On October 10, 2021, the air traffic controller of the voice of God gave instructions to pilot Pope Francis for the synodal flight of the Church to take off on the mission. In turn, Pope Francis directed the flight crew of the synodal secretariat to prepare the passengers – the People of God. After giving the pre-flight instructions in the form of the Synod Handbook (Vadamecum), the flight departed the gates of the local dioceses, moved gradually along the tarmac, and positioned itself on the runway. While there were sufficient seats on board for the laity, priests, and bishops, some refused to board either for fear of an accident or because there were uninterested in the synodal way of arriving at the destination.
As the synodal plane took off into the open sky, the flight experienced extreme turbulences – disgruntled clergy passengers, misunderstanding of the synodal process, unwillingness to participate due to “synod burnout”, and the logistics challenges of the Corona Virus restrictions. Notwithstanding, Pope Francis and his co-pilots stuck to the flight plan and navigated exceptionally well the first stage of the flight – the Diocesan stage. Now that the flight is fully airborne and at cruise altitude, we are now at the second stage of the flight – the Continental stage and co-pilots have distributed the working Document for the Continental Stage (DCS) – the fruits of our conversations during the first leg of the flight.
The keys to a successful flight are the plane’s engine, the two wings, and the wind. The engine is the Real Presence of Christ who is made visible in the body of the plane – the Church. The synodal wings are the method of spiritual conversations. Spiritual conversation is like two sides of a coin. On one hand, it is a method that “promotes active participation, attentive listening, reflective speaking, and spiritual discernment” (Vadamecum, # 8). Together we aim to discern the voice of the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, it’s a We-centered conversation in which the passengers “hold a neutral space to explore uncharted territory. Ask questions for which we have no answers and listen to connect” (The Creating We®Institute). The wind is the Holy Spirit that enables the successful ascent and buoyance of planes.
Airborne, the Synodal flight now cruises en route to its mission. As we cruise in dialogue to discern the Church’s mission, we need to be prepared for unexpected turbulence. But the healthy engine, the sturdy wings, and the wind, as well as a spiritual and skillful pilot and crew, will guarantee safe arrival.