Pregnancy as marital fulfilment

Below is the text of a letter to the Editor of Faith Magazine. Valeria Manca has just given birth to her tenth baby - mother and baby pictured here with permission (the picture was taken 40 minuts after the birth.) I have just heard from Fr Hugh MacKenzie, a friend of the family, that the first eight children are very excited with new addition (though the eldest, Matteo, at University in Rome, has only seen her via a webcam.) Cecilia, aged one and a half, is the only one a bit fazed, and trying to poke the new 'competitor' in the eye and ear.

(I've got to say that this photo makes me feel OLD. Mother of ten!!!)

Pregnancy as Marital Fulfillment

Dear Fr. Editor,

Thank you for a very interesting March-April issue.

As the mother of a fairly large family, I found in it a lot of inspiration and much needed comfort. We can associate with some of Fiorella Nash’s experiences of pregnancy in modern England. Also my husband and I are often at the centre of arguments on sexual morality, sometimes with family and friends, sometimes strangely enough with people we have only just been introduced to.

The fact that we have many children seems to be just excuse to inquire about our intimate life, like whether we know about contraception, or to assume we are fanatics, or to make a few jokes. Even though we should be used to it by now, we can’t always think of a simple answer that is both true and charitable. The truth can seem complex. But as your editorial brings out our world suffers from the complexities of being fallen.

Whilst we don’t particularly find fault in the lives of those we meet at the school gate or in the office corridor they often seem to find clever objections to our lifestyle. We are the ones who must justify ourselves. Imagine being asked detailed questions about your financial capacity whilst standing on the pavement kerb by a mother whose only link with you is the fact the her Johnny is in your class.

Here’s a few other questions we’ve fielded:

If contraception is usually wrong, is it always wrong. Thanks to Fr Dylan James for helping us with that one and other interesting issues.

Is the prophylactic use of condoms the same as the artificially contraceptive use? That one often comes up in relation to Aids and African countries. Luke Gormally’s gives a very clear if somewhat graphic answer.

Is holding back one’s fertility morally more wrong than holding back on other aspects of our loving, as nobody is perfect?

I also liked the introduction of the shorter articles (as my attention span is not what it used to be, blame it on the kids!).

I especially enjoyed Fr. Timothy Russ’s article on the finality of marriage. Sometimes the hardest question to answer at point blank range is how many children are we planning on having? To paraphrase Timothy Russ, “marriage is more than a matter of rational collaboration, it is the recognition that we are dealing with God’s plan, with something bigger than we first understand.”

Valeria Manca

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