Matt C. Abbott
December 13, 2012
Promoting conjugal chastity and NFP
By Matt C. Abbott

From John F. Kippley, co-founder of Natural Family Planning International, Inc. (edited):
    Maybe God is telling us something. Millions of prayers and sacrifices did not persuade the majority of Catholics to vote against the pro-abortion, pro-free-contraception, pro-same-sex marriage, anti-religious-freedom agenda of the Democratic Party platform. All too obviously, the election did not give us the hoped-for reprieve from the Obama birth control mandate.

    Maybe God is telling us that he is not the dues ex machine of the theater who swoops in at the last minute to clean up the mess we have made and have refused to clean up. The culture war engaging the Church today is like football. No matter how glitzy the uniforms and how excellent the quarterback, you don't win championships without excellent basics — blocking and tackling. You don't win culture-war battles without good preaching and teaching.

    The battleground basic orders were given clearly by Christ the King on Ascension Day. Preach the gospel to everyone and teach them to observe all that He has taught us. With regard to sexuality, both the preaching and the teaching have been largely absent for the last 44 years. In our part of Cincinnati, we are fortunate to have one pastor who makes it clear from the pulpit that contraception is seriously sinful, and he backs up his personal teaching by making our NFP course a required part of marriage preparation. If every pastor in these United States had been doing the same for the last 23 years, the election would have gone the other way. (I say '23 years' because it was in 1989 that a U.S. bishops' committee urged that every engaged couple should be required to attend a full course of NFP instruction as a normal part of preparation for marriage.)

    It is not my ecclesiastical responsibility to save this country and the rest of the world from its murderous lusts. That is clearly the mission of the Catholic Church, and the primary responsibility rests upon those who have the authority to preach and teach. Part of our responsibility as laity, however, is to pray for our bishops and priests to fulfill their duties 'in season and out of season' as St. Paul wrote. So let's do more of that.

    But Jesus also expects us to do what we can in addition to prayer. 'Everyone to whom much is given, of him will much be required' (Lk 12:48). And we have been given much.

    • Ecological breastfeeding is a true gift to baby and parents alike.

    • The easy-to-grasp covenant theology is a gift that is helpful to many.

    • When we really need additional spacing, the highly effective STM is real gift.

    • Freedom to choose among morally valid options is a moral good, and in NFPI we are gifted to be able to make such choices.
    That is what needs to be shared as widely as possible, and we have a plan to do so — teach the classic Triple Strand form of NFP via the internet as widely as we can.

    Almost every parish in the country is underserved when it comes to obtaining these gifts, and we need to do what we can. Since we have only a couple of handfuls of Teaching Couples and they are seriously underused by their parishes, it makes sense to focus on the Web-based NFPI Home Study course. At the NFPI website, all a person has to do is to register for the course, download the manual and charts, and buy a thermometer at a nearby store. (Or they can order a printed manual and a thermometer online.) The course is based on our manual, and couples have proved repeatedly that they can learn its contents through a series of three text-based tests. It is a great product, and at only $70, it is very economical.

    1. Parish promoters can play a significant role in the effort to share these gifts locally, so we hope you will help with this. We will send out a bulletin announcement every other month, and parish promoters will ask one or more parishes to run it. You do not have to teach, but you will stand a much better chance of getting the announcement accepted if you insert your name and phone for local contact.

    The effort to get our website Home Study course in front of parishioners is a real act of kindness, and it may be just what is needed to help one couple that month toward some sort of conversion. Your little effort could have a lifelong beneficial effect on someone, and isn't that important? If you can help with this, let us know on the enclosed reply.

    2. Advertising. We did some advertising early this calendar year, and we want to continue this effort in a much expanded way. We want to advertise in several Catholic publications, programs, and websites, and would love to advertise more widely. Our first emphasis will be on the Home Study Course; our second effort will be to attract readers to read a specially designed website article that supports the teaching of Humanae Vitae.

    3. Prayer for the promotion project. Even if we could plaster our information in front of every person in the world, it would be of little use unless backed by prayer. Pope Benedict said something that rings so true that we include it in our manual: 'The organ for seeing God is the heart. The intellect alone is not enough...'

    So please pray that more and more of your neighbors, parishioners, and countrymen will open their hearts to learn the divine truths about human love, and please pray that our bishops and priests will have the courage to preach and teach these truths.

    4. Prayer for NFP International. Sheila and I still enjoy very good health and reasonable energy, but time marches on. We need someone to take over the leadership of this organization, the sooner the better. We enjoy working as volunteers, but we need someone who is passionate about the Tripe Strand to take over NFP International. We ask you to join us in praying every day for the wisdom and the prudence and the manpower and the money to make NFPI a widespread and long-lasting service to couples and the Church.

    Why bother? I know that we in NFPI are not going to change the world. That's the business of the Lord. But we need to do what we can. The downward spiral of America and the Church in these United States will be slowed, stopped and reversed only by the acceptance of the moral teaching of the Lord Jesus, today taught almost exclusively by the Catholic Church. This country needs a Catholic vote. One indispensable step toward that goal is the requirement that every engaged couple take the right kind of NFP course as urged in 1989 by a U.S. bishops' committee. Spouses who practice marital chastity vote pro-life and pro-chastity. If 40 percent or even 25 percent of Catholic fertile-age couples accepted Catholic teaching, we could have a pro-life Congress and President.

    A few of our bishops already realize this. Some day, some year the vast majority of Catholic bishops will follow the 1989 recommendation, and the process of authentic renewal in Church and country will take root. It will be slow, but it will be certain.

    In the meantime, every priest — no matter where — can require the Home Study Course for marriage preparation, and we laity need to do what we can. Maybe as a result of your personal efforts, one more mother will do eco-breastfeeding and will experience a whole new appreciation for her baby and God's plans. Perhaps a young single couple will grasp the meaning of sexual union and will say 'no' to their inclinations — and do so with increased love and respect. Maybe another couple will accept conversion, and another will accept God's call to have a larger family. This is a time for increased resolve.
To assist Mr. Kippley's apostolate in whatever fashion you're able, visit www.NFPandmore.org.

Click here to read a pertinent article titled "Is Natural Family Planning a Heresy?" by Father Brian W. Harrison.

© Matt C. Abbott

 

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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication, Media and Theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He has been interviewed on MSNBC, NPR and WLS-TV in Chicago, and has been quoted in The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. He can be reached at mattcabbott@gmail.com.

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