There was a commercial a number of years ago that depicted a Heinz Ketchup bottle turned over a juicy hamburger. The thick tomato paste was ever so slowly coming out of the bottle. In the background Carly Simon was singing “Anticipation.”
It delivered the point, suggesting this was something good and gratifying and what was coming was worth the wait.
The synod is not a bottle of ketchup, but there has been a great buildup to the moment of this coming weekend of Pentecost.
It all began with an idea that we needed to energize ourselves as a church.
When I first mentioned the possibility of a synod, it was met with a sense of skepticism. Was this the right time? After all, we are in bankruptcy. How do we plan for the future? My response: Is there ever a right time?
I compare it to a couple deciding to start a family. All sorts of questions are posed. Do we need a second car? Should we start a college trust fund? Is the home big enough? Do we need a backyard?
They look at their families of origin and see how their parents started with next to nothing and still provided the love and care necessary to raise a child.
A synod is an assembly of people who offer counsel in the direction that we as a church should pursue.
However, as the present church we needed to step back and assess the wonderful work accomplished in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. We needed to remind ourselves of the trust that many of our clergy, religious and Catholic men and women placed in God to build his church.
So with a little help from my friends we embarked on a study/discussion examining the faith basis which motivated the faithful to devote their lives in establishing the parishes, schools, hospitals, orphanages and charities of the archdiocese.
Every relationship has an element of mystery. We can analyze a relationship from every angle — sociological, psychological and physiological — by why these two people at this time.
It is a “mystery.” The church is first a “mystery,” an invitation to enter into a deep relationship with the Lord Jesus in sacraments and communion. There is no authentic freelance Christianity, “Without his Church, there is no Christ.”
So a pastoral letter was written asking the question posed to St. Peter by Jesus, “Who do you say that I am?” The answer to this question transformed the life of St. Peter and this question continues to transforms the lives of the faithful.
We used the pastoral letter, “Who Do You Say that I Am?,” as a formation document, asking participants to examine their faith lives in view of the question and the pastoral letter.
It gave more than 15,000 people a chance to reflect on their relationship to the church. The minutes of the meetings and suggestions were all read and seriously considered.
The Archdiocesan Synod was officially announced last Pentecost – May 19, 2013. I can’t think of a better feast day in the church to assist in shaping the vision of our future than the feast of Pentecost. The descent of the Holy Spirit upon the church fashioning us as the People of God, directing us toward lives of holiness through the challenges of the Gospel. This would be a New Pentecost for us invoking the Holy Spirit.
As the delegates were selected and district gatherings scheduled, white papers were prepared as a starting point for discussion. These were areas of greatest concern to the participants and would assist the delegates in forming their understanding of the issues.
As the district meetings were conducted, momentum began to build. It seemed that at every parish confirmation or function I attended, people mentioned the Archdiocesan Synod. Many were happy to share their love for the church and their pride in the good that the church has accomplished for our society.
From day one, the synod has established its foundation upon prayer. Parishes and institutions included an intercession at Mass in their prayers of the faithful for the Archdiocesan Synod.
The daily reflections created by Bishop Donald J. Hying joined us together and reminded us that faith is the source of our strength. Now, in the last nine days before our synod, we have started a novena placing our trust in the Lord’s guidance.
We’ll begin our weekend on Friday, June 6, 7 p.m.,at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist by honoring our two newest saints — St. John the XXIII and St. John Paul II.
Both saints have had a profound effect on the modern church. St. John XXIII called for the Second Vatican Council, reshaping the church for witness to the modern world and St. John Paul II gave us the vision of selfless dedication in the renewal of Christian spirit in a secular and materialistic society.
The church, which was written off as irrelevant, was now once again a voice for the persecuted. We will be asking for their assistance as we enter into the days of our New Pentecost.
Saturday and Sunday the sessions will be conducted at the Cousins Center and in the Mater Christi Chapel.
Here the work of the delegates will come together and produce the priorities we should consider as we move into the next two decades.
I have pledged that I will follow those priorities established in the Archdiocesan Synod with a vision for the future.
My commitment is the same as that made by people who answered the question: “Who do you say that I am?” with a resounding, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God” — the people who created the greatness of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in our past.
This is the same commitment that energizes us today and the same commitment that provides our hope in the future.