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Pope Francis at Synod closing Mass: To reform the Church, adore God and love others

At the Synod on Synodality’s closing Mass, Pope Francis said that God’s love cannot be confined “to our own agenda” and that those who truly want to reform the Catholic Church should follow Jesus’ greatest commandment: to adore God and love others with his love.

“We may have plenty of good ideas on how to reform the Church, but let us remember: to adore God and to love our brothers and sisters with his love, that is the great and perennial reform,” Pope Francis said in St. Peter’s Basilica on Oct. 29.

“We are always at risk of thinking that we can ‘control God,’ that we can confine his love to our own agenda. Instead, the way he acts is always unpredictable, it goes beyond, and consequently, this action of God demands amazement and adoration,” he added.

The pope underlined that worship of Jesus in the tabernacle “in every diocese, in every parish, in every community” is necessary in the “struggle against all types of idolatry” in today’s world.

“Let us be vigilant, lest we find that we are putting ourselves at the center rather than him. And let us return to worship. May worship be central for those of us who are pastors: Let us devote time every day to intimacy with Jesus the Good Shepherd in the tabernacle. Adoration,” he said.

“Only in this way will we turn to Jesus and not to ourselves. For only through silent adoration will the word of God live in our words; only in his presence will we be purified, transformed, and renewed by the fire of his Spirit. Brothers and sisters, let us adore the Lord Jesus!”

The pope’s homily marked the closing of the monthlong 2023 Synod on Synodality assembly, where 365 delegates discussed and voted on more than 80 proposals for how to become a more “synodal Church.”

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“Brothers and sisters, the general assembly of the synod has now concluded,” he said. “In this ‘conversation of the Spirit,’ we have experienced the loving presence of the Lord and discovered the beauty of fraternity.”

“Today we do not see the full fruit of this process, but with farsightedness, we look to the horizon opening up before us. The Lord will guide us and help us to be a more synodal and more missionary Church, a Church that adores God and serves the women and men of our time, going forth to bring to everyone the consoling joy of the Gospel,” Francis added.

In his homily, Pope Francis said he believed that at the conclusion of this stage in the synod “it is important to look at the ‘principle and foundation’ from which everything begins ever anew: loving God with our whole life and loving our neighbors as ourselves.”

“Not our strategies, our human calculations, the ways of the world, but love of God and neighbor: that is the heart of everything,” he said.

Pope Francis emphasized that adoration and worship are “essential in the life of the Church.”

“To adore God means to acknowledge in faith that he alone is Lord and that our individual lives, the Church’s pilgrim way, and the ultimate outcome of history all depend on the tenderness of his love. He gives meaning to our lives,” he said.

“Those who worship God reject idols because whereas God liberates, idols enslave,” he added.

“We must constantly struggle against all types of idolatry; not only the worldly kinds, which often stem from vainglory, such as lust for success, self-centeredness, greed for money — the devil enters through our pockets let us not forget — the enticements of careerism; but also those forms of idolatry disguised as spirituality: my own spirituality, my religious ideas, my pastoral skills.”

Pope Francis said that being “a worshipping Church and a Church of service” entails “washing the feet of wounded humanity, accompanying those who are frail, weak, and cast aside, going out lovingly to encounter the poor.”

Quoting St. John Chrysostom, he said: “The merciful man is as a harbor to those who are in need; and the harbor receives all who are escaping shipwreck, and frees them from danger, whether they be evil or good; whatsoever kind of men they be that are in peril, it receives them into its shelter. You also, when you see a man suffering shipwreck on land through poverty, do not sit in judgment on him, nor require explanations, but relieve his distress.”

About 5,000 people attended the closing Mass for the Synod on Synodality’s 2023 assembly, according to the Vatican. The Mass concluded with the congregation singing the Marian hymn “Salve Regina.”

Pope Francis thanked all of the cardinals, bishops, priests, religious, and laypeople from around the world who traveled to Rome to participate in the synod. Next year, the delegates will return to the Vatican in October 2024 to take part in the second assembly to advise the pope on the theme: “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, Mission.”

“In expressing my gratitude, I would also like to offer a prayer for all of us: May we grow in our worship of God and in our service to our neighbor. Worship and service. May the Lord accompany us. Let us go forward with joy,” Pope Francis said.

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