Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Thoughts on the Synod

Okay, I've read what amounts to "Wait until They're Done with this" to discern what's what, and its opposite, panic, "Something Wicked This Way Comes."   I've read articles that declared the discussion of the working document an earthquake, and other that said, meh, molehills.  

Having looked at the actual documents, there is a mixed bag, such that anyone can find something to like and something that gives pause.  I also read "Vatican bemoans premature release" , Advice for the Pope, and The Great Catholic Cave in that Wasn't.

The big issue for me was what is the Synod on the Family and why is it?  So I did some more homework...I found out the actual theme of the Synod at the USCCB website: 

 Q: What is the theme of the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops?

A: "The pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization."

The writings that spurred so much controversy make much more sense in light of the theme of these discussions.  
I get what troubled people because it troubled me enough to pester some of my favorite Catholic writers before I settled down to do my reading rather than reacting. I wrote asking why the bishops were discussing what I knew to be settled doctrine.  That's the impression one got from Earth shaking and Ground releases.
The bishops weren't discussing doctrine.  They were discussing pastoral care on a universal level.  Going out to reach those who for whatever reasons, (doctrinal objections or lifestyles) refused the Church, would require acknowledging these sheep needed to be found, and that it was the job of every bishop to seek out each soul, and bring them all back. 
Since the outreach of this Synod is to address the problems of modern life, in order to bring all back into the fold, recognizing the innate dignity of persons who identify themselves as having this orientation, is a good starting point for getting them to hear the Church's message of all of humanity having infinite dignity and being welcome.  

While changing the terms to simply read "Sinners" would satisfy those who thirst for an affirmation of doctrine, it wouldn't let anyone hear what was said, because few even amongst the faithful, are willing to admit openly, belonging to that category.  We aren't those type of sinners.  Or we don't do those type of sins. We may be a church of the fallen, but everyone likes to believe everyone else is more fallen, meaning somehow, we're less in need of God's grace.  Naming those being sought, helped those being sought hear what was said next.

The goal of the Synod is to have the Church's good news, the message of Christ's love for all of the people, everywhere, heard. Unfortunately, it won't be heard over all the arguments and the reactions and the worry.
Naturally, those who consider themselves inside the pen, (and everyone in the church thinks they're in the pen), feel ignored for not being singled out.  

Everyone want to be affirmed, petted and told we were good sheep.  

It is the human failing, the moral failing of presumption.  It becomes very easy to sympathize with the older brother in the story of the Prodigal son, or the workers in the vineyard who served all day and get the same as those who came last if we're in it for the accolades of the Father, and not for love of the Father. 

We all want to somehow merit more praise than the other.  We all want the Church to say, "Well done, good and faithful servant." when what we should always recognize "You, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty." (Luke 17:10).  
It's hard, because such sublimation requires anyone who seeks to be faithful to recognize, we're not there yet.  We're in deep deep spiritual swampiness if we think because of how we've lived or are living, we somehow merit something.  All is grace.  All is a gift.  We merit nothing.  Either we are servants who love the Church, and thus serve freely, or we are slaves to tradition, and derive our satisfaction as do the Pharisees, from making sure the outside is clean, without ever considering the inside.   Either we trust and believe the Holy Spirit will guide the Church (and the gates of Hell shall not prevail) or have declared it to be a mere human institution.  In which case, we're all wasting a lot of time and energy on something to make ourselves feel good when there are a whole host of other things that would give us pleasure and require much less of us than everything.

For those still fearful, be not afraid.  If we seek a friendship with Christ, Christ will find us, and if we love Christ, we will be changed by that relationship.  This spiritual reality is universal, no one who seeks Christ, will not have Him knocking at their hearts.  The Synod has people who have considered themselves not part of the church because of their practice, wondering if they belong inside of it.  It is as if the doors have been thrown open, and the servants are going out to invite everyone, come eat.  We will have do decide whether or not to attend.  When we hear that call, we will either sell everything and follow, or walk away sad.  God never echoes our heart, we echo His. So when we fall into the trap of wanting the Church to say what would please us, comfort us, honor us, it means we're wanting the Church for us, and we've made an idol of our religion instead of Worshiping God.  
This is not an urge to faithful Catholics to wring their hands at themselves, it is a reminder of why we do what we do.  I get the confusion, now that I understand the why of how things were written.   I do not think "Nothing is troubling, don't worry," necessarily helps anyone, because the words put forth do require clarification, both of context and intent.  But that clarification will come, not spin, discernment.   
Catholic means Universal; there is no limit to who should be invited into the wedding feast, and no sin which if repented of, can keep a soul from Christ.  Everyone is invited.  The message of the Synod isn't finished yet, but it will need the help of everyone who considers themselves a follower of Christ, prayers, fasting and a joyful heart, plus a willingness to extend to both our brothers and sisters from whom we are separated, and to the princes of the Church, a trust that all is being done in good faith, even if all is not being done perfectly well.  One thing is for sure, if we want to make sure we come to the wedding feast after getting the invitation, all our hearts are going to have to get bigger.  

1 comment:

LarryD said...

Excellent, Sherry.

With grace comes serenity, and that is of the Holy Spirit. I can't explain my lack of angst over this Synod (except with some angst towards those who are tearing their hair out) other than unmerited grace. For which I'm grateful.

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