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Father Muench Says...

Moving forward with love and patience

Nov. 16, 2016

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Lately, I have been rereading and studying “Amoris Laetitia.” I hope you remember what I am talking about.  You see I am worried that this magnificent document from Pope Francis is being put away on a bookshelf too quickly.

As I hope you remember, “Amoris Laetitia,” means “The Joy of Love” and is an Apostolic Exhortation, written by Pope Francis.  This document summarizes the presentations and the discussions of the two sessions of the Special Synod on Marriage and Family Life (2015 – 2016). Pope Francis carefully gives us the Synod’s message.
I am thinking that this would be a wonderful time to look again Pope Francis’ message.  Advent and Christmas is a good time to consider family and “The Joy of Love” – Amoris Laetitia.

One of the chapter titles in this document is “Love in Marriage.”  This chapter not only considers marriage but also family life.  Pope Francis begin this chapter with St. Paul’s ode to love from St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians 13:4-7.  I am certain you remember this passage.  It is often read at weddings.  Love is patient, kind, not jealous, not irritable, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  What an excellent meditation for this time of year.

Let us begin today with “Love is Patient.”  Pope Francis begins by reminding us that God is our perfect model of love, especially that God’s love is patient.  We are called to imitate our God’s patient love within the life of our families.

God demonstrates this patience in his love toward all of us – for God loves us even in our sinfulness, even in our failings.  God’s love for us is unconditional – no matter what we may do.  Our God never give up on us.  In this chapter, Pope Francis reminds us that the Old Testament tells us that “God is slow to anger.”

As Christians, in faith, we have hope and confidence that God is a patient lover.  I recognize this best in God’s constant readiness to forgive my sins.  I know only too well that there have been times when I have separated myself from my God.  I also know that I do not have to be afraid to turn back to God in repentance; I have complete confidence in God’s patience and forgiveness.  His forgiveness constantly changes my life.  Many times in the Gospels Jesus encourages me to turn back to the Lord and find forgiveness and peace and love from my Savior.

Pope Francis then considers the importance of patient love in our own lives and in our families.  He looks at it this way.  Often, we think about others and our relationships with others, believing that they are perfect.  Then we discover that this is not so.  The result is that everything that happens proceeds to make us annoyed and impatient.  Every disturbing thing makes us react aggressively.

We often act angrily because of our lack of patience.  This happens when we discover that things do not turn out our way. The result is, indicates Pope Francis, that we end up unable to live together in peace and love as a family.  Our families become battlefields. 

Christian patience demands that we respect others – all others – but especially within our families.  We must honestly recognize that others have a right to live just as they are.  Pope Francis urges us to realize that. Actually, this should be obvious to us.  Unhappily, our impatience springs from some of our judgments and expectations. We must never lack the readiness to accept others – even when he or she acts differently than I would like.

Finally, I would like to share with you some of my prayer intentions – now – at the end of this rather divisive political season.  I want you to join me in praying that people, all people, will start talking openly together so that they will begin to work together for the good of all.  This is truly important in our secular society.
I want to add something else to this.  There are times when our own Catholic Church and often each of us, Catholics, individually are divided and divisive.  We need to be better at talking with each other.  We need to pray with each other, so that we can truly work together in making our Church and our parish and our world a better place.

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