Prayers for the Synod on the Family

popefrancis

Currently, a body of cardinals and theological advisors are meeting with Pope Francis in what is called the “Synod on the Family”. What is a Synod? The New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia Online defines a Synod as:

A general term for ecclesiastical gatherings under hierarchical authority, for the discussion and decision of matters relating to faith, morals, or discipline.

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14388a.htm

We see that the hierarchical authority who called the Synod is the Pope, and that the discussion topic is on family issues. The Pope has called for this Synod to be a frank discussion with his brother bishops on issues important to family life. The hope of the Synod proceeding is to help assist the Church in ministering to families more effectively. The Pope is committed to an atmosphere of open discussion and shared decision-making amongst the bishops present. The Synod is a process of discussion, and maybe debate. It will be hard to say what its outcomes will be until it is over.

Such a proceeding is often misunderstood. Most people will not follow the proceedings of the Synod closely, and rely on media reports. You may wish to read the Synod documents yourself, or find a reliable news source that reports more fact than opinion. This Synod is an opportunity for our Pope and Bishops to renew family life throughout the world, or at least contribute positively to its growth. Family is extremely important. It is the foundation of any society. As goes the family, so goes the community. As goes the family, so goes vocations. As goes the family, so goes our parishes and our schools. It is no secret that the Biblical view of marriage and family has been seriously undermined in recent generations. It is also true that the lived family experience of many people keeps them away from church involvement. Bringing revealed truth and cultural trends together will be a great challenge for the Church. Please pray that the Synod will contribute positively to this effort.

I am posting a prayer for the Synod, as well as the opening homily for the Synod by Pope Francis for your consideration. God bless you!

Prayer for the Synod from the Pope’s Angelus Address of December 29, 2013:

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
in you we contemplate
the splendor of true love,
to you we turn with trust.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
grant that our families too
may be places of communion and prayer,
authentic schools of the Gospel
and small domestic Churches.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
may families never again
experience violence, rejection and division:
may all who have been hurt or scandalized
find ready comfort and healing.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
may the approaching Synod of Bishops
make us once more mindful
of the sacredness and inviolability of the family,
and its beauty in God’s plan.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
graciously hear our prayer

The Pope’s Homily from Zenit.org:

Today the prophet Isaiah and the Gospel employ the image of the Lord’s vineyard. The Lord’s vineyard is his “dream”, the plan which he nurtures with all his love, like a farmer who cares for his vineyard. Vines are plants which need much care!

God’s “dream” is his people. He planted it and nurtured it with patient and faithful love, so that it can become a holy people, a people which brings forth abundant fruits of justice.

But in both the ancient prophecy and in Jesus’ parable, God’s dream is thwarted. Isaiah says that the vine which he so loved and nurtured has yielded “wild grapes” (5:2,4); God “expected justice but saw bloodshed, righteousness, but only a cry of distress” (v. 7). In the Gospel, it is the farmers themselves who ruin the Lord’s plan: they fail to do their job but think only of their own interests.

In Jesus’ parable, he is addressing the chief priests and the elders of the people, in other words the “experts”, the managers. To them in a particular way God entrusted his “dream”, his people, for them to nurture, tend and protect from the animals of the field. This is the job of leaders: to nuture the vineyard with freedom, creativity and hard work.

But Jesus tells us that those farmers took over the vineyard. Out of greed and pride they want to do with it as they will, and so they prevent God from realizing his dream for the people he has chosen.

The temptation to greed is ever present. We encounter it also in the great prophecy of Ezekiel on the shepherds (cf. ch. 34), which Saint Augustine commented upon in one his celebrated sermons which we have just reread in the Liturgy of the Hours. Greed for money and power. And to satisfy this greed, evil pastors lay intolerable burdens on the shoulders of others, which they themselves do not lift a finger to move (cf. Mt 23:4)

We too, in the Synod of Bishops, are called to work for the Lord’s vineyard. Synod Assemblies are not meant to discuss beautiful and clever ideas, or to see who is more intelligent… They are meant to better nurture and tend the Lord’s vineyard, to help realize his dream, his loving plan for his people. In this case the Lord is asking us to care for the family, which has been from the beginning an integral part of his loving plan for humanity.

We too can be tempted to “take over” the vineyard, because of that greed which is always present in us human beings. God’s dream always clashes with the hypocrisy of some of his servants. We can “thwart” God’s dream if we fail to let ourselves be guided by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit gives us that wisdom which surpasses knowledge, and enables us to work generously with authentic freedom and humble creativity.

My brothers, to do a good job of nurturing and tending the vineyard, our hearts and our minds must be kept in Jesus Christ, as Saint Paul says, by “the peace of God which passes all understanding” (Phil 4:7). In this way our thoughts and plans will correspond to God’s dream: to form a holy people who are his own and produce the fruits of the kingdom of God (cf. Mt21:43).

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About erievocations

I am a priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Erie, PA. I am an Assistant Vocations Director, tasked with the promotion of seminary recruitment. My blog deals with discernment of vocations, especially to the priesthood, as well as our universal call to be holy.
This entry was posted in Pro-Life/Family and Vocations, The Popes and Vocations, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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