In May, Pope Francis invited Catholics to gather and reflect on communion, participation, and mission within the Church. The process of listening and dialogue, known as the “Synod on Synodality,” includes a series of upcoming meetings in the Santa Rosa diocese, including in Arcata.
Saint Pope John XXIII opened the Second Vatican Council with the hope that the Church could become more effective in bringing the message of the Church to the world. Central to this Council was the universal call to holiness and the universal call to mission. Saint Pope Paul VI wrote in his Encyclical, Evangelii Nuntiandi, that the mission of the Church is the proclamation of the Gospel. He noted that this proclamation must be both by way of the witness of life as well as by way of the word of life. He wrote: “There is no true evangelization if the name, the teaching, the life, the promises, the kingdom and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God are not proclaimed” (EN, 22). Saint Pope John Paul II coined the phrase, the New Evangelization by which he meant an evangelizing effort that was “new in its ardor, in its methods, and in its expression”. The concept of evangelization was not new to the Church but in these decades, it was receiving new emphasis. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI added to the evangelizing message by his insistence on the foundational need for a “personal encounter” with the living Jesus and a “personal relationship” with the Lord.
Today, Pope Francis invites us to consider more carefully the evangelizing mission of the Church, the evangelizing mission, given to each of us at Baptism. In many ways this is a request to delve more deeply into what Saint Pope John XXIII meant by the universal call to holiness and the universal call to mission. It is by virtue of our Baptism that we are established as members of the Church and called to be followers and disciples of the Lord. Being a disciple of the Lord is not exhausted by virtue of being in the choir, or on the Parish Pastoral Council, or a member of the Knights of Columbus, or by faithfully attending Mass, or by providing various liturgical ministries but these are all pieces of the discipleship pie. Since the call to holiness and to mission is universal, meaning that it applies to everyone, there is no way for everyone to be in the choir, or in a Council or on a Council or to serve at Mass but everyone can sing and everyone can encounter Christ and everyone can come to Mass and everyone can pray and everyone can incorporate an evangelizing spirit more firmly in their hearts and in their lives. We can go further, to be a Catholic fulfilling the universal call to holiness and to mission means that a person MUST do these things.
The fundamental concept that guides this consultation is Synodality by which the Holy Father means that the Church journeys together in announcing the Gospel. This gives rise to two fundamental questions which form the foundation for our encounter tonight:
1) How is this “journeying together” happening today in your local Church?
2) What steps does the Spirit invite you to take in order to grow in your “journeying together”?
These questions will be discussed at the Regional Gatherings in the Santa Rosa Diocese. It is also planned to have a Link on the Diocesan website to allow individuals to offer comments by way of electronic media.
SYNOD SESSIONS — PLACES, DATES AND TIMES
Santa Rosa, Cathedral Monday, November 29 – 6:30 PM
Lakeport, Saint Mary Immaculate Wednesday, December 1 – 6:30 PM
Napa, Saint Apollinaris Thursday, December 2 – 6:30 PM
Eureka, (Arcata, St. Mary) Sunday, December 5 – 6:30 PM
Fort Bragg, Our Lady of Good Counsel Monday, December 6 – 6:30 PM
UNIVERSAL PRAYERS OF THE FAITHFUL
As we await with longing the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, dear brothers and sisters, let us with renewed devotion beseech his mercy, that, as he came into the world to bring the Good News to the poor and to heal the contrite of heart, so in our own time, also, he may bring salvation to all in need.For God’s holy Church: That it may be a light to the nations and the universal sacrament of salvation, walking with all peoples to the Kingdom of God.
For Francis our Pope, Robert our Bishop, and the holy, faithful People of God in the Diocese of Santa Rosa: that the celebration of this Synod may help us to discern God ́s will and to boldly carry it out.
For all civil and public authorities: that they may always seek the common good, acting with justice and integrity.
For the sick, the lonely, the oppressed, and the suffering: That they may never be discarded, but rather treasured and cared for as the face of Christ in a suffering world.
For all gathered here: That participation in the Synodal Process may lead to deeper communion with and participation in the Church and equip us to be missionary disciples.
O God, our refuge and our strength, hear the prayers of your Church, for you yourself are the source of all devotion, and grant, we pray, that what we ask in faith we may truly obtain. Through Christ our Lord. AMEN
The Prayer of the Synod: Adsumus Sancte Spiritus
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.
Attributed to St. Isidore of Seville (560-636), it has been traditionally used at Councils and Synods.