The Church has just begun a three-year process focused on not only truly listening to each other. We are especially called to listen to the Holy Spirit whose view spans all of time and eternity.
Most visitors to Vincentian Mindwalk are aware that Pope Francis is playing the “long game” in reading the signs of the times today… just as Vatican II did in the mid 20th century.
I predict … at least 3 simultaneous “synods”
- the synod in the media
- the synod as experienced by those actually inside the rooms
- the synod no one hears or cares about
The synod that will receive the most attention is the synod as reported by the media! Opposing factions in the Church each have their media outlets. Their focus will be on the premature conclusions based on the hot button issues being discussed… married clergy, ordination of women clerical abuse. Note these issues focus mainly on the clerical dimensions of the Church as we have experienced in it our lifetimes. Of course, there will other issues.
A lesser amount of attention will focus on what happens to people inside the various rooms in our parishes, dioceses, continental meeting, and the final meeting. The last will presumably be in St. Peter’s in Rome as was the case for the four years the Bishops met in the Second Vatican Council, forerunner of this three-year synodal process.
The third synod will be the one no one hears, or, even cares about.
Whose voice absolutely needs to be heard
My concern is that the most significant voice of all these voices be heard.
In one sense that voice would be the voice of our current Pope, Francis, who will, by virtue of his position as successor of St. Peter, the first pope who presided over the first synod known as the Council of Jerusalem (Act?)
However, the most significant voice will be the voice of the Holy Spirit, without whom there can be no true synod.
Pope Francis’ concerns
Pope Francis authorized an excellent official handbook to guide the entire church through this process. It expresses the following temptations:
1) The temptation of wanting to lead ourselves instead of being led by God.
2) The temptation to focus on ourselves and our immediate concerns.
3) The temptation to only see “problems.”
4) The temptation of focusing only on structures.
5) The temptation not to look beyond the visible confines of the Church.
6) The temptation to lose focus of the objectives of the Synodal Process.
7) The temptation of conflict and division.
8) The temptation to treat the Synod as a kind of a parliament.
9) The temptation to listen only to those who are already involved in Church activities.
The Synod is a time for us to pray! Will you?
Every session of the Second Vatican Council began with the prayer Adsumus Sancte Spiritus, “We stand before You, Holy Spirit”. It has been historically used at Councils, Synods, and other Church gatherings for hundreds of years.
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. Amen.
Click below for an audio version of this VIncentian Mindwalk