By: María de los Dolores Palencia Gomez csj (Lyon-Mexico)
[Translated from original Spanish. Para leer en español, haga clic aquí]
I thank Lisa and Kascha, their close presence in Rome, their invitation and support to share with all the Federation, the sisters and family of St. Joseph, the grace received in this Synod.
The ecclesial experience of synodality that I lived this past October is a grace that I hope spills out to all those who believe in Jesus and goes to all the communities. This experience reminds me of the gift and responsibility of being disciples, missionaries, and the call in personal and communal discernment to be moved by Ruah like Mary, to wake up creatively and announce, defend hope, life to the full for all of humanity and creation, walking together in complementary ministries and capacities.
Throughout the whole Synod I felt the charism of Communion very present, the call to co-responsible participation at the serve of the Mission that is the reign of God. The spirituality of the Maxims that help us decenter ourselves and help us see, with a compassionate and merciful heart, the needs and cries of others (Phil 2:2-7). You all can read the synthesis [report] in English, already published and you will encounter, without a doubt, many parts where we can recognize the Trinitarian spirituality of communion, participation and complementary of gifts, that call to create harmonious relationship that dignify and include (John 17:21); the centrality of the most poor and vulnerable people and the care of our Common Home. The simple journey of humility, truth, tender happiness, of collaboration without leading lights, of the mustard seed that enters the ground to be fertilized and fertilize.
This chapter of the Synod invites us to deepen and make the most of convergences; to dig deeply and contribute on themes that are not sufficiently clear; to launch, practice the proposals that will move us to better live synodality. We dedicate our daily lives to announce that siblinghood is possible, thanks to our differences and diversity; that sharing who we are with truth and profound respect to others’ truths, with profound listening to the feelings, thoughts and actions of each one, really leads us outside our Self, to receive, to welcome with joy the You, to bring into existence a We that takes into account our diversities and different points of view, all this makes us a church at the service of the Kingdom. In English the text presents this phrase: “Rather than saying that the Church has a mission, we affirm that Church ‘is’ mission.” [Synthesis Report Part II, 8a.] In Spanish it says the same with another expression: the church doesn’t have a mission, the Mission has a church.” [La iglesia no tiene una misión, la Misión tiene una iglesia.”]
The experience of simple and profound dialogue at each roundtable that I participated in – and each person had the opportunity to be at 4 different tables – first introduced ourselves by who we were, where we came from, what we did and what we liked to do. It helps to know us by name and in a close environment of empathy and trust. At the end of each theme, we felt mutual appreciation, friendship, the desire to continue some personal conversations, take a group photo, share our WhatsApp, sustaining one another through prayer and at the end, always with the sincere desire: “See you next October to finish the work.”
We shared in the same table – like the Lord’s Supper – we all had the same 3 minutes to speak. We all had small services to provide in that small community that lasted the time necessary to share, dialogue, pray on a specific topic and to discern together our contribution to the Assembly, voted on by everyone, signed by the elected relator of the group. All baptized in equality, with diverse services and ministries.
I hope that you all will find without difficulty, both the Letter to the People of God and in the text of the Synthesis, the appreciation and valuation of religious life, “the watchful sentinel of the Spirit’s call” for the Church, the audacity and creativity to continue responding to new faces of poverty, lack, exclusion, fragility. The role of lay people, valuing their capacities and potential to make present in societies, in key decision-making places, in the most political and scientific environments, the values and criteria of the Gospel and the interests of the common good for all humanity and for the Common Home without distinction of races, languages, or abilities.
The spiritual conversation, what has been the methodology that helped us enter into a journey of conversion, a space of personal listening to the Spirit, a profound sharing of movements in each person, received as a gift, as a word for each one and collected in silence and prayer; a second time letting go, letting go of the personal, to enrich it with what others bring to me, recognizing new invitations and manifesting what we feel as a call from the Spirit; in order to, in a third moment, begin to build together, based on what the Spirit moves and recognizing the points of consensus and where there is no consensus, what we wish to share with the entire assembly to build. We remember several times the text of Acts 15, “The Holy Spirit and we have decided…”
How much closeness there was in this conversation in the Spirit and the sharing of the state of the heart and the home.
I do not want to end without highlighting the important and fundamental contribution of young people, to help us see new horizons and new spaces of announcement. To welcome, listen, accompany young people with great respect, starting from their needs and their vision, to re-create the announcement of the Gospel, without forgetting an important field of mission that is the digital world. The missionaries of the Digital Synod made very valuable contributions to the synod assembly.
The call for everyone to celebrate life, faith, and commitment in the Eucharist, in liturgies that encourage encounter, sharing and the deep experience of faith and belonging for those who participate, celebrating among all and with Jesus, how He did so with His disciples. Don’t forget to look beyond our borders, our traditions, “what we have always done,” get out of our comfort zone, expand the space of our store…
May the Trinity encourage us to continue walking together, recognizing the Spirit who guides us to love and serve like Jesus.
María de los Dolores Palencia G. csj Lyon, France November 4, 2023
[Sr. María de los Dolores Palencia Gomez is a Sister of St. Joseph of Lyon-Mexico. She serves as a president-delegate for the 16th Ordinary Assembly of Bishops and will return to Rome in October, 2024.]