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Sunday Readings for June 19, 2011 (TrinityA)
By Father Cusick
The Blessed Trinity is the perfect community of life and love. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit live eternally, love eternally and pour out divine love and life in the world through the Body of Christ, the Church. We learn, thus, that God the Father’s love seeks to increase itself infinitely and embrace the whole world through the passion and death of His Son, reconciling us to Him, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life. The people of God, then, must be people of life. God’s perfect plan provides a place for life to come into the world: the marriage of man and woman in total self-giving. The self-donation of man and woman in the marital act brings about new life, thus marriage is the blessed earthly sign of Christ’s life-giving death on the cross that brings us new life through redemption.
Marriage is for life. Man and woman joined in matrimony are the privileged cooperators in God’s will that life should go on. In the marital act God joins both the life-giving and love-giving aspects of man and woman’s sexuality into one reality. “What God has joined man must not divide”, thus love and life in marriage must not be divided. The two have been brought together as one gift by God. The use of artificial contraception falsifies the act of self-giving between man and woman, intended by God in creating the marital act, by separating these two realities of life and love. Thus the intentional use of artificial means of contraception violates God’s holy will and, if done with sufficient reflection and full consent of the will, can be mortally sinful.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches clearly in this regard:“Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality. These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, ‘every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible’ (Humanae Vitae, 14) is intrinsically evil: ‘Thus the innate language that expresses the total reciprocal self-giving of husband and wife is overlaid, through contraception, by an objectively contradictory language, namely, that of not giving oneself totally to the other. This leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality. . . . The difference, both anthropological and moral, between contraception and recourse to the rhythm of the cycle . . . involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality.’
(Familiaris Consortio, 32) “ (CCC 2370)
The Church does not leave couples alone to seek responsible parenthood. In cases where there are grave reasons for spacing or delaying births husband and wife have recourse to the natural methods, the most effective available. One organization within the Church which supports couples who seek to space, or delay, births is the Couple to Couple League International.
A visit to their website, www.ccli.org, reveals some of the following information.
“Couples worldwide are choosing Natural Family Planning (NFP) for its healthful and marriage-building qualities, as well as its usefulness to plan or postpone pregnancy. Many couples are also grateful to use a family planning method that is in harmony with their religious beliefs.
“Since its founding in 1971, CCL has also provided instruction through NFP classes taught by professionally trained, volunteer couples who teach in their local communities. You can also learn through our acclaimed Home Study Course, available for order.
“Learn how NFP works and its advantages in the About NFP section, and discover what the CCL organization is all about at About CCL. The Online Store contains many supportive books, videos, and audiotapes, as well as NFP materials. Finally, you can easily locate your nearest CCL Teaching Couple with our online search at Learn NFP.”
A visit to their site will be informative and bring hope and support to any couple seeking help in living out their call to be generous to new life. The website offers a basic explanation about two basic methods for spacing or delaying births.
“NFP - Two basic forms “CCL teaches two basic forms of Natural Family Planning (NFP) — the Sympto-Thermal Method and Ecological Breastfeeding.
“The Sympto-Thermal Method (STM) is based on daily fertility awareness; a couple charts the wife’s common signs of fertility day by day and uses that information to determine her fertile and infertile times. It can be used both to achieve and to avoid or postpone pregnancy. When used to avoid pregnancy, the couple abstains from marital relations (intercourse) during the fertile time.
Ecological Breastfeeding is actually the world’s oldest form of NFP. It is still widely practiced in certain parts of the world, and is used successfully to space children by many women in the United States. The key factor in Ecological Breastfeeding is frequent suckling. It usually requires minimal fertility awareness, especially in the early months, and, in the absence of signs of possible fertility, no periodic abstinence. The term ‘ecological breastfeeding’ was developed to sharply distinguish this form of baby care from ‘cultural breastfeeding’ which provides little or no natural infertility. Read more at Ecological Breastfeeding.”
Doing God’s holy will for marriage is the ground of all the efforts of CCLI on behalf of couples and families.
“Couples choose to practice Natural Family Planning for a variety of reasons. Important to many people is the issue of morality. The services of the League are open to all regardless of religious affiliation or conviction, but that doesn’t mean that we teach NFP without moral and religious convictions.
“First, we believe that God is the Author of nature; He is the one who put together in the marriage act what we call ‘making love’ and ‘making babies.’ It is God who in His providence has allowed us to learn in the late 20th century about woman’s alternating fertility and infertility — and about Natural Family Planning — at the same time that other medical advances greatly increased the population survival rate. NFP allows couples to prudently regulate births without recourse to unnatural, immoral methods of birth control that interfere with the way God designed our fertility.
“As astonishing as this statement may seem, throughout history natural methods have never been less effective than the unnatural, non-surgical methods. (Moral methods may not be as convenient, and they do require self-control, but that is a wonderful and rewarding virtue to acquire, as many NFP couples will attest.) In the 1930s the Ogino-Knaus Rhythm Method of NFP was as effective as the most effective ‘new’ contraceptive barrier methods. In the 1960s, when the Pill launched the Sexual Revolution, the Sympto-Thermal Method of NFP (as taught by CCL today) was as effective as the Pill.
“Religious and moral convictions guide anyone’s decisions about sexual behavior. We believe that when people are fully informed about the advantages of NFP they will see that this method best agrees with their convictions as well as their practical desires for happier marriages and healthier lives.
“NFP does not mean “Not for Protestants.” You don’t have to be Catholic to have strong convictions that it is wrong to use unnatural methods of birth control. ‘Such “providentialists” should at least learn the rules for ecological breastfeeding, God's own way of spacing babies.’ For a better understanding of the moral issue of birth control and to find out the true position of the Catholic Church on this matter, please see Church Teachings on NFP and especially the full text of Pope Paul VI's encyclical letter Humanae Vitae (On Human Life).”
The website for Couple to Couple League International, with information about teaching couples in your area, is www.ccli.org
. Visit today and sign up for classes.