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A Listening and Discerning Church

We are familiar with adversarial debate in our government systems. The government is expected to present policies and pursue its agenda with vigorous determination. The role of the opposition is to expose with equal vigor the flaws in the government’s positions and present alternatives. One enters negotiations to promote and defend

The Synodal Process

Resources for the entire synodal process:
https://www.synod.va/en/ resources.html This includes an explanation of the Roadmap for the Diocesan Phase; the Preparatory Document; Tools for Facilitating the Synodal Consultation; Prayers for the Synodal Process; Explanation of the Logo and the Vademecum or Handbook for the Synod on Synodality.

As we reflect together on our lived experiences at a time of change, we listen to the living Word of God in the context of the Church’s faith tradition. In recent talks on the synodal process, Pope Francis has been reflecting on the Acts of the Apostles which he calls “the first and most important manual of ecclesiology.” In the story of Acts we get many glimpses of the early Church striving to remain open to the guidance of the Spirit in its internal life and external mission. A good example is the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15), the event which for centuries is taken as the model for synods celebrated by the Church.

The predominantly Jewish Church was at a major crossroads with the influx of large numbers of non- Jews. Some argued that Gentiles in becoming Christians must adopt Jewish laws and practices. Others insisted this was not necessary. The question gave rise to “no small dissension and debate.” (Acts 15:2) The breakthrough came when the participants in the Council shifted from an argumentative to a listening mode. They listened to Peter sharing his experience in receiving the Gentile centurion Cornelius into the Church (see Acts 10-11). Peter had been very reluctant to do anything contrary to strict adherence to Jewish ritual regulations. He needed a vision from God and the prompting of the Holy Spirit to change his mind. He was also “converted” by listening to Cornelius’ experience of God. Only then did he share the Good News of Jesus with him. It became increasingly clear to Peter that the Spirit was at work in the lives of Cornelius and his household. Peter’s role was to confirm what the Spirit was doing. He learned by listening that Jews and Gentiles are saved by the gift of the same Spirit, rather than any law, and this was the message he shared with the Council of Jerusalem. After Peter finished speaking, the meeting remained silent and listened to Paul and Barnabas sharing their experience of what God was doing in their Gentile mission.

We embark on a journey, seeking together the way forward for the Church. We speak and listen with the conviction that each one has something to contribute to the search and something to learn from others.

James, the local leader in the Jerusalem church, pointed out that the experiences shared gave a deeper insight into what is said in the Word of God (Acts 15:15-18). He then went on to propose a way forward with which the whole assembly concurred. They reached a consensus which “seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us” (Acts 15:28). The decision was to press on with mission among Gentiles without imposing Jewish laws on them. Steps were also taken to foster common life between Jewish and Gentile Christians, while respecting their diverse cultures. Mission and communion go hand-in-hand.

The aim of the present Synod is to foster and develop the Church’s synodal nature – the people of God walking in communion to purse a common mission through the participation of all. If this is to come about, we must heed the advice in the Book of Revelation: “Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.” (Rev 2:7)

Columban Fr. Tom O’Reilly has served in Pakistan, Ireland and Britain. He holds a degree in scripture studies from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, and he has lectured in St. Columban’s Seminary, Navan, and in the Kimmage Mission Institute in Dublin.    

Prayer of St. John Vianney

O most holy Virgin Mary,
always present before the most holy Trinity,
to whom it is granted at all times
to pray for us to your most blessed Son,
pray for me in all my needs.
Help me, defend me, give thanks for me,
and obtain for me the pardon
of all my sins and failings.
Help me especially in my last hours.
Then, when I can no longer give
any sign of the use of reason,
give me courage and protect me
against all evil spirits.

Journey

Dear Jesus, You are our brother.
You have taken us by the hand
and lead us to join with You
in the work of justice, mercy and healing.
Life can sometimes be a difficult
journey – like Your journey to the cross.
Accompany us, open our eyes
and awaken our hearts to see,
to know and to live the life
of the servant that You invite us to be.
We are reminded of Your never-ending love
and that You will always be by our side.

Amen.

- By a Columban Missionary

Good Morning Saya!

When I first arrived in Myanmar (formerly Burma), I had to learn the Burmese language for almost year. I attended daily classes with local teachers. One of them is Saya Zenry. He is a graduate of the Teacher’s College and during the holidays took time to teach Burmese to foreigners and earn some extra money before heading to the

Man Man

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“Man man” is a Chinese word meaning slowly.  I often come across this word when I’m out and about in Taiwan. Oftentimes, I would see this word written on the road. When I am walking down the street, I would often “walk slowly.” When I am in the office or at my Chinese class, I would hear

A Meke Dance and Baby Sharks

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Fiji dancers perform Meke Dance

I met the fishermen last night as I crossed the Nacamaki village green on my way to a dance practice. The dau ni vucu (composer) was teaching me a vakamalolo meke (sitting down dance). The two villagers were going to fish all night. They invited me to join them. Reluctantly I had to refuse because

Mother of My God

Mother of my God, and my Lady Mary;
as a beggar, all wounded and sore,
presents himself before a great Queen,
so do I present myself before you,
who are Queen of heaven and earth.
From the lofty throne on which you sit,
disdain not, I implore you,
to cast your eyes on me,
a poor sinner.
God has made you so rich
that you might assist the poor,
and has made you Queen of Mercy
in order that you might relieve the miserable.
Behold me then, and pity me:
behold me and abandon me not,
until you see me changed