Sunday, December 23, 2012

Our Lady Converts the Jew Alphonse Ratisbonne

Marie Alphonse Ratisbonne, an anti-Catholic Jew, befriended a baron in Rome and began wearing the Miraculous Medal as a simple test. On January 20, 1842 while waiting for the baron in the church Sant Andrea delle Fratte, Ratisbonne encountered a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He converted to Catholicism, joined the priesthood, and began a ministry for the conversion of Jews.

Alphonse Ratisbonne was born a Jew in the Alsace region of Eastern France and would, over the years, develop a particular disdain for the Catholic Faith. Fully embracing the wave of new philosophic trends and scientific advancements, he looked upon Catholics as naive, superstitious, unintelligent and foolish. 
    This prejudice would grow to outright hatred when his older brother converted to Catholicism and became a Jesuit priest, essentially "betraying" his family and heritage. 
    In 1842, on a journey for pleasure undertaken before he was to marry, Ratisbonne made the decision to take a slight detour and pay a visit to Rome. It was there he met a priest, a brother of an acquaintance, who would dedicate himself to the cause of this unlikely candidate's conversion. In an effort to demonstrate the frivolity of Catholicism, Ratisbonne agreed to wear a Miraculous Medal and recite the Memorare daily. Additionally, for his own entertainment and prideful appetite, Ratisbonne would accompany his new acquaintance around Rome, never missing an opportunity to ridicule and blaspheme all he would hear and see.

Our Lady of the Miracle

All that would change on January 20th, when he visited the Church of Sant' Andrea delle Fratte. It was within the walls of this historic church where Ratisbonne would be instantaneously converted by the Mother of God Herself.

At the moment when the Blessed Virgin made a sign with her hand, the veil fell from my eyes; not one veil only, but all the veils that were wrapped around me disappeared, just as snow melts beneath the rays of the sun.” [1]

The Mother of God would present to him the glories of the Faith and instantly educate him in its sacred truths.

It is well known that I never opened a religious book and had never read a page of the Bible, and that the dogma of Original Sin, which it is either denied or forgotten by modern Jews, had never for a single moment occupied my thoughts—indeed, I doubt I had ever heard its name. How did I arrive at a knowledge of it? I know not. All I know is that when I entered that church I was profoundly ignorant of everything, and that when I came out I saw everything clearly and distinctly.” [2]

In another, he said: I was scarcely in the church when a total confusion came over me. When I looked up, it seemed to me that the entire church had been swallowed up in shadow, except one chapel. It was as though all the light was concentrated in that single place. I looked over towards this chapel whence so much light shone, and above the altar was a living figure, tall, majestic, beautiful and full of mercy. It was the most holy Virgin Mary, resembling her figure on the Miraculous Medal. At this sight I fell on my knees right where I stood. Unable to look up because of the blinding light, I fixed my glance on her hands, and in them I could read the expression of mercy and pardon. In the presence of the Most Blessed Virgin, even though she did not speak a word to me, I understood the frightful situation I was in, my sins and the beauty of the Catholic Faith.”

After a thorough inquiry and investigation, Pope Gregory XVI declared the event a true miracle. There was no natural explanation to what happened on that particular day. As Ratisbonne's Roman companion recounts:

Even if we imagine an illusion in the case of a person of Ratisbonne's character and education, with prejudices so violent, and with such interest both of affection and of position, it could not have been induced or augmented by any outward representation; for in the chapel that was the scene of the miracle, there is no statue, or picture, or image of the Blessed Virgin of any kind. [3]

Alphonse Ratisbonne was baptized, ordained and joined the very Society of Jesus he had so violently despised. As he predicted, his family disowned him and revoked his partnership in the bank which was to be his inheritance. He would later receive permission to leave the Jesuits to start the Sisterhood of Our Lady of Sion, which dedicated itself to the conversion of Jews. The sisterhood soon moved to Jerusalem where it established two convents, two schools, three orphanages and a church. The priests assisting Ratisbonne, known as the Peres de Notre Dame de Sion later returned to Europe to establish additional foundations. Less than a century later, during the Nazi persecutions, these holy priests were among the most active rescuers of Jews. [4]

As was the case when She appeared to St. Juan Diego three centuries earlier, Our Lady demonstrated the same “simplistic” outlook towards Catholicism and conversion that many Catholics today are mocked for maintaining. She did not fill Ratisbonne with a newfound respect for Judaism or encourage him to follow his conscience and “be the best Jew he could be” [indirectly promoting Indifferentism and Pluralism]. She clearly showed him the error of his ways and the true light of the Catholic Faith. She did not enlighten him as to the permanence of the Old Covenant, suggest that conversion may not be necessary for his eternal salvation or apologize for past actions of Catholics [although an apology for Her presumptuous actions that day may be in the works]. Following Our Blessed Mother's heavenly example, Ratisbonne would take this holy gift and make it his mission to provide it to as many other Jews as possible.

The story of Ratisbonne's conversion is not ancient history. This wasn't a Roman centurion or even a medieval prince; he was a modern man in every sense of the term. He was well-educated in the ways of science and modern philosophy, had a prestigious position as a wealthy banker, was betrothed to a beautiful young girl and had every reason in the world to remain in his current state of worldly pleasures. The unlikelihood of the miraculous occurrence was not lost of the recent convert:

“O my God.  . . . I who only a half hour before was still blaspheming! I who felt such a deadly hatred of the Catholic religion! And all who know me well enough that, humanly speaking, I have the strongest reasons for remaining a Jew. My family is Jewish; my bride is Jewish; my uncle is a Jew. In becoming a Catholic, I sacrifice all the interests and all the hopes I have on earth; and yet I am not mad. Everyone knows that I am not mad, that I have never been mad. Surely they must receive my testimony . . .
“A man has a claim to be believed, when he sacrifices everything to a conviction that must have come from Heaven. If all that I have said is not rigorously true, I commit a crime, not only the most daring, but the most senseless and motiveless. [5]

Men in Alphonse Ratisbonne's pre-conversion condition are anything but a rarity; millions could easily be found today. However, the nature of priest the Blessed Virgin called him to become is becoming increasingly scarce. Her clear example provided by the conversion of this "modern man" has fallen into the dustbin of history...

1 "The Conversion of Ratisbonne" Roman Catholic Books, p.71 (2000) 
2 Ibid., p.71 
3 Ibid., p.37 
4 Ibid., p.75 
5Ibid., p.36-37 

Other Sources:
1. “From Ratisbonne to Reflections” by Peter W. Miller

The Purity of Soul Necessary for Holy Communion

Padre Pio was delighted when they brought him young children who were prepared for First Holy Communion. Father Stefano Manelli, the author of Jesus, Our Eucharistic Love went to First Confession and First Communion to Padre Pio.

Fr. Stefano Manelli founded the "Franciscans of the Immaculate" despite of persecutions particularly within the Franciscan Order. The Institute was raised to Pontifical Right by Blessed John Paul II.

From: Jesus, Our Eucharistic Love, Chapter 3
by Father Stefano Manelli, F.I., S.T.D

The Purity of Soul Necessary for Holy Communion

What is there to say about the great purity of soul with which the saints approached to receive the Bread of Angels? We know that they had a great delicacy of conscience which was truly angelic. Aware of their own misery, they tried to present themselves to Jesus "holy and immaculate," (Eph. 1:4) repeating with the Publican, "O God, be merciful to me a sinner" (Luke 18:13), and having recourse with great care to the cleansing of Confession.
      When St. Jerome was brought Holy Viaticum at the end of his life, the Saint prostrated himself on the ground in adoration and he was heard to repeat with profound humility the words of St. Elizabeth and those of St. Peter, "How is this, that my Lord should come to me?" "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord" (Luke 5:8). And how many times was the angelic and seraphic St. Gemma tempted to not receive Holy Communion, holding herself to be nothing else than a vile “dunghill”?
      Padre Pio of Pietrelcina used to repeat with trepidation to his brethren, "God sees blights even in the angels. What must He see in me!" For this reason he was very diligent in making his sacramental Confessions."
      “Oh, if we could only understand Who is that God Whom we receive in Holy Communion, then what purity of heart we would bring to Him!" exclaimed St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi.
      For this reason St. Hugh, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Francis de Sales, St. Ignatius, St. Charles Borromeo, St. Francis Borgia, St. Louis Bertrand, St. Joseph Cupertino, St. Leonard of Port Maurice and many other saints went to Confession every day before celebrating Holy Mass.
      St. Camillus de Lellis never celebrated Holy Mass without first going to Confession, because he wanted at least "to dust off" his soul. Once, at sundown, in a public square in Livorno, before taking leave of a priest of the same religious order, foreseeing that he would not have a priest to confess to on the following morning before his Mass, paused, took off his hat, made the sign of the Cross and went to Confession right there in the square, to his confrere.
      Also, St. Alphonsus, St. Joseph Cafasso, St. John Bosco, St. Pius X, and Padre Pio of Pietrelcina went to Confession very often. And why did St. Pius X wish to lower the age for First Holy Communion to seven years, if not to allow Jesus to enter into the innocent hearts of children, which are so similar to angels. And why was Padre Pio so delighted when they brought him children five years old who were prepared for First Holy Communion?
      The saints applied to perfection the directive of the Holy Spirit, "Let everyone first examine himself, and then eat of that Bread and drink of that Chalice; because he who eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks unto his own condemnation" (1 Cor. 11:28-29).
      To examine themselves, to repent, to accuse themselves in Confession and to ask pardon of God, and in this way even every day profit from the Sacrament of Confession, was something natural for the saints. How fortunate they were to be capable of so much! The fruits of sanctification were constant and abundant because the purity of soul with which each saint welcomed into himself Jesus, "the Wheat of the elect," (Zach. 9:17) was like the good ground "... which brings forth fruit in patience". (Luke 8:15).
      St. Anthony Mary Claret illustrates this fact very well: "When we go to Holy Communion, all of us receive the same Lord Jesus, but not all receive the same grace nor are the same effects produced in all. This comes from our greater or lesser disposition. To explain this fact, I will take an example from nature. Consider the process of grafting, the more similar the one plant is to the other, the better the graft will succeed. Likewise, the more resemblance there is between the one that goes to Communion and Jesus, so much the better will the fruits of Holy Communion be." The Sacrament of Confession is in fact the excellent means whereby the similarity between the soul and Jesus is restored.
      For this reason St. Francis de Sales taught his spiritual children, "Go to Confession with humility and devotion ... if it is possible, every time that you go to Holy Communion, even though you do not feel in your conscience any remorse of mortal sin."
      In this regard it is well to recall the teaching of the Church. Holy Communion must be received only while one is in the grace of God. Therefore, when one has committed a mortal sin, even if one has repented of it and has a great desire to receive Holy Communion, it isnecessary and indispensable to confess oneself first before receiving Holy Communion, otherwise one commits a most grave sin of sacrilege, for which Jesus said to St. Bridget, "there does not exist on earth a punishment which is great enough to punish it sufficiently!”[Editor's Note: Thus can we wonder about the great calamities in the world today?]
      St. Ambrose said that persons who commit this sacrilege "come into church with a few sins, and leave it burdened with many." St. Cyril wrote something yet stronger: "They who make a sacrilegious Communion receive satan and Jesus Christ into their hearts - satan, that they may let him rule, and Jesus Christ, that they may offer Him in sacrifice as a Victim to satan." Thus the Catechism of the Council of Trent (De Euch., v.i) declares: "As of all the sacred mysteries ... none can compare with the ... Eucharist, so likewise for no crime is there heavier punishment to be feared from God than for the unholy or irreligious use by the faithful of that which ... contains the very Author and Source of holiness."
      On the other hand, Confession made before Holy Communion to render a soul already in the state of Sanctifying Grace more pure and more beautiful, is something precious even though not required. It is precious because it clothes the soul with a more beautiful "wedding garment" (cf. Matt. 22:12) with which it may take its place at the table of the angels. For this reason the most conscientious souls have always made frequent use (at least once a week) of the sacramental cleansing of absolution, even for venial sins. If you want great purity of soul in order to receive Jesus, no purity shines brighter than that which one obtains when he makes a good confession, where the cleansing Blood of Jesus renders the repentant soul divinely bright and beautiful. "The soul that receives the Divine Blood becomes beautiful, as being clothed in a more precious garment, and it appears so beautifully aglow that if you could see it you would be tempted to adore it," declared St. Mary Magdalene di Pazzi.

Holy Communion with Mary

      Oh, how much it pleases Jesus to be received by a soul cleansed and clothed with His Divine Blood! And what affectionate delight He takes when such a soul is a chaste virgin! For "the Eucharist came from the Paradise of Virginity" (namely, Mary), said St. Albert the Great; and Our Eucharistic Lord does not find such a paradise except in virginity. No one can repeat, quite like a virgin, with the Spouse of the Canticle of Canticles at every Holy Communion: "All mine is my true Love, and I am all His; ... He goes out to pasture among the lilies .. Come back, my heart's Love" (Cant. 2:16-17).
      One praiseworthy way of preparing for Holy Communion is to invoke the Immaculate Virgin, to count on Her to enable us to receive Jesus with Her humility, Her purity and Her love - praying rather that She Herself may come to receive Him in us. This pious practice is much recommended by the Saints, in particular St. Louis Grignon de Montfort, St. Peter Eymard, St. Alphonsus Liguori, and Blessed Maximilian Mary Kolbe. "The best preparation for Holy Communion is that which is made with Mary," wrote St. Peter Eymard. A delightful illustration is given by St. Therese of Lisieux, picturing her soul as a little three or four-year old girl whose hair and dress were in disarray, ashamed to present herself at the altar rail to receive Jesus. However she appeals to the Madonna, and "immediately," the Saint writes, "the Virgin Mary occupies Herself with me. She quickly replaces my dirty dress, ties up my hair with a pretty ribbon and adds a simple flower ... This is enough to make me attractive and enables me to take my place without embarrassment at the banquet of the angels."
      Let us try this method of preparation. We will not be disappointed. We will be able to say what St. Gemma exclaimed in ecstasy, "How beautiful it is to receive Communion with the Mother of Paradise!" 

Thanksgiving After Holy Communion

      The time of Thanksgiving after Holy Communion is the most ideal time for an intimate exchange of love with Jesus. Let it be a love of total self-giving thus returning Jesus' love so wholeheartedly that there is no longer two of us but one, so to speak, in soul and body. Let it be a love that vivifies and unites, - He in me and I in Him, so that we may be consumed in the uniqueness and unity of His love.
      "You are my loving prey just as I am the object of Your immense charity," said St. Gemma to Jesus with tenderness.
      St. John wrote, "Blessed are they that are called to the wedding banquet of the Lamb" (Apoc. 19:9). In truth, in Eucharistic Communion rightly received, the soul realizes, in a heavenly virginal union, a nuptial love for the Spouse, Jesus, to Whom the soul can say with the most tender enthusiasm of the Bride in the Canticle of Canticles: "Let Him kiss me with the kiss of His mouth" (Cant. 1:1).
      Thanksgiving after Holy Communion is a small foretaste, while on earth, of the love which will be experienced in Paradise. In Heaven, in fact, how shall we love Jesus if not by being one with Him eternally? Dear Jesus, sweet Jesus, oh how I ought to thank You for every Holy Communion that You grant me! Did not St. Gemma have good reason to say she would thank You in Paradise for the Eucharist more than for anything else? What a miracle of love to be so completely united with You, O Jesus!

Remain at least fifteen minutes

      The Saints chose, when it was possible, to set no time limit for thanksgiving after Communion, which would last at least a half hour. St. Teresa of Jesus told her daughters, "Let us detain ourselves lovingly with Jesus and not waste the hour that follows Communion. It is an excellent time to deal with God and put before Him the matters that concern our soul. ... As we know that good Jesus remains within us until our natural warmth has dissolved the bread-like qualities, we should take great care not to lose such a beautiful opportunity to treat with Him and lay our needs before Him."
      St. Francis of Assisi, St. Juliana Falconieri, St. Catharine, St. Paschal, St. Veronica, St. Joseph Cupertino, St. Gemma, and many others, used to almost always go into a loving ecstasy immediately after Holy Communion. As for the duration, only the angels measured the time. Also St. Teresa of Avila nearly always went into ecstasy right after receiving Holy Communion, and sometimes it was necessary to carry her away bodily from the Communion grille.
      St. John of Avila, St. Ignatius Loyola, and St. Aloysius Gonzaga used to make their thanksgiving on their knees for two hours. St. Mary Magdalene di Pazzi wanted it to continue without interruption. It was necessary to constrain her so that she might take a little nourishment. "The minutes that follow Communion," the Saint said, "are the most precious we have in our lives. They are the minutes best suited on our part for treating with God, and on His part for communicating His love to us."
      St. Louis Grignon de Montfort used to remain for Thanksgiving after Holy Mass at least a half hour, and he would not let there be any worry or engagement that could make him omit it. He said, "I would not give up this hour of Thanksgiving even for an hour of Paradise."
      Let us also then make the following resolutions: That we will so organize our time and our lives that we will remain in Thanksgiving after Holy Communion for at least fifteen minutes; And further resolve to allow nothing to stop us from taking this time for Thanksgiving. These minutes in which Jesus is physically present to our souls and within our bodies are heavenly minutes that we should by no means waste.

Thanksgiving with the Madonna

      There is a special beauty in a Thanksgiving made in Mary's company in honor of Her Annunciation. Right after Holy Communion we carry Jesus within our souls and bodies, just as the Blessed Virgin Mary did when She had received the message of the angel. We cannot find a better way to adore and love Jesus at that time than by making our dispositions agree with those of the Mother of God, making our own the same sentiments of adoration and love that She had toward Her Divine Son Jesus enclosed under Her Immaculate Heart. It can be helpful in achieving this, to recite meditatively the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. Let us try it. We cannot fail to profit by becoming united this way with the Madonna in order to love Jesus with Her Heavenly Heart.


On Weekly Confession

Pope Benedict XVI
(At a question and answer session with children who just received their First Communion) 
Livia: Holy Father….Do I have to confess every time I receive Communion, even when I have committed the same sins?...They are always the same. 
Benedict: "I will tell you two things. The first, of course, is that you do not always have to go to confession before you receive Communion unless you committed such serious sins that they need to be confessed. …. It is only necessary when you have committed a really serious sin, when you have deeply offended Jesus…and you have to start again. Only in that case, when you are in a state of "mortal" sin, in other words, grave [sin], is it necessary to go to confession before Communion."
"My second point: Even if, as I said, it is not necessary to go to confession before each Communion, it is very helpful to confess with a certain regularity. It is true: Our sins are always the same, but we clean our homes, our rooms, at least once a week, even if the dirt is always the same; in order to live in cleanliness, in order to start again. Otherwise, the dirt might not be seen but it builds up."
"Something similar can be said about the soul, for me myself: If I never go to confession, my soul is neglected and in the end I am always pleased with myself and no longer understand that I must always work hard to improve and make progress. This cleansing of the soul which Jesus gives us in confession helps make our consciences more alert, more open, and hence helps us to mature spiritually and as human persons. Therefore, two things: Confession is only necessary in the case of a serious sin, but it is very helpful to confess regularly in order to foster the cleanliness and beauty of the soul and to mature day by day in life." (From: Zenit News Service, October 20, 2005)
St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina
To the souls Padre Pio directed, he gave a five-point rule: weekly confession, daily communion and spiritual reading, examination of conscience each evening and mental prayer twice a day. He said:
"Confession is the soul's bath. You must go at least once a week. I do not want souls to stay away from confession more than a week. Even a clean and unoccupied room gathers dust; return after a week and you will see that it needs dusting again!" 
St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church
"...never allow your heart to abide heavy with sin, seeing that there is so sure and safe a remedy at hand...Make your confession humbly and devoutly every week, and always, if you can, before communicating, even although your conscience is not burdened with mortal sin; for in confession you do not only receive absolution for your venial sins, but you also receive great strength to help you in avoiding them henceforth, clearer light to discover your failings, and abundant grace to make up whatever loss you have incurred through those faults. You exercise the graces of humility, obedience, simplicity and love, and by this one act of confession you practise more virtue than in any other." (from "Introduction to the Devout Life")
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
Everybody loved and respected Mother Teresa. She was a weekly penitent. Some may express surprise at this: "But, she was holy!" Indeed she was, precisely because she regularly and humbly sought forgiveness from Our Lord in exactly the way He intended: through the Sacrament of Penance. She would not cheat herself of the very graces that Jesus hung on the Cross to give us, graces that helped her to do what we all aspire to do: to live a life pleasing to our Father in live not just a good life, but a holy life. Mother Teresa knew and traveled the "narrow path" to Heaven. We are not likely to follow her in heroic sacrifice, but we can try to follow in some measure her simplicity and humility of heart by regularly asking pardon for our sins in the confessional, and so not cheating ourselves of the graces that Jesus earnestly wishes to give to each of us. 
(From: Zenit News Service, April 12, 2006)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Censure and Opinion of a Certain 'Mystic' by St. John of the Cross

At the time Nicolas Doria was vicar general he asked John of the Cross to examine an account written by a Discalced Carmelite nun and give his opinion about her spirit. We do not know who this nun was or the community to which she belonged, but we know that other learned men had judged her favorably. Discerning five defects in the nun's report of her experiences, John gives a negative evaluation of her spirit in this written opinion for his vicar general.

Censure and Opinion

[On the spirit and procedure in prayer of a discalced Carmelite 
nun, given by St. John of the Cross Segovia, 1588-91]

In the affective manner with which this soul proceeds there appear to be five defects manifesting a lack of the good spirit.

First, it seems she bears within herself a great fondness for possessing things, whereas the good spirit is always very detached in its appetites.

Second, she is too secure in her spirit and has little fear of being inwardly mistaken. Where this fear is absent, the spirit of God is never present to preserved the soul from harm, as the Wise Man says [Prv. 15:27].

Third, it seems she has the desire to persuade others that her experiences are good and manifold. Persons of a genuine spirit do not desire to do this, but, on the contrary, desire that their experiences be considered of little value and despised, and this they do themselves.

Fourth-and this is the main fault-the effects of humility are not manifest in her attitude. When favors are genuine, as she says here that hers are, they are ordinarily never communicated to a soul without first undoing and annihilating it in the inner abasement of humility. And if these favors had produced this effect in her, she would not have failed to say something about it here, and even a great deal. For the first thing the soul esteems and is eager to speak of are the effects of humility, which, certainly, are so strong that they cannot be disguised. For although they may not be so noticeable in all the apprehensions of God, still, these apprehensions that she here calls union are never present without them: 'Before the soul is exalted, it is humbled' [Prv. 18:12] and, 'It is good for me that you have humbled me' [Ps. 119:71].

Fifth, her style and language don't seem to come from the spirit she claims, for the good spirit itself teaches a simpler style, one without the affectation or exaggeration she uses. And all this about what she said to God and God said to her seems to be nonsense.

I would advise that they should not command or allow her to write anything about this, and her confessor should not show willingness to hear of it, other than to hold it in little esteem and contradict it. Let them try her in the practice of sheer virtue, especially in self-contempt, humility, and obedience; and by the sound of the metal when tapped the quality of soul caused by so many favors will show itself. And the tests must be good ones, for there is no devil that will not suffer something for his honor.

The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross
Translated by Fathers Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD and Otilio Rodriguez, OCD

Friday, December 7, 2012

Sexual Pleasure and Lust Within Marriage


Note: I don't agree in everything that website contains so be careful in visiting it. But the following is worth reading. You may or may not agree with some of the explanations besides the Declarations of the Popes, Saints and the Revelations of St. Bridget approved by Cardinal Torquemada:
Quieting vs Inflaming Concupiscence
Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii (# 17), Dec. 31, 1930: “THE PRIMARY END OF MARRIAGE IS THE PROCREATION AND THE EDUCATION OF CHILDREN... For in matrimony as well as in the use of matrimonial rights there are also secondary ends, such as mutual aid, the cultivation of mutual love, and the quieting of concupiscence which husband and wife are not forbidden to consider, so long as they are subordinated to the primary end and so long as the intrinsic nature of the act is preserved.”
A husband and wife are allowed to quiet concupiscence as a secondary motive after the first motive of procreation. This is a dogma proclaimed by Pope Pius XI above. This means to put down the flames of concupiscence, and not to inflame it in any way. The goal is to get the spouse to Heaven, to glorify God, and sanctify one self, and not primarily about pleasure. The gravity of sin, when inflaming concupiscence, depends on the thoughts and actual deeds that a couple consent to during the act of marriage. But husband and wife are never allowed to prevent the conception of a child in any way, either through contraceptives, or by withdrawal... Further, doing acts above what is necessary in the marital act, can be a mortal sin, but if the act is natural, yet done for the sake of lust only, it seems to be at least a venial fault or defect, as the following Church teaching affirms:
Various Errors on Moral Subjects, Condemned in a decree of the Holy Office, March 4, 1679: “THE ACT OF MARRIAGE EXERCISED FOR PLEASURE ONLY IS ENTIRELY FREE OF ALL FAULT AND VENIAL DEFECT.” (Denz. 1159) -Condemned by Pope Innocent XI.
As we can see above, it is at least a fault or venial defect to have relations only for lustful motives. From this can be learned that a couple must have a reason for coming together during the marital act. Thus, they may not just come together for whatever lustful reason they may come to think of, for that would be (at least) a venial defect, according to Catholic teaching. Faults or venial defects open up the soul to graver sins and that is why one must always guard oneself very carefully from falling into faults and defects. A couple can only lawfully participate in the marital act (without any sin or defect) if it's done for the primary purpose of having children, and the secondary purpose of quieting the concupiscence. The secondary motive of quieting concupiscence can follow the primary motive if the spouses choose this, but the secondary motive is not needed to lawfully complete the marital act in the same way as the primary motive of raising children, nor is it meritorious even though it is allowed:
Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii (# 17), Dec. 31, 1930: “THE PRIMARY END OF MARRIAGE IS THE PROCREATION AND THE EDUCATION OF CHILDREN... For in matrimony as well as in the use of matrimonial rights there are also secondary ends, such as mutual aid, the cultivation of mutual love, and the quieting of concupiscence which husband and wife are not forbidden to consider, so long as they are subordinated to the primary end and so long as the intrinsic nature of the act is preserved.”
Since many couples today, and especially those who call themselves by the name of Catholic, inflame their lust to the fullest both before, during and after the procreative act...
Notice the words of Pope Pius XI: “quieting of concupiscence”. Those who thus commit acts which are not necessary for the completion of the marital act absolutely commit sin, since they inflame their flesh in a totally sinful way. Therefore, the inflaming of concupiscence is condemned as sinful because it subordinates the secondary end (or purpose) of marriage and the marriage act (the quieting of concupiscence) to other ends. It subordinates the secondary end of marriage to other things, by deliberately attempting to avoid the normal procreative act as their first or only act of marriage, to other things while having marital relations. The inflaming of concupiscence therefore inverts the order established by God Himself. It does the very thing that Pope Pius XI solemnly teaches may not lawfully be done. And this point destroys all of the arguments made by those who defend unnatural, unlawful, non-procreative forms of fore-or-after-play outside of normal intercourse; because all of the arguments made by those who defend inflaming the flesh, focus on the concupiscence and lust within the marriage act itself, and not on the primary or secondary ends of lawful intercourse (the procreation and education of children; and the quieting of concupiscence).
So what these lustful couples then do by enhancing their pleasure during the marital act, is not the only lawful quieting of concupiscence that Pope Pius XI spoke about, but is the exact opposite, since they first inflame their lust and concupiscence before putting it out, and are therefore then, without a doubt, committing sin (probably even a mortal sin depending on what they thought, did or consented to during their impure act). If such a lust seeking couple is not guilty of mortal sin, then they are guilty of venial sin. For if coming together only for normal lustful motives is at least a venial fault or defect according to Catholic teaching, what then would those unnatural and unnecessary acts be that these lustful people live out during the heat of their shameful lust?
Various Errors on Moral Subjects, Condemned in a decree of the Holy Office, March 4, 1679: “THE ACT OF MARRIAGE EXERCISED FOR PLEASURE ONLY IS ENTIRELY FREE OF ALL FAULT AND VENIAL DEFECT.” (Denz. 1159) -Condemned by Pope Innocent XI.
Although a venial fault does not separate us from God as does a mortal sin, a venial defect can still (if practiced unto death) lead a person to Hell since it might lead him into committing other sins, and since he did not care to stop doing what he knew was a danger to his soul, and even took great delight in it, though he knew it was offending God. To consent to faults and defects, or deliberate venial sins, is of course very bad. We can learn this truth from Jesus Christ himself:
Moreover, know that just as all mortal sins are very serious, so too a venial sin is made mortal if a human being delights in it with the intention of persevering.” (Jesus speaking to St. Bridget, Book 7, Chapter 27).
So, to deliberately live in faults and defects are truly a gateway into committing more grave sins. An even more clearer demonstration of this can be seen in another chapter of St. Bridget's revelations:
The Son of God speaks to the bride (St. Bridget): “What are you worried and anxious about?" She answered: "I am afflicted by various useless thoughts that I cannot get rid of, and hearing about your terrible judgment upsets me." The Son answered: "This is truly just. Earlier you found pleasure in worldly desires against my will, but now different thoughts are allowed to come to you against your will.
“But have a prudent fear of God, and put great trust in me, your God, knowing for certain that when your mind does not take pleasure in sinful thoughts but struggles against them by detesting them, then they become a purgation and a crown for the soul. But if you take pleasure in committing even a slight sin, which you know to be a sin, and you do so trusting to your own abstinence and presuming on grace, without doing penance and reparation for it, know that it can become a mortal sin. Accordingly, if some sinful pleasure of any kind comes into your mind, you should right away think about where it is heading and repent...
“...God hates nothing so much as when you know you have sinned but do not care, trusting to your other meritorious actions, as if, because of them, God would put up with your sin, as if he could not be glorified without you, or as if he would let you do something evil with his permission, seeing all the good deeds you have done, since, even if you did a hundred good deeds for each wicked one, you still would not be able to pay God back for his goodness and love. So, then, maintain a rational fear of God and, even if you cannot prevent these thoughts, then at least bear them patiently and use your will to struggle against them. You will not be condemned because of their entering your head, unless you take pleasure in them, since it is not within your power to prevent them.
“Again, maintain your fear of God in order not to fall through pride, even though you do not consent to the thoughts. Anyone who stands firm stands by the power of God alone. Thus fear of God is like the gateway into heaven. Many there are who have fallen headlong to their deaths, because they cast off the fear of God and were then ashamed to make a confession before men, although they had not been ashamed to sin before God. Therefore, I shall refuse to absolve the sin of a person who has not cared enough to ask my pardon for a small sin. In this manner, sins are increased through habitual practice, and a venial sin that could have been pardoned through contrition becomes a serious one through a person's negligence and scorn, as you can deduce from the case of this soul who has already been condemned.
After having committed a venial and pardonable sin, he augmented it through habitual practice, trusting to his other good works, without thinking that I might take lesser sins into account. Caught in a net of habitual and inordinate pleasure, his soul neither corrected nor curbed his sinful intention, until the time for his sentencing stood at the gates and his final moment was approaching. This is why, as the end approached, his conscience was suddenly agitated and painfully afflicted because he was soon to die and he was afraid to lose the little, temporary good he had loved. Up until a sinner's final moment God abides him, waiting to see if he is going to direct his free will away from his attachment to sin.
However, if a soul's will is not corrected, that soul is then confined by an end without end. What happens is that the devil, knowing that each person will be judged according to his conscience and intention, labors mightily at the end of life to distract the soul and turn it away from rectitude of intention, and God allows it to happen, since the soul refused to remain vigilant when it ought to have...” (The Revelations of St. Bridget of Sweden, Book 3, Chapter 19).
So, what does God think of couples who come together during the act of marriage in sinful lust and concupiscence, and about a couple who works on the inflaming of lust (rather than the quieting of their lust)?
They seek the warmth and sexual lust that will perish and love the flesh that will be eaten by worms... When the couple comes to bed, my Spirit leaves them immediately and the spirit of impurity approaches instead because they only come together for the sake of lust and do not discuss or think about anything else with each other. But my mercy is still with them if they will be converted to me. Because of my great love, I place a living soul created by my power into their seed. Sometimes I let evil parents give birth to good children, but more often, evil children are born of evil parents, since these children imitate the evil and unrighteous deeds of their parents as much as they are able and would imitate it even more if my patience allowed them. Such a married couple will never see my face unless they repent. For there is no sin so heavy or grave that penitence and repentance does not wash it away.” (St. Bridget's Revelations, Book 1, Chapter 26).
A couple may therefore then not do anything before, during or after the procreative act that is against the primary or secondary purpose of marriage, the begetting of children and the quieting of concupiscence. So, contrary to modern day notion and common opinion (even amongst those who dare to call themselves Catholic), a husband and a wife are never allowed to help themselves with their hands or do other things to enhance their lust, or in this way make themselves “ready” before the act (as they so call it and their sinful excuse is). If a couple really believes in God, they should pray to God before coming together, and God would hear their prayers and make them ready, without any further need by the couple to inflame their lust in a sinful way. Lubricants are of course also acceptable and the non sinful way to use if there is a problem to complete the marital act. However, lubricants that increase the sexual pleasure and that now are being manufactured and sold are of course totally unacceptable. Likewise, if a woman was not able to quiet her concupiscence before the fulfillment of the procreative act, it is unlawful for her (or her husband) to help herself afterwards. If husband and wife engage in unlawful activities such as masturbation or any other unnecessary act, they committed a mortal sin. Barren couples and people with defects or old age still fulfills the primary end of marriage through normal intercourse by wishing for children and by not being against conception if it should occur. Husband and wife are forbidden to indulge in unnecessary acts, e.g. to masturbate themselves or their spouse during the procreative act and in this way enhance their lust. Masturbation is as forbidden during the procreative act as it is at any other time for any person. To avoid falling into mortal sin, a couple need to learn to pray to God for relief in their concupiscence and lust. If you really want help from God, He will help you and remove the concupiscence and lust from you. It would also help very much to offer up penances to God like fasting and eating less tasty food in order to acquire this goal. These small penances coupled with spiritual reading and prayer will help a couple stem sinful inclinations as long as they stay out of mortal and venial sin.
It is of greatest importance that husband and wife are not influenced by the evil demonic teachings that is rampant in the secular world and even amongst those who call themselves "Catholic" or even traditional "Catholic". These people will tell you things such as: “That almost nothing is wrong in the marital act so long as the primary purpose of the act was achieved at some point. Whatever happens before, during or afterwards, was part of that act and therefore licit and permitted. This is clearly false, and have been refuted with Catholic Dogma (Pope Pius XI), and Catholic teaching condemning the idea that the marital act - performed for lust only - was without any fault or defect (quoted below). Anyone that therefore listens to or follows these demonic peoples teachings or agrees with them, will lose their souls, since they then reject the natural law God has imprinted on their hearts.
Various Errors on Moral Subjects, Condemned in a decree of the Holy Office, March 4, 1679: “THE ACT OF MARRIAGE EXERCISED FOR PLEASURE ONLY IS ENTIRELY FREE OF ALL FAULT AND VENIAL DEFECT.” (Denz. 1159) -Condemned by Pope Innocent XI.
The Demon of Lust
In Tobias, we can clearly see that there is a demon of lust, and that this demon hath power over certain individuals who come together for various reasons during the marital act: “Then the angel Raphael said to him [Tobias]: Hear me, and I will shew thee who they are, over whom the devil can prevail. For they who in such manner receive matrimony, as to shut out God from themselves, and from their mind, and to give themselves to their lust, as the horse and mule, which have not understanding, over them the devil hath power.” People who thus shut God out from themselves and their hearts, and who do things during, before or after the marital act which they normally wouldn't do if they really believed that God were present with them, over them the devil hath power. If concupiscence and lust is not controlled and in some sense fought against, it will almost always end in mortal sin, because all control is lost. “Go not after thy lusts, but turn away from thy own will.” (Ecclus. 18:30)
Many are handed over to the devil before, during, or after the marital act though, but this is only when they do more than what is necessary to complete the procreative act or if their only purpose is to satisfy their lust, or if they consent to thoughts that are sinful. For we can clearly see how persons that are living in deliberate venial sins are handed over to the devil in St. Bridget's Revelations:
Jesus speaking to St. Bridget:Moreover, know that just as all mortal sins are very serious, so too a venial sin is made mortal if a human being delights in it with the intention of persevering. … Therefore, know for very certain that as often as they daub their faces with antimony and other extraneous coloring [makeup], some of the infusion of the Holy Spirit is diminished in them and the devil draws nearer to them. In fact, as often as they adorn themselves in disorderly and indecent clothing and so deform their bodies, the adornment of their souls is diminished and the devil's power is increased.” (St. Bridget's Revelations, Book 7, Chapter 27).
Most couples who sin in the marriage act undoubtedly also fall for the sins of vanity, immodest clothing, and use of makeup condemned by Jesus Christ above, since these people really are lovers of the flesh, and not of God. However, in the above statement, we can clearly see how those people who commit deliberate venial sins, are in fact diminishing their love of God, and beauty of soul, and that these people in fact are handed over to the devil for their sins: “some of the infusion of the Holy Spirit is diminished in them and the devil draws nearer to them.” This is an important point to remember. For as often as a couple goes farther than what is licit or permitted (non-sinful) in the procreative act, they always commit a sin (at least venially), and will thus as a necessity be drawing closer to the devil (unless repentance is followed). Therefore, it is of great importance that you learn to control your lust. Risking eternal damnation for a momentary, deliberate venial or mortal pleasure or sin is not worth it, and is a horribly bad choice to make:
Jesus Christ speaking to St. Bridget: “Therefore, two holes will be opened in him. Through the first there will enter into him every punishment earned for his least sin up to his greatest, inasmuch as he exchanged his Creator for his own lust. Through the second there will enter into him every kind of pain and shame, and no divine consolation or charity will ever come to him, inasmuch as he loved himself rather than his Creator. His life will last forever and his punishment will last forever, for all the saints have turned away from him.' My bride, see how miserable those people will be who despise me and how great will be the pain they purchase at the price of so little pleasure!(St. Bridget's Revelations, Book 2, Chapter 9).
So, the more pleasure and sensual gratification a person seek to derive from the sexual act, the more will the devil's power over him be increased, and the more the sin is increased (with the intention of persevering), the more the devil's power over him is increasing also, until what was a venial and pardonable sin, becomes a mortal and damnable sin. Therefore, if you already understand that you live in deliberate venial sin with respect to sexual pleasure, you need to learn controlling your lust immediately, keeping it within the range of what is licit and permitted within a marriage, and not by going any further...
A couple then, when coming together, should not be concerned about the momentary pleasure they derive from the act, or be working on enhancing it in unusual ways, but should rather be focusing their mind on God and to love Him and please Him, by feeling close to Him. Consequently, if a couple wish to be perfect, they should pray to God to keep them from sinning during the act, and that they may produce offspring to the honor and glory of God, and that He might minimize the amount of pleasure they will feel during the act, so that they may not grow attached to it. God might grant this prayer to a couple if they so wish, but if they are not granted this gift (the begetting of children or the minimizing of pleasure), they should still be focusing their pleasure and love towards God, and not on themselves. God demands of us to not forget Him during the procreative act. People usually tend to forget about God when they have too much attention on themselves, or on their spouse, or the pleasure derived from different acts. We can read the following important points regarding this in the book of Tobias: “For they who in such manner receive matrimony, as to shut out God from themselves, and from their mind, and to give themselves to their lust, as the horse and mule, which have not understanding, over them the devil hath power.(Tobias 6:17). Notice the word “from their mind”, in the mind (or heart) are usually all our thoughts, and God wishes us to have Him there. The best thing then, and which God demands of you, is to think about Him and to love Him during the whole procreative act, and husband and wife should not be ashamed of doing so. Is not God better or more worthy of being desired or lusted after than your husband or wife will ever be? The more a person loves God, the more will that person desire to be close to God, during all times. One of the greatest mistakes many couples undoubtedly do during the procreative act, is that they strive to be close with their spouse rather than with God (who knows everything and sees everything), or that they rather think of pleasing their spouse more than pleasing God (who created them and redeemed them, yes even died for them).
Prayer before Marital Relations
Then Tobias exhorted the virgin, and said to her: Sara, arise, and let us pray to God today, and tomorrow, and the next day: because for these three nights we are joined to God: and when the third night is over, we will be in our own wedlock. For we are the children of saints, and we must not be joined together like heathens that know not God.” Tobias 8:4-5
Jesus tells us of the necessity of praying always (Lk 18:1). We are never to cease praying (1 Th 5:17). Thus, Christian married couples will always have marital relations in the context of prayer. Tobias prayer before relations with his wife is an example of this (Tb 8:4-8). In prayer, we express our weakness and God's power (2 Cor 12:9) to rectify sinful problems in marital relations.
Praying the Rosary before, during and after intercourse is highly recommended since it is the most powerful prayer ever given to mankind. Granted, it might be hard to pray during the act, at least in a worthy and proper manner, but spouses should do their best to at least acknowledge the presence of God Almighty and His Mother and loving them deeply during the act, by expressing loving words to God and His Blessed Mother, supplicating Them for their help to resist sinful inclinations. Husband and wife should not be ashamed of having recourse to the Blessed Virgin and Our Lord during intercourse. In contrast, what better thing can there possibly be for a couple then to always have God and the thought of loving God in their minds during all times?
The importance of Loving God during intercourse and at all times
We can read the following interesting points of the importance of loving and thinking about God during the procreative act in St. Bridget's Revelations:
The Mother of God speaks to St. Bridget about Her parents: “When an angel revealed to them that they would give birth to the Virgin from whom the salvation of the world would come, they would rather have died than to come together in carnal love; lust was dead in them. I assure you that when they did come together, it was because of divine love and because of the angel’s message, not out of carnal desire, but against their will and out of a holy love for God. In this way, my flesh was put together by their seed and through divine love.” (St. Bridget's Revelations, Book 1, Chapter 9).
Although you will not be spared from feeling lust or concupiscence as it happened to Anna and Joachim, this should in no way hinder you from loving and desiring God during the procreative act, and should be the primary purpose along with love of children for a couple, rather than desiring or lusting at your spouse. Most couples, however, choose to think about themselves or their spouse in an inordinate way and consequently to love themselves or their spouse during the procreative act. Anna and Joachim, however, clearly chose the best part by loving and thinking about God. If we think about God during the act, then our love will be directed towards Him, which is the best part. God's love never dies! So it's clearly a great mistake to seek love from a fleshly object that will rot and be eaten by worms, rather than seeking it from God, who lives and reigns forever and ever! Husband and wife should thus love their spouse, their own, and their children's souls, and not their bodies that will rot and be eaten by worms in the grave. This is an advice to those couples who wish to be perfect, as Anna and Joachim were perfect.
St. Jerome: "Do you imagine that we approve of any sexual intercourse except for the procreation of children? He who is too ardent a lover of his own wife is an adulterer [of his God]."
As we can see above, he who loves his wife too much, or in other words, he who loves his wife more than he loves God, is in fact an adulterer of his God. Tell me, dear reader, whom do you love during the act, God, or your spouse? Have the thought of God or that he is present ever even entered your mind during intercourse? Have this absence of God's presence in your thought also driven you into committing shameful sins by the inflaming of concupiscence in unlawful ways? Indeed, those couples who doesn't shut God out from themselves or their hearts during intercourse, will less likely fall into other sins during the act. For if it is God we love during intercourse, it is him we are seeking to please, and not ourselves or our spouse.
“He that loveth father or mother more than me [Jesus], is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:37)
It is also evident that the offspring of holy and devout parents will receive a great many graces and benefits because of the parents' holiness, and that according to many saints, lustful parents will effect their children, inflicting sinful impulses on the child. Every parent who love their children or their future children, should do their utmost to live in holiness, knowing that every act they will ever do, can have an effect on their children, for better or for worse. Only in Hell will bad parents understand how their acts effected their children, but then it is sadly too late.
“Sometimes I [Jesus] let evil parents give birth to good children, but more often, evil children are born of evil parents, since these children imitate the evil and unrighteous deeds of their parents as much as they are able and would imitate it even more if my patience allowed them. Such a married couple will never see my face unless they repent. For there is no sin so heavy or grave that penitence and repentance does not wash it away.” (St. Bridget's Revelations, Book 1, Chapter 26).
Love is necessary for Salvation
For a person to be Saved, he needs above all to love his God with all his mind, and with all his strength, and with all his heart. If any person fails to do this (in that he loves something more than God, whatever it may be or however small it may be), he will not be Saved. Therefore, it is of the greatest importance that people really start to do everything in their might and power to acquire and foster the love of God in their hearts, by loving God very deeply always and at all times, and by praying to God for help in loving Him worthily. If a person can have deep love for their husband or wife, or for their children, by having a desire for them constantly, then, likewise, should a person then have no problem in growing an even greater love and longing for God in his heart, if he only so wish and desires. We can read the following important words of loving and desiring God in context of marriage in the wonderful Revelations of St. Bridget of Sweden:
“For that reason, I [Jesus] wish to turn to the spiritual marriage, the kind that is appropriate for God to have with a chaste soul and chaste body. There are seven good things in it opposed to the evils mentioned above[1]: First, there is no desire for beauty of form or bodily beauty or lustful sights, but only for the sight and love of God. Second, there is no desire to possess anything else than what is needed to survive, and just the necessities with nothing in excess. Third, they avoid vain and frivolous talk. Fourth, they do not care about seeing friends or relatives, but I am their love and desire. Fifth, they desire to keep the humility inwardly in their conscience and outwardly in the way they dress. Sixth, they never have any will of leading lustful lives. Seventh, they beget sons and daughters for their God through their good behavior and good example and through the preaching of spiritual words.
“They preserve their faith undefiled when they stand outside the doors of my church where they give me their consent and I give them mine. They go up to my altar when they enjoy the spiritual delight of my Body and Blood in which delight they wish to be of one heart and one body and one will with me, and I, true God and man, mighty in heaven and on earth, shall be as the third with them and will fill their heart. The worldly spouses begin their marriage in lustful desires like brute beasts, and even worse than brute beasts! But these spiritual spouses begin in love and fear of God and do not bother to please anyone but me. The evil spirit fills and incites those in the worldly marriage to carnal lust where there is nothing but unclean stench, but those in the spiritual marriage are filled with my Spirit and inflamed with the fire of my love that will never fail them.” (St. Bridget's Revelations, Book 1, Chapter 26).
So, then, what are the seven evil fruits of a worldly marriage in comparison to the seven good fruits of the spiritual marriage mentioned above?
[1] “But people in this age are joined in marriage for seven [evil] reasons: First, because of facial beauty. Second, because of wealth. Third, because of the despicable pleasure and indecent joy they get out of their impure intercourse. Fourth, because of feasts with friends and uncontrolled gluttony. Fifth, because of vanity in clothing and eating, in joking and entertainment and games and other vanities. Sixth, for the sake of procreating children but not to raise them for the honor of God or good works but for worldly riches and honor. Seventh, they come together for the sake of lust and they are like brute beasts in their lustful desires.” (St. Bridget's Revelations, Book 1, Chapter 26).
Only ungodly couples, who would want to gratify their fleshly lust to the fullest during the act, without even once thinking about God, would want to shut God out from their hearts or their minds. God is always present for every action we will ever make. Let's get this concept imprinted on our minds.
“I am one God in three Persons, and one in Divinity with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Just as it is impossible for the Father to be separated from the Son and the Holy Spirit to be separated from them both, and as it is impossible for warmth to be separated from fire, so it is impossible for these spiritual spouses to be separated from me; I am always as the third with them. Once my body was ravaged and died in torments, but it will never more be hurt or die. Likewise, those who are incorporated into me with a true faith and a perfect will shall never die away from me; for wherever they stand or sit or walk, I am always as the third with them.” (St. Bridget's Revelations, Book 1, Chapter 26).
Jesus demands of us that we love Him even more than we love ourselves or our wife or our children:
He that loveth father or mother more than me [Jesus], is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:37)
but I alone was all their good and pleasure and perfect delight.” (St. Bridget's Revelations, on Adam and Eve before the fall – Book 1, Chapter 26).
The meaning of the passage above, wasn't that a couple couldn't delight or feel pleasure in/from God anymore, but rather that before the fall, God was the only delight and pleasure man ever felt and desired. After the fall, God had to compete with human concupiscence and fleshly lust. God is a jealous God, and he wants us to love and desire Him above everything else. So, to love God during all times, even during intercourse, is an advice to those couples who wish to be perfect, and for those couples who ardently longs and desires to be united with God through ecstatic love. Consequently, those people who choose to despise and disregard what's been covered here, seek then not to be united with the eternal, incorruptible God (who lives and reigns forever and ever), but with a fleshly worthless object (that will rot and be eaten by worms in a grave).
Relations during pregnancy should be avoided
Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii: “Nor are those considered as acting against nature who, in the married state, use their right in the proper manner, although on account of natural reasons either of time or of certain defects, new life cannot be brought forth. For in matrimony as well as in the use of matrimonial rights there are also secondary ends, such as mutual aid, the cultivation of mutual love, and the quieting of concupiscence which husband and wife are not forbidden to consider, so long as they are subordinated to the primary end and so long as the intrinsic nature of the act is preserved.”
The primary end of marriage is of course the procreation and education of Children:
Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii (# 17), Dec. 31, 1930: “The primary end of marriage is the procreation and the education of children.”
The only reason why relations during pregnancy is allowed is because to avoid a greater evil, such as adultery (in deed or thought), masturbation, or spouse rape. This is thus not something meritorious, but something that is allowed because of concupiscence and human weakness, and because many people cannot live chastely without otherwise falling into mortal sin. To St. Jerome, the marital act was not something good or praiseworthy, because it only acts as a relief valve to avoid a greater evil:
St. Jerome: "Thus it must be bad to touch a woman. If indulgences is nonetheless granted to the marital act, this is only to avoid something worse. But what value can be recognized in a good that is allowed only with a view of preventing something worse?"
The main difference between Natural Infertility due to old age, or due to defects, compared with the infertility during pregnancy, is that in the first two, if God so wills, He may open the womb of the infertile due to old age, or due to defects, as we can read happening many times in the Bible. But in the third case, when a wife is pregnant, she cannot become pregnant again - according to the natural order God has established - and that's really the main difference between the two. However, it's a fact that it was ordained in the Old Testament for couples to abstain from each other during pregnancy, and during the wife's monthly cycles (her menstrual period). St. Augustine even thought this law still applies to us today. The best option is of course to remain chaste during the wife's pregnancy, since there is no chance of her becoming pregnant again. Anne Catherine Emmerich had the following interesting points to say about marital relations during pregnancy:
“It was explained to me here that the Blessed Virgin was begotten by her parents in holy obedience and complete purity of heart, and that thereafter they lived together in continence in the greatest devoutness and fear of God. I was at the same time clearly instructed how immeasurably the holiness of children was encouraged by the purity, chastity, and continence of their parents and by their resistance to all unclean temptations; and how continence after conception preserves the fruit of the womb from many sinful impulses. In general, I was given an overflowing abundance of knowledge about the roots of deformity and sin.” (Anne Catherine Emmerich, Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary).
Many lustful people will not agree with what Anne Catherine Emmerich said above, and they may even be offended by it. This is so because these people want to deceive themselves into thinking there's nothing wrong at all about concupiscence (even though it's a known fact that it leads countless of souls to Hell). It's a fact that the sexual lusts and the sexual temptations that urges people into committing sins of the flesh, is an evil product from the fall. In other words, it was not originally intended to happen in this way according to God's original plan for mankind, but it ended up in that way because of Adam's and Eve's transgression. If a person is honest with himself, he will understand that this is true. However, most people want to deceive themselves and therefore choose to overlook this fact.
Another instance of the truth that marital relations during pregnancy is bad can be found in The Revelations of St. Bridget Book 9 or appendix. St. Bridget asks a man (her husband) that is now in purgatory about the specific reasons why he escaped eternal hell. This is the third reason why he escaped hell: “The third [reason] is that I obeyed my teacher who advised me to abstain from my wife’s bed when I understood that she was pregnant.”
Thus, it is totally clear that those who have marital relations during pregnancy are endangering their own and their child's spiritual welfare. However, the above passage was not a condemnation of relations during pregnancy, but it clearly indicates that there can be a danger spiritually in having relations during the time of a pregnancy.
The evil of concupiscence
St. Augustine goes so far as to call concupiscence evil and a disease (although not evil in the generative aspect). Yes, he even shares a point we have thought could be true, namely, that Original Sin is transmitted through Lust:
St. Augustine: “Wherefore the devil holds infants guilty [original sin] who are born, not of the good by which marriage is good, but of the evil of concupiscence, which, indeed, marriage uses aright, but at which even marriage has occasion to feel shame.” (On Marriage and Concupiscence Book 1, Chapter 27).
St. Augustine:This disease of concupiscence is what the apostle refers to, when, speaking to married believers, he says: 'This is the will of God, even your sanctification, that you should abstain from fornication: that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor; not in the disease of desire, even as the Gentiles which know not God.' (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5). The married believer, therefore, must not only not use another man's vessel, which is what they do who lust after others' wives; but he must know that even his own vessel is not to be possessed in the disease of carnal concupiscence.” (On Marriage and Concupiscence Book 1, Chapter 9).
Adultery, fornication and masturbation are examples of bad and damnable lust. Lust is also an evil in marriage and can easily turn into something damnable if husband and wife goes too far (as sadly happens with most couples today, even by those who call themselves Catholic). Just because it's licit to perform the marriage act for procreative purposes in marriage, does not make the lust caused thereof good or praiseworthy. St. Augustine explains this point further:
“Forasmuch, then, as the good of marriage could not be lost by the addition of this evil [lust]... Since, therefore, marriage effects some good even out of that evil, it has whereof to glory; but since the good cannot be effected without the evil, it has reason for feeling shame. The case may be illustrated by the example of a lame man. Suppose him to attain to some good object by limping after it, then, on the one hand, the attainment itself is not evil because of the evil of the man's lameness; nor, on the other hand, is the lameness good because of the goodness of the attainment. So, on the same principle, we ought not to condemn marriage because of the evil of lust; nor must we praise lust because of the good of marriage.” (On Marriage and Concupiscence Book 1, Chapter 8).
Sexual temptations during lawful procreative relations can also be a cause of sin since it may drive a husband and wife to go farther than what is necessary or licit, either during, before or after the marital act, and this, of course, is also a great evil. These temptations, as we have seen, does not turn into something good just because a person is married, for he is still tempted into committing sins. This is one of the very reasons that lust and sexual temptations are bad, also in marriage, for they are still defects, and are still occasions of sin and an evil product from the fall, a product from original sin.
Temptations are thus not something good, but are truly “unclean temptations” as described above by Anne Catherine Emmerich, and the “evil of concupiscence” or “this disease of concupiscence” as stated above by St. Augustine. If a person understands these concepts and agrees with them (that a couple's sensual behavior during their child's pregnancy could effect their child in a negative way, inflicting sinful impulses upon the child), will he understand and agree with what Anne Catherine Emmerich said above. The wisdom by Anne Catherine Emmerich is worth quoting again:
“It was explained to me here that the Blessed Virgin was begotten by her parents in holy obedience and complete purity of heart, and that thereafter they lived together in continence in the greatest devoutness and fear of God. I was at the same time clearly instructed how immeasurably the holiness of children was encouraged by the purity, chastity, and continence of their parents and by their resistance to all unclean temptations; and how continence after conception preserves the fruit of the womb from many sinful impulses. In general, I was given an overflowing abundance of knowledge about the roots of deformity and sin.” (Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary).
The sensuality that thus will be aroused during pregnancy, is a great evil that will be affecting both husband and wife, and their future child. Relations during pregnancy can also sometimes be dangerous to the child, and could lead to a premature birth. So however one looks at it, the best opinion is to practice abstinence. And if a person claims that he cannot do this, how then will he manage when either one of the spouses dies?
If spouses wishes to nurture virtue, and if there is a mutual consent for abstaining from marital relations, then both husband and wife can separate from each other any amount of time they decide, in order to cultivate virtue and evangelical perfection. We pray and beg that all may consider to do this from time to time. With all these facts in consideration, the most prudent thing is obviously to remain chaste during the whole duration of the pregnancy, in order to nurture virtue in yourself and your future children.
Finally, consider the words of Sacred Scripture on marriage and sexuality:
Hebrews 13:4 “May marriage be honorable in every way, and may the marriage bed be immaculate. For God will judge fornicators and adulterers.”
Ephesians 5:12 “For the things that are done by them in secret are shameful, even to mention.”

[Last Updated: December 8, 2012 - Statements against Natural Family Planning was removed.]
[Last Updated: December 10, 2012 - Statement against Vatican II was removed.]