I am Torn About NFP

Our new pope, Pope Francis, has said that we need to step out of our comfort zones when it comes to our faith, that we need to challenge what we have been doing all of our lives and look at what the Catholic Church really teaches.

I have been trying to do that, but I admit it is not an easy task. He (the Pope) has been taking us to task on the poor and the oppressed, As well as challanging a lot of people’s conception on what it means to lead a Christian life.

For me this means looking at what I am doing. Looking at what I have been doing and trying, the best way that I can, to understand why it is that I am doing it. That means understanding the churches teachings behind it.

As I have shared before, my wife and I are NFP Teachers. In the last couple of years something about doing this has been niggling at the back of my mind. I do feel called to help people understand NFP. But It was not until I had a conversation with my wife that I think understood some of what has been eating at me.

The conversation was about a question that came up. What do you do / how do you approach a family who is totally open to life. This came from a teaching couple who live in a diocese where the NFP class is part of the marriage preparation. The answer my wife gave, which at first startled me but the more I thought about it the more it made sense was, “You don’t need to do anything with them.”

I understand that using NFP is a choice. Heck if you read my other post, you know that we call ourselves the NFP dropouts, because while we know it, and we teach it, we don’t usually feel called to use it.

That has kind of set me on a path of trying to figure out what it is, exactly, that the Church teaches about NFP. This morning, at my wife’s suggestion I read the following article. (Yes, my wife is very smart) Heroic Parenthood and The Sorrow of Natural Family Planning

NOTE: Below I have stolen (borrowed / Made Reference to) several parts from the article. I highly recommend that you read the whole thing, but here are some of the things that I found important and relevant to my topic today.

One of the things that I was, well surprised is not the right word maybe interested to find out, was that NFP is a dispensation.

the Venerable Pius XII in his Allocution to Midwives:

The individual and society, the people and the State, the Church itself, depend for their existence, in the order established by God, on fruitful marriages. Therefore, to embrace the matrimonial state, to use continually the faculty proper to such a state and lawful only therein, and, at the same time, to avoid its primary duty without a grave reason, would be a sin against the very nature of married life. Serious motives, such as those which not rarely arise from medical, eugenic, economic and social so-called “indications,” may exempt husband and wife from the obligatory, positive debt for a long period or even for the entire period of matrimonial life. From this it follows that the observance of the natural sterile periods may be lawful, from the moral viewpoint: and it is lawful in the conditions mentioned.

(I used wikipedia but this appears to be pulled from canon law)
A Dispensation is defined as In the canon law of the Roman Catholic Church, a dispensation is the exemption from the immediate obligation of law in certain cases.[1] Its object is to modify the hardship often arising from the rigorous application of general laws to particular cases, and its essence is to preserve the law by suspending its operation in such cases.

And this is also backed up again by Pope Paul VI, and Pope John Paul II in Humanae Vitae

What does all this mean? In plain simple language that someone like I can understand, Pope Pius XII said that sex, (the marital embrace) has a procreative aspect that cannot be divorced from the rest of it. Despite that, the church recognizes that there are times when a married couple may have serious reasons such as medical or economical to avoid a pregnancy. It is in those cases that the dispensation of NFP is permitted.

That in short means that unless you have a serious reason, you should not be using NFP. (a little side note here, and this is going to be me talking. Keeping up with the “Joneses” economically, is not a serious reason. But tif you can’t put food on the table, cloth your kids and for goodness sakes a roof over your families head that is a serious reason. You might find you are are happier if you are not keeping up with the Joneses, maybe even move out of their neighborhood and find a community of people who, like you believe that the Joneses have it all wrong in the first place.)

Alright so where to I stand:

Up until recently I would have said that I thing all married couples should learn NFP. I still don’t think that is a bad idea. I am a big believer in knowledge is power. I also believe that you can’t make informed decisions without all the information. I believe that having the information about knowing how to read a woman’s body is not a bad thing. But as my wife points out, once you know NFP and know how to read the signs, it is not like you can ignore them. (See I told you she was smart.) So the temptation would be to use them. Even if you are not actually charting or any of that, if you have really learned NFP, then you know what you are looking for and you know when you are fertile or not.

So the argument might come up that NFP can be used to achieve pregnancy as much as it can be for avoiding it. To that I say, “Yes! of corse it can.” But if you are open to life, and you trust that God take care of this, then shouldn’t it be more like, you will get pregnant when the time is right? Again there is the dispensation for couples who are having trouble conceiving.

So how do I plan to approach this in the future? I’m not sure yet. I still thing teaching NFP is very valuable. If nothing else it keeps women from being put at risk by using the really dangerous hormones in artificial birth control. But I really believe that we need to approach it differently, and to do that we need to approach family differently, and to do that we need to approach marriage differently.

One of my favorite parts about the article I read this morning was the suggested way that we approach the subject in marriage preparation. I am guilty of having approached it like this:

Catholicism does not require that you become parents of a large family — rather it wants you to be responsible parents. NFP offers you a reasonable alternative to artificial contraception: a way for you young couples to be responsible while not availing yourselves to drugs or devices that degrade your humanity. You should use these NFP techniques to grow closer, to communicate better, and prayerfully consider whether and when you should bring children into the world in a responsible manner. If that means that you need to delay — even permanently — having children, that is acceptable today with the use of NFP. And what’s more, NFP is proven to be 99% effective for avoiding pregnancy — just as effective as the pill.

I would love to think that I have the strength of faith to approach it more like this:

For you young Catholic people who are marrying in your twenties, you can expect, God willing and absent a physical impairment or grave reason, to have a home filled with many children. You should mentally, physically and spiritually prepare for seven, eight, nine or more children given your ages. You should be prepared to accept the hardships that come with having a large family for two important reasons: children please our Lord and your cooperation with the Lord in bringing forth new souls will in turn please our God, which will bring you many graces. Second, having a large family will help you be saved, it will re-focus your attention from the material attachments that are both rampant today and hazardous to your eternal destination. Your many children will help you to become better and holier people and will stand as a contradiction to a world that has forgot how live the abundant life. You, and your large faithful families, will turn the tide against the scoffers and misanthropes who would revile God’s creation and man’s place in it. We cannot promise you it will be easy because it won’t, but if you persevere in prayer and virtue, you will overcome with God’s grace. And should you live to see your children’s children, you will praise God all the more that he saw fit to give you the gift of faith.

This will not be popular. This will not be easy. But, this, I think, is where we are falling down and where we need to start, with God’s Grace, to pick ourselves back up.


Laudate – A Tech Review




Developed by Ayckasoft

Is a Free Mobile App for Android Devices and iPhone / iPod Touch

This is not really a new application, but I wanted to share it and give you a quick review.

Before I found this app, I had a half dozen other apps on my iPod that did various different things including gave me all the common prayers, readings for the day, the Catechism, and reflections from various sources on the gospel readings. This App bring them all together into one place. This is even more so the case now.  They have added a lot of new prayers, and other helpful things.  One of my new favorites has been the Latin prayers and the Search for prayers.  That was is really useful if only know a few words of the prayer and don’t know the name. The other new feature is the ability to bookmark. (I think this is new, or maybe It is just that I didn’t know about it before) this is invaluable when you are working with some of the longer works like, the three versions of the bible that are included, the Catechism or the Code of Cannon Law.

It is a great little app that I use more and more as I get into it. It seems to have just about everything that I need as far as resources on the go. The prayers, the readings, the reflections, as well as things like a guide for confession and a full copy of the New American Bible are in there.

since I originally wrote this post, they have fixed the one problem that I had with it. The close button for the prayers was way up high next to the start over button for the Rosary. They have moved it down and made it bigger, so you can easily hit it while praying, and don’t have to stop praying to move to the next prayer.
If there is one thing that I rather dislike about the app, and a reason that I would give it less that 5 stars, it is the rosary feature.

When I found that this has a virtual rosary I was pretty excited. I am terrible about carrying a rosary with me. I almost always have a lot in my pockets and with a Rosary in there it tends to get destroyed (which I always feel really bad about,) or it will get tangled up in everything else in my pocket. The Rosary feature, (as shown below) shows you a picture of the rosary and each bead changes color as you click on it. When you click on the beads, the screen changes and shows you the prayer. That is all well and good but to get back to the screen with the beads you have to click the little X. The problem is that the little X and restart Rosary button are so close that very frequently I have clicked on the wrong one in the middle and had to find my way back to where I was to continue. It is annoying enough that I don’t use that feature unless I really have to. If I forget the words to one of the prayers withing the Rosary I go to the prayers section and look it up and just count the Rosary on my fingers. But I have to say this is about the only feature that I don’t like.

I will say this again, I am really happy with this app. It is free app but I would honestly be willing to pay for it. (Which considering hoe cheap I am normally, that is saying a lot.) The App is not prefect but it is pretty incredible. I really like having all my resources in one place and being able to get to things quickly, Laudate certainly fits the bill for that.

As these screen shots show everything you need is on one easy to use menu. The sub menus and small apps within are easy to follow and allow you easy access to the resources.


cannon law

daily readings



stations of the cross


Download For:

Iphone – Ipod touch

Android device

From Amazon

Screenshots are from the the Google Play Shop

A letter to the Bishop.

Saint Peter the Apostle
Well post #3 on my new blog and I am probably going to ruffle some feathers. That didn’t take long.

If you don’t know already I live within the Diocese of Rochester. We are a troubled Diocese. If you have any doubt of that you only need read a few of the posts on Cleansing Fire’s blog to see what I mean. For the first 5 years of living here I am afraid I was rather blind to the problems as our parish had one of the best priests within the diocese. That was not to last. He has since been sent to a parish that really does need him more than we do. Unfortunately, he is finding his work more than cut out for him, with a pastoral administrator who believes she is a priest, or at least believes she should be equal to a priest.

It is another pastoral administrator that is prompting the post. The administrator at our parish is a nice enough person. I say that up front because I don’t this to look like a personal vendetta against her. As a person, if I were to meet her on the street, I would probably like her. She is well versed in church teaching, even has a degree in theology to prove it. But that does not make her a priest, or ever give her the right to do things that are strictly against the teachings of the church.

It has gotten the the point that we (our family) has been parish hopping to avoid Mass becoming a near occasion of sin. Yes, I get angry when I see things like this, and I grumble about it. But not only that, but my children see is as well, and a good potion of them know better. Heck most of them know the parts of the Mass and who does what better than I do, especially the three older ones who are already alter servers.

I mean what am I supposed to tell my eldest daughter, who at one point wanted to be an altar sever when she was of the right age but was told that girls really aren’t supposed to be on the altar, and who wears a headscarf to Mass, when the lay pastoral administrator goes up on the altar and gives a homily (which by the way is NOT allowed Can. 767 §1. Among the forms of preaching, the homily, which is part of the liturgy itself and is reserved to a priest or deacon, is preeminent; in the homily the mysteries of faith and the norms of Christian life are to be explained from the sacred text during the course of the liturgical year.) that denounces the “archaic practice” of wearing headscarves and compares it to wearing a burka?

How am I supposed to stop the argument that I can see building between my two older children about the parts of the Mass and who can give the homily, when one of them uses the argument, “if the bishop says it is alright…”

Yes, that is right I said she is giving the Homily. Both she and the priest have denied that this is what she is doing, saying that instead she is reflecting on the Homily, but when the priest does not give a Homily there is nothing to reflect on. See again the problems at St Mary’s highlighted in this article. *side note we don’t attend St Mary’s but since there has already been an article about the specific problem there it is a good example.

We have written to both the priest and the pastoral administrator about the problem, on several occasions. The answer we got back was less than encouraging. Basically the answer was, we are following what the bishop has told us, and he knows more than you do, so why don’t you go talk to him.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about this matter. I have prayed about it. A LOT. I have consulted with many lay people, other priests and deacons in and outside our diocese before and finally, today, sending the letter to Bishop Clark. I am not going to post the letter at this point (maybe soon) because I want to give Bishop Clark a chance to respond it in private. But considering his own writings on the matter I suspect that my letter will fall on deaf ears. I can only hope that is not the case.

** As a second side note, I started this post with the intent of posting the letter I sent to Bishop Clark, but as I said I want to give him a few days to respond before I do that.

I will say that there are good priests out there, even within out Diocese. They are probably even good priests out that are just afraid to stand up their pastoral administrators for fear of censure from the bishop. Please pray for them all.