The Holy See’s office for the Synod of Bishops release its working document for our –particularly the synodal participants– reflection, The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization. One of the very interesting paragraphs that deserves personal attention is paragraph 15 which is noted below. But before you get there, it would be could for all of us to give some attention to the first paragraph of the Preface of the same document where it says,
The proclamation of the Gospel of the Family is an integral part of the mission of the Church, since the revelation of God sheds light on the relationship between a man and a woman, their love for each other and the fruitfulness of their relationship. In these times, a widespread cultural, social and spiritual crisis is posing a challenge in the Church’s work of evangelizing the family, the vital nucleus of society and the ecclesial community. This proclamation of the Gospel of the Family takes place in continuity with the synodal assembly on The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith and the Year of Faith, announced by Pope Benedict XVI.
I find this to be a key section that deserves lots of time:
Some episcopal conferences argue that the reason for much resistance to the Church’s teaching on moral issues related to the family is a want of an authentic Christian experience, namely, an encounter with Christ on a personal and communal level, for which no doctrinal presentation, no matter how accurate, can substitute. In this regard, some responses point to the insufficiency of pastoral activity which is concerned only with dispensing the sacraments without a truly engaging Christian experience. Moreover, a vast majority of responses highlight the growing conflict between the values on marriage and the family as proposed by the Church and the globally diversified social and cultural situations. The responses are also in agreement on the underlying reasons for the difficulty in accepting Church teaching, namely, the pervasive and invasive new technologies; the influence of the mass media; the hedonistic culture; relativism; materialism; individualism; the growing secularism; the prevalence of ideas that lead to an excessive, selfish liberalization of morals; the fragility of interpersonal relationships; a culture which rejects making permanent choices, because it is conditioned by uncertainty and transiency, a veritable “liquid society” and one with a “throw away” mentality and one seeking “immediate gratification”; and, finally, values reinforced by the so-called “culture of waste” and a “culture of the moment,” as frequently noted by Pope Francis. (15)
How does one identify what it means to be an “authentic Christian witness”? What does the author hope for us to identify as ways to approach and follow the teaching of the Church? What does the author mean by “communal”? What are Catholics doing already to live the communal? How do we address the challenges noted in the paragraph?