Easter Promise: Life in abundance
April 16, 2013
“Will you accept children lovingly from God, and bring them up according to the laws of Christ and his Church?”
Ah, yes! This question asked to a couple about to take their wedding vows has come to make all the difference.
In a day when children are too often seen as a burden, as interruption in one’s life or a parasite on the planet — in a time when the false idea of “gay marriage” is gaining ascendancy in the culture as well as in politics — we continue to hold that God’s plan for life, embodied in this question, remains the one true path for parenthood.
All our pro-life sensibilities are grounded in this seemingly simple question, which turns out to be very wide and deep when we take a closer look.
Each and every word or phrase of the question is golden, alive with meaning and blessed implications.
“Will you accept” — not demand as a right, not manufacture, not hire a surrogate. But accept, as a gift — indeed as our faith assures us, the supreme gift of marriage.
“Lovingly” — not in fear, not in domination, not in indifference. Lovingly in two senses: love for the new little one, willing his or her greatest good, and conceived in the marital love of parents. “Every child has a right to be brought into the world through an act of love by its [married] parents.”
“From God” — to remember always that the gift of a child is from God and for God. These children that we call “ours” are, in truth, God’s.
He loans them to us for a time, and asks us to be good stewards, then calls them back to himself.
How do we greet a new little one in our family? Is it “I will mold and form you into the person of my choosing?” Or is it, ‘Who are you, little child of God? I want to get to know you. Whoever you are, let me lovingly foster the uniquely beautiful person God has created in you.”
Did you know that our Church teaches that parents must not direct the specific choices of vocation, or spouse, of our children?
“Bring them up” — yes, we are the guiding force to help our kids grow in wisdom, age and grace.
We are the primary educators of the children, it’s a natural fact, and we must never concede that duty to the state, or a school system, or even a CCE program at the parish.
Certainly we must delegate much to others, but our delegation has to be with eyes wide open. We have to step up to hard choices and decisions about media, toys, companions, study and faith formation.
Do we know what the laws of Christ and His Church are? Do we have a realistic plan of ‘continuing education’ to better understand?
More to the point — do we follow the faith, do we keep the laws, do we truly believe?
In thinking of what it takes to rear our children, we need only realize how quickly even a little child sees through the hypocrisy of parents who say one thing but do something else.
If we really mean yes to the question of children, we are pledging to live the faith, grow in the faith, never stop learning and loving the faith. Do we recognize that Christ and His Church are inseparable?
Their brave “yes” to the question, rightly understood, pledges the couple to responsible parenthood. They will put God first and spouse next above all.
After that, the rest of the family, followed by career, hobbies and everything else. They will be pro-life from the heart.
For many, it will draw them into political or other forms of activist campaigning against the culture of death — against abortion, euthanasia, sexual deviancy and all the many attacks on marriage and family. Such activism is a natural outgrowth of their yes to new life at their wedding.
Easter reminds us that Jesus’ mission to give life more abundantly (cf Jn 10:10) is perfected in the promise of the resurrection to eternal life. The couple at the altar pronouncing their vows yearns to promise “forever” – but all they can say is “till death.”
But the children they will have, incarnations of their love, mean that their love is now truly forever, because of Easter.
Maritza C. Roman-Pavajeau is an associate director with the Archdiocesan Office of Family Life Ministry.