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Preparing for the “Synod on Synodality”

Photo by Julia Volk on Pexels.com

The Pope wishes to “consult with the people of God” through the process of a “Synod on Synodality.” 

He says, “a teaching Church must be a listening Church.” Therefore for this new Synod not only will Pope Francis and the Bishops discuss, pray and discern about Communion, Participation, and Mission in the direction of our Church, but lay people are invited to join in the discernment and discussion as well. 

This may sound strange. Perhaps it is even disconcerting to Catholic ears to have the laity involved in a Synod. However, remember that we too are the Church, not just the hierarchy alone. We should be part of this!  

In order that our leaders may hear what the Spirit may have to say through the people, it is important that we all participate. All of our baptized are called. If you have left the Church, if you no longer practice the Faith, I hope you will also let your voice be heard. We need to hear from you, too. 

Each of us has our agendas, things about the Church that we are upset about or hope will change. Let’s endeavor, however, to be receptive as well as expressive. I think we should take this invitation very seriously in a spirit of prayer and discernment, seeking the will of God in what we are to say.  

How is this process going to work? 

The first phase of this “Synod on Synodality” began with the Bishops and the Holy Father in Rome in October 2021. The second phase, the “listening phase,”  is already underway in our Austin Diocese. Locally, one parish here is hosting open listening sessions.

There will be small groups formed at the session to discuss the questions for consideration, dialogue and prayer together.

The student parish here is holding discussions with its parish council only which I think is disappointing.

Our other three local parishes have not begun the process as yet but they will according to how this should work.   

Should you be uncomfortable discussing these things in public or you can’t make a listening session, there is a survey available on the Diocesan website you can fill out at austindiocese.org/synod to participate. Check with your own Diocese for what is being done for the Synod and how you can participate.

 What happens after all of this listening? What everyone has said will be taken into another listening session with the Bishop who will then take it with him to the next phase of the Synod in Rome in 2023  with his brother Bishops and the Holy Father. Do the Popes and the Bishops have to do as we say? No, they are still the Pope and the Bishops. Their authority is still their authority.  However they do want to hear from us and they do care what we have to say.  They will be discussing how to incorporate this listening process more in the future. 

The prospect of the invitation to be a part of this Synod has stirred new hope in me; the most hope I have felt for the healing and renewal of the Church since 2002 when the abuse crisis broke.  The first step in healing and for the renewal of our communion, participation and mission is this listening and being heard. This will build trust between the laity and the hierarchy and has the potential to renew and restore.  

We live in difficult times for the Church. However, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed…struck down, but not destroyed. (See 2 Corinthians 4:8)   Our Church is sturdy enough to guide us through two millennia of Christianity, and also dynamic enough for the same and into the future. We are still the Church that the gates of hell will not overcome. (Matt. 16:18b.) So let’s take courage and take part, trusting this process and in the Holy Spirit active within it to bring good fruit and new hope.  

Another part of taking this seriously is to pray steadfastly and persistantly for the whole process. As a Carmelite, an important part of living our charism is to pray for the Church.

When I set myself to pray in a dedicated way for something or someone the first thing I do is go to Confession. I have noticed that that sacrament tends to grant me clarity of heart and I think I am better able to discern how to pray the way the Holy Spirit wants me to then. At the suggestion of my friend Julia, I have set an alarm on my phone to pray for the Synod daily at noon. I already pray the Angelus at noon so that is easy. I dedicate the Angelus for Synod and I pray for participation and the movement of the Spirit in the Church through this, for the Bishops and the Holy Father and for all of us to discern the voice of God in what we receive and say, for healing and renewal in the Church.

We can offer any suffering we experience during the day for the Synod, and after the example of St. Therese, offer our small sacrifices through the day, the work we do, remembering this intention at mass when we receive communion.

If the timing works out, we could pray a novena to the Holy Spirit. We can offer a rosary, or our time in silent interior prayer, or your time in adoration. In whatever way we pray and remember God, we can ask for open-ness of heart and the inspiration of the Spirit.

Photo by Monstera on Pexels.com

Here is the prayer suggested by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for this Synod. It is a simplified version of the one used at Vatican II and also during the Synods of the past. 

“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.”

I also like this prayer and I say it often.

“Come, Holy Spirit,

come by means

of the powerful intercession

of the Immaculate Heart of Mary,

Mother of the Church.”

Photo by Marina M on Pexels.com

Living the sacredness of Ordinary Time

My daughter, Maire, got in trouble at her Catholic middle school for wearing green nail polish, which was against the rules. (Only clear or light pink nail polish allowed, if I remember right.) When asked about her indiscretion, she said, “It’s for Ordinary Time!”

I laughed hearing about that. At least she remembered what season we were in as Church, and it meant something to her.

We have just begun Ordinary Time, that big section of green, the liturgical color of the current Church  season, that fills most of the wheel illustrating the Liturgical Year.

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We have special things we do at other seasons in the Church year. What about Ordinary Time?

Ordinary Time has it’s own feel. I associate its’ post Pentecost beginning with that first breath of cool air from the church door as I step into the intimate hush of daily Mass on a hot Summer day. This season is a contrast of calm and peace after the penance of Lent and the holy fire of Easter and Pentecost. It’s a return to the simple holiness of daily life. 15039609_10211644917782949_4725375496342074872_o

 

One of our family albums is titled, “Ordinary Time.” It is a scrapbook of our family life during a few months of Summer and Fall. Into it I recorded our daily “rule of life;” (or sometimes not-so-rule,) song lyrics to music we were listening to at the time, the every day prayers we prayed, the silly things we did on the spur of the moment like a spontaneous family dance in the middle of dinner, as well as our little celebrations of the feasts of Ordinary Time, such as the Nativity of Mary (September 8.)

We always made Mother Mary a birthday cake. “Chocolate. What other kind of cake would she eat, right?” the caption  says in green ink.

We remembered this part of the Church year by keeping green candles on our family alter. We prayed a “kid version” (when the kids were younger,) of the Liturgy of the Hours I put together for family prayer, which always reflected the current season.

Ordinary Time in Dubina
Ordinary Time at Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Dubina

At Mass, the vestments and alter cloths will be green or have green trim. My mom, always the gardener, used to say this was because “green is the color of life.” In Ordinary Time, the focus shifts from the culminating moments in the life of Christ and His Church; the birth of Jesus, His death and resurrection, and then Pentecost, to the space in between where most of life is lived.

 

“Ordinary” comes from the word, “Order.” So we enter into the daily order of the Church at this time of year, and the emphasis of the Gospel readings is on the ministry of Jesus; His preaching and healing, His daily encounters with people, His conversations, his journeys.

Ordinary time can be a time we pay special attention to our own encounters, conversations, and the events of our own lives, and how God speaks to us in these. How does the life of Jesus unfold in your own?

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What do you do every day? I know I spend a lot of time coping, and sometimes I need to cultivate more conscious awareness of life so it doesn’t just happen to me and I miss it.

I am not by nature a very rule or schedule oriented person. But I do know paying attention to my loosely interpreted cadenza of a life, makes it more of a little holy rule instead of a stream of consciousness in which I might forget to practice the presence of God. * When I can lightly observe the rhythm of the day with holy intention, I feel peaceful and connected.

Ordinary Time is a great time to learn to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, to read the daily mass readings, (or maybe just the Gospel each day, as my youngest adult daughter and I do.) It’s a good time to get in the habit of sanctifying time by stopping, or at least pausing, in our day, to pray, even for a moment. It’s a good time to remember to look around and notice how beautiful God is, and how He is everywhere represented and speaking to us.

Now is a great time to carry Jesus into the work we do, and to consciously do all we do as it truly is; through Him, with Him and in Him. We can try doing every task with gentleness and love. Whether we sit, or lie down, or are talking to our children, whether we are in our house, driving our car, doing the shopping or at work, when we are sitting with friends, or going for a walk, we can try always to be remembering the nearness of God, even in our breathing.

“God is alive. I am standing in His presence.” ~Antiphon from The Carmelite Proper for the feast of Elijah the Prophet (July 20)

We can each day seek to understand how it is that His yoke is easy, His burden light, His Heart meek and humble. We can slowly begin to incorporate that lightness, that easiness, that meekness and humility of heart into our lives as we become more aware of the sweet companionship of His spirit every day.

This is how we enjoy life as people who consciously live in God; by bringing the remembrance of Him into the sacred Ordinariness of our time.

from my out door reading grove :)

“See that I am God. See that I am in everything. See that I do everything. See that I have never stopped ordering my works, nor ever shall, eternally.

~ Revelations of Divine Love by St. Julian of Nowich

* The Practice of the Presence of God is a term coined by the Carmelite mystic, Brother Lawrence, and is the title of a collection of his writings.

on our family land outside of College Station
Green, the color of life

 

 

 

Pentecost Novena Day 9

Let them give glory to the LORD, and utter his praise in the coastlands. 
The LORD goes forth like a hero, like a warrior he stirs up his ardor; He shouts out his battle cry, against his enemies he shows his might: 
I have looked away, and kept silence, I have said nothing, holding myself in; But now, I cry out as a woman in labor, gasping and panting. 
I will lay waste mountains and hills, all their herbage I will dry up; I will turn the rivers into marshes, and the marshes I will dry up. 
I will lead the blind on their journey; by paths unknown I will guide them. I will turn darkness into light before them, and make crooked ways straight. These things I do for them, and I will not forsake them.

~ Isaiah 42:12-16

Holy Spirit, we have come to the end of our novena. We waited and persevered in prayer and You have come.

Release Your power into our lives like a mighty wind that fills the house. Send down Your Fire of Wisdom and Love and send us forth on a new journey, guiding us by paths unknown. Increase in us faith, hope, and love, that as on that first Pentecost those have been afraid will become brave, those who have been weak may become strong, those who have lacked speech or understanding may be set free to utter the Divine Praises and to radiate Your glory and grace. Grant to us Your seven gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and awe in Your presence .

According to our holy faith, Your presence within us is so very real that this is how we will rise from the dead. Anything that is degenerated can be regenerated in Your light. Create us anew.

Fill our souls, minds and bodies with Your Spirit and Life, fill us with courage and hope, increase our faith. We believe, Lord. Help our unbelief. Inspire us to set out with determined determination* and in a spirit of love and renewal. Lift all saddened spirits to a new joy they has not yet known.
Give us hope for the future. Help us to recognize Your Voice wherever and whenever we hear it. Grant to all of us the knowledge of Your holy will for us and the power to carry it out. *

Mary, present with the disciples at Pentecost praying with them and for them, Our humble and compassionate Queen Mother, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, accompany us with your prayers. Intercede for us that we may ponder in our hearts the glory of God and with you magnify His love and presence in this world. Intercede for us with your Son.

Come, Holy Spirit, come by means of the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Thy well beloved spouse. ~Mary’s locutions to Fr. Gobi

immaculate-heart

Oh God, You have done all things for us and given us such joy. You have provided for all our needs. You have made all things new. You have made us strong and courageous and full of faith and love. O God, we praise You, We adore You, we bless You.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever!

In the Name of Jesus we make this and every prayer, asking the Angels and the Saints to add their petitions to ours, offering them before the alter of God in Heaven.
May our prayers rise up to You O God, like burning incense in Your sight. May they be sweet to You and give You joy.

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Amen. Amen.

 

* 11th Step of AA

** “determined determination” ~ St. Teresa of Avila

 

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Pentecost Novena Day 8

Come Holy Spirit, the Advocate, the Consoler, the Teacher, the Paraclete who walks with us. Come, Spirit of Love proceeding from the Father and the Son as Jesus promised us at his Ascension.

Holy Spirit, the disciples did not really understand but they waited for You in prayer in Jerusalem for nine days. We have waited these days in prayer in their company. We do not understand. But we believe that You will come. We do not know what You will do but we know You will do something. You are compassion, You are Love, You are Mercy itself. You are present within us, present in the events of our lives, present with us until the end of time and forever. Receive our prayer and infuse us with Your Divine Grace. Conform our hearts to Your holy will, “which is love and mercy itself,” and we will be at peace. 
Grace us with a sense of Your life in us and the assurance of Your love. Help us to understand all that we need to understand for our welfare and to choose the right paths in our lives.

Bless and inspire us, grant to us a new hope and may our hope not be disappointed.

Holy Mother Mary, Bride of the Spirit, you waited with the disciples for the coming of the Promised Advocate. Your heart was broken at being parted from Your Son again and yet your heart could not want what God did not want.* Pray that our hearts may be fully tuned to the Song of God as yours always was even when you did not understand what was happening or why. May we too always say yes to God in the events of our lives. This is love. This is peace. Show us the way. 
In the Name of Jesus,
 Amen.

*“Her heart could not want what God did not want,” St. Faustina

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Pentecost Novena Day 7

Come, Holy Spirit, illumine the dark and painful corners of our minds with Your gentle, healing light. You have said in Your Holy Word that You count our tears and hold them close to Your Heart.

Awaken in us a deep sense of hope and trust in Your holy presence and in Your love for us. You have said, “Behold, I do a new thing!” Come, Holy Spirit, open our hearts that You may do a new thing. Lord of Mercy, touch the anguish of the minds of those who suffer and set them free in Your peace. Finger of God, lay your healing hand on them. Set all in Divine Order. Leave all that is dark and disordered in us, pure and clean and healthy. Cleanse each discouraged heart in the waters of Your joyous love.

Father of the Poor, bless our littleness and weakness with Your loving protection. As the Eagle coaxes its nestlings forth, come and carry us on Your wings and teach us to fly.

Holy Mother Mary, Bride of the Spirit and compassionate advocate of your children, pray for us, especially those among us who live in fear and in sorrow. You waited in darkness for the Resurrection of Your Son with faith. Intercede for us that we too may have a faith like yours. 
We ask all this
 in the Name of Jesus Who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.
 Amen.

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Pentecost Novena Day 5

Come, Holy Spirit, and strengthen within us the virtue of the Love of God that we might be freed of the bondage of self.* Let us not be discouraged at our faults and our weakness. Instead let us rejoice that we are jars of clay which You have chosen to fill with the treasure of Your presence…. that everyone will know that “this great power” supporting us is from You and not from us. Remind us that Your power is greatest when we are weak for You are kind and draw nearest to those in most need of You.

Cause, O Fountain of Life, the living water of Your indwelling to well up within us that streams of grace might flow from our broken and imperfect hearts. 
May the holy Water of the Spirit from the riven side of Christ flow through our bodies, souls, minds and emotions to cleanse, sanctify, and fully heal us.

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Spirit of God fill each of us with new courage, new resolve, and new willingness to grow and to interpret the events of our lives in the holy light of Your Wisdom and purpose. 
May we always believe in Your compassion for us and share it with one another and with everyone You bring into our lives.
Mary, bearer of Christ and Bride of the Spirit, visit us and assist us in our need. May we be filled with the prophetic joy of the Holy Spirit as Elizabeth was at the sound of your greeting. Show us the Treasure you bring. Come to us, Mother of God, and accompany us with your prayers. Let us journey in the sweet companionship of your spirit. 
In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

* a line (slightly modified) from the “Third Step Prayer” of A.A.

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Pentecost Novena Day 4

Come, Holy Spirit, Giver of Life, to heal and renew us. You who set the number of the stars and call each one by its’ name also inhabit the temples of our bodies.

Help us to be Your extended hands of Love, service, healing, and grace in this world. We pray that You will activate Your creative power in our bodies, Your holy temples… that we might be renewed and continue to serve You.

O Lord of Love who unifies and connects us all, grant the sick and the sorrowing, a strong sense of the loving support that surrounds them. Help them to see Your hand in the love of their family and friends. Help them to see their value and their place among us.

Voice of the Prophets, Author of Holy Scripture, and Spirit of Truth, help all of us to trust Your speaking in our hearts. Help us to listen and respond to the Silent Wind of Your inspirations and to trust them with the perfect trust of Mary, Your Bride. Grant us her pure and beautiful heart- completely open, responsive and given to You.

In the Most Holy Name of Jesus,

Amen.

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Pentecost Novena Day 3

“Come, Holy Spirit, Fire of Love,
 Come Father of the poor, heal my wounds by your love.
Lord, You have chosen me already in my childhood
 and I know that I am the work of Your Love.
– Come, Holy Spirit…
I’m not anything more than pure weakness,
You know well my God, that my hands are empty
– Come, Holy Spirit…
You know well, my only friend, that the One that captivated my heart,
 the One I love is You, my Jesus
– Come, Holy Spirit…
And only You can give joy to my soul,
which desires to love You for Eternity
– Come, Holy Spirit…
Mary, Queen of Heaven, my dear Shepherdess,
you knew how to protect me with your motherly hand
– Come, Holy Spirit…
When I was playing carefree over the chasm,
You showed me the mount of Carmel
– Come, Holy Spirit…”
~ St. Therese

it__s_raining_rose_petals_by_squ33ky_fr066y

Holy Spirit, the Comforter, come and enter into the deep recesses of our hearts. Heal us as we come to know You in the quiet of our souls. Teach us to seek you in “the cave of the heart”. Renew us in hope. Strengthen us in faith. Bring each of us Your healing grace in the depths of our hearts that we may know the deepest peace.
In the midst of darkness and anguish, that is nothing to you to transform, in the midst of very difficult situations, bring an explosion of Your grace that makes all that is ugly and fearful beautiful and free.
We know and believe you are already doing this and we sense Your genius in the unfolding of our lives. You are Love itself.
Come, Holy Spirit, and take us to new heights of Love. For perfect Love casts out all fear. May we live continually in a loving awareness of Your presence within us and around us and in everyone and all our experiences of each day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Pentecost Novena Day 2

Day 2

Descend, O Holy Spirit, like rain on the meadow. Like a dew fall on the crops, nourish our hearts that we may contemplate Your Holy Word and become vessels of Your Grace. Like a gentle wind awaken our souls to Your tenderness and enliven us to run lightly in the path You set before us.

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photo by Maire Manning- Pauc

Pour over us the brightness of Your Light. Enable us to know peace and the deep inner healing only You can give. Transfigure us in the dawn of Your compassion and in the unfathomable depths of Your transforming Love let us be renewed.

Guide every decision we make. Inspire the way to our healing. Grant your full power and blessing to us and all that we do in the Name of Jesus. Calm any fears that may arise, Lord, and help us to trust in the Words of Jesus that You, our Advocate, will always be with us. May our hearts and minds be open to Your holy inspirations and to the movements of Your empowering, creative grace.

Mary, Bride of the Spirit, intercede for us. May your prayers draw the Spirit to rest on your children, revealing Christ in our midst as you did at the wedding at Cana… that we may do whatever He tells us.

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We ask all this in the Holy Name of Jesus, Beloved of our souls. Amen.

*Italicized phrases are from prayers in the Liturgy of the Hours

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