POST 2:- FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION, MISSION
Kath Elley is co-ordinating the response to the synodal process from St Mary’s Parish. Here she introduces the synodal process and what it means in practice. It is a summary of what was presented at the Masses of the Second Sunday in Advent.
Traditionally we think of a Synod as a gathering of Bishops who discuss key issues. Following from this, the Church receives direction and guidance from the Pope.
THIS SYNOD IS DIFFERENT, VERY DIFFERENT – IT HAS THE POWER TO BE TRANSFORMATIVE.
Synodality means walking together and listening to one another but above all to the Holy Spirit. To deepen this essential characteristic of the Church, this synod starts with, and involves, all the faithful at local Churches across the world, promising to listen to all, especially to laypeople. The synod’s approach exemplifies an ancient church principle: “what affects all should be discussed by all.” That is why this Synod is a 2-year process, up to October 2023.
In launching the Synod Pope Francis invoked the Holy Spirit on the People of God so that they will be able to move forward together, to listen to one another and discern our times, in solidarity with the struggles and aspirations of all humanity.
We are being asked to consider how we relate to each other, how we participate in the Church and how we support the Mission of the Church. We are being asked to develop a new appreciation of our individual and collective responsibilities. We are being encouraged towards co-responsibility – laity and clergy together − for the good of the Church
HOW WILL IT HAPPEN?
A listening exercise will start in the New Year. There will be meetings and contact of various kinds to identify the issues that emerge.
The Pope has called on all the Faithful to take part. This means all Catholics, lay or clergy, those who come to Mass and those who don’t. We should also include those who don’t engage with the Church and the wider local community. It’s important we include those people who don’t feel that they have a voice, those people who go through life unheard.
At the launch of the Synod the Pope said, “All the baptized are called to take part in the Church’s life and mission.” He recognised the frustration and impatience felt by many pastoral workers, members of diocesan and parish consultative bodies, and women, who frequently remain on the fringes.
In this synod we must be inclusive. Everyone has a voice and the Holy Spirit can speak through anyone. We will come together prayerfully to talk and, equally importantly, to listen to others.
Through this process our experience of the Church can change and we can develop a Church that will be fit for the third millennium.
The Synod has 3 themes: COMMUNION PARTICIPATION MISSION
COMMUNION – do we experience a strong sense of togetherness in the Church? Are we complacent in our own circles or do we reach out to include others? Are we encouraging of others who may like to join us?
There are many good community initiatives in our parishes but how can we further build a sense of Communion, in the coming months and years? How can we be more inclusive? How could we reach out to others, including those members of the Church who have drifted away?
PARTICIPATION –we are all called to serve one another using the gifts we’ve received from the Holy Spirit. Though we can all identify how participation has been affected because of the pandemic, there were issues of concern beforehand. How can participation be strengthened? How can all voices be heard? What about those people on the edges of the community?
How can we better enable full participation and co-responsibility in the life of the Church at the parish and diocesan level? How can we be a Synodal Church?
MISSION – In this life we are all on our own individual journey to God but, as part of the Church, we are also on a shared journey. How do we share with others the Good News of the Gospel?
Pope Francis wants to see a Church that is bruised and dirty because it looks outwards and goes out onto the streets rather than clinging to the comfort of familiar ways. Are we inward- or outward-looking? Arguably we need to be both. Part of the synodal process is to identify causes for concern and to commit ourselves to addressing them together so as to become MISSIONARY PARISHES that thrive and grow rather than Parishes that merely maintains themselves or, in reality, slowly decline.
I ask that we all pray that this Synod will help us see the way forward and to be, and to do, so much more for ourselves, those on the edges and the wider community.
If anyone would like to become more involved please come and see me or Father Peter or any of the St Marys Synodal Team. All our contact details will be at the back of the Church or you can contact myself of Canon Peter using the emails below.
Kath Elley firstname.lastname@example.org
Canon Peter Collins email@example.com
All communications will be through the Newsletter, through the Website and Facebook along with the Notice Boards at the back of the Church. I will post regular updates.
On the Website there is a video introducing the Synod. At this link https://bit.ly/3GqZTGw you can see the Pope launching the Synod. And this is a video from the Archdiocese of Cardiff about the Synod https://rcadc.org/for-a-synodal-church/ .
Pope Francis addresses an event in the Vatican ahead of the official launch of the Synod on Oct. 10, 2021. (Vatican Media
The Pope at an event ahead of the launch of the Synod on Oct 10 2021 (Vatican Media)
Pope Francis addresses an event in the Vatican ahead of the official launch of the Synod on Oct. 10, 2021. (Vatican Media Pope Francis addresses an event in the Vatican ahead of the official launch of the Synod on Oct. 10, 2021. (Vatican Media