Synod: Universal Phase
The General Assembly of the Synod on Synodality begins in Rome today, following a two-year process that started in September 2021 when the Vatican released a preparatory document and instructions on preparing for the gathering. The first phase, the Diocesan phase, consisted of gathering responses locally to questions posed by the synod via synodal sessions held in parishes, ministries, and online surveys. A comprehensive summary of these responses was sent to the USCCB, which synthesized all Diocesan reports to provide a single national document to present at the Synod in Rome. The Synod will happen over two-month-long meetings, beginning with the gathering today and concluding with a second meeting in October of 2024.
The Synod will consist of 363 participating members, including for the first time women. This will also be the first time laypeople will be able to vote on specific proposals alongside bishops at a Synod. Some participants will be attending as representatives of Bishops’ Conferences, Pope Francis has personally appointed others, and some will be attending as “fraternal delegates,” “spiritual assistants,” or “experts and facilitators.”
Pope Francis’ prayer request for the month of October is for the Synod, “Let us pray for the Church, that she may adopt listening and dialogue as a style of life at every level, allowing herself to be guided by the Holy Spirit towards the world’s peripheries.” I invite you to include the Synod in your personal prayers this month as the first gathering begins.
Below is a prayer for the Synod 2021-2023, proposed by the USCCB, a simplified version of the Adsumus Sancte Spiritus, the prayer used before every session of the Second Vatican Council. The first word of the Latin original meaning, “We stand before You, Holy Spirit,” this version was chosen because it is more easily prayed by any group or liturgical assembly.
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.
Month of the Rosary
October 7, this Saturday, is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. Pope St. Pius V (1504-1572) first introduced this feast in the year 1571 to commemorate the Christian forces’ miraculous victory in the Battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571.
Pope St. John Paul II wrote an Apostolic Letter, The Rosary of the Virgin Mary, in 2002, explaining the grace-filled power of this prayer. He includes a poignant reminder regarding the importance for families to integrate this great devotion into their daily prayer life:
“As a prayer for peace, the Rosary is also, and always has been, a prayer of and for the family. At one time this prayer was particularly dear to Christian families, and it certainly brought them closer together. It is important not to lose this precious inheritance. We need to return to the practice of family prayer and prayer for families, continuing to use the Rosary.”
October, the month of the Rosary, is a wonderful time to introduce (or reintroduce) family prayer, particularly the Rosary, into your home.
Procession and Mass for Peace
Our annual Procession and Mass for Peace began in 1975 and continues to draw many people from across the Diocese to pray for peace. Initially started to pray for peace in Portugal, it continues today with a broadened emphasis to include peace and justice worldwide.
This year’s Procession and Mass will be held on Monday, October 9, beginning at St. Anne’s Shrine and concluding at St. Mary’s Cathedral. Participants in the procession should meet by 5:30 p.m. in front of St. Anne’s Shrine, across from Kennedy Park on South Main Street in Fall River, to march approximately one-half mile to St. Mary’s Cathedral. The procession will begin at 6 p.m., and marchers will carry candles, recite the rosary, and sing Marian hymns.
What are we doing to bring peace into our world, communities, and homes? St. Pope Paul VI wrote, “If you want peace, work for justice” (Celebration of Day of Peace, Jan. 1, 1972. We must work to eliminate personal attitudes and behaviors that foster injustice, division, and discrimination while denouncing those evils and those who foster them in our world.
I hope to see you next Monday for the procession and Mass; for more information, please visit FallRiverDiocese.org.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha