The above is taken from the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love – On Love in the Family) paragraph 314. When one stops to take in the magnitude of this beautiful truth, one which I have tried very hard to unpack week by week since October 2014, we can begin to see just how much time we need to think, reflect and above all pray about the implications of this absolute truth.
Last week I said that Amoris Laetitia will take a lot of pondering and studying. As the Pope himself warns in paragraph 7 we must not undertake a “rushed reading” of the document. So over the next few weeks (I’ve not yet decided for how long) I am going to extract what I think are some key phrases from the exhortation that might be worth our prayerful attention. I do this as gesture of service to regular readers of the Friday Fast not least because I know that many of you simply won’t have the time to plough through a 60,000 word document!
Years ago I can still recall with dread having to comment on extracts of poetry or plays of Shakespeare for examinations in English literature. These little gems of culture known as ‘gobbets’ were often the bane of my life as an adolescent but then as I grew in knowledge of them and confidence in commenting on them, my love of them grew and recalling them later in life has often been useful. So in that spirit, I offer the following ‘gobbets’ from Amoris Laetitia in the hope that you will find them useful, and even perhaps memorise them for your prayer life. For as the great St. John Vianney once said; “that which is worth remembering is worth committing to memory”
“[Christian] spirituality becomes incarnate in the communion of the family. Hence, those who have deep spiritual aspirations should not feel that [being married and raising a family] detracts from their growth in the life of the Spirit, but rather see it as a path which the Lord is using to lead them to the heights of mystical union” (316).
“Sexual union, lovingly experienced and sanctified by the sacrament, is in turn a path of growth in the life of grace for the couple. It is the ‘nuptial mystery’” (74).
“Each marriage is a kind of ‘salvation history’, which from fragile beginnings – thanks to God’s gift and a creative and generous response on our part – grows over time into something precious and enduring” (221).
“[T]he erotic dimension of love … must be seen as a gift from God that enriches the relationship of the spouses. As a passion sublimated [that means raised up, properly directed, made ‘sublime’] by a love respectful of the dignity of the other, it becomes a ‘pure, unadulterated affirmation’ revealing the marvels of which the human heart is capable” (152).