Dear Parishioners: Last week our Holy Father Pope Francis released an apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia—The Joy of Love. This document is the fruit of two synods or gatherings of bishops in Rome to discuss the pastoral care of the family. Marriage and family are such important topics for the Church today. I am so glad that our parish has a vibrant Young Families Group that meet monthly to discuss issues of marriage and Catholic parenting. The future of the Church depends on strong Catholic families! Weekly attendance at Holy Mass, regular Confession, and family prayer are the important building blocks of any Catholic family.
This week I include some excerpts from the Pope’s exhortation The Joy of Love. Pope Francis explains: “This Exhortation is especially timely in this Jubilee Year of Mercy. First, because it represents an invitation to Christian families to value the gifts of marriage and the family, and to persevere in a love strengthened by the virtues of generosity, commitment, fidelity and patience. Second, because it seeks to encourage everyone to be a sign of mercy and closeness wherever family life remains imperfect or lacks peace and joy.”
Later, the Pope says: “Love always gives life. Conjugal love “does not end with the couple... The couple, in giving themselves to one another, give not just themselves but also the reality of children, who are a living reflection of their love, a permanent sign of their conjugal unity and a living and inseparable synthesis of their being a father and a mother”. The family is the setting in which a new life is not only born but also welcomed as a gift of God. Each new life “allows us to appreciate the utterly gratuitous dimension of love, which never ceases to amaze us. It is the beauty of being loved first: children are loved even before they arrive”. Here we see a reflection of the primacy of the love of God, who always takes the initiative, for children “are loved before having done anything to deserve it”
Referring to the expense of many weddings today, the Pope explains: “Short-term preparations for marriage tend to be concentrated on invitations, clothes, the party and any number of other details that tend to drain not only the budget but energy and joy as well. The spouses come to the wedding ceremony exhausted and harried, rather than focused and ready for the great step that they are about to take. The same kind of preoccupation with a big celebration also affects certain de facto unions; because of the expenses involved, the couple, instead of being concerned above all with their love and solemnizing it in the presence of others, never get married. Here let me say a word to fiancés. Have the courage to be different. Don’t let yourselves get swallowed up by a society of consumption and empty appearances. What is important is the love you share, strengthened and sanctified by grace. You are capable of opting for a more modest and simple celebration in which love takes precedence over everything else. Pastoral workers and the entire community can help make this priority the norm rather than the exception.”
I encourage to read the document for yourselves. The Holy Father has rightly turned our attention to the family—the domestic Church. He wants us to do more for families, more to support marriage, and more to reach out anyone who feels marginalized. No teaching of the Church has changed—contrary to many media reports and no pastoral practice has been altered. But the Pope wants us all to do more for families, more to support marriage and more to live our faith in the world today. One thing we can all do is to pray for our families and pray for strengthening of married and family life in our parish. Perhaps we might take up praying the Rosary as a family. As the late Father Peyton always said: “The family that prays together, stays together!” Join us every Monday in May as we pray the Rosary before the Eucharistic Lord. May Devotions are a great way to pray together, please join us. Be well. Do Good. God Bless. Go Sox!