Whenever an October Synod of Bishops meets, I try to pay even more attention than usual to the MLB playoffs.I’m for the Mets, since their home field sits right where the Eckleburg sign once glowered over the Long-Island highway, in F. Scott Fitzgerarld’s imagination.
Anyway…Ever visited Rome? To visit the churches of Rome means entering into a living memory that extends back two millennia.
I think we can justifiably say that the most memorable thing that has happened in Rome so far in the 21st century was the funeral of St. John Paul II. In the 20th century, Vatican II. On second thought, Pope Pius XII rushing across town to comfort the people in the bombed neighborhoods during WWII–pretty memorable also.
The nineteenth century saw the burning and reconstruction of the Basilica over St. Paul’s tomb. The sixteenth: St. Ignatius Loyola, Michelangelo. Before that, the return of the papacy to Rome and the Lateran Councils. Going back even further: the papacies of Gregory and Leo the Greats. And, even further back, the martyrdoms of Sts. Peter and Paul, and countless other heroes who died at the hands of merciless pagans.
The authority of the Roman pontiff comes from God Himself, in the Person of Christ, establishing the office. For most of the history of the Apostolic See, that authority has been exercised primarily by settling disputed cases and questions.
A visitor to the Vatican Museums can admire paintings of some of the great gatherings of bishops that have left their mark on posterity–by clarifying things: the Council at Nicaea, the Council at Ephesus, and at Trent.
During the fifty years since Pope Paul VI erected the current Synod-of-Bishops routine, the Synod has met many times. One of those meetings involved a discussion which led to a thoroughly memorable enterprise: the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
The 2015 Synod of Tweets? History will be the judge. My money is on the World Series this year being considerably more memorable.
…Supposedly, one Synod bishop said that, in our contemporary world, two perennial pastoral axioms no longer apply. If that were really true, I would find myself quite at a loss. Because they are two of the basic rules I try to live by:
1. Love the sinner, hate the sin.
2. A priest should be a lion in the pulpit and a lamb in the confessional.