By Heather Walker
ROME — The Vatican Ambassadorial Women’s Association (VAWA) monthly Bible study, offered by The Lay Centre, continues online.
Members gathered on Zoom Nov. 10 for the second session of the VAWA program for 2020-2021. The scriptural passages in Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si’” provide the framework for this year’s program. The first session, which took place in October, looked at Matthew 6: The Creator and Provident God.
VAWA has been meeting at The Lay Centre for the past three years, but shifted online due to the restrictions brought on by the coronavirus. Nonetheless, enthusiasm has not waned, and group members keep in touch and fully support the online initiative.
In this most recent session, the group concentrated on examining passages from the first chapter of the Book of Genesis, which not only serves as a prologue to Genesis, but is also an introduction to the Bible.
Monica Prandi, a doctoral student at the Pontifical Biblical Institute and a Lay Centre scholar, guided participants through the text, inviting each participant to look closely at the words used in the biblical passage, which was available in English, French, Italian and Spanish.
Donna Orsuto pointed out that the second section of “Laudato Si’” is dedicated to “the wisdom of the biblical accounts” and makes references to the Book of Genesis. Articles 65 and 67 of the encyclical were highlighted. They read:
Art. 65. Without repeating the entire theology of creation, we can ask what the great biblical narratives say about the relationship of human beings with the world. In the first creation account in the Book of Genesis, God’s plan includes creating humanity. After the creation of man and woman, “God saw everything that he had made, and behold it was very good” (Gen 1:31). The Bible teaches that every man and woman is created out of love and made in God’s image and likeness (cf. Gen 1:26). This shows us the immense dignity of each person, “who is not just something, but someone. He is capable of self-knowledge, of self-possession and of freely giving himself and entering into communion with other persons.”
Art. 67. “We were conceived in the heart of God, and for this reason ‘each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.’”
After a lively discussion, Orsuto went on to say that God set everything in motion: he created a system in such and perfect way, and everything worked. God’s love for the the world and all it contains is apparent in Gen 1:1-2:3. Here, God invites women and men to embrace and recognize the gift and responsibility that the gift of creation presents.
The session ended with a reflection on the seventh day, the Sabbath. Orsuto suggested that the six days of creation come to fruition in the institution of the day of rest. The Sabbath was made holy by God, not because he needed to rest, but because he had completed the work of creation. This is why God consecrates the seventh day and has hallowed that day.
An image of the Sistine Chapel frescoed ceiling, by Michelangelo Buonarroti, was shared on the screen and Haydn’s “Creation” played as participants said farewell.
The remaining sessions in the 2020-2021 VAWA program include:
December: The Mystery of the Incarnation in the Design of Creation (Colossians 1)
January: Our Responsibility for Creation (Genesis 2)
February: The Fall of Humankind (Genesis 3)
March: Am I my Brother’s Keeper? (Genesis 4)
April: A Psalm in Praise of Creation
May: Jesus: The Lord of Creation (Matthew 8)
Suggested listening: The Creation (German: Die Schöpfung) is an oratorio written between 1796 and 1798 by Franz Joseph Haydn, and considered by many to be his masterpiece. The oratorio depicts and celebrates the creation of the world as described in the biblical Book of Genesis and in Paradise