Recently Cardinal Nichols wrote a letter about the Synod, from which these are extracts:
Pope Francis wants us to rediscover our life in the Church as a communion of life with God and with one another. He wants us to be a sacrament for the whole world, the outward sign that leads people to the inward grace of faith in Jesus Christ, known and lived within the communion of the Church. We must learn to listen more closely to one another, ready to work out, prayerfully, what we need to do to fulfil this mission – seek to enhance our service of others, acknowledging that every single person is endowed with gifts and abilities for this work.
Over the last two years, there have been various expressions of this Synodal journey, in our parishes, in the Diocese as a whole, and at the level of the Church in every continent. Now all this comes together this October, in a Synod of Bishops in Rome, to assess the journey thus far and to fashion clearly the next steps to be taken. These findings can then be reviewed by us all, before a further Synod of Bishops that takes place in October 2024.
The Pope has chosen a significant number of lay men and women, priests and religious, from each continent, to be members alongside those bishops chosen by Bishops’ Conferences around the world. Their method will be the one the Pope has put before us all: prayerful listening of the heart, careful discernment of all that is put before them, faithfulness to the teaching of the Church, explored and presented with great love, and shaped by praise of the Father, fidelity to the Son, seeking the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
This Synod meeting is not an ecclesiastical UN Assembly, nor a Church parliament or convention, nor a referendum on the teaching of the Church. It is to be ‘a grace-filled event, a process of healing guided by the Holy Spirit’, a setting out on a journey ‘with the Lord always coming to meet us’ (Pope Francis, 10 October 2021).
How can we become a listening Church, profoundly open to all, humble and seeking forgiveness.
Can we be a Church of encounter and dialogue which seeks to hold together, often in tension, fidelity to the truth expressed in her teaching and a compassionate love for every person?
How can we be a Church of deep respect for all that is truly human, seeking to bring the gifts and talents of every person into the mission given by Christ?
How can we be a Church which is constantly restless because we are incomplete, yet a sign and instrument of the union of all with God?
The Synod must consider what processes, initiatives, and structures can help us in becoming a truly missionary Church.
We can be part of this historic process in the thoughts and resolutions of our own hearts.
How can we be more attentive to each other, listen with our hearts to the distress and the joy of those around us, make our community more welcoming?
How can we find ways of enabling the talents and abilities of everyone to become part of our outreach, of that invitation to come to know the Lord?
Every moment and every place is, for us, a time and location for mission. May the coming month of October be a time of grace for our Church, both in the great gathering in Rome and in the circles of our lives here at home.