Every session of the Second Vatican Council began with the prayer Adsumus Sancte Spiritus meaning, “We stand before You, Holy Spirit,” which has been used at Councils, Synods and other Church gatherings for hundreds of years. It is attributed to Saint Isidore of Seville (c. 560 – 4 April 636). As we are called to follow the path of the Synod 2021-2023, this prayer invites the Holy Spirit to operate within us so that we may be a community and a people of grace.
We stand before You, Holy Spirit, as we gather together in Your name. With You alone to guide us, make Yourself at home in our hearts; Teach us the way we must go and how we are to pursue it. We are weak and sinful; do not let us promote disorder. Do not let ignorance lead us down the wrong path nor partiality influence our actions. Let us find in You our unity so that we may journey together to eternal life and not stray from the way of truth and what is right. All this we ask of You, who are at work in every place and time, in the communion of the Father and the Son, forever and ever. Amen.
Window, Saint Aloysius, Somers Town, London, England.
General Secretariat of the Synod PRESS NOTE 1 – FEBRUARY 23, 2023THE FINAL COUNT DOWN
Baan Phu Waan (The Sower’s House), the magnificent Pastoral Training Centre of the Bangkok Archdiocese, is host to the Asian Continental Assembly on Synodality, from February 24 to February 26, 2023. The participating delegates consist of representatives of 17 Conferences of Bishops and 2 Synods of Bishops, representing the 29 countries that constitute the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC). Discerning together on this Synodal journey are 6 cardinals, 5 archbishops, 18 bishops, 28 priests, 4 sisters and 19 lay persons.
Asia, the largest and most populated continent, is blessed with diverse cultures, languages, ethnicities and religions. While Christianity remains a very small minority in most parts of Asia, the vibrancy and richness of the individual cultures bring joy to the life of the Church. Though the systems of beliefs, values and symbols differ from place to place, the interconnectedness of the human community draws Asian people together. The Asian value of being relational – with God, self, neighbour, and the cosmos – brings with it, the unity of the human family and the unity of the people of Asia.
Despite the challenges, the Synodal journey has been considered a moment of grace and healing for the church. The image of the ‘church as tent’ projects it to be a place of refuge that can be expanded to all in a spirit of inclusivity. It also expresses that God can pitch His tent wherever the Spirit of God blows, including places of violence, unrest, and suffering. Most importantly, in the tent, there is room for everyone; no one is excluded, for it is a home to everyone. In this process, those who in the past felt ‘left out’ now realize that they have a home in this tent – a sacred and safe space.
The image of the tent also reminds us that Jesus pitched His tent among us through the incarnation, and therefore the tent also is a place of encounter with God and one another. The tent, now seen as the common home, also has rekindled a sense of belonging and sharing in the common baptism. The Synodal process has brought about a more significant awareness of the importance of walking together as a communion of communities, bringing about an organic growth of the Church.
A draft framework, an open-ended working paper, has been drawn up to help the delegates journey together through prayer to discern, discuss and deliberate. Over the next three days the delegates will share their experience of Joy, of Walking Together, the Experience of Wounds, and the Call to Embrace New Pathways. They will also focus on the tensions that plague Asia – Living Synodality, Decision-Making, Priestly Vocations, Youth, Poor, Religious Conflicts and Clericalism.
The Opening Mass, the Mass of the Holy Spirit, will be presided over by Archbishop Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi, SVD, Archbishop of Tokyo, Japan and Secretary General of the FABC. This will be followed by an orientation introducing the delegates to the topics of deliberation and discernment. The draft of the final document will also be shared for the participants to express their thoughts.
The hope is to journey together as people of the vast and diverse continent of Asia.Through the portal https://synod2023.org you can access the sites of the individual continental meetings.
These lands, situated in the centre of the great African continent, have suffered greatly from lengthy conflicts. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, especially in the east of the country, suffers from armed clashes and exploitation. South Sudan, wracked by years of war, longs for an end to the constant violence that forces many people to be displaced and to live in conditions of great hardship. In South Sudan, I will arrive together with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. Together, as brothers, we will make an ecumenical pilgrimage of peace, to entreat God and men to bring an end to the hostilities and for reconciliation.
I ask everyone, please, to accompany this Journey with their prayers.
And I wish everyone a good Sunday. And please, do not forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch and arrivederci!
Marriage is for this world,
but the love and unity between us
is a participation in God's own love
and is therefore eternal.
One day I too will be called to the fuller knowledge of that love
in our Father's house."
Ruth Reardon who dies recently aged 92, was an English Catholic married to Martin, an Anglican priest. They founded the Association of Interchurch Families with her husband Martin in 1960’s. They helped make interchurch marriages acceptable to the English Catholic bishops and to the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity in Rome.
Walking together has long been a mark of interchurch marriages, often leading to friendships between fellow parishioners of each spouse. Perhaps they can teach us a lot about synodality?
Archbishop John Wilson preached this homily on Racial Justice Sunday in February, but it’s message is also particularly telling at Eastertide.
Dear friends, if we think that racism is a thing of the past, then suddenly we need to think again.
It’s a present reality in our communities.
I was shocked the year before last. I met with a group of young women students from a school in our diocese, and I was shocked to listen to their experience of racism.
Through comments, through insults, through slurs, through discrimination, alive and present today.
Racism is not a thing of the past, and therefore we cannot be silent about it. We cannot be silent about its existence, and we cannot be silent about its causes.
We must unite in Christ with other people of goodwill. We must unite in Christ, to work for justice. To speak out for equality for every person no matter what the colour of their skin is, no matter what language they speak. No matter where they come from, no matter what they look like.
My friends, it is our mission to continue to make our parishes and schools places where the gifts and the skills and the experience and the heritage of all people of every background honoured and valued and cherished and celebrated.
We have in our church some inspiring examples of people who have spoken out, spoken out against slavery and work to overcome the sufferings of those enslaved. I want to name just two today. There are many others we need to learn of them because they’re truly inspirational.
The first is perhaps more familiar to us.
Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese woman sold into slavery and eventually brought to Rome where she was cared for by a community of religious sisters.
And she developed her own Christian faith and joined a religious community. She was such an outstanding example of what it means to live the values of the kingdom that in the year 2000 She was made a saint – Saint Josephine Bakhita.
I think of someone perhaps very few of us maybe only one other in this church today will know the name of Sister Dorothy Stang.
An American Sister of Notre Dame, who was martyred 17 years ago yesterday, the 12th of February 2005.
Why was she martyred? Because she upheld the rights and the dignity of indigenous peoples in Brazil.
The voices of all those in our church who have defended and protected people of different racial and cultural backgrounds, those voices must be alive in us. They must be.
Are we one in Christ?
Are we one in Christ? We are one in Christ who is risen. Christ who is risen, who has overcome death, who has conquered sin and therefore we are people of hope. Are we not – people of hope? And as people as hope, one in Christ, we are committed to working side by side to consign racism to history.
And so, we pledge today, to continue journeying together into the future.
We’ve received another Newsletter from the Bishops’ Synod Office. Here it is. What did I say a few weeks ago about long words and unusual vocabulary? Still, it’s good to see that they want to use the synod to help make us Christians all one.
In a joint letter of 28 October 2021, Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and Cardinal Mario Grech, General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, addressed the Bishops responsible for ecumenism in their Episcopal Conferences and Synods of the Oriental Catholic Churches.
The two Cardinals trust that the “ecumenical dimension of the synodal process will promote both synodality and Christian unity so that ‘all may believe’ (John 17,21)”.“Indeed, both synodality and ecumenism are processes of ‘walking together’ ”. In fact, “as ecumenism can be understood as an ‘exchange of gifts’, one of the gifts Catholics can receive from the other Christians is precisely their experience and understanding of synodality”. (From the letter of cardinals Grech and Koch)
The Synod in the world We continue to receive pictures, videos, … from all over the world showing the great creativity of our communities. Be inspired: come and see!
Feel like singing?
Listen to a synod hymn by artist Merlin Dsouza, one of India’s leading music directors, composer and pianist, has a wide range of work in theatre, concerts, films (Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham).
Synod and Synodality: Theological Approaches New Course at the Pontifical Gregorian UniversityThe synodal process also challenges theology to deepen what is a “constitutively synodal Church”, in order to integrate visions and skills, experiences and concerns, tradition and readings to the “signs of the times”.
The Faculty of Theology of the Pontifical Gregorian University is launching a course on “synod” and “synodality”. In 12 meetings, the professors will address the topic from different angles. The aim is to create a wide space for listening and sharing among the participants, both in the classroom and online, thus implementing the synodal process and developing a truly synodal style in theology.
Programme (ONLY IN ITALIAN)Promoting a time of listening and discernment
We continue our journey to discover the spirituality of the different religious families, associations and ecclesial movements. Today we invite you to discover the Benedictine spirituality.
“The practice of listening “with the ear of the heart” sets in motion a pathway to authentic discernment of the will of God.”
Pray for the Synod In order to support the synodal journey and ask for the Spirit’s assistance, together with the World Network of Prayers of the Pope and UISG, we have set up a website in 5 languages: Church on the Way. Pray for the Synod. From 2 November, you too can send your prayer. See how to do it… Copyright 2021 General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops, All rights reserved. You are receiving this email because you opted in via our website.
Our mailing address is: General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops Via della Conciliazione, 34 Vatican City 00120 Vatican City State (Holy See)
Tomáš Halík: From the Underground Church to Freedom, University of Notre Dame Press,Notre Dame, Indiana, 2019.Available through Waterstone’s or online.
Tomáš Halík is a Czech Catholic priest who has lived under repressive Communism, even coming to the Faith in an officially atheist country, a process he unfolds for the reader in one of the chapters of this autobiography. An interest in history, including the career of the ‘heretic’ Jan Huss; reading about psychoanalysis as a schoolboy, and a growing awareness of politics and that life under an oppressive regime was not the inevitable fate of his country; all these had him asking questions, and finding the ready-made answers of the atheist regime lacking.
But he had ‘absolutely no experience of the living church.’ How true is that of many of our neighbours? It was during a solitary pilgrimage he made one holiday that he assented to belief in God; from there to attending a church with good music, gradually moving closer to the altar, week by week; thence to a church frequented by students where the pastor’s homilies were challenging.
The journey to the priesthood had begun but had to continue underground, and his ordination was held behind closed doors in Erfurt, East Germany.
That sets the scene for a ministry conducted in secret but also in plain view as a psychotherapist and university teacher; often feeling the eye of the secret police upon him. Many of the generation of priests before him had been imprisoned; there were almost parallel churches; some priests ministering as best they might at the churches that were permitted to remain open, others, like Fr Halík, in closely guarded secrecy, until the regime collapsed like those in neighbouring countries.
It was time to unite the Catholic Church. The official church had been deprived of international links and scholarship; the priests were tired and ‘the onset of freedom caught them very much unawares.’ Thirty years have not healed all the wounds inflicted before 1990.
Openness to the universal Church, the re-establishment of church structures, the initial and ongoing formation of pastors and people, freedom from fear: these things take time, and hard work, and grace. At 70, Fr Halík feels he may not have much more time, but he has been the means of grace. This book will inspire the reader to believe in the action of the Holy Spirit. And perhaps nudge us to ask what we can share with those around us with ‘absolutely no experience of the living church.’