Amoris Laetitia 325: Conclusion and Prayer

amoris laetitia memeAnd here we reach the end of Amoris Laetitia. Pope Francis concludes this final chapter on marriage and family spirituality with some encouraging words and a final prayer:

325. The teaching of the Master (cf. Mt 22:30) and Saint Paul (cf. 1 Cor 7:29-31) on marriage is set – and not by chance – in the context of the ultimate and definitive dimension of our human existence. We urgently need to rediscover the richness of this teaching. By heeding it, married couples will come to see the deeper meaning of their journey through life. As this Exhortation has often noted, no family drops down from heaven perfectly formed; families need constantly to grow and mature in the ability to love. This is a never-ending vocation born of the full communion of the Trinity, the profound unity between Christ and his Church, the loving community which is the Holy Family of Nazareth, and the pure fraternity existing among the saints of heaven. Our contemplation of the fulfilment which we have yet to attain also allows us to see in proper perspective the historical journey which we make as families, and in this way to stop demanding of our interpersonal relationships a perfection, a purity of intentions and a consistency which we will only encounter in the Kingdom to come. It also keeps us from judging harshly those who live in situations of frailty. All of us are called to keep striving towards something greater than ourselves and our families, and every family must feel this constant impulse. Let us make this journey as families, let us keep walking together. What we have been promised is greater than we can imagine. May we never lose heart because of our limitations, or ever stop seeking that fullness of love and communion which God holds out before us.

Prayer to the Holy Family

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
in you we contemplate the splendor of true love;
to you we turn with trust.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
grant that our families too
may be places of communion and prayer,

authentic schools of the Gospel
and small domestic churches.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
may families never again experience violence,
rejection and division;

may all who have been hurt or scandalized
find ready comfort and healing.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
make us once more mindful
of the sacredness and inviolability of the family,

and its beauty in God’s plan.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
Graciously hear our prayer.


Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, during the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, on 19 March, the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, in the year 2016, the fourth of my Pontificate.

Any last words? Or even prayers?

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Amoris Laetitia 324: Hospitality

amoris laetitia memeThe Holy Father touts the virtue and act of hospitality:

324. Led by the Spirit, the family circle is not only open to life by generating it within itself, but also by going forth and spreading life by caring for others and seeking their happiness. This openness finds particular expression in hospitality,(Familiaris Consortio 44) which the word of God eloquently encourages: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Heb 13:2). When a family is welcoming and reaches out to others, especially the poor and the neglected, it is “a symbol, witness and participant in the Church’s motherhood”.(Familiaris Consortio 49) Social love, as a reflection of the Trinity, is what truly unifies the spiritual meaning of the family and its mission to others, for it makes present the kerygma in all its communal imperatives. The family lives its spirituality precisely by being at one and the same time a domestic church and a vital cell for transforming the world.(Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 248-254)

A pastor I know once worked this theme into many of his wedding homilies. One of the fruits of a sacramental marriage is an expanded sense of others. Sacramental love between two cannot help but spread to family, friends, and even the poor and needy. I can only pray for such grace. What about you?

For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Amoris Laetitia 323: Tenderness

amoris laetitia memeToday, a follow-up to the notion of relationship being a worship-of-God experience:

323. It is a profound spiritual experience to contemplate our loved ones with the eyes of God and to see Christ in them. This demands a freedom and openness which enable us to appreciate their dignity. We can be fully present to others only by giving fully of ourselves and forgetting all else. Our loved ones merit our complete attention. Jesus is our model in this, for whenever people approached to speak with him, he would meet their gaze, directly and lovingly (cf. Mk 10:21). No one felt overlooked in his presence, since his words and gestures conveyed the question: “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mk 10:51). This is what we experience in the daily life of the family. We are constantly reminded that each of those who live with us merits complete attention, since he or she possesses infinite dignity as an object of the Father’s immense love. This gives rise to a tenderness which can “stir in the other the joy of being loved. Tenderness is expressed in a particular way by exercising loving care in treating the limitations of the other, especially when they are evident”.(Relatio Finalis 2015, 88)

Additional thoughts? For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Amoris Laetitia 322: Mercy In Family Life

amoris laetitia memeLet’s read in full:

322. All family life is a “shepherding” in mercy. Each of us, by our love and care, leaves a mark on the life of others; with Paul, we can say: “You are our letter of recommendation, written on your hearts… not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God” (2 Cor 3:2-3). Each of us is a “fisher of men” (Lk 5:10) who in Jesus’ name “casts the nets” (cf. Lk 5:5) to others, or a farmer who tills the fresh soil of those whom he or she loves, seeking to bring out the best in them. Marital fruitfulness involves helping others, for “to love anybody is to expect from him something which can neither be defined nor foreseen; it is at the same time in some way to make it possible for him to fulfill this expectation”.* This is itself a way to worship God, who has sown so much good in others in the hope that we will help make it grow.
* Gabriel Marcel, Homo Viator: prolégomènes à une métaphysique de l’espérance, Paris, 1944, p. 66. English: Homo Viator. An Introduction to a Metaphysics of Hope, London, 1951, p. 49.

What do you make of the Holy Father’s follow-up comment to the citation from Gabriel Marcel? Is a human relationship an act of worship?

For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Music of the Trees 3: The Five Sacred Trees

yewJohn Williams is massively known for his massive body of film music. But one of my favorite modern works is his concerto The Five Sacred Trees. I have the disk of the London Symphony performance with Judith LeClair. It is quite fine. You can find any number of orchestral performances on YouTube. I certainly recommend the acquisition of the cd.

For something a bit more intimate, check the harp and bassoon duet here in the third movement, presenting the yew.

The composer speaks:

The Tree of Ross (or Eó Rosa) is a yew, and although the yew is often referred to as a symbol of death and destruction, The Tree of Ross is often the subject of much rhapsodizing in the literature. It is referred to as “a mother’s good,” “Diadem of the Angels,” and “faggot of the sages.” Hence the lyrical character of this movement, wherein the bassoon oncants [sic] and is accompanied by the harp.

The bassoon hasn’t gotten much respect since Vivaldi. But since I first heard this work twenty years ago, it represents the age and dignity of trees so well. I hope you enjoy this listening.


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Amoris Laetitia 321: Spiritiality of Care, Consolation, and Incentivety of

amoris laetitia memeToday, we look at a spirituality of care, consolation and incentive, starting with Vatican II:

321. “Christian couples are, for each other, for their children and for their relatives, cooperators of grace and witnesses of the faith”.(Apostolicam Actuositatem 11) God calls them to bestow life and to care for life.

And moving to Pope Francis and his second predecessor:

For this reason the family “has always been the nearest ‘hospital’”.(Catechesis (10 June 2015)) So let us care for one another, guide and encourage one another, and experience this as a part of our family spirituality. Life as a couple is a daily sharing in God’s creative work, and each person is for the other a constant challenge from the Holy Spirit. God’s love is proclaimed “through the living and concrete word whereby a man and the woman express their conjugal love”.(Familiaris Consortio 12) The two are thus mutual reflections of that divine love which comforts with a word, a look, a helping hand, a caress, an embrace. For this reason “to want to form a family is to resolve to be a part of God’s dream, to choose to dream with him, to want to build with him, to join him in this saga of building a world where no one will feel alone”.(Address at the Prayer Vigil of the Festival of Families, Philadelphia (26 September 2015))

Any thoughts to add? For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Amoris Laetitia 319: Spirituality of Married Love

amoris laetitia memeToday, a discussion starter on the topic of a spirituality of exclusive and free love. Pope John Paul II assists us:

319. Marriage is also the experience of belonging completely to another person. Spouses accept the challenge and aspiration of supporting one another, growing old together, and in this way reflecting God’s own faithfulness. This firm decision, which shapes a style of life, is an “interior requirement of the covenant of conjugal love”,(Familiaris Consortio 11) since “a person who cannot choose to love for ever can hardly love for even a single day. (John Paul II, Homily at Mass with Families, Cordoba, Argentina (8 April 1987), 4: Insegnamenti X/1 (1987), 1161-1162)

Pope Francis adds that marriage is not about appearances. The Lord sees our deepest heart. If we are withholding qualities such as devotion, joy, self-sacrifice, we are seen and outed to the Lord’s eyes.

At the same time, such fidelity would be spiritually meaningless were it simply a matter of following a law with obedient resignation. Rather, it is a matter of the heart, into which God alone sees (cf. Mt 5:28). Every morning, on rising, we reaffirm before God our decision to be faithful, come what may in the course of the day. And all of us, before going to sleep, hope to wake up and continue this adventure, trusting in the Lord’s help. In this way, each spouse is for the other a sign and instrument of the closeness of the Lord, who never abandons us: “Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28:20).

In addition to marking Sunday as a day of renewal for marriages (Cf. Amoris Laetitia 318) the Holy Father counsels the two hinges of the day as appropriate times to take spiritual stock and seek interior faithfulness. Lauds and Vespers oriented to the domestic Church, it would seem. Any comments?

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