The Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life

Matt and Mindy Dalton

We entered marriage in 1991 with our own ideas dominating our thoughts and actions of what marriage was all about, specifically the teaching on openness to life. What does the Church know about marriage, let alone being a father or mother? Does the Church realize how much money it takes to raise children? We only have limited resources and we have to use them well. Sadly, it was our own unknowns, fears and lack of trust that drove our questions: “Could Matt be a good husband and father; could Mindy be a good wife and mother? Could we trust God with every aspect of our lives or could we pick and choose where we needed him?”

Holy Mother Church proposes to married couples that conjugal love is to be a renewal of our wedding vows. Conjugal love is when the words of the wedding vows become flesh. Anything we do to render this act sterile—before, during or after—is a grave and serious rejection of God’s blueprint for mankind. “Why haven’t we heard any of this before?” was a question raised for us several years into our marriage.

Here’s the answer: “I love everything about you—except for your fertility” does not image the love of the Trinity. With our wedding vows, we profess that we come freely, that we will give ourselves away totally, that we will be faithful and fruitful; open to life. Rendering our intimate love unfruitful by utilizing birth control, sterilization, withdrawal or mutual masturbation deceives us into thinking we are in total control.

Our pregnancies have always been considered high risk, as Mindy has had Caesarean sections with all of our seven children. Our first two children, girls, were emergency C-sections; fetal distress with our first, then both Mindy and the baby were in grave danger with our second. Along came our third child, a boy, and some suggested, because of the high drama and risk, “Hey, you got your boy now, I hope you are done.” Only by the grace of God, with trepidation, we began to verbally speak up. We would respond, “It is up to God, not us,” even though we had not yet fully embraced what we were saying.

It wasn’t until 1999, when we heard and read St. Pope John Paul II’s “Love and Responsibility,” and his theology of the body, that our eyes were opened to the teachings of the Church in a whole new way. We longed to have more children and cooperate with God’s glorious plan for our union. Our seven children are ages 21 to 4.

When our words began to match what we were saying with our bodies, by the grace of God we have come to know that God is never outdone in generosity. The more we gave of ourselves, the more God filled us with his grace. Now when we go to Mass each weekend, and we pray the words in the creed, “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life,” we have tremendous peace knowing that we are cooperating, inviting and co-creating with God.

This topic can be difficult, personal and sometimes confusing in our world. We invite you to further discussion if this has invoked any thoughts, questions or concerns.

Matt and Mindy Dalton can be reached at matt@marriagemissionaries.org, 303-578-8287 or at www.marriagemissionaries.org.

COMING UP: Healing hatred and anger after Charlottesville

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The confrontation in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the nationwide reaction to it are clear signs of the tensions simmering just below the surface of our society. But we know as people of faith that these wounds can be healed if we follow Christ’s example, rather than the path of revenge.

It was with a heavy heart that I learned about the Aug. 12 clashes between white supremacists and counter protesters in Charlottesville that resulted in the injury of around 34 people and the death of Heather Heyer. It was an “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” melee.

These events remind me of Pope Francis’ 2017 World Day of Peace message, in which he pointed out that “Jesus himself lived in violent times. Yet he taught that the true battlefield, where violence and peace meet, is the human heart: for ‘it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come’ (Mk. 7:21).”

What we witnessed in Charlottesville was an outward expression of hundreds of hearts, and as a shepherd of souls, I cannot stand by silently while people allow hatred toward others rule their hearts. Particularly reprehensible were the derogatory words the neo-Nazis and their white supremacist allies shouted toward African Americans, Jews and Latinos. This is not how God sees his children!

Every human being is bestowed from the moment of conception with the dignity of being made in the image and likeness of God, and we are all loved by him, even amid our sin and brokenness. Satan seeks every opportunity to twist these fundamental truths in the hearts of human beings and we can see the devastation it brings throughout history.

It can be tempting to respond to these attacks on our fellow man with violence, just as the members of the Anti-fascist movement (known as “Antifa”) did in Charlottesville. But this is not what Christ taught, since it allows hatred to gain a foothold through a different avenue. It is worth repeating: the human heart is the true battlefield.

Jesus’ response to violence and persecution stands in contrast with the way of hatred and anger. Instead, he taught his disciples to love their enemies (Mt. 5:44) and to turn the other cheek (Mt. 5:39). Christ’s radical answer is only possible because God unconditionally loves every person and is ready to forgive us when we repent. God’s love is the only thing that can cut through the hatred that is bringing people to blows, heal the human heart and form it after his own. As people of faith, we are called to bring the truth of love to these festering wounds so that hearts may be healed by Christ.

Joseph Pearce, the Catholic convert and former white supremacist, is a perfect example of this. In a recent article for the National Catholic Register, he recalls how it was his encounter with the objective truths of the faith that demolished his race-centered identity and seeing his enemies love him when he confronted them with hatred that changed his heart. We must pray for the grace to love as Jesus loves, to love as the Father loves.

“The way out of this deadly spiral,” Pearce says, “is to go beyond the love of neighbor, as necessary as that is, and to begin to love our enemies. This is not simply good for us, freeing us from the bondage of hatred; it is good for our enemies also.”

May all of us follow the great example of Mark Heyer, the father of the woman who was killed after the white supremacist rally. His daughter’s death, Heyer told USA Today, made him think “about what the Lord said on the cross, ‘Forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.’”

Jesus desires that every person have a heart that is whole and free from hatred, anger and pride. He desires to form our hearts, and that only comes about when we are receptive to his unconditional love, for only in receiving his unconditional love will we be able to give it to others. I pray that all the faithful will be instruments of healing for our country by bringing Christ’s forgiveness to their neighbors and their enemies.