Catholic Corner
October 24, 2021

How are we to respond to the call of the Synod? The first step is to look at the primary question we are being asked to consider:

A synodal Church, in announcing the Gospel, “journeys together.” How is this “journeying together” happening today in your local Church? What steps does the Spirit invite us to take in order to grow in our “journeying together”?

Perhaps the first thing we need to do as a parish is unpack this question. What does it mean to “journey together?” This question encompasses community, participation and mission. If we ask ourselves about the meaning of “journey together” we are asking about who we are as community, how we carry out our actions as the People of God and what this means for our mission in the world. The challenge this Synod lays before us is that we are to listen to one another and discern the voice of the Holy Spirit as we answer this question. By so doing we will be guided in our recommendations for how we might more fully “journey together” going forward!

OK, that’s all well and good, but what is this going to look like? Well, there isn’t one answer to that question. This will happen in many ways. In small groups and large, around family dinner tables, or in many and varied formats that Pastoral Council and those who will lead this process are now structuring.  We will gather and recall our experiences as Church, as community and when we look in-depth at our experiences we need to ask ourselves and one another the following questions:

  • As community what joys have our experiences brought us? (after all, we are the hope-filled People of God!)
  • What difficulties or obstacles have we encountered as the community of the Church?
  • What hurts or wounds have been revealed?
  • What insights have we discovered?

Then we need to listen for the voice of the Spirit as we discuss these questions and listen to our answers. We need to discern from our conversations and listening, from being gathered as community did the voice or the presence of the Holy Spirit resound? What is the Spirit asking of us? Of the many points our conversations will raise what are the ones that the Spirit is confirming for us, what prospects are there for change, what steps are we being called to take? Where in all this do we find a consensus? What paths are opening up for our local Church? All these questions are asked and answered through deep listening and with concern for the presence of the Spirit in our midst.

Listening is the first step in this process. We are called to listen to one another and the Spirit with an open mind and heart, without prejudice. How is God speaking to us through voices we sometimes ignore? Through the laity? Through women? Through young people? What helps us listen? What prevents us from our listening? How well do we listen to those on the periphery? How well do we listen to those with different views from our own? How well do we listen to the voice of minorities, especially those who experience poverty, marginalization or social exclusion?

Certainly, this is not a comprehensive explanation of the process. That will come shortly. But it does gives you a sense of the kinds of questions we are being asked to consider.  And our work begins with these questions and the process of discerning the voice of the Holy Spirit in our midst.  In listening to one another, in hearing that voice, in contributing our responses to those of the larger Church, we participate in a process that can change the Church and help us participate and help us more deeply carry out our mission in the world.