Archive for the ‘Pope Paul VI’ Category

Things You Probably Don’t Know About Contraception & Natural Family Planning

August 31, 2018

We Just Passed a Historic Milestone
July 25, 2018 marked the 50th anniversary of Blessed Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae (“Of Human Life”) on the moral and immoral regulation of human births. In that document, Pope Paul reaffirmed the Church’s teachings on marriage, the marital embrace, and the prohibition of artificial birth control.

Artificial Contraception Existed in Ancient Times
Egyptian scrolls dating to 1850 B.C. describe various barrier and sperm-killing methods. Pagans practiced contraception techniques in the Roman Empire at the time of Jesus Christ and the Early Church.

God Smote a Man in the Bible for Contracepting
Genesis 38 relates how a man named Onan repeatedly “wasted his seed on the ground” during intercourse to avoid conceiving children. “What he did greatly offended the Lord, and the Lord took his life…”

The Church Fathers Condemned Artificial Birth Control
For example, St. Clement of Alexandria, St. Augustine, St. John Chrysostom all condemned acts of contraception and/or sterilization.

Famous Protestants Also Denounced Contraception
Martin Luther the founder of Lutheranism, John Calvin the founder of Calvinism, and John Wesley the co-founder of Methodism all wrote against it.

All Christian Groups Agreed About This a Century Ago
In 1930, the Anglicans were the very first Protestant denomination to officially approve the use of artificial contraception methods for hard cases. (As recently as 1917, that the same group had declared contraception “demoralizing to character and hostile to national welfare.”)

Protestant Denominations Changed Their Teachings
By 1961, the National Council of Churches could pronounce that “Most of the Protestant churches hold contraception… to be morally right when the motives are right,” adding, “Protestant Christians are agreed in condemning abortion or any method which destroys human life, except when the health or life of the mother is at stake.”

The Catholic Church has Stood Firm
At the end of 1930 and again in 1968, popes issued encyclical letters reaffirming the constant teaching of Christ’s Church. Pope Pius XI’s Casti Connubii and Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae taught truths about the nature, purpose, and goodness of marriage and the marital act. Both repeated our consistent and ancient rejection of all directly-willed acts of contraception, sterilization, and abortion.

Good Intentions are not Enough
As The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means… for example, direct sterilization or contraception.” (#2399)

Humanae Vitae Foretold Great Harms
Paul VI predicted that the widespread use of contraception would broadly lower morality, increase marital infidelity, lessen respect towards women, be coercively imposed by governments, and promote the self-harming belief that we have unlimited dominion over our bodies and human life in general.

Contraception has Broken its Promises
According to its advocates, contraception was supposed to strengthen marriages, prevent unplanned pregnancies, reduce abortions, and increase women’s happiness. Today, even after decades of cheap and common contraceptive use, half of all pregnancies are unplanned and half of all marriages end in divorce, about one-in-five U.S. pregnancies are aborted (with more than 60 million killed since Roe vs. Wade in 1973), and women have reported lower and lower levels of happiness throughout the decades since the 1970’s.

The Lord is Pro-Family and Pro-Children
The first commandment in the Garden of Eden was “be fruitful and multiply,” and the the Bible always speaks of having many children and descendants as a bless rather than a curse. Jesus presents marriage as a holy union of life and love saying “what God has joined together, no human being must separate” and adds “whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.”

NFP Regulates Births Both Virtuously and Effectively
Natural Family Planning (also known as NFP) uses signs from a woman’s body to identify the days in her cycle when she can conceive. Equipped with this knowledge, a couple may abstain from marital embrace to avoid a pregnancy or engage in order to achieve one.

There can be Holy Reasons not to Have More Babies
As Pope Paul VI wrote in his famous 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, “With regard to physical, economic, psychological, and social conditions, responsible parenthood is exercised by those who prudently and generously decide to have more children, and by those who, for serious reasons and with due respect to moral precepts, decide not to have additional children for either a certain or an indefinite period of time.”

NFP is not the Rhythm Method
The old Rhythm Method simply counted how many days had passed since the woman’s last cycle and was a moral but ineffective approach to avoiding conception. For comparison, faithfully-followed NFP techniques have a 99% effectiveness rate (meaning that up to one in one hundred woman will become pregnant in a year, a rate comparable to widespread methods of artificial contraception.)

NFP Causes None of Contraception’s Harms
Unlike chemical contraceptives, NFP never causes:
– Spontaneous abortions (by preventing implantation
of newly conceived embryos into the uterine wall)
– Increased risks of breast, liver, and cervical cancer
– Nausea, vomiting, stomach problems, or diarrhea
– Depression or mood swings
– Decreased libido
– Or other published side-effects

NFP Strengthens Married Life
Couples who practice Natural Family Planning grow in communication, self-control, and intimacy. They are more open to discerning and embracing God’s plan for their families and are statistically less likely to divorce. Not only is NFP completely natural, the information it tracks about a woman’s body commonly leads to the diagnosis, treatment, and cure of health disorders, from infertility to life-threatening illnesses.

You can Learn NFP From Home
Visit the Diocese of La Crosse’s website (at diolc.org) and search for “NFP”. There you can investigate more about various NFP techniques, its science and benefits, and register for on-line courses.

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“In destroying the power of giving life through contraception a husband or wife is doing something to self. This turns the attention to self and so it destroys the gift of love in him or her. In loving, the husband and wife must turn the attention to each other as happens in natural family planning, and not to self, as happens in contraception. Once that living love is destroyed by contraception, abortion follows very easily.”  – St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta

“In the conjugal act, husband and wife are called to confirm in a responsible way the mutual gift of self which they have made to each other in the marriage covenant. The logic of the total gift of self to the other involves a potential openness to procreation: in this way the marriage is called to even greater fulfillment as a family. Certainly the mutual gift of husband and wife does not have the begetting of children as its only end, but is in itself a mutual communion of love and of life. The intimate truth of this gift must always be safeguarded. … The two dimensions of conjugal union, the unitive and the procreative, cannot be artificially separated without damaging the deepest truth of the conjugal act itself.”  —Pope St. John Paul II, Letter to Families, 1994

“Marriage must include openness to the gift of children. Generous openness to accept children from God as the gift to their love is the mark of the Christian couple. Respect the God-given cycle of life, for this respect is part of our respect for God himself, who created male and female, who created them in his own image, reflecting his own life-giving love in the patterns of their sexual being.”  —Pope St. John Paul II, 1979

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The Heights of Holiness

April 12, 2016
Tall G.K. Chesterton shakes a girl's hand

Servant of God G.K. Chesterton

How tall have the famous Catholic men and women of past and present been? Precise figures can be hard to find, but here is a sampling:

6’ 4” — Servant of God G.K. Chesterton

6’ 0” — Venerable Pope Pius XII

5’ 10” — Our Lord Jesus Christ (based upon the Shroud of Turin) , Pope St. John Paul II

5’ 9” — Pope Francis

5’ 8½” — Servant of God Bishop Fulton Sheen  (or 5’ 7” according to his niece )

5’ 8” — Blessed Pope Paul VI

5’ 7” — St. Peter the Apostle (based on the bones found beneath St. Peter’s Basilica’s high altar) , Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

5’ 6” — Pope St. John XXIII

5’ 5” — Servant of God Pope John Paul I

5’ 4” — St. Therese of Lisieux

5’ 2½”— St. John Neumann

5’ 2” — St. Joan of Arc , St. Junipero Serra

5’ 1½”— St. Ignatius Loyola

5’ 0” — Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

A Persistent, Predictable Trend

May 2, 2015

Wedding Cake Man and WifeIn the garden, the first married couple was approached by the tempter. He sowed distrust of God and His teaching within their minds and hearts. He told them to decide for themselves what was good for them. So they ate the fruit that God had warned them about, and they tasted its consequences. Yet God did not abandon them.

The early Church was not unaware of contraceptive means and methods. She insisted that acts of marital union must not be cut off from an openness to life. Before 1930, all Protestant denominations agreed, but one by one their positions changed. By 1968, some were surprised that Pope Paul VI upheld the Church’s teaching in Humanae Vitae. The pope warned that contraception would lead to increased fornication, marital infidelity, disrespect toward women, and government coercion. The world did not listen.

What has come from our culture intentionally severing an openness to life from its lovemaking? It has led to millions of children having single mothers because fathers considered themselves under no obligation. It has led to the death of millions of “mistakes” before they could be born. Contraceptives promised to make families stronger, but broken marriages are widespread.

The contraceptive mentality has progressed so far that many no longer see physical complimentarily as essential to marriage at all. How will children be impacted if new forms of marriage become the law of the land? If marriage is merely an emotional bond between persons, why should it be limited to pairs? Marital union between one man and one wife is a gift from God for love and life. And what God has joined, we human beings separate to our own harm.

We see the Sexual Revolution becoming an open war against the Bride of Christ and her sons and daughters. As Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George, who passed away last month, once said, “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison, and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.” Trials await us. Yet, anchored in the truth, our hope always remains, for God will not abandon us.

Pope Paul VI Has Died

August 6, 2014

Thus begins my new blog presenting the day-to-day happenings in the papacy of His Holiness, Pope John Paul I.

Heeding Our Earthly Mother & Heavenly Father — 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time—Year A

July 5, 2014

Readings: Zechariah 9:9-10; Romans 8:9,11-13; Matthew 11:25-30

A Wall Across the Road

Imagine an wall built across a road which has stood for as long as anyone can remember. The Catholic writer G.K. Chesterton suggested that when confronted by such a peculiar sight:

The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”

It is said that human history has been constantly repeating two phases, summed up in two concise phrases:

First, “What could it hurt?
And second, “How were we supposed to know?

All of us are children of the same holy Mother, the Church. And she is united with God, our loving Father. Moms and dads sometimes tell us, “Don’t touch that–it will hurt. I know it glows enticingly, but it will burn you. We’re not saying this in order to control you or to make you miserable, but because we love you. We want you to be safe and happy.

Red_Hot_Coiled_Stove_Burner_3_by_FantasyStockWe then have three options in how we respond: Either we can touch the forbidden thing for ourselves and experience the pain firsthand. Or we can observe others who have touched the thing and learn from them (though they sometimes hide their pain and tears, even from themselves.) Or, and this is the best response, we can trust in the words of our Mother and Father and never get burned.

Sometimes the wise and the learned of this world refuse to see the truth, but to the little ones, to the childlike, the truth is revealed and they welcome it. In our first reading from Zechariah we find a prophesy about the Messiah. The Savior is not coming on a warhorse, but on a donkey—not as a conqueror imposing his will upon the earth by force, but meekly, inviting us to trust in him and freely embrace his will.

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

This week’s Supreme Court’s verdict in the Hobby Lobby case comes as good news for religious liberty. However, we must keep praying. Though the five-to-four decision is a positive sign, religiously affiliated non-profit groups are not safely out of the legal woods yet. Many people of goodwill support Catholic institutions in their conscientious refusal to facilitate things they consider gravely immoral, but I wonder how many observers understand why Catholics have any objection to contraception and sterilization to begin with?

People fail to realize that contraception is not something new. For thousands of years, people have used various barriers, chemicals, and techniques to prevent the marital embrace from being fruitful. And most have never heard that before 1930 all Protestant denominations agreed with the Catholic Church’s teaching in condemning contraception as sinful. Most people have not realized what could be wrong with putting asunder what God has joined in the marital act; separating love-making from an openness to life. And though few recognize the harmful impact that contraception has on families and society, its consequences were not entirely unforeseen.

Pope Paul VI

In 1968, in the midst of a sexual revolution made possible by the birth control pill, some believed the Catholic Church would “update” its consistent teaching on contraception. (“What could it hurt?”) Instead, Pope Paul VI shocked the world with orthodoxy. His encyclical, Humanae Vitae or “Of Human Life,” was one of the most controversial documents of the twentieth century, yet the pope’s four predictions of what would happen if contraceptives gained widespread use have proven true:

  1. A general lowering of moral standards throughout society.
  2. A rise in infidelity.
  3. A lessening of respect for women by men.
  4. The coercive use of reproductive technologies by governments.

What is more, a contraceptive mentality has so pervaded our culture that healthy fertility is treated like a disease and conceived children are treated like a cancer. Because of procured abortion, in any room of people under 40 years old, there is on average one person missing for every three people you see. This is the fruit of a contraceptive mentality. (“How were we supposed to know?”)

Whether the Catholic Church teaches on indecent images, fornication, cohabitation, same-sex relations, divorce and remarriage without annulment, in-vitro fertilization, abortion, drug use and drunkenness, euthanasia or suicide; for every “no” in her teachings the Church proclaims a greater, more foundational “Yes” to love and life and true happiness. As St. Paul tells us:

“Brothers and sisters, we are not debtors to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

Will we be childlike enough to listen to our Father in heaven and our Mother on earth? Learn from Christ and take his yoke upon you, for according to his promise you will receive rest. His ways require sacrifice, yet compared to the yoke of sin and death which comes with the ways of the world, Jesus’ yoke is easy and his burden is light.

Wednesday, 20th Week in Ordinary Time—Year I

August 19, 2009

Today’s readings give us two lessons about service:

In the first reading we hear an allegory of the forest trees coming to their most prominent members, asking each one to lead them. But every tree declines, asking “why would I want to give up my comfortable glory to serve like that?” As a last resort, they ask the buckthorn tree. This last tree is something of a large bush, and not good for very much. The buckthorn agrees and rules as a tyrant over them.

What is the lesson for us here? If we Catholics are not willing to sacrifice our some of our comfortable glory for the social needs of others, we should expect bad things to come. As Pope Paul VI said, “If you want peace, work for justice.”

The second lesson is from the Gospel, where we hear the parable most likely to offend an American’s sense of justice. We hear that the last laborers work a little and receive the same pay as the first. But the landowner is right to say that he has robbed no one. The first laborers receive the full wage which they agreed was fair and just at the beginning of the day.

What is the lesson here for us in our service? Serving Christ is work, but it should not make us feel deprived.  It should make us feel enriched. If we come to the end of the day’s labors feeling bitterness at our Landlord we are in need of an open and honest conversation with Him.