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Home » Announcements

Synod on the Word of God

Submitted by on Tuesday, 7 October 2008No Comment

The Synod on the Word of God is underway.  It started on October 5 and will continue until the 26th of the month.  The attendance for the Synod is quite impressive.  H2O News provides the following figures:

The XII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will bring together 253 Synod Fathers representing 13 Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris, 113 Episcopal Conferences, 25 departments of the Roman Curia, and the Union of Superiors General.

In a briefing with journalists, Monsignor Nikola Eterovic, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, revealed that 51 synod fathers come from Africa, 62 from America, 41 from Asia, 90 from Europe and 9 from Oceania.

72.3% of the synod fathers were elected, 15% take part in the work by virtue of their office, while 12.6% were appointed by Benedict XVI.

Among the 253 Synod Fathers there are 8 Patriarchs, 52 Cardinals, 2 Major Archbishops, 79 Archbishops and 130 Bishops.

The average age of a synod father is 63 years old. Among the experts are 6 women, and, for the first time, there are 19 women auditors.

What is a Synod?

A "synod" means an assembly or a gathering. Etymologically it is formed by the Greek words "syn" (with) and "hodos" (way) and means "being on the way." The Synod of Bishops was created in September 15, 1965 by Paul VI as a permanent institution that would preserve the experience of the Council of Vatican II. John Paul II called it "a particularly fruitful expression and the instrument of episcopal collegiality."

The Synod is in fact a place for the Bishops to be together and with the Pontiff, a place for the exchange of information and experiences and for the common search of valid international pastoral solutions.

Therefore, the Synod of Bishops can in short be defined as the assembly of the representatives of the Catholic Bishops that, through their recommendations, help the Pope govern the universal Church. (H2O News)

What is this present Synod all about?

The present Synod has for its theme "The Word of God". Three years ago, a Synod was held on the Eucharist; it is logical that it should be followed by one on the Altar of the Word of God in Scriptures. Both taken together reflect the two parts of the Mass, the Liturgy of the Word and the Eucharist.   The inaugural homily of Benedict XVI expresses this intent:

Venerable and dear Brothers, the Lord will help us to interrogate ourselves, during these next weeks of Synodal works, on how to render ever more effective the proclamation of the Gospel in this our time. We all sense how necessary it is to place the Word of God at the center of our life, to welcome Christ as our only Redeemer, as the Kingdom of God in person, to allow his light to enlighten every sphere of humanity: from the family to school, to culture, to work, to free time and to other sectors of society and of our life. Participating in the celebration of the Eucharist, we are always aware of the close bond which exists between the announcement of the Word of God and the Eucharistic Sacrifice: it is the same Mystery which is offered for our contemplation. This is why, as pointed out by Vatican Council II: "The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures just as she venerates the body of the Lord, since, especially in the sacred liturgy, she unceasingly receives and offers to the faithful the bread of life from the table both of God’s word and of Christ’s body." Rightly the Council concludes: "Just as the life of the Church is strengthened through more frequent celebration of the Eucharistic mystery, similarly we may hope for a new stimulus for the life of the Spirit from a growing reverence for the word of God, which "lasts forever"" ("Dei Verbum," 21.26) 1

The "present time" unique in its challenges and problems requires a renewed proclamation of the Gospel. Reminding everyone that this Synod occurs during the year dedicated to St. Paul, the Pontiff said:

In this Year dedicated to Saint Paul, we will hear the urgent cry of the Apostle of the Gentiles: "I should be in trouble if I failed to do it [preach the Gospel]" (1 Corinthians 9:16); a cry which becomes for every Christian an insistent invitation to place oneself at the service of Christ. "The harvest is rich" (Matthew 9:37), the Divine Teacher repeats even today: many have not met Him yet and are waiting for the first proclamation of his Gospel; others, though having received Christian formation, their enthusiasm has weakened and they maintain only a superficial contact with the Word of God; still others have fallen away from the practice of their faith and are in need of a new evangelization. Nor is there a lack of righteous persons asking essential questions on the meaning of life and death, questions to which only Christ can supply a fulfilling response. It becomes therefore indispensable for Christians on every continent to be ready to respond to whomever asks the reason for the hope that is within them (cf 1Pt 3:15), announcing the Word of God with joy and living the Gospel without compromise.

This renewed proclamation of the Gospel however would not be possible without a renewed contact with the Word of God, which is not Scriptures alone, but above all, is Christ Himself (John 1:1-18) and the proclamation of the apostles.

Only the Word of God can change the depth of the heart of man, and so it is important that with it both individual believers and the community enter into an ever-growing intimacy. The Synodal Assembly will direct its attention to this truth which is fundamental to the life and the mission of the Church. Nourishing oneself with the Word of God is for her the first and fundamental responsibility. In effect, if the proclamation of the Gospel constitutes her reason for being and her mission, it is indispensable that the Church know and live that which She proclaims, so that her preaching is credible, despite the weaknesses and poverty of Her members. We know, moreover, that the proclamation of the Word, to the school of Christ, has as its content the Kingdom of God (cf Mark 1:14-15), but the Kingdom of God is the person of Jesus Himself, who with his words and his works offers salvation to men of every age. It is interesting with regard to St. Jerome’s consideration: "He who knows not the Scriptures knows not the power of God nor his wisdom. Ignorance of Scriptures is ignorance of Christ&" (Prologue to the Commentary on Isaiah: PL 24, 17).

A renewed evangelization requires a renewed contact with the person of Christ through the Scriptures. The Church continues in the way set out by Vatican II. Isn’t it that one of its main documents is entitled "Dei Verbum", "The Word of God"? The Synod will also be a way for the Church to see how far she has gone in making the Scriptures more accessible to the faithful, and an integral part of Christian formation. A comment from  the director of the Vatican press office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ is noteworthy in this regard:

(T)here is still much to do to spread familiarity and use of Scripture among the Christian people, its reading and frequent meditation, the habit of praying from Scripture.

And then [it is key] because Scripture is the basis of every Christian proclamation even in the modern world and in dialogue with its cultures. In particular, the Pope recalled that ecumenical dialogue cannot base itself on "strategic expedients," but on common reference and common conversion in the light of the word of God.

1 Corinthians 9:16
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16For if I preach the gospel, it is no glory to me, for a necessity lieth upon me: for woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel.
Matthew 9:37
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37Then he saith to his disciples, The harvest indeed is great, but the labourers are few.
John 1:1-18
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1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2The same was in the beginning with God.
3All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made.
4In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
5And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
7This man came for a witness, to give testimony of the light, that all men might believe through him.
8He was not the light, but was to give testimony of the light.
9That was the true light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world.
10He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
11He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
12But as many as received him, he gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in his name.
13Who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
15John beareth witness of him, and crieth out, saying: This was he of whom I spoke: He that shall come after me, is preferred before me: because he was before me.
16And of his fulness we all have received, and grace for grace.
17For the law was given by Moses; grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
18No man hath seen God at any time: the only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
Mark 1:14-15
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14And after that John was delivered up, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
15And saying: The time is accomplished, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent, and believe the gospel.

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  1. Zenit daily dispatch, ZE081006 []

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