By: Kascha Sanor
I am tender-hearted.
As the young adult delegates return home to their various communities, I hold with me all the graces of our time together; laughter, chaos, questions, and answered prayers. Please pray with us, that this time of transition may settle upon us gently.
To be present for the Opening Mass for the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, known as the Synod on Synodality, was nothing short of witnessing history. We were giddy, holding our bright green tickets that would let us into St. Peters Square. We have been preparing for this! Morning and evening prayers have centered around themes of synodality: what does it mean, how does it work, what is ours to do as the Church officially opens the next phase? As we met each delegate, we asked, “is there a prayer or intention we can hold for you?” The most common answer – openness.
In his homily, Pope Francis reminded the faithful that this Synod on Synodality is ‘not a parliament.’ In other words, this Synod is not a forum to debate for predetermined outcomes or attempt to win. Rather, our Church is entering a “convocation in the Spirit;” a process of encounter, discernment, grace, and communion. There is a temptation, surely, to be skeptical. So much of this monumental moment is new and unknown, we may naturally desire clarity. Yet, Pope Francis encourages us in his homily to ‘refocus our gaze on God.’ This gaze of the Gospel reading is one of blessing and welcome, that looks mercifully at humanity. In centering our focus on God, Pope Francis says we are “a Church that says come… the doors of the Church are open to everyone. Tutti. Tutti. Tutti.” Of course, this is an echo of Pope Francis’ World Youth Day message where he said “in the Church, there is room for everyone. Todos. Todos. Todos.”
This struck a special cord as I stood in St. Peters Square, feeling undeniably connected to 16 young adults, who last week were strangers. We are a diverse bunch — representing various communities, cultures, abilities, doubts, desires, orientations, and vocations — and there we stood wearing our “todos, todos, todos” t-shirts, praying with the Holy Father, holding the intentions of voting delegates, and surrendering to the Holy Spirit, who is the protagonist of the synodal process.
I am hopeful.
Many times during the Opening Mass we looked at one another with sure and silent amazement. Having just been in Assisi, and celebrating this Mass on the Feast of St. Francis, we were incredibly attentive to Brother Sun, just over our shoulder and Sister Moon, right before us over the Vatican. I noticed awe on our faces as we looked up to the streaks of clouds, gracefulness of the birds, the faces of thousands in a moment of silence.
The Holy Spirit, Pope Francis reminds us, “often shatters our expectations in order to create something new, that surpasses our predictions and negativity.” So to our tender, hopeful hearts, come Holy Spirit.
[Kascha Sanor is the Director of Social and Environmental Justice for the Congregation of St. Joseph]