Adsumus Sancte Spiritus

It sounds like Greek, but it’s Latin. It’s the opening words of the prayer to the Holy Spirit, historically used at Councils, Synods, and other Church gatherings for hundreds of years. It was prayed at every session of the Second Vatican Council.

Nov 19, 2021

Guest Editorial


By Fr Eugene Benedict

It sounds like Greek, but it’s Latin. It’s the opening words of the prayer to the Holy Spirit, historically used at Councils, Synods, and other Church gatherings for hundreds of years. It was prayed at every session of the Second Vatican Council. It is attributed to St Isidore of Seville (circa 560 – April 4, 636). It is proposed for use in the Caeremoniael Epsicoporum 1984 (n 1173) as an invocation to the Holy Spirit for an ecclesial assembly of governance or discernment (thus synodal). We are being encouraged to pray this while on the synodal path of the Synod 2021 – 2023. Adsumus has the sense of, “in your presence,” and in English, may be translated as “We stand before You” (or as Google Translate - Latin to English - puts it, “we are here”). I want to draw attention to the Prayer for the Synod in this reflection.

The opening line of this prayer, “We stand before You, Holy Spirit” draws us into the depth of God himself in the “You,” and in this, endless possibilities. I find myself re-creating this aweinspiring scene as described for us in Exodus 3: 1 – 17. I am in awe as I behold the all-Holy omnipresent “You” of the Holy Spirit. We would do well to keep reminding ourselves of this as often as possible during this 2021 – 2023 synodal process. We should do this in all our group discussions, meetings, chats etc on the 10 thematic questions for this Synod. In fact, we would do well to “talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deuteronomy 6 :7).

Equally important is the very first word of this prayer, the “We.” It is a sense of who each one of us is, together with the community of the Church. Isn’t this what we are about in this synodal process of journeying together? In this journey together as Church, the prayer expresses our hearts’ desire and we ask of the Lord, “with You alone to guide us.” We are giving God permission to come in whichever way He wishes, when we pray “make yourself at home in our hearts” and “Teach us the way we must go . . . how we are to pursue it.” In this eagerness to pursue the depths of synodality, we acknowledge “that we are weak and sinful.” That is, we do not keep the focus, we may “promote disorder” and allow “ignorance to lead us down the wrong path” and let “partiality influence our actions.” Aware of this, we desire to “find in [God] our unity.” Our goal is to “journey together to eternal life”, for missing this, we will surely “stray from the way of truth and what is right.” Lastly, “all this we ask of You” is like the antiphon to the psalms we use at prayer. Having said this, we need to trust God “at work in every place and time”, for our DNA is the communion of the Father and the Son, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Synod prayer expresses the process of it all, i.e., our journeying together. The practice of this journeying is listening. We need the art of listening — to each other and to as many as possible across the parishes in our diocese. Most important in all this, we need to be listening to the Holy Spirit. We need to begin and end on our knees. Perhaps, even, consider the whole process on our knees.

Failing this, we will be edgy, restless, relentless, and even itching to quickly draw up programmes, strategies, and plans that will be just plastic. There are many scriptwriters out there who can do a fantastic job of this. It will be impressive only on the first reading and forgotten once it is under the piles of papers, documents, reports and printouts on our desks, or the PDF and Word documents that already fill our phones. Even more, the World Wide Web is constantly bombarding us with reflections, interviews, and excerpts of sermons from every corner of the Church in our world. And yes, why not learn from others? But we are proud of who we are as Church in Malaysia and of what the Lord is doing for us. In this synodal process, let’s be attentive.

--Fr Eugene is (since Oct 15, 2021) the newly appointed Director of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Institute (API) of the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur together with Fr Edwin Peter as assistant director.

Do continue this conversation with him via email — eugene@archkl.org.

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Teresa Ngteresang1943@yahoo.com
Congrat Fr. Eugene. Just saw the post & its been a long time since we last met up. I know your new posting now. Hope to meet up when times are better. Bernard & Veron are well & have not seen them since the pandemic for about two years now. Take care & stay safe. God bless. Teresa