On Sunday, Pope Benedict joined thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his weekly Angelus prayer, at which, he stressed the centrality of the Holy Scriptures--passed down and safeguarded by the Magesterium--for the life and strength of the Church.
As the Catholic Church celebrates the 40th anniversary of the conclusion of the second Vatican Council this fall, the Pope specifically recalled the November 18, 1965 approval of the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, also known as 'Dei Verbum.'
He said that it, more than any other, “constitutes one of the mainstays of the entire conciliar edifice.”
“This document”, he told the crowd from his study window, “deals with the Revelation and its transmission, with the inspiration and interpretation of Holy Scripture, and with its fundamental importance in the life of the Church."
"The Apostles and their successors, the bishops," the Pope continued, "are the depositories of the message, entrusted by Jesus to His Church that it might be passed on intact to all generations.”
He continued, saying that, “Holy Scripture of the Old and New Testaments, as well as sacred Tradition, contain that message, the understanding of which develops in the Church with the assistance of the Holy Spirit.”
“It is this Tradition”, he said, “that makes the entire canon of Holy Books known, rendering them correctly understandable and effective so that God, Who spoke to the patriarchs and the prophets, does not cease to speak to the Church and, through her, to the world."
The Pope highlighted how, "the Church does not live off herself but off the Gospel, and from the Gospel draws constant guidance for her journey."
He added that, "' Dei Verbum' gave a powerful boost to the evaluation of the Word of God, whence derived a profound renewal of the life of the ecclesial community, especially in preaching, catechesis, theology, spirituality and ecumenical relations."
"The Word of God,” the Pope continued, “through the action of the Holy Spirit, guides believers towards the fullness of truth.
“Among the many fruits of this biblical springtime," the Holy Father stressed the spread of the ancient practice of 'lectio divina,' or the 'spiritual reading' of Holy Scripture.
“This,” he explained, "consists in dwelling at length over a biblical text, reading and re-reading it, ... that it may serve as nourishment for meditation and contemplation, irrigating real life with vital lymph.”
“In order for 'lectio divina' to be effective,” he said however, “mind and heart must be illuminated by the Holy Spirit, in other words by the very Inspirer of Holy Scripture, and they must adopt an attitude of 'religious listening'."
The Holy Father told the crowd that this perspective was "the attitude typical of Most Holy Mary," as in the image of the annunciation when "she welcomed the heavenly messenger while intent on meditating upon Holy Scripture."
"Let us pray” he thus concluded, “that, like Mary, the Church may be a docile handmaiden of the Divine Word, ever proclaiming it with firm faith so that 'the whole world may believe, by believing it may hope, and by hoping it may love'."