The gift of self, promise of fecundity

The giving of life always begets life. Generosity ultimately bears fruit.

José Miguel Granados-July 18, 2021-Reading time: 4 minutes

Little heroes

At the end of the great epic narrated by J.R.R. Tolkein in The Lord of the RingsIn this touching farewell dialogue between the two "middle" heroes, or hobbits, Frodo and his faithful companion:

"But," said Sam, as tears welled up in his eyes, "I thought you were going to enjoy yourself in the Shire, too, years and years, after all you've done.

-I thought so, too, at one time. But I have suffered wounds too deep, Sam. I tried to save the Shire, and I have saved it; but not for myself. That's the way it is, Sam, when things are in danger: someone has to give them up, to lose them, so that others may keep them. But you are my heir: everything I have and could have had I leave to you. And besides you have Rosa, and Elanor; and little Frodo and little Rosa will come, and Merry, and Goldilocks, and Pippin; and perhaps others I cannot see. Your hands and your head will be needed everywhere. You will be the Mayor, naturally, for as long as you want to be, and the most famous gardener in history; and you will read the pages of the Red bookand you will perpetuate the memory of an age now gone, so that people will always remember the great dangerand love the well-loved country even more dearly. And that will keep you as busy and happy as it is possible to be, as long as your part of the story continues."

The giving of life always begets life. Generosity produces fruit in the end. Fidelity and perseverance in the fulfillment of one's vocation and mission finds a noble reward, for it spreads good and beautifies the world.

The gift of husband and wife: fruitfulness of the flesh

Conjugal love is the archetype of human love, since it contains the concreteness of service in common life and the special fruitfulness of the union of the spouses in sexual intimacy. The mutual gift of husband and wife - who "give to the spouse exclusively the seed of themselves" - leads to the divine gift of the person of the child, whom God loves and infuses with a spiritual and immortal soul.

As John Paul II taught, "in its deepest reality, love is essentially gift, and conjugal love, while leading the spouses to the reciprocal 'knowledge' which makes them 'one flesh' (cf. Gen 2:24), is not exhausted within the couple, for it makes them capable of the greatest possible self-giving, by which they become God's cooperators in the gift of life to a new human person. In this way the spouses, while giving themselves to each other, give beyond themselves the reality of the child, a living reflection of their love, a permanent sign of conjugal unity and a living and inseparable synthesis of father and mother" (exhortation Familiaris consortio, n. 14).

Authentic conjugal love opens to the divine sources of life. It is a special participation in the marvelous work of the Creator. Parents are procreators, sharers in the infinite divine power to give human life, transmitters of the original blessing of fecundity. They discover with grateful wonder the generative value of their communion of love. They are called to live their nuptial covenant in the truth of a full reciprocal self-giving, open to life, consciously, freely and responsibly; with effort and joy.

The spousal "we" - the "we" of the Trinitarian Communion - is enlarged in the family "we" with the arrival of the child: of "our child," as they say. The irreducible dignity of each child - who bears the stamp of the divine image and likeness, and is oriented to an eternal destiny - confers relief and transcendence of heavenly glory to the earthly love of the spouses.

No act of love is lost

Fatherhood and motherhood are prolonged in the burdensome tasks of upbringing and education. Spouses normally sacrifice themselves with willing love for their offspring. For its part, the vocation of evangelical celibacy illuminates the spiritual sense of engendering to which parents are called, as teachers and guides of their children: it is a prolongation of paternity and maternity, which takes place through example and human formation; and also in the whole life of grace and prayer, in which they communicate merits through the mysterious action of the Holy Spirit, and contribute to the birth of the life of the Spirit in their children.

Often, this communicative effort has to be sustained over time, overcoming difficulties: with perseverance, without seeing the fruits immediately. The divine promises-which nestle in the desires of the heart when they are ordered to the truth of self-giving-are the foundation of unshakable supernatural hope.

In this sense, Pope Francis recalled that those who strive in the evangelizing mission "have the certainty that none of their work done with love is lost, none of their sincere concern for others is lost, no act of love for God is lost, no generous fatigue is lost, no painful patience is lost" (exhortation Evangelii gaudium, n. 279). And he concluded with words of encouragement: "Let us learn to rest in the tenderness of the Father's arms in the midst of creative and generous self-giving. Let us go forward, let us give our all, but let him be the one to make our efforts fruitful as he sees fit" (ibid.).

In short, the gift of love is irrepressibly expansive: it can always overcome any difficulty. For God does not fail: "he who made the promise is faithful" (Heb 10:23). So "hope does not disappoint" (Rom 5:5).

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