Synod on the Family 9: The Importance of Affectivity in Life

window from insideWe continue with the “listening” (nos. 5-11) in the synod document. Today’s topic, and tomorrow’s, looks at affectivity in our lives.

On one hand, self-knowledge is a good thing, if it is harnessed for the good of others. I suppose even practices of personal penance might indulge one’s ego–if such disciplines do not lead to a lessening of sins against other people.

9. Faced with the afore-mentioned social situation, people in many parts of the world are feeling a great need to take care of themselves, to know themselves better, to live in greater harmony with their feelings and sentiments and to seek to live their affectivity in the best manner possible. These proper aspirations can lead to a desire to put greater effort into building relationships of self-giving and creative reciprocity, which are empowering and supportive like those within a family. In this case, however, individualism and living only for one’s self is a real danger. The challenge for the Church is to assist couples in the maturation and development of their affectivity through fostering dialogue, virtue and trust in the merciful love of God. The full commitment required in marriage can be a strong antidote to the temptation of a selfish individualism.

I recall a young friend who, many years ago, put a brave face on a break-up. I need someone more responsive and attentive to my needs, the lesson was stated. When a teenager draws such meaning from a first love gone sour, I can recognize that there’s still room for growth. But for a person heading into a marriage, I would shudder. Some people are naturally good at relationships, balancing self-fulfillment with a sense of gift and sacrifice. Other need to practice that aim.

The vote on this was 171 to 8, 4 abstaining. One wonders if clergy in ministry, even bishops, see anything of themselves in this paragraph. They often lack that partner in life–even support groups–who can daily challenge the presumptions of narcissism.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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