April 29, 2016

Amoris laetitia: Living With Each Other

We have to realize that all of us are a complex mixture of light and shadows. The other person is much more than the sum of the little things that annoy me. Love does not have to be perfect for us to value it. The other person loves me as best they can, with all their limits, but the fact that love is imperfect does not mean that it is untrue or unreal. It is real, albeit limited and earthly. If I expect too much, the other person will let me know, for he or she can neither play God nor serve all my needs. (113)
It's true. We are called to do our best with one another, to love each other precisely as the 'complex mixture of light and shadows' that we are. I remember how I once moved into a new friary and right away I appreciated one of the brothers in charge and how precise he was with the liturgy. One of the first nights after supper I tried to begin helping with the dishes. I took a towel and was drying a plate. The same brother angrily snatched the towel from me and yelled, "That towel is for drying hands!" Nice way to make a new brother feel welcome! But as I thought about it, I saw that the brother I appreciated with the liturgy and the brother with his rudeness about towels was the same person. What about him was a gift to the community in one situation was antisocial in another. Good things and hassles, but a single individual calling me to fraternal charity in both.

April 28, 2016

Amoris laetitia: The Cultural Challenges

Freedom of choice makes it possible to plan our lives and to make the most of ourselves. Yet if this freedom lacks noble goals or personal discipline, it degenerates into an inability to give oneself generously to others. Indeed, in many countries where the number of marriages is decreasing, more and more people are choosing to live alone or simply to spend time together without cohabiting. We can also point to a praiseworthy concern for justice; but if misunderstood, this can turn citizens into clients interested solely in the provision of services. (33)
Freedom is highly valued in our world; freedom of choice, self-determination, etc. This is a good thing in itself. But the Holy Father points out rightly that if freedom is not accompanied by "noble goals or personal discipline, it degenerates." If in my 'freedom' to do what I want with myself I do what makes me miserable and makes those around me suffer, I am not free. I am a slave to sin. If I am 'free' in such a way as to compromise or ruin the gifts I have been given for my own flourishing and the good of others, what good is such 'freedom'?

As Pope St. John Paul II famously put it, "Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought."

April 26, 2016

Amoris laetitia: Generally Speaking

I finished reading Amoris laetitia yesterday. It's really a beautiful document, and very tender. True to genre, it's an exhortation, exhorting those to whom it is addressed--bishops, priests, deacons, consecrated persons, Christian married couples, and all the lay faithful--to recognize the great graces God gives to us and desires for us in our existence as families and members of families, even in the many situations in which we find ourselves falling short of receiving all of them. In this spirit, the exhortation concludes:

"May we never lose heart because of our limitations, or ever stop seeking that fullness of love and communion which God holds out before us." (325)

April 18, 2016

I Guess I'm Staying Then

My relationship with the Spanish language has grown strange. My efforts and wish to learn it has a long history. In the OFM postulancy at good old Holy Cross friary on Soundview Ave. in the Bronx (of happy memory) we studied it one or two mornings a week, if I remember rightly. In the late 90s, living by myself but contemplating a return to religious life, I studied some on my own. In the Capuchins I was given great opportunities to learn. As postulants we spent a couple of months living with the brothers in Cartago, Costa Rica and attending the ILISA Instituto de Idiomas in San José, which was a lovely place. Great memories. Our various teachers named Carlos and the funny nicknames we made up to distinguish them, our other teacher Loco Antonio, empanadas at break time, the afternoon tutor--Carlos 'the real teacher' to be exact--who challenged me to teach him the Allegory of the Cave in Spanish, the fellow student who could do a perfect Bill Cosby impression, Friday graduation speeches and cake-on-hand.

April 9, 2016

Amoris laetitia

This post isn't really about Amoris laetitia, since I haven't read it yet. Yes, I've looked over it, and yes, of course, I've taken a look at the parts that touch on the 'hot button' issues. When my regular travels in the coming week take me by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana on the via di Propaganda, I'll pick up a nice, physical copy and start to give to the exhortation the careful reading it deserves.