Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Suffering in Marriage

There are few that would argue there is a certain amount of suffering attributed to being in a Christian marriage, though it could be argued that in the last half of the twentieth century it has gained a new significance, as society seeks to reduce the role of suffering within marriage. The assault upon marriage from secular society, and attempts to change the original intent of marriage further attack God’s plan for Man, another consequence of The Fall. Suffering takes on a new role when it speaks of original experience and its relationship to original solitude. Suffering aids us in the recovery of our original vocation, and contraception not only impedes that recovery, but actually increases suffering in opposition to God’s salvific plan. Not only does contraception work in opposition to God’s plan, but prevents the sort of suffering intended to allow us to rejoin Him in Heaven.

Father Jose Granados tells us, “Suffering is a language of the body that speaks of original solitude and original unity in one breath.” This language reveals itself most fully in the example set in the life of Christ, who gave fully of Himself in many situations, most vividly in His Passion and Death upon the Cross. Through Christ’s suffering, we are given first an example of how to live, how to approach life, and to ultimately be prepared to give that life up for another, as He gave His life for all. In this example we can then find new meaning for what love truly is, more than just a feeling, a high that cannot hope to be sustained. Love is in fact an act of the will, a total self-sacrifice that holds nothing back. In this total love, this complete sacrifice, we find our place in God’s plan, which is to know, love and serve God in this life. In the Genesis accounts of Creation, God creates Man in one act, “male and female, He created them,” (Gen 1:27). Only in Gen 2 does Scripture speak of Adam first, and then Eve being created from the rib of Adam, lending chronology to the sequence, not stating that woman was afterthought of God, but conceived in the mind of God from the beginning.

But how does this help us recover our original vocation? What then, is our original vocation? The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us in paragraph 1699 that Life in the Spirit fulfills the vocation of man. Further, CCC1700 we are again reminded that we are created in the image and likeness of God, and fulfilled in the vocation of divine beatitude. It goes on to assert that this is all left to Man’s own personal decisions, that is, ultimately freewill is given to us that we can choose a life of grace, or a life separated from God. But it is not presupposed that it is our actions alone that determine this, but instead depend upon the grace and mercy of a loving Father in heaven, who wishes nothing more than for His children to return to Him forever.

Simply put then, our original vocation is our call to holiness. In our suffering, in our self-sacrifice, in the giving of all that we have and all that we are, we find the love that Christ has for us, just as He has for His Father in Heaven. In His self-giving love, His total gift of self, we find the one example of the beatific vision that we should all strive for in all that we are. Our suffering, in union with Christ’s suffering on the cross of Calvary, is our path to the recovery of holiness.

If one has an understanding of how suffering relates to original solitude, and how it is fully connected to the recovery of holiness, then certainly there is no question that contraception not only stands in the way of that recovery, but prevents, and seeks to further destroy our call to holiness and unity. If Christ is our example of salvific suffering, then contraception by nature of its existence impedes and nullifies the sacrifice made by Him on the Cross of Calvary.

Contraception interferes with the Trinitarian concept of living giving and sustenance and attempts to take God out of the equation. We learn in catechism classes that the loving act of God the Father loving God the Son, and the Son receiving that love and then fully loving the Father is so fruitful that it generates God the Spirit, who flows fully from both. In this way, the marriage act mirrors the Trinity. That is, the man and the woman fully love each other, giving and receiving, and the product of the love often is a child, or many children. When Man takes matters into his own hands, he takes God out of the equation, and The Fall is recreated. When that cycle is broken, the consequences are frequently detrimental to all involved.

Contraception reduces the dignity of the man and the woman by reducing each other to objects to be used and discarded when they are no longer suitable for the purpose desired. When a person no longer views the other as anything other than a disposable object, the result is what Pope Paul VI spoke of after the introduction of Humanae Vitae in 1968, that is, an increase in abortion, which to date has taken in excess of 50 million lives in the United States alone. This is in addition to the assault on marriage, the huge numbers of children born out of wedlock, and the exponential increase in marriage. In fact, one need not look far to find one or several families that have children born out of wedlock, or suffer the effects of civil divorce.

In the introduction of contraception, the freedoms promised by it are only thinly veiled illusions of slavery. One would do well to recall that freedom is the not the right to make whatever choices one desires, but rather is the decision to do what is right. If a woman can never say no, but feels compelled to always say yes, then is she truly free? If a man feels like he must always be “on”, then how can he achieve self-mastery?

It could be argued that contraception gives persons the freedom to what they will with their bodies, to control, regulate, or even prevent the production of children. We have seen that this can certainly occurs, but at the consequence of divorce, abuse, abortion, and the unwarranted suffering of children in irregular family situations. God intended for children to be raised by their fathers and their mothers, and when we diminish one’s personhood, we deviate from God’s plan. This results in a loss of heaven, which we know to be Hell.

Contraception also prevents appropriate suffering, the act of loving self-sacrifice exemplified by Our Lord in His Life, Death, and Resurrection. If we removed the term contraception, which means against life, and replaced it with conception, which means for life, we would see a dramatic increase of self-sacrifice, total gift of self that is faithful, fruitful and total. If each spouse would live a life of self-gift to one another and their children, contraception would be eliminated because of disuse.

The role of suffering within marriage can best be realized by looking to the example of the Life, Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ Jesus. In exploring the mysteries of Christ, we learn more of ourselves as we learn more about God, who shows Himself to love us as completely as He loves His Son. When we seek to fully reflect the Trinity, we find our original vocation, through life in the Spirit. In this life, through the grace and mercy of our Heavenly Father, we find our paths to holiness. We know contraception to be inherently evil, and causes suffering contrary to God’s salvific plan. The freedoms it promises are smokescreen which impedes the suffering that we are intended to endure to join God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit in Heaven at the end of our days.