Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Saint October 7 : Our Lady of the Rosary Feast - Plenary Indulgence

Our Lady of the Rosary
Feast: October 7
Feast Day:
October 7

Apart from the signal defeat of the Albigensian heretics at the battle of Muret in 1213 which legend has attributed to the recitation of the Rosary by St. Dominic, it is believed that Heaven has on many occasions rewarded the faith of those who had recourse to this devotion in times of special danger. More particularly, the naval victory of Lepanto gained by Don John of Austria over the Turkish fleet on the first Sunday of October in 1571 responded wonderfully to the processions made at Rome on that same day by the members of the Rosary confraternity. St. Pius V thereupon ordered that a commemoration of the Rosary should be made upon that day, and at the request of the Dominican Order Gregory XIII in 1573 allowed this feast to be kept in all churches which possessed an altar dedicated to the Holy Rosary. In 1671 the observance of this festival was extended by Clement X to the whole of Spain, and somewhat later Clement XI after the important victory over the Turks gained by Prince Eugene on 6 August, 1716 (the feast of our Lady of the Snows), at Peterwardein in Hungary, commanded the feast of the Rosary to be celebrated by the universal Church. A set of "proper" lessons in the second nocturn were conceded by Benedict XIII. Leo XIII has since raised the feast to the rank of a double of the second class and has added to the Litany of Loreto the invocation "Queen of the Most Holy Rosary". On this feast, in every church in which the Rosary confraternity has been duly erected, a plenary indulgence toties quoties is granted upon certain conditions to all who visit therein the Rosary chapel or statue of Our Lady. This has been called the "Portiuncula" of the Rosary.

#Synod15 Archbishop #Durocher "...possibility of ordaining women deacons..." #Deacons

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Day 3 - Synod 2015

by Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher: Today, I made my three-minute intervention at the Synod. It connects to numbers 29 and 30 of the Instrumentum Laboris, the working document of the Synod. It deals with the issue of violence against women, and what the Church should do to demonstrate that it considers women as full partners in ministry.
Unfortunately, I haven't had time to translate it into English, but this article from Catholic News Service pretty well sums it up:
By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY — Canadian Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Gatineau, Quebec, said the synod should reflect on the possibility of allowing for female deacons as it seeks ways to open up more opportunities for women in Church life.
Where possible, qualified women should be given higher positions and decision-making authority within Church structures and new opportunities in ministry, he told Catholic News Service Tuesday.
Discussing a number of proposals he offered the synod fathers to think about, he said, "I think we should really start looking seriously at the possibility of ordaining women deacons because the diaconate in the Church’s tradition has been defined as not being ordered toward priesthood but toward ministry."
Currently, the Catholic Church permits only men to be ordained as deacons. Deacons can preach and preside at baptisms, funerals, and weddings, but may not celebrate Mass or hear confessions.
Speaking to participants at the Synod of Bishops on the family Oct. 6, Durocher said he dedicated his three-minute speech to the role of women in the Church — one of the many themes highlighted in the synod’s working document.
The working document, which is guiding the first three weeks of the synod’s discussions, proposed giving women greater responsibility in the Church, particularly through involving them in "the decision-making process, their participation — not simply in a formal way — in the governing of some institutions; and their involvement in the formation of ordained ministers.
Durocher, who recently ended his term as president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, told CNS that much of his brief talk was focused on the lingering problem of violence against women, including domestic violence. He said the World Health Organization estimates that 30 percent of women worldwide experience violence by their partner.
He reminded the synod fathers that in the apostolic exhortation "Familiaris Consortio" in 1981, St. John Paul II basically told the Church that "we have to make a concerted and clear effort to make sure that there is no more degradation of women in our world, particularly in marriage. And I said, ‘Well, here we are 30 years later and we’re still facing these kinds of numbers.’"
He said he recommended one thing they could do to address this problem was, "as a synod, clearly state that you cannot justify the domination of men over women — certainly not violence — through biblical interpretation," particularly incorrect interpretations of St. Paul’s call for women to be submissive to their husbands.
In his presentation, the archbishop also noted that Pope Benedict XVI had talked about the question of new ministries for women in the Church. "It’s a just question to ask. Shouldn’t we be opening up new venues for ministry of women in the Church?" he said.
In addition to the possibility of allowing for women deacons, he said he also proposed that women be hired for "decision-making jobs" that could be opened to women in the Roman Curia, diocesan chanceries, and large-scale Church initiatives and events.
Another thing, he said, "would be to look at the possibility of allowing married couples — men and women, who have been properly trained and accompanied — to speak during Sunday homilies so that they can testify, give witness to the relationship between God’s word and their own marriage life, and their own life as families." Shared from Blog of Archbishop Durocher Sing and Walk

#Press Conference on the #Synod15 from #Vatican - Text- Video

Pope Francis leaves the hall after the Tuesday morning session of the Synod on the Family - OSS_ROM
Pope Francis leaves the hall after the Tuesday morning session of the Synod on the Family - OSS_ROM
06/10/2015 17:48

(Vatican Radio) Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J. opened the daily press conference by explaining what had happened in the morning session. He said that the general secretary of the Synod, Cardinal Baldisseri, had explained “certain processes of the methodology” and its new elements. Lombardi said that Pope Francis also thought it was important for him to make a contribution and so he too said a few words.
“The Holy Father thought it important to say that what we are doing here must be seen as a continuation of last year,” Lombardi said. Pope Francis said that the group work, which the Synod Fathers begins on Tuesday afternoon, is going to be very important. The Pope reminded the Fathers that “Catholic doctrine on marriage was not called into question in the previous sitting of the Synod” and that “the Synod is not about one single issue – Eucharist for the divorced and remarried – but many issues and we must take them all into account.”
Fr. Lombardi listed different themes which arose in the contributions made during the session. He highlighted a number of them which included the passing on of the faith inter-generationally, migration, domestic violence, war, poverty, and polygamy.
Basilian Fr. Thomas Rosica, who is the English-speaking Media Attaché of the Holy See, said the comments made by the Synod Fathers were brief. Each is only allowed to speak for three minutes which “helps foster clarity.” He said that some interventions suggested there had been an over-emphasis on the problems the family faces and that one of the Fathers suggested that we acknowledge the “beauty and joy” of family life. “Some of the interventions suggested we should be more inclusionary in our language, especially in the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Gay persons are our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, neighbours and colleagues,” Rosica said.
“There was also a suggestion that the third form of penance, general absolution, be used widely in the Year of Mercy,” said Rosica. He pointed out and clarified that these were suggestions which “might be considered by the Fathers.”
At the end of the briefing, the panel was asked if the question of the admission of divorced and remarried Catholics to the Eucharist was still open to discussion. Archbishop Maria Celli, President of the Pontifical Council of Social Communication, said that the issue was open. “It is open on a pastoral level but remember what the Pope said about doctrine,” he said. Asked if the reception of the Eucharist by divorced and remarried persons was a “doctrine or a discipline” Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Gatineau, Quebec, replied saying that different people may see this differently and that it was part of the work of the Synod to discuss this.
Archbishop Durocher went on to say that the bishops were all united in acknowledging that there is a gap between contemporary culture and church teaching. Archbishop Celli said that it was important for the church to find ways of entering into dialogue with the world. “We need to speak about what the Church teaches but must also avoid a ghetto mentality.”
Fr. Lombardi was asked if Pope Francis was going to participate in a small group. He said that the Pope did not normally attend small groups but that he was a Pope of surprises so “he may also surprise us!”

#Synod15 Reflections by Archbishop Paul-André Durocher "Courage will allow us to bring God's life to others,"

Day 1 - Synod 2015 by: Archbishop Paul-André Durocher

Many friends have asked if I would repeat what I did last year and publish a daily reflection about my experience at the Synod. I don't know if I'll have the time to do so on a regular basis, but I will try. I'll start today by sharing a thought that came to me during the singing of the Creed this morning at the opening Mass, presided by Pope Francis in St. Peter's Basilica.
We sang this in Latin, alternating with the men of the choir. They would sing one unaccompanied verse (well sung, by the way) and we would respond with the choir boys, accompanied by the organ. I was sitting in the midst of the bishops who will be participating in the Synod, and I listened to them sing (as I sang along, naturally). One of the bishops would start the verse even before the organ had sounded the note; others sang more quickly than the rest; another, to the contrary, would always end after the rest; some were certain they had the correct rhythm and would sing louder, hoping to impose their rhythm to the others; a few didn't know Latin or Gregorian Chant very well and were happy to simply murmur... or listen. For a song that was supposed to manifest the Church's unity in the faith, I must admit it was a bit funny listening to this vocal struggle. Thankfully, we all sang the same words!
The Synod is a bit like that. Nearly 300 bishops gathered to discuss a fundamental issue: how to help Christian families live their mission in today's world. Among the bishops, some want to go quickly, while others hesitate and want to move with great prudence. Some are certain that they know the correct rhythm and want to impose upon the group, lifting their voices and speaking out loudly. Others feel a bit lost: they listen, read, observe...
Because of my training in choral music, I listened closely this morning to the organ accompaniment and the boys' voices during the singing of the Creed. It wasn't easy: they were sitting on the opposite side of the chancel, and all the voices around me made it difficult to focus on their song. However, I tried to discern their rhythm, and sang loud enough so that those around me might follow it more closely. On the other hand, I didn't want to sing so loud that I would break what was left of the group's harmony. Slowly, some bishops followed me in this search for unison, and we were able to adapt our rhythm to that of the organ and the boys. I think that, by the end of the Creed, we manifested the Church's unity a bit more than we had at the beginning.
During the Synod, only one can give us the correct rhythm: the Holy Spirit. Our work as bishops is to discern this rhythm, this vital pulse that the Spirit want to give us. It's not always easy. The world's noise, the excitement of the exercise, the human beings that we are, marked by our cultures, our experiences, our personalities: all of this makes it difficult to listen together to the Spirit. Learning to adjust ourselves to the Spirit's rhythm is not evident. Maybe that's why Pope Francis invited us, during a prayer vigil last evening, to talk less about the Holy Family and to spend more time contemplating it.
In the word 'adjust', we find the root 'just-' from which we get the noun 'justice'. The justice of the Kingdom of God consists precisely in this: adjusting ourselves to the Spirit's breath. Let us pray that the bishops will do a work of justice in the next three weeks.

Day 2 - Synod 2015

This morning was dedicated to protocol and formalities. The Synod Hall was full: nearly 270 'fathers' of the Synod (most of them bishops, a few major superiors of priestly congregations), on top of 14 fraternal delegates (representing other Churches and Christian communities), 24 experts and 51 auditors (of which there are 17 married couples).
After the opening prayer, the Pope spoke to us. In a brief but powerful talk, he reminded us that the Synod is a journey that encourages wisdom and openness, centred on the good of the Church, the family, and the salvation of souls. It's not a parliament, but rather the visible expression of the journeying Church reflecting on the possibilities of faithfulness to the deposit of the faith in today's context. According to the Pope, the Synod walks forward in the midst of God's People, whose pastors and servants we are. It is a protected space, where the Spirit can speak to us through the voices of those who are open to the God of surprises, the God who created the Law as a gift for the fulfillment of human beings. One condition is necessary for its success: that we be clothed in apostolic courage, humility and prayer. Courage will allow us to bring God's life to others, sharing our convictions and the reasons for our hope. Humility will allow us to listen to others without feeling ourselves superior to them. Prayer will open a space of silence where the voice of God can echo in our hearts. It's not about negociating our way to a consensus, but about listening to the voice of God so that GOD might enlighten us and be our guide.
Cardinal Baldisseri, secretary general of the Synod, then gave a report about the work that was accomplished by the secretariate as it prepared our meeting.
Cardinal Erdo, relator general, presented a magisterial speech, quiet classic in style in content, in which he gave his analysis of the questions that face us. I very much liked his introduction, where he recalled the passage in the Gospel of Mark (chapter 6, verse 34) when Jesus comes across a crowd: he looks at these people, is moved with compassion for them, then teaches them at length. The three actions of Jesus structure our own three-part working document: first, we are invited to look at the world which surrounds us; then, we bring to mind the Good News of God's compassion for families; finally, we consider our own role in journeying with and renewing our families.
By the way, readers of this blog who want to follow my comments more closely would find an advantage in having a copy of our working document at hand. You can find it at :http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/synod/documents/rc_synod_doc_20150623_instrumentum-xiv-assembly_en.html#
After lunch, we started listening to the individual comments of bishops concerning the first part of the working document. These interventions each last three minutes and must concern a particular paragraph of the text, according to the will of the bishop. Il will be presenting my comment tomorrow. It will be focused on the role of women.
Our last hour, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., was given over to 'free' interventions. A few voices were heard, regretting the purely anecdotic or sociological style of the first section. It presents the challenges that couples and families face today, but in a rather dry and objective manner. I suggested to the group that we might work in our small groups to give this section a bit of 'breath', as we try to see these elements with the eyes of faith. We'll see where that suggestions goes..
This has been a long first day, starting with Mass at 7:00 a.m. here at the Casa Romana del Clero where I'll be living for the next three weeks. I'm starting to fall asleep as I write this, so I'm heading off to bed, thinking of all you and carrying you in my prayers. Good night!
Shared with permission from Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher
Paul-André Durocher was born in Windsor, Ontario, on May 28, 1954. He was ordained a priest for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Timmins, Ontario, on July 2, 1982.
Pope John Paul II appointed Durocher Auxiliary Bishop of Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario, on January 20, 1997. On April 27, 2002, Durocher was appointed Bishop of Alexandria-Cornwall, Ontario. On October 12, 2011, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Durocher as Archbishop of Gatineau, Quebec. 

    #Latest News from #Vatican Information Service and #PopeFrancis at #HolySee

    05-10-2015 - Year XXII - Num. 172 

    - First General Congregation: the Synod is the Church that walks together to see reality with the eyes of faith, says the Pope
    - “The man who falls or who errs must be understood and loved”
    - Society is not strong without the family
    - Prayer Vigil for the Synod – the Church can light up the darkness of humanity
    - The Pope receives volunteers from the Food Bank and again denounces food waste
    - Mass for the Vatican Gendarmerie Corps
    - Statement by the Director of the Holy See Press Office
    - Audiences
    - Other Pontifical Acts
    - It is not easy to be a prophet, says Cardinal Alencherry to the Synod
    First General Congregation: the Synod is the Church that walks together to see reality with the eyes of faith, says the Pope
    Vatican City, 5 October 2015 (VIS) – This morning at 9 a.m. the 14th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops dedicated to “The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and the contemporary world” commenced in the Vatican. In the presence of the Holy Father, the first to speak was the Honduran Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, who presented to the Synod Fathers a brief meditation summarising the intentions and spirit of the Assembly.
    Brothers, who come from the four corners of the world summoned by Peter, moved by the love of Jesus and the Mother Church”, he began. “St. Paul invites us, indeed, to joy. The joy of the gospel that Pope Francisco tirelessly proclaims worldwide. But as he himself has told us, the greatest risk in the world today, with its multiple and overwhelming consumption, is an individualistic sorrow that springs from the comfortable and covetous heart, the feeble search for superficial pleasures, the isolated consciousness. Sometimes it saddens us to hear how the world has focused on this Synod as if we came together as two opposing sides to defend entrenched positions. Therefore, with Jesus Christ joy is always born and reborn'”.
    “But let us take heart”, he continued. “We are not a Church in danger of extinction or indeed far less. Neither is the family, although it is threatened and opposed. Nor do we come to mourn or lament the difficulties. Psalm 26 tells us: 'Be brave, take heart. Hope in the Lord'. Let us all have one mind: let us all seek the unanimity that comes from dialogue, not ideas defended at all costs. St. Paul reminds us to have same sentiments as Christ. Live in peace: as Evangelii Gaudium tells us, dialogue contributes to peace, because the Church proclaims the 'Gospel of peace'. To proclaim Jesus Christ, Who is peace in person, the Mother Church encourages us to be instruments of peace and credible witnesses of a reconciled life. It is time to know how to plan a culture that favours dialogue and the pursuit of consensus and agreements as a form of encounter. We are not in need of a project of few and for the few, or an enlightened or minority that appropriates a collective sentiment”.
    “Therefore, we wish to begin the Synod in peace”, he concluded. “It is not the peace of the world, made of compromises and commitments that frequently are not fulfilled. It is the peace of Christ, peace with ourselves. And the conclusion is clear: 'The God of love and peace will be with you'. So we can say, 'Stay with us, Lord', not because the day is ending, but rather because it is beginning. A new day for the families of the world, believers or not, families tired of the uncertainties and doubts sown by various ideologies such as deconstruction, cultural and social contradictions, fragility and loneliness. Abide with us Lord, so that this Synod indicate a path of joy and hope for all families”.
    The Holy Father than introduced the work of the first day, explaining that “the Synod is not a convention or a locutory; it is not a parliament or a senate, where an accord is sought. The Synod, instead, is an ecclesial expression, that is, the Church who walks together to read reality with the eyes of faith, and which therefore does not represent a museum to be looked at or even to be protected, but is rather a living source from which the Church slakes her thirst so as to slake the thirst and enlighten the deposit of life”.

    Saint October 6 : Blessed Marie-Rose Durocher : Foundress of Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary

    Canada was one diocese from coast to coast during the first eight years of Marie-Rose Durocher’s life. Its half-million Catholics had received civil and religious liberty from the English only 44 years before. When Marie-Rose was 29, Bishop Ignace Bourget became bishop of Montreal. He would be a decisive influence in her life.
    He faced a shortage of priests and sisters and a rural population that had been largely deprived of education. Like his counterparts in the United States, he scoured Europe for help and himself founded four communities, one of which was the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. Its first sister and reluctant co-foundress was Marie-Rose.
    She was born in a little village near Montreal in 1811, the 10th of 11 children. She had a good education, was something of a tomboy, rode a horse named Caesar and could have married well. At 16, she felt the desire to become a religious but was forced to abandon the idea because of her weak constitution. At 18, when her mother died, her priest brother invited her and her father to come to his parish in Beloeil, not far from Montreal. For 13 years she served as housekeeper, hostess and parish worker. She became well known for her graciousness, courtesy, leadership and tact; she was, in fact, called “the saint of Beloeil.” Perhaps she was too tactful during two years when her brother treated her coldly.
    As a young woman she had hoped there would someday be a community of teaching sisters in every parish, never thinking she would found one. But her spiritual director, Father Pierre Telmon, O.M.I., after thoroughly (and severely) leading her in the spiritual life, urged her to found a community herself. Bishop Bourget concurred, but Marie-Rose shrank from the prospect. She was in poor health and her father and her brother needed her.
    She finally agreed and, with two friends, Melodie Dufresne and Henriette Cere, entered a little home in Longueuil, across the Saint Lawrence River from Montreal. With them were 13 young girls already assembled for boarding school. Longueuil became successively her Bethlehem, Nazareth and Gethsemani. She was 32 and would live only six more years—years filled with poverty, trials, sickness and slander. The qualities she had nurtured in her “hidden” life came forward—a strong will, intelligence and common sense, great inner courage and yet a great deference to directors. Thus was born an international congregation of women religious dedicated to education in the faith.
    She was severe with herself and by today’s standards quite strict with her sisters. Beneath it all, of course, was an unshakable love of her crucified Savior.
    On her deathbed the prayers most frequently on her lips were “Jesus, Mary, Joseph! Sweet Jesus, I love you. Jesus, be to me Jesus!” Before she died, she smiled and said to the sister with her, “Your prayers are keeping me here—let me go.”
    She was beatified in 1982.


    To a novice leaving religious life, Marie-Rose said: “Do not imitate those persons who, after having spent a few months as postulant or novice in a community, dress differently, even ludicrously. You are returning to the secular state. My advice is, follow the styles of the day, but from afar, as it were.” Edited from American Catholic - Image Google Images

    Pope Francis -- What the Synod IS and IS NOT

    This morning in Rome, Pope Francis offered an address to formally open the first session of the Synod on the Family; a Synod that will carry forward the work of the III Extraordinary General Assembly of Bishops which caused quite a bit of controversy last October.

    Instead of back tracking to the controversy, let's take a look at what the Pope offered this morning in his address to the assembly (full text of the remarks here).

    Pope Francis sets the stage:
    The Synod, as we know, is a journey undertaken together in the spirit of collegiality and synodality, on which participants bravely adopt parrhesia, pastoral zeal and doctrinal wisdom, frankness, and always keep before our eyes the good of the Church, of families and the suprema lex, the Salus animarum.
    I think we may need to unpack this sentence a bit.

    spirit of collegiality and synodality --  in ecclesial definition, collegiality is the shared responsibility of the bishops for their flocks, and synodality (hadn't heard the word synod/synodal "verbed" before)  is the ecclesial mission/journey/work to be done along the way as they are gathered in collegiality. Basically, the Pope wanted them to remember that this is a joint assignment to better prepare the Church for her mission in the world.

    participants bravely adopt parrhesia, pastoral zeal...always keep before our eyes the good of the Church, of families... -- parrhesia means frankness or boldness in speech. Pope Francis seems to want to drive home this point because he mentions it twice in the sentence; but he doesn't mention it without its proper relation to doctrinal wisdom. In other words, don't go off half-cocked on ridiculous worldly notions to change the Church, but rather act with pastoral zeal to increase the holiness of yourselves and your flock.

    always keep before our eyes...the suprema lex, the Salus animarum --translation: the supreme law of the salvation of souls; this is a Canon Law term that relates to "OBSTINATE HERESY". Well, that seems pretty clear. We're not going to be changing any doctrine here.

    What IS the Synod then? Pope Francis defines the Synod this way:
    The Synod is...an Ecclesial expression, i.e., the  Church that journeys together to read reality with the eyes of faith and with the heart of God; it is the Church that interrogates herself with regard to her fidelity to the deposit of faith, which does not represent for the Church a museum to view, nor even something merely to safeguard, but is a living source from which the Church shall drink, to satisfy the thirst of, and illuminate, the deposit of life.
    He then breaks it down into three distinct characteristics:

    1. The Synod moves necessarily within the bosom of the Church and of the holy people of God, to which we belong in the quality of shepherds – which is to say, as servants.

    It is a place to serve, to serve the flock which depends on the quality of the shepherd. He's asking the bishops to set aside personal human biases and look to what will get their flock to heaven, not make them more popular among their flock. It is the quality of the shepherd that leads the flock to eternity or to damnation. Pope Francis says self-examine, put aside personal political design, and serve the flock. 

    2. The Synod also is a protected space in which the Church experiences the action of the Holy Spirit. In the Synod, the Spirit speaks by means of every person’s tongue, who let themselves be guided by the God who always surprises, the God who reveals himself to little ones, who hides from the knowing and intelligent; the God who created the law and the Sabbath for man and not vice versa; by the God, who leaves the 99 sheep to look for the one lost sheep; the God who is always greater than our logic and our calculations.

    The Synod is where the Holy Spirit acts; but Pope Francis reminds that Spirit only speaks through those who "let themselves be guided by God who always surprises...who reveals himself to little ones...hides from the knowing and intelligent..." He is calling for the bishops to experience kenosis -- and emptying of self to allow the Spirit to fill them. Again, he encourages them to put aside the temptations of the world and allow the Spirit to illuminate the law and the prophets, to bring the teachings of Christ to life by reminding them of their duty to guide their flock by imitating "the God who created the law and the Sabbath for man and not vice versa; by the God, who leaves the 99 sheep to look for the one lost sheep; the God who is always greater than our logic and our calculations". He reminds them that pride and arrogance can cloud the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and to avoid the folly of the devil by falling prey to our own intelligent notions of what is best, what will make people happy. Rather Pope Francis calls them to be little, to listen and to engage in the ways of God through the Holy Spirit's influence on their hearts and minds.

    3. Let us remember, however, that the Synod will be a space for the action of the Holy Spirit only if we participants vest ourselves with apostolic courage, evangelical humility and trusting prayer: with that apostolic courage, which refuses to be intimidated in the face of the temptations of the world – temptations that tend to extinguish the light of truth in the hearts of men, replacing it with small and temporary lights; nor even before the petrification of some hearts, which, despite good intentions, drive people away from God; apostolic courage to bring life and not to make of our Christian life a museum of memories; evangelical humility that knows how to empty itself of conventions and prejudices in order to listen to brother bishops and be filled with God – humility that leads neither to finger-pointing nor to judging others, but to hands outstretched to help people up without ever feeling oneself superior to them.

    It wasn't enough for our pontiff to call the bishops to humble and sincere trust once. He knows his brothers; he knows they face the same if not greater pressures from the temptations of the world as a result of their office. In light of this, he calls them to evangelical humility, and to resist the "temptations of the world" that "tend to extinguish the light of truth in the hearts of men." He calls the to judge the situation, not the man, and to remember their place as servant.

    What is the Synod NOT?

    Pope Francis doesn't mince words:

    "...[T]he Synod is neither a convention, nor a parlor, nor a parliament or senate, where people make deals and reach compromises."

    What should we make of this statement to the bishops ready to enter into conversation and deliberation at this Synod?

    Basically, the pope is saying to leave your arrogance, your political interests, your gossip, your bureaucracy at the door. Enter in with an heart open to the will of God, and assess today's family, their societal situation, their challenges and their gifts, and hear how the Holy Spirit wishes you to assist them on their journey.

    It will be an interesting month watching how the Synod unfolds and whether his brother bishops will heed the wisdom of the pope's words to them. Ours is to do what St. Pio recommends: "pray, hope and don't worry". by : Kathy Vestermark, MA Th.