Anna Rowlands: ‘Communion is our being and our doing’

“We think of communion as the first and last word of a synodal process: the origin and horizon of our journey”

Vatican News

“The Church shows and gives communion with God, which is communion with all creation. Communion is, therefore, our being and our action,” said Professor Anna Rowlands, lecturer in the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Durham, UK, on Monday 9 October, presenting her theological contributions to the Fourth General Congregational Conference of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, in which module B1 of the Instrumentum Laboris, dedicated to the theme “A communion that radiates”, was presented.


Three different dimensions of communion

Therefore, the university professor pointed out, the first thing to say about communion is that it is the reality of the very life of God, the being of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Our first action in relation to this reality is a joyful, non-anxious, non-competitive welcoming. To participate in the life of communion is the honour and dignity of our life. Thinking of communion as the first and last word of a synod process, Professor Rowlands said that this is the origin and horizon of our journey.

With Christ and his Spirit at the centre, communion is the very strength of this room. She then presented three different dimensions of thinking about communion.

Communion is the beauty of diversity in unity

In a modern world that tends towards both homogeneity and brokenness, communion is a language of beauty, a harmony of unity and plurality. And quoting some theologians, the lecturer stated that ‘the divine light is perceived in a communion that radiates through a glorious diversity of persons, creatures, cultures, languages, liturgies, gifts and charisms’. And from there it can be said that “the communion that radiates is a non-competitive, authentic diversity with a single point of unity in the triune God”. “Section B1 invites us to grow in communion by humbly reflecting with those who are vulnerable, suffering or weak and on the vulnerabilities and weaknesses of the Church.”

Communion is a participation that binds us across time and space.

And the third dimension of communion presented by Professor Rowlands is that communion is a participation that binds us across time and space. This reality of a radiating communion, mysterious and at the same time totally concrete, already before us, and still before us, offered as bread for the world and words that save lives, needs to be expressed in every context – local, regional, global – that inhabits the Church, this is the paradoxical horizon of hope, the reality in which, if we have courage, the Lord invites us to place ourselves.

(Summary of the article – News from the Vatican)