Catholic Focus | The Joy of Love

By | August 17, 2019


on Friday April 8th 2016 Pope Francis
released the long-awaited post synodal exhortation the Apostolic exhortation on
the family Amoris Laetitia which means the joy of love now it’s a it’s a
massive document 260 pages some 300 paragraphs and so I don’t expect that
many of you have already gone through it exhaustively and so that’s why we’ve
invited someone who has Archbishop Richard Smith the Archbishop of Edmonton
is here to tell us a little bit about the exhortation what it means Amoris Laetitia and also a little bit about the challenges that families here in
Canada face and so happy to see again with you pleased to be maybe we should
start with Amoris Laetitia so you were at the… at the Synod last October so
the second Synod exactly 2015 um what was that experience like but fascinating
it was it was my first experience of a Synod and we were there bishops from all
parts of the globe together with the Holy Father and he had summoned the
bishops at our last gathering as well as the preparatory one one year prior to
speak with him and to share with him our own insights and thoughts on the issue
of family this was clearly something that has been inhabiting the heart and
the mind of the Holy Father for quite some time he’s very well aware of the
needs and the challenges of family life today and clearly wants to bring the
beauty of the gospel the the hope and the light of the gospel to bear on the
reality of family life so he called us together and and in that Senate I was
hearing interventions from bishops from every continent and with perspectives
quite different from that yes that we would have here in North America so very
eye-opening and a beautiful experience of communion
gathered round the Holy Father I’m really very much spent the time
listening to his bishops were you there as an observer are we there I was one of
the Synod delegates from so you’ve had a chance to make a
presentation I did and what it was your presentation of what it was your focus
well the Bishop’s when they make presentations it’s usually on the basis
of responding to some aspect of the working document ok the instrument of
lavoris yes I was I was struck by one particular paragraph that talked about
the need to fashion an authentic family spirituality today another one mm-hmm
what’s involved in that and so I just I just offered a couple of thoughts
whereby nothing nothing new or earth-shattering but I think some things
that we need to continue you say the centrality of Jesus obviously within
within the family the need to be real in our relationships with one another not
just virtual that the whole virtual world is is impacting family
relationships in such a way that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to to
connect and to be a union with one another so how can we start to look in
family life at one another at a response to circumstances and so on as God would
mm-hmm so I think these are some elements that we would need to have at
the center of family life in order to foster what that working document called
for an authentic family spirituality centered on Christ centered on the word
and living from the wisdom that he gives it sometimes that wisdom is given to us
by our elders our grandparents and you told me earlier that reading the
exhortation for you was like Legree sitting with grandpa beautiful
experience you know as I read through the document know admittedly as you and
I speak it’s at a distance of just 3 or 4 days from the release of the of the
exhortation so I’ve read it through just once and but anybody who reads it even
once knows that you have to go back to this as the Holy Father himself invited
us to do it’s it’s very deep and reflective and offers all kinds of
wisdom but it was it was precisely that experiences as I as I read in the Pope’s
pastoral heart and he’s well known for his pastoral heart it beats very
strongly all through this document as any post synodal apostolic
exhortation will do it it cites quite often interventions from the bishops
anyways he will cite some teachings of national Episcopal conferences also
mm-hmm but also with any papal document we want
to hear the distinctive voice of our Holy Father yeah and it doesn’t come
through yes very much he’s and any family reading this exhortation would
just know immediately and instinctively that the Pope gets it whatever is going
on in our lives the Pope gets it and he doesn’t just get it he feels it and he
feels it with us and here’s our Holy Father walking with us and like a very
loving and extremely wise grandfather yeah he’s sitting with his family yeah
and and giving beautiful beautify sand counts yes that’s a very heartwarming
document that way so Francis does shine through yeah now you mentioned earlier
that that you see a need for families to be real is that something that you see
are you talking about kids parents being stuck to their mobile devices all the
time I talk about it all the time and you know one of the there was a couple
of moments this has happened on two different occasions where just observing
the interaction between a parent and a very young child brought that point home
rather forcefully I’m gonna correct myself
it was observing not interaction between parent and child but non interaction so
in each case a mom or a dad was walking wherever and holding by the hands little
child in each case about three four years old and in the other hand was the
smartphone and you can probably guess where the attention was it was right
here and the attention of the child was here there and everywhere
but the message being received by the child non-verbally he was very clear
whatever’s happening here is more important than you and that was a very
striking instance of how that that virtual world the incessant messaging
mm-hmm that comes at us the obsessiveness and almost the
addiction that can be created in our lives and our interconnectedness with
this device can really cause havoc in the family mm-hmm but the family is the
place where we have to be real with one another you know if I can’t be real with
the people that I love and that love me and that I’m somehow interacting in via
a third party virtually that the relationships are starting to yeah to
come apart a little bit and we need to be very very attentive to the impact of
that on family life today we really be present real present and learn yeah the
ability to speak yeah to talk to have conversations yeah talking with a dad
one time and he was half joking about the conversation he had was 13 year old
daughter and she was using her phone to text her friends all the time and he
says buddy he was your phone to phone yeah and the little girl apparently said
look I couldn’t do that we have nothing to talk about we’d have to have
something to talk about then so what’s going on in this in this texting and
virtual world that’s really weakening our ability to relate to one another
now you go you go a lot to schools mm-hm and this is something that you see in
the schools that that parents are not present the kids are spending too much
time at daycare than school on well and I’m seeing in schools behaviors that are
symptomatic of something yeah something awry something that’s gone off the rails
within the family and I think it’s going to take some conversation and thinking
through an exploration to know exactly what that is mmm-hmm but it’s clearly
something serious so yes I’ve made commitment to visit all of our schools
in your diocese and there are recurrent patterns patterns such as children
deliberately coming to school early and staying late as late as they can because
it’s safer for them more secure happier in school than at home and sometimes
when I visit schools I’ll get there early before the children arrive and so
I’ll watch them come through the doors of the school and may see them make a
beeline to their teacher or to the principal for a hug and it’s not just
you know that happy hug click they are they hold on and so I’ve talked to the
the teachers and the principals about it and they said yeah yeah at home for many
of the kids high incidences of divorce other instances of dysfunction in the
family and so on and a lot of the children have ceased feeling that
they’ve got anything solid to hold on to in the home mm-hmm and within the school
they’re finding structure discipline solidity that that’s that’s creating an
environment for them in which they feel more secure mm-hmm so it raises the
question what’s what is happening at home talked a minute ago about the
impact of the virtual world that could be part of it but what else what else
might be happening and it highlights for us the need really to take a good look
at the reality of family life and the need to heal it yeah and I was gonna ask
you about healing the family because in our other conversation that we’ve been
having this week about end-of-life issues you keep coming back to that this
is an opportunity not just to talk about ideas but to help families heal so you
see that that’s part of the same well the the requests that we hear about for
assisted suicide euthanasia really bring to the fore the need for healing in the
family the studies have shown surveys have
shown that often when people seek to end their lives by assisted suicide or
euthanasia it’s out of a fear not of not of suffering or pain that’s
that’s kind of lowdown on the list but a fear of being a burden with people to
their family home to their family so what’s what’s happening in family life
that I would worry about being a burden I mean when I am weakened and when I am
dependent yes to a degree I become a burden to others then yes that have to
take extra steps to care for me and so on but to think that that is a burden
that a family member may not be willing to undertake right is a terrible
situation which we find ourselves the other reason that’s often behind
requests for assisted suicide is the feeling of having been abandoned by
family members of having that isolated and I don’t really matter to my family
so now that I’m suffering or now that I’m approaching the end of my life why
hang around any longer than I need to mm-hmm so so when you realize that there
are family issues very often behind these requests for end-of-life that
becomes another clear clarion call it seems to me to look at family and to
recover its beauty and to bring healing wherever that’s possible hmm do you see
also symptomatic in what you see in the schools issues of economics or finances
parents either single parents that have to work two jobs or unemployed or
underemployed parents well yes very much it’s affecting family life and it’s
impacting children in a couple of different ways right now as we speak of
course Alberta finds itself in a rather significant economic downturn yeah and
that’s that’s really causing a lot of havoc in families it’s causing a deep
anxiety of fear not just for the present but for the future mm-hmm how’s this all
gonna unfold so it creates a sense of insecurity within
that cannot help but have a negative impact on children mm-hmm but I’m also
learning in my visits to schools that especially among high school students
they are together with all the pressures that they’re under anyway just for
studies and exams they’re having to go out and work – not just one jobs
sometimes – raining and not for their benefit but to support the family yeah
so this this causes all kinds of tension and all kinds of frustration and if
there’s not something solid for the family to hold on to as a reason for
hope the operative dynamic becomes one of fear and anxiety then that leads to
frustration it leads to anger and sometimes that anger what we find can
also lead to violence I was thinking that that obviously broken families when
you mentioned that children would go to school I thought that they were going to
school early and staying late because the parents were not at home but you’re
making it but but that you said that that there feels safer at school that
they feel at home it makes me think that that there might be either abuse or
violence in the home or just a lack of a loving environment or lack of a sense of
a secure environment mm-hmm do you see that issues of violence are more
obviously prominent with certain communities and we have a big large
aboriginal population here in the Archdiocese of Edmonton this operates at
all levels I’ve asked people both this we have of course our Catholic social
services agency here and there on the front lines of family issues and I’ve
had a number of conversations with with administration there with workers well
chat they’ll say listen listen this is across the board yes so it’s not related
necessarily to economic or poverty or those those can be factors that really
accessor Bayt the situation but sometimes there are new
issues and and I think certainly from a Christian perspective what we have to
highlight as as a foundational cause of a lot of these family problems is the
eclipse of God in our society today today the reason I think about that do
we yes we have a lot of family violence in this particular province of Alberta
we have a lot of people responding to that in including one particular shelter
for women that I’m thinking of and it’s administered managed by a community of
sisters and I was talking to the sister one day that who really runs the place
and I said what’s what’s behind all of this you know what’s the deep deepest
issue that seems to be fueling this violence and she really didn’t hesitate
she said it’s the lack of trust and that lack of trust related to the eclipse of
God God is the one who truly is the trustworthy one then in the midst of any
difficulties or trials we know that we can call out he will answer he will
respond he will help in the absence of that kind of secure trust we fall back
upon ourselves well instinctively we know that we’re
weak were vulnerable were limited and if we find ourselves up against situations
far more powerful than we are we’re we’re powerless to do anything that can
create anxiety fear anger that can blow up into violence against one another
mm-hmm yeah except that the people who are suffering families that are
suffering maybe they’re not even going to church which is I guess so where do
we manipulate actually made this comment but he said you know there are times
when we know to speak and when we called to speak
about gods and the hope and the security that faith gives but then there are
other times when we know that we just let love alone speak and allowing love
to speak creates the opportunity that whatever the opportune moment would be
to speak of the source of that love and the reason for the love and the reason
thereby for the hope that we would have mm-hmm so the Pope Francis too of course
is always asking us to go out calling us to go to the peripheries especially to
families that that find themselves suffering in so many ways but we have
opportunities even if they’re not coming to our churches they will often come to
us through our institutions now here in Alberta with the Catholic schools the
peripheries come to us and all the problems that families suffer enter into
our schools with the entrance of the students this is an opportunity to
embrace them in love our Catholic social institutions are in regular contact in
dialog with suffering and with the needy there’s another opportunity where we
allow love to speak talking about broken families and divorce of course where do
you see or as a response to the Synod I’m sure I
know it came up the issue of marriage preparation and how much we should be
doing before couples get married to help them and support them through those
marriage instead of putting hollar money in the in the annulment and divorce that
that was a constantly recurring theme from among all the interventions that
were given by the bishops during the Senate and it forms a major part of the
Pope’s teaching himself within this episodic exhortation yeah and what we
all recognise is a fundamental inconsistency in what I would call
vocational preparation marriage as a vocation yeah well those that are
preparing to serve as priests in the church to respond to that vocation have
years of full time intense for her operation right in their formation
through the seminary process and so on marriage is an equally important equally
beautiful vocation as is the priesthood and sometimes marriage because of its
own internal dynamics can be a lot more challenging than living of the
priesthood and yet somehow we’ve fallen into this practice of you know come to a
few classes you know or a couple of weekends and we’ll talk about some
things and sign off and your so-called ready yeah so we need to there’s a
couple things around preparation I do think we need to work in our own
respective life and family offices in our diocese to review marriage
preparation okay I know that’s happening here how can we improve it how can we
strengthen it and lengthen it to make to make it what our couples need it to be
mm-hmm but there’s another distinction that we need to keep in mind that also
came up frequently in the synodal interventions and that’s the one between
immediate and remote preparation you saw in the remote preparation what are we
doing with our young people whether with our students in our schools teaching
them about marriage discussing it with them helping the finding ways in which
we can give them safe spaces to talk about perhaps family difficulties that
they are experiencing so that on the basis of perhaps their own experience of
family dysfunction they do not draw the conclusion that marriage is not a good
that marriage is not possible right so we continue to hold it up yes something
that can indeed be lived it’s something that’s part of God’s plan and design for
all of humanity so there’s the immediate and the remote preparation leading up to
marriage the other area where we can do a lot better job it seems to me is
walking with the recently married couples and certainly in the early years
of their marriage and how can we prepare for that by in the lead up preparation
strengthen the connection with parishes understand that when their marriage is
celebrated it’s in the context of a vibrant parish community of faith that
is inviting that is welcoming that wants to be and I love this phrase from Pope
Francis bull of indiction for the year of mercy in a parish that wants to be
for them and for all an oasis of mercy so that as you enter into married life
and you encounter as you inevitably will the challenges and the difficulties
there’s places where you can go people who want to receive you who’ve probably
lived through the same experiences more walk with you yes and I guess that would
include those people were where the marriage is broken or they’re divorced
that they shouldn’t know that they can come and to that oasis of mercy and that
they can participate who should read this exhortation you said that if a
family reads it and I thought I never thought that this is something that we
should read us a family that is that what you’re suggesting I think everybody
needs to read this one yes because everybody has come from a family
everybody lives to some degree within familial relationships family impacts
everybody it’s I would also suggest that it ought to be read by civil authorities
who in their own perspective frameworks and their spheres of action are in a
position to create family friendly family supportive policies but in doing
that from what perspective you know and what we have here in the Pope’s
apostolic exhortation is a beautiful presentation of though of really what is
but in wedding but captures in France’s own way the 2,000 year tradition of the
curse of the Christianity’s message and insight about marriage and family as
part of God’s plan yeah that’s the place where we experience God’s love and learn
how to share that love with one another good we’re gonna leave it there okay
thank you welcome our spiritual Smith says that
everybody should read it you can read it it’s on the salt and light blog salt and
light TV org slash blog you have any questions anything about you’ve heard
about this program we’ve been speaking with
Archbishop Richard Smith sees the Archbishop of Edmonton and we’ve been
talking about the latest apostolic exhortation the Post synodal exhortation
amoris Laetitia the joy of love for the family any questions any comments you
can send them to us via email focus at Sultan like TV org and also you know you
can always reach us through social media just don’t spend too much time on social
media Facebook and Twitter I’m Deacon peridot and we’ll see you
next time on Catholics you

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