Sunday, August 10, 2008

Call me Switzerland!

It sure is cold here in the Alps.

There has been a discussion going on that lots of people have referenced, linked to, commented on, refused to comment on, etc….

Here is how I see both sides of this discussion:

1. Women who have been surprised by pregnancy are very sensitive to the phrase “responsible parenthood” (as the Church in all her wisdom understands that phrase, not the worldly definition which seems to beat down on all of us like a steel-driver who just got his rhythm going) because they feel as though someone is pointing the finger at them saying, “OBVIOUSLY you aren’t a responsible parent who cares about those children’s needs, just some kind of baby making factory.” We should be sensitive to their feelings because chances are they have been pointed at, ridiculed, made to feel embarrassed or worse, by friends, family, parishioners, even total strangers, in real life.

2. The women who have prayerfully chosen to use some method of Church approved natural family planning for reasons based on the wisdom of the Church regarding their particular situation be it medical, psychological or financial and have never been surprised by the blessing of an unexpected new soul are very sensitive to the phrase “using NFP with a contraceptive mentality” because they feel as though someone is pointing the finger at them saying, “You must be a selfish parent who either doesn’t trust God enough to take care of your concerns or someone who prefers dollar signs instead of souls.” We should be sensitive to their feelings because chances are they have been accused of deliberately limiting their family size so as to enjoy material luxuries or of simply not trusting God to provide by friends, family, fellow parishioners, even total strangers. (My personal pet peeve are those who talk about abusing NFP instead of using the “contraceptive” phrase. There is no possible way to abuse NFP. People can choose to use it for selfish reasons, but that does not equate NFP to contraception. No one but God can know the true motivations behind a couple's choice to not seek to add to their family but NFP never says “no” to God’s will.)

3. Both groups of women are striving to live the Church’s mandate to be “open to life” and neither should be made to feel as though her situation makes her less “Catholic” than the other or less interested in working towards the sanctity of her soul and those souls entrusted to her.

4. These kinds of discussions are necessary in order to spread the truth of the Church’s teachings to those who might not have any knowledge on the subject, or who might have been misinformed (there is an awful lot of bad theology out there!) but because of these sensitivities, some women are going to get more insulted by perceived judgments and misinterpretations. Emotions should be checked at the click of the combox and if not, certainly before the click to publish. There is nothing wrong in saying to yourself, “This subject is too near and dear to my heart to trust my head to engage.” In this battle that we all struggle with over how much is too much, we have to ask ourselves if this is the right hill to die on.


  1. Nicely said. This comes down to some very intimate decisions which I think should remain between the couple and God. That's why I think it's particularly difficult to discuss. There are also a lot of people who sort of see of as a rather ridiculous discussion, not being as blessed regarding fertility (ahem, yours truly). I'm not criticizing people for talking about it - it just seems like people scrutinizing whether it is better to have their riches in fives or hundreds. I trust God's will in this area, NFP or otherwise -
    Rambling aside, Matilda, your post was very well written.

  2. Beautiful post, Matilda. ITA. Thank you for writing it.

  3. I'm just shocked at the lack of charity. I think I won't read comments at Inside Catholic, and I may stay away from Coffee Chat as well.

    What bothered me most was the flippant attitude that NFP was so effective and anyone who was poor was irresponsible for getting pregnant again. I don't know who these people are who find NFP just so easy to use, but I for one would be sentenced to extremely long periods of celebacy if I followed the rules. The stress on our marriage is worse than the stress of another baby.

  4. Michelle,

    The original discussion was addressing a question someone posed in the Coffee Chat comments asking what the Church teaches regarding "where does personal responsibility come in" specifically regarding actively seeking to have another child when the family is already receiving government assistance on a regular basis in order to support the children they already have.

    For some women, the reasons for avoiding pregnancy temporarily or permanently are serious enough (I refuse to use the word grave because there is too much information indicating that it is a badly translated misunderstanding of the original and those who believe that the reason must put you in the grave cling to it like socks to a blanket fresh out of the dryer in December) that they and their husbands have had to accept long periods of abstinence and there is nothing wrong with that choice as regards the teachings of the Church. Praise be to God that you have never had a situation that serious!

    There are also people for whom NFP is very easy. Just because their bodies happen to fit better with whichever method they have chosen (since there are so many now to choose from), doesn't mean that they are being less "open to life" than someone who has been surprised by pregnancy either using a method or not. But these couples are usually the ones accused of using NFP "contraceptively".

  5. Oh, how sane. So nice to abide awhile in the land of common sense.

    I have such sorrow during this whole debate that women might be, by example, teaching their daughters to accept less than what their true dignity requires in the eyes of God: a husband that is a true and compassionate friend, a man that has learned to love unselfishly and be the master of his bodily desires... someone who will see her true self, and for whom it would be HEARTBREAK to stress her out over sex.

  6. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!



Thank you for sharing your thoughts and yourself!