Archive for 2014

5. Natural Family Planning: VISION NOW + 20

Sunday, December 7th, 2014

Translating the Vision Goals into Reality

* At least two-thirds of couples who need baby spacing will be using chaste Natural Family Planning.
In the early 1960s, two-thirds of Catholics still accepted Catholic teaching on birth control, and they had, for the most part, only Calendar Rhythm as a form of NFP.         Preparation for marriage is a special time of grace.  We believe that the combination of a believing priest, an orthodox and readable text such as Marriage Is for Keeps, and the full NFPI course will yield good results.  (The Bishops’ Committee urged a full course, and we thoroughly agree.)  We believe that combination will yield good fruit: 25% of newlyweds will accept and follow Catholic teaching on marital love and responsible parenthood; another 25% by their fifth anniversary; another 16% by their tenth anniversary.  The contraceptive alternatives to NFP are not all that attractive, and many will not want the extra burden of the abortifacient potential of hormonal birth control.  In short, we believe that with the proper information, motivation, and the tools of modern NFP, the Church can achieve at least the level of belief and compliance witnessed in the early 1960s.

* At least two-thirds of Catholic mothers will nurse their babies well into the second year of life.
In 1941 Pope Pius XII urged every mother to breastfeed her baby if at all possible.  In 1995, Pope John Paul II repeated this exhortation and urged mothers to continue nursing well into the second year of life.  In 1997 the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that breastfeeding should “continue for at least 12 months and thereafter for as long as mutually desired.”
NFP International is unique in its research-based advocacy of ecological breastfeeding that, on the average, delays the return of fertility for about 14 to 15 months postpartum.  The advantages of ecological breastfeeding are so many that it is a reasonable goal that two-thirds of mothers who learn well about this form of baby care will adopt it.

* At least two-thirds of Catholic newlyweds will wed as virgins.
If virtue-based chastity education is provided at every level of Catholic education, this is a reasonable goal.  Young people can understand that sexual intercourse is intended by God to be a renewal of the marriage covenant, and they can understand that the “marriage act” outside of marriage is dishonest.

* At least two-thirds of Catholic voters will vote pro-life.
If two-thirds of Catholics believe and live by the teaching of the Church regarding marital love and chastity and life, they will generally vote pro-life.

* Abortion will be illegal, and even illegal abortions will be few in number.
The pro-life vote of Catholics, Evangelical Protestants, and Orthodox Jews will elect sufficient pro-life representatives that eventually there will be a pro-life majority in the federal court system and on the U. S. Supreme Court. Roe v Wade will be overturned, and pro-life majorities will produce state laws against abortion.  The gradual rejection of the Sexual Revolution, on both moral and practical grounds, will greatly reduce the number of out-of-wedlock pregnancies.

* At least 95% of married couples will stayed married “till death do they part.”
Informal studies indicate that the marital breakup NFP Teachers is only 1.5%.  While even this is tragic, it is miniscule compared to the 50% American divorce rate.  Since this is a special group, a higher rate can be estimated for a larger population.  A 5% divorce rate is more than three times what has been witnessed in this small group.

* These families will yield vocations to the priesthood at the rate of at least one ordination per year per 10,000 families.  Over 20 years, this yields a ratio of one priest for every 500 families.
The ordinary field for the harvest of vocations is the marriage of Catholics who believe and are generous in the service of life.  At an NFP conference, a Catholic deacon noted that among the 250 families at the conference, there were five vocations to the priesthood—one per 50 families.

* At least 95% of priests will be faithful to their vocation for life.
The practice of marital chastity and the covenant theology of human sexuality support celibate priests.  The practice of marital virtues helps to build up the body of Christ; priests have stated that the chaste NFP apostolate has been of great help to them as priests.

* A vision of Vatican II will be significantly realized—revitalized lay spirituality and cooperation between priests and laity.
The practice of NFP lets God be God over one’s sex life, and it frequently brings a deep and wide-ranging spirit of conversion.  Also, NFPI teachers know first-hand that their work cannot bear fruit without the cooperation of Catholic priests, and Humanae Vitae priests freely acknowledge their need of NFP Teaching Couples.

* The trickle of converts and reverts will become a river.
The teaching of Humanae Vitae is a stepping stone to some while being a stumbling block to others.  For a number of converts, the teaching of the Church regarding marriage and the family, including the demands of married love, has been a great attraction to the Church.  For some, the covenant theology of sexuality has been the first step on the road to the fullness of the Catholic Faith.  As the truth of Humanae Vitae becomes more widely known and practiced, more and more of our good-willed separated brethren will follow this path.

Next week: Participation by any diocese

John F. Kippley (September 2014)

4. Natural Family Planning: VISION NOW + 20

Sunday, November 30th, 2014

The Plan

In 1989 the NCCB Bishops’ Committee for Pastoral Research and Practices strongly urged that all engaged couples should be required to take a full course on Natural Family Planning as a normal part of preparation for marriage. They noted that engaged couples have a need and right to know this information.

Vision Now + 20 is a PLAN to implement this recommendation. Vision Now + 20 looks forward to the day when every priest, supported by professionally trained volunteer married couples, requires a full course of instruction on NFP taught in the context of marital chastity and generosity in the service of life.

In the United States each year, approximately 165,000 Catholic couples enter Christian marriage. (2013: 163,976, OCD; 2000: about 275,000) A national network of NFPI-trained volunteer Teaching Couples will have the capacity to teach every Catholic engaged couple how to practice chaste and generous Natural Family Planning. Each Teaching Couple can teach 35 to 50 such student couples; thus a combination of geography and numbers will require a network of approximately 5,000 volunteer Teaching Couples to serve 165,000 marriages each year.

How does an organization train 5,000 volunteer Teaching Couples?

That’s precisely what we need to talk about with bishops who share this vision.

Next week:  Translating the Vision Goals into Reality

John F. Kippley (September 2014)

3. Natural Family Planning: VISION NOW + 20

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

The Organization

In its Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, the Fathers of Vatican Council II described the model lay apostolate.

  • It would “encourage a closer harmony between the everyday life of the members and their faith”; such associations “must be given primary consideration” (n. 19).
  • In order to meet the needs of cities and rural areas, “laymen should not limit their cooperation to the parochial or diocesan boundaries but strive to extend it to interparochial, interdiocesan, national, and international fields” (n.10).
  • “In the present circumstances, it is quite necessary that the united and organized form of the lay apostolate be strengthened” (n.18).
  • “Scattering of energies must be avoided” (n. 19).
  • “Pastors should welcome the laity who work in this apostolate and should make sure that their situation meets the demands of justice, equity and charity” (n. 22).

In the closing passages of Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI endorsed a particular form of teaching natural family planning:  “Among the fruits which ripen forth from a generous effort of fidelity to the divine law, one of the most precious is that married couples themselves not infrequently feel the desire to communicate their experience to others. Thus there comes to be included in the vast pattern of the vocation of the laity a new and most noteworthy form of the apostolate of like to like; it is married couples themselves who become apostles and guides to other married couples. This is assuredly, among so many forms of apostolate, one of those which seem most opportune today” (n. 26).

Natural Family Planning International, Inc. (NFPI) is a fruit of Vatican II and Humanae Vitae.

Next week:  A Plan

John F. Kippley (September 2014)