The synod, a listening experience

Synodality. Walk Together in the Spirit

by Agnes Desmazieres

The Beatitudes, 126 p., €9.90

Synod? Did you say synod?

by Benoît-Dominique de La Soujeole

Artege, 94 p., €11

Monastic life and synodality

Bulletin of the Intermonastery Alliance, noh 123, 96 p.

Synod, Synod on synodality, synodal approach… These scholarly words can put off the basic faithful. It is therefore fortunate that theologians endeavor to explain its meaning and implications in as simple a manner as possible in order to make it understood that “synodalism” defines the Church: this, in fact, is of the order of a path, but a path that “is not accomplished alone, but with others, as a people”if we refer to the Greek synodos which means “walking with”, explains Agnès Desmazières from the first lines of her book.

Christ, icon of synodality

His project of showing that synodality corresponds to the profound dynamism of Christian life which must lead the Church “to become aware of itself, in a process of continual conversion, in which each baptized person is invited to participate”. “The path traveled together in the Synodal Church is a path of conversion, a path of personal and community holiness”, writes the theology and church history teacher at the Center Sèvres. It is ultimately this path of synodal conversion that she proposes to follow in eight stages, beginning with a contemplation of Christ “walking alongside pilgrims, icon of synodality”to end with some principles of an authentic synodality, “founded on Christ and animated by listening to the Spirit present in the People”.

Also insisting on the quality of listening and dialogue, the Dominican Benoît-Marie de La Soujeole underlines the issues of communion and participation of all raised by the current synodal process. He begins by noting that the approach launched by Pope Francis, although it is not part of the usual bodies (regional council, plenary council and ecumenical or universal council), is nonetheless “deeply traditional in the best sense of the word”according to the medieval adage: “What concerns everyone must be deliberated by everyone. »

““Deliberate” does not mean “decide””

““To deliberate” does not mean “to decide”, but to provide those who must decide – the bishops (hierarchical or, better, apostolic principle) – with the elements of discernment”, explains the theologian who warns against a conception of the synodal process that would allow ” the base “ to bring up his “claims” to ” Mountain peak “. Such an approach “secularized” completely misses the Community dimension, he believes.

The fundamental issue is to make “the apprenticeship of an ecclesial life which puts, in respect of the place of each, all the baptized in reciprocal interactions in order to be able to arrive at the discernment of a “message” coming from God”.“The synergy between the faithful and the apostolic hierarchy is therefore one of the fundamental “laws” of the life of the people of God. Each, in the line of the grace which is his, must contribute to the whole, a bit like the instrumentalists of an orchestra, under the baton of their conductor, are all necessary for the execution of the symphony. , writes the Dominican religious from the province of Toulouse.

Finally, the last Bulletin of the Intermonastery Alliance testifies that monastic life is also concerned by the synodal process and has things to contribute to it. Several articles evoke the Rule of Saint Benedict, read as a school of synodality. “The common denominator between the Rule of Saint Benedict and synodality is the word “listening” as well as the word “community””, justifies Mother Andrea Savage, Benedictine of Stanbrook Abbey (England).

For her part, Marie-Dominique Minassian, a Swiss theologian in Friborg (Switzerland), dwells on the experience of the monks of Tibhirine. She reads the experience “full listening” – made up of listening to the word of God, mutual listening and listening to events – experienced by the Trappist brothers as a striking example of synodality. “This integral listening pushes us to restore the creativity of the Spirit. This is called discernment, concludes the theologian. A listening that can lead to the ultimate gift of self, in martyrdom.

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