catechist.

He began with the readers, who knelt one by one before him to receive a Bible. Francis prayed over each with these words: “Receive the book of Sacred Scripture and faithfully transmit the word of God, so that it may sprout and bear fruit in the hearts of men.

Pope Francis conferred on Catholics the lay ministries of catechist and reader during a Mass for Sunday of the Word of God on January 23, 2022. Vatican Media

Pope Francis conferred on Catholics the lay ministries of catechist and reader on January 23. National Catholic Registry / Vatican Media

The instituted catechists also knelt before Pope Francis, who presented them each with a silver crucifix, saying: “Receive this sign of our faith, seat of the truth and charity of Christ: proclaim it by your life, your deeds and your word”.

Two people from the Amazon region of Peru have been officially appointed catechists by the Pope, along with other candidates from Brazil, Ghana, Poland and Spain.

The ministry of reader has been conferred on lay Catholics from South Korea, Pakistan, Ghana and Italy.

Pope Francis declared the third Sunday in Ordinary Time a special day to celebrate the word of God when he issued the apostolic letter View Illis, in 2019, on the occasion of the 1600th anniversary of the death of Saint Jerome, who translated the Bible into Latin in the 4th century.

The Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization is the Vatican department responsible for promoting the Sunday of the Word of God.

Pope Francis conferred on Catholics the lay ministries of catechist and reader during a Mass for Sunday of the Word of God on January 23, 2022. Vatican Media

Pope Francis celebrates the Sunday Mass of the Word of God on January 23. National Catholic Registry / Vatican Media

Out of concern for the continued spread of COVID-19, approximately 2,000 people attended the papal mass, a small percentage of the basilica’s total capacity.

All who attended received a copy of a commentary from the Church Fathers on the fourth and fifth chapters of the Gospel of Saint Luke.

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