thoughts – take two

I’m very grateful for all the input I received in response to my request last week, whether it came through comments, emails, or personal conversations.  As I read over everyone’s thoughts, one overwhelming question came to me.  It’s one of those questions that has a pretty elusive answer (like when people ask me, “How do we get kids to keep coming to Church after Confirmation?”  Yeah, if I had that answer, I’d be rich. Somehow.), but I still think it’s worth asking.

Many of you responded with a desire for family life to be promoted and encouraged.  We are constantly inundated with the bad news about divorce or single parent families, and the culture is so obviously working against those families who are obeying the Church’s teaching. What can we do to promote and encourage the positive message that the Church has for family life and marriage?

When I was reading over the post-synod document (which is also serving as the guiding document for the upcoming synod), the bishops did exactly that.  They encouraged those families who are living Church teaching and they expressed “their gratitude, appreciation, and encouragement” to those who have responded to their vocations and the mission of the family, even when that has meant suffering.

But we all want something more, right?  So what is that?  The Church has been encouraging families for a while. Read Familiaris Consortio.  Is it because things like that don’t make the news?  “Pope Encourages Families” isn’t exactly the best headline if you want to sell papers.  Or is it because we aren’t seeing it translated into practical ways on the local level?

And here’s my other question… as much as we talk about the synod being positive about marriage, do we deep down want them to condemn things as well?  Maybe we would feel encouragement in our daily struggles to live the hardships of Catholic family life if there was a clearer expression that the other ways of living weren’t okay?

These are honest questions.  I’m personally tired of just receiving statements and documents and letters that no one reads and just get filed away on a website somewhere.  But can we really ask anything else of the Synod, other than a statement or document?  Again, that sounds like a rhetorical question, but it’s not. What do we want from this time?

It’s an understatement to say that family life is a mess right now.  Some other topics raised were single parent families, the need for better marriage prep, and a better understanding of the sacraments.  I agree with all of these, and I hope there are some practical, concrete changes to come out of the Synod.

I suppose it’s ultimately up to the Bishops to decide what exactly they can do.  But whenever I complain about changes not happening, I feel like I should be able to articulate what I even want.  And I can’t do that right now.

Your thoughts

Okay, peeps.  I know you’re out there, and I know you’re reading my blog. But I rarely get comments.  I don’t take it personally, although I do occasionally wonder why some blogs get oodles of comments and other blogs get none. Perhaps I need to blog about more controversial topics, like vaccines or something.  But I’m not that desperate for comments.

A few months ago, I blogged about the controversy surrounding the Synod on the family.  One thing that struck me (but not surprised me) was how the hot-button issues of communion for the remarried and homosexuality received all the attention, when there’s so much more we need to be discussing about the family in the world today.

Another thing I noticed, when speaking about the synod with people or reading articles about it online, was that we in the Church can get really focused on what we think is important and possibly miss some issues that people living the life think are important.  And I’m not talking about the old “what does a celibate man in Rome know about marriage…”, but rather about myself. As a person who works for the Church and thinks and speaks about the Church every day, I might have a completely different view of things from the average person sitting in the pew.  It’s the whole “inside baseball” problem.  When I get together with coworkers or people who work in other dioceses, we have a whole host of things we think are issues… but are they really?  And are we missing something because we’re so focused on the ad intra problems in the Church?

That being said, this is a honest question for my readers — and I know that you’re out there, even if you don’t comment!  What would you like to see come out of next year’s Synod?  (Remember, we’re doing this all over again next fall!)

What are some issues you would like to see discussed?  What are your thoughts about family life in the United States?  About family life in the Church in the United States? Is there something you think might be ignored because it’s not “hot-button” enough?  Or are there positive things you think aren’t celebrated enough?

I would honestly like to hear from you — as people in the pew … or as people who aren’t in the pew!  If there’s going to be honest and fruitful discussion happening, those of us who work for the Church need to hear what you all think.  After all, you are the Body of Christ.

So here’s my desperate plea… not just for comments, but for thoughts and feedback.  If you don’t want to comment publicly but have something to share, feel free to head over to the contact tab.

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 Photo by Jimmy McIntyre