If you haven’t been following it – and extraordinary meeting or ‘synod’, of bishops has been taking place in Rome. They are looking at family life and how the church can support this. It has taken place after an extensive consultation of Catholics from all over the world about issues pertaining to family life. It is very unusual to have a double synod like this – with a two week extraordinary synod in 2014, and then a concluding ordinary synod in 2015. This creates space for reflection and discussion before implementation. Pope Francis set the tone two weeks ago when he urged those participating to speak freely, without fear of upsetting him, and to listen charitably to the others. There has been much discussion and disagreement, which has upset some, but it seems that the majority of participants have enjoyed a new atmosphere of openness and its pastoral concerns, Although no substantial agreements or policies have been decided – this will be taken up in a synod next year – a message was approved this morning by 158 out of the 174 voting members, it includes a beautiful section which I am reproducing below : there is a link at the end to the whole message.
There is also the evening light behind the windowpanes in the houses of the cities, in modest residences of suburbs and villages, and even in mere shacks, which shines out brightly, warming bodies and souls. This light—the light of a wedding story—shines from the encounter between spouses: it is a gift, a grace expressed, as the Book of Genesis says (2:18), when the two are “face to face” as equal and mutual helpers. The love of man and woman teaches us that each needs the other in order to be truly self. Each remains different from the other that opens self and is revealed in the reciprocal gift. It is this that the bride of the Song of Songs sings in her canticle: “My beloved is mine and I am his… I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine” (Song of Songs 2:16; 6:3).
This authentic encounter begins with courtship, a time of waiting and preparation. It is realized in the sacrament where God sets his seal, his presence, and grace. This path also includes sexual relationship, tenderness, intimacy, and beauty capable of lasting longer than the vigor and freshness of youth. Such love, of its nature, strives to be forever to the point of laying down one’s life for the beloved (cf Jn 15:13). In this light conjugal love, which is unique and indissoluble, endures despite many difficulties. It is one of the most beautiful of all miracles and the most common.
This love spreads through fertility and generativity, which involves not only the procreation of children but also the gift of divine life in baptism, their catechesis, and their education. It includes the capacity to offer life, affection, and values—an experience possible even for those who have not been able to bear children. Families who live this light-filled adventure become a sign for all, especially for young people……..
Father, grant to all families the presence of strong and wise spouses who may be the source of a free and united family.
Father, grant that parents may have a home in which to live in peace with their families.
Father, grant that children may be a sign of trust and hope and that young people may have the courage to forge life-long, faithful commitments.
Father, grant to all that they may be able to earn bread with their hands, that they may enjoy serenity of spirit and that they may keep aflame the torch of faith even in periods of darkness.
Father, grant that we may all see flourish a Church that is ever more faithful and credible, a just and humane city, a world that loves truth, justice and mercy.
Link to the whole message that was released this morning : Provided by Catholic Voices and Austen Ivereigh who has been making an excellent commentary to accompany the meetings