Sunday, February 26, 2017

Amoris Laetitia - Par. 210

210.  In any event, if one partner clearly recognizes the other's weak points, he or she needs to have a realistic trust in the possibility of helping to develop the good points that counterbalance them, and in this way to foster their human growth.  This entails a willingness to face eventual sacrifices, problems and situations of conflict; it demands a firm resolve to be ready for this.  Couples need to be able to detect danger signals in their relationship and to find, before the wedding, effective ways of responding to them.  Sadly, many couples marry without really knowing one another.  They have enjoyed each other's company and done things together, but without facing the challenge of revealing themselves and coming to know who the other person truly is.


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Amoris Laetitia - Par. 209

209.  The timely preparation of engaged couples by the parish community should also assist them to recognize eventual problems and risks.  In this way, they can come to realize the wisdom of breaking off a relationship whose failure and painful aftermath can be foreseen.  In their initial enchantment with one anther, couples can attempt to conceal or relativize certain things and to avoid disagreements; only later do problems surface.  For this reason, they should be strongly encouraged to discuss what each expects from marriage, what they understand by love and commitment, what each wants from the other and what kind of life they would like to build together.  Such discussions would help them to see if they in fact have little in common and to realize that mutual attraction alone will not suffice to keep them together.  Nothing is more volatile, precarious and unpredictable than desire.  The decision to marry should never be encouraged unless the couple has discerned deeper reasons that will ensure a genuine and stable commitment.


Friday, February 24, 2017

Amoris Laetitia - Par. 208

208.  With the help of missionary families, the couple's own families and a variety of pastoral resources, ways should also be found to offer a remote preparation that, by example and good advice, can help their love to grow and mature.  Discussion groups and optional talks on a variety of topics of genuine interest to young people can also prove helpful.  All the same, some individuals meetings remain essential, since the primary objective is to help each to learn how to love this very real person with whom he or she plans to share his or her whole life.  Learning to love someone does not happen automatically, nor can it be taught in a workshop just prior to the celebration of marriage.  For every couple,  marriage preparation begins at birth.  What they received from their family should prepare them to know themselves and to make a full and definitive commitment.  Those best prepared for marriage are probably those who learned what Christian marriage is from their own parents, who chose each other unconditionally and daily renew this decision.  In this sense, pastoral initiatives aimed at helping married couples to grow in love and in the Gospel of the family also help their children, by preparing them for their future married life.  Nor should we underestimate the pastoral value of traditional religious practices.  To give just one example:  I think of Saint Valentine's Day; in some countries, commercial interests are quicker to see the potential of this celebration than are we in the Church.


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.