Tag Archives: Marriage

Happy Thanksgiving

It is that time of year again!

I love how we have a national holiday to reflect and give thanks for all of our blessings.

I retain mixed emotional memories about Thanksgiving. As a kid, I found it difficult to spend hours at strange relatives’ houses, eating strange food in even stranger shapes and colors, cornered with interrogative questions, and always seeming to elicit a laugh I didn’t understand. But ironically enough, something I always enjoyed was the festive gathering of family from near and far, and the spirit of family. Though it was obvious not everyone always understood one another, love was the bond that brought and kept everyone together.

Coming from a large family has always been among my greatest blessings.

These days, my husband and I are creating new memories and traditions with our own little family. One of my new favorites is attending the Mass on Thanksgiving Day, and offering up special prayers that day. I have found some beautiful Thanksgiving prayers I’d like to share. This year our plan is to pick one to copy out and pray together that day while holding hands and bowing heads, offering thanks to God for all His bountiful gifts. So far, this one is my favorite:

O Gracious God, we give you thanks for your overflowing generosity to us. Thank you for the blessings of the food we eat and especially for this feast today. Thank you for our home and family and friends, especially for the presence of those gathered here. Thank you for our health, our work and our play. Please send help to those who are hungry, alone, sick and suffering war and violence. Open our hearts to your love. We ask your blessing through Christ your son. Amen.

The holidays can be difficult for people for many reasons, but I pray that this Thanksgiving and upcoming Advent be a time of reflection, prayer, and peace in our marriages and families.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Credit: Couple to Couple League, Inc.

Credit: Couple to Couple League, Inc.

NEW Self-Paced Online Course

I am so excited to announce that CCL’s new Self-Paced Online Course is now available!

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Designed with busy couples in mind, this course replaces CCL’s old Home Study course and can be completed in the convenience of your home, at your own pace.

This is an exciting new development for CCL especially as it will potentially meet the need of those couples desiring to learn NFP but unable to physically attend a class, whether it be a scheduling conflict, distance dilemma or a comfort issue. While we always recommend in-person classes as being the best way to learn and to connect and receive support from a teaching couple, sometimes a physical, and even a virtual class, just isn’t possible.

Want more good news? It is only $99! This is an introductory price, and we encourage couples to take advantage of it while available.

Even more good news: course fees for our Live Online and Live Onsite classes have also been reduced. Only $130 each! (Shipping and handling not included.) What a deal! Especially considering that the information gained from learning NFP generally leads couples to a greater understanding and appreciation for each other, which generally leads to healthier choices, which generally leads to healthier lives, which generally leads to healthier families, which generally leads to a healthier Earth. (Whew!)

Each class format has it’s unique benefits, and challenges, but the hope is that couples will find at least one of them to be feasible and affordable, and learning NFP that much easier.

Natural Family Planning: a tool for your health, marriage, family, world. Learn it today!

Happy Father’s Day

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Happy Father’s Day!

Fathers are so important. It is easy to forget that, especially in a society torn by divorce and mixed messages about marriage. As a great reminder, Dr. Greg Popcak has listed 15 Reasons Dads Matter. I can personally attest to many of these as I witness them in my own home, especially in regards to language and social development.

Reading (3)Ever since she was a baby, I could always see a positive change and growth in our daughter each time Daddy interacted with her. Her facial expressions and mannerisms have always been different with him than with me. As she has grown older, I can see changes in her speech and vocabulary after each playtime with Daddy. Suddenly, she is a big girl with loads of self-esteem because Daddy, her prince, has spent time with her, even if only a few minutes (of course, the more time the better, but we work with what we have). These are precious development, precious moments for both her and us.

How grateful I am that we have an entire day dedicated to celebrating and honoring fathers! Their presence and support is irreplaceable.

On behalf of all of us at Mid-MO NFP, I’d like to wish a special day to all fathers, natural and spiritual, those who are with us and those who have gone before us, to those whose children are in heaven, and especially our NFP dads. Your loving support, protection, guidance, and witness mirror the love of our heavenly Father. May He bless you for it and all the sacrifices you make in service of Him and your families. We pray especially for our spiritual fathers, our priests, pastors, brothers, whom we also honor and thank today for their ministry to us. May God bless you all!

New Life & Spring Happenings

Hello NFP Family! My apologies for the long blog silence. God has blessed us with a new addition to the household and it has taken some time to readjust.

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I am always amazed by God’s love. It is so wondrous and creative. He has used the love Jeremy and I have for each other to bring about a totally new human person, complete with body and soul, who will live for eternity. The mystery of creation and of God’s love is so profound and unfathomable, and yet we can hold it in our hands.

How quickly our lives can change! This time last year, we had no idea that we would be loving this new person into existence. Some know that we have been sincerely praying for a while for the blessing of more children, and so we thank those who have joined our petitioning the Lord, with special thanks to St. Joseph for his special intercession.

And so this Spring as we celebrate the gift of new life, and each new day God blesses us with, I will also be attempting to garden without a green thumb. I try to keep in mind, though, that God gives us all that we need to accomplish His will if we ask, including the energy with which to do it, and so as I attempt to find the balance with time and energy I will try my best to stay on top of posting. Note that the key work here is try. My philosophy is that my family gets the best of my time and attention, and as blogging is another skill I am still learning, like gardening, I cannot promise there will not be some lapses. I hope, though, that you will hang in there and continue to follow along as I chronicle the happenings in our little part of the world.

Upcoming Event: NFP Potluck
We are planning a Mid-Missouri NFP Family Potluck in June. Yay! I always enjoy catching up with other NFP families, and meeting new friends. The details will be forthcoming, but it looks like it will be June 28th, so keep that date in mind for us as we would really like to see you there!

Inspirational Reading
I thought I would share with you a post by Haley from Carrots for Michaelmas, in which she offers some tips for when you are not quite yet living the life you dreamed. Haley and her family are preparing to embark on a new adventure which they have been working hard to achieve. I have a feeling that this may speak to many of us. I find it inspirational as I know we are not in our “ideal” place. In our fast-paced world of instant gratification, it is helpful to know that there are others like us out there who through hard work are still achieving a greater dream. Maybe for some, those dreams include having children, or more children, owning a home, having a better and more fulfilling job, and so on. For Jeremy and I, the hard work lies in exercising more patience and fortitude, and continually trying to align our hearts with the will of God through prayer so that we stay true to His calling in our lives, as He knows best what will make us happiest. As the saying goes (in my own words): God always answers prayers; sometimes He says “no,” or at least, “not yet.” For those of you who are also in this situation, and who may be receiving this answer from God, I pray for the patience and fortitude you need, and that God is ready to bestow, to endure this time of working and waiting, while enjoying the blessings of every day.

And may God bless you this Easter springtime with new life!

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.

 

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.

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?

Our Mission & Evangelii Gaudium

pope-FrancisPope Francis challenges me. There is no way for me to listen or read his words without feeling he is speaking directly to me and calling me to action.

One of the things I really appreciate about being a volunteer with the Couple to Couple League is that it is truly a ministry. As a couple, my husband and I can minister to other couples and families with a message that is sorely missing today. Together we can help build stronger marriages and thus stronger families. We do this through our NFP apostolate.

My husband recently found the following paragraph in Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, which seems to summarize our position within the Church. I thought it would be interesting to share not only with the general public to elaborate on our mission, but also with other CCL volunteers as a reminder of where we fit in the greater scheme and how we serve our communities:

“Other Church institutions, basic communities and small communities, movements, and forms of association are a source of enrichment for the Church, raised up by the Spirit for evangelizing different areas and sectors. Frequently they bring a new evangelizing fervour and a new capacity for dialogue with the world whereby the Church is renewed. But it will prove beneficial for them not to lose contact with the rich reality of the local parish and to participate readily in the overall pastoral activity of the particular Church. This kind of integration will prevent them from concentrating only on part of the Gospel or the Church, or becoming nomads without roots.” (Evangelii Gaudium, paragraph 29).

Blessings!

 

Pope Francis’ Letter to Families

Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, wrote the following letter to all families. I have reposted it here from the vatican website. Here is the original link. It is so worth taking the time to read…and reread.

Dear families,

With this letter, I wish, as it were, to come into your homes to speak about an event which will take place at the Vatican this coming October. It is the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which is being convened to discuss the theme of “pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelization”. Indeed, in our day the Church is called to proclaim the Gospel by confronting the new and urgent pastoral needs facing the family.

This important meeting will involve all the People of God – bishops, priests, consecrated men and women, and lay faithful of the particular Churches of the entire world – all of whom are actively participating in preparations for the meeting through practical suggestions and the crucial support of prayer. Such support on your part, dear families, is especially significant and more necessary than ever. This Synodal Assembly is dedicated in a special way to you, to your vocation and mission in the Church and in society; to the challenges of marriage, of family life, of the education of children; and the role of the family in the life of the Church. I ask you, therefore, to pray intensely to the Holy Spirit, so that the Spirit may illumine the Synodal Fathers and guide them in their important task. As you know, this Extraordinary Synodal Assembly will be followed a year later by the Ordinary Assembly, which will also have the family as its theme. In that context, there will also be the World Meeting of Families due to take place in Philadelphia in September 2015. May we all, then, pray together so that through these events the Church will undertake a true journey of discernment and adopt the necessary pastoral means to help families face their present challenges with the light and strength that comes from the Gospel.

I am writing this letter to you on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple. The evangelist Luke tells us that the Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph, in keeping with the Law of Moses, took the Baby Jesus to the temple to offer him to the Lord, and that an elderly man and woman, Simeon and Anna, moved by the Holy Spirit, went to meet them and acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah (cf. Lk 2:22-38). Simeon took him in his arms and thanked God that he had finally “seen” salvation. Anna, despite her advanced age, found new vigour and began to speak to everyone about the Baby. It is a beautiful image: two young parents and two elderly people, brought together by Jesus. He is the one who brings together and unites generations! He is the inexhaustible font of that love which overcomes every occasion of self-absorption, solitude, and sadness. In your journey as a family, you share so many beautiful moments: meals, rest, housework, leisure, prayer, trips and pilgrimages, and times of mutual support… Nevertheless, if there is no love then there is no joy, and authentic love comes to us from Jesus. He offers us his word, which illuminates our path; he gives us the Bread of life which sustains us on our journey.

Dear families, your prayer for the Synod of Bishops will be a precious treasure which enriches the Church. I thank you, and I ask you to pray also for me, so that I may serve the People of God in truth and in love. May the protection of the Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph always accompany all of you and help you to walk united in love and in caring for one another. I willingly invoke on every family the blessing of the Lord.

From the Vatican, 2 February 2014
Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

 FRANCIS

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!