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The Joy of Love (Amoris Laetitia)

Reflections on The Joy of Love (Amoris Laetitia)

In his 325-paragraph document, Pope Francis provides his prayerful reflections on marriage and the family: their strengths and weaknesses, their call from God and the challenges they face.

Pope Francis recommends that The Joy of Love be read “patiently and carefully”

Each week we read an extract from the Pope's letter and reflect on how it might relate to our family lives.

"At these times (of family crises), it becomes all the more important to create opportunities for speaking heart to heart."

(Amoris Laetitia 234)

All families face crises, it is part of our human condition and rather than retreating into silence, we are invited to name the challenges we face so that we can face them together. 

“Greater emphasis needs to be placed on the fact that children are a wonderful gift from God and a joy for parents and the Church. Through them, the Lord renews the world.”

(Amoris Laetitia 222)

Bringing up children involves both the wonderful experience of joy and giving and receiving love and affection and involves countless sacrifices.  A parent's responsibilities start from a child's conception onwards to adulthood and oftentimes beyond.  Each child is different from the other and come each in her or his own way to help us grow as both parents and as a family

A parent’s greatest desire for their children is to see them grow, be happy, be secure, flourish and to be fulfilled, to bring blessing to others and to our world, to be part of the family of God and to love God.

Reflect this week on how your child/children are unique gifts from God in your family and to share with your children why they are such a unique gift.

"Listening to the elderly tell their stories is good for children and young people: it makes them feel connected to the living history of their families."

(Amoris Laetitia 193)

How have family stories shaped your own story?

Take the time to share your stories of growing up, and the stories of faith, struggle and triumph that make up your family history

Psalm 71:9 says “Do not cast me in the time of my old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent.” Pope Francis states “This is the plea of the elderly, who fear being forgotten or rejected … We must reawaken the collective sense of gratitude, of appreciation, of hospitality, which makes the elderly feel like a living part of the community”

(Amoris Laetitia 191)

Do you have elderly people in your family or community who may sometimes fear being forgotten or rejected? What have do you do to show them gratitude, appreciation and hospitality as part of their daily lives?

“Dialogue is essential for experiencing, expressing and fostering love in marriage and family life. Yet it can only be the fruit of a long and demanding apprenticeship. Men and women, young people and adults, communicate differently. They speak different languages and they act in different ways. Our way of asking and responding to questions, the tone we use, our timing and any number of other factors condition how well we communicate. We need to develop certain attitudes that express love and encourage authentic dialogue.”

(Amoris Laetitia 137)

Be aware this week of communication within your family, being mindful of how family members dialogue with one another. Are there patterns of communication that can be affirmed and others that may need improvement.

“Take time, quality time. This means being ready to listen patiently and attentively to everything the other person wants to say.”

(Amoris Laetitia 137) 

Share a meal or activity this week as a family without any distractions. Make an intentional effort to put away phones, turn off the television, and enjoy the company of those you love most.

“Love bears every trial with a positive attitude. It stands firm in hostile surroundings. This ‘endurance’ involves not only the ability to tolerate certain aggravations, but something greater: a constant readiness to confront any challenge. It is a love that never gives up, even in the darkest hour”

(Amoris Laetitia 118).

Every family endures hard times. Recall one such hard time and try to see what good God may have drawn out of it for your family, or, if you can’t see that yet, what you hope he will draw out of it.

"A family marked by loving trust, come what may, helps its members to be themselves and spontaneously to reject deceit, falsehood, and lies.”

(Amoris Laetitia, 115)

In a trusting context, one has no need to hide. Children who grow up in this context will know that they will be accepted always, and so will have the courage to own up to shortcomings. Examine your conscience this week about whether you’ve fallen into suspicion, unfair judgment, or seeming to withhold your love due to a shortcoming of a family member.

“The family must always be a place where, when something good happens to one of its members, they know that others will be there to celebrate it with them” (Amoris Laetitia, 110).

Celebrate something this week with your family! If nothing immediately comes to mind as a cause for celebration - celebrate the gift each family member (including grandparents) brings to your family and share this with them.

“Today we recognize that being able to forgive others implies the liberating experience of understanding and forgiving ourselves… We need to learn to pray over our past history, to accept ourselves, to learn how to live with our limitations, and even to forgive ourselves, in order to have this same attitude towards others”

(Amoris Laetitia​107).

Mother Mary Francis, a Poor Clare, wrote to her sisters once that the quickest way to “kill” charity is to be too hard on yourself. If you hold yourself to an unrealistic standard, you will do the same to others. Accept your own imperfections today with a laugh and a trusting prayer for mercy.

“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’.

(Amoris Laetitia 104).

Tonight, think over your day and your relationships with your family if there’s someone you should reconcile with before bed go and do it!​

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