Amoris Laetitia 115: Trust Into Freedom

amoris laetitia memeThe controlling vector Pope Francis describes here is often the work of an unsteady and low self-esteem spouse who struggles mightily on the inside in dealing with the freedom and joy of love. Let’s read:

115. This trust enables a relationship to be free. It means we do not have to control the other person, to follow their every step lest they escape our grip. Love trusts, it sets free, it does not try to control, possess and dominate everything. This freedom, which fosters independence, an openness to the world around us and to new experiences, can only enrich and expand relationships. The spouses then share with one another the joy of all they have received and learned outside the family circle. At the same time, this freedom makes for sincerity and transparency, for those who know that they are trusted and appreciated can be open and hide nothing. Those who know that their spouse is always suspicious, judgmental and lacking unconditional love, will tend to keep secrets, conceal their failings and weaknesses, and pretend to be someone other than who they are. On the other hand, a family marked by loving trust, come what may, helps its members to be themselves and spontaneously to reject deceit, falsehood, and lies.

Thoughts?

Remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Listening In Disagreement: Dare To Be Quiet

tanner jesus and nicodemusA facebook friend posted a link to this brief essay on listening. A poignant story, then a poetic conclusion:

The truth is, if our love can hold space for paradox, tension, and disagreement, there’s room for all types of beliefs and opinions.

Division is a choice.

Life isn’t a Facebook feed.

Our love, our listening, must bring in, not edit out.

Dare to listen, dare to be quiet, dare to seek understanding; in the end, it’s the people we need to love, not their opinions.

“Dare to be quiet.” That’s one I’ll be pondering for some time.

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Open Thread on Accounts and Guarantees

confessionFrom our occasional commenter, Dick Martin cited Hebrews 10:9-14(NKJV):

(T)hen He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

The author of the letter to the Hebrews is speaking of the Levitical priesthood of the Old Testament in which priests made sin offerings to God.

Dick’s commentary is worth some examination:

If the Church would believe and follow these verses would put the confessional “Out of business”. The truth is that once you accept Jesus as you payment for your sins; your sins are not put to your account. you account has been paid in full. Read it “Once and for all”. Which guarantees you eternal destiny.

Is it appropriate for Christian believers to speak of matters of sin and salvation in terms of payments, accounts, and guarantees? The early Church struggled mightily with this. People professed faith in Christ. But some, when confronted with torture and death, rescinded their Christian witness. Did Baptism mean nothing? A lot of people asked that question.

Over the centuries, Christians have committed grave sins: gossip, sexual abuse, adultery, murder. Is it possible for a Christian to commit such sins, yet still acknowledge Jesus and his priestly act of sacrifice on the cross?

Critics of the Christian practice of confession and the Rite of Penance miss something important, I think. While sometimes Penance is treated as a juridical act, the truth is that at its core it is a personal encounter between a believer and God (cf. John 20:19-23). Many Christians testify to the healthful benefits of confession. There has been a long recognition, going back to the 3rd century at least, of the importance of this kind of honest encounter with the Lord.

I think our friend Dick hasn’t quite quoted accurately. “Once for all” isn’t exactly the same as the idiom, “Once and for all.” Acknowledging Christ’s sacrifice doesn’t mean that every possible human sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel is meaningless.

As for confessing sins, I don’t see the equivalance between that practice and the Israelite burning of bulls, goats, birds, or fine flour. Confession is certainly a sacrifice in some sense: time, pride, embarrassment. But it’s hardly obrogated by this passage from Hebrews.

Open thread for commentary; have at it.

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Amoris Laetitia 114: Love Believes All Things

amoris laetitia memePeople often remark to someone, “I believe in you.” This is not false worship:

114. Panta pisteúei. Love believes all things. Here “belief” is not to be taken in its strict theological meaning, but more in the sense of what we mean by “trust”. This goes beyond simply presuming that the other is not lying or cheating. Such basic trust recognizes God’s light shining beyond the darkness, like an ember glowing beneath the ash.

It’s also not blind faith that the beloved can do anything. Pope Francis sees a connection between trust in another person and having sight of the Lord through our relationships.

For your reference, Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Amoris Laetitia 113: How Spouses Speak Of One Another

amoris laetitia memeMuch is made of the importance of speaking out, pointing out the faults of others. Too often done publicly, Pope Francis suggests we miss the bigger picture:

113. Married couples joined by love speak well of each other; they try to show their spouse’s good side, not their weakness and faults. In any event, they keep silent rather than speak ill of them. This is not merely a way of acting in front of others; it springs from an interior attitude. Far from ingenuously claiming not to see the problems and weaknesses of others, it sees those weaknesses and faults in a wider context. It recognizes that these failings are a part of a bigger picture.

What is the point, then, of offering correction to sinners? Do we avoid the difficult talk because we want to shun conflict? I don’t think one can approach this matter with a literalist or fundamentalist viewpoint.

We have to realize that all of us are a complex mixture of light and shadows. The other person is much more than the sum of the little things that annoy me. Love does not have to be perfect for us to value it. The other person loves me as best they can, with all their limits, but the fact that love is imperfect does not mean that it is untrue or unreal. It is real, albeit limited and earthly. If I expect too much, the other person will let me know, for he or she can neither play God nor serve all my needs. Love coexists with imperfection. It “bears all things” and can hold its peace before the limitations of the loved one.

This does not discount the extreme examples when a beloved spouse falls into mental illness, or outright violence to the marriage bond. What accomplishes safety? Posting on facebook “My spouse is an abusive alcoholic,” or just packing up and leaving a home the partner, by her or his addiction, has already abandoned?

For your reference, Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Amoris Laetitia 112: On Slander

amoris laetitia memePope Francis looks to the opposite, one possible opposite, of bearing all things, a common enough sin that dogs many believers, even those at the very center of service:

112. First, Paul says that love “bears all things” (panta stégei). This is about more than simply putting up with evil; it has to do with the use of the tongue. The verb can mean “holding one’s peace” about what may be wrong with another person. It implies limiting judgment, checking the impulse to issue a firm and ruthless condemnation: “Judge not and you will not be judged” (Lk 6:37). Although it runs contrary to the way we normally use our tongues, God’s word tells us: “Do not speak evil against one another, brothers and sisters” (Jas 4:11). Being willing to speak ill of another person is a way of asserting ourselves, venting resentment and envy without concern for the harm we may do. We often forget that slander can be quite sinful; it is a grave offense against God when it seriously harms another person’s good name and causes damage that is hard to repair.

Sound like an internet we know and visit so often? Sadly, it happens in our families, too. Things have changed in the world of duplicate bridge, but I remember my first foray into that, how turned off I was by husband and wife partnerships where the criticism and impatience poured out of people.

Hence God’s word forthrightly states that the tongue “is a world of iniquity” that “stains the whole body” (Jas 3:6); it is a “restless evil, full of deadly poison” (3:8). Whereas the tongue can be used to “curse those who are made in the likeness of God” (3:9), love cherishes the good name of others, even one’s enemies. In seeking to uphold God’s law we must never forget this specific requirement of love.

For your reference, Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Amoris Laetitia 111: Love Bears All Things

amoris laetitia memeA very brief section:

111. Paul’s list ends with four phrases containing the words “all things”. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Here we see clearly the countercultural power of a love that is able to face whatever might threaten it.

On the other hand, there is a very definite cultural current of love despite big obstacles. The real challenge to the culture is the battle against ordinary life, the happily ever after that often slips into the not-so-happy.

For your reference, Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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