Evangelii Gaudium - Applications to Family Ministry, #1 of a Series

In the coming weeks, Homemade Disciples will reflect on the Joy of the Gospel and offer concrete applications for all in family life ministry, formal and at home.

1. In Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), Pope Francis calls for evangelization that shines with the joy that comes from being beloved sons and daughters of God. The Exhortation, written after the 2012 Synod of Bishops on “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith,” is an impassioned call to evangelize the whole world, excluding no one: “For, if we have received the love which restores meaning to our lives, how can we fail to share that love with others?”(EG 8). He invites the whole Church to take up this mission anew, to undertake a process of conversion through discernment, purification and reform (30).

This pastoral conversion is meant for each expression of the Church universal, for every baptized person. The families of baptized believers, the Domestic Church, are included in this call to conversion and evangelization since their daily lives are “a true expression of the Church.”[1]  In word and example, members of the Church need to say to their own children, to their extended families, their neighbors, and coworkers: “Jesus Christ loves you; he gave his life to save you; and now he is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen and free you” (EG 164).

How can catechetical and pastoral ministers assist Christian families in their mission to cultivate the kingdom of God in society, in other words to be active agents of evangelization? This paper will explore what we mean by the Domestic Church and how families of all kinds can carry the joy of the Gospel to the world, beginning at home and radiating outward.  Then, it will describe some challenges they experience, so that we may be sensitive to their concerns. The aim of this discussion is to suggest concrete ways ministers can accompany families for joyful lives in Christ.

[1] USCCB, Follow the Way of Love, A Pastoral Message of the U.S. Catholic Bishops to Families, on the occasion of the United Nations 1994 International Year of the Family, http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/marriage/follow-the-way-of-love.cfm