Determinism destroys the happiness and hope of life

Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo
President of the
Pontifical Council for the Family

THE FAMILY:
GIFT AND OBLIGATION
HOPE OF HUMANITY

introduction

 

This theme, which expresses and summarizes the basic elements of the family, opens the mind and heart to a comprehensive view of the family based on the certainty that the Lord is present in the domestic church: "The Lord is with you," writes the Successor Petri in his letter to the family Free simam sane (No. 18). This presence of the Lord who "is the head of the Church" (Eph 5.23) and which gives families tremendous power (cf. Eph 5.27) is the cause and reason for this certainty. It gives hope so that we can reach out and move towards the future that is in God's hands. John Paul II says in his Apostolic Letter Tertio millennio adveniente: "It is therefore necessary that the preparation for the Great Jubilee should in a certain way run over every family" (No. 28). The Pope had already written that "the future of mankind runs through the family" (FC 86).

In dealing with the subject, which for various reasons can only be introductory, we have chosen a Christological approach, since the reflections and prayer in this year of the special path of the three-year preparation for the Jubilee 2000 are under the following theme: "Jesus Christ , sole savior of the world, yesterday, today and forever "(TMA 40).

The topic "The family: gift and obligation, hope of humanity", which we would like to explain now, is the subject of both the World Meeting of Families and the International Pastoral Theological Congress

After the Year of the Family, this theme, chosen by the Holy Father, is an opportunity to explore the many possibilities the family has at this moment in history, and the challenges and difficulties it faces. The first pastoral theological congress (October 1994) had the following theme: “The family: heart of the civilization of love". His files have already been published.

In recent years, the United Nations has organized numerous international conferences, which we have in the so-called route from Rio to Istanbul, or more precisely from the environmental conference in Rio de Janeiro (1992) to the conference on population and development in Cairo (1994), the world conference on women in Beijing (1995) for the Istanbul Habitat II Conference (1996). In addition, there is the World Food Conference in 1996 at the FAO headquarters in Rome. These political events were very closely linked, not to speak of an intended link.

It is certainly helpful to point out that the focus is on the family founded on marriage, as a natural institution with special goals and goods, as the basic cell of society, the truth of which is rooted in the hearts and lives of peoples - which is why it is theirs cultural heritage belongs - as a reality that opens up to the peoples of all times, to believers and unbelievers. Our considerations are not limited to what can be grasped with reason, but we consider above all the sacramental dimension of marriage with the abundant wealth that faith gives us. The council made this clear (cf. Gaudium et spes, 49).

1. The family

The historical environment of the family has been shaped by a series of changes and shifting ways of thinking, which are sometimes full of contradictions. It therefore in a certain way questions their raison d'être and meaning, as well as their specific and irreplaceable traits, which are rooted in the plan of God the Creator. Therefore, today it has become inevitable on the article The To survive (in the singular) when speaking of the family.

It is important to emphasize the use of the singular: The family, because the plural is more and more common today The families used and implicit the model the family based on marriage is denied as a life and love community open to life between a man and a woman. In connection with the term original and in the singular, The family, the Pope pointed out its philosophical and anthropological foundations and, through his teaching post, contributed a great deal to the clarification of various points of view

If one preserves the model of the family willed by God without false shame and inadequate indulgence, one should beware of superficial and hasty consideration. Marriage and the family are not to be understood as the fruit of human will, as the result of changeable agreements. Such consensus and agreements do not present stability and identity as a wealth, but rather as a difficulty, so that the unity of marriage is constantly called into question and the family as such is weakened, even exposed to dissolution.

In the book of Genesis 2:24 the Lord solemnly declares the divine commandment, which has been in effect from the beginning, that is, since creation ("ab initio"), as a model willed by the Creator. There has therefore been one of God since creation fixed order (ajp_ arch ~ ", Mt 19: 4): “Have you not read that the Creator created men and women in the beginning and that he said: That is why the man will leave his father and mother and be bound to his wife, and the two will become be a flesh? So you are no longer two, but one. But what God has united, man must not separate. "3 Der Catechism of the Catholic Church quotes Tertullian's comment in this connection: “No separation in spirit, no separation in flesh, but truly two in one flesh. Where the flesh is one, there is also the spirit one "(CCC, No. 1642). It should be remembered here that" flesh "in the language of the Bible means not only the body of man, but man as a person . In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul also refers to the passage from the Book of Genesis (cf. Eph 5.31) and describes marriage against the background of the relationship between Christ and his Church as a "great mystery (to; mush ~ rion [...] mevga) (Eph 5.32). The "mevga" (the great secret in the process to which the writing alludes) is based on the fact that man (a] nqrwpo ": Adam) type (tupo; ") is the love of Christ and the Church.4

The crucial term to understand the above topic is the word giftwhich has its origin in God, the giver of all good (cf. Jak 1.17). It is about a gift in the church ("gift of the church") and through her, that is, through the domestic church.

The gift that the future spouses give each other in the appropriate free and express acceptance, the consensus, represents an "indispensable element of the marriage covenant" (CCC, No. 1642). It is better if the bride and groom learn the formula by heart so that they can perform the "personal free act in which the married couple give and receive each other" (KKK, no. 1627) very personally and in all its meaning.

It can therefore be said that if the Church insists on adequate preparation for marriage in the various phases, she tries to ensure that the married couple's yes has a firm and secure foundation (cf. KKK No. 1632), since it itself forms the basis of the goods and duties of conjugal love. Herein lies the key to a successful marriage, as the third blessing formula says about the married couple: "[...] so that they can find happiness in mutual devotion." The liturgical celebration must express everything that is implicit in this mutual devotion of the spouses and in the devotion of the spouses to the Church or to God is given with the love that is poured into their hearts

The conscientious and constant devotion of the spouses, which presupposes and expresses the consensus before the church, "visibly expresses that marriage is a church way of life" (KKK No. 1630; cf. 1631), a public obligation, a bond "which is tied by God himself" (KKK No. 1640), an irrevocable reality that demands the fidelity of the spouses to one another and to the fidelity of God, as he has decreed in his divine wisdom. Christ is present with his mighty perseverance in the hearts of free men in an act renewed every day, through which the married couple are, so to speak, blessed ("veluti"), as it is in the Constitution of the Council Gaudium et spes (No. 48) is called. Outside of this truth, which enriches the meaning of their freedom, the couple can neither become happy nor find their fulfillment. The married couple give each other in Christ, who goes to meet them and gives them the strength they need to overcome the limits of a wounded, needy freedom, so that they can honestly say: “I [...] take you [...] as my wife (as my husband) and promise to be faithful to you [...] as long as I live. "6 These words, which the bride and groom say to one another while they shake hands, are expressive and must make the couple like one Warning of the dangers of betraying love, which the world claims to be right and even liberation, in which case her word would be meaningless, her action empty and unhappy.

2. Gift and obligation

The community of life and love based on marriage ("of the whole of life", as it is called in the Codex of Canon Law, Canon 1055) has an "indispensable element which" represents "marriage, which through its mutual Announcement "conditions" is coming "(cf. KKK, No. 1626).

After this Catechism of the Catholic Church the consensus is "in the" personal free act in which the spouses give and receive each other "(GS 48,1)" (KKK, No. 1626). This mutual giving to one another takes place through the solemn promise in connection with those external signs that express the will to mutual surrender. The gift that spouses give each other, the person, is only really a gift if it is accepted - as the Catechism says below: “'I take you to be my wife'; 'I'll take you to my husband'. This consensus, which binds the bride and groom to one another, is accomplished through the fact that the two become one flesh. "(KKK, No. 1627).

Consensus as an expression of the devotion that establishes marriage, "the marriage covenant" and a "community of whole life" (KKK, No. 1601) is a gift from God. In him it has its origin and its author. When the married couple give each other, they become a gift from Christ who gives man to woman and woman to man. Since marriage is "the intimate fellowship of life and love established in marriage by the Creator", "God himself is the author of marriage" (GS 48.1). As the Second Vatican Council goes on to say, "the Redeemer of men and the bridegroom of the Church now meet the Christian spouse through the sacrament of marriage" (GS 48,2).

Christ solemnly sanctifies and solemnly elevates this plan of creation, willed by God, to the dignity of a sacrament. In the sacrament of marriage, God connects to the community that he, as creator, established according to his divine will as an institution and "has protected with his own laws" (KKK, No. 1603) so that it is not subject to human arbitrariness. As is well known, biblical theology shows, step by step, within the framework of a certain anthropology, that the vocation to community, to complementarity, to acceptance is inscribed in the heart of man, and this already with the first parents. In this connection, of which he himself is the author, God obliges and projects himself within the horizon of his covenant with humanity or the covenant of Christ with the church. Max Thurian therefore wrote with particular emphasis: “It is not a simple contract that is entered into in mutual loyalty. God in person realizes this mystery of oneness and protects it from the dangers of decay. That is the main characteristic of Christian marriage. Marriage is a union in God and from God [...]. "7

Christian marriage is directly related to the covenant of Christ. In this sense, the consensus is not just an act between two people, but a "three-way relationship" (the expression comes from Carlo Rocchetta), a yes that is spoken in the Yes of Christ to the Church. The consensus of the bride and groom must therefore not depend on the Belonging to Christ. “That tradere seipsum Christ to the Church ultimately determines this in its depth tradere seipsum of the bride and groom. "8

What God has united into "one flesh", man may neither submit to his whims and whims, nor determine it arbitrarily. Marriage is not a consensus in the sense of a result of mutual human agreement, but an institution that has a sacred origin : the will of the Creator. It is not a generous gift from parliaments, not the result of a political move by the legislature. Sovereign rule rests with God; he meets man and gives him this gift. Joachim Gnilka writes in his commentary on the Gospel of Matthew: Â "'What God has united, man must not separate' (Mt 19: 6) is only understandable if one proceeds from the assumption that God connects every bride and groom. "9

The gift given with the "irrevocable and personal" yes, which establishes the marriage covenant, bears the seal and the quality of a final and complete gift (cf. KKK, No. 2364).

The devotion that goes so far that both "form a single flesh" is a devotion of the person established in the Lord. As is clear from the marriage vows, no material gifts are made through consensus If the plan of the Creator is about the devotion of a person, after the promise, one cannot speak of possession and domination, as is the case with material things In this love one spouse sees in the other no object, no instrument that one owns and uses, but the secret of his person, on whose face the traits of the image of God emerge. Only an adequate understanding of the "truth of man ", the anthropology that protects the dignity of men and women, makes it possible to resist the temptation to treat the other as an object and love as Understand seduction. True love does not humiliate and destroy, but elevates and fills. It is only against this background that one understands and grasps the concept of the gift that frees from egoism and empty love. Without this term, love ultimately only means inadequacy and instrumentalization, since it simply ties the connection to a satisfaction without responsibility and constancy and it is based on a freedom that is far from the truth and therefore degraded.

The declaration of the Council Constitution therefore imposes itself in all its validity, so to speak, as a categorical imperative: "Man, who is the only creature on earth willed by God for its own sake, can only find himself perfect through the sincere devotion of himself" (GS 24.3). Man does indeed have the dignity of a goal and not an instrument or thing, and as a person he is able not only to give but to give himself.

In their mutual devotion, in the dialectic of their total devotion, the married couple become "one flesh", a unity of persons, a "communio personarum", namely from their own being through the union of body and soul. In the power of their spirit and through their body in reality they give themselves to a love in which sexuality is at the service of a language that expresses this devotion. Like the Apostolic Letter Familiaris consortio It expresses, “The sexuality in which man and woman give each other through the acts proper and reserved for the spouses is by no means something purely biological, but concerns the innermost core of the human person as such. It is only performed in a truly human way when it is integrated into that love with which man and woman unconditionally commit themselves to one another until death "(FC 11).

The full richness of the biblical expression "one flesh" is difficult to grasp.In his letter to families, the Holy Father explains in detail the meaning of this expression and the conjugal act in the light of the values ​​of "person" and "gift" which are already included in the biblical view. The Pope offers a close analysis of the terms used in the various scriptures and writes in Free simam sane: “The Second Vatican Council, which paid special attention to the problem of man and his vocation, states that conjugal union, the biblical 'one flesh', can only be fully understood and explained, if you fall back on the values ​​of 'person' and 'devotion'. Every man and woman is fully realized through sincere self-surrender, and the moment of conjugal union is a very special experience for the spouses. There the man and woman become true in the 'truth' of their masculinity and femininity mutual devotion. All life in marriage is surrender; In a unique way, however, this becomes evident when the spouses, through their mutual offering to one another in love, carry out that encounter that makes the two `` one flesh '' (gene 2.24). So you also experience because of the fertility associated with the conjugal act a moment of special responsibility. The spouses can become father and mother at that moment, causing the emergence of a new human existence which will then develop in the woman's womb "(Free simam sane, 12).

In this sense John Paul II comments on the "mystery of femininity" in his Catechesis on human love and represents against the background of gene 4.1 firmly: "The secret of femininity expresses and reveals itself ultimately through motherhood, as the text says:" She conceived and gave birth. "The woman stands before the man as mother, as the bearer of the new human life, the was received in it, develops in it and is born out of it. Ultimately, this is how the secret of man's masculinity is revealed, that is, the procreative and 'fatherly' meaning of his body. " And in the footnote, the Pope emphasizes: "Fatherhood is one of the most evident dimensions of human existence in Scripture." 10 We come back to this when we talk about the child as a gift.

In the light of the theology of devotion, the Pope discusses body language and the totality of expressions and meanings as a personal gift, as a gift from the human person. "As dispensers of a sacrament that comes about through consensus and is performed through conjugal union, man and woman are called, to express that mysterious 'language' of their body in the whole truth that is theirs. Through gestures and reactions, through all the dynamics, tension and joy, which are dependent on the other and arise directly from the body in its masculine or femininity, from the body in its action and its interaction, the person 'speaks' , the person [...]. And on this level of "body language" - which is more than mere sexual reactivity and which, as the authentic language of the person, is subject to the demands of truth, that is to say, objective moral norms - press man and woman oneself mutually in a perfect and profound way, insofar as the somatic dimension of manliness and womanhood allows them: man and woman express themselves within the framework of the whole truth of their person. "11 This personal relationship and dimension that Revelation calls" a "single flesh", expresses a relation in God insofar as the married couple is as such an image of God. “We can conclude from this that man became God's 'image and likeness' not only through his human nature, but also through the fellowship of persons."12

And this truth raises sexuality to its real dignity and gives it Sex education a content to be conveyed that deserves the name. It makes the greatness of sexuality, its personal dimension as the language of love clear: Gift, acceptance, obligation that the person is not in himself or in a closed cycle of pleasure without openness locksbut lifts them up to God and reaches new dimensions from eternity. That means it is not limited to acts of time and does not suffer from the wear and tear of time, but rather it rises to the source of love.

Doesn't this expression in a human, personal, holistic language shape life in the sense of a deep obligation? Even after the death of one of the two spouses, something remains of this relationship in a way. We do not even want to question the widower's or widow's right to remarry here. If one considers above all certain very important prayers of the Byzantine liturgy, one finds no special words of praise, but rather of permission, of toleration. An explanation seems to open up to us in the nature of the assumed relationship, which the person immersed in the flow of devotion is actually not indifferent to.

It is necessary to regain the meaning of the gift. It is important to free him from a culture that endangers the dignity of men and women and destroys the personal relationship of the spouses, as if the devotion did not correspond to the deepest disposition of the personality, as if a science worthy of the name does not correspond to the truth of man could underpin.

It is not the right place here to enter into the considerations our Dicastery has put forward in another document. What is meant here is that document, the title of which already announces its central content: "Human sexuality: truth and meaning". The achievements of reason, the findings of a science that really approaches the being of man, essentially recognize this view . It is about a contrivedness that overcomes egoism and projects itself towards the other. It is selfless and, for example, not alien to Freud's thinking. Today one could condemn a trivialization of sexuality that stops at preliminary stages and preliminary phases Through their immature behavior, which destroys the language of love and truth, man and woman close themselves off and isolate themselves in their egoism and thus become its own victims.

A wrong culture leads to the fact that the bride and groom all too often come to the wedding with a badly damaged personality, which is, as it were, a time bomb for the subsequent marriage. Some writers such as Marguerite Yourcenar have shown in their works that the language of sexuality as harmonious and articulated behavior, which represents the beginning of truth, must not be reduced to the purely biological dimension. We would like to reproduce some of the statements from Yourcenar's "Memoires d'Hadrien" because, as it seems to us, they explain well the truth that the Magisterium intends to proclaim. It says that the language of gestures and touch runs from the edge of our world of experience to the center and become more indispensable than we ourselves. This would lead to the wonderful phenomenon in which I am not a mere game of the flesh, but an acceptance of the flesh by the spirit see, in the Secret of dignity of the other. It consists in giving me this clue of the other world. 13

So these truths are not only known in the world of faith. They give sexuality - which in a consumer society is very similar to a commodity: you use it and throw it away! - restore their size and free them from emptying and instrumental use. What is at stake is the holistic nature of the person, to whom their actions do not remain external, as if they could also be ascribed to someone else in an actual and naive "irresponsibility" because the person feels insecure or unable to stand up for his actions which are therefore ultimately just a game of an indolent being.

Let us return, however, to the thinking of M. Yourcenar, who vividly explains an ethical principle: “I am not one of those who say that their actions are not like them. You have to resemble them because the actions are the only framework and the only way for others or myself to remember myself [...]. There is no indefinable hiatus between me and the actions I perform, and the evidence is given in the fact that I constantly feel the need to evaluate them, to explain them, to account for them to myself. "14

Man expresses himself in the language of sexuality and draws, forms and shapes his fate in a certain way. The gift, its truth and its meaning acquire a size and format worthy of mankind. Therefore poses Familiaris consortio out this value, without which sexuality is empty, without which it loses its truth, even becomes a caricature and mere pretense that tears up and defaces that which is supposed to shine in the mystery of the one flesh: “Marital love has something The total in itself, which embraces all dimensions of the person; it concerns body and instinct, the power of feeling and affectivity, the desire of mind and will; it is ordered to a deeply personal unity which, beyond bodily becoming one, leads to becoming one heart and one soul "(FC 13).

The consensus, the mutual gift-giving - as we said before - is "personal and irrevocable"; the surrender is "final and whole". Her sublime, her own and only place is marriage. In her surrender is truth!

We could say that finality is a property of Wholeness of devotion is. It is the overcoming of an only partial, piecemeal surrender in "easy installments" which ultimately represents a tribute to egoism, to love obscured by the reality of sin. Such fragmentary love loses depth, spontaneity and poetry. Between betrothed there is a different atmosphere. The love that is betrothed either strives for permanence, for "eternity", or ultimately it does not exist at all. The surrender is for the whole of life and for everything that may come. It protects against provisionality, failure and lies. What can one say about those who, due to a new era of "pluralism" and the accommodating attitude in the legal field, have resolved to introduce laws for trial marriages, temporary unions? "If one says that love is the constitutive Element of marriage, it is ultimately claimed, there is no such thing as irrevocable mutual devotion, there is no '' between the spousesfoedus coniugale"The laws of unity and indissolubility are therefore not external requirements of marriage, but arise from its essence. And so constitutive love must be exclusive, indissoluble, that is, conjugal love."

Marriage gives and grants firmness, duration, and permanence. We can therefore say that mutual surrender which "is much more deeply and deeply committed than anything that can be 'bought' in any way and at whatever price" (Free simam sane, No. 11), which expresses one word commitment. A. Quillici comments on this: “A person only really gives himself up if he gives his word first and in truth. Otherwise, his indulgence amounts to some kind of rape. The gift of the body is truly human only to the extent that everyone gives their consent, to the extent that everyone is allowed to go beyond conversation to the greatest intimacy. "16

This consent is an expressive word that remains and is deeply committed to the couple, so that a deliberate limited devotion for a time destroys its quality of total devotion. The word, the deep yes, arises from the roots of a love that wants to be faithful over time. Cardinal Ratzinger describes this yes as follows: “The human being includes the temporal dimension in his totality. In addition, the yes of a human being also transcends time. In its entirety, this means yes: always. It forms the place of belief [...] the freedom of the yes proves to be a freedom in relation to what is determined. "17 Love18 is not subject to the wear and tear of time, like material objects that wear out over time and gradually theirs Lose strength, and ultimately does not fall into the orbit of entropy. On the contrary, time helps to mature before God, to make love a serious and deep commitment. In Kana I once heard a loving utterance or promise from Elderly married people: "I love you more than yesterday, but less than tomorrow." If a couple still retains their freshness and tenderness in old age, which the couple have shown themselves over the years, their joyful and carefree testimony has a special weight: the weight of the years.

Against the background of total surrender, one better understands the demand for indissolubility, which liberates and protects love, which is neither prison nor impoverishment. The claim that marriage is the grave of love and that its finality and indissolubility rob love of its spontaneity and dynamism is wrong. This is undoubtedly a result of a culture of reservations in which the word is emptied and therefore superficial to the point of irresponsibility. It cannot bear the weight of the truth that is not capricious and changeable, as is the case with a false love that leads astray. "The possible absence or actual decline in conjugal modes of love do not destroy their peculiarity and natural inclination, even if they can impair them, since conjugal love must invigorate one as well as the other." 19

Total surrender implies that Duty of loyalty. It is a concrete form of devotion that obliges and liberates. Faithful love is also fundamentally indissoluble. It relieves the fear of betrayal and betrayal and gives the source of life the security and transparency to which children are entitled.

Antonio Miralles writes: “The mutual personal devotion of the spouses also demands the indissolubility of the mutual bond which they enter into through this devotion. It is holistic and therefore excludes any provisionality, any temporal devotion. [...] The marriage bond has a definitive character insofar as it arises from a holistic devotion, which also includes the temporality of the person. Giving oneself a gift with the reservation that the bond could be broken in the future would be equivalent to a partial surrender, as opposed to that which establishes a true marriage. "20

Indeed, it must be said that fidelity, indissolubility, finality are essential to the quality of devotion. This is the foundation of the obligation, the obligation to give, an obligation that is also and essentially open to the gift of life and becomes a public witness in church and society. She is light, light on the candlestick.

Saint John Chrysostom gives a wonderful explanation for this devotion when he recommends to the married couple: “I have taken you in my arms and I love you even more than my life. The present life means nothing, and my most ardent dream is to walk through it together with you in such a way that we are sure not to be separated from one another in the life that awaits us [...] Your love passes over to me everything and nothing would be more painful for me than not being as minded as you. "21 Permanence, finality or wholeness of devotion ultimately means indissolubility. Even natural marriage is ascribed this quality, which in Christian marriage before the Lord and under his gaze takes on a deeper and more expressive dimension.

Already natural marriage, as an image of the mystery of this spousal union, possessed a "certain sacramentality" in the broadest sense due to the intimate bodily unity that (to a certain extent) in the mystery of the covenant of God with humanity, to put it in the language of creation, God's covenant with his people (cf. Hos 1-3), the covenant of Christ with his church.22 “Men, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her. Therefore the man will forsake his father and mother and bind himself to his wife, and the two will be one flesh. This is a deep secret; I am referring to Christ and the Church "(Eph 5,25.31-32).

As this central section of the Epistle to the Ephesians (v.25) shows, Christ gave us an example of devotion. His devotion was expressed in an unsurpassable, limitless love, or to put it in sacrificial terminology, in a sacrificed love (ejauto; n parevdwken). The "tradidit semetipsum", the radical total surrender, is the example, the fundamental mystery that embraces the marriage covenant. The mystery (cf. V.32) relates to what happened in Christ and the Church was his "archetype", has his example. It should be remembered that when the author speaks of the deep (mevga) secret, he does not point to its expressiveness and obscurity, but to its meaning. The mystery of the nuptial relationship between Christ and the Church is reflected in the marriage between a man and a woman. 23

We have thus entered the sacred sphere of devotion and transfer, which is completely illuminated in Christ, in his redeeming suffering. The Council of Trent emphasizes this in Sessio XXIV (DzH 1799): "Gratiam vero quae naturalem illum amorem perficeret, et indissolubilem unitatem confirmaret coniugesque sanctificaret: ipse Christ [...] sua nobis passione promeruit (grace but, which should perfect that natural love, which should consolidate indissoluble unity and sanctify the spouses, Christ [...] has earned for us through his suffering). "Max Zerwick writes in his commentary on this text:" If human marriage therefore between If Christ's members are formed, then it is more than a mere image: it must realize the loving union of Christ with his Church. Marriage is therefore not purely figurative, but real participation in what Paul calls a deep mystery. "24

According to Carlo Rocchetta, the "tradere seipsum" of the two spouses, based on the example of Christ, is "an act that naturally lasts [...] an enduring sacrament" 25.

"The promise by which the bride and groom give and receive one another is sealed by God himself" (KKK, No. 1639). The marriage bond that God himself made is an irrevocable reality, so that it is not in the power of the Church to speak out against this divine decree (cf. KKK, No. 1640). Unfortunately, it is believed that the Pope and the bishops could make changes in this regard and, at least in some hardship, open the way to the dissolution of the marriage, if only once they could overcome their rigor. It is not in their power to do so. This truth must therefore be affirmed with all determination and love: Not possumus! And one need not think that the difficulties of a married couple, however extraordinary they may be, are not encompassed by divine wisdom. In its judgment, the Church is bound by God's original plan, confirmed by Christ, and can therefore only repeat it: "What God has united, man must not separate." How could one introduce changes in the name of God who is faithful to his covenant and in his mercy preserves and protects the good of marriage?

On the other hand, one believes that indissolubility is only a requirement, an ideal and therefore cannot be realized in concrete terms. Could God impose such an obligation, such a burden, which, because it cannot be fulfilled, must appear unbearable and unhappy to the married couple? He, the author of marriage, goes to meet the Christian bride and groom, offers them his grace and strength so that, as married couples in the domestic church, they are able to live in the spirit of the kingdom of God.

In all considerations about marriage in the order of creation, about marriage, which has been under the bondage of sin since the fall, and about marriage in the Lord, it is therefore important to use the Catechism of the Catholic Church to reflect on all the riches of marriage in God's plan. The original plan of God is therefore to be understood as follows: "The calling to marriage is already in the nature of man and woman, as they came out of the hands of the Creator" (KKK, No. 1603). Because it is not a purely human institution that would be subject to the will of man, but God himself is its author (cf. KKK, No. 1603).

It corresponds to the nature of communion of life and conjugal love, which is regulated by its own laws, and joyfully and confidently accepts God's will. Marriage under the bondage of sin is threatened by discord, domination, and unfaithfulness. This is a disarray (as opposed to the original order) that not from nature of man and woman and not from the nature of their relationships, but from the sin" (KKK, No. 1607). This leads to breaks, distortions, domination and greed. “And yet, even if severely disturbed, the order of creation remains. In order to heal the wounds inflicted by sin, man and woman need the help of grace, which God in his infinite mercy has never denied them. Without this help, the man and woman can never succeed in bringing about the unity of life to which God created them 'in the beginning' "(KKK, No. 1608). "In the school of Old Testament law the moral awareness of the unity and indissolubility of marriage developed" (KKK, No. 1610). "In his preaching work, Jesus clearly taught the original meaning of the union of man and woman" (KKK, No. 1614). "This insistence on the indissolubility of the marriage bond (serves to) restore the initial order of creation, disturbed by sin" (KKK, No. 1615). In marriage entered into in the Lord, "the spouses, if they follow Christ, will deny themselves and take up their cross, will be able to" grasp "the original meaning of marriage and, with Christ's help, live it" (cf. KKK, No. 1615).

3. The children as a precious gift of marriage

Augustine taught: “The first good of marriage is posterity. The Creator of the human race wanted in his goodness to use men as donors for the transmission of life. "26 The Apostolic Letter Familiaris consortio explains: "So it is the fundamental task of the family to serve life, to realize the primordial blessing of the Creator in the course of history, to pass on the image of God from person to person in procreation" (FC, No. 28). Two expressions need to be underlined here: The parents donate live and serve life.

The most appropriate and sublime place for a new life to be born is in marriage. It is the place where life is wanted, loved, accepted and where a process of holistic education takes place.

The Second Vatican Council says: "By their natural character, the institutions of marriage and conjugal love are related to the procreation and upbringing of offspring and find their coronation in them" (GS 48.1). In an even more expressive formulation it says: "Children are certainly the most excellent gift for marriage and contribute very much to the well-being of the parents themselves" (GS 50.1). Incidentally, this striking statement was made at the express request of Pope Paul VI. included in the Council text. The child is a gift that arises from the mutual giving of the couple, as it were as an expression and fullness of their mutual devotion. The Catechism of the Catholic Church emphasizes this connection of gift and devotion in a wonderful way: “Fertility is a gift, a Purpose of marriagebecause conjugal love tends naturally to be fruitful. The child does not add to the mutual love of the husbands from without; it springs from the heart of this mutual devotion of which it is the fruit and fulfillment. This is why the Church teaches `` on the side of life '' (FC 30), `` that every conjugal act of its own accord must remain directed towards the production of human life '' (HV 11). “This teaching, often presented by the Church's Magisterium, is based on an indissoluble connection between the two meanings“ loving union and procreation ”determined by God, both of which are inherent in the conjugal act '(HV 12)" (KKK, No. 2366). And below the catechism quotes again Humanae vitae: “'When the two essential aspects of loving union and procreation are observed, intercourse in marriage fully retains the meaning of mutual and true love and its alignment with the lofty task of parenthood to which man is called '(HV 12)" (KKK, No. 2369).

The children are “the common good of the future family.” The words of the consensus thus express what the common good of the family is: “To emphasize this, the Church asks them (the newlyweds) whether they be ready to accept the children that God will give them and to bring them up in a Christian way. [...] Fatherhood and motherhood are one Task not only of a physical but also of a spiritual nature dar "(Free simam sane, 10). And below it says: “If they To pass on life to a child, a new human `` you '' is inserted in the area of ​​the `` we '' of the married couple, a person they will name with a new name "(Free simam sane, 11).

The Holy Father places this teaching in the context of the theology of Gift of the person and in the view of the council of the child "as the most excellent gift" (GS 50).

The life of the child is a gift, the Creator's first gift to the creature: “The process of conception and development in the womb, confinement and birth serves to create a suitable space, so to speak, so that the new creature presents itself as a“ gift 'can announce "(Free simam sane, 11): as a gift for parents, for society and for relatives: “The child becomes a gift of its own accord for the siblings, for the parents, for the whole family. His life becomes a gift for the givers of life" (Ibid.).

The true sense of mutual love, the importance of mutual devotion open to life must be respected. Contraception contradicts the gesture that expresses mutual total devotion. The gesture becomes expressionless and is therefore no longer the bearer of the truth, but of the lie. The objective disorder implicitly given in contraception contradicts love (in a certain way it does not even manage to fully retain the "meaning of the loving union"). Only mutual and true love, which expresses total devotion without reservation, possesses the Power of conjugal love If the married couple voluntarily and with clear knowledge allow themselves to be determined by a different way of thinking and systematically practice contraception, does not even their conjugal union itself ultimately endanger?

This truth is particularly emphatic and clear in Familiaris consortio to find: “While the sexual union expresses by its whole nature an unconditional gift-giving by the spouses, contraception turns it into an objective contradicting gesture, a not-quite-self-giving. In addition to the active rejection of openness to life, there is also a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is called to devotion in personal wholeness "(FC, 32). (This quote is also in the KKK, No. 2370 reproduced in full).

An in-depth study of the relationship between conjugal union and procreation is in the book Il matrimonio e la vita coniugale by Bishop Francisco Gil. It says literally: “The conjugal act has a twofold meaning by its nature: Union and Reproduction. They each express the nature and purpose of marriage. [...] If the love that leads the spouses to surrender so that they become one flesh takes place 'in truth', 'instead of closing it up in themselves, then it opens up again Life towards a new person '(Free simam sane, 8).

Marital life requires sincere devotion to the husband or wife and to the children. 'Now the logic of the gift of self to the other entails the potential opening for procreation' (ibid. 12). The capacity for such surrender either grows or matures with the consummation of the whole of married life, or it is suppressed by egoism, the temptations of which attempt to weaken the dynamic of truth inherent in self-surrender. This egoism - "not only the egoism of the individual, but also that of the couple" (ibid. 14) - is shown above all in the fact that procreation is not viewed as a requirement of conjugal love, but as an additional fruit and voluntaristic decision that is added to love. 'In the term surrender is not only the free initiative of the subject, but also the dimension of the mandatory registered '(ibid.).

If conjugal love does not include the dimension of procreation, which represents its innermost truth, then it ultimately degenerates into what is known as "free love". But this is all the more dangerous because it is usually presented as the fruit of a "real" feeling, while it actually destroys love '(ibid.). Therefore, the rejection of the child greatly contributes to the fact that today the gift of marriage is emptied and destroyed. It is not, as has always been the case because of the weakness of the family, of acts or times in which the spouses were too weak to live coherently the demands of their fatherhood or motherhood in particularly difficult or heroic situations.

Today, many conjugal relationships cause their own destruction by distorting the reference points of their devotion: `` At the moment of the conjugal act the man and the woman are called to mutual devotion to confirm in a responsible manner of their selves, which they have performed in the marital covenant. Now the logic of the gift of self to the other leads to the potential opening for procreation '(ibid. 12). When a man or woman rejects fatherhood or motherhood, mutual devotion does not meet the requirements of conjugal love. For this reason the Pope says that what is essential for a true civilization of love is that the man perceives the motherhood of the woman, his wife, as a gift' (ibid. 16)."27

In catechesis on human love, John Paul II speaks of the "gestures of the body" which in the conjugal union mean not only love but also a possible fertility and therefore should not be deprived of their full and appropriate meaning it is not allowed to artificially combine and reproduce (cf. HV 12) to separate, so "hears the conjugal act without its inner truth also to be an act of love when he is deprived of his fertility "28.

The child opens marriage to life, which is why it is part of its spiritual dimension. Marital love must be viewed here analogously to Trinitarian love. The family that grows in the image of the Trinity, the 'we' of the family, whose image is the 'we' of the Trinity, includes the child born of holistic and fruitful love. Carlo Rocchetta writes in this connection: “According to the statement in 1 Joh 4:16 is 'God's love' (ajgapev), the highest fulfillment of love that gives and receives; he is not a closed 'I', but a 'I' who lives the life of an interpersonal love in itself, an eternal procreation that arises from love and leads to love where the exchange of gifts and Acceptance between the first two people finds its fulfillment in the encounter with the third (...). The supernatural bond between the married couple harbors this Trinitarian meaning. The grace of the sacrament represents the gift of the Trinitarian ontology, which unfolds in the heart of the couple as a dynamic image, ultimately structuring the life of the couple and making them a sign and participation in the communion of the three divine persons. "29

Against any other view it must be affirmed that the child or children, the "good of the offspring" is the reason for the existence of marriage. According to Doms, the meaning of marriage and the highest form of expression for the unity of the spouses, as is well known, consist in the conjugal act which, apart from its focus on the child, is already most intimately and excellently realized. The fulfillment of marital unity would in itself justify marriage as an institution. Krempel also takes a similar view.30

The council clearly shows the full meaning of marriage and rejects this or similar view: “By their very nature, marriage and conjugal love are directed towards the generation and upbringing of offspring. Children are certainly the most excellent gift for marriage and contribute very much to the well-being of the parents themselves. [...] Without neglecting the other marital goals, the real shaping of conjugal love and the entire nature of family life resulting therefrom are oriented towards the fact that the spouses are resolutely ready to cooperate with the love of the Creator and Redeemer, the through them his own family is always enlarged and enriched "(GS 50).31

The Apostolic Letter Familiaris consortio says: "So it is the fundamental task of the family to serve life, to realize the primordial blessing of the Creator in the course of history, to pass on the image of God from person to person in procreation" (FC 28).

In the family, the sanctuary of life, as it is in the encyclical Gospel vitae means, "it comes within the" people of life and for life " crucially on family accountability: a responsibility that arises from the nature of the family [...] ". Below it says:" That is why the role of the family in building the culture of life is decisive and irreplaceable. As House church the family is called that Gospel of life to proclaim, celebrate and serve him. This is above all the task of spouses who are called to pass on life on the basis of something that is renewed again and again Consciousness of the meaning of procreation as a preferred event in which it becomes apparent that human life is a gift to be given in turn" (EV 92).

The family proclaims the gospel of life through the Upbringing the children (see. EV 92), celebrates the gospel of life through daily prayer. This celebration is expressed in the everyday life of the family and is at the service of life, which is expressed through solidarity (cf. EV 93). All of this is part of a comprehensive one Family pastoral care: “With joy and courage your mission towards the Gospel of life to rediscover and live "(EV 94).

You are not allowed to take the family from hers basic service to life separate, which the council clearly justifies (cf. GS 50: 1) and have affirmed the ordinary teaching office and family ministry: “Marriage and conjugal love are according to their nature geared towards the generation and upbringing of offspring "(GS 50). The family has such a comprehensive, direct and holistic relationship to life like no other institution. All are called to proclaim and defend life. “One is urgently needed general mobilization of conscience and one common moral effortto get a great strategy in favor of life put into action. We all need to build a culture of life together" (EV 95). There are, however, different approaches to this formal statement: "Everyone has an important role to play" (Ibid.). The Pope explicitly refers to the task of teachers, educators, intellectuals and representatives of the mass media. The Holy Father recalls the establishment of the Pontifical Academy for Life with its specific tasks (cf. EV 98).32

Against the background of the very close connection between the family and life as outlined above, the Pontifical Council for the Family was established on May 13, 1981. The Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, wanted not only an institution for the family as an institution, but also a dicastery of the Holy See with the special task of Art. 141 § 3 of the Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia Pastor bonus asks: “He (the Pontifical Council for the Family) seeks the recognition and protection of the rights of the family in social and political life; he supports and coordinates the initiatives for the protection of life from the moment of conception and for responsible parenting. "

In his letter to the families Free simam sane The Holy Father gives a solid foundation for teaching and pastoral care in relation to the comprehensive service that families render to life and the family. We would like to point out some important aspects here. Under No. 9, devoted to the genealogy of the person, he writes: “The genealogy of every person is connected with the family: the genealogy of the person. Human parenthood has its roots in biology and goes right beyond it. "Because it is to be classified in the relationship with God:" We want to emphasize that in human parenthood God himself is present in a different way than at any other generation "on earth" (ibid.).

That the child is a gift is already clear in the Bible, albeit laconically: “Adam recognized Eve, his wife; she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. Then she said: 'I have acquired a man from the Lord' "(gene 4.1). This is, as it were, a guarantee, even if the born son should then be the murderer of his biological brother. In this exclamation the joy of the birth of a person is expressed! In the New Testament there is joy that a "man was born" (Joh 16.21), a paschal signas the Pope says. Before his suffering and death, Jesus speaks to his disciples of the sorrow that will overtake them and compares them to the sorrow of a woman in labor pains. As with a woman who gives a person the light of day, her grief will turn into joy. Happiness and joy in the life that comes into the world, on the other hand, are increasingly lost in the culture of death, since this culture spreads ever greater distrust in today's world with its sick societies. The joy that families should have in expecting and welcoming the newborn child turns into a gray, often undesirable process. The singing of the angels and shepherds of Bethlehem apparently does not penetrate into the families and their houses, but is rather ineffective beforehand. This attitude shows a human "poverty" and shows how deeply wounded humanity is. On the other hand, the culture of death creates a completely opposite attitude: the will to have a child at all costs. This contrast, however, must not be understood in this way that one understands the gift of the child, as it were, as the "right" to a child. It is believed that this right can even be claimed by executing unauthorized acts that do not express the true devotion of personal union in marriage.

Usually the conception and birth of a child is less of an overwhelming obligation than an invitation to joy on the part of the new living being, even if it involves responsibility and sacrifice. It is an Easter joy! In this respect Irenaeus' statement is only apt: "Gloria Dei vivens homo!" (It is glory to God that man lives.) This background in no way overshadows the binding obligation, which the newborn is as it were great embodied grateful and inescapable responsibility (cf. Free simam sane 11).

With the joy of pregnancy and the ability to affirm it primarily to God, your own credibility and with it your own happiness are at stake. When the Church exercises her office in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, by virtue of which she absolves people of their sins and forgives them, then she corresponds to her prophetic mission to proclaim the truth. When the gospel is proclaimed and received in the heart, it prepares to receive forgiveness and then bears abundant fruit in wholesome reconciliation. Only compassion that does not spring from Christian love can induce one to hide the truth that may be hurtful, but wholesome and salvific, and to weaken the moral demands derived from Revelation.

This compassion neither frees believers from the suffering of their disorderly inclinations and their actions, nor does it lead them to the joy of the forgiveness with which God accepts them as lost children returning to their father's house. These criteria were used by the Pontifical Council for the Laity in the drafting of the Vademecums for confessors decisive. The Vademecum points to the full understanding and forbearance shown by the confessors to penitents in the celebration of the sacrament of penance, but also to the clarity, truth, and doctrinal competence with which they are to educate and teach the disoriented or erring.

Prejudiced and erroneous, one unfortunately sees truth and mercy all too often today as an insoluble contradiction. "Mercy" without truth would, however, be a caricature of what the Lord has given his church as a mission. The church cannot "close" its eyes out of a so-to-speak misunderstood "understanding" and simply pass over without seeing and to explain what is, as it were, a requirement for true reconciliation in order to meet the Lord again in truth and forgiveness.

The child is a gift to the family. Therefore, full of tenderness and gratitude, she focuses her attention on the child and follows its development with love: conception, birth and upbringing. With astonishment and surprise she perceives how she affirms the new being at different moments. All of this requires a specific pedagogy so that habit does not lose what is beautiful and fulfilling in the task of parents and the "burden" does not limit the justified fulfillment and joy. A well-known moral theologian puts the following words in the mouth of the child, which we are here would like to reproduce: "Do not be afraid to take me in, to accept my life as a task! It will not be an overwhelming task for us; on the contrary, this task is so easy that you will even manage to ease your troubled life." Because I am not a tyrant [...]. I am capable of a gratitude that is much greater than all your troubles. "33

The Lord teaches us through his words and actions: He takes a child, places him in the midst of the disciples and says: “He who welcomes such a child for my sake welcomes me; but whoever receives me receives not only me, but also the one who sent me (Mk 9.36-37). The sign of reception already carries the message of the gift given, and in the reception it refers to the giver of all that is good. The children are first and foremost a blessing, a message passed on with spontaneous tenderness, which particularly characterizes the household community. They are not so much a burden as they are carriers of the "good news" that is proclaimed and appearing in them. The gospel of the family and the gospel of life echoing in the domestic church, the sanctuary of life, are the message through which the child proclaims his dignity. “The Creator God calls him [man] into life“ for his own sake ”: and with the fact that man comes into the world, his“ great adventure ”begins, the adventure of the Life. 'This person' has In any case, due to his human dignity, he is entitled to assert himself. It is precisely this dignity that determines the person's place among people and, first of all, in the family "(Free simam sane, 11).

This "first in the family", which quite simply reminds us of the inseparability of family and life, leads to true joy that flows through every new life in a very special way.

"The gospel of God's love for man, the gospel of the dignity of the person and the gospel of life are a single, indivisible gospel" (EV 2). In the family the gospel is experienced as an adventure insofar as it is surprising and astonishing when, like Mary, everything is kept in the heart. The mystery of Bethlehem and Nazareth conceals an anthropological truth, the truth of life as a gift, the dignity of life, which is sustained and nourished by the love of God: “For he, the Son of God, in his incarnation was in a sense with everyone People united "(GS 22).

Therefore, Hans Urs von Balthasar could rightly say: “In all non-Christian cultures, the child only has a secondary meaning, since it is simply a preliminary stage of the adult human being. Hence the incarnation of Christ was necessary so that we could learn not only the anthropological but also the theological and eternal meaning of birth, the ultimate bliss of being out of a body that begets and gives birth. "34

Some (such as Philippe Ariès) argue that "the sense of childhood" did not emerge until the middle of the sixteenth century. Campanini comments on this view: "Apart from the fact that the basic thesis put forward by Aries can now be verified or not, there is no doubt that the child in the occident a long time to the edge was pushed. Only in a shorter, but therefore significant and meaningful phase (which spanned roughly the last three centuries) did the child become in focus of the family and, to a certain extent, of all social life. This was the so-called age of "puercentrism", which is perhaps coming to an end right before our eyes due to increasingly advanced technical developments, within the framework of which there seems to be no more room for childhood. "35 The author, professor of depth psychology at the The University of Parma, who formulates his point of view in a particularly clear and concise manner, fears that technology could stifle human relationships, and in a so-called "digital society" the buttons could ultimately count more than the person who operates them than the proximity to them People and access to the child.

In education, intelligence (I would say a certain type of intelligence) counts more than personality. The encounter with the "button" (the button on the computer or the gameboy) takes the place of the encounter with other people. The phenomenon that Campanini describes as "loss of center" leads with regard to fundamental ethical and religious values to a loss of reference points, while on the other hand a different "order of values" is established. "The computer can stimulate the imagination and offer it a wide field of activity, but it is one programmed and codified imagination. The child enters a world that restricts his "living environment". The basic structures of mediation are currently dissolving. The most important of these structures is the family, since in the past it was the place where most was learned School gives more and more space to "information" from the computer. But are family and school allowed to give up their mission as spaces of security? 36 We want to return to the question of school and family as mediation structures below when we discuss Pierpaolo Donati's concerns about the social structure.

It is shocking to see how promising processes in a certain area are stifled again. It looked as if the child was no longer assigned a peripheral and secondary, but a central place. Now, however, life is already in danger in the womb if parliaments become a place where the most unjust death sentence is pronounced. While significant progress has been made with regard to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child - without wishing to discuss here the relationships and fluctuations in some parts about which the Delegation of the Holy See has rightly expressed reservations - and As the church advocates a code of protection for children, these rights are violated in a number of ways. One does not always come across the necessary correspondence between the contracts and promises on the one hand and their concrete implementation on the other. There is a large gap between the United Nations Convention and certain recommendations of the European Parliament. In view of the scandals that are shaking up the consciences of the peoples, the reaction is still very restrained, although such situations are only the result of widespread permissiveness. The children are their main victims! But this public reaction can also mean going back after the sprawl.

In line with the statements of Familiaris consortio On the rights of children, the Pontifical Council for the Laity has mobilized consciences, albeit with limited resources, especially among the "authorities" of the child in the family and in society.The Holy Father had already said at the General Assembly of the United Nations on October 2, 1979: “One recognizes first by the care for the child before it is born, from the first moment of its conception, and then in the years of childhood and adolescence and fundamentally the relationship between people and people "(quoted in FC 26). The loving care for the child is, as it were, the "gauge" for the state of health of the family and society. We are overcome with doubts whether the married couple, in their exaggerated concern for their "own" problems and in their pursuit of happiness, is fleeting and seems unreachable and is far removed from the reference points to which all life and even more so all those who have decided to share it must orientate themselves must really put the child's situation aside (as if the child were incidental). Isn't divorce overwhelming evidence of the children's suffering in the face of a lack of "affection"?

Care for the child gives a new sense of responsibility in normal development. The married couple must not solve "their problems" at the expense and damage of whoever is a witness of the measure of their love and of the greatness of the personality of those who gave them their lives.37 The child can also become a victim of his Claims rights, even if it does so in silence.

Concerns about the social costs and the violation of children's rights are increasing, but no decisive change is being made in a society that has become lethargy. If one regards the child in the light of his innocence, which moves him to give him preferential, obliging and caring love, as a gift, then his rejection hurts, which one has to experience in contrast. Herod's plans are not as clearly revealed at the gates of Bethlehem as the intentions behind the physical and spiritual massacres, the victims of which are the most defenseless.

M. Zundel provides us with a valuable description, against the background of which the terrible contrast appears all the more clear: “Who would the wonderful spectacle of a sleeping child not lead to prayer? The innumerable possibilities that it offers show that it is originally a pure gift. "38 And if you have to think of the terrible bloodbaths! I visited a parish in Rwanda: During the genocide (which has not yet ended) were 6,000 people slaughtered in the parish church, including women and children. Mankind continues its "self-destruction of the peoples," and we mean abortion by which it buries its own future.

Plato says that the upbringing of children, the paideia, is the principle for the survival of every human community. If this is true, as one journalist points out, we must say that the communities which, instead of raising children, sexually abuse them, send them to war, exploit them in the labor market and in advertising, are already their own annihilation have decided, even if they may not be aware of it.

The Be a child on the other hand presupposes a way of life, a behavior: the child is proud of his father and shows this by throwing himself into his arms. This act brings that, as it were great confidence expresses that the father puts in order everything that is erroneous and disordered. The child turns out to be a child when he speaks to his father and trustingly names him Abba, father. The relationship between Jesus and his Father stretches from childhood to death, right up to the last cry of the son on the cross, abandoned by the father. Within the framework of the family, Jesus enters into a special relationship with his mother, from whose bosom he was born. "Given is the fruit of your body." This relationship goes far beyond biological limits and reaches the unimagined dimensions of a dialogue that blossoms in immediate, courteous, decisive obedience to the will of God. "When he said that, one cried Woman from the crowd to him: 'Blessed is the woman whose body carried you and whose breast nourished you.' But he replied: 'Blessed are rather those who hear the word of God and keep it' "(Lk 11: 27-28). There is a common aphorism that Tangum Yeronshami takes up and that paraphrases Judas' blessing on Joseph. Jesus does not contradict this Beatitude and knows that it applies primarily to his mother. Nevertheless, he proclaims a higher bliss. 39

The children are a gift from God (Ps 126, 3) and therefore have the task of to take the form of a gift for their parentsTo do God's will and trust their parents in the same stream that leads to God. Jesus "was obedient to them" (Lk 2.51) and thus fully observed the commandment: "Honor your father and your mother, that you may live long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you" (Ex 20, 12; Dtn 5.16). "The Christian family is a community of persons, a sign and image of the fellowship of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit" (KKK, No. 2205).

As a gift, the child carries considerably to strengthen the marriage bond at and causes the spouses to understand each other better and to stick together more closely. The couple undertake something together that will lead them out of themselves and in which they will find themselves again later. What is meant is the new life that arises from them through their interaction with the Creator God. With the child in mind, parents design and build their future. On the one hand, they are in some ways the first evangelizers of their children, but on the other hand, they are also evangelized by themselves. Care for the children is transformed into trust, which is a basic human attitude. Giuseppe Angelini writes in this connection: “The very great value that children represent for the consent of their parents is well known. Even more than of a great value, one must therefore speak of the complete inability of small children to imagine their life and the whole world without this 'agreement' [...]. In this way the children show that they are a blessing, a light in the broader sense of life. "40 A requirement in order to accept the children as a gift is the ability to assume an obligation." The truth of the act of procreation therefore requires that man and woman promise themselves from the beginning to those who will come [...]. "41

Even if all these aspects, which we have shown here in a limited way and which should actually be dealt with in more detail in a theology of the values ​​of "person" and "gift", seem very high to the ordinary believer, they were of the wisdom of centuries-old cultures not unknown. Aristotle wrote: “Parents love their children because they regard them as part of themselves [...]. Parents love children as themselves because the children born of them are like themselves [...] and children love their parents because they have their origin in them [...]. After all, the children are valued as a band, and therefore spouses without children separate more easily; the children serve their common good, and what is common holds together. "42

As Giorgio Campanini notes, family relationships take on new dimensions in the light of the Gospel: The "Honor Father and Mother" (Dtn 15.4) can lead to various forms of subordination of children; Depending on the context, the concern for the children was not entirely without selfishness: “The Gospel introduces the new category of 'service' into the realm of the relations between parents and child, which does not exclude, but in a certain sense definitely that of 'Authority' overcomes (cf. Mt 20:26) by reversing the traditional relationship of submission. "We would perhaps say that the concept of authority is enriched and understood primarily as a service to the growth of children. And this seems to me to be the author's view when he recalls that "the exercise of authority is to be understood as the fulfillment of a service. This implies that he who is exalted places him who is humiliated at the center of his concern." 43 It is preliminary Submission to the Lord that extends into adulthood. Again, love does not seek domination for the good of the other. The love of the parents must therefore not be "overpowering" because otherwise it would crush the children and impair their growth. In this sense, authority in the family is "eccentric insofar as it is centered outside of itself.

When the child is the focus of the parents' care, they prepare for this common good, through which they find each other in personal agreement, insofar as it represents a deep, existential and vital urgency. It is a special common project that is realized out of their intimate fellowship to the point of the fruit of their love, a blessed fruit in the twofold sense of "service" and "uncertainty". This joint project or company extends from the moment of conception to the end of the development process.

In Thomas Aquinas' thinking, the "Subordination" in the meaning of Gospel (so as not to forget that "he was obedient to them" or that he was "subject to them") the ideal and criterion for the exercise of authority in society. Thus, "authority in the family can be proclaimed as the typical ideal of any form of authority when exercised in the spirit of the gospel."

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states in this regard: "Authority, constancy and communal life within the family form the basis of freedom, security and fraternity within society" (KKK, No. 2207).

The upbringing of children is to be understood against the background of this understanding of authority. The educator thus overcomes the instinctive endeavor to transfer his or her own personality and expectations to the child or to realize them in him. Education as such requires a real effort to bring up children in the faith (cf. GS 48).

4. The family - a gift to society

“The family is that Primordial cell of social life. It is the natural community in which man and woman are called to the surrender of love and to the transmission of life. [...] Family life is an exercise in social life "(KKK, No. 2207).

We do not want to go long on this necessary dimension, which has been dealt with on another occasion. We will limit ourselves to making a few general considerations.

At the beginning of the chapter "Promotion of the dignity of marriage and the family" (GS 47): "The well-being of the person and of human and Christian society is intrinsically linked to the well-being of the marital and family community" (GS 47). And below it may not explain it so clearly: “God Himself is the author of marriage, which is endowed with various goods and purposes; they are all of the greatest importance for the continued existence of mankind, for the personal advancement of the individual family members and their eternal salvation; for the dignity, stability, peace and well-being of the family itself and of all human society "(GS 48,1).

The family is a gift to society and requires appropriate recognition and support from it. For its part, society requires the family to fulfill its political task.

The Apostolic Letter Familiaris consortio speaks in Chapter III of Part Three of the "participation of the family in social development" (nos. 42-48), because "the family is the" basic and vital cell of society "(AA 11). The family is linked to society in a living, organic way; because through its mission to serve life, it forms its basis and permanent breeding ground. [...] It follows from the nature and vocation of the family that under no circumstances should they shut themselves off, but rather open up to other families and society and thus perceive their social task "(FC 42).

The relations between the family and society are not easy and transparent through the mediation of the state. And there are various reasons for this. The state is penetrating areas that were previously reserved for the family. And while democracy waves the flag of the consideration and participation of all social groups, the family sees its scope for action more and more restricted, so that it can hardly breathe, it even stands in the crossfire. The state becomes all-powerful, so to speak. Withdrawal to private life, to a restricted intimate sphere, can probably be a form of flight and withdrawal from the family's duties towards society. As Pierpaolo Donati explains, the family is in a process of transformation today: "The family is - (...)" seen from a "psychological point of view" - a special kind of coexistence, privatized and subjectified communication, the pure expression of intimacy and affection, which is of little importance and which is only seen as an expression of social and cultural backwardness. "45