GENERAL AUDIENCE OF WEDNESDAY, 10 OCTOBER 
On Wednesday morning, 10 October, in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy
Father continued his series of reflections on conjugal spirituality,
drawing from Scripture and Tradition. Following is our translation of
the Holy Father's address.
1. We are continuing to outline the spirituality of married life in the
light of the Encyclical Humanae Vitae.
According to the doctrine contained there, in conformity with
biblical sources and all Tradition, love from the subjective viewpoint
is a power, that is, a capacity of the human soul, of a theological
nature. It is therefore the power given to man in order to
participate in that love with which God himself loves in the mystery
of creation and redemption. It is that love which "rejoices with the
truth" (1 Cor 13:6). In it, the spiritual joy (Augustine's "enjoyment")
of every authentic value is expressed. It is a joy like that of the
Creator himself, who in the beginning saw that everything "was very
good" (Gn 1:31).
If the powers of concupiscence try to detach the language
of the body from the truth, that is, they try to falsify it, the
power of love instead strengthens it ever anew in that truth, so
that the mystery of the redemption of the body can bear fruit in it.
The fullness of good
2. Love itself, which makes possible and brings about that conjugal
dialogue, is had according to the full truth of the life of the spouses,
is at the same time a power or a capacity of a moral nature,
actively oriented toward the fullness of good and for this reason toward
every true good. And therefore its role consists in safeguarding the
inseparable connection between the "two meanings of the conjugal act,"
which the encyclical deals with (HV 12). That is, it concerns protecting
both the value of the true union of the couple (that is, the personal
communion) and the value of responsible fatherhood and motherhood (in
the form that is mature and worthy of man).
3. According to traditional language, love, as a higher power,
coordinates the actions of the persons, the husband and the wife, in
the sphere of the purposes of marriage. Although in dealing with the
question neither the conciliar constitution nor the encyclical use the
language at one time customary, they nonetheless deal with what the
traditional expressions refer to.
As a higher power that the man and the woman receive from God along with
the particular "consecration" of the sacrament of marriage, love
involves a correct coordination of the purposes, according to
the traditional teaching of the Church—there
is constituted the moral (or rather "theological and
moral") order of the life of the couple.
The doctrine of the Constitution Gaudium et Spes, as well as that
of the Encyclical Humanae Vitae, clarifies the same moral order
in reference to love. Love is understood as a higher power that confers
adequate content and value to conjugal acts according to the
truth of the two meanings, the unitive and the procreative, with
respect for their inseparability.
In this renewed formulation the traditional teaching on the purposes of
marriage (and their hierarchy) is reaffirmed and at the same time
deepened from the viewpoint of the interior life of the spouses, that
is, of conjugal and family spirituality.
4. The role of love, which is "poured out into (the) hearts" (Rom 5:5)
of the spouses as the fundamental spiritual power of their conjugal
we said—in protecting both the value of the true communion of the
spouses and the value of truly responsible fatherhood and motherhood.
The power of love—authentic
in the theological and ethical sense—is
expressed in this, that love correctly unites the two meanings of the
conjugal act, excluding not only in theory but above all in practice
the contradiction that might be evidenced in this field. This
contradiction is the most frequent reason for objecting to the
Encyclical Humanae Vitae and the teaching of the Church. There
must be a well-examined analysis, not only theological but also
anthropological (we have tried to do this in the whole present
reflection), to show that there is no need here to speak of
contradiction, but only of difficulty. Well then, the encyclical itself
stresses this difficulty in various passages.
And this arises from the fact that the power of love is implanted in
man lured by concupiscence: in human subjects love does battle with
the threefold concupiscence (cf. 1 Jn 2:16), especially with the
concupiscence of the flesh which distorts the truth of the language of
the body. Therefore love too is not able to be realized in the truth of
the language of the body except through overcoming concupiscence.
Linked with chastity
5. If the key element of the spirituality of spouses and parents—that
essential power which spouses must continually draw from the sacramental
love, this love, as it is seen from the text of the encyclical (cf. HV
20), is by its nature linked with the chastity that is manifested as
mastery over oneself, that is, continence, in particular, as periodic
continence. In biblical language, the author of Ephesians seems to
allude to this when in his classic text he exhorts spouses to "defer to
one another out of reverence for Christ" (Eph 5:21).
We can say that the Encyclical Humanae Vitae constitutes
precisely the development of this biblical truth about conjugal and
family Christian spirituality. Nonetheless, to make it more manifest,
there needs to be a deeper analysis of the virtue of continence
and of its special significance for the truth of the mutual language of
the body in married life and (indirectly) in the whole sphere of mutual
relationships between man and woman.
We will take up this analysis during the upcoming Wednesday