Monday, December 5, 2016

Amoris Laetitia - Par. 127



127.  The love of friendship is called "charity" when it perceives and esteems the "great worth" of another person.129  Beauty - that "great worth" which is other than physical or psychological appeal - enables us to appreciate the sacredness of a person, without feeling the need to possess it.  In a consumerist society, the sense of beauty is impoverished and so joy fades.  Everything is there to be purchased, possessed or consumed, including people.  Tenderness, on the other hand, is a sign of a love free of selfish possessiveness.  It makes us approach a person with immense respect and a certain dread of causing them harm or taking away their freedom.  Loving another person involves the joy of contemplating and appreciating their innate beauty and sacredness, which is greater than my needs.  This enables me to seek their good even when they cannot belong to me, or when they are no longer physically appealing but intrusive and annoying.  For "the love by which one person is pleasing to another depends on his or her giving something freely".130

129 Cf. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae I-II, q.26, art. 3.
130. Ibid., q. 110, art.1.

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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Amoris Laetitia - Par. 126



Joy and Beauty


126.  In marriage, the joy of love needs to be cultivated.  When the search for pleasure becomes obsessive, it holds us in thrall and keeps us from experiencing other satisfactions.  Joy, on the other hand, increases our pleasure and helps us find fulfillment in any number of things, even at those times of life when physical pleasure has ebbed.  Saint Thomas Aquinas said that the word "joy" refers to an expansion of the heart.127  Marital joy can be experienced even amid sorrow; it involves accepting that marriage is an inevitable mixture of enjoyment and struggles, tensions and repose, pain and relief, satisfactions and longings, annoyances and pleasures, but always on the path of friendship, which inspires married couples to care for one another: "they help and serve each other".128

127 Cf. Summa Theologiae I-II, q. 31, art. 3., ad 3.
128 Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church and the Modern Word Gaudium et Spes, 48.

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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Amoris Laetitia - Par. 125



125.  Marriage is likewise a friendship marked by passion, but a passion always directed to an ever more stable and intense union.  This is because "marriage was not instituted soley for the procreation of children" but also that mutual love "might be properly expressed, that is should grow and mature".125  This unique friendship between a man and a woman acquires an all-encompassing character only within the conjugal union.  Precisely as all-encompassing, this union is also exclusive, faithful and open to new life.  It shares everything in constant mutual respect.  The Second Vatican Council echoed this by stating that "such a love, bringing together the human and the divine, leads the partners to a free and mutual self-giving, experienced in tenderness and actions, and permeating their entire lives".126

125 Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 50.
126 Ibid., 49.

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Friday, December 2, 2016

Amoris Laetitia - Par. 124



124.  A love that is weak or infirm, incapable of accepting marriage as a challenge to be taken up and fought for, reborn, renewed and reinvented until death, cannot sustain a great commitment.  It will succumb to the culture of the ephemeral that prevents a constant process of growth.  Yet "promising love for ever is possible when we perceive a plan bigger than our own ideas and undertakings, a plan which sustains us and enables us to surrender our future entirely to the one we love".123  If this love is to overcome all trials and remain faithful in the face of everything, it needs the gift of grace to strengthen and elevate it.  In the words of Saint Robert Bellarmine, "the fact that one man unites with one woman in an indissoluble bond, and that they remain inseparable despite every kind of difficulty, even when there is no longer hope for children, can only be the sign of a great mystery".124

123 Encyclical Letter Lumen Fidei (29 June 2013), 52:  AAS 105 (2013), 590.
124 De sacramento matrimonii, I, 2; in Id., Disputationes, III, 5, 3 (ed. Giuliano, Naples, 1858), 778.

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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Amoris Laetitia - Par. 123



Lifelong sharing


123.  After the love that unites us to God, conjugal love is the "greatest form of friendship".122  It is a union possessing all the traits of a good friendship:  concern for the good of the other, reciprocity, intimacy, warmth, stability and the resemblance born of a shared life.  Marriage joins to all this an indissoluble exclusivity expressed in the stable commitment to share and shape together the whole of life.  Let us be honest and acknowledge the signs that this is the case.  Lovers do not see their relationship as merely temporary.  Those who marry do not expect their excitement to fade.  Those who witness the celebration of a loving union, however fragile, trust that it will pass the test of time.  Children not only want their parents to love one another, but also to be faithful and remain together.  These and similar signs show that it is in the very nature of conjugal love to be definitive.  The lasting union expressed by the marriage vows is more than a formality or a traditional formula;  it is rooted in the natural inclinations of the human person.  For believers, it is also a covenant before God that calls for fidelity:  "The Lord was witness to the covenant to between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant...Let none be faithless to the wife of his youth.  For I hate divorce, says the Lord" (Mal 2:14-16).

122 Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles III, 123; cf. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 8, 12 (ed. Bywater, Oxford, 1984, 174).

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