Catholic Corner
February 3, 2022

Christ is alive, he is our hope . . . Christ is alive, he wants you to be alive! (Pope Francis, Christus Vivit, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation)

Our relationship with Christ, his life, death and resurrection is at the heart of our celebrations. This is reflected in many ways when we gather: as we turn and greet one another and by so doing recognize the presence of Christ in the gathered assembly, in the call and response of our prayer (The Lord be with you, And with your spirit), in the posture of active listening during the liturgy of the Word as we open ourselves to the presence of Christ in the proclaimed scriptures, as we attend to and offer prayer for the needs of the community and in the profound offering and acceptance that is part of the essence of the Eucharist (Body/Blood and Amen). All of these involve deep acts of transformational listening. By our willingness to enter into this dynamic we risk being changed, of becoming more fully the people we are called to be by our baptism. The relational dynamic of the liturgy is both horizontal and vertical. Indeed, it is vertical precisely through the horizontal since the presence of God is mediated via the symbols and rituals of the liturgy (think hands shaken, water poured, scriptures proclaimed, bread broken, music sung, and so much more).

This level of sincere transformative listening is also what we are called to commit ourselves to in the Synod on Synodality. Like so much of our Catholic lives, the Synod is relational! Such listening with respect for one another, with concern for the dignity of all, with inclusion and fairness opens us to the presence of the Spirit and allows us to hear the Spirit speak. Pope Francis noted in his Apostolic Exhortation Christus Vivit that “(a) Church always on the defensive, which loses her humility and stops listening to others, which leaves no room for questions, loses her youth and turns into a museum.” (#41) Even as we are called to be transformed by our Sunday celebrations, the hope of the Synod, the hope that begins with transformative listening is that we will become a transformed Church. Not in theory, not elsewhere in the layers of the bureaucratic Church but in the midst of the People of the God.

In some ways, through our liturgical experiences, we have been preparing our entire lives for these important conversations. We gather each Sunday and practice this gift and now we will apply these skills in the Synod.  We do so in the sure and certain hope that Christ is alive, that he is the ”one who fills us with his grace, the one who liberates us, transforms us, heals and consoles us.” (#124).  By listening to the Holy Spirit, we will rise a new Church that will live out our diverse gifts in communion and mission as God has called us to live.

And so we stand before the Holy Spirit and gather in Your name.