In the Vineyard :: April 29, 2016 :: Volume 16, Issue 9

Poll Question Comments:
Conjugal Love Passage

Does “Growing in Conjugal Love” match your reality and experiences?

Only partially—It is quite good. This sentence [#135] is remarkable: “Marital love is not defended primarily by presenting indissolubility as a duty, or by repeating doctrine, but by helping it to grow ever stronger under the impulse of grace.” [The section] “Pope as Marriage Counselor” beginning at [#136] is well-meant, I am sure, but comes off as condescending.

Yes—Over 40 years of marriage: 1. We both have experienced a deeper, more complete and encompassing level of intimacy in our lovemaking over time; and 2. The accuracy with which the passage described the ups and downs of even a solid love relationship and did not resort to an idealized description.

No—The hierarchy seems determined to make Catholicism an angry and rejecting religion to young people. This young generation is far more understanding and inclusive about human failings than our leadership. As the mother to two young adults, I have accepted Catholicism may not be offered to my future grandchildren as a faith choice, and I no longer lobby for this. My only goal is for the children be introduced to Christianity—any sect works for me. This letter changes nothing.

Yes—(1) Raising children is a tremendous challenge in a world where extended families are geographically distanced, and community support is tenuous. Focusing on commitment to each other beyond "passion" is essential to sustaining the relationship. (2) Sexually emasculating illness of one of the partners is a profound challenge that undermines the “passionate dimensions” described in these passages. Maintaining and refining the commitment through other dimensions of the relationship is essential.

Only partially—While it is written in very beautiful language, I don’t believe that the Catholic church (or Protestant) has prepared men and women from early ages on to think, much less express themselves, in these terms. I also believe that, as mentioned in the newsletter, men and women (particularly women, in my own experience) do indeed tend to tune out a group of celibate males attempting to guide their lives—SPECIFICALLY a church that would rather bring in even more conservative priests from Africa, India, etc., than consider ordaining women or married men—do you really think people are listening?

No—Let’s give up the notion that the authors of these ideas and documents on conjugal love etc. enjoy standing in these matters.

Yes—I also find that the virtue that Paul praises above all (Agape = Caritas) is less an assertion of self than it is an enabling of the other. Paul’s context was the community of Jesus’ followers, not just spouses. The context of the exhortation is especially the spouses and the network of support that they enjoy in each culture. Both of these need to keep enabling actions at the front of their dealings with each other.

Only partially—Pope Francis covers a lot of ground very well, but obviously can’t go into every particular detail. As a general Christian guide, his essay is splendid, but not perfect. He would be the first to admit it!

Yes—I am fortunate to be in a good marriage, and even more fortunate that growing up I had the good example of two profoundly beautiful, profoundly beautiful marriages. These were two couples who lived out St Paul’s description of love, in very different circumstances.

Yes—We continue to grow in all ways. That is mature. Why would conjugal love be excluded from that process?

Only partially—People change so much.

Yes—Being able to recognize and respect the differences in a relationship and embrace them. Being able to become completely vulnerable in unconditional love.

Yes—Before my husband died, we were married for 42 years. We were products of single-sex higher ed which was a “wallpaper” of appreciation and celebration of our maleness and femaleness. My grandfather had told me when I was 12 years old to never go to bed angry with my spouse. My nightly embrace as we fell asleep was the communication of “Whatever happened today, tomorrow is a new beginning.” Our friends were married couples which gave us hope and reassurance marriages did endure. I always stood by my husband's side and smiled in agreement of how great he was when women flattered him and tempted him from our marriage. I am a lifelong learner who appreciated my husband's reading aloud the newspaper to me as I cooked. We never took trips to conferences or anywhere without each other. I refrained from “nagging” by making mental notes of issues that needed discussion and resolution and saved them til “date night” in a dark booth with a glass of wine where they could be whispered and resolved. Our communication was physical, moral and spiritual. My husband faithfully went to Mass with us, and I provided him with a prayer book and candles for our domestic church/home celebrations of faith. I viewed him as “gift” and he treated me as his “gift.” Yes, difficulties arise, but it is our assent freely to a re-conversion to marriage that undergirds it. I knew the graces of Matrimony would be with my husband as he drove into the driveway with his headlights out as he came back home at 10 pm after leaving in frustration and anger.

Did anything in the passage surprise you?

Yes—The document’s open discussion of a realistic description of a couple’s real life experience in relationship rather than resorting to idealizing their interactions in living together....

Yes—Many of the concepts would apply to same-sex unions and close friendships, too (e.g. lifelong commitment, fidelity, etc.). A Pope uttering the words “erotic passion” in a positive way [120] might be a first! Shockingly refreshing. And highlighting the phrase “marriage was not instituted solely for the procreation of children” from Gaudium et Spes [125] is a prod to the magisterium to move towards the 21st century.

No—Pope Francis has nailed down what the apostle meant to convey.

Yes—It is good to see the acknowledgement that marriage is about more than just the procreation of children.

No—It's same song, different key.

Yes—I was surprised because I found it detached from what humans really need when facing these challenges—which is support and understanding that is productive and informed. Appealing to transcendental ideals promulgated by celibate men who have no official possibility of empathy is inadequate.

No—It was nice, but we need more. Infallibility is a hamstring on the magisterium. They have to deny it and all the other sexual taboos that follow.

Yes—When the Pope speaks of celibacy and marriage being equally valuable and women needing to be considered full human beings, one has to wonder why he does not take the next step and suggest married clergy and woman priests. There is a quick reference to the “eastern church,” but it is not developed. One can honor the views of holy celibate men like Francis while still wishing that women and married couples could be priests, bishops, popes.

No—I am experienced enough in interpersonal relationships that there were no real surprises. I would also add that there is nothing in these paragraphs that do not apply to same-sex marriage, or even to non-conjugal love. The unity that we seek is not uniformity, but a “unity in diversity,” or “reconciled diversity.” Fraternal communion is enriched by respect and for differences within an overall perspective that advances the common good ... (No. 139)

Yes—The Church teachings do not fully appreciate and understand the “communion of persons in the marital embrace” being as intimate as the “communion of persons in the Blessed Trinity.” This is the “missing link” for me in Amoris Laetitia. It also misses the “cosmic explosion” that occurs when a new creature is breathed into a new life in the marital embrace. Mystery and magic are what marriage is all about. And natural law. It does exist. And did I say "miracle"? That the Joy of Love exists is miraculous. And must be protected. Thank you for allowing me to express this.

No—I have come to expect very many words saying something very simple from the Holy Father.


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