Synodal Pathway

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In his homily of the 3rd June 2021 the Archbishop reminded us of the context we find ourselves in as we are invited to embark upon a synodal pathway. This context is one of an ever-changing Church in an ever-changing world.
“The Church centred around the monasteries of early medieval Ireland was replaced by the diocesan Church.  When one studies the history of the Church in Ireland, there are five discernible historical phases:
  • The Gaelic and Monastic Church
  • The Anglo-Norman Church
  • The Reformation and Penal Church
  • The Post-Emancipation Church.
and now
  • The Church in Contemporary Ireland
In each of these historical phases there was a beginning, a flourishing and a decline.  In the words of Qoheleth: “there is a season for everything under heaven” (Eccles 3:1).   God is the Lord of history.  Christ was humble before history.    We are foolish and vain if we think we are the lords of history. Such vanity—and its oftentimes dreadful consequences—belongs to the despots and tetrarchs of yesterday and today who dominate and oppress their people.



What remains constant in the midst of all the change?

Four things that are essential:
  • The community without which there is no Church; our Christian faith is rooted in our humanity: the Word became flesh and dwells among us. This is at the heart of our faith.
  • The living Tradition—made life-giving in the Spirit and actualized in the Scriptures. The risen Lord continues to speak to us through the Sacred Scriptures and in the words and witness of those who seek him with a pure heart (see Gaudium et Spes 1).
  • The Breaking of Bread—the summit and source of the very life of the Church and of the faithful
  • Prayer—the lifeblood of the Church’s life, where the Father’s closeness and care, and the fullness of His will are revealed.
Down through the centuries particular forms of Church life flourished, waned and were replaced by another one. The Church is continually changing and adapting. The people of God are a people on the move, a people on pilgrimage through life and history. This is how the Church actually is: never static, but continually responding to a changing cultural context. 
What we are experiencing today is a crisis in a particular historical form of Church. The Church, however, is more than any one particular historical form. Since change occurs over a period of years, our generation cannot easily see the contours—not to mention the final form—of what is going to emerge.  However, just as the raindrops on the footpath suggests the imminence of rain, we are surrounded by signs of change that are as profound as they are imminent.
It is in this context that a change of emphasis in the Church is discernible in recent initiatives.  For example, there is a deep and serious consultation to discern the promptings of God in our heritage and in the People of God.  The Task Force, which I established under the title, “Building Hope”, is a step in that direction, as is the National Synod which was announced in March. What is now emerging is a different sense of “ownership” of the Church and its mission—from a “clergy-owned” to a Church truly “owned” by the People of God.” [1]
[1]   Homily of Archbishop Dermot Farrell for the Feast of Saint Kevin, Mass for the Metropolitan Chapter of Dublin, 3rd June 2021: St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral.
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