In his homily at Tuesday morning Mass, Pope Francis reflected on the blessing of fertility and the dangers of going down the path of self-imposed barrenness as some modern nations have done.

The Pope reminded his congregation in the chapel at his Saint Marta residence in the Vatican that the very first commandment God gives to man is to “be fruitful and multiply.” Fruitfulness in the Bible is always a blessing, he continued, because “where there is God, there is fruitfulness.”

In the ancient world, sterility was seen as a curse and fecundity as a blessing, Francis noted. And yet some countries today “have chosen the path of sterility and suffer from that grave disease that is a demographic winter.”

A Christian’s life must always be a fruitful and his heart always open “to receive and give life,” Francis said.

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