As Blessed John Paul II taught us, “The fundamental task of the family is to serve life, to actualize in history the original blessing of the Creator—that of transmitting by procreation the divine image from person to person” (Familiaris consortio, 28).
The entire history of salvation as set down in the Old and New Testaments argues that God created man out of love and for love. One might say that, in the Blessed Trinity, God was “self-sufficient” and stood in need of no one—and yet He created man with whom He could share His love. The mystery of the Triune God tells us that God the Son was begotten of God the Father, and the Holy Spirit proceeded from them both. In a sense, the human family is meant to mirror this interrelationship of Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Thus, woman is created from a fragment of man’s flesh, and the mutual love and intimate union of husband and wife begets a new human life. “Fecundity,” stresses Blessed John Paul II, “is the fruit and the sign of conjugal love, the living testimony of the full reciprocal self-giving of the spouses” (FC, 28).
Thus God gave man a part in the work of creation. Spousal love was to fulfill the commandment, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Gen 1: 28). The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “Called to give life, spouses share in the creative power and fatherhood of God. Married couples should regard it as their proper mission to transmit human life and to educate their children; they should realize that they are thereby cooperating with the love of God the Creator and are, in a certain sense, its interpreters. They will fulfill this duty with a sense of human and Christian responsibility” (CCC, 2367).
Responsibility is the key to fulfilling God’s will in the sacrament of marriage. Joined in one flesh, the husband and wife may not fall into selfishness and think only of their own perceptions and feelings. They must keep in mind the reason for which they are able to experience the love and joy of marital union. This “reason” is God Himself who gifted them with life and enabled them to transmit it.
“By safeguarding both (…) essential aspects, the unitive and the procreative, the conjugal act preserves in its fullness the sense of true mutual love and its orientation toward man’s exalted vocation to parenthood” (CCC, 2639). In other words, the selfish pursuit of sexual pleasure alone and the denial of fertitlity destroys the very essence of marital love and upsets the order which God established from the very beginning.
We are participants in a war declared on the human race by Satan in his effort to destroy the work of God. By appealing to the pride and selfishness of our first parents (“you will be like God”), Satan succeeded in severing the bond between God and man, which is to say, he brought into the world sin that leads to death. In the same way, he urges us to seek illicit experiences and pleasures by suggesting behaviors that lead to spiritual death: pornography, prostitution, premarital sex, masturbation, contraception, abortion, artificial insemination, etc. When married couples forget their responsibility to transmit life, they become advocates of, participants in, the “culture of death,” which reaps its bloody harvest in the form of 50 million aborted children annually, hundreds of thousands of human beings conceived in vitro and then frozen for subsequent culling—to say nothing of the tears and sufferings of betrayed spouses, abandoned and abused children, and women selling their own bodies.
And yet we need always to be mindful of the fact that Satan has lost this war, since, by dying on the cross and rising again, Jesus Christ vanquished death and damned Satan, by wresting humanity from his power. Together with Christ we can be victorious in our daily lives, by giving first place to love and responsibility to God. We must go “all the way”—cling to Jesus with all our heart and order our lives, marriages, and families to His will. In this way we carry out the apostolate that God charges us with. “This apostolate,” observes Bl. John Paul II, “will be exercised in the first place within the families (…), through the witness of a life lived in conformity with the divine law in all its aspects, through the Christian formation of the children, through helping them to mature in faith, through education to chastity, through preparation for life, through vigilance in protecting them from the ideological and moral dangers with which they are often threatened” (FC, 71).
Authentic marital love lived in accordance with God’s plan always brings joy. It is the joy of sharing love and transmitting life, of parents helping their child to take its first steps, hearing it utter its first words, embracing the little one that looks to them for comfort and help. This joy that derives from mutual self-giving is called the “civilization of love.”
“The civilization of love evokes joy: joy, among other things, for the fact that a man has come into the world (cf. Jn 16: 21), and consequently because spouses have become parents. The civilization of love means ‘rejoicing in the right’ (cf. 1 Cor 13: 6). But a civilization inspired by a consumerist, anti-birth mentality is not and can never be a civilization of love” (John Paul II, Letter to Families, 13).
God is the creator of civilization, love, and life. Satan, on the other hand, offers us nothing but selfishness and death. God desires that we make a choice—freely and out of love: “This day (…) I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live” (Dt 30: 19). We cannot choose both Jesus Christ and sin, for in Him there is no sin. We choose either sin or Jesus. Upon this choice will depend our life or death and the life and death of our children.
Dear readers! Building the civilization of love is not possible without daily prayer and consistent effort on our part. Marriage is a school for working on oneself, a school of authentic love. Working on ourselves includes above all the daily practice of forgiveness. Forgiveness is an expression of love. Thus we urge sacramental couples to persevere in Christ and build their spousal love upon His boundless, forgiving love. We urge you to reject every sin of pornography, contraception, lewdness, and other acts of impurity. We urge you to open yourselves up to the action of God and receive with joy all His gifts, above all the gift of transmitting life, so that love and charity may not be swallowed up by selfishness.
In order to do this, discuss the matter among yourselves and together renounce the practice of contraception and other worldly notions that destroy the marital bond. Reject this sin, make a sacramental confession, and, after receiving Holy Communion, recite the following Prayer of Consecration:
Lord Jesus, we thank you for loving us “to the end”—to the point of offering up your life for us. We thank you for your love that keeps us from evil, raises us up from our greatest sins, and heals our most hurtful wounds. We thank you for your presence in the sacrament of matrimony. In you we can always find the remedy for every evil and the strength to prevail over every hardship and crisis. We offer you our memories, our minds, our wills, our souls, our bodies and sexuality. Lord Jesus, teach us to love each other and our children with that love which flows from Your Merciful Heart. Grant us a pure heart modeled upon yours, that together we may perfect a love that is wise, generous, faithful, and free from self-interest, a love that steadfastly upholds your laws and commandments. We pledge to meet you every day in joint prayer and the reading of Holy Scripture, in frequent reception of Holy Communion, and in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. We resolve to make a regular sacramental confession and pick ourselves up promptly from every sin. We resolve not to buy, or read, or look at pornographic materials in the form of magazines, television programs, or films. We renounce the use of contraceptives and the contraceptive mentality itself. We pledge always to be ready to accept and raise in your love every child you may wish to call into existence.
Lord Jesus, be master of our hearts. Teach us to control our sexual desires and feelings, that our love for each other and our children may not be subject to our moods and emotional states. Rather, may our love be a continual expression of our care and solicitude for each other. Grant us the gift of pure spousal love, that we may give of ourselves generously. Cleanse our love of all selfishness, that we may always forgive and pray for each other without nursing grudges. Help us to avoid everything that ensnares and enslaves, including narcotics and other addictive substances.
Mary, our Mother, guide us in our journey of faith. Lead us to the very Source of Love—to Jesus, that we may trust and believe in Him alone. After the example of Blessed John Paul II, we entrust ourselves to you: Totus Tuus, Mary! To your Immaculate Heart we confide ourselves totally, all that we are, every step we take, and every minute of our lives. Amen!
Finally, please inform us of your decision to join the Movement of Pure Hearts for Married couples (MPHMC). Send us your postal address, birth dates, the date you joined MPHMC, your email address, and telephone number. We in turn will inscribe your names in our Book of Pure Hearts and send you a special blessing. Christ’s blessings to you all.
Fr. M. Piotrowski SChr & the LOA team