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National Bible Week 2007

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Today we begin our celebration of National Bible Week. National Bible Weeks began to be celebrated in the second half of the 1980s in the Philippines following a Synod on the Bible. There is some truth in the idea that we Filipinos only began to take the Scriptures seriously after that National Synod, and we are now enjoying its fruits. Finally, Dei Verbum’s mandate to make the Scriptures more accessible is bearing fruit in the Philippine Church.

Filipino Catholics today, especially the young ones, don’t realize how fortunate they are now. I still remember the time when our religion teacher assigned us students to bring copies of the Bible to school. I told my mom that I needed a Bible and she told me not to worry since she knew someone who can lend us a copy. The next day, she gave me a tattered well-used King James Version to bring to school. When I got to school, I found out that my classmates had new copies of the RSV Confraternity edition. It had “Catholic edition” printed on the front page. My copy of the Bible didn’t have “Catholic edition” printed on its cover, and that made me wonder.

My mom though raised a Catholic wasn’t so keen on buying Bibles. She is one of those who would prefer reading from the Catholic prayer book she received as a gift on her first communion from a “holy” Irish missionary. For her, going to Church and praying her novena was enough. When I used my weekly allowances to buy a three volume illustrated (that is, “comics-type”) Bible she got so mad that she refused to give me an allowance for a month.

The first real copy of the Bible that I owned was a Good News Bible New Testament given to me by a non-Catholic friend sometime in 1978. It was when I got into the College — in 1979 — when I was able to purchase the Good News Bible (both OT and NT). It was the version of the Bible that I was using during my first two years in College; it was the cheapest and the most popular. When I entered the novitiate in 1982, I was able to acquire a copy of the New American Bible and read it through for the first time (I didn’t understand much then, since the rule for novices was “Just read even if you don’t understand.”). The following year, I began using the Jerusalem Bible for my studies in theology.

Nowadays, a complete version of the Bible is so cheap that one can buy two different versions of it at the same time. One can now buy a copy of the NAB for 320 PHP. An SMS prepaid card in comparison costs 300 PHP and it is used up in a week or two; a cheap pair of jeans costs about 700-800 PHP. And Bibles are sold practically in any bookstore, unlike in the 1970s when one had to go to a specific Catholic bookstore to get a copy of it.

We Filipino Catholics are very fortunate now that we have access to the Scriptures. One of the problems we still have is the aspect of familiarity with the Scriptures. Perhaps now that the Philippine Church has made a special commitment to the building up of our parishes into BECs that Filipinos will become more and more familiar witht he riches of Scriptures. The BEC, together with the various Catholic movements and organizations largely inspired by charismatic prayer groups that have sprung up from the late 1970s onwards will — I think — help the Filipino Catholic appreciate the reading of the Scriptures and make it a part of his/her life in Christ.

Originally posted 2007-01-28 21:24:01. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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