Archive for 2015

2. Natural Family Planning: Preparation for Marriage and What Couples Have a Right to Know

Sunday, November 15th, 2015

1.  The New Evangelization.  We hear this term frequently, but what does it mean?  When he was first introducing the idea, St. John Paul II noted that what is new about it is that it focuses on helping Catholics to understand and believe that Jesus himself is the author of Catholic teachings including those that apply in a very practical and sometimes counter-cultural way.  I think that in the context of preparation for marriage, it means that young couples need to review the Last Supper promises of Jesus.  

We are told to start with people where they are, and that applies here.  If the couple is attending Sunday Mass, they are at least hearing the Nicene Creed and perhaps they are actively reciting it.  But what happens when they ask themselves, “Why should I believe this?  Why should I believe that the Nicene Creed teaches the truth about God?”  And then, “Why should I believe anything that the Catholic Church teaches?  Why should I believe what the Church teaches about marriage and birth control?”

How can any of us believe the Nicene Profession of Faith without first believing that at Nicea Jesus was keeping his Last Supper promises about the continued guidance of the Holy Spirit?  The questions being raised today provide us with opportunity to affirm with faith and conviction that the Holy Spirit continues to lead the Church.  We believe in the teachings of the Catholic Church because we believe first of all in the Lord Jesus and his promises.  We believe that Jesus continues to be true to those promises.

In meeting with couples for marriage preparation, I suggest that the Catholic priest would do well to open his Bible to the Last Supper account in the Gospel according to John.  His engaged couples need to read the threefold promises of Jesus to send the Holy Spirit to guide the Apostles and their successors through the centuries and today. (John 14: 15-26; 15:26-27; 16:12-15) For many, this may be the first time they have read those promises.  The next step would be to turn to the permanence-of-marriage passage in Mark 10:2-12 and perhaps also the corresponding passage in Matthew 19: 3-12.  Couples will benefit from seeing that Catholic teaching on the permanence of marriage comes directly from Jesus.  They also need to understand that the “except for unchastity” clause in verse Mt 19.9 refers only to marriages that are invalid.

I grant that the effort to build faith in engaged couples is primarily a priestly responsibility, but couples also need to see this faith reflected in their fellow laity.  That’s why our NFP manual raises the question of “Why should I believe…?” and places the response in the Last Supper promises of Jesus.  This is easy to do in an NFP course.  Couples need to experience this New Evangelization, and in Catholic marriage preparation they certainly have a right to hear it—and more than once and from different sources.

John F. Kippley
To be continued next week —

1. Natural Family Planning: Preparation for Marriage and What Couples Have a Right to Know

Sunday, November 8th, 2015

The Synod of Bishops is almost over.  We have good reason to hope that it will affirm the received teaching about marriage and Holy Communion.
However, that’s not the end of it.  Marriage and the family are in need of help.  What will be done to help?  To paraphrase a section of the Epistle of St. James —  What does it profit, my brethren, if the Church affirms the faith in a synod but doesn’t do anything to preach and teach it in the parish?  (James 2:14-17)

Preparation for marriage has to improve.  Pastors need to ask themselves a very basic question:  What do young couples need to know and have a right to know?  Within that context, I want to focus on seven things that can be done in the right kind of course on natural family planning.  

The new Evangelization
A theology of the marriage act that supports Humanae Vitae
Specific moral teaching
The call to generosity
All the common signs of fertility and infertility
The many benefits of breastfeeding
The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding as a natural way of spacing babies

John F. Kippley
(Fellowship of Catholic Scholars 2015 Convention, October 24, 2015; revised Oct. 30, 2015)
To be continued next week—-

Natural Family Planning: 27 Months of Breastfeeding Amenorrhea

Sunday, November 1st, 2015

If a breastfeeding mother goes one year without menstruation after childbirth, is that normal?

If a breastfeeding mother goes two years without menstruation after childbirth, is that normal?

If a breastfeeding mother goes three years without menstruation after childbirth, is that normal?

My husband gave a talk at a conference last weekend.  As usual, he promoted ecological breastfeeding to space babies…noting that this is God’s plan for spacing babies.  One man told him that his wife went 27 months without any periods while breastfeeding.

Amenorrhea means no menstruation.   Couples who enjoy an extended breastfeeding amenorrhea can benefit from God’s natural spacing.  When couples experience an extended amenorrhea due to breastfeeding, they do not have to chart nor do they have to practice abstinence when spacing their children’s births.  It’s a wonderful way to have a family.

Toward the end of breastfeeding amenorrhea the fertility signs begin to appear, and the couple can chart if needed.  It is also helpful to chart when fertility returns so that you accurately estimate the due-date of the next baby.

It may take several cycles before a couple can achieve pregnancy, and this is normal with breastfeeding.  Usually it took us several cycles while I was still breastfeeding before we achieved pregnancy.  I know one mother who had an extended amenorrhea but then could not achieve pregnancy while cycling for over a year while still breastfeeding.  Another mother was nursing an almost two year old and desired pregnancy.  Dr. Prem told her she would achieve pregnancy immediately after weaning.  The toddler weaned on his own and she became pregnant the first cycle after the complete weaning.  Interestingly, with the next child this mother achieved pregnancy while breastfeeding and cycling.  Research also shows that 6% of nursing mothers will achieve pregnancy during amenorrhea.

Pope Francis:  When the current Pope meets mothers, he encourages them to nurse their babies in public.  What he also needs to do is to promote God’s plan for breastfeeding via the Seven Standards, those maternal behaviors that are associated with an extended amenorrhea.  As we know, the emphasis on exclusive breastfeeding or continued breastfeeding was taught in the Sixties.  However, only the pattern of ecological breastfeeding via the Seven Standards is associated with long-term natural infertility.

To learn more about ecological breastfeeding, read The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding: The Frequency Factor.  Each chapter is devoted to one of the Seven Standards and includes the research.  It is a short, easy-to-read book.

Sheila Kippley
The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding