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How to Have a Conversation in the Spirit

The 2021-2024 Synod on Communion, Participation, and Mission has introduced Catholics to a way of discerning together called “Conversations in the Spirit.” This is the method was used by delegates at the October 2023 Assembly and is a method that the entire Church is being invited into, particularly during the interim phase of the Synod leading to the October 2024 Assembly. More than exchange of ideas, it is a spiritual journey to help discover and name convergences and overcome divergences and to uncover steps the Holy Spirit is revealing. The method is meant to draw participants closer to one another as they listen to one another and together for what The Spirit is calling forth from the Church.

Below are the steps in having a Conversation in the Spirit.

Step One: Personal Preparation

Each person begins on their own by entering into prayer to meditate on the question(s) being asked and to consider their own future contributions to the larger group.

Step Two: Taking the Word and Listening

The communal discernment begins with a silence, prayer, and listening to the Word of God. Then each participant takes turns speaking from his or her own experience and prayer while also listening attentively to the others. This initial exchange is followed by a time of prayerful silence.

Step Three: Making Space for Others and The Other

Then after having listened to what others have said and prayed with it, each individual shares what has resonated most with him or her or what has aroused the most resistance in him or her, allowing himself or herself to be guided by the Holy Spirit: “When, listening,
did my heart burn within me?” After each has shared there is another moment of prayerful silence.

Step Four: Building Together

Together we dialogue on the basis of what emerged earlier in order to discern and gather the fruit of the conversation in the Spirit: to recognize intuitions and convergences; to identify discordances, obstacles and new questions; to allow prophetic voices to emerge. It is important that everyone can feel represented by the outcome of the work. “To what steps is the Holy Spirit calling us together?”

Step Five: Final Prayer or Song of Thanksgiving to God

Additional Resources

Fr. David McCallum, SJ, Executive Director of Discerning Leadership and facilitator at the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod leads a webinar on Conversations in the Spirit