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synod

Synod on Synodality

For A Synodal Church: Communion, Participation And Mission.

History:

"One of the fruits of the Second Vatican Council was the institution of the Synod of Bishops. While the Synod of Bishops has taken place up until now as a gathering of bishops with and under the authority of the Pope, the Church increasingly realizes that synodality is the path for the entire People of God. Hence the Synodal Process is no longer only an assembly of bishops but a journey for all the faithful, in which every local Church has an integral part to play." (Source Vademecum Synod on Synodality)

Summary:

"In the ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the institution of the Synod of Bishops in October 2015, Pope Francis declared that “the world in which we live, and which we are called to love and serve, even with its contradictions, demands that the Church strengthen cooperation in all areas of her mission.” This call to cooperate in the mission of the Church is addressed to the entire People of God. Pope Francis made this clear when he issued a direct invitation to all the People of God to contribute to Church efforts towards healing: “every one of the baptized should feel involved in the ecclesial and social change that we so greatly need. This change calls for a personal and communal conversion that makes us see things as the Lord does.” In April 2021, Pope Francis initiated a synodal journey of the whole People of God, to begin in October 2021 in each local Church and culminating in October 2023 in the Assembly of the Synod of Bishops." (Source Vademecum of the Synod on Synodal)

Pope Francis is calling all of us, clergy and laity, to take an active part in our Church.  He said that celebrating a synod means walking on the same road as others and living out the “three verbs” that characterize a synod: to encounter, listen and discern.  We are called to encounter Jesus in others, listen to their stories and discern how the Holy Spirit is directing our Universal Church to meet God's need and the needs of our current world.  This synod will be a two year process, but for our dioceses and parishes much shorter.  The dioceses and parishes are charged with evaluation and discernment for this Synod on Synodal from mid October 21 thru April 2022.  We have been provided a prayer specifically for the synod as well as some intersession prayers.  Documents have been provided to guide the dicoeses through this process and our parishes will be provided with more information in the the coming months. 

You will find the prayer mentioned above, key terms, and resources including those given to the diocese to help with this discernment process.

Prayer of invocation to the Holy Spirit for an ecclesial assembly of governance or discernment.

Adsumus, Sancte Spiritus

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.

 

Key Terms:

Synod - is a council of a church, usually convened to decide an issue of doctrine, administration or application. The word synod comes from the Greek: σύνοδος meaning "assembly" or "meeting" and is analogous with the Latin word concilium meaning "council"

Synodal - literally means "walking together"

Communion - By his gracious will, God gathers us together as diverse peoples of one faith, through the covenant that he offers to his people. The communion we share finds its deepest roots in the love and unity of the Trinity. It is Christ who reconciles us to the Father and unites us with each other in the Holy Spirit. Together, we are inspired by listening to the Word of God, through the living Tradition of the Church, and grounded in the sensus fidei that we share. We all have a role to play in discerning and living out God’s call for his people. 

Participation - A call for the involvement of all who belong to the People of God – laity, consecrated and ordained – to engage in the exercise of deep and respectful listening to one another. This listening creates space for us to hear the Holy Spirit together, and guides our aspirations for the Church of the Third Millennium. Participation is based on the fact that all the faithful are qualified and are called to serve one another through the gifts they have each received from the Holy Spirit. In a synodal Church the whole community, in the free and rich diversity of its members, is called together to pray, listen, analyze, dialogue, discern and offer advice on making pastoral decisions which correspond as closely as possible to God’s will (ICT, Syn., 67-68). Genuine efforts must be made to ensure the inclusion of those at the margins or who feel excluded. 

Mission - The Church exists to evangelize. We can never be centered on ourselves. Our mission is to witness to the love of God in the midst of the whole human family. This Synodal Process has a deeply missionary dimension to it. It is intended to enable the Church to better witness to the Gospel, especially with those who live on the spiritual, social, economic, political, geographical, and existential peripheries of our world. In this way, synodality is a path by which the Church can more fruitfully fulfill her mission of evangelization in the world, as a leaven at the service of the coming of God’s kingdom.

How will the Diocese of Richmond participate in a worldwide synod?

In his Oct. 18 “Christ Our Hope” column, Bishop Knestout discussed how our diocese will be participating in the synod:

Over the next several months, our ad hoc Diocesan Evangelization Commission will be working to facilitate responses from diocesan advisory groups as well as from parish councils on these synodal questions:

  • How is journeying together happening today in our parishes and diocese?
  • What steps does the Spirit invite us to take in order to grow in our journeying together?
  • What experiences of our local Church does this question call to mind? What joys did they bring? What difficulties and obstacles have they encountered? What wounds did they reveal? What insights have they revealed? Where in these experiences does the voice of the Holy Spirit resound?
  • What is the Spirit asking of us?
  • What are the points to be confirmed, the prospects for change, the steps to be taken?
  • Where do we register a consensus? What paths are opening up for our local Church?

The answers to these questions will be analyzed and sent to the USCCB, who will submit a synthesis of all the U.S. dioceses’ responses to the Vatican’s General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops.

How can I participate in the synod?

In his homily on Oct. 10, Pope Franics told those gathered that a synod is “a journey of spiritual discernment that takes place in adoration, in prayer and in dialogue with the word of God.”

The faithful can reflect on how they encounter the Holy Spirit. Consider how you encounter others who are participating in the life of the Church. How are you journeying together with others to be in communion with the Lord?

And, of course, we can pray! “Here We Are, Holy Spirit” is a great prayer to invite the Holy Spirit into your heart for guidance on your journey.

Resources:

Pope Francis Speech September 2021

Synod For a Synodal Church Preparatory Document

Vademecum Synod on Synodality 

Catholic Virginia Article on Synod

For a Synod Church Presentation

American Magazine Synod Article October 9, 2021

Synod 2021-2023 Website