File photo of a Synod meeting in the Vatican File photo of a Synod meeting in the Vatican  (Vatican Media)

Cardinal Grech encourages prayerful synodality

The Secretary General of the Synod, Cardinal Mario Grech, speaks at webinar launching a formation course on synodality, and recalls the power of prayerful synodality and welcoming of the Holy Spirit.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

Cardinal Mario Grech has made an exhortation to rediscover prayerfulness in each synodal convocation.

The Secretary General of the Synod made this observation in his intervention during a webinar launching a new formation course on synodality on Wednesday evening. 

In his remarks, the Cardinal noted that the publishing of the text recently by the General Secretariat of the Synod takes place at a "providential moment" for the 2021-2024 synodal path.

It comes ahead of the seven continental Assemblies that will be held in the coming months, after having completed the stage of consultation of the People of God in the local Churches around the world, a consultation that led to the drafting of the Working Document for the Continental Stage. 

As the continents prepare for this important appointment, "absolutely unprecedented in the history of the Synod," Cardinal Grech expressed his hope that the present collection of the Pope's speeches may prove useful in the preparation and celebration of these assemblies.

Concreteness from Pope Francis

Cardinal Grech praised Pope Francis' ability to illustrate to the whole Church, "with the immediate language of a pastor and the depth of the man of faith," what synodality is, and is not.

Pope Francis, Cardinal Grech added, has offered concrete indications to be able to grow as a synodal Church in the third millennium.

Cardinal Grech wrote the preface of the new book "Walking Together: Words and Reflections of Pope Francis on synodality", edited by the General Secretariat of the Synod and published by the Vatican publishing house, Libreria Editrice Vaticana (LEV).

It presents all the interventions of Pope Francis during his pontificate on the theme of Synodality.

Reflecting on his contribution, Cardinal Grech said his introduction wished to "offer a simple reading guide to these interventions," suggesting three thematic focuses that, he hoped, might prove helpful to readers, who "wish to better tune in to the synodal path underway, being helped by the Holy Father's words."

The three focuses, he said, are the theme of discernment; the ministry of pastors; and the gradualness of the journey.

An aspect that is transversal to them and, in his opinion, characterises Pope Francis' 'synodal magisterium' in a decisive way, he said, is the spiritual dimension of synodality.

Spiritual dimension

Indeed, the insistent reference to the Spirit in Pope Francis' speeches reported in the volume is striking, Cardinal Grech said, recalling the Pope's words about the Holy Spirit, especially those emphasizing that the Synod is "an ecclesial moment," whose protagonist is the Holy Spirit.

The Synod, the Pope has said, "offers us the opportunity to become the Church of listening: to take a break from our rhythms, to stop our pastoral anxieties, to stop and listen. To listen to the Spirit in adoration and prayer."

The Holy Spirit, the Holy Father has also stated, "is the One who guides us where God wills and not where our personal ideas and tastes would lead us."

Three points

Cardinal Grech then said he wished to take three points from the Holy Father's Magisterium to provide a deeper understanding of "the constitutively spiritual dimension of synodality."

Firstly, in the words of Pope Francis, the Synod is "listening" to the Holy Spirit, the Cardinal said.

"In the Synod," he explained, "we do not simply listen to one another, as in any other gathering. Of course, listening to each other is fundamental, but it presupposes an act of faith in the presence of the Holy Spirit in all participants, as each of them has received in baptism and confirmation the anointing of the Spirit."

Secondly, Cardinal Grech said, the Synod is "obedience" to the Spirit.

"At the Synod there are no - or at least there should be no - winners or losers," he said, "because it is not the will of the majority that prevails, but the will of God, which the Holy Spirit allows to be recognised through a communal act of discernment."


Thirdly and finally, the Cardinal said, the Synod is "an invocation" of the Spirit.

“This is an aspect that actually precedes the other two, because it is its indispensable condition.”

The Cardinal recognized that while it may be challenging, it is worthwhile to rediscover the "prayerful and liturgical 'climate' of every synodal convocation."

Cardinal Grech concluded by praying that the Holy Spirit assist those taking part in the course teach them, and descend into their hearts.

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18 January 2023, 12:33