Amoris Laetitia 292: Church Teaching on Marriage

amoris laetitia memeA positive and brief statement that sums Church teaching on marriage:

292. Christian marriage, as a reflection of the union between Christ and his Church, is fully realized in the union between a man and a woman who give themselves to each other in a free, faithful and exclusive love, who belong to each other until death and are open to the transmission of life, and are consecrated by the sacrament, which grants them the grace to become a domestic church and a leaven of new life for society.

That said, sometimes human associations do not reflect this ideal, or only do so to a degree:

Some forms of union radically contradict this ideal, while others realize it in at least a partial and analogous way. The Synod Fathers stated that the Church does not disregard the constructive elements in those situations which do not yet or no longer correspond to her teaching on marriage.(Relatio Synodi 2014, 41, 43)

I suppose by the definition of some, my own experience of being unable to conceive a child leaves me and my wife open to an interpretation in the negative regarding the biological “transmission of life.” Even on this web site, I’ve tolerated comments suggesting that couples who have a limited number of children are somehow working against God’s plan for fertility.

My own sense is that our ideals as well as our criticism are often way too narrow. An older couple, I would say, certainly are not exempt from being generative to life, be it in grandchildren, or the contact and nurturing of young people in their orbit. Long-married couples know they have not “graduated” from parenthood as they experience the joys of watching a second or third generation being added to their families. And that doesn’t touch upon the importance of being a mentor or parent-figure in particular circumstances, or for young people who look to older persons as life examples.

What else do you see in AL 292? My only problem is that is makes light of some of the mandate for marriage. I also have no problem with aspects of other relationships that offer a constructive experience for society.

For your reference Amoris Laetitia is online here.

Posted in Amoris Laetitia | Leave a comment

Amoris Laetitia 291: Treating Weakness

amoris laetitia memeHere we go: Chapter Eight. Pope Francis titled it “Accompanying, Discerning, and Integrating Weakness.” Section 291 and the twenty-one that follow have received the lion’s share of scrutiny in this document. This has been especially from self-admitted faithful Catholics, bishops, and theologians sympathetic to the notion that this document is somehow soft on sin and sows confusion in the Church. Let’s take all these sections carefully and in their entirety and see exactly what they mean for the Church, its teaching, and its ministry of mercy.

The opening paragraph of this chapter cites the synod bishops in their 2014 document:

291. The Synod Fathers stated that, although the Church realizes that any breach of the marriage bond “is against the will of God”, she is also “conscious of the frailty of many of her children”.(Relatio Synodi 2014, 24) Illumined by the gaze of Jesus Christ, “she turns with love to those who participate in her life in an incomplete manner, recognizing that the grace of God works also in their lives by giving them the courage to do good, to care for one another in love and to be of service to the community in which they live and work”.(Ibid. 25) This approach is also confirmed by our celebration of this Jubilee Year devoted to mercy. Although she constantly holds up the call to perfection and asks for a fuller response to God, “the Church must accompany with attention and care the weakest of her children, who show signs of a wounded and troubled love, by restoring in them hope and confidence, like the beacon of a lighthouse in a port or a torch carried among the people to enlighten those who have lost their way or who are in the midst of a storm”.(Ibid. 28) Let us not forget that the Church’s task is often like that of a field hospital.

The field hospital reference has also been cited often. I don’t think anyone would argue against the honesty presented by the bishops. There is a God-given ideal with regard to marriage. Not every human being is up to the full commitment, even those who have the best intentions. Not every person who has failed in marriage fails in other important aspects of the Christian life. Grace remains preeminent. Not works or personal virtue. The Church and its ministers have an obligation to those who fall short of our given ideals.

Any problems so far with any of that? Or perhaps an elaboration or correction?

For your reference Amoris Laetitia is online here.

Posted in Amoris Laetitia | 2 Comments

Amoris Laetitia 290: The Family As Agent of Pastoral Activity

amoris laetitia memeWe come to the end of Chapter Seven, and first we ponder a larger citation from the final report of the synod bishops:

290. “The family is thus an agent of pastoral activity through its explicit proclamation of the Gospel and its legacy of varied forms of witness, namely solidarity with the poor, openness to a diversity of people, the protection of creation, moral and material solidarity with other families, including those most in need, commitment to the promotion of the common good and the transformation of unjust social structures, beginning in the territory in which the family lives, through the practice of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy”.(Relatio Finalis 2015, 93)

And Pope Francis’ interpretation of the kerygmatic ministry of the Church, namely that Good News should be good:

All this is an expression of our profound Christian belief in the love of the Father who guides and sustains us, a love manifested in the total self-gift of Jesus Christ, who even now lives in our midst and enables us to face together the storms of life at every stage. In all families the Good News needs to resound, in good times and in bad, as a source of light along the way. All of us should be able to say, thanks to the experience of our life in the family: “We come to believe in the love that God has for us” (1 Jn 4:16). Only on the basis of this experience will the Church’s pastoral care for families enable them to be both domestic churches and a leaven of evangelization in society.

Any final thoughts on faith formation in families, and the subsequent mandate to mission?

Remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

Posted in Amoris Laetitia | Leave a comment

Amoris Laetitia 289: From Children to Mission

amoris laetitia memeLet’s read:

289. The work of handing on the faith to children, in the sense of facilitating its expression and growth, helps the whole family in its evangelizing mission. It naturally begins to spread the faith to all around them, even outside of the family circle.

On the negative side, I suppose we can ask if a family can’t or doesn’t evangelize its own children, what hope is there for the missionary discipleship for the future?

Children who grew up in missionary families often become missionaries themselves; growing up in warm and friendly families, they learn to relate to the world in this way, without giving up their faith or their convictions.

My problem with the apologetics movement is the inherent presumption of opposition to the faith. Dealing with people in warmth and friendliness isn’t pollyanna or wishful thinking; it is a way of being. The very notion that one has to defend one’s faith sets up the assumption that everyone/many people/a solid minority are attacking it. I don’t find that is true nearly as much as a basic lack of knowledge of what Christianity is about. Even from Christians themselves.

Pope Francis offers the example of the Lord:

We know that Jesus himself ate and drank with sinners (cf. Mk 2:16; Mt 11:19), conversed with a Samaritan woman (cf. Jn 4:7-26), received Nicodemus by night (cf. Jn 3:1-21), allowed his feet to be anointed by a prostitute (cf. Lk 7:36-50) and did not hesitate to lay his hands on those who were sick (cf. Mk 1:40-45; 7:33). The same was true of his apostles, who did not look down on others, or cluster together in small and elite groups, cut off from the life of their people. Although the authorities harassed them, they nonetheless enjoyed the favor “of all the people” (Acts 2:47; cf. 4:21, 33; 5:13).

It seems the harassers were the religious leaders or the elites. Not the “usual” suspects: Samaritans, sinners, or sick people.

Remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

Posted in Amoris Laetitia | Leave a comment

Amoris Laetitia 288: Adapting To Individual Young Persons

amoris laetitia memeOne reason why the home is optimal is the opportunity for parents who know each of their children to tailor a young person’s formation to individual need:

288. Education in the faith has to adapt to each child, since older resources and recipes do not always work. Children need symbols, actions and stories. Since adolescents usually have issues with authority and rules, it is best to encourage their own experience of faith and to provide them with attractive testimonies that win them over by their sheer beauty.

On prayer, proposition, not imposition:

Parents desirous of nurturing the faith of their children are sensitive to their patterns of growth, for they know that spiritual experience is not imposed but freely proposed. It is essential that children actually see that, for their parents, prayer is something truly important. Hence moments of family prayer and acts of devotion can be more powerful for evangelization than any catechism class or sermon. Here I would like to express my particular gratitude to all those mothers who continue to pray, like Saint Monica, for their children who have strayed from Christ.

Remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

Posted in Amoris Laetitia | Leave a comment

Amoris Laetitia 287: Passing on the Faith

amoris laetitia memeNo smart-aleck comments on the title of the final theme of Chapter Seven. We’re talking about the faith formation of young people.

287. Raising children calls for an orderly process of handing on the faith. This is made difficult by current lifestyles, work schedules and the complexity of today’s world, where many people keep up a frenetic pace just to survive.(Cf. Relatio Finalis 2015, 13-14)

Faith formation is difficult, but it is also somewhat far down the list of the priorities of many people. Pope Francis urges the importance of the home as a setting for this formation:

Even so, the home must continue to be the place where we learn to appreciate the meaning and beauty of the faith, to pray and to serve our neighbor. This begins with baptism, in which, as Saint Augustine said, mothers who bring their children “cooperate in the sacred birthing”.(Augustine, De sancta virginitate 7,7: PL 40, 400)

An interesting metaphor: a living child has yet another birth to experience. Natural birth if painful, anxious, yet hopeful. How do we bring faith to birth in our children? With similar emotions?

Thus begins the journey of growth in that new life. Faith is God’s gift, received in baptism, and not our own work, yet parents are the means that God uses for it to grow and develop. Hence “it is beautiful when mothers teach their little children to blow a kiss to Jesus or to Our Lady. How much love there is in that! At that moment the child’s heart becomes a place of prayer”.(Catechesis (26 August 2015))

I don’t believe these kinds of examples aren’t meant to be prescriptive. It is the responsibility of every Christian parent to ponder, discern, and pass on gestures like these.

Handing on the faith presumes that parents themselves genuinely trust God, seek him and sense their need for him, for only in this way does “one generation laud your works to another, and declare your mighty acts” (Ps 144:4) and “fathers make known to children your faithfulness” (Is 38:19). This means that we need to ask God to act in their hearts, in places where we ourselves cannot reach. A mustard seed, small as it is, becomes a great tree (cf. Mt 13:31-32); this teaches us to see the disproportion between our actions and their effects. We know that we do not own the gift, but that its care is entrusted to us. Yet our creative commitment is itself an offering which enables us to cooperate with God’s plan.

The synod bishops endorse active parents:

For this reason, “couples and parents should be properly appreciated as active agents in catechesis… Family catechesis is of great assistance as an effective method in training young parents to be aware of their mission as the evangelizers of their own family”. (Relatio Finalis 2015, 89)

Comments on this, especially from parents?

Remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

Posted in Amoris Laetitia | Leave a comment

What Another Month May Bring

computer_monitorI’m less inclined than I was at the dawn of this blog to share much personal stuff. The most interesting aspects of church ministry involve things that are either privileged and confidential information or just better unshared with the populace at large. For family stuff, you can check my facebook and “friend” me, though I’d rather enjoy real friends in real life. Or at least in a phone conversation now and then.

As of this writing, about half of what is left of Amoris Laetitia is written up and scheduled for getting dropped on you daily at 6am-ish. The other half is neatly set up in posts with drafts of commentary or ready for it. You may have noticed that whole stretches of days go by with nothing besides Amoris. There are no new wedding or funeral readings. And when various bloggers break stories on the roll-back of Liturgiam Authenticam or what some clown did at liturgy, I find myself more and more disinterested in commenting on such. I was testing the waters with a bit of facebook activity at the end of last year, but I find that likewise lacking any energy for me.

The young miss will come of age come to a certain significant age in a few months. In a few weeks, my wife and I will observe a wedding anniversary for the twenty-first time. While I feel fairly fit these days, I recognize that I’m shifting out of middle-age into old. Crises don’t seem to hit me as hard. I also recognize I’m closer to death than to birth, to my funeral than my baptism, and definitely to retirement than my entry into full-time ministry.

At this point, my oldest instrument and I have enjoyed/endured about ninety-percent of our collaborations, judging that I played a lot more when I was young. Along with other matters, these realizations give me a perspective that seem to be moving me away from writing on the internet.

I’ve asked my wife to pray and discern with me some new directions. I think these new directions are not another parish change, but ventures that deal more with my creative and leisure time. Another piece of life’s puzzle, as it were.

More people make a living from playing professional football than from blogging. And since blogging isn’t a passion anymore, I think I can promise you will see less novelty from me when Lent rolls around. Other writers do the daily readings better. Other writers are more connected to what more people want to read. I feel okay with that.

I can share I’m not getting much action in publishing, and I’m okay with keeping at various writing projects as a creative outlet that balances parish ministry. And keeps me happily on the road of discipleship.

I think I’m finally grasping something that has to do with what Saint Ignatius of Loyola means by “indifference.” Not a bad thing at all.

Posted in Commentary, The Blogosphere | Leave a comment