The time is now, Bishop Peter urges, to encounter the Lord, listen to His will and act upon it.
The following story appeared in the October 22 Idaho Catholic Register.
PRAYER FOR THE SYNOD
We stand before You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
as we gather together in Your love.
With You to guide us,
take up your place 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 Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
forever and ever. Amen.
By Gene Fadness
The beginning of both the worldwide Church’s Synodal Path and the U.S. Bishops’ three-year Eucharistic Renewal provides a unique opportunity for Catholics to renew themselves and the Church, Bishop Peter Christensen said during a homily to launch both efforts at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist on Sunday, Oct. 17.
The Synod, called by Pope Francis, is a time for Catholics at all levels of the Church to listen to the direction of the Holy Spirit, particularly in regard to the fundamental questions: “A synodal Church in announcing the gospel, ‘journeys together.’ How is this journeying together happening today in your local Church? What steps does the Spirit invite us to take in order to grow in our journeying together?
During the first year of the process, dioceses will gather this information from their respective parishes, religious orders and ministries, and present them to their national bishops’ conferences by April of next year.
Bishop Peter said he has asked 16 people to spearhead the effort in the Diocese, all of whom have agreed to serve. They come from all the state’s deaneries (regions) and represent Catholic religious orders and organizations as well. More information regarding the process will be included in future editions of the Idaho Catholic Register.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, along with bishops conferences from throughout the world, will then present a summary of their findings to present to the Vatican in anticipation of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Rome in October 2023. This synod will include representatives of the worldwide bishops’ conferences.
At the same time, the U.S. Bishops have called on the Church in the United States to engage in a three-year process of Eucharistic Renewal, largely in response to a growing awareness that many Catholics, including Catholic political leaders, are not well catechized in the meaning of the Eucharist and the proper disposition for receiving the Eucharist.
That effort falls perfectly in line with what Pope Francis is asking the worldwide Church to do as it begins the Synodal Path, Bishop Peter said.
The Bishop, in his Oct. 17 homily, quoted Pope Francis: “As we initiate this process, we, too, are called to become experts in the art of encounter. Not so much by organizing events or theorizing about problems, as in taking time to encounter the Lord and one another; time to devote to prayer and Adoration – that form of prayer that we so often neglect – devoting time to Adoration and to hearing what the Spirit wants to say to the Church.”
Consequently, Bishop Peter is asking that all parishes, beginning on the First Sunday of Advent, offer to their parishioners an hour of Eucharistic Adoration on a weekly basis. Parishes are being asked to provide this time for Adoration “that will benefit our journey as Catholics, deepening our faith as the Pope has invited us to do,” the Bishop said. The first year, the Bishop noted, is primarily a year of encounter.
The second year will be a year of instruction and learning, which comes primarily by listening, the Bishop said. “We will make a concerted effort to offer instruction to all Catholics, allowing each of us greater understanding of that which we say we believe,” the Bishop said.
The third year will be a year to discern what we have learned and “just how we can go forth and celebrate our Christian faith as rooted in the Body of Christ, and, as we have been commanded by Jesus, to go out and share the gift of the faith we have encountered with others around us.”
As part of both the Synodal Path and the Eucharis-tic Renewal, “we will be gathering in our own faith communities, allowing our faithful to share in their own parish journeys in order to discern how our Catholic faith can be shared more freely with others,” the Bishop said.
To those who had assembled for a Holy Hour and Mass at the Cathedral on Oct. 17, the Bishop shared a personal, real-life illustration of encounter, listen-ing and discerning.
His nephew, who battles addictions, was homeless living in the streets of Los Angeles. After he went missing, his mother, the Bishop’s sister, searched for him for five days. He entered a treatment center in his native Minnesota about the time the pandemic hit.
Once in treatment, his faith began to resurface, the Bishop said. However, once on his own, old issues and faith challenges resurfaced. “He decided to put the Lord to the test,” the Bishop said, by driving his car until it ran out of gas, and, he told himself, “I’ll see if God will take care of me.”
Within 20 minutes of stopping and standing by his car, a gentlemen stopped and, oddly enough, asked him, “Do you believe in God?”
“Yes, but my faith is weak,” the Bishop’s nephew responded. The man asked the Bishop’s nephew to kneel down and pray with him. After that, the benevolent stranger went to his pickup and brought back a number of Catholic books and Holy Water. It started to rain, but the man, driving from South Dakota, stayed with him.
Since they left each other heading in opposite directions, the Bishop’s nephew surmised he would never see the gentleman again, disappointing not just because of his powerful
influence but also because he realized he had left his Bible on the cab of the man’s pickup.
“Next thing I know,” the Bishop’s nephew wrote, “that same man was behind me going about 50 miles per hour.” Apparently, not realizing he was passing the Bishop’s nephew, he motioned him to pull over, in hopes of getting his Bible back. “He eventually saw me and stopped.” Incredibly, the rain-soaked and wind-swept Bible was still on the pickup.
The Bishop’s nephew also noticed, he later wrote, that they were not far from the church where Bishop Peter had baptized him 34 years ago.
The Bishop noted how all three elements of the Eucharistic Renewal were present in this experience. Encounter: the pickup driver determined that he would stop and help the stranded motorist. Listening: the pickup driver pastorally listened to the Bishop’s nephew and, finally, discerned what was needed for him.
“It’s time that we come back to a deep encounter with our Lord,” the Bishop said. “It’s time we listen to what He speaks to our hearts as we desire that He direct our lives
at this confusing time for our world. It is time we discern what is being asked of us as we move forward on a path that gives purpose and meaning to our lives and the lives of our
brothers and sisters. The time is now, and the time is right,” the Bishop concluded.
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