This is my fifth and last commentary on The Church in America.
What can ordinary lay people do to make their parish one that truly radiates Christ?
First of all, they need to make sure they are on board with full Catholic teaching. I recently had an email from a couple who had been practicing sexual immoralities during the fertile time for some 23 years in their misunderstanding of NFP. They said they were never told that abstinence meant CHASTE abstinence. That is, their NFP program and teacher never told them that chaste abstinence entails sexual self-control and that cuddling should not proceed to climax, masturbation or marital sodomy etc.
Second, they can and should pray for their parish priests to do what only they can do. Third, they can also talk with their priests and ask them to do everything they can to preach and teach marital chastity.
Third, they can support the teaching of Humanae Vitae via the covenant theology of sexuality. “Sexual intercourse is intended by God to be at least implicitly a renewal of the marriage covenant.” This makes sense to people of faith and good will. It is so simple and so obvious once people learn and believe it that they can use it to explain and support Catholic teaching. Ordinary lay people can also promote and teach chaste Natural Family Planning including ecological breastfeeding and generosity in having children. It cannot be forgotten that the Church needs at least three children per family for long term survival.
The bottom line is this. When the teaching of Humanae Vitae is accepted and lived by the majority of fertile-age married couples in a parish, that parish will have healthy-sized families, vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and the basis for being a community of small communities. Then our parishes will truly be radiating the Lord Jesus and attracting men and women of good will.
Not to be ignored, when a diocese is filled with believing parishes, it can have a significant influence in the election of representatives who are truly pro-chastity, pro-family, and pro-life. The truly Catholic parish and diocese will be counter-cultural. Thus it can and will make a difference. Amen.
John F. Kippley, August 31, 2014