The Church is convoked in Synod. This is a convocation by Pope Francis for the whole Church to evaluate and reflect on the theme of synodality: the heart of the Church’s life and mission.
What is a Synod?
The word ‘Synod’ means assembly and it is an opportunity of encounter, listening and reflection. The Synod is mainly known to be a celebration of ecclesial meetings and episcopal gatherings and the protagonist of the Synod is the Holy Spirit.
What is synodality?
Consultation with the People of God
The Church of God is convoked in Synod between the years 2021-2024 on the theme “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission”. By means of this convocation, Pope Francis invites the entire Church to reflect on a theme that is decisive for its life and mission. Thus, every parish in Malta is called to discern and focus on those aspects of synodality that are most relevant to their reality.
The purpose of the Synod is not to produce documents, but to “plant dreams, draw forth prophecies and visions, allow hope to flourish, inspire trust, bind up wounds, weave together relationships, awaken a dawn of hope, learn from one another and create a bright resourcefulness that will enlighten minds, warm hearts, give strength to our hands” (Pope Francis).
The Continental Stage
"Enlarge the space of your tent" (Is 54:2)
The Continental Stage consists of a time of listening and discernment of all of the People of God and of all local Churches on a continental basis, leading to a series of continental assemblies. This does not mean a replication of the consultation, listening and discernment that has already taken place, which was an invitation to all of the People of God. This is, rather, a deepening of that discernment process by the people identified to represent the local Churches in the pre-assembly processes prior to each Continental Assembly. It is understood that there will be differences in approach that take account of the established practices, cultural and language elements, geography, and logistics of each continent.
This Continental Stage is marked by the Document for the Continental Stage (DCS), which will be written after careful reflection on the fruits of the first stage from syntheses of all of the Episcopal Conferences of the Universal Church, as well as the Eastern Churches, and groups such as Religious Institutes, Lay Movements and so on. You can read the DCS below.
Participate in this stage
The Local Stage
Synthesis of the Synodal Process
The synthesis of the Synodal Process presented by the Maltese Episcopal Conference to the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, reflects on the main themes that emerged from the listening process carried out during the past months within the Archdiocese of Malta and the Diocese of Gozo. The variety of initiatives that have taken place during this journey of mutual conversations were combined to depict the synodal process in the Church in Malta.
Consultation with the Church in Malta
As Church in Malta, we are called to reflect on the theme of the Synod. Every parish in Malta is called to discern and focus on those aspects of synodality that are most relevant to their reality, to help them to live communion, achieve participation and be open to mission.
This consultation also unites with the journey of renewal that is being carried out by the Church in Malta through the ‘One Church, One Journey’ process where we are reflecting on four themes:
1. A Church that listens
Contemplation – a gaze that brings out the beauty in others
2. A Church that welcomes
Reconciliation – a gaze that seeks the other... to bestow mercy
3. A Church that accompanies
Formation – a gaze that welcomes and encounters the other
4. A Church that goes forth
Mission as proclamation – extending his gaze upon the whole land
Why should we participate?
This is an opportunity to:
The following are guidelines on how the process of discernment may be carried out to fulfil the aim of the Synod in a concrete and practical way.
The Synod document provides 10 themes for discernment, as follows:
I. JOURNEYING COMPANIONS
In the Church and in society, we are side by side on the same road.
Listening is the first step, but it requires having an open mind and heart, without prejudices.
III. SPEAKING OUT
All are invited to speak with courage and parrhesia, that is, integrating freedom, truth, and charity.
“Journeying together” is only possible if it is based on communal listening to the Word and the celebration of the Eucharist.
V. CO-RESPONSIBLE IN THE MISSION
Synodality is at the service of the Church’s mission, in which all her members are called to participate.
VI. DIALOGUE IN CHURCH AND SOCIETY
Dialogue is a path of perseverance that also includes silences and sufferings, but which is capable of gathering the experience of persons and peoples.
VII. WITH OTHER CHRISTIAN DENOMINATIONS
The dialogue between Christians of different confessions, united by one Baptism, has a special place in the synodal journey.
VIII. AUTHORITY AND PARTICIPATION
A synodal Church is a participatory and co-responsible Church.
IX. DISCERNING AND DECIDING
In a synodal style, decisions are made through discernment, based on a consensus that flows from the common obedience to the Spirit.
X. FORMING OURSELVES IN SYNODALITY
The spirituality of journeying together is called to become an educational principle for the formation of the human person and of the Christian, of the families, and of the communities.
Begin the discernment process by spending some time in silent prayer.
Reflect on these points:
A synodal Church, in proclaiming the Gospel, “journeys together”.
How is this “journeying together” happening today in our particular Church?
What steps is the Spirit inviting us to take in order for us to grow in our “journeying together”?
Conclude with a prayer of thanksgiving to God.
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