Archive for the ‘NFP Week 2012’ Category

7. The Right Kind of NFP Instruction: A Work of Evangelization

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

Results.  This sort of NFP course and appropriate reinforcement from the pastor and the rest of the marriage preparation program can have significant results.  Specifically, I estimate that at least 25% of couples who receive this sort of preparation for marriage will start their marriages with marital chastity—either ready for children on their honeymoon or practicing chaste abstinence if they have a sufficiently serious reason to postpone pregnancy.  Further, the seeds that have been planted will continue to grow, and many of the contraceptors will experience for themselves the wasteland of secular sexuality, so I expect a gradual increase in the numbers of couples who repent and accept full Catholic teaching on love, marriage and sexuality.  With help from the pulpit and an overall parish environment that promotes authentic Catholic spirituality and sexuality, I think that by their tenth anniversaries at least two-thirds of couples who experienced the right kind of marriage preparation and NFP course will be fully practicing Catholics.  After all, about five years before Humanae Vitae in an environment in which we had neither the technical nor theological support available today, about two-thirds of Catholics accepted Catholic teaching, so it is not unreasonable to look for that level of acceptance once again.

What is difficult for me to comprehend is that in 2012 only six dioceses [in the United States] are making any kind of NFP course a required part of preparation for marriage.  Why does any priest or any bishop NOT want Catholic engaged and married couples to know everything I have described as the content of the right kind of NFP course?  The physiology is basic and easy to understand, and it can be taught modestly, even in mixed classes.  The discipleship aspects are crucial for the New Evangelization.  I would like to think that even those who think of themselves as “liberal” or “pro-choice” on birth control would want their people to know all of the above.

After all, how can people make an informed choice without this information?  To paraphrase Romans 10, how can people act rightly unless they believe?  And how can they believe unless they are taught?  And how can they believe and act rightly unless they have the right kind of instruction?  And in today’s context, how will they experience such instruction without being required to do so?

(John F. Kippley is the president of NFP International, the co-author of Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach, and the author of Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality and other books, articles and brochures.  He has long been involved in the ministries of NFP and evangelization.)

BOOK SALE:  30% off Kippley books in print at lulu through August 7.

John F. Kippley
Battle-Scarred: Justice Can Be Elusive

6. The Right Kind of NFP Instruction: A Work of Evangelization

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Diocesan and parish policy.

There are undoubtedly some engaged couples who have already formed their consciences properly and want the right kind of NFP course.  I do not deny that these good souls can certainly benefit from the New Evangelization effort.  However, the real challenge is to reach the great number of Catholics who are more nominal than active in the faith.  Many are coming to be married in the Church more to please their parents or grandparents or because it provides a beautiful setting or simply because of a family or social custom.  These couples can be the greatest beneficiaries of the kind of NFP course I have described, and the vast majority of them will come without any fuss if it is made clear that the course is a normal part of preparation for marriage. Many may regard it, at first, as just another hoop, but by the end of this kind of course it would be a rare couple who would regard it as a waste of time.

NFPI Home Study Course:  For those couples unable to attend the right kind of NFP course in their diocese, they can take the home study course from NFP International.

BOOK SALE:  30% off Kippley books in print at lulu through August 7.  Plus 20% off any order at lulu though July 27 with code SILVER when ordering.

John F. Kippley
Battle-Scarred: Justice Can Be Elusive

5. The Right Kind of NFP Instruction: A Work of Evangelization

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Faith and Obedience.  

That brings us to the last points that need to be included in a complete course on natural family planning: faith in the promises of Jesus and obedience to the Lord who continues to teach in and through his Church.  It may be the most important task of the New Evangelization to relate the promises of Jesus at the Last Supper to the moral teaching of the Church today.  The promised guidance of the Holy Spirit is the basis for our Catholic faith, and we believe and need to proclaim that Jesus is still keeping his promises.  In our NFP course, we build on the Nicene Profession of Faith.  Certainly faith in it requires faith in the Last Supper promises; so likewise the teaching of Casti Connubii and Humanae Vitae.  The promises still hold.

Sometimes we can be tempted to think that because we understand and teach the reasons for Catholic teaching against contraception, or because we now have the Theology of the Body and the covenant insight, we no longer need to teach obedience.  In an anti-authoritarian age, we might feel uncomfortable talking about the teaching authority of the Church.

On the contrary, however, it is helpful to remember that the only virtue of the Lord Jesus specifically mentioned in the New Testament is obedience.  Further, how can any of us dare to teach that it is seriously immoral to engage in contraceptive behaviors without relying upon the Magisterium of the Church over the ages?  How can we expect couples to believe that contraceptive behaviors are the grave matter of mortal sin if all we present is a theological statement?  What sort of force does mere argument have today?

Obedience is the fruit of a heart that is open to the Lord Jesus who is the reason for being a Catholic and for following his teachings in and through his Church.  All of our theologizing exists to support the biblical-Catholic authoritative teaching, but our theology does not stand by itself.  To omit reference to the Magisterium is to short-change those we seek to teach.

BOOK SALE:  30% off Kippley books in print at lulu through August 7.  Plus 20% off any order at lulu though July 27 with code SILVER when ordering.

John F. Kippley
Battle-Scarred: Justice Can Be Elusive