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.

“It is a profound spiritual experience to contemplate our loved ones with the eyes of God and to see Christ in them. We can be fully present to others only by giving fully of ourselves and forgetting all else”

(Amoris Laetitia 323)

As family members in order to see each other in this way means to put down the iPhone, iPad, turn off the computer and TV and pay attention to the loved ones in our lives. We need to focus on who is in front or what’s in front of us and give them our time and attention in loving and caring ways

All of us should be able to say, thanks to the experience of our life in the family: (It is through this that) ‘We come to believe in the love that God has for us’

(Amoris Laetitia 290)

Introduce prayer into your child’s life/remind your child about prayer by asking them to name their blessings before bedtime and thank God together for the joys in their life.

“The educational process that occurs between parents and children can be helped or hindered by the increasing sophistication of the communications and entertainment media.”

(Amoris Laetitia 278)

New forms of communication enable family members who live apart to keep in touch but there are also risks to family life as a result of these new forms of communication and media. In your particular family setting reflect on the extent to which the benefits of these new forms outweigh the risks and what you can do to monitor and improve this experience for your family.

Family is the first experience of society that children encounter. It is here that “we first learn to relate to others, to listen and share, to be patient and show respect, to help one another and live as one”

(Amoris Laetitia 276)

Every day the family has opportunities to practice care for others, rethink our habits of consumption, and care for the environment as our home. Reflect as a family this week on how you care for each other and our environment.

"When children or adolescents are not helped to realise that some things have to be waited for, they become obsessed with satisfying their immediate needs and develop the vice of 'wanting it all now'."  

(Amoris Laetitia 275)

Learning to wait for things, in other words having patience, is an important life lesson. In what ways can you help foster in your children an appreciation of and sense of contentment with what they have.?

The questions I would put to parents are these: “Do you seek to understand ‘where’ our children are in their journey? Where is their soul, do we really know? And above all, do we want to know?  

(Amoris Laetitia 261)

For parents the real question is not where our children are physically, or whom they are with at any given time, but rather where they are existentially, where they stand in terms of their convictions, goals, desires and dreams. As a family we need to find opportunities to discuss important things, to cultivate a multitude of healthy ways to spend time and to encourage critical/right thinking in our children.

"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.