Suggested service order for a time of prayer
This service order includes songs from Taizé, but you should feel free to adapt the music according to your local situation. See https://www.taize.fr/en_article337.html for ideas about how to arrange a space which induces a prayerful atmosphere and to find the music for the suggested songs.
Song: Laudate Omnes Gentes
Every session of the Second Vatican Council began with the prayer Adsumus Sancte Spiritus, the first word of the Latin original meaning, “We stand before You, Holy Spirit,” which has been historically used at Councils, Synods and other Church gatherings for hundreds of years, being attributed to Saint Isidore of Seville (c. 560 – 4 April 636). As we are called to embrace this synodal path of the Synod 2021-2024, this prayer invites the Holy Spirit to operate within us so that we may be a community and a people of grace. For the Synod 2021-2024, we propose to use this simplified version, so that any group or liturgical assembly can pray more easily.
We stand before You, Holy Spirit,
as we gather together in Your name.
With You alone to guide us,
make Yourself at home in our hearts;
Teach us the way we must go
and how we are to pursue it.
We are weak and sinful;
do not let us promote disorder.
Do not let ignorance lead us down the wrong path
nor partiality influence our actions.
Let us find in You our unity
so that we may journey together to eternal life
and not stray from the way of truth
and what is right.
All this we ask of You,
who are at work in every place and time,
in the communion of the Father and the Son,
forever and ever. Amen.
(see https://www.synod.va/en/resources/the-adsumus-prayer.html for other translations)
Song: Veni Sancte Spiritus
Psalm (either recite in two voices or invite the congregation to sing a response, for example an Alleluia, between each verse)
I will bless the Lord at all times,
God’s praise always on my lips;
in the Lord my soul shall make its boast.
The humble shall hear and be glad.
Glorify the Lord with me.
Together let us praise God’s name.
I sought the Lord and was heard;
from all my terrors set free.
Look towards God and be radiant;
let your faces not be abashed.
When the poor cry out the Lord hears them
and rescues them from all their distress.
Taste and see that the Lord is good.
They are happy who seek refuge in God.
(from Psalm 34)
Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
Song: Christe lux mundi
Intercessions (sing a response, for example Kyrie eleison, between each intercession. Further intercessions can be added at the end to reflect local or current world concerns)
For all those who faithfully announce your Word, Lord, we pray.
Enable us to recognize your presence in our neighbours; make us attentive to the poor and the unfortunate.
Lord, we pray for those who suffer in their workplace and for those who are without work, that their dignity may be respected.
For prisoners and those forgotten by society, keep us in solidarity with their suffering, O Source of comfort, we pray.
For abandoned children, that they may find peace with those who welcome them, Lord, we pray.
For scholars and researchers, that their work may benefit all humanity, Lord, we pray.
For those who have responsibilities in public life, that they may act with integrity and for the good of all, Lord, we pray.
God of all the living, enable us to surrender ourselves to you in silence and in love. Surrendering ourselves to you does not come easily to our human condition. But you intervene in the deepest recesses of our being and your will for us is the radiance of a hope.
Songs: Bless the Lord my soul, In the Lord I’ll be ever thankful, Misericordias Domini
Short Bible reflection on Matthew 13.44-46
These stories encourage us—there really is a “hidden treasure” meant for us.
Interestingly, the emphasis is not on the finding of the treasure or the pearl, but on what the person does when they find it: “he went and sold all he had and bought it”. Taking hold of the treasure that God wants to give us involves our whole person. We cannot search for the meaning of our life with a bit of ourselves; it’s all or nothing. Now that sounds rather frightening for us human beings: is it possible to risk everything, to “sell all we have”? Perhaps the key lies in the joy which the man who finds the hidden treasure discovers. When we discover a joy that comes from God, a joy which is authentic, then our attachment to other things will be loosened, our priorities changed. And we will be ready to let our lives be changed in a way we could not foresee, and which we could not have managed simply by will-power.
The first story underlines how God gives a hidden treasure, independently of our effort, even when we do not know what we are looking for. It is only when the person unexpectedly trips over the treasure that they realize that it is what they wanted all along.
In contrast, the merchant who finds the pearl of great value was already searching for pearls. Although the Gospel does not say so explicitly, he must certainly already have possessed a collection of pearls. And in fact, it is the experience he acquired in searching for and buying them which led him to discover the big one. Much more than we usually realize, we prepare for the big decisions of life by the small steps of trust we take in our daily life.
But the pearls the merchant has also create a difficulty for him. He had invested a lot of time and energy to collect them. Now he has to let them all go in order to take hold of something more important, and this is hard. We too need to discern between what is good and what is better. We have many things in our life which in themselves are good—study, travel, work and so on. But even good things can become distractions! We can spend our time doing good things for others and having interesting experiences, while the centre of our life remains curiously empty. The merchant, although he has found many good pearls, remains thirsty for the one of great value, the pearl which constitutes the core of God’s call for him.
Questions for sharing in small groups
– In what way is my faith like a treasure or a pearl of great value?
– Do I identify more with the person who searches or with the one who finds unexpectedly?
– Have I ever experienced a joy which changed my priorities, which caused me to be less attached to things which were previously important to me?
– Which treasures of the Kingdom have other people revealed to me as we journey together?
Suggestion for a visit
– choose a place where for you the hidden treasure of the Kingdom can be found
– invite people of different ages and backgrounds to come with you
– ask someone at that place to prepare a simple welcome for you all, to speak about the challenges they face and the joys they experience
– after the visit, ask everyone to write a few words about what they discovered about the place and its effect on them personally to share at the next meeting.