Last week, as I was driving home, I noticed a billboard that shocked, appalled and saddened me all at the same time! This business was advertising vasectomies suggesting that a vasectomy is a vaccine for pregnancy. What!! There are so many things wrong with this! Why use a global pandemic that has resulted in a huge loss of life for economic gain in this way? Why would this insulting and degrading advertisement even generate business? Would this really bring more foot traffic through the door? Do people respond to something so offensive? Am I the only one that finds this degrading? The more I thought about it, I became frustrated with myself and Catholics as a whole. We have been blessed with a beautiful truth, a life changing soul-saving truth of sacramental marriage and Christian sexuality! We have been provided a clear outline and understanding of its meaning through the profound wisdom generated from brilliant minds such as Pope Paul VI and St. John Paul the Great. Yet, instead of shouting it from the rooftops, this beautiful transforming teaching has often become our best kept secret! I no longer want in any way to be silent on this topic.
Have you ever thought that God, being ever powerful, could have chosen to create each and every one of us as adults, just as we are this very moment? Instead, in His beautiful plan of life, He chose to bring us into the world by an act of ultimate love between two human beings. We enter the world as a beautiful, helpless infant in order to know and experience love as we grow to become adults. Human beings have been blessed with the ability to co-create with God!! He certainly didn’t have to orchestrate things this way, but He did! Through an act of ultimate love between two people, we can co-create with God!! I don't know about you, but that completely blows my mind!!
This act of ultimate love, however, has been so misunderstood and misdirected that human beings use, abuse, and often kill our fellow human beings selfishly for our own personal gratification while in essence telling God to this gift has nothing to do with Him but, but everything to do with us! Really? Do you really think that God isn’t interested in the means He chose to bring immortal souls into the world?
We’ve all been given a body. What is the purpose and point of our physical being? The simple answer is found in the Baltimore Catechism. “We were created to know, love, and serve God in this life so we could be happy with Him in the next.” Our bodies are instruments for us to know, love, and serve God. As Mother Assumpta Long, O.P. once put it, “I’ve got news for you, He wants it all”. Every cell of our being was created to love God. Human beings are unique in creation as we are gifted the distinct dignity of being created in God’s image and are infused with an immortal soul! However, we do have the free will to choose our own paths. We can live as God’s beautiful creatures or fall to the father of lies!
If you think God’s interest in human sexuality stops at the bedroom door, or that God does not demand to be part of human sexuality, perhaps you should spend a few minutes with the Old Testament and count exactly how many times God punishes HIs people for misusing this gift! Sexual sin disrupts and destroys humanity and relationships. God’s repeated warnings are there not only to protect this profound gift, but to protect us, HIs beautiful creatures!
When I married fairly young, I did not have a full understanding of this gift, but what I did have was the blessing of growing up with two parents who understood the importance of following God’s laws in this area. They taught me well and modeled holiness. The same was true for my husband. We both clearly understood that this gift to transmit life was something to be respected as were our bodies.
For the first 5 years of our marriage, we very successfully used the sympto-thermal method of Natural Family Planning to perfectly plan our pregnancies, fully believing that we were following the will of God. What I began to realize was that we were following our plan. It hit me like a ton of bricks! The gift and responsibility to co-create has profound power! Within marriage, not only is Our Lord uniquely present in each act of procreation in a sacramental way, but our decisions about our family life transcend far beyond us, actually impacting history for all time! God’s plan is so much more incredible than ours. These decisions weren’t just about us, but about each new child and their children and their children’s children and the souls of future generations! My grandma passed away at the age of 97. At that time, she had 100 direct descendants! She was the youngest of seven. Just think about the impact of her parents’ openness to one more soul!!
During the 80s and early 90s, the lack of support for those of us practicing Natural Family Planning was exhausting and frustrating as we were often disrespected, questioned, and scolded. Many years after the day when my obstetrician instructed me to obtain a tubal ligation, he and I grew to have a respect and understanding for each other, despite the fact that from the beginning I would inform him that I was a Catholic and so was he so we really shouldn't be having this conversation. Through the grace of God, he began to realize that this was much more than a passing fancy, but, rather, a way of life, a deep conviction. He provided me with a lot of compassionate care and encouragement during some pretty challenging times. At the beginning of our relationship, I was sent home with a prescription for “the pill” countless times, always telling him that I wasn't going to fill it because it could potentially kill a human life. Thankfully, with some time and research, I was always able to find safer and more effective means to treat conditions that didn't interfere with God’s beautiful gift!
Now that we have been married nearly 40 years and no longer have the need for careful discernment for our family planning, I look back and my heart fills with gratitude for our Church and this beautiful teaching! It was not always easy, so it was necessary for my husband and I to work together as a team. I would definitely say that I would do it all again in a heartbeat! I feel so blessed with our 6 sons, their beautiful wives, and our 12 grandchildren! Putting God first in your marriage, no matter the challenges, brings true and lasting joy and peace.