WelCom August 2017:
Cardinal John Dew
One of the wonderful gifts to come out of the Archdiocese Synod ‘17 consultation discernment process has been the number of people who responded and asked questions about prayer, growing in holiness and about how to best pray with the Scriptures. Prayer and growth in holiness were not originally Synod topics but, because of the number of questions about this and the comments many people have made, it has now become one of the subjects for the Synod in September.
The question about how to pray and how to advance in holiness is clearly a concern for people. All of that is also a deep concern for Pope Francis. In his letter MISERICORDIA ET MISERA, written for the conclusion of the Year of Mercy, the Holy Father said:
‘It would be beneficial if every Christian community, on one Sunday of the liturgical year, could renew its efforts to make the Sacred Scriptures better known and more widely diffused. It would be a Sunday given over entirely to the word of God, so as to appreciate the inexhaustible riches contained in that constant dialogue between the Lord and his people. Creative initiatives can help make this an opportunity for the faithful to become living vessels for the transmission of God’s word. Initiatives of this sort would certainly include the practice of lectio divina, so that the prayerful reading of the sacred text will help support and strengthen the spiritual life. Such a reading, centred on themes relating to mercy, will enable a personal experience of the great fruitfulness of the biblical text – read in the light of the Church’s spiritual tradition – and thus give rise to concrete gestures and works of charity.’ (MeM 7)
The question of how ‘to make the Scriptures better known and more widely diffused’ and how ‘a Sunday given over entirely to the Word of God’ was discussed widely by the priests at our Clergy Assembly in May, as well as by the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council and the Council of Priests. It was decided that for the weekend of 28–29 October – the 30th Sunday in Ordinary time – all parishes will be asked to have only one Scripture reading on those days, the Gospel of Matthew 22: 34-40. This Gospel is to be used as LECTIO DIVINA. This is a time-honoured way of praying the Scriptures and simply means SACRED READING.
In his message, quoted above, the Holy Father said: ‘Creative initiatives can help make this an opportunity for the faithful to become living vessels for the transmission of God’s word’. That of course is what our Synod is all about, hearing the Word of God, allowing ourselves to be transformed by it and taking the word with us wherever we go. The Synod has the theme ‘Go You Are Sent’ reminding us we are to hear God’s word, be challenged and nourished by it and then sent out to transform the world around us.
Obviously we hear the word of God every Sunday, but now we have been asked on one particular Sunday to proclaim it differently, hear it differently and pray with it in such a way that it will give ‘rise to concrete gestures and works of charity’.
I certainly hope and pray that on this particular Sunday on October we will all discover new insights, reflect on – discern – how this particular Gospel text relates to our own lives; that it will stimulate us to pray and that we will know a deep inner joy. When we do feel that joy within, we will know we are growing in holiness, because joy is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. My prayer is also that as we experience the Gospel in a different – but time-honoured way – it will even more whet our appetite for reading Sacred Scripture and we will continue to discover the richness of Scripture through our own meditation and prayer.
Synod ‘ 17 Update
Responses to the Synod participation process have been received from a wide variety of groups and individuals, and from all parts of the Archdiocese.
As a result, one topic (Refugees and Migrants) has been incorporated into other topics, and two new topics have been introduced – one about the spirituality of service and the other about buildings and community. These have been introduced in response to people’s desire for spiritual growth, and to have buildings that support ‘going out’ and a stronger sense of community.
The analysis of the responses will be included in the booklet being prepared for the Synod weekend. The booklet will be available to everyone before the end of August.