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

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.

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

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