A BLUEPRINT FOR AN NFP-FOCUSED PARISH Part I of II
BLUEPRINT FOR AN NFP-FOCUSED PARISH
Fr. Matthew Habiger OSB and Fr. Dan McCaffrey
Part I of II
In this article we wish to explain why every parish, or cluster of smaller parishes, needs to have several trained NFP teachers.
Both of us have been ordained for over forty years, and have acquired an extensive amount of experience with marriage and family life.
We have dealt with college students, soldiers in the military and their families, with Newman chaplaincies, with marriage prep programs and with countless married couples. We have considerable experience with all the major NFP providers throughout the world. We have been pastors of parishes, and now visit hundreds of parishes where we give NFP weekends, parish missions, Theology of the Body seminars and clergy conferences. We both have doctorates in moral theology, and we wish to bring this background to the service of contemporary viable parishes.
Why should there be a focused concentration upon building strong marriages in all parishes today?
Because half of marriages among Catholics today end up in a divorce. Catholics today reflect the mores of the surrounding secular culture more than the teachings of their Church. We live in a fault free divorce culture, where either of the spouses can initiate a divorce and carry it to completion despite the objections of the other spouse.
Think of what this does to the spouses and their sense of commitment to God’s plan for marriage. Consider the trauma and pain inflicted upon their children. Think of the impact of this upon family life.
A nation’s life is only as strong as its family life. If our marriages lack irrevocable commitment to marriage and spousal love, then there is not a strong foundation for healthy, happy families and a healthy society.
That is why we must give serious attention to the retrieval of God’s plan for marriage, spousal love and family in all our parishes. Of what value are the many and various programs in a parish, if their marriages are falling apart and their families are fractured?
We promote Natural Family Planning (NFP) because it encapsulates all the many values that go into strong marriages and healthy, happy families. Of itself, NFP is a method of spacing pregnancies. But it presupposes an understanding, and an active pursuit, of God’s plan for marriage, spousal love and family.
We now live in a contracepted society. The practice of contraception leads to the fading of the perception that the sexual act has anything to do with the procreation of children. The act is deliberately manipulated to exclude the possibility. When contraception fails, the resulting baby is likely to be aborted. This is particularly true when contraception takes place outside marriage, in which case there is no proper provision for the upbringing of the child.
The perception that sexuality is not connected to reproduction, gives rise to the concept of “recreational sex.” Sexual intercourse is regarded primarily as a source of pleasure. Since “nothing can happen,” i.e., no baby can be conceived, sexual activity is not confined to marriage. This leads to increased promiscuity, adultery and prostitution, and to perverse sexual practices, including homosexual practices, which are even proclaimed as ideal because they are 100% sterile. All these practices lead to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS.
If there can be sex without babies, there can be babies without sex. The separation of the procreative from the unitive aspects of the sexual act through contraception has prepared the way for artificial reproduction.
The first step was IVF. Further steps followed quickly: selective reduction of embryos, the implantation of embryos from third person, surrogate motherhood, experimentation with surplus or deliberately produced embryos, pre-implantation diagnostics and cloning.
Abortion and artificial reproduction leads to contempt for life, which opens the way for euthanasia.
In the practice of contraception the spouses do violence to one another in that they tend to regard one another as a source of pleasure. The mutual rejection of fertility implies a (subconscious) personal rejection of each other.
This burdens the marriage and often leads to divorce, which in its turn means suffering for the children. Society becomes dysfunctional and violence proliferates.
Non-traditional “families,” such as single and divorced women with children, families with children from two or even three sets of parents, and same-sex unions with children, become acceptable, hence weakening the traditional family.
Husband and wife no longer regard each other with awe as a gift of God, entrusted to one another for life, but as a source of pleasure, which can be manipulated as required. Children are no longer seen as gifts and blessings of God, but as objects, which we have a right to destroy. It is presumed that children can be produced, selected, rejected, killed, cloned and designed to order. The Creator is rejected and man arrogantly arrogates to himself the place of God. It is blasphemy, which cries to high Heaven and which will one day lead to disaster.
The healing of society requires the abolition of the widespread practice of contraception and sterilization. The Catholic Church is the only body which consistently opposes contraception, so it should be a priority for bishops and priests to promote chastity both outside and within marriage. If this is done consistently, it will eventually have an effect on society as a whole. We should be aware that contraception is being vigorously promoted for commercial and ideological reasons.
The regulation of conception can be achieved by means of the natural methods, which are highly reliable and have none of the above-mentioned disadvantages, and on the contrary foster a positive attitude towards children, build marriages and preserve faith. (See “The Contracepted Society” by David Prentis, Population Research Institute Review, Sept-Oct 05, pp. 5 & 10.)
This is why every parish, or cluster of small parishes, needs a set of NFP teachers. If we are to begin to cut into the 50% divorce rate among our people, then we must address the 85% contraceptive rate, and now 40% sterilization rate, among Catholic couples of childbearing age. This will be a massive effort, and will require the cooperation of many parties. Fortunately, this is a team effort, and there are many players available.
We priests, and now Deacon Rick and Jenny Condon, at NFP Outreach are available to help you get these programs started.
You can reach us at our website (www.nfpoutreach.org), by phone: 405 942 4084, or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Let the healing of our marriages and the strengthening of family life begin!