Synodality and Fustrations

The feeling of frustration is one of the many emotions that were either expressed by the People of God or intuited in their stories during the consultation phase of the synodal journey. I invite you to sense the frustration in the following testimony extracted from a synod synthesis. “Some of the priests are very thin-skinned and think that any comment about how we can do better is a direct personal attack. But our Priests need feedback too. They are not perfect, and a very sensitive or arrogant priest can spoil it for everyone. You can be ostracized by the Church if you have an opinion that’s opposite to Church teaching. . . If we can ever get to a stage where persons can share differing points of views and have healthy debate around emotional topics, then this will encourage persons to be more candid.”  

Frustration is a feeling of being upset or annoyed as a result of being unable to change or achieve something. Frustration is like travelling in a boat or ship on the high seas and encountering the turbulent waves, and gusty and stinging winds experienced as the People of God engage in the process of listening, discerning and decision making. It’s an overwhelming and almost uncontrollable situation that requires refined navigating skills until conditions change. 

The question remains: how do we navigate the emotions of frustration on the synodal journey?

The synodal experience provided a ripe opportunity for the People of God to freely express their feelings about their experience of walking together as Church in their respective parishes, communities, or dioceses.  Perhaps many had buried those feelings for numerous years due to the lack of opportunities to share them or the resulting trauma protected them from further hurts. The synodal experience facilitated the opening of their pandora’s box, an opportunity simply to off-load, off-load about inhospitality, voicelessness, neglect or being ignored. 

Having had the experience of interior calm as a consequence of off-loading, as with the Emmaus disciples (Luke 24: 13-35), the next phase of the synodal journey offers a space of ongoing discernment and decision-making. We need, therefore, to have the courage to tell our stories of frustration, and the Church has a responsibility to prepare a trusting and listening space for the People of God to share their stories.

Sharing and listening to stories of frustration are basic tools for navigating the rough seas of frustration on the synodal journey.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: