Synodality is something our world needs right now. Rather than seeking confrontation, declaring “war” (with each side hoping to defeat the other), we need processes that allow diﬀerences to be expressed, heard and left to mature in such a way that we can walk together without needing to destroy another or their point of view. We can actually build a new world in the productive tension of walking together.
This is a tall task, so let’s take a look at three of the things we can do to practice Synodality.
First: We need respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas. The aim is not to reach an agreement by means of a contest between opposing positions, but to journey together to seek God’s will, allowing differences to harmonize. Most important of all is the synodal spirit: to meet each other with respect and trust, candor and charity; to presume the goodness of the other, even though our views may differ dramatically; to believe in our shared unity, and to receive the new thing that the Spirit wishes to reveal to us.
Second: Often, a new idea or way of looking at an issue requires inspiration from the Holy Spirit. Breakthroughs happen, often at the last minute, leading to a meeting of the minds that allows us to move forward. Other times, the Holy Spirit invites us to change: either our way of thinking or the lens through which we view a topic; to shed our rigidity and our agendas, and to look in places we never noticed before. Our God is a God of surprises, who is always ahead of us. But we must be willing to listen to Him.
Third: Not only must we be willing to listen to God through the movement of the Holy Spirit but we must also be willing to wait for Him. This is a patient process, which does not come easily to our impatient age. But perhaps, in the pandemic’s lockdown, we have learned better how to approach it. Discerning in the midst of conflict requires us to sometimes pitch camp together, waiting for the skies to clear. Time belongs to the Lord. Trusting in Him, we move forward with courage, building unity through discernment, to discover and implement new paths and ideas.