Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Of Human Life

I've written and re-written this blog post multiple times.  There is so much I want to say, yet I want to keep it short enough that it is read.  I've gone different routes, typed and erased many lines, and have finally decided to try to simply share my heart.  So here goes...

Typically when I find something beautiful, rich and moving, I want to share it with everyone I come in contact with.  I want to shout it from the rooftops, sing its praises to anyone who will listen and live in its joy completely.  But for some reason, this time, I haven't.  Until now.  So bear with me, this might be a bit longer than most.  But, it's been one in the making for years, actually.  I just finally have to courage to share the beauty behind our way of life without holding back, without intending to burden or offend, and with complete joy.  Because this is us.  This is the beauty in what we believe.  And to hold back would be to keep something from you that I have no right to keep to myself.

Humanae Vitae.  Of Human Life.  An encyclical written fifty years ago by Pope Paul VI.  Its inception came at a time when social pressures were challenging the Church's opposition to contraception...a position, which until 1930, all Christian communities unanimously held.  In essence, Humanae Vitae is the beautifully written teaching of God's plan for married love and the transmission of life.  In the midst of the opening of Margaret Sanger's free birth control clinics, introduction of the pill and beginning of the sexual revolution, Blessed Pope Paul VI, in this encyclical, reiterated the Church's position on married love: that it was to remain free, total, faithful and fruitful...always.

Why did the other Christian communities cave to the pressures of society?  Why don't we all teach still that the sacrament of marriage mirrors the Holy Trinity, with each being giving of themselves completely, holding nothing back?

I don't know.

But I do know that it bears repeating.
Fifty years ago, Blessed Pope Paul VI foresaw and foretold what could come of our society if we bought into the lies of contraception.  He envisioned a society in which women were objectified.  A society which made women always available because of the separation of sex and babies.  One which was littered with pornography, adultery and fornication .  And, one in which babies would come to be seen as choices or mistakes rather than the gifts they are.

Was the world free from these things before?  No.  Yet, look where we are today.

Here is what some do not realize: the Church doesn't teach that we have to have as many children as we can.  It does not even teach that we have to have any.  She simply asks that we always remain open to life...that no barrier or sterilization ever comes between the unitive and procreative pieces that make up each marital act.

Is being open to life difficult?  It can be.  But really, any form of self-mastery and sacrifice will always involve pain.  That pain may come in the form of a constant struggle to do the right thing.  It may come in choosing to say no when we really want to say yes.  It may come in knowing that as much as you want something, it may never happen.  It may be in the form of a daily cross that only you know and carry.  As written in this beautiful study, "When we gave our lives to Christ, we didn't sign up for easy.  We signed up to be conformed to Jesus -- to live like Him, love like Him, and die like Him.  And we did that because we knew in doing so, we would find not death, but life.

The death we experience in any form of self-denial - sexual or otherwise - is real.  But, so is the life we find through it."

I love my faith.  I love the difficulty to which it sometimes calls me.  I even love knowing that whatever pain I may be feeling can in some tiny way be joined to His on the cross, as if I may shoulder just a splinter of His cross.  
I love being open to life.  Am I excited about this seventh baby?  Thrilled!  Am I sad about the early losses we experienced before this little miracle?  Of course.  I would also be lying if I said in being open to life I didn't at times worry about having the means to help them through college, making sure they have what they "need" and doing/having the things that sometimes are made to appear like childhood necessities.  Therein lies part of the journey though.  With each new baby, I become a bit more dependent on Him and a little less concerned with those wants I somehow made needs.  

I also used to think that I would have all of my babies before I was thirty.  That did not happen.  Then it moved to forty.  And, while I never know if the one I'm carrying will be the last, somehow I realize that my plan to just be very strict about NFP once I reached "advanced maternal age" solely for the reason of being at that age wasn't really being open at all.

So again, I learn to trust.  I learn that seven children doesn't necessarily mean lots of rest.  I learn that my body won't necessarily look and feel like I always want it to.  I learn that sometimes people will not understand the choices my husband and I have made.  

Some of those lessons are harder than others, and I'm embarrassed to say how many I have to learn over and over.

But in the last eight years, as we have welcomed six, lost two, and anxiously await the arrival of our seventh, what I have learned most is that He has loved me enough to create me in a way that mirrors Him, while giving me the gift of being a vehicle to bring a unique soul into this world.  Isn't that beautiful?!  Isn't His love for us and for His children amazing?  Better than anything I can imagine...just as He planned it.

In His truth in this encyclical, His truth about marital love, simply put...God loves you.  He loves who He created you to be.  He loves who you are.  He loves when you follow His will and He loves you when He has to call you back into His arms, enveloping with a mercy bigger than any of your sins.  He didn't design you and me with a plan to make our lives miserable.  Instead, He gave us the tools to choose Him over and over again in order to be at peace.  He has loved you and me enough to guide us back to Him...in every area of our lives, from our decisions about daily life to those made in the bedroom.   He is in complete control.  All, we have to do is continue to say yes to His will.  And, I cannot think of anything that gives me more peace.

(yes, it's a girl).

I was sent this study by the women at Endow and it has so moved me and reignited my love for our Church and its teachings.  I can not recommend it more.

If you are Catholic and looking to reignite your commitment to this truth...if you are not and would like to know why your faith community may no longer teach the same message...if you simply want to understand God's plan for married love, read this.  Delve in.  Cover to cover.  And, ask yourself the hard questions.  You can handle it.  You can live it!