Pope: Dei Verbum, a central feature of Vatican Council II and of the Church

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The Conciliar Document about Revelation (Dei Verbum) and its "fundamental importance" for the life of the Church were at the heart of the pope's message at today's Angelus.

Addressing thousands of pilgrims gathered in St Peter's Square in the rain, Benedict XVI said the Word of God is Christ himself and that "no further new public revelation are to be awaited". He highlighted the function of bishops as "depositaries" of the Gospel and Church message; guided by the Spirit, they make its value, significance and effectiveness relevant to the current era.

But above all, the pope recalled how, thanks to Dei Verbum, there has been a veritable "biblical spring" in the Church, which has placed the Word of God – and not many human words – right in the centre of preaching, teaching and community life. Benedict XVI urged the faithful to imitate Our Lady, who was distinguished by a continuous and "reverent hearing of the Word of God", able to bring hope and love to the world.

Here are the words of the pope before the Angelus:

Dear brothers and sisters!

On 18 November, 1965, the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council approved the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum, which represents one of the central features of the entire Conciliar edifice. This document deals with Revelation and its transmission, with inspiration and interpretation of Sacred Scripture and its fundamental importance for the life of the Church. Gathering the fruits of preceding theological renewal, Vatican II put Christ at the centre, presenting him as the "mediator and the fullness of all revelation" (n. 2). In fact, the Lord Jesus, the Word made flesh who died and resurrected, brought to completion the work of salvation, manifest through deeds and words, and he fully revealed the face and the will of God, so that until his glorious return, there is no further new public revelation to be awaited (n.3).

The Apostles and their successors, the Bishops, are the depositories of the message which Christ entrusted to his Church, so it would be transmitted intact throughout all generations. The Sacred Scripture of the Old and New Testaments and sacred Tradition contain this message, the understanding of which develops in the church with the help of the Holy Spirit. This same Tradition makes known the full canon of the Sacred Books and makes them profoundly understandable and active so that God, who talked to the Patriarchs and Prophets, does not cease to talk to the Church and through it, to the world (cfr n. 8).

The Church does not live off itself but of the Gospel and it always draws the orientation for its journey from the Gospel. The Conciliar Constitution Dei Verbum instilled a strong impulse to make the most of the Word of God, from which is derived a profound renewal of the life of the Church Community, especially in preaching, catechesis, theology, spirituality and ecumenical relations. It is in fact the Word of God which, through the action of the Holy Spirit, guides believers towards the fullness of truth (cfr Gv 16,13). Among the multiple fruits of this biblical spring, I would like to mention the diffusion of the ancient practice of divine office or "spiritual reading" of the Sacred Scripture. This consists in dwelling at length on a biblical text, reading and rereading it, practically "ruminating on it" as the Fathers said, and extracting, so to speak, all the "juice" from it, that it may nourish meditation and contemplation and irrigate concrete life like lifeblood. A condition for the divine office is that the mind and the heart should be illuminated by the Holy Spirit, that is, from the same Inspirer of the Scriptures, and it therefore calls for an attitude of "reverent hearing".
This is the typical attitude of the Most Holy Mary, as is symbolically demonstrated in the icon of the Annunciation: the Virgin welcomes the heavenly Messenger while she is intent on mediating the Sacred Scriptures, usually depicted by a book which Mary holds in her hand, or in the womb, or on a lectern. And this is also the image of the Church offered by the Council itself, in the Constitution Dei Verbum, "Hearing the word of God with reverence…" (n.1). Let us pray that, like Mary, the Church will be the docile maidservant of the divine Word and proclaim it always with firm faith, so that the "whole world may believe, by believing it may hope, and by hoping it may love" (ibid.).