Thursday, January 15, 2015

Families At the Center of Pastoral Work

Joy of the Gospel begins with the meeting of Jesus. This is the message of Pope Francis in his first exhortation. On the opinion page of the Catholic Times the priest writer asks: Is  there a foundation for the hope that we should have for the new evangelization?

Yes, he answers and gives us the writings of Fr. Gerald Foley to consider. "When we are baptized we become in earnest a disciple of Jesus not in the parish but in our families and in the work place. In our daily lives we discover the holy not in a passive way but actively, and it is only the layperson that can do it."

Christians in this fast changing world are finding it difficult facing their problems: lack of communication, conflict between husband and wife, parents and children, lack of trust, scars, the need for reconciliation etc. We also have problems with contraception, abortion, sex education, divorce and remarriage, sex outside of marriage, living together without marriage, depression, suicides, which give rise to bigger problems. In the past there was a dependence on morality and belief with little concern for problems in families, and few programs to address the new situations.

The priest feels there has to be an emphasis on families in the pastoral work of the church;  integrating our daily lives with our faith life. When the parishioners do not find support within the church they will start looking outside for the nourishment they need. This he feels is part of the reason for the increase of the tepid. Lack of joy in the life of Christians and the formality and sense of duty in their religious lives is not a good sign for the future.

We need a new way of doing evangelization. The Church is too much parish centered. He wants the family to be the center of pastoral work. This is also the thinking of Pope John Paul II, and the writer feels an epoch change has to take place in Korea. The joy of the Gospel has to be handed down to the children from the parents. God's  grace has to be experienced in the marriage and in the family. Pastoral work should be centered on the family.

This past year we had the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on topics related to the family and evangelization. This will be followed this year with an Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod. The pope is hoping that the sessions will be a way of bringing the mercy of Jesus to the families and wants us to  dream of the possibilities. A dream of the whole church, otherwise it will be a series of day dreams, but if all of us have the same dream it will be the reality.

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