11 April 2016

3 Words that Define Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love)

He's at it again!

Apparently now whenever Pope Francis writes or says something it gets everybody talking.
Heck even a secular magazines like Vogue!

Friday morning went live the apostolic exhortation (The Joy of Love) which summarizes the concluding findings of the Synod of Bishops, which gathered for two years to discuss modern challenges facing the family today.

To be honest, I am still slowly making my through the 256 page document.

But as I continue to write, highlight, and read articles online, three specific words Francis uses continually keep repeating in my mind: Accompany. Discern. Integrate. These words need not re-define Church teaching, because well they actually can't.

But these words illustrate the call of Francis to how we as church must walk with people, the actual nitty-gritty of how we do pastoral ministry. That it takes great discernment, pastoral care, grace, and mercy; that every person and situation is unique. 


The Holy Father writes, "By thinking that everything is black and white, we sometimes close off the way of grace and of growth, and discourage paths of sanctification which give glory to God. Let us remember that a small step, in the midst of great human limitations, can be more pleasing to God than a life which appears outwardly in order, but moves through the day without confronting great difficulties" (paragraph 305).

Making people and situations black or white is something I have struggled with a lot in my own life.

Archbishop Cupich of Chicago summed it up well when he said in a press conference the exhortation was "not about reform of rules of the church-it's about reform of the church...it's about having a very radical change in the approach we have to people living everyday lives" and also about discerning new opportunities for "accompanying them."

So what does it look like to accompany, discern, and integrate families, men, and women in the modern world today? It is unique and different for every single person and situation. It looks like listening and understanding. 

It looks like how Jesus treated the woman at the well, Matthew the tax collector, the woman caught in adultery, or the prodigal son. It looks like love and mercy spoken in truth. It looks like grace for the hurting, broken, addicted, ignorant. It looks like being that field hospital in the middle of a battle field Pope Francis often speaks of.

Francis speaks strongly about the weight of mitigating factors and circumstances that people are facing today. We cannot see all the things that shape and impact a person and their life, and there needs to be a loving awareness and discernment to that as we walk with and minister to each other.

I think we all do the work of ministry whether or not we officially work for a church. Each of us does ministry in the life God has called and placed us in. These three words (accompany, discern, integrate) can find meaning and purpose in our individual mission field in life; whether its the business world or changing those poopy diapers. 

  • What would it look like to live out the words accompany, discern, integrate in your own mission field?
  • How can these words challenge us as church to enhance how we love and serve each other?
  • How can these three words change our approach to accompanying people right where they are?


I sure as heck haven't got this all figured out in a nice, packaged way. 
All of it challenges me to constantly be praying and reflective about the ways I strive to love and serve other people.

When a person is lying dying in a battlefield you don't start analyzing how their actions led to the injury.
You administer to the wound, the pain they are experiencing.

However messy or awkward it can be at times, let's as believers minister to the pain and hurt of our brothers and sisters right where they are.



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1 comment:

  1. I'm going to keep those three words in mind as I read this document, thanks for bringing them up! I have been so excited to read this, but the whole weekend I was busy visiting family, so I'm having to learn some patience. Today or tomorrow I'm hoping to start it, and I'm so excited!!!!

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