Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, has asked men and women in monastic and contemplative religious life to pray for the Church as a two-year synodal process begins in October.

“Our Holy Father Pope Francis often repeats: ‘pray for me!’ Today I, as interpreter of the meaning that the Pope wants to give to the synodal path, ask you: ‘pray for the Synod!’” Grech wrote in an Aug. 28 letter.

On Oct. 9-10, the Catholic Church will begin the first phase of a synodal process culminating in the 2023 meeting of the Synod of Bishops in Rome.

The theme of the gathering will be “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission.”

Grech wrote that “if the synodal path is not, above all, an ecclesial journey of love to the Father through Christ in the Spirit, it will surely not bear the hoped for fruit.”

“Prayer is the dynamic encounter of love in the Trinitarian God, in the pluriform unity that urges us on to be living witnesses of this love,” he said.

The cardinal said religious brothers and sisters, especially those in contemplative orders, “have the task within the community of carrying out the ministry of prayer, intercession and blessing.”

“In this phase of the synodal process I do not ask you to pray in the place of other brothers and sisters, but to keep everyone’s attention on the spiritual dimension of the journey we are undertaking to know how to discern the action of God in the life of the universal Church and of each local Church,” he said.

“You are for everyone, as were the Levites and the priests in the Psalm [134], ‘ministers of prayer’ who, through praise and intercession, remind everyone that without communion with God there can be no communion among ourselves.”

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The synod on synodality will open with a “diocesan phase” in October 2021 and conclude with the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican in October 2023.

Pope Francis will “inaugurate the synodal path” over the weekend of Oct. 9-10 with an opening session and a Mass. All dioceses are invited also to offer an opening Mass on Sunday, Oct. 17.

During the diocesan phase, each bishop is asked to undertake a consultation process with the local Church from Oct. 17, 2021, to April 2022.

The Vatican will then release an instrumentum laboris (working document) in September 2022 for a period of “pre-synodal discernment in continental assemblies,” which will influence a second draft of the working document to be published before June 2023.

In his letter, Cardinal Grech said he was moved to write to monastic and contemplative religious before the opening of the synodal process because prayer “belongs to the deepest chords of your vocation.”

Besides “listening, conversion, communion,” he said, “there is a ministry of praise and prayer of which you are the living sign in the Church.”

Grech said there will surely be other ways in which religious men and women in monasteries will contribute to the synodal journey, “however, your vocation helps us,” he continued, “even if only by your presence, to be a Church which listens to the Word, capable of permitting the Spirit to convert her heart, persevering in ‘the communal life, [...] and the prayers’ (Acts 2:42).”

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