Thursday, February 23, 2017

Amoris Laetitia - Par. 207

207.  I encourage Christian communities to recognize the great benefit that they themselves receive from supporting engaged couples as they grow in love.  As the Italian bishops have observed, those couples are "a valuable resource because, as they sincerely commit themselves to grow in love and self-giving, they can help renew the fabric of the whole ecclesial body.  Their special form of friendship can prove contagious and foster the growth of friendship and fraternity in the Christian community of which they are a part".239  There are a number of legitimate ways to structure programmes of marriage preparation, and each local Church will discern how best to provide a suitable formation without distancing young people from the sacrament.  They do not need to be taught the entire Catechism or overwhelmed with too much information.  here too, "it is not great knowledge, but rather the ability to feel and relish things interiorly that contents and satisfies the soul".240  Quality is more important than quantity, and priority should be given - along with a renewed proclamation of the kerygma - to an attractive and helpful presentation of information that can help couples to live the rest of their lives together "with great courage and generosity".241 Marriage preparation should be a kind of "initiation" to the sacrament of matrimony, providing couples with the help they need to receive the sacrament worthily and to make a solid beginning of life as a family.

239  Italian Bishops' Conference, Episcopal Commission on Family and Life, Orientamenti pastorali sulla preparazione al matrimonio e alla famiglia (22 October 2012), 1.
240  Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, Annotation 2.
241  Ibid., Annotation 5.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Amoris Laetitia - Par. 206

206.  "The complexity of today's society and the challenges faced by the family require a greater effort on the part of the whole Christian community in preparing those who are about to be married. The importance of the virtues  needs to be included.  Among these, chastity proves invaluable for the genuine growth of love between persons.  In this regard, the Synod Fathers agreed on the need to involve the entire community more extensively by stressing the witness of families themselves and by grounding marriage preparation in the process of Christian initiation by bringing out the connection between marriage, baptism and the other sacraments.  The Fathers also spoke of the need for specific programmes of marriage preparation aimed at giving couples a genuine experience of participation in ecclesial life and a complete introduction to various aspects of family life".238 

238 Ibid., 39.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Amoris Laetitia - Par. 205

Preparing Engaged Couples for Marriage

205.  The Synod Fathers stated in a number of ways that we need to help young people discover the dignity and beauty of marriage.237  They should be helped to perceived the attraction of a complete union that elevates and perfects the social dimension of existence, gives sexuality its deepest meaning, and benefits children by offering them the best context for their growth and development.

237  Cf. Relatio Synodi 2014, 26.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Amoris Laetitia - Par. 204

204.  The response to the consultation also insisted on the need for training lay leaders who can assist on the need for training lay leaders who can assist in the pastoral care of families, with the help of teachers and counsellors, family and community physicians, social workers, juvenille and family advocates, and drawing upon the contributions of psychology, sociology, marital therapy and counselling. Professionals, especially those with practical experience, help keep pastoral initiatives grounded in the real situations and concrete concern of families.  "Courses and programmes, planned specifically for pastoral workers, can be of assistance by integrating the premarital preparation programme into the broader dynamic of ecclesial life".235  Good pastoral training is important "especially in light of particular emergency situations arising from cases of domestic violence and sexual abuse".236  All this in no way diminishes, but rather complements, the fundamental value of spiritual directions, the rich spiritual treasures of the Church, and sacramental Reconciliation.

235  Ibid.
236  Ibid.


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Amoris Laetitia - Par. 203

203.  Seminarians should receive a more extensive interdisciplinary, and not merely doctrinal, formation in the areas of engagement and marriage.  Their training does not always allow them to explore their own psychological and affective background and experiences.  Some come from troubled families, with absent parents and a lack of emotional stability.  There is a need to ensure that the formation process can enable them to attain the maturity and psychological balance needed for their future ministry.  Family bonds are essential for reinforcing healthy self-esteem.  It is important for families to be part of the seminary process and priestly life, since they can help reaffirm these and to keep them well grounded in reality.  It is helpful for seminarians to combine time in the seminary with time spent in parishes.  There they can have greater contact with the concrete realities of family life, since in their future ministry they will largely be dealing with families.  "The presence of lay people, families and especially the presence of women in priestly formation, promotes an appreciation of the diversity of complementarity of the different vocations in the Church".234

234  Ibid.