Humanae Vitae is online at the Vatican site, and the text highlighted below is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Another section with common sense and insight, and that goes beyond what passes for common knowledge these days and back in 1968:
9. In the light of these facts the characteristic features and exigencies of married love are clearly indicated, and it is of the highest importance to evaluate them exactly. This love is above all fully human, a compound of sense and spirit. It is not, then, merely a question of natural instinct or emotional drive.
Love is a choice. Especially in marriage, but even among relationships outside of a married couple, love involves commitment, sacrifice, and most especially, human will. Will is something that goes beyond heart and head. It is something much deeper. When our head tells us we’re crazy and our heart complains of dryness or indifference, it is the will that sustains our love for another.
It is also, and above all, an act of the free will, whose trust is such that it is meant not only to survive the joys and sorrows of daily life, but also to grow, so that husband and wife become in a way one heart and one soul, and together attain their human fulfillment. It is a love which is total—that very special form of personal friendship in which husband and wife generously share everything, allowing no unreasonable exceptions and not thinking solely of their own convenience. Whoever really loves (a) partner loves not only for what (she or) he receives, but loves that partner for the partner’s own sake, content to be able to enrich the other with the gift of (self).
This is well-spoken–could have come from a married person.
Married love is also faithful and exclusive of all other, and this until death. This is how husband and wife understood it on the day on which, fully aware of what they were doing, they freely vowed themselves to one another in marriage. Though this fidelity of husband and wife sometimes presents difficulties, no one has the right to assert that it is impossible; it is, on the contrary, always honorable and meritorious. The example of countless married couples proves not only that fidelity is in accord with the nature of marriage, but also that it is the source of profound and enduring happiness.
This is true. But married couples would likely all attest that it takes more than platitudes and confidence from celibate clergy to maintain fidelity and commitment in times of great difficulty. Marriages last far longer than they did in medieval times, and even a century or two ago. When I see twenty- and thirty-year marriages fall apart, some of the blame has to lie with a certain cockiness on the part of observers.
Finally, this love is fecund. It is not confined wholly to the loving interchange of husband and wife; it also contrives to go beyond this to bring new life into being. “Marriage and conjugal love are by their nature ordained toward the procreation and education of children. Children are really the supreme gift of marriage and contribute in the highest degree to their parents’ welfare.” (Gaudium et Spes 50)
This is true, but it gives an incomplete picture of the fecundity of marriage. And I’m not just hinting at adoption, foster parenting, being grandparents, or mentors of young people. Generativity in marriage is not limited to biology. Indeed, one might suggest that there’s a higher calling for human beings, given how we are made as a species. And for believers, there’s certainly a life-giving and nurturing responsibility beyond producing bodies and educating them. Faith formation certainly must sit among marital responsibilities, with nothing likely more important. Any comments?