Amoris Laetitia 39: Comfort and Accompaniment

amoris laetitia memeSo, the world is wrong. Do we let it stay that way? What do we say and do about that? We continue with Pope Francis on this theme. It’s important to him that Christians manage the balance of how to be critical without letting it dominate the message of love.

39. This is hardly to suggest that we cease warning against a cultural decline that fails to promote love or self-giving. The consultation that took place prior to the last two Synods pointed to the various symptoms of a “culture of the ephemeral”.

Some specifics, most of which will resonate with those of us in the First World:

Here I think, for example, of the speed with which people move from one affective relationship to another. They believe, along the lines of social networks, that love can be connected or disconnected at the whim of the consumer, and the relationship quickly “blocked”.

I don’t know if he intended this, but I think the blogosphere is a perfect iteration of this. Otherwise, think of the relative speed of the classical romance novel compared to a television or cinema version of love. In real life, love usually blossoms over months from meet-cute to marriage commitment. In a book, a few days. In video media, a few hours.

No wonder people fret about commitment:

I think too of the fears associated with permanent commitment, the obsession with free time, and those relationships that weigh costs and benefits for the sake of remedying loneliness, providing protection, or offering some service.

The last priest I worked with in campus ministry noted this. “Making and keeping commitments” was his mantra not only with couples, but with young people in general. From what I’ve seen in parishes, some older believers also struggle with the principle.

And the disposable:

We treat affective relationships the way we treat material objects and the environment: everything is disposable; everyone uses and throws away, takes and breaks, exploits and squeezes to the last drop. Then, goodbye.

Self-centeredness:

Narcissism makes people incapable of looking beyond themselves, beyond their own desires and needs. Yet sooner or later, those who use others end up being used themselves, manipulated and discarded by that same mind-set. It is also worth noting that breakups often occur among older adults who seek a kind of “independence” and reject the ideal of growing old together, looking after and supporting one another.

Too negative? I don’t think so. Pope Francis has hit upon a few major currents that underlie the surface observations of divorce, broken families, sex outside of marriage. It is easy enough for a believer to say, “Live like I do.” But the factors listed above–and others–are what drive people to behave as they do. Forget about disobedience for its own sake.

Amoris Laetitia is online here for reference.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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