The Natural Family Planning course as evangelization
The Lord Jesus Christ is the center of any Catholic evangelization, and that should also be true of Catholic-sponsored courses in natural family planning. Systematic NFP calls for chaste abstinence during the fertile time in order to avoid pregnancy. Periodic abstinence is not easy and is not infrequently accompanied by temptations to use contraceptive behaviors. True, there are excellent pragmatic reasons for not using condoms and diaphragms or practicing withdrawal during the fertile time because all of these have definite problems with effectiveness.
But it takes faith and spiritual courage and fortitude to overcome temptations to masturbation and marital sodomy. The Catholic Church teaches that it is the grave matter of mortal sin to engage in any of these contraceptive behaviors. Why should a Christian believe such teaching?
The reason is found every Sunday. When we profess the Nicene Creed at Sunday Mass, we are professing not only our faith in the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation but also in the promises made by Jesus. The Nicene Creed did not drop out of heaven on a golden scroll. It was occasioned by the Arian heresy that denied the full divinity of Jesus Christ. At the Council of Nicea in 325, the bishops of the Catholic Church clarified and reaffirmed the Traditional faith in the Lord Jesus as true God and true man, of one being with the Father. How do we know they had it right? The ultimate reason is that we believe that Jesus keeps his promises. At the Last Supper Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to lead the Apostles and their successors into the fullness of the truth.
When we profess faith in the teaching of Humanae Vitae, we are professing our faith that the same Holy Spirit who led the bishops at Nicea also led the centuries-long Tradition against contraceptive behaviors. It was that same Holy Spirit who guided Pope Paul VI to reaffirm that Tradition in Humanae Vitae.
Jesus keeps his promises. That’s what we profess in the Nicene Creed and by believing the teaching of Humanae Vitae and acting accordingly.
It is my conviction that this profession of our faith in the Lord Jesus and in his promises should be an integral part of every NFP course. This is simply a normal part of adult education and evangelization.
Next week: Natural Family Planning: The Right Kind of Course