Tag Archives: theology of the body

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.

prayergraphiclaudatosib161

50 Shades of Grey: A Picture of Distorted Love

rock

Home, sweet home.

Apparently, I live under a rock. A big one.

Until recently I had no idea about the book 50 Shades of Grey being made into a movie. Back when the book was first released and all the rage, I knew of a couple of women who had read the book, but instantly chalked it up to yet another book that denigrated women, men and marriage.

Essentially an erotic story of a couple’s sadistic relationship, it was hard for me to understand why so many people, especially women, would buy into such a story until I read this article by Dr. Greg Popcak, Why is 50 Shades of Grey So Popular. As Dr. Popcak says, there is always more than one explanation for such things, but his theory that it is linked to repressed femininity strikes true with me.

I’d like to quote his entire article – it is all worth reading and not very long – but I will restrain myself and stick to this blurb which might capture his meaning:

“[T]here is a major theme that I have observed that contributes to the tendency for many–even, apparently, a majority–of women to desire and/or submit themselves to this kind of treatment. Namely, our prevailing culture’s secular-feminist ethic makes it taboo for women to want to be vulnerable in any healthy ways. Women are told they must expect to take care of themselves. They must be strong, self-sufficient and powerful. Of course there is nothing wrong–and everything right–with being a capable, competent woman. But many women are taught that they must take this a step further. They can never allow themselves to be vulnerable. They must be competent at all things, and at all costs. They don’t let themselves need anyone, least of all a man.”

It is at times like this when I feel the message of NFP is needed more than ever. Regardless of the reason couples choose to begin using NFP, through its practice men and women inevitably gain a greater appreciation of the beauty and gift of their sexuality, and a greater respect for each other. Respect leads to love, not use and thus abuse. We were made to love people and use things. The 50 Shades message would have us believe otherwise.

I encourage you to read his article, and then his subsequent one if you would like ideas on how to Fight the Power of 50 Shades of Grey. In addition to Dr. Popcak’s book, Holy Sex!, below are some books you might want to check out if interested in learning more about true femininity and masculinity:

 

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.

Your Love Story

your love story header logo

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!

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!

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