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I am writing to you to ask for advice on moral conduct in matters of conjugal sexuality.
Mother of three, with my husband we practiced natural methods until the birth of the third child, who was a surprise in the sense that he was not expressly sought, but being open to life, he was a great gift. However, after the third, my husband decided to use the male contraceptive despite my disappointment. My inner contrast lies in the fact that on the one hand I cannot convince him, while on the other I accept the intimate relationship anyway.
I do not receive Communion except after confession, which does not happen every week due to a difficulty in the availability of the few priests in my area of residence, in northern Europe. And even in confession I feel mortified towards the Lord, also for the fact that this behavior will not change totally after confession, as a true conversion would require, and I question the validity of absolution.
Both here abroad and in Italy, the priests I met in the confessional have played this sin of contraception down, but inwardly and also on the basis of reason alone, I do not feel comfortable with this position, even though it would suit me.
I would like to understand how I could best behave to cope with this situation in front of my spouse.
Have a good day
1. First of all, I congratulate your beautiful family who has been so greatly blessed.
Each of your children is a priceless gift from God for you, for the Church and for all of humanity.
Despite the hardships that they involve, they are still the smile with which God accompanies and supports you day by day.
2. Coming instead to the problem you mention, I understand your situation well.
Although some priests play it down, you feel that something is wrong.
This certainly honours your conscience, which does not have the task of deciding what is good and what is evil, but rather of discerning the voice of God and showing us the way that leads to God in the holiness of life.
3. The Holy Pope Paul VI also noticed this in the encyclical Humanae Vitae when he wrote: “It is to be anticipated that perhaps not everyone will easily accept this particular teaching. There is too much clamorous outcry against the voice of the Church, and this is intensified by modern means of communication.
But it comes as no surprise to the Church that she, no less than her divine Founder, is destined to be a “sign of contradiction.” She does not, because of this, evade the duty imposed on her of proclaiming humbly but firmly the entire moral law, both natural and evangelical.
Since the Church did not make either of these laws, she cannot be their arbiter—only their guardian and interpreter. It could never be right for her to declare lawful what is in fact unlawful, since that, by its very nature, is always opposed to the true good of man.
In preserving intact the whole moral law of marriage, the Church is convinced that she is contributing to the creation of a truly human civilization. She urges man not to betray his personal responsibilities by putting all his faith in technical expedients. In this way she defends the dignity of husband and wife.
This course of action shows that the Church, loyal to the example and teaching of the divine Savior, is sincere and unselfish in her regard for men whom she strives to help even now during this earthly pilgrimage “to share God’s life as sons of the living God, the Father of all men.” (HV 18 )
4. The language of Paul VI, meek and at the same time profoundly adherent to the truth, is striking.
He is aware that it is a matter of teaching God’s ways to people whose weakness the Church “knows.”
Yet he also affirms that the Church “cannot do otherwise than teach the law. For it is in fact the law of human life restored to its native truth and guided by the Spirit of God” (HV 19).
5. He also says: “While the Church does indeed hand on to her children the inviolable conditions laid down by God’s law, she is also the herald of salvation and through the sacraments she flings wide open the channels of grace through which man is made a new creature responding in charity and true freedom to the design of his Creator and Savior, experiencing too the sweetness of the yoke of Christ.
In humble obedience then to her voice, let Christian husbands and wives be mindful of their vocation to the Christian life, a vocation which, deriving from their Baptism, has been confirmed anew and made more explicit by the Sacrament of Matrimony. (…).
For the Lord has entrusted to them the task of making visible to men and women the holiness and joy of the law which united inseparably their love for one another and the cooperation they give to God’s love, God who is the Author of human life.
We have no wish at all to pass over in silence the difficulties, at times very great, which beset the lives of Christian married couples. For them, as indeed for every one of us, the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life.” (HV 25).
6. Precisely because “the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life“, he asks Christian spouses to “implore the help of God with unremitting prayer” (HV 25).
Above all he asks to “draw grace and charity from that unfailing fount which is the Eucharist” (HV 25).
“If, however, sin still exercises its hold over them, they are not to lose heart. Rather must they, humble and persevering, have recourse to the mercy of God, abundantly bestowed in the Sacrament of Penance” (HV 25).
7. Addressing the priests he says:
“It is your principal duty – We are speaking especially to you who teach moral theology – to spell out clearly and completely the Church’s teaching on marriage.
In the performance of your ministry you must be the first to give an example of that sincere obedience, inward as well as outward, which is due to the magisterium of the Church. (…).
Nor will it escape you that if men’s peace of soul and the unity of the Christian people are to be preserved, then it is of the utmost importance that in moral as well as in dogmatic theology all should obey the magisterium of the Church and should speak as with one voice“(HV 28 ).
8. And he adds: “Now it is an outstanding manifestation of charity toward souls to omit nothing from the saving doctrine of Christ; but this must always be joined with tolerance and charity, as Christ Himself showed in His conversations and dealings with men.
For when He came, not to judge, but to save the world, was He not bitterly severe toward sin, but patient and abounding in mercy toward sinners?Husbands and wives, therefore, when deeply distressed by reason of the difficulties of their life, must find stamped in the heart and voice of their priest the likeness of the voice and the love of our Redeemer.So speak with full confidence, beloved sons, convinced that while the Holy Spirit of God is present to the magisterium proclaiming sound doctrine, He also illumines from within the hearts of the faithful and invites their assent.
Teach married couples the necessary way of prayer and prepare them to approach more often with great faith the Sacraments of the Eucharist and of Penance. Let them never lose heart because of their weakness” (HV 29).
9. Therefore, if you do not find yourself in accordance with the law of God on conjugal intimacy, approach more often with great faith the Sacraments of the Eucharist and of Penance.
Nor should you lose heart because of the weaknesses you can foresee for your future.
10. This is the sweetness of the yoke of Christ (HV 25) which does not leave the wounded without care.
It is a disgrace for spouses to have priests who say that what is bad is good and thus do not heal the wounds of the sheep that the Lord has entrusted to them.
This is not mercy, but lack of charity.
Thank you for your trust, I assure you of my prayers for your beautiful family and I bless you.