From October 5-19, 2014, bishops from around the world will gather with Pope Francis in Extraordinary Synod in Rome to consider the pastoral challenges facing the family. A Synod is simply a gathering of bishops that advise the Holy Father by providing counsel on important issues facing the people of God.

By their very nature, the topics that will be discussed at this Synod – divorce, annulment, remarriage and others – rightly evoke passionate feelings among all people because they deal with the very fabric of the family and society. There will be extensive coverage in both the secular and Catholic press, some of which will be accurate and some of which will have an agenda behind it.

At the outset, bear in mind that this Extraordinary Synod is serving to prepare and formally set the agenda for the Ordinary Synod which will meet on the same topics in 2015. It is from this Ordinary Synod in 2015 that we will see the final recommendations to the Holy Father.

In light of this, the time is opportune for us to reflect on what we believe about the Sacrament of Marriage and the teaching authority of the Church.

Calling the men before him to missionary discipleship and stressing their role in the New Evangelization, Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, ordained 43 seminarians from the Pontifical North American College, including two from the Diocese of Tyler, to the Order of Deacon on Thursday morning at the Altar of the Chair at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

With their ordination, now-Deacons George Elliott and Josh Neu enter the final period of preparation for the priesthood for the Diocese of Tyler.

Bishop Joseph Strickland and at least six priests from the dioceses joined a large contingent of lay faithful from East Texas at the ordination and reception that followed.

Last Saturday in his keynote address at the Diocesan Liturgical Conference, Bishop Strickland warned about the danger of arrogance — certainly arrogance in regard to Church teachings and documents on the liturgy, but really any form of arrogance. The Bishop said that arrogance, that is, thinking I know best (and no one is going to tell me otherwise) is at the root of every sin. He emphasized that joy and humility go hand-in-hand. The readings for this 26th Sunday complement appropriately our shepherd’s message: Have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus (Phil 2:5). St. Paul in the second reading is encouraging us to have the humility of Jesus Christ — not regarding ourselves as equal to God, but emptying ourselves (and our egos) for the sake of others. While the virtue of selflessness is generally admired by society, the humility to which we are being called is far greater than the worldly trait of unpretentiousness. We are being called to practice the humility of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. This is something that the chief priests and elders could not understand in the gospel reading (Mt 21:28-32). In “The Parable of the Two Sons,” Jesus shows how tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God before the religious leaders. And why? Because the sinners of Jesus’ day had true repentance for their sins and a willingness to ask for God’s mercy, which are signs of genuine humility before God.

Audio from selected presentations at the 2014 Diocese of Tyler Liturgical conference is now available on the diocesan web site and via the Diocese of Tyler iTunes Podcast feed.

The presentations can be heard below on this page, or listeners may subscribe to “Diocese of Tyler” in the Podcast App on iPhones.

Additional presentations will be made available in October.

For to me life is Christ, and death is gain (Phil 1:21). With St. Paul, there is no sense of comfortable Christianity, no “Health & Wealth Gospel” or “Prosperity Gospel.” For St. Paul, the Christian faith — the living of the “good news” — is not a Sunday religion or something that is merely social like getting together for a community meal. Faith in Jesus Christ changes everything — so much so that St. Paul writes, I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me (Gal 2:20). Being a Christian entails a radical transformation, out of my comfort zone and out of doing just what I want so that I can transform the world through my belief, my hope, and my life in Jesus Christ.