Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The NFP Conundrum - another excuse for good Catholics to bash each other?

I check out my stats today and saw I was getting a number of hits from Red Cardigan's blog. (Hi Red!! waving!!) She had linked to this post, that also gets its fair share of hits over the years. And the cause of all this activity was this post:

Sure, sure, the Church permits NFP to space out pregnancies in serious circumstances. Because we are a stiff-necked people, she even turns her head while we stretch the definition of “serious.” But really, if we truly want to follow God, shouldn’t we learn to let go? Isn’t the lesson of faith that God will provide for our needs, whether emotional, physical, spiritual, or even financial? NFP, more often than not, is a crutch which interferes with our radical dependence on God. He is calling us to loosen up that death grip of control and abandon ourselves more generously to his will.
To which the dear Cure D'Ars was invoked in the comment boxes with this misquote:




“If you knew those who are in hell for not having given the world the children they had to give!” and was spoken by St. Jean-Marie Vianney.

Much grinding and gnashing of teeth ensued.


So this is my perspective from this time of my life on this issue of NFP and its practice in Catholic married life.

The church says it's permissible for grave and serious reasons (although I've seen that language dissected as well.)  To me that means if it's something that you would feel comfortable standing face to face with Jesus and sharing with him, then it's probably grave and serious enough.  If it would make you squirm a little bit to tell Him you wanted to avoid pregnancy so you could wear a bikini next summer - probably not so much.

On the other hand I realize that what can seem serious at age 25 might not seem that way at 35, 45 and 50. With age comes perspective, but most people have to see that for themselves. I've learned the hard way you can't cajole, explain, share or coax someone else into believing that their circumstances may change, or that they might actually miss having a baby in the house some day.  When you have little kids at 2, 4, 5 and 7 it's a little hard to see them 10 short years later at 12, 14, 15 and 17!  And yet that time will come.

Still I think the original comment about a "stiff necked" people has some merit. In this contraceptive/abortive culture it is going quite against the tide to really use Natural Family Planning as a form of birth regulation. Couple that with poor catechisis on the topic and it's easy to see why young couples who are feeling brave enough to use NFP might be using it with the same contraceptive mentality as their friends on the birth control pill.  They might not even consider it something to bring up in confession and unless they have a good confessor or spiritual presence in their lives, who's going to challenge them on it?

Fertility doesn't last forever. The years for filling up that family tree with children and making family traditions and memories are few. My best advice is to embrace that and as another famous future saint liked to say, "Be not afraid." 



November 2010 172







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