|General Secretariat of the Synod|
https://www.synod.va – media@synod.
#newsletter n.21 – 01/2023 – Available also in FR – PT – ES – ITShareTweetForwardShare
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ
Happy 2023! We resume our journey with our regular newsletters. 2023 will be a rich and particularly important year for the synodal conversion of the Church. Next October will see the first session of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (4-29 October 2023). In this Sunday’s Angelus, Pope Francis wished to remind us of the eminently spiritual character of this assembly, announcing the Ecumenical Prayer Vigil in which he invites each of us to join. Indeed, as we prepare to celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity on the theme “Learn to do good, seek justice”, (Isaiah 1:17), the Holy Father reminds us that “The path of synodality … is and must be ecumenical, just as the ecumenical path is synodal” (Audience to His Holiness Mar Awa III, 19.11.2022).
But let us not be too hasty. In this second stage of the synodal process – the Continental Stage concerning the dialogue between the Churches of the same region, we are all called to continue the exercise of listening and discernment with the help of the Working Document for the Continental Stage, which you can find in several languages on our website synod.va
By the way, to keep you updated on the Continental Assemblies, I invite you to visit our websites synod.va and synodresources.org periodically. Some journalists from Vatican Media are preparing to cover and inform you about these meetings. You can also follow them through vaticannews.va
But that is not all. There are a number of initiatives underway aimed at your formation such as the Sophia University Institute course and the Mooc organised by a number of theologians from the Theology Commission of the General Secretariat of the Synod, or even a Press Conference to learn a little more about the synod process in Africa, next 17 January.
However, the New Year opened with the sad news of the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who was also the former President of the General Secretariat of the Synod, and who, as a theologian, had also addressed the topic of Synodality. We would like to remember this man of God with the homily at the Mass in suffrage that Cardinal Grech addressed to the faithful gathered in Gozo Cathedral.
I’m getting too long…. I leave it to you to discover the rest.
Enjoy the reading
SAVE THE DATES
The synodal process in Africa
On Tuesday 17 January 2023 at 12 noon in Rome (GMT +1) there will be a press conference to present the synodal process in Africa during which some of the general secretaries of the sub-regional Episcopal bodies of the Continent will speak. It will be possible to follow the press conference on the Synod’s Facebook channel (facebook.com/synod.va).
To access the press conference, journalists must….Read more here
Training Course on SynodalityOn 17 January at 6 p.m. Rome time (GTM +1) with addresses by Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod, and Monsignor Piero Coda, Secretary General of the International Theological Commission, the multilingual Formation Course on Synodality promoted by the Sophia University Institute – Evangelii Gaudium Centre will be opened…
Read more here
New Intensive Course (MOOC) on Synodality
Following the success of the previous edition that was attended by no less than 90,000 people, this second intercontinental online course will focus on the history, theology and practice of synodality.
The MOOC, which is completely free of charge, will take place online starting in February with lectures available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian and German.Read more here
Ecumenical Vigil Prayer
In this Sunday’s after Angelus and on the eve of the celebration of the traditional Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Pope Francis recalled how “the path to Christian unity and the Church’s path of synodal conversion are linked”.
To underline this close link, the announcement of an Ecumenical Prayer Vigil, next 30 September in St. Peter’s Square to which he invites “brothers and sisters of all Christian denominations” and with which “we will entrust to God the work of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops”.
To the young people who will come to Rome to participate in the ecumenical vigil Prayer, the Pope announced that there will be “a special programme throughout that weekend organized by the Taizé community”.Read more
In his homily at the Mass in suffrage of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod, dwells on the figure of this giant of the faith in constant search of Truth.Go to the Homily
World Women’s Observatory launches a survey
The World Women’s Observatory (WWO), a project of the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations (WUCWO), has created a survey for women in positions of leadership in the 2021-2024 Synod. The survey is in response to concerns regarding the role of women in the Church expressed in the WDCS (Working Document for the Continental Stage).
The survey is anonymous, very brief and in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Arabic. The first deadline for the Survey is February 1, 2023
Read more here
Pray for the Synod
In order to support the synodal journey and ask for the Spirit’s assistance, together with the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network 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…
Tag Archives: Pope Benedict XVI
Here are two paragraphs from Bishop Nicholas Hudson’s homily at a Mass for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. The full text can be found at Independent Catholic News.
‘Now, as he prepares to come before the Lord, I trust he will have been encouraged and strengthened by his own conviction, some years ago, when speaking in 1978 to priests who were celebrating their Golden Jubilee of Ordination. Because he sought to reassure them: “When, some day,” he told them, “you knock at the door of heaven, you need not be afraid.” For, “as pastors you will have accompanied (diverse) people… in their hours of joy and their hours of grief and suffering. You (will) have helped people to live and to die. So you have many friends (both) on this side of the threshold and beyond it. (And so) you will not be alone when you arrive.”‘1
‘I trust he also derived consolation from his own contemplation of St John Henry Newman’s Dream of Gerontius to which he made enthusiastic reference at the climax of his Beatification homily. It is deeply moving to think Pope Benedict now knows what it is like to realise that it is indeed really happening for him what Cardinal Newman imagines in his Dream of Gerontius will be for each of us – at the moment of death to be borne upwards by your guardian angel, to see God and, in instant, to know your sin and the need to atone for it; and so be borne away to purgatory, there to prepare your soul until your angel comes to take you back again – with the promise, the sweet promise, that meanwhile Masses on earth and prayers in heaven will help you – as we pray this Mass, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, will indeed help and console and encourage this our dear departed brother Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI this night.’
1 Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict XVI, Teaching and Learning the Love of God, San Francisco 2017, 348-9
Let us add our prayers to all Pope Benedict’s friends on this side of the threshold as well as beyond; may he rest in peace and rise in glory.
For any reader who wishes to follow the funeral of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, please use the link below. It will give you a leaflet in Latin, Italian and English.
These are the prayers of Final Commendation and Farewell after Communion, to be followed by a moment for silent prayer:
Dear brothers and sisters, in celebrating the sacred mysteries we have opened our minds and hearts to joy-filled hope; with confidence we now offer our final farewell to Pope Emeritus Benedict and commend him to God, our merciful and loving Father.
May the God of our fathers, through Jesus Christ, his only Son, in the Holy Spirit, Lord and Giver of Life, deliver Pope Emeritus Benedict from death, that he may sing God’s praises in the heavenly Jerusalem in expectation of the resurrection of his mortal body on the last day.
May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of the Apostles and Salus Populi Romani, intercede before the Eternal Father, that he may reveal the face of Jesus his Son to Pope Emeritus Benedict and console the Church on her pilgrimage through history as she awaits the Lord’s return.
After Pope Francis incenses the mortal remains of Benedict XVI, the pope will pray in Latin:
Gracious Father, we commend to your mercy Pope Emeritus Benedict whom you made Successor of Peter and shepherd of the Church, a fearless preacher of your word and a faithful minister of the divine mysteries.
Welcome him, we pray, into your heavenly dwelling place, to enjoy eternal glory with all your chosen ones. We give you thanks, Lord, for all the blessings that in your goodness you bestowed upon him for the good of your people.
Grant us the comfort of faith and the strength of hope.
To you Father, source of life, through Christ, the conqueror of death, in the life-giving Spirit, be all honor and glory forever and ever.
The choir and the congregation will sing the following Antiphons:
May the angels lead you into paradise; may the martyrs come and welcome you and take you to the holy city, the new and eternal Jerusalem.
May choirs of angels welcome you and with Lazarus, who is poor no longer may you have eternal rest.
As Benedict XVI’s coffin is carried to his place of burial in the crypt of St. Peter’s Basilica, the choir will sing the Magnificat in Latin.
Pope Francis has asked for special prayers for Pope Emeritus Benedict. He is 95 years old and suffering other symptoms.
This photo shows Benedict presiding at a Christmas meal for poor people and their supporters. Before this there was a protocol that the Pope never ate in public let alone with poor people. This excused a Pope from state banquets but other faithful were not deemed worthy to share a meal with him. No longer so, thanks to Pope Benedict.
It’s a while since we heard from Fr James Kurzynski, the astronomer and parish priest, scientist and theologian. He’s been reading Pope Benedict and reflects on his reading in this article.
This extract is from the beginning; do follow the link for a most interesting lead.
Reflecting on Genesis 1:20-24, Benedict XVI (writing then as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger) begins with a beautiful summary of two, core realisations about the Creation narratives and the Church’s authentic understanding of them.*
We can sum up the first in this way: As Christians we read Holy Scripture with Christ. He is our guide all the way through it. He indicates to us in reliable fashion what an image is and where the real, enduring content of a biblical expression may be found. At the same time he is freedom from a false slavery to literalism and a guarantee of the solid, realistic truth of the Bible, which does not dissipate into a cloud of pious pleasantries but remains the sure ground upon which we can stand. Our second realisation was this: Faith in creation is reasonable. Even if reason itself cannot perhaps give an account of it, it searches in faith and finds there the answer that it had been looking for.*In the Beginning.: A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Eerdmans New York, 1995, p21.
Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Eternal High Priest
Pope Benedict XVI set this Feast on the Thursday after Pentecost ten years ago. It has only just crossed my radar, and I wondered whether this was a feast for clericalism, that non-synodal view of the Church that Pope Francis wants to leave behind. My suspicions were not placated when I saw the reading in the Divine Office was from Pope Pius XII, but I read on, and was reminded that he had made important changes to the celebration of the Eucharist, such as allowing people – including priests – to take a drink of water without breaking their fast. For anyone travelling a distance, or whose circumstances meant they attended a late Mass, he made it more possible to participate and receive Communion.
This extract from Mediator Dei insists that every Christian is called to be a priest ‘as far as is humanly possible’; today we might remember that we are each anointed at Baptism to serve as priest, prophet, and king. But Pope Pius was exploring these ideas before Vatican II. The language is perhaps unfamiliar, but the message is clear enough.
Christ is a Priest indeed; however, he is a Priest not for himself but for us, since, in the name of
the whole human race, he brings our prayers and religious dispositions to the eternal Father; he
is also a victim, but a victim for us, since he substitutes himself for sinners.
Now the exhortation of the Apostle, ‘Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,’
demands that all Christians should possess, as far as is humanly possible, the same dispositions
as those which the divine Redeemer had when he offered himself in sacrifice: that is to say, they
should with a humble attitude of mind, offer adoration, honour, praise and thanksgiving to the
supreme majesty of God.
Moreover, it demands that they must assume in some way the condition of a victim, that they
deny themselves as the Gospel commands, that freely and of their own accord they do penance
and that each detests and makes satisfaction for his sins.
It demands, in a word, that we must all undergo with Christ a mystical death on the Cross so
that we can apply to ourselves the words of St. Paul, ‘I have been crucified with Christ’ (Galatians
Today is the last but one day of prayer for the environment and our place within it as users and custodians. Find the Bishops’ post here.
In his Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, Pope John Paul II wrote: “Not only has God given the earth to man, who must use it with respect for the original good purpose for which it was given to him, but man too is God’s gift to man. He must therefore respect the natural and moral structure with which he has been endowed (6).”
By responding to this charge, entrusted to them by the Creator, men and women can join in bringing about a world of peace. Alongside the ecology of nature, there exists what can be called a ‘human’ ecology, which in turn demands a ‘social’ ecology. All this means that humanity, if it truly desires peace, must be increasingly conscious of the links between natural ecology, or respect for nature, and human ecology.
The human person, the heart of peace with all of creation.’ Pope Benedict XVII, 1 January 2007.
Pope Benedict created a stir when he invited poor Romans and those living and working with them to a Christmas meal. Jesus caused a less comfortable stir when he was invited to dine with a leading Pharisee.
Jesus had just finished speaking when a Pharisee invited him to dine at his house. He went in and sat down at table. The Pharisee saw this and was surprised that he had not first washed before the meal. But the Lord said to him, ‘You Pharisees! You clean the outside of the cup and plate while inside yourselves you are filled with extortion and wickedness’(Luke 11:37-38).
Yesterday we were looking at Luke 11:37-38. I recommend that you scroll back to yesterday’s post it if you weren’t here for it.
As I leave the surface level of this gospel and keep thinking about this scene, I find the text taking hold of my mind more fully. I begin to feel a sense of awe at what Jesus says, and at the courage and brilliance of his handling of the situation. I find that I want Jesus to “stir it”. So much really was at stake, and as I meditate, I become more aware of it. An opportunity was offered to the Pharisee who had invited Jesus for dinner. That dinner – and indeed, the whole of history of Christianity – could have been different had even a few of the religious authorities of Jesus’ day recognised the truth of Jesus’ message – and of his very person. If that evening’s host, for example, had allowed Jesus’ strong words to break through his defences, if he had responded to Jesus with an open heart – well, we don’t know what would have happened. But it’s obvious that the host of that dinner missed a crucially important opportunity that night.
Or, let’s look at the Twelve. Jesus, in fact, “stirs it” with them, also – but in a different way. He is forever challenging their desire to find out who among them is the greatest. He frankly and clearly tells the Twelve that they are missing the point: ‘The greatest among you must be the least,’ and ‘The first shall be last,’ and ‘He who loses his life for my sake will find it’: all of these sayings of Jesus – and many more – teach that the deepest self-giving, not self-aggrandizement, is the hallmark of the true disciple. This a lesson that the Twelve don’t seem able to grasp until much, much later – after Pentecost, in fact. But despite the fact that the Twelve must have repeatedly felt pretty stupid when Jesus lets them know that they are wrong-headed, they act very differently from the defensive Pharisee we see here. They love Jesus and keep on loving him. They recognise that he has the words of eternal life. They don’t understand everything he teaches, but they want to. They are seeking the truth and they know – imperfectly, but they know somehow – that he is Truth. Unlike the dinner-host Pharisee, the apostles keep trying to embrace Jesus’ teaching, and, with the exception of Judas, they stay with him. They must have come to expect that Jesus would stir it. I begin to see that he stirs it with nearly everyone in the gospels at some point.
What does this tell me, then, about my relationship with Jesus? Simply that I mustn’t be surprised when Jesus stirs it in my life. I have given myself to the Lord as well as I am able, but I am a fallen human being, and aspects of my life have not always been in alignment with the self-gift I have made. Jesus has not hesitated to stir this situation, and bring my fragmentation clearly to my awareness. He has done this many times. And I find, as a result of this meditation, that I do not want a compliant Jesus who will overlook immaturity in me. Above all, I do not want Jesus to be the urbane dinner guest who tells amusing stories and takes his leave politely at the end of the meal. Jesus’ meal, in fact, is the Eucharist, where his self-gift is total. He expects nothing less from me, and I expect nothing less of myself. He offers forgiveness, yes. But that does not mean he will look the other way when he sees that something in me needs to change. And I don’t want him to. I hope I continue to find Jesus “stirring it” in my life in order to make me aware that there are things in me that are not what they should be. It has never been easy to be a follower of Jesus. But I know he is Truth, and I pray that I may take full advantage of every graced opportunity for growth that Jesus offers me – stirred or otherwise.
Sister Johanna Caton OSB
Just to round off, here is a collect from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, to be recited while stirring up the Christmas Pudding in November. WT.
Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.Book of Common Prayer
This is the Third Day of the Novena on the environment, nine days of prayer leading to the feast of the Holy Spirit. The post can be read here.
The Church has a responsibility towards creation and she must assert this responsibility in the public sphere. In so doing, she must defend not only earth, water and air as gifts of creation that belong to everyone. She must above all protect mankind from self-destruction.
Caritas in Veritate ‘on integral human development in charity and truth.’ Pope Benedict XVI.
Pope Benedict sought to bring renewal to his guests at a Christmas meal.
As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
Luke. 24: 28-35
Jesus continued on as if he was going further. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
During this week of Pilgrimage, we’ve been following the faith journey of the two travellers on the road to Emmaus. And hopefully their story has encouraged us in our own faith, to understand more deeply who Jesus is, and to walk with a renewed sense of his presence in our lives.
Jesus never pushes himself upon us. As he waited for the travellers to ask him to stay, so he waits for us to invite him into our lives. They didn’t know it was the risen Jesus walking with them on the road – but they knew that their hearts had warmed as he spoke to them of the Scriptures and the purposes of God.
And they really wanted to have him with them for longer. They welcomed their new friend. And because of their spirit of hospitality towards him, they were brought into a wonderful fellowship with the risen Lord – so by the time he left them, they not only recognised who he was, but they also knew that he had given their lives a new hope and a new purpose.
If we share that same purpose and hope in Jesus, risen from the dead, we don’t have to keep on asking him to stay with us, because we know that he’s with us all the time. We just have to make sure that we stay with him – especially when times are difficult. He is always faithful. It is we who sometimes aren’t.
May we, like the two travellers on the road to Emmaus, find ourselves more enthused by God’s purposes for us and for the world, and more willing for Jesus to reveal himself to us; willing to welcome him into our lives and homes.