Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Listening, discussion and the gaze of Christ. These are the three gifts that Pope Francis has invoked for the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, which opens tomorrow morning with a solemn Mass in St. Peter's Square. Listening to "God and the people" with a "sincere, open and fraternal" discussion and a gaze "fixed on Jesus Christ," in order to learn from him.
Approximately 80 thousand people, a "family made up of families," had gathered in the square since early afternoon. Before the Pope's arrival, those gathered heard the witness of the life and journey of three couples; after the end of his speech, the lighting of seven torches representing an invocation of the Holy Spirit on the Synod works. These torches "signal" the opening of the meeting on the family in the homes of faithful of a worldwide.
The prayer vigil was sponsored by the CEI ahead of the synod which opens tomorrow on "The pastoral challenges for the family in the context of evangelization". The Synod Fathers were there together with the Pope, in St. Peter's Square. Francis began his address around 7 pm, an hour at which "one willingly returns home to the same meal, in the thick of affections, of the good that has been done and received, of the encounters which warm the heart and make it grow," but It is also the most weighty hour for he who finds himself face to face with his own loneliness, in the bitter twilight of broken dreams and plans". This evening "for all of these we make our prayer heard. A prayer for all".
The Pope got straight to the
heart of the matter: "
It is significant how -
even in the individualistic culture which distorts and renders connections
fleeting - in each person born of a woman, there remains alive an essential
need of stability, of an open door, of someone with whom to weave and to share
the story of life, a history to which to belong". In this context, the family " With all this, the family continues to be a
school without parallel of humanity, an indispensable contribution to a just
and united society". This
horizon "helps us to grasp the importance of the Synodal Assembly which
"Already, the "convenire in unum" surrounding the Bishop of Rome is an event of grace, in which episcopal collegiality is made manifest in a path of spiritual and pastoral discernment". "To search for that which today the Lord asks of His Church, we must lend our ears to the beat of this time and perceive the "scent" of the people today, so as "know how to propose the good news of the family with credibility". In fact, "as in the Gospel, there is a strength and tenderness capable of defeating that which is created by unhappiness and violence".
To better address this challenge,
the Pope invited those present to ask the Holy Spirit for three gifts: the gift
of listening "to
listen in the manner of God, so that they may hear, with him, the cry of the
people; to listen to the people, until they breathe the will to which God calls
us"; openness " an openness toward a sincere discussion, open
and fraternal, which leads us to carry with pastoral responsibility the
questions that this change in epoch brings"; and finally "the gaze of Christ".
Because, says Francis, " if we truly intend to walk among contemporary challenges, the decisive
condition is to maintain a fixed gaze on Jesus Christ to pause in contemplation
and in adoration of His Face."
At that point, "our listening and our discussion on the family, loved with the gaze of Christ, will become a providential occasion with which to renew - according to the example of Saint Francis - the Church and society. With the joy of the Gospel we will rediscover the way of a reconciled and merciful Church, poor and friend of the poor; a Church "given strength that it might, in patience and in love, overcome its sorrows and its challenges, both within itself and from without." (Lumen Gentium, 8)".
In conclusion a wish: "May the Wind of Pentecost blow upon the Synod's work, on the Church, and on all of humanity. Undo the knots which prevent people from encountering one another, heal the wounds that bleed, rekindle hope. Grant us this creative charity which consents to love as Jesus loved. And our message may reclaim the vivacity and enthusiasm of the first missionaries of the Gospel".