Pastor’s Corner for the Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, by Fr. Bruce Botha SJ

We pray for the Church, that she may adopt listening and dialogue as a lifestyle at every level, and allow herself to be guided by the Holy Spirit towards the peripheries of the world.

This is Pope Francis’ prayer intention for the month of October, which he invites us to make our own. From the 4th to the 29th of October the Synod on Synodality convenes in Rome, and all of the discussions and reflections which have been happening around the world are brought together in an atmosphere of prayerful and respectful listening. The final teaching document is then due in 2024. We don’t know what the document will say, but given the build-up to it I think it will try and institutionalise certain practices around decision-making in the Church. While not everyone makes the final decision, all voices should be heard before the decision is made.

Professor Hankela, head of the UJ department of Religious Studies, gave an insightful talk for the September faith talk, which focused on how we as church are called to create spaces of listening for people on the margins, which sounds pretty similar to what Pope Francis is asking us to pray for. Conversations like these will continue, because the purpose behind becoming a Synodal church is to make purposeful listening part of how we “do church”.

The following prayer is offered to us by the Synod committee. It is based on an ancient prayer which had been used by the bishops of Vatican II before each of their sessions. As we pray it today, we hold Pope Francis, the bishops of the Church and other participants in the Synod in our hearts.

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.


Fr. Bruce Botha SJ