Natural Family Planning: Why NFP International Is Needed

July 26th, 2015

By the fall of 2004 it was becoming clear to us that the NFP organization we founded in 1971 was making changes or dropping the three main teachings we brought to that organization that had served people so well for the 32 years of our leadership.

These three main teachings are called the Triple Strand.  We think the Triple Strand is so good that it needs to be kept alive and spread– we think that everybody in the world has the right to know these things.  Further, we think that our two specific charisms (the eco-breastfeeding and the covenant theology) are special gifts from God and have been confirmed by the actions and words of St. John Paul II.  In addition, Dr. Konald Prem’s teaching of the sympto-thermal method is superior to other NFP methods and should continue to be taught.  Thus this was the main reason, among others, as to why we started NFP International.

Regarding ecological breastfeeding
In 1995 St. John Paul II co-hosted with the Royal Society of England a conference on breastfeeding at the Vatican.  In his talk, he endorsed the recommendations of UNICEF and the WHO for mothers to breastfeed for two years and beyond.  Frequent suckling is the only way that a mother will have a milk supply at 12, 18, and 24 months.  And the Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding are a mother’s best assurance of frequent suckling. Some couples use only eco-bf to space their babies apart.  We know of two mothers who have written a series of blogs about the Seven Standards.  One’s website was called something like “Crunchy Lutheran Mom.”  The other wrote for her diocesan paper in Ireland.

Regarding the Covenant theology
In 1994, ten years after he completed his opus magnum of the Theology of the Body, the Pope wrote a short document titled “Letter to Families from John Paul II.”  In it he specifically endorsed the covenant theology.  “In the conjugal act, husband and wife are called to confirm in a responsible way the mutual gift of self which they have made to each other in the marriage covenant.”  This may be the first time a Pope has used such terminology.  Scott Hahn, a rather famous convert, told me that I am the first person (of whom he is aware) to put that concept into writing.  I can’t prove or disprove his opinion, but I take it seriously because he is the best-read person I know.  My book, Birth Control and the Marriage Covenant, was the occasion for him and his wife to learn this when they were married students in a Protestant seminary.  At the time, Scott considered himself the most anti-Catholic member of the student body.  I consider it divine Providence that another couple in their married student housing complex lent that book to his wife, Kimberly, whose father was the fairly well known pastor of a Presbyterian church in North College Hill.

Regarding the Prem STM
In 1976-1978 the US Bishops NFP organization persuaded NIH to conduct a study to compare the Billings mucus-only system with the cross-checking sympto-thermal system.  The results were so much in favor of the STM that the investigators stopped the study.  The difference was something like twice as many unplanned pregnancies in the mucus-only section.  It was a randomized study, and the investigators could no longer pretend that they didn’t know which half of the study was more effective in avoiding pregnancy.  Yet two of the principal mucus-only advocates put up such a fuss that these results are by and large ignored.  All too many mucus-only advocates have the diocesan NFP jobs.

Soooooo, in a nutshell, that’s why we feel obliged to do what we can to keep these ideas alive.

John and Sheila Kippley
Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach
From July 19th to the evening of August 7th (NFP Awareness Week through World Breastfeeding Week) anyone can purchase the following printed books at a 40% discount at lulu:
Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach
The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding: The Frequency Factor
Battle-Scarred: Justice Can Be Elusive
Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing

7. NFP Week—Holy Communion: Eucharistic and Marital

July 25th, 2015

Conclusion
It is the task of anyone who hopes to shed light on a problem not to construct a theory to support his sympathies but rather to show by reason, example and analogy the inner unity of the entire Christian faith. Thus it is that this analogy between the Holy Communion of the Eucharist and the holy communion of married intercourse must reach its conclusion, namely, that in order for marital sexual intercourse to be a valid expression of marital love and thus a means toward growth in holiness, it must at least be free from abortive, sterilizing and contraceptive impediments to the transmission of life.

The comparison has been made that the two communions are similar because they are both the results of sacraments, both the result of sacrificial love, both an expression of bodily love, both a renewal of the covenant, both covenants sealed with a death to self.  Because of this, just as each reception of the Eucharist is in itself a sacred reality signifying complete acceptance of the covenant, likewise each act of married sexual love is a sacred reality. It entails a renewal of the marriage covenant, an acceptance of each other regardless of the circumstances, even if this renewal should lead to sickness or to poorness or even to death itself. That degree of self-giving is certainly going to require a supernatural faith, a deep and abiding realization that only he who loses his life for the sake of Christ will find it, and that he who seeks his life will lose it.

The Christian must come to realize that it is only through a constant, ever-increasing gift of himself to God and neighbor that he can arrive at the true development of himself.  The married couple must come to realize that their desire to increase their mutual love and self-development can be fulfilled only through the self-giving which they signified through their exchange of marriage promises.

In this manner, with every act of intercourse a renewal of the marriage covenant in which they pledged undying fidelity to each other regardless of the situation, the married couple enter into a truly holy communion, a true source of grace and the occasion of the fullness of married love.

*  *  *
1 Pope Paul VI thoroughly rejected the totality thesis in Humanae Vitae. He concluded his argument against the “totality” argument in this way: “Consequently it is an error to think that a conjugal act which is deliberately made infecund and so is intrinsically dishonest could be made honest and right by the ensemble of a fecund conjugal life” (n.14).
(John F. Kippley, Sex and the Marriage Covenant)
From July 19th to the evening of August 7th (NFP Awareness Week through World Breastfeeding Week) anyone can purchase the following printed books at a 40% discount at lulu:
Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach (coil edition preferred for learners)
The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding: The Frequency Factor
Battle-Scarred: Justice Can Be Elusive
Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing

6 NFP Week—Holy Communion: Eucharistic and Marital

July 24th, 2015

Conditions for validity
The similarities of these two types of personal communions are likewise helpful in reaching conclusions about the conditions for a truly valid encounter in the marital communion. For the worthy reception of the Eucharist, for a Holy Communion, the communicant at the minimum must be free from mortal sin. And what does this mean?  It means that he must not be set against the covenant, that he must not be opposed to any sacrifice that might be demanded from him in order to remain true to his covenant with his Savior. For the communion of sexual intercourse to be a means of holiness or, at the least, not a means of unholiness, the spouses must likewise be free from any obstacles that will deny the covenant that they have made before God. If they have taken each other for better or for worse, their renewal of their marriage covenant must likewise be for better or for worse. Just as when they pledged to give themselves and to receive the other regardless of the consequences, so also must their subsequent communion in the marriage act be free from any denial of this covenant.

In the reception of the Holy Eucharist, it is not enough to be “generally” turned toward God. A person in a state of sin may not look back to last year (when faced with fewer temptations he was not in a state of sin) and receive the Eucharist on the basis of last year’s state. His present state is all-important.  Nor may he look forward to the unknown future and, under an intention to leave the state of sin sometime in the future when conditions are less pressing, receive the Eucharist in his present state of sin.  The worthiness of his Communion depends upon his present state of soul, his present willingness to give of himself in following Christ. In other words, he may not play a percentage morality and state that since most of the time he is open to the sacrifice required by Christian life, he may therefore worthily receive Communion at any time even though he be temporarily alienated from God and unwilling to live the life of love as his circumstances demand it. What he must avoid in this particular example is the false application of what might be called a principle of totality.

One of the current [mid-1960s] questions concerning marriage and sexual intercourse is whether it is not sufficient to have the marriage as a whole open to the service of life but permissible to exclude positively that openness to life in the expression of mutual love in sexual intercourse. It renews again the conflict between the purposes of marriage—procreation and mutual development. Or to state it positively, would it not be permissible to positively preclude the possibility of conception through direct contraception? According to some, a principle of totality, under which the marriage as a whole is open and generous in the service of life, would be sufficient; but it would not be necessary for each and every act of married sexual love to reflect that openness even in a minimal way, i.e., at least open to the remote possibility though not intending procreation.1

Personally, I find the approach very attractive, especially when I imagine some family burdened by a severe health problem on the part of the woman which makes pregnancy extremely dangerous, and whose openness to the service of life is witnessed by the adoption of other children. Because of these hardships, it is all the more important that the question be clearly answered: Is marriage itself and the overall generosity and openness to life the only sacred reality involved, or is the act of married sexual intercourse something sacred of itself—something whose sacred character must be respected in every instance regardless of circumstances? Or to put the question in terms of today’s ethical theories, is the sacred character of the married sexual act something absolute or is it conditioned by the situation of the married couple?
(John F. Kippley, Sex and the Marriage Covenant)
From July 19th to the evening of August 7th (NFP Awareness Week through World Breastfeeding Week) anyone can purchase the following printed books at a 40% discount at lulu:
Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach (coil edition preferred for learners)
The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding: The Frequency Factor
Battle-Scarred: Justice Can Be Elusive
Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing