The recent Synod of Bishops met in Rome, October 3–28, to discuss “Youth, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.” Some Legionaries had the opportunity to assist at this meeting of bishops from all over the world.
In preparation for the gathering, in March 2018 there was a pre-Synodal meeting with 300 young people from five continents who came together at the Pontifical International College Maria Mater Ecclesiae, a seminary in Rome directed by the Legionaries of Christ, for diocesan seminarians from around the world. Then, in October, there followed the formal meeting of bishops from around the world in Rome, called a synod. Each bishops’ conference sent representative bishops and Pope Francis appointed a few more.
The synod began and ended with large Masses. In the opening Mass homily, Pope Francis said, “Jesus offers his disciples the assurance that will accompany all the missionary work to be entrusted to them: the Holy Spirit will be the first to preserve, to keep alive and relevant, the memory of the Lord in the heart of his disciples. It is the Spirit who ensures that the richness and beauty of the Gospel will be a source of constant joy and freshness.”
On Sunday, October 28, Pope Francis closed the synod. In his homily at the final Mass, he outlined the “three fundamental steps on the journey of faith,” which he summed up as “To listen, to be a neighbour, to bear witness. The journey of faith in today’s Gospel ends in a beautiful and surprising way when Jesus says ‘Go; your faith has made you well’ (v. 52). Yet Bartimaeus had made no profession of faith or done any good work; he had only begged for mercy. To feel oneself in need of salvation is the beginning of faith. It is the direct path to encountering Jesus.”
Legionaries’ Involvement in the Synod
Three Legionaries were helping out with the Synod as assistants to the Synod’s general secretary: Br. Alejandro de la Garza Gossler, LC, and Fr. Luis Ramírez, LC, from Mexico, and Br.Russell Dean Ward, LC, from the US. These men were responsible for writing summaries and official acts of what different bishops said.
We asked Br. Russell how this participation corresponds to the Charism of Regnum Christi. He said, “The grace of being able to participate in the Youth Synod has been an experience of the Universal Church.” When we asked him about media coverage of the Synod, he said, “I have been able to witness that behind all the chaos present in the media, the vast majority of cardinals, bishops and priests here have a passionate love for the Church and long to spread the faith to the next generation.”
Br. Russell found the small group discussions especially inspiring. “Here I have seen how the Synod Fathers are really seeking the good of the whole Church,”he told us, “especially by an attentive listening to the voices of the young people present.” He though the way they worked through opinions was wonderful. “There may be diverse opinions on how to attain the end,” he said, “but the end is the same for all – to lead the youth to a real experience of Jesus Christ.”
When asked what he learned for the Church from the Youth Synod, Br. Russell mentioned accompaniment, such as mentoring and spiritual direction. He sees the need to form both priests and lay people to be mentors and spiritual guides.
Br. Russell summarized the Synod by comparing it to the disciples who met the risen Christ on the road to Emmaus: “Jesus offers us the key to touching the hearts of the youth today. Jesus meets the two disciples as they walk away from Jerusalem—that is, the wrong way. Jesus actually walks the wrong way with them! He first listens to them, their doubts and disappointments. He then reprimands them and gives them the key to interpret all their experience from his perspective. Then he leads them to the Eucharist, where they recognize that he is alive and in their midst. After this, they go back to Jerusalem on fire with the love of Christ and as apostles of his resurrection.”
For more information on the Youth Synod, you can check out the Synod’s website.