The Synod of Bishops began today, with a Mass. Proceedings begin tomorrow.
First, off, what's the Synod of Bishops?
The Synod of Bishops is a permanent institution established by Pope Paul VI, 15 September 1965, in response to the desire of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council to keep alive the spirit of collegiality engendered by the conciliar experience.
Literally speaking the word "synod", derived from two Greek words syn meaning "together" and hodos meaning "road" or "way", means a "coming together". A Synod is a religious meeting or assembly at which bishops, gathered around and with the Holy Father, have opportunity to interact with each other and to share information and experiences, in the common pursuit of pastoral solutions which have a universal validity and application. The Synod, generally speaking, can be defined as an assembly of bishops representing the Catholic episcopate, having the task of helping the Pope in the governing of the universal Church by rendering their counsel. Pope John Paul II has referred to the Synod as "a particularly fruitful expression and instrument of the collegiality of bishops".
There have been several since 1967, listed and described here.
The text, the readings of the day (linked at left, of course), focusing on the vineyard:
And thus the reading of the prophet, which we have just heard, starts as a canticle of love: God created a vineyard – an image, this, of his love story with mankind, of his love for Israel, which He chose. The first concept of the readings of today is this: in man, created in his image, God instilled the ability of loving and hence the capacity of loving also Himself, his Creator. With the canticle of love of the prophet Isaiah, God wants to talk to the heart of his people – and also to each one of us. “I created you in my image and likeness,” he tells us. “I myself am love, and you are my image to the extent that the splendour of love shines in you, to the extent that you respond to me with love”. God is waiting for us. He wants to be loved by us: should not such an appeal touch our heart? Right in this hour in which we celebrate the Eucharist, in which we launch the Synod of the Eucharist, He comes to meet us, comes to meet me. Will he find a response? Or will the same happen to us as with the vine, of which God told Isaiah: “He expected it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes”? Isn’t our Christian life often more vinegar than wine? Self-pity, conflict, indifference?
Read the whole thing...and let's do and live what he exhorts the bishops to do:
We pray that the Lord gives us his grace, so that in the three weeks of the Synod which we are starting, we will not only say nice things about the Eucharist, but above all we will draw life from its power