October 2021 Allocutio
The Worldwide Synod
Fr. Paul Churchill
I want to say a few words about the Synod that is beginning in all the local Churches this weekend. But first a few words on the Rosary in this month of October.
The Rosary, if I can so put it, is one of the greatest weapons of faith in our armoury. First of all, it is a prayer addressed to both God and Our Lady and so connects us to the author of all and to the greatest creature and saint. But by helping us be reminded and meditate on the great mysteries of our faith, day in and day out for those who say it each day, we are kept on a firm doctrinal path which keeps us away from any serious deviation. The interlocking of prayer to Mary with reflecting on the mysteries of our faith makes it very hard for the devil to mount a serious attack on our souls. And because you can say the Rosary anywhere, neither government persecution nor a serious health plague nor any onslaught from some other evil can interfere with this great expression and living of our faith.
The worldwide Synod is to be an opportunity for the whole Church to meet under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and to begin a new phase of renewal. Without doubt we have to stop and take stock. You may live in a part of the world where the Church is struggling in the face of indifference and distrust. Do not be discouraged! You may be living in a part of the world where the Church is thriving. Do not be complacent. We all need to listen to what the Spirit is saying to the Churches. We listen to the Holy Spirit by listening to the Lord Jesus in prayer and we listen to the Holy Spirit when, in Jesus’ name, we meet and share our hearts with each other.
This Synod however is not to deal with matters of Church buildings and parish organisation. Just as in nature a plant sheds seeds for the future, so this Synod has to be about sowing seeds for the future. It is not about producing a document. It has to sow seeds. And as Our Lord said, a mustard seed, even though so small, can become a great plant that even provides for the birds. So, we have to ask what seeds can we sow for the future?
The idea of the Synod is that, under the Holy Spirit, we put our efforts into sowing the seeds of a future Church by listening and discerning. And as Pope Francis says, every one of us has to be a protagonist not a mere extra; we have to become specialists in the art of encounter by taking time to encounter the Lord and one another. And we in the Legion have a real role to play here.
Our institution of the Congress seems to me to be a good instrument so that we can encounter each other in the Lord and listen, not debate, to each other.
One thought I had which still needs thinking about is this. The new world we live in is where community as a whole has fragmented and not just in the Church. We are more individualistic. The world of media has created new communities. It can also distract from God and prayer. I was once asked on a door step to go away and come back as their favourite soap had begun on TV! Then you have chat rooms. Kids now play on devices and not on the streets. And sadly, we have communities who do harm: drug gangs, pornographic clubs.
To survive as people of faith in this world we all need to belong to communities of faith where we help each other and strengthen our faith. Here the Legion of Mary can stand with gratitude before God as one such community. Because, while we act so as to be children and servants of Mary, so many of us have found in the Legion an outlet for our faith practice. I can say that I find it a joy to be with so many people who share my faith and who encourage me by their faith, just by being themselves.
Initiatives to bring young people together, so they can have a faith environment to share and encourage each other, cannot be underestimated. The Deus et Patria movement here in Ireland has already borne fruit and I ask all to think of extending this idea elsewhere.
The synod, as I suggest, is not about producing a document or new structures. This synod will be a success by helping faith to deepen, by helping people to offer their lives to the service of God’s Kingdom, in other words if it sows seeds in hearts for the future. So, it will not be about trumpet fanfare or headlines but about your heart and mine and those others in need of a true community of faith, together, let us seek to hear God’s true call and live it in our lives.
So, it is a time to rethink and listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying. The Holy Spirit needs us all for the future. Let’s help him. Because if like me you live in a country apathetic to faith in many quarters, we need to ask help to see how we can show the relevance of our faith. If you live where the Church is thriving you need help so that a pure motive keeps you alive and that you do not become an outer shell empty on the inside.
We stand before you Holy Spirit, spouse of the Virgin, as we gather together. 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. Amen