October 17: Opening Mass for Synod

October 17, 2021

Introduction

Let me talk to you a little bit about the Synod.

  • Last weekend pope Francis opened the Synod for the church of Rome at Saint Peter’s 
  • Now this weekend in every Catholic cathedral and church in the entire world people are gathering to pray to the Holy Spirit as we begin the Synod process locally.
  • A synod is a gathering of bishops coming together to consider significant issues in the life of the church and discern the movement of the Holy Spirit.
  • A Synod is one level less than an Ecumenical Council.
  • The last Ecumenical Council was Vatican II which gathered some 3000 bishops from throughout the world.
  • The Synod which will be held in October of 2023 will gather a representation of bishops from around the world.
  • I estimate there will probably be 300 or 400 gathering at the Vatican.
  •  This gathering will be the most significant one in the life of the Church since the Second Vatican Council.

VIDEO

VIDEO. I want to show you a short video that comes from the Vatican. However, it’s in various languages and unfortunately English is not one of them. There are subtitles.

Theme Synod

Here’s a question: “How well are we walking together as a Church? Are we walking together the way Jesus walked with people”? 

The theme chosen for the Synod is Communion, Participation, and Mission.”

  • It could be summarized with the phrase “walking together.”
  •  That is what synod means – to walk on the same road together.
  • We are called as Church to be a place where people are walking together the way Jesus did. 
  • How well are we walking together in communion as a Church?
  • Are we walking together the way Jesus walked with people?

Encounter, Listen, Discern

Pope Francis used three verbs to guide the synodal process:

encounter, listen, discern.

  • He invites us to encounter others, listen to them, and discern God’s will in the manner that Jesus did in his ministry. 

Presence of the Holy Spirit

The first thing to remember is that Jesus walked under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

  • Every action of his life was guided by the Holy Spirit
  • God has breathed forth the gift of his Holy Spirit upon the church.
  • The Spirit has guided the church over the last 20 centuries.
  • This gift of the Holy Spirit must characterize our journey.
  • We should walk together under the influence of the Holy Spirit.
  • In the Synod process the presence of the Holy Spirit will guarantee that the Church remains faithful to the gospel.
  • The Holy Spirit renews the Church in every age and keeps the Church young.

Participation and Guidance of the Holy Spirit 

The preparation for the Synod offers us a unique opportunity.

  • For the first time in modern history there will be a worldwide consultation involving parishioners in preparation for the Synod gathering in October 2023. 
  • From October through March 2022, each diocese is asked to coordinate gatherings for people to reflect on how well we are being Church, walking together in communion, participation, and mission.
  • The pope has asked that we have as many people as possible at these gatherings.
  •  It’s important to know that we will look at two questions:
  • How are we walking together as church?
  • And secondly: where is the Holy Spirit leading the church?

This is not so much an issue of gathering people’s opinions.

  • To the contrary, in the power of God‘s Holy Spirit we discern together what the signs of the times are and where God is calling the Church to respond.
  • All of this has to be under the direction of God‘s Holy Spirit.
  • We have to trust the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit has guided the church in every age.
  • At the heart of this process is faithfulness to the gospel. 

Invitation to participate 

In the next several months there will be gatherings to enable us to listen to the Holy Spirit.

  • The church needs to hear from you.
  • How have we been drawn together as God’s people?
  • Where do you see the Holy Spirit leading the church into the future.
  • It’s important that we listen to each other and also to the movement of the Holy Spirit.

Synod prayer

I want to conclude this afternoon/morning with the Synod prayer.

  • This prayer was composed by Saint Isidore of Seville in the sixth century.
  • It has frequently been used at the opening of Synods and Ecumenical Councils throughout the history of the church.

LET’S PRAY

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.

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