Love One Another! 4/2004 → Christian family
I am thirty-eight years old. I have been married seventeen years and have five wonderful children. When I was in my teens my idea of happiness was very different from what it is now. As with all young people I wrestled with many problems.
I did not understand that in marriage there was a need to limit sexual intercourse. I had devout parents who said the rosary everyday. From them and the rest of the family I received my moral formation. In religion class at high school I learned the principles of natural family planning (NFP). My future husband and I entered our marriage chaste (at least in the formal sense). We had at times given in to passionate kissing, and this had an effect on our sexual behavior during the first five years of our sacramental union. Intercourse did not give us (especially me) full satisfaction. But it was worth working on ourselves.
For ten years my husband and I practiced an NFP method. Three years after we were married, we had our first planned child, a boy. Three years later, we had a girl; and four years after that, another boy. By this time, we began to react to social pressure. We had three children and we should start taking precautions. We resorted to a combination of condoms and spermicides. We decided against the Pill or the IUV, this despite the fact that after each birth my doctor had tried to talk me into using more “reliable” methods, since, even if conception should take place, the child stood little chance of being implanted in the womb. With these devices, you killed it off without even knowing when.
A year after we began experimenting in this way, I discovered I was pregnant. We were both devastated. Five months into my pregnancy, I began having problems. I underwent surgery, was stitched up, and was told to rest in bed. My hospitalization and the wretched state of our finances caused my husband to suffer a nervous breakdown. But, by the grace of God, I brought my healthy child to term.
At that time I still did not realize how much I was in need of prayer. I prayed little. It wasn’t until I started dealing with life’s problems that I was forced to give thought to what was right and what was wrong. My gynecologist always told me that besides preventing pregnancy, contraceptive hormonal agents had beneficial, healing effects. He said nothing about the side effects. I had to talk to a cardiologist to find out about them. I discovered that women using these methods were prone to diseases of the circulatory system. An oncologist told me that these women should be undergoing more frequent testing for cancer. My family physician was against using contraceptive hormonal agents in view of their effect on blood circulation in the legs. I myself suffered from vein problems.
Three years later, in December of 2000, I began to suspect that I was pregnant for the fifth time. I was terrified, especially since the doctor had warned me that every subsequent pregnancy would be increasingly more risky. I also feared for my husband’s state of health. There was still, however, the slight chance that I was not pregnant. I prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. For a time I even considered having an abortion. But in time I succeeded in banishing these thoughts. I learned to trust in God. I began begging Him, “Jesus, give the strength to live”. He heard my prayer. After several visits to the hospital, I finally gave birth to a lovely little daughter.
Now, in hindsight, I can see that it was Jesus Himself who had us call on His name and turn to Him in prayer. Without prayer we do not stand a chance of resisting Satan. He enters our thoughts when we are weak. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to eat – says Saint Peter. In His dealings with us, Our Lord has been as good as His word, Whoever trusts in My mercy will receive more than he asks for. Whoever trusts in My mercy will not die.
So let me use this portion of my letter to worship the Divine Mercy. All of our children are bright. Our youngest daughter is our greatest wonder. Despite the despair I felt while carrying her, she is joyful, full of life and love. Whenever she hears one of her siblings cry, she immediately runs off to comfort them. This is a gift of God, who is Love Himself. All children are wonderful, only we must give them a chance.