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How to set off on the Synodal Way?

Proposition for the faithful

We have been convoked by our Holy Father, Pope Francis, to gather and walk together! This is an invitation first and foremost to come together at the level of our parishes, schools, hospitals, homes for elderly, orphans and handicapped and other Catholic institutions. In each of these structures where the faithful gather, a local synod facilitator should be appointed who will be responsible for recording the process as it unfolds. The records will be collected in the second part of March.

 

Here are some proposals that can help start off the synodal process. There is no need to follow these proposals: we have been invited to dream and to think creatively about what we can do to give expression to the Church we want to be. Each Catholic structure can invent its own way of proceeding. The parish priests are essential actors in this process as they are the mediators between the bishops and the people.

 

These propositions are exercises in listening – listening to one another, listening to the Word of God, listening to the Holy Spirit. As we walk on the way, we want to sharpen our senses so that we can see, hear, feel, taste and smell. As we apply our senses, let us hear the Word of God afresh and advance to take the bread and the wine with new vigor. Let us become again one Body, the Body of the Resurrected One, who comes to meet us on the way.

 

The activities

 

The activities proposed here are three in number. They should be planned to take place between November 2021 and the end of March 2022. This is a period of about 22 weeks. This allows for one activity every six weeks. They should be preceded in each structure by an explanation of what the Synod is, what it seeks to achieve and what the stages are that we are engaging in.

 

Each activity should include a recitation of the prayer of the synod.

 

Activity 1: Walk together

 

Go to Emmaus (or to some other Holy Place that is perhaps more accessible). In fact, there are various locations identified as Emmaus: Emmaus-Nicopolis, Emmaus-Qubeibeh and some even think that Emmaus was situated where Abu Ghosh is today. In all three places, the Church has sanctuaries where the faithful can gather. 

 

On arriving, the group should take time to celebrate a Liturgy of the Word, reading slowly and meditatively the passage about Jesus joining his two disciples on their way (Luke 24:13-33).

 

After the liturgy, those present can divide up into small groups, about ten to twelve in each group. In each group there should be an animator and someone taking notes so that the fruit of the process can be recorded. These notes will be handed to the facilitator, who will include them within the report that is being composed.

 

At the end of the time of discussion, it is recommended to celebrate the Eucharist of the day, gathering around the Word and participating in the Sacrament.

 

Activity 2: Go out

 

Visit a Catholic institution (another parish (even a parish from a different language group or rite), or a monastery). This would ideally be a place which most people have never visited before. Have we visited the Syrian Catholic church in Jerusalem? Have we visited the Our Lady Woman of Valor church in Tel Aviv? Have we visited the monks and nuns of the monastery in Abu Ghosh? We want to go and discover an unknown oasis of the Church’s presence.

 

On arriving take time to celebrate a simple liturgy of the Word, reading slowly and meditatively the passage about the Council of Jerusalem, when different groups within the Church gathered together and envisioned the Church they were called to become together, Peter, Paul and James (Acts 15:1-20). 

 

Invite a person from the parish, monastery or other institution you are visiting to talk about his or her life, faith and mission. The person should be someone who has a special vocation and can speak clearly about it. Leave ample time for questions and exchange with the witness who has been listened to. 

 

At the end of the witness of this person, break into discussion groups of ten to twelve people. In each group there should be an animator and someone taking notes so that the fruit of the process can be recorded. These notes will be handed to the facilitator, who will include them within the report that is being composed.

 

At the end of the activity, it is recommended to celebrate the Eucharist of the day, gathering around the Word and participating in the Sacrament.

 

Activity 3: On mission together

 

Visit a Catholic institution where those visiting might be able to offer a service. For example, visit a hospital, a school, an orphanage, a home for the elderly or handicapped, a center for migrants or asylum seekers. Plan an activity there that will be a practical help to the institution. 

 

On arriving take time to celebrate a simple liturgy of the Word, reading slowly and meditatively the passage about the first Christian community that lives in communion, sharing what they have and taking care of the poor (Acts 4:32-35).

 

Invite a person from the institution you are visiting to talk about the institution, how it was founded, its history and mission today. At the end of the presentation of the institution, break into groups to do a practical activity together that has been planned with the personnel of the institution: cleaning, painting, moving things, engaging with the people who are there (children, elderly, handicapped, migrants).

 

At the end of the activity, break into discussion groups of ten to twelve people. In each group there should be an animator and someone taking notes so that the fruit of the process can be recorded. These notes will be handed to the facilitator, who will include them within the report that is being composed.