Natural Family Planning and Luke 11:46

The Gospel reading for Wednesday, October 12, 2016 was Luke 11:46, and it reminded me why I became involved with teaching natural family planning.  In fact, if it were not for that verse, I might never have had the pleasure of knowing many of those who will read this blog.

It all started with the dissent from Humanae Vitae in the summer of 1968.  When I read the encyclical, I thought it was good, but it didn’t get me excited.  But when I read the dissent, I was appalled.  The dissenters leaned heavily on the majority report of the Papal Birth Control Commission which the Pope had received in 1966.  Briefly, its rationale for saying that the Church could and should approve of contraception was fatally flawed.  It could not say a firm NO to sodomy.

In that light, I thought that Pope Paul VI should have taken about one day to read and digest the reports and then one week to prepare a logical rejection.  Then he should have announced that the arguments used by the proponents of marital contraception could not say NO even to sodomy and were therefore completely unacceptable.  I thought he should have said that all speculation that the Church could change its teaching on these matters should cease, and I think he should have promised a more complete response in the near future.  But, unfortunately, he waited many months, and the proponents of contraception continued to prepare Catholics for the change they wanted and expected.

My response to this situation was to write a book that not only defended the teaching of Humanae Vitae with a positive, covenant understanding of the marriage act but also analyzed the arguments of the dissenters.  I found them worthless from the perspective of Christian discipleship.  Alba House published it as Covenant, Christ and Contraception in the spring of 1970.

Then, from somewhere in the depths of my memory the text of Luke 11:46 arose and confronted me.  “Woe also to you, scholars of the law!  You impose burdens hard to carry, but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them..”  I had done my best to affirm what many were calling a great burden.  I don’t think I had previously given any thought to providing the practical help of NFP, but now I knew I had to do something.

Providentially, Sheila was already working on her book, Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing, and we had learned about the cross-checking sympto-thermal system from an article by Dr. Konald A. Prem.  We met with him in June of 1971, and that fall we founded the Couple to Couple League and began teaching.

We thought we were done teaching some 32 years later when we and the League separated in 2003, but the next year we saw CCL beginning to make significant changes.  Within a few years, they rejected all three of the founding charisms—ecological breastfeeding, the covenant theology of the marriage act, and Dr. Prem’s version of the STM.  That’s why we formed NFP International and continue with the original teachings on which CCL was founded.

If you have ever been helped by any of those founding charisms, please join me in thanking the Lord Jesus for teaching as he did in Luke 11:46.  And please help us to continue those teachings through the work of NFP International at http://nfpandmore.org/missionhelp.shtml.

John F. Kippley, October 13, 2016

Radiating Jesus in Our Parishes, 4

This is my fourth comment on section 41 of The Church in America.

My previous comments showed why many parishes are not radiating the call and the attraction of Jesus. Essentially, if and when the call of Jesus to faith and repentance (Mark 1:15…) is muted and rejected by priests and parishioners alike, whatever is radiated is not the call of Jesus. Fortunately, that’s not the end of the story.

What can be done?

In my opinion, parish reform and renewal starts with parish priests. First of all, they have to come to believe that the practice of contraception is a grave moral evil. But that’s not enough. They also have to do what they can to lead their parishioners to believe what the teaching Church actually DOES teach about the immorality of contraception.

That may involve preaching from the pulpit, which can be difficult, and it can include little lessons in the parish bulletin. Priests can also do a tremendous amount of good in their face to face dealings with engaged and married couples. With the right kind of materials at hand, they can help people to know and understand the teachings and also to understand the biblical reasons for believing that Jesus is the ultimate author of these teachings. To encourage and support breastfeeding mothers, pastors can start chapters of the Catholic Nursing Mothers League; see www.catholicbreastfeeding.com .

Second, they can require their engaged couples to take the right kind of course dealing with natural family planning. They can also make sure that their RCIA instruction contains the full teaching of Humanae Vitae. They can insist that the laity who participate in the public ministries of the Church as Lectors and Distributors of Holy Communion believe and practice what the Church teaches on these matters.

In the right kind of NFP course, couples will learn about the kind of nursing—ecological breastfeeding—that normally delays the return of fertility for more than a year. They will learn how to monitor the wife’s fertility. They will learn the relevant moral teaching of the Church. Unfortunately, most NFP programs omit both the ecological breastfeeding instruction and the relevant moral teaching of the Church. So pastors can either insist that local programs expand their teaching to include these subjects and all the signs of fertility, or they can bring in NFP International and its Home Study Course.

Teaching relevant and specific morality is important. Leon Joseph Cardinal Suenens wrote succinctly in his 1960 book, Love and Control, “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.”

Third, pastors can insert instructional sheets on these issues in the parish bulletins.

Fourth, all pastors can use the NFPI Home Study Course for their engaged couples. It contains all the teachings discussed in this series and is about half the cost of some other natural family planning online programs. Couples who take the NFPI course received lots of individual attention.

Next week: What can ordinary lay people do?

John F. Kippley, August 24, 2014

View NFP International and its Home Study Course at www.nfpandmore.org.

 

 

Radiating Jesus in Our Parishes, 3

This is my third commentary on section 41 of The Church in America.

Why isn’t the typical American parish radiating Jesus? I think that the main reason for the failure of the typical Western parish to radiate Jesus is the non-preaching and non-acceptance of Mark 1:15, that call to a change of heart. While we can never say anything about any particular couple or parish, the statistics say that the teaching of Humanae Vitae is widely rejected. At the USCCB website you can find an article that says that only one-tenth of one percent of Catholic women who are doing anything about birth control are using any natural form of conception regulation. Pope Paul VI certainly was correct in 1968 when he wrote the following in Humanae Vitae, section 18:

It is to be anticipated that perhaps not everyone will easily accept this particular teaching. There is too much clamorous outcry against the voice of the Church, and this is intensified by modern means of communication. But it comes as no surprise to the Church that she, no less than her divine Founder, is destined to be a “sign of contradiction.” She does not, because of this, evade the duty imposed on her of proclaiming humbly but firmly the entire moral law, both natural and evangelical.

Truly Pope Paul VI was prophetic.   In section 17 just preceding this, he prophesied about the various adverse consequences of the widespread societal acceptance of marital contraception.

Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.

Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone [emphasis added]. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife.

In short, the Pope predicted something very close to the ObamaCare birth control mandate. What the Pope was too polite to say is that once a culture accepts one unnatural form of sexual activity such as marital contraception, it has no logical way of saying “no” to any other such activity. In his commentary on Genesis 38:6ff, Martin Luther correctly called the Sin of Onan a form of sodomy. Once a culture accepts marital heterosexual sodomy, it has no way to say no to homosexual sodomy. The same-sex “marriage” issue is the direct consequence of the societal acceptance of marital contraception.

The bottom line is that when a significant majority of fertile-age Catholic parishioners accept and practice marital contraception, the parish is failing to be the faithful organism that is radiating the Lord Jesus. What is radiating is not the pleasant odor of sanctity, to use a pious phrase, or even that of antiseptics as in the hospital image of the Church. Instead, the smell is not sweet.

It would be nice if I am wrong. But how can a parish in which pastors won’t preach and parishioners won’t accept what the Church teaches are the divine truths about human love—how can such a parish radiate Christ who is the ultimate Author of these truths?

Next week. What can priests do easily and without significant costs of any kind?

John F. Kippley, August 17, 2014

 

 

 

 

What is real patriotism?

The 4th of July, Independence Day, traditionally has been a day to celebrate the birth of the United States as an independent nation, freed from the constraints of being a colony of England, then one of the world’s great powers. The signers recognized the seriousness of what they were doing, and the Declaration is largely an apologetics text explaining the reasons for their revolt from what they considered despotism.

Of special interest for July 4, 2014 is that the first two sentences of the Declaration refer to God. In the first sentence our founders refer to “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” as their reason and authority setting up a separate and equal country among the nations. In the second sentence they profess that it is their Creator who has created them and Who gives them the right to secede.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The Declaration of Independence is a profoundly religious document, not in the sense of quoting the Bible or ecclesiastical document, but in the sense of recognizing their creature-hood and the Creator as the Source of all life and good.

When the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was ratified on December 15, 1791, religion was still important in the minds of Americans, and so was their negative experience with the established Church of England. Thus we read:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

It is simply absurdly anti-historical to regard the First Amendment as anti-religion or as a national freedom from religion.

As Catholics and others know very well, the “free exercise” of religion is under great attack. This past week’s Hobby Lobby by the U. S. Supreme Court was a partial reaffirmation of religious freedom, but the battle is far from over. As far as I can see, the Court did not address the irrationality of the HHS claim that there is a compelling need for every woman to have free unnatural forms of birth control. With birth control devices and drugs cheap and widely available, no reasonable case can be made for a compelling need that can be met only by forcing employers to provide these things for free.

Lost in the argument has been the increased immorality aided and abetted by the promotion of contraception. And that brings us to a most important consideration for the Fourth of July. The words of President George Washington in the masthead of this blog site still hold true: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.”

It is national suicide to pretend that his words are obsolete.  Real patriotism will both keep them in mind and act on them.

Will restart blogs soon

My last blog was posted April 21. About the same time, I lost my entire email list. We had to switch to Windows 7 and made a switch to a newer computer at the same time.   Also, I had a tremendous amount of yard and garden work this spring. I hope to have my email list reconstructed by mid-June and plan to start my blogs again.

John Kippley, www.nfpandmore.org

 

 

Your Right to Know: The Cervix Sign

As indicated in the August 11 post of Dr. Edward F. Keefe’s COVERLINE article on the internal observations of cervical mucus, his patients taught him about changes in the cervix itself, changes that had not been previously reported in the medical literature.  He first reported on this in 1962 in the Bulletin of the Sloane Hospital for Women.  Fifteen years later he reported it in the International Review of Natural Family Planning, Vol.1, Number 1, Spring 1977.   It is interesting both in its detail and in the responses he gives to questions about its effectiveness when used in systematic NFP.

As Dr. Keefe indicates in this article, squeamishness hinders some women from ever making the exam, and he addresses that issue.  He never advocates a cervix-only system for purposes of avoiding pregnancy.  In NFPI we teach the observation of the cervix as a supplement to the mucus and temperature signs.  Experienced women have told us that that the cervix sign is sometimes the best sign for them about their fertility or infertility, especially in extended breastfeeding amenorrhea or during premenopause.

If you would like to read his 1977 report, see www.naturalfamilyplanningandmore.com/Cephalad_Shift_of_the_Cervix_Uteri.pdf.

More facts about Breastfeeding and Social Justice

In my previous post on Breastfeeding and Social Justice, I noted that breastfeeding has so many benefits to a baby that it is an injustice not to provide that form of baby care and nutrition.  That needs some documentation so here I will list 28 health benefits for the baby, 21 of which are specific and seven are more general. Then I will list eight specific health benefits for the breastfeeding mother.  What follows is taken from Chapter 6 in Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach.

Breastfeeding provides many health benefits for a baby, and, most importantly, a baby thrives emotionally with the repeated close contact with his mother that breastfeeding provides. Of course breastfed babies get sick occasionally, but statistically there is no debate: breastfed babies are healthier. The American Academy of Pediatrics (aap.org), The American Academy of Family Physicians (aafp.org), and the United States Breastfeeding Committee (usbreastfeeding.org) report specific health benefits for breastfed children. The list below is compiled from the websites of these three organizations. Breastfeeding reduces the incidence of the following diseases for babies and children.

• allergies   • asthma   • autoimmune thyroid disease   • bacterial meningitis   • botulism   • Crohn’s disease
• diarrhea   • ear infections   • eczema   • gastroenteritis   • inflammatory bowel disease   • leukemia   • lymphoma
• multiple sclerosis   • necrotizing enterocolitis   • obesity   • respiratory tract infections
• sudden infant death syndrome   • ulcerative colitis   • type 1 and type 2 diabetes   • urinary tract infections

Compared to those who are not breastfed, breastfed children
• stay in the hospital fewer days as premature infants,
• have a more mature infant intestinal tract,
• have a better immune system and a better response to vaccinations,
• have fewer sick days,
• score higher on visual acuity tests, and
• score higher on cognitive and IQ tests at school age.

Are the benefits of breastfeeding dose-related?
Yes. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians,
1. “The strongest evidence indicates that these positive [health] effects of breastfeeding are most significant with six months of exclusive breastfeeding,” and
2. “the effects are dose-related, with improved outcomes being associated with longer breastfeeding.” (AAFP Position Paper on “Breastfeeding.”)

What are the risks for the mother who does not breastfeed?
The mother who does not breastfeed may have an increased risk for the following diseases:
• breast cancer   • endometrial cancer   • ovarian cancer   • thyroid cancer   • anemia   • lupus
• rheumatoid arthritis   • osteoporosis (increased chance of a hip fracture)

Should a mother feel guilty if she is unable to breastfeed?
No. Any mother who made every reasonable effort to breastfeed and was unsuccessful should never feel guilty. She gave it her best try.

We hope that mothers who want to breastfeed will receive the support and correct information needed so that there will be minimal problems in getting started.  One of the benefits of doing ecological breastfeeding (EBF) is that the milk supply is usually ample due to the frequent and unrestricted suckling.

What are the advantages for the mother if she breastfeeds?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) lists eight benefits for the breastfeeding mother:
1. decreased postpartum bleeding
2. more rapid uterine involution attributable to increased concentrations of oxytocin, (that is, it helps the           uterus to shrink to its normal size)
3. decreased menstrual blood loss
4. increased child spacing attributable to lactational amenorrhea (the absence of menstrual periods due to breastfeeding)
5. earlier return to pre-pregnancy weight
6. decreased risk of breast cancer
7. decreased risk of ovarian cancer and
8. possibly decreased risk of osteoporosis and hip fracture in the postmenopausal period (AAP Policy Statement on Breastfeeding, Feb. 2005).

End of text from Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach

             *************************************************************************************
I think these lists are quite impressive.  I didn’t make them up or even research them.  My wife, Sheila, did the research and wrote most of Chapter 6 in our NFP manual.  Good health is a great blessing, and I think that most parents want to do what is best for their babies, and that starts the first minutes after childbirth.  Yes, that first hour is important, as Sheila reported a few weeks ago.  Perhaps more on that later.

The point I want to make is that this information should be shared with every prospective mother well before childbirth.  It should be taught in pre-marriage instruction and again in pre-baptism instruction.  To be sure, no one needs to memorize the lists, but the basic fact that breastfeeding, especially ecological breastfeeding, is so helpful for a baby’s health simply must be taught.  I emphasize ecological breastfeeding because its frequent nursing maximizes the dose-related good effects.  For those who know these things and refuse to share them, isn’t that an injustice towards babies and their parents?