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We missed the boat!

"We've not heard a word about the Synod or synodality in my parish. If I didn't read a Catholic publication other than our diocesan newspaper, I'd never know the Church has embarked on a new path! What gives with that? Have we just missed the boat?"

While a hypothetical quote, the sentiment is not hypothetical. Just 700,000 Catholics in the United States had an opportunity through their parish/diocesan structures to participate in diocesan listening circles; 700,000 out of about 62 million Catholics in the US. (That number comes from a 2020 survey.) For those of you wondering, that's .011% of American Catholics. Not very many despite the spin reports try to put on it. So yes, you missed the first boat. It sailed and input from the first round of listening sessions is contained in the US Report .

So now what? What to do if you did not even hear about this, let alone have a chance to participate? Well, just like the rides in an amusement park, the next boat is pulling up to the landing so get in! Come along for the #synodjourney! And, just how might you do that...get in the boat and on the journey? This blog will provide you a roadmap for getting started as an individual, if your parish/diocese is still in line on the landing. And if your parish/diocese is ready to embrace synodality, there are some steps here for you as leaders as well. But let me go on record right here by saying EVERYONE needs formation for synodality, around the world, up and down the hierarchy. No one is an expert. The journey is too new to have tried and true best practices. We are learning by doing.

The rest of this blog will focus on individual Catholics who wish to embrace synodality whether their local parish or diocese is or is not. If that's you, here are some steps to prepare yourself for the journey. Liken this to packing your seabag in anticipation of getting on the boat!

  1. Deepen your prayer life, especially with regard to praying to, with and within the Holy Spirit. For the Spirit to be able to lead the Church, we the Body of Christ MUST learn how to open ourselves to the Spirit. You'll find some Spirit prayers here, a guided visual prayer with a painting here, and preparatory spiritual practices for discernment in common here.

  2. Learn about the spirituality undergirding the Synod and synodality from the Vatican's perspective here.

  3. Become familiar with the elements of Ignatian spirituality. Here's a primer for that.

  4. Begin or continue to practice discernment in your own life. That same disposition of openness to the Spirit, to a Wisdom and Knowledge beyond your own, beyond this world, willl assist you in being able to do the sane thing in community with others.

  5. Link up with other early adopters. Join our subscriber list. Begin to follow other synod-minded organizations. Some of them can be found on our partner page.

  6. Start the awareness among your own circle by hosting a listening session. When you subscribe to our site you get access to our free download library, which includes tools for hosting sessions in your own small groups. And when you begin doing these listening sessions, the synod boat is moving now. Don't worry! The Spirit is steering the boat. Just stay along for the ride, listening, learnings, and responding to the Spirit's call.

So no, you didn't miss the boat! Yes, the first one sailed, but this is a lot more like a flotilla or a parade of sail than a cruise ship leaving a port or a single fisherman puttering off in his tiny motorboat. Our very own national report and the Continental Phase document both indicate that there's a LOT more work to do. Translating into this metaphor, there will be a lot more boats enabling us to come aboard as the Spirit calls. So get ready. Then launch your tiny vessel, keeping an eye open for others, for a larger boat you can link to...

Finally, remember you are not sailing alone out there! There is a fleet of early adopting individuals, organizations, parishes, and even a few Bishops and Dioceses who are making this road by walking! We're one of them and you are warmly invited to come on the #synodjjourney with us!

If you're a parish or diocesan leader who would like to get on the #synodjourney, make sure to subscribe so you get next week's blog intended to chart a beginning path for leaders whose parishes, dioceses or organizations missed the first sail.

And a final thought for you skeptics out there...the synod journey is not about documents, doctrine or dogma. It's about dreams, visions and a hope for a Church closer to what Jesus imagined, It's a mindset, a trust in the Spirit, the Lord the giver of life. It's getting in the boat with Jesus, knowing he knows the way, calms the seas and will be with us always. So get it...let's go! The seas are choppy, but the captain is deftly in charge!

Photo from Liam Allen and Camille Couve on Unsplash

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