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Monday, April 18, 2016

Topsy and Tuptim Discuss the (Mostly) Inspiring Chapter 4 of Amoris Laetitia

Chapter Four Paragraphs 89 - 164
Topsy and Tuptim like something in my exhortation?
Topsy and Tuptim are back at the coffee shop sharing a cheese Danish and drinking their favorite javas. Chapter four is the focus of today's meeting and they both have their highlighted copies in front of them.

Topsy: I was really excited to read Chapter four. 1 Corinthians 13 is one of my favorite Scripture passages. In fact, my husband and I chose it as the second reading at our wedding. (Laughing)...Not very original; lots of couples do. As I read through the different paragraphs: love is patient, love is kind...I was touched and convicted by some of the reflections. Like the one on "love is not irritable or resentful." Listen (She reads)..."It refers to a violent reaction within, a hidden irritation that sets us on edge where others are concerned, as if they were troublesome or threatening and thus to be avoided." Ouch! That pinched.

Tuptim: I can think of some people like that.

Topsy: (Smiling)...The irritated or the irritators?

Tuptim: Both. Did I ever tell you how much you bug me, Tops?

Topsy: (Giving Tuptim a look and reading again.)..."Our first reaction when we are annoyed should be one of heartfelt blessing, asking God to bless, free, and heal that person." (Looks up.)...The pope also talks about holding your tongue. I'm going to try that. Stop, Drop the quick retort, and roll a prayer off the tongue instead. Think of that...you start to get annoyed...you hold your tongue...and take time out to bless the person annoying you. Sounds like a good prescription to prevent a lot of family wars! (Laughing)...Now if I could just get some of my friends to do that!

Tuptim: I agree that there are some good points in chapter four so I bet there'll be lots of classes set up (by liberals) on teaching Amoris Laetitia to youth groups. I know that the Church has marriage classes before the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, but probably even more so now.

Topsy: I don't know about more. We used to do conferences for the engaged and Engaged Encounter. The Church has been focused on improved marriage preparation for almost fifty years.

Tuptim: That's true I guess. We didn't get much, but things have changed for our kids.

Best friends MLK & Ralph Abernathy
Topsy: Chapter four offers plenty of food for thought. As I was reading I was thinking of making copies of this chapter to give to some of my nieces and nephews who are engaged. (Pauses)... Bud then (she shakes her head)... I came to paragraph 118 with the quote from Martin Luther King. I almost fell off my chair. Now I don't deny that he was a great civil rights leader, but he was also a well-known adulterer. Ralph Abernathy, his best friend and alter ego confirmed in his autobiography that King was an adulterer. (Raising her arms in a gesture of befuddlement)...Tell me it makes sense in a document on the family, especially in the chapter on love, to use an adulterer as the example.

Tuptim: He sure didn't love his wife and kids enough to be faithful.

Topsy: Not even close.

Tuptim: (Pensively)...Isn't it odd that Pope Francis chose Martin Luther King for his model of "love bearing every trial" and a love that "never gives up"? The Pope talks about married love for 88 pages then he places King as a good example of love. However here he wasn't talking about married love, but rather another facet of love...for enemies, which is confusing. It seems as if Mrs. King is the one the Pope should be speaking of when he references "love bearing every trial" and enduring and tolerating certain aggravations.

Topsy: Absolutely! Abernathy says the night before he died King was intimate with three women and none of them was his wife. There are so many legitimate heroes who could have been chosen. Why not a saint? Maximilian Kolbe, Thomas More, Edith Stein, Venerable Pierre Toussaint for heaven's sake!

Tuptim: Who's Pierre Toussaint?

Pierre Toussaint 1766-1853
Topsy: A slave from Haiti. His master, Gabriel Boussard moved the family to New York City when the situation in Haiti became dangerous. After Gabriel died, Pierre financially supported his widow and the other household slaves by dressing hair. The styles were really elaborate in those days and he made a good living. But he spent most of his money on others: the widow and her family, charitable works, the church, an orphanage. He was freed in 1807 and later married and adopted his dead sister's daughter after her dad abandoned her. He could have been a rich man, but he spent all his income on others.

Tuptim: Wow! He sounds like a perfect example for an exhortation on the family. Talk about love is kind! And what a model of fatherhood!

Topsy: (Nodding)... Yup! He used to go to daily Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral. Once an usher turned him away when he tried to enter the church saying there were no seats for Negroes. He was humble and holy and just walked away. He refused to get embroiled in the battle over slavery because of abolitionists advocating violence. He'd seen too much of that in Haiti. The priest at his funeral said there were few, either priests or laymen, who could equal him in zeal and devotion to the Church and for the glory of God.

Tuptim: (Shrugging)...Maybe the pope never heard of him....So his only alternative was to choose a man who was a plagiarist and a serial adulterer? (Shakes her head in disgust)...When I read that paragraph I could only think how politically correct it was. I've heard more than one liberal Catholic say we should make King a saint. Of course, they want Margaret Sanger, mother of abortion, canonized as well.

Topsy: (Tapping the document with her pen)...It's really a shame because most of this chapter is so inspiring. The section on conjugal love had me nodding my head and feeling sad that more couples don't persevere to experience the beauty and joy in the marital relationship. If couples can just stick with each other through the struggles, they can (raises her hand)...Wait, let me read (leafs through her pages)...they can "live as one until death do them part enjoying an enriching intimacy. The love they pledge is greater than any emotion, feeling, or state of mind although it may include all of these." (Looking up) And this next sentence really pegs it! "It is a deeper love, a lifelong decision of the heart." (Sighs)...but how many make that "lifelong decision of the heart?"
You'll always be beautiful to me!

Tuptim: (Shrugs) The chapter is pretty realistic too, when it talks about aging. I'm always shocked when older couples separate after 35 or 40 years of marriage. Sometimes it's because one, usually the man, isn't physically attracted to his wife any more. He goes looking for a young chick. (Laughs ruefully)...As if she's going for him because of his looks. There's a great classical painting of a dirty old man with his hand on a woman's breast while she has her hand in his pocket. Wish I could remember the artist. Now that's a picture worth a thousand words!

Topsy: I got a little weary in the later part of the chapter when it started to sound like a self-help book. Do we really need to be told to take quality time, listen to each other, keep an open mind, and.... (snickers)..."recognize the other person's right to exist?" the section on Dialogue is nothing but psycho-babble. Like this sentence..(reading)...."We ought to be able to acknowledge the other person's truth." Gosh I used to hear that when I sidewalk counseled outside abortion mills. "You have your truth; I have my truth." And this..."If hard feelings start to emerge, they should be dealt with sensitively lest they interrupt the dynamic of dialogue." Do real people actually talk like that?

Fr. Patrick Petyon: "The family that
prays together stays together."
Tuptim: (Rolling her eyes)...He should have quit while he was ahead.

Topsy: (Sighing)...It was disappointing to have a chapter that started out so well end with so much trite silliness. But the last line of the chapter is absolutely true and a good reminder that persevering in marriage is impossible... (reading)... "without praying to the Holy Spirit for an outpouring of his grace, his supernatural strength and his spiritual fire, to confirm, direct, and transform our love in every new situation."

Isn't that the truth? My mom always used to say, "The family that prays together stays together." That's why my husband and I pray the rosary together every night and go to daily Mass together. We couldn't have made it this far without a lot of help! We invited God into our marriage on our wedding day and we continue to ask for that help every day -- especially for the grace to persevere to the end. Hey, Fulton Sheen said it takes three to be married, so it seems sensible to me to ask the smartest of the three for help!

To be continued...

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