Amoris Laetitia 37: The Dynamism of Marriage

amoris laetitia memeRemember that Amoris Laetitia is online in pdf format here. Read ahead or back, as you wish.

More self-criticism for the Church. Accurate or unfair?

37. We have long thought that simply by stressing doctrinal, bioethical and moral issues, without encouraging openness to grace, we were providing sufficient support to families, strengthening the marriage bond and giving meaning to marital life.

Marriage: lifelong burden or dynamic path to development?

We find it difficult to present marriage more as a dynamic path to personal development and fulfilment than as a lifelong burden. We also find it hard to make room for the consciences of the faithful, who very often respond as best they can to the Gospel amid their limitations, and are capable of carrying out their own discernment in complex situations. We have been called to form consciences, not to replace them.

The last sentence I’ve seen quoted in a few places the past few weeks. My sense is that the imposition of conscience often results in a certain sullen quality in the approach of people who haven’t really formed their consciences, but are just imitating those they see as virtuous. Or worse, those who hold themselves up as prime examples.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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3 Responses to Amoris Laetitia 37: The Dynamism of Marriage

  1. FrMichael says:

    I think the first sentence is grossly unjust toward those involved in marriage preparation– clergy and laity alike. Who is out there giving an outline on the Church’s doctrinal, bioethical, and moral teachings and neglecting prayer and interpersonal communications and growth? Talk about a strawman.

    “We have been called to form consciences, not to replace them.” What the heck does this mean? How can anyone get into the head of another– brainwashing aside– and replace the still voice of God with a man-made version? It is the job of the catechist to accurately present the Church’s teachings in a manner understandable to the listener. Whether the listener chooses to internalize those teachings really doesn’t have anything to do with the catechist.

    • Todd says:

      If you are one of those clergy who have stressed sacramental grace, then clearly this first sentence is not for you. Clearly, bishops and the pope think it needs mentioning.

      My sense is that grace is a neglected topic by many catechetical materials for the sacraments. My suggestion would be to visit this matter with someone who agrees with the pope and ask for examples. Or ask couples on their first anniversary. Or your parents of first communicants or teens confirmed.

      As for your second paragraph, you have confused education with formation. Parroting a catechism can be no less a human fabrication if it neglects two vital aspects. Grace, as discussed above. Also accompaniment, in the form of a model of apprenticeship. If engaged and newly married couples needed one person, it wouldn’t be a catechist, or even a priest. It would be a mentor.

      “What the heck does this mean?”

      Easy. It’s the give a fish/teach to fish choice. Celibate priests, and even sponsor couples often have little idea of the particular challenges of the newly married or the engaged. Unless you mandate continuing spiritual direction of married persons in your pastoral care, I sure hope you are forming consciences rather than giving lists of rules. That would be a very human indulgence, and perhaps a lazy way of doing ministry.

  2. Melody says:

    The best talk I ever heard on sacramental grace in marriage was by my mother, before our wedding. She said it was there for the asking, was even given sometimes without asking; and enables us to do the hard things that we don’t think we can do. She was a credible witness.

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