In October of last year, Pope Francis called for an Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the theme The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization.
The synod, which will take place at the Vatican from October 5-19 of this year, is a means through which the Holy Father “wishes to continue the reflection and journey of the whole Church, with the participation of leaders of the Episcopate from every corner of the world,” in the words of Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi. The synod is likely to address some difficult issues regarding the family, such as contraception, same-sex marriage, divorce and other topics touching on family life.
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has asked for today to be set aside as a Day of Prayer for the General Assembly. Churches and parish and other communities are invited to pray during Mass and at other ligurgical celebrations not only today, but in the days leading up to the synod and during the synod itself. Individuals are also encouraged to join in these prayers.
The suggested prayers include the Prayer to the Holy Family for the Synod, composed by Pope Francis:
Jesus, Mary and Joseph, in you we contemplate the splendor of true love, to you we turn with trust.
Holy Family of Nazareth, grant that our families too may be places of communion and prayer, authentic schools of the Gospel and small domestic Churches.
Holy Family of Nazareth, may families never again experience violence, rejection and division: may all who have been hurt or scandalized !ind ready comfort and healing.
Holy Family of Nazareth, may the approaching Synod of Bishops make us once more mindful of the sacredness and inviolability of the family, and its beauty in God’s plan.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph, graciously hear our prayer. Amen.