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Why Converse?

As the Church prepares herself for the 2023 Synod on Synodality, we, as members, are invited to a journey of listening and discerning together. It is also a journey of conversation which enables us to assess our faith, to learn from each other and to support one another.

Social media has both enlarged and shrunk our world these days because from the comfort of our homes, we can exchange information with practically anyone who has internet. However, the question is, are we making real connections?

As the Covid pandemic continues to challenge us, the Church prepares for the 2023 Synod on Synodality through a two-year consultation period which started in October 2021. A synod, from the Greek word sunodos, meaning assembly, is a council of the Catholic Church, traditionally convening bishops to discuss matters of doctrine, morals and administration.

The 2023 Synod will be different in the sense that bishops will consult with lay, religious and clergy, potentially making church governance more inclusive and participative. Pope Francis, on Oct. 10 during its launch stressed the need to, “listen to the questions, concerns and hopes of every church, people and nation."

Synodality, more than simply being an event of gathering people, is a way of life that signifies the members of the Church journeying and discerning together, led by the Holy Spirit. Pope Francis’ invitation is, "Let us ask: in the church, are we good at listening? How good is the hearing of our heart?" He reflected, “Do we allow people to express themselves, to walk in faith even though they have had difficulties in life, and to be part of the life of the community without being hindered, rejected or judged?"

The first phase will be listening on the local level, within parishes, in coordination with their respective dioceses. The dioceses then will submit their summaries to their episcopal conferences, which will turn these over to the Synod of Bishops.

The Synodal process will encourage us, as the Family of God, to engage in genuine conversations and dialogue: to listen with humility to one another, to speak up with courage regarding the realities of Church life today, to discern regarding where the Holy Spirit is directing us, and to ensure that no one falls behind in our pilgrimage and growth towards becoming a united Body of Christ.

For 2022, in my column titled “Conversations,” we will examine various questions that we as children of God seek enlightenment for as members of the Church. We will tackle different levels and aspects of our lives in which these inquiries are made. After all, when we ask the insightfully probing questions, it is most likely that we will arrive at the deeper answers that could fortify our relationship with God and with each other.

We converse because meaningful exchangescan help us assess where we really are in our faith life, can make us learn from each other and support one another amid the pressing issues of our personal and societal conditions, as well as,guide us to ascertain and pursue, with God’s graces,our vision individually, as communities, as a Church and as nations.

We ask the Holy Trinity to bless us with wisdom and childlike openness as we begin the new year with hope, ready to take on challenges such as the pandemic, the coming elections, debt alleviation, and recovery. With God and each other, we can be victorious!

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