My catalyst for writing is reading through some 20 pages of a group submission a relative of mine has been involved in. Those some 20 pages cover the 6 themes, with a reasonable amount of overlap between the themes. Having actually read other submissions from the consultation stage, online and offline, it is substantially representative of what the discernment groups have been receiving.
The other catalysts are the recent message from Queen Elisabeth II that repeatedly mentioned small steps as necessary on the way to greater good, and some videos from Dr Henry Cloud on YouTube about leadership: in particular the notion about focussing on what we can actually control, and giving people permission to work on those things they can actually control even if it is as seemingly small as smiling at your customers.
As I see it, there's a problem with all the 'we should do this', 'we should have that', and 'we need/must do this's that form the backbone of most submissions -
a) it all sounds like it is going to be done by an eager group of nameless people with infinite resources, time and talents
b) it doesn't take account of the already depleted/overextended people currently trying to hold together all that the parishes are already doing
c) by and large it lets 'me' off the hook.
So I am going to do something novel and look at the 6 themes from the angle of what small step or steps could someone in the pew actually do towards making the vision of those 6 themes a reality. Lots of people doing one small step, and encouraging each other to do that one small step, could make much more of a difference than we ever would have thought possible.
All of them need to be, 'Hey, yes, I could do that!'
Just choosing one step from each theme would be a very good start.
Theme 1: Missionary and Evangelising
•Take the time to think about and write about a time where God was very active in your life; what was the situation, what did God do? how did you know it was Him? what changed in your life because of this. 1 Pet 3:15
•Pray a short prayer every day for a friend or relative to be given a life changing encounter with Jesus
•Simplify your life so that there is room in it to take up a hobby that brings you in to interaction with people outside your parish community
•Once a month sit down and watch an episode from The Journey Home programme produced by the Coming Home Network https://chnetwork.org/about how God brought someone home to the Catholic church. Doing that will teach you that God is active in everyone's lives, and give you some simple ways to explain why Catholics do what they do if someone asks you.
Theme 2: Inclusive, Participatory and Synodal
•Be connected to what is going on at diocesan, national and global level by adding feeds from your diocese, Australian Catholic Bishop's Conference and Pope Francis to your favourite social media platform.
•Do something intentional once a month to learn about the actual experiences of people with disabilities. That could be online learning: http://disabilityandjesus.org.uk/ is a good place to start, as is the #actuallyautistic hashtag. Or it could be offline learning: having a chat to someone is the parish with low vision; or who wears hearing aids; or who comes to Mass with a walking stick; or visiting (with permission) a family of a special needs child.
•Once a month get to know someone's full name at church, and something about them, because to a certain extent most of us don't feel like we belong unless someone notices those times when we are missing.
•Understanding increases participation. Once a week read a page from the Catechism of the Catholic Church from the section on the Sacraments https://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_INDEX.HTM, or a page from the documents of Vatican II or a page from a papal encyclical.
•If you are not already contributing to the parish community in some way (eg. choir, church cleaning, St Vincent de Paul society, counting team, taking Holy Communion to the sick, welcomer etc) seek God seriously about what how He would like you to contribute your gifts and talents, and then act on it.
•Smile at everyone whom you come across at church, particularly anyone who seems to be struggling or who seems uncertain about the responses and when to stand, sit and kneel, or at anyone who has made the extra effort to bring their children to church.
Theme 3: Prayerful, Sacramental and Eucharistic
•If you do not already have a regular daily prayer time, commit yourself to 10 minutes of prayer a day.
•If you do already have a regular daily prayer time, increase it by 5 minutes.
•Find 5 minutes to spend quietly with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament every week. That could be before Mass, after Mass, or a special visit during the week to an open church or Blessed Sacrament chapel.
•Find a prayer of Spiritual Communion that you like, and pray it once a week, or more frequently if you wish.
•Do you have a holy water stoup at home? Keep it filled with holy water, and bless yourself with it every time you leave home. If you haven't got one, get one, and use it.
Theme 4: Humble, Healing and Merciful
•Make a commitment to listen whole heartedly to anyone who wishes to share their burdens with you, and to only offer advice if they ask for it.
•Start a regular practice of contributing to the lives of those less fortunate than yourself. It might look like putting some money in to the St Vincent de Paul poor box each Sunday, or finding a worthy charity and setting up a monthly direct debit donation, or volunteering to regularly do grocery shopping for an elderly neighbour.
•Once a month to take a few minutes to think about the people in your life with whom you are not at peace, and to ask for God's help to forgive them, and to seek forgiveness from God for holding onto resentments.
•Choose a short prayer you like that you could pray every day for all those you know, or have been told, who are sick or seriously ill or suffering from mental illness – and pray it daily.
Theme 5: A Joyful, Hope-filled and Servant Community
•Make a list every day of at least 3 things you are grateful to God for eg. quality time spent with a friend, being able to hear the birds sing, an answer to prayer.
•Go looking for a story every week about how God has been active in someone else's life. You might find that testimony on a video or blog, in an autobiography or over a coffee with a friend; and let that story nourish the hope within you that God is just as active in your life.
•If you are in leadership, start regularly asking your team members the question, 'What can I do to help you reach your ministry goals?' It might mean getting a light bulb replaced, or recruiting a helper, or diffusing an issue of conflict, or similar. And do it to the best of your ability.
•If you don't already know them, find out the dates of your baptism, confirmation, first Holy Communion and do something intentional to celebrate them every year; and make special effort to celebrate and acknowledge the wedding anniversaries, ordination anniversaries and religious commitment anniversaries of those God has placed in your life.
Theme 6: Open to Conversion, Renewal and Reform
•Read a passage of the Word of God every day, or two chapters from the Bible every week. Soaking our minds in God's truth will gradually show us where we are out of alignment with His ways and strengthen our wills to get our lives into alignment.
•Make a commitment to going to confession (Sacrament of Penance) monthly.
•Find a prayer to the Holy Spirit that you like, and make it part of your daily prayer time.
•Make a commitment to setting aside an hour every month to ask God what dreams He has for you, what things He would like to see happen in your family life, work life, ministry life, community life, and write down any ideas and out-of-the-blue thoughts that come, and share them with someone you trust who can help you sort out which ones have God's touch on them.