Category Archives: Natural Family Planning

Pope Francis & Responsible Parenthood

Who can be surprised to hear that the news and social media are portraying Pope Francis incorrectly? I love our Pope! I am so grateful that he fearlessly proclaims the truth in every situation and sees questions as opportunities of evangelization. He recently seized the moment to comment about responsible parenthood, a term coined in past Church documents.

Responsible parenthood refers to each couple’s virtuous decision to plan or postpone mom-20666_1280conception based on the needs of the family, existing and future. In our sympto-thermal NFP classes, through the Couple Couple League, we teach briefly about how responsible parenthood is a guide for couples’ use in planning their family. In class, couples learn a NFP method of fertility awareness. Responsible parenthood is the next step: taking that information home and prayerfully discerning together what God may be calling them to in light of their circumstances.

Of course, the media tried to spin his words, but it has created another opportunity for the rest of us to dialogue on this seldom referenced topic.

Rather than listen to me ramble on, I recommend reading Dr. Greg Popcak’s review of the Pope’s comments, Pope Francis and Catholic Rabbits-5 Points to Consider. After reading them, I am reminded of how powerful this teaching from the Church truly is, and how empowering! The truth sets us free.

 

Book: Managing Morning Sickness

managing morning sickness I’m always on the lookout for good resources, most especially those pertaining to NFP. When I find one it’s like a gem I hold on to. Well today I’d like to tell you one that a friend and fellow NFP teacher put me onto. It is Marilyn M. Shannon‘s book Managing Morning Sickness.

Published by CCL, it totally escaped my attention until recently. It is a small book, but it is packed with research-based self-care options for nausea and related discomforts frequently experienced by pregnant mothers. The simple, home-based treatments Shannon suggests in this book, however, you will not likely hear in the doctor’s office.

Shannon has found research supports that morning sickness may be the result of low blood glucose (hypoglycemia). She then illustrates how this is so, and delineates ways women may overcome it through diet, nutrition and possibly vitamin and mineral supplements. All her suggestions are safe, practical and inexpensive, although she does of course encourage talking with your doctor or midwife before beginning any supplementation, especially as he/she understands any existing health problems you may have.

I highly recommend any woman, pregnant or potentially being so, picking up this book. Statistically speaking, if you have not or do not experience morning sickness during one pregnancy, you or someone you know are likely to in the future, some more severely than others. The tips, tricks and knowledge gained through this reading will help you know how to naturally treat it and so help make your pregnancy more enjoyable and healthy.

Also, in case you are not aware, Marilyn Shannon has another wonderful book, Fertility, Cycles & Nutrition. It is currently part of CCL’s student course kit when registering for the main class series or home study course. My students hear me say this all the time: it is my nutrition bible! It’s the first place I go to whenever I have a question about fertility-related health and nutrition. I cannot recommend it enough. Anything from everyday supplementing to treating annoying PMS symptoms, PCOS, endometriosis, and more, it is a valuable resource with rarely heard but practical, natural, and research-based self-care. Acting on her suggestions could make all the difference for you, like they have for me.

Blessings in the new year!

A Time of Waiting

Advent Calendar

Advent Calendar

I love the liturgical seasons! Right now we are celebrating Advent, the days leading up to Christmas. Beginning Christmas Day, we celebrate the Christmas season for almost two weeks (this year it is eleven days, leading up to the Feast of the Epiphany). For now, daily Mass readings and liturgical observances allow us to slow down, enjoy each day, not live tomorrow before it comes, while also building anticipation and thus a more joyous celebration when Christmas begins.

I have appreciated the daily Advent reflections by Fr. Robert Barron (if you haven’t heard about or receive them, you can check them out here). Reflecting on the idea of waiting, I have been thinking about the concept of abstinence, and how it is misunderstood today. (I feel compelled to clarify that Fr. Barron does not mention sexual abstinence in his Advent reflections.) It seems that some people see NFP as some sort of non-sex program. (Yet, others equate NFP with large families…?) These misconceptions are often are based on assumptions, hype, and inadequate information.

Couples using Natural Family Planning plan intercourse around the naturally occurring times of fertility and infertility they see on their personal charts. If they desire children, they use the fertile times to have intercourse. If they desire to postpone pregnancy, they use the infertile times. The counter-cultural idea here is that a couple would have to wait before satisfying a sexual desire. What many, many people miss is that intercourse that is truly loving is not a matter of merely satisfying sexual desire: it is becoming one with your spouse through an act of self-giving. When the desire to become united with your spouse comes at a time that would not best serve the other, couple or family, couples practice self-discipline and find other ways to show love for each other, and they often find that these practices strengthen their marriage as well.

Abstinence is self-discipline. We discipline ourselves through exercise, by refraining from eating sweets while on a diet, and establishing routines and schedules in our lives, all to achieve goals. Discipline can be difficult, but when we value the goal it is worth the sacrifice, and it makes the goal more worthy, while making us healthier persons.

Abstinence means practicing self-discipline and waiting, as in Advent, to celebrate the gift of each other at the right time. And then! When the time of waiting has passed, the celebration is that much richer.

May God bless us with all the graces needed during our times of waiting, and may we give thanks for them.

Your Love Story

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I don’t know about you, but I’m really looking forward to CCL’s new book, Your Love Story: the Couple to Couple League Guide to Engagement and Marriage! Not yet published, CCL is seeking help with funding their publishing campaign, spreading the word about it’s upcoming release, and prayer for it’s success. Can you help?

If you haven’t heard about the book yet, here is one synopsis: “Deacon Bill Turrentine has written a book entitled Your Love Story. It offers a profound challenge to our secular-dominated culture’s shallow and impoverished view of sex and marriage. This book is an unapologetic reaffirmation of God’s intention for sex and marriage. Well reasoned and researched, using personal stories, illustrations, and humor, Your Love Story is the perfect guide for couples seeking authentic, lifelong marriage.”

“This book, Your Love Story, offers the truth about marriage and family in a way that young people can relate to.” We need more books like this! And I know your help in making this one available sooner will be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance!

A Guide to Contraception

Sometimes it is helpful to have a resource like this handy, for our own questions and those of others: In this article entitled “A What’s-What (and Why It’s Wrong) Guide to 21st-Century Contraception,” made available courtesy of Family Foundations (the bi-monthly publication of CCL), author Kathleen Basi consults physician Dr. Tom Papreck about the different types of contraceptives available.

This article contains information on how they work, why they often are chosen, the moral problems of using them, and a list of other things that people seldom hear about or problems that arise with the use of them. Knowledge is power.

The article is also available on our Resources page (so they’ll be no need to hunt down that old blog post to find it.) 😉

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Prayers for Expectant Mothers

1-baby shoes-001While devouring a good book (this one actually), I read of the author’s experience with the Blessing for Expectant Mothers, and was reminded of the time we received a special blessing during our first pregnancy.

We approached one of our parish priests and asked if he would mind offering a prayer over us as we were pregnant with our first child. He made us a better offer, and arranged to pray the Rite for the Blessing of a Child in the Womb after Mass one day. The Rite is very beautiful. There was more to it than we realized! Though not very lengthy, it contained readings, petitions, and special prayers for the safety and health of mother and child, and prayers for my husband and I as parents. Among all else, it was awesome to be recognizing the beauty and value of our daughter’s life though yet born. The full Rite is available online through the USCCB website, and I’m sure any priest would be happy to bestow this blessing upon your family if asked.

As for individual prayers that could be said anytime and often, I have found a new favorite in this Prayer to St. Anne. Or maybe this Prayer for the Expectant Mother is my favorite. I’m torn:

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When perhaps the Author of Life bestows a gift of life upon you, I hope you find great benefit in praying for your precious child, who will receive many graces and blessings from your heartfelt prayers.

Not to be lost among the expectant and joy-filled hearts, we remember that for some the longing for children and healthy pregnancies is a real living sorrow and cross. Keeping these families in our hearts, below are some prayers I hope are helpful, including a beautiful prayer written by Mother Angelica for those who have experienced a miscarriage (though it also works well for other types of child loss), and prayers for the blessing of a child. May God bless you with comfort and peace.

 

breakfast-21707_640Whew, what a summer! Hope everyone has had a great one. Can’t believe schools are back in session, or for others, will be starting soon.

It’s already time for our Mid-MO NFP Family Potluck!

Please come join us this Sunday. It will be at Our Lady of Lourdes-Flanagan Hall, starting around 12:30pm (following the 11:30am Mass). Anyone and everyone is invited, whether a NFP-user or not. Singles, couples, families, everyone. There’s sure to be good food, not to mention good company. We hope to see you there!

 

What is the Couple To Couple League?

If you’re reading this site, chances are you have, at some point, had contact with the Couple to Couple League. You probably took a class in natural family planning, but you might not really know what CCL does beyond offering classes.

The Couple to Couple League was founded in the 1970s as a way for couples to mentor other couples into the practice of NFP. To my knowledge, it’s the only NFP method based on this mission. Except for a small, dedicated staff at the central office in the Cincinnati area, CCL is entirely composed of volunteers.

That staff at Central is fiercely dedicated to changing the face of our culture through the promotion of natural family planning. They hunt down research to improve the method. They coordinate with local chapters and dioceses, offering resources and support to help local communities bring the good news about NFP to a world that desperately needs it.

Many people only come into contact with CCL for the length of their initial class. You learn NFP and you think you’re done–that’s the beauty of the method, after all; it’s a lifetime of knowledge, gained for a small investment of time and resources.

But then, there are those confusing times–postpartum, premenopause, times when health issues or stress send screwball cycles your way–that’s when you want the support to be there waiting for you.

When family members or acquaintances needle you for practicing NFP, that’s when you need to know you’re not alone–when you need the support of others who have made the same choices you have.

And when your kids approach “that” age, the age where temptation besets them on every side and they are most at risk of falling prey to the force of societal pressure–that’s when you want CCL to be strong. That’s when you want to know that while you were busy raising your family, CCL was acting on behalf of your children’s future.

But for CCL to be able to continue its mission, we need you right now. When you signed up for a class, you received a one-year membership to CCL. That included a subscription to Family Foundations, which features families like yours and their struggles and triumphs. Membership also gave you access to CCL Central staff’s trove of experience and expertise.

But the fact is, CCL needs you beyond that first year. We need your prayers, your financial support, and your involvement. The more we work together, and the more we pool our resources, the more we will be able to make a difference in this world.

So if you learned NFP through CCL but haven’t renewed your membership, we’re asking you to take time to do so. Our local chapter won’t get a kickback, but your support will uplift and strengthen the organization that helps us do what we do here in the diocese of Jefferson City.

Article: Catholic Experts React to Historically Low Fertility Rate

This is a very interesting article about some commentary regarding our historically low fertility rate: Catholic Experts React to Historically Low Fertility Rate in America.

The article states that according to a recent National Center for Health Statistics report, “the total fertility rate has not been above replacement since 2007, and it has dropped every year since.” Catholic experts speculate things that may have led to this problem include a poor economy and the increase of divorce and cohabitation, especially as unstable relationships tend not to be conducive to producing children. I could paraphrase the heck out this article, but really, you should just read it here.

This article makes me think about the Great Overpopulation Myth. Did you know that it is a myth? I wasn’t enlightened until a few years ago. We do not have an overpopulation problem. We are having an underpopulation problem. Here are a couple of websites that do an awesome job explaining:

Question: Did you know that overpopulation is a myth? Or are you skeptical about it?