I was going through some notes from various teaching i have had in recent years this morning, but got distracted when I saw on twitter that there was a press conference streaming live on YouTube on the family synod- however, since it lacked English (for the bits I watched) I moved on. I stopped my note reading, when I got to some lengthy section (Theology of the Body by Christopher West) and it seemed a good time to look up this document they were apparently talking about.
The Vatican has released a document for the extraordinary synod on the family coming up later this year (following the responses received from the long and complicated survey sent around some time ago). The creatively named 'instrumentum laboris' released today talks about how the faithful around the world are becoming more exposed to the riches of Sacred Scripture and a hunger for more. Yet, especially in regards to the 'Gospel of the Family', much remains to be done if this is to be the bedrock of the spiritual life (#9). In terms of making people more aware of the bible, it reminds us that the homily is a great means to open up the scriptures (as the pope said in Evangelii Gaudium) and says this: what is recommended is not so much multiplying pastoral initiatives as inserting the Bible in every aspect of existing ministerial efforts (#10).
This renewal of scripture is not an add-on, another programme to attend, another duty - it is a way of life that allows the Word (which is fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ) to permeate all that we do. The bible should be relevant to us, not that we bend it to suit ourselves, but we allow ourselves to be changed by it.
The documents note that Church documents are not impacting the Faithful. They reach theologians, but are either unknown or uncomprehending to most people in the pews. Perhaps the Church can consider how she communicates these teachings in a more accessible way - if the documents cement an understanding in the priest's mind perhaps at appropriate times (homily, confessional, RCIA, marriage prep) he will authoritatively present the teaching. (#11-12)
How should the church present hard teachings.In the context of the Good News of Jesus of course. It has to come back to love. We shouldn't divorce (...) the eventual consequences (e.g. not admitting remarried to receive the Eucharist) from the integrity of the message. The document talks about how perhaps we need to have faith and encounter with Jesus first to be disposed to accept the hard teachings. ("some responses point to the insufficiency of pastoral activity which is concerned only with dispensing the sacraments without a truly engaging Christian experience")
We need to present testimony of how this Faith can be real and achievable. It can't be left to the marriage prep - we need to be forming young people intentionally on these matters. Parents need to know they are the primary educator of their children and can't pass that duty off solely to the parish. Of course, witness helps loads!
Modern man listens more readily to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers it is because they are witnesses. (Evangellii Nunciandi 41)