Marriage enrichment: Looking forward to a Synod of Bishops

Special assembly meeting in October 2014 to focus on the pastoral care of the family

Pope Francis in early October called for a Synod of Bishops to gather in Rome in October 2014. A Synod of Bishops consists of an assembly of bishops chosen from different regions around the world who will meet to consider questions and areas of focus that have been specifically identified by the Holy Father.

This synod called for by Pope Francis will focus on the pastoral care of the family and the pastoral challenges faced with regard to the evangelization of the family. I am very excited about this historic event because the outcome of this synod will have a direct effect on the pastoral care of individuals within the family context. As a result of this outcome, ministering to engaged and married couples will also be enriched.

In my online column last month, I discussed how the Catholic Church considers the family to be the “domestic church” and it is in our “domestic churches” that we first learn about God. The Synod of Bishops will consider how society is impacting our “domestic churches” and the best way to aid families in their faith journey. You don’t have to wait until the Synod of Bishops has ended to begin to strengthen your own “domestic church.”

Many of the everyday activities we are already doing in our homes can strengthen our faith and the faith of our children. We need to make an intentional connection between our home life and our faith life. One example to consider is the similarities of your family dinner to the holy meal of the Eucharist as celebrated during Mass. At your next meal together discuss their similarities.

Some shared characteristics are both meals are communal and both meals require sacrifice. Family meals require sacrifices of time (we all sit down and take time to be together) and money (grocery costs continue to rise), while the holy meal at Mass requires the ultimate sacrifice, that of Jesus on the cross. The most important shared characteristic between the family meal and the Eucharist is that in both circumstances Jesus is present.

It might come as a shock to some family members that Jesus is present even at your family meals. This realization might help curtail some bad behavior at the dinner table!

Now, with Pope Francis and the Synod of Bishops focusing on the challenges of family life, it is exciting to anticipate that our own diocese may ultimately have new and innovative ways to support families.

It also may help us realize even more clearly that within our everyday lives, and maybe even more importantly within the sanctity of our homes, Christ always is with us.

Mrs. Christiana is coordinator of the diocesan Marriage Preparation and Enrichment Office.