We are called to participate in the Church’s journey as a pilgrim people. Participation is an integral aspect of communion and geared towards mission. To be in communion is to actively participate in the life and mission of the Church.
According to Vatican II, by virtue of our baptism we are united to Christ and his Church and empowered by the Holy Spirit to actively participate in Christ’s and the Church’s priestly, prophetic and kingly/servant mission.
This means that in a synodal Church there is active participation of everyone in the liturgical celebration as a priestly people and community. This also means participation in living a holy life, a life of prayer and self-sacrifice.
The role of the priest is to preside over the Eucharistic community and enable the lay faithful to actively live out their priestly mission.
A synodal Church is where there is unity in faith and where all participate actively in the prophetic mission – a mission of evangelization and proclaiming the Good News of salvation and liberation, of announcing the gospel of life, of justice and peace. This also includes the mission of denouncing evil and all its manifestation in society and calling people to conversion.
This prophetic mission includes catechesis and education. The role of the priest to lead and enable the faithful in exercising their prophetic mission in their own way.
A synodal Church is where all in their own way actively participate in the kingly and servant mission. This is the mission of making the kingdom a reality in this world while looking forward to its fullness beyond this world. This means participation in social transformation, in the work for justice, peace and the integrity of creation, and collaboration with people of good will in the struggle against social evil – the culture of death, corruption, injustice, violence, the destruction of our common home.
The ordained minister leads the servant community and enables the faithful to actively participate in the social mission.
Participation in the preparation for the 2023 Synod of Bishops is an important process that is a concrete expression of the Church’s synodality. But it is not enough. What is important is how we live the vision of renewed Church of Vatican II which was received by the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines. Becoming a synodal Church is simply part of the reception process of Vatican II for our time.
The experiences and stories of the lay faithful, especially at the local level of the diocese, parish and Basic Ecclesial Communities as well as the renewal movements should be listened to and taken into account because they have been part of the journey toward making the Church truly a synodal Church – a church of communion, participation and mission.
The question that should also be answered is how this journey should be undertaken amidst the pandemic crisis and climate change as well as the rapid changes brought about the digital information and communication technology.
Father Amado Picardal is a Filipino Redemptorist priest who holds a doctorate in theology from the Gregorian University in Rome. He has lived a life of solitude as a hermit after an active life as missionary, professor, promoter of Basic Ecclesial Communities, and peace and human rights advocate. He is currently executive co-secretary of the Commission for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation in Rome.