Shared responsibility in our common mission
Synodality serves the mission of the Church, in which all its members are called to participate.
Are we aware that as baptized, we are all called to the mission of evangelization? What is holding us back in taking on this mission and supporting others in it: in ourselves, in our living environment, in today’s culture?
Wszystkie syntezy w jednym dokumencie PDF
Evangelism constitutes the primary goal of the Church. “In the spirit of evangelization, we see a desire to take a greater interest in those “standing on the sidelines,” less involved in the life of the Church, so that all would experience close relationships, break through anonymity, and consequently become more actively involved in the life of the Church community and discover Christ living in the Word and sacraments.” However, during consultations and in diocesan syntheses, the issue of the Church’s mission appears relatively rarely. Evangelization is very difficult for us, and often simply absent. The reason for this is not a lack of desire or motivation, but the very nature of evangelization, which is realized through ties and relationships, and this is lacking in our parish communities. “In order to be “more together” and evangelize effectively, we need to learn others again and again: how to listen to them to understand what they want to tell us, and how to speak to them so that they understand what we want to tell them.” Many people also feel unprepared for missions and evangelization. The laity lacks proper formation and basic religious knowledge.
The theme of missions emphasized the “rupture” between the world of clergy and laity. “It is not surprising, then, that many clergy lack good experiences of cooperation with the laity, and it can be quite easy for them to develop a tendency to treat us [the laity] ‘down’.” Many communities or movements do not prepare the laity to be preachers of the Good News, do not show what the kerygma is, and do not teach how to share the faith. The [naszym] Church rarely treats the laity as partners in evangelization. And yet it is we, the laity, who are the “soldiers on the front line” in the fight for this world. Meanwhile, we are not being taken seriously.”
It is also not uncommon to feel helpless in the face of the rapid changes taking place in the reality around us. Often we are simply afraid. “Nowadays, just openly admitting in a secular setting to regular religious practice can be a serious challenge for some,” or, as one youth group noted, “being a practicing Christian today is old-fashioned, [więc] I don’t lean with my religiosity.”
1.1.1 Since we are all disciple-missionaries, how is each baptized person called to be an active participant in the mission?
– By virtue of baptism, we are missionaries in the places we go.
– A mission is primarily the immediate family, workplace, parish, but also missions in other countries. This is served by Missionary Week, inviting missionaries, missionary catechesis, word about missions and prayer for missions.
– We should carry out the mission first and foremost in our families, in our circle of friends, and in our place of work or study. We do this with varying degrees of success-it depends on our maturity and awareness of the mission. We support missionaries and missions spiritually (through prayer) and materially.
– Some parishioners support the work of spiritual adoption of a specific child in African countries.
1.1.2 How does the community support its members engaged in service to society (social and political involvement, in scientific research and teaching, promotion of social justice, protection of human rights and concern for the common home, ecology, etc.)?
– Political involvement exacerbates disputes and does not serve the community of the Church. Social – some foundations and associations support their neighbors. Ecology is often “frowned upon” among various Catholics, people.
– There are priests who preach in sermons that environmentalism is a nonsense ideology. There are also parishes that are actively involved in helping the needy, supporting scientific research, exhorting people to care for the environment, regardless of differences in worldview, culture, etc.
– The Church is already engaged in social activities anyway. Of course, you can always do more. In charity work, you can look for those people and places where help has not reached so far.
– Interpreting human rights in light of God’s law.
– Social justice understood as a Christian sensibility.
– Politics understood as concern for the common good
– The role of funders, organized charitable institutions (e.g., Caritas)- organizing retreats, recreation, meetings for various social groups, e.g., young people, couples, families,- inaugurating various events, e.g., the “Caritas”. Year of the Family
– Concern for the common home understood in a narrow context (as concern for the family) and in a broad context (as concern for our Earth, as ecology).
– Too little space is devoted to the issue of ecology in Christian terms.
– Prayer for missionaries, financial and material support
– Through formation, reflecting on God’s word together, sharing life.
– Discernment of mission-related choices is made through proposals to engage in a specific task. The people who want to help are often lay people who have various talents and want to share them in the parish community. Priests, nuns often by virtue of their involvement in leading communities (depending on the nature of the community) also have a discernment of who has what predispositions and often invite, offer a specific ministry in the Church, thereby creating opportunities for the development of such people.
– Mission-related choices are made by priests working in the parish, mainly the person Fr. Pastor. On some issues, elections are made jointly with the parish council. However, this does not close off opportunities for lay people to present their proposals.
1.1.5 How are the various traditions regarding synodal style, which are the heritage of many Churches, especially the Eastern Churches, incorporated and adapted in the perspective of effective Christian witness?
– I am from Sokolka, it is the center of four strong religious currents. Predominantly Catholicism, very strong Orthodoxy, one of the strongest centers of Islam in Poland, due to the close proximity of Bohonik and Kruszyniany, and since the 1990s Jehovah’s Witnesses. Interesting cockpit of experiences, and yet, despite everything, it is possible to function like this in self-respect. Perhaps this is why the Eucharistic miracle took place in Sokolka. Of course, on the level of life, it is not so much religion that decides, but faith and the usual qualities of honesty, fairness, kindness. The strength of the Church comes from the awareness of its identity, so in my opinion, it is necessary to fight for a sense of deep identity. It’s about church members knowing why they are in this faith. The simplest form is the Sunday homilies, which should explain the Bible, biblical symbols, explain the motives of biblical characters. To maintain towards other cultures one’s identity can only be maintained by knowing and understanding the value of one’s choice, integrating with it, but also living these contents. We have a huge crisis of faith. People still go to church, but the population is getting older and older. Young people rarely see their place in the Church. Because they don’t understand who God is, they don’t know Him as someone close, warm and loving, because such an image most often their parents don’t have, so how can they pass it on to their children, catechesis in school is not enough. The missionality of the Polish Church should be a missionality here and now in Poland. We’ve recently had almost 2 million Ukrainians arrive, plus almost 1, 5 million who were already there. We have a huge community of mainly Orthodox believers. All the more reason why we should fight for our religious identity, for a living faith. To me, this is not a time for dialogue, it is a time to strengthen faith in ourselves.
– There is beauty in diversity, which is very deeply rooted in a single source and purpose. The diversity of traditions shows how important a reality for people, cultures of nations is faith and worship. By incorporating the reality of faith into our traditions, we incorporate God’s spirit into them, as well as in our own proper way to express our devotion to God. So such diversity may have even more power to so many peoples and cultures living on the planet.
– The idea is to meet each other on this road, to teach dialogue, to teach brotherhood, openness, sensitivity and closeness?
– This is possible by listening to other people’s voices and making decisions taking into account another person’s experience and knowledge. Here, however, great humility is needed, especially in the experience of the thoroughly clerical Church we still have in Poland.
– Given where we live, we are constantly in contact with people belonging to the Orthodox Church. Our daily functioning would be downright impossible without mutual respect and a sense that we belong to the same Father. This takes place both at the level of the clergy and the faithful. An attitude of openness and understanding is important, as well as a readiness for joint initiatives.
– It is based on, among other things. on helping and supporting each other (e.g., the Greek Catholic Church celebrates liturgy in the temple of the Catholic Church).
– Akurat in our country there are a lot of different communities: Orthodox Christians, Tatars. Cooperation is always on the side of Roman Catholics. Other communities are reluctant to cooperate unless we adopt their customs. But then it is not a collaboration.
1.1 Activity in the life of the Church
For a significant number of participants in synod meetings, the context of the statements was a positive image of the Church from the past – from childhood or youth. In most cases, he has led these individuals to their current involvement in community life. Concern for the welfare of the Church and the desire for repair were the impulses that led them to participate in the synodal discussion itself. Active participation in the parish life of the Church was a measure of the dynamism that characterized the community. Without the active participation of the laity, the Church becomes dead and loses its luster, its power of attraction. The source of activity is primarily participation in Mass. and services, prayers, adoration. The desire for cyclic adoration in silence was expressed. Contemplation of the Eucharistic Jesus and openness to listening to His word results in activity in parish and social life. The model for such an attitude is to be love for one’s neighbor and the Church, following the example of Christ.
Greater involvement in the life of the Church at the parish level is seen as a way to make evangelization efforts devoid of routine, leading to a deepening of faith and sometimes even conversion. Evangelism courses and the ability to share the experience of faith, the need to form youth and adult groups were enumerated. Even the idea of establishing a Bible school at the diocesan level has been hinted at. They emphasized the role of adult catechesis, Bible circles and formation in terms of the formation of moderators and animators.
Discovering the talents of parishioners and inviting them to participate involves trusting them and giving them responsibility. Entrusting specific tasks of parish administration to lay people touches on the issue of changing the way parishes are managed. Sometimes this demand was combined with a reminder of the role of women and the need to involve them more actively in ministry.
Being active in the Church also means, as was pointed out in almost every study, the parish’s presence on social media and communication through modern media.
In many parishes, the prevailing belief is that the laity has too little influence on the functioning of the church structure closest to them, that too little depends on them, since everything is ultimately decided by the pastor anyway. The feeling of not being heard and being underestimated has a paralyzing effect and leads to withdrawal and refraining from speaking up, and breeds fear of prejudicial classification and shuffling. Overcoming these difficulties could open up the hidden potential of the parish.
The cyclical meetings of parishioners are a chance to learn about the personal desires of believers and to better understand the Church’s teaching on issues such as: Eucharist, sacraments, sexual ethics, moral and social teaching. It’s also an effective tool in dialogue with the world, especially those who are disconnected or non-believers.
For many, one of the most painful experiences is the absence of their relatives and friends from Sunday Mass. and in a broader sense – in the Church. Such attitudes cannot be judged unequivocally, which does not mean to give up evangelization efforts to get people to return to the Church. Many, looking at the empty pews in the temples, see especially clearly the absence of young people, but formulating a prescription to change this situation does not come easily. People point to the need to change the approach to the ways of forming the faith of the young, but also note the importance of catechesis for adults. In families, the faith of those who are missing from the life of the Church is formed. They emphasized the need to arouse the enthusiasm of faith by promoting spiritual authorities and leaders in the immediate environment.
Attention was paid to the need to offer counseling and organize support groups for families and individuals experiencing a crisis. For many, this is an effective way to realize the ideal of the imagination of mercy. A recurring issue in some of the syntheses was the issue of volunteering and reflection on what to do to effectively develop it. The charitable dimension of parish functioning is a practical test of understanding the principles of the Gospel, of putting it into practice in concrete terms.
The central task of the Christian mission is to proclaim the Good News. In order for believers to carry out their mission, they need an encounter with God in the Liturgy and in the Diakonia. Among the most common opinions was that “we are too closed-minded and unconvinced of the value of what we ourselves have to give to the world.” Poland’s overly homogeneous religious and social structure has “made the faithful lazy in terms of missionary outreach to the world.”
The importance of learning the Scriptures was mentioned just as often. In addition to personal reading, they emphasized, the need for community exploration of the content of the Word (e.g., during Bible discussions or in new creative forms – bibliodrama, etc.).
For many, faith signifies an existential decision, provides a sense of strength and support, and is described as a personal relationship with God (“An important foundation in life!”). The church is valued as a place where faith is transmitted and creates space for personal decision-making. This can be facilitated by good locations of churches, monasteries as centers of spiritual life, the possibility of regular confession, 24-hour adoration.
Community is a necessary condition for realizing one’s vocation. Community strengthens, but it is also challenged again and again. The Gospel should be lived out in daily life, especially in serving others (“Be close to people – in joys and in all difficulties!”). The two commandments of love are the most important commandments for all of us, the axis of Christian life.
This can be fostered by: every commitment on the part of clergy and laity, quality pastoral care with permanent persons in charge, openness to all sectors of society (a prior observation: “all those who think differently are not welcome!”), accompanying young people in their search for a vocation, the meaning of life, closeness to the faithful, respectful dialogue, modern communication, …
Among the negative phenomena are: bureaucracy, overgrowth of the authority structure, pastoralists’ authoritarian understanding of the office, “dusty” views (e.g., in the field of morality), blocking of innovative ideas, nullification of volunteer involvement; hypocrisy in dealing with the problem of abuse, outdated doctrines, deprecation of the Synodal Way, ineptitude during the coronavirus epidemic. Many participants want mutual recognition of each other’s mission and structures that help promote active participation (“I dream of a Church of the first centuries without official pomp and the cult of the individual!”).
The Church no longer reaches out to many sectors of society partly consciously and partly unconsciously, is the perception of many respondents. Mention is made of the lack of willingness to change from various sides or knock-down arguments like “No one will go there anyway…”. The marginalized groups often go unnoticed – neither by pastors nor by all the faithful. The Church often sees only its own believers (“Outsiders are too afraid to invite them!”).
On the other hand, positive examples are also seen in the pastoral care of the sick, the elderly or refugees, in the work of Caritas (“Caritas is a really great thing”).
For the Church to move well into the future, there is a need to admit mistakes, be open to diversity, draw closer to the world and continue to develop and even reform. Specific demands are being made:
- Openness to families/children and youth and recognition of those who are marginalized or excluded (refugees, homeless).
- The evangelical imperative is to go to the excluded (see Pope Francis).
- Openness to reform (“I want to be taken seriously as an independently thinking Christian!”)
The lack of a good example in the family is apparent. Often parents shift the responsibility for parenting to the school and other institutions. The need for parish catechesis for different age groups. There is a need for greater involvement of lay people in the life of the Church, liturgy. In catechesis, we should return to the fundamentals of faith. The need for communities operating in the Church to open up to new members. Prayerful support is also needed from members committed to working for others. Volunteerism plays an important role in the communities.
The Church by establishment is missionary. The main reason for the lack of commitment to the Church’s mission is the limited and narrow understanding of it by individuals and the low awareness that every believer is endowed with a missionary vocation understood broadly. Another difficulty is personally overcoming one’s internal barriers to talk openly and uninhibitedly about faith with other people.
In an era of great need for evangelization of the already baptized who have lost their faith, it has yet to find a sufficient response from pastors as well as the laity. The problem is the very beginning of this work. Despite the obvious need today, it is difficult to find an appropriate scheme for reaching those who have lost or neglected their faith after baptism.
The community supports its members engaged in service to society through material support, organized collections and permanent or temporary prayer actions. It is difficult to identify other possible ways to help those involved in service to society possible within the parish community.
The greatest help in this matter is to show the importance of religious motivation in the context of undertaking service to society. This is important because faith-based motivation will always be free of personal interests. Accepting it helps everyone to serve fully and fruitfully those to whom one has been sent.
More and more lay people are beginning to understand that everyone by virtue of baptism is called to witness to their faith where they live, work or study, and the first place of evangelization should be the family. More and more laymen understand that we are most effective in evangelization in our daily affairs, because first of all we testify with our lives and views.
Through their personal prayer, many parishioners actively contribute to the missions. Many parishes have a prayer for missions and missionaries during the liturgy. Connection to missionaries by Church members is expressed not only in prayerful remembrance for missionaries and mission countries, but also by addressing material needs (such as joining in collections for missions and other forms of assistance). The faithful eagerly take up spiritual adoption of the missionary, praying for him and supporting him materially. In many parishes, missionaries are invited to bear witness to their missionary work and with their enthusiasm motivate greater missionary involvement.
Children and young people eagerly join in various pastoral actions for the missions: “missionary carolers,” “Epiphany procession,” missionary competitions, school missionary circles, missionary volunteering. Children, adolescents and adults eagerly participated in the National Mission Congress in Warsaw and two Mission Congresses in the Diocese of Elk. The fruit of the synodality of the Elk Church is the initiation of the Elk Youth Missionary Volunteer Service, which consciously recognizes the needs of the Church and responds to them in volunteer service.
There is still a lack of conviction in many families in the diocese that parents are the first transmitters of faith to their children, that they are “a kind of missionaries” by teaching them to pray, practicing sacramental life and sending their child to religious instruction. Many of the synod’s conclusions stressed that the family is no longer a school of faith, and that in parents there is a lack of example in transmitting and strengthening the faith.
More media communication is needed using m capabilities. in. Internet. High quality in this area can contribute to better outreach to seekers who will open up and share their problems.
“You, too, should comprehend your entire life as a mission. Try it by listening to God in prayer and recognizing the signs He gives you.” (Gaudete et exultate 23).
The statement that the key to authentic Christian life and the Church’s credible action is to undertake personal conversion and to be honest with oneself, understood as the ability to acknowledge one’s own sins before God, resonated repeatedly among meeting participants. Guiding the faithful from superficial ritualism to a personal relationship with Christ through an emphasis on the word of God, the sacraments headed by the Eucharist, and formation in community becomes crucial in this context. This task becomes possible, it has been claimed repeatedly, on the path of prayer and commitment. Interestingly, in their analyses of the Church’s current situation and its historical crises, meeting participants referred to the Church’s proven means of conversion: fasting, prayer and almsgiving.
Some of those involved in the synod meetings linked the development of spiritual life to the need for involvement in the church community. They recognized the maxim “ora et labora”‘ as a way of ministering in the parish. Pastoral care should be characterized by empathy and courage to go out with the Christian message to the world and the other person. Among the necessary forms of training the faithful were homilies and catechism conferences, adult catechesis and biblical formation. Pastoral action emphasized the need for the formation of small evangelization teams and the still insufficient cooperation of priests and lay people in this regard. Participants in the meetings reported needs for organizing missions and evangelization retreats in parishes. There were also voices of developing with the young the work of volunteerism (serving the needy, the elderly and the sick).
Everyone by virtue of baptism is called to a mission in his or her environment, but at the same time we are trying to cede this task to the Church in general. They pointed out the great role of communities operating in the Church as a space for conducting missions. Attention was paid to giving the truth through the witness of the lives of the laity and consecrated persons. The faithful should engage more strongly in the celebration of Mass. Believers must be courageous, they must not be ashamed of their faith. They are to proclaim the Gospel where human daily life takes place. Lay people fulfill this mission by witnessing theirlives as parents and by fulfilling the duties of the state in the spirit of the Gospel. Especially noteworthy is the transmission of faith in the family to the next generation.
The community requires certain duties, such as prayer, work on oneself, fasting and almsgiving. Internal and spiritual peace should also be carried. It is important to appeal to the experience of community, but at the same time the problem of the hermetic nature of communities is recognized, which can discourage the faithful seeking space to grow in faith. The role of the Church in creating a community of believers by engaging them in pastoral work was emphasized. It was pointed out that support is to speak positively about the people of the Church and those involved in its activities, to animate evangelization and pastoral activities at various organizational levels. Parish communities and the faithful also support the people involved in the service materially and financially. It is worth reminding people of the need for frequent and systematic lay prayer for the Church, the Pope, priests. There was also a statement that we often lack courage, freedom and love well understood. That’s why we need “creative fidelity,” a “return to the source,” so that we don’t feel compelled to conform to the crowd.
The opinion that discernment is done in personal prayer resounded in most of the surveys, as God often gives the courage to decide on a vocation, to witness, to act, by listening to the inspirations He puts in our hearts. Believers’ attitudes, formation, sports, the word, even poetry can be helpful in discernment. Be respectful, beware of judgment, which could prove to be a trap. The great role of working on oneself was recognized. The main factors for discerning a vocation to participate in the mission are a life of the sacraments, prayer, adoration and the study of Scripture.
Synod means “traveling together,” being open to listening to the Holy Spirit and each other. It is important to respect tradition, what is beautiful and valuable in our religion, evangelization, formation and involvement of different states in the ministry of the Church. There was also an opinion that the synod could spread goodness among the people along the lines of Vatican II. This is because there was a space for the “Sunday” faithful and those lost in life to meet and grow spiritually. There have been voices claiming that by observing the Catholic Church in Poland, one can conclude that we do not have a synodal tradition. It should be acknowledged that synodal traditions are almost unrecognizable in the process of discernment regarding participation in the mission. Synodal style is a novelty. Some of those who spoke did not understand the issue.
The deliberations in the Diocese of Lowicz focused on several topics:
From the synod discussions, it can be concluded that the modern world offers many opportunities for human education and talent development, but the all-round development of the young cannot take place to the exclusion of love of God and neighbor. Today there are attempts to build a world without God. People think they can be self-sufficient.
The recipe for this may be to orient people in such a way that the ethical, spiritual and religious dimensions are not lacking. The goal should be to orient people to Christ and to develop in them the ability to combine faith and knowledge. When we think of science, we usually think of a young person, but after all, it is important to remember every human being should continue to grow in faith and expand their knowledge. When the Church achieves such an educational goal, then every member of the Church will be able to consciously take responsibility for every aspect of human life.
Speaking on the aforementioned topic, they stated that it is undeniable that we are living in a time of crisis for families. Many factors are responsible for it, among others. professional work associated with long absences from home, unlimited access to the media, especially for young people.
The family is the foundation for the life of the Church, and therefore pastors should surround the family with care. The proposal is a workshop for married couples, therapeutic support, which should be the responsibility of pastors supported by the help of specialists. Educational meetings should be conducted for all married couples and take the form of meetings, workshops, talks, discussions, all based on prayer, listening to and reflecting on the Word of God. The faithful should be made aware that the family is the Domestic Church.
In the pastoral care of families, it is important for the laity to be more involved in the Church so that they feel responsible for the Church. The laity, more than priests, have access to people who are far from God and can reach the “periphery of faith” with their witness.
Measures should be taken so that those who feel excluded from the Church (divorced, living in non-sacramental relationships, in homosexual relationships) can find their place in the community of the Church.
In teaching, difficult topics related to sins must not be overlooked. Consistency is also needed in the preparation and admission to the Holy Sacraments. It’s worth reminding people about topics related to finality, namely God’s judgment, heaven and hell. At the same time, it is necessary to use simple language to convey the truths of the faith so that it is clear and understandable to all.
The media should more widely implement the message of Christian values, present authorities and correct attitudes based on the teachings of the Catholic Church. It is necessary to properly use and teach the use of social communication channels: television, radio, press, Internet.
Special attention should be paid to activities on the Internet, which carries a host of risks, but can also be a tool for the Church’s work in evangelizing and catechizing. It is necessary, therefore, to create and constantly update a database of multimedia materials for promoting the values that the Church brings.
It is also worth expanding opportunities for the creation and operation of Catholic media.
Nowadays, strongly felt and acting destructively on the sphere of ethical and moral values of today’s youth is the negative behavior of adults. The cure for this is moral renewal, which is the foundation of cultural life. Modern man needs cultural role models that he can emulate and pass on to the next generation, not demoralizing attitudes.
In the face of growing relativism, it is necessary to make good choices and manifest Christian values without fear of rejection by the environment. Rooting these values in the culture can make it more easy to witness to the faith.
At the community level, the liturgy is most often the only moment that brings all parishioners together. Here, regardless of formation, commitments, priorities and daily choices, we can be together and build a sense of unity in our diversity. The need to care for the beauty of the liturgy as a means of evangelization was emphasized. On an individual level, the liturgy is the center of the experience of faith and community: “Without the liturgy and Mass I cannot imagine life, and the liturgy is a reflection of life, when I lack strength and motivation participating in the liturgy with others gives me a sense of community and lightness and I say: Lord send me!”, “The liturgy is to me what water is to a nurtured plant”. Involvement in the celebration is understood in the first place as a spiritual commitment, and that on the part of both the laity and the presbyter. For the laity, it is about experiencing the liturgy not as theater, but as the real action of God. To be able to engage in this way requires not only faith, but also knowledge. “We are hampered in our full commitment by the fact that we still know too little about the symbols, the essential elements of the celebration. Catechesis on these topics would be useful. People sometimes go to Mass and, without fully understanding the various parts of the Mass, are bored and not fully engaged in the liturgy.” In the eyes of the faithful, the presbyter’s commitment is experienced through the way he celebrates the liturgy, preparing for it (homilies). “In experiencing the liturgy, I am greatly helped by the experience of the priest. When a priest is real at the altar, when it feels authentic, it builds a relationship with God.” Not everyone feels called to specific involvement through reading, singing, serving at the altar. This is due to various reasons, including. from passivity by “settling in” to their place in the Church, when for years the faithful were not expected to be active. This passive attitude is sometimes reinforced by a lack of encouragement from priests and sometimes even an expressed reluctance to have the faithful join in the liturgy. Many parishioners do not realize that they could volunteer for liturgical service. There are few adult men among the liturgical altar service. “Liturgy has always influenced me – more or less – the more beautiful it was the more it inspired me. I started serving mass as an adult. First my sons started and then I, to set a good example for them, I was also encouraged by the fact that other adults were serving. I signed up for the altar boys course – I was much older than the other participants. I believe there is a need to organize altar server courses for adults. This could encourage adult men.”
An important experience was the pandemic period, in which we were mostly deprived of the opportunity to participate in the celebration. We could then feel how much we had previously underestimated the opportunity to participate in the liturgy, which we had taken for granted until the pandemic. In this context, the faithful greatly appreciated the presence of priests in the network, especially the daily celebration of the Eucharist by Archbishop Grzegorz Rysia. “The pandemic made us realize how much we could lose. We have become accustomed to the idea that liturgy is something normal, that we are entitled to it. Only the pandemic showed how often we fail to appreciate that we can participate in the liturgy every day. There are places where this is impossible. During online mass, the sermons were beautiful, but there was a lack of going to church when you need to prepare for it and set out.” Unfortunately, the synod did not include the circles of the Latin tradition, for whom living the Tridentine liturgy is of such great importance.
Despite the consensus that participation in the liturgy gives us strength in our daily lives, undertaking the mission of evangelization is seen as very difficult and often simply absent from our lives. This is well illustrated by the testimony of a participant in one of the synod groups: “The slogan evangelization is often heard by us from the pulpit, so the word itself does not cause me any surprise. On the other hand, the actual problem is the implementation of the assumptions that arise from the Church’s mission of preaching the Word of God. The very awareness of the existence of this task is as present in me and in the believers I surround myself with. On the other hand, however, in everyday situations as well as problems that arise, which create opportunities for evangelization, this mission itself falls away. My own life is often a testimony to entrusting myself to human strength and reasoning potential instead of seeking in God’s Word and sharing it as a prescription for all difficulties. The main inhibitor is insecurity, because despite functioning in a theoretically Christian community, I rarely meet, or witness myself, that it is the Lord God who watches over everything and it is in him that the solution to the problem lies, and entrusting oneself or someone to prayer is supposed to be an expression of support and concern for the fate of the other. Modern culture, as well as the work environment, is rarely conducive to the acceptance of clearly defining oneself by behavior and word as a believer. Special courage and strong faith is needed to openly answer to a superior that one will not falsify documentation to ‘make everything in the paperwork match’. Fear of finger-pointing or standing out for religiosity are very often a solid block to testifying about God in everyday life.”
Many people don’t feel prepared and don’t know what to do, feeling that they lack formation. Many voices even echoed helplessness in the face of the rapid changes of the present time, and, above all, the lack of an idea of how to realistically realize the missionary nature of the Christian vocation in everyday life: “We don’t know how to see the methods of action for today, we don’t know what is effective now to make the Church grow”; “We are among the people, but we lack the skills to build the Church in our living environments, we don’t know how to do it today in the present conditions, amidst rapid changes.” There were also bitter conundrums: What is holding us back from engagement, evangelization? The closer we are to God, the more we trust and commit ourselves to him, so we are inhibited by weak faith. Humanly speaking, we fear the negative judgment of others, we fear responsibility. The reason for the lack of commitment is undoubtedly our laziness and convenience. There is also the excuse “I’m not ready yet.”
By the command of Jesus, the Church proclaims the Gospel to all people so that they can find their salvation in it. This missionary work requires the courageous witness of faith and apostolic commitment of every Christian in the environment in which he lives and works. With these words, the coordinators of the synod meetings introduced the participants to a reflection on the Church’s missionality, and yet a very broad spectrum of its understanding resounded in their voices. For some, mission is still clearly associated with ad gentes missionary activities, and they understand participation almost exclusively as prayerful and material support of these activities. Others, including clergymen, see the space for missionary activity only in the church and parish, with even meetings with a supplicant in a law office not considered an appropriate space for evangelization. Similarly-minded lay faithful define the identity of a disciple-missionary solely by prayer, involvement in parish groups and taking initiatives to unite the parish, without ruling out the need for the institutional Church to return “to its original austerity and respect for the law” in order to “sift the grain from the chaff.” However, the vast majority of participants in the synod talks understood mission as reaching out to the world and people who are religiously indifferent, neutral or hostile to the Church, with the young generation most often identified as the recipients of missionary activities. Priests see the need to return to the original evangelical zeal in “searching for the sheep of the lost,” catechists value the value of life testimony more highly than the best-prepared catechesis, the lay faithful increasingly call their home and workplace the “mission field,” and the addressees of evangelization their children, grandchildren, friends and co-workers. Many realize that preaching the Gospel outside the church “costs more and more” and involves ridicule, finger-pointing and even exclusion from friends and acquaintances. Therefore, it is all the more difficult for them to identify effective ways to carry out the task of the disciple-missionary. Some believe that it is enough to “be yourself,” simple politeness and kindness as a testimony to belonging to Christ, others – provoked or not – are ready to speak openly about God and defend the good name of the Church in their communities, at family parties or workplaces, while still others (members of the Neocatechumenal Way, as well as laymen and clergy involved in the work of the New Evangelization, have been particularly bold in this regard) are ready to take to the streets and proclaim Christ “in season and out of season.”
The fruit of the synod’s reflection on the Church’s missionary mission was also very concrete demands and expectations:
- The need to spiritually strengthen the family as an environment for the transmission of Christian faith and values;
- the need for a clear testimony of clerics, so that with their lives they “confirm the preached Word of God and principles” and are faithful to their vocation;
- The departure of priests to the faithful (e.g., after Mass in front of the church) and their presence in homes on the occasion of important life circumstances (home celebrations, communal prayer and conversation); stepping out of life’s comfort zone more boldly; “the parsonage should be open 24 hours a day.”
- the need for the Church to boldly reach out to modern social media, media campaigns, social networks while avoiding sympathizing with a particular political option and entering into dependencies that undermine witness; media coverage should be professional and communicative;
- Allowing lay people to bear witness to their faith and struggle to be faithful to Jesus during retreats, missions and other parish meetings;
- Organizing integration meetings, festivals, concerts in parishes, which would provide a platform for believers to meet religiously indifferent people;
- Use of parish halls and buildings as a meeting place for youth and activation of senior citizens;
- Revitalize and intensify charitable activities in parishes, as a way of involving young people “by the parish and for a good cause,” so that they feel needed;
- Breaking down fear and distance in pastoralists’ interactions with young people: listening, meeting, spending time together and implementing parish projects.
Synod participants, thinking about today’s world marked by a culture of consumption and possession, state that this is an important factor in the rejection of evangelical values, failure to make demands on oneself, and promotion of the cult of the body and health, with the result that the Church is seen as too demanding and out of step with modern realities. Despite the widespread availability of the Church, sacraments and priests, young people living on the margins of the Church, wounded in the Church and alienated from the Church are closing themselves off from receiving the Good News. Asking a question about the reason for this, the following reasons were identified:
- Faith too shallow, lack of prayer, lack of experience of personal encounter with God
- Lack of testimony of believers – being anti-testimony
- sins of priests
- indifference to personal tragedy
- bad image of the Church
- Lack of understanding of the Church, the Eucharist
- confusion caused by pandemic crisis
- Seeking answers to spiritual questions in other faiths
These reasons have provoked the question of what can we do to ensure that those who have moved away from the Church return to it, and how do we proclaim Jesus Christ to those who have not yet accepted Him? This led us to several conclusions. First of all, we should start by trusting the Lord God and asking Him to help us witness, not be ashamed of our faith and be able to enjoy it and show love, understanding and mercy to all who need it. Second, we can create opportunities for encounters to show the “taste of Jesus” and fascinate Him. Opportunities for this, in addition to meeting in person, are open evangelization events organized by the diocese, such as. Haven – Workshop for the Soul, Great Catch. Thirdly, it is our duty to care for people living in non-sacramental relationships and to assure them that there is a place for them in the Church, that they are not rejected and should not be stigmatized. The last conclusion resonated particularly strongly during the synod meetings.
An important observation is the opportunity provided to the Church by a new tool for proclaiming the Gospel – the media. In implementing all media activities, we are aware that the virtual world is no substitute for the real world. This is evidenced by the problem of returning to churches for Masses after lockdown time. The loose formula of social media, in which anyone can express an opinion on any topic, makes many people speak out on behalf of the Church. This is especially true of “online evangelizers,” both clergy and laity, who indulge in individual interpretations of Church teaching and the Gospel that many times contradict the Church’s Magisterium. Because of this, virtual reality breeds chaos. A suggestion to prevent such a state of affairs would be to introduce a certificate of conformity to Church teaching (e-imprimatur) and to invest in the quality and professionalism of Church media entities. This could provide a practical background for the formation of people who cannot personally participate in parish activities due to health limitations. We can see that the virtual world, as an alternative reality, is today a missionary terrain in which the Church should be present, with full awareness that the role of the evangelizer, especially the priest, cannot be limited to online activities only.
Formation toward the mission demands that we listen to each other in the Church. So far, we have seen as an opportunity to meet and talk in Church the parish chancellery, pastoral visitation, possibly community meetings. Through the synodal path, we saw that the experience of being heard has great value, and it doesn’t take extraordinary means to do so, but an inner transformation. This transformation begins with prayer, personal meditation on God’s Word and openness to others. It also requires courage, both from clergy whose task is to listen and from communities whose task is to include others in the life of the Church by listening, as well as from people who have not spoken in the Church so far, to start speaking frankly and without fear.
The synodal meetings became a space where our ignorance about the Church and Revelation came to light. It is a consequence of the small number of formation activities carried out in parish communities, aimed at all parishioners. The exception to this is associations that have their own internal formation. We know that openness to those outside the Church and undertaking missionary activities demand prior formation, so that when we invite everyone to meet Christ, we are able to present Him as He is. This demands first taking care to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus, forming this relationship in the image of His disciples, and then preparing to undertake missionary activities in accordance with one’s vocation and charisms.
Synodal listening in our diocese, already at this stage, has borne three fruits:
- A sense of deep listening to those attending meetings and a desire for a deeper life in the community.
- The desire to take responsibility for activities in the Church, and for those who are outside the Church to return to Christ (example of the activities of the parish synodal team in the parish of St. Mary Magdalene in Czersk).
- To discern and undertake new activities as the desires of the Holy Spirit for the community (example of decanal pilgrimages for vocations in the Chojnice deanery).
These fruits strengthen us in the belief that God, who listens to us effectively, gives us the Holy Spirit to empower us to do the same.
Below is an aggregate compilation of the collected voices in the key of the ten synodal issues. All statements were taken from the reports, emails and other voices presented, then reworked and adapted for this report. Each issue is preceded by a brief, general philosophical-theological-pastoral reflection, after which specific indications (conclusions) are written for further work in the synodal process in the Diocese of Plock, that is, steps to be taken in what has been discerned as the voice of the Holy Spirit.
A burning and under-addressed issue is the question of a well-thought-out pastoral program for the diocese, including the crucial issue of promotion and involvement of the laity. Although the Church in Poland has an official pastoral program, it is neither known nor sufficiently understood by clergy and laity.
- The need was expressed to develop a long-term program of pastoral work in the diocese, based not only on individual actions, but on the cooperation of the curia, priests and laity, responding to current needs. Today it is difficult to talk only about pastoral actions, rather, we need to see the need for pastoral care of specific people.
- Members of associations and groups pointed out that the Church should not just be a space for worship, but rather a promoter of leading people to God using new methods, a new range of activities, integrally shaping humanity, not just piety, through, for example, sports, culture in the broadest sense, good and decent entertainment, eating together.
- The need to rethink the implementation of canonical visitation, the activities of various types of commissions and data collection was recognized, with no clear objectives for action. The patterns established after the Council of Trent are ineffective on many levels today. Canonical visitation should be a check on the effectiveness of pastoral ways rather than merely verifying the correctness of parish administration.
- It is important to coordinate pastoral activities at the level of deaneries and dioceses, which requires greater openness to consultation and cooperation. Closed retreats for parish groups and decanal communities could be a good practice.
- It was noted that not everyone is available for all functions and offices. There was an outcry from lay voices to pay more attention to the criteria for pastor and vicar appointments, taking into account the talents as well as the limitations of specific clergy.
- They called for extending the working hours of the Diocesan Curia and the Bishop’s Court at least once a week, so that working people could also have access to them.
The church maintains its local continuity through parishioners: “the priests change, the parishioners stay.” In every parish there are people who feel a shared responsibility for their local church. Regardless of how many there are. The same is true in movements and ecclesial communities: in a great many cases the people in charge and at the same time giving a sense of constancy are lay people. Synod participants thus noted the existence of a great many pastoral groups, communities and organizations that undertake evangelization activities. However, these are, in their view, exceptions to the rule of life for the average parish. “One usually waits for the faithful rather than trying to win them over.”
The syntheses point to the main intra-church obstacle to mission as the lack of a sense of community and shared responsibility among the laity: “Priests are not formed to give responsibility,” “Mission is primarily the domain of the clergy.” Hindering the process of lay involvement are some clergy and laity opposed to any change. Moreover, the Church – as resounded in a relatively small number of syntheses – “does not clearly communicate its missionary goals.”
Synod participants devoted a great deal of space to the topic of catechization, which they believe should concern everyone throughout life. They recognized that this is a very important part of the mission, although it is still underestimated in pastoral practice. At the same time, they pointed out that catechesis should not be an abstract speech, but an understandable and simple answer to people’s questions, a conversation on important topics. They mentioned adult catechesis more than once, so that co-responsibility in mission could be based on the competencies gained.
The effective mission is hindered, according to a great many people, by confusion in the Church, which is the lack of consistency in teaching: “Catholics don’t know what the Church’s teaching is,” “Some priests act as if they are ashamed of the official teaching of the Church,” “There is little teaching based on and in the spirit of the Church’s documents, especially under the pontificate of Francis.” According to many Synod participants, a significant number of priests and bishops are overlooking the Holy See’s recommendations. Worse, they feel, is the division between liberal and conservative Catholics, supported and deepened by some clergy, including bishops.
In contrast, a clear external obstacle noted in the syntheses is the bias and creation of a negative image of the Church in the media: “Harmful simplifications and generalizations are used.” There is also widespread acceptance in the public space of attitudes contrary to Church teaching, which does not help promote Christian values.
The obstacle, both internal and external, is “the attractiveness of the modern world, consumerism, and the lazy comfort of life,” to which both clergy and laity, Catholics and non-Catholics, practicing and partaking of the sacraments irregularly succumb.
“Walking together” is understood as the realization of Christ’s prophetic, priestly, royal mission, but according to one’s own vocation. This is implemented differently by laymen and priests. From the moment of baptism. We are part of the Church and bear responsibility for it. However, it seems that in the daily life of the Church there is no shortage of situations when priests enter areas of involvement that would be more in line with the vocation of the laity, on the other hand there is no shortage of tendencies among the laity to take over what is typical of priestly ministry. However, the decisive voice belongs to the hierarchy, including when it comes to the Church’s mission, although there are more and more signs of the laity’s lively involvement in this area. The laity note that “there is a need for the clergy to share the broad responsibility for the Church with the laity. This applies to many dimensions. It should be noted that this is a matter of actual responsibility, not just temporary assignment of specific tasks.” “Characteristically, however, there is no or only negligible participation in the life of the Church on a level other than the parish. Only a few, and often unsystematically, participate decisively in wider church events. Those involved also often lack the competence, which is the result of, studies, courses, formation for independent, appropriate leadership of the parish groups entrusted to them.” And those who are competent often lack courage or conformism prevails.
In the statements, there is also, the conviction that it is the unchanging teaching of the Church “outside of which there is no salvation” that is the basis for the dialogue and cooperation conducted. The Church is to be open to all, but it must not change the teachings of Christ, it is to seek ways to be present in the world, to respond to current problems, but with the preservation of its identity, without conforming to the world. Hence, there were fears and doubts that this form of conducting the synod would not be used to legalize the distortions associated with the German synodal way.
The syntheses highlight several possible levels of cooperation between the laity and clergy. This will include culture. The cooperation will be to inspire it with faith. Taking into account modern trends, the commitment to creating valuable and full of Catholic content computer games, books, films for children is particularly emphasized, so that parents can thus transmit Christian values to the younger generation. This points to another level of cooperation, which is education and formation. The parish environment, of which, after all, laymen, who are often very competent, are an important part, can support parents in the process of shaping the younger generation. Specially conducted preparations for the sacraments (baptism, Holy Communion, confirmation, confession, marriage) will contribute to this. But it’s also about creating and leading communities, formation groups (altar boys, schola, volunteer or other) that will support the development and maturation process. Adults can also be targeted for such activities. Indeed, there is a great need for catechesis not only for children, but also for adults, who in their religious formation often remain at the level of the first grades of elementary school. An area of such large-scale cooperation is already school catechesis.
Children and adolescents are among the many environments, in addition to the planes, cooperation and involvement of the laity and clergy. The syntheses also point to the need to integrate the various communities operating in the reality of the parish, to undertake joint activities, initiatives, works of evangelization – reaching out to other faithful, especially those standing a little further away. They are also people who have left the Church or are “standing in the doorway” and hesitating. There is no shortage of neglected areas of mission: young married couples, working singles, single people, the sick, non-sacramental relationships, broken families, addicts, the lost in life, prisoners, people in nursing homes or hospitals.
Responsibility for human salvation demands cooperation wherever possible. This will be manifested, for example, in undertaking cooperation with secular structures or organizations, as well as the extensive provision and use of church infrastructure.
Among the methods of influence, one of the most important is witnessing with one’s life at work, at home, in the environment that he is a baptized person and a missionary. Many laymen are involved in the life of the parish through good advice, professional counsel and prayer. The irreplaceable material assistance cannot be silent either. The role of priests vis-à-vis such laymen will be to guide them spiritually and support them in their mission to fearlessly go out to the other. They are to form the laity to take responsibility for the Church. In turn, the church should be a community where they can draw spiritual strength for such involvement. Priests, too, require formation for mature and skillful cooperation with the laity. And both clergy and laity should ensure that the Church is seen as a community, not a market with a price tag and a commodity in the form of sacraments. It seems that a certain threat to the cooperation described here may be the spreading phenomenon of “churching,” that is, a kind of search combined with wandering from church to church, inspired by various motives, such as satisfying curiosity about what it is like elsewhere, but also following “leaders” (sometimes including clergy) who do not always teach Christ’s Gospel.
Participants in the meetings were almost unanimous in stating that such meetings can lead us to openness to others, to the formation of authentic synodality in the reality of the Church, especially local. At the same time, one could feel their great attachment to tradition and fear of introducing changes, which are being promoted in the West. An effective platform for creating cooperation and co-responsibility between priests and laymen will always remain pastoral councils or similar structures, and cooperation between groups involving the exchange of ideas, views and the involvement of members of different groups in joint practical action councils of movements.
In “our Church” the laity engage apostolically through membership in various movements, formation communities and charitable assistance to the needy. Commitment is fostered by the example of others, the prayer support of the community, self-formation, and the pastoral involvement of priests. Commitment is hindered by lack of motivation, lack of self-formation, the opinion of others, lack of time, convenience, but also by occasional obstacles from the clergy, who “infallibly want to direct everything.”
In the context of synodality in the Church, it is worth explaining (especially to young people) what the apostolate is about, to break down indifference and fear of service. Apostolate grows out of formation (spiritual and intellectual formation, personal predisposition), discerned in the community of the Church in relation to the Holy Spirit, who gives light (impetus), is always a proposal: Do you want to devote yourself to the apostolate? The will to serve accepted in freedom, becomes a binding and responsible decision. Apostolate, is a testimony to the life of God. The community from which laypeople ready for ministry come out has a duty to support with prayer, Eucharist and human kindness (in the apostolate no one can remain alone, without spiritual support). In order for the laity to engage apostolically, there is a need for apostolically formed pastors, i.e. those who come from the communities in which they previously grew up. Knowing the charism of a particular community, they can inspire laypeople for ministry (e.g., the Domestic Church). The apostolate of the laity is fostered by clergymen who, subtly animating the group in reality, consistently lead it, without focusing attention on themselves show a lot of trust, emphasize all that is good and valuable. The apostolate, it must be remembered and constantly reminded, grows out of a personal encounter with Christ, out of delight in His Word, His Person; only then is the apostolate committed, it is authentic – “the most effective apostolate is when believers conscientiously and honestly do their work and say openly that they do it out of concern for their own salvation and the salvation of those entrusted to them (spouse, children, friends).”
Every baptized person should by his attitude, his life, bear witness to the faith. What is important here is respect for human dignity. Every Christian should give respect to another person regardless of his or her background, race, material or social status. The universal Church should bet on the development of volunteerism and organizations that offer assistance to those in need. The work in synodal groups has led to an increased awareness among lay people of their responsibility for the Church. As emphasized, there is a widespread perception that only clergy and religious are responsible for the Church. It was also emphasized that very often there is a claimant attitude among lay people, who want to instruct, demand but do not undertake to take responsibility for the welfare of the community. On the other hand, it sometimes happens that young people at a given parish are given demands and proposals that are in no way tailored to their age and interests. A common mistake of clergy people is to shoehorn young people into structures dominated by older people. The spirituality of the young is characterized by specific needs. Young people will gather much more easily in their environment, where experiencing faith is more emotional. It should be emphasized that the stagnation of some communities scares away the young and thus causes many groups to slowly die out. In such a situation, pastoralists’ openness and mutual friendliness seem crucial.
Christ entrusted the mission of preaching the Gospel to the entire Church. Every baptized person is therefore called to carry out this mission. Unfortunately, we see a low level of awareness among the faithful of their own vocation and mission in the Church. We feel more like recipients of church activities than those who are called to be involved in the transmission of the faith to others.
We associate the term “mission” itself more with evangelization in distant countries undertaken by missionaries than with the task facing each of us in our daily lives. So there is a need to shape our Christian identity and for us to take on the obligations that flow from participation in the life of the Church. Catechesis on faith and testimonies of believers would be helpful here. A great role in the formation for undertaking the mission of the Church is played by the laity – leaders of various groups or people involved in them.
“There is a need for a witness to the faith in the workplace; we are too little involved in evangelization and we don’t talk about God enough in our families.”
- Evangelization is the most important task of the Church, which should animate all pastoral initiatives in parishes. The church is for evangelization. Therefore, we do not want to limit our efforts only to our own spiritual needs, but also have in mind the spiritual needs of those who have lost their faith and left the Church. The goal of our efforts is always to preach the Gospel to all people, keeping in mind the brothers who have stopped receiving the sacraments.
- Sharing responsibility for the mission is understood as the openness of everyone to engage in evangelization according to their vocation, state of life, spirituality and charism for the benefit of the parish community.
- The value is to remind all those who have received Holy Baptism to learn and proclaim the kerygma in order to propagate the faith of the Church, which unites all states of Christian life.
- We recognize the value of and need for priestly cooperation in the ministry of evangelization, which, when combined also with the ministry of lay Catholics and people of consecrated life, becomes a visible sign of the vitality of the Church and the complementarity of states of life.
- The value is to prudently involve the laity and religious in evangelization efforts, but also to prepare them for missionary tasks among the peoples of the world through intellectual, spiritual, liturgical and ecclesial formation.
- It is legitimate to take into account the ideas of the laity in the ministry of evangelization, but at the same time their active assistance in carrying out the tasks is expected, so as not to shift the entire burden of evangelization exclusively to priests.
- Continue Christian support for lay Catholics who are involved in social, political, scientific life, such as through formation retreats, symposia, workshops, religious press and literature.
- It is beneficial to show spiritual assistance to properly discern individual choices involving the baptized in the mission of the Church.
- It is important to continue efforts to awaken shared responsibility for the Church’s mission to free ourselves from clerical stereotypes.
The third meetings were held primarily in February and March 2022. These included 2 groups of questions (see Appendix 1). The questions dealt with the issue of dialogue (within the Church and the Church with the institutions of society) and the missionary nature of the Church.
From the notes sent, it is clear that dialogue in the Church is very limited (“the laity and the clergy, instead of forming a homogeneous community, stand as if on both sides of the barricade”), with many groups emphasizing that we are rather dealing with “pastoral monologues,” with the issue being viewed differently by some of the clergy, who emphasize their openness to dialogue. However, also among the clergy, there is a problem of lack of openness to real dialogue – one clergy group pointed out directly, “we have the impression that we are not listened to by the bishop, because bishops don’t listen to priests; unfortunately, we don’t dare to talk about it.”
Overall, the notes provided indicated a great need to rebuild dialogue, as formulated in a note from one group of nuns: “we see that after the pandemic, the priority challenge is to ‘rebuild’ relationships within the parish community and between other parishes.” In this context, for many groups (lay people), the Synod was a very positive experience – for many it was a unique, first experience of dialogue in the Church.
While dialogue within the community of the Church was indicated by Synod participants as unequivocally desirable, it was in the context of dialogue directed “outside” (other institutions of society: the world of politics, economics, culture) that significant discrepancies appeared. In addition to voices that “dialogue is sorely lacking in our society,” pointing to an understanding of dialogue as building bridges and mutual enrichment, there were many statements that “the Church is not supposed to learn, it is supposed to teach,” and that “the desire to normalize relations with entities unfriendly to the Church only leads to a loss of seriousness and respect for the Church institution, not only among its enemies, but also among its allies, as the doctrinal immutability of the Catholic Church, which is its strength is put to the test.” However, these doubts did not apply to dialogue with people living in poverty, which was seen as unequivocally desirable. In this context, Caritas was most often cited as a tool for dialogue.
Some of the groups also stressed that in addition to real dialogue within the Church, “there is a lack of information; there is a lack of spiritual guides and information on how to seek them.”
In the context of the second area addressed in the meeting – mission – it is worth pointing out that very many groups emphasized an awareness of mission as a task and a challenge, with very different definitions of the term. A term that captures the context of these statements well is a statement from one parish group that mission “is a witness to my life, a witness to others that cannot depend on the situation; this witness has an impact on how our Church is perceived.” In the context of the mission, there has been talk of the need for mutual interaction. One group of parish priests unequivocally pointed out that although “as far as the laity is concerned, a very small part is involved,” it is “not enough for a priest to be mission-conscious and use various situations to preach the Gospel. He will be left alone, succumb to discouragement, dissatisfaction without seeing the results of his mission. […] There is no need to struggle alone and lose strength. Then you can see that the community is evangelizing, giving a living witness. But the priests must care. Communities must have shepherds.”
There were also expressions of concern that “these days, just openly admitting in a secular setting to regular religious practice can be a serious challenge for some,” or, as one youth group noted, “being a practicing Christian today is old-fashioned, I don’t go out with my religiosity.” In addition to fear and apprehension, however, laziness (especially in youth groups, but not only) was systematically highlighted as a primary obstacle to the mission.
The need for formation for dialogue with the world through workshops, catechesis, and deepening of spiritual life has also been repeatedly signaled.
Understanding what co-responsibility for the Church is, settles on understanding what the Church is. Reversing the reasoning, it can be said that not understanding what the Church is, often entails not understanding one’s co-responsibility for it. The synod is in its essence an ecclesial event,
“epiphany of the Church,” an opportunity to understand the Church more deeply. It is therefore a great hope that the Synod has contributed to a deeper understanding and love of the Church. This process is reflected in the following sample responses: “The first step of expressing one’s co-responsibility , is the ability to say that this is “my” Church, that it is also I who create it, sharing my abilities, charisms, sharing what we ourselves have been endowed by God” “the plane of action of the Christian is first the family. Love of neighbor is expressed in works of mercy, in active solidarity with those in need. The laity are obliged to care for the common good, to bear witness. A Christian lives in the world and is responsible for it. We express our co-responsibility through prayer, active participation in church life through an attentive and positive view of the world. Through a serious commitment to formation and the daily proclamation of Christ’s message, living in unity with Him, cooperating with others, personal holiness, cultivating relationships with others, caring for the common good,” “a large role in the topic of responsibility for the Church of the laity is played by the Parish Council. Her ideas and cooperation are a great support to Fr. Pastor. It is especially evident in the work related to the Diocesan Synod, where it is important not only to work out issues in a reliable way, but also to meet the deadlines for meetings.”
In the synthesis prepared by the Congregation of the Servant Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary Immaculately Conceived of the Tarnow Province (Servant Sisters of Old Hungary), we also find a statement that prophetically reads the signs of the times and directly relates to the theme of the second stage of the Synod – the theme of the family. In it we find the following conclusion: “From experience, we can say that the area of special concern becomes the family. It is increasingly common (especially in cities) for children to have the opportunity to hear about the Lord God, both in schools and in our kindergartens, just from us.”
The following is a synthesis of the various synodal themes. We have largely given voice to the participants in the synod meetings. Their statements are shown in italics.
Synodality serves the mission of the Church, in which all its members are called to participate. Respondents focused their statements in several areas: how each individual can support the Church’s mission, how the Church supports mission efforts by individuals or organized groups. Respondents also paid more attention to the question of the forms of missionary activity that each person can carry out on his own.
22.214.171.124 Means of support
Selected responses: Fasting for missions; Material help, financial help: Praying for missionaries; Looking for what is most urgent, what needs to be taken care of; In the community it is easier to discern a vocation; Helping each other, acting together, praying; I was not supported, my work was my cause and responsibility; The local Church supports the initiatives of individual believers and groups; The Church community seeks to support those who undertake various forms of missionary activity; Charitable activities; Involving the laity in actions and projects; Creating spaces to develop talents; Formation in the spirit of the Church’s social teaching; Reminding people of their obligations to receive the sacraments; Lack of support for mission to other people, a clear undervaluation of the mission of the baptized; Lay people are not allowed to speak; Catechesis in school has no effect; Conducting counseling centers, creating scientific studies on the subject. Church’s mission in the world; Concern for loved ones; Building Christian elites; Lack of knowledge of cooperation with other denominations.
126.96.36.199 Forms of missionality
Selected responses: Everyone is a missionary in his or her environment, school, work, family, social media; The first mission is to sanctify oneself; Witnessing the faith in the world is done by one’s own example; We are not involved in politics and society; Taking ecumenical action toward foreigners living in the parish; Every baptized person has the responsibility to be a disciple and teacher; Usually religious practices are the best witness; The faithful know that everyone can be a missionary in their environment; demonstrate the faith with their lives.
Those completing the synodal questionnaires also attempted to summarize missionary activity in the world today and identify areas and issues of the Church that need to be taken care of and are important to them.
Selected responses: Co-responsibility for living in society is shared by everyone, but not everyone is committed to serving society. The support should not only consist of so-called “support”. applause, but also on drawing attention in the event of a contradiction with what the person should represent. The primary mission of the Church is evangelization; There is too much talk in the Church, not enough action; Mission should focus on sacramental ministry; Care must be taken that those who want to sow confusion do not do so by mandate and in the name of the Church; More talk about missions; The Church should be associated with a place of outreach, giving some responsibility to the laity so that they can feel part of the Church; First you have to be a disciple to be a missionary; Need for lay people to be involved under the leadership of religious; The Church is missionary by nature, but this attitude is mainly developed in the family; The Church should cooperate with social workers, scientists, politicians based on Christian teaching in their lives.
The synod’s work contributed to a growing awareness of the importance of the universal priesthood of the people of God and the shared responsibility for the mission of the Church of all the baptized. As has often been noted, it is too commonly assumed that only clergy are responsible for the Church. At the same time, one often encounters a demanding attitude of lay people who demand, want to instruct, but are not eager to take responsibility. A consumerist approach can also be observed – the Church as an institution providing religious services. With this approach, it is difficult to talk about shared responsibility for the mission.
Lay people should consider themselves truly “co-responsible” for the life and work of the Church. Both priest and layman must be aware that they have a mission. Mission embedded in everyday life, while his action can be a testimony or an anti-testimony.
It has been widely stated that the responsibility of the laity is to proclaim the Gospel with their lives and words in environments where the clergy do not have access. Great emphasis was placed on bearing witness to Christian life in workplaces, beautiful relationships in families and an attitude directed toward others. It was stressed that lay people today have a unique task to reach out to non-believers to realize the missionary dimension of the Church. This is a great, still new and undeveloped space for missionary activity by lay people. The Church must constantly develop new forms of open pastoral care, aimed also at those who feel excluded.
The need for adult catechesis has been repeatedly emphasized, noting that knowledge and understanding of Church teaching helps the lay faithful fulfill the Church’s missionary mandate. It was also noted that an important form of the Church’s mission is various charitable, cultural and social initiatives through which to reach out to seekers.
The challenges of reaching young people, the difficulty of communicating the message of faith to the young, were also very often recognized. Particularly challenging are the religious lessons at school, which are being attended by fewer and fewer young people in our local Church. It seems necessary to better prepare catechists and to support religious lessons through in-depth catechesis at the parish. It has been repeatedly pointed out that it is worth supporting youth groups in which peers share their experience of God and learn responsibility for the Church.
In the survey responses, we find opinions that what hinders mission accomplishment are their own shortcomings, among them most often laziness, lack of time, discouragement and lack of ideas on how to accomplish the mission. Some people point out that the proper living of the mission is hindered by sexual and moral scandals in the Church, pedophilia, clericalism, materialism of priests, strong hierarchization of the Church. A separate group of responses concerned the promotion of missions outside the Church. The faithful fear that they will be ridiculed and treated by others as old-fashioned and backward. They are also afraid of the reaction of non-believers, there is clearly a fear of evaluation and public speaking. In the surveys, we also find courageous people willing to show by their behavior their faith in God, devotion to the Church, public signs of faith (prayer, religious symbols). These people are not afraid to talk about God at work or in other environments. However, the majority of responses show that the process of spreading the Church’s mission beyond the circles of believers is strongly hindered by fear of attack. This causes the faithful to close themselves in their communities, and mission and evangelization takes place only at parishes, communities, families and among believing acquaintances. This is because those participating in the survey note that believers are discriminated against in society because of their faith – believers are treated as backward, their feelings and beliefs are insulted.
Other forms of mission accomplishment often mentioned in surveys include involvement in parish communities, parish activities, prayer, and raising children. Missionality is more developed to the inside of communities (parishioners, people that the community) than outside the Church. The mission area of people from the communities is more likely to include the so-called “community”. “Sunday Catholics” than non-practicing or even non-believers. What is also evident in the responses about missionaryism is that people live out their faith more individually than communally. Many more people put the accent on the “I-God” relationship than on the “We-God” relationship, and this implies a weakness of missionality, which is why there is so little in the surveys about the contemporary need to engage in evangelism.
When asked a survey question about the goal, virtually all wrote that they understood their own salvation (going to heaven) as the goal. The concept of purpose here is not understood as parish or community activities, various initiatives, works or joint ventures. Rather, these are means to an end, which is why priests, parishes and communities (the Church) are supposed to bring about the proper goal of each believer – ultimately his own salvation, individual rather than communally understood. The individual definition of salvation as the goal also determines the attitude in which the faithful exist in the Church – it is individual in nature, community is only a means to that end.
It was emphasized that the missionary nature of the Church is not just about proclaiming the Good News in distant countries. Every baptized person is called to proclaim Christ in his daily life and to discover his life’s vocation and fulfill it. There are all sorts of obstacles in mission, such as secularization, anticlericalism, unfavorable conditions for preaching, splits in communities. As for neglected missionary areas, one of the main ones would be the evangelization of children and young people, to whom more time and attention should be devoted, since school catechesis is often boring and does not lead to reflection on the life of faith, but to religious boredom, so that we get the opposite of the intended results. School catechesis is often what the curriculum requires, and that doesn’t necessarily work in real life.
There has been concern about the quality of religious instruction in schools. Attention was paid to the level of catechists and textbooks.
Also neglected are young people after receiving the sacrament of Confirmation; likewise, those scarred by life, i.e. divorced, homeless, people with so-called “bad luck. “pathological families.” Unquestionable support in difficulties will always be prayer and material assistance.
It is also important to “de-brown” the saints in a certain way, to show that anyone can become a saint, and that their lives, although extraordinary, were similar to our lives, and their problems to those we face.
A hindrance to witnessing is certainly one’s own doubts in the faith, lack of knowledge, a sense of loneliness (often being the only believer or the only one admitting to the faith in a company). The bold profession of faith is facilitated by: a sense of belonging to a community, knowledge, awareness of the work of the Holy Spirit, but also authenticity of faith.
Anti-testimony is judgment, judging, looking down on others, overzealousness, hypocrisy, a gap between words and actions, but also isolation, especially evident in small communities, which often close themselves off to others, looking down on others. The lack of aesthetic forms of communication also has a negative effect in bearing witness.
The role of the family in the evangelization of children and young people and the need to catechize families were also emphasized. Families, as the closest environment for young people, have a huge impact on their perception of the world, as well as their faith. It is extremely important to catechize entire families, so that there is no gap, between what young people hear in Church, at catechesis, and what happens in their homes. Therefore, it is worth trying to reach and evangelize the parents of candidates for Confirmation, for example: organize a day of recollection for candidates and their parents (common Mass, separate workshops for young people and their parents), or in one of the organizational meetings for parents allow to listen to a testimony, a conference (preached by the family). It is also important to offer families groups that enable ongoing formation.
In order for the catechization of young people, candidates for Confirmation, to work well, it is important for the parish to have good contact with school catechists. It is worthwhile for their work program to be mutually familiar and complementary.
Important centers of evangelization of young people are various events organized specifically for young people it is important that they can be accessible to all and that the financial barrier, does not prevent young people from participating in such events.
It can be useful to invite communities, evangelizers to places where they can meet with young people (e.g.: school retreats) is a good opportunity to stimulate in them thinking about God, but the next stage, should always be proposals to join specific communities in the parish, where they could constantly form themselves, so that the often positive impressions that these events have on young people will not be lost, and can bear fruit, through growing in faith together in various communities.
It was also suggested that people with various artistic talents should take up Christian content in their art.
Young people are also being reached by entertainment, and it can be a good starting point for evangelization. Concerts or social gatherings at the church may seem appealing and interesting to those who are outside the living organism of the church. Such “going outdoors” can also consist of prayer actions in the streets and squares, etc.
Although mission is the task of every baptized person, the first challenge to a sense of shared responsibility in it is the frequent conviction that it is the task of specially designated people, most often priests, religious, or catechists, rather than all the faithful. This perception is fostered by, among other things. Lack of a sense of community in mass ministry. Anonymous, formalized relationships between priests and the faithful and between the faithful themselves do not foster a sense of responsibility for the Church and do not encourage missionary endeavors within the parish. It is also blocked by little knowledge of the Gospel and the Church’s teachings, and among the more informed faithful by fear of ridicule, ostracism, and a lack of clearly described goals and appropriate tools. Sometimes it is also materialism and convenience, personal sin, self-centeredness, lack of love, and on the part of the clergy, in addition, inconsistent transmission of the faith (preaching their own views rather than the Church’s teachings), politicization, or lack of transparency.
Laymen wishing to engage in mission often find no support or space in their parishes. Their initiatives are rejected, considered unnecessary, so they are usually fruitful outside parish structures. The knowledge and experience of the faithful, which they gain, for example, in movements and communities with a diocesan, national or global reach, is also too rarely used. There is a lack of discernment of charisms and space for sharing them.
An important testimony is to help the needy (caritas) – the laity carry out the mission, meeting material and social needs (e.g. kitchens for the poor, vacations for children and young people, parish “Caritas” circles).
The need to evangelize and catechize the baptized resounds. There is a need for new methods and tools in preparation for the sacraments, so that they are not based on coercion, but give the experience of encountering Jesus, for example, by building relationships, changing the language to be more and understandable, or creating opportunities to reduce the distance between priests and committed faithful and those who are just discovering the Church and the Gospel or who want to become involved in the life of the parish. Currently, there is often a lack of avenues to easily get to know a community and join it. The parish reality usually lacks regular and informal meetings and services prepared according to the capabilities of young people and addressed to them. Religious lessons are often the only chance for young people to encounter Church teachings and interact with pastors. Similarly, reaching out to non-sacramental unions with the Gospel message seems crucial.
An important place in evangelization and catechization should be given to lay leaders, because they can reach out to other lay people more easily than the clergy. There is a need for formation that prepares them for these tasks, as well as space for them to be active in the life of the parish. It is important to improve the operation of supra-parochial structures supporting specialized pastoral care. Priests themselves note that it is necessary to invest more in the spiritual sphere of presbyters and in the unity of the presbytery. They feel the call to evangelize priests, the entire presbytery.
The greatest impact comes from personal and community testimony. It is much more convincing than, for example, legal records. They are attracted by parishes and communities living a life of love, open to others, serving to help, priests dedicated to living their vocation. There is an urgent need to make better use of modern technology in the Church’s mission and to change the language of preaching to one that modern audiences can understand. The foundation of witnessing God is personal prayer, openness to the Holy Spirit and readiness for continuous conversion.
During the ongoing war in Ukraine, non-believers are engaged in various relief efforts in cooperation with parishes. Unfortunately, this involvement does not bring an awakening of faith and does not result in inclusion in the parish community.
Participant of the decanal synodal meeting
During the entire period that I have been leading the pastoral care of non-sacramental relationships – that is, for 22 years – about thirty couples have passed through our meetings. Recently, only four couples have been coming regularly. Most couples end their adventure with pastoral care at the first visit, as soon as it becomes clear that participation in meetings will not lead them to the possibility of sacramental marriage. The lack of interest is not due to a lack of knowledge as to the existence of this ministry, as there have been various initiatives in past years to promote our group, but the response has been negligible. It could even be argued that none.
Long-time pastor of non-sacramental unions
The problems we are discussing as part of the synodal process are well known to us. We have been struggling with them for some time and are looking for solutions. Do not expect to get any ready-made solutions. We don’t have ideas to work with children, with young people, because if after the first Communion. everything goes awry and the parents are gone, it means that the methods we currently use are not right.
Pastor of a parish in a larger city
Until a few years ago, when colleagues at work found out that someone was a believer, they regarded it with respect as a guarantee of certain values. Today it provokes rather unfunny jokes, is received with pity and causes us to be treated as unprofessional and illogical.
Lay participant in diocesan synod
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The joint reflection helped both the parishes and the diocese as a whole to realize how many people and communities persist at a distance from the Church or remain marginalized within it. First pointed out were labor migrants, mainly from Ukraine (and in recent months war refugees). Most are Orthodox or Greek Catholics, who are characterized by a sincere and open faith. They seek help from our churches. These are people with great spiritual potential who need to be taken care of, to create a space for them to develop their faith and formation, to involve them in the life of the parish. There are also non-believers among the immigrants. Some of them express interest in the faith and even ask for the sacraments of initiation, although it is not uncommon for current church regulations and formal requirements to be difficult to meet due to their special situation. More flexibility is needed in this area. It is also worthwhile for the diocese to seek contact with Catholic pastors working in the East, in order to learn from their experiences and use them in the pastoral care of immigrants.
Numerous remote are youth and children. Although they still largely participate in religious lessons at school (but this is becoming increasingly difficult), this does not translate into their relationship with God and Christian life. In particular, the pandemic has directly “chased them out of the church,” and the virtual world in which they live literally “devours” them. They are not hostile to the Christian faith, but simply indifferent. They seem to have no religious needs. Trying to keep them “by force,” as it were, with the Church, for example, by prolonging formation to prepare them for the sacraments, has quite the opposite effect. Pastors blame this on families, where young people often do not find an example of living faith and a religious atmosphere. However, even in those families where parents are deep believers and sacrificially involved in their children’s religious upbringing, young people lose their faith and leave the Church.
A significant group of the remote are also those in abnormal marital situations: living with each other without marriage, divorced, living in the so-called “marriages”. non-sacramental unions. Their situation prevents them from serving as godparents. These people have a sense of exclusion, feeling like “second-class” Christians.
Attention should also be paid to the rural population, which is currently experiencing profound social changes associated with the disintegration of the traditional community. Until now, the community has been based on close relationships related to jointly undertaken farm work. Farmers in the countryside, however, are becoming fewer and fewer. In such a situation, rural parishes, which for objective reasons offer much less developed pastoral activities than urban centers, are unable to create a sufficiently strong and engaging community.
In addition, the following categories of remote and marginal were still pointed out:
- People busy all day with professional work.
- Residents of the parish who went abroad for professional reasons.
- Occasional practitioners, appearing in church only on the occasion of a funeral, wedding, or other family event. Current pastoral proposals do not reach them and do not cause an awakening of faith.
- Roma and others in a similar situation. Their way of life and mentality contradict the applicable formal requirements under canon law. This discourages them and thus makes it difficult or even impossible to access the sacraments.
- People who practiced the faith before the pandemic, but now – after the related restrictions were lifted – are no longer in church. They put work and duties before formation and spiritual life.
With the awareness of the existence of all these remote groups, however, in the synodal reflection there were also voices, by no means isolated, that only those who have chosen it themselves remain remote and on the margins. They want to stand at a distance and criticize, or even cut ties with the Church altogether.
In order to reach the remote and marginalized, there is a need to “go to the periphery,” to actively seek out those who have left the Church, to focus pastoral efforts more on the excluded and absent people. In this context, the important and even decisive role of the witness given by the lay faithful was pointed out. There was talk of the need for specialized pastoral care for non-sacramental unions, catechization of adults, proposals for formation for young people after confirmation, the need to renew the teaching of religion, perhaps even to abandon teaching it at school. It was pointed out that the preparation of children for First Communion, the preparation of young people for Confirmation or premarital courses should be used as a space for evangelization.
However, all these proposals remain general demands. In practice, pastors and committed lay faithful frankly admit: we don’t know what to do. The attempts made do not bear the expected fruit, although they are sometimes paid with great effort and resources. An example of this is the synodal process itself. Consultation meetings in the parish were usually attended by the most committed parishioners (group leaders, people from the pastoral council). Those who rarely attend church could not be reached.
Among the obstacles to pastoral activity and evangelization is the overwhelming of pastors with very absorbing administrative and economic issues. Quite mundane issues are also pointed out, such as the lack of heated churches and other meeting facilities. In smaller and poorer parishes, this forces pastoral activities during the colder season to be reduced to the bare minimum. Some parishes in rural areas also report problems with Internet access, making it difficult for them to use new media in their evangelization efforts and in communicating with the faithful and with diocesan institutions.
Evangelization is not only a task facing the parish or other church entities, but also the task of every Christian. The faithful are generally aware of this, although here and there the belief still lingers that missions are only about the so-called “missionaries. mission areas. Lay Catholics, however, experience a variety of difficulties in their daily Christian witness in their communities. The following are most often cited as obstacles to the missionary commitment of all believers:
- Fear of harassment or rejection or ridicule.
- Lack of a strong Christian identity among the faithful. Lack of living faith or faith only superficial, traditional.
- Lack of consistency in one’s own life, inconsistency of one’s own conduct with the professed faith.
- Lack of religious knowledge or too little knowledge.
- Lack of support from the clergy. The point is that the Church in its official statements is increasingly perceived as ambiguous, abandoning a clear and lucid “world of norms,” reacting too weakly or too timidly to the attacks directed toward it.
Some problems in taking responsibility for the Church were also noted. This applies both to his worldly goods and to the community itself. The answer may lie in getting the laity more involved in Church affairs, employing them in curiae and allowing them to manage the temporal goods of the diocese, which are, after all, common property. Often laymen have better training in economics and finance than clergy. The introduction of financial transparency is called for, as the lack of it can be a cause of insinuation, misrepresentation and unwarranted mischief.
It was noted that the role of the laity in the Church is growing. A good pastor is not just a church official, but above all a caring father and spiritual guide. It emphasized that both the faithful and the clergy are to be authentic witnesses of God and proclaim the Gospel through the example of their own lives. On this occasion, the problem of people who do not want to get involved and remain only in the sphere of formal participation and fulfillment of practices out of habit or convenience was raised. The view was expressed that these are the people who most often criticize others without noticing their own mistakes.
Most laymen do not feel responsible for the Church community. Their contact is limited to the necessary meetings with the parish priest when dealing with the formalities of receiving the sacraments.
It was pointed out that a good example of pastoral support is the ministry of the catechist. Appropriately prepared and formed persons support parish priests in preparing the pastoral life of the parish, as well as assisting in the formation of children, youth and adults preparing to receive the sacraments. It is worthwhile to involve laymen to conduct parish catechesis for the confirmed. Suitably qualified laymen could also contribute to the parish as psychologists or therapists. There are also those faithful who see the parish community not only as a place to develop and deepen their faith and religiosity, but also as a place where one should give something of oneself (time, presence, talents, concern for others).
Some lack the celebration of the Eucharist in the extraordinary form of the Roman rite, and do not accept women as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. Others lack unity in the Church, in Christian families or in parishes, bearing witness to the faith with greater force, through which it is possible to “rebuild bridges” without conducting fierce disputes and expressing negative emotions.
Some expect greater initiative on the part of priests to more effectively encourage the faithful to become involved and engaged in parish life, while others call for teaching love of the Church, practicing prayer and living in accordance with Church teachings, and raising children in the Catholic faith.
List of synodal topics
W Kościele i w społeczeństwie jesteśmy na tej samej drodze, ramię w ramię.
Kiedy mówimy „nasz Kościół”, to kogo mamy na myśli? Kto w naszym Kościele „podąża razem”? Kto oczekuje, aby bardziej ku niemu wyjść i zaprosić go do wspólnej drogi wiary? Jakie osoby lub grupy są zaniedbane i nie objęte troską o to, by iść razem drogą wiary i stanowić jedną wspólnotę Kościoła?
Zestawienie odpowiedzi na te pytania zawarte w syntezach diecezjalnych.
Słuchanie jest pierwszym krokiem, ale wymaga otwartego umysłu i serca, bez uprzedzeń.
Czy umiemy słuchać siebie nawzajem w naszym Kościele? Czyj głos jest pomijany lub za mało słyszany? Z jakiego powodu? Czy potrafimy określić uprzedzenia i stereotypy, które utrudniają nam słuchanie innych? Czy z otwartym umysłem i sercem umiemy wsłuchiwać się w poglądy inne niż nasze; także osób spoza wspólnoty Kościoła?
Wszyscy są zaproszeni do mówienia z odwagą i zaufaniem, to znaczy łącząc wolność, prawdę i miłość.
Czy w Kościele nasz/mój głos ma znaczenie i czy znajdujemy przestrzeń do wypowiedzi i bycia wysłuchanym? Czy czujemy, że przemawiający w naszym imieniu faktycznie reprezentują także nas? Jaki mamy na to realny wpływ?
„Wspólna droga” jest możliwa tylko wtedy, gdy opiera się na wspólnotowym słuchaniu Słowa Bożego i sprawowaniu Eucharystii.
Czy liturgiczne celebracje i doświadczenie wspólnotowej modlitwy w naszym Kościele mają realny wpływ na moją/naszą praktykę codziennego życia: decyzje, wybory, inspiracje? Czy czujemy się zaproszeni do czynnego (praktycznego) zaangażowania w liturgię, czy też pozostawia nam się rolę „widza”? Czy sami pielęgnujemy w sobie pragnienie zaangażowania? Czy przeżywanie liturgii umacnia i motywuje mnie/nas do podjęcia misji ewangelizacji?
Synodalność służy misji Kościoła, do udziału w której powołani są wszyscy jego członkowie.
Czy mamy świadomość, że jako ochrzczeni wszyscy jesteśmy powołani do misji ewangelizowania? Co nas hamuje w podejmowaniu tej misji i wspieraniu w niej innych: w nas samych, w środowisku życia, we współczesnej kulturze?
Dialog wymaga wytrwałości i cierpliwości, ale umożliwia także wzajemne zrozumienie.
W jaki sposób w naszym Kościele rozwiązywane są konflikty i trudności wynikające z różnicy poglądów, dążeń, oczekiwań? Czy dialog jest naszym sposobem wychodzenia z tych problemów? Jak w tym kontekście wygląda współpraca różnych instytucji, organizacji i ruchów kościelnych? Czy umiemy uczyć się form dialogu od instytucji niekościelnych? Czy dialog jest również przestrzenią naszego spotkania z wyznawcami innych religii i zniewierzącymi?
Dialog między chrześcijanami różnych wyznań, zjednoczonymi przez jeden chrzest,
zajmuje szczególne miejsce na drodze synodalnej.
Jakie relacje ma nasza wspólnota kościelna z członkami innych tradycji chrześcijańskich i wyznań? Co nas łączy i jak razem podążamy? Jakie owoce przyniosło nam wspólne podążanie? Jakie są trudności? Jak możemy zrobić następny krok we wspólnym podążaniu naprzód?
Kościół synodalny jest Kościołem uczestniczącym i współodpowiedzialnym.
Kto w naszym Kościele podejmuje decyzje i czego one dotyczą? Czy jest to wyłącznie forma indywidualnego przewodniczenia czy jest też w tym wymiar wspólnotowy? Czy istnieje współpraca zespołowa i czy w tym kontekście promowane jest zaangażowanie świeckich, np. w radach duszpasterskich i ekonomicznych, w kierowaniu wspólnotami? Czy jesteśmy gotowi podjąć się współodpowiedzialności za podejmowane decyzje i działania?
Na drodze synodalnej podejmujemy decyzje poprzez rozeznawanie tego, co Duch Święty mówi przez całą naszą wspólnotę.
Jak rozumiemy to, że Kościół jest hierarchiczny a nie demokratyczny? Czy w tak zorganizowanym Kościele widzimy miejsce dla wspólnego rozeznawania i podejmowania decyzji całego ludu Bożego wraz z pasterzami? Jak możemy wzrastać we wspólnotowym rozeznawaniu duchowym?
Synodalność pociąga za sobą otwartość na zmiany, formację i ciągłe uczenie się.
Jak formowane są osoby, zwłaszcza te, które pełnią odpowiedzialne funkcje we wspólnocie chrześcijańskiej, aby były bardziej zdolne do słuchania i dialogu, rozeznawania? Czy mamy świadomość odpowiedzialności za własną nieustanną formację do odpowiedzialności i misji ewangelizacyjnej w Kościele?