Archive for the ‘NFP Week 2017’ Category

8. Holy Communion: Eucharistic and Marital

Sunday, July 30th, 2017

It is the task of anyone who hopes to shed light on a problem not to construct a theory to support his sympathies but rather to show by reason, example and analogy the inner unity of the entire Christian faith. Thus it is that this analogy between the Holy Communion of the Eucharist and the holy communion of married intercourse must reach its conclusion, namely, that in order for marital sexual intercourse to be a valid expression of marital love and thus a means toward growth in holiness, it must at least be free from abortive, sterilizing and contraceptive impediments to the transmission of life.

The comparison has been made that the two communions are similar because they are both the results of sacraments, both the result of sacrificial love, both an expression of bodily love, both a renewal of the covenant, both covenants sealed with a death to self.  Because of this, just as each reception of the Eucharist is in itself a sacred reality signifying complete acceptance of the covenant, likewise each act of married sexual love is a sacred reality. It entails a renewal of the marriage covenant, an acceptance of each other regardless of the circumstances, even if this renewal should lead to sickness or to poorness or even to death itself. That degree of self-giving is certainly going to require a supernatural faith, a deep and abiding realization that only he who loses his life for the sake of Christ will find it, and that he who seeks his life will lose it.

The Christian must come to realize that it is only through a constant, ever-increasing gift of himself to God and neighbor that he can arrive at the true development of himself.  The married couple must come to realize that their desire to increase their mutual love and self-development can be fulfilled only through the self-giving which they signified through their exchange of marriage promises.

In this manner, with every act of intercourse a renewal of the marriage covenant in which they pledged undying fidelity to each other regardless of the situation, the married couple enter into a truly holy communion, a true source of grace and the occasion of the fullness of married love.

[1] Pope Paul VI thoroughly rejected the totality thesis in Humanae Vitae. He concluded his argument against the “totality” argument in this way: “Consequently it is an error to think that a conjugal act which is deliberately made infecund and so is intrinsically dishonest could be made honest and right by the ensemble of a fecund conjugal life” (n.14).

This full article is available at with the introduction explaining why John wrote this article back in 1966.

7. Holy Communion: Eucharistic and Marital

Saturday, July 29th, 2017

Conditions for validity (continued)

One of the current [mid-1960s] questions concerning marriage and sexual intercourse is whether it is not sufficient to have the marriage as a whole open to the service of life but permissible to exclude positively that openness to life in the expression of mutual love in sexual intercourse. It renews again the conflict between the purposes of marriage—procreation and mutual development. Or to state it positively, would it not be permissible to positively preclude the possibility of conception through direct contraception? According to some, a principle of totality, under which the marriage as a whole is open and generous in the service of life, would be sufficient; but it would not be necessary for each and every act of married sexual love to reflect that openness even in a minimal way, i.e., at least open to the remote possibility though not intending procreation.1

Personally, I find the approach very attractive, especially when I imagine some family burdened by a severe health problem on the part of the woman which makes pregnancy extremely dangerous, and whose openness to the service of life is witnessed by the adoption of other children. Because of these hardships, it is all the more important that the question be clearly answered: Is marriage itself and the overall generosity and openness to life the only sacred reality involved, or is the act of married sexual intercourse something sacred of itself—something whose sacred character must be respected in every instance regardless of circumstances? Or to put the question in terms of today’s ethical theories, is the sacred character of the married sexual act something absolute or is it conditioned by the situation of the married couple?

To be continued tomorrow.  (By John Kippley, Ave Maria 1967; Sex and the Marriage Covenant, Ignatius 2005)

6. Holy Communion: Eucharist and Marital

Friday, July 28th, 2017

Conditions for validity
The similarities of these two types of personal communions are likewise helpful in reaching conclusions about the conditions for a truly valid encounter in the marital communion. For the worthy reception of the Eucharist, for a Holy Communion, the communicant at the minimum must be free from mortal sin. And what does this mean?  It means that he must not be set against the covenant, that he must not be opposed to any sacrifice that might be demanded from him in order to remain true to his covenant with his Savior. For the communion of sexual intercourse to be a means of holiness or, at the least, not a means of unholiness, the spouses must likewise be free from any obstacles that will deny the covenant that they have made before God. If they have taken each other for better or for worse, their renewal of their marriage covenant must likewise be for better or for worse. Just as when they pledged to give themselves and to receive the other regardless of the consequences, so also must their subsequent communion in the marriage act be free from any denial of this covenant.

In the reception of the Holy Eucharist, it is not enough to be “generally” turned toward God. A person in a state of sin may not look back to last year (when faced with fewer temptations he was not in a state of sin) and receive the Eucharist on the basis of last year’s state. His present state is all-important.  Nor may he look forward to the unknown future and, under an intention to leave the state of sin sometime in the future when conditions are less pressing, receive the Eucharist in his present state of sin.  The worthiness of his Communion depends upon his present state of soul, his present willingness to give of himself in following Christ. In other words, he may not play a percentage morality and state that since most of the time he is open to the sacrifice required by Christian life, he may therefore worthily receive Communion at any time even though he be temporarily alienated from God and unwilling to live the life of love as his circumstances demand it. What he must avoid in this particular example is the false application of what might be called a principle of totality.

To be continued tomorrow.  (By John Kippley, Ave Maria 1967; Sex and the Marriage Covenant, Ignatius 2005)