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 | By Candace Bryant-Lester

The Joy of Love and Family

Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) is an apostolic exhortation by Pope Francis published in 2016. It explores the depth of love, everything from its source – Jesus Christ – to love between couples that blossoms into marriage that may bear fruit in the form of children and family, and even the work that goes into maintaining this love.

This is the second post in our series exploring the wisdom of Amoris Laetitia in honor of National Marriage Week. Read Part I.

“The mystery of the Christian family can be fully understood only in the light of the Father’s infinite love revealed in Christ, who gave himself up for our sake and who continues to dwell in our midst.” (59)

Family as reflection of the Trinity

What “family” looks like may have changed over time, but the essence is still the same: an image of God and a reflection of the Trinity. (71) God’s presence dwells in their midst during their joys, struggles, and daily troubles – “the Lord reigns there, with his joy and peace.” (315)

Since keeping the peace can be difficult at times in families, Pope Francis shares some advice:

“My advice is never to let the day end without making peace in the family. ‘And how am I going to make peace? By getting down on my knees? No! Just by a small gesture, a little something, and harmony within your family will be restored. Just a little caress, no words are necessary. But do not let the day end without making peace in your family’.” (104)

Just as St. Thérèse of Lisieux had her Little Way, families have their own little way “made up of thousands of small but real gestures. In that variety of gifts and encounters which deepen communion, God has his dwelling place.” (315) The little things are the opportunities that sanctify each family member and allow them to draw closer to the Lord.

“A positive experience of family communion is a true path to daily sanctification and mystical growth, a means for deeper union with God. The fraternal and communal demands of family life are an incentive to growth in openness of heart and thus to an ever fuller encounter with the Lord.” (316)

Having an open heart allows for the freely given love that makes marriage and family possible is the same thing that allows them to constantly grow. It’s expressed through words and actions, and especially in the words please, thank you, and sorry. Pope Francis makes sure to emphasize that these three words, in particular, are an essential part of every family’s vocabulary. (133)

Center family on Christ

Kind, loving and forgiving actions and words are reflective of the family’s core, Jesus. Our Savior is the family’s prime example of how to approach and handle loved ones.

“We can be fully present to others only by giving fully of ourselves and forgetting all else.  Our loved ones merit our complete attention. Jesus is our model in this, for whenever people approached to speak with him, he would meet their gaze, directly and lovingly (cf. Mk 10:21).  No one felt overlooked in his presence, since his words and gestures conveyed the question: ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ (Mk 10:51) This is what we experience in the daily life of the family.” (323)

Centering on Christ will unify and illuminate the family’s life. “Moments of pain and difficulty will be experienced in union with the Lord’s cross, and his closeness will make it possible to surmount them. In the darkest hours of a family’s life, union with Jesus in his abandonment can help avoid a breakup.” (317)

Families who invite Christ into their daily lives make available a beautiful, deep spirituality unlike any other. In our third and final post exploring the wisdom of Amoris Laetitia we will look at its exploration of the spirituality found in marriage and family.

Candace Bryant-Lester is the assistant editor at FAITH Catholic.