Pope Paul VI, author of Humanae Vitae, On Human Life, was criticized when he released his controversial encyclical back in July of 1968. He stated that artificial birth control was “intrinsically evil.” He also foresaw the events that are happening in our world today. The video below from Bishop Robert Barron shares some of most interesting prophecies from Pope Paul VI.
So why NFP (or Natural Family Planning)? NFP is safe, healthy and effective. Most importantly, it is a morally acceptable way to avoid and achieve pregnancy.
If we look at the four components of God’s love for us (free, total, faithful, fruitful) and compare God’s love to marital love, we can discover how to live the Sacrament of marriage as the ultimate expression of spousal love.
Free: We need to be able love our spouse freely. If we ask for conditions, that’s not love. If we force our spouse to do something, that’s not love. If we cannot say no to our sexual urges, then we are not free.
Total: The love for our spouse must be total. We can’t say, “Well, I’ll give you everything, honey, except for my fertility.” Total means total. (Re: CCC 1643).
Faithful: Obviously, faithfulness means we must only have intercourse with our spouse and no other. But if we want to be truly faithful to our spouse, we must be faithful in word, action and thought.
Fruitful: Marital relations must be fruitful, open to children, each and every time. That doesn’t mean we will conceive (or want to conceive) a child with every marital embrace. It just means we need to be open.
Birth control, in fact, destroys all four of the essential components (free, total, faithful, fruitful). Birth control violates not only God’s plan in fruitfulness, but it also encourages an “I can’t say no” mentality to sex. When an action, device, medication or operation is purposefully used to remove fertility, a couple cannot give themselves totally, no matter how much they love each other. Contraception says, “I give all of myself to my spouse – except my fertility.”
Natural Family Planning allows a couple to love each other as God loves: freely, totally, faithfully and fruitfully. Couples using NFP chart the wife’s cycle and, if avoiding pregnancy, they abstain in the fertile time. If they are planning a pregnancy, they engage in relations during the fertile time. They are not using devices; they are fully giving of themselves and they are open to children with each and every act of marital relations.
NFP allows us to love our spouse as God loves us: freely, with no reservation, faithfully and open to children. Marriage can be a holy vocation when a couple loves as God loves: freely, totally, faithfully and fruitfully.
Want to live the highest expression of your marital love? Use NFP and be open to life.
For more information about the Theology of the Body:
The theme for NFP Awareness Week is It’s Time: Say Yes to God’s Plan for Married Love. Since NFP definitely says yes to God’s plan for married love, and since today is the 38th anniversary of when my husband and I first met, I’d like to share seven of my favorite quotes on marriage.
1. “Intense love does not measure; it just gives.” (Blessed Teresa of Calcutta) This quote so perfectly illustrates the sacrificial love of marriage and, indeed, of any relationship. I see this illustrated every day when my husband goes above and beyond to sacrifice for our family. I try to live this quote: every morning I wake up and think, “What can I do to make my husband’s life easier today?”
2. “Marriage is an act of will that signifies and involves a mutual gift, which unites the spouses and binds them to their eventual souls, with whom they make up a sole family – a domestic church. ” (Saint John Paul II). Love is not merely a feeling; it is a choice. Every day I have an opportunity to choose to love my spouse. Sometimes it isn’t easy, but it’s always worthwhile.
3. “Be not afraid.” (Saint John Paul II) As shown in the photo below, I certainly wasn’t afraid of what the future would hold for us. I was too happy at that moment to think of future difficulties and challenges. I had no idea what the next 35 years would bring. All married couples will face hardships and challenges. But they will also experience great joy to balance any hardships. Of course, couples who enter into a sacramental marriage (and who live their faith) have the additional graces to assist them in handling any challenges and hardships.
4. “The two shall become one.” (Genesis 2:24) There’s no better illustration of our unity and oneness than our children who are the walking “representations of our love.” (cr Saint John Paul II).
6. “How can I ever express the happiness of the marriage that is joined together by the Church strengthened by an offering, sealed by a blessing, announced by angels and ratified by the Father? …How wonderful the bond between two believers with a single hope, a single desire, a single observance, a single service! They are both brethren and both fellow-servants; there is no separation between them in spirit or flesh; in fact they are truly two in one flesh and where the flesh is one, one is the spirit.”(24) Tertullian (cr Familiaris Consortio Saint John Paul II)
I love this quote from Tertullian, who exquisitely describes the spiritual and physical joys of the one flesh experience of Christian marriage.
7. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Romans 4:6) Prayer is such an important part of a sacramental marriage. But having people pray for you is also essential. In that regard, I’d like to share one of my favorite anniversary gifts: a beautiful card that was lovingly made for us by Dominican Novices back in 2012 when we were celebrating our 30th anniversary. Each sister signed her name to one day in May with a note below saying that “In honor of this occasion, we will offer 30 days (plus one) of prayer with a different sister praying for you each day this month.” Wow.
Text and photos copyright 2012/2017 Ellen Gable Hrkach
Since this is “NFP Awareness Week,” I’d like to share some of my favorite Theology of the Body fiction!
(Pardon the shameless self-promotion of my own books in this list!)
Emily’s Hope (Ellen Gable, 2005, FQ Publishing)
Passport (Christopher Blunt, 2008, Pelican Crossing Press)
Midnight Dancers (Regina Doman, 2008, Chesterton Press)
In Name Only (Ellen Gable, 2009, FQ Publishing, 2010 IPPY Gold Medal Winner)
Stealing Jenny (Ellen Gable, 2011, FQ Publishing)
Finding Grace (Laura Pearl, 2012, Bezalel Books)
Angela’s Song (AnnMarie Creedon, 2012, FQ Publishing)
Rapunzel Let Down (Regina Doman, 2013, Chesterton Press)
Vingede (Friar Tobe #2) (Krisi Keley, 2013, S & H Publishing)
Don’t You Forget About Me (Erin McCole Cupp, 2013, FQ Publishing)
A Subtle Grace (Ellen Gable, 2014, FQ Publishing)
The Lion’s Heart (Dena Hunt, 2014, FQ Publishing, 2016 CALA Award Winner)
A World Such as Heaven Intended (Amanda Lauer, 2014, FQ Publishing)
Working Mother (Erin McCole Cupp, 2014, FQ Publishing)
Stay With Me (Carolyn Astfalk, 2015, FQ Publishing)
Dying for Revenge (Barbara Golder, 2016, FQ Publishing, Finalist Next Generation Indie Book Awards)
Dying for Compassion (Barbara Golder, 2017, FQ Publishing)
Discovery (Karina Fabian, 2016, FQ Publishing)
Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body (Cupp and Gable, editors, 2016, FQ Publishing)
Rightfully Ours (Carolyn Astfalk, 2017, FQ Publishing)
To check out many of these books, go to the Full Quiver Publishing website!
Natural Family Planning Awareness Week begins next week. A great way to start the celebration is with humor!
All images are copyright by James and Ellen Hrkach. Please do not use without permission.
Amazon Synopsis: “Today bring to Me all mankind, especially all sinners, and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy.” — Jesus to St. Faustina. Throughout her Diary, St. Faustina speaks of Jesus’ call for the conversion of souls. Through prayer and sacrifice, the Lord calls us all to strive for our own conversion, and for the conversion of the whole world. Perhaps you’ve tried everything to draw your friend or family member back to faith in God. In St. Faustina Prayer Book for the Conversion of Sinners, best-selling author Susan Tassone shows you how to place the lives of all you love into God’s merciful hands. Known worldwide as leading the “purgatory movement,” Susan invites you to learn how to live the message of conversion daily, to avoid purgatory, and to become more faithful in praying for others.
My review: Excellent book, as are all of Susan Tassone’s books. “The Purgatory Lady,” as Susan is known, has written many books about the Holy Souls in Purgatory and the conversion of sinners. This book gives us ways not only to pray for our loved ones who are away from the faith, but it also helps us to grow in faith and to glimpse the mercy of God in action. Highly recommend!
Amazon Synopsis: Catechetical thought leader Lisa Mladinich offers nearly 300 original prayers that will resonate with every Catholic teacher, principal, DRE, or catechist who has ever uttered the words, ‘Class, let’s bow our heads…’ Every teacher, catechist, or homeschooling parent appreciates a new collection of prayers to start the year. This book enables faith formation and prayer in a way that is easy to integrate into a busy class day. Mladinich provides prayers for the needs of both teachers and students, as well as Scripture verses and suggestions for use. Read these prayers in your classroom, by yourself before the start of the school day, in your religious education class, or in department and faculty meetings.
My review: Beautifully written and powerful book of prayers. This is ideal for teachers, homeschooling parents or religious education teachers. Highly recommend!
Amazon Synopsis: Fatima. Few place-names in the Christian world conjure up such powerful images and associations as that of this humble town in Portugal. For it was there that Our Lady appeared to three shepherd children beginning in 1917 apparitions that are intimately linked to pious Catholic practices such as devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the five first Saturdays, daily recitation of the Rosary with the Fatima prayer, as well as miracles attested to even by non-believers, such as the day the sun danced. The Virgin s message, as it always is, was penance. But she also predicted world historical events such as the rise and fall of communism, the second world war, and the attempted assassination of Pope St. John Paul II. She promised refuge in her Immaculate Heart to all who approach her a promise extended, and urgently needed, today.
My review: This is a wonderful book about the Apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, just in time for the 100th anniversary of Our Lady’s first appearance to the three shepherd children at Cova da Iria. It is well-researched, well-written and filled with beautiful color photos and images. In 1917, Our Lady of Fatima predicted many world events. After appearing monthly to the three children, devotion to her Immaculate Heart, the recitation of the Holy Rosary along with the new Fatima prayer, and the first five Saturdays were spread throughout the Church and continues to spread throughout the Church even in the 21st century. Although it’s been 100 years, Our Lady’s message continues to be urgently needed today. Highly recommend!
Rightfully Ours is a coming-of-age story of first love, buried treasure, and discovering some things are worth the wait.
When did you first feel called to write fiction? Although I took a noncredit course in short story writing in the early 1990s, I didn’t dedicate any time or effort to fiction writing until late 2010. I’d seen National Novel Writing Month mentioned here and there by online friends and acquaintances and felt a nudge to give it a shot. It came at exactly the right time, when I had a block of time and relative peace to make at least a passable effort.