-Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis knows the family is made up of real people living in the real world, which is why he often gives down-to-earth advice.
The pope, a former teacher, has, in a way, been handing today’s families detailed lesson plans, offering guidance in what actually needs to be done. The world Synod of Bishops on the family, which the pope has convoked for October, also is expected to deliver concrete guidelines for the pastoral care of the family and its members.
With examples from his own life and the real lives of others, he points to what is happening “on the ground” and then builds a pastoral plan — what would God’s response be to this reality.
For example, the Christian response to the all too typical problem of anger or misunderstanding is to choose the path of dialogue, which requires eating lots of tart “humble pie,” he said in a homily in January 2014.
“Sometimes the plates will fly,” the pope said. But “after the storm has passed,” things have to be worked out as soon as possible, “with a word, a gesture,” so no one ends up “isolated in this bitter broth of our resentment.”
Other similarly practical advice he has given couples: play with your kids more, stop the swearing, be more affectionate and always say, “Please,” “May I” and “Thank you.” Moms and dads must lead the way, he says; they are the most influential role models for their kids.
Kissing in front of the children is a “beautiful witness,” he told parents in June 2015. Children watch their parents carefully and “when they see that dad and mom love each other, the children grow in that climate of love, happiness and security.”
He has told youngsters to go out, discover the world and “build everything together, do everything with love, everything is possible and faith is an event always to be proclaimed.”
Talk to your best friend, Jesus, every day, he told children in December 2014, and be “apostles of peace and serenity” at home and at school.
“Imagine how much our world would change if each one of us began right here and now and seriously took care of ourselves and generously took care of our relationship with God and our neighbor,” he told Vatican employees and their families before Christmas last year.