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It seems good to the Holy spirit and to us

Synodality has two prime purposes. Firstly it is about including everyone. Austin Evereigh explains this clearly in the video What affects all should be discussed by all. This has been the emphasis so far in all the work we have done together. Learning again the principles of listening and honouring and storytelling, and recognising ourselves-in-others according to the humble generosity of a profound sense of mutuality. We are in it together. Nobody is less valued than another person. Everybody’s contribution is worth listening to.

Secondly, synodality is about discernment. Within this non-judgemental, non-knee-jerk environment which we have inherited from the days of the early Church, we have given ourselves space to listen to each other, and to listen to the Spirit of God. So today, in Austen Ivereigh’s second video The primary actor is the Spirit we move on to look at how that might work out in practice.

There is a lot of material in those two videos, so with the advice from Pope Francis, and the Gospel account of Synodality in practice, we have included, as extra, just a short encouragement from the Secretary General of the Rome-based Union of Religious Superiors, Emire Turu.

As always, with the questions at the end, it is important that everyone is given an opportunity to express their concerns and enthusiasm freely. There is no need to try to reach a consensus or make any decisions yet – as Pope Francis says, “God sees into the distance; God is not in a hurry”.

Opening prayer

If you are using this prayer by yourself at home, then remember that you are not alone. You are a valued member of this group, you are sharing this retreat together. Each person will pray and ponder in their own time and place, but the Spirit is with each and every one and all of you. You are together in God.

A: Creator of the world, eternal God,
B: we come together from our own places for a little while.

A: Redeemer of humanity, God with us,
B: we have come with all our differences seeking common respect

A: Spirit of unity, go-between God,
B: we have come with stories of our own to a place where stories meet.

A: So here, in this space, let us take time together. for when your people gather and stories are shared, there is much to celebrate and honour.
B: In your name, three in one God, pattern of community. Amen.

Adapted from “Iona Abbey Worship Book”, 2001. c 2001, WGRG, Iona Community (admin. GIA Publications Inc.) All rights reserved


After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, testified to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as God also did to us; and God made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith.

 All the people kept silent, and they were listening to Barnabas and Paul as they were relating what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.

After they had stopped speaking, James answered, saying, “Brethren, listen to me. Simeon has related how God was first concerned with taking from among the Gentiles a people for God’s own name. With this the words of the Prophets agree, just as it is written,

 “After these things I will return, and I will rebuild the tabernacle of David which has fallen, and I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it,

Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas—Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren, and they 1sent this letter by them,

The apostles and the brethren who are elders, to the brethren in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia who are from the Gentiles, greetings. Since we have heard that some of our number to whom we gave no instruction have disturbed you with their words, unsettling your souls, it seemed good to us, having become of one mind, to select men to send to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, for it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials: that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; 1if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell.”

Acts 2:7-9, 12-16, 22-29

Pope Francis on Discernment

In this way [the Acts of the Apostles], though service, the Church advanced, journeyed together, was “synodal”, accompanied by discernment, amid the felt needs and realities of life and in the power of the Spirit. The Spirit is always the great “protagonist” of the Church’s life.

There was also the clash of differing visions and expectations. We need not be afraid when the same thing happens today. Would that we could argue like that! Arguments are a sign of docility and openness to the Spirit. Serious conflicts can also take place … Today too, there can be a rigid way of looking at things, one that restricts God’s makrothymía, [God’s] patient, profound, broad and farsighted way of seeing things. God sees into the distance; God is not in a hurry…

“… and to us”. In this Synod, we want to get to the point where we can say, “it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us”, for, guided by the Holy Spirit, you will be in constant dialogue among yourselves, but also in dialogue with the Holy Spirit. Remember those words: “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to place on you any burden…” “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us”. That is how you should try to discuss things at every stage of this synodal process. Without the Holy Spirit, this will be a kind of diocesan parliament, but not a Synod. We are not holding a diocesan parliament, examining this or that question, but making a journey of listening to one another and to the Holy Spirit, discussing yes, but discussing with the Holy Spirit, which is a way of praying.


Optional Resources

1*: What affects all should be discussed by all.

https://londonjesuitcentre.org/synodality-course https://vimeo.com/681355216?embedded=true&source=vimeo_logo&owner=126976808

2* The primary actor is the Spirit

https://londonjesuitcentre.org/synodality-course https://vimeo.com/681355216?embedded=true&source=vimeo_logo&owner=126976808

3. It seems incredible that this is new, But we want to give another tone to the discernment the synodal process is supposed to inspire: It is not an intellectual debate on positions already taken. It is about entering together into a process of spiritual discernment. The intention, I believe, is extraordinary. I guess time will tell if we succeed.”

Spanish Marist Brother Emili Turú Secretary General of the Rome-based Union of Religious Superiors and a member of the synod’s spirituality commission.

Questions to Ponder

1: What is your initial reaction to Austin Ivereigh’s teaching? Do you find it inspirational, or does it make you anxious?

2: How do you feel about a Church “on the rim”, responding to the reality of people’s lives? A Church of “permanent rebirth and permanent reform”?

3: How do you encounter the Spirit of God in your prayer, in your group or parish, in your daily life? How do you recognise a decision which is “good to the Holy Spirit and to us”?

4: What are your excitements or anxieties about moving forward into a more synodal model of Church?

Closing prayer

A: As we continue in our retreat together, in this day and in our lives
B: May we be grateful for the blessings of this day, today and each day.
B: May we be grateful for the new stories and new ways of thinking we have explored, today and each day.
B: May we be grateful for kind company, heedful to God, heedful to ourselves and heedful to each other, today and each day

A: God who speaks so that all may hear you
B: Bless all that we have heard and honoured in our work today

A: God who has chosen your story to be part of our story
B: Enliven us with the grace of the stories we have shared and celebrated.

A: God who chose to be one with us, be with us now
B: As we recognise ourselves in the faces of this community around us   

A: God who has been faithful to us since the beginning of time
B: Keep us faithful to your Spirit amongst us as we are inspired to kindness and creativity and vision

A: God, whose Spirit of Wisdom has guided us through the annals and experiences of our histories
B: Guide us now as we discern the movement of that same Spirit amongst us

A: God from whom all gifts come, who shares our adventure, and delights in our friendship
B: We thank you for your presence with us as we continue in our retreat this day, and each day of our lives. Amen