It’s a big week and I have a lot to share with you!
Today is the 48th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, the encyclical written by Pope Paul VI that reinforced the Church’s teachings on marital love (sex!), responsible parenthood (more on that later), and the continued rejection of contraception and abortion (more on those too!).
It’s also the start of NFP Week — Natural Family Planning Awareness Week!
And tomorrow is the Feast Day of Sts. Anne & Joachim.
Below are some of the best resources for you to check out throughout this week — and please share ’em too! Some of these teachings — the ones on marital love, responsible parenthood and contraception — are some of the most ignored of our Church.
And I believe that’s because of misunderstanding and miscommunication, not simply because people truly don’t agree with these teachings.
So we must become witnesses of the truth.
And bearers of the light.
And there is light here – there’s a lot of light!
“Married love particularly reveals its true nature and nobility when we realize that it takes its origin from God, who “is love,” (6) the Father “from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.” (Humanae Vitae)
And yes, there’s some darkness too, because love cannot be built without sacrifice and self-denial. St. John Paul II said so 😉 And those things can hurt. So we should talk about the hurt too — these growing pains of dying to ourselves and becoming more selfless like Jesus.
“We have no wish at all to pass over in silence the difficulties, at times very great, which beset the lives of Christian married couples. For them, as indeed for every one of us, “the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life.” (33) Nevertheless it is precisely the hope of that life which, like a brightly burning torch, lights up their journey, as, strong in spirit, they strive to live “sober, upright and godly lives in this world,” (34) knowing for sure that “the form of this world is passing away.” (Humanae Vitae)
We should be talking about it all, actually.
So here’s where to get started:
These reasons go beyond our Church’s teachings, but they encompass those as well.
“We Natural Family Planning promoters must avoid a better-than-thou air of haughtiness. A certain sense of pride is understandable, given our minority status and the kind of dedication it requires to practice it. NFP is, however, only a tool to space births, not the marital end game. A merciful attitude towards Catholics who struggle to keep this teaching, instead of an us-and-them approach, would serve all lay Catholics well.” (Maura Wiering, Catholic Review)
Estrogen-Progesterone Oral Contraceptives are on the list of the American Cancer Society’s known carcinogens — substances that are known to cause cancer in humans. They’re on the list with tobacco, UV tanning beds, asbestos (you know how dangerous that is, right?), and many others. These pills do cause cancer in humans. Oral contraceptives are linked to pre-menopausal breast cancer… (read more)
A really beautiful story of how one couple became open to life later in their marriage & reversed a vasectomy.
“NFP also taught me to relinquish control (or better said, recognize I didn’t have it to begin with) through honoring the mystery of the human body. Based on the Theology of the Body teachings by Pope John Paul II, NFP advocates a profound respect for the human body as the outward manifestation of the human person… I agree with the core premise that there is something sacred about our bodies’ design and function, not to be meddled with lightly…” (read more)
“NFP… takes a lot of guts. Dealing with any life or death issue takes guts, but being “open to life” is not as easy as it sounds. Teetering on the edge of “to bring or not new life into the world” crashes directly into all our priorities and goals in life. NFP is scary because you are not as “in control” as with contraception. A little mistake and oops, you have a baby. Big deal. It takes a world view completely different to that of our current western mind-set to deal with this teetering on the edge. The Catholic worldview works well with this method, in which God is almighty and totally in control. We should trust Him with our lives instead of failing at trying to control them because He truly knows best. It works well with a “natural/ecological” worldview in which the body is beautiful and it isn’t necessary to pump it with hormones or plastic. It works well with worldviews of other cultures, in which a baby is a blessing and not a limit to your freedom or your lifestyle…” (read more)
Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Creative and Communicative, and Emotional. These are all aspects of our sexuality, and learning about SPICE was all about learning how to express and share our sexuality, as spouses, with one another — which is especially useful at times when we couldn’t be together — during a time when we would have to abstain from being together (think: postpartum, while trying to avoid pregnancy, while trying to conceive but your hormones aren’t right yet, etc.). There are plenty of times throughout a marriage when the spouses are called to practice chastity, and during those times, it can be difficult to still connect and communicate the love that you normally would. Learning SPICE, and practicing SPICE, is supposed to help fill in those gaps… (read more)
I’ve seen the joke that NFP is one of the Church’s best-kept secrets, because it’s something that so few members of the Church actually know about. That is such a shame! I recently asked a group of people I know where they first heard about NFP. For some, it was in covered (more like skimmed over!) their marriage prep., for others, they knew about it from their friends — or in rare cases, someone in their family. For very few of them, they had heard about it from their priest or in a homily; again, that was the rarest of cases. This leads me to believe a few different things about what you can do to promote NFP & God’s plan for married couples… (read more)
NaProTECHNOLOGY uses the Creighton Model FertilityCare System (a Fertility Awareness Method of family planning) to monitor and track the various hormonal events during the menstrual cycle. This system uses biomarkers (mainly cervical mucus) to identify days of fertility and days of infertility throughout the cycle. If there is an abnormality, NaProTECHNOLOGY identifies the problem and cooperates with the woman’s cycle to correct the condition — all the while maintaining the human ecology and sustaining the procreative potential. It does not destroy, suppress or alter a woman’s body to do anything that it is not meant to do. In other words, NaPro’s approach is to bring the woman’s body, hormones, etc. back into balance. It does not seek to trick the body into doing anything it shouldn’t be doing — like how the contraceptive pill tricks a woman’s body into thinking she is pregnant. This way, women are empowered and able to understand their cycles, and understand what causes the debilitating symptoms they may suffer from — whether it’s cramps, irregular cycles, problems ovulating, or multiple miscarriages… (read more)
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I can personally be a witness of being open to life when I don’t have children… yet. I’ve struggled with the notion of whether I’m any less than the women – the mothers – who have been welcoming new life into their families since the day they were married. I’ve wondered where I can fit in, in the pro-life movement, as a wife — but not (yet) a mom?… (read more)
Too often, we hear, “Why haven’t I heard about this before?” “Why doesn’t my priest talk about this?” This post is to answer those questions, and hopefully to overcome whatever holds our priests back from preaching on these matters.
Life is difficult — not just marriage, not just being single, not just any other vocation out there. It’s all hard. Marriage can highlight problems, but it can also give us what we need — direction, clarity, and the strength to transform into the best version of ourselves. It is not an obstacle to our growth in holiness — it is, in many cases, the way to our holiness Pope Pius XI wrote in his encyclical Casti Connubii, “Let (the married couple) constantly keep in mind that they have been consecrated and strengthened for the duties and the dignity of their state by a special sacrament, the efficacious power of which, although it does not impress a character, is undying.” … (read more)
How easy must it be to say something like, “I didn’t sign up for this,” when life changes after getting married? How easy it must be to say something like, “I didn’t sign up for this,” when your husband loses his job and money gets tight, when he gets sick and you become the leader and money-maker for the family and care-taker of your husband, or when your husband decides he wants to go back to school and enter a new career, or when someone else in your family is sick and it exhausts you. It is too easy. When life is nowhere near what you expected or planned or hoped for, and when you’re feeling down and out… that’s when we need to remember what we did sign up for — and the graces that came by doing that… (read more)