Sunday, September 28, 2014

Praying for the Synod On the Family

Icon from "Divine Office" Ministry


I try to pray the Liturgy of the Hours every day. One major reason that I am able to do this is because of a great organization that releases an audio recording of the LOTH every day. "Divine Office" has both an app and a website where you can listen and pray with them. You can access their website HERE. The website is free to use, but the app is about $19.99 to buy and download onto your iphone, ipad, ipod and android devices. However, you can get it at Amazon for $14.99 [HERE]. The app has a cool little feature which shows a spinning globe with points of light representing all those around the world praying the LOTH with you. This does not include anyone praying offline as well.

This Divine Office app has been invaluable for me. I download the Daily Office onto my ipad in the morning, plug in my bluetooth headset, and pray along as I get ready for the day, during the day and then again at night. I highly recommend that, if at all possible, everyone take advantage of this wonderful ministry.

The reason I bring this up is because on today's LOTH, they included prayers for the upcoming Synod on the Family which begins in Rome on October 5. This is a very important event in the Church and for the entire world. The family is under attack as never before in history in almost every culture in the world. Divorce, the legalization of abortion, universal use of artificial contraception, the collapse of morals, easy access to pornography and the promotion of same sex marriage are just a few of the weapons being used to destroy families. No society can exist without the family, and Satan knows this. Destroy the family and you destroy the culture and put souls in eternal peril.

Cardinal Walter Kasper who advocates
mercy and leniency for the divorced and remarried
The Holy Spirit has inspired the Magesterium to call the Synod on the Family to address some of these major issues facing families today. The issue that has gotten the most press is that of divorced and remarried Catholics having access to the sacraments. If we are to believe some of the reports we hear, even bishops are in disagreement over this.

 Many "Catholics" are using the divorced and remarried issue to try to turn other Catholics against Church hierarchy, saying that anyone who so much as wants to just explore the problem of divorced and remarried Catholics is a modernist out to destroy the Church, and the ones most guilty of this includes bishops, cardinals and even the Holy Father. Those who are attacking the hierarchy are doing so despite the fact that millions of Catholics are in a divorced and remarried situation and are, in effect, in spiritual limbo with no access to the sacraments unless they are willing to walk away from their current families. Are we just to ignore these people and let them find their own way out of this situation with no help from the spiritual shepherds in charge of their souls? Many would say yes.

Cardinal Raymond Burke who insists that nothing can change in
the Church's actions towards those divorced and remarried
I thank God that I do not have to make any judgments in cases like this, but as a member of the laity, I do have a responsibility to be in deep prayer over those who are making the hard decisions. The "Divine Office" has given us some good prayers to help get us started.  I have copied these prayers below:
Sept. 28, The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization

Day of Prayer
for the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the
Synod of Bishops
Sunday, 28 September 2014

Sunday, 28 September is to be set aside as a Day of Prayer for the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, scheduled to take place from 5 to 21 October to treat the topic: The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization.

Particular churches, parish communities, institutes of consecrated life, associations and movements are invited to pray for this intention during Mass and at other liturgical celebrations, in the days leading to the synod and during the synod itself. The faithful, individually but above all in families, are invited to join in these prayers.
The suggested prayers include the Prayer to the Holy Family for the Synod, composed by Pope Francis, and the following proposed intentions during the Prayers of the Faithful which can be adapted at Sunday Mass on 28 September and during the synod. The recitation of the Holy Rosary is also recommended for the duration of the synodal assembly. These intentions can also be included in the petitions at Lauds (Morning Prayer) and Vespers (Evening Prayer).
I – Prayer to the Holy Family for the Synod

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
in you we contemplate
the splendour of true love,
to you we turn with trust.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
grant that our families too
may be places of communion and prayer,
authentic schools of the Gospel
and small domestic Churches.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
may families never again
experience violence, rejection and division:
may all who have been hurt or scandalized
find ready comfort and healing.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
may the approaching Synod of Bishops
make us once more mindful
of the sacredness and inviolability of the family,
and its beauty in God’s plan.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
graciously hear our prayer.
Amen.

II – Prayer of the Faithful

Brothers and Sisters,
gathered together as God’s family and inspired by our faith, we raise our minds and hearts to the Father, that our families, sustained by the grace of Christ, might become true domestic churches where all live and bear witness to God’s love.

Together we pray:
– Lord, bless and sanctify our families.

For Pope Francis: the Lord has called him to preside over the Church in charity; sustain him in his ministry of service to the communion of the episcopal college and the entire People of God, we pray:
– Lord, bless and sanctify our families.

For the synod fathers and the other participants at the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops: may the Spirit of the Lord enlighten their minds so that the Church might respond, in faithfulness to God’s plan, to the challenges facing the family, we pray:
– Lord, bless and sanctify our families.

For those who have the responsibility of governing nations: that the Holy Spirit might inspire programmes which acknowledge the value of the family as the basic unit of society in God’s plan and which offer support to families in difficulty, we pray:
– Lord, bless and sanctify our families.

For Christian families: may the Lord who has sealed the union of husband and wife with his presence, make our families cenacles of prayer and ardent communities of life and love, after the example of the Holy Family of Nazareth, we pray:
– Lord, bless and sanctify our families.

For couples undergoing difficulties: may the Lord, rich in mercy, be present to them through the Church’s motherly care and concern in showing understanding and patience in their journey towards pardon and reconciliation, we pray:
– Lord, bless and sanctify our families.

For families who, for the sake of the Gospel, are forced leave their fatherland: may the Lord who endured exile with Mary and Joseph, comfort them with his grace and open for them paths of fraternal charity and human solidarity, we pray:
– Lord, bless and sanctify our families.

For grandparents: may the Lord who was received in the Temple by the elders Simeon and Anna, make them wise collaborators with parents in transmitting the faith and the raising their children, we pray:
– Lord, bless and sanctify our families.

For children: may the Lord of life, who in his ministry welcomed them and made them a model for entering the Kingdom of heaven, inspire a respect for life in the womb and programmes in raising children which conform to the Christian outlook towards life, we pray:
– Lord, bless and sanctify our families.

For young people: may the Lord, who made holy the Wedding at Cana, lead them to discover the beauty of the sacredness and inviolability of the family in God’s plan and sustain engaged couples as they prepare for marriage, we pray:
– Lord, bless and sanctify our families.

O God, you never forsake the work of your hands, hear our prayer; send the Spirit of your Son to enlighten the Church as the synodal journey begins, so that contemplating the splendour of true love which shines forth in the Holy Family of Nazareth, she might learn the freedom and obedience to respond with boldness and mercy to the challenges of today’s world. Through Christ Our Lord.
Amen.
It should be noted that no decisions will be forthcoming from the Synod. The purpose of this Synod is to set the agenda for a larger synod on the family in October 2015, which will make recommendation to the pope who will make any final decisions. One thing you can be sure of is that the Catholic blogosphere will be in major meltdown as finger pointing and accusations of the destruction of the Church will be flying fast and furious. As St. Paul warned us in Ephesians 4:14, we should not allow ourselves to be "blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming." When you hear harsh and severe condemnation of the Magesterium and hierarchy of the Church, it is time to change channels.

As members of the Church, we should turn to our Lord with trust, knowing that the Holy Spirit will not allow the Church to be misguided. We are facing unprecedented situations in the Church and world today. The doctrine and the teaching of the Church will never change. It cannot change. But our understanding needs to grow and mature as we face these new challenges. Our Lord always reached out to sinners with love, mercy and compassion. He was never easy on sin, but was never unmerciful to the sinner. We, as a Church, need to find this balance as well. I certainly have no solutions, but I can and must be involved in sending up my prayers on behalf of those persons who will be participating in the Synod.

2 comments:

  1. It is very true that the family is under attack by the culture. This is nothing new. Gay unions, divorce on demand and contraception are more current attacks. Older attacks that are still with us are adultery and other sexual sins.
    I believe the most powerful current attack is the Catholic faithful wanting to somehow mitigate the consequences from being divorced and remarried.
    I say this as a divorced and remarried Catholic myself. My annulment took 2 years and 1 day. During which I was denied the Sacraments, no Eucharist and no Confession. It was a long trying time.
    I started the practice of scheduling counseling sessions with my Priest. (Which I still do) It was not Confession and there was no Absolution, but it did help me through this ordeal.
    It was not easy and I do not think it should be. After all, I decided of my own free will to place myself outside communion with the Church. It correctly was an ordeal to bring myself and my wife back into communion with the Church.
    I believe that our trials define whether we are pilgrims of this world or the next.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think divorced and remarried Catholics receiving the sacraments may be the most divisive issue in the Church since Humanae Vitae. In the end, the answer to that question of the use of birth control was pretty much black and white - artificial birth control is against the natural law of God and can never be tolerated in any sense. And there is no doubt that this was the absolute correct answer in that almost all of the moral evils we see in the world today have come from the use of birth control, including and maybe most importantly, the destruction of the family.

      However, the Church took a long, long look at the issue of the use of birth control before she made her final decision. Pope Paul VI considered all arguments, so that when the final decision was made, there could be no doubt that it was the only decision possible. That, of course, did not stop the mutiny which ensued, but that's for another discussion.

      I personally don't see how the Church can change on this issue of divorced and remarried Catholics. But I also will never limit the ways in which the Holy Spirit can work. I think Cardinal Kasper is a good and holy man who truly cares about the plight of those unable to receive the sacraments, and I also believe it is very good to have this discussion. Those in this situation need to know that the Church does not just turn her back on them, but is truly concerned.

      There was a great interview done with Cardinal Kasper in American magazine which I would highly recommend to you. Here is the link;

      http://americamagazine.org/content/all-things/cardinal-kasper-some-fear-domino-effect-synod-family

      This is one quote:

      "Doctrine, in so far as it is official binding doctrine, cannot change. So nobody denies the indissolubility of marriage. I do not, nor do I know any bishop who denies it. But discipline can be changed. Discipline wants to apply a doctrine to concrete situations, which are contingent and can change. So also discipline can change and has already changed often as we see in church history."

      Discipline could not be changed in the matter of artificial birth control, and it is entirely possible that discipline cannot be changed on this issue either. But I do believe it is important that there be a discussion about it. One thing we can be sure of is that ultimately the guidance of the Holy Spirit will prevail, and that should give us a sense of calm in the midst of this storm.

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