Among the keys to understanding Pope Francis are the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. In the first of the four-week exercises, you discover yourself to be a sinner, who is unconditionally forgiven and loved by God. This perspective leads the Holy Father to see the Church as a field hospital, as a mother and teacher, and as a fountain of mercy. It is within this Ignatian perspective that the teaching of Pope Francis is best understood, including his Apostolic Exhortation on love in the family.
On the feast of St. Joseph, March 19, 2016, Pope Francis issued his Apostolic Exhortation on Love in the Family — Amoris Laetitia in Latin, in English “The Joy of Love.”
With a length of 325 paragraphs, it might seem too difficult to tackle. But in fact it is written in the same friendly and personally engaging manner that we have come to love about Pope Francis. It contains great compassion for people living in painful and difficult circumstances (cf. #291) and, at the same time, inspiring words about families who remain faithful to the teachings of the Gospel and “bear witness, in a credible way, to the beauty of marriage as indissoluble and perpetually faithful” (cf. #86).
In this Apostolic Exhortation, there is much to move the heart and fire the imagination. Some parts are exceptionally beautiful and will leave you with a hunger for more as well as a desire to return to them often.
This seven-part series from Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted originally appeared in The Catholic Sun, newspaper of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix, between May and November of 2016.