By Father Mike Sedor, Co-Chair of the Diocese Synod Organizing Team
Over the past several weeks, we’ve been hearing a lot about the “Synod on Synodality” that our Holy Father Pope Francis has called for. In preparation for the Synod of Bishops that is going to take place in Rome in 2023, the pope has asked for the entire Church universal to gather together, to encounter one another on a small scale, face-to-face.
Why? What’s the point?
Why does Pope Francis want us to carry out this task, which might seem to many to be rather daunting, or, to the cynical, might seem like a waste of time and energy?
First, perhaps we should consider what the synod is not meant to be. The purpose of the gatherings that we’re going to have is not about discussing Church doctrine. We won’t be getting together to propose ideas for adding an eighth sacrament to the list or considering whether or not there’s really a distinction between mortal and venial sin.
We’re not going to talk about Church practices – ideas like whether Catholics should be obliged to attend the celebration of Mass every Sunday, or maybe, should we add another Holy Day of Obligation to the calendar – are not going to be up for grabs. And we’re not going to be voting on moral topics either – this isn’t the moment to argue that it’s okay for me to be stocking my pantry at home with supplies from the office – “Thou shalt not steal” is not going to lose its place on the Ten Commandments because of the synod.
In short, as the vademecum published by the Holy See tells us, “The purpose of the synod is not to produce more documents.” I would go a step further and say that the purpose of the synod is not to “produce” anything at all.
Rather, the purpose of the synod is to provide a means for individuals and communities to encounter Christ in one another. We’re going to be getting together in small groups to listen to one another’s experience of the faith so that we might see how Jesus is alive and working in those around us. Through baptism and our reception of the Lord’s Body and Blood, in a very real way, we become Christ – as do our sisters and brothers.
If we want to see Christ at work here in the world, then we need to look to our brothers and sisters, and find in their experiences, in their hopes and dreams and joys and sorrows, Christ Risen from the dead and living among His people.
And in finding Christ in each other, we can’t help but grow closer to Him. We’ll be drawn into His merciful and Sacred Heart. That is to say, we’ll become holy – both individually and communally – holy as our God is holy.
The purpose of the synod is the same purpose that the Church has always had – to enable the People of God (that’s you and me and all of our sisters and brothers out there) to grow in holiness, to grow in the likeness of Christ that we were made for.
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