Synodality – Historical Listening and Kairos

In a group conversation during the synod retreat for the clergy of the Archdiocese of Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago two concepts and insights related to the synodal journey emerged. 

The first is historical listening. This type of listening is an awareness of the historical wisdom of the Church that it passes on through its living Tradition.  This living Tradition is captured in the official teachings of the Church, the devotions and rituals, and the writings and witnesses of the People of God, especially those emerging from oppressive circumstances such as the experience of enslaved Africans in the Americas. In the discernment the mission of the Church in the 21st century, we integrate the wisdom lessons of the past starting from the birth of the Church on the Day of Pentecost and including the Church’s Jewish roots.    

The second insight is understanding that the historical assemblies of the Church of the Archdiocese of Port of Spain have been Kairos moments. The ancient Greek word Kairos means “opportunity”, “season”, or “fitting time.” In scripture, therefore, the word is used to mean the capacity to read the signs of the times and respond in faith. For example, Galatians 4: 4-5 says “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Hence, the participants believed that these assemblies were previously like rivers flowing separately but have now converged with the Synod 2021-2023 river to form one huge synodal river.  Now, therefore, is a Kairos moment in the life of the local church to which the People of God are called to respond in faith. 

I pray that our historical listening may enable us to discern the Kairos moment in our midst. (Amen!)

“It’s not the past you seek. It is the model, the energy of the past that’s important. As the poet-monk Basho puts it, ‘I do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the old.  I seek the things they sought’” (Joan Chittister, Monastic Heart). 

2 thoughts on “Synodality – Historical Listening and Kairos

  1. Fr Don I am not an intellectual so bear with me. Why Africa? Are poor black people treated any better anywhere in the world today? Why Africa?


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