The Pope has called an “extraordinary” (in other words, short-notice) “synod of bishops” (in other words, a selection of bishops from around the world to advise him) for next October to discuss “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization.” What a wonderful, important discussion to have!
A nice side benefit of such an initiative is that we at the grassroots can do our own brainstorming about the pastoral care of families. Even if our ideas never make it into a papal document, it can do us a lot of good to think about what might be helpful.
Yesterday I read an excellent short piece on this topic by Micah Murphy at Truth and Charity. I don’t know him, or this Web site, but what I really appreciate about Murphy’s approach is his joining of what is most deep and essential with really practical thinking. Things like homilies encouraging families to “slow down and embrace silence” (well, my four-year-old is screaming at the moment, but I know what he means); lots more confession times; and the importance of Masses for whole families, not breaking families up into age groups. Essential but practical. Also so important: creating communities of families — and he has very concrete ideas for how to do this.
I like, too, that Murphy has links to other pieces where he has been writing about concrete pastoral strategies. I especially like his “5 Catechetical Tips for Reaching the Most Important Audience.” And his writing style is pleasant, funny, and positive.
We could do with a lot more of this pastoral kind of thinking. I encourage you to check out his piece.