Pray — don’t speculate — about the Vatican family synod, say novena organizers

Amid concern over whether or not October’s Synod on the Family will protect the Church’s teaching on marriage, one lay initiative is calling upon Catholics to put their words to better use — and pray.
Beginning Feb. 5, Catholics worldwide are being invited to respond to Pope Francis’ call to pray for the Synod on the Family by taking part in a nine-month novena of Eucharistic Adoration.
The novena, which will take place on the first Thursday of every month until Oct. 1, is being organized by Eucharistic Adoration Society for the Synod on the Family 2015, an initiative founded by two laywomen in Rome.
The inspiration for the novena came after many Catholics expressed concern in the aftermath of last year’s Synod on the Family, during which the question of admitting divorced and civilly remarried couples to Communion seemed to take center stage, especially in Western media.
The 2014 synod on the family last October, which served as a precursor to the gathering later this year “made people feel that not only was marriage seeming to be under attack, but also the sacrament of the Eucharist,” said Christine McCarthy, the initiative’s co-founder, in an interview with CNA.
Observing that last year’s gathering “presented some very interesting perspectives,” McCarthy said, any “positive aspects” it had tended to be overshadowed by its “negative aspects.”
“I had curial officials…many priests, seminarians saying to me: What is going on? Where is the church going?”
Much of the concern was rooted in the suggestion made by some prelates that civilly remarried couples, living together as husband wife, could in certain circumstances be admitted to receive the Blessed Sacrament without having received an annulment.
McCarthy echoed the Church’s teaching that parishes should welcome persons living in such situations, but said “we also understand as Catholics, as just ordinary Catholics sitting in the pew, that that acceptance does not mean they can receive communion.
“The circumstances are such — as they always have been — that they (must be) in the state of grace.”
In response to the concerns expressed by those she encountered about the future of the family, resulting from uncertainties raised during the synod, McCarthy — who is also the author of a book of prayers and meditations, “I the Lord Am With You Always” — turned to prayer.
“In the end,” she said, “we can talk, even gossip about this, make a lot of statements about what we or they should and should not be doing. But, in the final conclusion, the only thing that is going to help is prayer.”
With the help of co-founder, Diane Montagna, a lay American journalist based in Rome, the initiative began with “three preparatory days to pray for Christian marriage and family life” as well as for Pope Francis, in the lead-up to the 2015 Synod.
McCarthy went on to explain the significance of the novena concluding on Oct. 1, the feast of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the patron saint of the Novena.
“She had a great devotion to the Lord in the Eucharist, she also as we all know has her little way of using the little things in life to bring one to perfection.”
Looking ahead to the upcoming Synod on the Family, McCarthy expressed her hope October’s gathering will be different from the last.
“I’m hoping a lot of this dissatisfaction has filtered through to those who are responsible for making decisions in that synod, the hierarchy and the Holy Father. And that those who were said to be manipulating what was coming out of that synod will — if we pray them into it — will hopefully make some different decisions.”
“It’s a very simple thing, Adoration, and yet it has such a tremendous power,” she said. “We are all praying as the Holy Father has asked us to do for this next synod.”

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