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Publication of the World Christian Life Community

Reflections on Family, Amoris Laetitia

and our CLC way of life

N 2 • 2017
Borgo Santo Spirito, 4 – 00193 Rome-ITALY • Web site: www.cvx-clc.net E-mail: progressio@cvx-clc.net
English, French and Spanish Editions
Editors: Alwin and Rojean Macalalad

Progressio is the official publication of the

The Father’s Role

Christian Life Community (CLC). It seeks to
build community, supplement formation, and
promote apostolic works. By publishing sto- Beatrice Edel Churu Lina Asfar
ries, reflections, events and opinions, it
endeavors to reinforce, challenge and deep-
en the community’s understanding and living
of the CLC Charism, Ignatian Spirituality and the
gospel values


1 2
We did not go too far to find inspiration for the
logo of the Christian Life Community (CLC).
Countless books have been written about the
Salvation history of CLC and its beginning in
year 1563. From that came the Marian
Congregations and its symbol (shown on the
top right), having the “P” over the “X” (for the
Some Ignatian Tools to Amoris laetitia and the
Support Purposeful Parenting divorced who remarry
Greek Christus) and the inserted “M” illustrates
that the Congregations were put under the
patronage of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Samuel Yáñez
The blue curved line illustrates a movement Beatrice Edel Churu & Catherine Waiyaki
forward to one World Community in 1967;
hence the globe. From this new beginning came
a new name: Communauté de Vie Chrétienne
(CVX) in French; Comunidad de Vida Cristiana

(CVX) in Spanish; Christian Life Community

(CLC) in English.
IFE Photos
1. Preparing the songs for the Mass
2. Renée Salha (CLC Lebanon) and Anne

How to talk to children Live the fruitfulness of Love

Lardenois (CLC Belgium W.)

about God
3. Touring!
4. Rojean Macalalad (World ExCo), Fernando Blanca Arregui y Alejandro Martínez
Vidal (CLC Spain) and Joseanne Peregin
(CLC Malta) Maria Carolina Sanchez Silva
5. Mass presided by Fr. José Guillermo
Gutiérrez Fernández
6. Lluis Miguel Pla (CLC Spain) Flor Alicia
Moncaleano (CLC Colombia) Marisol Ortiz

19 24
(CLC Spain)

The following persons collaborated to this

publication, Translators and Proof Readers:
Marie Bailloux, Arielle Campin, David Formosa,
Jennifer Fox, Françoise Garcin, Maria Cecilia
Gomez Pinilla, Marie Irène de Lima Martins,

Those who sow with tears The Godly Play in Uruguay

Cecilia MacPherson, Maria Magdalena Palencia,

will reap with songs of joy

David Pritchard, Agnes Rausch, Herminio Rico
SJ, Solange-Marie Slack, Céline Vielfaure, Godly Play team in Uruguay
Pedro Labrin SJ
Veronica Villegas, Sarah Walker, Elena Yeyati

Lay out: Nguyen Thi Thu Van

This publication may be copied and redistributed

in whole or in part, for non-commercial purposes,

29 25
with the condition that proper attribution is given.
For other uses, contact progressio@cvx-clc.net

Printed by: Tipografia Città Nuova

via Pieve Torina, 55, 00156 Roma

Beatrice Edel Churu

am very happy to introduce this plement 73, that the CLC way of life
issue of the Progressio Magazine provides them with perspectives and
which is a companion to the Pro- tools that are very useful for ministry
gressio Supplement no. 73 which is a to all kinds of families. The CLC com-
fruit of the International Formation munity is on mission to the family –
Encounter on the Family held in our own families as well as to all
Escorial Madrid, July 2017. The pa- kinds of families. A number of papers
pers in this magazine have been writ- show how the Ignatian tradition has
ten by persons with deep concern wisdom that can serve as resource for
about Family and Family pastoral. family pastoral in CLC and beyond.
Thus, they fit well with the papers in The articles represent an impressive
Supplement 73, all of which attem- array of attention to different mem-
pted to respond directly to the call of bers of families, with particular focus
Pope Francis in Amoris Laetitia to pa- on fathers, parents in general, chil-
storal outreach to families, characte- dren in families, and children without
rized by support and compassion as families. The papers are clearly a sha-
exemplified by Jesus. ring of lived experiences and expertise
born out of committed service.
Most of the papers in this magazine
were written before the publication of For several years now, the CLC com-
Amoris Laetitia. Some were part of munity in Chile has been responding
the reflection of the CLC community to the call to care for families ‘on the
in the context of the Synod on the Fa- margins’ of the church’s and humani-
mily. Yet the concern and engagement ties’ mainstream understanding of fa-
about which they reflect predate the milies. It is the experience in many
Family synod process. As it became parts of the world that these families
clear in the survey prior to the World are a major part of our communities
Assembly in Lebanon 2013, the CLC in CLC, in the church and in the
community worldwide has become world. As we increase in appreciating
deeply aware of the need to develop a the call of the Church in Amoris Lae-
robust Family pastoral framework. It titia, it is wonderful to have the help
is in line with this that the Assembly of our community members who have
called for intensified considerations of discerned the call to mission on very
the issues facing families today and special frontiers, and taken the cou-
how to reach out to them in these si- rage to move with the call of the spirit
tuations and in different realities. into the unknown. The gifts they have
received are for us all an enrichment
While family was recognized as one of and a challenge.
the frontiers for CLC ministry, the last
four years since the Assembly have I take this opportunity to thank the
shown how family pastoral is at the core contributors to this publication and to
of CLC ministry. Some CLC members invite all CLC members to read
themselves feel that they live far from through these articles with openness,
mainstream family reality, yet just as rejoicing that the community is alive
Jesus calls and sends persons from the with the Spirit who invites us to re-
margins, these CLC members feel cal- spond with discernment and creati-
led to be on mission in and from the vity to different family realities as we
very family frontiers where they find encounter them. Let these papers be
themselves. Some articles in this maga- an encouragement to attune ourselves
zine bear witness to these experiences. to the Spirit who is always doing so-
mething new. May our lives and mi-
In addition, CLC members recognize, nistry be in tandem with the Missio
as indeed is also evident in the Sup- Dei on this immense frontier.

The Father’s Role
From Patriarchism to Tenderness
Lina Asfar - CLC Lebanon

The profound social changes affecting the family in our present times and
the observation of multiple symptoms of dysfunction, expressed not only in

the relationship of a couple but also and above all in the children, the fruits
of this union, lead us to ask ourselves the question, among others, of the
role of the father figure within the family entity.

s the title of this paper indica- listening. It would be interesting to

tes, I propose to study the role note, in this context, that the patriar-
of the father in terms of his at- chal family is the birthplace of mono-
titude towards his children. At first theism. The term patriarchy comes
glance, one would be tempted to think from the Greek word πατρίάρχης (pa-
that a chasm separates the patriar- triarkhès), meaning the reign of the
chal father figure, in the popularized ancestor, father or chief of the race.
Editor and translator, Lina Asfar is sense of the term, from the tender and
trained in accompaniment and loving father figure. A closer look re- Nothing implies, therefore, in the ini-
support of couples and families.
veals surprising things... tial definition of the term “patriar-
chy”, the existence of a connotation of
She is also skilled in management

Authority or authoritarianism? abusive and absolute male domina-

and leadership.

tion in which the figure of the father

The term “patriarchism” comes from becomes an idol to be worshipped and,
“patriarchy” which means sociologi- above all, not to be angered. How
cally: a family or social organization many young people have seen their
based on the authority of the father. lives shattered because of similar fa-
So it is really “authority”. But what ther figures! Rather, the problem ari-
does “authority” really mean? ses in the outrageous behaviour of
certain tribal, clan or family leaders,
“Authority” comes from the Latin auc- who have perpetuated themselves
toritas which means the capacity to throughout history, from generation
make grow. It implies a notion of legi- to generation, without discernment or
timacy and reference, such as the au- questioning, and have ended up di-
thority of an expert who has the storting the notion of patriarch from
power to influence others, who is grea- its original meaning. These abuses
tly respected, whose opinions are ac- and excesses, which are still practised
cepted by the greatest number of today in some societies and cultures,
people. This definition does not neces- stem from a mentality that considers
sarily include the notion of authorita- women as second-class persons and
rianism designating a person’s children as objects of family posses-
tendency to abuse his or her authority, sion. Some feminists and human
to seek to impose it by force. Moreo- rights defenders have focused on the
ver, it was this authority that Jesus dictatorial aspect of these abuses and
used with people1: “Jesus then went have linked the concept of patriarchy
down to Capernaum, a town of Gali- to a social system of oppression by
lee. He taught them on the sabbath, men against women and their chil-
and they were astonished at his tea- dren. The term patriarchy is thus di-
ching because spoke with authority.” storted from its original meaning and
It is the authority of a person conside- misused to refer to male domination
red as a reference, who deserves re- and the autocratic rule of the head of
spect, because he speaks with the family. And, therefore, all the deri-
wisdom, touching the hearts of those
Lk 4, 31-32

vatives of this term, such as patriar- phenomenon of female single paren-
chism (the subject of this article) or pa- thood. The right of same-sex couples
triarchalism (English political theory to adopt has aggravated the problem
defending the absolute power of the by depriving the child of a balanced
monarchy) now carry this pejorative al- bipolar environment (female and
lusion wrongly, implicitly in them. male) that is essential for his or her
emotional, psychological, social and
Masculinity and paternity in even physical development. There is
decline? no longer any need to prove that chil-
dren consider their fathers and mo-
Due to the change in lifestyle, the mi- thers as an example to be followed in
gration of family units from rural to terms of attitude and way of thinking,
urban areas, the multiple economic and hold them as role models in terms
needs and requirements, the figure of of male and female behaviour. Simi-
the patriarch of ancient times, that is larly, if they had a negative relation-
to say, the chief of the tribe surroun- ship with their parents, young men
ded by his descendants and close rela- would be more prone, as adults, to
tives over several generations and stress and depression and would also
their respective families, is less and be at risk, when they become fathers,
less present today, with the exception of repeating the same destructive re-
of certain areas where tradition is still lationship with their own children.
very much rooted. As a result, the pa-
triarchal family, in the original sense
of the term, disappears in favour of
the nuclear family composed of a fa-
ther, a mother and children where
power is balanced between the father
and the mother, both of whom are en-
gaged in professional activities in
Masculine Hand, Feminine Hand
In a painting by Rembrandt
order to provide for the needs of the entitled "The Return of the
home. Exclusive paternal authority Prodigal Son", we can see God
thus gives way to parental authority. the Father placing his two hands
That said, what remains or should re-
on the forgiven son: his left

main of attributes of the true pa-

hand, with its masculine aspect,
radiates might, firmness and
triarch or good father (i.e., the father’s authority; his right hand, with its
healthy authority and the way in feminine contours, exhales
which it should be exercised) is likely tenderness, affection and
to be lost in a society shaken by mu-
comfort. It is from this duality,

tations disturbing the figure of ma-

carefully mixed, balancing rigour
and encouragement, that every
sculinity and consequently that of earthly father is called to take
fatherhood itself. inspiration.

Many contemporary thinkers sound Do authority and tenderness

the alarm: masculinity is losing mo- go hand in hand?
mentum. Some go so far as to assert
that the modern man is a parody of If so, what would the attributes of a
masculinity, that he is reduced to the father of a family be according to the
role of provider of semen and money, initial meaning of the term patriarch?
that he has resigned from his respon- If we use the original definition: it is
sibilities as an educator (handing this a head of a family who has “autho-
over to the mother of his children) and rity”, and having authority means, ac-
as head of the family (leaving his wife cording to the Latin origin of the term,
alone to face this challenge). For “having the capacity to make grow”. A
others, socio-liberal thinking is at the father “helps his children to grow up”
root of family breakdown, the margi- physically, mentally, psychologically
nalization of the father’s role and the and emotionally. The Gospel clearly
Rm 13, 1


In a powerful vision, the prophet Eze-

kiel3 sees four angelic creatures who
support divine sovereignty, each with
four faces: a human face (representing
love), a lion’s face (justice), a bull’s
face (power), and an eagle’s face (wi-
sdom). These four faces symbolize the
four main qualities of Holy God, four
attributes that perfectly balance each
other. God exerts his unlimited power
and absolute power only in conjun-
ction with his other qualities. In imi-
tation of his Father, Jesus Christ uses
his authority in perfect harmony with
his love, wisdom and justice.
Just as all authority comes from God,
as we have seen before, the love of pa-
rents for their children is also an in-
strument of the love of God the
Father4. By following the example of
our Lord, every earthly father will
know how to balance the exercise of
his authority over his children in
order to eliminate all authoritaria-
nism, for any logic of domination puts
an end to love5. It is his duty, of
course, to reprimand his children who
emphasizes this: “There is no autho-
The Dream of St. Joseph
are guilty of wrongdoing, but with
rity except from God”2. It is this same
love and patience, without letting
Anton Raphael Mengs.
Following the example of St. authority received from his Father
himself be led by anger and unlea-
that Jesus exercised without needing
Joseph, every father can let
shing on them his own aggressivity6.
to claim any social or religious mem-
himself be guided in his actions
by God the Father. Using a good dose of tenderness and
bership. The astonishing inner tran-
love in no way damages authority
sformations that took place in the
exercised in a measured and coherent
people through the word of this autho-
manner. A child will know how to re-
rity are glaring proof of his credibility
cognize and appreciate these two di-
and legitimacy that originate in God
mensions of parenting coexisting in
Himself. The same goes for the autho-
the same father figure. Witnessing
rity of every father, whose word and ac-
the paternal tenderness that is ex-
tion are authenticated by the edifying
pressed without emotional blackmail,
echo that they generate within his
unconditionally, like God's love for us,
children, thus revealing the approach
the child can, in turn, love above all
of God, our Father.
else, forgive others, even when they
have been unjust towards him7.
Therefore, every earthly father is cal-
led upon to re-read his paternal atti- Fatherhood and Leadership
tude towards his children in the light
of the Good Shepherd’s example: does Although, in general, fathers still con-
he deal with them by asserting an au- sider themselves today as having a
thority of coercion or persuasion? Is he key role in terms of discipline, their
obeyed because he is feared or loved? personal interpretation of fatherhood
Is he inspired by the attitude that God and its practice in the home are ne-
the Father adopts with his people? vertheless largely affected by: their
Ez 1, 10
Amoris Laetitia, 170
Amoris Laetitia, 98
Amoris Laetitia, 269
Amoris Laetitia, 108

personal history (with all its share of He even obeyed God and took Mary
experiences, wounds, complexes...), home. Decision-making power was in
their character, their personality, his hands and he made good use of it
their spiritual dimension, their social thanks to a great deal of inner free-
background.... Added to this is the fact dom that made him indifferent to the
that the father’s style of authority is “what will they say”, to the risk of pu-
supposed to evolve according to the blic humiliation and to any excessive
child’s stage of development, like a personal ego that turned him away
good leader who adapts his style of from God. Even if the Scriptures re-
authority to the group he is responsi- veal little detail about his role as a fa-
ble for, moving from a style of direc- ther to Jesus, it is easy to deduce that
tive authority, that gives him security he was a caring and loving father, a
in a phase of trial and error, to a con- courageous decision maker and pro-
sultative style, when there is stability tector who allowed himself to be gui-
of identity, to a participative style, ded in his decisions by God (leaving
faced with a state of maturity. A pro- for and returning from Egypt) and a
blem arises if the father were to at- responsible educator, passing on to his
tach himself to a single extreme style son his profession as well as religious
of authority (either dictatorial or per- traditions and observances.
missive) and apply it regardless of his
child’s situation or development. In the final analysis, fathers of fami-
lies are human beings and therefore
I would like to conclude this presenta- have weaknesses and shortcomings.
tion by looking at Saint Joseph, who However, God works through their we-
is rightly considered the patron saint aknesses, when they defer to Him,and
of families and fathers. He is an out- helps them to get the best out of them-
standing example of a true family selves, for nothing can be done wi-
head living in a patriarchal society thout Him8. By observing His attitude
par excellence. His wise and merciful towards us, every earthly father can
behaviour towards Mary reveals a learn to exercise a balanced firmness
kind and sensitive man, virtuous and towards his children, able to help
honest, who lets himself be guided in them grow to maturity and responsi-
his actions by God the Father. When ble freedom. Constructive authority
he knew that she was carrying a child associated with tenderness can pro-
who was not his own, he chose not to duce in them the joy of feeling loved9.
use his right to divorce her publicly,
thus avoiding serious social stigma Original in French
and even the risk that she be stoned. Translated by Cecilia MacPherson

- Due to abuses in some societies and cultures, the term patriarchy has been distorted
from its original meaning and misused to refer to male domination and the autocratic
rule of the head of the family.
- Every father is a head of a family who has authority, that is, who has the ability to
help others grow.
- Just as all authority comes from God, the love of parents for their children is also an
instrument of the love of God the Father.
- The use of a good dose of tenderness and love in no way prejudices an authority
exercised in a measured and coherent manner.
- Love, justice, power and wisdom, four main qualities of God the Father that are per-
fectly balanced.
- Like St. Joseph, every father is called to be attentive and loving, a responsible edu-
cator, an inspired decision-maker and courageous protector, letting himself be guided
in his decisions and actions by God.

Jn 15, 5
Amoris Laetitia, 323
Some Ignatian Tools to
Support Purposeful Parenting
Beatrice Edel Churu & Catherine Waiyaki - Uzima CLC, Kenya

In the home where husband and wife are seated at table, children appear at
their side “like olive shoots” (Ps 128:3), that is, full of energy and vitality. If
the parents are in some sense the foundations of the home, the children are
like the “living stones” of the family (cf. 1 Pet 2:5). Amoris Laetitia, no. 14

Introduction Lord”), is “child” (ben, “son”), which is

itself related to the verb “to build”
The tools of Ignatian Spirituality are (banah). Hence, Psalm 128, in spea-
in symphony with the deepest human king of the gift of children, uses ima-
wisdom, in the encounter with God gery drawn from the building of a
which is corroborated by many spiri- house and the social life of cities: “Un-
tual traditions. These tools embedded less the Lord builds the house, those
especially in the Spiritual Exercises who build it labour in vain… Lo, sons
can help sharpen some of what is best are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit
in the many wisdom traditions of the of the womb, a reward. Like arrows in
Edel Churu, (CLC Kenya) is a peoples of the world. For example, the the hand of a warrior are the sons of
married mother of three rules for discernment for the First one’s youth. Happy is the man who has
teenagers. She is currently Week of the Exercises correspond with his quiver full of them! He shall not be
serving a second term on the wisdom of due diligence propaga- put to shame when he speaks with his
the World Exco and has been ted in many native traditions. The two enemies in the gate” (Ps 127:1, 3-5).
coordinating the Exco’s efforts standards set before the retreatant at
to support CLC family the start of the Second Week can well In the analogy of parenting as buil-
pastoral around the world read like a folk tale, intended to train ding, one cannot but recall Jesus pa-
youth in making choices not just by rable about the wise man who built
immediate gratification but by long- his house on rock, and the foolish man
term and lasting values. In the case of who built his house on sand. How
the eternal King, the wisdom is deepe- might Ignatian tools assist in recap-
ned by love and sacrifice. turing and enhancing traditional wi-
sdom for parenting and building a
Much of that traditional wisdom, un- future for our world on more solid
fortunately, has been diluted by the foundations?
pace and demands of life today. The
Ignatian tools provide a very good ap- Creating a vision and
proach reverting to this wisdom, redi- choosing a purpose – the
scovering it, securing and trusting it.
In the particular concern of this paper, Principle and Foundation
we highlight how these tools can be a
Parents as foundation stone are the
great school of parenting, just as they
ones who articulate a vision for the fa-
Catherine is very passionate sure are for the school for marriage,
mily. Often, such vision and purpose
about the family as originally family and other relationships.
set up by God, so much so for a family is set in the early days of
that you cannot think of her In Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis re- the couple’s shared life; these are mo-
without thinking of her family. flects on the deep meaning of paren- ments when it is so natural to dream.
She spends her time reading on, ting in the context of the vocation to At the beginning of the Spiritual
talking about and mentoring marriage and family. He uses the Exercises, St. Ignatius sets the retrea-
other parents to raise the symbol of parents as the foundation tant on a path whose raison d’etre is
best family that they can.
stones of the family and the children already laid out, in the Principle and
as the living stones (AL 14). Foundation, even if the demands and
details of the journey are yet un-
Significantly, the word which appears known. The retreatant, the pilgrim on
most frequently in the Old Testament the Ignatian journey, is invited to
after the name of God (YHWH, “the make the option that complete sur-
render to all that will lead to the glory mily. The prayer over the Two Stan-
and honour of God is the baseline for dards is a beautiful example of an
all else that he/she will endeavor to exercise that parents can do with chil-
do during the retreat and in life. dren in the context of creating and
sharing the vision of the family. If
Young couples often discuss but do not there are already older children in the
put in writing or symbol, the vision for home, they will be good at assisting in
the family they are beginning. There is clarifying the vision.
value in putting in words or material
symbols or artistic representation the When the children understand and
vision of the family that the couple is share in the vision of the family and
building. Such words or symbols be- develop a sense of ownership in deve-
come a ‘go-to’ point for the couple and loping and achieving it, they are more
for the family. An easy and viable way likely to develop a sense of direction
to arrive at such a symbol is to engage and of discernment in their own lives.
the imagination in a future event, of In today’s world where children are
the way they would hope the family separated from parents for many
will be in a moment together some- hours a day from a young age, such
where two or three decade to come. awareness, at whatever age, begins to
Here, the engagement of the imagina- sharpen the independence of the judg-
tion, a tool we use frequently in the Spi- ment of the child towards what is
ritual Exercise, enables the free good for them. This is something they
convergence of the values held deep in will need very much in their life. It
a non-threatening composition of place. will increase in them confidence in
making choices. If we use as many of
If such an image is created, painted or the senses as we can engage in crea-
described often in the family home, it ting and revisiting the vision, the
is possible to return to it over the young people can benefit in the grasp
years, to paint it further, fill in the of the symbols of the family vision but
gaps and refine the understanding of also strengthen their muscles of ma-
the values it embodies. Thus for the king decisions with greater clarity
couple, the foundation of the family, it and confidence.
is recommended to both articulate and
materialize the vision of the family. Virgilio and Vanya were excited about
Like the Principle and Foundation in the idea of determining a vision state-
the Spiritual Exercises. The couple is ment for the family. It was the link
encouraged to make an articulate they had missed for the last thirteen
choice of a destination for the family. years of marriage, and were more con-
stantly having long discussions before
It is encouraged that the couple ac- agreeing on many issues. Vanya had
Children at a family day session

tually take ‘time-off ’, like a retreat, to been feeling that they were making
come up with this vision. If this is very many choices based on Virgi-
done early on in the union, expecta- lios preferences, based on his up-
tions are clarified that much earlier. bringing. This would finally help
The couple needs to be deliberate them determine what kind of family
about this, and to do it in the context they wanted to be. They went away
of the depth of their shared journey, on Saturday morning to indivi-
maybe in a shared retreat early in dually reflect on what they wanted
their married life. to see the family look like by their
25th anniversary. They exchanged
The articulation and symbolic repre- the notes at lunch, and spent the
sentation of the family vision need not week explaining what each meant
be limited to only young couples. after agreeing not to make any de-
There is nothing to stop a couple to cisions, but just understand, and
engage their children in the process of pray over. At the planning meeting
articulation of the family vision. It is the following Saturday, they were
a useful exercise to carry out delibera- able to agree on common ground,
tely at any time of the life of the fa- putting the statements together as

the first draft of their vision. They can help the child develop resilience
shared this with twelve year old Vera, and a strong inner compass for their
nine year old Vince and seven year old lives. This can also help protect chil-
Vance at dinner that evening. It was dren, young people and indeed not-so-
amazing to listen to the children’s con- young people from the tendency to
tributions. They agreed to discuss this weigh the value of their lives by the
every weekend until the vision could going and changing standards set by
be written down and learnt, being the media and the fashion of the day.
gentle with each other as they nego-
tiated the different views. When com- When we do not keep in tandem with
plete, that will be one statement they the journey in faith, we can forget this
will believe in, own and live by. vision set. Reality, with its demands
and challenges, can become so over-
whelming that we forget to return to
Family Traditions and Choices the dream of our life. For many a cou-
– the two standards ple, the children arrive to find a busy
home. While rejoicing in their arrival,
In the Spiritual Exercises, St. Igna- the parents can seem so taken up with
tius brings the retreatant through making ends meet that the dream or
the reflection on the three kinds of vision may not become a deliberate
persons, a pedagogy for opening the part of what the family frequents.
gate to deepening of the choice to
follow Christ. The pilgrimage of fol- Daily Repetition in one way or another
lowing Christ is not a one choice mo- of the family mission statement helps
ment, but a series of choices which to keep the family united in focus and
help deepen the option of following with a confidence that this direction
Christ. It is the same with the fa- matters daily and that the mission is
mily. We need to build in tools that a daily concern. The frequent repeti-
promote the initial choice by deepe- tion of the mission statement of the fa-
ning it. Key among tools for paren- mily can help focus the children and,
ting is having distinct family even the adults, on what is most im-
standards or values which everyone portant. It can be used to impact a
in the family is familiar with and sense of the emphasis of energy and
often called back to. These values focus to the day, tuning the discerning
are the material of which a ear of each member. This can be a good
mission/purpose statement of the fa- morning exercise, simple but constant.
mily can be made. In our Christian fa- Children can even learn to do this by
milies, departing first from the Two themselves at the start of the day. In
Standards, we sure would like to the evening the family joint Examen
uphold values that are not only about can be a celebration of moments when
our own promotion, but that are also we have lived the mission statement
about service to others. Children can or found it in action among ourselves
thus develop a sense of purpose that and with other people. This is the
is related to service and transforma- sense of gratitude which Ignatius re-
tion of society – something greater commends for the Examen. It expands
than just themselves and their own our vision since God’s dream is always
benefit. Thus we recommend a simple greater than ours.
mission statement as well as a vision
symbol. A simple mission statement Nelson and Damaris determined that
helps to underscore the character of they would visit the old peoples home
the daily life that leads, hopefully, to this year. The children were all in
the achievement of the vision. This agreement, and even proposed a poor
can be an inspiration and support for home thirteen year old Susan had
developing skills required for personal heard about in school. One month be-
fulfillment. Measuring daily experien- fore Christmas day, sixteen year old
ces, which are often categorized su- Scot gave them a pleasant surprise.
perficially as success and failure, He wanted to know if he could ask his
against a bigger horizon and purpose friends for any items of clothing that

they were no longer using to give at learns how to live in right relationship
the home. Two weeks later, he had a with God and with all other things.
list of numbers of the parents of
twelve of his friends. Nelson had The relationship of the individual pa-
doubted that so many of his friends rent with God is a primordial relation-
would show an interest in visiting the ship which has been shaped not only
home on Christmas day, although by our upbringing and the kind of pa-
Scot had said daily, at table, that se- renting we received, but also by the
veral friends were interested in parti- cultivation of the relationship with
cipating in their family tradition. All God that each adult is invited to en-
that remained was for Nelson to call gage in. This relationship disposes the
the parents. The next two weeks were parent to have certain expectations of
a flurry of activity as Damaris led the themselves. The Ignatian exercise of
team in planning a bigger visit, com- the three kinds of persons is enacted
pared to the quiet family visit they frequently in the home as parents
had made to the less privileged for the both model and instruct their children
last seventeen years of marriage. She in the way of genuine relationship
now knew that the time spent discus- and ultimate surrender to God. The
sing the family mission daily, in va- parent is a person who is also on a
rious ways, and how each had lived it journey, and who proclaims certain
had borne deep fruit in their first son, values. How much are they willing to
and had complete faith now that the live by those values? What can they
other four children would embrace it give up for their relationship with
fully as well. God? A parent who recognizes the
place of God in their own life will not
Parenting is the business of the try to be God in the child’s life, but
will be disposed to receive the child as
Heart - the three kinds of a gift of God. The parent will be open
persons, discipleship to the wonder of the other person in
the child, open and discovering the
While many of us parents are pre-oc- mystery of the child, accompanying
cupied with doing what is necessary so the child in discovering and cultiva-
that our children achieve the goals we ting the person they are called to be.
or they have set, while we are concer- The awareness of the presence of a lo-
ned that they are socially adjusted and ving God in the parent’s life enables
well-behaved, we can forget that most them to transmit trust and patience
importantly the greatest concern with the child. The anxiety of the- all-
ought to be that our children’s hearts depending-on-me thought which
be and grow in the right place. The tends to invade many a parent’s life
heart is the symbol we use for being in can be mitigated by return to this pri-
right relationships. Parenting and fa-
mily life is primarily about relation-
ships. Therefore parenting is about
enabling the child or children to be in
right relationships – with parents,
with each other, with other people,
with God, with the world, with nature,
with material things, etc. and to learn
to cultivate the same. Teaching rela-
tionship skills is a primary role of the
parent vis-à-vis the child. It has the
greatest impact of the parent.

Interestingly, the second week of the

Spiritual Exercises is such a school for
the disciple/retreatant. By watching
Jesus, hearing Jesus, and learning
from him, imitating him, the retreatant

the atmosphere of this relationship.
Their relationship and way of caring
for each other models for the child the
world they are to help build. Such an
awareness can help parents be more
mindful that the atmosphere of caring,
responsiveness and love set in the
home is more powerful than all the in-
structions that a parent can give for
the child. It is true that family rela-
tionships are not always so glorious,
and often conflict and difficulties arise.
Yet if we resort to the tools of our tra-
ditions we shall find that children
learn genuine reconciliation and ac-
ceptance. The atmosphere in the home
is a model of the relationships as well
as the vision for the world that the
child will endeavor to build. The de-
pendence on God modelled by parents,
mal relationship of surrender to God the attitude of obedience to God, instil-
even in the midst of the very engaging ling the sense of discernment of God’s
tasks that parenting involves. will in moments of the family’s jour-
ney, can help the child develop their
We want to underscore this relation- own relationship with God who walks
ship since in most spiritual traditions, the journey of life with the child.
God is the prime parent or as in Chri-
stian teaching; the parent par excel- Nine year old Mary ran out of the
lence! The parent can always have the house, asking her twin brother Martin
consolation of being a child; the child to follow her to their secret place behind
of God. This gives the parent security the hibiscus flower at the corner. “Mum
and confidence in undertaking the went quiet and walked into her room,
role of walking with their child. Many and shut the door. Let’s say a prayer for
a bewildered parent is paralyzed by God to help her. I think we were ma-
fear of not knowing what to do as a king too much noise and not listening to
parent, and the heavy burden of re- her”. They knelt and said a quick pra-
sponsibility it brings. A person in re- yer, then went searching for four year
lationship with God will not know old Susan. She was outside mum’s
everything about parenting, but will room, calling for her. They took her out
parent with the sense of God’s help to play with her, telling her to be quiet
and accompaniment. In the context of because mum was taking some time off
the sense of mission, the parent will to rest and pray. Then she would come
be mindful that God is even more con- back and be a better mama.
cerned about our child than we are.
This parent can go to God for gui- The relationship of the parent and of
dance and consolation and approach both parents with the child is very im-
the parenting relationship with trust portant for each child. Parents blessed
and hope. The guidance of grandpa- with more than one child can someti-
rents and other wisdom figures in the mes tend to treat all in the same way,
parenting challenge will be recognized as if there is a model of the child to
as it sure is the guidance of God who which each will fit. Individual diffe-
works in all things for the wellbeing rences in each child are best being
of the child and the parent. well appreciated and where appro-
priate being nurtured. If this does not
In a two-parent family, the relation- happen, a child could get to feel that
ship between the parents as a couple they only get individualized attention
and God impacts the tone and spirit of if they are off track, otherwise they
the family. The child is welcomed into are a just ‘one of the pack’. This can

particularly be important for a child Twenty year old Natalie came home to
who has special circumstances which find mum in bed with the curtains
create a greater excuse for feeling drawn. Dad walked in just then with
challenged. An adopted child in a fa- sixteen year old Nathaniel and seven
mily where other children are birth year old Kelly. Mum had had a severe
children might need that specialized migraine headache and needed quiet
attention and accompaniment more and dark to recover. At dinner, when
than others, for example, but the es- mum was finally resting but not in
sence here is that each child is treated pain, Natalie told dad how different it
individually, no matter their situa- had been that mum had not spoken to
tion. In a busy and fast technological her to find out how she was on phone
world, a world of mechanical preci- all day. Nathaniel said that it felt
sion, speed and efficiency, it is easy for weird that mum was home but had not
a parent to fall into thinking of their spent a few minutes with him finding
children fitting into a set programs. out how school was, and what new
This can be beautiful thing he had learnt,
in itself, but must Each child can expect both in and out of
never take the place
of the individualized
to receive a daily dose class. He was so
used to those mo-
accompaniment. of genuine parental ments that he al-
Each child can ex- ready knew what he
pect to receive a attention, a daily dose was going to tell her
daily dose of genuine
parental attention, a
of praise and today. Kelly was
asking if they were
daily dose of praise encouragement for not sure that he
and encouragement could not go and
for specific indivi- specific individual spend a few minutes
dual effort in line
with their own rea-
effort in line with their with mum. “But I’m
here”, said dad. “I
lity. own reality know”, they all cho-
rused, with Natalie
The knowledge of one’s child, in a per- explaining that it was different with
sonalized way, with anecdotes that de- mum because the relationship was dif-
monstrate the enfleshment of that ferent and special with each parent;
knowledge, is both good and neces- the conversations were different too.
sary feedback for the child. In these “You already know that, dad”, Natha-
the child hears a convincing voice sa- niel said. “Yes I do. Let’s take this op-
ying, “I love you, I pay attention to portunity to plan our upcoming dad
you, your progress and your challen- children activity this weekend. Any
ges are of interest and concern to me, thoughts?” With a wink, he added,
you give me great pleasure in your “Maybe mum needed a break earlier

own person and gifts, action and ef- than we thought”.

forts, I am here to assist you, I am
your friend”. These build up the rela- Correcting children: in the
tionship of the child with the model of the First Week
parent(s). Each parent needs to be
part of this process. No one parent can While modeling and praising, discus-
establish this relationship with the sed above, constitute the most impor-
child for the other. To know one’s child tant methods of parenting, a more
well, their gifts, their joys, their fears difficult and perhaps more widely
and their victories – howsoever small used method is correction. To be effec-
– is a sacred duty for the parent. The tive, this method which we must in
processes engaged in the Second Week fact use frequently, must be encom-
of the Exercises towards the election passed in a relationship of love and
can well assist the parent to under- care, to be perceived as so by the child.
stand the intimacy, particularity and The First Week of the Spiritual Exer-
sacredness of their duty in caring for cises specifically spends a good share
and guiding their child individually. of the time in establishing these love
foundations. This is before entering she loves me. But you know that at
into the awareness of being short of home, it’s not safe to make mistakes.
the requirements of the relationship It’s as though we are meant to be per-
of love that God invites us to. This fect. Sometimes I wonder how my pa-
model can inform the relationship of rents were at my age. They can’t have
the parent with the child. While the been perfect…. Maybe I should have
love, praise and corrections cannot be a chat with your mum. She’ll know
arranged sequentially in the life of the what to do. I really hate lying”.
child or in the family dynamics, the
priority of love and praise over correc- Review of Life
tions must be evident every day. If
correction is given and received in a In the model of the great wisdom tra-
situation of safety and care of the dition of examining our lives, well am-
heart, the sense of security and love plified in the Ignatian Examen, the
for the child is safeguarded. It is re- family can use a weekly or by-weekly
commended that a parent praise the meeting to find out how each member
child six to eight times more often is progressing on the mission and vi-
than they correct the child. This re- sion. The meeting can also be used to
quires an interested presence of the identify areas of struggle and make
parent in the life of the child. plans for growth. Progress can be mo-
nitored and discussed in the next
week. The child should be encouraged
to make a report on their own pro-
gress, positive and negative, in an at-
mosphere of total acceptance. Parents
can meet together in advance of the
meeting to assess the movement of the
family towards or in line with its vision
and goals. They have a greater respon-
sibility in discerning the movement of
the spirits in the family, and this ought
to be taken seriously and given the
time it requires. This again goes well
in line with the practice of our traditio-
nal families where adults took greater
responsibility to steer the family to-
“You should tell your mum”, Doris ad- wards chosen values and goals.
vised Wendy. “That’s the only way
your anxiety will cease.” The fourteen As children get older and taken on
year old friends and neighbours were more responsibility, the CLC model of
walking home from school. “She’ll kill DSSE (Family discerning, sending,
me”, Wendy responded. “Why? It’s the supporting, and evaluating) can be-
first time this has happened. She will come interesting in the family. Again,
discuss it calmly with you and give we believe that this is based in the wi-
you the consequence you have agreed sdom of the practice of many of our
upon for something similar, or agree traditional cultures and practices. But
on the consequence if this happens to deliberately accentuate this prac-
again. It’s been two weeks of avoiding tice in the family can be a great sup-
her and lying now. You can’t continue port for a family as the children move
doing this”. “Remember what happe- into spaces of responsibility. They can
ned the last time? She lashed out at know more keenly that what they go
me in angry words, and slapped me. off and do out in the world is of inte-
Then she humiliated me by telling my rest and influence for the family. This
dad and bothers at dinner. I would ra- gives them a sense of belonging, self-
ther lie than tell her the truth. Unless worth and refuge in facing the ‘great
you tell her, she is no wiser. I wish she big and sometimes scary’ world. What
was like your mum. Don’t get me a blessing and joy this deliberateness
wrong. I love my mum, and I know can be for them!
“David, today even your sisters’ vidually. So no, they are not in my
friends came to watch and cheer the space”. Not a single boy spoke as he
game. We’re seventeen. Don’t you left the room to join his family.
wish that your family would let you
get on with your life on your own so- Conclusion – God/Love in all
metimes”, Moses asked as they left things
the field to shower and change.
“They’ll now be waiting for you, not gi- We are pretty sure that there are mil-
ving you any space”. “That’s right”, a liards of other ways of allowing the
few voices joined in. They were in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius be-
shower rooms by now. David was quiet come a school for parenting. For are
as he showered, hardly hearing the they not a school for all of life, really?
conversation going on around him. As So we hope that readers will explore
they dressed, he decided to talk to other applications and share among
most of his team mates, still in the us. We hope that we have shown,
changing room. “I might never have above all, that the parenting role is a
told you, but I’ve had a passion for fo- very deliberate and proactive one. So
otball since I was six. My parents many parents let things happen with
were always my biggest fans, taking children, believe that children will
me to all practices and games, discus- ‘come out all right’. This is true, but
sing how I played with the coaches, di- only in given situations. It is the role
scussing the game with me. My mum of the parent to create those settings.
even started a mum’s cheering squad, The parental vocation, being the foun-
encouraging more mum’s to be invol- dation for children’s lives, is neither
ved, even if they were clueless about passive nor aggressive. It is a nurtu-
the game. I am sure even after so ring role. It is little wonder that the
long, my mum cannot explain the scriptures use so many images of gar-
game. My elder brothers and sister deners and parents in portraying the
were always encouraging me. At image of our loving God. The contem-
home, we discuss how I am doing, plation to attain Divine Love is preci-
they help me set goals, and you see sely the goal of the Christian life – to
them out there now because they are find that in all things, love is the rea-
supporting me to achieve my goals. son and the purpose of God. Let us con-
They help me to keep focused, and ex- tinue our efforts and our joy in making
pect me to do the same for them. I am the children know that God’s will does
actually proud that they come to my all things in their favour, filling their
games. It’s not about me alone, even if cup to overflowing, accompanying
I am the only one playing. That ap- them through the valley of darkness,
plies to all we all do, together or indi- and loving them through all things.

Amoris Laetitia and the divorced who remarry

Samuel Yáñez

n March 19th, 2016, on Saint and fecundity, that inspires, blesses

Joseph’s day and in the hori- and accompanies the grace of God.
zon of the Jubilee of Mercy, When this road becomes impassable,
Pope Francis signed the Apostolic it remains only the separation. But
Exhortation Amoris Laetitia (about the establishment of a new union, it is
love in the family). The extensive text argued, is not consistent with the
– an introduction and nine chapters commitment made. Remarried divor-
that comprise 325 numbered para- cees are not excommunicated - this is
graphs - is fruit of an ample wor- a canonical punishment that separa-
ldwide process of assessment in the tes them from the community. They
Ecclesiastic Community. There were are not excluded in this way, but they
two consecutive surveys, directed to are not able to receive communion in
Member of CLC Chile. Married, the churches of all the countries, and the mass, nor receive forgiveness in
two children. Professor at the to two Synods’ in Rome (2014 and the sacrament of Reconciliation if
Philosophy Department of 2015), that met with bishops and a they do not leave the sexual union.
Alberto Hurtado University and few married couples and lay persons However, in some of the contributions
Coordinator of the Reflection from all over world. The answers to made in the Church Synod of the year
Groups of the Manuel Larrain the surveys given by some local chur- 2014, it was expressed that this situa-
Theological Center. ches, and the initial and final docu- tion is merciless, and a revision of the
ments of both Synods, in this last norm was called for. During the Sy-
case, with their respective votes, have nodal process it was made clear that
been made known to the public. It was it is a controversial issue.
addressed without any doubt as an
open process with the participation Acknowledgment of concrete
and listening of the Spirit, which
blows in the Magisterium, in the theo- situations and the taking care
logical work, in the sense of faith of of the people
those baptized (sensus fidei) and in
the world and the signs of the times.1 There is a good word in Amoris Laeti-
tia for the baptized who are divorced
One of the themes brought up in the and have remarried. Yes, there is: a
process and in the Exhortation is the door has been opened, a frontier has
situation, in the Church, of the divor- become porous. The way that Amoris
cees who remarried. It talks about the Laetitia confronts the situation of the
baptized who, united in sacrament of separated in a new union expresses
matrimony, get separated and, due to the good spirit and the orientation of
diverse circumstances, establish a the goal of the Exhortation.
new relationship, having gotten or not
a civil divorce.2 In many countries The text recognizes that is extended
their number has increased signifi- the desire and appreciation of the fa-
cantly. Their ecclesiastic situation is mily. Those who get married do so in-
subject to the canonical norm. The sa- spired by hope and lifetime
crament of marriage implies the free commitment. The break-up is not so-
consent of the spouses that unite mething good. The people who have
themselves indissolubly, engaging experienced it know better than
themselves in the road of mutual love anyone else that the separation is al-
En el siguiente sito web se encuentra abundante material sobre el proceso y la Exhortación apostólica:
https://sinodofamilia2015.wordpress.com/ .
The expression "divorced and remarried", then, refers here to baptized people, separated, having a new
union, whether or not they are civilly divorced.

ways accompanied by sadness and scern and ensure full fidelity to God in
hurt. In some cases, however, “separa- the concrete life of a human being”
tion becomes inevitable… even mo- (AL 304). Summa lex, summa iniuria.
rally necessary” (AL 241). That is, the door opens through the in-
vitation to a consideration of the ac-
The most explicit place for this good tual and effective situations. This
news for the divorced who remarry is makes it possible to do an exercise of
a footnote, the already historical foot- prudence, judgment, encouraged by
note n°351: in “certain cases” they will the merciful love of God. Without him
be able to access the “sacraments” (AL the norm does not vivify but ends up
305). Perhaps because of the place excluding. And this is what many of
where this affirmation is found, and the baptized who are separated feel.
because there is talk of sacraments in Amoris Laetitia echoes their com-
general, some have argued that with plaint.
the Exhortation
nothing has chan- In the world the novelty It is interesting to
ged. It is not like
that. A global in- of God in respect with notice that the
Exhortation propo-
terpretation of our liberty and the ses a road of co-
Amoris Laetitia ming together for
shows that a door rhythm of the human the divorced who
has been opened
for sacramental processes is being have remarried
which takes the
forgiveness and produced. God lives in path of see, judge
Eucharistic com- and act. This is a
munion for people the bottom of reality and method in commu-
who are divorced
and remarried, wi- works without a break. nities from France
and Belgium be-
thout the demand of leaving the se- fore the Vatican
xual union with the current husband Council II, which especially framed the
or wife. It is true that the Exhortation way of the Pastoral Constitution Gau-
does not propose “a new set of general dium et Spes about the Church in the
rules, canonical in nature and appli- Contemporary World of the same
cable to all cases” (AL 300). There is Council, and it has determined, signi-
no change of norm. But there is expre- ficantly, the way of the Post-conciliar
ssly a clarification about the meaning Latin American Church. It is first of all
and scope of the norm, in this case, ca- about being, of getting close and un-
nonical. There is the norm, but with it derstanding the reality. This recogni-
exists an “immense variety of concrete tion is done though the light of Jesus
situations” (AL 300). The general Christ and its options, especially accor-
norms, “in their formulation they can- ding to the perspective of the poor and
not provide absolutely for all particu- marginalized. In real situations, we
lar situations” (AL 304). The norm as
its name points out, is a norm in ge-
neral mode, but is not capable of in-
cluding, in a manner of speaking, all
the concrete situations, that are so di-
verse and determined by particular
circumstances. There is mediation
between the norm and its application
to concrete cases: the consideration of
people, processes, circumstances, in
short, what the moral tradition calls
the judgment of prudence. It even be-
comes “It is reductive simply to consi-
der whether or not an individual’s
actions correspond to a general law or
rule, because that is not enough to di-

judge, that is to say we discern the ac- there are diverse situations in the se-
tion of the Spirit, we seek the seeds of cond marriages. For example, “a se-
God who are already present. cond union consolidated over time,
with new children, proven fidelity, ge-
In the world the novelty of God in nerous self giving, Christian commit-
respect with our liberty and the ment, a consciousness of its
rhythm of the human processes is irregularity and of the great difficulty
being produced. God lives in the bot- of going back without feeling in con-
tom of reality and works without a science that one would fall into new
break. There is no person, town, cul- sins” or “there are also the cases of
ture, religion, nor any human situa- those who made every effort to save
tion, where God is not committed their first marriage and were unjustly
and where he cannot be found.3 abandoned, or of those who have ente-
Amoris Laetitia makes a The acknowledgement of
red into a second union for the sake of
the children’s upbringing, and are so-
call to keep in mind the reality and the discer- metimes subjectively certain in con-
nment, in the light of the science that their previous and
concrete situations. It faith and the dialogue irreparably broken marriage had
invites us “to keep with the human kno-
wledge, takes us to the
never been valid” (AL 298). Due to this
in moral terms, Amoris Laetitia, asks
firmly ground in collaboration with the di- to pay attention to the circumstances
vine activity. The mission of the human acts, and not only to
reality”, to “avoid of the Church is the an- their objectives and their intentions. If
judgments that do not nouncement of the Good
News, that is to say, to
the circumstances are not pro-
perly integrated, the moral judg-
take into account the accompany and encou- ment is incomplete; it does not hit
rage growth in love. the target: “Hence it can no longer
complexity of the simply be said that all those in any
diverse situations” In this way, Amoris Lae-
titia makes a call to keep
‘irregular’ situation are living in a
state of mortal sin and are deprived of
in mind the concrete situations. It in- sanctifying grace… factors may exist
vites us “to keep firmly ground in rea- which limit the capacity to make a de-
lity” (AL 6), to “avoid judgments that cision” (AL 301).
do not take into account the comple-
xity of the diverse situations” (AL 79), The Exhortation also does an ecclesia-
“to be attentive, by necessity, to how stic mea culpa: the Christian commu-
people experience and endure distress nity has responsibilities in respect
because of their condition” (AL 79). It with the marital break ups. The faults
is confirmed in this way, that actually that exist in them – the divorced who
the contextual difficulties for the fa- have remarried - can also be in part
mily life such as less support of cultu- ours. The church has contributed to
ral and social structures, the situation. Among other aspects
individualism, an accelerated life that can be mentioned are: an exces-
rhythm, the development of a culture sive and unilateral insistence on
of the provisional, long working days the procreative ends of marriage,
and long commutes, limited job oppor- which sometimes obscure the
tunities for the young, etc. (AL 32, 33, importance of the unitive end;
39, 44). On the other hand, it is reco- the lack of pastoral accom-
gnized that there is a diversity of fa- paniment to the married
miliar situations: “there is no couples during their first years,
stereotype of the ideal family but ra- the development of an abstract theo-
ther a challenging mosaic” formed by logy of marriage, disconnected from
many different realities, full of joy, the concrete situations; the difficulty to
dramas and dreams (AL 57). give space to the conscience of the fai-
thful in their decisions; a way of dea-
The Exhortation acknowledges that ling with the people that does not allow

Pastoral plan of the Catholic Church in Cuba 2014-2020, "On the road to Emmaus", n. 74

the transparency of the compassionate but this “does not mean that (the love)
closeness of Jesus; an unilateral insi- is fake or that it is not real… Love coe-
stence on doctrinal, bioethics, and xists with imperfection” (AL 113).
moral issues, not integrating more fir- There is an invitation to respect
mly contributions from other fields like “those signs of love that in some way
psychology and anthropology, for reflect God’s own love” (AL 294). “Fra-
example (AL 36, 37, 38). ternal charity is the first law of Chri-
stians” (AL 306). “Jesus himself is the
Marginalize or reintegrate? Shepherd of the hundred, not just of
the ninety-nine” (AL 309).
Towards an adult judgment
and a pastoral accompaniment What does this path of reintegration
proposed by the Exhortation regar-
The movement of approaching and co- ding the divorced who remarry consist
ming together to the diverse situations of? In general, “what is urgently nee-
of the divorced who remarry, ded today is a ministry to care for
with a realistic and care- those whose marital relationship has
ful perspective of the broken down” (AL 238). “It is impor-
people, leads into the tant that the divorced who have ente-
proposal of a path: red a new union should be made to
“There are two ways of feel part of the Church. ‘They are not
thinking which recur excommunicated’ and they should be
throughout the Church’s treated as such, since they remain
history: casting off and part of the ecclesial community.
reinstating. The Church’s These situations ‘require careful di-
way, from the time of the scernment and respectful accompani-
Council of Jerusalem, has al- ment. Language or conduct that
ways always been the way of might lead them to feel discriminated
Jesus, the way of mercy and against should be avoided, and they
reinstatement… The way of should be encouraged to participate in
the Church is not to condemn the life of the community” (AL 243). It
anyone for ever; it is to pour out the shall be added that “Christian com-
balm of God’s mercy on all those who munities must not abandon divorced
ask for it with a sincere heart… For parents who have entered a new
true charity is always union but should include and support
unmerited, uncondi- them in their efforts to bring up their
tional and gratui- children” (AL 246). Together with the
tous” (AL 296). In emphasis on “the need to make the
Amoris Laetitia we find procedure in cases of nullity more ac-
many exhortations to continue this cessible and less time consuming,
path, not only for these situations, but and, if possible, free of charge” (AL
for others as well: inclusion, compas- 244), there is also the invitation to
sion, love, care, tenderness (AL 47, 52, take this new road and follow an “iti-
128, 58, 59, 243, 246, 291, 294, 297, nerary of accompaniment and discer-
299, 308, etc.). A less inclusive thin- nment” (AL 300).
king has been expressed in statements
and public words of the baptized be- What is stimulated is a personal and
fore and after the exhortation. “I un- pastoral discernment of each situa-
derstand,” says Francis, “those who tion, that makes it possible to heal
prefer a more rigid pastoral care wounds, renovate the life of faith,
which leaves no room for confusion. reintegrate, and, if it is concluded like
But I sincerely believe that Jesus this, the celebration of sacramental
wants a Church attentive to the good- forgiveness and of the Eucharistic
ness which the Holy Spirit sows in the Communion. It is all about a personal
midst of human weakness” (AL 308). judgment, that is to say, done by both
spouses and by each one of them. This
The situation of divorcees who re- supposes that “individual conscience
marry is called “irregular” usually, needs to be better incorporated in the

Church’ praxis in certain situations accompany in a pastoral manner the
which do not objectively embody our personal judgments of the divorced
understanding of marriage…yet con- who remarry, accepting them, suppor-
science…can also recognize with sin- ting them, and helping them in their
cerity and honesty what for now is the decision of conscience. “I encourage
most generous response which can be the faithful who find themselves in
given to God, and come to see with a complicated situations to speak confi-
certain moral security that it is what dently with their pastors or with other
God himself is asking amid the con- lay people whose lives are committed
crete complexity of one’s limits…” (AL to the Lord… I also encourage the
303). It is remembered with Gaudium Church’s pastors to listen to them
et spes, that the conscience is “the with sensitivity and serenity, with a
most secret core and the sanctuary of sincere desire to understand their
a person” …where “each one is alone plight and their point of view, in order
with God, whose voice echoes in the to help them live better lives and to
depths of the heart” (AL 222). “fi- recognize their proper place in the
nally…the parents themselves and no Church” (AL 312).
one else should ultimately make this
judgment in the sight of God” (AL Summing up, Amoris Laetitia “offers
222). Therefore the divorcees who are us a framework and a setting which
remarried are invited to discern in an help us avoid a cold bureaucratic mo-
adult and serious manner their situa- rality in dealing with more sensitive
tion, without opposing to the fact that issues. Instead, it sets us in the con-
a consequence of such discernment text of a pastoral discernment filled
may be to communicate. That is why with merciful love, which is ever
Francis reminds “priests that the con- ready to understand, forgive, accom-
fessional shall not be a torture cham- pany, hope, and above all, integrate.
ber, but rather an encounter with the That is the mind-set which should
Lord’s mercy” …Likewise he outlined prevail in the Church” (AL 312). It is
that the Eucharist is not a prize for a great challenge for the Christian
the perfect, but a powerful medicine community, for the bishops, presby-
and nourishment for the weak” (AL ters and the laity. The concrete lan-
305, note 351). ding will require a pastoral path that
has not yet been traveled. What can
However, the personal judgment is we do to answer to this invitation to
also a pastoral discernment. This reintegrate? “Look I am standing at
means on one hand, according to the the door and knocking. If anyone li-
logic of integration, “discerning which stens to my voice and opens the door,
of the various forms of exclusion cur- I will come in to him and eat with
rently practiced in the liturgical, pa- him, and he will eat with me” (Apoca-
storal, educational and institutional lypses 3, 20).
framework can be surmounted” (AL Original in Spanish
299). On the other hand it is meant to Translated by Jennifer Fox

How to talk to children about God

Maria Carolina Sanchez Silva - CLC Colombia

his is the title of a book that Teaching children to know God

my mother Maria Teresa wrote
a few years back, and I later If you knew of a glorious place that
had the opportunity to add to. She was hidden from the view of a bum-
wanted her children and grandchil- bling traveler, would you show your
dren to inherit the certainty of her children the way to get there? Or
faith, and the means of establishing would you leave it up to chance for
and knowing a link between God and them to discover this special path?
daily life. Her words were treasures Would any parent just leave it up to
that could not be tucked away fore- chance for their children to learn ho-
ver. They needed to be communica- nesty, or to inherit their grandparents’
ted, written, and talked about with good habits?
other parents. As parents we have Maria Carolina Sanchez
been given the adventure of follo- AL 16 says: One of the Psalms celebra- Silva, CLC member since
wing our children in their growth tes the proclamation of faith within fa- 1989. Psychologist from
and through the many stages of milies: “All that we have heard and
Pontifical Javeriana Univeristy
their lives. We realise that we often known, that our fathers have told us,
in Bogota, Colombia, with
need to search out and invent new we will not hide from their children,
post graduate studies in
strategies, to network amongst our-
psychoanalysis. Currently
but will tell to the coming generation psichoterapist for youngsters,
selves, and to find useful resources the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his adults and religious people.
that support our children in their might, and the wonders which he has In addition to her work she
vital development. I would like to wrought…he commanded our fathers accompanies Ignatian Spritual
share some thoughts from the book to teach to their children; that the next Exercises and offers to the
and from my own personal expe- generation might know them, the chil- community at large, workshops
rience in support of the words of dren yet unborn, and arise and tell on psychology and spirituality
Pope Francis in Amoris Laetitia AL them to their children. The family is . She is currently leading the
15: “We know that the New Testa- thus the place where parents become Family Project for CLC
ment speaks of ‘churches that meet their children’s first teachers in the
Colombia with a team in
in homes’. A family’s living space faith. They learn this ‘trade’, passing
charge of two main workshops,
can turn into a domestic church, a it down from one person to another:
“The Family Clock” and
setting for the Eucharist, a place for
“How to Speak About God To
When in time to come your son asks Our Children”. She has been
Christ to be seated at the table”. you… You shall say to him…” married to Eduardo, also a
member of CLC Colombia, for
How wonderful to position the dome- Using the inspiration of Christ to 24 years and has two daughters:
stic home as a place where God is tal- raise children is indeed an artisanal Laura who is 19 years old
ked about to children! It is here, in task that we carry out day by day; it and Ana Maria, 14 years.
this place of get-together and daily requires a genuine interest, consi-
conviviality, this place of profound stency, imagination, creativity, pa-
connection, that we forge our identi- tience and above all trust that God is
ties as children and as parents. It helping our children in parallel with
says in AL 287: “parents are the us, feeding their hearts and mind
means that God uses for (children’s alongside our efforts. “Handing on the
faith) to grow and develop.” So it can faith presumes that parents themsel-
be said that God has created parents ves genuinely trust God, seek him and
to demonstrate to children how His sense their need for him…we need to
divine guidance and unconditional ask God to act in their hearts, in pla-
love works. At the same time, chil- ces where we ourselves cannot
dren, with their simplicity, their reach…our creative commitment is it-
spontaneity and their daily que- self an offering which enables us to
stions, can show parents the joyous cooperate with God’s plan.” (AL 287)
face of God.
God alive and present We can tell them that God looks at
them the same way we look at them…
We all know that the real imprint in He loves us the same way that parents
the lives of our children comes from love their children – with an unwave-
what they learn in the home environ- ring love, even when they’re wrong.
ment. Relationships that are establi- We show them God’s love when we un-
shed here will determine the attitudes veil their potential for good, ackno-
that they carry within them to meet li- wledge their beautiful nature that is
fe’s circumstances. We would wish full of possibilities; and show them
that, when they become adults, they how God’s Gift has the power to make
know how to look to God for their main themselves and others very happy.
reference point. That’s why it’s vital
they learn early to see God in every- As parents we need to be bridges bet-
day life. It is important that we find ween children and God in order to fa-
God’s Will in their games, during me- cilitate a trusting relationship with
altimes, when they are with friends, in God. This means that God becomes
disagreements, at parties, while doing someone who can listen to our child
homework, or in any situation where without judgment, who wants to know
God manifests himself. A child’s image how they are, how they feel, to give
of God is directly affected by the type them fortitude and light in their times
of relationship s/he shares with of need and provide them with good-
his/her parents or important caregi- ness – for themselves, and for others.
vers. Our loving link with our children There’s no room for fear or threats,
tells them a lot about God. This is and definitely no room for puni-
shown when we listen to them, let shment. We are not surveyed or jud-
them make their own decisions, boost ged by God. His love is full of
their self-confidence, and – above all – understanding and forgiveness, espe-
when we teach them to think for cially when we look at ourselves with
themselves. In other words, we don’t a compassion that recognises limits,
impose our opinions, but instead we and desires us to be a better person.
let them express their own, taking
their words into account, respecting Praying is conversing with God
them, and letting them be part of the
fabric of our family development. This We need to encourage a relationship of
way we can say the same as AL 289: friendship with God. In the same way
“Parents desirous of nurturing the as we do with all our friends, we need
faith of their children are sensitive to to keep in touch with God. It is very
their patterns of growth, for they difficult to establish a loving relation-
know that spiritual experience is not ship without dedicating time, or rea-
imposed but freely proposed.” ching out for a conversation, or
sharing a silence. In order for our chil-
We all know that the real AL 288: “Education in
the faith has to adapt to
dren to feel that God is their friend, we
need to encourage the right conditions
imprint in the lives of each child, since older re- for them to meet Him. Firstly we need
to help them to connect with themsel-
sources and recipes do
our children comes from not always work.” Every ves in an environment of calmness and
silence. For this to happen it is neces-
what they learn in the mum and dad must
choose the right time sary to invite moments of quietness,
home environment. and right way to reach
out to the mind and
where we become aware of the life that
flows inside all of us. Breathing exer-
Relationships that are heart of each child. cises, for example, deep and slow,
There is no doubt that allow us to feel the pulse of our heart.
established here will God inspires us constan- This prepares us to perceive God as ac-
ting in our lives and in the events that
determine the attitudes tly, in everyday situa-
tions which often arise in happen to us each day. “Children need
that they carry within the form of challenges, symbols, actions and stories. Since
adolescents usually have issues with
problems, events and op-
them to meet life’s portunities. This is not a authority and rules, it is best to encou-
task for one day, it is the rage their own experience of faith and
circumstances task of a lifetime. to provide them with attractive testi-

monies that win them over by their
sheer beauty.” (AL 28)

As well as a tangible presence in our

lives, God is actually someone to
whom we can talk. It’s important to
teach our children how to talk to Him,
perhaps aloud, or maybe by writing
Him letters. It is good to tell God what
is happening to us, to say thanks, and
to tell Him how we are affected by the
events around us. Encourage children
to be brief and use a friendly lan-
guage, clear and concise, so the child
perceives God as one of his friends.
Establishing easy dialogue and a re-
lationship of trust allows children to
express their more personal thoughts.
Encourage your children to be than-
kful for each day, helping them feel
the blessings that we all receive. This
awareness can be applied to both the
easy things and the difficult things in
life. Also let the child be reminded of
the needs of others.
Bring the bible to our daily life
Teach them that praying does not con-
sist of asking for things, as if God was God is alive and present in the bible.
a kind of distributor of consumer In it, we can find a message that is
goods. Children will never forget if current for people of all centuries.
you explain to them that the greatest This is because His message reaches
gift God gives us is enlightenment of across human time and context. We
the mind and heart. From this enli- can talk to our children about God by
ghtenment we are able to develop the applying the bible to our daily life, in-
capacity to improve ourselves. The troducing the word of Jesus in our
child will absorb your meaning little daily routine, finding support in His
by little. Don’t be judgmental about words. There are innumerable passa-
anything a child says during prayer. ges in the life of Jesus where His
There’s nothing that pleases God deeds, words and actions provide gui-
more than sincerity. On the contrary, dance on how we should live and act.
encourage your child to talk in a frank Throughout our children’s early years,
and trusting way. Children should feel and throughout their puberty, let’s
free to speak simply, telling God of take advantage of any break from
things that they like, things that they daily activities where a space of inti-
don’t understand, and things that macy and warmth can be created;
they find difficult. Repeat the words here is where we can grow our rela-
of Jesus to the child: “wherever two or tionship with them. Let them see how
three gather in my name, there I am the bible acts as a basic guide, a point
with them. “ (Matthew 18: 20). Ex- of reference, helping them to solve
plain that when parents and children problems, evaluate behaviour, even to
pray together they gather in commu- judge political and social crisis, giving
nion with Jesus, and this pleases God the child a tool to understand the
immensely. Family occasions which world in which s/he lives. This is how
place God in the centre are very po- we can look at and understand life
werful in love and unity. These gathe- from God’s perspective.
rings take us to the deepest levels of
ourselves and our relationships. As it The path of faith
said in AL 288: “moments of family
prayer and acts of devotion can be As children grow, this family practice
more powerful for evangelization than of praying together is also useful to
any catechism class or sermon” help us discuss and analyse what
brings us closer to God and what alie- that the bible is not a scientific book and
nates us from Him. In this way we can it was not written with the purpose of
teach our children about Jesus’ point offering scientific explanations of rea-
of view and his actions, and ask what lity. Faith involves a process of formu-
would Jesus do? lating questions. It’s the responsibility
of all of us to meditate on those que-
There are many children who learn to stions in order to find ways forward.
know God when little, and later lose
their faith when they grow up, much It is very difficult to reconcile the pain
to the consternation of their parents. and suffering that exists in the world
One of the reasons for this might be with the certainty of God’s gift of love
that, while growing up, a child has en- and compassion. We need to try to
countered situations and difficulties give answers that stimulate the child
which were in conflict with his/her to look for answers by themselves. Not
faith. We need to anticipate this and everything is clear and understanda-
provide children with tools they can ble in a person’s relationship with
use to face and overcome these God. As with any human process, the
doubts, not only these doubts, but any relationship builds as it goes. If you
other obstacles they may find in their tell children your truth but in a sim-
path to faith. ple way, according to their age, they
will never feel betrayed by their pa-
In order to be able to answer all the rents, nor by their teachings. If chil-
questions that children ask us, we as dren are encouraged to seek their
parents need to update our knowledge. truth in any setbacks they encounter
We need to have a strong foundation on their way to God, they will never
to be able to guide children appropria- feel disillusioned in faith.
tely to understand the essential dog-
mas of the Christian faith. The This is a good chance to highlight the
teachings of Jesus are always valid, freedom that God gives us to choose
but the world is changing because life between good and evil. He has made
itself never remains the same. People, us free and therefore responsible for
as time goes by, must face new chal- our own actions. He respects our deci-
lenges and ways of perceiving things. sion-making processes. We can count
We have to make an effort to under- on Him to take our side, though He
stand and assimilate these generatio- will do so on His own terms. Often God
nal differences, and prepare our will act not as an outside presence but
children to do the same in their future. respond from within the self.

For example, we have to reconcile the Searching on their own

truths of faith with scientific discove-
ries. To do that we need to understand When the child is little s/he under-
stands God by words from parents,
teachers, grandparents etc. When s/he
grows up, however, s/he has to under-
stand God alone. So we have to encou-
rage our children to look for God by
themselves. Parents can lead them to
the threshold of mystery, but crossing
the threshold is done at their own ac-
cord. They themselves need to build
their own image of God which belongs
to their own generation, involving
new ways of relating to him, new
ways of interpreting him - updating
His teachings and placing them in
current context.

They need to learn that having doubts

is natural and necessary. Sometimes God and be willing to give the best of
true faith will take us through passa- themselves: their gifts, capabilities,
ges of darkness. We need to teach time and effort.
them to have the freedom to think
deeply and interpret their own way A family which is active in faith can
forward. In order to respect a child as establish a solid and sustainable basis
a vessel of God, we should avoid en- for life. We can read about this in AL
slaving him/her in our own ways of 289: “Children who grew up in missio-
thinking. If we don’t allow them the nary families often become missiona-
freedom to search for themselves, how ries themselves”… and AL 290: “the
can we pretend that when they have family is thus an agent of pastoral ac-
found their faith, it is something they tivity through its explicit proclama-
have found truly by themselves? tion of the Gospel and its legacy of
varied forms of witness, namely soli-
That freedom does not mean that we darity with the poor, openness to a di-
leave them without guidance, or that versity of people, the protection of
we just shift their problems back to creation, moral and material solida-
their plate and leave them to their rity with other families, including
own devices. On the contrary, we those most in need, commitment to
should always be ready to orient them the promotion of the common good…”
in their search. But we orientate them
without imposing our points of view, Talking about God with our children helps
or impeding on their freedom. We filter out any false notions that they may
must encourage them to keep going, have developed about Him. We can help
to not get tired of trying. We must re- them face the adventure of existing in His
spectfully listen to their own observa- Company without magic or prefabricated
tions and appreciate their wisdom. plans or rules. How do we talk about God
with our children? This is a question that
We should not patronise them, acting poses a challenge every day, for each fa-
as if it is we who possess the only mily, and it requires from us as parents, a
truth. If we do that, the child or tee- transformation of our own, a blossoming
nager will lose interest in talking of our own love. Hopefully, as parents, we
about spiritual issues with us, and we can always be in the presence of this living
will have lost not just their trust but and present God, so loving and good that
also the opportunity to discuss any op- He gave us Jesus with the same love we
portunities and limitations that lie on feel for our children, so that we can all say
their path ahead. At the end of the - based on our life experiences within our
day we have to teach them to respect families - that: “we know and rely on the
the opinions of others and lead them love God has for us” (1 Jn. 4,16).
away from fanaticism. In other words,
we want them to be generous with Original in Spanish
Translated by Sarah Walker

The International Format
July 2017
tion Encounter on Family
7 Madrid
Live the fruitfulness of Love:
The Acrescere Foundation and children without families

Blanca Arregui y Alejandro Martínez - CLC Galilea - Madrid - Spain

e want to tell you about our children. Finally, we also give our sup-
Apostolic Mission, as a mar- port to some missions on other conti-
ried couple, within the small nents who work to give welcome
Acrescere Foundation (www.fundacio- shelter to children who had been lea-
nacrescere.org). Carrying the motto ding their life among the dangers of a
Homes where to grow, the foundation life on the street.
was established in December 2009, a
few days before Christmas and had In these seven years the Foundation
the support through membership of has been developing its activities, re-
the Board (governing body) of Jesuits, maining always flexible, responding
members of other religious congrega- all the time to the changing reality of
tions and lay people of an Ignatian in- children without family. And it has
spiration. Since that time, the been receiving the support of many
foundation is where we channel all the people, not only within the Catholic
Alejandro Martínez Member volunteering time that our jobs allow network and our communities, but
of the board since its creation us to have, most of the money that we also from others, non-believers who
as founder. Doctor in Econo- can afford from our salaries, and are sensitive to this problem and who
mics and Bachelor in Socio- above all, our desires and prayers. want to help us, accepting all along
logy. He has been president that our inspiration is one of a Catho-
of several NGOs. Currently We set up the Foundation to support lic organization and which we pro-
collaborates with various children who must spend their lives in claim clearly in our statutes and in
institutions as, for various reasons, our literature and advertising.
Non-profit Organizations
they cannot live with their family:
they can be orphans, or illtreated or We would like to show you how God, even
abandoned, or emigrated on their before setting up the Acrescere Founda-
own, etc. Through Acrescere we offer tion, led us, and as in the Contemplation
them companionship, leisure and trai- to Gain Love, worked with us, on this be-
ning in the values of life and, when, autiful mission that we believe is part of
having come of age, they are turned his designs of love for creation.
out from institutions and have no-
where to live, we offer them apar- We felt that the seed had been really
tments to live in and help them work planted in August 2000, back in Cal-
on a plan for transition into adult life. cutta (India) when, engaged to be
In addition to helping these children married, we went to experience the
while they live in institutions, poor among the poor, as volunteers of
through Acrescere Foundation, we the Missionaries of Charity. In the
also strive for what we consider im- Shishu Bhavan orphanage and, above
portant: that as much as possible all, in a centre for handicapped chil-
Member of the board since these children get a chance to leave dren in the City of Joy, God opened
its creation as founder. the institutions and to be welcomed or our eyes to look at the reality of chil-
Bachelor's degree in Psychology adopted by families and grow in the dren who do not have the support of a
and CC. Economic and
right environment of love that only a family – with a way of looking that, at
family can offer. To this end, we have the time we did not understand, was
Commercial (ADE). She
teaches training activities
and advises government developed awareness and information similar to that of the Trinity, because
agencies and the management campaigns under the slogan “No child it was so hard and, shocked by the fee-
of religious institutions, without family”. The aim is to get ling of helplessness, we just ran away.
schools, foundations and Spanish families to know the reality The earth was further irrigated, so to
other social Organizations. of so many children without a family speak, the following year 2001 when,
(currently in Spain almost 20,000), after our honeymoon, we began our
and to encourage them to feel called married life doing the month-long Spi-
to open their home and heart to these ritual Exercises, where in response to
the call of the Lord “He who welcomes evaluating the vision and the discer-
a child in my name welcomes me” (Mk nment was complicated.
9, 37), we were led to make the deci-
sion to, in addition to raising our own During those years, we were beco-
biological children, also foster chil- ming more aware of the social and
dren or adopt others. As a result we human needs that exist in Spain: chil-
registered with the authorities as a dren and adolescents who do not have
welcoming fostering family and, six a family and a home - or belong to a
months later, the seedling flourished broken family - for whom there were
and we welcomed our daughter nine not enough centers or homes run by
month old Nicole, of African origin, religious (who were abandoning this
whom we would later, when she was work because of the reduced numbers
five, adopt (today she is a sweet and among their confreres), or by other
deep-thinking 15 year old teenager). groups with non-profit orientation.
Effectively homes and centers were
During the 2004 Exercises, shared being managed by profit-making com-
with the CLC Hogar de Santa María panies. At the same time, the autho-
in Burgos (Spain), a new call was rities, driven by need to make savings,
born, a prophecy and an imperative: were opting once more for the model
“They shall bring your sons in their of large institutions of more than one
arms... Enlarge your tent ...” (Is 49:22 hundred children, instead of conti-
and 54:2). In 2005, our family of three nuing to favor the model of small
spent the summer combined with for- homes. Particularly during 2008, it
mation with the Jesuits of Antilles, in was a time for talking with many con-
the Dominican Republic. By opening gregations that still had homes, for li-
ourselves to the reality of that country stening and trying to understand if
(our second home), in 2006, the day of the signs of the times showed us a real
Nicole’s 5th birthday, we received a need to answer.
beautiful gift, welcoming home Igna-
cio, our second child of Haitian-Domi- The idea of giving a concrete response
nican origin. He was about two and was clearly beckoning. And the poin-
had already experienced a hard life ters were towards an organized, insti-
for shoulders so small, having first tutional entity. So, we started thinking
lived in the street, and later in the ho- about creating a Foundation (in Spain
spital. Now, Nacho is an all-energy, opting to set up an association is more
kind pre-adolescent of 12 years, full of complicated to manage and has other
fighting spirit and generosity. aspects that would not suit our aims,
since, in principle, we were only put-
In 2007, this time Blanca doing her ting forward a marriage).
Exercises in Machachi (Ecuador),
with the Jesuits of the Ecuadorian Moreover, we realized that clearly our
Province, where the family of four had
gone for Alejandro’s PhD studies on
Ecuadorian migration in Spain, expe-
rienced a new very intense spiritual
movement. That of adopting a girl
(specifically female) with special
needs due to chronic illness or disabi-
lity, because “despised and rejected by
men, overwhelmed by pain and fami-
liar with the suffering ... we esteem
her in nothing ... After a life of afflic-
tion, she will understand that she has
not suffered in vain “(Is 53: 1-12). Ho-
wever, this time around, the decision
was not so clear cut, where one of us
seemed to see clearly, the other did
not and vice versa. We alternated in

family could not welcome or adopt all were aware that it could make us lose
the children who need it and we would income (in fact, we already have lost
have to take care of them in a diffe- some donations and / or inheritance
rent way, involving more people. for this reason).

During these years we again found By way of guaranteeing our faithful-

much inspiration in the Word of God: ness to that ideology, we let the gover-
in the daughter of Jairus, the girl who ning body of CLC-Spain know of this,
seems dead but, with Jesus, surroun- in case they were interested in dele-
ded by the family that takes care of gating one of their members to be on
her, it turns out that she is only asleep the Board. They did not consider it ne-
(Mk 5: 35- 43); or in the Mystery of the cessary, and we asked two Jesuit
daughter of the Syro-Phoenician friends and other religious friends
woman (Mk 7: 24-30), who teaches us from different congregations and who
to ask Jesus for those children who had experience in the field of work
are outside our usual environment ... with children, to be part of the Board.
And many more references that would There have been changes: for exam-
be too long to relate. It was a constant ple, the Josephite religious has left be-
in our respective annual Exercises cause she has been assigned outside
and in sessions of spiritual direction. Madrid, but we have a Franciscan
and a Missionary of Jesus, Mary and
Finally, in December 2009, the Acre- Joseph. There are also lay people from
scere Foundation was created with other Ignatian communities and from
the express belief that it felt called not the parish. Their participation is of
only to provide material help to the greatest value and they bring to the
children it welcomes, but also to offer Foundation their support in the fulfil-
them educational and academic trai- lment of its mission.
ning, as well as human and spiritual
values, which encourage the develop- Another characteristic of our Founda-
ment of the person and the binging to tion, which we have been learning
fruition all the children’s potential as more and more, is that it is financed
they moved into adult life. with “the sum of small generosities,
small solidarities”. We have been di-
The team that forms Acrescere One of the early decisions that we had scovering it over the years. In our
Foundation is a group of to face was whether the Foundation, Foundation projects it always begins,
people of different a civil society, which, in Spain, is the thanks to the generous offer of so-
professional profiles, we work model that is adopted even by reli- meone, much like Jesus multiplying
gious congregations, was to be Catho- the loaves and fishes that are offered.
with professionalism and

lic or “agnostic” denomination. We For example, an offer from one of the

passion for our goals,
committed to the day to day
with the hope of improving chose the Catholic inspiration and we religious congregations, like that of
the lives of children without developed the Statutes consistent the Salesians who gave us a floor to
with that ideology, even though we open the first home towards Indepen-

dence in Adult Life. And the rest of disability, this time, at the initiative of
the necessary income comes through Alejandro. Interestingly, we called the
donations of goods or money, volun- public body to arrange a meeting and,
tary work, membership fees, services, a couple of months later they called us
etc. When we have had any public to tell us that they had processed our
grant, it has always been small, much request, when in fact we had not re-
lower than the real costs. Of course, quested it and we had only gone to ob-
our fellow CLC Galilee group mem- tain further information! They told us
bers, are always supporting and jour- that we could no longer return to the
neying with us. It’s clear the Lord has previous category, in which we were
given us the gift of communion part of a register of families that are a
around the shared table. home to children without health pro-
blems, and they gave us two months to
Currently, July 2016, our activities either close our file forever or proceed.
cover both the Spanish territory and And proceed we did.
some developing countries. We have
120 members and volunteers. Our ob- In July 2013 we met and welcomed
jectives set in the statutes are: our daughter Denisa (a name mea-
1. To improve the quality of life of youn- ning Goddess of Heaven), Denise for
gsters living in Shelter Institutions. us, a little princess, a Romanian
gypsy 6 years of age (who had a con-
2. Support young people who are no genital brain injury that made the left
longer looked after by authorities part of her body paralyzed and has a
and are at risk of exclusion. mental age of 2-3 years). She had
3. Assume the direct management of lived in the worst shanty town in Ma-
juvenil centers. drid and one year in an institution.
4. Encourage foster care and adop- Her mother had stopped visiting her
tion of children without family in a few months after she was placed
Spain. there. A beautiful girl, cheerful and
very insecure, that within half an
5. Collaborate with other NGOs and hour was calling us mom and dad.
entities that carry out activities Now, much more secure and loving,
that complement or coincide with but just as cheerful, she is always con-
those of Acrescere. cerned on how we all are in the family,
We are a private, independent
and non-profit foundation,
6. Support projects of other organiza- and follows our comings and goings governed by a Board of
tions connected to our mission in like no other member of the family. professionals linked to the
Third World countries. She, in addition, has a special bond
world of business, religious

with God because, as she herself says,

and solidarity. With your
support and advice, we, who
After the creation of our Foundation, “I am your daughter of the soul and of integrate Accrescere
God continued to be active in our he- heaven”, which makes her a privile- Foundation, volunteers,
arts and, in 2011, we came back to con- ged mediation for us with her unti- collaborators and staff
sider the decision to host a girl with a mely evangelical phrases, often very
members, work for the most
disadvantaged children.

timely and always inspiring. ... She one of the floors of an old religious
was born in February 2007, five place that housed a community of
months before that first call that Brothers of the Holy Family. Our first
Blanca felt in Ecuador. When Blanca Foundation Children’s Home will be
prayed for her, she had already come called Sagrada Familia. Three congre-
into the world, back in Slobozia (Ro- gations have already committed to the
mania) ... In a few days, we shall de- project and we are waiting for another
posit at the Court documents for her three or four to come on board. In ad-
adoption. What does she desire most? dition to the objective of serving chil-
“When I can call myself Martinez”! dren without family, this Home would
create the space for an apostolic work
Actually, we have never become biolo- of collaboration among various reli-
gical parents, only God knows why gious congregations and between reli-
and, in any case, He has blessed us gious and laity.
with a much greater fecundity, ma-
king us parents of a multitude, multi- On a recent radio program, they
plying our descendants like in the asked us what we had learned in all
case of Abraham (Gn 17: 4-6 ), with this time. Our answer with great
our three adopted children and all the aplomb was: That Love can do every-
other children we care for through the thing, that only Love transforms us,
Foundation. We perfectly understand changes evil into good. We see it even
the words of the Pope: in the 10-day summer camps, which
we organize every year for children
“The choice of adoption and foster who normally live in institutions. The
care expresses a particular kind of affection we give them seems to
fruitfulness in the marriage expe- change them. We instill this guideline
rience, and not only in cases of in- in our workers who look after the chil-
fertility. ... [It] manifests an dren: We ask you to make the effort
important aspect of parenting and to understand that any bad beha-
the raising of children. They make viour, call for attention or answering
people aware that children, whether back has its ultimate origin in the
natural, adoptive or taken in foster lack of love they have lived through
care, are persons in their own right and, therefore, it can only be transfor-
who need to be accepted, loved and med through love, not based on puni-
cared for, and not just brought into shments and or even to exclusion from
this world. The best interests of the the group, because they have suffered
child should always underlie any enough abandonment in their lives.
decision in adoption and foster We would encourage you to listen to
care.” (Amoris Laetitia n.180). the needs of the men and women of
the world as you become incarnated in
We also feel that the myth of the ideal that world. No doubt, it is not an easy
family, model, does not exist. The fa- path, like the life of Jesus, but one
mily is the one who experiences itself that only generates true happiness,
as such and God himself creates diffe- and we can say with Psalm 41 (1-2):
rent types of family. “ Blessed is he who considers the poor;
This year we are receiving two new The Lord will deliver him in time of
gifts: the first, one of joy because the trouble.
new local community in Madrid, CLC The Lord will preserve him and keep
Pedro Arrupe, has chosen as its Com- him alive,
munity Apostolic Project, to work with
the Acrescere Foundation through And he will be blessed on the earth;
their voluntary work and in other You will not deliver him to the will of
ways. The second, is the possibility to his enemies.”
lead an apostolic project, in collabora- Originally in Spanish
tion with several religious congrega- Translated by David Formosa
tions, aiming to create a home for 6-7 All the pictures in this article are taken from:
children under 10-17 years of age on https://www.fundacionacrescere.org

Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy (Psalm 126,5)

Pedro Labrin SJ - Padis+ Chile

adis+ (Sexual Diversity Pasto- xuality. Each resisted internally to ha-

ral Community) is a bud shoo- ving to accept the repression of their
ting from the Catholic Church sexuality as the sole virtuous spiritual
in Chile. A fruit of the Church itself path just for being homosexual. There
that each day renews and converts had to be a point of communion bet-
more due to the missionary action of ween what they were in their most in-
the Holy Spirit. This is how we - those timate self and God’s project in their
who are part of it – understand it, be lives – which cannot be separated
it as LGB1 or as heterosexual fathers from one’s own manner of loving. In
and mothers of LGB sons and dau- unjust and unfair hiding, life of the
ghters or as priests and nuns and lay- community had to be kept secret, as
people accompanying this wonderful not all of them had made public their
experience of the Gospel. sexual orientation and because the
environmental and ecclesial hostility
We recognise the inspiration of the assured them gratuitous abuse at the Pedro Labrin SJ is a Chilean
Spirit in many calls that, despite ha- time of exposure. Those were personal Jesuit. He has been the Na-
ving different protagonists, from 2009 and community times, still ambiguous tional Ecclesiastical Assistant
evidenced an unequivocal conver- in which the dilemma between public of the CLC Chile. Accompa-
gence within the Christian Life Com- and private wasn’t solved yet for each nies, since its foundation in
munity in Chile (CLC). Today, after and all of them, just as much as bet- 2010, the Pastoral of Sexual
six years, there is no weakening in our ween Catholic and ecumenical, bet- Diversity (Padis +), an initia-
admiration for the spiritual health of ween acting as per the conscience or
tive for the full inclusion of
CLC, an official, Catholic community, the doctrine in the realisation of their
LGBT people in the Catholic
Christian community
which in its support to Padis+ reflects love and sex life, etc. He is known in his country
its prophetic readiness to discern for media interventions in
God’s will in our days and the courage The Spirit clarified things without favor of the inclusion of Se-
to welcome it taking it to practice. haste, as in a micro-synod, from xual Diversity in the Catholic
CLC is a true light among many other where sprung the will of coming out Church, from a pastoral per-
communities that have preferred sa- and making its existence visible as ho- spective
cralising old customs and not so few mosexual Christian Catholics. First,
‘disordered affections’2, opting finally knocking on my office’s door to ask if
for building up a wall that separates, CLC would be a space where the for-
marking the limit of inclusion that ir- mulations of the Catholic doctrine
rationally translated into condemna- would be used for abusing homose-
tion and censorship of any diverse xuals and promoting homophobia in
expression of human sexuality. the Church. Then, for sharing the will
to call to other men and women with
All the calling signs came from the diverse sexual orientations and gen-
Church in mission. First were Franci- der identities wishing to reencounter
sco, Pablo, Alberto, Cristóbal, Tomás, with their spirituality within a
Rafael, Sebastián, Víctor, Héctor, who Church space, public and at the same
created a community of prayer and time protected.
life in the privacy of their homes and
public anonymity. They wanted to find And this is how what was simply cal-
a space where to integrate in their led the ‘Saturdays’, was born. In the
lives Faith and their homosexual se- eyes of the rest, a mysterious meeting
We do not include the "T" here for no transgender people have approached the pastoral as yet. We ex-
pect to soon have their presence among us.
Expression proper of traditional spiritual language alluding to 'letting be carried away' of human beings
proper of passion, which obscures the proper understanding of things and that, thus, does not guide per-
sonal action to the correct sense.

taking place at odd hours and when the and which patterns, painfully, also
CLC house was empty. The emotional ten- moves within the world of sexual di-
sion of the first meetings will be forever versity. For homosexuals, this has been
marked in each of us who took part. It was quite a discovery, difficult to assume,
all very odd. In the meetings we felt free, that their sexual orientation (gay) did
but we were afraid. We believed in what not exempt them from sexist beha-
was happening to us, but we wondered if it viours. The women of Padis+ have
was alright. The church companions were taught us with force and tenderness.
asked many timed questions about what
our congregations said to us, or such bishop On a personal note, I dared say yes to
or such priest. Those questions were filled accompanying the path I was being of-
with distrust and protection: reality had fered from the gay community in the
been harsh for many in the Church and be- catacombs. I had no doubts about it,
fore such trauma, what was new seemed but did feel very fragile for feeling lac-
like a chimera or a soap bubble that would king every resource, in fear, and fee-
burst at any time due to an act of authori- ling this involvement would also bring
tarianism or by the sudden disclosure of new knowledge about my own sexua-
the true intentions of those summoning ‘all lity. I did not doubt my heterosexua-
this is very well but, at what point will they lity, but did not know how to live it
tell us that we have to be celibate?’ among homosexuals and lesbians. It
was impossible saying yes without
In our first meetings a simple verse being willing to take a deep journey of
from the Gospel sufficed for each to feel awareness of all my affections, my fan-
comfortable in telling his own story as tasies, homophobias, fears and expo-
a Christian homosexual. For all, homo- sure to erotic stimuli in my particular
sexual and heterosexual, it was the and voluntary condition of celibacy.
first time we could speak in front of a What would happen if the conversa-
mirror of our privacy and, most impor- tion took me out of my affective com-
tantly, the mirror transfigured into fort area in which I managed until
human presence of brother or sister, that moment, with things relatively
willing to respond with his/her testi- resolved and without major conflicts?
mony all of our identity doubts, and at
the same time healing old wounds that Fear quickly went away and became
in the dismal loneliness of exclusion empowered conviction: One Church,
did not find proper drainage. an inclusive society, cannot but bring
good things both to LGB and hetero-
Soon the women began arriving. First sexual people. I was experiencing
Cecilia, Claudia, Inés… With them, we from them the recognition of what I
learnt of the difficulties of visibility was and thus, I myself started to re-
and recognition of lesbians, rather not cognise also what each was, without
due to their sexual orientation but to stereotypes. Very soon I had the expe-
the fact of being women in a culture rience of feeling my celibate heterose-
still patriarchal and male chauvinist xuality honoured and respected
between homosexuals and lesbians, at
the same time I conjured all prior fan-
tasy of any approach dangerous or ag-
gressive to my privacy.

But, what was starting could not be

lived alone so I discussed the matter
with Fr. Gabriel Roblero SJ, Advisor
of CLC-Young Adults in Santiago and
he accepted gladly and immediately.
He had had in the past experience of-
fering work training to transvestites
and he was a psychologist by profes-
sion and, also, a very good friend. In
parallel, Tomás and Juan Pablo invi-
ted Sr. María Eugenia (Quena) Valdés
RSCJ who also and without hesitation
accepted most enthusiastically. The
three of us knew straight away we conscience with a humble, faithful at-
were receiving a huge gift each that titude and, in the end, act transparen-
we could not refuse. The Gospel was tly before those responsible for
knocking at the door of our hearts, conducting the Church. From the
and so it felt afterwards for Pablo Ro- start we felt our entitlement for belon-
mero SJ, Tony Mifsud SJ and Bernar- ging to the Church would not come
dita Zambrano RSCJ. from adaptation to the Catechism or
to the precept, but to the vast gift of
The Jesuits and Quena spoke with the love of God that through the sa-
our respective superiors to tell them crament of Baptism made us in full
of this adventure. We knew we had to his sons and daughters, forever.
do it and we rejoiced in responding
with joy. However, we knew we were The first step in this coherence was
playing with fire for we were ventu- talking with the lay authorities of
ring into completely unchartered land CLC of what we were already doing.
for us, of the inhabitants of which we The national and regional presidents
had only some negative ideological ap- of the Community supported us imme-
proaches and very little experience of diately, joyfully expressing a ‘go
actual encounter. The discernment of ahead’, or ‘finally’, and: ‘we must do it’.
our religious superiors not only confir-
med but encouraged us to say yes and I would like to include here some con-
leaving us, from the inception, a great text that is essential for understan-
teaching we attempt to make real in ding our reality. In Latin America, the
Padis+ when facing any new circum- blood of the martyrs is still fresh and
stance: the Gospel and the mission of it is they, men and women – lay for
the Church must be transparent, do the most part! who have helped us
not accept hidden agendas nor intere- with their lives to understand what
sted manipulations. If we saw the the Second Vatican Council meant
path started was lacking a proper doc- with the expression “People of God”3,
trinal support on which to rely, we truly linked to the joys and hopes of
would not stop; we would simply re- all mankind (“Gaudium et Spes”4).
turn to the Gospel to make prayer and They have shown us that being a
seek for answers. In the same man- Christian is equal to the total commit-
ner, we would review our personal ment of human liberation, against

h t t p : / / w w w. v a t i c a n . v a / a r c h i v e / h i s t _ c o u n c i l s / i i _ v a t i c a n _ c o u n c i l / d o c u m e n t s / v a t -
ii_const_19641121_lumen-gentium_en.html(Chapter 2)
"The joys and the hopes, the grief and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor
or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ."
dium-et-spes_en.html (Preface)
any unfair oppression, from below, would attend the show and would pu-
from those excluded. blicly assert the path of solidarity
with the LGB world to which I was
This fertile ‘humus’ of Christianity committed. His answer was thanking
was again increased in 2012 due to for the consideration in letting him
the brutal martyrdom of the young know and a warning: “I remind you
homosexual Daniel Zamudio in Chile. that you are a Jesuit priest and thus
Assaulted by a human pack, drunk any statement contradicting the ma-
with homophobia, poverty and vio- gisterium of the Church regarding ho-
lence. Daniel did not die by God’s will, mosexuality will bring you
he died by will of the sin, but his blood difficulties”. The show was already
raised the awareness of a whole coun- launched and had aroused much ex-
try attending his agony on television pectations in the public and, espe-
and, incidentally, opened new ways of cially, among the members of Padis+.
acceptance for Padis+. It was Daniel’s However, such answer placed me be-
resurrected death that inspired CLC fore a serious dilemma: go over to the
in the national assembly of that year trenches of the anti-establishment
(its maximum governance organ) to with my declarations, gaining the ap-
say: “God our Father wants that the plause from the progressive ones yet
embrace of the Son reaches everyone. risking with that the ecclesial future of
For that, as members of the Church Padis+; or save the experience at the
we feel sent to embrace and bless in cost of my own media death. The result
the name of Jesus those who due to li- was disastrous and yet paschal. My re-
mitations, many times cultural ones, serve, hesitation and moderation cau-
feel or have been sed great stir in the social media as a
God our Father wants that excluded from result of the frustration caused by my
the embrace of the Son particular,the Church. In
performance. However, the people ma-
naged to read that I could not speak
reaches everyone. For that, as who have remar- freely and, finally, the members of
ried (divorced and Padis+ forgave me, understanding the
members of the Church we annulled) and ho- reasons. I felt their forgiveness in this
feel sent to embrace and mosexuals lesbians, from
and sentence from one of its members: “I
suffered as the interviewers ‘cornered’
bless in the name of Jesus whom we ask for you and from then I empathised with
forgiveness for you. You lived in public what we have
those who due to limitations, the hardness of lived all of the time”.
many times cultural ones, tegrating our heart for in-
in our Padis+ grew stronger and soon the
feel or have been excluded c o m m u n i t i e s group of Fathers and Mothers of LGB
their stories and children was born. The initiative was
from the Church differences.” a parallel one from some fathers and
mothers having witnessed the tran-
At this point, together with great ad- sformation the Pastoral Community
vances, we experienced the first diffi- was causing on their children and
culties in our attempt of visibilisation from the children themselves who wi-
within the Church. The novelty of shed to share the joy of Padis+ with
Padis+ soon caught the attention of their parents5. In its consolidation the
the media in the country. I was first support from two acknowledged CLC
invited to an interview at the local laywomen have been essential: Sole-
CNN station and then to a political dad Vidal (+2015) and Pilar Segovia.
debate show in another TV station. Both took the rainbow flag with pas-
For the latter, with higher ratings, I sion and became true activists, at the
decided informing the Archbishop of same time they accompanied the
Santiago of my attendance a few painful healing process many parents
hours before over the telephone. I in- were living – providing them with
troduced myself and expressed that I contention and educating them in un-
It is necessary saying that a minority of members of Padis+ LGB has their parents in Padis+ Parents.

derstanding the reality of their sons priestly ministry was to be restricted
and in the reformulation of their own and, as a result, Padis+ extinguished.
homophobic religious beliefs. At a beginning there was no answer
that could satisfy the CDF until, cir-
Padis+ Fathers and Mothers imme- cumstantially, we received an offer for
diately became a protagonist in the an article in a glossy magazine of na-
task of making our pastoral work tional distribution that wanted to
transparent. They wrote to the Confe- make known the good news of this pa-
rence of Bishops complaining about storal initiative. We accepted, al-
the discrimination they had suffered though in secret I felt this would be
from the Church historically in the getting me into a conundrum after the
person of their children. The answer negative answer by the CDF to my re-
was most disqualifying from a Bishop, sponse. Yet again, death transformed
who, among his statements asserted: into life, for that same article, given
“Dear Ladies…your statements con- its quality and content, released me
tradict the truth of Jesus Christ”. This from the Roman investigation and
reaction caused a discussion between brought a definitive blessing in the
the other bishops of the Chilean Con- pastoral work with Padis+.
ference of Bishops that translated to
another letter in a more conciliatory Today, Padis+ is a single sexual diver-
tone that opened, until now, a frank sity pastoral community with two ac-
dialogue with our shepherds. We can tive branches: one is Padis+ LGB and
proudly say that a bishop went offi- the other Padis+ Parents. Both bran-
cially to celebrate the anniversary ches are autonomous in their agendas
mass of Padis+ and that on the occa- although complementary in their ac-
sion of the synod of the family we tivities and contents. It is governed by
have provided our contribution in all a Council comprised of the coordina-
formal consultation instances, and we tors of both branches, which jointly
have provided our testimony in coun- propose the big lines of work of the
tless activities to which we have been Community for each year. Nowadays
summoned: Archdiocesan Lays Mee- it is not only about offering emotional
ting, Apostolic Movements Meeting, support to its members, but it also
Archdiocesan Missionary Meeting, deals with an education programme
CLC Education Meeting, Dialogue structured into cycles, encompassing
with the Bishops Delegation for the various dimensions among which are
Family, Education Conferences for to be noted: theological-biblical educa-
priests and nuns and educators in tion, inputs for preparing a life pro-
matters of sexual diversity, etc. ject, education for the understanding
of homosexual sexuality, inputs for
In parallel, I was victim of an accusa- the apostolic service, education in
tion before the Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith for having incur-
red in alleged doctrinal errors by in-
ferring from my declarations in a
video of the campaign for the preven-
tion of teen suicide, promoted by “It
Gets Better” “that homosexuality is
something wanted by God”. It was a
hard blow that I dealt with privately
so as not to crush the true spring of
Padis+. I had the unrestricted support
from my Congregation, which, toge-
ther with supporting me to respond
with religious obedience to the requi-
rements by the CDF, encouraged me
not to retract from my expressions.
For over a year I experienced the an-
guish of not knowing whether my

gender issues, apostolic service, litur- sion in the Church. From this con-
gical celebrations, etc. science we take charge of the challen-
ges we still have ahead and that will
Today, we are far from the secrecy of demand from us new turns of depth in
the first meetings, which only those our conversion and spiritual discer-
people invited personally by one of nments finer by the time.
those already participating could join.
Currently, we have an introductory Conclusion
process every two months for the in-
corporation of new members who How to integrate into our Community
know of us through the usual appea- the different social sectors of our
rances in the media to which we are country, marked by a deep classism
invited to share our testimony. We are and structural inequity? Padis+ was
glad to confirm that every month we born in a medium-high sector, what
receive invitations from ecclesial insti- happens with the rest?
tutions and university centres. Quena
Valdés RSCJ was elected, by open and How to commit our members to per-
public vote, as recipient of the ‘Mujer manence, more stable in time? Many
Impacta’6 award for 2014 as recogni- come and go and few stay, but it is
tion of her work with Padis+. true, at the same time, that those who
go do so with deep gratitude, for the
Since 2014 – on the second weekend most part of them.
of August – Padis+ organises the “In-
clusion Dinner” that gathers some 300 How to continue collaborating in the
people in a meal where the table is visibilisation of lesbian women, to pro-
shared between heterosexuals and ho- mote integration and, at the same
mosexuals to celebrate that the Kin- time, differentiation in an environ-
gdom of God is already among us and ment dominated by the male homose-
in which, with the eyes of faith, we re- xual perspective?
cognise the privilege of being called to
partake as active participants in that How to favour the growth of our mem-
final banquet where all – men and bers towards moral autonomy that, on
women -, unconditionally, will meet as the one hand, helps them live in fide-
expression of the rich and diverse lity to their own conscience and on the
creation of God, reconciled forever other, does not lead them to reject the
thanks to Jesus Christ, the Lord. The traditional teaching en bloque and
response from the base Church to this due to prejudice?
initiative by Padis+ has been so gene-
rous that last year it allowed funding How to make our member sensitive to
the traveling of a five-person delega- overcome religious privacy, assuming
tion to this same conference from the the political responsibility of being
far end of the world to Rome, where LGB in the Church and in society?
we were able to attend in front row Occasions such as those offered by the
the Papal Audience, receiving his recent Global Network of Rainbow Ca-
warm greetings and blessing. We have tholics and the conference The Ways of
felt the yearning of heterosexual be- Love encourage us to go on, working
lievers in building a truly inclusive day by day, together with you, so the
Church, each time more evangelical Good News reaches all men and
and each time with less of the power women, transforming their lives.
this world offers.
Many thanks for your attention.
We celebrate the “Now”, but we are
not self-complacent, for we know that All the pictures in this article are taken from:
the “not yet” is our space for the mis- http://www.padis.cl

The Mujer Impacta award is an annual homage to women who stand out for having generated a positive
contribution in their environment.
“I wonder how to find an effective and
fruitful language for transmitting faith”
The experience of Godly Play in Uruguay

Godly Play team in Uruguay

Introduction are encouraged to find their own mea-

ning. The language is rich in imagery
Godly Play is an approach to the spi- and at the same time subtle enough to
ritual guidance of both children and arouse spiritual awareness and ex-
adults, inspired by the Montessori me- press complex concepts about the idea
thod and developed by the Episcopa- and experience of God.
lian priest, Jerome Berryman. It offers
a living experience of encounter with The style of Godly Play runs through
God through stories and specially de- the whole session, from getting ready
signed materials. By means of story- and crossing the threshold until the
telling from the Bible and a range of final blessing and farewell. It poses
creative activities, an invitation is the following moments:
given to people – especially children –
to explore the questions and concerns 1. Preparing to cross the threshold:
they may have regarding faith and to the figure of the door person (an adult
discover their own answers. guide) helps the participants get
ready and enter the sacred space
Godly Play is truly innovative, not 2. Building the circle or community of
just in its content but also in its tone participants in the session – this is
and style. More than a catechism the storyteller’s task
class, it aims at creating the condi-
tions whereby God can be personally 3. Presenting and engaging with the
experienced. Language operates as an day’s story – again, led by the story-
essential tool for generating the right teller
atmosphere, closeness and trust wi- 4. Wondering by means of open-ended
thin the group, as well as intimacy in questions: “I wonder what this could
the gathered circle. The narrative really be...”
style evokes and implies, and by
5. Personal response time in which
means of wondering questions, people

each participant chooses their own who had then left the country, and it
work and the materials they wish to was not at all easy to fill her shoes.
use (either the story materials and/or We wondered just what we could do...
art supplies like paints, water colours,
coloured pencils, modelling clay, co- At first, we continued working with
loured paper or cloth cuttings, etc.) in the materials that she had left us. Ho-
order to draw meaning from and re- wever, the work was quite laborious
spond to their experience of the story and demanding, it wore us out and did
6. Sharing a feast: the children are not really seem to fit our own persona-
free to share, if they wish, the work lities and the style of our community.
they have done in their response time That year Toni attended a conference
and to take part in prayers of than- in Europe, sponsored by her missio-
ksgiving and in a simple snack nary organisation, and it was there
that the first of a series of God-shaped
7. Blessing and farewell: the storytel- “coincidences” took place. The con-
ler blesses and says goodbye to the gress offered a range of workshops, in-
children individually, thanking each cluding one called Godly Play. As the
one for their particular contribution pastor of Christ Church had already
and showing special appreciation to asked Toni to take charge of the chil-
each member of the circle dren’s ministry, she decided to sign up
for this workshop – just to see what it
For several years now, an ecumenical was all about. What happened then
team of people has been working toge- was magical. Toni experienced God as
ther in Uruguay with the aim of pro- never before. She felt in her bones and
moting this approach and training in her heart that this method was
teachers and catechists who wish to what her community in Uruguay was
share Godly Play with their families, looking for and needed in order to pro-
friends and communities in different mote an encounter with God.
contexts: schools, parishes, healthcare Toni returned to Uruguay fired up and
centres, rehabilitation centres, etc. motivated, confident that she could
meet the challenge of implementing
The beginnings of Godly Play Godly Play. She began to work hard by
studying, applying her newly acquired
in Uruguay – The experience learning and sharing her discoveries
of implementing the method with others. She also set about gathe-
in Christ Church ring the teaching materials. The follo-
wing year, we held our first training in
It was in 2006 when in Christ Church Uruguay, inviting Caryl Menkhus
we sensed the clear need to offer spe- Cresswell, a trainer with the Godly
cific activities to the children of our Play Foundation. The participants at
community who visited us each Sun- this core training came from different
day with their families. There were circles linked to Christ Church, Chri-
only two of us, Lisa and Toni, and we stian Life Community (CVX-CLC),
had no experience at all of pastoral schools and several parishes in Mon-
work with children. We had inherited tevideo. We regarded this core training
this task from a highly capable lady initiative as foundational for confir-

ming the decision to proceed with remained with the storyteller and
Godly Play and to set up an ecumeni- door person who shared with them an
cal steering group. appropriate story for that particular
liturgical season or the Gospel for that
Ten years have gone by since our day. The children also took part in
launch and we have continued to con- times of wondering and personal work
firm our certainty that Godly Play is using art materials. After the final
an excellent proposal for helping eve- blessing, the children returned to
ryone, both young and old, to come church at the moment of the sign of
close to God. God is a mystery. God peace in order to join their families for
speaks to us through stories and, by the remainder of the celebration.
this means, engages with us in a uni- Our evaluation of this experience was
que way, specific to each individual. that it was highly rewarding and en-
Our desire is to keep going on with riching both for the families and chil-
Godly Play, bringing the word of God dren who took part in it and also for
through its stories, not only to chil- the CVX-CLC team members who led
dren, but also to young people, adults it. The time spent in preparing the
and the elderly, as a way to discover sessions brought the members of the
and experience God’s love in us and in team together, thus producing a close-
our neighbour. We wish to continue knit community who shared the en-
growing as people of faith and to counter with God and neighbour, as
spread the seed of God’s Kingdom well as the enjoyment of Godly Play.
around us so that it too will grow We sensed that we had been entru-
under the enabling power of God. sted with a treasure. The provision of
this service continued for three years
The experience of until we felt the time had come to go
out and multiply. We then began sha-
implementing Godly Play ring and taking the good news of
during the CVX-CLC Mass Godly Play to other places through in-
troductory presentations and training
Following close collaboration between workshops. Since then, and to date,
members of CVX-CLC and Toni Maria we have visited several schools, chil-
Daniels and Lisa Hamilton of Christ dren’s clubs, parishes both in Monte-
Church, a team was set up of several video and in other departments of
CLCers who offered a Godly Play Uruguay, the Manresa Spirituality
space for 4 to 11 year olds during the Centre, as well as the Jesuit novitiate
Sunday Mass organised by CVX Uru- in Córdoba, Argentina, where we led
guay. The invitation was open to all Godly Play taster sessions and trai-
the children who attended Mass with ning workshops.
their families. They signed in five mi-
nutes before Mass began in an adja- The experience of
cent room to the main church implementing Godly Play at
sanctuary. There the mums and dads the Colegio Seminario
said goodbye to their children and re-
turned to the sanctuary to get ready Many of the children who attended
for Mass. The children, meanwhile, Godly Play during the CVX-CLC

Mass were also pupils at the Colegio
Seminario, an infant, junior and se-
condary school belonging to the So-
ciety of Jesus in Montevideo. In
addition, two of our team members
worked at the school. So, together
with other CVX-CLC associates also
linked to that establishment, we
began to dream about introducing
Godly Play as part of the school’s spi-
ritual formation programme.

Slowly and cautiously, we began to in-

troduce a few specific stories to accom-
pany the children’s catechetical
curriculum. However, it was from
2012 that efforts to implement this
proposal really started to increase.

From the beginning, it was considered

a priority to have a basic stock of ma-
terials for telling a few of the stories,
and also to train catechists and tea-
chers who wanted to be involved in
carrying out this proposal. A selection
was made of the core stories we wan-
ted to tell, concentrating at first on
pupils from approximately 4 to 12
years of age. We chose three stories
for each year group to accompany
their annual catechetical curriculum
so that the children could enjoy three
experiences of spiritual encounter
through Godly Play over each school
year. The intention was that these sto-
ries would not replace the main tea-
ching in the catechesis itself, but
rather offer an opportunity for going
deeper and for prayer. Sometimes the
Godly Play experience triggered off
the topic in an introductory way,
whilst at other times it was a means
of closure. However, fostering depth in
personal encounter with God was al-
ways regarded as key.

With regards to the training of tea-

cher-catechists, the first thing we did
was to kindle a flame in the educators
themselves. In other words, they
would have the chance to experience
God through Godly Play before they
sought to use it in their teaching. Once
the seed was sown, we then proposed
to them the need for training in the
method through workshops run by
Toni Maria Daniels, first at Christ
Church and later at the school itself.
Some of these training events were op- ting ready to cross the threshold
tional, but since 2013 they have been and entering sacred space. Assuring
incorporated into the planning of the safety. Being part of a community)
February pastoral days, and work w EXPERIENCE – Engaging the
with Godly Play has been prioritised whole person, touching the affec-
for the early years teachers and those tions, using imagination, engaging
working with children up to year three with the story, applying the senses
in the junior department of the school. (STORYTELLING / ENGAGING
with the story)
We ran training workshops that lasted
two mornings each. They aimed at pro- w REFLECTION – Discerning. Gra-
viding participants with skills for sup- sping the essential value of things. Di-
porting the circle of children, response scovering deeper meaning. Grasping
time, etc. However, these workshops the source of my feelings (WONDE-
were not enough to equip all the tea- RING through open questions: “I
chers with the confidence they needed wonder…”; PERSONAL WORK
to “take the plunge”. Being a storytel- TIME: choosing one’s own work)
ler or a door person implies much more w ACTION – Creative space. Inner
than memorising a story or understan- growth (RESPONSE TIME)
ding the role of welcoming people into
the circle. In order to carry out those w EVALUATION – How did I feel?
roles in practice, the catechists must What did I learn? (SHARING and
actually want to be involved in the spi- the FEAST)
ritual development and accompani-
ment of their children. They must be This experience continues to generate
people willing to be vulnerable enough learning and in-depth growth through
in revealing their own prayer life as the opportunities afforded during the
they tell the stories, and show a deep school year. Both children and grown-
respect for the relationship that people ups really enjoy this space for prayer,
– especially children – have with God. which always turns out to be a fresh
They must be able to “take off their and surprising experience. It is a con-
sandals” so as to tread holy ground. templative experience that touches us
deeply and gives us the opportunity to
Currently, Godly Play continues to express what words themselves some-
grow within the Colegio Seminario. It times simply cannot convey.
is now not only presented to infant
and junior school pupils, but to secon- Conclusions
dary school students too. It is also
used for high-school confirmation clas- Godly Play is a dynamic approach to
ses and in times of prayer for teachers. active meaning-making that depends
We believe that this methodology and on the sensitivity and the moment in
its different components establish which each person finds himself/her-
strong connections with the rite of the self within his/her respective life cy-
Catholic Mass, since there too we get cles. This voluntary, free and flexible
ready to meet with God, hear God’s play also accommodates wondering
Word, wonder and pray about it, share through open-ended questions for see-
the Eucharist in community, give king and self-discovery. It does not
thanks and receive a blessing so that focus on the transmission of kno-
we may carry Christ in our hearts wledge or dogmas, but on the unique
while we pursue our daily activities. and particular experience of each per-
In addition, we also believe that Godly son, supporting their intrinsic spiri-
Play is especially attuned to our Igna- tuality, and especially the child’s.
tian spirituality and we see evident
parallels between the different mo- Father Nicolas, S.J., summoned us at
ments set out in Godly Play and the the Lebanon World Assembly to find
Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm (IPP): the language of wisdom, one which is
w CONTEXT – Addressing people’s universally understood and does not
willingness (THRESHOLD – Get- assume particular knowledge or sen-

sitivities because it resonates with our need. The challenge lies in forming
deepest being in the place where God teams that can support projects in dif-
speaks to us. This challenge has many ferent fields, and that is where our ef-
fronts in a changing world of globali- forts are now concentrated.
sed superficiality. Overstimulated
children with little experience of con- In August 2016, we were happy to wel-
necting with their inner life; adults come to Montevideo two certified trai-
with a relegated spirituality that no ners: Caryl Menkhus Cresswell, from
longer echoes liturgical language, ei- the Godly Play Foundation, and David
ther due to lack of faith or abandon- Pritchard, from Godly Play Spain.
ment; communities lacking any faith They would be leading the first ever
Godly Play has been formation… Many are
the frontiers, often
accredited Godly Play training of trai-
ners in Latin America. This event
incorporated into CVX overlapping and frac- marks a major strategic step in promo-
Uruguay’s work with tal, in which we are so-
metimes at a loss for
ting Godly Play in Uruguay and throu-
ghout Latin America. We are deeply
regards to the Family these, the right word. Among
the task of tran-
grateful to the Foundation and to
Caryl and David, as this training
Frontier. In our smitting faith to our course has been made possible
children stands out, through their generosity and financial
experience, it provides whether that takes support. We feel thrilled and hopeful
the language of wisdom the place in the heart of
family, at school or
about the fruit that this enriching ac-
tivity will produce, and we encourage
that transcends borders. in parishes. you to stand with us in your prayers.
At this point on our road to discove-
Thus Godly Play has been incorpora- ring and exploring Godly Play, we feel
ted into CVX Uruguay’s work with re- the need to continue sharing and cal-
gards to the Family Frontier. In our ling others in ever widening circles.
experience, it provides the language of Hence, we have responded enthusia-
wisdom that transcends borders. It stically and gratefully to the invitation
proposes a return to the power of nar- of reporting our experience in this spe-
rative that is alive with symbols and cial edition of Progressio on the Fa-
gestures. It thus fosters a renewed en- mily. The seed we received ten years
counter with God. In doing so, it pays ago has borne abundant fruit. While
particular attention and sensitivity to we continue to be involved in harve-
accepting and respecting what this sting that fruit, we are also taking ad-
encounter arouses in each person. Be- vantage of this opportunity to replant
yond the more systematic experiences and multiply. The encounter with God
referred to in this report, we have ob- in Godly Play is inherently lived out
served many other instances of Godly through openness to others, to the
Play within family life, in community children and adults who take part in
gatherings, between grandparents the circle. It is a re-creative act that in-
and their grandchildren, in commu- vites us to wonder, to get involved, to
nity-based education centres, in pa- pass on our enthusiasm. This is where
rish catechesis, etc. We have found we are at – feeling very hopeful!
again and again that “Godly Play
never fails” and that there is love for I wonder where God will invite us to
it at first sight! There is an obvious go next as we continue our journey
demand for tools that help address with Godly Play…
children’s spirituality. Parents, educa-
tors and catechists are quick to reco-
Original in Spanish
gnise in Godly Play an answer to that
Translated by David Pritchard
President of Godly Play España

Godly Play team in Uruguay

Patricia Arocena and Ivana Nogueira (Colegio Seminario, CVX), Maria
Celia (Mace) Galli (CVX), Toni Maria Daniels (Christian Associates Inter-
national) y Lisa Hamilton (Christ Church).
Contact: maria.galli@hometranslations.com
Final Document
International Formation Encounter on Family (July 2017)
Amoris Laetitia is a source of hope for all families, reawakening in us awareness
that through them we feel the joy of love of a merciful and compassionate Father.
Inspired by Amoris Laetitia, there has emerged through this International
Formation Encounter, a prophetic inspiration to construct an ambitious project to
serve the Kingdom. This is embedded in Ignatian Spirituality and in harmony
with the vision of Pope Francis, reflecting the current movement within the
Church, in the light of the “Triune God (who) is a communion of love, and the
family its living reflection” (AL, extracts from number 11).

This International Family Encounter is one further step in the long process of
discerning a response to the apostolic field of the Christian Life Community
(CLC) family frontier. The process needs to be sustained through continuous per-
sonal and community discernment (DSSE) in order to be contemplative in action
and spread an ongoing response.

CLC family mission is for today. We are responsible for planting the seeds of the
Ignatian charism within families worldwide, inspired by contemplations on the
Holy Family. As we have abundantly received, now it is time to give. We are
urged to go where others fear to tread, but where God is calling us to be. We need
to become creative missionaries, serving God’s people, responding to the call of
the Church.

To undertake this mission within the apostolic family field, a common platform
needs to be developed to integrate Ignatian tools for the pastoral care of the
family, some of which are already in use. An international CLC team should be
created to coordinate the cross-sharing of tools, documents, branding logo and
other initiatives that may arise. This should be a global movement implemented
at local level.

We have identified the specific call to reach out, boldly yet with great sensitivity and
compassion, to families in diverse and special circumstances, who will be accompa-
nied and encouraged to take part in the full life of the Christian community.

We have also identified the need to focus on youth, who will form the families of
the future.

CLC needs to follow the example of St. Francis Xavier. The frontiers today are
really close, and the need is pressing. Although the task is difficult we undertake
it gladly, reflecting The Virgin Mary’s unconditional Yes.

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