Friday 30 April 2021

Amoris Laetitia, Chapter 1.


My notes on this chapter, "In the light of the world".

This chapter reads as though it could apply equally to the natural family as to the Christian family; the sacrament of marriage makes no difference. It feels as though the Pope is looking here at the family as a human reality, and not as a Christ-centred one. The title of the chapter itself seems strange.

However, there are indications to the contrary. In paragraph 11 he says, “fruitful love becomes a symbol of God’s inner life.” Indeed, human beings are nothing without God.

Later in paragraph 11 the Pope mentions the mystery of the union of Christ and the Church. But this is the centre and foundation of marriage!

Again in paragraphs 27-30, the family is spoken of as a natural reality, but with a semi-Pelagian possibility – that we can make our families better if we try. That if we try to live well, God will bless our family.

No, the key to marriage and the family is the Nuptial Union between God and humanity and not mere human virtue. Living with God creates virtue and blessing!

The Pope seems to be telling people how they can make their families better on their own when I would expect him to proclaim the truth about marriage and the family.

Thursday 29 April 2021

Lockdown 2021


The recent winter lockdown was, in my estimation, much harder to live through than that of this time last year. The shorter days and dark evenings, the inclement weather and the reduced possibility for social contact hit us all hard. Nevertheless, since January till now, 2021 has been a very productive time. A few months ago I listed here all the things that I had done during lockdown 2020, and now, as we begin to open up again, I'm updating that list.

So, since new year 2021 I have:

I signed up for the Divine Renovation "Kick Start" seminars. These took place over four months, January to April, and were given by Matt Regitz. I'm still absorbing what we went through. Excellent, excellent!

I wrote four texts form parents on educating for love. These were a response to the new RHSE curriculum for schools. I sent them to my families as PDFs.

I began trialing the "Flocknote" parish software in the parish.

Certain books stand out in those that I have read since new year. "Sensing your hidden presence" by Fr Ignacio Larranaga - a prophet of our time. And "Pope John's Council" by Michael Davies - what a compendium of understanding of the recent Council and the currents that surrounded it. This is a thoroughbred book for anyone who wants to revisit the Second Vatican Council. Excellent!

I began live-streaming Masses, just one each week.

I had a new flat screen installed in the church, in place of the projector and screen. The new screen is so versatile and will be so useful for so many things.

I began producing a professionally printed monthly newsletter for the parish.

I led a Novena to St Joseph via Zoom and am now giving a three-week workshop on fatherhood in light of St Joseph, again via Zoom.

In late January I led a 10 week prayer workshop via Zoom.

Together with the other priests of the SJMV, we are continuing our chapter by chapter reading of Amoris Laetitia.

I don't intend to give further updates on my activities during lockdown. We are gradually opening up and I hope that 'normal service' will in due course return. Of course, things will be different, and it will be interesting to note, in the future, just how the virus has permanently changed our lives. 

Sunday 25 April 2021

Revisiting "Amoris Laetitia"


Since last September, I have joined with all the other priests of the St John Vianney Society in making a study of Pope Francis' Letter, Amoris Laetitia. One of the priests of the Society, a priest from Burgundy, set out for us a study itinerary, with accompanying texts and helpful questions to guide us. We have been reading a chapter a month and have now just completed chapter seven of the Letter.

I have made my own brief notes as we have gone through the chapters and will publish these notes here, chapter by chapter, beginning with an introduction. I read Amoris Laetitia when it was first published but have found our common study of the text more helpful. I now have a much greater perspective on this Letter than previously.


In Pope Francis discourse to open the (first) Extraordinary Synod, and in his discourse to close the (second) Ordinary Synod, I note:

1.   That he is intentionally placing all aspects on the table as equals (magisterial teaching, opinions, issues, arguments etc).

2.   That he wants marriage and family to be looked at from the perspective of today’s issues, rather than from the perspective of foundational truths.

There is a sense in the Introduction to Amoris Laetitia that Pope Francis is avoiding the ideal of the family. There is also a sense from the Pope that we can’t attain the ideal which God wants us to be, so let's set the ideal aside. However, if there is no ideal to the family, then grace can seem to be something that is extrinsic to the family, something that is added to who we are. It feels as though he is speaking of the family with a Christian veneer! However, the reality is that grace is intrinsic to the family. 

As an introduction to the text, these two addresses did not inspire me. Chapter 1 to follow.