Last week we had virtually a whole page dedicated to the idea of how synodality can be recognised in the wise men. This week we need to begin looking at the points that were raised in the final paragraph.
The first point is in relation to questioning. Questions in relation to our faith and about our faith are asked all the time. The people and the clergy have their questions and these need a time and place to be looked at. This gives those who are responsible for the synodal process an opportunity to gather together information from the areas they are based in and come to see what are the questions of the diocese as a whole before entering into any discussion on what an agenda for a formal synod would be.
That is where the second part takes place. When the questions have been gathered they must be ‘posed’: they must be given a formality and maybe looked at in the different deaneries of the diocese.
Thirdly, when they are posed, answers cannot and should not be rushed, but reflected on for a little while and then after a period of reflection the process picks up again and that involves dialogue. To quote from last week, “by dialogue, a true dialogue that needs to take place, where everyone involved listens to those who speak. We are told that the wise men were warned in a dream not to go back to Herod but to return home by a different way in a process of synodality, that would be like everyone involved being aware during the dialogue that it is open to the Spirit, who guides us in reading the signs of the times, in the light of the faith that we have received” from Jesus Christ.
Finally, “The ‘signs of the times’ may help us to look at, understand and live the faith given to us in ‘a different way’ to how we may have looked at it previously.” When we reflect on the way things are going in Ireland in relation to the Church in different ways, there are a number of things that will need to be looked at in the next few years. There may be changes that we never thought would came our way but the syhodal process will be in place to help move closer to that time and do so with ease rather than wondering what happens next each time something new has to happen.
Back in 2016 when I came to Midleton from Aghinagh it was the first time that a parish was left without a resident parish priest in our diocese. It has happened in some more since. That was a hard thing for the parishioners there to take but they have and they have an administrator at the moment in the parish priest of Macroom. It is something that could need a little bit of forethought, questioning, reflecting and deciding what way we can manage any change into the future because the more parishes that lose a priest, they more difficult it is to see the way to deal with it. A synodal attempt may help us.