We leave Rome in a couple of hours. The Synod concluded on Sunday morning with a Mass in St. Peter’s with the Pope presiding. Pope Benedict spoke from the gospel reading about the healing of Bartimaeus. According to Augustine, the fact that Mark tells us the name of Bartimaeus’ father suggests that he has fallen from prosperity into poverty. The Synod on the New Evangelisation has been for all those who have lost a sense of richness in Christ and now need healing and spiritual sight again.
The Synod Fathers all concelebrated at the Mass which was a remarkable occasion. Ann and I were both seated with the Fraternal Delegates, between the Orthodox and the Methodists! Since the Synod concluded its been good to have a couple of days off in Rome visiting some of the sights and paying a return visit to the Anglican centre at lunchtime today.
I take many good things away with me. It has been an unusual privilege to take so much time to listen to the deliberations of another part of the Church and of the global Church. The hospitality and welcome here has been generous. I find my ecumenical passions have been rekindled.
It’s been stretching intellectually to think about mission through a different set of words and attitudes and to see familiar questions through very different spectacles. I will go on thinking about the themes of the Synod for many months to come. I find my commitment to finding new ways forward in apologetics and catechesis and formation for ministry has deepened still further.
It’s been interesting and meet and listen to so many different bishops from so many parts of the world. As I have said a number of times in this blog, there has been a sense of a group of people seeking Christ and seeking Christ’s way and fully aware of their own need for further conversion.
The biggest piece of learning though has come, I think, from returning part way through the Synod to lead an evening in the Laughton Deanery just south of Rotherham. As I listened to the comments of the people across the deanery about the joys and questions they wrestled with, I realised very profoundly that this was the same conversation I had been listening to in Rome. The whole Church across much of the world is asking the same questions and having a similar conversation.
The Church of England, through the grace of God, has found some creative ways forward in mission and the transmission of the faith. However we have much still to learn from others in different churches and in different parts of the world.
So I am bringing a great deal back with me to the Diocese of Sheffield: a bigger sense of the Church, the world, the gospel and the questions we face and a deeper sense of both the past, the present and hope for the future.
Many thanks to all those who have been following the journey through this blog. It has been good to share it with you. The blog will continue though the subjects will be more diverse.
PS: my favourite ice cream flavour (out of many sampled) was lemon.