Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the General Secretariat of the Synod, has written a letter to bishops and eparchs worldwide, emphasising the importance of prayer in preparation for the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod, set to begin in the Vatican on 4 October.
He stressed that the Synodal Assembly is primarily a spiritual event centered on prayer and listening to the Holy Spirit.
To encourage participation and seek the prayerful support of assembly members by local communities, a “Solemn Blessing” has been prepared by the General Secretariat to be recited, especially at the end of Sunday Masses, along with intercessory prayers.
In his letter, addressed to his “dear brothers in the episcopate”, Cardinal Grech emphasised that the Synod is primarily “an event of prayer and listening that involves not only the members of the Synodal Assembly but every baptized person and every particular Church.”
He urged bishops to lead prayer efforts in their respective communities, including monastic communities, emphasizing that prayer is a form of participation for bishops and a sign of care for the universal Church.
Four faces of prayer
He discussed four facets of prayer in the context of the Synod. The first is listening.
Cardinal Grech highlighted that prayer begins with “listening to the Word of God and the Spirit,” as “the voice of the Spirit is the sine qua non for ecclesial discernment.”
Speaking then about adoration, Cardinal Grech emphasized the importance of “adoring silence in awe for what God is saying to his Church and for what the Spirit arouses in the Church today.”
With regards to intercession, the Cardinal called for intercessory prayer, explaining that it is “not about bending God’s will to ours,” but rather “asking the Lord to enlighten our hearts with the power of His life-giving Spirit so that we might discern and do His will.”
Finally, Cardinal Grech addressed thanksgiving, encouraging gratitude, saying, “The prayer of thanksgiving is a true ‘therapy’ that moves us from our withdrawal into ourselves to the openness that is able to discover all that God continues to work in His Church.”
The importance of prayer
Cardinal Grech invited everyone to place prayer at the centre of the Synodal Assembly on 1 October, the 25th Sunday of Ordinary Time, incorporating it into homilies, universal prayers, and the final blessing during Eucharistic celebrations.
In closing, he expressed gratitude for bishops’ leadership in the synodal journey and assured them of his prayers for their ministry, invoking the Spirit’s guidance and the joy found in God’s Word.
Addressed to all
The letter was also extended to leaders of the Oriental Catholic Churches sui iuris to incorporate similar blessings and intercessions in their Divine Liturgies, respecting their liturgical traditions.
Cardinal Grech’s appeal is part of a broader effort to highlight the spiritual nature of the synod assembly and engage the entire people of God in prayer.
Other initiatives include the establishment of a website in collaboration with the World Network of Prayer of the Pope and the UISG for monthly prayer sessions dedicated to the Synod, an Ecumenical Prayer Vigil on 30 September before the Synod’s commencement, and a spiritual retreat for assembly members from 1 – 3 October 2023.