Moments of Love with Mary
– The Spiritual Letter Box –
Problems in Family Planning
We have been married eight years. We have been blest with three children: 7 years, 6 years and 1 year. But modern life and its demands oblige us to postpone having more children. We want to live our lives as we are supposed to, but in the face of so much contradictory counsel we don’t know what practice to adopt. The number of broken homes is growing steadily, so we want to do everything to save our happiness. What should we do?
M. and C.
Many couples today are facing the same sort of problems. Conjugal life runs the gamut of many beauties and joys, and of many difficulties. These latter, such as poor health, the cost of living, cramped living conditions, financial problems, can oblige us to consider limiting the family.
But the morality does not change. In God’s eyes, purity is one of the most beautiful virtues, one which binds the soul closer to Him. Pope Paul VI has spoken on this matter in the encyclical “Humanae Vitae”. He invites married couples to base their lives on a sound morality which is the source of blessings and of an abundance of graces because the true happiness of the spouses is not found in a uniquely carnal love without any other consideration, but rather in a spiritual harmony, a psychological give-and-take, in a union of souls turned towards Him who is Wisdom itself, and who desires our happiness.
There are licit means of limiting births, if the need arises; two of these are the Ogino-Knauss method and the sympto-thermic method. The use of the pill is not permitted since it thwarts the natural and providential evolution of the organism.
Now, for you Catholic spouses, desirous of presenting to God a life of fulfillment, free from egoism and error, you must be prepared to make the necessary sacrifices. For through renunciation we rise above ourselves and foster an unparalleled flowering of self, so much greater, so much nobler and more fulfilling than any merely carnal entente.
During the period of fertility, caresses are permitted by the Church without continuing to the consummated conjugal act. The law of God regarding conjugal purity must be respected. When the menstrual cycle permits, the couple may then enjoy the complete marital act.
In general, it is advisable that both of you first of all discuss matters, reach an understanding, and accept in advance the sacrifices that come, offering them to God so that your children may preserve their purity throughout their lives. We do not give what we do not have; hence the need for you to preserve this precious virtue of purity. Never forget: we must pay for everything. These sacrifices and renunciations which you impose upon yourselves will unite you in a bond so much stronger because it is spiritual. You will go forward together on the same path of virtue, untrammelled by constraint or anguish.
Know how to profit wisely from your capabilities, remembering that the widow, the celibate and the religious must always overcome themselves in the struggle which is their lot. And those renunciations of carnal pleasure which family planning imposes upon you, offer them up for those priests who, but for your sacrifice, would succumb in their struggle.
Let your married life be a reflection of the priestly life in the spontaneity and generosity of your sacrifice. Mark it with the seal of your prayers and God will always help you more and more. Your home will be a wellspring of benedictions of inestimable benefit to your children. Pray that they will be faithful to their vocation, whatever it may be, for pitfalls are everywhere.
Love deeply, love wisely, always under the eyes of God, and your life will have wings! Uncontrolled passion weighs us down and drags us off the road. When carnal desires are controlled in marriage for the service of God, the whole being flourishes. Your love for each other will be seen through different eyes, for your regard will be divinized by the prospect of making Him King and Master in your home. May Mother Mary watch over your young family and cause to bloom within it the loveliest of virtues.
Your expressed desire to direct your steps in this direction is evidence of your good will to live virtuously, and I congratulate you. Be courageous! Let us unite in this cause, so that the reign of God may hold sway over this earth, and let us make capital from what is best in us for these little beings who are growing and are about to awaken to the grandeurs and beauties of life. Living close to God, you will have so much more to give them. And some day they will repay you.
Marriage is so wonderful; lived well, it is a veritable priesthood.
(Review, “The Army of Mary”, vol. I, no. 1)