Natural Family Planning: The Right Kind of Instruction

February 7th, 2016

I am convinced that a very important part of preparation for marriage is the right kind of instruction about natural family planning (NFP). I emphasize the “right kind” of NFP instruction because much of current NFP instruction is too secular and too focused on the cervical mucus sign of fertility. Too often the NFP instruction is not placed in the context of Christian discipleship, and the Ordinary Magisterium is ignored. Further, most current NFP programs ignore Ecological Breastfeeding, and many ignore the value of the temperature sign. There is nothing esoteric about any of these factors; every person, Catholic or not, has a human right to know them.

So why do I write? Because it is pastorally imperative to require that every engaged couple take the right kind of course in natural family planning as a normal part of preparation for marriage. The course I envision is definitely not just a course in fertility awareness. It is an effort at evangelization and specifically the New Evangelization which seeks to show that Jesus is the ultimate Author of Catholic teachings on love, marriage, family, and sexuality.

My wife, Sheila, and I have been teaching natural family planning since 1970. We came to the NFP apostolate from backgrounds that are reflected in what we teach. I was a parish lay evangelist when we taught our first organized course, and Sheila was a leader with a breastfeeding organization (La Leche League International). I have also taught theology at the college level. I think our experience has been and can be helpful to the Church. Essentially what we have been teaching for almost 45 years is very low cost compared to other programs, and experience has demonstrated that it can be taught just as well in Europe and Africa as in the United States. Experience has also demonstrated that Humanae Vitae is a great blessing, not just a burden.

The NFPI teaching program includes three areas that we think are very important, even imperative, for couples to learn. We call this the Triple Strand approach to natural family planning.

1. Theological support for Humanae Vitae

2. Ecological Breastfeeding

3. Open-ended fertility awareness

The NFPI Home Study Course is available to any couple who wants to learn natural family planning.

John F. Kippley

My Opposition to the Death Penalty in Contemporary America

January 31st, 2016

I was recently offered a polite challenge to my opposition to the death penalty, and on the spot I did not spell it out well.  My current thinking is based on three considerations

Social.  In a former age, the criminal guilty of a capital crime was, in my opinion, more guilty of his outrageous behavior.  Within my lifetime, however, the educational, judicial, and political systems have become more complicit in these crimes.  The legal system has expelled religion and religious morality from the public school system in which the vast majority of American youth are educated.  To paraphrase Romans 10:14ff, how can we expect people to believe and to do what is right if we do not instruct them?  Public education has not only become complicit but teaches an intellectual and moral vacuum in which there is no objective truth, everything is subjective and there are no moral absolutes.  Yes, the natural law is still written in the heart of every person, but the dominant cultural forces are combined to treat the silent entreaties in the heart as old fashioned taboos.  The judicial system still permits the killing of the most innocent citizens at will; in fact such permission to kill the innocent is a foundation of the current Democratic Party.    This combination has given us a culture that is toxic to basic morality.  As Dostoyevsky had one of characters say, “If there is no God, you can do anything.”  Thus society at large has to bear the burden of the humane imprisonment of those who commit capital crimes.

Repentance.  I publish a rosary booklet (The Seven Day Bible Rosary) and offer it free to prisoners.  I have distributed hundreds of these and have received only one letter saying “I didn’t do it,” and that was from a man on death row.  Another death row prisoner made no such comment.  Others have told me specifically that being sent to prison was the best thing that has ever happened to them.  Without being specific, they admit that they had been living sinful lives.  Now they are reading a Catholic newspaper in which I advertise and asking for something to help them pray the rosary.  Some of these have had their first encounter with the Catholic faith in prison; others were raised in Catholic families but ignored what they were taught.  Some have told me that it has taken years for them to get to this stage of repentance.  Life imprisonment gives some prisoners the time they need to repent and grow in holiness.

Spiritual warfare.  There is a spiritual warfare going on between the Lord Jesus and Satan for every person.  Jesus gave his life for my sins, the sins of everyone who reads this, and also for the sins of every other sinner, some of whose sins are not only very serious but also public knowledge.  I do not want Satan to win any of these battles— which he might do if some criminals are put to death before they repent.

The bottom line:  Please join many prisoners who are praying the rosary every day as Our Lady of Fatima has asked us to do—for world peace, for the conversion of Russia, and for the conversion of sinners all throughout the world.  I can hear it already, “Those folks have nothing but time on their hands but I am too busy.”  It is a rare day when a person who wants to honor Mary’s request cannot find the time to do so.   The daily commute provides many with plenty of rosary time.  And the list of opportunities goes on.

John F. Kippley,

Natural Family Planning International Needs Help

January 24th, 2016

As I began gathering my thoughts to write this fund appeal letter (FAL), I read through some past years’ FALs from our founder, John Kippley, looking for possible ideas. I saw that NFP International has been consistent in its mission of instructing couples about the teachings of Humanae Vitae and about ways to live out those teachings. Our instruction to couples about covenant theology, the Prem method of systematic NFP, and ecological breastfeeding is certainly a positive influence for society. This approach (what founders John and Sheila Kippley call The Triple Strand) is only found here at NFPI. So your contribution to this apostolate is a concrete way to promote healthy, happy marriages and families, which, of course, are the building blocks of healthy, happy communities.

We are a very small organization, but we have the capability, through our on-line Home Study Course, to reach all English-speaking people who have access to the internet. Please promote our NFP course to anyone you know who would benefit from it. We will be happy to serve them. Frequently our “customers” are engaged couples. But according to statistics, many married Catholics are using contraception. We can also teach them how to use Natural Family Planning, with all its accompanying advantages.

One way to promote our NFP course would be to submit a bulletin announcement for us at your church. It could read:

Natural Family Planning (NFP).  Learn NFP at home and at your own pace with the Home Study Course from NFP International,  Includes Ecological Breastfeeding (it really can space babies), a double-check system of fertility awareness, and Catholic teaching that’s easy to understand.  Work with a live instructor by email.  Completion certificate.  Only $70.

Because our apostolate is small, our budget is also small. If everyone receiving this letter gave $10.00, then our annual budget of $70,000 would be obtained. Of course, such uniform giving is unlikely, so for those of you who can give more, please do so to offset the letters that will not be answered. Also, for those of you who give $1.00, or $5.00, we appreciate it very much. Last year we did not raise enough funds to cover our budget, so we had to use savings to make up the difference. Obviously, we cannot continue to operate at a deficit.

Please help.  We really do need both your prayers and your financial gifts.  God loves a cheerful giver.

Sometimes we get notes of appreciation from students and other donors. My wife Ann puts some of them on “Monday Mailbag” at the NFPI Facebook page. If you have any stories about how covenant theology, systematic NFP, or eco-breastfeeding has been a part of your life, we would like to hear about that. Your input is valuable for others who may be unfamiliar with one or more aspects of the Triple Strand. It’s also valuable for us to evaluate how our program is doing.

Mary, first receiver of the Word, and perfect disciple, pray for us.
Stephen Craig
Executive Director