The Social and inseparably Eschatological Dimension of being open to life.
I will now return to the beginning, as it were, in order to turn to the end.
Be open to life!, is the positive precept and affirmation of life which originates with Paul VI'ths Humanae Vitae: 'that in any use whatever of marriage there must be no impairment of its natural capacity to procreate human life'68.
Now while we can, 'for serious reasons and with due respect to the moral law, choose* to have no more children for the time being or even for an indeterminate period'69., we are nevertheless called to behave in a way which does not impair our 'natural capacity to procreate human life.'
It is from this document, therefore, and this text particularly, that one came to the conclusion that Pope Paul VI perceived a purpose of the Creator at work in the heart of human procreation: a purpose which can be as positively expressed as the original command of our Creator: 'And God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth"' (Gn 1: 28).
This means, as I've already said, that one can, 'for serious reasons,' (HV, art 10), exercise an intended power of self control, granted by God for this purpose: whether it be that of total or periodic abstinence.
But it also and furthermore means that the Creator foresaw and intended, through human pro-creativity, the purpose of filling the earth (Gn 1: 28).
In other words, in order to do the good work of subduing the earth it is necessary for man to fill the earth; indeed, it is almost as if the work of subduing the earth is a work which cannot be done unless he fills the earth.
Thus it could be said that the Creator, in the very making of the earth and all that is in it - not to mention the rest of the universe! - created a work in proportion to the full growth of the human race: the work of subduing the earth and exercising dominion over every living thing (cf Gn 1: 28).
What if, and I realise how fanciful this may seem, the work of making the deserts of the world into vegetable gardens is a labour intensive work to which the people of the world could be called?
What if this is one of the functions of the international world authority to which Pope Paul VI'th gave prophetic utterance in Populorum Progressio70?
What if the problem of 'localised'71 overpopulation is an opportunity for countries to collaborate with oneanother: either in establishing new nations or in cultivating and populating existing ones?
To be open to life, therefore, does not mean to be in any way indifferent to the actual plight of humanity, of every individual and their families - but it does mean to see this reality in the context of the positive vision of God for us: indeed to see these problems in the context of a divinely inspired optimism.
Finally, because good work on this earth is ordained by God, it is work which is intrinsically ordered to eternal life.
Thus there is a fundamental harmony between the true authority of this world and the Church.
For, with respect to the good of this life, there is a cooperation which the Spirit of God can make possible: it is that of a common service to the common good: a common work to which we are called, and with urgency, by so many of the sufferings of our brothers and sisters.
It is also the duty of this true authority to recognise that while this good of cooperation is a particular gift of the Church to the world, it is also necessary, if this fruit of cooperation is to develop, that the Church be granted her legitimate and necessary freedom to build people up in the love of God in Jesus Christ and thereby to prepare them for their meeting with Him: a meeting which will determine their eternal destiny of heaven or hell.
Finally, we live in a time when we need to rediscover the desire to be pure in heart; and let us not forget the connection between being one of the pure of heart and the vision of God: 'Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God' (Mt. 5: 8).
For they shall see God!
||This indicates that I have added an emphasis to a quotation.
||HV, art 10, page 12.
||Pope Paul VI, Populorum Progressio, (London: CTS [S 273], 1967), art 78, page 36.
||Cf, Pope John Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, (London: CTS [S 400], 1988), art 25, page 42.
Abbrev. SRS; and cf also Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, (London: CTS [S 423] and in collaboration with Veritas, Dublin, 1991), art 43, page 31.
I was also influenced by Laborem Exercens, by Pope John Paul II, (Homebush NSW 2140: St Paul Publications, 1981), articles 25-27, pages 94-108.