Misericordia et Misera 14: Careful, Profound, Far-Sighted Discernment

john-8At the conclusion of the Jubilee of Mercy, Pope Francis issued an apostolic letter. Follow this link for the full document, Misericordia et Misera.

When in troubled times, two instincts come to the fore. One, people can be chided. Two, leaders can offer comfort. It often doesn’t matter if the targets of these are victims, perpetrators, or bystanders.

14. At a time like our own, marked by many crises, including that of the family, it is important to offer a word of comfort and strength to our families. The gift of matrimony is a great calling to which spouses, with the grace of Christ, respond with a love that is generous, faithful and patient. The beauty of the family endures unchanged, despite so many problems and alternative proposals: “The joy of love experienced by families is also the joy of the Church”.[Cf. Amoris Laetitia 1] The journey of life that leads a man and a woman to meet one other, to love one another and to promise mutual fidelity before God, is often interrupted by suffering, betrayal and loneliness. Joy at the gift of children is accompanied by concern about their growth and education, and their prospects for happiness and fulfilment in life.

It’s pretty clear Pope Francis lands solidly in option #2 where families are concerned. If chiding some people is on his list, perhaps he doesn’t feel such persons are in any particular weakness. Clearly, spouses and parents have obstacles to a life of virtue. This is true across many cultures, nations, and other situations.

Can we hope in sacramental grace?

The grace of the sacrament of Marriage not only strengthens the family to be a privileged place for practising mercy, but also commits the Christian community and all its pastoral activity to uphold the great positive value of the family. This Jubilee Year cannot overlook the complexity of the current realities of family life. The experience of mercy enables us to regard all human problems from the standpoint of God’s love, which never tires of welcoming and accompanying.[Cf. Amoris Laetitia 291-300]

Whether one chides or comforts, the Holy Father suggests a demand of pastoral leaders: discernment. Note three qualities listed below: careful, profound, far-sighted

We have to remember each of us carries the richness and the burdens of our personal history; this is what makes us different from everyone else. Our life, with its joys and sorrows, is something unique and unrepeatable that takes place under the merciful gaze of God. This demands, especially of priests, a careful, profound and far-sighted spiritual discernment, so that everyone, none excluded, can feel accepted by God, participate actively in the life of the community and be part of that People of God which journeys tirelessly towards the fullness of his kingdom of justice, love, forgiveness and mercy.

Any comments?

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About catholicsensibility

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