|Rome October 17, 2014 (Zenit.org) Arturo & Hermelinda As Zamberline
Firstly, we would like to express our gratitude to the Holy Father for inviting us to attend the Synod. We are extremely honoured and yet also somewhat fearful in the face of such great responsibility. We would like to stress that we are here as a couple with our familial and pastoral way of living. We are neither theologians, nor specialists in a particular subject, but we place our trust in God and that gives us great peace...
We would like to introduce ourselves: Hermelinda and Arturo. We are Brazilian and have been married for 41 years. We have 3 children, a daughter-in-law and a granddaughter. We joined the Our Lady's Teams Movement (END) in 1994 and are currently the Responsible Couple for the Teams in Brazil.
The charism of this movement is spiritual conjugality. The movement was founded in 1938 and is now present in 70 countries. There are 127,200 members worldwide and 45000 in our country.
We were asked to participate in the discussion entitled "Opening Married Couples to Life," a theme taken from the 3rd part of Chapter 1 of the Synod's working document, Instrumentum Laboris.
We will begin with a quotation from the Bible, "So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it."" (Gn 1:27-28).
God created us male and female so that we would join in a single body, so that we would love each other with a Love that comes from God himself, so that we could edify each other mutually through this love and so that we could give life. 1
No couple is allowed to keep for themselves the graces and marvellous fruits of married life. When recalling the mission of our movement, which is to help couples become holy, Father Caffarel, our founder, stated, "no couple has the right to be infertile."2In theory, infertility means not having children. We understand it however as also being a deliberate stance that is hermetic to the creative gift of God and that can be expressed in the different dimensions of married love.Indeed, "By transmitting human life to their descendants, man and woman as spouses and parents co-operate in a unique way in the Creator's work." 3
The sexual act is legitimate, precious and blessed by God and the pleasure that emanates from it contributes to the joie de vivre and the healthy make-up of their personalities. It is the expression of love, which in the beginning perhaps could be defined as ‘love-passion,' but which must become more and more humanised each time.
In sexual activity, the married couple express with their bodies what they have in their hearts. In order to be in sync and harmonious, it is necessary to cultivate desire, even healthy eroticism. It is necessary to continue to be passionate and attentive to the other spouse4. The way and manner of experiencing sexual life is very important for the humanisation of the human being.
Father Caffarel proposed a fascinating course: from sexuality to love. Couples are where the three roles of sexuality are articulated and expressed: the interpersonal role, the role of pleasure and the role of fecundity. Couples grow by integrating in a balanced manner all three dimensions. Sexuality is experienced both in the relationship with the other and with God. It is called upon to become a language of love, communion and life5.
One thing is clear: it is absolutely necessary to guide couples towards the human and Christian perfection of the sexual relationship. Sexuality is a factor of holiness and currently, it needs to be saved from corrupt eroticism, which reduces the human being to a single dimension6.
the begetting of children is a sublime gesture of love through the gift of life. It allows a new being to participate in the formidable adventure of life, love, discovery, meeting and the ultimate union in God's heart, which is the supreme goal of every being.
Couples are not only fruitful because they bear children, but also because they love each other and by loving each other open themselves up to life. This is very different to those, who freely and selfishly decide not to welcome life7. "The fundamental task of the family is to serve life"8 and for that, "every marital act must of necessity retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life."9
"For just reasons, spouses may wish to space the births of their children. It is their duty to make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness but is in conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible10 parenthood." "Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality." 11
Given the serious nature of this meeting, we have to admit that many Catholic couples-excluding those who seek to seriously respect their marriage vows-do not feel obliged to use only natural methods. We also should add that in general their confessors do not question them about this. On the one hand, couples are open to life and reject abortion and that is a fact. On the other hand, we do not perceive any insistence on the doctrine of Humanae vitae in homilies or in other spiritual accompaniment.
Birth regulation through natural methods is theoretically good, but in today's society, it seems to be little used. Couples, mainly young ones, live such at such a frenetic rhythm that they are unable to use these methods, since they require time to practice and time is a rare commodity in today's world. What is worse is that since the natural method is superficially explained and even badly used, it gains the unfair reputation of being unsure and thus, often times inefficient. Consequently, and we admit this once again with sincerity, it is not followed by the majority of Catholic couples.
Since birth regulation is a true necessity, the majority of couples do not hesitate to use other methods of contraception. In general, they do not consider them to constitute a moral problem. Once again, we need to consider that sexual activity is oriented towards the transmission of life, but also it is in the service of married love. "There is nothing surprising in that, when one considers the demands of the law with reference to the strength of the sexual instinct. But what is not normal is that a great number of Catholic couples are drowned in this anxiety. " 12
A few years ago, the Teams of Our Lady Movement put together a study topic entitled, "Evangelising Sexuality." In this document, the differences between the moral doctrine and couples' practices are noted. In order to treat this important subject, a study, entitled "The Theology of Sexuality," based on St John Paul II's catechism on the Theology of the Body has been elaborated by the Teams of Our Lady Movement.
Holy Father, Synod Fathers, Ladies and Gentlemen, if couples could only come across enlightenment and support within the priesthood, then that would be a great step forward! All too often, contradictory advice only aggravates the confusion. We beg the Magisterium to rapidly give priests and the faithful general guidelines for a pastoral pedagogy, which will help adopt and adhere to principles in accordance with Humanae vitae. 13
1 Cf. Henri Caffarel, Spiritualité conjugale, 22.
2 Henri Caffarel, Casamento sacramento do dia a dia, 39.
3 cf. CEC, 372.
4 Cf Henri Caffarel, Casamento, Sacramento do dia a dia, 28-29
5 Cf. Equipes Notre Dame, Père Caffarel: Prophète du mariage, 35.
6 Cf. Henri Caffarel, Prophète du Mariage, 31
7 Equipes de Nossa Senhora, Casamento, Sacramento do dia a dia, 38.
8 Familiaris Consortio, 28.
9 Humane Vitae, 11.
10 Cf. CEC 2368.
11 Cf. CEC 2370.
12 Henri Caffarel, Lettre mensuelle aux END, octobre 1968.
13 Equipes Notre Dame, Père Caffarel: Prophète du Mariage, 57.
(17 octobre 2014) © Innovative Media Inc.