Finding Inspiration in Every Turn
“By walking together, and together reflecting on the journey made, the Church will be able to learn from what it will experience which processes can help it to live communion, to achieve participation, to open itself to mission.”
Synod Explained Also check out the Ten Themes to be explore in section three below!
In early October, there were Masses in each diocese of Scotland ‘starting the synodal process’. But what does that mean, and will it change the Church? Usually a Synod of Bishops is held in Rome and presided over by the Pope. It brings together two to three hundred bishops from all over the world and discusses a theme like family or young people. Afterwards, the Pope will sum up the discussions together and write something on the theme to guide the Church.
The next Synod of Bishops is to be held in October 2023 and Pope Francis has said he wants every Catholic in the world to be involved, and it is to be on the theme of synodality. “It’s not a word we’ll hear in the pub or on the news,” Bishop Gilbert explained in his homily at the opening Mass of the Synod in Aberdeen. “It’s a theological word which goes back to a Greek word which means to ‘travel together’ and to ‘meet together’. And it means a third thing too, which makes sense of the other two, road or way.
So, the Pope would like us to meet together to see how we can better travel together, along Christ’s way.” Bishop Gilbert sad there are 1.3 billion Catholics in the world of every kind ‘but beyond the variety is a unity’. “We have one Lord and Master, Jesus Christ,” he said. “One Faith. We are all children of God through baptism. The Holy Spirit is part of our lives. We are all under the same commandment to love as Christ loved us. ”He said the question the Holy Father is posing with the synod was ‘how are we doing with this?’ “Do we allow each other to make our contributions to the whole? As we know, there are people in the Church who are disconnected, who feel marginalised, sometimes hurt. Are we listening to and supporting one another as much as we could? What forums do we have for doing this? Could they be improved, or new ones created?
What is our experience of walking together?
Are the clergy too clerical, control-freaks? Or, conversely, are we allowing them to shepherd us as they are called to? How do women feel? Young people? The elderly? And so on.” Archbishop Cushley of St Andrews and Edinburgh said we were being asked ‘to open our hearts and our minds to his Spirit and his Word; and to train ourselves for mission, spiritually, intellectually and morally’. “Then we will be ready to participate worthily and maturely in the renewal of the Church of Christ that we all of us long very much to see.”Sr Anna Marie McGuan, the Archdiocesan synod delegate for the Synod, spoke at the end of Mass, calling for us to put Jesus, “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6) at the centre of the process as we seek to do His will for the Church. Bishop Toal of Motherwell said he felt felt ‘quite excited about the process’. “You know, it’s something that’s been we’ve been invited to do by Pope Francis, and he wants us to have a room for this,” he said.” He wants us to be very open about the church today, share our insights and play our part. Something I’d like to see coming from it would be ideas and concrete initiatives to benefit parishes and help us reach out to others who are a bit distant from the Church.” Bishop McGhee of Argyll and the Isles said: “It is important that each individual and the Church as a whole, makes every effort to hear the message of God in its fullness so that we all discern as much as possible God’s Will.
Of course, no one person or group has all the insights
However, everyone can be gifted with a unique but authentic insight from God. This is we should not be afraid to listen to the wisdom of others, even when it is challenging.” The different dioceses of Scotland will meet in Parishes and other groups over the next six months. Those discussions will be summarised in Diocesan Documents which are shared at national level. These will then be shared at the Continental level before the final Synod in at the Vatican in 2023.
The Synod is a process of spiritual discernment,
of ecclesial discernment, that unfolds in adoration, in prayer and in dialogue with the word of God... That word summons us to discernment and it brings light to that process. It guides the Synod, preventing it from becoming a Church convention, a study group or a political gathering, a parliament, but rather a grace-filled event, a process of healing guided by the Spirit. (Pope Francis, 10 October 2021)
The ADSUMUS prayer
Prayer of invocation to the Holy Spirit for an ecclesial assembly of governance or discernment (thus synodal)
Every session of the Second Vatican Council began with the prayer Adsumus Sancte Spiritus, the first word of the Latin original meaning, “We stand before You, Holy Spirit,” which has been historically used at Councils, Synods and other Church gatherings for hundreds of years, being attributed to Saint Isidore of Seville (c. 560 - 4 April 636). As we are called to embrace this synodal path of Synod 2021-2023, this prayer invites the Holy Spirit to work within us so that we may be a community and a people of grace. For Synod 2021-2023, we propose to use this simplified version, so that any group or liturgical assembly can pray more easily.
As you may be aware, a consultation exercise is taking place within the Church before the next synod. This is the first time that feedback has being requested from the laity and we would encourage every member of the congregation to take part. We as a parish are to submit a 500 word comment on any or all of the topics below, so every opinion counts. We will be having a meeting in the Church in the next few months so please attend, if you are able, if you cannot attend or would like to submit your comments privately, we will be gathering all your comments together to submit.
The Pastoral Parish Council
Ten Themes to be explored
1.THE JOURNEYING COMPANIONS
In the Church and in society, we are side by side on the same road. In your local Church, who are the ones “journeying together”? When we say: “our Church,”who is part of it? Who is asking us to journey together? Who are the road companions, including those outside the ecclesial perimeter? What person or groups are left on the margins, expressly or in fact?
Listening is the first step, but it requires having an open mind and heart, without prejudices. To whom does our particular Church “need to listen to”? How are the Laity, especially young people and women, listened to? How do we integrate the contribution of Consecrated Men and Women?
What space is there for the voice of minorities, the discarded, and the excluded?Do we identify prejudices and stereotypes that hinder our listening? How do we listen to the social and cultural context in which we live?
All are invited to speak with courage and parrhesia, that is, integrating freedom, truth, and charity. How do we promote a free and authentic style of communication within the community and its organisations, without duplicity and opportunism? and in relation to the society of which we are a part? When and how do we manage to say what is important to us? How does the relationship with the media system (not only Catholic media) work? Who speaks on behalf of the Christian community, and how are they chosen?
“Journeying together” is only possible if it is based on communal listening to the Word and the celebration of the Eucharist. How do prayer and liturgical celebration inspire and direct our “journeying together”? How do they inspire the most important decisions? How do we promote the active participation of all the Faithful in the liturgy and the exercise of the sanctifying function? What space is given to the exercise of the ministries of the reader and acolyte?
5.CO-RESPONSIBLE IN THE MISSION
Synodality is at the service of the Church’s mission, in which all her members are called to participate. Since we are all missionary disciples, how is each Baptized person called to be a protagonist in the mission? How does the community support its members committed to service in society (social and political commitment, in science research and teaching, in the promotion of social justice, in the protection of human rights, and in caring for the Common home, etc) How do you help them to live out these commitments in a logic of mission? How is discernment about mission-related choices made, and who participates in it? How are the different traditions that constitute the patrimony of many Churches, especially the Oriental ones, integrated and adapted, with respect to the synodal style, in view of an effective Christian witness? How does collaboration work in territories where different sui iuris Churches are present?
6.DIALOGUE IN THE CHURCH AND SOCIETY
Dialogue is a path of perseverance that also includes silences and sufferings, but which is capable of gathering the experience of persons and peoples. What are the places and modes of dialogue within our particular Church? How are divergences of vision, the conflicts, the difficulties addressed? How do we promote collaboration with neighbouring Dioceses, with and among religious communities in the area, with and among lay associations and movements, etc? What experiences of dialogue and shared commitment do we have with believers of other religions and with non-believers? How does the Church dialogue with and learn from other sectors of society: the world of politics, economics, culture, civil society, the poor…?
7.WITH THE OTHER CHRISTIAN DENOMINATIONS
The dialogue between Christians of different confessions, united by one Baptism, has a special place in the synodal journey. What relations do we have with the brothers and sisters of other Christian denominations? What areas do they concern? What fruits have we drawn from this “journey together”? What are the difficulties?
8.AUTHORITY AND PARTICIPATION
A synodal Church is a participatory and co-responsible Church. How do we identify the goals to be pursued, the way to achieve them and the steps to be taken? How is authority exercised within our particular Church? What are the practises of teamwork and co-responsibility? How are lay ministries and the assumption of responsibility by the faithful promoted? How do synodal bodies function at the level of the particular Church? Are they a fruitful experience?
9.DISCERNING AND DECIDING
In a synodal style, decisions are made through discernment, based on a consensus that flows from the common obedience to the Spirit. By what procedures and methods do we discern together and make decisions? How can they be improved? How do we promote participation in decision making within hierarchically structured communities? How do we articulate the consultative phase with the deliberative one, the process of decision- making with the moment of decision- taking? How and with what tools do we promote transparency and accountability?
10.FORMING OURSELVES IN SYNODALITY
The spirituality of journeying together is called to become an educational principle for the formation of the human person and of the Christian, of the families, and of the communities. How do we form people, especially those who hold roles of responsibility within the Christian community, to make them more capable of “journeying together”, listening to one another and engaging in dialogue? What formation do we offer for discernment and the exercise of authority? What tools help us to read the dynamics of the culture in which we are immersed and their impact on our style of Church?