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Serving Life

God has bestowed upon us the dignity to participate in the creation of life

 

By Brian Pizzalato

 

Married couples are called by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to image the life-giving, self-giving love of the Trinity. Married couples are also called to image the relationship between Christ and the church. Christ gave completely of himself, even to death on the cross, for his bride, the church. I have written more about this glorious mystery in two previous columns. This paves the way for what naturally and supernaturally follows: the married couple’s task to serve life. There are two ways this takes place: through the transmission of life, procreation, and through education. In this column we will focus on the former, and in the next column on the latter.

 

“The fundamental task of the family is to serve life, to actualize in history the original blessing of the Creator – that of transmitting by procreation the divine image from person to person” (John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio #28). The spousal union is ordered to the begetting of new human life. Spouses are called to imitate the Trinity and Christ’s relationship with the church every moment of every day, but in particular during the marital embrace. In marriage, the two, husband and wife, become one flesh, so much so that nine months later you will have to give him or her a name, thus becoming three in one.

 

God has bestowed upon man and woman such a dignity that we can participate in the very creation of a new human person, becoming co-creators with God. At the moment of conception, husband and wife have provided God with the opportunity to infuse a new soul into the body they have given to this new human person through their love.

 

All of this has its consequences, which cannot be changed. Many people have a problem with the church’s teaching on contraception as intrinsically evil. In our day, where contraception seems to be perfectly acceptable, and perhaps the responsible thing to do, having a problem with it is somewhat understandable. But, why is it that our society thinks that it knows better than Christ and his church? Why is it that some Catholics think they know better than Christ and his church? Maybe we have it wrong and Christ and his church have it right. Maybe the media, the government, the public school system, MTV and our conscience have it wrong.

 

To understand this teaching, it must be placed in context, not as one teaching isolated from everything else. The Trinitarian plan from all eternity is that we might share in his life, which is love itself. God the Father wanted this so badly that after Adam and Eve rejected him, he sent his only Son to give completely of himself through the Paschal Mystery: the passion, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ. The Second Person of the Trinity emptied himself, taking the form of a servant. He went through a humiliating trial, torture and finally death by crucifixion. His self-emptying went beyond death when his side was pierced by a lance, issuing forth blood and water. Upon his ascension back to the Father, the Trinity poured forth his life upon the church by sending the Holy Spirit.

 

The eternal life of the Trinity and the life of God the Son while here on earth was one of complete and total self-giving, life-giving love. This is not what, but who, spouses are called to image.

 

What about contraception? We can understand from what God has revealed that contracepted sex is neither self-giving nor life-giving. It is selfish and barren. In many instances it is death-giving, since many contraceptives do not prevent conception but kill the child after conception. It in no way images Trinitarian life and Christ’s self sacrifice for his bride. It completely falsifies both.

 

Authentic married love is meant to be caught up in the mystery of divine life and love. A total gift of self is required: body, mind, heart and soul. Anything else would be a lie. Many say that sex is good, or even great, but Christ and the church proclaim that it is holy. And to treat something holy as though it is merely good or great is to desecrate that which is holy.

 

The supreme gift of marriage is a human person, a child. No one has a right to have a child. The child is a pure gift from our Father in heaven. And the child is certainly not a choice. Abortion is death-dealing plain and simple. A human person dies. It is also selfish. As Blessed Mother Teresa once said, “It is a shame that a child must die so that we might live as we wish.”

 

May the most Blessed Trinity move our hearts and minds to accept his words, and heal all those who have used contraception and have had abortions. May all those babies who did not survive the holocaust of abortion (47,282,293 in the United States since 1973 at the time of this writing and one every 25 seconds after that) offer up their prayers before the throne of our heavenly Father. May the myriad of angels and saints pray for all married couples that they may be open to new life, a glorious gift from the Trinity.

 

Printed with permission from the Northern Cross, Diocese of Duluth, Minnesota.

 

Brian Pizzalato is the Director of Catechesis, R.C.I.A. & Lay Apostolate for the Diocese of Duluth. He is also a faculty member of the Theology and Philosophy departments of the Maryvale Institute, Birmingham, England. He writes a monthly catechetical article for The Northern Cross, of the Diocese of Duluth, and is a contributing author to the Association for Catechumenal Ministry's R.C.I.A. Participants Book. Brian is currently authoring the regular series, "Catechesis and Contemporary Culture," in The Sower, published by the Maryvale Institute and is also in the process of writing the Philosophy of Religion course book for the B.A. in Philosophy and the Catholic Tradition program at the Maryvale Institute.

 

Brian holds an M.A. in Theology and Christian Ministry with a Catechetics specialization and an M.A. in Philosophy from Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio.

 

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September 2, 2014

Tuesday of the Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time

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