May oppressed people and those who oppress them set one another free. May those who are disabled and those who think they are not, help one another. May those who need someone to listen to them move the hearts of those who are too busy. May the homeless give joy to those who, albeit unwillingly, open their door to them. May the poor melt the hearts of the rich. May those who seek the truth give life to those who are satisfied because they have already found it. May the dying who do not want to die be comforted by those who find it very hard to live. May those who are not loved be authorised to open the hearts of those who are not successful in loving. May prisoners find true freedom and free others from fear. May those who sleep on the streets share their kindness with those who do not manage to understand them. May the hungry tear the veil from the eyes of those who do not hunger for justice. May those who live without hope purify the hearts of their brothers and sisters who are afraid of living. May the weak confuse the strong. May hatred be surmounted by compassion. May violence be neutralised by men and women of peace. May it surrender to those who are totally vulnerable, so that we may be healed. Therese Vanier
In L’Arche Kent Community Pilgrimage handbook 2022. Therese was one of the founders of L’Arche Kent in 1975.
Mark reports that Jesus says, ‘You need to do one thing more’ (Mark 10:21). This very gentle remark of Jesus accompanies his gaze of love. Jesus seems to be tenderly overlooking the young man’s sense of himself as being perfect–or nearly so. Surely, Jesus knows that there is not only “one thing” but many things the young man needs to do or become, but Jesus may be thinking that there will be time enough for the young man to come to terms with his weaknesses and to acquire a more realistic estimation of himself. For the moment, Jesus knows that if he can just persuade him to do only ‘one very important thing more,’ that very important thing will enable the young man well and truly to begin a deeper life, rooted in God: ‘Go and sell what you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me’ (Mark 10:21).
And, tragically, here the conversation ends. The delightful young man with the “can do” personality suddenly confronts something he cannot do. Possibly, his life has been a bit too easy up to now and he knows it. That may be one of the reasons why he is there to begin with, kneeling before Jesus. But the effect of Jesus’ words is immediate.
The young man clearly didn’t expect Jesus to say that. And indeed, wealth was considered by the Jewish people to be a sign of God’s favour and blessing. “What’s this about?” he may well have thought. But he doesn’t linger to discuss the matter with Jesus. Had he done so, Jesus might have explained that the Kingdom belonged to the poor in spirit and that wealth, with its trappings of glamour and its conferral of undeserved honour, was a spiritual handicap. In any case, now we reach the part of the story where the rich young man ceases to be an example of how to win Jesus’ love (although I do not doubt that Jesus continued to love him deeply). At this stage in the story the young man becomes an example of the paradox that we lose everything when we attempt to save everything–for we who read this know that Jesus himself is ‘everything’ and he is more than worth the loss of everything else. Indeed, the loss of everything else is the condition for gaining a close relationship with Jesus. It is a small price to pay.
A small price, but I am asking myself now what I am trying to hang onto that may be separating me from a close relationship with Jesus. I will stay with that uncomfortable question for a day and return tomorrow.
The Church still has a way to go to truly and fully include disabled people. But the Synod intends to hear what they have to say. Let’s hope it results in more than pious aspirations.
General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops
The Church is your home The contribution of people with disabilities to the Synod on Synodality 19 May 2022
An online listening session, lasting about two hours, was held yesterday afternoon on the theme “The Church is your home. The contribution of people with disabilities to the Synod on Synodality” promoted by the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life in collaboration with the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops.
The session, attended by representatives of bishops’ conferences and international associations, aimed to “give voice” directly to people with disabilities, faithful who are often on the margins of our Churches. Although many of them have already been involved in the meetings promoted by parishes, dioceses and associations, the meeting was in fact the launch of a true international synodal process dedicated to them.
In a dynamic of dialogue, approximately 30 participants with sensory, physical or cognitive disabilities – connected from more than 20 countries around the world – were able to express themselves in their own languages (including three sign languages) in sight of the joint drafting of a document to answer the synod’s fundamental question: How are we walking with Jesus and our brothers and sisters to proclaim Him? For the future, what is the Spirit asking our Church to grow in our journey with Jesus and with our brothers and sisters to proclaim Him?
Four moving testimonies from Liberia, Ukraine, France and Mexico drew attention about the need to overcome discrimination, exclusion and paternalism. Very touching were the words of a French catechist with Down syndrome: ‘At birth, I could have been aborted. I am happy to live,’ she said, ‘I love everyone and I thank God for creating me”. Consecrated, she received a double mandate from her bishop: prayer and evangelisation.
At the opening, Card. Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, shared his personal experience: ‘I’m in debt to people with disabilities. One of them lead me to path priestly vocation. If the face of the disabled brother or sister is discarded, it is the Church that becomes disabled’.
The Secretary of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, Fr. Alexandre Awi Mello, told the participants that in the synodal process the challenge is to “overcome every prejudice of those who believe that those who have difficulty expressing themselves doesn’t have a thought of their own, nor anything interesting to communicate”.
In closing, Sr. Nathalie Becquart, Undersecretary of the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, proposed that participants observe a moment of silence, to “hear,” she said, “how the Holy Spirit has spoken to each one. There are treasures of humanity that have been shared and are offered to the Church”.
The participants were invited to elaborate in the coming months a common document based on their experiences and knowledge of the world of disability that they have gained first-hand and through their pastoral commitment. The document will then be delivered to the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops to be considered in the continuation of the synodal path.
The meeting is part of a path started in December 2021 by the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life with the video campaign #IamChurch, on the ecclesial protagonism of people with disabilities and desires to be a response to the appeal of the Pope in Fratelli Tutti (n.98) when he invites communities to “give voice” to those “hidden exiles” …who feel they exist without belonging and without participating”. “The goal,” the Holy Father continues, “is not just assistance, but ‘active participation in the civil and ecclesial community. The process will be concluded in the coming months with a presential meeting in Rome.
What is it about prayer that we find so hard to grasp? ‘The raising of the heart and mind to God’ is one definition, easy to remember, but insufficient. What about the image coming to me, unbidden, of someone dear? It certainly wasn’t my conscious mind that brought her there, perhaps it was seeing a head of hair like my friend’s … Or what about the walk down town to Mass, neither mind nor heart actively involved; do I only begin to pray after entering the church or is my body praying as it transports the rest of me to Mass, or to work, or to visit somebody? Pauline Jaricot’s body failed her through illness; what did that do for her prayer life?
For many years, Pauline was passionate about many successful charitable ventures. But serious illness at the age of 35 curtailed her ability to work. Such an impact affected her mental health but through prayer and the Eucharist, Pauline discovered a new spiritual fruitfulness. She would build God’s kingdom with prayer and encourage others to join her in this mission.
Let us pray… Our Father. Hail Mary. Glory be… Blessed Pauline Jaricot, pray for us!
To find out more about Pauline Jaricot, visit: missio.org.uk/Pauline
It makes no sense that having Down’s syndrome is considered reason enough for an unborn child to be aborted. Not if you know one or two people with Down’s; and as Adam Rutherford reminds us:
None of the worst crimes of humanity … was perpetrated by people with Down’s syndrome … If we truly wanted to reduce the sum total of human suffering then we should eradicate the powerful, for wars are fought by people but started by leaders.
Adam Rutherford: Control: the Dark History and Troubling Present of Eugenics.
Hope! You might well think it’s in short supply these days, with climate change and all the storms, with wars and threats of war, and terror and division. We can only do what we can, where we can. The Irish Chaplaincy was established to do what it can, where it is needed in England. Here comes a Hope-full story. As ever, it is told by Eddie Gilmore.
A conversation on a train station platform reminded me of both the power of stories and the power of hope, and it linked as well with a forthcoming campaign of the Irish Chaplaincy.
Francis, who spent his working life as a clinical psychologist in the NHS, told me excitedly that he was reading my book * and I was equally excited to learn that he had bought not just one but three of them (not all for himself)! “I like how you use narrative,” he explained and he recalled how years ago if he had only a short time to get across the details of a ‘case’ with a senior policy-maker he would usually choose to tell a story about the person in question. This was, in his experience, the most effective means by which change might occur.
When I told Francis about our #storiesofhope campaign to be launched in Lent he remarked, “Hope is about the power to make a difference.” Here is the first of those stories of hope. It is Emma’s story, as told by Breda who features strongly in it, and it is told with Emma’s permission.
A Reason to Live
Our wonderful team is currently supporting a 35-year-old woman who in February 2021 just days after her release from prison was airlifted to hospital and put into a medical coma for 28 days. Emma had a rare but serious bacterial infection that affects the tissue beneath the skin and surrounding muscles and organs which resulted in the amputation of her left leg. Her mother was told that her daughter had a 2% chance of survival and was advised to turn off Life Support. She declined! Initially Emma had no use in both arms but this is slowly improving with intensive therapy at a care home; however she struggles with the use of her right leg as it remains severely damaged. Although Emma’s long-term prognosis isn’t yet fully known, what is certain is that she will need lots of care for many months if not years and will have to endure years of skin graft operations.
Thankfully, the team at the Irish Chaplaincy has been able to support both mother and daughter: practically, by advocating on their behalf to statutory bodies; financially, with small donations for telephone credit, travel assistance as well as essential sundries; emotionally, with visits from two of our caseworkers, who are also available at the end of the telephone anytime for either mother or daughter; and spiritually, through prayer. Additionally, with the help of our friends at Caritas, who when they heard Emma’s story provided a mobility scooter, she is now able to get around better, saying, “I feel like I have my legs back.”
Both mother and daughter are extremely remarkable and humbling; truly inspirational and doing their best to stay positive. They are an absolute pleasure to work with and the essence of our Chaplaincy’s purpose. We would be so very grateful for your thoughts and prayers to help them get through this difficult time and to help us continue in the work we love to do in supporting those most in need. Emma said to one of those who came to visit her: “You’ve given me a reason to live.”
The latest chapter in this story is that with the help of the Irish Chaplaincy Emma has managed to secure suitable accommodation where she can live with her mother after her mother is released from an open prison in a few months’ time. Now Emma not only has a reason to live, she also has her own place to live in!
More such stories of hope are coming soon…
* The link is to our review of Eddie’s book, Looking ahead with Hope; Francis was right, it’s a good read!
We continue on our way through Lent. This post is an invitation to transcend false perceptions and be more conscious of the gifts and needs of people with a learning disability, through the eyes and heart of L’Arche. This link will lead you to the page about the impact of the last couple of years on our communities, with more pictures and videos of how L’Arche is trying to help. You will also find tabs leading to more about the people who make L’Arche.
Around 1.5 million people in the United Kingdom are thought to have a learning disability. Of these, 147,920 are accessing long-term support.
Many people with a learning disability experience multiple forms of inequality and discrimination throughout their lives: only 6% of adults with learning disability in England are in paid work; people with learning disability are seven times more likely to including chronic loneliness; the difference in median age of death between people with a learning disability and the general population is 23 years for men and 27 years for women.
What L’Arche is doing to help
The source of discrimination lies in the false perception that people with learning disabilities are unable to make positive contributions to the world around them. L’Arche challenges this by creating Communities where people with and without learning disabilities share their lives, from which we work together for a more human society.
L’Arche Communities are rooted in the simple activities of daily life: preparing a meal or making a handicraft together, going for a walk, sharing a cup of tea, celebrating a birthday. Every day, we grow extraordinary friendships through ordinary activities.
#newsletter n.02 – 01/2022 – Available also in FR – PT – ES – ITHello, it’s good to see you again! In this week’s newsletter, the protagonists are our brothers and sisters with special needs and how to involve them more in the synodal process. We are happy to be able to share stories and narratives from around the world as we continue to journey together. Sinodality and disabilities Young people and disability Cristina Santiago Lizcano, a hospitaller religious sister, talks about how moved young people are when they come into contact with young people with mental illness.For more information…
Special resources for special people The departments of pastoral care with persons with disabilities of the Archdioceses of Newark and Washington, in the United States, are preparing various materials intended for persons with disabilities, so that all those who wish to contribute to the ecclesial discernment to which they are called, can participate in the synod. The different proposals are available in the space dedicated to the Synod of Bishops on the web pages of each archdiocese, with materials in English and Spanish. Evanize Andrade stressed the importance of the person with a disability walking towards God to accept and overcome his or her condition. For more information…
The Synod in the World Don’t miss out on participating!Your parish does not organize a synodal meeting? Don’t worry. Synodmeetings.com offers you hundreds of possibilities to find a place. The website is designed to facilitate the participation of the faithful in the United States, with the support of the Jesuits of Canada and the U.S. Get involved!
Various resources Various materials about the Synod are coming from France, Scotland, and Colombia: videos, articles, blogs, interviews, etc.
Two surveys and a booklet “to print and use” A digital newspaper invited its readers to respond to two surveys on the Synod of Bishops. For more information…
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. You too can send your prayer. See how to do it…
Listen with the ear of your heart Listen with the ear of your heart and hear the voice of God, calling us to respond creatively and share the gifts we have.
Brothers and sisters, we are all one family, building God’s Kingdom here on earth today. Living the message of the Gospel in our lives, we must strengthen one another in faith.
Sow the seeds of faith, hope and love: what you plant will yield abundant fruit. Work for peace and justice, freedom for all; then shall the whole world live in harmony.
Whatsoever you have done unto the least of these, in the same way you have done unto me. Eat this bread and drink this cup in memory of me. When you gather in my name, I am there.
Benedictine Monks of Weston Priory – USA
Pray for the Synod Are you witnessing or living a particular synodal experience? Do you think you have experienced a good practice and want to share it? Fill in the attached form and send it to email@example.com.
If your story appears to be original or considered a good practice, we will publish it in our next newsletter and who knows… maybe even in VaticanNews!
Spot the Difference! … with the Logo
Last December we published our logo with an important difference, which has given rise to a contest. Continue to read…
We need You !
Consecrated Life and Young People are fresh air that moves the Church around the world, and therefore a fundamental element in this Synod. Share with us the experience of your consecrated life or youth organization in this synodal process, to share it with other experiences and narratives in Synod Resources.
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Our mailing address is: General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops Via della Conciliazione, 34 Vatican City 00120 Vatican City State (Holy See)
#newsletter n.9 – 11/2021 – Available also in FR – PT – ES – ITShareTweetForwardShare Ecclesial Assembly of Latin America and the Caribbean (Mexico City, 21-28 November 2021) This week was marked by this Ecclesial Assembly on the theme All of us are outgoing missionary disciples. Find out moreabout this important Church event. The text on Discernment is now available also in English, French, Italian and Spanish.Share your story! Are you witnessing or living a particular synodal experience? Do you think you have experienced a good practice and want to share it? Fill in the form and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If your story appears to be original or considered a good practice, we will publish it in our next newsletter and who knows… maybe even in Vatican News! We are all in the one boat!The Synodal Pathway launch in Dublin: a diocesan story
Taking the image of the boat as mentioned in the official preparatory documents the liturgical space within the Cathedral was shaped in the form of a boat. The bow of the boat faced towards the Cathedral door emphasising mission and outreach to the peripheries. Read the full story.
Synodal spirituality We continue our journey to discover the spirituality of the different religious families, associations and ecclesial movements. Today we invite you to discover theFranciscan spirituality.
“The process of discernment never starts from abstract questions (at the table), but from concrete provocations of life, from inspirations and thoughts that arise in the encounter between the needs and provocations of life and the sincere and deep desire to be pleasing to God and to do his will.”. (From the Franciscan Spirituality by fr. Giulio Cesareo, OFM Conv)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!
Listening to people with disabilities: We need you! We invite you to send materials and good practices for the involvement of people with disabilities in the synodal process to email@example.com#ListeningToAll #NobodyExcludedPray 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…
Our mailing address is:
General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops
Via della Conciliazione, 34
Vatican City 00120
Vatican City State (Holy See)
Was Elizabeth’s pregnancy planned? The idea of an old couple, an old childless couple, planning a pregnancy sounds crazy, but of course it was not their idea, Someone Else had planned it, they had to make His plan their own.
Zachary’s mutism was perhaps a gift, not a punishment; time to reflect, writing the essentials on a clay tablet, time for patience. Did he need nine months of patience after all those years of waiting, of prayer, of resignation? Perhaps he did. This time he had the promise visibly being fulfilled in Elizabeth’s swelling womb; she herself was filled with joyful acceptance and sang when her cousin appeared, complete with her own unlooked-for but now expected little one.
Zachary it was who had the task of telling everyone the name of his son: his loss of speech seems to have led his neighbours to believe he had lost his mind as well. John was certainly a gift for his parents, but also a gift for the people of Israel. But caring for his parents in old age? No: the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel. (Luke 2.80)
God used Angels to take the Good News of John and Jesus to their parents, parents who were together and who loved and supported each other. But sometimes pregnancy can seem like a disaster, not a gift. I’d like to share these words of Susannah Black which are from the transcript of a discussion with Paul Mommsen and Zito Madu at The PloughCast. Ms Black is exploring some of what being pro-life means, and trying to get away from the discussion being focused on the right of the mother versus the right of the unborn.
Tap on the link for the full transcript.
One of the transformations of ways that I’ve gone about being pro-life has been to move from a discussion of the right to life, away from that and away from a rights-based discussion to just like, “What is the good here? Is there a good in the existence of human beings? Is there a good in a human baby however and wherever, whether or not that baby was planned and is that a good that we can do our best to make room for?”
It’s not about whether or not abortion should be legal, it’s about what it means to be a woman who has a body that can carry children, what it means to find yourself pregnant, what it means to find something happening in your life that you did not plan, and what it means to honor that gift even if it’s a really difficult gift to honor.
I guess one of the things that I am committed to as a pro-life person, is doing my best to, as a woman and as a friend and politically as well, making it easier for women to experience, even unexpected pregnancies as something that they can say yes to, and as something that they can experience as gifts.