At all the Masses this weekend a letter from our Archbishop John Wilson will be read out to mark the opening of the Synod that will take place in 2023. Copies are available at the back of the church and you can read it on line.
We are all invited by Pope Francis to begin a journey of listening attentively to the Lord and each other. As Archbishop John says, this process is called Synodal. The word Synod comes from two Greek words which mean “journeying forward on the way together.” Each parish is asked to rediscover together “laity, clergy and religious what it means to be a servant church rooted in Christ who came not be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
In his book “Let us Dream” published last year, Pope Francis says he wanted to develop “ this ancient process not just for the sake of the Church but as service to a humanity that is so often locked in paralysed disagreements”. He says, “the goal of the synod is not so much to forge agreement as to recognise, honour and reconcile differences on a higher plane where the best of each can be retained”. The Pope makes an a couple of important points about this process that we are all embarking on.
He says, “in speaking of synodality, it’s important not to confuse Catholic doctrine and tradition with the church’s norms and practices. What is under discussion at synodal gatherings are not traditional truths of Christianity doctrine. The Synod is concerned mainly with how the teaching can be lived and applied in the
changing contexts of our time.”
The other point he makes is vital. We must remember that role of the Holy Spirit is paramount. “We listen, we discuss in groups, but above all we pay attention to what the Spirit has to say to us. That is why I ask everyone to speak frankly and to listen carefully to others because, there to, the Spirit is speaking”.
The lessons that Pope Francis wishes us to learn from this process of walking together, reading the signs of the times, being open to the new things of the spirit are:
- To learn to journey together to seek God’s will, allowing difference to harmonise;
- We might have change our way of thinking and our way of seeing, to shed our agenda and look in places we have never noticed before;
- This is a patient process which does not come easily to our impatient age.
Here is the prayer we can say when we meet together.
We stand before You, Holy Spirit, as we gather together in Your name.
With You alone to guide us, make Yourself at home in our hearts;
Teach us the way we must go and how we are to pursue it.
We are weak and sinful; do not let us promote disorder.
Do not let ignorance lead us down the wrong path nor partiality influence our actions.
Let us find in You our unity so that we may journey together to eternal life and not stray from the way of truth and what is right.
All this we ask of You, who are at work in every place and time, in the communion of the Father and the Son, forever and ever.