Ongoing Formation & The Synod of Bishops On The Family Continues

lifelong-learningI am in Pittsburgh for the annual convention of the Canon Law Society of America (CLSA). The Society is a professional organization dedicated to the promotion of the study and application of Canon Law (Church Law) in the Catholic Church. Its membership includes twelve hundred men and women who reside in thirty-five countries. I had the privilege of serving as President of the CLSA in 2010 – and representing the Society at gatherings in Canada, Northern Ireland and Rome, as well as throughout the United States.

I do my best to attend this convention every year. I find that it is a wonderful opportunity for study and reflection on current topics that impact Church life and ministry. I also appreciate being able to reconnect and engage in some stimulating interaction with professional colleagues.

The theme of this year’s CLSA convention is “Church Structures Fifty Years After Vatican II: Present and Future.” It is focusing on the concept of communio – which basically means understanding the Church as a sign and instrument of fellowship or communion with God and with others. The major addresses and workshops are opportunities to study how this concept of communio has led to new forms of “shared responsibility” at all levels in the Church – as well as what still needs to take place to promote and sustain the bond of communio.

The Synod of Bishops on the Family is one of many new aspects of communio that we have regularly come to experience in the Church since the Second Vatican Council. Other examples of communio would be – Parish Pastoral and Finance Councils, Diocesan Pastoral and Finance Council, Presbyteral Councils, Lay Pastoral Ministry, and the renewal of Consecrated Life and Sponsorship by Religious Institutes. It really is a response to the universal call of all the baptized to holiness – and to participation in a “shared responsibility” of Church life and ministry in accord with the vocation to which one is called by God.

Like many of you, I am following the Synod of Bishops on the Family that is taking place at the Vatican. It continues through Sunday, October 24th. America Magazine, Catholic News Service, Vatican Radio, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops are all excellent resources for keeping up to date on what is happening at the Synod during these historic days.

It is important that we continue to pray for all of the participants of the synod. Here is the prayer to the Holy Family that Pope Francis has composed for the synod . . .

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, in you we contemplate the splendor 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 Synod of Bishops make us 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.

Question – What do you find yourself doing to continue your ongoing faith formation?

October 14th, 2015 |