A Summary of “Love Made Fruitful”, chapter five of The Joy of Love
The Catechism of the Catholic Church echoes the Second Vatican Council when it states that children are the crowning glory of marriage (CCC, 1652, Gaudium et Spes, 48). Children are born of the love between a father and mother. Borrowing the title of chapter five from Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, The Joy of Love (Amoris Laetitia), we could say that children are “Love Made Fruitful.” Pope Francis reminds us that “love always gives life.” Children are a gift from God and “are a living reflection of [the] love” between a father and a mother. As a sign of God’s “utterly gratuitous dimension of love,” children are not a mistake but are to be accepted and protected so that they may attain their “final goal [which] is the joy of eternal life.”
Parents exercise “responsible parenthood” when they discern wisely—according to their particular circumstances in life—the number of children they desire to raise. At the same time Pope Francis states that “large families are a joy for the Church . . . [because] they are an expression of the fruitfulness of love.”
God reveals his love through the love of a child’s parents. Fathers and mothers participate with God “in the miracle of a new life.” “Every child has a right to receive love from a mother and a father; both are necessary for a child’s integral and harmonious development.” “The clear and well-defined presence of both figures, female and male, creates the environment best suited to the growth of the child.”
Despite their intense desire “some couples are unable to have children.” This in no way diminishes their marriage which is a “communion of life.” Parenthood “is not a solely biological reality, but is expressed in diverse ways.” Some couples become parents through adoption and in this manner “become channels of God’s love.” There are different “ways of experiencing the fruitfulness of love.” “No family can be fruitful if it sees itself as overly different or ‘set apart’.”
Each one of us comes from a family; “we are all sons and daughters.” We have not created ourselves but have received life as a great gift. “In the family we learn to live as one.” “From this initial experience of fraternity, nourished by affection and education at home, the style of fraternity radiates like a promise upon the whole of society.” Families are part of a larger family made up of many members from the wider community. This “extended family” is meant to help those in need: single mothers, orphans, and widows.
Grandparents are also part of this extended family. “Very often it is grandparents who ensure that the most important values are passed down to their children and ‘many people can testify that they owe their initiation into the Christian life to their grandparents.’” Pope Francis has said that “Grandparents . . . are entrusted with a great responsibility: to transmit their life experience, their family history, the history of a community, of a people; to share wisdom with simplicity, and the faith itself — the most precious heritage!” (Meeting with the Elderly, 28 September 2014).
“God has given the family the job of ‘domesticating’ the world and helping each person to see fellow human beings as brothers and sisters.” “By their witness as well as their words, families speak to others of Jesus. They pass on the faith, they arouse a desire for God and they reflect the beauty of the Gospel and its way of life.” “Their fruitfulness expands and in countless ways makes God’s love present in society.”