Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Begetting of Children

If the ultimate aim of the union of man and woman is not life, then there can be only one alternative, namely, death. The child is the physical expression of the fecundity of the Godhead, in which the Father is the source of the eternal generation of the Son. The gift of generation is not a push from below; it is a gift from above. It comes not from the animals of the field, but rather it descends from heaven as a reflection of the Father saying to His Son: "This day have I begotten Thee."

This primary end of Matrimony brings the couple in relationship to the Divine Trinity, as the duality of husband and wife ends in the begetting of children, the third term in their love. This is in keeping with the very nature of love, which may be defined as a mutual self-giving which ends in self-recovery. All love must be a giving, for without a giving there is not goodness; without self-outpouring there is no love. In marriage, love is first a mutual self-giving for love's greatest joy is to gird its loins and serve.

But if love were only mutual self-giving, it would end in self-exhaustion, or else become a flame in which both would be consumed. Mutual self-giving also implies self-recovery. The mutual self-giving of husband and wife, like the love of earth and tree, becomes fruitful in new love. There is a mutual self-surrender as they overcome their individual impotence by filling up, at the store of the other, the lacking measure. There is self-recovery as they beget not the mere sum of themselves, but a new life which makes them an earthly trinity. Love that is ever seeking to give, and is ever defeated by receiving, is the shadow of the Trinity on earth; therefore, a foretaste of heaven.

Excerpt from The Sacrament of Matrimony, The Begetting of Children, by Archbishop Fulton Sheen


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