Summary of the Synod's progress in the dioceses

Parish synthesis from the parish of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Piastow

Synod of the Universal Church “Towards a Synodal Church: communion, participation and mission” 2021-2023 – proceeding at MB Czestochowa Parish in Piastow

  • In the Parish of St. Our Lady of Czestochowa in Piastow held 3 meetings of the Synodal Team – on Saturday, November 13, 2021. After the evening Mass, on Saturday, December 11, 2021. After evening Mass and on Wednesday, January 19, 2022. After the evening Mass. The invitation to each meeting was announced in the parish announcements after Sunday Masses and published on the parish website. Prior to the third meeting, the synod team prepared plaques with the Synod logo, which was placed at the Altar, in a prominent position. A poster with information about the ongoing Synod was hung in the church’s porch.

  • The first meeting in our parish was attended by 20 people (4 clergy – the parish priest, 2 vicars and Father Emilio Marianista and 15 lay people). The second meeting was attended by 4 clergy and 15 lay people, and the third meeting by 4 clergy and 12 lay people. Meetings of the parish synodal team began with prayer, followed by the reading of Scripture passages. The consultation dealt with synodal issues. We used the questions provided in the Synod’s Vademecum on Synodality.

  • Participants in the synodal team are constantly promoting information about the Synod. We sent out information about the Synod and issues for consultation to groups on social media, including on FB – parents of altar boys and altar girls. Questionnaires with issues for consultation were made available in the church porch. Surveys could be completed in writing or electronically. The return of questionnaires is symbolic (12 people).

PARISH SYNTHESIS The parish of St. Peter’s. Our Lady of Czestochowa in Piastow

  • The faithful don’t know much about the Synod. Usually the Synod did not directly affect members of parish communities hence the misunderstanding of the role and tasks carried by the Synod is quite common. The synod on synodality is undoubtedly something new. The specific, clearly defined goals of the synod were not made clear to the faithful. The natural reflex is to recognize that if everyone is to be heard, only a select few will actually be heard. Thus, the approach to the Synod is conservative, the faithful do not understand their role and are somewhat afraid of the results of the Synod, and as a result, it is difficult to take interest in the Synod, there is very little responsiveness and there are voices of doubt about the meaning of the Synod;

  • Similarly, clergy don’t know very much about how they should implement synodal consultations. The role of the clergy at Synodal Team meetings was limited to non-intrusive moderation. This attitude stems from a desire to listen to the faithful attending the meetings. For lay participants in the meetings, however, the voice of the clergy in the discussion would be of great value. Firstly, because of the priests’ vast theological knowledge, and secondly, it would be something of a proof that the priests are concerned about the comments made by parishioners, that they are open to suggested changes, that they are not afraid of criticism;

  • The subject of the consultation, the issues and questions for consideration (10 issues) are not understood by the participants of the meetings. Perhaps this is the result of the lack of such meetings, reflections, discussions about faith, the Church, about building community, or simply the translation of the material from the original language into Polish has made the reception of the questions (those in the Vademecum) quite difficult, the issues to be consulted are contested. The synodal questions are open-ended questions asked in such a way that everyone can interpret them differently. Correctly conducted discussion allows the same question to be answered, which is not possible with synodal questions.

  • the Synod’s results should take into account two extreme needs – Catholics who are very attached to tradition and the traditional division of roles in the Church, and progressive Catholics who expect changes in the Church, openness of the Church and greater involvement in its reconstruction;

  • The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic in the activity of communities are clearly discernible. Many communities and parish groups have greatly reduced their activities. In addition, the number of believers in the Church has decreased. The bond between people is disappearing, the social distance is also the distance between the needy and the helpers, and this increases the scale of economic divisions

At the meetings of the Synodal Team, participants in free speeches pointed out issues worth addressing in the synodal study. They stressed the need for activities that strengthen the bonds of participants in our parish community, activities that will result in a deeper sense that the Church is our home. They considered the types of actions and activities that will bring into the community those who are inactive, distant from the Church, whose Church has failed them. In particular, the problem of young people leaving the Church was discussed. It was noted that often the end of young people’s participation in the Church is participation in the sacrament of Confirmation. The impact of the covid-19 pandemic on Mass attendance was analyzed. and expressed concern that after the pandemic, not all previously practicing Christians would return to the Church. The level of religious instruction in schools was discussed. The need to rethink the core curriculum for religion lessons and the way they are taught was pointed out. We know from experience that children and young people, after many years of religious instruction, know neither the truths of the faith, nor basic information about the history of salvation and the history of the Church. For some children, religion is the only place where they can learn this information, because the family home does not provide it for them. Perhaps we should also rethink the way we train and select those who teach catechesis.

Of the current issues around the parish, the need to update information on the parish website was highlighted.

In the discussion of divisions in the Church, some differences were pointed out between the Eastern Church, which is smaller in number, where services are held less frequently and sacraments are celebrated differently, and the Western Church, which is divided into different streams. The Western Church is facing increasing secularization of society. Regardless of our differences, we are united by Holy Communion. In the first reactions of the participants, there was surprise and consternation that the synodal question about divisions in the Church does not seem to be relevant to Catholics. However, further reflection showed that divisions do exist. Our attitudes vary, if only in the context of attending Sunday Mass. We know of faithful, including from our parish/community, who are Catholic but do not attend Mass on Sunday. We are united by the Decalogue as the code that influences our behavior in the greatest way, but our approach to doctrinal issues differs. There are faithful who do not tolerate Holy Communion received in the palm of the hand.

Participants in the meetings indicated not to look for divisions, and even if there are any, to try not to antagonize, but rather to learn to listen patiently. As children of God, we should strive to understand and comprehend ourselves. The division should not end in a dispute. We should pray for each other to better understand the other, and we should also pray for non-believers. Let’s learn tolerance, so that the fact that we differ from each other does not cause aggression. Let’s learn to approach each other with love, even if we are very different. Faith in God will heal us, faith in God will bring us together. And since we believe in God we should try to go out to non-believers and show the strength of our faith and be able to tell what it means to believe in God, be able to explain why we believe in God.

Let’s learn to listen to the other person. If we screw up and build a bad atmosphere around divisions then we will become weaker and weaker in transmitting the faith. We will become weaker and weaker in faith. Only strengthening in faith will give us wisdom and goodness, patience and tolerance to work with another human being, including a non-believer.

We are divided by our approach to change in the Church. Some expect them, others oppose them. The Holy Father’s Synod on Synodality seems to be testing the readiness for change among both clergy and laity. If the reforms introduced as a result of the Synod are revolutionary, many of us will not be ready, open to the change and consequently we will negate it, which will create/deepen the division.

Let’s strive for unity. But let’s learn the willingness to make concessions. Tolerance and patience will help. We are equal members of the Church. The Church is each of us. The Synod is for us, that is, those convinced, practicing, converting every day and those who hesitate, are not sure, feel lost. We don’t have to be all the same.

An issue that should particularly concern us Catholics is the economic divide. It turns out that we know little about the needs of the underprivileged, we easily hand over the task of helping charitable organizations, and we make no effort to join in this assistance.

It is also not difficult to observe that age is the factor that affects participation in the community, involvement in the Church. Unfortunately, the youth are disappearing from the Church. A huge dilemma is to come up with a way to encourage participation and stay in the Church after confirmation.

How do you convince the Young to enter the community? For the Young, teaching about sin is not attractive. Constant prohibitions and orders, this is wrong, don’t do this, don’t think about that. In addition, it seems that the teachings of the dot. sin are bypassed by a wide margin, both by preachers and catechists. Doctrine should be about the truths of faith communicated with conviction by those who proclaim these truths. Then issues of sin will not be perceived as “commands and prohibitions.” Pope John Paul II told young people to demand of themselves even when others do not demand of them. Young people participating in the Team’s meetings pointed out the need for the Church to be a signpost (spiritual and moral). Together we considered the Church’s readiness for the demands and needs of the young. It seems reasonable to analyze the Church’s forms of communication with the Young and examine whether they are interesting enough to focus the Young’s attention on the core of Christianity. Several questions were pointed out, which in the context of the departure of the young from the Church are worth considering:

Does the Church know how to formulate challenges to the Young?

Does he have time to talk to them, to listen to their problems and pains, including those that result from modernity, from the stimuli bombarding them from all sides.

Do we know how to gain the trust of the young, do we show interest in the young, do we have time to listen to them?

The question of mere decision-making from Holy Spirit-influenced decision-making in the first reaction raised doubts. A statement was made that it is risky to claim that a lay person’s decisions are made under the influence/participation of the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, there is such a thing as an inner voice. If we are faithful to God, listening and hearing, we open ourselves to hear, to see the light. Sometimes we hear that “You’re the lucky one,” or that “Providence is watching over us.” Or is it the inspiration of the Holy Spirit? Just as in the passage of the Acts of the Apostles read (Acts 15:1-31) decided the Holy Spirit and we the Apostles, so in our lives the decisions we pronounce, intercede in prayer are the work of the Holy Spirit who speaks through us. Perhaps the essence of discernment with the Holy Spirit is not to be attached to one’s rationale, but precisely to be open, ready to receive the light from the Holy Spirit.

What helps us discern? Listening, reading and meditating on the Word of God, listening to sermons, participating in prayer groups, community groups. If I don’t have a guide to God’s Word, if I don’t have a group to support me in prayer, if there is no discussion in the Church, no conversation, no teaching from each other, then it is more difficult to invite the Holy Spirit, and even more difficult to discern, to listen to his voice.

A passage from the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 15:1-31) was used in the discussion on decision-making. There were voices that the analyzed passage was too technical, describing a compromise. At the same time, there were comments that for St. St. Paul’s was not a compromise. This decision made together with the Holy Spirit could have been risky, could have excluded. James studied Peter’s words – whether they were in line with tradition, with the teaching of the Church. Voice of the participant: if they do not follow tradition, they are not influenced by the Holy Spirit.

One of the goals of the synod is for Catholics around the world to analyze the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We often see and hear efforts to make certain individuals have more influence than their role on various decisions. Peter and James knew their roles. They went to consult the most important ones to search for unity.

The study of the Holy Spirit’s inspiration must be based on knowledge. Lay people have limited time resources, and have not been educated like the clergy.

Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, trusted the Apostles, allowed them to decide on a difficult fundamental issue, allowed them to make a decision. Now the Church, the clergy also get similar tasks from Jesus, do they have to discern with the Holy Spirit on weighty issues, current problems of our time? When we go to church, do we hear words directed to our hearts and minds, often these are sermons about and for those who are not in the church. Do we get the inspiration to be able to convert not only ourselves but also those we know are hesitating, that they want to leave the Church, that they have stopped believing. Does today’s Church speak about current life, does it deal with issues that are important to modern man?

It is worth rethinking and further discussing the role of the Church. Is the Church supposed to lead us to salvation, or reflect modern times?

What is the role of community members? Is it enough that we testify with our attitudes that our lives are good and successful because we are with God, that we believe in him, that we follow the Decalogue?

Should our Catholicism begin and end with ourselves? If we do not block anyone from entering the community, does it mean that we are acting under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Or maybe we don’t listen to him enough, we focus too much on ourselves, we don’t pray too fervently for the conversion of those who are not in our community.

This is perhaps the most difficult question. How to effectively attract others to the faith, how to help them deepen their faith? I don’t think we ask ourselves too seldom why people, especially young people, are leaving the Church? Who is responsible for this? Who and what did we do wrong? What have we not done? We focus on ourselves, we are passive, we are not interested in the spirituality of others. Maybe we believers, however, do not follow together, but side by side. That is, we are poorly fulfilling the mission that Jesus honored us by allowing us, through baptism and confirmation, to join the ranks of his disciples. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we should not only think about whether my faith, my behavior will lead me to salvation, we should give more to the other person and do more for their salvation.