Feeling a bit homesick, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz reports from the synod in Rome that today and tomorrow the delegates are voting on propositions prepared during the meeting. He asks the faithful to pray for the Holy Spirit to guide them. He’ll be heading home on Monday.
“Seeing the world without God.” That is the shortest way for me to sum up secularism. The synod deliberations have been focused a good deal on this way of looking at life. Indeed, the new evangelization is seeking to uncover the restlessness and thirst that arises within those who, intentionally or not, go on with life as if this world is all there is and, in some ways, as if there is no loving author of life.
How different is the tone of this morning’s second reading from the Office of Readings. St. Augustine writes to Proba about being “confident and serene.” Who wouldn’t want those qualities? At the root of this confidence is a deep trust in God, the Author of life and the One who lovingly guides our path. This confidence and serenity also is rooted in the full vision of earth and heaven. Indeed, our lives will be satisfied only in the presence of God in heaven, and our time on earth will truly make sense only with this complete vision.
The Latin word saeculum refers to the created world, and all that God created is good, as we know from the book of Genesis. Certainly it has been marred and weakened by sin, original and personal, and is in great need of the redemption of Jesus Christ to reach each corner. Seeing God at the center of existence, however, differs radically from the world view reflected in secularism. Cardinal George recently wrote a column, which I tweeted, on this very point.
The new evangelization, which is not a new program, returns us to the realization that is at the root of human existence: God is the Author of all life, and it is good. Marred by sin, our life needs to be restored by Christ, Who leads us to our eternal home.
St. Augustine could speak of being confident and serene, and my small group in the Synod could speak of humility, simplicity, and beginning all things in prayer precisely because of this conviction in faith. Back home, I hear echoes of “Pray First,” and all I can do is clap in support!
“Seeing life with God at the center” is a recipe that the saints discovered over and over again through the centuries and one that we must reclaim.
You probably heard about the Cardinals named by our Holy Father this week. Our small group at the Synod is taking some credit for some of them because two, Cardinal Basileos Cleemis Thottunkal of the Malankara Catholics of India (whom I befriended last year on our way to Assisi) and Cardinal John Onaiyekan of Nigeria, were part of our group. Needless to say, all of us were elated. We also were thrilled by the elevation of one of our own Americans, Cardinal James Harvey, who has served in Rome for decades with great distinction.
Today and tomorrow, we vote on the propositions prepared. Yesterday, we relators were at it again, honing down the propositions. Pray that the Holy Spirit will guide our decisions.
Then, I attend the closing Mass on Sunday with our Holy Father and return to the United States on Monday (and to a hurricane?)! I’m a bit homesick, so the Synod is ending at just the right time.
With confidence and serenity, I pray that all of heaven and earth will rejoice in our God who is all good.