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Prayer for the Synod of Bishops, October 2023

Every session of the Second Vatican Council began with the prayer Adsumus Sancte Spiritus, the first word of the Latin original meaning, “We stand before You, Holy Spirit,” which has been historically used at Councils, Synods and other Church gatherings for hundreds of years, being attributed to Saint Isidore of Seville (c. 560 - 4 April 636). As Pope Francis convenes the Synod this month, this prayer invites the Holy Spirit to operate within us so that we may be a community and a people of grace and truly listen with reverence, trust, and gratitude to God’s voice. This simplified version of the Adsumus is from the USCCB website:

We stand before You, Holy Spirit, as we gather together in Your name.

With You alone to guide us, make Yourself at home in our hearts;

Teach us the way we must go and how we are to pursue it.

We are weak and sinful; do not let us promote disorder.

Do not let ignorance lead us down the wrong path nor partiality influence our actions.

Let us find in You our unity so that we may journey together to eternal life and not stray from the way of truth and what is right.

All this we ask of You, who are at work in every place and time, in the communion of the Father and the Son, forever and ever. Amen. October: Respect Life Month C.S. Lewis was an influential Christian writer whose works from the mid-20th century still inspire many today. Living through and writing during the Second World War and the decades following, he is well-worth reading in our own challenging and confusing times. In his The Weight of Glory (1942), he wrote this about the dignity of human life:

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization — these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat.

But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit.

This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play.

But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.

And our charity must be real and costly love—no mere tolerance or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment.

Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.

Though Lewis was not Catholic, his imagination is very “sacramental” in line with long Catholic tradition: that everything in creation is some reflection of the Creator.

That last line from Lewis’ quote connects the Church’s constant proclamation of the Gospel of Life with the Eucharistic Revival: we are members of one Body in Christ, the only Redeemer of the human family. Lewis’ words are another way to say that each person is made in the image of God, and called to eternal joy in communion with God and one another in glory. Already we anticipate and begin to share that mystery through Eucharistic communion.

Look in the mirror; look at the next person you see, friend or stranger, and remember: there are no ordinary people; you have never talked to a mere mortal. The one you see is an icon of God’s creative love.

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