Talk to the parish about the Synod
- Father Eamonn – An excerpt from the Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis
A certain rich man came up to Jesus “as he was setting out on his journey” (Mk 10:17). The Gospels frequently show us Jesus “on a journey”; he walks alongside people and listens to the questions lurking in their hearts. He shows us that God is not found in neat and orderly places, distant from reality, but walks ever at our side. He meets us where we are, on the often rocky roads of life. Today, as we begin this synodal process, let us begin by asking ourselves – all of us, Pope, bishops, priests, religious and laity – whether we, the Christian community, embody this “style” of God, who travels the paths of history and shares in the life of humanity. Are we prepared for the adventure of this journey? Or are we fearful of the unknown, preferring to take refuge in the usual excuses: “It’s useless” or “We’ve always done it this way”?
Celebrating a Synod means walking on the same road, walking together. Dear brothers and sisters, let us have a good journey together! May we be pilgrims in love with the Gospel and open to the surprises of the Holy Spirit. Let us not miss out on the grace-filled opportunities born of encounter, listening and discernment. In the joyful conviction that, even as we seek the Lord, he always comes with his love to meet us first.
- Rachael – Intro to the Synod
I’m here to speak to you about the Synod which Father has mentioned. It’s very important.
The Pope is specifically asking us, as ordinary parishioners, to ‘humbly learn together how God is calling us to be a church in the third millennium.’ This process is described as ‘Journeying Together.’
We are being called to take a fresh look at our church, to breathe new life into it and to develop a deeper understanding. We are being asked to reflect, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, on what we think about our church.
We are being asked, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to ask ourselves questions about the church.
- What do we like about our Church?
- What do we dislike?
- What should we do more of as a Church?
- What should we do less of?
- What do we want to keep?
- What do we want to change?
These are very challenging questions that we are being asked to ask of ourselves and each other. But, as with any experience that is challenging, it will also be rewarding and exciting, joyful and wonderous.
The Pope has said that the purpose of the Synod is not just to produce documents but “to plant dreams, draw forth prophecies and visions, allow hope to flourish, inspire trust & bind up wounds.’ He wants us to encounter the Lord and one another, to pray, to devote time to adoration and to talk openly about a new path for the church.
- Who should be included in this conversation about our church? Isn’t it for the bishops and priests to do that?
Pope Francis specifically asks that this conversation includes ‘All the children of God.’ That’s us! We are ‘journeying together in the same boat’ like the refugees that I spoke about a few weeks ago, and we need to include ‘all the children of god’ in our boat…and in our conversations about how we want the church to be in the future.
Pope Francis specifically mentions including people who are marginalised and whose voices are not heard including young people and children, homeless people, the poor, people who have been excluded or wounded by the church, the LGBTQ community, people who live together before they are being married, people of other faiths and people of no faith.
God loves all of us equally. In the eyes of God. The smallest baby is equal to the Queen, the unemployed alcoholic is loved by God as much as He loves the Bishop. God loves Boris Johnson as much as he loves the refugee. He loves us all.
But how will we encounter these people? The marginalised, the disenfranchised and the people of no faith? How will we ask them? Well, I say that we live among them. In our ordinary weekday lives, we encounter all sorts of people as we go about our business.
How often do we reveal or conceal our faith? Why is that?
We should ask the people who we encounter in our daily lives, what they think about the Catholic church and we should listen to them. I’m sure this sounds challenging so I want to tell you about an experience I had recently. I had just learned about the Synod and I was excited at this opportunity to take a fresh look at our church. I was running with two friends around Alexandra Park, we do 5k twice a week, and as we ran I told them all about the Synod. One was Catholic and the other wasn’t. After the run, it was my non-Catholic friend who asked for more information, who was interested. She had a spiritual hunger and she wanted to know more.
So we are being asked to have conversations and report back. If we hear things that are unfavourable or unkind about our church, we should listen to those things too and, with the help of the Holy Spirit, reflect on them.
- So how is this going to work in practice? This enormous and important conversation that the Pope has asked us to have?
First of all there is more information about the Synod and the process on the parish website and on the Vatican website. We will soon have a noticeboard at the back of the church and more information will be available in the weeks ahead.
There will be a parish meeting here in the church at 10.45 on Saturday 8th January and everyone is welcome to join us at that meeting. Or, if you would like, you can establish your own Synod group. There is guidance in these two booklets which are available on the website of the Vatican, the diocese and the parish.
We have been asked to give feedback about our reflections and conclusions by the 4th February 2022. This means that we only have a few weeks. We better get on with it!
Feedback can be given back either as a group or as an individual. It can be returned online using Survey Monkey and the address is on the noticeboard at the back of the church and on the parish website. If you don’t have access to the internet, please speak to myself or Father Eamonn and we will help.
Feedback is entirely confidential and anonymous. However, if you would be happy to share your thoughts, or the thoughts of your group Father Eamonn would be interested to hear our thoughts and has asked that, as well as sharing our thoughts online, if you wish, you can share them with him by giving him a copy.
This Synod is a huge challenge to us all to breathe new life into our church. We ask the Holy Spirit to guide us on our journey. And as with all journeys into new territory, it is normal to feel both excited and apprehensive at the outset.
One last thing and it’s a book recommendation. It’s an ideal Christmas present for anyone who is still racking their brains trying to think of the perfect present. This is Pope Francis book called Let Us Dream. I highly recommend it. It’s available at the library or I’m happy to lend out my copy. It’s inspiring.
Thank you for listening.
Arundel and Brighton link to the Synod: https://www.abdiocese.org.uk/synod