Observed next Sunday, January 23, is the Third Sunday of the Word of God, instituted by Pope Francis on September 30, 2019. The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization communicated the way the celebration will unfold, presided over by the Holy Father at 9:30 am in Saint Peter’s Basilica. Because of the COVID restrictions, only 2,000 people will be able to attend the Holy Mass. Among other things, conferred for the first time to laymen and women will be the ministry of Lector and Acolyte, as well as that of Catechist.
“For the purpose of reviving the responsibility that believers have in the knowledge of the Sacred Scripture and in keeping it alive through a work of permanent transmission and understanding, the Holy Father will give those present a volume containing a comment of the Fathers of the Church on chapters 4 and 5 of Luke’s Gospel, published by Saint Paul Publishers. During the celebration some very significant moments will succeed one another,” noted the Pontifical Council.
In regard to the conferring of the new ministry, the note of the Pontifical Council, headed by Monsignor Fisichella, recalls that previously “it was reserved solely to persons of the masculine sex because it was considered introductory to eventual access to the Sacred Order. A consolidated practice in the Church, however, has confirmed that lay ministries, being based on the Sacrament of Baptism, can be entrusted to all the faithful that are suitable, of masculine or feminine sex, according to what is already implicitly foreseen by canon 230 of the Code of Canon Law, which the Pope has modified for the occasion.”
The Ministry of Catechist
The Holy Father will also carry out the rite through which he will confer the ministry of Catechist to lay faithful, women and men, already instituted through the publication of the Apostolic Letter in the form of Motu Proprio Antiquum Ministerium, of March 10, 2021. Innumerable is the multitude of laymen and laywomen that have taken part directly in the spread of the Gospel through catechetical teaching. Men and women animated by great faith and genuine witnesses of holiness who, in some cases, have also been Founders of Churches, even to the point of giving their life. In our days also, many capable and tenacious catechists are at the head of communities in different regions and carry out an irreplaceable mission in the transmission and deepening of the faith.
Each one of these two ministries will be conferred through a rite, prepared by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and presented for the first time. Before the Homily, the candidates will be convoked, called by name, and presented to the Church. After the Homily, to those with access to the ministry of Lector, the Pope will give the Bible, the Word of God, which they are called to proclaim. Instead, to the men and women catechists, he will entrust a cross, reproduction of the pastoral cross first used by Saint Paul VI, then by Saint John Paul II, to recall the missionary character of the service that they are preparing to administer.
Provenance of the New Ministers
Some laymen and laywomen will receive the ministry of Lector, in representation of the People of God, from South Korea, Pakistan, Ghana, and various parts of Italy. Present, then, to receive the ministry of Catechist will be two lay laymen from the Apostolic Vicariate of Yurimaguas , in the Peruvian Amazon region; two faithful from Brazil who are already working in the formation of Catechists; a woman from Kumasi, in Ghana; the President of the Roman Oratories Center, founded by Catechist Arnaldo Canepa, who dedicated over forty years of his existence to the foundation and direction of Oratories for boys, the first of which was in 1945; a layman and a laywoman from Lodź and Madrid, respectively.
For reasons linked to the difficulty of traveling caused by the health restrictions currently in force, the appreciated presence will be lacking of two faithful from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and from Uganda. The event will be filmed live on television by Vatican Media and will be broadcast, via streaming, on the Vatican News portal (vaticannews.va) and live from the television broadcasters of the world. In Italy, among others, by RAI 1 and Tv2000.
The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, the Vatican Dicastery charged by the Holy Father to promote the event, has made a liturgical-pastoral subsidy available, which is useful to live the Word of God in community, in the family, and personally. The subsidy in Italian is available in a printed version by Saint Paul Publishers and can be downloaded online on the Pontifical Council’s site in the “Activities” section, in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Rumanian versions. The Sunday of the Word of God intends to highlight the Lord’s presence in man’s life. He really walks with him and is present through the Word, as expressed in Sunday’s logo, inspired by the story of the Disciples of Emmaus on the way, to review Scripture with the Lord, allowing themselves to be taught and enlightened.