Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As I was considering my topic for this week’s letter comes from the quirky character of Kramer from Seinfeld. Always full of goofy ideas, at a certain point, he has a book published and goes on a speaking tour about it. It’s a coffee table book on the subject of coffee tables. It’s a silly idea, really which makes it humorous. What’s the
point of having a coffee table book about coffee tables themselves?

The reason this comes to mind is due to the fact that the Church is beginning a process known as a Synod.  Synods have been around since the Second Vatican Council and are a way of gathering members of the Church to discuss and understand some aspect of the faith or the world around us. For example, there have been Synods on things like the New Evangelization, on the Catholic Church in Africa, on Marriage and Family, etc.

Even here in the Diocese of Trenton, there have been Synods, the last one being in the early ‘90’s. When a Synod occurs there is generally a preliminary document that is sent out and used as a basis for the general conversation. There are also meetings or sessions in which those involved in the Synod gather to discuss and
debate the points pertinent to the topic. After several of these sessions, the initial document is updated and submitted to the appropriate authority. In the case of a general Synod, to the pope, and in the case of a diocesan Synod, to the bishop. After careful reading and further consultation if necessary, there’s usually a final
document produced for the good of the Church and helps clarify our understanding of the given topic at hand.

Overall, it seems to be a good process, although I’ve never been part of the inner workings of a Synod.  So why did I think of a coffee table book about coffee tables when I consider Synods. It is because the Synod we are embarking upon for the next two years or so is on the topic of Synods themselves. If you were at Mass this
past weekend, you heard me announce the opening Mass occurring on 10/17 at the cathedral. And there will be other events and opportunities throughout this process as there will be a local, national, and global phase to all of this. The intended purpose is not to be circular or silly, but to really look at the synodal process and understand it better. It’s to make sure that this process of the Church is beneficial in the way we expect it to be and see if there is a better way to go about it.

If interested in more about all of this, I highly encourage you to read the Bishop’s Pastoral Letter on the Synod, which is available online and in diocesan media such as the Monitor. It’s quite helpful in better understanding the how’s and why’s of this particular Synod.

Peace and Goodness,
Fr. Dan