Tag Archives: listening

6 September: An historic consultation, unprecedented in the history of the Church

After a couple of months of bringing together the strands from different countries’ consultations, the synod office has published another newsletter based on a recent press conference. An English translation of the Italian speeches can be found by scrolling down the page. I seem to recall, at the start of this process, hoping for clear English … Will.

A historic consultation, unprecedented in the history of the Church
synod2023-

“We are faced with an ecclesial dialogue without precedent in the history of the Church, not only for the quantity of responses received or the number of people involved (which to some who want to rely solely on numbers – which can only be approximate – may seem limited) but also for the quality of participation. The listening and discernment process was certainly not perfect. We know this, but we also know that we are trying to be more and more the image of the synodal Church, we are also learning from our mistakes’. This was stated by Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, General Rapporteur of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, at the press conference presenting the Second Stage of the synodal process: the Continental Stage.

In addition to the 103 responses from the Bishops’ Conferences (out of 114) so far received by the General Secretariat of the Synod and the thousand or so contributions from other ecclesiastical realities, the Oriental Catholic Churches, Religious Congregations and Vatican Dicasteries also sent a summary of the listening and discernment process carried out over the last few months.

For his part, Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod, thanking “the entire People of God” who took part in the synod process, addressed “you today and those following us from home with a sense of gratitude and much hope for the future of the Synod Church. Regardless of the contents that will emerge from the reading of the summaries, the experiences heard or lived show a Church that is alive, in need of authenticity, healing and that yearns more and more to be a community that celebrates and proclaims the joy of the Gospel, learning to walk and discern together”. The Cardinal’s speech then dwelt on the principle of circularity and restitution to the local Churches that characterises this synodal process.

Below is the list of people who spoke at the Press Conference and their contribution.

– Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the General Secretariat of the Synod

– Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, General Rapporteur of the XVI Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops

– H.E. Msgr. Luis Marín de San Martín O.S.A, Undersecretary of the General Secretariat of the Synod

– Sr. Nathalie Becquart X.M.C.J, Under-Secretary of the General Secretariat of the Synod

– Father Giacomo Costa S.J., Consultor of the General Secretariat of the Synod and Head of the Task Force for the elaboration of the Document for the Continental Stage

– Susan Pascoe, Member of the Task Force for the Continental Stage and Member of the Methodology Commission (intervention by videoconference)

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11 August: Feast of Saint Clare; Pope Francis meets the Poor Clares

Pope Francis visited the Poor Clares, the Franciscan enclosed sisters, in Assisi on the World Day of the Poor, 19 November 2021. The report below is from Vatican News; we can gain some understanding of the contemplative calling, but also a few challenges for our own lives. Happy Feast Day!

Pope Francis asked the Franciscan nuns to pray for the Church so that it may not be corrupted by sin, calling on them to be attentive contemplatives. Pope Francis said attentiveness to the Lord requires having peace of mind, serenity of the heart and serenity of the hands, lest we miss Him when He passes by. It is not watching the world pass by and chatting from a window, but being aware of what is going on with a pure mind, thinking well and not badly of people, he remarked.A “serene heart” implies going back in memory to the origin of religious vocation, to the reason of God’s call, to love and let ourselves be loved.

There is also the serenity of the hands: hands must move not only to pray, but also “to work,” Pope Francis said, recalling St. Paul’s words in his Letter to the Thessalonians: “Whoever does not work, must not eat”.

When mind, heart and hands do what they have to do, consecrated people may find a balance which is “full of love and passion”, making it easy not to miss what the Lord tells us when He passes by.

He pointed to the core of the Poor Clares’ contemplative work: “You carry on your shoulders the problems of the Church, the pains of the Church and also – I dare say – the sins of the Church, our sins, the sins of the bishops, we are all sinful bishops; the sins of the priests; the sins of consecrated souls … And bring them before the Lord”.

The real danger in the Church is not being a sinner, but allowing oneself to be corrupted by sin, to the point of seeing sin as “a normal attitude” and not feeling the need to ask for God’s forgiveness. Pope Francis therefore called on the cloistered nuns to pray that corruption might not affect the Church, stressing that God “only asks our humility to ask for forgiveness.”

Concluding his speech, Pope Francis asked the Poor Clares to think and pray for the elderly, who are often considered “disposable”, for those families struggling to make ends meet so they can bring up their children well, and for young people and children exposed to so many threats and dangers in today’s world.

Finally he asked them to pray for the Church, in particular for priests and bishops so they consider themselves pastors and not “heads of office”.

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24 July: Teach us how to pray

Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. A moment of prayer with the Lord.

Jesus did not confine his mission to his own Jewish people. The woman at the well is just one example that we know about; she spoke to him face to face, undergoing a radical examination of conscience, and putting her faith in the Messiah who was calling her.

Today’s Gospel reading is from Luke 11:1-13, the Lord’s Prayer. The link leads to the Bishops of England and Wales’ page of the Lord’s prayer recited in different languages. A reminder that the Gospel is for every nation, every citizen, every human being.

Prayer too is universal. We can pray by listening as well as speaking. You can select the language you want to hear the Lord’s Prayer prayed in using the playlist on the web page. Maybe the next time you go to Mass abroad, you’ll be able to let these words flow over you even if you can’t join in reciting them!

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12 July, Seeds II: becoming the good soil.

abel.barrow

We are heading toward a reflection on Mark 4: 26-29. Yesterday we looked at some of the preceding scripture passages in order to understand more about the context within which the beautiful parable of the seed growing by itself emerges. I ended yesterday’s post inviting my readers to spend a day with Mark 4: 1-9 – the parable of the sower, sometimes called the parable of the soil. What light does this shed on Mark 4: 26-29?

In both passages, Jesus uses seeds as a metaphor, but the two passages are very different. In Mark 4:1-9, the emphasis is more on the soil and its capacity to receive the seed. If you recall, our reflection yesterday found Jesus on a bad day – he’d had run-ins both with the scribes and with his own relatives. It’s no accident, then, that Jesus talks about receptivity. – for he’d been struggling against incomprehension and closed-mindedness all day long. To illustrate his teaching he uses the metaphor of various types of unwelcoming soil.

And here I have a confession to make. The parable about the different types of soil – the rocky, the shallow, the thorny, and finally the good soil – makes me nervous. I can’t help it. I try to tell myself that Jesus was perhaps directing the parable against those who were hostile to him. I try to convince myself that although I am far from being perfect, I am certainly not hostile toward Jesus. But, it doesn’t help, because I also know that Jesus’ parables are always profoundly meaningful on many levels, and they all apply to all of us. That’s the trouble. I can easily see myself in this one. I am capable of being all of the different kinds of soil Jesus describes here: at times, hard and rocky (stubborn and hard-headed), other times, shallow (immature and given to sudden enthusiasms that don’t last), still other moments find me thorny (preoccupied by worry) and, yes, thanks to the grace of God, I know that I have been at times receptive to the seed of the word – and I am grateful for that grace. This parable is about me and should not be dismissed. And I hope, with God’s grace, to become the good soil all the time, or at least more of the time. But, the parable still makes me nervous. Whenever I read it, I wonder if I will ever really manage to become the person the Lord wants me to be, and to be good soil, rich, velvety and constantly nourishing for the seed of the Word.

And then, I read further in chapter four of Mark and I come upon the parable of the seed growing by itself. A truly wonderful thing about scripture is that scripture interprets itself. In other words, there is a unity between biblical texts; passages of scripture throw light on other passages of scripture – so if there is a section that seems to be difficult, count on it, there will be another part that provides the help we need. Mark 4:26 to 29 provides that help.

Let’s pause here for another day and spend it looking at Mark 4: 26 to 29. Perhaps you will find balm in that passage, too. Tomorrow we’ll talk about it.

Illustration: Abel preparing the soil with compost and hard work.

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5 July, Sustaining life: L’Arche and reasoning.

Mutual washing of feet is an important Lenten custom in L’Arche.

There has been many a battle within the Church, as well as in wider society, to persuade people to accept and treat those with learning difficulties as full and equal members. In the 1980’s and later we were still facing priests who refused to admit children to the sacraments ‘because, bless him, he doesn’t need it, he’s not reached the age of reason. He’ll never understand.’ (As if anyone fully understands the Eucharist at a rational level.)

A sister I once knew was catechist to a boy who had little spoken language; she prepared him for First Communion until the day before, when she brought along an unconsecrated wafer to enact the moment of receiving the Host. He held out his hands with such reverence; he made his First Communion there and then, she said.

That story came to mind when I read this passage from Archbishop Williams’s latest book. Regular readers will know that Agnellus’ Mirror is very fond of L’Arche. It’s good to find insights from someone else. I pray that we in L’Arche may always be consistent and life-sustaining.

It is essential for us to think about the ‘rationality’ of those we stigmatise, patronise, ignore and exclude whose mental capacity is not what we define as ‘normal’. The response of gratitude, affection, human sensitivity, ability to relate and cooperate that is visible, for example, in members of the L’Arche communities, where people with significant learning challenges live alongside those who do not have such challenges, should make us hesitate about defining the limits of ‘rationality’ without reference to such relational qualities. We may begin to see ‘reasoning’ as a richly analogical term, with an application to any form of consistent and life-sustaining adjustment to the environment, human and non-human.

From ‘Looking east in winter, contemporary thought and the Eastern Christian tradition’, Rowan WIlliams, London, Bloomsbury Continuum, 2021.

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4 July: Hope.

July 4 creeps in as fast as any other day of the year. What can an Englishman say about it and not appear ignorant or patronising?

I’ve been saving this poem by America’s Emily Dickinson for a suitable occasion. Perhaps we need hope on both sides of the Atlantic? It can be ours, if we listen for the tune without words; too many hasty, unreflective words have been spoken of late, threatening unity rather than building it up. Let us pray for unity as we listen to the Spirit within.

Hope is the thing with feathers 
That perches in the soul, 
And sings the tune without the words, 
And never stops at all, 

And sweetest in the gale is heard; 
And sore must be the storm 
That could abash the little bird 
That kept so many warm. 

I 've heard it in the chillest land, 
And on the strangest sea; 
Yet, never, in extremity, 
It asked a crumb of me.

From “Poems by Emily Dickinson, Series Two”.

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28 May: The Church is your home: The contribution of people with disabilities to the Synod.

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.
 
 
****************
Photos of the meeting are available through this link: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjzQCVg.
 
Press contacts
 
Pamela Fabiano
Communication and Press Office
Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life
p.fabiano@laityfamilylife.va
mobile: +39.3394034163
 
Thierry Bonaventura
Communication Manager
General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops
media@synod.va
mobile; +39351 9348474
 Copyright © 2022 General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops, All rights reserved.

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6 May 2022, Praying with Pope Francis: young people.

Young People gathered in Poland for World Youth Day, 2016

This Month Pope Francis urges us missionaries to pray for faith-filled young people. The Polish Pope, St John-Paul II, was well-known for his devotion to the Mother of Jesus. The Argentinian Pope spells out the practical virtues that the real-life Mary embodied. May all young people receive and exercise the gift of these virtues for themselves and all around them.

We pray for all young people, called to live life to the fullest; may they see in Mary’s life the way to listen, the depth of discernment, the courage that faith generates, and the dedication to service. AMEN.

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Synod Newsletter, 23 April 2022

This week’s message from the synod office looks at what is happening in schools and colleges around the world. We highlight one example below, but you can find more by following the link above.



As part of the local synodal process, the Diocese of Palmerston North in New Zealand has developed a series of resources for school communities. The coordination group welcomes the participation of children and young people.
 
READ MORE

Prayer for the meeting of the synod’s commissions in Rome

Let us keep in mind in our personal and community prayer 
next week's meeting of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops 
with the members of the four synod’s commissions in Rome.

Enlighten, O Lord, the hearts of the participants,
who represent the diversity and richness of the Church.
Dispose their minds to listen to the Spirit of truth
so that their work and their reflections may best
serve Your Church. 
Let them discover how to transmit
in the best way the experience of being a listening Church
and promote the participation of God's people.
On this journey, to which we are all called
to be enthused by the fire of the Spirit
that gives the necessary gifts at the right time,
we want to open ourselves, together with Mary
to the newness of a life of faith
which is built in communion
on the paths of love and hope.
AMEN

https://mailchi.mp/synod/newsletter112022_en?e=9c8f6d48c5

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4.4.22: The Synod is based on Scripture.

The latest circular from the Synod Office looks at the Biblical sources of the Synod. Read the whole document here. See the opening paragraphs below. (Did I once express the hope that there would not be too much technical language or long sentences? Perhaps I was dreaming.) One article which is more accessible comes from Burkina Faso, where they have great problems in getting together because of terrorist attacks.
How are you? We come with new information and a theme that is inspiring and fundamental: The Word of God in the synodal journey. We are in a process of listening, in which we must be attentive to the Word like Mary. This Word will encourage and guide us in our journey as a pilgrim Church.
Synodality and the Word of God

The Biblical Subgroup of the Spirituality Commission of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops has prepared a resource entitled “Biblical Resources for Synodality,” which highlights how Scripture is at the heart of the synodal journey.
GO TO THE DOCUMENT

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