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Listen to the Voice of Synodality

At this primary listening stage, Pope Francis calls out: dear Cardinals, Bishops, Priests and people of God, "lend me your ears."
Father Ittoop SVD call to listen to the voice of Synodality.

From Vatican II, some seeds fell along the path, some on rocky places, some on footpaths, other seeds fell among thorns and still other seeds fell on good soil where it produced a crop.   One such seed found its way to the heart of Jorge Bergoglio when he was probably a theology student and now the little sapling has found its way to the territory of Synodality. His invitation now is to prepare the ground for a new season of sowing. At this primary listening stage, he calls out: dear Cardinals, Bishops, Priests and people of God, "lend me your ears."

Our ears, even a child knows, stay open all the time, day and night too. It was not our plan. That's the way we found our ears, having no self-shutting possibility.    The louder our neighbour shouts, the more alert it would seem that our ears stand.

And as children, we probably concluded that hearing and listening are the same things. Then we were surprised by different experiences like seeing the poor in undisturbed slumber, not very far from the loud shrieking train engine noises from some Indian railway tracks or stations.  Their ears were open, but their hearing channels remained shut.

Then some of us realized that ears alone are not enough even to hear. The turn-on button inside the brain is a must for hearing.  If you turn off that switch, you hear nothing while the ears are kept wide open.

You must have experienced some of your friends who have completely switched off the listening apparatus while pretending to be listening to you by nodding their heads. The invitation during this listening stage of Synodality is to see to it that you keep your inner hearing gadget on all the way through this kairos – season of Synodality.

To hear a sound, as we saw, ears suffice. To understand what is being spoken, to listen, you need not only the brain readied for hearing but the attention of the mind. If your mind is not where the sounds come from, you are doing something else other than listening.

We often let the mind decide differently. The real reason for shutting the mind is not often the amygdala in the brain but the nerve coming from the heart. If your heart does not like the voice of the one speaking, for whatever reason, you do not hear what is being said to you.  While hearing the sounds from your neighbour, you are attuned to your inner personal grumble, coming from your self-righteous and judgemental attitude, coming from your heart and mind. 

Your heart is not where your ears want them to be. Without the presence of our hearts, the mind loses the way and the truth. The invitation during this listening stage of Synodality is to turn on the ears of the mind and heart and stay attuned and attentive to those trying to communicate to us.

But for that to happen, the first and foremost suggestion given by His Holiness Dalai Lama's four-step guide for ever-lasting happiness is to be incorporated: "to give up labels." Let me quote him: "Do not ever consider yourself as different from another human being." He says, "I never consider myself as a Buddhist, or His Holiness The Dalai Lama or a Nobel laureate." The moment "I define myself by these labels," he says, "I become a prisoner." So, "I forget all these things; I simply consider myself as one of the seven billion human beings."

Does it not sound like the voice of "Fratelli Tuti"? We may have to remove many labels to consider everyone else as a fellow human being.  One label Pope Francis often reminds us of is one of clericalism and superficial etiquette in which we can get imprisoned that can affect our way of listening to the people of God.

If we can surgically remove that sticker, along with the century-old taken for granted gender- label,  and choose to get attuned to listen to everyone as brothers and sisters, the Synodality would usher in new hope.

Jesus, as he often went up the hills and the lonely- places to pray and to be with Abba, He also created an opportunity to listen to the lilies in the field and the birds in the air. The choice of being alone enabled Him to practice the asceticism of listening to non-speaking realities as well as to his own inner world.

When you listen to the other with a deep quality silence, you can almost hear what the other is trying to say. And if you pass on the correct words to the other while the other person is struggling for the right expressions, you are getting qualified as a liberating empathetic listener; you are not far from mastering the art of listening.  

With that kind of gift of listening enshrined within,  Jesus sat at the wayside well and listened to the Samaritan woman; the woman caught and brought in adultery in Simon's house; Mary and Martha not very far from their kitchen; Mary Magdalene in the garden even after His death; the doubting Thomas,  the guileless Nathanael, the nightly curious interrogator, Nicodemus, the influential mother-in-law of Peter,  the little daughter of Jairus, the local synagogue leader, the disciples, including the overambitious  John and James and all.  The invitation at this Synodality is to begin to follow the Master's way of listening to enter the heart of the other and become exemplary listener-disciples.

Mother Mary, too knew how to listen contemplatively, so she heard when God spoke. Having touched the presence of the divine pulse, she surrendered to God's words.  So Annunciation happened, but not Magnificat.  That hymn of joy had to wait till Elizabeth, with accurate penetrating empathy, heard her, listened to, understood and told Mary as she was trying to put words about her unsure thoughts. Elizabeth gently conveyed to Mary, "My goodness, you have come all the way from Galilee, you have full right to be troubled and confused as a young girl. I perfectly understand you, Mary and your, out-of-the-ordinary situation.  And the truth you know, Mary, you are the most blessed among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!"

 

And Mary felt perfectly understood, found herself filled with heavenly joy, and sang her heart out into 'Magnificat.' Like Mary and Elizabeth, we shall enter this sacred season of truth-telling and listening, so that we may be able to sing together as people of God, a Synodal Magnificat.

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Comments

Deepti , Oct 20 2021 - 1:34pm
A profound article! A great invitation to be true to one's conscience,drop away prejudices and allow the heart to listen , not just with one's ears! Thank you Fr. Ittoop for creating sacred spaces within me by your article.
Fr George Kaitholil, Oct 20 2021 - 7:20pm
Dear Fr Ittoop,
This is really great: simple and profound. For the last 2 years our Congregation has been working on synodality, the theme of our coming Provincial and General Chapters. I have also been involved in giving shape to the working paper for the Provincial Chapter. But some of the points you have so simply and beautifully explained are not found in any of the answers to the questionnaires sent around. Thank you so much for sharing your reflections. God bless!
G.K.
Mathew Chennak…, Oct 20 2021 - 9:13pm
Dear Fr. Ittoop,
Feels really great to see a truly innovative write up on "lend me your ears." I had never thought to such depth about what you so succinctly mention as the asceticism of listening to non-speaking realities. It does for sure encourages one to master the art of listening and take seriously the call to enter in to the Master's way of listening. Thank you for your profound thoughts on synodality and the invitation to become an exemplary listener-disciple.
Robyn, Oct 21 2021 - 10:27am
Ittoop, once again you bring to us - in a totally new and creative way - these refreshing insights around listening...so relevant and critical for understanding and living synodality. Greatly appreciated. rr
Sr Shanthi Priya BS, Oct 21 2021 - 1:28pm
Thanks Fr Ittoop, for your wonderful, deep, well integrated and captivating write up. Most of all, the title of the article is more inviting and capturing the attention of the readers. Only a true contemplative can listen with inner freedom and in truth without labels, prejudices and blocks. Reading through this article was spiritually and psychologically enriching and experiential. God be praised !!!
Angela Rodrigues, Oct 22 2021 - 12:44am
Every line was just right, every thought clear, every feeling profound, I want to read it many times over to get the beauty of it.
Sr Divya ssps , Oct 22 2021 - 11:42am
Dear Fr Ittoop ,
The article was very deep and profound. By reading it and listening with the heart bring the attitude of Jesus and the attentive listening to Samaritan woman by Jesus brought total transformation inher life.This kind of listening Iwant to cultivate in me.thank you for the reflection.
Enid Fernandes, Oct 24 2021 - 10:11pm
Much to reflect on Fr. Ittoop. The attitude of the mind and heart is so important and well explained. The attitude of listening with your heart is a sure way to bring about change. Hope the process that has started now is absorbed and there will be change in communication between the people of the church and with the people of other faiths.
Tuhin Prothasis, Oct 23 2021 - 1:09pm
Nice article father ithooop... Afterall in listening we come closer to the truth.. and the truth shall set us free
Sr.Melba Lopes, Oct 24 2021 - 8:31pm
Thanks Itoop. you hit d core of synodality, besides d 3 pillars of communion, participation n mission....we fundamentally miss out on listening....the axis of our desire to move forward together.
Bindu Tobby, Oct 30 2021 - 3:04pm
Lovely read Ittoop uncle - ‘when you listen to the other with a deep quality silence, you can almost hear what the other is trying to say’. Those are precious moments and only a few times I’ve experienced that - when the silence is comfortable and so much relayed. The many instances you quote of Jesus being an intent absorbing, empathetic listener was also so interesting. We need to strive to be better listeners, truly lending our ears, attention, empathy and consideration for humans around us for this world to be a better place :)
Avin Kunnekkad…, Nov 29 2021 - 4:08am
Dear Fr.Ittoop ,With a feeling of gratitude say thank you for the link you sent and read your opinion on synodality and let me your ears . Indeed inspiring and and thought provoking to be effective listners to oneself. to tothers and to the enviornment and to God. Only highly spritully evolved people can be effective listners and i think it is a long long process too. You have made me aware of the the invitation at this Synodality is to begin to follow the Master's way of listening to enter the heart of the other and become exemplary listening-disciple. Thank you