Advent, as we all know, is a journey towards Christmas; we all look forward through this season to celebrating the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ and rightly so. We should be looking forward to such an occasion, because if he wasn’t born in human form and experienced the emotions that we as humans feel, his sacrifice for our salvation would be a mere act or a show: so indeed he is true God and true man. During this time we anticipate and prepare for Christmas, whether by going to confession or planning a menu for the big day, these are things we do every year on a regular basis. Unlike me, most people start early so they have everything sorted for the day, to ensure their family and friends can enjoy the occasion and have a good time. Starting early and preparing for such things is very helpful. Similarly, preparing for the 2023 synod which Pope Francis has announced, the diocese and parishes have started preparing for the occasion. Jesus gave up his life for the Church, and you, the people gathered together in the name of Jesus Christ, are the Church, Pope Francis is giving us, each and every one of us, an opportunity to contribute to the Synod.

There is a two-year consultation process which is taking place on a global level. The Holy Father has announced that there will be three phases for this synod: the first is a diocesan phase which will enable every parish and individual to contribute their views on how the Church should feel – not simply what it should look like. The second phase will be a continental one, and the third will be universal.

Pope Francis said in his homily at the launch of this synod that the gospels often show Jesus in the midst of a journey, meeting people and listening to their deepest concerns. This is an opportunity that our Holy Father Pope Francis is giving us he wants to listen to our voices, and it is only right that we participate and give our two penny’s worth of opinion, which is probably worth much more that you can imagine, in the building of the future of our universal Church. Pope Francis is inviting us to an adventure, and challenging us to question the status quo, as in ‘it is useless’, or ‘we have always done it this way’. He has described this synod ‘as a journey of spiritual discernment’, guided by God’s Word.

This synod calls for a worldwide listening and discernment in the parish. The reason I use the term ‘worldwide’ is because it is an initiative from Pope Francis that is aimed at listening to the whole world. What might work for us locally might not be suitable for other parts of the world, which is why I am considering a worldwide view of what the Church should be now and in the future.

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If you are happy with where we are and how things are going that is fine, please let us know that it is fine. If you want to see any changes please let us know that too. But abstaining or ignoring such a wonderful opportunity to contribute to the wellbeing and the future of the Church is embarrassing. We have had three meetings in the parish giving parishioners an opportunity to voice their opinion and discuss; we want to know if there will be interest in organising further meetings at the beginning of the new year, so please let us know. The parish has arranged a survey for you to feed into the synod, it is available online HERE , or you can send in your comments by EMAIL . There are copies available in printed form at the back of the church. We understand it is not easy to articulate or communicate what we really want as a Church, but there are a lot of resources which are available to guide us, particularly from Pope Francis, the Vatican, the Bishops Conference and the diocese. As active faithful followers of Christ please participate in whatever way you can, whether it is online or in person. We have two volunteers who are representing our parish: please feel free to contact them with your views.

Please do all you can to support this process as we ‘journey together’, respectfully hearing and exploring how the perennial teaching of the Church can be applied and lived today. As Pope Francis reminds us: ‘what is under discussion at synodal gatherings are not the traditional truths of Christian doctrine. The Synod is concerned mainly with how teaching can be lived and applied in the changing contexts of our time.’ (Let us Dream: The Path to a Better Future [London: Simon and Schuster 2020, pp. 84-85). I offer this short passage from the synod Vademecum in the letter Archbishop John wrote on the synod: ‘May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of the Apostles and Mother of the Church, intercede for us as we journey together on the path that God sets before us. As in the Upper Room at Pentecost, may her maternal care and intercession accompany us as we build up our communion with one another and carry out our mission in the world. With her, we say together as the People of God: ‘Let it be with me according to your word’ (Lk 1:38). Amen’. Please keep the Synodal process in your prayers.

Wishing you all a safe and Merry Christmas.

Deacon Sandy Misquitta

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE SYNOD   PLEASE VISIT OUR DEDICATED  PAGE HERE