Amoris Laetitia 145: What We Do With Our Emotions

amoris laetitia memeFeelings are neither good nor bad; they just are. It’s what we do with them. Pop psychology? Nope. The angelic doctor:

145. Experiencing an emotion is not, in itself, morally good or evil.(Cf. Thomas aquinas, Summa Theologiae I-II, q. 24, art. 1.) The stirring of desire or repugnance is neither sinful nor blameworthy. What is morally good or evil is what we do on the basis of, or under the influence of, a given passion. But when passions are aroused or sought, and as a result we perform evil acts, the evil lies in the decision to fuel them and in the evil acts that result.

This is a point often missed today. Do we fuel our emotions, tilting toward acts that are themselves immoral or unethical, indulging that occasion of sin?

Some elaboration on feeling good:

Along the same lines, my being attracted to someone is not automatically good. If my attraction to that person makes me try to dominate him or her, then my feeling only serves my selfishness. To believe that we are good simply because “we feel good” is a tremendous illusion.

And on the confusion between some forms of neediness and the capacity to love:

There are those who feel themselves capable of great love only because they have a great need for affection, yet they prove incapable of the effort needed to bring happiness to others. They remain caught up in their own needs and desires. In such cases, emotions distract from the highest values and conceal a self-centeredness that makes it impossible to develop a healthy and happy family life.

Thoughts on this?

Remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Amoris Laetitia 144: The Emotions of Jesus

amoris laetitia memeOne of the most-often citation of Jesus’ emotional life is John 2:13, his anger. Pope Francis offers several alternatives:

144. As true man, Jesus showed his emotions. He was hurt by the rejection of Jerusalem (cf. Mt 23:27) and this moved him to tears (cf. Lk 19:41). He was also deeply moved by the sufferings of others (cf. Mk 6:34). He felt deeply their grief (cf. Jn 11:33), and he wept at the death of a friend
(cf. Jn 11:35). These examples of his sensitivity showed how much his human heart was open to others.

Remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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The Armchair Liturgist: Blessing New Hymnals

How do new hymnals in a parish get introduced? Fund-raising campaign? Negotiation with the finance committee? Your people come to Mass one weekend, and surprise! New books.

Some of you may know the Book of Blessings provides for the blessing of a parish’s new resource for singing the Mass. After a brief introduction, the priest offers a prayer of blessing:

Lord God of glory,
your church on earth joins with the choirs of heaven
in giving you thanks and praise.

As we gather to worship you in wonder and awe
may the songs on our lips
echo the music that swells in our hearts.

Bless us as we use these hymnals
and grant that we may glorify and praise you,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
now and for ever.

hymnalsA few observations and questions here …

Note the specific blessing is on people (“Bless us”).

What of annual music books: should these be a means of blessing the singing assembly? (First Sunday of Advent, visualize: wreath, books … what else?)

What gesture seems appropriate for people holding their books? To raise them in the air? What about the books in empty pews?

And the question often asked for a parish with many weekend assemblies: bless at one Mass or all of them?

Sit in the purple chair and render judgment. How has your parish done it? What would you do, were you more than the armchair liturgist?

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Amoris Laetitia 143: The World of Emotions

amoris laetitia memeIs the reason-driven world, including the reason-driven elements within our own church, ready to trust the human affect? Let’s read:

143. Desires, feelings, emotions, what the ancients called “the passions”, all have an important place in married life. They are awakened whenever “another” becomes present and part of a person’s life. It is characteristic of all living beings to reach out to other things, and this tendency always has basic affective signs: pleasure or pain, joy or sadness, tenderness or fear. They ground the most elementary psychological activity. Human beings live on this earth, and all that they do and seek is fraught with passion.

My takeaway: the affect is important, but not necessarily all-important. Human beings are made to relate and communicate with “the passions.”

For reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Amoris Laetitia 142: Passionate Love

amoris laetitia memePassionate love is the third subheading in chapter four, and will take us through the next three weeks (sections 142-162). A single paragraph to introduce the concept, so let’s begin with a citation from Vatican II:

142. The Second Vatican Council teaches that this conjugal love “embraces the good of the whole person; it can enrich the sentiments of the spirit and their physical expression with a unique dignity and ennoble them as the special features and manifestation of the friendship proper to marriage”.(Gaudium et Spes, 49)

The modern era especially distrusts matters outside human intellect and reason, but the truth is that God has created our physical bodies as well as our capacity for emotions and interpersonal connections.

For this reason, a love lacking either pleasure or passion is insufficient to symbolize the union of the human heart with God: “All the mystics have affirmed that supernatural love and heavenly love find the symbols which they seek in marital love, rather than in friendship, filial devotion or devotion to a cause. And the reason is to be found precisely in its totality”.(A. Sertillanges, L’Amour Chrétien, Paris, 1920, 174.) Why then should we not pause to speak of feelings and sexuality in marriage?

If anyone has reasons, comment on them now or forever hold your peace.

Remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Against Comfort

Msgr Charles Pope is getting some attention for his essay against “comfort Catholicism.”

There is a growing consternation among some Catholics that the Church, at least in her leadership, is living in the past. It seems there is no awareness that we are at war and that Catholics need to be summoned to sobriety, increasing separation from the wider culture, courageous witness and increasing martyrdom.

He tags the 70’s, but I have to wonder if he’s mis-aimed and might really be railing against the 50’s. What constitutes life in the past? Full parishes with active spiritual and social life? The so-called beige Catholicism of the 70’s? The heady days of St John Paul II when vibrant young priests were going to be ordained by the score? The targeting of children by sex predators, women religious by the CDF, blogging dissenters by the faithful remnant? It seems like everybody has a golden age in mind and dark days to lament. My own sense is that no generation is really so great that squalor can’t be found, nor so impoverished that gems can’t be uncovered.

My main problem with calling for the hounds of war is that too many Catholics are already girded for battle. Battle against other believers who choose not to march in lockstep with them.

My friend Charles has posted a link on this facebook. My second objection to the whole meme here is a bit of wisdom I hear in the Anima Christi. Whenever I pray the line, “Within your wounds hide me,” I silently add “not mine” between the third and fourth words.

The point of Church as field hospital is not as a place to retreat for us to lick our wounds. The point is to welcome those who are wounded, even those outside the flock. Our modern culture certainly has victims outside of organized Catholic conservadoxy. What if we thought about binding other people’s wounds rather than our own. For a change.

Msgr Pope is a well-intentioned priest, to be sure. He writes of being counter-cultural. But the anger and war imagery is exactly how so many levels of our culture operate today. The hate on the internet. Tattletales and gossips getting other Catholics fired. Building walls. The desire to imprison our demons: political candidates, gays, feminists, immigrants, CEOs. It’s all part of an angry vector when people feel powerless. But being without power is often a good thing when we have faith.

War? Why bother going to war when we can go to work?

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Amoris Laetitia 141: Dialogue With Substance

amoris laetitia memeToday, the sixth and last section under the heading of “dialogue.” I don’t think Pope Francis is calling for a conversation of theological stuff:

141. Finally, let us acknowledge that for a worthwhile dialogue we have to have something to say. This can only be the fruit of an interior richness nourished by reading, personal reflection, prayer and openness to the world around us. Otherwise, conversations become boring and trivial. When neither of the spouses works at this, and has little real contact with other people, family life becomes stifling and dialogue impoverished.

One example that comes to mind is a basic question: Where did you encounter God in your day today? The Marriage Encounter method is often good: have journals and penciles at hand to write out theresponse to this question (or another question). Then exchange journals and share. Then enter the dialogue.

Don’t forget to check Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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