Pop quiz: What is the “supreme gift” of marriage?
If you answered “children,” ding ding ding ding! Children are the “supreme gift” of marriage and its “ultimate crown” (Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, nos. 50, 48). Put another way, the procreation of children is one of the two ends, or purposes, of marriage: as the bishops of the United States wrote in their 2009 pastoral letter on marriage, “It is the nature of love to overflow, to be life-giving. Thus, it is no surprise that marriage is ordained not only to growing in love but to transmitting life” (LL, p. 13).
Related to this is the paramount importance of mothers and fathers in the lives of their children. In welcoming a new child into the world, husband and wife are called to commit to that child’s education and human formation.
This aspect of the Church’s teaching on marriage may raise questions for some. One may wonder: Does “openness to life” mean that a couple must have as many children as physically possible? Or what’s the difference between an infertile couple and two persons of the same sex, since neither of them can have children? These questions – like questions about sexual difference – are of pressing importance and involve all of us in some way. Each of us is a child of a father and a mother, and has experienced firsthand either the stability and joy of a happy family life, or the pain of a broken one.
We invite you to delve deeply into the Church’s beautiful teaching on the gift of children, fatherhood, and motherhood. For starters, you can watch the video “Made for Life,” which builds on “Made for Each Other”. Also, check out the Viewer’s Guide to “Made for Life” and the FAQs about children and parenting. For those who might lead a group discussion or teach/preach on the topic, a Resource Booklet is available too.
As always, please contact us with any questions you have! Peace to all.