Early last month on the Feast of the Presentation, Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila released an incredible pastoral letter that, although written for his Colorado flock, speaks to Catholics everywhere.
The 50-paragraph document entitled, “The Splendor of Love” is essentially a theological pep talk on the mind-blowing beauty of human sexuality, as expressed in Blessed Pope Paul VI’s prophetic encyclical, Humanae Vitae.
The pastoral letter comes only months ahead of Humanae Vitae’s 50th anniversary in July and contains everything anyone needs to know to dive into the life-changing teachings of the Church on matrimony and the family. It includes an assessment of the current state of marriage; positive and negative developments in the world; a basic theological background on human sexuality; plenty of resources; real-life examples of conversation through the power of the truth; clear definitions of key terms; and a call to action for everyone from parents and educators to lawyers and politicians.
Perhaps most profound about the letter, however, is Archbishop Aquila’s straightforward list of the dire predictions outlined by Blessed Pope Paul VI and their manifestation in today’s world. His Most Reverend minces no words as he lays out the fulfillments of the prophecies in plain language.
But the rest of the document, filled with tweet-able snippets, spends much time rejoicing in the beauty of important works such as St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s Theology of Love. In fact, Archbishop Aquila directly states, “The family is the place where the Theology of the Body and the Theology of Love merge together.” The Church has produced many accessible resources necessary for reestablishing a culture of life. Now, says the pastor of Denver, is the time for action.
Near the end of the document, the archbishop speaks directly to NFP instructors, offering profound thanks and much-needed words of encouragement as they go forth in their work:
“Instructors of Natural Family Planning, thank you for the very important work you do in supporting couples in understanding their fertility. You are giving them a practical skill that allows their marriage relationship to experience the total gift of self. You accompany couples by providing the individual support and encouragement married couples need to live out God’s plan faithfully in their married life. Do not allow yourselves to get discouraged by the difficulty of this work, but know that God is blessing you and your ministry. I encourage you to keep learning and to persevere in helping couples to be generous and responsible parents.”
In closing his letter, he points out that “The 50th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae provides the Church with an opportunity to express our gratitude for all the blessings that God has bestowed on us.” It is in this very vein of gratitude that many Humanae Vitae events have been schedule this year. In a special way, CCL’s own conference entitled, “Families, become what you are!” is designed to focus less on academic musings and more on celebrating the concrete reality of the wonderful marriages and families that have bloomed forth as a direct result of the Church’s defense of the truth of human sexuality.
“The Splendor of Love” is a must-read for Catholics everywhere. Read the document here, and share it with your own community, parish and study groups. CCL is hosting a conference, and institutions everywhere are publicly proclaiming the beauty of Church teaching in light of this year’s important anniversary. The time is now. How will you celebrate Humanae Vitae?
— CCL Staff Member