Who we are

Unique Terminologies of Bible Life

Written by Sr. Maura Cho,SOLPH

Each terminology of Bible Life was made through the sincere efforts through studying the bible and the documents of the II Vatican Council. Emphasizing the revelation of the documents, we tried to search the terms. The beginning of Bible Life was not planned and had neither pre-made structures nor study formats. It begins only through the few people who encountered and were attracted to the living word of God.

Immediately we felt the necessity of terminologies. We tried to find out the appropriate names through the documents of the church. Whenever we found out a term there was a praise of joy with gratitude. This work was done through the SOLPH Sisters who are fully dedicated from the beginning together with several young adults under the supervision of Fr. Andrew Choi who was the professor at a major seminary in Seoul. He is now arch-Bishop of Kwang Ju in South Korea. His guidance was great, and his explanation of each terminology was tremendous.

So now, I believe, is the appropriate time to record the meaning of the terminologies of CBLM and its process of formulation.

A. Catholic Bible Life Movement (CBLM)

1) Catholic Bible Life– In the 1970’s, there were numerous Protestant bible study groups that were quite active while the Catholic Church had almost no bible study. Many young adults who thirsted for the Word of God joined many of these Protestant study groups. Eventually, these young adults lost their Catholic faith not only converted to the Protestant faith but criticized their own Catholic pieties and traditions. At the very beginning of our studies, the Dei Verbum documents was our main text book; it was studied thoroughly and the contents were summarized in everyone’s notes. The purpose of this was to accurately follow the teachings of the Catholic Church. This is the way to conform our identity as Catholic Bible Study groups. We found the term Servant from the document of Dei Verbum.

Unlike the Protestant bible studies, we emphasize the Liturgy, the holy traditions of the Catholic faith, the pieties of our Lady who is the Mother of God, and the communion of the Saints. Also, we follow the inheritance of the Korean Martyrs. This is why we end our prayers with the following 3 Litanies: Our Lady of Perpetual Help, St. Joseph, and all Korean Martyrs. Furthermore, we even stress the word “Catholic” at the beginning of our movement’s name. This is to show the clear identity belonging to the Catholic faith.

We recognize the table of the Word (Celebration of the Word) together with the table of the Eucharist (Celebration of the Eucharist). Like the disciples on their way to Emmaus (Luke 23), we emphasize both the Holy Scriptures and the Eucharist.

2) Movement – Our English name for the Catholic Bible Life Movement was made official in 1973 on the occasion when we were asked to introduce ourselves to the Global Church. At the time, we did not know how to translate the Korean name into English, since English did not have the same term as Korean. We asked American Jesuits at Suh-Kang University which they discussed among themselves and understood about our charism and character as a movement. Since within a year our bible study method spread rapidly throughout the whole of South Korea. We experienced that the Word of God had power. The Word of God is not static, rather it is always moving among the people. Moreover, God’s word is the main force to move the Bible Life entity as a movement. Our character is not like an organization which is static and built on hierarchical structures. Rather, CBLM is made up of simply the participants who carry the Word and make the Word alive among the people. This in turn makes Bible Life as a vast movement. The living Word of God is always moving and flowing. Thus our English name was formed into CBLM (Catholic Bible Life Movement).

B. Servants of the Word

Those that facilitate small bible study groups are known as Servants of the Word. We believe that no one among us can teach the Word of God that is why we call each other who facilitate small study groups as Servants of the Word rather than “leaders” or “teachers”. We found that this vocabulary is from the Gospels (MK 10,45; LK ; Phil 3; Dei Verbum #) When this terminology was found while studying the Dei Verbum, we shouted out with great joy in discovering the right word to describe such facilitators.

1) Lay Servants of the Word – they are the main bodies who make active the small bible group facilitators. Following the influence of Korean Church history, we emphasized the laities who are capable to lead and facilitate the groups. The Lord uses our laities as a powerful instrument spreading the Good News, “till the end of the earth” (Acts 1,8).

2) Sister Servants of the Word – they have been like the midwives for Bible Life to train the lay Servants of the Word. And making reading guides and Bible retreat and seminars. Their role is like mothers among the Bible families.

3) Priest Servants of the Word – They are the ones who guide Bible Life in the Catholic Church, through their preaching and liturgy.

C. Sisters, Brothers and Bible Family

We call each other sisters or brothers according to the teaching of Matthew 23,8. According to this teaching, we do not call each other “leader”, “teacher”, nor “supervisor”. All in all, we call ourselves as Bible family.

D. Bible Yonsu

The basement of our Bible Life is small bible study groups. Mainly, our contents are Genesis, Exodus, Mark, John, and the Acts. We studied once a week for about 2 hours in small group settings. Each book takes 4 -6 months and maybe even a year. Whenever they complete a book, the participants are given a yonsu after their completion. Yonsu is a word that means a combination of “retreat” and “seminar”. In the Yonsu, there are many liturgies (celebration of Eucharist, sacrament of confession), activities, and Bible lectures. Since we do not have any adequate words to describe this type of function, we incorporated the Korean word, “yonsu”.