10 Things To Do Instead Of Reading About The Synod

10 Things To Do Instead Of Reading About The Synod October 4, 2015


The Synod of the Family, Part Deux, has commenced. News and commentary about it will be clogging your Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and Feedly links for the next decade, if you’re lucky it’s only that long. If you’re like me, you’re on synod overload, and want to avoid it as much as possible. I don’t blame you.

Short of completely avoiding social media, Catholic blogs, and Catholic news sites, and going on a 100% Internet fast, escaping any coverage of the synod will be darn near impossible. And most coverage will be spun according to the biases of the sources, and their particular axe to grind. So the question is – what sites will be offering honest, balanced coverage?

First of all, AoftheA will not be publishing commentary on the synod. Oh, I might provide commentary on the commentary – but I won’t be posting anything directly concerning the synod. I value my sanity.

Maybe the answer is to suggest whom to avoid. I have three suggestions.

#1 -The Mainstream Media. Obvious.

#2 – The National Catholic Reporter. Goes without saying. Because we all know – before the synod concludes, the NCReporter will have rewritten the catechism to fit their dissident proclivities, run same-sex marriage wedding banns, and declare divorce the eighth sacrament. They write stuff like that now, so all the synod does is provide additional incentive.

#3 – Nearly everybody Pewsitter links to. Unless you have to know about shadow synods, or rumored back room shenanigans, or how the synod will bring about the apocalypse, or who’s really orchestrating the rules changes, or how Pope Francis is dismantling Church doctrine, or whose anonymous source has the most honest-to-goodness truthy truth of what’s really happening at the Synod. Perhaps that’s entertainment to some degree, but wading into that Gnostic pool of crackpottery will lead to drowning in spiritual cynicism, and the next thing you know, you’re making reservations at the nearest catacomb and buying all the beeswax candles you can afford.

That just ain’t helpful.

A pervasive attitude is rising within certain corners of the Catholic blogosphere, where fears that Satan will destroy the Church stone by stone exceeds belief in the promise that the gates of Hell shall not prevail, and only bloggers can save us. Expressions like “Synod of Doom” – really? Hyperbole much?

Is everything awesome? Nope. Are forces conspiring to harm the Church? Yep. Are there individuals at the Synod desiring to change or undo Church doctrine? Yes, there are. Are there real concerns? Again, yes.

There’s no point in history during which none of those things were true. And yet – 2000 years later, we’re still here. How in the world did that happen without the grace and wisdom of  Catholic bloggers that entire time? Tis a mystery.

Could the Church be damaged as a result of this synod? Well, sure – look at the fallout from Humanae Vitae to see the results of people willfully abandoning Church teaching. That was terrible. People who wanted contraception to be permitted got pissed off. I believe that many faithful will be strengthened as a result of this synod, because the synod won’t undo Church doctrine, and that people opposed to Church doctrine will similarly get pissed off, and do whatever the hell they want, regardless of what the Church says. Because, free will.

The Church could be damaged as a result of the crackpottery, too. Sadly, it will be published. Whether you give them any attention – that’s entirely up to you. (Which is why there are no links – not gonna give them attention or credibility.) Again, free will. But if you read them, ask yourself : is your faith being strengthened? Are you leading others to Christ? Does reading them lead to an increase in virtue? Are the fruits of the Holy Spirit being nurtured or starved? Are you getting angry, or does it lead you to peace?

In other words, you have self-control. Just because some writers and bloggers have chosen to not exercise it, doesn’t mean you have to follow suit.

While in my parish’s Adoration Chapel yesterday, I read this in “My Imitation of Christ” – from Bk III, Chapter 24.

“For what is to thee whether this man be such and such; or that man do or say this or the other. Thou art not to answer for others, but must give an account for thyself; why, therefore, dost thou meddle with them? Behold, I know every one and see all things that are done under the sun, and I know how it is with every one, what he thinks, what he would have and at what his intention aims. All things, therefore, are to be committed to Me; but as for thy part, keep thyself in good peace and let the busybody be as busy as he will. Whatsoever he shall do or say will come upon himself, because he cannot deceive Me…Be careful and watch in prayer and humble thyself in all things.”

So back to the original question – who’s going to provide honest, balanced coverage? Where’s the middle ground?

I don’t know. Perhaps the best advice I can offer is to wait til the Synod ends.

In the meantime, here are ten infinitely more efficacious suggestions:

1) Pray the rosary.
2) Read the Bible and other spiritual works.
3) Go to Adoration.
4) Play with your kids.
5) Do stuff with your spouse.
6) Attend to your job/vocation.
7) Fulfill the will of God.
8) Here’s a productive idea: Adopt-A-Synod-Father! (I got Bishop Peter John Haworth Doyle of Northamptom, England) If you get someone you don’t like, treat it like a cross, and you might receive extra grace!
9) Read the Crescat. She’s devoted October to contemplating the Rosary, complete with stunning art. It’s a wonderful antidote to crackpottery.
10) Those corporal works of mercy? Dust ’em off if need be, and see Christ in others.

The Synod runs to October 25. It might be a rough month – but that’s entirely up to you.

Image via Pixabay

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  • Re Ja

    Even once the synod is over it’s not worth reading about it. The Pope will still have to decide what to do about the recommendations. So until he ‘teaches’ on it, there is not much point in getting into it unless the controversy is the payoff one is looking for.

    The Church will prevail and I don’t think anyone faithful is really saying it won’t. What some people are saying I believe is don’t expect it to be unchanged. And don’t assume it will look like what you expect it to. It might be growing in converts and global importance in the years ahead or it might be much smaller and more unified, but very, very persecuted. Regardless, it will still be pounding the gates of hell. We don’t know what God has in store for us and we need to be ready for anything.

  • It’s more that this synod is directly a laboratory experiment to test the truth of the doctrine of the indefectibility of the Church.

    I do not presume to guess what will happen.

    • Sophia Sadek

      Sorry. That test was conducted centuries ago with negative results.

      • I realize it was for you. For me- the indefectibility of the Church is the only reason left to have any hope, not just for this synod, not just for the Church, but for the future of the entire human race. Otherwise, the homosexuals and anti-life people just take over, game over.

        • Sophia Sadek

          You will oppose higher levels of governance with your last breath. I admire that.

          • That’s because higher levels of governance are utterly incapable of accounting for the reason for tradition.

            That’s small-t tradition- local tradition, not the tradition of the church, not religion per say except as it is practiced locally.

            traditional behavior, in the local, exists for a reason. Usually, that reason is the collected wisdom of experience of a tribal people, sometimes stretching back hundreds of thousands of years. Even when written history doesn’t exist and it is all oral, passed from parents to children, there is a reason WHY the tradition exists- one that isn’t readily apparent to outsiders and immigrants.

            The Church, in her wisdom, usually respects such small-t traditions; because she recognizes in them a wisdom deeper than her own. This is subsidiarity, which when practiced with solidarity, is a most powerful form of government. But to achieve it, you need to turn the hierarchy completely on its head, the clergy must serve, not be served.

          • Sophia Sadek

            Certain traditions, like stoning sinners, constitute hellish governance. Such things appeal to your personal aesthetic, but are no longer considered viable by society at large.

          • And yet, there was a reason for them, for which “society at large” has lost the concept. Thus irrational removal of data based on emotion.

            What is hellish governance to you, is somebody else’s discipline (and vice versa, btw, you have a tendency towards censorship, random acts of violence against the innocent, and thought police, equally “hellish government”).

          • Sophia Sadek

            I am quite familiar with the tendency towards censorship and thought policing. After all, Galileo’s book on the tides was condemned to the flames. I recommend it. It is still a remarkable tour de force.

          • Good example of thought policing, since Galileo’s book was never actually burnt. It was on the index of prohibited books, which guaranteed it a place in the Vatican Library under Canon Law at the time.

            I have read it. I consider it a remarkable example of arrogance and bad mathematics (after all, the theory he was proposing was shot down a few decades later).

          • Sophia Sadek

            His tidal theory was off the mark, but his support for other cosmic paradigms such as a moving Earth and mountains on the Moon were on the money.

          • The problem wasn’t his theories, his math, his science, or being wrong. The problem was his arrogance.

            A quality you share- deciding you are right and the rest of the world is wrong. But in your arrogance, you mimic those you claim to despise- your entire purpose on the internet is censorship through flame baiting.

          • Sophia Sadek

            I despise nobody. If it is arrogance you detest, you might want to check your own tone.

          • “Certain traditions, like stoning sinners, constitute hellish governance. Such things appeal to your personal aesthetic, but are no longer considered viable by society at large.”

            Sure looks like you despise the practitioners of certain traditions, while giving those in your own camp a pass.

          • Sophia Sadek

            I do not despise the advocates of hellish governance. I pity them.

          • Then there is no reason to fight against them.

          • Sophia Sadek

            It is not I who fight against them. It is they who fight against positive change.

          • Considering that what you call “positive change”, I would call genocide, I think it is a very good thing that they do. There is nothing good that has come from change.

          • Todd Flowerday

            “There is nothing good that has come from change.”
            That throws conversion out the window. And puts some so-called faithful Catholics in the boat with the rich young man.

          • Including me. Any change away from God is suspect. God does not change.

  • Viterbo Fangirl

    “…but wading into that Gnostic pool of crackpottery will lead to drowning in spiritual cynicism, and the next thing you know, you’re making reservations at the nearest catacomb and buying all the beeswax candles you can afford.”
    I laugh because it’s spot-on, I cry because it’s true. But either way, God bless you, Larry D!

  • Sophia Sadek

    I truly pity people who wring their hands in fear of the demise of the Church. Their emotional attachment can only augment their suffering.

    • You know, we finally agree on something. 😉

  • Jacob Suggs

    My plan is to pretty much only click links that make it to NewAdvent that both sound interesting and not like they will make me angry. I find that the webmaster of that site has a pretty good sanity filter. And once it’s over, then I’ll look at some mainstream news headlines to figure out what didn’t happen.

  • scott

    Whatever you do, DO NOT inform yourself. Those “trusted” “c”atholic bloggers at Patheos are sure to, ahem, inform you of all you will need to know when the Synod is over and what’s left of orthodox catholism resumes. But there’s nothing alarming going on fo show. Relax everyone, its just sodomy! Sheesh!

  • tj.nelson

    Two days ago I opened my Imitation to the exact same passage. Seriously.

    We are like spiritual brothers now!

    I’m coming over.

    • LarryD

      You got beer?

      • tj.nelson

        I’ll pick some up when I get the Badger.

  • Clare Krishan

    Don’t despair! Parenthetically protected by our two most recent canonized Popes, the Synod Fathers are in good hands: there’s a wonderful sacred symmetry to the proceedings (read up on the Paternoster’s ABBA patterns in Semitic Rhetoric here http://www.retoricabiblicaesemitica.org/Articolo/Inglese_121019.pdf) seen from the perspective of Old Testament pastoral seasons (tonight begins Simchat Torah, the post-exilic rejoicing of Ezra and Nehemiah at the Water Gate, the conclusion to the Feast of Tabernacles with its water-seeking plants that point to a Divine Fulfilment for God’s Chosen People in the outpouring of grace at the Theophany at the Jordan River) always measured by moonlight. Who can forget that spectacular eclipse of the harvest moon the night of the concluding Mass of the World Meeting of Families? All human children are conceived synchronously with their mother’s natural lunar cycles (absent artificial birth control) and October offers us some wonderful female companions in the Communion of Saints: two Doctors of the Church, St Therese of Lisieux and St Theresa of Avila; and the first saint of the third millenium St Faustina of the DIvine Mercy/Bright Sunday (eight days after Hebrew Passover’s full moon). I’ll be mimicing her exclamatory prayer for October: Mary, unite me with Jesus (#162) and trust that the Synod Father’s will also be contemplating the mind of Mother Church united with Mary also

  • AnneG

    It might be exciting if some of the bishops get annoyed like St Nicholas did at Nicea.

  • Ben Berry

    Larry, Pewsitter is a very good resource as are you.

  • James B

    LOL I actually found this article because I went to Pewsitter first!
    Back to Pewsitter now.

  • FranklinWasRight

    Look, pressure from orthodox clergy and lay people alike has prevented the Church from formally embracing heresy in the past, even when half of the Church had already embraced heresy. Why do you think this is any different? It is our sacred duty to speak out for the truth. It is a sin to put our heads in the sand and trust that everything will be ok, God demands us to act.

    • Jacob Suggs

      But there’s acting, and then there’s screaming franticly for no reason and to no effect. You want to right an analysis of what’s going on? Fine. Pray for em? Great. Express in a reasonable and sane way that the Church should continue to be the Church? Good stuff.

      Shout and scream and pull your hair out, and work yourself into a frenzy talking about the end times and all these heretics because some bishops propose some dumb stuff? Not so useful.

      • FranklinWasRight

        Somewhere in between what you just described and ignoring the situation all together (what this piece seemed to be insinuating) is a reasonable way to move forward. I am not hysterical, and I don’t appreciate being addressed as though I am.

        Anyone who speaks out is accused of being “nutty,” even when they are being perfectly rational, and the supposedly “reasonable” people simply don’t address the 800 lb gorilla at all.

        Strange times indeed.

  • Jim M.

    Oops! Excuse me, but I just came to read this since Pewsitter linked it.

    • Viterbo Fangirl

      PewSitter has linked an article that recommends NOT reading articles linked to PewSitter? And I only checked PewSitter BECAUSE the comments here noted that PewSitter had linked Larry D’s article…
      It feels like PewSitter has divided by zero or something!

      • LarryD

        Well, I did say “nearly everybody Pewsitter links to”. I include myself in the minority.

        • Viterbo Fangirl

          *PHEW!* No dividing by zero, then! You’ve saved the universe as we know it!

    • Hi Jim! LOL

    • Elizabeth

      Me too. Typical Patheos. Hey Patheos……thanks for reminding us all why we DON’T ever look this site.

      • LarryD

        And yet, you still came by.

        • Elizabeth

          Yeah, I followed the link from Pewsitters because they mentioned that you recommend steering clear of scarey old Pewsitters. Oooooh..

          • LarryD

            I didn’t describe Pewsitters as “scarey old”. I did, however, suggest avoiding the Gnostic pools of crackpottery. Big difference.

          • Elizabeth

            Sounds like the same difference to me. Obviously I was paraphrasing.

          • LarryD

            Thank you for telling me what I meant by your misinterpretation…er, I mean obvious paraphrasing.

  • I just wasted about 3 minutes of my life reading an article about how to be completely apathetic and why I should become a Jehovah Witness who prays the Rosary. Going back to Pewsitter. Thanks for nothing!

  • JCC

    Now I know Patheos Things-to-do, thanks to PewSitter !

  • Whatever. I’m still miffed I’m second to last on this list. And Terry never comments at my blog anymore.

    • LarryD

      I didn’t feel comfortable sticking you ahead of the Rosary and Adoration, Kat. That would only inflame the Pew’rs more.

      • AugustineThomas


        • Tony Powell

          Hey, AT! Why is Al Qaeda more compassionate than you?

          The 9/11 hijackers got to die instantly.

    • tj.nelson

      Well I would, but you’ve been on high-ate-us.

      I’m watching and waiting though.

  • Bruce

    The ostrich strategy.

    • Jacob Suggs

      Better than the headless chicken strategy. At least you don’t end up worn out without having changed anything. And you still have a head.

      Really though, taking action and stuff is great – pray and all that, maybe if you can actually do it without coming off as a conspiracy theorist nutjob, write an article or something. But some action is not productive, and if that’s the type of action you find yourself doing, then just pray and otherwise stick your head in the sand to prevent from exploding all over the rest of us.

      Everyone has a different job in the Church, but I don’t recall God ever telling one of his prophets to sit in a corner biting their nails and pulling their hair out while talking about which mafia controls the Church.

      • Bruce

        Headless chicken NOT. Eyes wide open. Try it sometime, the anti-ostrich approach. But don’t infer wrongly that prayer (Rosary, and even some hours of the Divine Office) and bible reading and daily Mass are not part of my plan.My hair is mostly intact, and the thinner parts are not from pulling it out, but God’s design, and my nails are just fine, needing the usual trim, I suggest you head over to Church Militant and Rorate Caeli to see what true conspiracy – and nut jobs in the hierarchy – really look like.

  • Elizabeth

    Wow. Typical Patheos advice.

  • I am not Spartacus

    If everything is was jake as Larry D assures us, then why is he blogging and telling others what to do?

    Who made him the expert on what must be done and what must be avoided?

    The Patheos Posse, led by Yosemite Sam (Mark Shea) is forever funneling into a box canyon trying to trap and assassinate the character of Pew Sitter but y’all only end shooting each other, so, keep it up…

  • Ron Turner

    Hey Larry,
    89% of us are not obsessed with the synod.
    Our Facebook pages pages need no de-clogging.

  • Yes! I find these synod things boring. I don’t intend to read about it. I’d rather just go and pray. And watch the baseball playoffs and world series. 😉

  • Boo

    Brilliant brilliant brilliant. And then some.

    Nearly woke up my sleeping little one laughing out loud at the
    “making reservations at the nearest catacomb and buying all the beeswax candles you can afford.” (probably ‘coz I do have some blessed beeswax candles in the cupboard for prudence’s sake!)

    But seriously. I was starting to get very agitated over this Synod until a couple weeks ago came to the same conclusion, though not nearly as eloquently put as Larry here.

    It’s much distraction folks. Important to be aware of and concerned about, as Larry says, and even to speak about to a point. But there’s oh so much (too much) to focus on in my own holiness (or lack thereof) which is much more important. If we all start and end with that (our own holiness) the problems will start to take care of themselves, not ever forgetting God is in charge.

    Thanks Larry!