As the Church arrives at the first session of the Synod on Synodality, it is important to look at the three words associated with it – communion, participation, and mission. These are at the center of the dialogue and discernment that will occur. They are part of an ongoing reflection on the role of the baptized in the life of the Church, particularly from the Second Vatican Council onward.
We are in communion with the Most Holy Trinity and each other in the Body of Christ, the Church. The baptized are called to deeper participation in the life of the Church by going forth on mission in the world. Each is co-responsible for the mission of Christ and the Church.
As Pope Francis notes, “The Synod has three key words: communion, participation, and mission. Communion and mission are theological terms describing the mystery of the Church… Participation is a requirement of the faith received in baptism” (Address for the Opening of the Synod).
The whole synodal process is a discernment in the Holy Spirit to examine how we as Church are on mission in the world. Have we closed ourselves off by becoming self-referential or are we moving outward as witnesses of Christ?
Pope Francis is clear about what this discernment of the Synod is and is not. “I want to say again that the Synod is not a parliament or an opinion poll; the Synod is an ecclesial event and its protagonist is the Holy Spirit. If the Spirit is not present, there will be no Synod” (Address for the Opening of the Synod).
We at Catholic Apostolate Center offer many resources to learn more about the upcoming first session of the Synod of Synodality, which will begin on October 4th and continue throughout the month, including a recent episode of our podcast, On Mission, with Dr. Susan Timoney, Associate Dean for Graduate Ministerial Studies in the School of Theology and Religious Studies at The Catholic University of America. Dr. Timoney gives an overview of the synodal process thus far and what is to come. It is worth taking the time to listen!
Please keep all those involved in the Synod in your prayers.
May the Charity of Christ urge us on!
In God, the Infinite Love,