A parable about abstention in the family

A young wife got pregnant shortly after she married. Because her husband had read that it was not recommended to make love with her during pregnancy for not giving to the baby certain passions, he went to the priest confessor to as for his blessing to live in abstention until his wife would have recovered after birth.

The priest said:

 `It’s good to think first of all at the benefit of your baby. I will pray for you so that God may give you strength to pass well over this period. It would be good if all husbands had your zeal when expecting a baby. Only in extreme situations when the lack of sex can lead to the break up of the couple there may be a certain kind of leniency. Anyway it won’t be easy for you. Pray more to God for not falling into temptation.

The nine months passed easily enough for both husbands. But after the woman gave birth to the baby the man suffered of loneliness. It seemed to him that his wife took care only of the child because she did not love him like before. What was the use of living in abstention if our love died?`

When he was facing that temptation a colleague from his office began to fancy him. At the beginning it seemed she only wanted offer him spiritual support but in the end she invited him to her house. On the way to her apartment the man met his confessor. He took him aside and asked him to stop and talk with him for a while.

`Father, I cannot bear anymore and I am going to have sex with this colleague because I am tired of so much loneliness. My wife has time only for the baby. I am for her like a stranger. I am tired of that and cannot bear it anymore. I know you don’t like what you hear but if we met now what would have been the use to find out about this during the fasting period when we would have come to confess.`

`I don’t know if you had come to confession. Look what– did your wife propose to you to live in abstention when she was pregnant?

`No, we both wanted this for the sake of the baby.`

`Now after a month from the birth not even the doctor would let her have sex with you. Her body is not recovered yet.`

`I haven’t even asked her for that after these  40 days from the birth.`

`But what do you think, that a woman recovers exactly in 40 days after a birth ?` Don’t you understand what she suffered?`

His colleague from the office made him understand that the time was passing away. But he pretended not to understand.

`I do, but I don’t mean anything for her anymore. She only takes care of the baby.`

`But isn’t this your baby too? Why did she make him, not because she loves you?` There are so many women today who avoid making children. So if she gave you this baby how do you reward her? Let her recover and see if she shows you the same love as before. I advised her that during this period of lactation to live in abstention for the sake of the baby because I knew what you were suffering. Tell her that after I read for her the prayer of purification at 40 days after the birth she should get closer to you if she doesn’t feel too weak physically. And this only as a leniency for your weakness. It is not good when abstention leads to separation. It is not its meaning.

The husband talking with the father had forgotten why he was there. When he finished the talk he saw his colleague opening the gate of the house where he lived. But he could not give her any explanations. He ran to the church. He felt as if a mist would have vanished from his mind. Before going home he got in to pray. While praying the priest entered the church too.

`Father, can you receive me for confession ? I was on the verge of falling into sin. Is it possible to confess now when it is not a period of fasting?`

`Of course confession must be made anytime when the man received sinful thoughts in his heart. Because if he doesn’t confess his thoughts become deeds. Or if he sinned and he doesn’t confess his fall would become a habit and its chains would bind him tightly. After confession the man went home completely changed. He realized that he behaved in a wrong way with his wife.

Excerpt from Danion Vasile, the Patericon of the Laymen, Parables for the 21st century , p.39-40.