Humanae Vitae: The Sword and the Stone

Humanae Vitae Giving Day

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by Michael Gagnon

It has now been 49 years since Humanae Vitae dropped out of heaven through His Holiness Pope Paul VI and the shockwaves continue to resound throughout the world. Since its release, this blessed document has not failed or slowed in its mission to clearly call out all peoples to stand in the light of Truth. Humanae Vitae continues to act as both sword and stone; by separating those whose faith stands in humble obedience to Christ and those who don’t, and as a firm rampart upon which the war for the soul of the family will eventually be won.

In my own life Humanae Vitae continues to act as a rock upon which we can stand firm, despite whatever storms of life may come. Many of my readers know the struggles with depression and anxiety my family has wrestled with these last few years. It is an exhausting challenge and has made the use of NFP tremendously difficult.

The temptations to trust in other methods persists, but we have stood firm in the unceasing teaching of the Church and this is in no small part due to the clear and beautiful teachings found in Humane Vitae and the fire it ignites in the hearts of countless faithful men and women that we are blessed to be surrounded by.

It is clearly not easy to remain faithful to the Truth in a world surrounded by injustice, suffering, turmoil and conflicting messages. In a world full of scientific advances that often help but also often distract us or lead us away from life, it is difficult to “make room for the mystery of God,” (JPII, 1995 New York). And so, like Habakkuk, we must stand upon the rampart and wait in faithfulness, that we might live, (Hab. 2:1a, 4a).

As is witnessed in countless individual lives and throughout Church history, only through this faithful trust in God is true happiness and fulfillment found. As Pope Paul VI said so beautifully in paragraph 9 of Humanae Vitae: “[Married] love is above all, an act of the free will, whose trust is such that it is meant not only to survive the joys and sorrows of daily life, but also to grow, so that husband and wife become in a way one heart and one soul, and together attain their human fulfillment.”

Every person desires deep and abiding happiness and fulfillment, and as witnessed to in Humanae Vitae, this happiness is found in only One source, through trustful surrender to the loving design of God.

— Michael Gagnon is a father of three, a Catholic youth minister from Georgia, and a columnist for CCL’s Family Foundations magazine. He blogs at

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