Sometimes we are blind to the beauty in front of us and it takes an outsider to point it out to us. Such is the case with Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation on love in the family. Most readers scan such documents looking only for certain references of interest, but once in a while someone takes the time to not only read a document but also to reflect on it deeply.
One such person is Camila Domonoske, a writer for National Public Radio, who did a two-way article on Amoris Laetitia on April 8, entitled, Some Relationship Advice from Pope Francis, in which she observes, ” … even if you’re not Catholic, you might find some inspiration in the document. Because in addition to addressing questions of pastoral care, Francis muses on sex, communication, commitment and love in general — and for a 79-year-old man who has taken a lifelong vow of celibacy, the pontiff has some pretty solid relationship tips.”
Domonoske’s observations demonstrate the many layers of Pope Francis’ exhortation. I want to share parts of it with you in this and future blogs. Here are some good references to the Pope’s advice from her article. The numbers in parentheses I have added refer to paragraphs in Amoris Laetitia which is available for download at www.cathdal.org/joyoflove.
Make Time for One Another, Even If You’re Busy
Love needs time and space; everything else is secondary. Time is needed to talk things over, to embrace leisurely, to share plans, to listen to one other and gaze in each other’s eyes, to appreciate one another and to build a stronger relationship. Sometimes the frenetic pace of our society and the pressures of the workplace create problems. At other times, the problem is the lack of quality time together, sharing the same room without one even noticing the other. (223)
Often the other spouse does not need a solution to his or her problems, but simply to be heard. Sometimes, just listen. (137)
Instead of offering an opinion or advice, we need to be sure that we have heard everything the other person has to say. … Often the other spouse does not need a solution to his or her problems, but simply to be heard, to feel that someone has acknowledged their pain, their disappointment, their fear, their anger, their hopes and their dreams. (147)
Accept Your Partner’s Shortcomings (100) (240)
It does not matter if they hold me back, if they unsettle my plans, or annoy me by the way they act or think, or if they are not everything I want them to be. Love always has an aspect of deep compassion that leads to accepting the other person as part of this world, even when he or she acts differently than I would like. (92)
The fact that love is imperfect does not mean that it is untrue or unreal. (113)
… and be generous with their imperfections (106)
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. (113)
Think about these. I will have some more to consider in a few days.
Image credit: Andrew Itaga on Unsplash.com
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