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By Kateri Schwandt
Through the Church’s teachings in Humanae Vitae on married life and love, my husband and I have willing accepted the practice of being open to life. Upon the arrival of our 13 boys, we have welcomed and cherished each one as a gift that has enriched our marriage and our family.
It has not been an easy vocation, but we have placed our trust in God – and that trust has been the method by which we have strengthened our marital bond in difficult and trying times.
Being open to life has given us the opportunity to work together for a common good outside of ourselves, requiring selflessness and respect for one another. It has also given us a solid foundation to stand on when parental obligation is confused with secular trends. The responsibility to our family, to each other and to God in raising our children is supported by the strong values that the Church presents. We, in turn, have raised productive, God-centered and family-oriented boys who have become disciples of Christ. That’s not to say that our children are perfect Catholics, but we have been able to provide a foundation that will be the basis for their same approach to married life and love.
Through Humane Vitae, the Church presents a means of true happiness within sacramental matrimony. Through the concept of self-donation, we have enriched each other with the gift of self, offered contentment in the matrimonial union and welcomed the presence of sacramental grace.
Also, in living out the teachings of Humanae Vitae, we have taught our family the sanctity of life. When our boys are around no baby goes unnoticed, no small child is ignored and the thought of holding their own precious gift one day is something they all look forward to experiencing. As stated in Humanae Vitae, “children are the supreme gift of marriage and contribute in the highest degree to their parents’ welfare.”
Those who do not understand the magnitude of its message see it as an unrealistic guideline that oppresses free will, and yet freedom from selfishness is what truly brings happiness. Our family is living proof of the abundant blessings that comes from living out God’s plan. It is our hope that others can see the love and happiness that have bloomed from this encyclical and open their own hearts to let God into their marriage.
Kateri Schwandt and her husband, Jay, live in Rockford, Mich., and are the parents of 13 boys. Their story has been featured in Family Foundations magazine.
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