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"Each One of Us is an Icon of the Beginning"

A spirituality of being open to life.

The fundamental definition of a spirituality of being open to life is being open to God.  For if this is the defining reality of the interior life of the Blessed Trinity - that each Person is eternally open to the life of the Other - then this is the reality which God embodies in the reality of human life.  For what other good can God give us but the good which God is.  Therefore, because this is the good of 'Being' God: because this is the good of 'how' God is - it is a good given to us at the order of the fact of our reality.  In other words, while being open to life is a decision - it is also a decision which conforms us to how we have been made.  Thus the foundation of a spirituality of being open to life is the following two things.  On the one hand, God has inscribed into our being the inseparable connection between the unitive and procreative dimension of love62 and on the other hand, there is the fact that we each receive our existence through another, through the 'other' of our parents-and through 'The Other' of which our parents are an 'incarnate sign' of the parenthood of God.  Indeed, this could be the deep reason for the commandment: 'Honor your father and your mother' (Dt 4: 16 and cf. Tob 4: 3-4).

I therefore strive to argue throughout this book that there is a realisation in the sign of the flesh of the reality of being God: in the totality of being body and soul, male and female, and given to one another in a marriage open to life.  In other words, God has given to man an act of being man which is in the 'image' of the Being of the Blessed Trinity63.  This is the foundation, therefore, of everything else: the particular 'gift' of being man is first of all the act of being man which expresses, before all else, the act of Being which God is.

Secondly, if our life comes to us through another in the beginning, is it surprising that 'the way of life' is, as it were, through another: through our relationship to our Lord Jesus Christ and through the giving of ourselves in one of the two fundamental forms of the vocation to love?

A spirituality, therefore, of being open to life, while it proceeds from the very nature of our being, is recognised for what it is as Christ comes to us in our coming to Him.  In other words, and inescapably in married life, the sign of being open to life is the sign of being open to the coming of Christ64.  This can but does not necessarily take the form of actual children.  For just as Mary bore Christ and Joseph was as a father65 to Him, so He was of Mary but in the care of Joseph.  This does not diminish the dignity of Joseph's fatherhood, nor the dignity of anyone who cannot, for one reason or another, have children; rather, it expresses in the facts of their lives that what comes before whether or not a particular couple receive the gift of children, is whether or not they are open to Christ.  Again this is particularly well expressed in the life of St. Joseph.  For he chose to turn to Christ and away from his own decision to divorce Mary when he listened to the word of the angel of the Lord66 on the nature of the child to which she was now mother.  Similarly Mary turned to Christ in turning to the will of God to which she gave her consent: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word" (Lk 1: 38).

It is perhaps this "Yes" to life which expresses so succinctly our conversion to the good of life.

62 HV, art 12, page 14.    Back
63 Cf, John Paul II, Letter To Families, (Published by the National Association of Catholic Families, 1994), articles 6 and 8, pages 6 and 9.  Abbrev. LTF.    Back
64 Cf, LTF, art 8, page 9.    Back
65 Redemptoris Custos, by Pope John Paul II, Vatican translation, (Boston: St. Paul Books & Media, 1989), art 3, pages 8-9.  Abbrev. RC.    Back
66 RC, art 3, page 9.    Back

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