135. Five Gems from Pope Francis’s Joy of Love


As of this writing, I still have yet to explore what the media (Catholic or secular) have been saying about Pope Francis’s new document. I may venture into those stormy seas at some point, but I’m still relishing the opportunity just to bask in the glorious truths Francis unfolded with such tenderness and insight in this landmark document.

Here are five of my favorite gems from The Joy of Love:

[tweetthis]The Trinity is present in the temple of marital communion – Pope Francis, #AmorisLaetitia[/tweetthis]


  1. “[Christian] spirituality becomes incarnate in the communion of the family. Hence, those who have deep spiritual aspirations should not feel that [being married and raising a family] detracts from their growth in the life of the Spirit, but rather see it as a path which the Lord is using to lead them to the heights of mystical union” (316).

I was pulling up to the terminal at the Dallas airport when I read this and got lots of looks when I let out a sudden and loud gasp of delight (I’ll unfold more what this means in a future blog).

  1. “Sexual union, lovingly experienced and sanctified by the sacrament, is in turn a path of growth in the life of grace for the couple. It is the ‘nuptial mystery’” (74).

The term “nuptial mystery” has a deep and rich history in theological reflection. It refers to the manner in which spousal love and nuptial union manifest the “great mystery” of Christ’s love for the Church (see Eph 5:31-32). Many great theologians and saints have expressed this same idea (Francis references Saint Leo the Great on this), but this may be the most clear and direct statement – “sexual union lovingly experienced and sanctified … is the ‘nuptial mystery’” – I’ve ever read on the matter. It’s bold.

  1. “Each marriage is a kind of ‘salvation history’, which from fragile beginnings – thanks to God’s gift and a creative and generous response on our part – grows over time into something precious and enduring” (221).

I had another vocal gasp of delight when I read this. My wife and I can certainly attest to these fragile beginnings and to the grace that God offers in good times and in bad that enables flowers to grow from wounds and glories from sorrows.

  1. “[T]he erotic dimension of love … must be seen as a gift from God that enriches the relationship of the spouses. As a passion sublimated [that means raised up, properly directed, made ‘sublime’] by a love respectful of the dignity of the other, it becomes a ‘pure, unadulterated affirmation’ revealing the marvels of which the human heart is capable” (152).

I shared this one in my previous blog, but it bears a re-presentation. Pope Francis is abundantly clear and bold in proclaiming the power of Christ’s death and resurrection to redeem our sexual desires, enabling a level of purity that many in the Church find unsettling if not impossible to attain. It is a never-ending and difficult journey to be sure, but it is one made possible by an ever deeper cooperation with divine grace.

5.“[T]he Trinity is present in the temple of marital communion” (314).

Stunning. Take this one line to prayer, let it pop open, and there will be no end to the mysteries that are opened up for our hearts.

Question: Do you have a favorite quote from The Joy of Love? Please share!

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Image: Paul Kline (Creative Commons).