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Good morning father,

First of all, I would like to thank you for your disponibility and precious presence through this service.

I have been married for five years to a wonderful woman who brought me to the faith when I didn’t have much of it… and let me add that I love her very much.

We have two beautiful children who are fine, thanks be to God.

We have always tried to keep the Church teachings as the foundation of our relationship since our engagement, not without difficulties.

However, after our second son we are not capable anymore of having sexual intimacy… Mostly because we don’t want another pregnancy: It is difficult enough with two sons, and life goes on at a frantic pace.

My wife is frequently tired and in those rare moments without our kids around she never looks for me… just a few hugs and nothing more, that’s enough for her.

On the other hand, as a man I would like to be more active: however, I respect her decision even if that makes me suffer…

Sometimes I fall into the sin of masturbation thinking that by “venting” my desires I’ll be able to leave her alone, but that’s never the case. I only end up feeling dirty and a sinner before God.

I suggested we try using natural methods, but she refused in fear of making a mistake and remaining pregnant.

Contraception is out of the question… we believe in the freedom of sexuality as something beautiful created by God for men, not as mere fun.

A priest guiding us as a couple once said that rules shouldn’t flatten everything and everybody; they should instead follow the couple’s reality, therefore every decision that is to be taken, it should be taken serenely and without remorse.

That’s all… I would like to know what you think about this and if you have any advice. I also ask if you could pray for me, my wife and our children.

Thank you, have a nice day.


Dear friend,

1.  Let me start from the last part of your email, namely from what your spiritual guide said. He would have told you that rules shouldn’t flatten everything and everybody.

According to your words, one should examine the meaning of God’s law. Does it express normative requirements for our life or, on the contrary, is it some general indication to take into account?

2.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that “the moral law is the work of divine Wisdom. Its biblical meaning can be defined as fatherly instruction, God’s pedagogy. It prescribes for man the ways, the rules of conduct that lead to the promised beatitude; it prescribes the ways of evil which turn him away from God and his love. It is at once firm in its precepts and, in its promises, worthy of love” (CCC 1950).

It can’t be said: God didn’t think of my situation; or worse, the divine Wisdom doesn’t know where to guide me.

3.  The meaning of God’s law is well shown by Moses when he exhorts his people to follow it with enthusiasm: “Be careful, therefore, to do as the Lord, your God, has commanded you, not turning aside to the right or to the left, but following exactly the way prescribed for you by the Lord, your God, that you may live and prosper, and may have long life in the land which you are to occupy” (Deuteronomy 5, 32-33).

That’s why we should be filled with confidence in God’s law.

When we cooperate with divine Wisdom we entrust ourselves to the wisdom that brings boundless good and happiness: “To all perfection I see a limit, but your commands are boundless” (Psalm 119, 96). There won’t be any regrets. That’s why the Jewish people don’t want to turn aside from it and keep on commemorating it: “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long” (Psalm 119, 97).

4. By following God’s commands we become wiser than all men: “Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts” (Psalm 119, 98-100).

5.  Moreover, if we follow the ways of God we are freed from all evil: “I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word. I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me ” (Psalm 119, 101-102). 

That’s why the Lord teaches us to entrust his ways, to love them and declare: “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws” (Psalm 119, 103-106).

6. I’d say to trust the rules.

The one about marital debt, for example, whereby marital intimacy should be accorded to the spouse if it is asked in observance of God’s law and with respect for the needs of the partner.

Love isn’t only a gift. Sometimes it is also a duty.

7. The conclusion given by the priest following you two could create a misunderstanding. He certainly intended to say this: every road you’ll take in observance of God’s law shall leave you serene and remorseless. 

8. Your spiritual guide surely knows what the Second Vatican Council had to say about marital intimacy: “spouses should be aware that they cannot proceed arbitrarily, but must always be governed according to a conscience dutifully conformed to the divine law itself, and should be submissive toward the Church’s teaching office, which authentically interprets that law in the light of the Gospel” (Gaudium et Spes, 50). As you can see, it doesn’t say to take every road you want, because you might go astray.

Our conscience isn’t infallible, it can be wrong.

9.  Moreover, in regard to the problems that may arise in conjugal intimacy the Council says: “when there is question of harmonizing conjugal love with the responsible transmission of life, the moral aspects of any procedure does not depend solely on sincere intentions or on an evaluation of motives, but must be determined by objective standards. These, based on the nature of the human person and his acts, preserve the full sense of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love. Such a goal cannot be achieved unless the virtue of conjugal chastity is sincerely practiced. Relying on these principles, sons of the Church may not undertake methods of birth control which are found blameworthy by the teaching authority of the Church in its unfolding of the divine law” (GS, 51).

10.  As you may notice, the Council recalls the fundament of moral law, which rests upon the dignity of the human person, always to be treated as an end and not means.

Contraception is an obvious manipulation of the person who isn’t respected for what they are but is “adjusted” according to the needs of the other.

John Paul II said that through contraception the spouses “manipulate and debase human sexuality, and with it themselves, altering its value of total gift” (22.8.1984).

11.  And again: “the unitive meaning of the conjugal act mustn’t be artificially separated from its procreative meaning because they both pertain to the inseparable truth of conjugal act: one is carried out with the other and, in some sense, through the other. Therefore, when the conjugal act is robbed of its interior truth by losing its procreative capacity, it no longer becomes also an act of love” (22.8.1984).

12. To conclude, always trust God’s law: it is infinitely more far-sighted than our views.

And above all, it knows from what evil to protect us and where to guide us.

I bless and entrust you, your spouse and your dear sons to the Lord.

Father Angelo