Tuesday, October 31, 2023

The special November devotion to the Souls in Purgatory


Month of the Souls in Purgatory

The month of November is dedicated to the Holy Souls in Purgatory. The Church commemorates all her faithful children who have departed from this life but have not yet attained the joys of heaven. St. Paul warns us that we must not be ignorant concerning the dead, nor sorrowful, "even as others who have no hope ... For the Lord Himself shall come down from heaven ... and the dead who are in Christ shall rise.

The Church has always taught us to pray for those who have gone into eternity. Even in the Old Testament prayers and alms were offered for the souls of the dead by those who thought "well and religiously concerning the resurrection." It was believed that "they who had fallen asleep with godliness had great grace laid up for them" and that "it is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins." We know that a defiled soul cannot enter into heaven.

Excerpted from Liturgical Meditations, The Sisters of St. Dominic

Duration of Purgatory

Purgatory is not eternal. Its duration varies according to the sentence pronounced at each particular judgment. It may be prolonged for centuries in the case of the more guilty souls, or of those who, being excluded from the Catholic communion, are deprived of the suffrages of the Church, although by the divine mercy they have escaped hell. But the end of the world, which will be also the end of time, will close forever the place of temporary expiation. God will know how to reconcile His justice and His goodness in the purification of the last members of the human race, and to supply by the intensity of the expiatory suffering what may be wanting in duration. But, whereas a favourable sentence at the particular judgment admits of eternal beatitude being suspended and postponed and leaves the bodies of the elect to the same fate as those of the reprobate; at the universal judgment, every sentence, whether for heaven or for hell, will be absolute, and will be executed immediately and completely.

Offering Prayers and Sacrifices

The Church Suffering and the Church Militant constitute in their relations a second circle of most vital activities. Having entered into the night "wherein no man can work," the Suffering Church cannot ripen to its final blessedness by any efforts of its own, but only through the help of others—through the intercessory prayers and sacrifices (suffragia) of those living members of the Body of Christ who being still in this world are able in the grace of Christ to perform expiatory works. The Church has from the earliest times faithfully guarded the words of Scripture that it is a holy and a wholesome thing to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins. [2 Macab. 12, 43] The suppliant cry of her liturgy: "Eternal rest give to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them," can be heard already in the Acts of the martyrdom of SS. Perpetua and Felicitas (A.D. 203) and is represented in numerous sepulchral inscriptions of the most ancient period, while theologians and Fathers of the Church, beginning with Tertullian, have supplied its substantial proof. . . . So fundamental indeed and so natural to man's hope and desire and love is this belief, that historians of religion have discovered it among almost all non-Christian civilized peoples: a striking illustration of Tertullian's saying that the human soul is naturally Christian.

The Catholic, therefore, is jealous to expiate and suffer for the "poor souls," especially by offering the Eucharistic Sacrifice, wherein Christ's infinite expiation on the Cross is sacramentally represented and stimulating and joining itself with the expiatory works of the faithful, passes to the Church Suffering according to the measure determined by God's wisdom and mercy.

— Karl Adam


By the practice of Indulgences, the Church places at the charitable disposal of the faithful the inexhaustible treasure accumulated, from age to age, by the superabundant satisfactions of the saints, added to those of the martyrs, and united to those of our Blessed Lady and the infinite residue of our Lord's sufferings. These remissions of punishment she grants to the living by her own direct power; but she nearly always approves of and permits their application to the dead by way of suffrage, that is to say, in the manner in which, as we have seen, each of the faithful may offer to God who accepts it, for another, the suffrage or succour of his own satisfactions.

 The Liturgical Year, Abbot Gueranger O.S.B.

A partial indulgence can be obtained by devoutly visiting a cemetery and praying for the departed, even if the prayer is only mental. One can gain a plenary indulgence visiting a cemetery each day between November 1 and November 8. These indulgences are applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory.

A plenary indulgence, again applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory, is also granted when the faithful piously visit a church or a public oratory on November 2. In visiting the church or oratory, it is required, that one Our Father and the Creed be recited.

A partial indulgence, applicable only to the souls in purgatory, can be obtained when the Eternal Rest (Requiem aeternam) is prayed. This is a good prayer to recite especially during the month of November:

Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

How the NFL New Orleans Saints got their name and their special Catholic birthday


Song of faith and jazz: How the New Orleans Saints got their name

J-P Mauro - published on 09/25/18

A story so fun and interesting even non-football fans can appreciate it.

Prior to the 1967 NFL season, the state of Louisiana did not have a football team. That the city of New Orleans was granted a team was due, in large part, to local sports entrepreneur Dave Dixon, who had petitioned for a permanent team to be assigned to the city with 5 years of exhibition games — which regularly sold out the 80,000 seat Tulane stadium.

At the time the National Football League (NFL) and the American Football League (AFL) were in the process of merging, pending congressional approval. What originated as the brainchild of Dixon was brought to life in a backroom deal between Congressman Hale Boggs, Senator Russell Long, and NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle, which effectively finalized the merger between the AFL and the NFL — and thus the New Orleans Saints were born.

Honoring a Catholic heritage

For those readers who are unfamiliar with the NFL, it should be noted that many of the team names reflect the cities they call home. Pittsburgh, heart of the steel industry, hosts the Steelers; the San Fransisco 49ers are named after the 1849 gold rush, which saw many fortune seekers migrate West; the meat packing industry up in Wisconsin led to the Green Bay Packers.

In New Orleans there was a strong oil industry, but far greater than that was the Catholic culture. The Catholic Church had held a firm presence in “The Big Easy” since before it was officially a city. The festivals held each year for Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) and St. Patrick’s day dominate the city, and the pageantry draws spectators from around the world.

The oil industry was not left out, however, as the team colors of the Saints (black and gold) were chosen to represent this interest by the first majority shareholder John Meachum, a successful oil man.

The Saints came marching in

“When the Saints Come Marching In” has long been the anthem of New Orleans. Considered the birthplace of Jazz, New Orleans has its own unmistakable musical style, and “When the Saints Come Marching In” is easily its most recognizable tune. When famed jazz trumpeter Al Hirt joined the team as one of the primary shareholders, his rendition of the song became the team’s official anthem, which fans gladly flocked behind. Even today the stands can be heard singing the old hymn.

The Al Hirt recording of “When the Saints Come Marching In,” featured above, displays a true mastery of the art form. About halfway through Hirt starts a call-and-response with the trombone and clarinet, which heats up until they play the melodic line while alternating instruments each note. This is a lot harder to do than it sounds, and it is completely characteristic of the New Orleans style of jazz, which is effervescent and fun.

The team arrived on All Saints Day

After the dealings were done and Congress approved the merger, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle traveled to New Orleans to announce that they would be the home of the newest expansion team. Although the decision was made more than a week prior to the announcement, Dixon convinced Rozelle to wait for the upcoming Catholic holiday to go public. Thus, the proclamation took place on November 1, which made the team birthday All Saints Day.

The bishop approved

Out of respect for the large Catholic community in New Orleans, the team’s management consulted then-Archbishop Philip Hannan of the Archdiocese of New Orleans to make sure the name would not seem offensive or sacrilegious. The archbishop saw no problem with it; in fact, he liked the idea so much that he offered to write the team a prayer. One line of the team’s prayer reads:

“… Our Heavenly Father, who has instructed us that the ‘saints by faith conquered kingdoms … and overcame lions,’ grant our Saints an increase of faith and strength so that they will not only overcome the Lions but also the Bears, the Rams, the Giants, and even those awesome people in Green Bay … .”

Some sources also claim that the archbishop mused that the name was good because this new team would need all the help they could get. Fans would agree with this sentiment after their first game could not be saved by an opening kickoff return for a touchdown. Indeed it would take the better part of 20 years for the New Orleans Saints to become the competitive team we know today.

An All Saints Day Homily from my Homily Archives

 Oh, when the Saints go marching in, oh when the Saints go marching in, oh Lord, I want to be in that number, when the Saints go marching in!

This is more than a fight song we would associate with our beloved New Orleans Saints, who's birthday by the way is indeed All Saints Day.  This song was made famous by our very own Louis Armstrong, and it is a recognition of all those who have gone before us and are indeed in Heaven.

On this Feast Day of All Saints, and as people of faith, we are called to be in that number!

So important this holy day that All Saints is celebrated as a Holy Day of Obligation.  Why do we, as the Body of Christ celebrate a Feast Day in honor of Saints?  And who indeed is a Saint?  Can anybody be a Saint?

Indeed, all of us are called to be a Saint.  In fact, the Church declares that all who have died and gone to Heaven are indeed Saints!  The vast majority of these Saints then would be people unknown to most of us.  Often, the Church, after an exhaustive and prayerful process, declares what is already so, that certain men and women are indeed in Heaven and have been declared Saints.  We can know these Saints by name and devotion by studying the lives of the Saints and following the Church's liturgical calendar which affixes various days of the year to celebrating the lives of the Saints.  But be assured, all who have died in a state of grace and friendship with God and have arrived at eternal happiness in Heaven are Saints.  This is a source of great hope for you and me as we too, following in their example, can indeed be Saints!

The Church therefore declares and emphasizes on this Feast Day the Church in Heaven and the Church here on earth are one.  The Church extends to the Communion of Saints.  This Communion of Saints is a source of unity and strength for the Church.  In paragraph 957 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church we read: "our communion with the Saints joins us to Christ."  There it is brothers and sisters, we are more closely joined to our Lord and Savior with the help of the Saints.  You see it is always to God that we offer worship and to Christ who is our one true mediator between the Father and man.  But these friends of Christ and friends of ours, the Saints in Heaven, both those formally named by the Church and those we yet do not know, can help us with their prayers and support.  Think of it this way, in praying to the Saints it's not so much the word "to" it properly would be through; we pray to Jesus through the Saints.  Said another way, we pray with the Saints!

The practice of naming our children for a Saint is a holy and wonderful thing.  Sadly, I notice, through some of the Baptisms I have presided at over these past 8 years, this practice falling into some disuse.  This is sad.  The help of a particular patron Saint can be a great source of help and hope in the lives of our children.  We all receive a Saint name at our Confirmation.  For us here in this local parish church we attend Mass under the watchful eye of our patron, St. Jane Francis de Chantal.  At our mission Church in Bush, it is St. Michael we count as our patron.  Many of us have special and personal devotions to any number of Saints.  As an example, as a Permanent Deacon I am especially drawn to the witness of St. Stephen, one of the first deacons of the Church as detailed in the Acts of the Apostles.  He went on to become the first post-resurrection Christian martyr, so full was his faith in Jesus!

All Saints Day is followed tomorrow by All Souls Day, so this is a particular time of year to remember our beloved dead.  Many unique traditions in the Church of New Orleans are followed at this time with special blessings of graves and family traditions at our historic burial grounds.  We are called as faithful Catholics to pray for our beloved dead, to remember them and to call upon them for assistance if they too be a Saint in Heaven!

So, we all want to be in that number, when the Saints go marching in.  Since we all know this song, how many of us know how it really starts.  Take a listen to the opening lyric of When the Saints Go Marching In:

We are traveling in the footsteps of those who've gone before
But we all will be reunited on a new and sunlit shore

That new and sunlit shore is Heaven and Heaven we pray will be our eternal home.  May we, like those Saints, go marching in!

Wednesday is the Solemnity of All Saints Day


All Saints' Day

All Saints' Day is a solemn holy day of the Catholic Church celebrated annually on November 1. The day is dedicated to the saints of the Church, that is, all those who have attained heaven. It should not be confused with All Souls' Day, which is observed on November 2, and is dedicated to those who have died and not yet reached heaven.

Although millions, or even billions of people may already be saints, All Saints' Day observances tend to focus on known saints --that is those recognized in the canon of the saints by the Catholic Church.

All Saints' Day is also commemorated by members of the Eastern Orthodox Church as well as some protestant churches, such as Lutheran and Anglican churches.

Generally, All Saints' Day is a Catholic Holy Day of Obligation, meaning all Catholics are required to attend Mass on that day, unless they have an excellent excuse, such as serious illness.

Other countries have different rules according to their national bishop's conferences. The bishops of each conference have the authority to amend the rules surrounding the obligation of the day.

All Saints' Day was formally started by Pope Boniface IV, who consecrated the Pantheon at Rome to the Virgin Mary and all the Martyrs on May 13 in 609 AD. Boniface IV also established All Souls' Day, which follows All Saints.

The choice of the day may have been intended to co-opt the pagan holiday "Feast of the Lamures," a day which pagans used to placate the restless spirits of the dead.

The holy day was eventually established on November 1 by Pope Gregory III in the mid-eighth century as a day dedicated to the saints and their relics. The May 13 celebration was subsequently abandoned.

In Ireland, the Church celebrated All Saints' Day on April 20, to avoid associating the day with the traditional harvest festivals and pagan feasts associated with Samhain, celebrated at the same time.

Following the establishment of the Frankish Empire, and following the reign of Charlemagne, the holy day, which was already celebrated on November 1, became a holy day of obligation by decree of Pope Gregory IV and Louis the Pious, who was king over a portion of Charlemagne's former empire.

Following the Protestant Reformation, many Protestants retained the holy day, although they dismissed the need to pray for the dead. Instead, the day has been used to commemorate those who have recently died, usually in the past year, and to remember the examples of those who lived holy lives.

The Catholic practice however, celebrates all those who have entered heaven, including saints who are recognized by the Church and those who are not.

Holy day customs vary around the world. In the United States, the day before is Halloween and is usually celebrated by dressing in costumes with themes of death commonly associated. Children go door-to-door in costume, trick-or-treating, that is soliciting candy from their neighbors. The holiday has lost much of its connection to its religious origins.

Although nearly everyone celebrates Halloween for the fun of the secular holiday, the following religious solemnity, is not widely practiced or acknowledged by most Americans unless they are Catholic.

In other countries, such as Portugal, Spain and Mexico, traditional practices include performance of the play, "Don Juan Tenorio" and offerings made to the dead. All Saints' Say occurs on the same day as the Mexican "Dide los Innocentes" a day dedicated to deceased children.

Across much of Europe, the day is commemorated with offerings of flowers left on the graves of the dead. In Eastern Europe, candles are lit on graves instead of offerings of flowers.

In some places, such as the Philippines, graves can be painted and repaired by family members. Many of these practices blur the distinction between All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day.

These celebrations often blur the distinction between All Saints' Day, which is properly dedicated to those who are in heaven, and All Souls' Day, on which prayers are offered for all those who have died, but have not yet reached heaven.

In Mexico, the Day of the Dead holy days extend from October 31 through November 2.

It is important to remember these basic facts:

Halloween is a secular holiday that comes the night before All Saints' Day.

All Saints' Day is on November 1, and it is a Holy Day of Obligation.

All Souls' Day in on November 2, and it is NOT a Holy Day of Obligation.

The Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday that has spread in popularity into parts of the United States and across Latin America. It is celebrated from October 31 through November 2, to coincide with both the American tradition and the Catholic holy days. Those three days are dedicated to all of the dead.to all of the dead.

Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem consecrates Holy Land to Our Lady of Palestine


Latin patriarch of Jerusalem reconsecrates Holy Land to Our Lady, Queen of Palestine

For the first time since the outbreak of the war between Israel and Hamas on Oct. 7, the Catholic Church of the Holy Land gathered around its patriarch on the feast day of Our Lady, Queen of Palestine and the Holy Land and reconsecrated the local Church and the entire land to her.

On Sunday, Oct. 29, Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, presided over a Mass at the shrine dedicated to the Blessed Mother in Deir Rafat in the presence of a few hundred faithful.

The attendance was relatively small compared with the thousands of faithful who usually join the celebration from all the communities scattered throughout Israel and the Palestinian territories. However, the circumstances right now prevented a large gathering.

The Mass also took place inside the church instead of the courtyard where large crowds usually gather. The mood among those present was one of celebration, but not without somber undertones: Too many brothers and sisters are missing, and many are experiencing trauma on both sides of the war front.

The shrine of Deir Rafat is located halfway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in one of the most characteristic regions of ancient Palestine on the border of biblical Philistine, the scene of Samson’s famous exploits. A few kilometers away is Beit Shemesh, where the Ark of the Covenant was returned by the Philistines to the Jewish people (1 Sm 6:1-15). The shrine was built beginning in 1925 and was inaugurated on March 21, 1928, by the then-patriarch of Jerusalem, Monsignor Luigi Barlassina (1920–1947). Above the shrine stands a large bronze statue of Our Lady with her right hand extended over Palestine, her homeland, as a sign of protection.

It was Barlassina who, on the day of the solemn entry into the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher on July 15, 1920, consecrated the Diocese of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem to Mary at a time marked by strong tensions. The Second World War had just ended, and Palestine was being contested by the Ottoman Empire and the Triple Entente powers (the United Kingdom, France, and Russia).

Eventually, it came under the governance of the United Kingdom (the period between 1920 and 1948 and is known as the “British Mandate”). On that occasion, for the first time, Barlassina invoked Our Lady as “Queen of Palestine.” The Sacred Congregation of Rites approved the title in 1933. The name refers to the entire Holy Land, which was called “Palestine” under the British Mandate.

The feast in honor of Our Lady, Queen of Palestine and patroness of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, was first celebrated on Aug. 15, 1928. Since 1971, following the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council, the feast was moved to Oct. 25, and since then, it has been celebrated on the last Sunday of the month.

“Today, we consecrate once again our Church, our diocese, our land to Our Lady, Queen of Palestine,” Pizzaballa said in his homily. “We have done this several times in moments of need for our community, and this is one of the most difficult in our recent history. It is an act of entrustment and therefore of trust. In this moment when everything seems to be overwhelming us, we need to entrust and deliver to God and the Virgin Mary all that we hold in our hearts.”

At the end of the Mass, the Act of Consecration of the Holy Land to the Immaculate Heart of Mary was read.

The patriarch emphasized the significance of the day’s readings, especially the passage from the Magnificat, which, he said, “overturns our perspective: The powerful are humbled, and the humble are lifted up. We think the world belongs to the powerful, but in the Magnificat, we hear the voice of the humble. The Gospel tells us that the meek shall inherit the earth, not those who destroy. What awaits us is a challenge. I’m not referring to physical destruction but rebuilding trust. That’s why we need meek people; through them, we can rebuild and offer the next generations a land full of beauty.”

Just after the Mass, the traditional procession around the shrine with the statue of Our Lady took place.

Among the celebrants was also the Latin parish priest of Gaza, Father Gabriel Romanelli. When the war broke out, he was in Bethlehem; now he is in Jerusalem. However, he still cannot reunite with his people.

“Why did the Lord want and allow me to be away since the beginning of this war?” he said to CNA. “Perhaps because from the outside, I can respond differently to many people... but for me, it is a great pain. The greatest pain is not being close to those who are suffering.”

Communication comes and goes, but Romanelli manages to stay in almost daily contact with his vicar, Father Yusuf, and other parishioners. Tears fill his eyes as he describes the situation.

Currently, about 700 people — almost all of Gaza’s Christians — have found refuge in the premises of the Latin parish and the adjacent school, “but everything around is destroyed,” he said.

More than 8,000 people are reported to have died in the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the conflict, and about 20,000 have been injured. After the recent bombings, “many people are under the rubble,” Romanelli said. “For hundreds, it’s not even possible to recognize the bodies.”

Every day, Christians celebrate Mass and pray together, and to share food and essential supplies, although these are starting to run out.

“The danger is real, but they trust that Our Lady and Jesus will protect them from all harm,” Romanelli said. “They pray for peace, peace for everyone, and for the bombings to stop. It can be done, it can be done!”

African Cardinal says Synodality is here to stay; new way of being church


Cardinal Ambongo spoke to journalists at the Synod briefing on 7 OctoberCardinal Ambongo spoke to journalists at the Synod briefing on 7 October 

Cardinal Ambongo: Synodality is a new way of being Church

At the end of the Synod General Assembly, Congolese Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo tells Vatican News that synodality is a “reflection on a new way of being Church” which highlights the importance of listening to the Holy Spirit and each other without neglecting the essentials of the Catholic faith.

By Stanislas Kambashi, SJ

At the end of the first session of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, the Cardinal Archbishop of Kinshasa has expressed his satisfaction with the synodal process.

In the following interview with Vatican News, Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, President of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), also commented on the final Synthesis Report, the involvement of the African Church, and the meaning of synodality for the future of the Church.

Q: How would you describe your experience at the end of this Synod?

At the end of this Synod, I feel first and foremost a feeling of gratitude to the Lord who allowed me to have this exceptional experience. This is the fourth Synod I have participated in, but I must say that this Synod on synodality has been exceptional.

Q: In what way was it exceptional?

First, it was exceptional in its composition. It is called a Synod of Bishops, but we were not only bishops. There were lay people, women, youth, delegates from sister Churches, and it created an unusual atmosphere. Another fact is that we were twice as many as usual. Instead of meeting in the new Synod Hall, we held our sessions in the Paul VI Hall.

But I must say that what characterized this Synod the most was the method used, the method of conversation in the Spirit, meetings, exchanges interspersed with moments of prayer, meditation, silence, which has never before been the case. And it really put us in the condition of listening to the Holy Spirit while also listening to one another.

Q: How did you actively participate in this synodal assembly? What is this Synod bringing to the Church or can bring to the life of the Church?

In my analysis, this Synod opens up new perspectives for our Church. It is a Synod, as its name suggests, on synodality. This means that the Church has become aware that something needs to change in its way of being.

The Synod on synodality is about seeking together, about listening to the Holy Spirit today to become a different Church, while retaining the essence of what makes it the Church. In other words, it is about seeking together how we can hold hands and walk together guided by the Holy Spirit to become a different Church, a Church that does not leave anyone on the sidelines but addresses the major pastoral challenges that arise, a Church that listens to one another and to the Holy Spirit.

This kind of Synod will inevitably lead to individual conversion but also to collective conversion as a Church. This Synod will radically change the way the Church operates and exists.

Q: You are one of the drafters of the synthesis report, the first step towards a possible post-synodal Exhortation. What value and what importance should be given to this text? Is it only a text that should accompany the Church until the next session in October 2024?

The synthesis report that we have just adopted has two intended recipients. The first is the people of God who saw us locked up in Rome, at the Vatican, for a month. They have the right to know what we have done, what we have talked about, what the result of this month-long meeting was. We have taken care to inform the people about what happened through this content.

But the second recipient is us, who participated in the first session of the Synod. This document will help us go through this period, from now until October 2024, and prepare for the second session. However, this document is transitional. It is not the final document of the Synod yet because there is still the second session.

But it is a transitional document to help us live through this transitional period, to better inform the people of God about what happened, and also with the hope that when we return for the second session, we will bring new elements to enrich the discussions.

Q: Do you think the Synod has addressed all the questions that were planned, or were there some questions that could not be addressed?

I would like to be clear on this point. This Synod had a goal: it is a Synod on synodality, as in the past there have been Synods on youth, on the family, etc.

This Synod is about reflecting before God in prayer, listening to the Holy Spirit, listening to our brothers and sisters, to reflect on the new way of being Church, a Church that listens, a Church that does not leave anyone on the sidelines, but a Church that advances toward the Kingdom of God, which is the central theme of Jesus' preaching.

So, coming to this Synod, the intention was not to address this or that problem. The main intention, the primary objective of the Synod, is about how we can become a new Church together, acquire a new way of being the Church; in our way of being, in our operating structures, in our collaboration structures.

How can we learn to be a Church that is open to all but does not abandon anything essential to the Catholic faith? Therefore, it is about reflecting on our new way of being the Church. Each participant spoke about the issues that concerned them, the pastoral challenges. We discussed many questions, but these questions were not at the center of our reflection. That's why in the document, the synthesis report, we address the questions in three parts. First, for each pastoral challenge, we see the point of convergence that emerged in the hall.

Then, there are points to deepen. This means that the Synod leaves the subject open because there is still the second session. The third part consists of some proposals to help us progress on the path of synodality. For each theme addressed, there is this cadence: convergences, open questions, what remains to be done. And possible proposals.

Q: The Synod brought together participants from the universal Church. Each certainly made their contribution. What was the contribution of the Church in Africa, in your opinion?

The Church in Africa has made a substantial contribution, perhaps not in the way that journalists would like when they ask the question, saying that we did not hear the voice of the Church in Africa. No, we did not come to this Synod with the spirit of claims, with a parliamentary spirit, as the Pope emphasized at the beginning.

We are not African parliamentarians who came to an assembly to represent Africa. We are sons and daughters of the universal Church, but we experience pastoral challenges that are sometimes unique to us or challenges that are experienced differently elsewhere, with a particular emphasis on Africa, and these are the challenges we brought.

During the Synod, we tried to address some of these challenges, especially the suffering of our people. The African continent is a place where there are many unhappy and poor people, and the result is that young people only dream of leaving because life becomes impossible in Africa. There is the challenge of climate change. Africa is the continent that pollutes the least but suffers more from the consequences of climate change. There is the challenge of the mismanagement of our countries, with coups d'état, with political leaders who only think of their personal enrichment, etc. So we tried to share these concerns with our brothers and sisters from other continents so that, in the spirit of synodality, we can together seek ways to help this continent emerge from its misery.

So we can say that the voice of Africa was heard in the Synod Hall. Certainly. We were a delegation of more than sixty people, and we spoke, we fulfilled our role. But I want to reiterate that we did not do this with the intention of distinguishing ourselves from others. No, we addressed all these questions, even if they were specific to Africa, and we even mentioned the issue of polygamy and others that are specific to Africa, but in a spirit of synodality.

Q: What can the Church in Africa expect from this Synod? You have brought its voice, and in return, at the local level, in the particular Churches, in African societies, what can Africans expect?

First of all, we must recognize that the Synod is not yet over. We are now finishing the first session. This is why the document that came out of this session is a transitional document. Next year, in October, we will return for the second session. It is then that the Pope will issue a post-synodal exhortation, and that document will be authoritative. In the meantime, upon returning to our countries and our Churches, all those who participated in this Synod are encouraged to consider themselves as missionaries, to report back, to share the synodal experience of this experience of communion, of fraternity that we lived together for a month, with our brothers and sisters.

So, when I return to Kinshasa, I will first report what we have experienced and try to convince others to come and have the same experience with us. This joy, this happiness of living as brothers and sisters, as members of the same family, the large family of the children of God. So, what we will share with the people in return is first our own experience, and then, share the content of the synthesis report.

Q: Have you thought of a method of reporting back to people, or will it only be done through homilies? Will there be other frameworks for this restitution?

We have thought of a method of restitution because, as you can see, not all the dioceses in Africa were represented at this Synod. For the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has forty-eight dioceses, we had only three bishops. So, the restitution, first for me as the Archbishop of Kinshasa, will be at the level of my diocese.

The next phase is at the national level. We will meet as bishops of Congo within the framework of the Cenco to reflect on the Synthesis Report, but also to share our experience of synodality during our stay in Rome with our brothers in the episcopate. I believe that after this meeting, the Congolese episcopate will provide some guidelines to the entire Church in Congo for the reception of the document. It will also provide better understanding and guidance to implement the elements already available in this document.

Beyond the national level, there is also the continental level. We have already planned for the third week after Easter next year, in April, a continental meeting with all those who participated in this Synod, and possibly new members. If the Holy Father wants to add new members, we will invite them all so that at the continental level, we can share our experience and our hopes, our proposals for the second phase to be held here in Rome in 2024.

Q: Any final thoughts?

I am satisfied to have participated in this experience. And it is with joy and gratitude that I return to my diocese after having had this experience, which, for me, is a new experience, an experience of a Church that walks together, that cares for all its sons and daughters, a Church that listens to one another, but that mainly listens to the Holy Spirit.

Catholics living in Gaza cling to their faith and the opportunity to love others more


File photo of Holy Family Catholic Parish in GazaFile photo of Holy Family Catholic Parish in Gaza 

‘War in Gaza an invitation to care for each other more’

Suhail Abo Dawod, an 18-year-old Catholic sheltering at the Holy Family Parish in Gaza, expresses his belief that the war offers people an opportunity to love each other more and change their attitudes.

By Devin Watkins

Over 700 people have taken refuge in the Holy Family Catholic Parish in northern Gaza after the Israel-Hamas war broke out on 7 October.

They have banded together as a Christian community, with Mass celebrated twice-daily and countless Rosaries prayed for peace and protection.

Yet, they are also enduring hardship as water and food supplies run low and the practical difficulties of living and sleeping in a church for over 3 weeks wear on their morale.

One young man among the group, Suhail Abo Dawod, has become a voice of insight and hope for the outside world, as he continues to send brief letters that reveal his desire to cling to Christ amid uncertainty and trials.

A message from God for Gazan Christians

In his most recent letter, penned on Monday, 30 October, and seen by Vatican News, Mr. Abo Dawod admitted that he had endured “another tough and hard day of the war here in Gaza.”

At the same time, he took the chance to offer a few “simple spiritual thoughts” which avoid the politics of war.

“I strongly believe that this war is a message for all humanity, for us, for all,” he said. “But I also think there is a message from God for our Christian community in Gaza.”

Learning to love and sacrifice for others

“Every cloud has a silver lining,” goes the old proverb.

And Mr. Abo Dawod feels that the war is offering “a hard lesson of life.”

“Perhaps, all of us, after the war, are called to love more and help each other more, like a single family, exactly like how Jesus helped and served others,” he said. “We have to sacrifice like how Jesus sacrificed Himself for us.”

Attitudes and behaviors will need to change after such a difficult time, added Mr. Abo Dawod.

“We will live a different lifestyle,” he said. “We will help each other with a big and unique heart, serving the people as Jesus healed people from a lot of diseases, by His big and handsome soul.”

A heavenly dwelling

The young Catholic concluded his letter by recalling a lesson he has already learned after an Israeli airstrike destroyed his earthly residence in Gaza on Wednesday, 25 October.

“I consider Jesus as my true home. Jesus is my home of peace and love in this savage world,” he wrote.

And with an eye to the future, Mr. Abo Dawod recalled a quote from Thomas Moore: “Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.”