I remember a compelling homily by Monsignor Dolan a few years ago that focused on the question, “Who Are You?” He stepped away from the ambo and directed this question at different congregants. The responses were varied: “I am a Mother,” “I am a Father,” “I am an athlete,” “I am a nurse,” “I am a lawyer,” for example, and finally, “I am a Catholic/Christian.” I cannot recall the scripture context for this homily, but the message sticks with me today – we have to know who we are and be grounded in that knowledge, so we can convey our identity to others we encounter. Since then, we have used this exercise with students to help them understand the importance of their roles, not only in their family unit but also within their school community. As they create their individual lists, students recognize that, even at a very young age, they possess many gifts and also responsibilities.
In addition to being a daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, principal, and Catholic/Christian, I am also an avid reader. I tend to gravitate toward non-fiction, biographies, or historical fiction so I can continue to learn. I read The Big Burn, by Timothy Egan last fall, and I recently finished The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. In each of these stories, I was amazed by the resilience of the characters as they faced immeasurable fear and hardships. I cannot imagine how I would fare living through fire, drought, famine, or war, but history is filled with people who did and persevered. I truly believe that our faith carries us through our struggles, and without a strong belief system, it would be difficult to endure the trials we face.
Throughout the history of the Church, numerous synods have been convened. The word synod comes from the Greek, meaning “assembly” or “meeting,” and synods are often meetings of bishops. Since Vatican II, there have been 16 ordinary synods (universal topics), 3 extraordinary synods, and 11 special synods. *Last October, Pope Francis announced the Synod on Synodality and is inviting all Catholics worldwide to participate in a consultation about how the Church journeys with them, invites their authentic communication, listens to their concerns, and promotes their participation in the full life of the Church. The insights from this consultation will be used to renew parishes, schools, and the diocese itself by strengthening a church culture that listens to its faithful, makes them co-responsible for the life of the Church, and reflects their wisdom.*
So, when you answer the question, “Who Are You?” and you respond, “I am a Catholic/Christian,” you have a unique opportunity, maybe even a responsibility, to help discover what God is calling the Church to do in these unprecedented times. Please see the flyer below to sign up for one of three consultative sessions offered by St. Michael’s Parish.
*information obtained from www.sdcatholic.org