As Michael has written in his recent installments of this series, the fullness of Pope Paul VI's encyclical "Humanae Vitae" was nearly totally lost in the chaotic times of the sixties and early seventies, and even today, while more are coming to realize it's profound nature, there are still many who reject it as being outdated and outmoded.
Of course, it is one of the richest encyclical's of Pope Paul VI's papacy, written at a time when the world already stood on the abyss of satan's lie that he didn't exist, and neither did God, so why have any rules at all.
One of the things that I feel it is important to stress for all married couples is that in living the fullness of "Humane Vitae" the couple is not only allowing the meaning of the oneness of marriage to become real, but is the very heart and core of the Sanctity of Life.
It is important for every couple who has entered into the Sacrament of Matrimony to recognize that their commitment to God embodies their commitment to God to cooperate with Him in the procreation of children. The Father must realize the deep commitment he makes when in the act of intercourse, his love for his wife is so great that it culminates in the desire to fulfill his vocation as husband and father. The wife, realizing her own commitment to her husband, eagerly embraces him and her own heart swells with love for him, and therefore with love for God in her eager willingness to embrace the noble role of mother.
Both role of father and mother are noble. They are made so by God, and are constantly enriched by Him. Too often we look at the lives of Saint Joseph and Our Blessed Mother, and think that there is no way we can ever emulate their lives as parents of the Christ Child. We must remember, here, that while Our Lord took upon Himself human nature in all of its fullness save sin, and while Our Blessed Mother was conceived without Original Sin, and St. Joseph was so holy as to have the privilege of being the foster-father of Our Lord, they lived in a sin-filled world, they were subject to the hardships of everyday life, and they had to work by the sweat of their brows to put food on the table for their Son, and so forth. They were not immune from the heavy hand of the Roman Empire, nor the heavy hand of the Scribes and Pharisees, nor the corruption that was to be found in local government, as well as in Jerusalem's Synagogue.
We face those very same issue today, but it is in our "fiat" to God within the married state that we, too, can allow God to raise us up, to ennoble us and empower us to be holy in the midst of these critical, crucial end times, which promote all immorality, all lack of virtue, etc. The world will not change, God will not be part of society again, if we, as His children, do not invite Him to rule in our hearts-one heart at a time.
It is also important for all couples to realize that they are called to be One with God and with each other, and in cooperating fully with His graces, to assist in "peopling" Heaven. That, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, is the magnificent privilege and duty of the married state, for only in union with God's will and the loving embrace of the couple, does a new life come into existence, and at that moment of conception, a brand new immortal soul, of priceless value, a soul known to God from all time-before there was time, is "life" itself as He has affirmed in Jeremiah 1: 5, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you."
There is still, today, a tendency to look back and see those Catholic families of yesteryear, and the few that are in existence today, where the mother and father have many children, more than two, sometimes as many as twelve or more. For many couples striving to live "Humanae Vitae", they often have to face the scorn of today's society, which calls for a couple to practice contraception thus having only one or two children. There is always a cross to carry in doing the Will of Almighty God.
Yet, there are many other holy couples whose martyrdom lies in the fact that they can have only one or two children, due to physical/biological reasons on either the father's or mother's part, and in many cases, couples who long for children and cannot have one at all.
It's important to clarify here that all couples who strive to do the Will of God are holy and pleasing in His sight. If it be God's Will that there are many children, God be praised! If only one or two children, God be praised! And if there are to be no children, as mighty a cross as this is to bear, God be praised! Whether large family or small family, whether 15 children or one child, God blesses all. We must realize that our children today are the bloodline for vocations, for the Church of the future.
Our society is so turned inside-out, so upside down, that many Catholic couples today are sucked into the mind-boggling and often-times evil manipulations of modern scientific technology.
First, this scientific technology perfected (if one dare use that term) the act of abortion. Our society has been brainwashed for decades that killing an unborn child is not only perfectly within the norms of society, but the preferred method. We have been brainwashed by a mantra of "women's rights", rather than the dignity of the woman to be "mother", to sacrifice herself for the sake of giving birth to future citizens of heaven. This very same scientific technology which has made abortion the holocaust of today, also offers various ways for couples who cannot conceive to do so. There is contradiction here, and in that contradiction satan lives.
Fertilization drugs are the common practice for infertile couples. The result, as all of us have seen and heard on TV spots, is that the use of such fertilization drugs often results in multiple births of up to six, seven, or even more of babies in the womb. These multiple births more often resemble a "litter" of children, much the same as a dog might have a litter, rather than the God given right to bear one, two or three children at a time. Yes, these multiple births are permitted by God, but are they pleasing unto Him? We must ask ourselves this question and ponder it in our hearts.
Also, there is technology that now can take a frozen egg from the mother, frozen sperm from a father, and incubate this in a test tube, then implant it in the mother's womb. This technology, while astounding, calls to my mind two questions: Does God want this of a particular couple, who go this route, to have a child? Is He not, perhaps, offering them the cross of not being able to conceive so that they might, in turn, open their hearts and homes to an orphaned child, of whom there are many? Also, it seems that these scientific technologies remain money-making operations, where the "rich" are entitled to the services, but not the poorer members of this all-for-money society in which we live. I am not suggesting that the couples who use any of these scientific methods are in the wrong. God alone knows their hearts, and I leave that to God. But I think that while we gape in awe of some of these scientific technologies, we lose sight of the cross that Our Lord gives to certain couples, and of which the couple deprives themselves because science has become the god of today.
Does it not seem contradictory to you, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, that the very scientific methods which can and do allow infertile couples to become pregnant, are also the very same scientific technologies which can abort a baby at any time, have developed the "morning after" pill, have developed the technology to "clone" ourselves, to genetically alter ourselves before, during, and after birth, and which also have mapped out our DNA so as to eradicate all suffering, disease, illness, any unsightliness, etc., and which is now the key factor is "tracking" us in a society that is quickly allowing itself to be under constant surveillance by our own government, and other governments with whom such knowledge is shared, whether we like to admit it or not? This same scientific technology which can help a couple conceive, or abort, is also the money-making business of selling "baby parts" for further scientific research, for genetic understanding and mapping. We have become, by pride and selfishness, our own guinea pigs!
In all of this, my dear brothers and sisters, where is the God-given right, the duty, to pro-create, and educate our children? Where does God fit into the above scenarios? Yes, God gave us a human brain capable of so much, but it depends on what our human brain does in developing its knowledge of how the human body works that makes us either a holy people, or a depraved people.
Not all scientific technology is wrong. Pope John Paul II emphasized this fact in his excellent encyclical "Fides et Ratio". But he also rightly waved the caution flag for we have allowed science to become god, and we worship that god when we deny what God has desired of us, and have chosen instead to thwart God's plan, and impose our own, for our own satisfaction, and for our own selfish desires.
We can be selfish in wanting to destroy an unborn child; we can be selfish in wanting to alter the genetic makeup of our child so we have our own vision of perfection; we can be selfish in using scientific technology to have multiple children at one time, in which the children are so small at birth that millions of technological equipment and manpower must be used to keep those tiny infants alive and developing within an incubator, while just across the street the abortuaries are killing children in the womb because they are an "inconvenience" or just down the street members from PETA are protesting some inane reason why animals are held today in higher esteem than the unborn child. Isn't it ironic that those who are such animal-rights lovers are often pro-abortionists. They fail to understand the Lord's words in Genesis 1: 26-27, "God said, 'Let us make mankind in Our image and likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the cattle, over all the wild animals and every creature that crawls on the earth.' God created man in His image. In the image of God He created him. Male and female He created them."
We cannot have it both ways, my brothers and sisters. We must have that profound knowledge of God's Will, and we must have absolute confidence in His Will, and our "fiat" must be to that will, if we are to fulfill our rightful role as husband and wife, mother and father, within the Sacrament of Matrimony.
Whether you are the proud parents of many children, or the proud parents of one or two, then rejoice, for you have found favor with God. Remember, my dear brothers and sisters, if we allow God to have free reign in our lives, then His blessings will be sufficient for us throughout our life. If we tamper with His Laws, if we infringe our finite human law, and our own selfish purposes upon His Perfect Law, we are the losers. Yes, we lose not only the joy that His Will brings, but we lose Him by means of selfishness and pride. We cave into society's demands of us, and we embrace the notion of a future of "perfect" human beings who will be so genetically "perfected" that we envision "gods" of future generations.
The sanctify of Marriage, and the august privilege of being husband and wife, mother and father, is given to us by God. It cannot be overly tampered with. It cannot be measured in the quantity of children, any more than it can be measured in the lack of children. Each couple is unique before God, and has a specific calling before God. We must realize that each couple is called to live "Humanae Vitae" to its fullest extent, and in so doing, we then fully cooperate with God's graces, which alone give glory to Him, and bring sanctity to us and to our fellow human beings-our brothers and sisters in Christ.
There is a fine line between using God-given scientific knowledge for good, for the eradication of certain illnesses and diseases, and the tinkering with the Divine Will which oversteps the boundary that God has placed between our obligation and His Divine Right.
Let us then applaud all married couples who cooperate fully with God, who are submissive to the Divine Will, who heed the words of Paul VI and our present dear Holy Father. Let us applaud those scientists who work with the awareness of God and the workings of the Holy Spirit Who guides these scientific breakthroughs for the Glory of the Creator. Let us, however, ponder deep within our hearts just how far we are willing to go to have a "perfect" life here below. To have "perfection" here on earth through artificial means must have its ramifications, and it would seem to me in my littleness that the more we seek artificial perfection now, the more we will lose out on eternal perfection in Heaven…for we might find that having had our fill now, we have chosen the path to eternal damnation instead, at the very best a long time in Purgatory.
If you have cooperated with God's graces, and have used modern technology to give Glory to God; if you have a large family or a small one, then know He blessed you, and brings you closer to unity with one another, and with Him. Rejoice and be glad, for your treasure is in Him, and of Him, and the world shall benefit greatly from your "fiat."
I exhort you again to read Pope Paul VI's "Humanae Vitae" with your spouse, and with the discernment of the Holy Spirit. I exhort you to talk about the magnificent privilege it is to be called to fatherhood and motherhood, and to recall how Our Lord worked His first public miracle at the Marriage Feast at Cana. As the goal of marriage is unity between husband and wife and with God, let us do all in our power to rid ourselves of the current lies of society, and set the record straight-now and for all eternity. It's all in "Humanae Vitae," if only we would read it.
We will return to "Humanae Vitae" in future lessons, but for the next several ones, we will coordinate the beginning of Lent with the sacrifices expected within families and the ebb and flow of everyday life as Cyndi shares the many growing pains of love and life because marriage is not always a bed of roses but a commitment, that, if both spouses stick to their vows, will blossom in a bouquet that will brighten hearts and souls. It is important to realize into every marriage some rain must fall. It is how we handle those damp times on whether the Son will shine in our hearts.
NEXT WEEK: Lesson Twenty: Through thick and thin!
For previous Lessons in this Series, see At One With God