Amoris Laetitia 284: Two Levels of Reality

amoris laetitia memeErich Fromm enters the discussion today:

284. Young people should not be deceived into confusing two levels of reality: “sexual attraction creates, for the moment, the illusion of union, yet, without love, this ‘union’ leaves strangers as far apart as they were before”.(Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving, New York, 1956, p. 54) The language of the body calls for a patient apprenticeship in learning to interpret and channel desires in view of authentic self-giving. When we presume to give everything all at once, it may well be that we give nothing. It is one thing to understand how fragile and bewildered young people can be, but another thing entirely to encourage them to prolong their immaturity in the way they show love. But who speaks of these things today? Who is capable of taking young people seriously? Who helps them to prepare seriously for a great and generous love? Where sex education is concerned, much is at stake.

Good questions, these. Do we take young people seriously? Meh, we can’t do it in most non-sexual issues.

Remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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2 Responses to Amoris Laetitia 284: Two Levels of Reality

  1. Liam says:

    So, I surmise that the reference to “authentic self-giving” relates to the Suscipe prayer of St Ignatius of Loyola. As commonly rendered in English:

    “Take Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will: all that I have and possess. You have given all to me; O Lord, I return it to you. All is yours: dispose of it wholly according to your will. Give me your love and your grace, for this is sufficient for me.”

    This kind of self-giving is predicated on actually having accepted God’s gifts as such – and this is a step many skip over.

    To transfer this to the context of neophyte lovers, there can be a rush to give in order to receive acceptance of the gifts by the Other as validation of the Self. In such a context, the giving is ego-centric: it is not about gifts offered for the true needs of the Other, but as a transaction to validate the Self. And of course this occur mutually.

    People starting their own businesses are often coached to conceive and sell their services/goods in the following frame: I am/have the solution to your problem/need. Note that how easy it would be to have an emphasis more on the I than the You in that frame.

    Such is the potential problem of romance.

    • Todd says:

      Agreed. Saint Ignatius presents the Suscipe at #234 in the Exercises. Presumably, the disciple has progressed well from the work in detachment and indifference in the First Week to get to a fruitful self-giving.

      I don’t think such a thing is impossible for young people. In campus ministry I saw good effort in this area. Little of it was “perfect,” but I would say for many people, it was the very best they could offer at that time in their particular life situations. I suspect Pope Francis was willing to work with what Jesuits-in-training could offer, and what earnest engaged persons and young marrieds could bring to their relationships.

      My campus ministry pastor once preached on a frequent misconception people had about entering into marriage, looking for “what a lover can do for me” rather than being the kind of person who could look at a relationship and say, “What can I offer for the good of my beloved, for the good of us?”

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