‘Humanae Vitae’ as a guide for a holy marriage: Part 1
By Deacon Mark Krejci, Ph.D./Office of Formation in Discipleship
In my previous column, I noted that July marks the 50th Anniversary of “Humanae Vitae.” I concluded that column by promising a series that will dig into the teaching of “Humanae Vitae” as a guide for a holy marriage. This is the first installment of the series; thank you for reading along.
I was recently reading something that made me say, “Hey Julie, have you heard this?!” Julie is my wife, and she regularly hears me say this when I am reading something incredible or shocking. The thing I shared with her was a news item in a magazine where a couple was entering a “part-time” marriage. They decided that they would live as husband and wife on the weekends but consider themselves single during the week. Now I am not talking about a married couple who must be separated for work during the week – no, this was something else. This couple believed that they were “married” on the weekends and “single” during the week. They lived apart (in the same town), went about their weekday lives without any expectation of contact, and then came together on Fridays after work and spent the weekend together. Their rationale was based on the idea that if they each had their own “me” time during the week they would be able to sustain their marriage at a time when so many of their friends were getting divorced.
I am sure you do not need me to quote “Humanae Vitae” to know that this is not what marriage is meant to be, but let me quote Pope Blessed Paul VI anyway: “Then, this (marital) love is total, that is to say, it is a very special form of personal friendship, in which husband and wife generously share everything, without undue reservations or selfish calculations.” (HV 9, emphasis added). Without a doubt the couple in the news story did not generously share everything! No, they only shared Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday while Monday through Friday afternoon was selfishly reserved for themselves.
It would be easy to dismiss the couple as an aberration and think if you are married or expecting to be married one day, you could never be so self-centered as that “weekend couple.” Good – I am glad you dismiss that idea – but now reflect deeply on the words: “generously share everything.” If every married couple lived by these words, there would be peace and joy in every marriage.
There are three parts to this phrase: an adverb (generously), a verb (share) and a noun (everything). Sorry for the grammar lesson, but each word of that phrase written by Pope Blessed Paul VI is a gem combining into rich treasure that can guide every marriage to holiness. When we get married we are to involve “everything.” Every day, every item, every emotion, every part of our being. We are to “share” this with our spouse which turns into a mutual gifting of oneself to the other. The husband makes a total gift of himself to his wife and the wife makes a total gift of herself to her husband. But the attitude you have in your soul is the key to the gift of sharing everything: “generously.” We do not partially share, we do not reluctantly share, we do not resentfully share everything! NO! We “generously” share to reflect the generous love of God who created us out of an act of love. Generosity in our marital sharing of everything is meant to reflect the love of God to our spouse. When both husband and wife – in a spirit of generosity – share everything, they become a “living icon” of God’s love in the world. Thus, everyone can see an iconic image of God’s love in the married couple who “generously share(s) everything.”
If every couple would “generously share everything” in their marriage, they would be filled with “rejoicing” every time they lived as a gift to their spouse. Why? Because they would reflect love which comes from God. What a beautiful way to live in marriage as described in “Humanae Vitae.”
In my next column, I will bring out one more point, but for now, let me again say, happy anniversary to the Church and the world for Pope Blessed Paul VI’s gift of this holy teaching.