NFP International Needs Help

Natural Family Planning International, Inc.
P. O. Box 861 • Steubenville OH 43952 USA
www.NFPandmore.org

Third week of Advent, 2014

 There’s no question: NFP International needs help. So if you think that NFP International is an organization that uniquely serves the Church and anyone who is interested, please read on….

First, in NFP International we are not just teaching cheap and natural birth control. Not at all. We are unique in teaching ecological breastfeeding, the kind of breastfeeding that maximizes all the dose-related benefits of breastfeeding and also provides, on average, 14 to 15 months of breastfeeding amenorrhea and infertility. Couples who adopt ecological breastfeeding will probably save at least $1,000 with each baby by not using formula and special baby foods, and their babies will most likely experience better health.

Second, we teach all the common signs of fertility and infertility so that user couples can decide which ones they want to use. We teach all of this in the context of the Catholic Tradition of Christian discipleship. We can’t force this on anyone, but we think it’s important to see the meaning that God has built into the marriage act—that it ought to be a renewal of your marriage covenant, and we are unique in that teaching. We may also be unique in allowing our manual to be downloaded for free.

Considering the contemporary culture, we think our effort to place the whole issue of birth control and sexuality in the context of religion and morality is very important for the welfare of Western culture. We think President George Washington was correct when he said in his 1796 Farewell Address, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.”

 So I ask for your support. Please pray for the advancement of the NFPI mission. This effort is an apostolate, and it needs your prayers.

Please help us financially. Please realize that nothing is really cost-free. The only way we can keep offering free downloads for the poor is if the non-poor contribute to that effort. So, if you appreciate what NFP International is doing, please help us. We would not be asking for this support if we did not really need it. Anything and everything helps. No gift is too small. Gifts of $50 and $100 and $500 are very helpful, but so are gifts of $25 and $10 as well. Every gift, even $5, carries the message, “Carry on!”

To support NFPI, please click here http://www.nfpandmore.org/missionhelp.shtml or go to www.nfpandmore.org and click on the PLEASE DONATE button in the left-hand column. Or send a check payable to NFPI to the address at the top of this appeal.

May God bless you and your loved ones in a special way this Christmas season,

John F. Kippley
President

NFP International is a 501-c-3 not-for-profit organization. All gifts are tax deductible.

Birth Control and Christian Discipleship

Sooner or later the Synod Fathers have to address the issues raised by Humanae Vitae, the encyclical of Blessed Pope Paul VI issued on July 25, 1968. Its condemnation of marital contraception is not the only issue it raised, but it is the chief issue in terms of the widespread dissent. So, like it or not, Pope Francis and the bishops of the world have to address it. They can do this effectively only if they truly believe that the 2,000-year teaching against marital contraception is the divine truth about human love. Since they are Christians and are teaching other Christians, they need to put the whole issue in terms of Christian discipleship.

So what did Jesus teach us about love, marriage and sexuality in terms of being his followers?

The first thing to be noted is that Jesus began his public ministry by meeting people where they were, to use the popular phraseology. He did not engage in any long philosophical discourses about the nature of love or the various kinds of love. Meeting them and us as we are, the first thing Jesus did was to imply that he recognized that we are sinners. His first words of public ministry are “Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:14). To repent doesn’t just mean to say a careless “I’m sorry” and carry on as before. It means to have a change of heart and a change in behavior. We don’t have to read very far in the gospel of Matthew before we have three long chapters called the Sermon on the Mount. They are challenging, to put it mildly. The beatitudes and the permanence of marriage in Chapter 5 (and again in Ch 19).   Don’t sweat the little things such as food and drink. Your heavenly Father knows you need them all. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things shall be yours as well” (Mt 6.33). The narrow gate in Chapter 7. And more in Luke: If you want to be my disciple, deny yourself and “take up your cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” And to encourage his followers not be embarrassed to talk about the cross, he adds, “For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels” (Lk 9.23-26).

Our Christian leaders need to reaffirm over and over again that the essence of being a Christian is to believe with Peter: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (Jn 6.68-69). Second, we need to understand in our inmost being that there is nothing in the teaching of Jesus that allows us to believe that authentic love is easy. The blessings of Christian discipleship—peace, patience, the satisfaction of loving and being loved, and much more—are also very much part of Christian discipleship, to be sure, but they are the rewards of walking the narrow way with Jesus, not following the wide and easy path.

This is all so basic that it is almost embarrassing to put it into print, but there has been misleading talk in the last few decades about being “resurrection Christians” who do not need to carry the daily cross because Jesus did it all for us.

Pope Francis, bishops, and priests and deacons: Just give us the straight and difficult truths about love, marriage and sexuality. Teach them from the pulpit. Teach them in the grade and high school years. Teach purity as well as service projects in preparation for Confirmation. Teach and preach Humanae Vitae. It is eminently believable and practical in the light of Christian discipleship. The fruit of 20 years of such teaching and preaching will be a revitalized Church giving glory to God.

John F. Kippley, November 22, 2014

Birth Control and Christian Discipleship is also the title of a booklet I wrote in 1985. It is nothing like the above commentary and it’s still available through the NFP website, www.nfpandmore.org. It’s historical in nature and has a number of quotes from Protestant sources showing that the teaching against marital contraception was once widely held by non-Catholic Christians.

THANKSGIVING SALE: Through November 28.  50% off the following print books: Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach (both perfect bound and coil versions), The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding, Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing, and Battle-Scarred (John’s memoirs).  The Seven Standards and BF&NCS together make an excellent gift for an expectant mother.  Go to lulu.com for the discounts.

The Synod and Cardinal Suenens

My previous comment on the Synod noted the huge importance of attitude in receiving or refusing authentic Christian teaching regarding love, marriage and sexuality. It closed with a reference to Léon Joseph Cardinal Suenens who wrote a small but important book on these matters in 1959, Love and Control, published in 1960 and revised for a 1962 printing. My quotes are from the English translation of the 1962 edition; the bold-face emphasis is mine.

Relevant to the controversies mentioned at the Synod, Cardinal Suenens had this to say:

“No one denies that a man’s first obligation is to his conscience. But that is just the point: if a man follows his conscience and remains in the Church, then he should also follow his conscience and accept the Church’s teaching. There is no place for conscientious objectors in the Church who accept only part or reject part of what she teaches. Heresy means a withdrawal. Taking or leaving doctrines as one chooses is a basic denial of the essential meaning of the Church and her divine foundation. As Father Congar has said, the faithful must be free within the Church, but not with regard to the Church” (29).

The Cardinal, who was Archbishop of Malines-Brussels when he wrote this book, waded head-on into sex education. “At all costs, we [the Church] must take the lead in apostolic activity and sex education, otherwise all her work will come to nothing” (32). “Men have to be taught control over their sexual instincts. This is the only really humane and Christian answer to the problem of love” (34).

“For today’s Christian, the word “love” is a defeat whose losses must be recouped. The fact is that no other word has been so weakened and muddled by modern literature and the jargon used by television, radio, films and advertising. . . ‘Love’ is put forth as the one excuse which makes any sort of behavior blameless, and which is its own justification. . . Our job is to restore to real love its pristine and sacred meaning” (36-38).

The question of teaching morality in courses on natural family planning has been raised several times over the years. Cardinal Suenens addresses this: “The sins of omission and laziness of those who, for whatever reason, have the job of giving sex instruction will weigh heavier on the last day than the sins of the men and women who were never sufficiently instructed to meet their obligations” (53).

On the need for sexual self-control: “Everyone has to have sexual control and no one can begin to develop it too soon. For a married couple, however, it is doubly essential and it has a special marital aspect which needs considering” (66).

Should NFP programs say anything about family size? The Cardinal quotes from the Family Code, an authoritative document of the Union of Malines which says among other things, “If, however, some indication must be made of the social minimum of procreativity, it could be said that an average of less than three children per home would mean the death of society by suffocation” (93).   Perhaps marriage instructions should teach, “Three to survive; five to thrive.”

On the need to provide practical help: “We have no right to demand that men obey this law [the Church’s teaching against contraception] without, at the same time, doing everything we can to make obedience possible, without straining all our energies to make the way clear” (150).

“Anything which can ease the burden of enforced continence by making it last for a shorter time is an inestimable help in keeping souls in the state of grace” (152). Then the Cardinal goes on to praise the work of Ogino, Knaus and Smulders in the Thirties and the more recent work of Drs. Holt (1959) and Doering (1957) using temperature-based systems.

Next week: Humanae Vitae, preparation for marriage, and NFP instruction.

John F. Kippley, November 10, 2014; also at http://www.nfpandmore.org.

Synod Aftermath: The Importance of Attitude

In 1960 Leon Joseph Cardinal Suenens, the Archbishop of Malines-Brussels authored a small but insightful book titled Love and Control, (Un problème crucial: Amour et Maîtrise de Soi.) In the 1962 second edition he writes: “At all costs, she [the Church] must take the lead in apostolic activity and sex education, otherwise all her work will come to nothing” (32). How prescient. The huge question today is, how to do this? While there may be different ideas on how to approach the issues of love, marriage and sexuality, there is probably universal agreement on the role of attitude on the part of the recipient.

The matter of attitude is absolutely crucial. Many Catholics are aware of the conversion of Scott and Kimberly Hahn. By way of summary, they were married students in a Protestant seminary. Scott prided himself as being the most anti-Catholic person at the seminary because he believed that much Catholic teaching was seriously wrong. Kimberly took up the question of birth control in a seminar, and another married student providentially gave her a copy of my book  Birth Control and the Marriage Covenant. She shared it with Scott and when he got to the key section on the covenant, he threw the book across the room—so he once told me. Fortunately, he picked it up, and he has written that it helped to persuade him and Kimberly to accept Catholic teaching on birth control while they were Protestants. As they began to live the truth about marital love, gradually they came to appreciate the whole truth of the Catholic Church. I believe that behind all of this was an attitude of searching for and following God’s truth no matter where the search led, an attitude that derived from a prayer given them by Kimberly’s father, a Presbyterian minister.

To give another example, an atheist wife and her agnostic husband became Catholics after adequate exposure to simple Catholic covenant theology. She had complained to a Catholic friend about her unhappy experiences with the Pill, and the friend gave her the 1996 book on natural family planning that Sheila and I wrote. After teaching themselves how to practice the Sympto-thermal Method, the spouses who described themselves as a truth-seeking atheist and agnostic couple didn’t stop just when they learned a healthy method of birth control; the wife kept reading the theological sections of the book. Key factor: an attitude of seeking for the truth.

It works the other way, too. In my life-before-Sheila, I lived in a guest house in San Francisco, and it was pretty obvious that one of the young men was trying to seduce a young woman who was not exactly the smartest girl in the house. He accepted my invitation to attend a Paulist inquiry forum which was truly great. But he refused to come with me to the second talk because, as he put it, “If I were to accept that as true, then I would have to change my lifestyle which I do not intend to do.”  He was a non-practicing Catholic. The truth can be scary for those who are committed to sinful ways.

Next week: More from Cardinal Suenens about sex education.

John Kippley, also at www.nfpandmore.org

 

 

 

 

What the Synod and the U. S. Supreme Court Have in Common

A Catholic Synod of bishops and others convened on Sunday, October 5, to discuss matters of great importance to the family. On October 7, the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to decide anything about lower court decisions that favored the acceptance of same-sex “marriage” as an arrangement that can be called marriage and entitled to the economic and legal benefits of legal marriage.

What these two events have in common is the subject of sodomy, both heterosexual and homosexual. In his commentary on the Sin of Onan in Genesis 38:6-10, Martin Luther called Onan’s contraceptive behavior (withdrawal and ejaculation outside the woman) a form of sodomy, and on this matter he was uncharacteristically correct. The whole purpose of any and every form of contraceptive behavior is to render the act as sterile as an act of homosexual sodomy.

This is the real issue at stake in the Synod of the Family. It was the real issue at stake in the birth-control debate leading up to Humanae Vitae and thereafter. About two years prior to the encyclical, Pope Paul VI received conflicting reports from his birth control commission. The report from the majority was in favor of the Church accepting marital contraception; the minority argued in favor of upholding the teaching of some 1900 years, a doctrine that had been strongly reaffirmed by Pope Pius XI on the last day of 1930 in his encyclical, Casti Connubii (concerning chaste marriage).

They also argued that there is a logic in the acceptance of unnatural forms of birth control, and that the effects of that logic will be spelled out both in theory and in practice. Specifically, they pointed out that the acceptance of marital contraception would logically entail the acceptance of sodomy. The majority spokesmen replied that they did not accept sodomy and called it beneath the dignity of human persons. That, however, was their personal conviction. They did not and could not provide a logical way of accepting sodomy for married heterosexuals and not accepting it for homosexuals. The truth of the minority  argument was illustrated immediately by a self-styled “revisionist” who argued that his fellow revisionists, in rejecting Humanae Vitae, had also rejected the entire theory of natural law and thus had no way of saying “no” to any imaginable sexual activity that was acceptable to consenting adults, including bestiality.

If we understand that most marriages in the West today are marriages of marital contraception and therefore of heterosexual sodomy, then it is not unreasonable to expect that when the Supreme Court finally has to render a decision about the constitutionality of homosexual “marriage,” it will find some excuse to decide that state laws against such arrangements are unconstitutional. After all, if the Supreme Court can find all state laws against the killing of unborn babies on the basis of a shadow of a shadow (the penumbra of one of the Amendments), it can surely find some way to legalize sodomy as marriage even though it applies to, perhaps, only one percent of the American population. Justices read the papers and see the widespread acceptance.

The effect of this will be to sharpen the need for all Christians who accept the Bible as a source of religious morality to do a better job of teaching about sexuality, marriage and birth control. The State has already decreed via no-fault divorce laws that there is no such thing as permanent marriage—whoever wants out wins. The State is increasingly promoting pre-marital sex via its promotion of contraceptives and anti-STD vaccines. The Catholic Church has its work cut out for it in this immoral environment, and the other Christian communities will need to ally themselves with Catholic teaching or lose all relevance except as propagandists for the liberal agenda.

According to popular media, the big issue at the Synod is whether to ignore biblically-based Catholic teaching against divorce and remarriage and to admit to Holy Communion such civilly remarried couples. The underlying question, I submit, is why there are so many divorced couples in the first place. One reason is that most of them have practiced some form of marital contraception. When couples do not cooperate with the graces of the sacrament of marriage, bad things happen.

Every theist has to admit that God himself put together in one act what we commonly call “making love” and “making babies.” Every form of marital contraception says in bodily language, “We can take apart what God himself put together in the marriage act.” If people really think they can do that, it is only a small jump to thinking that they can also take apart what God himself has put together in the marriage itself.

Thus, what that Synod really has to deal with is the widespread current acceptance of marital heterosexual sodomy, whether it is in the physical form of anatomical sodomy or in less obvious forms such as mutual masturbation, barrier methods, withdrawal, and other birth control agents whether physical or hormonal.

The de facto acceptance of marital sodomy under the title of marital heterosexual contraception has left its practitioners and their supporting clergy logically open to calling homosexual sodomy “marriage.” That’s why I think it is fair to say that the Synod and the Supreme Court are both dealing with the same issue.  If I am correct, and if it is true that sodomy is one of the sins that cry to heaven for vengeance, the Synod better get it right.

Next week: How the Synod could help

John Kippley, October 8, 2014,

See also Sheila’s blog at http://nfpandmore.org/wordpress/ — another factor in the acceptance of marital contraception.

Peter’s Professions of Faith and Reason

The Gospel reading for Sunday, August 24, (Matthew 16:13-20) was about Peter’s profession of faith. After Jesus had asked the Apostles what people were saying about him and had received various responses, he put the question directly to them: “ ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter said in reply, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus said to him in reply, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.’ “

What did Jesus mean when he said, “For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you…”? I assume that the Apostles had discussed the identity of Jesus, as so many were doing. They may have all speculated and even agreed that he is the Messiah foretold by the prophets, that is, understood as an extraordinary man and prophet. They had seen the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law and numerous other healings. They had heard him say about himself, “…the Son of man is Lord of the Sabbath.” They had witnessed the healing of the paralytic and heard Jesus say that this healing was a sign of his divine power: ”But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins…” This was unheard of, something the prophets had never said, but later Jesus would confer the power of absolution on his priests, so it could be argued that Jesus was merely saying that he had a delegated power. They had witnessed the feeding of the 5,000. But now something new happens. The Father takes Peter beyond what he had already seen and heard and thought about with his flesh and blood powers and reveals to Peter that Jesus is “The Son of the living God.” To answer the question at the start of this paragraph, I think Jesus told Peter that his profession was not just the result of his observations and thinking but was a special gift—the gift of faith—to believe that Jesus is more than a prophet and fully shares the divine nature of God the Father.

The Gospel for Sunday, August 31st is about Peter’s profession of reason. It continues with the text of Matthew 16: 21-27, and provides a stark comparison. Jesus taught the Apostles about his coming suffering and death, and here Peter truly used his flesh and blood reasoning powers. We can imagine him thinking, “How can Jesus suffer and be put to death? Certainly that seems incompatible with his being ‘the Christ, the Son of the Living God.’ Certainly the Son of the Living God has the power to stop his enemies.” So Jesus rebuked Peter: “Get behind me Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

I suggest there is a practical lesson in the suffering episode. The problem of suffering is something that all of us encounter. It may be our own personal sufferings, or it may be the sufferings of others. The problem of suffering is perplexing. We may even criticize our own perplexity. That is, I know that God brings good out of evil, so why am I so concerned about a particular suffering? For example, God knows the needs of the displaced persons and refugees in the Middle East and elsewhere, so why are we concerned and praying for their relief? To give a partial answer, there may be more people of contrary faiths praying for the refugees in Iraq than ever before. Such prayer unites us, and that’s a good thing. Ultimately, the only answer is the Cross. However, when we encounter perplexity about suffering, we can take at least some comfort in the fact that the Prince of the Apostles was also perplexed. St. Peter, pray for us when we are perplexed by suffering.

John F. Kippley, September 6, 2014. See also Sheila’s weekly blog at www.nfpandmore.org .

Radiating Jesus in Our Parishes, 2

This is my second comment on the 1999 papal exhortation titled The Church in America.

This teaching from St. John Paul II presents a beautiful ideal, but it is far from being realized. It seems to me, a man who sits in the pews, that it might be helpful to have greater clarity and emphasis on the ultimate purpose of the parish. That is, what is the real purpose of the parish? Isn’t it to help individual persons grow in Christian holiness?

It is certainly true that one way in which the parish leadership assists its members to grow in holiness is to encourage community among parish members and to encourage service to others, whether parish members or not, as indicated in section 41 of The Church in America. Let’s call that the Matthew 25 Last Judgment and humanitarian aspect of parish life.

But that’s not all. What about the call of Jesus as he started his public ministry? “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15). Or, in a few more words: Have a change of heart. Wherever necessary, have a change in behavior. You can’t serve God and mammon. Don’t worry about what to eat and drink. Seek first the kingdom of God and trust Him to take care of the rest of it.

Is this the way it is? We are supposed to be a Eucharistic community, but some statistics indicate that a very large percent of Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence. We have very clear teaching against all unnatural forms of birth control and in favor of generosity in having children, but the statistics show that only a very small percent of fertile-age couples accept these teachings. If they were followed, we would anticipate lots of babies and larger families.   Our seminary problems would chiefly be having enough space and faculty to handle the crowd.

Next week: Why isn’t it happening?

John F. Kippley, August 10, 2014

See also Sheila’s blog at www.nfpandmore.org/wordpress .

P. S. My effort to explain and uphold Humanae Vitae via the covenant theology of sexuality is published by Ignatius Press as Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality. This is the book that, in a previous edition, helped Scott and Kimberly Hahn, while still Protestants, to accept Catholic teaching on birth control. During its summer sale, Ignatius is offering it for only $6.00, but only through August.