2 Posts on Pope Francis’s Amoris Laetitia

Pope FrancisThese reflections of mine originally appeared on the Truth and Charity Forum of HLI

Amoris Laetitia: Pope Francis’s The Joy of Love

It is indeed nuanced, full of Pope Francis’s back and forth style as he shows sympathy for difficult situations in between tackling erroneous viewpoints. Like Christ with the woman caught in adultery, Francis counsels concern and care for sinners rather than simple condemnation, while still holding onto the reality of sin. Anything so thoughtfully balanced is bound to confuse or unsettle some people in a culture accustomed to accusations and polarization….

“In such difficult situations of need, the Church must be particularly concerned to offer understanding, comfort and acceptance, rather than imposing straightaway a set of rules that only lead people to feel judged and abandoned by the very Mother called to show them God’s mercy. Rather than offering the healing power of grace and the light of the Gospel message, some would ‘indoctrinate’ that message, turning it into ‘dead stones to be hurled at others.’ (AL 49)”

While it is manifest that conception occurred illicitly, children conceived out of wedlock are not uncommon, and we do not know the situation of willingness of either of the two participants. What Pope Francis is saying is that little good is achieved by shunning such a woman. Her situation is trialsome enough. It is precisely such a person who needs a place of welcome, not a bunch of judgemental scowls.

Amoris Laetitia: Pope Francis’s The Joy of Love

Reading with the Heart of the Church: Contents of Amoris Laetitia

The much hyped question is that of Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried. And the answer isn’t the clear “yes,” that many media releases want it to be. This question is honestly a footnote to the wider discussion of family life, and a careful reading in continuity with Church teaching, reveals that there isn’t any change in canon law, or the Church’s codes for proper liturgical and sacramental observance. …

Canon Lawyer Edward Peters had this to say on his blog about those who “think that AL fn. 351 and its accompanying text authorize holy Communion for Catholics in irregular marriages.” He states that Francis never does this. The Pope does say that:

Catholics in irregular unions need the help of the sacraments (which of course they do), but he does not say ALL of the sacraments, and especially, not sacraments for which they are ineligible. He says that the confessional is not a ‘torture chamber’ (a trite remark but not an erroneous one). And he observes that the Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect (thank God), but a powerful spiritual medicine, which it is—unless it is taken unworthily or in violation of law, a caveat one may assume all Catholics, and certainly popes, know without having to say it.

Peters reads Amoris Laetitia in continuity with Catholic teaching, that all that is accepted about reception of the Eucharist still stands, which of course is the only reasonable way to read a papal document.

Reading with the Heart of the Church: Contents of Amoris Laetitia

Did you hear about Amoris Laetitia? Did it seem controversial to you? I have read some good thoughts on both sides.

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Achievement Unlocked: First Draft of a Novel

Today I wrote the last line of a novel that I conceived of years ago, a dystopia about a world where everyone lives in his or her own private room, never leaving for all adulthood. But an underclass develops who must do the manual labor, and bands of rebels and criminals live on the outside.

In one sense, this is a huge milestone, something I have been working towards for years.

In another sense, it is but a beginning. Over the years, my skills have sharpened, ideas have gained clarity and characters have deepened. The early chapters are hardly composed of grammatical sentences, and they poorly set the scene, if they succeed at all. Major plot points need revisiting, probably outright changing. Some characters will need to be incorporated earlier and receive substantially more development.

And yet, though the work is long ahead, that is exactly how first drafts work. Get the ideas out, meet the characters, generate the basic story arc. To hold oneself back and demand perfection from the get-go, would mean never setting a single word down. And so severe imperfection is a necessary step in the process of completion.

That last sentence came as quietly as the middle sentences, through a few minutes here and there, on an almost-daily basis. It was not especially momentous to get that final phrase down, just I never feel “older” on my birthday each year. Yet year by year, I am in fact growing older. And sentence by sentence, the story grows and grows.

The most productive habits are the ones that become so seamlessly incorporated into daily life that we no longer notice them–they are second nature, as Aristotle said.

So, today, I must remember to mark this, regardless of how long the journey is ahead.

What big projects have you hit milestones on? Did it come quietly or with a bang?

 

 

Yes, Deep, hidden meaning in books and movies is really there

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From Prospero's books

I was snot-faced in high school. I loved to sneer at novels in english class and say, “if the meaning is so deep and hidden, maybe it’s not really there. Maybe it’s just a story.”

Well, if myself today could teach a lesson to myself back then, it would be that “yes, it’s really there, and probably more than you think.”

Having written myself a good bit, I know that no one bothers to concoct a whole story and characters and plot points for no reason at all. Whatever conflicts and relationships the author finds compelling and powerful will be the  plot and choices available to the characters. Writing a novel, play or movie is hard work, and no one undertakes it just for the heck of it.

Every choice of clothing, setting, tone, obstacle is selected to have a certain mood in order to create meaning and connection in the reader’s imagination. An author tells a story because he or she deeply believes that it is worth telling. And the things that we think are worth telling others are the most significant facets of reality. Continue reading

5 Reasons I Keep Too Much Junk, A Review of The More of Less by Joshua Becker

MoreofLessCoverThis easy-going introduction to minimalism by Joshua Becker came into my life right at a time when I needed to hear its message. The clutter of our growing family was growing into an overwhelming problem, so much so that I would rather spend the day at the park than look around my house.

Here are of the reasons I kept too much and what to do about it:

  1. “Nice” stuff and Being Frugal

I had a lot of “nice” stuff like antique china I had collected before I had children for the day when I would have a house to put it in. And lots of things had sentimental value, and I had baby gear. I was “frugal,” so I was saving everything that I might one day find a use for–like stacks of fabric for making a quilt…for the day I learn to use a sewing machine.

Becker deals with all of these tendencies we have to keep things that we don’t actually need. He makes the case that not only do we not need them, but they hold us back from doing the things that we actually do care about. That was the part I needed to hear.

“When we embrace minimalism, we are immediately freed to pursue our greatest passions. And for some of us, it’s been a long time since we’ve had access to the resources required to chase our hearts’ greatest delights–however we define those delights. Living with less offers more time to spend on meaningful activities, more freedom to travel, more clarity in our spiritual pursuits, increased mental capacity to solve our more heartfelt problems, healthier finances to support causes we believe in, and greater flexibility in the careers we most desire” (11).

And in addition to making space for the things we do care about, Becker emphasizes the moral benefits to battling back consumerism and dedicating our time and resources to others and causes we believe in.

I had long been against rabid consumerism, but I bought into it more than I realized. I was frugal, but that meant that I was saving tons of things, in hopes that I would frugally reproduce a beautiful pinterest picture rather than recognizing that the simplicity of light in a neat room was all I really needed to have a lovely living room.

2. I was too distracted; but I want More Time for Priorities
Continue reading