November 14, 2014
Brethren, I will be starting a new From the Servant General series, which I am entitling “Synodos.” Here I will be taking up matters relevant to what the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops took up last October 2014, which will now be up for discussion and discernment in the Church for a year, to be taken up again in the Ordinary Synod of Bishops in October 2015. The theme for the assembly last October was “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization.” The theme for October 2015 will be “The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and in the Contemporary World.“
Since these themes are of utmost importance in the life of the Church for the life of the world, and since we as laypeople are as much, or even more so, concerned and affected about what decisions will ultimately be made by the hierarchy, we will take this one-year period to learn, study, reflect, discuss and discern what the Spirit might be saying to God’s Church. In this series, I will be offering my reflections, insights and comments as issues come along, as a way of helping provide guidelines, especially on what is essentially about our charism, that of evangelization founded on family renewal.
I want to say right off that I am no theologian or expert on Church matters. My inputs will be pastoral, especially in light of our vision and mission in CFC-FFL. So please give me the necessary leeway if ever there are lapses as to my knowledge of Church structure or governance.
People refer to the event that transpired at the Vatican last October as the “synod.” Actually, the “Synod of Bishops” is a body. The event, on the other hand, was the III Extraordinary General Assembly of that synod. However, for brevity and simplicity, I too will refer to the October events (2014 and 2015) as “the synod.” The word “synod” comes from the Greek “Synodos” meaning “assembly” or “meeting.”
The Synod of Bishops is an advisory body to the pope. It was established by Pope Paul VI in 1965, intended to involve the bishops of the world in looking to the good of the universal Church. It is not intended for collegial governance but rather for collaborating with the primatial function of the pope. It discusses topics and makes recommendations, but decisions and issuance of decrees are left to the pope (unless he grants the synod deliberative power in certain cases). Its general assemblies are either ordinary (held at fixed intervals) or extraordinary (held to take up some urgent matter).
You may be surprised that this is already Part 4. As with another series (On Pope Francis), I just make commentaries on events and issues as they come along and as I am led, but find out later that there will be much more needed to be said about the matter. Anyway, what should be considered part of this series are the following:
Part 1 -- Report and Reflections on the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (Oct 23).
Part 2 -- Postscript on the Synod of Bishops (Oct 30)
Part 3 -- Relatio Synodi (Nov 3)
The Relatio Synodi is the basic document on which we are to base our discussions and reflections. So please read, study and refer to it time and again during this 12-month period.
I enjoin our leaders and brethren to continue forcefully with the work the Lord has already given us all these years, to indeed prepare us for the challenging work of the third millennium, which we are now continuing to see evolving before our very eyes. I had already laid out our three basic priorities in our annual planning last Sept 13, as follows:
(1) Massive evangelization (through CFC-FFL strategic evangelization and through LCSC).
(2) Family Ministries (the crucial work of renewing the family and defending life).
(3) Strengthening the community.
In relation to concerns about the family, I direct the Family Ministries to intensify their work. We have much to offer the Church at large. In addition, in order to do massive work, we have LCSC and its 4 pillars, which are all ultimately geared toward family renewal. Live Pure is about reaching the young with the gospel of purity (know that the challenges to the family are most critical in the area of human sexuality), Live the Word is about making Christ and the Bible the center of a Christian home, Live Life is about strengthening marriages and promoting a culture of life, and Live Full is about building communities among the poor who make up most families throughout the world. To greatly expand the work and according to the vision of LCSC, we need to engage the parishes in this work.
Once again, our charism is evangelization founded on family renewal. The challenges today in the Church are about the family and evangelization. We are right on track. Indeed the Lord raised CFC in 1981 to prepare and equip us for such crucial work in this third millennium. Thus we are to massively proclaim the gospel to the ends of the earth according to the call to the New Evangelization, and we are to help renew and strengthen Christian families in the world. All this work depends on our own unity and strength as a community.
God bless us all.
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