All posts tagged: Amoris Laetitia

The Cruciform Shape of the Family

Embarking on the journey of marriage and family life is filled with many joyful moments but also with moments of suffering. This suffering is inherently relational, meaning that by entering into commitments such as marriage and parenthood, we open ourselves up to the possibility of being wounded by such commitment. For example, think of the newlyweds who ache with overwhelming love for one another, a mother who labors to meet her child, the infertile couple who longs to conceive, the parents who suffer with and for a sick child, or the elderly man who sits at his dying wife’s bedside after a lifetime shared together. As we can see, suffering takes a unique, relational shape in the context of marriage and family life. This shape reflects Christ’s suffering in the sense that he entered into relationship with mankind, therefore opening himself up to such relational wounds—wounds of love. When we gaze upon Christ crucified, we see not only the horrific suffering of his Passion but also a sign of hope in his Resurrection. However, it …

Practicing Tenderness in the Family

In Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, he includes the term ‘tenderness’ in his discussion on marriage and family life as something that must accompany love so that the two can mutually inform one another. He writes: Our teaching on marriage and the family cannot fail to be inspired and transformed by this message of love and tenderness; otherwise, it becomes nothing more than the defense of a dry and lifeless doctrine. (§59) Tenderness humanizes the daily disposition of love toward those around us because it sees in another or oneself a person on a journey. It not only sees their destination but also is there to brush the dirt off when they fall and to kiss their wounds. Apart from a notion of tenderness, love can often be influenced in ways that distort its authenticity, even ways that go unnoticed to the lover or beloved. Love can become a mere assumption that does not manifest itself, even in subtle dispositions. But authentic love in the family, informed by the practice of tenderness, can then …

“Amoris Laetitia”: An Invaluable Opportunity for Teachers of the Faith

“We love because he first loved us.” (1 Jn 4:19) On April 8, 2016, the Vatican published the English-language version of Pope Francis’ post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (“The Joy of Love”): On Love in the Family. In the time period leading up to the much-anticipated release of Amoris Laetitia—effectively spanning the [Extraordinary] Synod of Bishops on the Family of October 2014 and the [Ordinary] Synod of Bishops on the Family of October 2015—all categories of the faithful, comprising the clergy and laity alike, offered speculation concerning what the document would entail. This is not to mention that news outlets, mainstream or otherwise, were quick to extend manifestations of pseudo-expertise addressing sentimental perceptions of what Pope Francis would say, or perhaps would not say, in terms of what the Catholic Church professes regarding God, marriage, and family life. Ultimately, in over 250 sprawling pages, Amoris Laetitia revealed that which various realms of the Church should have expected to receive from Pope Francis in the end: his defense, promotion, and embrace of God’s age-old plan for …

The Sacrament of Marriage and the Healing of Desire

Within Catholicism, there is a significant vocation crisis, and it relates to the sacrament of marriage. In 1970, there were 426,309 sacramental celebrations of marriage in the United States with a Catholic population of 51 million.[1] In 2015, there were 148,134 marriages with a Catholic population of 81 million. While quantitative data does not tell a narrative, it remains the case that sacramental marriage among those baptized into the Church risks becoming a marginally practiced rite in the next two generations, as Americans’ views of marriage—especially among emerging adults—continue to change.[2] Of course, while an Irish American Catholic would love to simply leave the reader with this bad news as an act of dramatic performance, my obligation is to address one reason for this decline: the incapacity to make a permanent commitment to another person. This problem with commitment is especially evident among emerging adults (18–29-year-olds), who struggle with the demands placed upon them by career, financial expectations, and a malformed understanding of what constitutes the “perfect” relationship.[3] If the Church seeks to renew marriage, …

A Tale of Two Synods: What’s Become of Catholic Marriage and What Can We Do About It?

Hermeneutics has always been a challenge, even with something seemingly simple. Allow me an example. I was teaching catechism for three- to five-year-olds at our parish on Sunday, and I asked the kids to draw a picture of the Holy Family’s flight to Egypt. Well, after five minutes my son brings up his uncontestably creative rendition. I could see Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, but there was a fourth figure I couldn’t make out. Aware that I look thoroughly nonplussed, my son enlightens me: “Papa, you see, that’s Pontius Pilate. He was flying their plane!” Thankfully, you didn’t come here tonight to hear me tell jokes. You’re here to hear a tale of two Synods: what’s happened to marriage and what we can do about it. It was the best of Synods, it was the worst of Synods, it was the synod of wisdom, it was the synod of foolishness, it was the episcopate of belief, it was the episcopate of incredulity, it was the papacy of Light, it was the papacy of Darkness . . …

Fidelity and Discernment: Reading “Amoris Laetitia”

With deference to Pope Francis’ magisterial authority as well as to his pastoral guidance as the chief shepherd of the Church, we offer a reading of Amoris Laetitia with the aim of aiding pastors and lay men and women in their understanding and application of the document. This deference urges a reading that both respects the direction in which Francis is leading the Church and reads his teaching in light of the tradition. Thus, we make no attempt to separate a hypothetical “spirit” from the “letter” of his words, as if he intended something different than what he wrote, but take Francis—a man marked by authenticity and transparency—at his word. In the following, we pay sustained attention to chapter eight of Amoris Laetitia since it is the part of the document which has garnered the most attention and, as Francis himself notes, is the one by which “everyone should feel challenged” (§7). Pope Francis tellingly entitles chapter eight “Accompanying, Discerning, and Integrating Weakness,” and in its first paragraph, recalls the synodal image of the Church …

The Joy of Love: 9 Moments to Savor in Amoris Laetitia

In the coming days, those involved in reading ecclesial tealeaves will pour over Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on love in the family (Amoris Laetitia) seeking places where the Holy Father is proposing doctrinal development in a theology of marriage. Others will look for various episcopal influences: Is this section influenced by Cardinal Kasper or Cardinal Ouellet or Archbishop Chaput? Coverage of said document will focus almost exclusively on what Pope Francis refers to as the “irregular” or “difficult” situations: divorced and remarried Catholics (who have not received an annulment) but want to return to Eucharistic communion and those couples who are cohabitating before the sacrament of marriage. But, any reader of the document can discern that what is set forth by Pope Francis is not a Jesuitical way of reforming Church doctrine. It is a substantive, transformative, Christo-centric, Pneumatological, and Eucharistic vision of marriage and family love. The reader of the document, especially if he or she happens to be a member of a family (because of the nature of procreation that will include all of us), cannot …