Friday, September 2, 2016

Laudato Si' and Amoris Laetitia (Our Sunday Visitor)

Laudato Si' was released over a year ago in May 2015. At the time, it received a lot of media spin in their "reading" of this encyclical. They chose to focus only on the part about the environment, and completely ignored Pope Francis' message of human ecology, which includes respect for all of humanity the evils of abortion. The encyclical is not addressed to just bishops or the lay faithful (like most all encyclicals), but is instead addressed to all people. It is divided into six chapters:

1. What is Happening to our Common Home
2. The Gospel of Creation
3. The Human Roots of the Ecological Crisis
4. Integral Ecology
5. Lines of Approach and Action
6. Ecological Education and Spirituality

There are many good points in this document that it is hard to pick your favorite passage. In one part, Pope Francis reminds us that the earth was here before us and has been given to us. He makes it known though that this doesn't give us the right to abuse the earth, but we must treat it as a gift from God, because that is what it is. Another part I particularly like was when he addresses our technological "progress." He goes on to list important inventions of the past two centuries and the good it has accomplished. However, technology has also given us "tremendous power" in terms of nuclear energy, biological knowledge, and information technology that can easily be used for evil. We must therefore use technology as a tool to better people's lives and not a mere distraction or superficial object for our amusement. The last part I will discuss that I really like is where Pope Francis talked about us not putting the environment over people. It is all well and good to protect the earth and animals, but not at the expense of people.

Both Ignatius Press and Word Among Us Press released quality versions, but one version I haven't had a chance to look over until recently was the one from Our Sunday Visitor. What I like best about this one compared to the other two is the size of the font. It is a good size and doesn't put strain on your eyes when reading it. There are also discussion questions at the end for each of the six sections above. I would have preferred them to be at the end of each chapter, but people who just want to read the encyclical all the way through would probably find that distracting. The questions are very focused and tend to lend themselves more to discussion than reflection. This makes it perfect for a small group study.

Another one of Pope Francis' earlier works that was published by Our Sunday Visitor is Amoris Laetitia. Surprisingly, not many publishers decided to publish this Apostolic Exhortation, despite its subject matter of love in the family. The exhortation is divided into nine parts:

1. In the Light of the Word
2. The Experiences and Challenges of Families
3. Looking to Jesus: The Vocation of the Family
4. Love in Marriage
5. Love Made Fruitful
6. Some Pastoral Perspectives
7. Towards a Better Education of Children
8. Accompanying, Discerning and Integrating Weakness
9. The Spirituality of Marriage and the Family

Within this work Pope Francis draws from Scripture and Tradition to further illuminate his writing. I particularly liked Part 3 as it talks about Jesus restoring the family in the image of the Holy Trinity. It also references Church Documents when he talks about the role and importance of the family. As with Laudato Si', this book too comes with discussion questions in the back of the book. However, in addition to discussion questions, there is also a short reflection section. This makes it perfect for individual or small group study. If you want to know what the Pope says on the family, then look no further than this book and pick up a copy.

These books were provided to me for free by Our Sunday Visitor in exchange for honest reviews. If you found these reviews helpful, please click here and/or here and hit Yes!