Amoris Laetitae! The Joy of love!

In preparation for the world meeting of families which takes place in Dublin in August 2018, Pope Francis poses the question: “Does the family continue to be good news for today’s world?”  His own answer to the question is “I am sure the answer is yes!”

Living in Cherry Orchard, as we do, we are afforded privileged access into the lives of the families of our neighbours. In fact, being allowed to be a small part of the struggle that is the daily lot of many of these families is, perhaps, one of the greatest blessing and gifts of living in a socially deprived area like Cherry Orchard.

Maybe because of on-going speculation about places Pope Francis might visit while he is in Ireland for the World Meeting of Families, I have been more aware of the family situations of people I encounter on a regular basis.

Perhaps what sparked all this off in my mind was a chance meeting I had with Joseph, a young man in his early thirties who is no stranger to prison for drug related offences. On this occasion, however, drugs were surely the last thing on his mind. He was proudly wheeling a pram in which his young son, Josh, slept peacefully.


As he lovingly fussed over tucking in the baby and protecting him from the cold, the proud father told me that his son had put on six ounces during the previous week. It

meant so much to him; the child, who had been born three weeks prematurely, was clinging ever more securely to his precarious hold on life!

Does the family continue to be good news for today’s world?”

A couple of evenings later I dropped into the family home for a chat, armed with a few packets of Pampers Number 1 (which, according to the blurb on the wrapping, were guaranteed to provide “Unbeatable protection and care for delicate newborn skin”) and some baby wipes which no doubt carried a similar guarantee.

The baby’s mother, Mary, greeted me at the door and immediately insisted that I have a cuppa. Joseph thoughtfully remembered that I don’t take sugar and that I don’t eat chocolate biscuits.

Baby Josh lay sleeping on the couch (which had definitely seen better days) between his two adoring parents. Mary’s two older sons (by two different fathers) joined us briefly but then retired upstairs to continue their computer games.

Does the family continue to be good news for today’s world?

In the course of our conversation, Mary reminded me that her partner and herself have a lot in common (apart from both struggling with drug addiction and being on a daily dose of Methadone). One of the main things they have in common is that they both have been at the funeral of three of their siblings. Mary’s twenty-one-year old brother died in prison, a sixteen-year-old sister died of a congenital illness and another seven-year-old sister died of an aneurism. I was already aware that one of Joseph’s brothers had committed suicide in prison, a sister had died in hospital as a result of a life of drug abuse and another brother was found dead in a flat in the UK.

And here they were gazing lovingly at their young son and hoping that he would soon wake up so that they could shower even more love on him.

Does the family continue to be good news for today’s world?

As I took my leave, the last image I had was of two struggling young people sitting silently on the couch gazing at their infant son, an expression of sheer love and joy on their faces. Surely a perfect image for the love of our Abba for each of us. What sprang to my mind was Gregory Boyle’s comment about contemplation in his book “Tattoos on the Heart” – ‘Behold the one beholding you with love’.

Does this struggling family continue to be good news for to-day’s world? With Pope Francis, I’m inclined to say ‘I am sure the answer is Yes’.

Amoris Laetitae! The Joy of love!

Paul Hendrick cfc


This story is from “Scribbles from the Margins” – March 2018. Read this and other stories here >01 Scribbles March 18<