The Marks of True Love: A Marriage Like No Other
struggled with a myriad of physical and psychological symptoms as a result of the synthetic hormones. Contracepting without hormones, I still felt unsatisfied mentally, physically and spiritually.
A couple at our parish introduced us to The Mary Foundation, a fantastic organization that gave away free audio tapes (now CDs). For two people still emerging from the "modern theological" desert, hungry and parched, these tapes were our manna and rain. After listening to "The Mass Explained," we ordered a box full of all their titles. My husband listened during commutes to work and I listened while cleaning the house and pushing kids on the swing.
Then, one day my husband came home and handed me a tape. Entitled "The Key to Happy Families," he wouldn't divulge the contents, but simply instructed me to listen. Perplexed by his secrecy and intrigued by his command, I readily hit the play button. By the time the tape reel had run its course, my head was spinning.
The Pill is an abortifacient, so we could have aborted our own children? Contracepting is a mortal sin? A pope wrote a whole encyclical on this subject and prophesied abortion on demand, increased divorce rates, infidelity in marriages, and more. The Catholic Church actually has a teaching on this subject?
As a cradle Catholic, why had I not heard this before? And what was I going to do now?
From that day forward, my husband and I agreed, we could not contracept again, not with our bodies, not with our minds, not with our hearts. A dramatic turning point for me, I was working through my pain and was now more confused than ever.
Alone in my bedroom, on my knees, I gave it all over to the Blessed Mother. I told her of my fears, my desires, my weakness and I asked her specifically to align my heart to God's Will. Pledging my fertility to Jesus through her hands, I surrendered in a way I never had before. For the first time, I recognized and accepted my smallness. I promised to allow Jesus to have total control over my fertility, so long as Our Lady would wrap me in her mantle of comfort and protection.
I didn't hear any voices, I didn't see any heavenly lights, but I knew that she heard me, that she'd swaddled me in her motherly embrace. Of course, it was still a process, learning to completely surrender and trust. A process that we are still working through ten more years later and one that I think we will be trying to perfect for the rest of our lives.
This passed June, we celebrated our 20th anniversary in the company of our 7 children. Certainly, our married life has not been without further crosses. We've endured the losses of five more children, we've revisited old weaknesses, we've faced the judgment of others, but, contrary to the world's idea of love and freedom, we've discovered that surrender, forgiveness and self-sacrifice are the source and summit of true love.
At 41 and 43, we recognize that our marriage includes a third partner, God. He was there on our wedding day and He has been there every day since, even when we relegated Him to the back seat. Through His Word and His sacrifice on the cross, He taught us the meaning of love and He showed us how to manifest that love toward one another.
Freely, faithfully and fully, we give ourselves, our whole selves, to one another and to Christ, inside of our bedroom and out. Today I understand, with a new perspective, my mother's comment on our wedding day. Truly, the three of us were united by that Sacrament of Marriage.
Tara K. E. Brelinsky is a home schooling mother of seven living children with six more heavenly ones who intercede. Married to her childhood sweetheart, they make their home in North Carolina where they teach Natural Family Planning, grow a garden, raise two dogs, a cat and a bunch of chickens. Tara studied journalism a lifetime ago in college, but now she writes for the the glory of God.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: marriage, contraception, Natural Family Planning, NFP
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