July 31 is one of those days. If he were still here on earth, my dad would celebrate his 62nd birthday today. Many life experiences have been celebrated since his death — more babies, his grandchildren, have been born and welcomed into our extended family; deaths and burials of other family members; job changes; marriages; new home purchases; a few winters, springs, summers, and falls. The extraordinary and the ordinary. And the Chicago Cubs still suck.
So as long as we seem to be on something of a roll, there’s one more topic we’re feeling called to specifically address. It’s one that comes up all the time in social situations. It goes something like this …
Why didn’t anyone tell us about natural family planning when we were younger? Now that we’re done having kids, what are we supposed to do?
Well, what does it mean to be “done having kids”? From our experience in conversing with couples, this essentially is one of three different scenarios. We flesh them out (yes, flesh seems the proper word here).
Did you know devout Catholics have better sex? That was a recent headline in U.S. News and World Report so it must be true. Right? Now if you’re a devout Catholic, your response might be something on the order of, “Duh, I’ve been saying it for years!” If you’re not on board with all the Church’s teachings on human sexuality, your response might be something like, “Come on, this can’t be serious!”
So why do we bring this up today? We highlight a scenario making it difficult to practice natural family planning. And it’s going to take a whole lot more than simply slipping a copy of that news story or the Family Research Council report into a place where one spouse will find it.
According to recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the average size of the American household has decreased by about one person. American culture is definitely voting for the smaller family and material wellbeing over the riches of multiple children. If any culture can materially afford big families, it is ours. Even from an economic point of view, the United States is powerful not because of its standard of living or its natural resources, but because of its greatest resource: people.
The medieval theologians and philosophers, in talking about God, say: Goodness diffuses itself, it wants to be shared by many. If our culture is so good, then why don’t we want to have more children and share it with them?
Today’s Mass readings are excellent reflection material for contemplating how much we really trust God rather than ourselves. Do we grumble about our circumstances, like the Israelites in the First Reading, or are we the “rich soil” of Jesus’s parable in the Gospel Reading? With these texts as a backdrop, we take up a couple scenarios which challenge us to trust in God’s will for us rather than in our ability to control our circumstances.
Day 3 in our weeklong series on natural family planning. Since the sexual revolution drew its sword and despoiled sexual intimacy of its life-giving purpose, are we really happier and freer, or have we become slaves to our own pleasures? Have our relationships become better or worse? Do men and women respect each other more or less? The fruit of the sexual revolution is decidedly rotten, straight from the devil.
“Fear not! Stand your ground, and you will see the victory the LORD will win for you today.” Leaving behind contraception to begin natural family planning (NFP) can be a bit like this. It can be easier to cling to familiar ways than to leave them for something new and uncertain, no matter what the promise. Let’s try to clear up a couple common fears and misconceptions about NFP.
About two years ago I was with a large group of people, all Catholic but of various life stages and ages, and as we chatted, I threw out the term “NFP.” A friend in her forties asked, “What’s NFP?” At first I was taken aback by her unawareness, but upon reflection, I’m not surprised she had never been introduced to the concepts of natural family planning. In spite of the criticism that the Catholic Church is fixated on sex, the Church hasn’t really talked all that much about it for several decades.
Today we kick off a weeklong series focusing on Natural Family Planning or NFP.
It’s not everyday I receive an invitation to attend a movie set, watch a scene being filmed, view some completed scenes in early post-production, and meet and greet with some of the actors. Okay, so it’s the only time I’ve ever been invited to such an outing, but what an exciting outing it was. A few weeks ago, I cryptically shared a few photos from a whirlwind trip to Birmingham, Alabama. The media embargo on the movie is now lifted, and I can openly share more about the trip.
Meet Father George Komo, a Kenyan priest who’s been serving in our diocese for a handful of years. In a few months, Father George will leave behind the life as a parish priest and enlist in the Armed Services, on loan to the Archdiocese for the Military Services as a chaplain. We can’t help but wonder if somehow we ran him off. Not we as in just us Schmidts, but we as in first-world Catholics who may very well be just a little too used to getting exactly what we want.