Friday, April 6, 2012

For married couples: The importance of being open to new life

Fr. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, one of my favorite writers on life issues, calls for a "spirit of generosity" when it comes to procreation:
...In marriage, it can certainly be challenging to harmonize spousal love with the responsible transmission of life. Janet Smith and Christopher Kaczor, in an illuminating passage from one of their recent books, acknowledge this challenge and point to the need for a "spirit of generosity" when it comes to procreation:

"Pope John Paul II spoke of 'responsible parenthood,' in which a couple uses practical wisdom, prayer and a spirit of generosity in determining how many children they should have. Some Catholics believe that the Church permits the use of NFP only for reasons that verge on the truly desperate, such as a situation where a pregnancy would threaten a woman's life or a family is living in dire poverty. Magisterial documents, however, state that spouses may have physical, psychological, economic or social reasons for needing to limit family size, using several different adjectives to describe those reasons: One can have 'just' reasons, 'worthy' reasons, 'defensible' reasons, 'serious' reasons and 'weighty' reasons. In short, the Magisterium teaches that spouses must have unselfish reasons for using NFP and limiting their family size."

At times, then, our justifications for avoiding a pregnancy may merit further reflection and scrutiny on our part. When it comes to "poverty," for example, would our poverty, in the true sense of the word, mean that the child would be malnourished and without warm clothing, or would it simply mean that he or she would forego some of the latest hi-tech gadgets that other children in the neighborhood might be enjoying?

I recall what a father of seven children on a tight budget once told me in a conversation: "Honestly, there's always room around the table for one more, and with 'hand me down' clothing we always manage. And my goodness, isn't it a momentous thing to receive that trust of preparing another soul for an eternal destiny with God?" His wife pointed out how the older children ended up helping with raising the younger ones, lessening the burdens on mom and dad, and turning it into a "team effort."

The ancient Christian teaching on the two-fold purpose of marriage, namely, the "procreation and education of children," and the "mutual help and sanctification of the spouses," accurately summarizes the inner order of marriage. As the future John Paul II wrote in his great 1960 book 'Love and Responsibility,' radical personal openness to both of these purposes is essential to the success and meaning of any marriage. We should never enter into marriage with active opposition to the very ends for which it exists...
A collection of columns by Father Pacholczyk can be found HERE.


  1. Thanks for sharing this nice topic of yours!

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