By: Nick John
With the topic of contraception addressed, Pope Paul VI’s encyclical talks about the problems that could come about if artificial birth control was used. It begins with, “…consider, first of all, how wide and easy a road would thus be opened up towards conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality. Not much experience is needed in order to know human weakness, and to understand that men -- especially the young, who are so vulnerable on this point…” (Humanae Vitae 17). This is exactly what we see today. Pope Paul then goes on and says, “It is also to be feared that the man, growing used to the employment of anti-conceptive practices, may finally lose respect for the woman and, no longer caring for her physical and psychological equilibrium, may come to the point of considering her as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment, and no longer as his respected and beloved companion” (Humane Vitae 17, emphasis added). “As a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment…” There is no doubt that society has come to that point. If it is really thought about though, Pope Paul’s prophesy is very logical. Contraception has played a huge part in the immorality that is seen today.
Additionally, Humane Vitae points out the roles of those in authority, and the temptations that assail people every day.
On this occasion, we wish to draw the attention of educators, and of all who perform duties of responsibility in regard to the common good of human society, to the need of creating an atmosphere favorable to education in chastity, that is, to the triumph of healthy liberty over license by means of respect for the moral order.
Everything in the modern media of social communications which leads to sense excitation and unbridled customs, as well as every form of pornography and licentious performances, must arouse the frank and unanimous reaction of all those who are solicitous for the progress of civilization and the defense of the common good of the human spirit. (Humane Vitae 22)
To Rulers, who are those principally responsible for the common good, and who can do so much to safeguard moral customs, we say: Do not allow the morality of your peoples to be degraded; do not permit that by legal means practices contrary to the natural and divine law be introduced into that fundamental cell, the family. (Humanae Vitae 23)
Beloved priest sons, by vocation you are the counselors and spiritual guides of individual persons and of families. We now turn to you with confidence. Your first task -- especially in the case of those who teach moral theology -- is to expound the Church's teaching on marriage without ambiguity. (Humanae Vitae 28)
Although Humanae Vitae gives more emphasis on people in authority, every one of us has a responsibility to live up to. We have the command to live purely in the world that is impure. Be aware of the tasks entrusted to your station in live. More importantly though, be aware for the temptations that are directed for you, and how to fight them.
The whole papal encyclical Humanae Vitae has prophetic statements. If contraception became widespread, Humanae Vitae stated that, “A change is also seen both in the manner of considering the person of woman and her place in society, and in the value to be attributed to conjugal love in marriage, and also in the appreciation to be made of the meaning of conjugal acts in relation to that love” (Humanae Vitae 2) This is exactly what is done today. Through the scandals sexual activity today, women are viewed as objects of pleasure; and the gift of sexuality, which is a sacred gift to be only used in marriage, is being used so much that there is no “appreciation to be made of the meaning of conjugal acts in relation to that love.” Another statement made in Humanae Vitae is “Who will stop rulers from favoring, from even imposing upon their peoples, if they were to consider it necessary, the method of contraception which they judge to be most efficacious?” (17) This is where we could be at; Obama’s HHS mandate is only a small step toward this goal. Humanae Vitae did prophecy about what would happen if contraception was used.
Some of the reminders that Pope Paul gave to couples were that:
By it [the graces received at baptism and the sacrament of matrimony] husband and wife are strengthened and as it were consecrated for the faithful accomplishment of their proper duties, for the carrying out of their proper vocation even to perfection, and the Christian witness which is proper to them before the whole world.32 To them the Lord entrusts the task of making visible to men the holiness and sweetness of the law which unites the mutual love of husband and wife with their cooperation with the love of God the author of human life. (Humanae Vitae 25)
And also that married couples need to be taught “The indispensable way of prayer; prepare them to have recourse often and with faith to the sacraments of the Eucharist and of Penance, without ever allowing themselves to be discouraged by their own weakness” (Humanae Vitae 29) It is through the reception of the sacraments that all couples are able to live the responsibility of being a “Christian witness which is proper to them before the whole world.”
Humanae Vitae has much for us to learn from. Addressing the topics of natural procreation of children, true love, contraception, temptations, the responsibilities of those in authority, and prophetic statements, gives a general over view of the marriage life. Now
It can be foreseen that this teaching will perhaps not be easily received by all: Too numerous are those voices -- amplified by the modern means of propaganda -- which are contrary to the voice of the Church. To tell the truth, the Church is not surprised to be made, like her divine Founder, a "sign of contradiction",22 yet she does not because of this cease to proclaim with humble firmness the entire moral law, both natural and evangelical. Of such laws the Church was not the author, nor consequently can she be their arbiter; she is only their depositary and their interpreter, without ever being able to declare to be licit that which is not so by reason of its intimate and unchangeable opposition to the true good of man. (Humnae Vitae 18)
The Catholic Church knows that humans can and will fall. Therefore, she “…has compassion on the crowd, receives sinners; but [since she is the “pillar and foundation of truth] she cannot renounce the teaching of the law which is, in reality, that law proper to a human life restored to its original truth and conducted by the spirit of God” (Humanae Vitae 19). Humane Vitae was told us what could happen if contraception was used, and here we are, just like it prophesied. It is time for people to understand God’s gifts to them, and to more fully understand that “…Children are really the supreme gift of marriage…” (Humanae Vitae 9).
'Fire of the Spirit' Teen blog is run by Henry B. To find more information about this blog, go here