Archive for 2007

Natural Family Planning: CCL’s Student Guide Reviews

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

On December 16, I did a review of the Couple to Couple League’s new manual, The Art of Natural Family Planning: Student Guide.  In that review I listed the traditional teachings dropped by CCL in this book.  One reviewer below refers to this listing as a summarization.  I also referred to the serious mistake concerning the exclusive breastfeeding rule which could cause unintended pregnancies.  This blog contains three reviews by others.  More will follow next week.

From a long-time CCL member:  I think my views represent a large number of CCL supporters. Your blog of December 16 was good, but the CCL developments are depressing.  The CCL teacher is very articulate and offers valid criticism.
    This blog reminds me of how much I wanted to be a CCL teacher in the late 90s; I wanted to help couples live the fullness of what you and John teach – not only the STM, but the morality and especially the ecological breastfeeding.  All I can think of is that Satan saw an opening here to undermine all that because I can’t wrap my mind around a CCL that would want to throw it all out. 
     The use of the term “watered down” really resonated with me.  I haven’t had time yet to read the whole Student Guide – I guess it depresses me.  Even the cover makes me think of the tacky, glossy new Family Foundations (FF).  It’s nothing like the old FF, which reminded me of a scholarly journal.  Just looking at the format of the old FF made me feel it was trustworthy – not just more info-tainment.  I’m just so disappointed. 
     I thought the couple really captured the truth that the “new” CCL has no intention of teaching the fullness about breastfeeding and natural infertility.  I keep waiting for someone else to notice that.   To the contrary, CCL is teaching that using any sort of “rule” related to achieving breastfeeding infertility is USING the baby. 
    The couple who wrote in should be commended for their thoughtful and honest review.  The holiday FF was full of letters about how great the new changes are and how courageous the current management.  While they may like the simplified STM rules, I miss the comprehensiveness of the old manual.  It was a true resource – you could go back to it year after year.  I looked up stuff in it in every stage of my life in the past decade.  Even after I had a miscarriage at 7 weeks gestation, I referred to it to get spiritual support for the loss and to see what your advice was about how long to wait before trying to conceive again.  I turned to it to explain to people why contraception was wrong – when I was an RCIA sponsor and as an aid to help unmarried people understand.   I gave it to my atheist counterpart at the university when she wondered about the reliability of NFP for health reasons and for natural birth spacing.  It was a true handbook for the full range of physical AND spiritual aspects of marriage from engagement to menopause. 
    Even though I like the NFPI online manual – which if someone wants streamlined info, there it is – I like the big old heavy comprehensive handbook, 4th edition of The Art. Being a collector of “old” materials, I’m sure I’ll start collecting a few copies before they go out of print. I feel like the monks in the Dark Ages, trying to salvage the true writings to save for when the tide of the culture turns and people need to know this stuff that they will have forgotten. 

From a long time CCL Teacher:  The impression I get of the changes at CCL is like what happened after Vatican II in the Church. Under the guise of updating the presentation of the Church’s immutable doctrine to hopefully be more accessible to people today, liberals in the Church went way beyond that and in large part gutted the presentation of the Faith. The “old Faith” was demonized because we absolutely needed a new, modernized approach going forward. Yeah, right.  Some people see this ruse for what it is, but others do not.  I don’t think they really understand and appreciate what is being cast aside, even if inadvertantly. Just like in the Church, many Catholics don’t see a problem with watered-down, Protestantized liturgies, inferior catechesis and gutted church interiors that fail to inspire or lift our hearts to God. And for some Catholics, it would be nearly impossible to explain the problem to them. But for those who understand the issues, it’s quite heart wrenching.
        I thought John’s series of critiques of Fr. Hogan’s booklet was very good and very important. When I first read the booklets, I felt that something needed to be written to address their shortcomings. I’m glad that John started that.

From a CCL Promoter:  Upon receiving and thoroughly reading the Student Guide edition of The Art of Natural Family Planning, I am very concerned about what has been omitted. There is at least one significant error which at this time needs to be corrected. The new presentation is void and incomplete. 
    The December 16, 2007 summarization [previous blog of Dec. 16] of what has been dropped lists precisely what is a cause for concern to those of us who have found those teachings and guidelines necessary for the effective use of Natural Family Planning, spiritual growth and understanding.
    Reading and understanding the summarization helped me realize I was not unfairly judging the new presentation. As I read the Student Guide before reading the December 16, 2007 summarization, I was overwhelmed with sadness to face the fact that far too much of the completeness and charism of the method are missing. What I have known, practiced, and trusted has been dropped.
    At this time, I hope and pray that the CCL Board and Central Office will take the time to prayerfully reconsider the direction they have decided to take. I sincerely hope that a solid core of well informed teachers will come together to continue teaching the complete method and charisms of the founders.
    If anyone reading this knows of anything more that can be done to restore dignity to this situation, please let John and Sheila know what you are thinking.


Sheila:  I thank these reviewers for taking their time for this task.  I checked the new Student Guide only for the breastfeeding section and those traditional teachings dropped as mentioned by the staff at the CCL 2006 Convention.  John has scarcely glanced at the new Art.

Next week: More Student Guide reviews.

Sheila Kippley
NFP International
Author: Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood and Natural Family Planning: The Question-Answer Book (e-book at this website)

A Holy Christmas to All

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

The “And More” part of our website deals with traditional Catholic spirituality.  In the upcoming celebration of Christmas, we thank Jesus for becoming one of us, for his whole plan of creation and redemption.  We offer the following prayer in the spirit of Christmas.  This prayer is in the 30-page Prayer Book that can be downloaded from the Spiritual Resources on our website.  Merry Christmas from John and Sheila.

To Prepare for Mass
It is the very nature of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that it offers praise and adoration to God, reparation for our sins, thanksgiving for the salvation wrought by Jesus Christ, and petition for the needs of the Church.  You may find it helpful to make these purposes of the Mass more clearly your own and thus become a more active participant.  You may want to pray the following prayer or something like it as you drive or walk your family to Mass, and then each family member can add his or her own special thanks and petitions.  John says this everyday as we head for Mass and we add our personal thanksgiving and petitions to the prayer for that day.

An Offering Prayer
Heavenly Father, I offer You this Mass today in praise and adoration of the Godhead—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 
     I offer this Mass in reparation for my own sins and those of each member of my family and extended families.
     I offer this Mass in thanksgiving for the whole work of creation and redemption, for the work of the prophets, for the “yes” of Jesus, for the “yes” of Mary and Joseph, for all that Jesus did and said and taught us, for his suffering and death and resurrection, for his ascension into heaven, for his sending the Spirit, for his gift of the Church, and for his priest who will celebrate this Mass.
     I offer this Mass in thanksgiving for every personal blessing You have given to me and my family, especially for the gift of faith that draws me to worship, for the gift of good health that enables me to come to Mass, for the gift of my family, and for the freedom to worship at Mass without fear of persecution. 
     I offer this Mass in solemn petition for authentic reform and renewal in the Church, for all the missionary work of the Church, for a rebirth of chastity, for a stop to contraception, and for a stop to abortion and euthanasia. 
     I offer this Mass for faith and perseverance for all those who are being actively persecuted for the Faith today; I offer this Mass for a stop to persecution of the Church; and I offer this Mass for a healing of divisions within the Church and for unity of Faith among all Christians.  
     I offer this Mass in petition for the conversion of Islam, for the conversion of the Jews, and for the conversion of China and all other lands still under the heavy hand of atheistic communism.  I offer this Mass for the conversion of my own country and all other countries that allow abortion and encourage personal immorality. 
     I offer this Mass also in solemn petition for all my personal needs and those of my family and friends—for an increase of faith, hope, love, contrition, and purity, for a deep and true spirit of religion, for the gift of wisdom, for the continuation of good health, for adequate employment, for a true spirit of Christian generosity, and for these other needs: _____________________________________.  Amen.

The Art of Natural Family Planning: Student Guide

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

Briefly I would like to summarize what teachings have been dropped in the recently published Student Guide edition of The Art of Natural Family Planning  by the Couple to Couple League.  We are only covering those teachings dropped that we are aware of and feel are important.
 •  The term “ecological breastfeeding” has been dropped.
 •  Breastfeeding is not taught as a form of natural child spacing.
 •  The covenant theology has been dropped.
 •  Rules C, B, and K have been dropped.  Rule R has been changed.
 •  The high-low position of the cervix is no longer taught.
 •  The internal mucus exam (IME) is no longer taught in the regular course. As CCL staffers said at the 2006 CCL Convention, this observation would not be part of the regular course but could be found at the back of the book (page 252).  It is here that CCL says one should use this exam only to determine the start of mucus, but it should not be used for determining Peak Day (their emphasis in bold).
 •  Specific immoral behaviors during the fertile time are not mentioned.
 •  The dropping of “not in the morning.”

Very importantly, CCL also dropped the requirement of amenorrhea for the exclusive breastfeeding rule given in this new manual.   This requirement is a standard part of the Lactational Amenorrhea Method and should not have been omitted.  If mothers follow the CCL rule for exclusive breastfeeding, unintended pregnancies could occur.   See also the review of the new CCL manual below from a long-time CCL member.

The IME and the H/L cervix:  The omissions of these two fertility awareness signs will be surprising to those women who have found them helpful, including the internal mucus exam for determining Peak Day.

Specific immoral behaviors that some couples engage in during the fertile time are not mentioned.   This teaching was covered by the “old” CCL and resulted in some personal conversions; some became teaching couples as a result.

The Student Guide says you can remain intimate “in non-genital ways” during marital abstinence (page 113) and gives only two examples for non-genital behaviors on page 114: “a bowl of hot soup to a spouse in bed with a cold and fever” or a “phone call before retiring when a couple is separated by distance.”    Note that the spouses in these examples are either sick or absent.  The authors avoid the issue of chaste and unchaste behaviors between at-home healthy spouses.

The “not in the morning” rule:  In the first printing of the Fourth Edition of The Art of Natural Family Planning in 1996, we modified the then-common “evenings only” Phase I rule to “not in the morning.”  We did this to accomodate those couples who may rarely see each other in the evenings because of shift work.  The basis of both rules is to postpone the marriage act early in the day during Phase One because cervical mucus may have started to flow but is not yet discernible due to sleeping horizontally all night.  After several hours of typical morning activity any mucus coming out of the cervix should be noticeable even by the external observations and even more noticeable by the internal observation.  In addition, the marriage act in the afternoon is several hours further away from ovulation than in the evening, thus making that time even less fertile.  We know of no good reason to purge that rule.  We continue to teach “not in the morning” in our online manual and in courses based on it.  

As of this writing, my husband has not reviewed the new CCL manual.  My  attention was first drawn to the breastfeeding content and to those teachings previously announced by CCL to be dropped.

Review of the Student Guide by a CCL member.                                                              

“While there are clearly many positives to the new CCL teaching materials, the changes in the student manual related to breastfeeding, particularly its natural child spacing effect, have caused concern and disappointment among some lactation professionals, who previously viewed CCL as an unusually reliable resource on breastfeeding and fertility. 
Dr. Miriam Labbok, professor at the School of Public Health of the University of North Carolina, has highlighted a significant error in CCL’s statement of the rules of the Lactational Amenorrhea Method of natural family planning, which CCL has apparently declined so far to correct.  This is so even though the specific error could easily result in unintended pregnancies, running the risk of detracting from the credibility of the entire program. 

Ecological breastfeeding, the form of breastfeeding that tends to delay the return of fertility for an average of 14 months (thereby contributing significantly to the maternal reduction in cancer risks and other maternal health benefits in addition to the obvious benefits to the child) has been completely omitted in the new manual.  This is unfortunate, as the previous Art of Natural Family Planning, along with Sheila Kippley’s book (published by the League), Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing, were for many years the only resources on this form of breastfeeding and its attendant natural child spacing effects.  As a result, CCL was seen among lactation professionals and LLL Leaders, even secular ones, as a respected resource for this kind of information. 
While the new manual does speak of the benefits of breastfeeding in a general way, there is nothing especially new or unique about the presentation.  The manual will be of little interest to breastfeeding professionals in its current form. Sadly, this means that many secular breastfeeding mothers who initially sought breastfeeding and fertility information will not be further exposed to the systematic NFP information in the same volume.  Hopefully this loss in audience will be offset by the increase in Catholic engaged couples who have little or no interest in breastfeeding, or who intend from the outset to limit their family size to just one or two children, and will therefore find the materials more streamlined.
Naturally, there are many proponents of the new materials, and CCL will surely reach couples who might otherwise avoid NFP instruction.  On the other hand, there are also many individuals who found the previous materials more useful, accurate and comprehensive, if not quite so glossy and modern. 
As I understand it, postpartum fertility issues, including the effect of nursing on the return of fertility, will be taught in a separate class, presumably with a separate manual.  It can only be hoped that the LAM error in the primary text will at least be corrected in those as-yet-unpublished materials, and that reliable information on ecological breastfeeding will continue to be made available through the organization responsible for bringing this important natural effect of breastfeeding to the attention of NFP professionals in the first place.”  End of Review

For additional information on the Couple to Couple League instructional changes, go to “Categories” sidebar at the right for Covenant Theology – July 17 and hit “CCL” under Ecological Breastfeeding and under the Sympto-Thermal Method at  There are also eight blogs critiqueing Fr. Richard Hogan’s The Human Body which is published and highly promoted by CCL under Theology of the Body.

Sheila Kippley
NFP International
Author: Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood (Sophia)
        Natural Family Planning: The Question-Answer Book (e-book
               at this website)