The Sacrament of Marriage is always fruitful. It always brings forth new life, even without the gift of children. Understanding this outside of the context of parenthood can be difficult, but it is nonetheless true. Even the Catechism mentions this.
“Spouses to whom God has not granted children can nevertheless have a conjugal life full of meaning, in both human and Christian terms. Their marriage can radiate a fruitfulness of charity, of hospitality, and of sacrifice.” (CCC 1654)
I’ve often read these lines and wondered what they meant. What does this mean for my life, for my marriage? Why does infertility get such little mention in the Catechism, as if it were an afterthought? Of course, the Catechism is a summary, not the exhaustive body of Catholic thought. Still, not much has been written on the subject.
In a way, perhaps those of us suffering infertility have a unique gift. When we are denied the obvious signs of fruitfulness, we are invited to discover the beauty and gift that Sacramental Marriage is in and of itself.
This is a new series exploring what it means for a Catholic marriage to “radiate fruitfulness” through charity, hospitality, and sacrifice.
Part 1: Radiating Charity
The Catechism defines charity as “the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.” (CCC 1822)
Charity, sometimes called “love”, is the highest of the virtues: It is what animates and inspires the others.
Fruit of the Spirit and fullness of the Law, charity keeps the commandments of God and his Christ: “Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love.” (CCC 1824)
And of course, the most famous and beautiful passage ever written about charity comes from St. Paul:
“Charity is patient and kind, charity is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Charity does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Charity bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13)
When we are called to marriage, we are called to be Christ to one another. Our vocation is to love with our whole selves- and this love, by nature, expands outward. It becomes a beacon of hope in our world of darkness.
A loving marriage provides a stable home base for the spouses from which they can step out and share their love with everyone they meet. Some concrete examples of this include community involvement, mentoring, sharing your wisdom with others, being an example of Christian living, and encouraging others to walk in the light.
The love between a husband and wife becomes an energy that transforms their world. Case in point: a wounded woman who thought she had nothing to offer realizes that she is valuable. Through her vocation to love her husband and his vocation of loving her, she learns to open her heart and soul to the world. And through his vocation to love his wife, and her vocation of loving him, a man learns that he is needed. He learns he can be a provider, a hero, that he is strong and able, that he has a purpose.
They say that behind every great man is an even greater woman. The truth is that true love transforms. It makes us become the best version of ourselves.
“All because two people fell in love.”