The exhortation of Pope Francis is for each of us to embrace the Joy of Love experienced by families—as this joy is the joy of the Church. After all, we all want to be happy—don’t we? It has nine chapters. At the centre we see the father and mother, a couple with their personal story of love—which is the cause of their joy (and ours), who are called to be faithful to Jesus' teachings. This means that, amidst the complexity of modern life and in light of their faith, families must strive to live out the Gospel message. In this sense Christian families can only be fully understood in the light of the Father’s infinite love revealed in Christ, who gave himself up for our sake and who continues to dwell in our midst.
The second chapter is all about the experience and challenges of families. The third—looking to Jesus to understand the vocation of family life. In paragraphs 72-73, Francis writes
“The sacrament of marriage is not a social convention, an empty ritual or merely the outward sign of a commitment. The sacrament is a gift given for the sanctification and salvation of the spouses, since their mutual belonging together represents (through the sacramental sign of marriage) the same relationship between Christ and the Church. Married couples are therefore a permanent reminder for the Church of what took place on the cross; they are for one another and for their children witnesses of the salvation in which they share (through the sacrament). Marriage is a vocation, inasmuch as it is a response to a specific call to experience conjugal love as an imperfect sign of the love between Christ and the Church. Consequently, the decision to marry and to have a family ought to be the fruit of a process of vocational discernment.
Mutual self-giving in the sacrament of matrimony is grounded in the grace of baptism, which establishes the foundational covenant of every person with Christ in the Church. In accepting each other, and with Christ’s grace, the engaged couple promise each other total self-giving, faithfulness and openness to new life. The couple recognizes these elements as constitutive of marriage, gifts offered to them by God, and take seriously their mutual commitment, in God’s name and in the presence of the Church . . . Consequently, the Church looks to married couples as the heart of the entire family, which, in turn, looks to Jesus . . . who dwells with them, gives them the strength to take up their crosses and follow him, to rise again after they have fallen, to forgive one another, to bear one another’s burdens.
Christian marriage is a sign of how much Christ loved his Church in the covenant sealed on the cross, yet it also makes that love present in the communion of the spouses. . . That is why in the joys of their love and family life, he gives them here on earth a foretaste of the wedding feast of the Lamb.”
Chapter four describes in detail the love in marriage—how that love bears all things, believes all things, and rejoices with others. Chapter five talks about the fruit of love, six—pastoral perspectives. Then we have chapters dedicated to the education of children, and to accompanying, discerning and integrating weakness. Here media may pick up on sentences such as “there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family” (paragraph 251). And the last chapter concerns the spirituality of marriage.
I don’t encourage laziness, so here is the link https://w2.vatican.va/content/dam/francesco/pdf/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20160319_amoris-laetitia_en.pdf . . . and some short videos
I encourage an engaging and meaningful discussion so we can all reap the fruits of this post-synod apostolic exhortation. So, please feel free to respond to this blog. Any comments or insights are very welcome.