Amoris Laetitia Family Year

New paths for the preparation for the sacrament of marriage

The document has been published, “Catechumenal itineraries for married life. Pastoral guidelines for particular Churches"
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The document is an initiative of the "Amoris Laetitia Family Year" and responds to the Holy Father's desire to offer new paths for preparation for the sacrament of marriage.

"The joy of love that is lived in families is also the jubilation of the Church": these are the first words of Amoris laetitia, which constitute a message, but also an appeal by the Holy Father Francis for the Church to be able to proclaim, especially to young people, the beauty and abundance of grace that are contained in the sacrament of marriage and family life. The call is to form and accompany young people so that they can not only understand but also experience the Lord's presence in the couple and thus, as Pope Francis says, come to "mature in the certainty that in their bond there is the hand of God."

To this end, the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life has prepared a document that offers pastors, spouses and all those who work in family ministry a renewed vision and methodology of preparation for the sacrament of marriage and all married life.

"Catechumenal Itineraries for Marriage Life." Pastoral orientations for particular churches follows up on an indication repeatedly expressed by Pope Francis in his magisterium, namely "the need for a 'new catechumenate' that includes all the stages of the sacramental journey: the times of preparation for marriage, its celebration and the years that follow," especially when spouses might go through crises and moments of discouragement.

Let us emphasize two new aspects of the Document: first of all, a look that is aimed at the future of the family, with a very remote preparation for the marriage vocation. It is, in fact, about preparing the ground by beginning to work with children, adolescents and young people, planting seeds whose fruits may be seen in the years to come. Young people who, otherwise, would probably never get married. This is because the proposal is not simply to renew immediate preparation for marriage, but to set up a vocation ministry that announces to children and adolescents the vocation to marriage, so that they are accompanied to the gradual discovery of a call to Christian family life. A quick preparation of engaged couples, just before the celebration of the rite, in fact, is no longer sufficient nowadays for the Church to truly care for those whom the Lord calls to marry and build a Christian family.

Second, the importance of the fact that, alongside priests, there are married couples who accompany the catechumenate of those who ask for the sacrament of marriage is emphasized. Their experience of married life is decisive so that there can be understanding, acceptance and gradualness in this path, which, in many parts of the world, by the way, is today often directed to couples who are already living together and who can thus feel understood by those who live their already familiar experience.

"The concern of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life", commented Card. Kevin Farrell, Prefect, "is to transmit to bishops, family pastoral workers and formators, the Holy Father's invitation to seriously rethink marriage preparation as a continuous accompaniment before and after the sacramental rite. A competent and concrete closeness, made up of bonds between families that support each other."

The document is published in hard copy by Libreria Editrice Vaticana and, for now, can only be found in Italian. Versions in other foreign languages will be published soon.

15 June 2022
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