Thursday, May 9, 2013

Four things we should NEVER say

One of my friends pointed out that language means nothing anymore.  Words have no weight.  I willingly admit I am over sensitive to the issues of LIFE as to John and I nothing is more important than defending the rights of the unborn.  Daily, my mind drifts to what those poor babies must endure during an abortion and it brings me to my knees.  At least once a day, John and I theorize what will turn this train around.

I know we must start basic.  One of the most basic elements we can begin with is our language.  My father was in real estate.  His boss, Jim Reiter, was an elderly gentlemen filled with wisdom.  My father was a man that if he told you he was going to do something, you had his word.  His word meant everything. Futhermore,  Jim told my father that back in the day a handshake was a contract.  A HANDSHAKE.  How have we slipped?

The first basic item we must get in order is our language of LIFE.   I can honestly say that in my eleven years of mothering I have NEVER encountered a single instance of criticism when I am out with my children.  I am very aware of the short amount of time we have together and I take our time together very seriously.  I have the temperament that truly desires to experience life to its greatest end all under the umbrella of truth and beauty.  With that being said, I am never offended by any comment because our children mean so much more to us than any comment could ever come our way.  I am blessed because of their presence and so proud of each of them and the person they are that if a small meager remark comes our way, I often think in my head "You have no idea and if you had the time, I could verbally dictate a novel to you about the beauty of each child and all the wonder they bring to us."

There are four phrases that need to be ERASED from our mouths in order for our culture to move forward.

1.  WE ARE DONE.

No married person should ever, ever say these words.  How do you know you are done? God is the giver of life.  He lets us participate, but ultimately He gives life.   Webster dictionary gives the following for the definition of life:  "the quality that distinguishes a vital and functional being from a dead body."  If we are not people of LIFE, we are people of DEATH.  I often want to ask, "DONE?  Has it really been that bad?  You can look into the eyes of your child and say NO MORE.  I am done with that."

2.  We want three kids (or however many you have predetermined.)

Once again, how can we put limits on His love?  Do we ever set limits on anything else God so chooses to bless us with?  For example, I have never heard anybody say, "I only want to make $100,000 and after that I refuse to make or take anymore."  or "I only want to win the lottery once and if I ever won again, I wouldn't accept it."  Has the understanding of the value of each person been so numbed down that we just see number not the person?  What if you can't have those three children?  What if one of those predetermined children dies?  We must remark, "I want what God wants of me."  

3.  We are waiting.

I know I am going to get it for this one.  A couple summers ago, we attended a most beautiful wedding of a beautiful couple.  They had prayerfully discerned their vocation and wanted desperately to give their lives to God.  When the proposal came, they prayed  a rosary.  God was so intertwined in their lives.  We were sitting at the reception and one of our children made a comment about their future children.  A friend was sitting at our table and said, "Oh, that won't happen for a couple years.  They are waiting.  They don't have much money and just want to be a couple for a while."  WHAT??????????  I felt the air get sucked out of my beautiful bubble.  We were at this beautiful wedding of a beautiful couple who wanted to GIVE CHRIST THEIR all except...a child.  The WHOLE point of the married vocation.  I make the relation on a teacher being hired, but doesn't want to teach the first year (even though she is hired).  I make the relation to a priest being ordained, but doesn't want to offer mass for the first year because he doesn't feel ready.  We would easily say in those instances, "They aren't ready to be a teacher or he is not ready to be a priest."  The same applies in regard to marriage.  You must begin the married vocation once you are married.   

Have we lost the meaning of marriage?  Have we forgotten the two-fold meaning of the marital embrace.  It is to be UNITIVE and PROCREATIVE and the two are inseparable acts (as stated in the document Humane Vitae).  You cannot separate them.  The DATING/COURTING process is the time we are supposed to use to get to know the other person.  NOTHING helps you get to know the other person better than the gift of a child.  Have we slipped into the world's translation of marriage? 

Most couples are married young often when the husband is still finishing up school or just beginning is career.  We were married before John even began Optometry school.  During our first five years, we lived off student loans.  When you are just starting out, you usually don't have all the possessions your parents have collected over 25 years.  That is the way the Good Lord intended.  It is good to grow into life, but not at the expense of LIFE. 

John's grandfather told him before we were married the following, "Have a baby right away.  It will make a man out of you."  We will tell our children the same thing.  Unless you are ready to have children, you are not ready to be married.  It certainly doesn't mean God will give you children right away and even if you conceive on your wedding night, God designed the gestation period of nine months for a reason.  My sister has been married for seven years and God has not blessed them yet.  I have many friends who went through great periods of infertility.  

We are asked THREE questions on our wedding day.  Three.  That is it. The third one states:

"Will you accept children lovingly from God, and bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?"  What does that mean? 

4.  Was this baby a surprise or was it planned or the adverse "We were surprised because it wasn't planned?

 We always respond to this as "My yes, planned by God."   If you look at a basic timeline of historical events and to see all the hundreds of thousands of people who played pivotal roles big and small, it really is funny that we think we plan our existence and our families.  You can plan all you want, but God is the determiner.  If you are up for an even greater time, look at a detailed timeline of history.  You will really see that each person is so specifically chosen for that given period if not MOMENT in that certain point in time to affect TIME for all of history.  My uncle is an ER doctor.  He works with a man named Ron Pickett.  Ron is this huge black man.  He was a pool shark living in the hood.  One evening a famous jazz musician, Miles Davis, came to play at the bar.  He was accompanied by his beautiful daughter.  Ron immediately fell in love with her.  She wanted nothing of Ron because "he had made nothing of his life and was just a pool shark."  THAT WAS HIS DEFINING MOMENT.  That one incident sparked him to make something of his life.  He is now an ER doctor and a Christian man.  ONE PERSON placed in his life ONE NIGHT changed his life.  Don't you get it?  

I know these issues are sticky.  I can already feel the darts coming my way.  I do say these words out of love.  Most times, it is hard to say the hard thing.  Being abreast with politics due to John's deep passions, the war against life is epic and it is happening NOW.  The time is NOW for a complete reversal and a coming forward of soldiers for Christ who will fight for Him at their own mortal expense in the hopes of gaining a grand eternal reward.   

82 comments :

  1. May God bless you for having the courage to speak the truth!

    You have a beautiful family.

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  2. Thank you. When I see the horrific acts of murder that occur against the most precious in our world, I am often at a loss. Your courage is inspring me to take on even the seemingly smallest battles.

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  3. Beautifully written. Number 3 always gets to me too, I wonder why the couple is getting married if they don't want children right away? What if your time frame to have children is only in those first two years of marriage and by waiting that time frame of fertility is gone.

    We have been married 4.5 years and I'm due very soon for our fourth child. My husband is going to school and we are just trusting God through it all.

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  4. Beautiful post. Thank you for your eloquent way of sharing these beautiful aspects of our Faith that have been lost to popular culture. And for giving us that reminder that our attitudes towards life help to build a culture of life in our world.

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  5. well said! may the faithful never utter these phrases so that they can be erased from our culture and we can restore what is rightfully His.
    ad Jesum per Mariam

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  6. Preach it, sister. Nobody has more authority to speak these words of LIFE than a mother.

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  8. Lindsey,
    I love this list. Especially number three! I always feel like a villian when I advise or suggest that couples who don't want children soon should rethink why they are getting married soon. Marriage is for families. Sex doesn't have to create a new life but it CAN create a new life and if we're not ready for that possibility, are we ready for sex? It just seems so simple to me, and I know people have serious reasons to wait once they are married and start their families, but to wait right at the beginning of your marriage without a serious reason always dumbfounds me.

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  9. Lots of food for thought here, thanks for writing this!

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  10. I think if you have a very specific, well-defined reason for waiting that it is okay ... for example, we planned on waiting 1 cycle after getting married just so I wouldn't be having a baby and finishing my MFA thesis/graduation at the same time. It so happened that we conceived anyway and that ended up happening, and I wouldn't trade my son for anything, even to undo those weeks of INTENSE stress that came from having a baby right when I needed to finish papers, grading, and paperwork to finish grad school. God had His plan and He is good! But I don't think we were wrong in our desire to wait one month.

    Great post, thank you for writing it. :) I always love your blog so much.

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    1. And just to clarify, I DO agree with #3. :) It makes me so sad that people assume they'll be ABLE to have babies in their time ... if my parents had waited a few years, they wouldn't have been able to have any; but they were open to life from the beginning and God blessed them with my brother and I before their lifelong struggle with infertility.

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  11. You might receive some darts, but you are so right! The little things are the big things, meaning our words DO matter! Although this writer is not Catholic, I read your post & thought of this article I just read recently. It was great: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/the-real-life-of-the-pro-life-home

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  12. Amen! *Right* after we found out we were expecting twins (at 30 weeks, with a 3-year-old and an 18-month-old at home), I told my husband frantically, "I think we're done! I think this might be it, I can't do this anymore!!!" He reminded me that it's not our call, and I remembered that those are NOT decisions that we can try to make at stressful times! And now my twins are almost 6 months old and I already feel like we're ready to have more kids :P Trust!

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  13. I wish more people would speak the truth as black and white as this! Very beautifully said. I remember my mom telling me that Maria's dad once told her that he didn't want to get to Heaven and have God say, "look at all these beautiful children I wanted to bless you with if you were open to my plan."

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  14. Lindsey, this is so wonderful!! I hope millions read it. Even with the beautiful post, your life and the lives of your precious children speak so much more to your convictions. Praise God!

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  15. Yup... you are right! Great post!!

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  16. I love it! Great job, Lindsay! :D

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  17. You hit the nail right on the head girlfriend. God Bless you and your bravery!
    Sharon

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  18. This is really beautiful. I really love number 3!

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  19. I love my amazing sister! =) mam

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  20. I'm think I'm up to three Protestant Youth Ministers whom I know now who all 1) love kids, 2) love their spouses, 3) eagerly want to become parents BUT are "waiting" so they can do important work first for God with their high school youth groups. It's a special kind of knot I get in my stomach when I hear that familiar speech.

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  21. I waited (purposely) 5 years to have my first & highly recommend it for newly married couples. There will never be another time when each other are the only focus in life. You can truly give your undivided attention to getting to know each other & build a firm foundation that you need when the stresses & challenges of the child rearing days arrive.

    I am thankful that when they did show up & our relationship couldn't be as strong as it could be due to stress/time/distractions that I could lean back on those years where we bonded as a couple & could face the problems head on.

    To rush into children without truly getting into a "groove" as a couple is risky.

    But hey we can agree to disagree because I also feel that just because your body is producing a child like our bodies are made to do does not mean it's God's will to have another child. Our bodies get pregnant that is what we do- that does not mean we have a divine plane that comes with it.

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  23. Lindsay,thank you for this. I am a very young wife and mother. I was married at age 18 and a I am now a mother of 3 little boys at the age of 24. I feel as if nobody understands my heart for a large family. We are often asked if we are "done" or even "when are you shutting down the baby factory?" I usually do not do more than stammer and blush. I Want more. I want more if God wants to bless us with more. I have a hard time explaining why to people. Thank you for this blog it has been an inspiration to me,time and time again. May God bless you and your family.

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  24. I "shared" your post on FB because I thought it was very well written. But then I got a couple comments which made me really think. I found an article that really neutralized me in regards the use of NFP or not....and the openness to life. It's worth a read...

    http://viralcatholic.com/meaning-contraception-mentality

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    1. Hi! Thank you for commenting. I do have a question, "Should I start charting in order to be as according to the article, "A Catholic who uses NFP does so because they are being faithful to their duty to serve their spouses and their families.?" I am not asking this in argumentative manner. I am really asking that by NOT charting am I not fulfilling my duty?" Is that where the Church has gone wrong all these years? Is that really what is missing in our culture, our families and marriages?

      I am not a providentialist. I am simply a Roman Catholic. I am not trying to be above the Church. I love the Church with every ounce of my being and obey everything our parish priest, our holy Bishop, and our Holy Father guides us with. I listen. Again, I return to the days of the floor of the Colosseum where numerous died for being Christians, torn apart by lions, St. Thomas More, St. John Stockwell and all the other 40 English martyrs of our faith and ask "What are you willing to give for our Lord?" Do you know the story of St. Edmund Campion? He was tortured for three years in a tower. The social issue back then was allegiance to pagan gods or allegiance to Our Lord. You had to pick or you were put to death. Do you admit that the social issue of our times in Human Life? How do you then propose we turn this train around if we do not learn to see children as a complete gift that we accept from Him?

      I give myself out of love. I love Him and I love His Church.

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    2. Furthermore, I have had more than I can handle. I have been pushed over the limit. BUT, aren't we called to press on? Aren't we called to continue on the path of our vocation we once stood before Our Lord and promised we would do? I was speaking with an older woman the other day and she said "When we were getting married, we were just married and acted married. We didn't spend time determining anything, we were simply married and usually within "being married" came children."

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    3. I don't disagree with you. In fact, I absolutely agree with you. I just thought it a bit judgmental (?perhaps the wrong word as it has harsh connotations) to presume that all married couples are in a position to continue to bring children into the world not taking into consideration circumstance. I guess it's the comments about the newly wed couple wanting to wait a little while that threw me off.
      Reflecting on our first year of marriage, I remember a lot of people advised us to wait to have kids. "Get to know each other. Get to know married life a bit first." I understood that. After all, John and I had only KNOWN each other for 9 months before getting married. However, the longing for children was there. We ended up deciding that it would be good to practice NFP so that we knew how things might change once we were married. Charting before marriage was completely different than charting while married. ;-) Ultimately we practiced NFP fairly strictly for about 4 months and then gradually let things go and by 7 months we were pregnant. And we were thrilled. The following several years we practiced it pretty strictly...using it to both achieve and avoid pregnancy. I am grateful for that time. I KNOW that NFP works (both ways). And I’m happy we were able to have confidence in it as circumstances of our life were very difficult (sibling death, other family deaths, financial struggles, marriage struggles, etc) and looking back, had we just thrown caution to the wind, things may have been worse. I miscarry under severely stressful situations. It has happened at least twice.

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  25. The practice of NFP and the prayerful discernment of timing and spacing of children ought NOT to be judged. That's all I'm saying. Not all women are of sound physical, mental, or emotional well being to continue to get pregnant.

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    1. Thank you to the poster replying above. I appreciate your points in the original article, but I feel as though compassion is missing from the original piece.

      I am an NFP instructor in our diocese. I am also a mother who has lost two babies, had another almost die from premature delivery and months recovering in the hospital, and one that made it to term with over $40k spent on medical treatments to sustain the pregnancy while I was permitted 5 vertical minutes an hour for more than 3 months.

      The Church counsels us in the Humane Vitae to thoughtfully consider spacing or limiting births "if then there are serious motives...which drive from physical or psychological conditions of husband and wife, or from external conditions, the Church teaches that it is then licit to take into account the natural rhythms..."

      As a woman that would joyfully embrace a family larger than my two living children while being involved in the ministry God had called us to share, I routinely feel the need to remind others in the Pro-Life communities and ministries that the assumptions implied in your piece are incredibly hurtful, and a bit arrogant. I don't know God's will in my life, but I trust in Him. However, sometimes that faith is tested when those, like you, make such sweeping generalizations.

      We are waiting. My prayer is that we are merely spacing, but I am 35, and needing to afford medical treatments to let my child live rather than conceive a child doomed to early death. So for now, we save our Pennies and pray.

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    2. Thank you to the poster replying above. I appreciate your points in the original article, but I feel as though compassion is missing from the original piece.

      I am an NFP instructor in our diocese. I am also a mother who has lost two babies, had another almost die from premature delivery and months recovering in the hospital, and one that made it to term with over $40k spent on medical treatments to sustain the pregnancy while I was permitted 5 vertical minutes an hour for more than 3 months.

      The Church counsels us in the Humane Vitae to thoughtfully consider spacing or limiting births "if then there are serious motives...which drive from physical or psychological conditions of husband and wife, or from external conditions, the Church teaches that it is then licit to take into account the natural rhythms..."

      As a woman that would joyfully embrace a family larger than my two living children while being involved in the ministry God had called us to share, I routinely feel the need to remind others in the Pro-Life communities and ministries that the assumptions implied in your piece are incredibly hurtful, and a bit arrogant. I don't know God's will in my life, but I trust in Him. However, sometimes that faith is tested when those, like you, make such sweeping generalizations.

      We are waiting. My prayer is that we are merely spacing, but I am 35, and needing to afford medical treatments to let my child live rather than conceive a child doomed to early death. So for now, we save our Pennies and pray.

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    4. I also wanted to say that I am sorry for your difficult pregnancies and the loss of your two children. It is so heart-breaking. I repeat again, the loss of our children and the illness of our second has made me even more sensitive to the issues of LIFE and HOW precious it is. Enduring those experiences has made me grasp my fertility as a treasure as I do not ever take it for granted as it has been taken away from us numerous times. Feritlity and babies are a gift...that is my whole point. I irony of you saying that I am arrogant is that your specific situation would be one that I would tell to couples as to why they shouldn't take their fertility for granted. You would have been my hero for what you have endured and embraced. NFP is in place for situations as yours...you missed the point of the article. Most main stream America does not have situations like yours.

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    5. I have buried three of my own children. I have spent three years in and out of hospitals with our second child. I was pregnant with our fourth when my father passed away while my husband was in medical school. We have seen many ugly times. So, Compassion for others circumstances is something I have an overabundance of. My WHOLE point of the WHOLE article was that there have developed many a generalizations amongst most people today. I have NEVER once in my life asked ANYBODY if they are or are not using NFP. EVER. Wouldn't you agree that GENERALLY MOST PEOPLE wait to start their families, aren't open to life, and willingly offer you where they are currently at in conceiving or avoiding another baby. Guess how I know all the above points? They offer it to me very willingly usually when I am admiring the children that are with them. I think you have heard the scenario many a times. I have NEVER asked anybody if they are done. I will ask them their children's names and then they always reply, "BUT...we are done." I didn't ask you that. I asked your children's names. I have never inquired into anybody's fertility, but it is certainly offered willingly.

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    6. I understand what you are saying here, and I am sorry for how you have suffered, but the issue is that you did not include this perspective in your original piece. You were emphatic that 4 phrases should "NEVER" be used if we are pro-life. One of those phrases you wrote was "We are waiting."

      My point is that the Church is not absolute regarding a husband and wife prayerfully considering waiting. Your language in this post is absolute. To be absolute in judgment when even the Church is not is arrogance--assuming you know more than the Church in her Wisdom and the couples that do actually prayerfully, and heart-wrenchingly make the decision to wait.

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    7. I should add, that had your post not begun with comments on the purpose of language and meaning of writers to drive culture, I might not have had as strong a reaction. However when you talk about the importance of language, then you use absolute, A reader is left to assume you stand by those absolutes.

      Your response makes me think perhaps you do not stand by the absolute you originally wrote as originally written. Perhaps you mean, "We are waiting to be more comfortable in our marriage." But then you should take more care when writing about the importance of language while writing in absolutes.

      I really don't mean to be as harsh as it may seem. But with the frequency that your post was being shared on my Facebook feed, it is an important point and distinction to make.

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    8. I agree with notsosmallfries... this post has a lot of issues for me. I too am an NFP instructor. I always encourage couples to be open to life (which by using NFP, that is a big first step for many as it is very counter cultural). If it's appropriate, I even share how some couples regret waiting (like if their charts are not looking good, and the couple doesn't seem to "get it" that they may not be as fertile as they assume). That said, these conversations are best done on a case by case basis and in proper context. Yes, our anti-life culture needs to be addressed. Yes, many of the phrases listed above often make me cringe. Yes, there is a place for blog posts on this. But saying "never say this" with such a blanket statement, assuming all of these phrases are born of just a selfish or anti-life mentality is neither accurate nor fair. Our culture needs to be addressed with truth. The Church *does* allow for waiting and spacing *as discerned by the couple.* That is the truth. The Church also teaches marriage is not only for procreation *but for the good of the spouses to help them get to heaven*. She does NOT teach that children are "the WHOLE point of marriage." That is the truth. There are couples who need to wait or space. That is the truth. Holiness is not judged based on having the most children. That is the truth. (And I'd caution that this mentality has been spreading like wildfire among Catholic youth... a very judgmental and inaccurate belief that more kids = more holiness. This is very dangerous and unfair and this blog post seems to add fuel to that fire). We need to appreciate the very personal and sometimes complex reality of what it means to be open to life.

      I'd also like to add that voicing the # of children we hope for/want can be very PRO-life. If I hadn't thought it through and decided that I hope for at least 4 kids, I probably would have less. In our culture today, it's often easier to just stop. And not just for selfish reasons. Being open to life means being open to possible incredible heartache. It means being open to facing a miscarriage or any number of scary things. If I hadn't articulated my desire for 4, I would likely not try for 4 (and yes, of course I am open to more, but since I only have been blessed with one baby so far, and I am over 30, we'll have to cross that bridge when we come to it).

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  26. By the way, I'm not saying (nor do I believe the article is saying) that because you are Catholic and married then you ought to chart and practice NFP. Not at all. But I'm just saying the NFP and teaching prayerful discernment in that regard is part of the Churches teaching for a reason. It is morally neutral.
    Though we used it very strictly in the beginning, we no longer keep track of things now. We are at a place in our marriage, parenthood, and faith where there is no longer that fear or anxiety of "how are we going to handle this?!" if we get pregnant. But we also have the confidence and experience in the NFP method should we find that we need to go back to that.

    side note: you and I were pregnant and due within a couple week of each other with our last babies....and now we are again side by side on due dates (within a couple weeks). Your reflections on motherhood and life issues are very encouraging for me. Thank you for that.

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  27. You always write so beautifully and honestly on these life topics. Thank you for being brave. I agree with you 100%. As for #1, I call it the "D" word. I really, really don't like to hear that. I hear a lot of good Catholics trying to defend #3. Perhaps in a few odd cases it may be okay, but I really think that if you are not ready for children you have no business getting married. I think that many Catholics speaking in favour of "waiting" have had their view poisoned by the world. The secular world takes that so far that you are treated almost like you commited some sort of secular mortal sin if you have a baby in the first year of marriage. Our first daughter was born 9 months and 1 day after our wedding. I think some people spoke harsher words to us about that they would have if we had chosen to abort our daughter. The "My body, my choice" argument only seems to work if it's about preventing or terminating pregnancy, apparently. My godmother is a devout Catholic lady. Two years ago she had the joy of seeing her oldest marry in the Church, last year her second child. She has no grandchildren, even in utero, and both couples are open with the fact that they are "waiting". I can tell it is hard for her, and I don't understand it. Both couples claim finances as their problem yet they're all graduated from college and homeowners with double incomes.

    My husband and I really get on people about the term "accident" referring to a pregnancy. People don't have intercourse by accident. Can you imagine how that would happen? God does not create new souls by accident.The term is demeaning to all parties involved and simply shouldn't be used. Two of our five pregnancies weren't exactly planned by us, but when people asked, we simply said, "Yes, it was God's plan. We were a little surprised, but we are so happy."

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  28. Thank you, Lindsay. Our call is not an easy one, or a popular one (unfortunately). You have said it beautifully.

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  29. I wouldn't worry too much about couples who decide to "wait" upon getting married. I think this goes back to the fallacy of thinking life is planned. While I agree with you -- that marriage includes being open to life and starting a family -- suggesting that one can easily wait falls under a common newlywed error. We don't wait to get married until we are perfect saints; God uses marriage as one way to hopefully bring us to sainthood. And that's okay.

    Just an example -- I married a Protestant who was highly skeptical of Catholic teachings and NFP. He knew, of course, that I wouldn't marry him under any other conditions. We had to follow the teachings of the Catholic Church. He was brave and married me in the Church :). Anyway, he was terrified about the Catholic life and NFP, so I was fine waiting for a year to start trying for children just to help him get comfortable with NFP. And I know the Church has approved NFP and that using NFP still left us open to life. Well, much to my husband's terror, we had a honeymoon baby. We have been married nine years, and we are expecting our fifth baby in August. He converted to Catholicism four years into our marriage, and he barely remembers those early days of apprehension in starting a family, over NFP or family size or any of that. We have both grown so much by just having that little mustard seed of faith in the beginning.

    So, yeah, we "planned" to wait, but we were still open to life and God gave us life. And hopefully we are that much closer to sainthood now and will continue to go down that path. So try not to be too hard on newlyweds who may not fully understand it all yet or who may have unforeseen pressures or justifications for their situation. If they are committed to following Church teachings, God will still work in their lives. We need to give them a little room to grow.

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    1. And to be honest, it took that "surprise" honeymoon baby, that commitment to live under the Church, and that little bit of faith to bring my husband to the Church and to help him see that there is no reason to fear. He just wouldn't have gotten there as quickly or easily (or at all maybe) if we delayed the wedding years until he was comfortable with a baby. God took our little efforts and did sort of a "baptism by fire", haha! We don't regret that at all! I can clearly see how marriage within the Church has a profound impact on the soul, whether we fully realize this on our wedding day or not.

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    2. I agree. Give the couple - and God - a little benefit of the doubt. Many young couples are taking a huge leap of faith just throwing out the contraceptives and being open through NFP. Yes, we need to encourage them not to be afraid of a baby, but saying we're "horrified" when a brand new couple says they plan to "wait" probably isn't so helpful when they've just taken a huge leap of faith as it is.

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  30. This is such a beautiful post! Thank you!

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  31. I learned something new today-thank you! I am so glad you had the courage to voice what needed to be said! I agree with your passion and you are right, we are called to have courage and press on.

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  32. Lindsay, I've been a fan of your blog for a while, particularly because of the love with which you write about your family and vocation. This is why I'm a little taken aback with #3 of this post. First and foremost, if the couple that you alluded to is aware of your blog, I can only imagine how demoralizing it would be if they read about your opinion here on your public blog. Perhaps you have already had a private conversation with them to share your belief, but I don't know. Beyond that, though, you state your opinion as if it is the stark and exact teaching of the Church and it is not. The Church allows couples to practice NFP for the purposes of responsible parenthood and, while clearly it is not what God is calling of you and your husband, many many faithful Catholic couples have been greatly blessed through practicing NFP. We are not all the same. We all have different crosses, callings and blessings. I am a great admirer of you and your family and have always been attracted to your lifestyle, but after reading this post, I'm a little taken aback by the harsh way you are judging your fellow faithful Catholics.

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    1. Hi Ellen!
      Thank you for taking the time to write. It is very hard to read the tone of a blog especially when you do not know the person in real life. This post has been on my heart for many months as time and time again I encounter so many people who very willingly offer me where they are currently at in the fertility discernment. I mentioned above to somebody else that I have NEVER asked anybody. It is always offered. The third point of this post was motivated by the ease in which so many couples I have met take that fertility will be granted to them. I, along with several family and friends, have not had that experience in regards to easy fertility either through numerous miscarriages, very challenging pregnancies, C-sections, premature labors, stillborns, SIDS, etc., etc. I was just at the park last week. Another woman was there and we chatted briefly. Within five minutes of meeting her, she began her whole fertility story how they waited for five years, then they couldn't get pregnant, then they finally did, then how hard pregnancy was, then her two babies were colicky, so now they are done. I never asked her any of it. She just told me.
      If I could get any point across to married couples is simply and gently (my temperament is not harsh), I want to say, "Your fertility is a gift. I wouldn't count on it always being there. It will not always be there. Just in this month alone, the egg that you release that could potentially be another human being, will never come around again. EVER." So, please, for your sake and the sake of the culture of life, please understand the magnitude of what you have been given."
      That really is simply all. I do not apologize for my words as they are all in line with the Church's teachings actually (Please point me to the document where we are called to responsible parenthood. Really. I want to read all that I can), but I do apologize for seeming harsh as I said earlier, my temperament is a very sensitive and compassionate. God Bless You. I look forward to the articles to read. Thank you.

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    2. Also, I thought this blog might be interesting and specifically her book that just came out.

      http://philotheaonphire.blogspot.com

      You can find the book on her side bar.

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    3. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
      2368 A particular aspect of this responsibility concerns the regulation of procreation. For just reasons, spouses may wish to space the births of their children. It is their duty to make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness but is in conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood. Moreover, they should conform their behavior to the objective criteria of morality:

      When it is a question of harmonizing married love with the responsible transmission of life, the morality of the behavior does not depend on sincere intention and evaluation of motives alone; but it must be determined by objective criteria, criteria drawn from the nature of the person and his acts, criteria that respect the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love; this is possible only if the virtue of married chastity is practiced with sincerity of heart.156


      I don't mean to cause a ruckus in your combox, I only seek ask you, since I can tell that you have a gentle temperament, to please give these couples the benefit of the doubt. By all means, encourage more openness to life; your very family is a walking advertisement for life! But since you have no experience practicing NFP at the beginning of your marriage (I assume from what you have written), you can have no idea of the sacrifices these couples make and the graces the Lord sends to them for these sacrifices. It's devastating to hear someone you greatly admire and want to emulate criticizing you when all you are doing is trying to seek the Lord's will for your marriage and family. There's no pills being popped, or condoms being used. Just constant prayer, communication and sacrifice.

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  33. This is beautiful, as many of your posts are. I had a similar experience to Elizabeth above where we were trying to wait but then got pregnant on our honeymoon. It all worked out fine of course. Sometimes it takes the first baby to show people there isn't as much to fear as they thought or the world tells them. I think there is a difference in saying we are hoping to wait which implies you are still open to life vs a definite we are waiting. It is between each couple and God whether or not their reasons for waiting are valid. It is of course no ones buisness what you are doing and I agree that I would rather not hear from people what they are doing, if they're done, etc. I need to get better with my own responses when I get questioned since I am currently pregnant with my fourth. I don't think I am as brave as you are in public!

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  34. Thank you for your witness, Lindsay. Your blogs should be turned into a book, which I would give to couples on their wedding day. The wisdom you have, and the way you present it, is a gift.

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  35. I appreciate the points you made, however, I have found #3 a bit…presumptuous. You don’t know people’s circumstance. And to judge a persons reason for “waiting” or spacing their children based on finance or whatever is absurd. Not everyone is blessed with obtaining professional degrees or have husbands who are the sole providers of the family. Perhaps the economy the past 6 years hasn’t effected you, but it has effected many many people. And to be honest, it’s scary. Mr President keeps shaking things up, changing things, raising things, and leaving many lower and middle class Americans left to hang and fend for themselves or rely on government. Not to mention how difficult it is to find a job let alone KEEP a job that could possibly sustain a family and/or offer insurances. It’s ridiculous. People struggle just to keep afloat or live within their means. Judging people because they are limiting their family size at the moment due to that (the shakiness of being able to provide for those you already are responsible for) is wrong.

    And secondly, the whole “if you get married then BE married” thing. “Being” married is not strictly defined by the conception of children or whether or not couples avoid pregnancy using NFP. And the whole idea of if you are planning on “waiting” to have children right away, then don’t get married. Ridiculous. I think it’s biblical, God’s command to marry lest one falls into lustful thoughts and actions. So, if they hope to avoid pregnancy for a time in the beginning, it’s better for a young couple to NOT get married and fall prey to sexual sin? Or get married with the hopes of avoiding pregnancy for a short time and learn to live chastely within a happy healthy marriage while abstaining/praying for a time before kids come?? I think it’s also biblical when St Paul declares it completely okay to fast and abstain during a time of prayer and discernment.

    NFP is completely unitive and procreative in every aspect. There is no barrier. There is no prevention of life. If God so choses, He can bless life at any stage in a woman’s cycle. As a friend of mine said, “Personally, I recognize I have NO CONTROL over my fertility. I do not choose when to ovulate, menstruate, etc. I choose to work with what I am given in my fertility to, hopefully, achieve or avoid a pregnancy. While still recognizing life can be brought in to being by God at any point.” Thus the beauty of NFP. Just because a couple choses to avoid pregnancy by using NFP, does not imply they are not open to life. Nor does it imply that they are not doing God’s Will. I’m pretty sure we aren’t called to bring as many children into the world as possible. I am certain that we are called to be open to life and respect life at all stages and raise those children we have been blessed with in the faith. Of that I am certain.

    One cannot judge the use of NFP nor the reason for waiting or spacing.

    And the Church does in fact promote "responsible parenting via spacing of children by use of NFP" right in the CCC. It's worth a look.

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    1. Thank you. This sums up many of my reactions to this post. Using NFP is still being open to life. "Waiting" does not = "complete control of one's fertility." And I do not believe that asking a couple to wait several years to get married until they feel 100% "ready" for a child on the wedding night is even remotely close to Church teachings (yes, the couple must be OPEN to life and accept the children God gives. They do *not* have to be ready to actively try to conceive from day one as that is not our role to discern and that is not a requirement of the Church for marriage). Today, it is all too common for couples to fall into lust or cohabitate. A prayerful, healthy couple striving for holiness within the Sacrament of marriage and practicing NPF month by month to remain open to God's will sounds like a far better alternative than telling couples they shouldn't marry until they want to be pregnant some years down the road. (Besides, how many couples have said, "Oh we'll wait a couple years" and changed their mind within 6 months because they were practicing NFP and discerned they were actually more "ready" than they realized? MANY! That can't happen if they aren't even getting married until years down the road. Leave some room for God to work in a couple's life and be *happy* for couples who are doing the hard task of trying to live according to Church teachings).

      Another thing that really bothers me here is the assumption that NFP or "waiting" is the easy, selfish way. No, you have no idea the sacrifices some of these couples are making to space or delay using a natural method. There is virtue in that kind of self control. And nobody on the outside has the right to judge that decision.

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  36. Lindsey - you are right on with all of your points. I'm impressed to see SO many other women agreeing on this issue. I feel so alone where I live in finding others who might agree. Esp. others who might be young and actually in their child-bearing years! God bless!

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  37. Couples who practice NFP need to ask themselves if they are really pro-life or for PLANNED life.

    I have followed your blog for some time now and I must say that your most recent post "Things we should never say" was a masterpiece. I taught NFP for several years in the 70-80's. Most of the couples who came to me to learn it came as a last resort. They had tried everything NOT to have children and NFP or "organic birth-control" was their last alternative. They still possessed the anti-child mentality. Very few came with an openness to life or an appreciation for the gift of fertility. Most couples "were done" and I possessed the magic-church-approved-guilt-free natural birth control information that would finally make their burden of children go away. I stopped teaching NFP because in the NFP world children are a NEGATIVE. When a surprise pregnancy did occur I had to fill out a form which classified such pregnancy as 1) a user failure: couple misused the method 2) a method failure: couple conceived even though they charted correctly. How can the conception of a child in marriage ever be considered a failure in anyway? If couples really believe that children are a gift from the Lord, "the fruit of the womb is a reward", how then can telling God how many gifts they want to receive from Him be right? Everything we have belongs to God, especially the gift of our fertility. We will be held accountable for how we used that gift.

    "Our job is to inform, not to convince" St. Bernadette. Keep speaking the truth, Lindsay.

    D.P.N.

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    1. Obviously you haven't taught NFP since the 70's and 80's. Children are NOT taughg to be negatives and pregnancy is NOT taught to be a failure. Pregnancy classifications no longer contain the word "failure" or "error." And JUST as many couples - if not more - use NFP to try to ACHIEVE pregnancy. It is also a vital tool in helping diagnose health problems. More than ever, women's cycles are not healthy. I teach NFP, and I have yet to have an engaged couple come to me with a normal, healthy cycle. All have benefited from learning what was wrong with their cycles and most have received treatment to become healthier and gone on to achieve and maintain healthy pregnancies that would NOT have happened if it weren't for "evil NFP."

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    2. I am pro charting and pro learning NFP. However I have seen in many Catholic circles that if you have what others perceive to be "unplanned children" then you considered a failure at NFP or you get thrown in the category of you must not believe in NFP. Even someone comments above that the writer of this blog must not believe in NFP. It shouldn't matter to others what you spacing is and shouldnt be up for public discussion like always seems to be within the NFP circles. Its difficult when non-Catholics ask about NFP an it it reprented as the Catholic way to guarantee that you are DONE.

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  38. Lindsay,

    Guilty consciences throw darts. This is YOUR blog and Truth is hard for most to hear.
    This post only beseeches women to be generous to God, to give more of themselves, to STOP making excuses.
    For anyone to come down on you for that is a pity.

    Kristin

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    1. What an ugly thing to say.

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    2. My thoughts exactly, Theresa. The Truth is the Catholic Church, not Lindsay's blog. And that is what we are discussing (mostly politely) in the combox. The "NFP wars" among faithful Catholics are distressing, ugly, and divisive, and I think they need to stop. We need to be encouraging each other and praying for each other. If one wants to help those who are struggling with financial, emotional, health issues, etc., then it is far more effective to write about one's personal experience in an encouraging way to help those who may relate. For example, Lindsay could write about their years as young parents while her husband was in school. We are currently in the same situation, and it is helpful for others with a spouse in school to hear that encouragement, regardless of how they decide to deal with it faithfully within the Church. It may alleviate some fears on having children during that time. I know a good friend of mine helped ease my fears over having a young family with husband in school, because I watched her live it gracefully, and she was always so understanding and loving toward me before we even embarked on our journey.

      Blog posts or books that tell us in all caps what we should "never" say or do (like NFP, despite Catholic teachings otherwise) just alienate discerning, faithful couples, or receive a pat on the back from those who already agreed in the first place. Lindsay is certainly entitled to her opinion, but I would hope that a public and relatively widely circulated blog post could take same serious discussion without accusations of a guilty conscious, especially when the posted words are confusing and controversial.

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    3. I think you are taking what Lindsay wrote out of context. She never said anything about "Not doing NFP." She is simply trying to encourage newly married or those of us who have been married a long time to take the children as God sends them because you never know when you will not have the ability to have any or any more children.

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    4. Based on some comments she replied to, one could conclude that NFP users would fall under her "waiting" category and thus "should NEVER be done". I think the underlying sentiments of this post are absolutely beautiful and I can certainly relate on many levels, however, her statements are ABSOLUTE. That is a bit unsettling how she expresses her opinion as it sounds like it is in line with Church doctrine, which it is not. That's not to say she is wrong, but making it sound like their (her and her husband) view of family and welcoming children is the only way, is a bit misguiding. The Catholic Church fully supports the spacing of children by use of NFP. The Catholic Church fully supports the practice of "responsibly parenting" and the prayerful discernment regarding actively trying to conceive or avoid a pregnancy using NFP.

      Look it up. It's biblical AND it is in the CCC.

      I would be interested in hearing a post or more comments from Lindsey herself regarding NFP and whether she supports it or not. I know, based on comments she's made, that she's never used NFP nor does she intend to. But that doesn't necessarily mean that she is against it either. Perhaps it is a tool that her and her husband choose not to use.

      NFP is a very powerful powerful gift. It strengthens marriages NOT because of the avoidance of pregnancy but because of the communication, prudence, prayer, appreciation for fertility, love, sacrifice, and GENEROSITY it fosters in a relationship. Anyone who has practiced NFP for any amount of time can attest to that. NFP by it's nature is absolutely NOT contrary to life.

      One other thing, NFP cannot in any way be called contraceptive, contrary to life, not-being-open to life, etc. Implying that it is a heretical. It is a couples INTENT that can perhaps be deemed selfish. If that is agreed upon, then we ought not discuss it any longer as that ventures into the realm of serious judgment of a person's person life. And a person's soul before God is non of our business.

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    5. Gotta run, so I haven't had a chance to catch up on comments, but I was referring to some of the NFP comments in the combox (as well as the language in the post). And the link to the NFP Trojan Horse book that Lindsay posted in the combox. If she was strictly addressing secular culture, then the vague language would be more understandable, but her example specifically used a faithful "waiting" Catholic couple, which also implies NFP. I think Lindsay said in the combox that she is not against NFP(?), but the comments suggest that she is judging many Catholics who practice NFP as using it inappropriately. That is something we are personally never in a position to do unless we are evaluating ourselves or we are deeply entrenched in someone else's marriage. If we are truly concerned about different situations with other Catholics, then we need to find a way to be encouraging to them in their time of waiting or stress.

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  39. I thought I would add my two cents from the perspective of a woman struggling with infertility =) Going through infertility trains you quite well in never again saying #2: "we want x number of kids." Kids are not a "when," they're an "if," meaning that no one is ever guaranteed a single child - each is a gift, meaning undeserved and superabundant. I like to think that women struggling with infertility, perhaps like your sister, offer a unique witness in this regard because that experience teaches you that fertility isn't like a light switch you turn on and off when you want. Being open to life is really a way of life, a mode of being open to one's spouse and whatever fruitfulness God desires to bless the world with through your marriage. Being open to life takes a lot of humility, since our plans don't always (don't ever?) work out the way we want them to, including in terms of our fertility. Judging from your "about us" blurb, I imagine you know that too. (And as someone who longs for children, it pains me greatly to hear #1 too.) Anyway, thanks for your post.

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  40. Couples today think they are on the creative level of God...that He needs their help determining when and how often to create life. Why have people begun to tell God what to do and when instead of letting HIM control their lives.

    Bobo's wife and child

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  41. Great post Lindsay! I'm so glad you had the courage to speak on this subject. I knew people would be upset. I think a lot of people don't realize they're being influenced by the culture. Even the Billings recommended that a couple see if they can have one as soon as possible because you never know when can't have anymore children. After attending a recent Creighton conference they even mentioned how we need to rename NFP to Fertility Awareness to change peoples attitudes. Some of the best advice came from an aunt(you can probably guess who) who say "Have your children when you can, because you never know when you won't be able to have anymore." I feel so fortunate to have the children that we have as I had an diagnosis with an issue with as the doctor told me "only youth on" my side that allowed me to have kids in the first place. It has been a challenge to get numbers 5 and 6 (on the way) here hopefully God willing we'll be able to have more, but if not we know we were 100% open to God's will not minimizing our numbers in order to gain materially. Keep up the good work, I'll be watching from KC!

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  42. Lindsay,

    You are so right! It pains me greatly to read some of the comments. Unfortunately, I myself have said most of the things on your list at one time or another. As I've grown in faith and understanding of our church's teachings, I see the beautiful logic in what you are saying.

    I know that you are not being judgmental or harsh. It takes great courage and love to speak the truth. Now it's up to others to prayerfully discern what God wants them to do.

    You and your family are in my prayers!

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  43. Thank you for your wise article... and beautiful family! It does seem that you do take a more "providentialist" approach to married life; that is, more trust in God's holy Will and less concern about human control and planning.
    In response to the silence of "We are done," how beautifully having another baby says: "Holy love begets love":
    http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2013/05/love-never-says-enough.html

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  44. Lindsay,
    Thank you for posting this! I don't know if I could possibly agree with you more! :)
    My husband and I were blessed with our first baby immediately. In fact, our son was a "wedding night" baby. :) While I never dreamed that would be our reality, we are so grateful for him and his two sisters who arrived in marriage year 2 and marriage year 3. We only pray God blesses us with more (be it His will)!
    My mom once shared that fertility is such a gift and we never know its length. She explained that several of her cousins lost their own fertility in their early thirties and not to take it for granted. My hope is that more couples come to understand that.

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  45. I have followed your blog for quite a while, and I have always been very inspired by you and your beautiful family! I mostly agree with all you have written here, and I commend you for the courage it must have taken to write it. My husband and I were in a "less than ideal" situation when we got married--he was recently unemployed, paying back enormous school loans (REALLY enormous law school loans), and we were living with his parents. That seems like a legitimate situation where many couples would choose to use NFP to avoid a pregnancy, but we were of the mindset that, "If you're not ready to have children, you're not ready to be married," and we felt like God would bless us in whatever way He saw fit, so we tried for a child right away. We were blessed with our firstborn's birth a month before our first wedding anniversary. God blessed us ABUNDANTLY, and has continued to do so, and I am so glad we didn't wait.

    I guess my question to you, though, is: what are your views of NFP, then? At least for us, NFP wasn't right for us in that situation, and we had sincerely prayed about it. (Honestly, if we had decided that we needed to wait to have a child, we would have moved the wedding back, as well.) I can imagine, though, that a different couple in a similar situation that we were in might pray earnestly and come to a different conclusion for themselves; that seems to me like a legitimate "serious reason" to avoid a pregnancy for a time: no income, no idea when employment will be gained, having to find a way to make hefty school loan payments, and having no place of their own. Granted, we were in that situation, and things turned out so incredibly beautifully and amazing, that if a couple in that situation were to ask our advice, we would tell them not to wait! I do agree with the mindset that if you aren't ready to have children, you shouldn't get married...I never liked the idea that couples should just "wait" to get to know one another first. That's what courtship is for! There's no better way to "get to know" your new spouse than to have a child with him/her! And I guess the situation that I mentioned is not the norm when couples are first getting married, anyway; it seems like most couples tend to be in a better place financially, even if they ARE in school.

    I get it, that we really need to encourage the culture of LIFE, encourage couples to be open to having large families, turn away from our society that looks at children as a "nuisance" and see the beautiful gift of fertility through the eyes of the Church, which says that children are ALWAYS a blessing! MOST couples nowadays seem inclined toward selfishness when it comes to having children; that's, unfortunately, a product of our society and the culture of death. Our "default" should be generosity with having children! And I think that's a mindset that many couples, even devout ones, miss.

    But I guess I just want to know your opinion on NFP (to avoid pregnancy) in general. Do you think it should not be used? Do you think that there are only very serious reasons where it can be used? Do you think it's "overused" or wrongly used today? Where should NFP, in your opinion, fit into the Catholic family, if at all?

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  46. Totally spot on! Loved this post. :) And Carrie, this homily on NFP and its uses is awesome. This priest knows his stuff and talks so well-he really explains things SO well and backs everything up with Church teaching. The typical NFP outlook many Catholics now have is actually quite warped and this priest explains why. :) http://www.audiosancto.org/sermon/20040718-Holy-Matrimony-and-NFP.html

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  47. Thank you for speaking this so bravely. I agree with you 100%.

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  48. I too agree with you 100% but I have to say Jesus told us not to judge. Many of the people we have heard these sad statements from are influenced by a damaged culture. Even Catholics, cradle or converts are bombarded daily with moral relativism that influences them and then they may go to Mass and not hear anything worthwhile from some of the more "laid-back" (a.k.a. downright lazy and cowardly) priests. Most of us who are open to life - including NFPers! - are lucky enough to have had a proper upbringing from our parents and / or excellent pastoral advice from priests who take their vocation seriously. Not everyone is so lucky!

    We can only resolve to speak of the wonderful benefits of being open to life and following Church teachings. Also, we should explicitly and continuously show this to our own children so they are less likely to be influenced by moral relativism.

    Encouragement to those who are brave enough to be open to life is great. Berating those who clearly do not know better, is not Christ like.

    God Bless you and your family.

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  49. Gary's Girl, I've listened to the sermon whose link you provided, and I must say the priest giving the sermon is off-base in several ways. A lot of what he said was true, especially the fact that Catholics must be careful not to use NFP with a contraceptive mentality and have sufficient reasons for it. But his first mistake is when he equates NFP with periodic continence; the two are not the same thing! NFP may entail periodic continence if a couple needs to avoid pregnancy, but NFP is not periodic continence per se. NFP is determining when fertility is occurring based on certain physical symptoms, and there's nothing wrong with that. What's wrong with knowing when you've reached your fertile period? After all, NFP may be used to achieve pregnancy! And now we get to the priest's chief mistake. He cites a book by Catholic author/therapist Greg Popcak, and in the book Popcak recommends that couples use NFP each month in order to discern if they should try for pregnancy or not. The priest says that that's wrong and a misuse of NFP, but that would only be the case if the couple had been exhorted to abstain during the fertile period every month (again, note that the priest was wrongly equating NFP and periodic continence). What Popcak was actually suggesting that couples do is to gather the necessary information vis-a-vis fertility and then, once the fertile period is reached, discern and ask themselves, for example, if there are financial or health problems that might cause a pregnancy at that point in time to be a grave strain? And then, if, after discernment, the couple realizes there's really no sufficient reason to abstain, then they perform the marriage act. The priest in question also seems to make sweeping generalizations about those who use NFP, insinuating that most who use it are misusing it. He can't possibly know that. Generalizations are always dangerous.

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  50. Thank you so much for this post. You are right on and I couldn't agree with you more. Jesus never said "take up your picnic basket and follow Me"...it's not always easy to follow Him and be counter cultural, but the cross is beautiful. If we could ever live in Lincoln again, I would beg you to be my best friend. ;) Praying for an end to the culture of death.

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    1. Great line: Take up your picnic basket and follow Me . . . ."

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  51. Hi Lindsay,

    I recently found your blog and specifically looked up your stance on "family planning". I am a newly married woman of almost two years, and have two under two! I loved your article because people do give advice whether or not I've asked them, and I've never asked them whether they use NFP. It is comforting to know someone else in this world understands that it isn't wrong not to chart or practice NFP. Most people see us as "irresponsible", especially as the natural spacing of children doesn't work for me - I have the sadness that I cannot breastfeed, sadness because I would love that closeness of mother and child. But God be praised, because it is in this way He calls me to bring more souls into the world. Thank you for writing, I appreciate it. I wish I could meet you and your lovely family.

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