The Final Day at the Passionist General Synod. There was a change of timetable today. We had nothing to do until the first session at 9.00 a.m. which was to be followed by Mass. The usual routine has been as follows: Synod Mass at 7.00; morning sessions from 9.00 until 12.30, with dinner (-most people nowadays call it lunch) at 1.00. After lunch, I would start the daily summary, trying to cover the morning’s work before the Synod took up again at 3.30. The Synod continued from 3.30 until 7.00, with Evening Prayer at 7.30 and supper at 8.00. After supper, I would do the second half of the daily journal, and then write my Synod Sketch, which I usually finished at about 11.00. Last night I decided to take advantage of the late start, so I stayed in bed until the General phoned me at 7.45. (Why does somebody always phone when I decide to get up later?)
The closing session is described in the daily summary which you will find in my earlier post (Synod Day Ten – Summary from the Drafting Commission) or on the Passionist General Synod Blog. If you haven’t already looked at it, go over (not now, but when you’ve finished here!) to the Passionist General Synod Blog. They have some interesting things there, including, in a documents section, the full text of the three parts of the General’s report; click ‘documents’ at the top of the page, and then look for ‘Relazione P.Generale, 1a parte (en)’, then ‘2a parte’, and finally ‘3a parte’. There are lots of photographs on the site too.
This morning was basically a tidying up session which lasted about an hour and a half, after which we assembled in the Retreat House Chapel for Mass at 11.00. (One of the good things about the way the Synod was organised was that we never went directly from work to Mass or Prayer, but always had a quiet period in between.)
Father Aloysius Nguma from Tanzania, wearing his lanyard on the opening day of the Synod
You might remember, if you have been following this blog closely during the Synod, that on the first day each of us was given a yellow lanyard which we then had to leave in the aula. Before Mass we were asked to take a lanyard and write a word on it which expressed the Synod; these would then be used for a dinamica after Mass. I wasn’t sure what a dinamica was, but I wrote ‘speranza’ (‘hope’ in Italian) on one of the lanyards and then asked one of my multilingual brothers what the word meant; he said, ‘It’s kind of liturgical, but it’s not liturgical’ which gave me an idea and at the same time no idea, so I decided to wait and see. The Mass was, as usual, very prayerful with good music and a homily by the General (see my previous post for the text). After Mass, we were given our ‘dinamica’ instructions: we were to exchange lanyards with the person next to us, sharing the words written on them as we did so – then do the same with someone else. This exercise developed its own dynamism and in the end I had five or six changes of lanyard; the words I received included patience, bridge and charism, but the one I ended up with was in Spanish: Ilusion. At first I was disappointed because I thought the word simply meant ‘illusion’ (-I don’t speak Spanish), but after conferring with my multilingual brother, I discovered that it also means ‘hope’ which was my own word. How very ‘dinamica’.
The ‘dinamica’ in progress; photo by Fr Miguel Angel.
As for the meaning of the word ‘dinamica’, looking at the photograph, I think the nearest we have to it in English is ‘muddle’, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
In today’s summary you will find some of the evaluations of the Synod given verbally by Synod members. For myself, I think the funniest summing up of this kind of meeting is one I heard many years ago after a Provincial Chapter, given by my old mentor, Father Marius, beloved friend of many readers of this blog. He said, ‘Sometimes I think a Chapter (or in this case we might say a Synod) is like two elephants trying to have a baby. Everything happens at a very high level, with enormous difficulty, and it’s a long time before you see any result.’
A great expression when I studied in Rome was chiavi di letture which literally means ‘keys for reading’; in English we might say ‘key-words’. So, what were the key-words from the Synod? I would say there were five; the first four were Solidarity, Charism, Dialogue and Discernment. The fifth word, used so often in Latin countries as a spiritual value, has no single word in English which sums up the richness of its meaning for southern Europeans. In its Italian form, the word is Cammino, which means path, way , journey or the state of being on the road to somewhere (what the Second Vatican Council called ‘the Pilgrim Church’) so, taking a leaf out of the book of Father Massimiliano, the Podcasting Passionist, I thought I’d finish my Synod Sketches with a song. (I really would have preferred Ken Dodd singing ‘On the Road to Madalay’, but I could only find Robbie Williams on YouTube.)