Monday, June 19, 2017

About not putting trust in dreams

I remember a while ago a traditional layman creating a blog (now deactivated) about his dreams in which he described his dreams of the night to his readers; and this person not only put much attention to his dreams, but even prayed to God that he may remember his dreams; and this person also testified that after this prayer, he remembered even more of his dreams, and he acted as if this was something good that happened to him rather than perhaps[*] something bad and spiritually distracting (the majority of the few dreams I read was just random happenings as dreams usually use to be, and hence made no real sense, and also seemed to have no real spiritual benefit; and whereas some had religious elements, it really did not say or teach anything special).

My thought at first was of making him aware of the below revelation from Jesus Christ concerning on how one should act concerning one's dreams, and about the inherent danger a person is exposed to by thinking too much, or putting too much trust in one's dreams, but I never took the time to do so. Now I am writing a short post about it instead.

I also think that instead of praying to God of remembering one's dreams[**], one should pray to God rather to not think of one's dreams or even not remembering them at all; 
and also that if one have to dream this night, one will dream only such dreams as are beneficial for our own or our neighbor's spiritual profitand we should especially remember to ask that we be spared from dreaming sinful, sensual and/or pornographic/fornicating dreams this night! I think the two latter points are especially important to ask of God every night, in addition to ask for the protection of the Holy Spirit in one's sleep.[***] By praying thus everyday, our bad dreams should be lessened dramatically.

[*]Does God really answer such a prayer of remembering more, or even all of our dreams that (in ordinary cases) seems highly spiritually disadvantaged to the person asking for it to be granted (since our dreams often are so nonsensical, impossible to discern the meaning of, and even lustful, in addition to being a complete waste of time to try to remember and write down)? I would say no; unless of course there is some hidden advantage in granting (or permitting) it known only to God. God can and often draws good out of evil or a lesser good, and that is also the reason for why He allows (or permits) evil to exist. -- It is also a possibility our own mind may start to remembering more of our dreams once we have been inclined to wanting or willing to remember them. But I might be wrong on this. -- The devil may also play a part in this, especially if we are inclined to look for signs or "truths" in our dreams or if we put too much attention to them, as we will see further down of how the devil can fool people with dreams.

[**]If God really gives a person a dream intendent to instruct (such as to Saint John Bosco and his frequent Dreams of Hell and Spiritual States of his Pupils), I believe it will be remembered, since such dreams often stand out and is taken note of immediately upon awakening. I am not saying it is wrong to moderately think about our dreams or considering them (without putting too much confidence, time and effort in them, of course) when they may have some spiritual meaning or purpose, but rather that if a person puts too much attention on his dreams: he is disposing himself to be deceived by the devil and to become distracted in his spiritual life; as explained further below by Jesus Christ in the Church approved heavenly revelation of St. Bridget.

[***]It is also highly important to pray The Three Hail Mary's every day/night with the added prayer of being protected by the Most Holy Virgin during the day/night from falling into mortal sin, a practise recommended by many saints. See this article below on how to pray this short but important prayer:

Jesus Christ's words to the bride about not putting trust in dreams but, rather, being wary of them, no matter how happy or sad they are, and about how the devil mixes falsehoods with truth in dreams, because of which many errors occur in the world, and about how the prophets did not err, because they truly loved God above all things.

Book 4, Chapter 38

The Son speaks: ”Why do happy dreams lift you up so much? And why do sad dreams depress you so? Did I not tell you that the devil is envious and can accomplish no more without God's permission than a piece of straw beneath your feet? I also told you that he is the father and inventor of lies and that he mixes some truth in with all his falsehoods. I tell you, accordingly, that the devil never sleeps but goes around looking for an occasion to ensnare you.

You must therefore be careful so that the devil does not deceive you, using his subtle knowledge to discover your inner states by means of your outer movements. Sometimes he induces happy moods into your heart to make you feel empty joy; at other times he gives you sad ones to make you omit in your sorrow the good deeds that you could do and to make you sad and wretched before anything sad has occurred.

Sometimes the devil also puts a great many falsehoods into the kind of deluded heart that desires worldly esteem and so deceives many people, such as false prophets. This happens to people who love other things more than God. This is why it happens that a lot of truth is found in the midst of a great many false words, for the devil could never deceive anyone if he did not mix some truth in with the falsehood, as was clear in the case of the man you saw in a seizure. Although he was confessing that there is one God, his indecent gestures and strange words showed that the devil was possessing him and dwelling in him.

Now, however, you might ask: Why do I permit the devil to lie? I answer: I have permitted and do permit this due to the sins of the people and of the priests who have wanted to know things that God did not want them to know, who desired success in areas where God saw that it was not beneficial to their salvation. Thus, it is because of sins that God permits many things to occur that would not occur if humankind had not abused grace and reason. Those prophets who longed for nothing but God and did not wish to speak God's words except for God's sake, these did not fall victims to deception but spoke and loved the words of truth.

Yet, as not all dreams should be welcomed, so not all dreams should be rejected, since God sometimes reveals good things in dreams, including the hour of their death to bad people in order that they might repent of their sins.

Sometimes he also reveals good things to good people in order that they might make greater progress toward God. So, whenever and as often as such things occur to you, do not lay them to heart but ponder them and study them with your wise spiritual friends, or else dismiss them and shut them out of your heart as if you had not seen them, because people who delight in such things are very often fooled and become disturbed. So, be firm in your faith in the Holy Trinity, love God with your whole heart, be obedient in failure as well as in success, do not think yourself better than anyone but tremble even when you do good, do not trust your own sense more than others but entrust your entire will to God, ready to do everything God wants. Then you will not need to be afraid of dreams. If they are happy dreams, do not trust or desire them without considering God's glory in them; if they are sad, do not be saddened but place yourself entirely in God's hands.”

The Mother says then: ”I am the Mother of mercy. I get the clothes ready for my daughter while she sleeps; I get food ready for my daughter while she gets dressed; I get a crown and every good reward ready for my daughter while she is working.”

Read more: The Prophecies and Revelations of St. Bridget of Sweden

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Q&A: Is it sinful to have marital relations during pregnancy? Yes, according to the saints and fathers of the Church

Question: Is it sinful to have marital relations during the pregnancy of the wife?

Answer: Many have thought that Pope Pius XI’s encyclical Casti Connubii teaches that one may lawfully have marital relations during the wife’s pregnancy, but Casti Connubii is highly ambiguous and it is very hard to understand whether it teaches that one may lawfully have marital relations after the woman have become pregnant. Casti Connubii teaches that spouses can perform the marital act during those times when “new life cannot be brought forth”, and this is interpreted by some to give permission for spouses to perform the marital act during a woman’s pregnancy, but the Pope then goes on to state that this action is only lawful “so long as they are subordinated to the primary end [that is, Procreation of children]” and so, this last sentence seem to teach that one may not perform the marital act during the pregnancy of the woman, since the primary end and motive of procreation is already fulfilled.

There is no official and dogmatic Papal Church teaching, as far as we know, that directly teaches that marital relations during a pregnancy is a sin, but that does not mean that it is not a sin, and especially so since the Popes, Fathers, Saints, and Doctors of the Church throughout the ages opposed marital relations without the intent to procreate. This thus seems to be the Catholic Tradition from the beginning.

In contrast to the lack of quotations from the Popes, Fathers and Saints of the Church that allows spouses to perform the marital act during pregnancy, there are, however, many quotations that address this question directly from the Fathers and early writers of the Church that rejects this act. The Holy Fathers and Church Tradition (in all the quotes we’ve found on the subject) unanimously teach that sexual activity during the infertile period of pregnancy as well as menstruation must be avoided at all times since it is unnatural and unreasonable to sow one’s seed when one “awaits the harvest.”

Athenagoras the Athenian (c. 175 A.D.): “After throwing the seed into the ground, the farmer awaits the harvest. He does not sow more seed on top of it. Likewise, to us the procreation of children is the limit of our indulgence in appetite.” (A Plea For the Christians, Chapter XXXIII.--Chastity of the Christians with Respect to Marriage)

Nature itself tells us through our inborn instinct that it is unreasonable and unnatural to sow a seed in the same place where a seed is already growing.

In reference to the same issue, St. Clement of Alexandria (c. 195 A.D.) writes: “To…a spiritual man, after conception, his wife is as a sister and is treated as if of the same father.” (The Stromata or Miscellanies, Book VI, Chapter XII) St. Clement also pointed out that in all the Jewish scriptures there was not a single instance in which “one of the ancients approached a pregnant woman” and taught that the avoidance of sexual relations from the time one’s wife became pregnant to the time of the child’s weaning was “a law of nature given by God.” (St. Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata or Miscellanies, Book III, Chapter XI, Section 71, 72)

St. Augustine, in his book On The Good of Marriage (A.D. 401), likewise agreed with the Church’s tradition that performing the marital act during pregnancy is unreasonable and unnatural since “necessary sexual intercourse for begetting [of children] is free from blame, and itself is alone worthy of marriage. But that which goes beyond this necessity [of begetting children] no longer follows reason but lust…” (Section 11) He also taught that marital relations during pregnancy “are the sins of the married persons themselves, not the fault of marriage.”

St. Augustine, On the Good of Marriage, Section 5, A.D. 401: “There also are men incontinent to such a degree that they do not spare their wives even when pregnant. Therefore, whatever immodest, shameful, and sordid acts the married commit with each other are the sins of the married persons themselves, not the fault of marriage.”

In his book Against Julian, St. Augustine shows us that conjugal chastity: combats [carnal concupiscence] in even more valiant fashion in regard to the act of conjugal union, lest there be indulgence beyond what suffices for generating offspring. Such chastity abstains during menstruation and pregnancy, nor has it union with one no longer able to conceive on account of age. And the desire for union does not prevail, but ceases when there is no prospect of generation.” (St. Augustine, Against Julian, Book III, Chapter 21:43) Thus the conception of children is “the one alone worthy fruit… of the sexual intercourse.” (St. Augustine, On the Good of Marriage, Section 1) No other aspect of the marital act can be described as “worthy.” Therefore, when a husband engages in marital relations during those times when his wife is pregnant, nursing, or menstruating, the husband or the wife or both are seen as seeking the unworthy fruit of sexual pleasure.

Two activities recommended by some NFP teachers are having sex during menstruation and during pregnancy, both of which the earliest extant Church Canons, the Apostolic Constitutions (c. 375 A.D.), specifically reject: “When the natural purgations do appear in the wives, let not their husbands approach them, out of regard to the children to be begotten; for the law has forbidden it, for it says: "Thou shalt not come near thy wife when she is in her separation." [Lev. xviii. 19; Ezek. xviii. 6.] Nor, indeed, let them frequent their wives’ company when they are with child. For they do this not for the begetting of children, but for the sake of pleasure. Now a lover of God ought not to be a lover of pleasure.” (The Sacred Writings of Apostolic Teaching and Constitutions, Book V, Chap. XXVIII)

St. Caesarius of Arles (c. 468-542) tells us that marital relations during a woman’s menstruation can result in that “the children who are then conceived… be born as lepers, or epileptics, or perhaps even demoniacs”, thus showing us that it is a great necessity to abstain from marital relations during these times in order to not injure our children. He also adds that married people who perform the marital act during a woman’s pregnancy are worse than beasts.

St. Caesarius of Arles, Sermon 44:7: “Above all, no one should know his wife when Sunday or other feasts come around. Similar precautions should be taken as often as women menstruate, for the Prophet says: ‘Do not come near to a menstruous woman.’ [Ezech. 18:6] If a man is aware that his wife is in this condition but refuses to control himself on a Sunday or feast, the children who are then conceived will be born as lepers, or epileptics, or perhaps even demoniacs [that is, he means that it is common that this happens for such unrestrained and lustful spouses]. Lepers are commonly born, not of wise men who observe chastity on feasts and other days, but especially of farmers who do not know how to control themselves. Truly, brethren, if animals without intellect do not touch each other except at a fixed and proper time, how much more should men who have been created according to God’s image observe this? What is worse, there are some dissolute or drunken men who sometimes do not even spare their wives when they are pregnant. Therefore, if they do not amend their lives, we are to consider them worse than animals. Such men the Apostle addresses when he says: ‘Every one of you learn how to possess his vessel in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who have no hope.’ [1 Thess. 4:4-5]”

St. Ambrose (c. 340-397) could rightly declare that it is shameful to continue to have sexual relations after pregnancy, and that those people who do this act “contaminate the former [the child] and exasperate [anger] the latter [God]”: “Youths generally assert the desire of having children and think to excuse the heat of their age by the desire for generation. How much more shameful for the old to do what is shameful for the young to confess. For even the young who temper their hearts to prudence by divine fear, generally renounce the works of youth when progeny [offspring] have been received. And is this remarkable for man, if beasts mutely speak a zeal for generating, not a desire for copulating? Indeed, once they know the womb is filled, and the seed received by the generative soil, they no longer indulge in intercourse or the wantonness of love, but they take up parental care. Yet men spare neither the embryo nor God. They contaminate the former and exasperate the latter. "Before I formed you in the womb," He says, "I knew you and sanctified you in your mother’s womb." [Jer. 1:5] To control your impatience, note the hands of your Author forming a man in the womb. He is at work, and you stain with lust the secret of the sacred womb? Imitate the beast or fear God. Why do I speak of beasts? The land itself often rests from the work of generating, and if it is often filled with the seeds thrown by the impatient eagerness of men, it repays the shamelessness of the farmer and changes fertility to sterility. So even in the elements and the beasts it is a shame to nature not to cease from generating.” (St. Ambrose, Archbishop of Milan, Exposition of the Gospel According to St. Luke 1:43-45)

St. Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata or Miscellanies, Book III, Chapter XI, Section 71, 72, On Marriage and Procreation (c. 198-203 A.D.): “Right from the beginning the law, as we have already said, lays down the command, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife,” [Ex. 20:17] long before the Lord’s closely similar utterance in the New Testament, where the same idea is expressed in his own mouth: “You have heard that the law commanded, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery.’ But I say, ‘Thou shalt not lust.’” [Matt. 5:27-28] That the law intended husbands to cohabit with their wives with self-control and only for the purpose of begetting children is evident… For this reason you could not point to any place in Scripture where one of the ancients approached a pregnant woman; later, after the child is born and weaned, you might find that marriage relations of husbands and wives were resumed. You will find that Moses’ father kept this principle in mind. After Aaron’s birth three years passed before Moses was born. [Ex. 7:7] Again, the tribe of Levi observed this law of nature given by God, although they were fewer in number than any others which came into the promised land. [Num. 3:39] For a tribe does not easily grow to great numbers if their men have intercourse only within the legal marriage relationship and then wait until the end not only of pregnancy but also of breast-feeding.”

St. Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata or Miscellanies, Book II, Chapter XXIII, On Marriage and Procreation (c. 198-203 A.D.): “Far more excellent, in my opinion, than the seeds of wheat and barley that are sown at appropriate seasons, is man that is sown, for whom all things grow; and those seeds temperate husbandmen ever sow. Every foul and polluting practice must therefore be purged away from marriage; that the intercourse of the irrational animals may not be cast in our teeth, as more accordant with nature than human conjunction in procreation. Some of these, it must be granted, desist at the time in which they are directed, leaving creation to the working of Providence.”

Origen (c. 184-254), Homilies on Genesis, Homily V, Section 4, On Lot And His Daughters: “Let the married women examine themselves and seek if they approach their husbands for this reason alone [for having children], that they might receive children, and after conception desist. For those [virtuous] women... when they have attained conception, [rightly] do not later assent to copulation with a man. But some women, for we do not censure all equally, but there are some who serve passion incessantly, like animals without any distinction, whom I would not even compare to the dumb beasts. For even the beasts themselves know, when they have conceived, not to further grant opportunity to their males. The divine Scriptures also censures such when it says: "Do not become like the [sterile] horse and the mule who have no understanding," [Ps. 31:9] and again, "They have become stallions." [Jer. 5:8] But, O people of God, "who love Christ in incorruption," [Eph. 6:24] understand the word of the Apostle in which he says: "Whether you eat or drink or whatever else you do, do all to the glory of God." [1 Cor. 10:31] For his remark after eating and drinking, "whatever else you do," has designated with a modest word the immodest affairs of marriage, showing that even these acts themselves are performed to the glory of God if they are attended to with a view to posterity [offspring] alone.”

“In fact, a good Christian should not only observe chastity for a few days before he communicates, [that is, before he receives the Holy Eucharist] but he should never know his wife except from the desire for children. A man takes a wife for the procreation of children, not for the sake of lust. Even the marriage rite mentions this: ‘For the procreation of children,’ it says. Notice that it does not say for the sake of lust, but ‘for the procreation of children.’ I would like to know, dearly beloved, what kind of a harvest a man could gather if he sowed his field in one year as often as he is overcome by dissipation and abuses his wife without any desire for children. If those who are unwilling to control themselves plowed and sowed repeatedly their land which was already sown, let us see in what kind of fruit they would rejoice. As you well know, no land can produce proper fruit if it is sown frequently in one year. Why, then, does a man do with his body what he does not want done with his field?” (St. Caesarius of Arles, Sermon 44:3)

God desires all couples to have some abstinence from the marital act sometimes during the year, as St. Paul tells us, so that their prayer life and spiritual growth can happen without them at every time being weighed down by the mass of carnal thoughts and temptations.

St. Finnian of Clonard (470-549), The Penitential of Finnian, #46: “We advise and exhort that there be continence in marriage, since marriage without continence is not lawful, but sin, and [marriage] is permitted by the authority of God not for lust but for the sake of children, as it is written, ‘And the two shall be in one flesh,’ that is, in unity of the flesh for the generation of children, not for the lustful concupiscence of the flesh. Married people, then, must mutually abstain during three forty-day periods in each single year, by consent for a time, that they may be able to have time for prayer for the salvation of their souls; and after the wife has conceived he shall not have intercourse with her until she has borne her child, and they shall come together again for this purpose, as saith the Apostle. But if they shall fulfill this instruction, then they are worthy of the body of Christ… and there they shall receive the thirty-fold fruit which as the Savior relates in the Gospel, he has also plucked for married people.” (Medieval Handbooks of Penance by John T. McNeil and Helen Gamer. New York: Columbia University Press, 1938)

Thus, the teaching of the Church Fathers is very clear that all sexual relations during pregnancy are to be avoided. “The procreation of children is the remit and ordinance of those who are joined together in marriage; and their objective is that their children be good.... See how Moses in his great wisdom symbolically rejected sowing one’s seed fruitlessly, saying "You shall not eat the leopard or the hyena" [Deut. 14:7]. He did not want human beings to share their character or to experience lust of the same magnitude as theirs, for it is said that these animals suffer from a mad frenzy to have sexual intercourse.... It is lawful for you to take sensual pleasures only from your wife in order to beget legitimate offspring, for only these pleasures are lawful according to the Word.... For this reason, Moses himself prohibited his people from sleeping even with their own wives in cases where they were subject to menstrual flows.... For pleasure alone, when experienced in marital intercourse, is unlawful, unjust and foreign to reason. Again, Moses ordered men not to sleep with pregnant women until they gave birth...” (St Clement of Alexandria, The Paedagogus, c. 198 A.D.)

It is bad to touch a woman during pregnancy since it gives the child in the womb “many sinful impulses” according to Anne Catherine Emmerich

In the revelation of Anne Catherine Emmerich, entitled the “Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary”, we read the following interesting points 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, II. The Immaculate Conception)

Despite this, many lustful people will not agree with what Anne Catherine Emmerich had to say here, and some may even be offended by it. The reason for this is because these people and others want to deceive themselves into thinking that there is nothing wrong about lust or concupiscence. Yes, they even claim this even though they know and are fully aware of that lust leads countless of souls to Hell and eternal damnation. However, whether or not they want to agree with it or not, it’s just a fact that the sexual lusts and temptations that urges people to commit sins of the flesh is an evil product of the fall, and of original sin. In other words, humans were not originally intended to experience concupiscence and temptations of the flesh according to God’s perfect plan for humanity, but it ended up in that way because of Adam 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.

In summary, the definition or meaning of the revelation of Anne Catherine Emmerich is that lust is evil and that a couple’s marital relations during pregnancy will effect the child in a negative way, inflicting many sinful impulses upon the child. Anne Catherine Emmerich is clear that “continence after conception preserves the fruit of the womb from many sinful impulses.” The sensuality and sinful impulses that will be aroused by many spouses’ sexual relations during pregnancy is thus a great evil that will affect both husband and wife, and their future child, in a negative way. Parents are inextricably bound together to their children after the conception of the child according to the book of Tobit in the Holy Bible, and any act the parent will do, whether good or evil, will effect their child for better or for worse. Why is it that some children are tempted more to commit sin than others? It is in almost every case, because of the parents’ lustfulness or sins. Because of this, parents should to do all in their power to abstain from marital relations during all pregnancies.

The biblical Book of Tobit also teaches that the virtue and abstinence of the parents will effect whether their children will be born whole or with defects of different kinds. Thus, we read that “the third night [of praying and observing chastity before having sexual relations] thou shalt obtain a blessing that sound children may be born of you.” The blessing on the third night of “sound children” obviously means that those couples who do not perform the marital act for the sake of lust or too often, and who are virtuous and wait for three days in accordance with the promise of Holy Scripture, will receive a child without birth deformities or defects. This may be hard for many to believe, but this is really and truly what Holy Scripture is promising and saying.

Tobias 6:18, 20-22 “[St. Raphael said to Tobias:] But thou when thou shalt take her, go into the chamber, and for three days keep thyself continent from her, and give thyself to nothing else but to prayers with her. … But the second night thou shalt be admitted into the society of the holy Patriarchs. And the third night thou shalt obtain a blessing that sound children may be born of you. And when the third night is past, [of praying and observing chastity] thou shalt take the virgin with the fear of the Lord, moved rather for love of children than for lust, that in the seed of Abraham thou mayst obtain a blessing in children.”

It is sad to see that none today seem to care anything about these promises or virtuous deeds that promise these remarkable and wondrous graces that Our Lord said he would bless a virtuous couple with. One could think that even a worldly or ungodly couple would appreciate the grace of not receiving a child that is deformed and that they, if they believed in God or were aware of these promises, would act in accordance to the words of the Holy Scripture; but now neither “Catholics” or so-called Christians nor any people of the world care anything about these words of our Lord that promises the inestimable grace of receiving “a blessing that sound children may be born of you.”

St. Bridget was also revealed the truth of the spiritual danger of having marital relations during pregnancy in a spiritual revelation. In it she saw a man that was tormented in purgatory. St. Bridget was allowed to communicate with this tormented soul. She asked the man about the specific reasons why he escaped Eternal Hell. He answered saying: “The third [reason I escaped being eternally condemned to burn in Hell] is that I obeyed my teacher who advised me to abstain from my wife’s bed when I understood that she was pregnant.” (The Revelations of St. Bridget, Book 9 or Appendix)

In truth, Sister Anne Catherine Emmerich’s Revelations of what Our Lord preached during his earthly life also shows us that He “rigorously commanded perfect continence after the period of conception.” “Jesus once more spoke to them of the duties of the married state. . . . He inculcated the observance of modesty and purity, bade them in all their actions to aim at purity of intention, exhorted them to prayer and renunciation, and rigorously commanded perfect continence after the period of conception (Volume Three, pp. 515–516).” “Jesus then explained to them that they who enjoy [themselves] on earth have to render an account hereafter, and that this life is one of penance (Volume Three, p. 540).” (The Life of Jesus Christ and Biblical Revelations of Anne Catherine Emmerich)

In addition to the above facts, it is also evident that many spouses may be more inclined to commit some form or another of sexual sin during this time period and that they might put too much heart or affection in the sexual act at this time due to the fact that conception cannot occur again, and so they might indulge a little too often or unreasonably and love the act a little too much, and more than what is suitable. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luke 12:34) “Men shall be… lovers of pleasure more than of God.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

Thus, it is totally clear that those who are having marital relations during pregnancy, and who do not practice virtue, are endangering their own and their child’s spiritual welfare. During pregnancy, the primary purpose of procreation that the Church teaches that spouses always must perform the marital act for is not possible to be fulfilled and thus, it is a defective action to have marital relations during this time. We see this distinction being made in the Church’s teachings in these words: “Since, therefore, the conjugal act is destined primarily by nature for the begetting of children” (Pope Pius XI Casti Connubii, #54).

Marital relations during pregnancy can also sometimes be dangerous to the child and lead to a premature birth or a stillborn child. Many times there also exist a high risk for preterm labor or a medical condition, such as infection, or any other valid reason that makes it absolutely necessary to abstain from the marital act. If the doctor has said that it can cause further complications to the pregnancy – or if there is any risk to engage in marital intercourse during this time period – it is a mortal sin to deliberately engage in marital intercourse at this time. And the husband has no right to ask for the debt during this period. No masturbation, oral sex or other sinful acts are allowed as a substitute during this time period either.

The fact of the matter is that you endanger your child’s well-being by having sex during pregnancy, and that is a fact of science. Dr. Desouza comments concerning this issue and makes clear the many dangers with having sex during the pregnancy of the woman: “Just remember, sex may trigger labour. You wouldn’t want a miscarriage or a premature delivery, would you? Avoid sex if you are pregnant [and] 1. have had episodes of previous miscarriages 2. have experienced difficulty conceiving 3. have had episodes of lower pelvic/back pain and spotting/bleeding during your first trimester 4. you are told by your obstetrician that you are at high risk of premature labour. There are many reasons that put you on a high risk of premature labour. Carrying more than 1 baby (e.g. twins, triplets), previous infections (especially HPV infections), smoking during pregnancy and having had previous premature births are some of the reasons to name a few.”

It is no coincidence that there are complications to pregnancy by having sex during pregnancy, for God speaks to us commonly through signs and effects in this world, and one of His greatest ways to get heard in this world is to inflict some suffering on us, as He does when He allows illnesses, plagues, or wars to harm us, similar to how a parent chastises his disobedient son.

Doctors usually recommend some abstinence after labor, usually four to six weeks before resuming intercourse. This allows time for the woman to heal after birth. Total abstinence, if needed, is required during this time period according to the doctor’s recommendation.

The Old Testament also confirms that Our Lord wants spouses to practice chastity for a while after the birth of the child.

Leviticus 12:1-5 “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: ‘Speak to the children of Israel, and thou shalt say to them: If a woman having received seed shall bear a man child, she shall be unclean seven days, according to the days of the separation of her flowers. And on the eighth day the infant shall be circumcised: But she shall remain three and thirty days in the blood of her purification. She shall touch no holy thing, neither shall she enter into the sanctuary, until the days of her purification be fulfilled. But if she shall bear a maid child, she shall be unclean two weeks, according to the custom of her monthly courses, and she shall remain in the blood of her purification sixty-six days.’”

Since the Old Testament teaches that a person who becomes defiled cannot touch other people during the time that they are unclean, this shows us that God wants the spouses to abstain from the marital act for a while after they have received the child.

One must really marvel over how the members of the Christian Church, (who should be more virtuous than the people of the Jewish Old Testament religion) have fallen into this degraded and filthy custom of having marital relations during a woman’s pregnancy or menstrual period. The Old Law was only a shell and a sign of the future things in the New Law, and even the Old Law forbade marital relations on many more occasions than the New Law does. The reason of why the Old Law forbade things that now are not sinful is because in the New Law, Our Lord wants us to do many good things, not because we are forced to do it, but only because we know that they are good in themselves, which is a more virtuous and meritorious act. Christian spouses should obviously act and live more virtuously and holy than those people in the Old Law did, since all Christians have received more graces and knowledge of Our Lord than those in the Old Law, and it is really a blemish on the Christian community that this is not happening. The amount of graces that are lost because of these filthy and unnecessary acts of lustful spouses is, sad to say, immeasurable and inestimable. “Men shall be… lovers of pleasure more than of God.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

It must also be made perfectly clear that natural infertility during pregnancy on the part of the woman is not a reward for the spouses to have “great sex” because they were “good” in fulfilling the marital duty (the procreation and education of children), as so many people today nowadays actually (and falsely) seem to believe.

It is reasonable to conclude that if women were not infertile during pregnancy, many bad husbands would be endangering the life of their wives by exposing them to too many childbirths at too short time intervals. Consequently, if women were not infertile during pregnancy, many more mortal sins would be committed by married and unmarried men since they then would be inclined to seek relief of their fleshly lusts in other ways or by other women, so as not to endanger the life of their own wife or mistresses.

Indeed, to St. Jerome and the rest of the Saints and Fathers of the Church, the indulgences granted to the marital act was not something good or praiseworthy because it only acts as a relief valve to avoid a greater evil: “Thus it must be bad to touch a woman. [1 Cor. 7:1] If indulgences is nonetheless granted to the marital act, this is only to avoid something worse. [1 Cor. 7:6] But what value can be recognized in a good that is allowed only with a view of preventing something worse?” (St. Jerome)

St. Clement of Alexandria (c. 198 A.D.): “Marriage in itself merits esteem and the highest approval, for the Lord wished men to "be fruitful and multiply." [Gen. 1:28] He did not tell them, however, to act like libertines, nor did He intend them to surrender themselves to pleasure as though born only to indulge in sexual relations. Let the Educator (Christ) put us to shame with the word of Ezekiel: "Put away your fornications." [Eze. 43:9] Why, even unreasoning beasts know enough not to mate at certain times. To indulge in intercourse without intending children is to outrage nature, whom we should take as our instructor.” (The Paedagogus or The Instructor, Book II, Chapter X.--On the Procreation and Education of Children)

Thus, in conclusion, we see that spouses should avoid all sexual acts during pregnancy since:

1. The passions of the mother and father are passed on to the embryo.
2. These passions disrupt in utero the child’s spiritual or physical development, or affect it in negative ways.
3. These passions are sinful according to the Fathers and Saints, and should be avoided.
4. Intercourse during pregnancy is, consequently, a form of sinful passion.
5. Therefore, one should refrain from intercourse during pregnancy for the sake of the child’s spiritual and physical development.

This shows us that because of the points 1-5, marital intercourse should be limited as much as possible, as not only sex during pregnancy effects one’s child detrimentally, but also one’s own lustfulness after the birth. This is, in fact, what is taught by the Fathers and the Saints, as well as many historical church authorities.

For those who want to read and learn a lot more on sexual ethics, I can recommend the following interesting and informative article that is absolutely packed with quotes from the popes, saints and fathers of the Church:

Sexual Pleasure, the Various Sexual Acts, and Procreation

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Q&A: Is it sinful to have marital relations during menstruation? Yes, according to the saints and fathers of the Church

Question: Is it sinful to have marital relations during the menstruation of a wife?

Answer: The question of whether marital relations during menstruation is sinful or not is hard to answer since ambiguous statements by Pope Pius XI’s encyclical Casti Connubii are interpreted by some to mean that it is allowed. Pope Pius XI explains that a husband and wife may use their marital rights in the proper manner, although on account of natural reasons, new life cannot be brought forth, but his teaching does not define whether it is speaking about the menstruation of the woman or some other sickness or defect of the woman, like the monthly infertility of women.

Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii (# 59), Dec. 31, 1930: “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 [that is, Procreation of children] and so long as the intrinsic nature of the act is preserved.”

This teaching does not directly address the question of whether it is allowed or not to perform the marital act during the menstruation period of the woman, and so there is some measure of uncertainty whether the Church allows this filthy act to be performed since the Old Testament of the Bible, as well as the Popes, Fathers, Saints and Doctors of the Church throughout the ages, condemned or opposed marital relations during this time period.

Pope St. Gregory the Great, in his “Epistle To Augustine, Bishop of the Angli [English]” (c. 597 A.D.) writes that all women: “are forbidden to have intercourse with their husbands while held of their accustomed sicknesses [menses]; so much so that the sacred law smites with death any man who shall go into a woman having her sickness [Leviticus 20:18].” (Epistles of St. Gregory the Great, Book XI, Letter 64, To Augustine, Bishop of the Angli)

As mentioned, it was forbidden and a capital offense (that is, it was an act that was punished by death and execution) for spouses to have marital relations during the wife’s infertile monthly cycle during the Old Covenant era. This clearly shows us that God does not want spouses to perform the marital act during this time.

Leviticus 20:18 “If any man lie with a woman in her flowers, and uncover her nakedness, and she open the fountain of her blood, both shall be destroyed out of the midst of their people.”

We read in the Old Testament that God had forbidden even the married to perform the marital act by separating the wife from her husband during the infertile monthly menstrual cycle of the woman. Leviticus 15:19: “The woman, who at the return of the month, hath her issue of blood, shall be separated seven days.” Haydock Commentary explains: “Days, not only out of the camp, but from the company of men.” As soon as a woman shows signs of infertility, intercourse would cease. “Thou shalt not approach to a woman having her flowers: neither shalt thou uncover her nakedness” (Leviticus 18:19). Haydock Commentary adds: “Saint Augustine believes that this law is still in force. [On Leviticus 20:18] This intemperance was by a positive law declared a mortal offence of the Jews.”

This wondrous law from God not only diminished the time a couple could have marital relations, but it also prohibited the women from the company of men, and this certainly includes her husband. What was God’s reason for separating the woman from her man you might ask? In truth, God who knows more about human weaknesses and sins than all of humanity combined ordained this so that the temptation to violate His laws and have marital relations during this period would not happen. For most temptations work like this: as long as you take away the source of the temptation, it will always be easier to control.

Ezechiel 18:5-6,9 “And if a man be just, and do judgment and justice, And hath not eaten upon the mountains [that is, of the sacrifices there offered to idols], nor lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel: and hath not defiled his neighbour’s wife, nor come near to a menstruous woman... he is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord God.”

Another reason why God made this wondrous law was so that a couple would have marital relations less frequently, which in turn would help them get stronger in resisting and conquering sexual temptations of different kinds. For as we have seen already, those who indulge in the marital act too often commits a sin of gluttony of sorts and will fall more easily into other sins since they do not order their actions in accordance with right reason, but in accordance with their unmortified and sensual desires like animals or brute beasts.

The first Pope of the Christian Church, St. Peter, is recorded by the fourth Pope, St. Clement of Rome, to have said this concerning having sex during menstruation: “There is truly a certain peculiar observance of our religion, which is not so much imposed upon men, as it is sought out by every worshipper of God by reason of its purity. By reason of chastity, I say, of which there are many kinds, but first, that every one be careful that he “come not near a menstruous woman;” [Ezechiel 18] for this the law of God regards as detestable. But though the law had given no admonition concerning these things, should we willingly, like beetles, roll ourselves in filth? For we ought to have something more than the animals, as reasonable men, and capable of heavenly senses, whose chief study it ought to be to guard the conscience from every defilement of the heart. … But there is this further reason why chastity should be observed by those who hold the true worship of God, in those forms of it of which we have spoken, and others of like sort, that it is observed strictly even among those who are still held by the devil in error, for even among them there is in some degree the observance of chastity. What then? Will you not observe, now that you are reformed, what you observed when you were in error?” (Recognitions of Clement, Chapters 10-12)

Again, Pope St. Clement of Rome makes clear in one of his Homilies that it is evil to have sex during menstruation: “But who is there to whom it is not manifest that it is better not to have intercourse with a woman in her separation, but purified and washed. And also after copulation it is proper to wash. But if you grudge to do this, recall to mind how you followed after the parts of purity when you served senseless idols; and be ashamed that now, when it is necessary to attain, I say not more, but to attain the one and whole of purity, you are more slothful. Consider, therefore, Him who made you, and you will understand who He is that casts upon you this sluggishness with respect to purity.” (Homily 11, Chapter 30)

St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) also did not believe that it was lawful, and taught very clearly in his Summa Theologica that it is a sin to knowingly demand the marital debt when a woman is menstruating. He also compared demanding the debt on such occasions with the case of a madman being dangerous to other people, both bodily and spiritually (Summa Theologica, Suppl., Q. 64, Art. 4, Objection 3).

St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Supplement, Q. 64, Art. 3: “Whether it is allowable for a menstruous wife to ask for the marriage debt? On the contrary, "Thou shalt not approach to a woman having her flowers" (Leviticus 18:19) where Augustine observes: "Although he has already sufficiently forbidden this he repeats the prohibition here lest he seem to have spoken figuratively." Further, "All our justices" are become "as the rag of a menstruous woman" (Isaiah 64:6) where Jerome observes: "Men ought then to keep away from their wives [at this time]… so that those parents who are not ashamed to come together in sexual intercourse have their sin made obvious to all": and thus the same conclusion follows.
“I answer that, It was forbidden in the Law to approach to a menstruous woman, for two reasons both on account of her uncleanness, and on account of the [spiritual and bodily] harm that frequently resulted to the offspring from such intercourse. With regard to the first reason, it was a ceremonial precept, but with regard to the second it was a moral precept. For since marriage is chiefly directed to the good of the offspring, all use of marriage which is intended for the good of the offspring is in order. Consequently this precept is binding even in the New Law on account of the second reason, although not on account of the first. Now, the menstrual issue may be natural or unnatural. The natural issue is that to which women are subject at stated periods when they are in good health; and it is unnatural when they suffer from an issue of blood through some disorder resulting from sickness. Accordingly if the menstrual flow be unnatural it is not forbidden in the New Law to approach to a menstruous woman both on account of her infirmity since a woman in that state cannot conceive, and because an issue of this kind is lasting and continuous, so that the husband would have to abstain for always. When however the woman is subject to a natural issue of the menstruum, she can conceive; moreover, the said issue lasts only a short time, wherefore it is forbidden to approach to her. In like manner a woman is forbidden to ask for the debt during the period of that issue.”

Even pagans understands that it is a filthy act to have sex during the menstruation period. The Roman naturalist Pliny (d. 79 A.D.) condemned sexual intercourse with a menstruating woman because any children conceived during menstruation were sickly, afflicted with purulent blood serum, or stillborn (Historia naturalis, 7, 15, 87).

Dr. DeSouza comments on having sex during menstruation: “Sounds gross, yes, but there some who practice it. I’ve come across people who ask how safe sex is during menstruation. It is still a controversial issue. For one thing we are sure about is that it never fails to make you frown upon hearing it. The good and bad of period sex are yet to be discovered. However, a number of theories suggest that the practice more of a disadvantage rather than an advantage. … Naturally during menstruation, the veins of the uterus are congested and are prone to rupture easily. Vaginal walls swell as well during menstruation. This explains the dull pain in the vagina during menses and is 100% normal. Having intercourse during your period can increase the chances of irritation to the swelled up walls. The advantages of endorphins at this point mask the danger of period sex where irritation of the vaginal walls and introduction to infection are major risks. Any wound or bleeding is a fine gateway to infection. The cervix is slightly opened during menstruation to let out blood. This heightens the risk of infection, not being limited only to the vagina, but additionally to the uterus. The penetration of the penis into the vagina during menstruation is no more than the introduction to germs at a time when the body is unable to fight them (studies have shown that immunity is decreased during menstruation). Orgasm results in rhythmic uterine contraction. During menstruation, this helps shed blood faster and shorten your periods. A similar reaction happens when a menstruating woman lifts up heavy loads or does strenuous exercises. This explains why most athletes experience amenorrhoea (missed periods). Sex during the menses also increases risk of HIV infection. Obviously, period sex can be really, really messy and unhygienic. This fact by itself drops the interest of both parties about the idea of having sex during menstruation. So, is period sex good or bad? Well, momentary pleasure versus risky health – you be the judge.”

The fact that science have confirmed that it is very unlikely for conception to happen during menstruation just proves the point even more. It is not a coincidence that science has even shown that sex during menstruation is harmful for the physical health, for in many cases, behavior that is condemned by God will be both physically and spiritually harmful, as God uses the physical sign and illness to indicate his displeasure, just like we can see happened to the Jews of the Old Testament, who endured different plagues because of their sins.

The Holy Bible and the Saints also teach that a couple's virtue and chastity will effect whether their child will be born whole or with defects of different kinds, and this shows us that filthy practices such as having sex during menstruation or pregnancy should be avoided. Thus, we read that “the third night [of praying and observing chastity before having sexual relations] thou shalt obtain a blessing that sound children may be born of you.” (Tobias 6:20) The blessing on the third night of “sound children” obviously means that those couples who do not perform the marital act for the sake of lust or too often, and who are virtuous and wait for three days in accordance with the promise of Holy Scripture, will receive a child without birth deformities or defects. This may be hard for many to believe, but this is really and truly what Holy Scripture is promising and saying.

In the teaching of such Fathers of the Church as St. Clement of Alexandria, Saint Jerome (c. 400) and Origen (c. 200), children conceived during menstruation were born handicapped. Saint Jerome writes, “If a man has intercourse with his wife at this time, leprous hydrocephalic children are born of this conception, and the effect of the tainted blood is such that the contaminated bodies of both sexes become either too small or too large” (Commentary on Ezekiel, 18, 6). “He that has intercourse with his wife during her period”, warned Archbishop Saint Caesarius of Arles (d. 542), “will father children that are leprous, epileptic, or possessed by the Devil”. Abbot Regino of PrĂ¼m (d. 915) and Bishop Burchard of Worms (d. 1025) laid it down that priests in the confessional should question penitents on the subject of intercourse during menstruation.

Great theologians of the thirteenth century such as Sts. Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas and Duns Scotus condemned intercourse with a menstruating woman as a mortal sin because of its detrimental effect on children. Berthold of Ratisbon, “A Franciscan of the monastery of that city and the most powerful preacher of repentance in the thirteenth century”, made this abundantly clear: “As for the children that are conceived at such times, you will delight in none of them, for they will be either possessed by the Devil, or leprous, or epileptic, or hunchbacked, or blind, or malformed, or feeble-minded, or club-headed… Even if you have been absent for four weeks, nay more, for two years, beware of desiring her...”

As to whether menstruating women should be permitted to receive Communion, this was disputed by some until well into the Middle Ages even though the Catholic Church has always allowed it. Patriarch Dionysus of Alexandria (d. 265), a pupil of Origen, declared that “it was unnecessary even to pose the question of permissibility for it would never occur to pious, devout women to touch the sacred Communion table or the Lord’s body and blood” (Epistolae can. 2, PG10, 1281A). Cardinal Humbert, the papal legate who formally consummated the Great Schism between the Catholic Church and the Eastern “Orthodox” sect at Constantinople in 1054, reproached the Greek Church for discriminating against women in this respect. Theodore of Balsamon (d. 1195), a Greek “Orthodox” canonist and “patriarch of Antioch”, supported the practice of discrimination, as did Cyril III, the Coptic “patriarch of Alexandria” (d. 1243). The Maronites did not abolish it until 1596.

The Catholic Church adopted a milder stance. Although Pope St. Gregory the Great (590-604) did not forbid menstruating women to enter churches and receive Communion, he regarded menstruation as the consequence of original sin. Thus, women should not be “prohibited during these same days from receiving the mystery of holy communion. … The menstrous habit in women is no sin, seeing that it occurs naturally; yet that nature itself has been so vitiated as to seem polluted even without human volition” (Letter in reply to Bishop Augustine of England, 10th answer).

Women should receive Holy Communion as often as possible, and defects such as menstruation should not hinder them from communing with Our Lord. Our Lord’s intention of why he declared a woman unclean who was menstruating in the Old Testament Bible, is that he wished spouses to have a period each month to be pure and chaste in order to be better able to pray and commune with Our Lord. It was not intended as a sign to make the woman avoid Communion, since menstruation is not an act as such, but only a defect that happens involuntary. In contrast, the Church condemns all spouses who do not practice chastity before receiving Communion, for this is an actual act, and not a defect. “The dignity of so great a Sacrament [of the Eucharist] also demands that married persons abstain from the marriage debt for some days previous to Communion.” That is also why chastityis particularly to be observed for at least three days before Communion, and oftener during the solemn fast of Lent.” (The Catechism of the Council of Trent)

The tenth-century Anglo-Saxon Scriftboc Penitential (less properly also called Confessionale Pseudo-Egberti) states: “Whichever freeman has intercourse with his wife during the menstrual period is to fast forty days. And whoever drinks a man’s blood or his seed is to fast for five years. … A man is not allowed to have intercourse with his wife forty days before Easter, nor seven days before Pentecost nor forty days before Midyear (Christmas). … If he fornicates with her in the month before birth he must fast for 40 days.”

We will also see many more quotations from the early Church concerning the traditional teaching against sexual relations during menstruation in the next post about sex during pregnancy.

For those who want to read and learn a lot more on sexual ethics, I can recommend the following interesting and informative article that is absolutely packed with quotes from the popes, saints and fathers of the Church:

Sexual Pleasure, the Various Sexual Acts, and Procreation