How can I be involved?
In the coming year and a half there will be many gatherings for discussion, catechesis and prayer. We will be opening a website for the Synod. I invite you send in observations or suggestions. And by ‘you’ I mean people of strong faith, of diminished faith and of lost faith. For the Synod to be the journey it needs to be, we must all travel together. Everyone has an opinion worth listening to and we must listen in order to learn.
No one should feel a stranger to the Synod process. It is my hope that many will participate in some form in the Synod. As well as making the effort in the three ways I suggested above (Gospel, love for one another, following the Crucified-Risen Jesus Christ), I would also suggest that each of us can be involved through personal prayer and prayer together for the Synod, imploring the assistance of the Holy Spirit. We will count also on the prayers of the sick and housebound. They too should know their contribution is important.
We are about to set out on a journey. It’s a chance to ask ourselves: what Church do we want to be as we face the challenges ahead of us? What face of the Church do we want to present to society today in order to serve it with humility? How best can we be salt, light and leaven for the world around us?
In concluding this letter I want to suggest that for the next year and a half we pray at all Masses for the Synod. At the Eucharist we get a chance to unite our simple prayers with Jesus whose prayer, in the Spirit, to the Father on our behalf, is powerful. Ultimately, a Synod in the Church finds its deepest roots in the Eucharist because that is where the Church is born. As Pope Francis says, the Eucharist “is a gift of Christ, who makes himself present and gathers us around him, to nourish us with his Word and with his life. This means that the mission and the very identity of the Church flows from there, from the Eucharist, and there always takes its shape.”
At every Mass we remember those who have died. I am sure that countless generations of the faithful of the Diocese of Limerick who have passed into the next Life, will accompany us with their prayer and support.
I would like to suggest the following prayer be said before the final blessing at Mass and at other occasions when Catholics gather. It is the Adsumus prayer, an ancient prayer composed probably by St. Isidore of Seville in the seventh century and recited every day during the Second Vatican Council.
Here we are, O Lord, Holy Spirit,
we stand before you, hampered by our sins,
but for a special purpose
gathered together in your name.
Come to us and be with us and enter our hearts.
Teach us what we are to do and
where we ought to tend;
show us what we must accomplish,
so that, with your help,
we may be able to please you in all things.
May you alone be the beginning and
catalyst of our judgments,
you alone who with God the Father and
his Son possess a glorious name.
Do not allow us to disturb the order of justice,
you who love equity above all things.
Let not ignorance draw us to what is wrong.
Let not partiality sway our minds
or respect of riches or persons
pervert our judgment.
But unite us strongly to you
by the gift of your grace alone,
that we may be one in you
and never forsake the truth;
in as much as we are gathered together in your name,
so may we in all things hold fast to justice
tempered by mercy,
so that in this life
our judgment may in no way be at variance with you,
and in the life to come we may receive
everlasting rewards for deeds well done.
One last word. As we set out towards the Synod, let’s entrust our journey to Mary, the mother and first disciple of Jesus. Her journey of faith is a model for all Christians. She reminds us to be attentive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. She knows better than any of us where, in God’s grace and mercy, our journey is ultimately heading – eternal life in the new heaven and new earth that God is preparing for us.
We are at a crucial time in the history of our Diocese. The missionary commitment of each one of us is essential. Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.