I was pointed today to this recent publication by Italian newspaper Il Messaggero of a hitherto-unknown-outside-of-Poland writing by the future John Paul II. It has not, as of yet, been translated into English, so I figured I’d parlay my talents for the benefit of the English-speaking Church and do the work.
Please note that this is a translation of a translation; I neither speak Polish nor have I seen the Polish original. Let this suffice, then, as a temporary measure. I will be translating the entire article to which I have access, which isn’t terribly long, including the introduction provided by the paper.
The introduction of Karol Wojtyla, Archibishop of Krakow, which we publish below, dating to the same day as Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae, not only reveals the similarity in thought [lit. “sentire,” feeling] of these two great pastors of the Catholic Church, but is of extraordinary relevance. In the conviction of the future Polish pope that Christian marriage can be realized only in the experience of an extraordinary society, there is a prophetic preoccupation with the crisis of values that confronts the destiny of Western civilization and its models. The Rule of the Pope is addressed not to spouses as individuals, but as couples, that couples must come together in groups dedicated to the reworking of the models of conjugal and familial living, to discover and to live it’s profound spiritual significance. Mature with the pastoral experience [lit. “la cura d’anime,” the care of souls] of a pastor and bishop, Wojtyla’s Rule projects upon the tormented horizon of the secularized and multireligious society of the third millennium the original image of Christianity, that marriage and family tends to affirm a transcendtal dimension of the interior life of humanity.
- Francesco Paolo Casavola
The Rule of Marriage and Family, by Karol Wojtyla
The present Rule arises from a series of pastoral experiences with several couples and, at the same time, on the basis of the marital experiences of these same couples. This was born at the same time as the release of the encyclical Humanae Vitae, which proposes again to couples and their pastors the evangelical needs of an authentic Christian marriage. The couples’ group that adopts this rule could take, consequently, the name “Human life.”
The Rule is addressed to married couples in their wholeness, and not simply to individual spouses. It is important, in fact, that this is adopted and realized by both spouses, and not by the husband or wife without the commitment of their respective partner.
In principle, this Rule teaches the spouses only about life according to the norms of Christian morality which derive from the order of the Commandments; it does not, conversely, oblige one to life according to the evangelical counsels as strictly intended. In the strictest sense, actually, the relation of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience can only give themselves to those people called to the religious life. However, the experience of conjugal life demonstrates that the observance of the moral rules announced by the Church is not possible without a certain degree of asceticism; married couples belonging to Humanae Vitae groups should, then, reflect on how to put into practice the spirit of these evangelical counsels.
The specific purpose of Humanae Vitae groups is to continue to instruct towards the aforementioned spiritual attitude, so that the integral teaching of the Lord Christ with regards to marriage and the family, announced by the Church, can fulfull in their marriage with a flood of understanding and with full love. This is to form an appropriate spirituality — that is, an interior life — that permets the configuration of familial and conjugal life in the Christian mode. Such spirituality cannot exist in a definitive form, under the model of religious communities, but needs constant reevaluation and reworking.
The reworking of this spirituality is another important task of these groups. In the middle of this re-enginerring is placed into practice, on the part of individual couples, of the spiritual attitude mentioned above.
The second specific purpose of these Humanae Vitae groups is the apostleship. In this role, though, we do not come to determine precise forms. Nevertheless, married couples that take part in these groups commit themselves to apostleship and, overall, to constant prayer on behalf of other married couples and for the fundamental issues of matrimony and of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world. The form of these different models of apostleship and prayer mentioned above will be elaborated progressively. [I had much difficulty with this last sentence due to some ambiguity in the word “suddetta,” here translated “mentioned above.]
This leaves the same couples the decision to undertake and realize these tasks delineated through a particular promise.