Friday, October 12
Yesterday morning was a glorious day. At an outdoor Mass, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated the 50th anniversary of the opening session of the Second Vatican Council and acknowledged, with gratitude, the 20th anniversary of the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The occasion also was marked by the presence of the Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople.
I could not help but recall October 1962 when I began my junior year of high school. We are still mining the great gift of the Second Vatican Council and enjoying the fruit of those gifts. As a high school student, I should have followed more closely the proceedings of this 21st Ecumenical Council. I am still making up for lost time!
In the afternoon, the Synod delegates met for a session. It is both enriching, and at times a little tiring, to listen to each of the delegates present a five-minute intervention. I continue to reflect on major themes as they emerge and will be writing more about them in subsequent journal entries.
From the United States, I received an email from Archabbot Bonaventure Knaebel at Saint Meinrad. Thank you, Archabbot Bonaventure, for correcting an earlier entry of mine. Indeed, St. John of Avila and St. Hildegard, already saints, are now doctors of the church. St. John of Avila was a diocesan priest very close to St. Teresa of Avila. Thank you for your careful review of my journal.
On The Record site, I also heard from Dr. Beverly McAuliffe on behalf of the faculty, staff, and students at Holy Family School, who sent prayers, and from Silvia Rugina, who sent thanks.
Please continue to pray for all of the Synod delegates and for me as the Synod on the New Evangelization unfolds.
P.S. – I was saddened at my Cincinnati Reds dropping three in a row to lose the series with the Giants!
Thursday, October 11
I have risen early Thursday morning for my holy hour and exercise. At 9:30 a.m., I will be vesting to join our Holy Father and all of the synod delegates and faithful for a Mass that commemorates the 50th anniversary of the opening session of the Second Vatican Council.
Yesterday, in his public audience, our Holy Father shared his experiences and participation in the Second Vatican Council. His recollection is worth reading and can be found on the Vatican bulletin site this morning.
Yesterday also was a very busy day at the Synod. We had our first gathering of the small groups. It was a substantive meeting that included organizational details, and one of the first duties was to elect a moderator and a reporter. I am very pleased that Cardinal Napier was elected our moderator, and I am humbled to be elected the reporter.
The role of the moderator is to conduct the small group meetings and to ensure that we are faithful to our task flowing from the Instrumentum Laboris and the interventions, namely, the work of the new evangelization. The work of the reporter, which I’m told is not necessarily an enviable position, is to summarize the proceedings of the small groups, to formulate our propositions, and to present the propositions from our small group to the full assembly of Synod delegates. Please pray for me and for all of the delegates as we seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to do this great work, which I have earlier called both an adventure and a responsibility.
At times, it seemed like an overwhelming task to come up with new directions in light of all of the information and perspectives that we have received. Then I heard Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams speak. His reflection led me from the frenzy of human activity to a calm and serene stance of contemplation. He spoke of seeking the humanity of Jesus Christ as One who turned His loving gaze to His heavenly Father. In this, we find that Christianity and the deepest sentiments and aspirations of humanity come together. How important it is to be filled with confidence in the Holy Spirit directing our minds and hearts!
The propositions to be presented will need to reflect that serene openness to the Holy Spirit as I listen individually, and as we delegates listen together, to Christ’s words coming through the words of each other. Our confidence must come not from our human works but from the deep conviction that Jesus continues to act in our lives in and through the promised Holy Spirit – the One who is the gaze of the Father and the Son.
Central to the proclamation of the new evangelization is the deep experience of the joy that grows as we come closer to experiencing that loving gaze of Jesus, the only begotten son of God with His Father in heaven. Such a gaze is best developed in the life of a follower of Jesus through private and personal contemplation, communal prayer, and honest sharing in the context of the great gift of sacred Scripture and the tradition of the Church.
Come, Holy Spirit, and fill the hearts of Thy faithful!