This begins a series of blogs on 'Why synodality?" Seems there are many current Church leaders, lay and ordained, and perhaps even more individuals, who just aren't persuaded about Pope Francis' determination to lead us into the spiritual practice of synodality. So we're embarking on a great persuasion quest...for those who are not on the #synodjourney and for those of you who are, but find yourself having trouble explaining why this is important to someone else. So, use our words. Use our logic. Use these blogs to join in persuading others and to reinforce your own reasons for supporting synodalty. Use them as a springboard for conversation or as encouragement for the timid.
"Scandal, division, disease, doubt. The Church has withstood these throughout our very human history. But today we confront all of them, all at once. Our response in this moment is pivotal.
"In the midst of these roaring waves, Jesus is present, reminding us that he is more powerful than the storm. He desires to heal, renew and unify the Church and the world.
"How will he do it? By uniting us..." These are the beginning words explaining "Why Now?" for the Eucharistic Revival. "Yes!" my heart sings out. "Yes!" But Jesus is using more than just the National Eucharistic Revival in the US to unite his Body. Why synodality? Because Eucharist is powerful, but not on its own!
Our response in this moment is indeed pivotal, and the Holy Father, echoing the Holy Spirit, is leading the Church in that response...synodality. This is not an either/or as some within the US Bishops Conference would posit. This is a gigantic moment when all work that leads to communion with Christ, within the Body of Christ, with Christ's mission and with our brothers and sisters united to Christ in baptism who worship and serve in different denominations is THE response for this time.
Why synodality? Because it provides an ongoing response to scandal, division, disease and doubt! Synodality: the unleashing of the Holy Spirit! Synodality: The surrender of power, possession and prestige to make room for the Spirit that will heal, renew and unify the Church! Yes, that happens during the Eucharist. But it's not enough operating on its own. Pope Francis says move out from the too often narrow confines of the Eucharistic Table. Enlarge the space of your tent. Go out to the highways and byways, and find those who have strayed from the tent. Peek at the edges of the tent's flaps and find those who still love and serve the Lord, just not within the usual confines of Catholic life. Sit down together in those places, and commune by listening! This is what is meant in the Instrumentum laboris by a "communion that radiates." It's fundaental question is: "How can we be more fully a sign and instrument of union with God and of the unity of all humanity?" Figuring out how to do this will be a pivotal response to scandal, division, disease and doubt!
Like the Eucharistic Revival, synodality seeks to increase communion with the Lord. But in addition to encouraging participation in the Eucharist, a powerful experience of communion, to be sure, synodality enlarges the scope of communion. Synodal practices will increase communion in four concrete ways:
Strengthening the bond between Christ and his Body, the Church.
Increasing the bond between the baptized members of the Body of Christ with each other.
Highlighting the bond the faithful share as together they do as Christ commands, sharing in his mission.
Nurturing the baptismal bond we all share with other Christians, learning to love the Lord and serve his mission together.
Imagine a Church, on the #synodjourney together. Imagine, for those still in the center of the tent, a genuine Eucharistic Revival, where all come to know and understand intellectually, but to know and understand spiritually as well, that Christ is really sacramentally present healing, renewing and unifying His Body in every Eucharistic celebration. And that Christ is sending them forth from the Table to themselves become His presence in the world, to be taken, blest, broken and shared...for the life of the world. Imagine...these pilgrims, inspired by this encounter with the Lord, leaving the Mass committed to Christ's mission. Imagine! This is the work of the Eucharistic Revival and the Catholic Church in the US needs just this kind of fire among its faithful already gathering at the Table. Why synodality? To give concrete focus on this going out...on the mission to which all who share in the Eucharist are committed.
Don't stop imagining there. What if these pilgrims, in two's and three's as in Jesus' time, but also in committees, apostolates, councils, small communities and households accompany one another in joy and sorrow? Imagine, real other-centered care characterizing these small groups of mission-minded people, so concrete and visible that others see their love for one another...and experience the outpouring of that love for them, and for the hurting world! Imagine!
And, most importantly, imagine the baptized, together across denominational boundaries, where it's baptism that unites and compels these holy and chosen people to mission! It's not dogma or doctrine that divides. Rather, it's baptism that unites, heals and renews. It's baptism that creates the common union from which couples and entire towns receive the Spirit's strength to address the hurts of their community.
The world is divided enough, wounded enough. Synodality offers unity centered in the belief that what the world needs is the healing, uniting touch of Christ. This is the communion synodality fosters. It is why Pope Francis has said that this IS the way of the Church for the third millennium. Synodality takes the "Why Now?" response of the Eucharistic Revival and expands its scope...beyond getting Catholics to return to the mighty encounter with Christ offered in each Eucharist, to the practice of synodality and the increase of communion far beyond the Table. It's not either/or...
Why is synodality important? Because it increases communion in four distinct ways. Because it is the way to enlarge the space of the tent. Because it is the Spirit's way of addressing the scandal, division, disease and doubt within the Church. Because it is how the Spirit is bringing about unity.
Convinced this is the work of the Spirit in our day? If so, join the #synodjourney along with us. Tell your parish leaders you are convinced and give them this blog to help them see what you see! Ask about your parish or diocesan commitment to synodality! And keep asking!
Already on the way with us? Invite others to get connected to the Pentecost Vigil Project. AND, get ready for the synod in Rome in October by engging in sacred listening circles around the questions concerning a communion that radiates in the Instrumentum laboris You can find them in Section B1. A "A Communion that radiates."
Want to do your part to assure there's support for embracing synodality? Donate!
Want to add your voice? Comment on our blogs and join our Facebook group!
Want to encourage participation in the Eucharist and learn the synodal practice of spiritual listening? Check out Christ Present in the Eucharist.
Want to know what the Spirit wants of you now? Pray! Ask the Spirit to guide you! And then GO!
See you on the #synodjourney!
Photo Unsplash/Josh Eckstein
ChaptGPT was used in discovering some of the reasons for synodality.