By Adélaïde Patrignani
Preparations for the Synod on Synodality to be held in Rome in October 2023 have already begun. The synodal journey will be inaugurated during a solemn ceremony in the Vatican, in the presence of the Pope on 9-10 October. However, the reflection on some essential aspects of the event is already underway. Spirituality is one of the basic themes. Pope Francis recalled this on April 30, receiving in audience an Italian Catholic Action delegation: "We must be precise, when we speak of synodality, of synodal journey, of synodal experience. It is not a parliament (...) Synodality is not only the discussion of problems, of different things that there are in society (...) There cannot be synodality without the Spirit, and there is no Spirit without prayer."
Sister Nathalie, what is the purpose of organizing a day of study and reflection on the spirituality of synodality? Is there only one spirituality, or can we talk about different spiritualities?
This is an aspect to explore more deeply. The idea was to start from the experience of different spiritualities, given that there are many spiritual families in the Church, to analyze the way in which each of these spiritual families live common discernment, this search for communion for the mission that is synodality, and starting from there, finding common traits. It was an exploratory day: in fact, what is fundamental and certain is that there is no synodality without spirituality because synodality places at its center the fact of walking together with Christ and listening to the Holy Spirit. This spiritual dimension is therefore truly an essential dimension of synodality that we must continue to explore.
Is there a Commission on spirituality? And what will be the role of spirituality in the synodal journey towards the 2023 assembly?
In order to prepare the next Synod, four commissions have been set up: one for theology, one for methodology, one for spirituality - which is in the process of being set up and July 1 was the date intended to launch its work - and then there will also be a commission on communication. All of this is aimed at supporting the entire synodal journey, the entire process at the various levels, so that it may be lived and proposed as a spiritual journey. The role of the Commission certainly represents the central axis of synodality - which is spirituality - because there can be no Synod without a spiritual journey. It is truly a journey of listening to the Holy Spirit.
What is the relationship between the historic congregations founded during the 19th century and the new ecclesial and lay movements? How do they fit together, and what will be their contribution to the next Synod?
Throughout history, the action of the Holy Spirit has been creative and the Church is rich in diversity of experiences, of communities, some of which are centuries old. Then, after the Second Vatican Council, there was also the emergence - thanks to the breath of the Holy Spirit who gives birth to charisms - of new communities. As far as the Synod is concerned, the entire People of God in all its diversity is invited to participate. Consultation takes place in particular through dioceses, episcopal conferences, but also through the realities of consecrated life, lay movements and new recognized communities.