Today was a partial day at the Synod. We still had to get dressed up in our fancy outfits for the general congregation meeting, but the purpose was to receive the first draft of the final document of the Synod. Drum roll please!
The morning began with a presentation by the two Undersecretaries who did the actual writing of the document. Clearly, it was a herculean task. They had to take a (very imperfect) Instrumentum laboris, and then apply the various modi (amendments) suggested by the small groups as well as they key points that had been raised in the final reports of those small groups. They also had to do so as servants of the drafting commission, i.e. it couldn't be just those two guys writing whatever they wanted.
Amazingly, they not only managed to produce a draft text, but they even had a Powerpoint presentation to introduce the text to us. While PP presentation can be gimmicky, if they are well done they can help engage the audience much better than a dry reading of a long, long text document. This one was well done: we all will still have to do our own individual reading, but the Powerpoint at least gave us a sense of how the document was structured and where it was going.
The document was distributed just before our morning coffee break, and we were told we had the rest of the day off to do our personal reading. Unfortunately the document was only distributed in Italian, making it tough for many members of the Synod to do the detailed reading that needs to be done. Even a machine translation would have helped. We were also asked to maintain the confidential status of the document, so I will not be publishing it here. But during the coffee break (which was more of a coffee "farewell", given we had the rest of the day off), I had a chance to chat with many of the synod members, and the general mood was that the secretariat clearly had been paying attention not just to the modi papers voted on in small groups, but to the overall set of reports, interventions, and even mood of the assembly. In other words, they had acted as servants, not masters, even in their task of providing leadership.
Given we got home early it gave a few of us a chance to visit with the Redemptorist community in Rome. Their Superior General, Father Michael Brehl, was a member of my small group, and so I was happy to be able to see their "home base" in Rome. I particularly enjoyed visiting their main church, with its famous icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help:
Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pray for us!