August 27, 2012 by eneubauer
The pilgrim’s path leads the “pilgrim” into the natural evolution of one’s spiritual life. In particular this journey works to adjust our interior orientation towards union with Christ. The development of this union leads one hungering for a proper educational foundation, deep personal devotion, ongoing spiritual direction, the embrace of a mature faith and intentional commitment to the journey – even in the midst of trial and tribulation. I have concluded that the “call” to journey in the footsteps of Christ is no easy task. It requires the individual to embrace an ongoing examination of conscience, willingness to repent and desire to grow in faith.
It is in this context that I want to share a very personal story with you in order to make a point about the unique dignity of human life from conception to natural death. I have been happily married for over 16 years and have been blessed with three beautiful children. Our “happy family” did not come easy. Not long after I was married Heather and I decided to have a family. After a couple of years we realized that something was wrong. While our friends were welcoming their children into the world Heather and I were unable to conceive. Being protestant at the time and having a great insurance policy we decided to try to find answers from a fertility expert. Together we discovered we had internal problems. Upon fixing what we could we decided to embrace fertilization services which proved to be unsuccessful, very hard on Heather’s body and her emotional state. We decided to stop.
Once we began getting pregnant we couldn’t stop having miscarriages. To date we have had at least three verified miscarriages and our first one was at home. A very painful experience! See, when one decides to have children not having or losing children is extremely difficult. The light at the end of our tunnel was the birth of our two girls. Overjoyed with our miracle babies we were quite satisfied. After our second girl we were not able to get pregnant again and came to the conclusion that we were done. Again, we were satisfied and quite overjoyed at how our family had developed. Our girls were (are) the apple of our eyes. We talked and concluded we were done trying to have children. Done because of our age and because we were happy with how God had blessed us. At this point two things were transpiring in our lives.
First, I felt called to come home to the Catholic Church. In response to this inward calling I returned to school and acquired my M.A. in Theology at a Catholic institution. I ramped up my personal study of Catholic thought and theology, I began a series of conversations with Fr. Glenn Sudano CFR. and my wife. Second, I began seriously considering having a vasectomy – ending our ability to have children naturally. I considered this for a multiplicity of factors as this was not an easy decision. I visited the doctor’s office, talked it over with my wife and made the final appointment. However, something happened in the midst of this process. I began to feel uncomfortable with this decision as did Heather. As many couples suffer from lack of clear communication Heather and I never spoke of our personal doubts or concerns. It wasn’t until I called Fr. Glenn Sudano that I fully realized just how wrong I was in my decision to artificially sterilize myself. Fr. Glenn made clear Church teaching, talked about the supreme importance of life, the role of natural family planning and his surprise at my decision. I assured him that I had a “check in my spirit” and knew (even in my ignorance of the totality of Church teaching on the subject) that this was not the right decision. Suffice it to say I never went to the doctor’s office for the scheduled appointment.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: (with certain implications) CCC1643
“Conjugal love involves a totality, in which all the elements of the person enter – appeal of the body & instinct, power of feeling & affectivity, aspiration of the spirit & of will. It aims at a deeply personal unity, a unity that, beyond union in one flesh, leads to forming one heart and soul; it demandsindissolubility and faithfulness in definitive mutual giving; and it is open to fertility. In a word it is a question of the normal characteristics of all natural conjugal love, but with a new significance which not only purifies and strengthens them, but raises them to the extent of making them the expression of specifically Christian values.”
What a beautiful statement about the natural order of the marital union and its implications connected to Christian values / Character & Nature of God.
Suffice it to say my conviction about not sterilizing myself was a movement of the Holy Spirit reminding me of God’s truth, both scriptural in nature and part of Catholic Church teaching. It is the purview of the Church to hold fast to the teachings of Christ, protect and propagate them throughout the world. In my desire to be in full communion with the Church it was the job of the Holy Spirit to convict and my job to respond positively. I am glad that I responded positively not to sterilize myself and enter into full communion with the Catholic Church.
I am happy to announce that five months ago we had a boy. I am overwhelmed at the significance of his arrival, the joy I feel in my heart and the increase in my capacity to love (& experience love). His arrival has changed me and Heather. We are more open than ever before to life, the recognition of the unique dignity of life and our vocation as a married couple. Although this last pregnancy was difficult for a variety of reasons we have begun the process of natural family planning & are currently contemplating adopting another child in the future.
Pray for us. We are praying for you!