Tag Archives: contraception

Laudato Si and NFP

I am only a few pages into Laudato Si, but I am already loving it! Our beloved Pope Francis truly has the heart of St. Francis. He is a poet. He is also challenging me in ways I did not expect.

We have a child with severe food allergies, and from the moment of her diagnosis just about everything in our life changed. There’s nothing like a crisis to instigate change. We had to rethink everything we did, from cooking to bathing and everything in-between. We gained a new vocabulary, learned to decipher nutrition labels, and gained new skills. It took at least a year, if not two, to accumulate an arsenal of new recipes and familiarity with cooking new foods. We removed all allergens from our home, shopped the organic aisle, developed rules about encounters with friends and family, rules about traveling, and in the meantime learned more about natural health. Let me tell you, it was a challenge. Nowadays much of this is routine, but it was a big learning curve.

Reading this encyclical feels kind of like being diagnosed with food allergies again.  We have just been diagnosed with major life changing news, but in this case the diagnosis includes everyone on the planet. Pope Francis, while expounding a bit on the theology of creation and our role as caretakers of our Brother Earth, describes the dire state in which our world lies. We have misused our resources and are placing the planet, and all lives, in jeopardy. He is calling for change and to take responsibilty for the problem. But will others understand his message and the crisis he depicts enough to change?

I recently read an article from the National Catholic Register entitled Birth Control in Drinking Water: A Fertility Catastrophe in the Making? It seemed rather appropriate that it was published around the release of Laudato Si. It cites a recent report by the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) that has found evidence that some fish have been dramatically affected by excreted birth control hormones contained in drinking water. The effects on the fish included reduced fertility (up to the third generation even when not directly exposed), reduced fertilization rates, impaired embryo survival rates (miscarriage), and the drugs’ ability to “feminize” male fish. Sound familiar? As a NFP teacher perhaps my ears are attuned to the numerous stories of couples who are struggling to conceive or who have suffered from miscarriage. How much of this is due to contaminants in drinking water and food? The USGS study, says the article, “adds to a growing body of evidence that man-made endocrine-disrupting chemicals — those that affect hormone systems and numerous body functions, including conception — are damaging wildlife, wreaking havoc on reproductive, immunological and nervous systems.” But this information is being shrugged off and ignored. Something the Pope warns about in this new encyclical.

Reading both this article and the encyclical reignites my passion for promoting NFP. How can people, especially doctors, justify prescribing birth control (and unnecessary medication in general) when scientific research supports that it negatively impacts wildlife, and ignore the logical respective repercussions for humanity? Especially when NFP is just as effective as a means of regulating birth, if not more so. NFP is not simply a moral and religious question, it is a clear-cut solution to the environmental dilemma our world is facing.

Our family is already familiar with label-reading and organic food, but it needs to be taken to a new level. Now we need to think in terms of how all we do and consume impacts the planet. Everything, from shampoos to detergents to medicine, it all weighs upon our common home, and we have a responsibility to take measures to care for and protect it for all to enjoy. This includes NFP and the need to promote it vigorously. We are one family, and all of our efforts, big and small, make a difference.

I hope you will join us.

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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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The New Evangelization & NFP

How do the two go together? Kind of like this…

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Photo by Tomaz Silva/ABr (Agência Brasil)

Usually I am a fast reader, but when it comes to papal documents I can only absorb bits at a time. I am only a few pages into Evangelii Gaudium (the Joy of the Gospel), but already I feel the joyful spirit of Pope Francis’ words reinvigorating my zeal for proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ. In this document, Pope Francis is asking us to do just that, you and me, in our own homes, communities, in our everyday interactions with those we meet, to renew our lives with the love and joy of Christ. Personally, while reading his words I hear the Holy Spirit calling me to increase my efforts in proclaiming God’s Good News particularly in promoting Natural Family Planning. How is that evangelizing?

Natural Family Planning (NFP) builds up a culture of life, which means a society that respects the dignity of life from conception to death. NFP does this by freeing couples, and thus society, from the harmful effects of contraception, and the mentality that often corresponds to its use (i.e. “It is okay to harm my body to satisfy my desires or for convenience”). When couples begin to use and understand NFP, they naturally begin to understand and respect their bodies more, and they come to see themselves as more than just a body. They are persons.

When men and women begin to see themselves as persons with dignity and worth, they begin to see others that way as well, and so a proper self-love grows and also becomes a love of “my other self.” Parents who have a proper self-love and love of others transmit this image to their children. Then these people who see themselves and each other as beautiful become a beautiful, holy family. This beautiful, holy family, in turn begins to evangelize society with their loving witness. This is the work we do person to person, couple to couple, when we teach and promote Natural Family Planning.

And thus, this is one small way I can participate in the New Evangelization.

Do you feel Pope Francis’ call to spreading the Joy of the Gospel?

Awesome Resource: 1Flesh.org

Have you heard about 1Flesh yet? A new movement (circa 2012), their goal is to promote natural family planning (non-method-specific) through University chapters and media campaigns, such as the one below.

Their tagline, “Bring Sexy Back,” reminds me of the words of Bl. Pope John Paul II. Though speaking about pornography at the time, it translates well in regards to human sexuality in general (taken from Theology of the Body I believe):

“[…]The problem with pornography is not that it shows too much of the person,
but that it shows far too little”.

Taking it a step further: the problem with Society’s portrayal of sex is not that it shows too much, but far too little. When people learn the truth about sex, the full and beautiful truth instead of a twisted one, they are liberated. Therefore, I wish 1Flesh all the best in their endeavors!

On CCL’s blog, The Art of NFP, there is an article Christina Ries wrote about her interview with 1Flesh’s president, Marie-Claire Reer. You should check it out here.

Incidentally, there is a 1Flesh chapter at Truman State University. Go Bulldogs!

Green Sex by Jason Evert

Green Sex: The Case for Natural Family Planning

In my opinion, the case for natural family planning has never been so well said. This is a wonderful talk! If you haven’t heard or read anything by Jason Evert, I encourage you to do so. Especially check out his Chastity Project website. Jason is such a dynamic speaker and writer. His enthusiasm is contagious!

A generous friend bought this talk for my husband and I to listen to, and we are so grateful. We both enjoyed it. I hope you have the opportunity to buy it for yourselves as well, or perhaps for a friend.

Before listening, I (ahem) thought I would know most of what Jason would talk about because so much of our teacher training for CCL covers Church documents and teaching, among other things. Jason’s approach is totally different from what I expected. For those that might suspect it, this is not a talk about, “how you should be using NFP because contraception is evil.” It progresses very naturally and beautifully beginning with God’s original design for sex and ending with a wonderful description of all the benefits of natural family planning. Why contraception harms us on so many levels makes sense when we understand it from the full perspective; when we take a step back and look at the big picture.

Some of my favorite images from this talk include his description of the traditional Jewish betrothal ceremony. How a Jewish man would propose to his beloved; how her drinking the cup with him was a sign of her acceptance; how he would then, “go to prepare a place,” for his bride; and that “only his father would know” the wedding date as it would be for him to decide. Jason goes into more detail about this and how it all ties into Scripture, as an analogy Jesus used to describe for us the relationship God is calling us to in union with Him in heaven. Jason expounds on the beauty of the marital embrace, how when there is a need for family planning, NFP is the best option because contraception degrades this beautiful gift and hurts us. This is just a sampling. Nothing can substitute for actually listening to the talk yourself.

This has topped my personal favorites chart. Like a favorite book, this is one I will listen to over and over again. I hope in some future posts to explain more fully some of the things I have learned from Jason’s talk, and pull in some other sources. In the meanwhile, go to Lighthouse Catholic Media and check it out for yourself!