March 1st, 2015
Regarding the Synod and Humanae Vitae, I suspect that there will be a verbal affirmation of the encyclical. My concern is more about prudence.
A committee of the US Bishops in 1989 urged that every engaged couple should be required to attend a full course on natural family planning as a normal part of preparation for marriage. But what constitutes a full course? That is a key question.
In my opinion, couples learning NFP under such circumstances deserve to learn all the common signs of fertility and infertility so that they can make a well informed choice about what signs they want to use or not use. And that includes ecological breastfeeding according to the seven standards. How can they make informed choices if this information is not taught?
They also deserve to learn the physiological aspects of NFP in the context of Catholic evangelization and morality and the call to be generous in having children to be raised in the ways of the Lord. In the last analysis, once an “avoiding” couple understand the health hazards and abortifacient properties of hormonal birth control and the esthetic and effectiveness problems of barriers, the moral and practical choice boils down to fertility awareness with either marital chastity or the use of masturbation and/or marital sodomy during the fertile time. The unchaste behaviors are certainly NOT what is needed or intended by Catholic endorsements of NFP.
It is my understanding that most of the NFP instruction manuals and programs avoid saying anything specific about masturbation and marital sodomy. We have to assume that many of our “required” students are unfortunately already experienced in sinful sexual experiences. We have to assume that when they hear “abstinence” many will think of past experience as a way to get around it. In my opinion, that’s why Catholic-sponsored NFP needs to be taught in the context of Christian discipleship.
John F. Kippley
February 22nd, 2015
Within the Catholic Church there is a great concern about a growing social acceptance of same-sex “marriage” even among Catholics. However, with more than 95% of fertile-age married Catholics contravening Catholic teaching regarding birth control, what else can be expected? It is this widespread acceptance of unnatural forms of birth control that has also given us widespread acceptance of homosexual sodomy parading as marriage. So what can be done?
I suggest that bishops need to get their priests on board with Humanae Vitae and provide the right kind of instruction before marriage. What is generally offered now is very deficient. This needs to start in 7th grade and continue through the high school years, and attitude formation needs to start with preparation for Holy Communion and Penance. By the time a couple is married, they need to have internalized at least three basic realities.
1. Sexual union is intended by God to be exclusively a marriage act. Within marriage it ought to be a renewal of the faith, love, and for-better-and-for-worse commitment of their marriage covenant. And marriage is an unbreakable covenant.
2. Breasts are for breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is so much better than alternative ways of baby-feeding that couples really need a serious reason not to breastfeed. The kind of breastfeeding they should practice is Ecological breastfeeding according to the Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding. Only this form of breastfeeding will normally provide an average of two years of spacing between babies. It also maximizes all the dose-related emotional and health benefits of breastfeeding. This should be taught starting in grade school.
3. They should know all the common signs of fertility, not just the mucus sign taught by some almost fanatical proponents who either teach nothing about the temperature and cervix signs or cast aspersions on them. In other words, engaged couples should have sufficient information so that they, not their teachers, can make informed choices.
John F. Kippley
February 15th, 2015
Priests from various parts of the country have their engaged couples take the NFPI Home Study Course. It has been my pleasure to take these engaged couples, and some married couples, through this distance-learning course. They frequently express their appreciation. Below are a few of those comments.
“We have learned so much about the female reproductive system from this book and the sympto-thermal method. We had no idea that we could tell the more and less fertile times for a woman by her mucus, changes in her cervix, and her temperature. Once married, we plan on using this method to plan our family.”
“I have attached the completed Home Study Questions for Chapters 1-3. You were right about learning A LOT!! Thank you so much for getting this back to me so quickly yesterday. Please let me know how I should proceed from here. I have already started reading the other chapters.”
[The home study course] “is a great way for couples to educate themselves and also have different options that are proven to work.”
“Great book. Super helpful. Thank you so much for offering a downloadable version, just what I needed right at that moment! …although, next time I think I’ll get the print edition, easier to read and share.”
“Thank you for the easy-to-read and downloadable manual. This manual has been helpful to us as we plan to start a family of our own! Thanks again for your ministry and desire to help others!”
“Thank you so much for these clear and concise guidelines for a comprehensive NFP course! Your books and website have so much valuable information that you simply cannot find elsewhere! Your efforts have blessed me in so many ways! My husband and I have come to a much deeper understanding of God’s plan for marriage and family and you have provided us with the tools and knowledge to live it. I use your materials in teaching my children about living virtuously. You present these truths of the faith in such clear language it makes it so easy to transmit them to my children. I am so proud of my adult children and your work has made their formation in this area of the faith so much easier than it otherwise would have been. Thank you so much for your sacrificial work.”
“I was delighted to find your website last night. We have been using ecological breastfeeding almost exclusively and my wife’s fertility is currently returning after our 6th child (at 19 months). We were once a teaching couple with CCL, but we left about 10 years ago when they started making all the changes. We are finding we remember very little about the method we learned so well, and we can’t figure out who borrowed our old CCL manual. We are looking forward to reading this new book, Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach. Thank you both for putting this together. I finished Chapter One last night and found it to be very well done, a great summary and a good refresher.”
NFPI Home Study Course