Pray for the Synod

10-08-2023Pastor's CornerVery Rev. Robert J. Deeham, V.F.

The 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops began at the Vatican this past Wednesday, October 4 and will continue through Sunday, October 29. This is the first of two sessions, which will be spaced apart by one year; the second session is scheduled to take place in October 2024. The decision to have two sessions stems from Pope Francis’ desire that the theme of a Synodal Church might be the subject of prolonged discernment not only by the members of the Synodal Assembly, but by the whole Church because of its breadth and importance. This choice is in keeping with an ongoing “synodal journey,” as the Pope described it, understanding that the Synod is not an event, but a process in which the whole People of God is called to walk together toward what the Holy Spirit helps it to discern as being the Lord's will for his Church.

Therefore, this Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will also take on a study of the processes involved in this consultation, configuring itself as "a journey within the journey" to foster more mature reflection for the greater good of the Church.

From the very beginning, the General Secretariat of the Synod chose the path of listening and discernment, even in the planning and implementation phase of the synodal process. This listening process began in 2021 by the local Churches, that is, by the People of God gathered around their Bishops. You may remember when our parishioners were invited to provide their input. It continued with gatherings within the various continents of the world using as a point of departure the document complied by the respective continents and proceeded in accord with the socio-cultural specificities of their respective regions. In a recent letter of clarification about the extent of influence the Synod would have, the Holy Father said that synodality "as a style and energy, is an essential dimension in the life of the Church." He noted that the church's mission "implies real participation, not just the hierarchy but all of the People of God to make their voice heard and feel part of the church's journey in different ways and at different levels." At the same time, the pope wrote, “while it is true that divine Revelation is immutable and always binding, the Church must be humble and recognize that she never exhausts its unfathomable richness and needs to grow in her understanding.” Underlying this effort to hear from all of the People of God is the concept of “sensus fidei” (sense of the faith), also known as “sensus fidelium” (sense of the faithful), emphasized by the Second Vatican Council. As the Synod preparatory document explains, “It is in the fruitful bond between the sensus fidei of the People of God and the magisterial function of the Pastors (Pope & Bishops) that the unanimous consensus of the whole Church in the same faith is realized. Every synodal process, in which the Bishops are called to discern what the Spirit is saying to the Church, not by themselves but by listening to the People of God, who “shares also in Christ’s prophetic office” (Lumen Gentium, no. 12), is an evident form of that “journeying together” which makes the Church grow.

Please pray for the bishops and participants in the Synod Assembly, that the Holy Spirit will guide them as they perceive the signs of the times and seek to discern the will of God.

God bless you!

Fr. Bob