Amoris Laetitia 106: John Paul II on Forgiveness

amoris laetitia memeToday, a long citation from St John Paul II on forgiveness:

106. When we have been offended or let down, forgiveness is possible and desirable, but no one can say that it is easy. The truth is that “family communion can only be preserved and perfected through a great spirit of sacrifice. It requires, in fact, a ready and generous openness of each and all to understanding, to forbearance, to pardon, to reconciliation. There is no family that does not know how selfishness, discord, tension and conflict violently attack and at times mortally wound its own communion: hence there arise the many and varied forms of division in family life”.(Familiaris Consortio 21)

I think it is true that all families suffer these from time to time. The difference for the fruitful family is that when these arise they are dealt with more or less quickly before they become major issues. For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Amoris Laetitia 105: Love Forgives

amoris laetitia memeThe Holy Father’s advice on harmony in AL 104 seems about right for the healthy family, people living together who are generally on functional terms. But we are imperfect and mortal. Therefore, sometimes, things get a little more out of hand. So forgiveness comes into play:

105. Once we allow ill will to take root in our hearts, it leads to deep resentment. The phrase ou logízetai to kakón means that love “takes no account of evil”; “it is not resentful”. The opposite of resentment is forgiveness, which is rooted in a positive attitude that seeks to understand other people’s weaknesses and to excuse them. As Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34).

Perhaps this analysis sounds familiar for our culture, if not our more dysfunctional families:

Yet we keep looking for more and more faults, imagining greater evils, presuming all kinds of bad intentions, and so resentment grows and deepens. Thus, every mistake or lapse on the part of a spouse can harm the bond of love and the stability of the family. Something is wrong when we see every problem as equally serious; in this way, we risk being unduly harsh with the failings of others. The just desire to see our rights respected turns into a thirst for vengeance rather than a reasoned defense of our dignity.

The remarkable recent instances of Blacks and police coming together might be examples of that much-needed gesture of good will or harmony. May we see more of that in our families and in our nations.

For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Amoris Laetitia 104: Making Peace

amoris laetitia memeFour Scripture passages help Pope Francis launch into some advice:

104. The Gospel tells us to look to the log in our own eye (cf. Mt 7:5). Christians cannot ignore the persistent admonition of God’s word not to nurture anger: “Do not be overcome by evil” (Rm 12:21). “Let us not grow weary in doing good” (Gal 6:9). It is one thing to sense a sudden surge of hostility and another to give into it, letting it take root in our hearts: “Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Eph 4:26). My advice is never to let the day end without making peace in the family. “And how am I going to make peace? By getting down on my knees? No! Just by a small gesture, a little something, and harmony within your family will be restored. Just a little caress, no words are necessary. But do not let the day end without making peace in your family”.(Catechesis (13 May 2015): L’Osservatore Romano, 14 May 2015, p. 8)

Making peace doesn’t mean humiliation. Loved ones notice those small things. We turn to how to deal with the offenses dealt to us:

Our first reaction when we are annoyed should be one of heartfelt blessing, asking God to bless, free and heal that person. “On the contrary bless, for to this you have been called, that you may obtain a blessing” (1 Pet 3:9). If we must fight evil, so be it; but we must always say “no” to violence in the home.

For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Amoris Laetitia 103: Love Is Not Irritable Or Resentful

amoris laetitia memeA difficult one for many of us: how do we not cultivate that inner tickle to hold on to little pieces of irritation?

If the first word of Paul’s hymn spoke of the need for a patience that does not immediately react harshly to the weaknesses and faults of others, the word he uses next – paroxýnetai – has to do more with an interior indignation provoked by something from without. It refers to a violent reaction within, a hidden irritation that sets us on edge where others are concerned, as if they were troublesome or threatening and thus to be avoided. To nurture such interior hostility helps no one. It only causes hurt and alienation. Indignation is only healthy when it makes us react to a grave injustice; when it permeates our attitude towards others it is harmful.

I might add that indignation is more helpful when our reaction is to an injustice suffered by another. For oneself, there is discernment on how to deal with wrongs suffered. The path is more sure when someone else has suffered.

Remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Amoris Laetitia 102: Thomas Aquinas and Generosity

amoris laetitia memeThomas Aquinas launches this paragraph into three citations of Jesus that describe the extravagance of a generous love:

102. Saint Thomas Aquinas explains that “it is more proper to charity to desire to love than to desire to be loved”;(Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, II-II, q. 27, art. 1, ad 2) indeed, “mothers, who are those who love the most, seek to love more than to be loved”.(Ibid., q. 27, art. 1)Consequently, love can transcend and overflow the demands of justice, “expecting nothing in return” (Lk 6:35), and the greatest of loves can lead to “laying down one’s life” for another (cf. Jn 15:13). Can such generosity, which enables us to give freely and fully, really be possible? Yes, because it is demanded by the Gospel: “You received without pay, give without pay” (Mt 10:8).

Demanded by the Gospel, it may be, but we are still human beings troubled by some aspects of this, especially when it touches on our own sense of fair play. For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Amoris Laetitia 101: Love Is Generous

amoris laetitia memeSaint Paul says love is generous. The “same idea” cited in this passage is a prelude to the Kensosis Canticle of Philippians 2:6-11. If you want a sidebar, check Saint John Paul’s catechesis on it here. Then come back and read:

101. We have repeatedly said that to love another we must first love ourselves. Paul’s hymn to love, however, states that love “does not seek its own interest”, nor “seek what is its own”. This same idea is expressed in another text: “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil 2:4). The Bible makes it clear that generously serving others is far more noble than loving ourselves. Loving ourselves is only important as a psychological prerequisite for being able to love others: “If a man is mean to himself, to whom will he be generous? No one is meaner than the man who is grudging to himself” (Sir 14:5-6).

Agree?

For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Amoris Laetitia 100: A Kind Look

amoris laetitia memeJesuits get a rep for being intellectual, but the truth is that the Ignatian tradition is quite balanced, including this plea for a gentle gaze, a “kind look,” as the Holy Father puts it:

100. To be open to a genuine encounter with others, “a kind look” is essential. This is incompatible with a negative attitude that readily points out other people’s shortcomings while overlooking one’s own. A kind look helps us to see beyond our own limitations, to be patient and to cooperate with others, despite our differences.

Loving-kindness, that term “hesed” from the Old Testament; how God looks at us:

Loving kindness builds bonds, cultivates relationships, creates new networks of integration and knits a firm social fabric. In this way, it grows ever stronger, for without a sense of belonging we cannot sustain a commitment to others; we end up seeking our convenience alone and life in common becomes impossible. Antisocial persons think that others exist only for the satisfaction of their own needs. Consequently, there is no room for the gentleness of love and its expression. Those who love are capable of speaking words of comfort, strength, consolation, and encouragement. These were the words that Jesus himself spoke: “Take heart, my son!” (Mt 9:2); “Great is your faith!” (Mt 15:28); “Arise!” (Mk 5:41); “Go in peace” (Lk 7:50); “Be not afraid” (Mt 14:27). These are not words that demean, sadden, anger or show scorn. In our families, we must learn to imitate Jesus’ own gentleness in our way of speaking to one another.

Spouses speaking to one another: that is the first mastery we are called to emulate. If we don’t get it, heaven help our children. Remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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