38. We must be grateful that most people do value family relationships that are permanent and marked by mutual respect. They appreciate the Church’s efforts to offer guidance and counselling in areas related to growth in love, overcoming confict and raising children. Many are touched by the power of grace experienced in sacramental Reconciliation and in the Eucharist, grace that helps them face the challenges of marriage and the family.
The sacraments of the Church provide ample nourishment for those open to their graces.
In some countries, especially in various parts of Africa, secularism has not weakened certain traditional values, and marriages forge a strong bond between two wider families, with clearly defined structures for dealing with problems and conficts. Nowadays we are grateful too for the witness of marriages that have not only proved lasting, but also fruitful and loving. All these factors can inspire a positive and welcoming pastoral approach capable of helping couples to grow in appreciation of the demands of the Gospel.
In the past three generations, one can find strong marriages yet. I think of the witness of many intentional efforts at Christianity. Progressives had their countercultural moments in the 70’s and 80’s, and more traditional-leaning Catholics are rather more prominent today.
When should we rightly complain about secular values? The Holy Father suggests when it drains verve from our pastoral efforts:
Yet we have often been on the defensive, wasting pastoral energy on denouncing a decadent world without being proactive in proposing ways of finding true happiness. Many people feel that the Church’s message on marriage and the family does not clearly reflect the preaching and attitudes of Jesus, who set forth a demanding ideal yet never failed to show compassion and closeness to the frailty of individuals like the Samaritan woman or the woman caught in adultery.
This is an important note. Sometimes Catholics themselves fail to provide good example: married couples and priests alike. Sometimes we also fail to imitate mercy, which is no doubt the direct example of the Lord in dealing with real live people.
Remember that Amoris Laetitia is in pdf format here. Read ahead or back, as you wish.