Sunday 10th October
Today in Rome, Pope Francis formally and liturgically opened the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops; next Sunday I will do so for our Church, the Diocese of Wrexham. Next Sunday already has for us the significance of the annual Pilgrimage Mass in commemoration of S. Richard Gwyn, but these two events do not clash, rather they complement each other.
The etymology of the word ‘pilgrim’ is a ‘stranger’, a ‘foreigner’, a ‘traveller from abroad’; that of ‘synod’ is a ‘coming together’, a ‘journeying on a way’, or as P. Francis says: ‘The word “synod” contains all that is useful to understand what it means to walk together.’ The history of our faith as well being a journey itself contains a multitude of journeys from Abraham’s, Exodus, … Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, Jesus to Jerusalem, Paul to Rome, Christianity to the World, Christians to holy sites and places of devotion, to name a few.
Next Sunday we will make the pilgrimage to S. Mary’s Cathedral to honour S. Richard Gwyn whose life-journey was ended on a scaffold in witness to his faith and to give thanks and glory to God for the gifts of truth, perseverance, courage, faith and hope to such martyrs that they could make that sacrifice. We will also begin the journeying together that P. Francis asks for of the whole Church around the theme: “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, Mission,” three pillars of dynamic mutual listening to be carried out at all levels of the Church, not just as an exercise now and until October 2023, but as an essential character of the Church.
In the coming weeks we will learn more of how the initial process is to take place and how we are to be involved. I am grateful to Fr. Ian Dalgleish for steering this process in Wrexham Diocese. There will be opportunity for all to participate through one of a number of channels, but our starting point must be prayer and praying together, listening first to the Word of God and to his speaking to each of us individually in the ‘subtle voice of silence’. (cf. 1 Kings.19:11-13).
I invite you to join me in S. Mary’s Cathedral, Wrexham, next Sunday afternoon at 3 o’clock for this Pilgrimage Mass and Opening of the Diocesan synodal phase of this General Assembly of Bishops.