Courtesy of Ave Maria Press. All rights reserved. Courtesy of Ave Maria Press. All rights reserved.

"Love always gives life," said Pope Francis in Amoris Laetitia's chapter on the fruitfulness of married love (no. 165). That's why one of the Four Keys to Everlasting Love is life-giving fruitfulness, as we explain in our book on Catholic marriage of the same name.

The first key to everlasting love is staying faithful through forgiveness. The second key is serving freely through wise stewardship. And the third key is physical and spiritual fruitfulness.  As part of an exclusive series on CatholicMom, following is the introduction to Part III of The Four Keys to Everlasting Love on a married couple's call to fruitfulness.

Called to Be Fruitful:

Physical and Spiritual Fertility as Signs of God's Infinite Love

The third key to everlasting married love is fruitfulness. In the beginning of time, “God blessed man and woman with the words: ‘Be fruitful and multiply’” (CCC, 1652 quoting Gn 1:28). Our sexuality and our fertility are great gifts from our Creator, and the children who are produced or welcomed into the circle of your love are the crown of your marriage.

Modernity isn’t sure whether children are a blessing or a burden. They were always considered a great sign of God’s favor in the Old Testament. In a quintessentially Mediterranean image of richness and abundance, the Psalms rejoice that “your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table” (128:3).

Today’s reality is more complicated. In a nonagricultural society, children are sometimes thought of more as a burden than a blessing. Fertility can feel like a cross, but infertility can feel like one, too. Through advocating methods of Natural Family Planning, the Church proposes solutions for those struggling with fertility and infertility alike. And through insisting that children with special needs are blessings, too, the Church extends her loving arms around parents who have welcomed special-needs children into their families.

Of course, fertility is more than just biological. It has a spiritual component as well. When Jesus said in John 15:5 that those who live in him will “bear much fruit,” he was referring to a harvest of souls, good works, and eternal reward. A married couple’s love for one another cannot remain closed in on itself. It is meant to be generously shared with others—whether biological children, adopted children, foster children, stepchildren, or even anyone seeking friendship and spiritual advice. Every person we counsel, encourage, or inspire by our visible dedication to the other brings us one step closer to a better world (CCC, 1653, 2379).


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Excerpt reprinted from The Four Keys to Everlasting Love with permission from Ave Maria Press.

Image courtesy of Ave Maria Press.