At a meeting I recently attended at my alma mater, the Institute of Pastoral Studies (Loyola University), I heard a phrase I’d not heard before: biblical animation. It’s not a new phrase, but it was new to me!
First, biblical animation does not refer to cartoon drawings of Bible scenes. Rather, biblical animation refers to activity that is “powered by” (animated by) an encounter with Christ in Scripture. Second, it would seem that the concept of biblical animation is very well-known in certain parts of the world other than the United States—in particular, in Latin America and Africa—and is the focus of the ministry of the Catholic Biblical Federation.
The goal of the Catholic Biblical Federation is to promote biblical animation of all pastoral life, meaning that everything a parish does should be “powered by” an encounter with Christ in Scripture. In other words, faith communities are invited/challenged/encouraged to review all of their ministries and activities in order to determine how they can be animated by encountering Christ in Scripture. A parish that is biblically animated would ensure that all gatherings and meetings of ministries and organizations (from RCIA, liturgical ministers, and Ministers of Care, to Scouts, the finance committee, and the athletic board) would begin with an encounter of Jesus in Scripture through either lectio divina or a Liturgy of the Word, so that the work of each organization or ministry would be inspired by and linked to the Word of God. Likewise, individuals would be encouraged to be biblically animated by regularly reflecting in their own lives on the Word of God through lectio divina or other forms of reflecting on God’s Word.
As catechists, we need to ask ourselves, “Am I biblically animated?” Am I powered by the Word of God, and is my ministry animated by encountering Jesus in Scripture? We also need to ask, “Are my faith formation sessions biblically animated?” I know that every session of the Finding God and Christ Our Life faith formation programs we offer here at Loyola Press integrate at least two Scripture passages that animate the chapter so that young people have opportunities to encounter the Living Word of God. The inclusion of these passages should remind us to pause in our lessons, enthrone the Bible, reverently proclaim the passage, and reflect on God’s Living Word—a Word that animates us in all that we do.