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Synodal Faith: Not for the faint or fearful

"Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe." — Saint Augustine

Here's what I do not see right now in the US...

  • Catholic leadership unleashing the Spirit of synodality.

  • Catholic laity even a little interested in the practice of synodality.

  • Catholic organizations talking about synodality and learning how to be synodal.

  • Catholic parishes forming synodal-style leaders.

  • Catholic publishers seeking and publishing practical resources to promote synodality.

And according to St. Augustine, faith is to believe what I do not see. For those of us who have already set out on the synodal journey, this is the call of this time: to believe what we do not yet see; to have faith that the Holy Spirit is at work; to believe that even when we do not see it, transformation is happening; to believe that some day, some day, we will be rewarded by seeing what we have believed all along. Some day.

Why did I choose to write about this kind of faith right now? I think it's because as an early adopter of synodality I am already wearying. I am getting tired of waiting for others to join us on the #synodjourney. Just recently, I wanted to be encouraged by Pope Francis reminding the recalcitrant clergy in the US that looking backward is not the way. Instead I discovered this just awakened the weariness. With the psalmist, my spirit cries out "How long, O Lord, how long?" How long do we have to wait for our fellow pilgrims to open themselves to the Spirit who softens hearts, awakens minds, and reveals Truth? How long do we have to continue to speak, to walk, to write, to create, to pray, to hope...

I am reminded that no pioneer ever knew how long. No machete-wielding jungle guide ever knew how long. No wanderer in the desert ever knew how long. 40 years it was for Abraham and his people. A generation and a half of wandering, of not being able to see any semblance of a promised land; of suffering, wearying, turning away. I suppose I am in good company and I know I do not want to lose faith. Even so...

So what do I believe, even though I do not see it:

  • That there are more people on this road with me than I know. I surely hope the Spirit continues to gather us!

  • That transformation is underway even when I cannot see it. This is a chrysalis moment.

  • That synodality really is the way of the Church in the third millennium, despite the well-financed naysayers.

And what else is faith teaching me? That I am not unique in being brought to my knees in a Garden-of-Gethsemane kind of faith moment...sweating blood, walking blindly, wanting to escape but wanting to do God's will more. It's part of the #synodjourney

Where has this reflection led me? To a faith that from my knees prays:

Come Holy Spirit, enkindle in us the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and renew the face of our Church...and the face of the earth.

Come Holy Spirit, and enkindle in me the persistent faith born of your inspiration and energy...that I may wait and work in joyful hope.

Come Holy Spirit, and gather us together...those already on the #synodjourney, that together we may create a visible, walkable pathway for those still to join.

Interested in joining gatherings of other synod pilgrims? Check out these opportunities:

Together, let us keep believe what we cannot yet see!

Photo Unsplash Sindy SuBegunt


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