, 27 January, 2020 / 1:21 AM
Inspired by the celebration of the Sunday of the Word of God, which Pope Francis established through his September 30, 2019 Apostolic Letter “Aperuit illis” to be marked by Catholics across the globe on January 26, Kenya’s Diocese of Murang’a launched a yearlong celebration of the same event Saturday, January 25.
During the launch at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral grounds, the Local Ordinary of the diocese, Bishop James Maria Wainaina issued a decree of the inauguration that will run from Saturday, January 25 through Saturday, December 5, 2020 under the theme, “Ignorance of scriptures is ignorance of Christ,” an inspiration from St. Jerome.
“I direct all the physical and juridical persons belonging or residing in this Diocese to take up and implement faithfully the programs and activities that are stipulated for the said year and that all may open their minds and hearts to receive the graces that will abound in this special year,” the decree reads.
In an interview with ACI Africa at the venue of the launch, the Kenyan Prelate explained the reason for the launch saying, “I decided that it is necessary to take a whole year for the Word of God because one Sunday would come and go and sure the Sunday of the Word of God that the Holy Father has set aside will be coming every year and that is quite okay.”
He added, “But it is right that we should have a whole year so that the effects of the Word of God can be deeper and long lasting; it will go deeper in the hearts and minds of our Christians.”
“We have always desired for a long time to have a year bearing the theme of the Word of God because for a long time, I have realized that it is very good for Christians to think about the Word, and generally read the Bible so that we can deepen the love we have for the Word of God and realize the benefits that accrue from reading, thinking and living God’s Word in our lives,” the 63-year-old Bishop explained.
“I really desire that they (Catholics in Murang’a diocese) can enter into the spirit of reading, listening and meditating on the word of God,” Bishop Wainaina told ACI Africa and added, “I therefore ask Christians to read the Word every day and to have some moments to meditate the Word of God every day so that this year can be fruitful and can give them the benefits that we desire.”
On his part, the Vicar General and Pastoral Coordinator of Murang’a Diocese, Fr. Charles Kibe, told ACI Africa that by celebrating the Year of the Word of God, the diocese intends to “create a culture of reading and sharing the word of God right from the family unit; make the Word of God better known, loved and lived; empower the faithful to proclaim the Word of God; proclaim the Good News to the ignorant; and promote authentic interpretation of the Word of God.”
Some of the activities planned for the year include Biblical seminars scheduled for the fourth Sunday of every month, two Biblical conferences each with a Biblical theme that is “biblically founded and pastorally oriented”; short courses on the Bible for clergy, religious and the laity; courses and talks on homiletics to clergy and liturgists; training of lectors; as well as short courses on Lectio Divina.
According to the diocesan pastoral guidelines of the Year of the Word of God in the Kenya’s Murang’a diocese seen by ACI Africa, the clergy are directed, after the proclamation of the Gospel and before kissing the Gospel passage, to bless the Christians using the same book.
The clergy have also been directed to facilitate the enthronement of the Word of God either within or outside Mass.
At the grassroots level, Christians in the diocese are encouraged to read the Word of God in all households, Small Christian Communities (SCCs) and at individual level guided by the liturgical calendar; hold public Bible processions to exalt the Word of God; have a Prayer Corner in every household with a Bible placed on a stand; have Bible study groups; and organize Bible reading marathons.
The yearlong celebration will have the benefit of a partial indulgence granted to each Christian “who devotedly read the word of God for at least a quarter of an hour with the great reverence due to the divine word and after the manner of spiritual reading,” the diocesan pastoral guidelines direct.
The partial indulgence will be granted on the condition that “one is a Catholic in a state of grace, with complete detachment from sin, even venial sin, must have confessed their sins through the sacrament of confession, and must receive Holy Communion within twenty days before or after 5th December 2020.”
In designating the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time as the Sunday of the Word of God, the Holy Father entrusted the initiative to the whole Church so that “the Christian community may concentrate on the great value that the Word of God occupies in its daily existence.”
Besides being the first time the Sunday of the Word of God is being celebrated, the year 2020 is significant for the Word of God as the 1600th anniversary of the death of St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church credited with translating much of the Bible into Latin and famous for the words, “Ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ.”
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa