Josemaría Escrivá Obras
 
 
 
 
 
 
  Conversations > Women in Social Life and in the Life of the Church > Number 93
93

Many married couples find themselves confused, regarding the number of children that they should have, by the advice they receive at times from some priests. What advice would you give them?

Those who confuse people's consciences in this way forget that life is sacred. They deserve the severe reproaches that our Lord made to the blind who lead the blind, to those who do not want to enter the Kingdom of Heaven and do not let others enter either. I do not judge their intentions and in fact I am sure that many give such advice guided by compassion and a desire to find a solution to difficult situations. I cannot, however, hide the fact that I am deeply saddened by the destructive and in many cases devilish work of those who not only fail to give sound doctrine but go further and undermine the teaching of the Church.

Married couples should remember, when they receive advice and recommendations on this matter, that what they have to do is to discover what God wants of them. With sincerity, a right intention, and a minimum of Christian formation, our conscience knows how to discover God's will in this sphere as in others. There are cases in which we seek advice that will favour our own selfishness, and suppress with its apparent authority the voice of our inner convictions. Then we even go from adviser to adviser until we find a 'benevolent' one. This is a pharisaical attitude which is unworthy of a child of God.

The advice of another Christian and especially a priest's advice, in questions of faith or morals, is a powerful help for knowing what God wants of us in our particular circumstances. Advice, however, does not eliminate personal responsibility. In the end, it is we ourselves, each one of us on our own, who have to decide for ourselves and personally to account to God for our decisions.

Over and above any private advice stands God's law, which is contained in sacred Scripture, guarded and taught by the Magisterium of the Church with the assistance of the Holy Spirit. When a particular piece of advice contradicts God's word as taught by the Magisterium, we have to reject it decisively. God will give His grace to those who act with an upright intention. He will inspire them as to what to do and, when necessary, He will enable them to find a priest who knows how to lead their souls along pure and right paths even though at times they may be difficult ones.

Spiritual guidance should not be used to turn people into beings with no judgment of their own, who limit themselves to carrying out mechanically what others tell them. On the contrary, it should tend to develop men with their own Christian standards. This requires maturity, firm convictions, sufficient doctrinal knowledge, a refined spirit and an educated will.

It is important for married people to acquire a clear sense of the dignity of their vocation. They must know that they have been called by God not only to human love but also to a divine love, through their human love. It is important for them to realise that they have been chosen from all eternity to cooperate with the creative power of God by having and then bringing up children. Our Lord asks them to make their home and their entire family life a testimony of all the Christian virtues.

I shall never tire of repeating that marriage is a great and marvellous divine path. Like everything divine in us, it calls for response to grace, generosity, dedication and service. Selfishness, in whatever shape or form, is opposed to the love of God which ought to govern our lives. This is a fundamental point which one must always bear in mind with regard to marriage and the number of children.

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