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Bishop Daniel Felton: Let’s listen — Part II

In the last issue of The Northern Cross, I talked about the upcoming Let’s Listen sessions.

Recap of Let’s Listen Part I
Bishop Daniel Felton
Bishop Daniel Felton
Believe in the Good News

The background to Let’s Listen is centered in what I believe is a dawning moment in our diocese. It is beginning to dawn on us that we can once again mobilize to the Mission that had been entrusted to us by the Holy Spirit. This Mission is simply bringing people to Jesus Christ, who is the healing and hope that we seek in our personal life, the life of our parishes, and the communities in which we dwell. To step forward into that Mission, we must discuss and discern what is the “next step” that the Holy Spirit is calling us to in our mobilizing to Mission.

As we discern our next step in the Holy Spirit, let us turn to the example of the steps taken by the two disciples walking the road to Emmaus. At the very beginning of their journey, Jesus joins them along the way and asks what they are talking about. Not recognizing Jesus, the two disciples begin to share their hurts and despair with Jesus. Jesus listens to them intently and deeply, and then, having listened to their story, he responds with his relational presence revealed in his person and the scriptures. Slowly, the disciples begin to discover a sense of hope and healing. At the end of the journey, Jesus celebrates the Eucharist. It is then that it dawns on them that it is Jesus who has been walking with them along the way and that as they receive his body and blood in Communion, he is the source of their healing and hope.

“Let’s Listen” is the name that is being given to the journey that we are going to walk on the road to Emmaus in our own time. The first step of this journey is to gather people throughout the diocese to talk about what is the hurt and pain that we carry within our hearts these days as we walk our own road to Emmaus. As we share and listen to the pain and hurts of one another, we will pray for Jesus to join us along the way as he asks us: “What are you talking about?” As we share our hurts and pain with Jesus, slowly we will begin to discover a dawning sense of hope and healing. It is in the sharing among ourselves and with Jesus that the Holy Spirit will reveal to us the next step that we are to take as a diocese as we mobilize to Mission — not our best guess or inclination but a true discernment of the call of the Holy Spirit.

On to Let’s Listen — Part II

At the present time, our Let’s Listen planning group is meeting with the deans to discuss how best to proceed with the Let’s Listen sessions in each deanery. The format of these sessions will be simply to pray to the Holy Spirit, to listen to participants respond to two questions, and to listen not only to one another (which is hugely important) but also to the

Holy Spirit speaking to us through one another. The two questions of discussion and discernment: 1) What is hurting or in need of healing in your personal life, parish, and community? 2) What is healthy or hopeful in your personal life, parish, and community?

The primary format for the Let’s Listen sessions will be small to medium size groups of people that will meet in person with a facilitator. There will also be opportunities for virtual gatherings, written submissions, and individual interviews that seek to ensure that as many people and perspectives are heard as is possible.

The Let’s Listen sessions will take place this winter into spring. It is my desire by Pentecost 2022 to articulate what was heard in the Let’s Listen sessions, what we discerned the Holy Spirit saying to us, and concretely what does this mean for the mission and vision of our diocese moving forward.

For now, as we walk our own road to Emmaus, let us lovingly acknowledge the Lord Jesus who is walking with us every step of the way and helping us to discern the next step entrusted to us by the Holy Spirit as disciples of the Lord on mission.

Bishop Daniel Felton is the tenth bishop of Duluth.