Many of you may have heard me speak of Pope Francis’s initiative at the beginning of this liturgical year, in which a synod was held to focus on synodality itself. Synodality??? The term synod is from ancient Greek and means meeting or journeying together. Pope Francis encouraged all Bishops, and in turn all Catholics, to engage in dialogue and listen to one another in an effort to discern the answer to this fundamental question: ““A synodal Church, in announcing the Gospel, ‘journeys together’: How is this ‘journeying together’ happening today in your particular Church? What steps does the Spirit invite us to take in order to grow in our ‘journeying together’?”
Where is this coming from and what does it mean? I am sure most of us can agree that in the last few years we have seen unprecedented division amongst people. It is ironic that as we engaged in social distancing, we experienced a “distancing” in so many other ways. In our own local community many of us can remember new arguments at the dinner table. Many of us probably engaged in political debate, and nearly all of us had confrontations involving our thoughts on the pandemic and how we should respond. How is the Church to respond to such a broken, volatile world? Pope Francis is calling us to a year in which we focus on listening to one another.
Bishop Noonan, in order to help give us a vision for how the Holy Father is leading us, pointed to the story of Emmaus. Following the death and Resurrection of Christ, Jesus journeys along the road with two disciples who do not recognize him at first. Jesus then opens up the Word of God for them as they walk along and later breaks bread with them…it is only in the breaking of the bread they recognize the Lord. Bishop Noonan writes on synodality: “This journey is one of prayer and sharing and listening so that we grow in our love of God and love of one another as God loves us.”
How are we at Most Precious Blood going to respond to this call? We are already incorporating themes of “listening” and “encounter” into various ministries, however, I wanted to point you to a couple items coming up in particular. Last weekend at Mass, we spoke of the new survey on discipleship conducted by the Catholic Leadership Institute that became available online this week (paper copies are also available after every Mass for those who do not have access to a computer). This is a survey that will help our parish evaluate our growth since the last time we took the survey in 2018. It is a 10–15 minute survey in which you are invited to reflect on your own spiritual growth and the efforts of our parish to help you grow. We want to listen to you! I would like to invite each individual parish member over 18 years old (not just one per family) to take our discipleship survey. It will help us assess the last few years and help us determine new goals going forward. You can find the survey here: oviedocatholic.org/disciple-maker-index/
Second, this year our Lenten Day of Reflection is being led by Fr. Ben Berinti, which will focus on the spirituality of Lent as well as address the topic of synodality. Fr. Ben gave a beautiful talk during our priests gathering last Advent and helped us, as priests, understand Pope Francis’s call to listen to one another and grow in communion. The Day of Reflection is on Saturday, March 19th, from 9:00 AM to 2:00PM in the Parish Life Center. Buy your ticket soon!
I am grateful for all of you and grateful to be a part of such an amazing community of disciples. May the Lord bless us and lead us to deep freedom as we journey together during this Lenten season.
In Christ, Fr. Josh
As we are called to embrace this synodal path of the Synod 2021-2023, this prayer invites the Holy Spirit to operate within us so that we may be a community and a people of grace. For the Synod 2021-2023, we propose to use this simplified version, so that any group or liturgical assembly can pray more easily.
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.