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A Synodal Church



Every session of the Second Vatican Council began with the prayer Adsumus Sancte Spiritus, the first word of the Latin original meaning, “We stand before You, Holy Spirit,” which has been historically used at Councils, Synods and other Church gatherings for hundreds of years, being attributed to Saint Isidore of Seville (c. 560 - 4 April 636). As we are called to embrace this synodal path of the Synod 2021-2023, this prayer invites the Holy Spirit to operate within us so that we may be a community and a people of grace. For the Synod 2021-2023, we propose to use this simplified version, so that any group or liturgical assembly can pray more easily.

As Pope Francis invites all Catholics to have their voices heard leading up to 2023 Synod of Bishops, the Diocese of Alexandria is encouraging everyone to share their thoughts.

An eight-question survey will be available until Jan. 31. The questions center under the theme “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participating and Mission.” The Diocese of Alexandria will compile the responses into a report that will be submitted to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The USCCB will then submit a report for the Synod of Bishops, which will adopt a final document.

All dioceses across the globe are participating in the Synod, although it’s up to each diocese as to how to gather input. Pastors throughout the Diocese of Alexandria are also expected to share the survey with parishioners. The goal of the Synodal process of Pope Francis is to make sure that all voices are being brought to the table.

The Second Vatican Council emphasized 2 vital components of renewal in the Church. The first is the idea of the Universal Call to Holiness and Mission. This means that all the baptized, not only ordained clergy and religious, are called to fully participate in the life of the Church and its mission of evangelizing. The second component is Synodality. The idea of conducting local, regional and national Synods have been a core reality in the history of Catholicism. The great Baltimore Catechism, which taught the faith to generations of faithful Catholics, was a fruit of the Plenary Councils (Synods) of Baltimore from 1852 until1885. The Second Vatican Council emphasized our needed return to having local Synods where clergy, religious and laity could reflect upon current needs and how the Church can more effectively give witness to the light of Christ in the modern world.

Adsumus, Sancte Spiritus
Prayer of invocation to the Holy Spirit

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.

Title revised from Latin, to have a proper incipit, different from the Adsumus Dominus Sancte Spiritus. The Caeremoniale Episcoporum 1984ss., n. 1173, only proposes the use of the Adsumus but does not give the text. The German version Das Zeremoniale für die Bischöfe, n. 1188, gives a German translation based on the Latin text of the Acta Synodalia of the Council, vol. I/1, p. 159.

Oración de invocación al Espíritu Santo
Por el XVI Sínodo de los Obispos

Estamos ante ti, Espíritu Santo, reunidos en tu nombre.

Tú que eres nuestro verdadero consejero: ven a nosotros, apóyanos, entra en nuestros corazones.

Enséñanos el camino, muéstranos cómo alcanzar la meta.

Impide que perdamos el rumbo como personas débiles y pecadoras.

No permitas que la ignorancia nos lleve por falsos caminos.

Concédenos el don del discernimiento, para que no dejemos que nuestras acciones se guíen por prejuicios y falsas consideraciones.

Condúcenos a la unidad en ti, para que no nos desviemos del camino de la verdad y la justicia, sino que en nuestro peregrinaje terrenal nos esforcemos por alcanzar la vida eterna.

Esto te lo pedimos a ti, que obras en todo tiempo y lugar, en comunión con el Padre y el Hijo por los siglos de los siglos. Amén.

Adsumus Sancte Spiritus - San Isidoro de Sevilla (+636)

Transcript of Bishop Robert Marshall's video message regarding Pope Francis' call to synodality.

Brothers and sisters in Christ,

This weekend, Pope Francis will convoke the Church of God in Synod.  The word Synod and the concept of synodality may be new to you.  The word itself comes from Greek and means “walking together.”  As a pilgrim Church, we are reminded that we do not walk alone – we are joined on the path of discipleship by all of our brothers and sisters in faith – as well as those who are searching and who choose to walk with us.  Over the centuries, the universal Church, the Church in various nations, and diocesan Churches have come together from time to time in synods to pray and to listen in dialogue with one another about the Church in general or about a particular topic or issue.   Most of all, the participants in every synod commit themselves to listening to the Holy Spirit, and to discerning the will of God in their lives and in the life of the Church.

There are two things about the up-coming synod that will be different.  The first difference is the topic.  Pope Francis has asked us to reflect upon the concept of “synodality” itself.  We are called to pray and discuss the role that listening to the Holy Spirit and discernment play in the life of our Church. The second difference, at least in our lifetimes, is that the entire Church – all of the baptized are invited to participate in this prayerful dialogue, in the process of listening to the Holy Spirit and discerning when and where our loving God is leading us.

The Holy Father has identified three characteristics that should be evident in the Church, three characteristics that should flow from our discernment – Communion, Participation and Mission.  As the Church of God, we are called to a special kind of unity with God and with our brothers and sisters called “Communion.”  Indeed, we receive Holy Communion at Mass in order to become Communion, to be united to one another as the mystical Body of Christ.  Just as the parts of our human body must work together so that we might breathe and walk, for example, so the Body of Christ must work together so that we might live out our discipleship and move together toward the eternal happiness of heaven.

The cooperation required to work together as the Body of Christ necessarily implies “Participation.”  We are not to be idle spectators in the Church; we are called to be active participants.  At each liturgical celebration, we are called to participate in thought, prayer, word and action.  As the gifts of bread and wine are placed on the altar, our joys and sorrows, our own sacrifices must join them.  Further, the work of the Church in charity and evangelization is not carried out exclusively by priests, deacons and religious sisters and brothers, but by all of the baptized.  If our faith is alive, we must share that faith by word and example, by accepting the love and mercy of Christ and by sharing those gifts with others.

The final words of our liturgical celebrations are some variation of “Go forth, the Mass is ended,” or “Ite Missa est” in Latin.  We are sent forth in “Mission,” as the Latin root implies.  Nourished and strengthened by our prayerful reflection on the Word of God, by our participation in the liturgy, and by our reception of Holy Communion, we are sent out to be Christ’s presence in the world, to all of those on the peripheries who have not yet encountered Christ.  Each of us is sent in mission and all of us are sent in mission – together.  We discern our route together, we cooperate with one another in evangelization, in charity, in faith formation.

Beginning on Sunday, October 10th, I invite you to pray each day for the success of the Synod.  On our diocesan website and on our Facebook page, we will have an intention for each day – an intention focused on Communion, Participation, and especially on Mission.  There you will also find a simple prayer to the Holy Spirit called, “Adsumus, Sancte Spritus,” or “We stand before you, Holy Spirit.”  This is the traditional prayer that opens each session of a synod or a General Council.  On Sunday, October 17th, I will celebrate the 11:00 am Mass at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral declaring open the diocesan phase of the synod.  Click here to find the preparatory document, a roadmap for diocesan participation, and various resources to aid your own prayer.  I invite you over these next months to walk together as we listen for the Holy Spirit and discern where he is leading us.

May God bless you all.