I recently read another, earlier encyclical by Pope Paul VI that has the same cautionary tone that HV does--Mysterium Fidei, "On the Holy Eucharist," issued right after Vatican II and in the midst of the great liturgical enthusiasm that was sweeping the Church that had just received the Council's Sacrosanctum Conciliim, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. Paul VI warns against three trends in the theology and pastoral practice of the Church in 1965
- the tendency to replace the doctrine of Transubstantiation with a doctrine that relies exclusively on the symbolic nature of the sacrament, thus diminishing the sense of the radical nature of the reality of Christ's presence in the Eucharist,
- the rejection of the value of private Masses, thus diminishing the sense of the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist, and
- the tendency to jettison completely and disparage worship of the Blessed Sacrament outside of the Mass.
Polls, of course, show the effect of these trends have had on the faith of the believer in the doctrine of the Real Presence and of the sacrifician nature of the Mass.
It is telling that in the introduction of MF, Pope Paul VI twice mentions the spousal nature of the Church's relationship with Christ, thus linking these two encyclicals. The first mention is in the very first sentence, indicating perhaps the importance of the connection. “The Mystery of Faith, that is the ineffable gifts of the Eucharist which she has received from Christ her spouse as a pledge of his boundless love” (MF 1).
I think a fair reading of the Theology of the Body will show the basis for a link between a waning faith in the Eucharist and a waning adherence to the Church's teahcing on contraception. A strong sense of the spousal nature of the Church's relationship to Christ is the binding analogy. It is sad, for instance, that so many women's religious communities have lost the sense that their first vocation is as bride of Christ. It is also sad that we so often call the Church "it" rather than "she."