An entry for Filipinos for Life’s December Blogging Event, What Child is This? Bearing Children as the World’s Salvation
Christmas season is the perfect time to discuss the bearing of children. That today is the Feast of the Holy Family makes it particularly appropriate.
In Three To Get Married, Archbishop Fulton Sheen says:
It takes three to make Love in Heaven–
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
It takes three for Heaven to make love to earth–
God, Man, and Mary, through whom God became Man.
It takes three to make love in the Holy Family–
Mary, and Joseph, and the consummation of their love, Jesus.
It takes three to make love in hearts–
The Lover, the Beloved, and Love.
You can see how the phrase “making love” then takes on a new dimension when viewed in light of God’s mandate. In our society today we throw this phrase around and render it meaningless: making love = sex, and vice versa. And sex according to the world is but a recreational activity, a physical need, a stress reliever, an animal instinct — and those are just the milder terms I’ve seen used.
If we are to recognize that sex is God’s gift, however, then every instance of the marital act, as God designed it, becomes an essential part of every married person’s salvation. God means for it to be free, total, fruitful, and faithful. It is unitive and procreative, because the marital embrace is not simply a communion of bodies and minds, but a communion of souls. Making love with our spouses according to God’s design becomes our personal annunciation. Every instance, blessed and open to life, becomes sacred, because that is when we give our personal Fiat: we say YES to God as much as we say YES to our spouse, and YES to the possibility of new life. Life, a newly created soul, is God’s greatest gift to us. In keeping ourselves open to life, every man becomes another Joseph who says, YES, LORD, I am ready to take on the responsibility of fathering a child. I say yes to whatever it takes, to bring up this new soul, to work for him, to house her, to clothe him, to protect her, to defend him, to teach her. Every woman becomes another Mary who says, YES, LORD, to this new body planted to grow within my own, this new soul to grow as my own soul grows ever closer to You. This is how, as man and woman bound together in Matrimony, we truly participate in this work of salvation. That’s why being unequivocally pro-life in our own homes, in our marriages, in our families, is a non-negotiable.
Bearing a child, as the Holy Family demonstrated, did not end with Mary giving birth. The proper raising of children is a lifetime commitment. While we have the responsibility to see to our children’s physical, mental and emotional well-being, more important than any of those is their spiritual well-being. Every child we bear is another FIAT to life. Continuing to emulate Joseph and Mary, we see that each child is called to be another Christ, and how we raise him/her necessarily becomes reflective of that. Our job as parents is to teach them how to give that wholehearted Fiat as well when their time comes.
Our FIAT then, collectively and individually, enables us to follow in the Holy Family’s footsteps, and to see our role in salvation history, crystal clear and staring us in the face. We not only grow bodies, we grow souls. The unique crosses that we carry, big and small, often come to us via the family, but likewise, we fill our lives with big and small “fiats”, and as we do so, mold our hearts and our wills to His will. It is not an easy trek by any means, but there is no more worthwhile goal than getting each other to heaven so we can enjoy His as well as each other’s company there. It is thus foolish and pointless to wish or expect married and family life to be a bed of roses, especially when we already know that the crown of thorns comes before the crown of glory, and that salvation passes by way of the family.
Additional suggested reading: