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 | By Candace Bryant-Lester

Living the Joy of Love

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 final post in our series exploring the wisdom of Amoris Laetitia in honor of National Marriage Week. Read Part I and Part II.

“A positive experience of family communion is a true path to daily sanctification and mystical growth, a means for deeper union with God.” (Amoris Laetitia 316)

The family as domestic church

Similar to how “the nucleus is the powerhouse of the cell,” the family is the powerhouse of the Church. “The family lives its spirituality precisely by being at one and the same time a domestic church and a vital cell for transforming the world.” (324)

The domestic church is where children first learn about the inherent worth of human life and witness parents sacrifice selfish wants for the betterment of the family. Those children learn by example what it means to selflessly help their family and, in turn, others.

“Since ‘the human person has an inherent social dimension,’ and ‘the first and basic expression of that social dimension of the person is the married couple and spirituality becomes incarnate in the family,’ the communion of the family. Hence, those who have deep spiritual aspirations should not feel that the 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)

This living example within family life is a “‘shepherding’ in mercy” where “Each of us, by our love and care, leaves a mark on the life of others.” (322)

Let’s face it, though: married and family life isn’t always roses and rainbows, easy and beautiful. Sometimes, it can be very challenging to love a spouse or family member when things hit a rough patch or someone is being difficult. Pope Francis reminds us that “no family drops down from heaven perfectly formed; families need constantly to grow and mature in the ability to love.” (325)

Learning to grow and mature in love leads the family to one of the most important lessons of Christian living: everyone is made in God’s image, and Christ is within each person we encounter. (323)

“Love inspires a sincere esteem for every human being and the recognition of his or her own right to happiness. I love this person, and I see him or her with the eyes of God, who gives us everything ‘for our enjoyment’ (1 Tim 6:17).” (96)

Family prayer

During tough times – and even times of joy! – it’s important to bring it all to God and join it with Christ’s Passion on the cross. It’s been said many times before that the family who prays together, stays together. Not only that, but the family that prays together with their children sets an example for their children to carry that faith into adulthood.

“Family prayer is a special way of expressing and strengthening this paschal faith. A few minutes can be found each day to come together before the living God, to tell him our worries, to ask for the needs of our family, to pray for someone experiencing difficulty, to ask for help in showing love, to give thanks for life and for its blessings, and to ask Our Lady to protect us beneath her maternal mantle. With a few simple words, this moment of prayer can do immense good for our families… The family’s communal journey of prayer culminates by sharing together in the Eucharist, especially in the context of the Sunday rest.” (318)

Jesus “knocks on the door of families, to share with them the Eucharistic supper” – we simply must answer the door and let him in. (318)

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