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Humanae Vitae: Day 14

Unlawful Birth Control Methods

14. Therefore We base Our words on the first principles of a human and Christian doctrine of marriage when We are obliged once more to declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children.  Equally to be condemned, as the magisterium of the Church has affirmed on many occasions, is direct sterilization, whether of the man or of the woman, whether permanent or temporary. (cf. Casti connubii, Pope Pius XI)

Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means.

Neither is it valid to argue, as a justification for sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive, that a lesser evil is to be preferred to a greater one, or that such intercourse would merge with procreative acts of past and future to form a single entity, and so be qualified by exactly the same moral goodness as these. Though it is true that sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil or in order to promote a greater good,” it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it (cf. Rom 3:8)—in other words, to intend directly something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order, and which must therefore be judged unworthy of man, even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family or of society in general. Consequently, it is a serious error to think that a whole married life of otherwise normal relations can justify sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive and so intrinsically wrong.

Here we get to the bottom line.  Having explained God’s plan for married love and why man must not interfere with His divine will, Pope Paul VI goes on to reaffirm the Church’s teaching that the use of contraception is always intrinsically evil.  Every martial act must be open to children and no reason can be given – even what might sound like a noble reason – to justify the use of contraception even once.

(Posted with permission from Fr. Lee Acervo at http://fatheracervo.wordpress.com)

Humanae Vitae:Day 13

 

Faithfulness to God’s Design

13. Men rightly observe that a conjugal act imposed on one’s partner without regard to his or her condition or personal and reasonable wishes in the matter, is no true act of love, and therefore offends the moral order in its particular application to the intimate relationship of husband and wife. If they further reflect, they must also recognize that an act of mutual love which impairs the capacity to transmit life which God the Creator, through specific laws, has built into it, frustrates His design which constitutes the norm of marriage, and contradicts the will of the Author of life. Hence to use this divine gift while depriving it, even if only partially, of its meaning and purpose, is equally repugnant to the nature of man and of woman, and is consequently in opposition to the plan of God and His holy will. But to experience the gift of married love while respecting the laws of conception is to acknowledge that one is not the master of the sources of life but rather the minister of the design established by the Creator. Just as man does not have unlimited dominion over his body in general, so also, and with more particular reason, he has no such dominion over his specifically sexual faculties, for these are concerned by their very nature with the generation of life, of which God is the source. “Human life is sacred—all men must recognize that fact,” Our predecessor Pope John XXIII recalled. “From its very inception it reveals the creating hand of God.” (Mater et Magistra, John XXIII, May 15, 1961)

(Posted with permission from Fr. Lee Acervo at http://fatheracervo.wordpress.com)


Humanae Vitae: Day 12

”Union and Procreation

12. This particular doctrine, often expounded by the magisterium of the Church, is based on the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act.

The reason is that the fundamental nature of the marriage act, while uniting husband and wife in the closest intimacy, also renders them capable of generating new life—and this as a result of laws written into the actual nature of man and of woman. And if each of these essential qualities, the unitive and the procreative, is preserved, the use of marriage fully retains its sense of true mutual love and its ordination to the supreme responsibility of parenthood to which man is called. We believe that our contemporaries are particularly capable of seeing that this teaching is in harmony with human reason.”

Sex is ordered toward union and procreation.  Or as Dr. Janet Smith would say, sex is for babies and bonding.  This is how God ordained it.  This is His eternal plan, and man on his own initiative cannot break this inseparable bond.  Contraception, sterilization, sex outside of marriage, and homosexual acts are all contrary to God’s divine plan.

I think the last line was thrown in there to point out that this is common sense stuff.  It’s not merely a “religious” topic.  If you have sex, it is natural for the woman to get pregnant.  Pregnancy and fertility are not diseases that need to be treated.  Children are meant to be born within families where there is a father and a mother.  And Paul VI reminds us that “this teaching is in harmony with human reason.”

 

(Posted with permission from Fr. Lee Acervo at http://fatheracervo.wordpress.com)

Support the NIGHT OF WITNESS!

The ‘Night of Witness’ event to support persecuted Christians that ACN (Aid for the Church in Need) is organising at Westminster Cathedral on the evening and night of Thursday 17th May.

ACN’s Night of Witness is the biggest UK event yet that ACN has organised. There is an extensive line up of inspirational guests and performers on the night, including several bishops from around the world, as well as Catholic band ‘ooberfuse’ – who had the winning UK entry for last year’s World Youth Day song contest.

This event gives us a crucial chance to stand together with our brothers and sisters around the world who are suffering persecution, in what is now a highly fraught era for Christians worldwide.

Something kind and Something wonderful!

This morning I was up and off to London Victoria to wave my daughter goodbye back on her way to university. The family enjoyed having her around for Easter and are going to miss her cheery demeanour!

As always,  I think it’s a waste to go up into town without having explored or ‘achieved’ something. I ended up achieving more than I explored today. I decided a while back that whenever I visited London I would make an effort to attend Mass there and as it so happens, Westminster Cathedral is about a fifteen minute walk from the Bus station. So armed with my ‘maps’ app on my mobile I strode in the direction of the Cathedral only to find out that if I’d walked straight out of the Victoria train Station entrance I would only need to walk a few hundred meters to the entrance of the Cathedral!

My conscience was pricked as I walked along and passed by a homeless woman sleeping on a shabby white duvet, surrounded by plastic bags of different shapes, sizes and colours. Homelessness in London is on the rise. It should not be happening here, surely?

The ‘Something kind’ happened at a traffic light when someone asked me for directions and I was fortunately able to help her on her way and that’s pretty amazing as I don’t really know London all that well. She happened to be going to the Passport Office which I had visited but a few weeks ago.  The ‘Something wonderful’ happened in the Confessional in the Cathedral when after confessing my sins, I was given absolution and I was in good time to celebrate Holy Mass together with a myriad of different peoples. This is one of the attributes of  Catholic congregations that makes me feel just right: the cross-section of cultures and colours that can be counted in the pews or observed walking up to receive Our Lord in Communion. We are all part of a Universal Church, and this universality is beautifully portrayed at every Mass across the the globe. Today the Mass held a tinge of African flavour as our priest sang three verses of a well-loved song before the Final Blessing. It was wonderful.

The view from my chair as I waited for Confession. Beautiful.

Humanae Vitae: Day 11

Observing the Natural Law

11. The sexual activity, in which husband and wife are intimately and chastely united with one another, through which human life is transmitted, is, as the recent Council recalled, “noble and worthy” (cf. Gaudium et Spes, n. 49).  It does not, moreover, cease to be legitimate even when, for reasons independent of their will, it is foreseen to be infertile. For its natural adaptation to the expression and strengthening of the union of husband and wife is not thereby suppressed. The fact is, as experience shows, that new life is not the result of each and every act of sexual intercourse. God has wisely ordered laws of nature and the incidence of fertility in such a way that successive births are already naturally spaced through the inherent operation of these laws. The Church, nevertheless, in urging men to the observance of the precepts of the natural law, which it interprets by its constant doctrine, teaches that each and every marital act must of necessity retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life (cf. Pius XI, Casti connubi).

Natural Law, remember, is that which we naturally know as right vs. wrong because God placed that knowledge within us along with a conscience which tells us to do good and avoid evil.  Sex is a gift given by God to a husband and wife for the twin purposes of strengthening the bond between them (as they are no longer two but one flesh) and bringing children into the world.  Even if a couple is unable to have children, the conjugal act is still “noble and worthy” assuming that they are at least open to having children.

That last line is of great importance: “each and every marital act must of necessity retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life.”  Contraception willingly severs that intrinsic relationship between the marital act and the procreation of life.  And that is why the use of artificial contraception is always by its very nature a mortal sin.  Mortal sins cut us off from God’s grace which gives life to our souls (whereas venial sins wound that connection).  The use of contraception is a mortal sin because it destroys God’s plan for man and woman to “be fruitful and multiply”.

See references in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

nn. 1854-1864 on “The Gravity Of Sin: Mortal And Venial Sin”

n. 2370 and 2399 on Contraception which the Catechism (citing Humanae Vitae n. 14) describes as “intrinsically evil”.

(Posted with permission from Fr. Lee Acervo at http://fatheracervo.wordpress.com)

Humanae Vitae: Day 10

Responsible Parenthood

10. Married love, therefore, requires of husband and wife the full awareness of their obligations in the matter of responsible parenthood, which today, rightly enough, is much insisted upon, but which at the same time should be rightly understood. Thus, we do well to consider responsible parenthood in the light of its varied legitimate and interrelated aspects.

With regard to the biological processes, responsible parenthood means an awareness of, and respect for, their proper functions. In the procreative faculty the human mind discerns biological laws that apply to the human person (See St. Thomas, Summa Theologiae, I-II, q. 94, art. 2).

With regard to man’s innate drives and emotions, responsible parenthood means that man’s reason and will must exert control over them.

With regard to physical, economic, psychological and social conditions,responsible parenthood is exercised by those who prudently and generously decide to have more children, and by those who, for serious reasons and with due respect to moral precepts, decide not to have additional children for either a certain or an indefinite period of time.

Responsible parenthood, as we use the term here, has one further essential aspect of paramount importance. It concerns the objective moral order which was established by God, and of which a right conscience is the true interpreter. In a word, the exercise of responsible parenthood requires that husband and wife, keeping a right order of priorities, recognize their own duties toward God, themselves, their families and human society.

From this it follows that they are not free to act as they choose in the service of transmitting life, as if it were wholly up to them to decide what is the right course to follow. On the contrary, they are bound to ensure that what they do corresponds to the will of God the Creator. The very nature of marriage and its use makes His will clear, while the constant teaching of the Church spells it out (cf. Gaudium et Spes, nn. 50-51).

The word “responsible” is one that some are allergic to today in this “me first” culture of ours.  But God, in entrusting to man and woman the gift of being able to co-operate with Him in the procreation of human life, expects us to use this gift responsibly.  With all gifts from God, there is a right way to use them and a wrong way, a responsible way and an irresponsible way, a generous way and a selfish way.

Responsible parenthood means that as human beings, we don’t let our “innate drives and emotions” control us.  If now is not a good time for a couple to have children, they should abstain from sexual relations.  If they engage in sexual relations, then they must be responsible enough to accept the consequences of their decisions.

Responsible parenthood means being both prudent and generous to God in their decisions to have more children.

Responsible parenthood means that both husband and wife possess Christian maturity, great moral character, and virtue.  This means having the ability to use right reason.  It requires knowledge of both the natural and moral laws, and the maturity to follow them, understanding that “each of us shall give an account of himself to God” (Rom 14:12).  It requires the ability to set priorities not based on my will but God’s will.

  (Posted with permission from Fr. Lee Acervo at http://fatheracervo.wordpress.com)


Humanae Vitae: Day 9

Married Love

9. In the light of these facts the characteristic features and exigencies of married love are clearly indicated, and it is of the highest importance to evaluate them exactly.

This love is above all fully human, a compound of sense and spirit. It is not, then, merely a question of natural instinct or emotional drive. It is also, and above all, an act of the free will, whose trust is such that it is meant not only to survive the joys and sorrows of daily life, but also to grow, so that husband and wife become in a way one heart and one soul, and together attain their human fulfillment.

It is a love which is total—that very special form of personal friendship in which husband and wife generously share everything, allowing no unreasonable exceptions and not thinking solely of their own convenience. Whoever really loves his partner loves not only for what he receives, but loves that partner for the partner’s own sake, content to be able to enrich the other with the gift of himself.

Married love is also faithful and exclusive of all other, and this until death. This is how husband and wife understood it on the day on which, fully aware of what they were doing, they freely vowed themselves to one another in marriage. Though this fidelity of husband and wife sometimes presents difficulties, no one has the right to assert that it is impossible; it is, on the contrary, always honorable and meritorious. The example of countless married couples proves not only that fidelity is in accord with the nature of marriage, but also that it is the source of profound and enduring happiness.

Finally, this love is fecund. It is not confined wholly to the loving interchange of husband and wife; it also contrives to go beyond this to bring new life into being. “Marriage and conjugal love are by their nature ordained toward the procreation and education of children. Children are really the supreme gift of marriage and contribute in the highest degree to their parents’ welfare.” (Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes, n. 50)

Married love is human, total, faithful and exclusive, and fecund.

Human: Married love is for the good of the whole person and it involves the complete giving of one’s self to another. Love is not merely emotional; it involves the whole self.

Total: Married love is the complete giving of one’s self.  When a couple contracepts, at least one party is holding something back.  A barrier is placed between spouses

Faithful and exclusive: “fidelity is in accord with the nature of marriage…it is the source of profound and enduring happiness.”

Fecund: Marriage is ordered by its nature toward procreation and education of children.  The vocation of husband and wife is to cooperate with God in bringing new life into the world and to help that new life to know God his Creator.

Many forces in the world today want to redefine marriage.  But marriage is not ours to redefine.  God instituted marriage and is Himself the image of married love.  Its nature is to be human, total, faithful and exclusive, and fecund.  To try to make marriage anything other than what it truly is to destroy marriage itself, and when marriage is destoryed so is humanity.

Contraception is not human, it turns married love into something that is not total and therefore not faithful according to the vows that they made to each other, and it renders married love barren.

 (Posted with permission from Fr. Lee Acervo at http://fatheracervo.wordpress.com)

Soulfood

Walk of Witness down the High Street

Every year on the morning of Good Friday, the Churches Together gather together to process down the High Street in a Walk of Witness. As we walked along attesting to our Faith as Christians, volunteers walked alongside us handing out Bible verses and  Easter treats. There were more Walkers this year and it felt great. I think I ‘m beginning to see a glimmer of light with regard to the Ecumenical gatherings. It’s important for Christians of all denominations to stand firm on of matters  of  Faith, especially on Good Friday. The Choir treated us to beautiful sung harmonies. Overall, and uplifting experience.

I missed the last twenty minutes or so f the service, as we were aiming to get to Trafalgar Square for the twelve o’ clock  showing of the  ‘Passion of Jesus’,  put on by the fantastic cast of the Wintershall Estate. This was our first viewing of  ‘The Passion of Jesus’.

It takes place on an open air stage, viewed by thousands of onlookers, surging to get the clearest view of the actors in this beautiful play. (Next year I’ll make sure we get there early enough for front seat viewing!) The sound was perfect, considering the vast area covered during the performance and the competing central London traffic and hoards of tourists walking by.  There was an enormous screen on which the live acting was being screened, so that it didn’t matter whether you weren’t able to see the actors you would still be able to watch them on the big screen, and hear them clearly.

The story of The Passion began with a narrator’s  introduction, and from that moment on the crowd was hooked! Besides a little shuffling and readjusting to begin with, the group we were standing with were rooted to the spot. As the story progressed I was drawn into the play as an onlooker and participant, as was the rest of the audience. I heard nothing but what the actors were saying. I didn’t hear any traffic, but was acutely aware of this dramatic story being played out in  one of the most exciting, thronging capital cities of the world! As I watched and listened, I was humbled by this ‘simple’ , clear biography of Someone dying a torturous death for me. For me!! It felt like the first time I ‘d heard this story. And it seemed to the same for all who were gathered together on the Holiest days of the Christian calendar. You could literally hear a pin drop as the play progressed. Everyone drawn into the Life-Giving story of Christ’s Death and Resurrection, which is actually so simple. What spoke to me  most was the Humility of Our Lord  in the acceptance of His Work as directed by His Father. His acceptance of the importance of His Ultimate Sacrifice in the story of our salvation.  I was brought to tears by the Crucifixion scene and Our Lord’s reaching out, even on the Cross,  to his fellow humans. Two hours of this Magnificence ended on a high note with shouts of Alleluia, and ongoing clapping from the audience.

The cherry on the cake for me was the appearance of Bishop Vincent Nichols short address and finally praying with thousands of others the Our Father as in one voice.

This has truly been a Holy week to remember for me, and I look forward to next year, when I ‘ll meet the Lord in yet another way, on my Journey of Faith.

(All images taken by 1catholicsalmon)

Humanae Vitae: Day 8

8.  Married love particularly reveals its true nature and nobility when we realize that it takes its origin from God, who “is love,” (cf. 1 John 4:8) the Father “from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.” (Eph 3:15)

Marriage, then, is far from being the effect of chance or the result of the blind evolution of natural forces. It is in reality the wise and provident institution of God the Creator, whose purpose was to effect in man His loving design. As a consequence, husband and wife, through that mutual gift of themselves, which is specific and exclusive to them alone, develop that union of two persons in which they perfect one another, cooperating with God in the generation and rearing of new lives.

The marriage of those who have been baptized is, in addition, invested with the dignity of a sacramental sign of grace, for it represents the union of Christ and His Church.

In order to correctly understand conjugal love, we need to first understand marriage itself.   Marriage is not a product of chance but a part of God’s plan for humanity.  In the sacrament of marriage, man and woman become an image of God and His love of the Church to the world.  In married love, we see God because He is its origin.  And so much like the Trinity is a “communion of love”, marriage when it is exclusive, permanent, and open to life is a “union of two persons in which they perfect one another”.  The communion of love in the Trinity is the communion of love meant to be expressed in the indissoluble marriage.

(Posted with permission from Fr. Lee Acervo at http://fatheracervo.wordpress.com)

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