Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr. James Farfaglia

10/6/2012 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

By being a total gift of themselves, married spouses, through the marital embrace, make visible the invisible reality of God who is love and God who loves us unconditionally

Sexual intercourse, the marital embrace, is an image of God who is love and gift.  The human body makes the invisible reality of God's love visible.  God created the human person for the purpose of being loving persons who freely choose to love.

Highlights

By Fr. James Farfaglia

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

10/6/2012 (2 years ago)

Published in Marriage & Family

Keywords: Father James Farfaglia, Pope Paul VI, John Paul II, Theology of the Body, Humanae Vitae, marriage, family, sexuality, contraception, married love, marriage, matrimony, family lfie, chidlren


CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) In his landmark 1968 encyclical where the Church reaffirms its' teaching that contraception is intrinsically evil, Pope Paul VI argues that every marital act must keep together "the inseparable connection , established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act" (Humanae Vitae, 12). 

The basis of the Pope's argument is the Church's understanding of natural law, human nature and God's plan for marriage, sexuality and family life.  Paul VI writes, ".they must also recognize that an act of mutual love which impairs the capacity to transmit life which God the Creator, through specific laws, has built into it, frustrates His design which constitutes the norm of marriage, and contradicts the will of the Author of life. Hence to use this divine gift while depriving it, even if only partially, of its meaning and purpose, is equally repugnant to the nature of man and of woman, and is consequently in opposition to the plan of God and His holy will."

Why then is it true that the unitive significance and the procreative significance of the marital act cannot be separated? 

Pope Paul VI lays out the principles and the reasons.  However, it is John Paul II that brings the subject to an entirely new level of understanding. 

Father Karol Wojtyla had a profound love for young people.  We have all heard about his camping trips with university students when he was a young priest.  The long discussions about the nature of God, the meaning of life, the nature of marriage and questions regarding sexuality provided lengthy material for his famous book Love and Responsibility which was published in Polish in 1960.

But, it was as John Paul II, that he used his weekly General Audiences to develop what is now known as Theology of the Body.  His discourses, (129 teachings from September 5, 1979 - November 28, 1984), comprise a monumental work which is the most profound and most complete compendium of  Catholic teaching on the subject of human nature, marriage and sexuality.

By carefully reading Pope Paul VI's prophetic encyclical, students of John Paul's Theology of the Body will notice familiar language.   For John Paul II, Humanae Vitae launches him into its' defense through a more profound development of the principles already contained in Paul VI's work. 

Why then is it true that the unitive significance and the procreative significance cannot be separated? 

Perhaps most people have never even asked themselves this question.  Perhaps our modern conditioning has already reduced the conjugal act to a mere biological act. 

The Catholic Church's teaching on marriage reminds us that there is a theological dimension to marriage and sexuality. 

This is why we must gain a new vision of sexuality.

For John Paul II, the beginning principle is the spousal dimension of the human body.

What does this mean?

Think of it in this way.

For Christianity, all of existence is immersed in a giant ocean of love.  God is defined in the Sacred Scriptures as love.  Creation, as described in the beginning of Genesis, is an outpouring of God's love.  Man, as a rational being, is the only creature that can correspond to the gift of creation by being a gift to God and a gift to others.  Thus, everything is seen through the prism of marriage. 

Sexual intercourse, the marital embrace, is an image of God who is love and gift.  The human body makes the invisible reality of God's love visible.  God created the human person for the purpose of being loving persons who freely choose to love.  Through love, they give themselves as a total gift of themselves to each other.  Thus, by being a total gift of themselves, married spouses, through the marital embrace, make visible the invisible reality of God who is love and God who loves us unconditionally. 

"(Married love) is a love which is total-that very special form of personal friendship in which husband and wife generously share everything, allowing no unreasonable exceptions and not thinking solely of their own convenience. Whoever really loves his partner loves not only for what he receives, but loves that partner for the partner's own sake, content to be able to enrich the other with the gift of himself" (Humanae Vitae, 9).

Interestingly, women instinctively know that all of this is true. Women know that after the conjugal act a couple seems unusually close on an emotional level.  Husbands often open up with their wives in a way not usual or even characteristic of them, but in a way that women crave from them all of the time. 

The marital act is designed by God to be completely and unreserved sharing of the "I do" and of the "husbands love your wives as Christ loves the Church."  The totality of the gift: no reservations and no selfishness at all. 

If the Catholic Church knows this and is so sensitive to the inner nature of marriage and the conjugal act, even of its' emotional content, she can be fully trusted when she affirms and teaches that the unitive significance and the procreative significance of the conjugal act cannot be separated.

-----

Father James Farfaglia, is a contributing writer for Catholic Online and author of Get Serious! - Survival Guide for Serious Catholics.  You can visit him on the web at www.fatherjames.org
 

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2015
Universal:
Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Marriage & Family

Distracted teenage drivers caught on camera in horrifying accidents Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety analyzed about 1,700 takes of footage involving teenage drivers and the moments just before they crash. The videos are horrifying and disturbing, as the common cause of the accidents is distracted driving. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES ... continue reading


Children's coloring book tackles gender stereotypes with 'Super-Soft Heroes' Watch

Image of Super Soft Heroes shows young boys it's OK to not always be strong.

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Linnea Johansson became worried after seeing her usually emotional 3-year-old son do his best not to cry, saying he wouldn't cry because Spiderman doesn't. As a mother bothered by how gender stereotypes are affecting her child and a fan of comic books who believes that ... continue reading


'Kill it, give it away or leave it at home' Woman rants and complains about child's behavior in shocking viral video Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An upsetting video of an older woman ranting, giving disgusting suggestions about a misbehaving child she witnessed at a grocery store has gone viral. Identified as Kathleen Smith from Tomball, Texas, she suggests the mother could have done something so the child ... continue reading


Destined by fate: New Jersey couple discover something incredible in a home video Watch

Image of Married now for eight years, the Spencer's discovered they actually crossed paths in 1988.

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Jourdan and Ryan Spencer from New Jersey were shocked to see that they crossed each other's path 16 years before they officially met. Watching a home video, taken during Jourdan's family trip to Sesame Place in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, they saw someone familiar appear ... continue reading


A woman's life in numbers: The 'ultimate female life timeline' highlights the ages women experience change in life Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As women grow from little girls to adults, the endure certain life-changing events. From being the girl-turned-woman after menstruation until she is on the age of the peak of female life expectancy, here are the significant ages women can count on being important. ... continue reading


How to find your way back to your spouse: Tips on what to do when conflicts become too much Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Couples should learn to relate with one another, in order to conquer challenges they cannot fully anticipate, according to David B. Hawkins from crosswalk.com. Some people assess that the individual person gets along more with others than their spouse. Hawkins ... continue reading


Woman with two mothers comes out AGAINST gay marriage, and the reason why is not what you think Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Heather Barwick is a gay marriage advocate who was raised by two lesbian mothers. However, she recently published an open letter entitled "Dear Gay Community: Your Kids Are Hurting" in the Federalist. She stated she loves her two mothers and the gay community, but now ... continue reading


Don't just stand there, DO SOMETHING! Viral sexual assault PSA shocks viewers by asking #WhoWillYouHelp Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A new campaign, in Ontario, directly asks people who they will help: the perpetrators or the victims. The video shows the way bystanders are being "accomplices" and also guilty of the sexual assault when they opt out from doing something and keep their silence. ... continue reading


Breastfed babies make more money Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The intelligence developed by babies from stable breast-feeding carries on into their adulthood and makes them earn more money, according to research. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - Although there are existing studies that establish correlation between ... continue reading


Amazing message from God stops YouTube star from having abortion Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"People remember dates for birthdays, and anniversaries. Well this date is forever burned in my brain. It's a day that I will remember and I remember every single detail of that day," stated Kimberly Henderson, 26-year-old mother and viral YouTube star. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


All Marriage & Family News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ezekiel 37:21-28
21 say, "The Lord Yahweh says this: I shall take the ... Read More

Psalm, Jeremiah 31:10, 11-12, 13
10 Listen, nations, to the word of Yahweh. On the ... Read More

Gospel, John 11:45-57
45 Many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for March 28th, 2015 Image

St. Venturino of Bergamo
March 28: Dominican preacher and missionary crusader. A native of Bergamo, ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter