Rorate Caeli

Humanæ Vitæ at 45 - I
"Never Lawful"

Salomon de Bray (1597 - 1664) was a Dutch painter. He was also an architect, urban planner, poet, and designer of silverware. He was, above all, a Catholic father of ten children, three of whom also became successful painters (Jan, Joseph, and Dirck).

The tenderness with which S. de Bray pictures his nephew's twin babies, Clara and Aelbert de Bray, is remarkable: how much love De Bray must have dedicated to his large family in the city of Haarlem, amidst the generally harsh conditions imposed upon Catholics in the newly-independent United Provinces.

A strong Catholic identity, a love for life and family in a hostile environment: as most Catholics of most ages, De Bray probably understood intimately what Popes of the twentieth century would have to write explicitly - that "it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it" (Humanæ Vitæ, 14), precisely because "no difficulty can arise that justifies the putting aside of the law of God which forbids all acts intrinsically evil" (Pius XI, Casti Connubii)

Pope Paul VI is described by most historians as a kind of tragic figure, trying to control the whirlwind of events surrounding him, but unable to do much. It is probably because of this, because it seemed that Montini often bent to the opinions of the world, because it seemed that he frequently accepted the fabricated notions and texts which committees of false sages delivered to him (with very small modifications), that the moments in which he did not bend shine so clearly with the simple brightness of Peter. The Nota Prævia to Lumen Gentium, the vigorous defense of the traditional Eucharistic doctrines (in Mysterium Fidei) and of the teachings on Indulgences (in Indulgentiarum Doctrina), the Credo of the People of God are pillars which remain standing in a crumbling edifice, signs of supernatural protection.

Amidst the moral collapse of the 1960s, and against the commission set up by his predecessor to reexamine the matter, Peter spoke though Paul in Humanæ Vitæ, signed on July 25, 1968, exactly 45 years ago today: "it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it".

It is thus never lawful "to intend directly something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order, and which must therefore be judged unworthy of man, even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family or of society in general." NUNQUAM - never. Therefore, "it is a serious error to think that a whole married life of otherwise normal relations can justify sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive and so intrinsically wrong ".



Throckmorton P. said...

The tragedy that is Vatican II is the tragedy of my child bearing years. Is it is a coincidence that this topic, “Humane Vite at 45” abuts the ongoing “raise a big, holy, Catholic family”. By 1968 I already had one foot out the church’s door because of the Council; the rest of me left with Paul’s Liturgy.

Having only the TLM as my Catholic identity I felt abandoned by the church; I abandoned it. By God’s grace I discovered the existence of TLM offered by the Society. Too late for a large family, too late to raise my children in tradition; They were raised in the New Church, New Liturgy, New, New, New but too late for them to even be Catholic today.

Sorry it this is off topic, but these two topics struck a nerve. Unfortunately I did not possess the Faith needed to overcome the abyss that was the 60s and 70s. Alas, along with the punishment to come is the guilt and remorse experienced each Sunday at Mass amid big, holy, happy Catholic families.

Thanks for your patience.

Xiansiempre said...

Well said RC. Thank you for reminding us of Humanæ Vitæ and for giving Paul his due praise.

7fbc6254-eb65-11e2-85d7-000bcdcb471e said...

Throckmorton P, you are in my prayers. Your struggles with the Catholic identity issues are quite palpable. I also pray for those over these years who didn't struggle enough or want to altogether. Yes, it was the Church's fault. None of this was imposed on the Church from the outside.


7fbc6254-eb65-11e2-85d7-000bcdcb471e said...

...[A]midst the generally harsh conditions imposed upon Catholics in the newly-independent United Provinces.

We'll see how things are us by the time of the next Election (if we have one) in the newly reformed "United States."

Time will tell.


Bwangi Kilonzo said...

The tragedy of Vatican II

ann said...

Excellent commemoration and reflection on this very important teaching. Check out the Bellarmine Forum's Campaign for Humanae Vitae:

ann said...

Excellent commemoration and reflection on this very important teaching. Check out the Bellarmine Forum's Campaign for Humanae Vitae:

Tim P said...

we must be the same age because I have the same feelings

Angelum said...

Throckmorton P.:

I feel your anguish, though I'm younger than you--I was one of the children raised, as you say, in the "New Church, New Liturgy, New, New, New," and it was very nearly my undoing. But God brought me back from the brink--and though I'll never be free from the effects of those years in this life (and I, too, experience the pangs of regret at the sight of the large Traditional families--though they are signs of hope that I'm very grateful for)--still, God's mercy and grace are without measure, and there is hope for your children yet.

Dan Hunter said...

Vatican II was indeed a tragedy.

The Holy Ghost allowed it as a punishment for man's grievous sins.

I sincerely believe the above with all my will no matter what others may think.

George said...

It's something of a myth to attribute the decline in family size strictly to Vatican II and its associated "spirit."

Although many of us may be able to recall earlier generations within our family trees wherein large families (10+) was the norm, this in fact is hardly universal.

Within my own family, for instance, which includes ancestors from Irish and Levantine Catholic roots, I count 3 to 4 children per family going back several generations, at least.

Switching from anecdote to demographic science, research has shown that the most striking drop in marital fertility came about in the 19th Century, not in the 20th Century. This is well documented.

Having large families today ( and by large I mean young couples who end up throughout their child-bearing years producing 9, 10, or more children) is really going back almost 200 years in social pratice.

I'm not saying the artificial contraception was behind the 19th Century fertility drop. But that it happened is a fact, one that social scientists and historians still research and examine today.

Long-Skirts said...

Throckmorton P. said...

"the guilt and remorse"

"The tears of the penitents are wine for the angels." -- St. Bernard

God bless you, dear Throckmorton!! You know you are forgiven and keeping our angels VERY happy!!!!

New Catholic said...

Johannes, that will be the subject of our second post, so we'll leave it for that time. Thanks.

Johannes de Silentio said...

Ah, very well. I look forward to your explication.

Alphonsus Jr. said...

Such a sad story, T. I'm reminded of this devastating assessment:

"At the close of a long life (for I was born in 1905 and I now see the year 1990), I can say that it has been marked by exceptional world events: three world wars, that which took place from 1914 to 1918, that which took place from 1939 to 1945, and that of the Second Vatican Council from 1962 to 1965. The disasters caused by these three wars, and especially by the last of them, are incalculable in the domain of material ruins, but even more so in the spiritual realm."

-Abp. Marcel Lefebvre, Prologue to his Spiritual Journey

Common Sense said...

It'll take a miracle to undo the evil that Montini had caused.

Throckmorton P. said...

Thanks to all for kind words, empathy, and prayers. There are probably others with the same experiences that need our prayers. By God's mercy my wife and I have found what was lost--stolen.

God bless.