Preaching on contraception: “You have to make sure people know you’re being compassionate”

Several years ago, a newly ordained priest in the Archdiocese of Washington took it upon himself to preach one Sunday on the topic of contraception.  He reminded the congregation of the Church’s teaching on the subject, acknowledged that there were probably many in the pews that morning who did not follow it, and suggested that they go to confession.  He offered to make himself available after Mass for the sacrament of reconciliation, for anyone who wanted to “get right with God.”

The response, I’m told by people who were there, was decidedly mixed.  Some people walked out.  Some applauded.  A number of parishioners took it upon themselves to write the pastor and the archbishop letters of complaint. The result: within two weeks, the young priest was transferred to another parish.

But some preachers do manage to raise the unpopular subject in the pulpit — and very successfully.  Our Sunday Visitor looks at some recent examples:

The Catholic Church’s teaching that contraception is a grave sin is based on love, said Father Roger Landry, associate pastor at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in New Bedford, Mass.

It follows from the idea that sexual intercourse in marriage should be an act in which a husband and wife offer themselves totally to one another, with no reservations, and with the possibility of the fruit of their love becoming manifest in a child, and it is indeed good news.

Too bad that many of the couples whom Father Landry has counseled as they prepared for marriage had never even heard that contraception is sinful, let alone why.

So, Father Landry spreads the word from the pulpit, including the Church’s teaching on contraception in his homilies at least a couple of times a year.

While a priest preaching about the sinfulness of contraception is apparently unusual enough to qualify as news in one of the nation’s leading newspapers, Father Landry isn’t the only one taking on the topic.He did it again Feb. 12, in response to the Obama administration’s mandate that all employers who provide health insurance include coverage of contraceptive drugs, devices and sterilization at no added cost. According to a Feb. 18 profile in The New York Times, the homily was met with applause.

Father Jonathan Raia, associate pastor at St. William Catholic Church in Round Rock, Texas, used the government mandate as a springboard for discussing Church teaching on contraception in his homilies the weekend of Feb. 4-5.

Father Raia, who was ordained two and a half years ago, said that after reading a letter about the Health and Human Services mandate from Austin Diocese Bishop Joe Vasquez the week before, he thought the time was right.

“I was kind of trembling as I read that,” Father Raia told Our Sunday Visitor. “It was so powerful. It had an emotional effect on me.”

“It begs the question,” he said. “It says we are opposed to the mandate because it forces us to violate Catholic teaching. Catholics who are opposed to the teaching are going to say it doesn’t violate their consciences, so what’s the problem? Why is contraception such a big deal? It was the perfect opportunity to jump into it and to continue talking about it.”While the letter focused on the threat the HHS mandate to provide contraceptive coverage poses to religious liberty, Father Raia said, he knew that he had to go a step further.

Father Raia said he has mentioned contraception in a homily before. He also had discussed the teaching in adult faith formation sessions.

But he didn’t want to arrive at his first parish — which St. William is — and start talking about contraception right away. That follows a piece of advice he got in seminary, that you have to show the people you love them before you can tell them “that kind of a hard truth.”

Finding a way to condense the teaching enough for a homily, yet convey it clearly, can be difficult, he said. But it’s just important to make sure the message is one of love.

“You have to make sure people know you’re being compassionate,” he said. “You’re not condemning them. You want to work with them.”

Read more.

And you can hear Fr. Raia’s homily below.  Just click on the green arrow.

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  1. I was listening to a Fulton Sheen homily on this recently and he had a similar approach. The first thing he said would refuse to do is to refer to contraception as ‘birth control.’. He said people who use that term ‘believe neither in birth nor in control.’. He called it Birth Prevention. Probably a good lead to follow.

  2. Henry Karslon says:

    While I believe that, on the ideal, moral law, it is indeed true, that there is something wrong with contraception and should not be done; on the other hand, we do need to realize that (for all the word games), NFP is seen as contraception by the populace at large, for it is being used as “birth prevention.” NFP seems to be a kind of dispensation based upon the observation that in the modern age, huge families can be a burden and there can be a good reason to engage some forms of population control (yes, population control). They have to be done with a way which tries to demonstrate the value of the act itself. However, when we see it really is being used (and encouraged to be thought us) something equal to or better than condoms, as I have read from NFP literature, again, we must begin to think what is going on. The reason why I think many of the faithful have not come to terms with the moral law here is not because it is not taught on the basis of love, but because it is taught in an idealistic fashion which ignores the real questions people have. There is more work to be done — a return to the ancient world and how the Catholic tradition on sex begun (and even to examine if there has been problematic philosophical ideas used to reinforce the tradition which do not need to be there — and I think one will find with Augustine and Jerome [but more Augustine] such did develop in the West, explaining the difference in the West on its understanding of Joseph or priests).

    The solution is to recognize that those who find some level of “dissent” do so with some level of truth not fully incorporated in the official response. Moral theologians need to note what it is that has made the teaching unreceptive while also promoting and seeking for the spirit of the teaching itself, to preserve the truth in it as well. Not an easy task, especially in our over-sexualized culture, but if we want to get people to change and grow in holiness, this must be done.

  3. I wonder if the Bishops (especially the ones who did the “transfers” when a holy priest gave homilies that upset some in the pews) who are now so upset over the HHS mandate, have given thought to the current consequences of “not speaking from the pews on contraception?” It would be a lot harder for the secular world and government to pull this off had American Catholics been firmly grounded in the teaching.

    It will be the same way for abortion (those priests usually get “transfered too” for “upseting” some in the pews. Make no mistake, once the “birth control” issue flys, it will only be a matter of time before mandatory abortion.

    As for Father Raia, yes, it’s wonderful to have a gifted priest who can always preach the message needed to be heard in a loving way, but that doesn’t mean that those who aren’t as gifted deserve to be silenced, as we are now seeing the fruits of that kind of cowardice leadership.

  4. About the first homily described above, and assuming it was as balanced as Dcn Greg describes it: (1) “Some people walked out.” Too bad for them, but people walked out on Jesus in John VI. (2) “Some applauded.” Good for them, (altho, yes, liturgical law discourages applause during Mass, still…, sometimes…) and (3) “A number of parishioners took it upon themselves to write the pastor and the archbishop letters of complaint. The result: within two weeks, the young priest was transferred to another parish.” Where, I hope, he gave the same homily his first week in pulpit.

  5. Dcn. Scott says:

    I recently spoke on the topic, partially motivated by all the comments from the pundits pointing out a bit gleefully that most Catholics ignore the Churches teaching and, from Catholic “man on the street” interviews in which the Catholics noted that they have not heard a word on the topic in decades. I pointed out that as a married deacon I have a special point of view, but I also defended the right of celibate clergy to lead on this topic. And, at the end, I acknowledged that many of the listeners have been struggling with the topic and that I recognize the pressures they face.
    The response was overwhelmingly positive. I got not one negative (maybe they just grumbled to themselves). I think, for many Catholics, seeing so many pundits “snarkilly” pointing out the internal disputes in our church was akin to the old saying, “I may call my child a brat, but nobody else better call my child a brat.”
    A homily that clearly explains why the church teaches what it does, and, points out the prophetic words of Paul VI when he predicted the results of a contraceptive mentality, will be, I think, much appreciated by the people.

  6. We’re presented here with a tale of different priests, dioceses and outcomes. A hapless priest in the Archdiocese of Washington tried to preach on the subject and got sacked (i.e. transferred). Up in New Bedford, Massachusetts (Diocese of Fall River), Fr. Landry was met with a different, more positive outcome.

    The article suggests that the key to the difference in outcomes (getting transferred vs. staying in place and being well received) has to do with presentation styles, etc.

    But the real difference in outcomes has perhaps everything to do with the attitude of the bishop and his chancery officials. Judging from the shabby treatment which Fr. Guarnizo received from the hierarchy, and the leniency which publicly pro-abortion Catholic politicians have received under the current ordinary and his predecessor, the Archdiocese of Washington has one approach to these issues. Meanwhile, the Diocese of Fall River apparently has a different attitude.

    Yes, Fr. Landry is particularly gifted in this area (his undergraduate degree from Harvard was in biology) and he has lectured widely in this area for a number of years (I first saw his lectures on Theology of the Body on Catholic television about 5-6 years ago). Still, I think much of the difference in outcomes has to do with the leadership on this from the top.

  7. The fact is, the general Catholic population is not buying the Catholic position on contraception. They haven’t for some time now and are not likely to ever again. They have lost faith in the bishops, and rightly so given the bishops antics the past decade or so.

    And I write this without taking a side on the issue — just stating a fact and what I believe to be the end product. Society has moved on and the general Catholic population is participating.

  8. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    I do think some of the difference has to do, also, with the presentation — and with the audience. A preacher has to understand where his listeners are coming from, and the challenges they are facing, and (as one of the priests mentioned) speak to them from a place of love and sympathy and hope.

    Best advice I ever heard about preaching: “Don’t begin a sermon with ‘You sinners,’ but start with ‘We bums…’”

    Dcn. G.

  9. Jake, if they’re not buying, it’s because they’ve never had a sales call. Practically zero Catholics have ever had the prohibition proposed to them in a reasoned, principled way.

  10. Henry Karslon says:

    Also, unless things have changed, what has been suggested as the problem with Fr. Guarnizo had to do with his own “shabby” behavior (and not at a funeral).

  11. In 1968, we had perhaps the best educated and formed Catholic population in North America and Europe. And yet, the majority of well educated and well formed Catholics rejected Paul VI’s encyclical, Humanae Vitae. Such open dissent by the majority of the people of God was not held in contempt by the leadership of the church, as bishops and episcopal conferences rushed to control the damage.

    Some 44 years later, the issue has returned. Do we really think that today’s Catholics, arguably less informed about their faith than their parents and grandparents, will accept what was even a minority opinion in 1968?

    If we want to re-engage Catholics (nevermind society), how about we start with the great commands of Jesus:


  12. Deacon, you’re right that success here has so much to with presentation and effectively engaging the audience. And, I like your advice and the line about opening a sermon with “We bums” rather than “You sinners.” Well said!

    Still, it’s hard not to notice that the hapless priest (who was transferred) was from the Archdiocese of Washington. One can’t help but engage in a little simple math (“two plus two equals four”)

  13. I agree mjl, but authentic love can only exist in truth. And the truth is, the Church has taught the perils of contraception for the last 1900 years. Pope Paul’s Humane Vitae didn’t “invent” the teaching, albeit it was a powerful “reminder.”

    Also, while it’s a fact that the catechesis leaves much to be desired, in this day of internet and technology, there really is no excuse for anyone not to know or learn the faith. Plenty of faithful Catholics, self included, were just as clueless to what the church taught well into adulthood. There’s a time when we all have to just grow up and stop blaming everyone else for our spiritual sloth. It’s out there for all to learn, especially contraception, which by now, one would have to be living under a rock not to know that the Catholic Church disapproves of it. The next step is “why” for any mature enough to be informed.

  14. Henry Karslon says:

    Ask the Orthodox, Klaire. They don’t see it the same. There are aspects which are ancient, but the way it was put forward, even traditional Orthodox find to be imbalanced. That, and the lack of reception by the faithful, should give warning that something was not right (even if it might be close to it).

  15. Last week I came across this old article on contraception written by the late great Father Hardon. I’m not sure what year he wrote it, but it’s pretty interested considering he predicted the following consequences of contraception:

    Breakdown of the family; and
    Murder of the unborn.

    I especially found his reasoning on homosexuality as a consequence of contraception most interesting, not even sure that is mentioned in Humane Vitae.

    Here’s the link for anyone who wants to read the entire article.

  16. Henery if I were Orthodox I would ask, but I’m Roman Catholic.

  17. Yes. Ship has sailed. Train left station.

  18. Jake, you may be right. But the difference between 1968 (when Humanae Vitae was issued) and today is that we are all witnesses (believer and non-believer alike) to the social destruction of the so-called Sexual Revolution. Even if you don’t accept a causal relationship (and many don’t), I think most everyone will agree that “something is not right” with the state of society today and, specifically, with the meltdown of family life and authentic human relations.

    Does anyone really think, for example, that a “hookup culture” is much of a culture at all? Or that the decade-old practice of “Sex Week at Yale” (to cite an item in this week’s news) represents a genuine advancement in higher education?

    Given the current chaos, I think the world is actually more disposed to listen to the Church’s wisdom than it was in the 1960s and 1970s. Our answers are animated by the Gospel and shaped by 20 centuries of experience applying the teachings of the Gospel to family life. Now more than ever the Church’s view of the dignity of men and women — and of the proper place of sexuality in loving relationships open to the gift of children — is needed by the world.

    Yes, the message wasn’t received in the past. But the world has changed in 40 years — in many ways for the bad. The social disintegration is more glaringly obvious and has reached crisis proportions. And the crisis represents an opportunity for Truth to be heard.

  19. The problem with a homily is that it’s one-way communication. Much better to raise an issue like this in a smaller group setting where the priests can both teach AND listen. Also, given that there may be children in the pews, it seems this topic might be better handled in adult education, premarital counseling, etc.

    Just as, say, a crowd of African-Americans wouldn’t be that enthused about hearing a white person talk about the difficulties of being black in America today, without asking the audience what they think, many married Catholics are offended when a celibate person preaches to them about their sexual practices without asking about their experiences. (Not a perfect analogy, but you get the idea.)

  20. Mark Greta says:

    I have been slowly going through my wife’s articles that she has left behind. One of them is her many notebooks. She prayed and as she did, she would jot down thoughts. Later she would try to go back and cross of what she thought came from her own sinful soul and those messages which she felt came from Christ, those hard truths we don’t want to hear.
    Last night, while going through Greta’s hard truths, I was reading about the grave sin of the bishops in America. She had listed a few, but in the end, had crossed off all of them but two; the grave sin of abuse of children and coverup and the failure of the Bishops to do their job and teach us the narrow path required to get to heaven. She noted that the second one, failure to teach, as by far the one most offensive to God for the other was a failure of human weakness, the other was a lack of belief tied to the essential component of belief, obedience. Below this she wrote:
    The serpent asked “Hath God said?” to Eve in the garden for the serpent knew man and hated his free will choice. He would use that free will to wound man and thus God. God so loved man that he allowed him to choose to love God, to accept God’s love. Love can only happen with free choice.
    Every day the serpent asks us “Hath God said” for every choice we make that day. When it is easy to follow, when it is not our weakness being challenged, we leap forth boldly and proclaim our faithful we are. When it involves that thorn in our own heel, we look for escape clauses, wiggle room, gray areas of doubt we can hang our hat on, the fig leaf that we think covers our nakedness as we run to hide from God. We scream about our wonderful conscience but try to keep it from being well formed in all the teachings. We do not accept those that Christ and His Church have said are most grave. We flirt with deadly sins even as we shirk our duties to develop the essential virtues which would allow us to man up to go to war with these same deadly sins. We do not seek reconciliation with God through the sacrament after going through serious evaluation of our sins, but in a flight of fancy think that we can absolve ourselves with some magic mystery tour during some prayer at night. We cry out we want to see His will, for Him to speak, but ask only questions which will allow us to remain where we are in our comfortable abode of sin. When the pious young man came all puffed up over following the commandments all his life and calling Good Master, Our Lord set him back on his heels because Jesus knew he was avoiding the requirement of instant obedience to that which he did not want to hear; that to follow meant he had to give up all he had and follow in obedience as a first and essential step. When the man came who wanted to follow Chirst and was told to follow, he said first he needed to bury his father. Jesus said no because it was a matter He could see in this persons heart that it lacked obedience that meant giving up everything. When Peter was beckoned by Christ to leave the boat and walk out to him on water, Peter obeyed and got out of the boat. Belief and obedience must go together. Only those who obey can believe and only those who believe can obey.
    When the bishops therefore give man wiggle room so they can have a fig leaf and not obey, they have done immeasurable harm to many who they where placed in front of to lead them to paradise. By their wiggle room teaching, they have aided the serpent with his question “Hath God said?” They do not show clear teaching, true north, the narrow way and in so doing have made their salt have no taste and of little real value. Too many confuse love with helping the addict find drugs or cheap grace rather than the tough love required to jolt us from grave sin. This demands more of us, it brings costly grace to the door demaning of us obedience so that we might believe. By giving us this cheap grace, we sinners will grab at the “Hath God said?” question that allows us to stay where we are. Our escape clause or wiggle room that is mistaken for love but it in fact far from love for it dooms us to a path to eternal damnation in hell. If this is love, send me something else. If I love my children, I do not give them poison and mask it as love. I tackle them if necessary to keep them from running of their free into the street in front of a car even if it breaks their arm in the process. Too many think it would not be loving to break their arm but to allow them to instead end up dead in their faith and in their eternal life. And yes, some will walk away sad, but still have hope that the mustard seed planted in this tough love way takes root and grows into belief. Yes, the greatest sin a bishop can make is not to preach God’s truth with real love, and not the dime store love of cheap grace or aiding the serpent in his quest of “hath God said?’

    I read this last night and today logged on to this story. Preach actual love with the costly grace and never aid the serpent with his desire to confuse.

  21. Our pastor says that almost everything since the 1960s has been bad. Good luck on that compasionate homily from him.

  22. I’m with the Southern Baptists on this issue, from Richard Land:

    “The Southern Baptist Convention is not opposed to the use of birth control within marriage as long as the methods used do not cause the fertilized egg to abort and as long as the methods used do not bar having children altogether unless there’s a medical reason the couple should not have children.”

    The Catholic Church ignores the unitive aspect of sex within marriage at its peril. And I cannot be convinced, no matter how hard I try, that all of this rigamarole with NFP with the goal of preventing pregnancy is any different than using a barrier method.

    On the other hand, I do think people need to understand that there are abortifacient methods and non-abortifacient methods, instead of grouping them altogether, which is the wisdom of the SBC approach above.

  23. Henry Karslon says:

    You made a claim about history. Yes, you are not Orthodox, however, the Orthodox witness of the universal teachings of the Church are important, and if they don’t show the same teaching, then — again — one must account for that.

  24. Also meant to add this….

    If NFP is justified for grave reasons, then the Church is saying that there ARE reasons for sex within marriage without the intention of procreation.
    If that is not permitted [sex without the procreative part], logic would tell you that the real answer is abstinence.
    So if NFP is ok, then it seems silly to be against barrier methods.
    Personally, I would prefer the Church just say abstinence is required rather than allow the loophole of NFP.
    Quickly, this all becomes overly legalistic.

  25. naturgesetz says:

    Henry Karlson wrote, “The solution is to recognize that those who find some level of ‘dissent’ do so with some level of truth not fully incorporated in the official response. Moral theologians need to note what it is that has made the teaching unreceptive while also promoting and seeking for the spirit of the teaching itself, to preserve the truth in it as well. Not an easy task, especially in our over-sexualized culture, but if we want to get people to change and grow in holiness, this must be done.”

    I really think that Bl. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body is the solution. When people realize that artificial contraception is contrary the the image and likeness of God, of which the marital act is the highest bodily expression, whereas NFP — when used for valid reasons — is not, I think the problem is solved. There are two main facets, then: first that in the marital act they have the privilege and joy of imaging the life of the Holy Trinity; second that any withholding of self or destruction of whatever life-transmitting potential the act would have, is contrary to the constant total mutual self-giving of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Of course, it is not easy to present this clearly in a homily of ordinary length, which is why I think this needs to be thoroughly presented in high school religious education and in marriage preparation, as well as in occasional homilies.

    Fr. Raia’s homily wasn’t bad, but he only touched the surface of the intrinsic meaning of sex as created by God and intended “from the beginning.” I think Fr. Landry has a great one-sentence summary: “Father Landry also gives sermons on contraception, something very few priests do. He says he relies on Pope John Paul II’s argument against contraception, which he summarizes. ‘That God has made us fundamentally for love,’ Father Landry said, ‘and that marriage is supposed to help us to love for real. In order for that to happen, we need to totally give ourselves over to someone else in love, and receive the other’s total self in love.’” But that needs to be thoroughly explained, which I suppose he does when he talks about it.

  26. naturgesetz says:

    The difference between NFP and artificial contraception is that the latter involves an action contrary to the total self-giving that makes the marital act the supreme physical image and likeness of God. Either the man is withholding his sperm from his wife, or the woman is withholding her eggs. In NFP neither withholds anything that is there; neither intervenes to destroy whatever fertility the act could hold on at that time.

  27. Henry Karslon says:

    I don’t think The Theology of the Body is where it is at, and more, by saying that sex in marriage is the highest representation of the Trinity in bodily form, all kinds of questions come to mind, starting with the teachings about holy virgins. Indeed, I do think there are problems with the Theology of the Body because it really isn’t JPII as much as a systematic construction based upon non-systematic writings of JPII. I also think that if you look to the Orthodox, and their discussions about contraception and sexuality, Theology of the Body really doesn’t deal with the questions (and really, for people in the world, it appears to be idealized romanticism, which also is unconvincing).

  28. Henry Karslon says:

    NFP, when it is used to prevent children (and that is how it is presented, which is why “success rates” are often given by NFP advocates), it also is “withholding” by trying to stop what is said to be “the natural end.” The idea that “well, they still give it up to God” can also be said true with condoms, especially when “success rates” are brought into it. Catholic moral theology always includes intention and not just the act.

  29. naturgesetz says:

    I’m really surprised that you can’t see the difference between actively interfering and letting nature take its course.

    Of course Catholic morality considers intention. A bad intention can vitiate a neutral act, or even one which is normally good. A licit intention does not justify an inherently evil act.

    The intention of temporarily postponing procreation in order to care adequately for the present family can be legitimate, so as to justify NFP. But an intention to postpone procreation for a less than adequate reason, or to avoid procreation altogether, vitiates even the use of NFP.

  30. Amen! Amen!

    Mark, collect Greta’s writings and put them together. You will find a saint there. And, please share some more of her stuff with us. It’s excellent…and inspired.

  31. I agree, Romulus.

  32. I would be remiss if I did not also suggest to all the blog of a great young priest, Fr. John Hollowell of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, who maintains a personal blog entitled “on this rock” as well as one devoted to the topics of contraception and abortion entitled “I have a say” that is largely lay testimony.

  33. Henry Karslon says:

    NFP is actively interfering, and not “nature letting it go its course.” And just because they say “it’s only temporary” doesn’t mean those who use other contraceptive methods, like condoms, don’t think the same. The problem is the same. And the fact that some people can’t see that shows what is fundamentally the problem. NFP already contradicts the teaching, and yet is treated as something it is not to hide the contradiction.

  34. Would love to know what other sins this man has preached about. Jesus spoke about a lot of other sins (though darned if I can find the contraception references), often along the lines of “it’s easier for a rich man to go through the eye of a needle then get into heaven.” Have no problem with him speaking about contraception “with love”, so long as he’s challenging his parishoners about the other ways they may be living out, or not, their love of neighbor.

  35. Henry, this is from the Orthodox wiki. It seems that the only way you can make the case “they don’t see it the same,” is believing that “it is not an issue that has been clearly defined by the entire Church” (see below) permits YOU to speak for all of the Orthodox Church. The lack of definition of position is not the same as a position.

    You seem to be reading “There are those who teach that non-abortifacient contraception is acceptable if it is used with the blessing of one’s spiritual father, and if it is not used simply to avoid having children for purely selfish reasons,” as acceptance by the Orthodox Church? Seems pretty clear to me. And I’m not Orthodox.

    Opinions about contraception have varied in the Orthodox Church. There is complete unanimity that no form of contraception that is abortifacient is acceptable and there are definitive ecumenical canons that proscribe abortifacients. The Fathers of the Church, such as Ss. Athanasius the Great, John Chrysostom, Epiphanios, Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine of Hippo, Caesarious, Gregory the Great, Augustine of Canterbury and Maximos the Confessor, all explicitely condemned abortion as well as the use of abortifacients. However there are a range of opinions on the issue of non-abortifacient contraception.

    1) There are those who hold the view that sex should only be for the purpose of procreation, and so even natural family planning would be prohibited.

    2)There are those who argue that natural family planning is acceptable, because it simply involves abstinence from sex during times when fertility is likely.

    3)There are those who teach that non-abortifacient contraception is acceptable if it is used with the blessing of one’s spiritual father, and if it is not used simply to avoid having children for purely selfish reasons. The statement on marriage and family from the 10th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America follows along these lines, as does “The Bases of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church,” section XII. 3, which was approved by the 2000 Council of the Russian Orthodox Church.

    While some local churches have issued official statements on this issue, it is not an issue that has been clearly defined by the entire Church.

    Vocal opponents to the prevailing view of contraception in Orthodoxy today include [incomplete]: Bp. Hilarion of Vienna [ROC], Bp. Artemije of Kosovo [SOC], Fr. Josiah Trenham, Fr. Patrick Reardon, Fr. John Schroedel and Fr. Patrick Danielson.

  36. Mark Greta says:

    Will, is that what he says, or what you heard? Often big difference that is a fault of all of us sinners. It is not the teaching of the Catholic Church. But to deny that there has been bad since 1960 is to deny reality that Satan has been roaming the world in much bolder form with much support given to him by man.

  37. Henry Karslon says:

    I find the blog quite problematic, Anthony. Just saw it, for example, turning a police officer killed in the line of duty into a martyr. Sorry, that reeks to me as indicative of someone worshiping the state as a church. One can say that the death was sorrowful, but to raise him as a martyr — when there was nothing Christian about his death – no!

  38. That’s wisdom, right there!

  39. Deacon Steve says:

    Henry the big difference however is that NFP uses the body as designed by God to temporarily help families be responsible for the children they have, and being open to life, while holding up the unitive value of a sexual relationship within a marriage. Artificial means of preventing conception place barriers in the path to prevent the creation of life. These methods either prevent the body from functioning as it is designed, or trick the body into functioning while artificially preventing conception. NFP if used indeffinately to prevent pregnancy does become a violation of the marriage vow to lovingly accept children as a gift from God.

  40. Mark Greta says:

    Ann, Catholics do not look to find the wiggle room they want by looking to the teaching of another Church. A husband could demand his wife wear covering and never go out alone by seeking out the teaching of Islam. You might want to ask why you find this teaching of the Catholic Church so hard for you to believe and obey? You clearly have misinterpreted the full teaching around natural family planning. First you are not supposed to prevent God from creating life in your marriage without a very important and serious reason. Starting from the standpoint that God has no role in the marriage reltionship decision about sexual relationship is not a good place to begin. Husband and wife would have to talk each month while denying God if the reason God is being denied creation of life is really essential. If so, they have to deny themselves for this time frame along with God thus there is the sharing of sacrifice which should bring the couple closer together with each other and God. Until one opens their heart, mind, and soul up to God with all our strength can we ever hope to find peace in life. It is by no coincendence that science has been led to understand all that is necessary in nature to see God’s love that understands that there might be very important reasons not to have a child. But it should be a reason we can put before God that does not smack of putting the world first over God. If not, who are we really kidding?

  41. Yes, Henry, and you’re not privy to the information that gave rise to those allegations, so perhaps you should restrain yourself from further calumny against Fr. Guarnizo.

    This cuts both ways.

    At any rate, I think it is possible to think that Fr. Guarnizo erred in denying communion to Barbara Johnson but also that he was badly treated by the Archdiocese of Washington. And you can find plenty of folks in St. Blogs who hold to both views.

  42. It doesn’t make the teaching any less true, Jake.

  43. Mark Greta says:

    See above. Yes there are reasons which would allow us to deny God creation. They need to rise to the level we can stand before God with love. Then we deny ourselves sex during those times which our bodies have allowed us to see and understand as times of fetility, and so share in the unitive sacrifice.

    Ann, focus more on love of God over reasons of self and the world and it might open new light. sacrifice for love of God should not be hard for Catholics to understand. We are also called to abstain from sex outside of marriage. We are called not to sin out of love for God for our sin hurts the one we love.

  44. Exactly.

    In the three decades or so that I have attended masses – at least Ordinary Form ones – I can count the number of times I have heard contraception mentioned in homilies on one hand, with a few fingers to spare.

    RCIA and CCD formation hasn’t been much better.

    The problem is that too few priests either believe the teaching, or believing it, have the courage to speak about it. And Deacon Greg has noted what can happen to the few priests who are both.

  45. Mark Greta says:

    naturgesetz, you are right on the mark. George Weigle called TOB the “ticking time bomb for the 21st century”. If the world turns to this wonderful teaching, we will see a huge improvement in the world in almost every way.

  46. “The Catholic Church ignores the unitive aspect of sex within marriage at its peril. And I cannot be convinced, no matter how hard I try, that all of this rigamarole with NFP with the goal of preventing pregnancy is any different than using a barrier method.”

    Given how some Catholics use it…:sigh:…that’s understandable.

    If you’re using NFP with a contraceptive mentality, you’re really no better off than people using the Pill. Unfortunately, in their zeal to sell the effectiveness and accuracy of NFP methods, some instructors feed this mentality unwittingly.

  47. Mark Greta says:

    For those that refuse to see, they will call it by some other name but truth.

    There is nothing in TOB that in any way conflicts with Catholic teaching. If seriously conflicts to those more devoted to the world than to Christ. It demands we take up our cross and follow. It does not provide wiggle room and will lead some to say “hath God said” along with the serpent.

    Not sure what the holy virgins teaching has to do with TOB or how it conflicts in any way. Glad to hear this in more detail.

  48. There seems to be the great assumption in these debates that Catholics have rejected the contraception teaching in principle. I think the truth is that Catholics have merely rejected it in practice. An analogy would be lying. Most people would be happy going through life without lying, but it proves to be expedient and often times prevents some pretty grave harm.

    Consider me unconvinced that sticking a thermometer in a vagina and charting the temperature is natural. It is an expedient to avoid children.

    The fact that young couples are often advised not to read TOB should tell you all you need to know about its value. Those that do often feel inadequate as they fail to live up to the ideals put forth. Break ups aren’t unusual as a consequence.

  49. There is a time to preach about sin and there is a time to preach about love. There is something wrong when ninety-percent of a priest’s homilies are about sin and ten percent about love.

  50. Mark Greta says:

    Henry, you have lost me. I had to go back to look at this site a second time to find the story on the police officer killed. I find no mention of his being raised to a martyr. What I saw was the family coming forth in merciful grace to call for the killer to be shown mercy rather than the death penalty. Why did you feel complelled to go to the site to try to show something negative about a prist proclaiming the teaching of the Catholic Church? This says a lot more about you than it does about the priest or the blog. You might want to do some serious soul searching.

  51. I take no side on the issue of “truth”, whether it is or not. I leave that for each person to decide.

    I do affirm my statement that the general Catholic population isn’t buying the Church’s stand, and a new sales technique won’t change that fact. The general Catholic population believes nobody belongs in their bedroom but them, and nobody should control their bodies but them.

  52. Mark Greta says:

    If he is preaching about contraception, I am sure he is also preaching about other Catholic teaching as well.

    When you talk about preaching “with love” are you looking for preaching that allows the sinner to find wiggle room to stay where they are and continue in sin? That is not love.

    But those in a certan sin, when confronted, always want to call out “what about those other sins” In this you have a lot of company. However, since the world is now touting 98% or some other idiotic number of Catholics are in this exact serious sin, I think it might be a good place to focus some serious attention. Wouldn’t you?

  53. Many Catholics are familar with the Chruches theology of the body and teaching with respect to marital sex, and reject it as starined and illogical. It just does not comport with their own experiences as a married couple, and their understand of the role of sex within a marriage. They view sex within a marriage as first and foremost an expression of marital love, as well as an act leading toward procreation. Many simply don’t believe that the primary purpose of sex within a marriage should be procreation. If that were the case, should infertile married couples refrain from sex?

  54. I would argue that the Pill and IUD are in a different category, as they have abortifacient properties, unlike barrier methods.

    NFP is used with a birth prevention mentality. If you weren’t trying to avoid pregnancy, you wouldn’t have to use it.

    How is it any more ‘natural’ to chart, use a man-made Clearview monitor, examine your mucus, take your temperature with a man-made thermometer, and do all kinds of other things to prevent pregnancy than to use a man-made barrier method? Both are not “natural.”

  55. NFP, by definition, is withholding your eggs from your husband.

  56. Just as a point of argument, most people who use the Sympto-Thermal Method of NFP use an oral thermometer. In their mouths. It may not be an action that someone would naturally do, but it also avoids putting artificial hormones or artificial barriers into the body.

  57. Mark, please don’t lecture me on “focusing on God” as you know nothing of how much I focus on God and our savior Jesus Christ.

  58. Deacon Steve says:

    NFP doesn’t use the temperature method. The Billings Ovulation method is what is taught. It is a very simple process for the woman to check to see if she is “fertile”. She then charts those days. If there is doubt and one is trying to delay pregnancy then abstinence from sexual relations is prescribed. The “rules” can also be broken to help a woman conceive. It works very well for women even if their cycle is irregular.

  59. naturgesetz says:

    No, it isn’t, because the wife does nothing to prevent ovulation.

  60. Mark Greta says:

    M.Z. let me understand your post if I can without bringing error to your message.

    Catholics understand Church teaching, they just reject it as too hard in their world. “Catholics have merely rejected it in practice.”

    Then you want to use the argument by giving us the “analogy would be lying” saying “Most people would be happy going through life without lying, but it proves to be expedient and often times prevents some pretty grave harm.” This is certainly new Catholic teaching that we can lie and at times it might even prevent great harm. Once you accept sin as normal and acceptable and maybe even prevent great harm, you have joined the serpent song to Eve. How about the analogy that if we bomg a country out of existence, we are savling lives becaues the other might do us great harm? You are trying to say that sin can be good or that one sin can be used to justify failing in another. Both are bad. How about another excuse to ignore Catholic teaching and commiting sin and removing God from marriage?

    Got to love this one…”Consider me unconvinced that sticking a thermometer in a vagina and charting the temperature is natural. It is an expedient to avoid children.” If one has a sick child, they often stick a thermometer in places on the child to measure and often chart the temperature. Is that natural? God provided a way for man to see how their body is functioning. I suppose it is more natural to throw chemicals into ones body to prevent the body from doing what is normal is more natural. Funny how we are finding these chemicals also cause the woman great danger from various forms of cancer? Never had that happen from a thermometer measurement yet.

    Then you say this.. “The fact that young couples are often advised not to read TOB should tell you all you need to know about its value. ” The good ol bring out the hidden people advising us routine. Someone told me you beat your wife. How about listing those in the Catholic Church in any position of authority who is telling young couples to not read TOB. Waiting eagerly to see the list. Last time I looked, a human being advised not to look at something or do something actually in the end causes them to want to look and read out of curiousity but that is another topic. Then the killer…”Those that do often feel inadequate as they fail to live up to the ideals put forth. Break ups aren’t unusual as a consequence.” Where is you basis of fact for this wild statement? My experience over the years since TOB came out is that couples who study and devote the love to TOB are stronger and stay together. If truth does not set them free and make them more united in love, then their were other factors at play. Break ups do not come from a shared committment to high standards, but from a failed committment to each other and usually involves things of this world, not the heart soul and mind with God.

  61. Melissa Kae says:

    I’ve heard recently that a study showed 98% of college students will be involved with some sort of cheating at some point in their collegiate careers. I fully believe it, if you think of all the different things considered cheating. What would happen if schools look at these numbers and decide to no longer condemn cheating?

    Likewise, where does the Church teach that something should be allowed just because the majority (in at least one country) do it anyway?
    General acceptance does not make something acceptable in the eyes of the Church, nor should it. We are called to make choices everyday, and often these choices put us in a place of conflict between our own beliefs, the teachings of the Church, and the societal view.
    Granted, it can be a challenge to consistently choose to align our choices in a manner that reflects our own beliefs, let alone choices that reflect the Church’s views if we are not fully convinced of or aware of those teachings. But often doing the right thing or fighting for the right thing is a challenge. I’ve never heard it say that to follow God’s will is always be easy.
    To think that there are Catholic men and women unaware of the Church’s teaching on anything against birth (which is the literal meaning of contraception) is a saddening thought. But again, that doesn’t make it “right.” Ignorance of a law does not mean we get a free pass. And, it worries me that people are treating the teachings of the Church as a restaurant menu (I’ll choose to believe in this, don’t want that, I’ll try a little of that to see if I like it….).

    We are all sinners. Period. All of us have made or will make a choice that goes against God’s will, even if we are unaware at the time. We have that free will to make any choice we want. There are times those choices result in sin.

    Contraception in the form of barriers or pills or medical intervention is a sin in the eyes of God as taught by the Church. That is the teaching and not up for debate.

    To try to justify a sin as necessary or acceptable for any reason seems to be our pitiful attempt to reconcile our actions without admitting guilt. It’s an attempt to “get away with something” because we might know we are going to do it anyway and that idea bothers us. It’s the guilt of doing something that we deep down believe is wrong (or think COULD be wrong if we don’t KNOW) that leads us to an attempt to deny it as wrong instead of dealing with the consequences of admitting our failure and taking steps to seek forgiveness and a change of our actions. Because, in this instance, it’s a sin of convenience.
    It is much more convenient/enjoyable to use contraception than to practice abstinence (or even NFP which, I will allow those more familiar with NFP to discuss)…it is more convenient to use contraception than to provide for a large number of children…it is even more convenient to turn a blind eye to contraception use than to face the uncomfortable discussion about someone choosing to sin repeatedly.
    Saying it is anything other than convenience is lying to yourself. It’s tough to hear because we, especially in America, desire convenience in everything and desire ways to make our lives easier and more enjoyable. But that will not always align with the way we are called to live our lives in Christ.

    We each have the choice to sin or not to sin. But no one has the right to force others to be ok with that sin or, worse yet, to even support those sinful choices by monetary or other means or even laws..

    That is why these new health laws are so scary. It is an attack on life, an attack on religious liberty and an attack on the Church.

    And I’ll stop before I get to worked up on politics surrounding it all…haha

  62. naturgesetz says:

    Jake, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. They need to let God in.

  63. Henry Karslon says:

    No mention? The title of the post is such.

    “A Martyr for Freedom.” You don’t see the title of martyr being used? This is before one addresses the difficult questions of freedom, questions which Pope Benedict often brings up, when the word is used in the modern age.

  64. Henry Karslon says:


    Several things. First, there are really several “TOBs” out there. What people most consider to be TOB is a systematic construction, one which many people have legitimately raised questions about it. This is the construction of West. It is still too fresh, it is still being examined and looked over; it is too soon to say there is nothing which conflicts with the rest of Catholic thought. Many people have seen elements which seem questionable and might prove, indeed, in conflict.

    Second, there are many things which are not in conflict with Catholic teaching which we don’t have to accept. That is, it is not the same thing as saying it is Catholic thought (or that it is true).

    Third, you did not get what holy virgins had to do with anything? When the suggestion is that the people best reflecting the Holy Trinity are people having sex — then Holy Virgins seem unable to have best reflection of the Trinity. Something seems quite off with that. Given that there are other, typical, presentations of the image of the Trinity in a person which has nothing to do with sex, again, maybe we have room for caution here?

  65. Henry Karslon says:

    It is about preventing sex when it is the best time to have a union. It is anti-union.

  66. Mark Greta says:

    Peter..”It just does not comport with their own experiences as a married couple, and their understand of the role of sex within a marriage.” so lets see, on one side is the Catholic Church founded by Christ and infallibale in matters of faith and morals with the Papal TOB and on the other side is our own experiences and our own understanding? Wow that is a hard one as to which probably is more like to come from God???? Going to take a minute here. I think I will go with TOB. When we make statements like this, does it not give us all a clue as sinners the danger we all face when our sin is to be protected. I make statement like this as well so not mocking the person, but trying to show the lengths we all go to avoid following Christ.

    Look how this comment finishes and examine our own statement when we face our own sins.

    “Many simply don’t believe that the primary purpose of sex within a marriage should be procreation. If that were the case, should infertile married couples refrain from sex?”

    If we leave God out of our marriage by denying God the right of creating life, what does this say about our marriage? What is made better by keeping God out? If we leave Him out here, why would he want to be in other areas of our lives. As to the infertile couple, they are open to life and God. We do not decide where God creates life. It is not our right to have a child, but God’s gift as He chooses to give it. That is what makes IVF and sterilization wrong as well. It is why the gay sex act is gravely disordered and sinful but the gay person outside this grave sin still to be loved because they were created by God. We are not God and when we leave God out of our lives, our marriage, our families, our Country, we all suffer as a result.

    I plead each day that people open their lives up fully to God for He has such wonder to offer. I don’t do so out have hatred or as some saint, but as a sinner who every day needs God’s merciful love. As a lifelong Catholic married to someone I know is in heaven now for over half centrury, only when we surrender our will and obey can we find peace in life through a improved holiness. I never told my kids to be good when they left the house, but asked them to be holy. If we believe we obey and if we obey we believe. If we are not obedient, we have to question our actual belief. If we say we believe, but do not obey, what does that say about us?

  67. Henry Karslon says:

    Deacon Steve

    One can say the use of condoms is using one’s God given brain, a part of one’s body, to have a temporary relief for families as well. The arguments used for NFP can easily be used for condoms, and yes, many forms of NFP exist (including ones with thermometers). When people actually ignore what they are doing to counteract nature, to make union not happen through such actions, they ignore the problems with NFP. It is not so open — it is double-talk.

  68. Henry Karslon says:

    It is spiritually dangerous to give the suggestions you have given; many people might love their wife and think them wise, but sadly, many wives can also be wrong in their thoughts and all kinds of spiritual deception can sink in with one’s writings.

    Yes, he should read them with respect. But it is dangerous to canonize her and consider her writings locutions.

  69. Henry Karslon says:

    Yes, I take the height of research is reading wikis. Blah.

  70. Oh, I think, for the greater part, the general Catholic population believes God is there!

    But they believe He’s carrying a different message than the Catholic Church says He is.

  71. When the wife knows that she is infertile at the moment, she is saying, “Let’s go have unitive sex without the chance of procreation because I know that I don’t have any eggs floating around because I’ve been taking my temperature and using a Clearview monitor etc etc” Therefore the point of such sex, by definition, is solely unitive.

    Therefore, the approval of NFP teaches us, however indirectly, that there is a reason to have sex for only unitive reasons within a marriage.

    The question for many Catholics is how is using a barrier method [again, I leave out any BC with an abortifacient property] for solely unitive sex any different than using NFP? How is it any less natural or good?

  72. It moves the discussion of the issue forward. Wiki disparagement as an argument should be dispensed with.

  73. Henry Karslon says:

    Billings Ovulation might be taught to some, but it is not the only way for NFP. Here is an example:

    And you will also note my point that “effectiveness” is mentioned. One of the problems ignored by those who defend NFP is that they still ignore the role of intention in the whole debate. They say it’s not “contracepting” because it is using a feature of the woman’s body. Contraception however is the intent to stop (contra, against) conception. Since it is seeking to prevent conception, it is indeed contraception and this is why so many people see NFP and its promotion as suggestive. The whole theology of sex has not been worked out, and the self-contradiction of those who promote NFP ends with what we see today.

  74. This is where the teaching goes sideways with today’s Catholic couples IMO. Now that we know more about how the pill and IUD work, we know that they have abortifacient properties. They are a completely different category than barrier methods. As for permanent methods, those are also in a different category, because you are permanently removing the possibility of creating life.

    This is where the Church teaching loses people, by not making a distinction between the different methods, and by allowing “Natural” Family Planning methods. It would make more sense if abstinence was the only answer.

    So what happens? People throw in the towel on the whole thing.

  75. Henry Karslon says:

    Yes, we should all just accept wiki and if we point out the problems of using wiki we are wrong. Yes, I know.

    Really, when people don’t know anything about a topic, quote wiki, and act like they know everything, that is where things go wrong. If someone had taken the time to explore the East, its traditions, the rich discussions on the matter, one would have a better understanding why saying “well, some of them don’t like contraceptives” isn’t a good enough answer when dealing with the Orthodox tradition. And it is a large tradition, and includes other things like economia.

  76. Problem is, NFP isn’t “an act”, it’s a “non-act.” No married couple is obliged to engage in marital relations at any particular time. To say that it is wrong to use NFP is to say that it is wrong for a couple not to engage in relations on a particular day, unless one has a good reason. “Just not particularly wanting to” is a pretty good reason some times.

  77. Deacon Steve says:

    Ann the word barrier should be a clue. It puts a barrier between the couple, and betwen the couple and God. Learning the rhythym of ones body and using that to prayerfully help plan the size of one’s family is very different than putting a barrier in place that denies the full unitive value of sex within a marriage. The Church does recognize that at times sex ina marriage will be soley unitive, for example after the wife goes through menopause and is incapable of conceiving. The Church does not require teh couple refrain from sex after this occurs, because there is value in the unitive aspect of sex within the marriage.

  78. Henry Karslon says:

    It is also an act; it is an act to determine when one can have sex without a baby, how to have sex without having a baby (when it is used that way). So it is not just a non-act. It’s like saying a condom is a non-act because it just stops conception. Seriously, same kind of double-speak can be used.

  79. This is a very effective analogy (comparing the practice of birth-control vs. the teaching of it … to the experience of cheating in school). It is something that everyone understands at some level. This analogy should be passed on to catechists, homilists, seminary professors, et. al.

  80. Katie Angel says:


    Where you lose me is in your equating the Church with Christ. They are not the same. The Church was founded by Christ but is populated with human beings – who have, over the 2,000 years of our history, changed much of our doctrine and dogma. Your apparant worship of the Church, instead of Christ, can be a bit offputting – and this from a faithful, daily mass attending, cradle Catholic.

    Many years ago, when I was in high school, I asked the youth minister at our church how best to respond to attacks by a good friend who was non-denominational Christian that Catholics were not Christian, that we worshiped idols and were actually a cult. His response? That I recite the Apostle’s Creed to my friend and tell him “This is what we believe – everything else is window dressing”. Too often we get caught up in the window dressing and forget the core of our belief. Issues around sexual behavior are important, yest, but they are not the ones that Jesus spent much time on – those were much more the focus of Paul. The things that Christ taught seem to get much shorter shrift these days.

  81. naturgesetz says:

    Henry, if there is something incorrect in what wiki says, you can point it out. But just to say that it is from wiki says nothing about it’s validity. Point out the errors if there are any. Otherwise, wiki stands.

  82. Uh, are you kidding? Most Catholics have never heard of “theology of the body.” Maybe in your circles, but not in my parish or the parishes of most people.

    Moreover, the teaching “with respect to marital sex” that YOU have advanced … is simply NOT the teaching of the Church.

    The Church does NOT teach that the primary purpose of sexuality within marriage is procreation. Rather, both the “unitative” and “procreative” functions are given equal emphasis.

    Your misunderstanding has unfortunately given way to your question, posed at the end of your post. The question is a “straw-man.” Nowhere does the Church suggest that infertile married couples refrain from intimate relations.

  83. I’m saying “with love” because that’s what it said in the original article.

  84. Henry Karslon says:

    That is a poor response, too. To often engage wiki and to show the problems with a wiki entry would take dialogue with someone who knows the issue itself, so that they will understand the problems with the so-called authority. This is the problem of arguments from authority when the person making the argument really doesn’t know the issue at hand.

    To effectively engage the issue would take more than a comment in a thread, and sometimes people have other things to do than engage every tedious point of bad authorities.

  85. Poor Jake! You think this is about someone in the Church trying to control what happens in your bedroom. Hardly. You’re more likely to get that sort of thing under Obamacare and its use of government power to make everyone pay for what Sandra Fluke and her companion (s) want to do in her bedroom.

    Church teachings are propositional and invitational. It proposes X and invites you to embrace it. You are free to reject X or to embrace it. Unfortunately for all of us, Obamacare works in an opposite way: it doesn’t propose but demands; doesn’t invite but compels.

    If you don’t like Church teachings, don’t accept them. But please don’t get in the way of the rest of us who are trying to search for the Truth and who find something very compelling in what the Church is saying about these things.

  86. Fornication, adultery, and homosexuality were all around before contraception became an accepted practice…or why else did Scripture refer to them? AIDS is a result of the sharing of bodily fluids, and it’s not right to connect it to contraception.

    Just because someone predicted murder of the unborn and breakdown of the family as something that would happen because of contraception doesn’t mean he is right and they are connected. It’s pretty simplistic to put these huge problems all on contraception….it’s probably a lot more complicated than that. Contraception may just be part of the much larger problem.

  87. Perhaps you ought to consider adding some St. Alphonsus Liguori to your reading. Perhaps you would better recognize the purpose of law and its application if you were to do so.

    I really don’t take issue with anyone who practices NFP and have done so myself.

    Rest assured I don’t beat my wife. As I stated previously, I have read recommendations before to have young couples avoid TOB. Google is your friend. If you choose not to believe me, it is really no water off my back.

  88. Henry,

    Please, at least be kind to the man! “Nothing graces the Christian soul as much as mercy.” (Saint Ambrose)

    I do find value in what he has shared. Please note that I did not say she was a canonized saint. There are many saints in heaven whose names we do not know. And, what I wrote can be taken as a figure of speech, if you will. I did not say she had locutions…and neither did he. And, if she received the apostolic pardon before she died, she is absolutely in heaven.

    I think you mean well. But, please lighten up a little. In all Christian charity, if you do not realize it, you really are rubbing some bloggers the wrong way by the manner in which you address issues and the manner in which you address others. In other words, it’s not what you say or write that is the issue, it’s how you say it; it’s the tone or timbre of your words.

    We should all aspire to be saints and always work toward our goal, eternal life of living with and loving and adoring the Lord. This season of Lent, of fasting, penitence and almsgiving, of metanoia, is not an excuse for dourness, or meanness of spirit. It’s not an excuse for putting others down. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23. We don’t have to be nasty to each other to get our points across here or elsewhere, in public or in private (eg I happen to agree with you that Wiki is not the best source for things…but it does sometimes provide useful information). As Saint Teresa de Avila once said, “May God deliver us from sullen saints.”

  89. naturgesetz says:

    M.Z. —It’s very easy to believe that there are people who advise others not to read TOB. The question is why they do it. There are lots of people who dissent from the teachings of the Church. Perhaps they realize that if someone reads TOB they’ll see that the dissenters are wrong. Or perhaps they mean that the actual text of the Pope’s addresses is too massive and too deep theologically, and the content needs to be presented in a more approachable form. Or maybe they have accepted the bad-mouthing of Christopher West and think that the fault some people find with his presentation is actually a fault of TOB.

    So there are plenty of reasons people might give that advice, but I don’t think of any which are valid against TOB in itself, and some could reflect very badly on the giver of the advice.

  90. One method that I found that gets a positive response is to bring in an “organic” argument. Many people are willing to pay extra for organic foods — foods grown without all the extra hormones and chemicals. Why pay extra for those, then polute yourself with birth control hormones? People may drop the contraceptives for a different reason than what we would, but at least they are dropping them. Afterwards, once we have the convert, we can add that it is the right moral decision too.

  91. The reason to avoid it was “Those that do often feel inadequate as they fail to live up to the ideals put forth.”

  92. Henry Karslon says:

    “Later she would try to go back and cross of what she thought came from her own sinful soul and those messages which she felt came from Christ, those hard truths we don’t want to hear.”

    He is indeed taking her writings to be locutions — messages from Christ. Again, this is spiritually dangerous. While it is possible, one needs to be critical. I said it is fine for him to respect what she wrote. But the language being used is beyond that, and so the word of caution needs to be written.

    As for lack of charity, funny how one-sided that criticism is. All I will say there.

  93. naturgesetz says:

    Henry Karlson —

    I don’t know you personally. All I know of you is what I read here. Let me tell you how you come across in your comments. You come across as one who grasps at straws and misrepresents what others have said in order to have the great pleasure of telling yourself that they are all wrong. You come across as proud, close-minded, hard-hearted, and unloving. If that’s you, fine. If that’s how you want to be thought of, fine. If not, maybe you need to do something to stop being such a complete nay-sayer.

  94. naturgesetz says:

    According to St. Paul, the Church is the Body of Christ and the pillar and ground of truth.

  95. naturgesetz says:

    What’s wrong with that? Why not let them strive to live up?

    Anybody with a well formed conscience knows that s/he fails to live up to the “ideals” set forth by Jesus.

  96. I’m a sinner, Henry…I freely admit it.

    As to locutions, “she felt came from Christ” doesn’t say they were locutions.

    As such, we are all graced with locutions, then, when we pray privately or publicly. What joy!

  97. ron chandonia says:

    In an early response on this thread, Mark raised an excellent point that could seemingly foster serious discussion on the topic at hand, at least with people of faith and reasonable goodwill:

    But the difference between 1968 (when Humanae Vitae was issued) and today is that we are all witnesses (believer and non-believer alike) to the social destruction of the so-called Sexual Revolution. Even if you don’t accept a causal relationship (and many don’t), I think most everyone will agree that “something is not right” with the state of society today and, specifically, with the meltdown of family life and authentic human relations.

    Unfortunately, I think many–even most–Catholics today have concluded that the Church has nothing worth hearing to say about sexuality in general and the breakdown of the family in particular. And the reason for their conclusion is this: “After all, this is the same bunch of celibate old men who actually claim BIRTH CONTROL is wrong!” An obvious response is that there really is a connection between widespread reliance on contraception and family breakdown. But I’m not sure it’s even possible today to interest people in discussing that connection if you approach it from the contraception side.

  98. How is my opinion getting in your way? Isn’t sharing opinions one of the purposes of this blog? If there is to be only one opinion, then the first contributor can state it and all the rest can type “Amen” in reply.

    And, for goodness sake, I never mentioned The Affordable Care Act (AKA ObamaCare). The topic was contraception as viewed by the Catholic population and taught by the church. Do you dislike President Obama, and by extension me, that much? Seems to border on un-Christian thoughts — just another opinion.

  99. Richard A says:

    But the couple is not intending to ‘stop’ conception, nor doing anything to ‘stop’ conception. Having relations when they reasonably think the wife is infertile is not ‘doing’ something to contracept.

  100. Richard A says:

    Most married couples engage in sexual relations because they enjoy doing it because it’s enjoyable. The unitive aspect is the more immediate of the two purposes to impress itself upon the actors, but is there anyone who thinks that the reason sexual behavior is a possibility at all among human beings is for some reason other than procreation? The main reason sex is unitive, and is solely for a man and a woman married to each other, is because it leads to a long-term shared responsibility for the consequences.

  101. Again, I can’t wrap my brain around a teaching which has come down to believing that using a thermometer every day or a Clearview Fertility Monitor to prevent a pregnancy is more natural than a simple condom.

  102. Mark, you cannot simply abandon reason. Many Catholics have chosen to decline to follow Church teaching on contraception not out of ignorance, or a desire for a libertine lifestyle. Rather, Church teaching on contraception does not make any sense to them, and, in the case of NFP, appears to be a product of tortured reasoning. This is not a matter of a failure to actively instruct Church members on the teachings with respect to contraception, or to teach it clearly. The fact is, those teachings are being rejected because they are not grounded in the most basic shared experience of marital human sexuality, and strike many as being inherently illogical. Church members are not “buying” what is being “sold”. If the most persuasive argument that can be made on behalf of Church teaching on human sexuality is that it should be followed because it comes from the Church’s teaching authority, then you have a problem.

  103. Speaking as a Catholic, married, physician, with children, maybe you should just speak straightforwardly and call it as it is, instead of all this worrying about how it will be recieved. I am not sure Christ was all that concerned about making sure he did not affend anyone. Most sins are attractive to some people some of the time and it takes some effort to avoid them. That has certainly been my experience! Living the Gospel is not supposed to be easy, ( “Pick up your Cross and follow me….” right? ) The Contraception teaching is not intuitively obvious, but as it turns out Paul VI was pretty much prophetic since everything he said would happen post Human vitae happened. Is it really hard to point that out? Moreoever I recall the Planned Parenthood commericials as a kid touting the idea that “every child would be a wanted child”. I had no idea what contraception was at the time, but even as a child I found this slogan deeply repulsive. My childhood intuition was such that I hoped I would be wanted even if I was not planned.. I hoped my parents would want and love me even if I dropped from the sky at an inconvient time because… well because I was a kid and expected unconditional love from my parents. As a parent I now understand that in fact this is what we owe our kids. Planned Parenthood’ s world of every child a wanted child is a world that aborts 90% of Down’s Syndrome children because their parents do not want a child who will have mental retardation. Is this a humane world? In view of this, Is it really all that tough to preach about contraception? Granted some people may be in the situation that having a child at a given moment would be a challenge, to which I say with modern “over the counter” urine tests to detect the ovulation one can use Natural methods pretty easily without undue strain on one’s marriage, and again Christ did not preach that things would be easy. A complete NO to a child, I must not, can not under any circumstances have a child, is not really compatible with unconditional love for a child that can result even with contraception. ( New flash no contraceptive is full proof) Since that is the case its pretty obvious the reason that contraception availability does not increase the rate of abortion, it increases it, because the mentality behind it is not conducive to unconditional love of a child. NFP because it does not have this absolutely no child at any cost does not carry the same Absoloute no.. the mentality is well … we are not going to seek a child now, but the no is not the absolute NO that contraception entails. As a physician I spend my workdays telling people things they do not want to hear all the time ( If you keep smoking with your emphysema you will die, I am sorry you have terminal liver cancer… ) A few years ago I was doing some speaking about the problems with embryonic stem cell research and in the audience were nurses who worked in In vitro fertilization clinics. They were scandalized to hear me critque destroying human embryos and said “if what you are saying about destroying embryo’s is wrong, well then we could not function.. you can not mean that…” to which I answered I do mean it, and maybe you should not be doing IVC, them’s the breaks… They were not pleased, but I did not melt, and I recieved mostly ( but not uniformly) favorable responses. Look the pusillanimous, oh me, oh my, I am so afraid of offending someone, approach has been a dismal failure, if contraception is really a grave sin, you folks who are responsible for souls have left people potentially losing theirs because lots of people, in fact most people, contracept. I am not sure any additional folks would do it even if you “turned people off”. After all we are well over 90% ignoring the teaching, if you believe the polls, right? If I was a Priest or Deacon I would be a lot more worried about that. Chances are with some many people committing “material” mortal sin, at least a few of them, are subjectively guilty as well ( have full knowledge and full consent of the will) This is a lot of people potentially going to hell. I feel guility if I do not coax patients to get a flu shot or quit abusing alcohol, yet these things have only a finite consequence. No one lives forever anyway. Avoiding mortal sin…. well we are talking about eternal damnation , we are talking an infinite consequence. It seems that the clergy are currently taking refuge in the idea that would go something like this… “Well we don’t talk about it, and they do not really think its a sin…, you should use your conscience after all…. so no one is committing a mortal sin. Its all good… God loves us madly were we are at. Good grief! If this is the approach, the Church is not serious and should just change the teaching. If contraception is really a serious sin, like stealing or adultery or blasphemy, than say so, clearly, simply and then let people follow or not, the rest is up to God. I can think of no place in Scripture where sins were not called sins straight up. If you really think that no one goes to hell for contraception than be honest with yourself, it means you do not really believe the teaching either. If you think someone, anyone might go to hell for contracepting than how can you not talk about it?

  104. Patrick -I believe Hardon was speaking of society at large – these things were all legalized as a result of legalized contraception. Contraception neutralized the sexual act – non-reproductive sex = recreational sex and the license which accompanies it. It really is very simple – or simplistic, as you say.

  105. Deacon Steve says:

    Ann you are changing your disagreement. You first didn’t see how it was more natural, now you are shifting to more simple. It isn’t about simplicity it is about natural vs artificial. There in lies the difference. It seems that you don’t want to accept the Church’s teaching on the matter and will keep shifting your arguement to allow yourself to continue to disagree. I can’t discuss a topic with some one who will keep shifting the target.

  106. not once was the term ‘sterilization of HIV positive individual ever mentioned
    hoping to set a firestorm …not\!\ curious as to why…

  107. deacon john m. bresnahan says:

    Klaire–mandatory abortion is already virtually here through Obamacare. One of the things the Obama Administration is doing is requiring Catholic institutions and entities to provide abortion inducing pills. Thus those who in conscience want no part of anything to do with abortion–whether being directly involved in distribution of the abortion pills or indirectly through financing— are being strong-armed by the government to violate their consciences or pay a huge fine.
    However, our dear leader has given Catholic entities a year to figure out how how best to trash their consciences at the diktat of the state. Where is Thomas More when you need him??? There seem to be plenty of fans of Henry VIII among Catholics in the Democratic Party based on the last vote in the Senate on this conscience issue.

  108. Henry Karslon says:

    We must avoid prelest, spiritual deception. It’s easy to confuse one’s self-interest as God speaking, though most of the time, it is the ego, not God.

  109. Mary Russell says:

    Thanks mrd. Speaking not just as a physician but as a mother and wife, I second your experiences. I have to tell patients all the time- every single day- things they don’t want to hear. I hope to do so in a compassionate, open manner, but there’s the simple truth that sometimes the Xanax, antibiotics, and pain killers are just not necessary and possibly harmful.
    Regarding NFP: all it is is a means by which couples can discern when conception is possible, and when it’s not. It can be used to achieve or avoid a pregnancy. Contraception is a drug or device that actively impedes a biological process. It can only be used to prevent conception. The difference is so obvious that anyone of average intelligence can easily grasp the difference. The thermometer that some NFPers use is not a contraceptive device- as some here unconvincingly claim. It would be s only if the woman decided to stop sperm migration by, for instance, inserting it in the cervix!

  110. it is interesting how the majority of the responses to the post come from men.
    it would be even more interesting to hear from men and women about actual experiences with this. i am a single celibate male, so i do not have much to bring to the table….but
    those who were or are married….did you always practice NFP? did you ever use contraception? how many children did you have in your family? what was your experience of being open to conceptions at all times? did it cause struggles and problems in the family or marriage? i think many would be more interested in actual experiences and family life with NFP. just a thought

  111. Thanks for that thoughtful response, I’m with you 100%.

  112. I led a secular life with zero faith formation until I was 51. When I married at age 35 I did not want kids, never did want kids, I was terrified of giving birth, terrified of raising a stranger which is how I viewed it and so never gave any of these deep matters any thought whatsoever. You could definitely say I was a zero faith formation secular pro choice person. So by the time I found the Faith, that ship had sailed. I do know that my whole mindset would have been different if I was a fully formed Catholic back when it would have mattered; my whole mind is different now than when I suffered from zero faith formation. I am completely different, this is why I believe, this is why I am convinced. The modern media cannot handle or explain the weighty deep issues here. It’s like apples and oranges. Talking to zero faith people is like talking apples to a sea of oranges. It’s all about faith formation; I had the raw material, just not the light. I am not special, I am ordinary as they come. So I just think a lot of people are like me; they don’t know what they’re missing.

  113. Thanks, Doctors!

  114. SCRIPTURE -
    Gen 1:28, 9:1,7; 35:11 – The Lord God commands us to be fruitful and multiply.
    Gen. 38:8-10 – Onan is slain by God for practicing contraception.
    Lev 18:22-23; 20:13 – Wasting seed with non-generative sexual acts brings the judgment of death.
    1Cor. 7:5 – Married couples should not refuse each other except by agreement, naturally. Natural Family Planning . NFP

    “Because of its divine institution for the propagation of man, the seed is not to be vainly ejaculated, nor is it to be damaged, nor is it to be wasted”… “To have coitus other than to procreate children is to do injury to nature.”
    St. Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor of Children (A.D. 191)

    “Women who were reputed to be believers began to take drugs to render themselves sterile, and to bind themselves tightly so as to expel what was being conceived, since they would not, on account of relatives and excess wealth, want to have a child by a slave or by any insignificant person. See, then, into what great impiety that lawless one has proceeded, by teaching adultery and murder at the same time!”
    St. Hippolytus of Rome, Refutation of All Heresies (A.D. ~215)

    “[Some] complain of the scantiness of their means, and allege that they have not enough for bringing up more children, as though, in truth, their means were in [their] power . . . or God did not daily make the rich poor and the poor rich. Wherefore, if any one on any account of poverty shall be unable to bring up children, it is better to abstain from relations with his wife.”
    Lactantius, Divine Institutes (A.D. 307)

  115. I haven’t polled most Catholics; perhaps you have or have access to the results of such a survey. I can however speak to the fact that many Catholics are familiar with the theology of the body. I am, and it has always struck me as overly idealized and romantized, a treatise written by someone essentially unfamilar with the subject matter at hand, an outsider looking in, if you will. I have deep respect for JPII, and he certainly is not solely responsible for the Church’s teachings overall in this area, but the bottom line is that more people than you want to admit have carefully considered these teachings, and rejected them as deeply flawed.

  116. Church teaching places undue emphasis on the procreative function of marital relations. And your last point ignores the fact that for many married couples, procreation is not a possiblity due to medical reasons or age. When they engage in marital relations is the act any less unitive because there is no possibility of a birth, or as you put it “long-term shared responsibility for the consequences”?

  117. Deacon, I don’t need to allow myself to disagree, I disagree wholeheartedly and enthusiastically and emphatically with the teaching that NFP to prevent pregnancy is ok and a condom isn’t.

    NFP is just as much about preventing pregnancy as a condom. It’s no better or worse. Both prevent pregnancy and are used with the intent of preventing pregnancy.

    As far as “natural,” there is nothing natural about NFP.

  118. Just wanted to exit this conversation and thank you all for the interesting debate, since I am not a regular poster here.

    It happens that I have been discerning if I should leave the Catholic Church and this discussion has given me some clarity. I don’t believe in the teaching that NFP is ok and a condom isn’t. I reject it. That makes me a heretic, doesn’t it? Guilty as charged.

    I believe Jesus is my Savior, through grace I am saved! Not through the loophole of a Clearview Fertility Monitor.

  119. How very true!

  120. I don’t think it was the teaching component on contraception that got the Washington priest sacked, so much as it was his special confession right after mass for all to line up at. That was over the top. It had a b*tchy, school marm quality to the offer that makes something of a mockery of the whole process.

    Would he do the same with abortion or adultery?

  121. Ah, prelest–learned a new word! Thanks.

    “Once the mind is quieted, we can say ‘Speak Lord, I am listening.’ We can be open for the direction of God, which is so often recognized in a still, small voice, a voice which we will not hear when our mind shouts over it.” (Henry Karlson, A Study Of “On The Character of Men And the Virtuous Life”: Part XLVII; March 21, 2012; Vox Nova Site:
    Nice write-up!

  122. Henry Karslon says:

    It’s nice you can post to that text. Now you will see it talks about quieting the mind, stopping thoughts, so as to be open to the voice. Looking to texts, commenting based upon one’s own understanding is not the same thing.

  123. Ann,
    NFP is not anything like contraception. As someone rightly pointed out, NFP is a non-act. It is not distorting God’s intended design for our bodies. Contraception is an Act that distorts the intended design of our reproductive organs, and this is supported by both scripture and tradition.

    As Catholics, we believe that it is immoral to take a natural instrument created by God and use it for unnatural purposes. If you were a watchmaker that created a watch, you would say that it is good if it tells the correct time. If it does not tell the correct time as it was designed to do, you would say that it is bad. Just as God created everything good, they only remain good if we do not pervert their intended design and purpose. If procreation is consciously blocked, we are perverting what is natural and good. Procreation which should be done only within the sacramental confines of matrimony is reduced through contraception from being unitive, covenantal and life-giving, to that of a selfish and destructive act. Women become objectified as a means to an end because it is seperated from its unitive purpose (becoming one). Contraception, by using an objectively contradictory language, namely, that of not giving oneself totally to the other, is a hallmark of the Culture of Death.

    I am sad to hear that you are discerning if you should leave. You should investigate Catholic teaching further. It has stood the test of time because it is True even when the world is wrong.

  124. Ann you can only be a heretic if you reject what you fully understand. I admire your quest, but I have to say I’m not convinced that you understand the guts of the teaching. I suggest you pray to God & the Holy Sprit, through the intercession of Mary. God never denies spiritual gifts, and trust me, to know/understand this teaching, as God intended, is indeed a great gift!

    Christopher West (TOB Instructor), once described it like this to me (paraphrased): “If grandma is close to death in a coma, artifical birth control would be like taking a gun and shooting her instead of allowing God to let her die naturally.” They both achieve the same end point, but one is ordained by Christ, the other, by man.

    Let’s face it, a women only has a small window to conceive each month. God must have made us that way for a reason, don’t you think? All NFP is is cooperation with the body in the way God made us, and always, with the possibility that “open to life” , even dispite “biological odds”, anything is possible with God, and all NFP’s know that, fully ok with God being God if He so choses.

    God Bless you Ann.

  125. Mary Russell says:

    Ann seems really hung up on the Clearvue monitor thing. Actually, I chart using a mucus- only method that requires me to check for mucus before and after going to the bathroom. No internal exams, no monitors, no thermometers. It’s pretty simple. My husband and I, who are of low-ish fertility, have used NFP more for achieving rather than avoiding pregnancy. How anyone can confuse this with using a condom is really a head-scratcher for me. I’m no philosopher, but medically speaking the difference is a no brainier.

  126. Ann,

    Grace is the spiritual wherewithal given by God to do what we ought to do. Jesus and the Apostles teach pretty clearly, consistently, and forcefully that we must do the Father’s Will, that Jesus came to reveal that Will, and that the Apostles are to teach that Will. Therefore, much of the grace attendant to our salvation involves approaching the Apostles and their successors in a spirit of humility and obedience to discover that will and fully inform our consciences. A part of that revolves around God’s wise design for marriage, which includes the right use of sex.

    We are witnessing the implosion of Western Civilization, but the Church herself has witnessed the rise and fall of several great civilizations in her 2,000 year history. They always implode with a hedonistic whimper, as we are doing. You don’t need to buy into the liberating teaching of the Church, but Paul VI predicted all that we are suffering, 44 years ago in Humanae Vitae.

    The best of luck to you.

  127. One last thing Ann, in accordance with what Gerald wrote: some things can only be understood in obedience. I’m not suggesting that you aren’t in obedience, only that if not, that could be why you don’t get it, as the Wisdom of the Holy Spirit can only come in obedience (Acts of the Apostles).

    That’s how it was for me at least, until one Lent, in my arrogance and naivity, decided to “give up sin”, go to confession weekly, mass daily, and live as the church teaches; but “just for lent.”

    In 3 days, Jesus “had me”, and I never looked backed. It was my obedience for which He was patiently waiting, and despite my pathetic attempt, I quickly realized that He is so merciful and so loving, He will take us any way we come to Him.

  128. Anita Blackstone says:

    If they believe other than the Catholic Church teaches they are NOT Catholic, but Protestants.

  129. pagansister says:

    Jake, your comment was similar to what I was thinking when I read this. From what I have read, many Catholics are using birth control, and not losing any sleep over it. IMO, I feel the Church has lost “control” over the majority of the women (and men) in this particular area. I personally can’t see the Church getting it back.

  130. deacon john m. bresnahan says:

    Ann–according to the definition of a genuine prophet in the Old Testament, if a prophet’s warning comes true, then he has been teaching God’s Word, God’s Truth virtually directly from God Himself.
    And that is what Humanae Vitae–God’s Truth— is since virtually every prediction in that encyclical has come true.

  131. That’s profond Dcn. John! What a great summary to a great thread.

  132. pagansister says:

    IMO, NFP takes any chance of spontaneous love making with one’s husband almost out of the question. It would be “excuse me, I have to take my temperature first”.
    Ann, you have made good points.

  133. pagansister says:

    Many children have been born using the NFP method. I would think that after a couple of those incidents one would start using ABC!

  134. Mary Russell says:

    Lots of babies born when couples use the pill, too- yet it’s still the most popular reversible contraceptive out there.

  135. Mary Russell says:

    Not true. NFP couples decide on whether they are fertile that particular day in advance. NFPers who use a symptothermal method take their basal body temperature upon awakening, not prior to intercourse.

  136. After all the church sex scandals, the recent news about the Dutch castrating kids in the ’50′s and ’60′s, too many cold and heartless dry treatises written by celebates who never knew married love or life with one’s own kids, I have decided that our celibate hierarchy of old men and priesthood and diaconate that excludes women are not going to be sufficient or authentic sources of truth on this subject. we need to increases the voices heard within the Church, and realize that the Holy Spirit enlightens persons of all stations in or church, not just those who have sworn off sex. Too many are bitter from the sacrifice.

  137. Peter I can’t let that Dutch castrating kid story stand. If you go back and re read it, as typical NYT’s, somewhere near the end it fully admits that THERE IS NO EVIDENCE TO THE STORY. Got that, no evidence! But that’s how our demonic MSM now works, just “put it out there”, and the facts don’t matter. If there was life in prison for bad/misguiding ‘ journalism’, this would qualify.

    And here’s what the article didn’t tell you. Castration was an accepted form of psychological treatment by the Dutch during that time, which BTW, had NOTHING to do with the chruch (minor detail).

    And might I add, you are clueless in your understanding of celibacy or phenomenoology.

  138. Well, if you use NFP, and make love when you’re sure ! she won’t conceive, and you intend NOT to have a child, where does that leave the couple? or if you’re past menopause……

  139. That is correct deacon John, but then, politically, to whom do we go? to the one who said we “kill our enemies”, to the one who says “We’re Americans, we can do what we want” (sounds like idolatry to me}, in case you don’t know, both of these statements were made by Catholics, Gingrich, and Santorum, respectively

  140. Wow, I can’t believe what I’m reading. Officer Moore WAS a martyr for freedom. A martyr is someone who dies for a cause, hence the title…martyr for freedom. This incident brought more people back to the Catholic Church than anything I’ve seen so far, and I was asked to read this post at his funeral service which the entire city was able to view because icy weather kept the whole city home for the day. I have no problem with you hating my blog, but please don’t give Catholicism a bad name by attacking an incident and a pastoral situation you weren’t involved in. God bless, Fr. John Hollowell

  141. Thanks, Dr. Nadal, that’s a good point. Appreciate the comments from both you and Deacon Greg. Perhaps I jumped the gun a bit … on attributing the difference to variances in diocesan/chancery climates. I come here to learn.

    Richard M: I think you’ve struck the right balance in your assessment of the Johnson/Fr. Guarnizo imbroglio. He erred in the application of canon law but should have been “dealt” with in a more fraternal manner by the Church, especially in light of Johnson’s venomous comments toward Fr. G after the incident. None of us here in the blogosphere know the facts, and perhaps we’ll never know.

  142. Henry, I can’t reply directly to what Naturgesetz has said to you below, so I will reply here instead. Naturgesetz has basically said, “Hey, you disagree with what many of us commenting on this blog think; you should get the hint that you don’t belong. Go silent, or go away.” A simple paraphrase there.

    Well, I want to say, that’s not the case for me. I think you do say many thoughtful things in your comments. And the Church needs various voices — yes, including voices of dissent. (Really. I said it. Thoughtful dissent is an important part of any faith tradition, Catholicism included. Anyone who is skeptical on that point should reread the book of Acts.)

    Don’t be intimidated by the you’re-different-and-different-is-bad line. Speak up. Be part of the conversation. God bless you (as well as those who disagree with you).

  143. TtT Engine says:

    If The young priest maintains his current track, I anticipate he will have a high seat in heaven hopefully after many years of faithful service to the Trinity. The Bishop/Pastor who transferred the priest out for speaking the truth found clearly in the CCC, is a modern day scribe and pharise. I bet that Bishop voted for the current Planned Parenthood President and did or would have gladly taken the 30 pieces of silver offered in exchange for Planned Parenthood Healthcare. Since the onset of Humanae Vitae in the 60′s and even before, it has been my experience that there have been very, very few Catholic married couples who have not struggled with NFP. Yet, struggling/taking up one’s cross and following Christ is noble. Changing God’s Laws and making yourself a god and the author of life is gravely sinful. I find it almost amazingly rare when a priest delivers a homily with fidelity to the Mageristerium, confidence and conviction. I would have liked to have been there. Christi Fidelis.

  144. Mark Greta says:

    Henry, I think you have some real problems and do not have a clue what prompted this attack. I do firmly believe my wife is in heaven and I do therefore also believe she is a saint. I have never met a woman who gave more of herself and tried to follow the will of God more in my life and I also admit that as someone who loved her more than my own life, I am biased. But she also faithfully wore the scapular to her death and believed in the promise of Jesus mother on those who wore this scapular. I doubt she ever committed a mortal sin in her life and she still went to reconcilliation once a week without fail over the last few decades after hearing Pope John Paul II made frequent confessions knowing his holiness.

    The time my wife spent in prayer and her journal work where her private way of trying to discern what Christ was saying to her. She would go back through a day later and try to see what she felt came from Greta and what might have come from Christ within her giving her direction. I do not say these writing are inspired in any way or are the word of God, but I can tell you that Greta believed that this was one way he spoke to her. I am seeing them in total for the first time in my life so they were not something she shared or touted as His word.

    If you have trouble with that, tuff crap. I find what you wrote a very sorry reflection on you as a person.

  145. Mark Greta says:

    Will, if this is true, he is a rare priest. Many turn that around and preach love all the time giving off the odor of cheap love and never about the cross or the cost of following Christ or our failures that need to find us in reconcilliation before the Eucharist is received. That is not love.

  146. Mark Greta says:

    Ann, sorry, but your wrong.

    “NFP is used with a birth prevention mentality. If you weren’t trying to avoid pregnancy, you wouldn’t have to use it.”

    You did not read the reasons laid out. NFP is different because it brings God into the discussion and shared sacrifice if you are in a situation where birth would pose a grave danger of for other equally serious reasons. The natural method of checking the womans own body and how it naturally works using common health instruments to check for temperature or to examine natural body fluids is about as natural as you can get. No chemicals are being used to interrupt a woman’s natural body conditions as with the pill.

    Since you ignore most of what was posted, it is obvious you are in total denial to this gift from God and prefer to use chemicals that not only change the woman’s normal body conditions, but pose grave danger to many such as increased risk of breast cancer.

    Of course there is also the Church teaching but that is also shoved aside. Oh to lose ones soul for the sake of a pill. I would be concerned as a man for my wife’s sould at this great offense to God in saying no to His desire to create life.

  147. Mark Greta says:

    Henry, you miss an essential part. First let us assume the couple have a reason that would meet with reasons that month for not having children. During that month, they are being faithful to each other and to God and using natural means, they deny themselves through celebacy for those specific days that they are also denying God creation of life. It is a unitive action of man, wife, and God for acceptable reasons. This is far from using a condom where pleasure is taken but God is denied. Each month the man and wife should again examine their conscience and situation to see if they must again join with God to prevent life through personal sacrifice.

    NFP is approved by the Catholic Church and taught at parishes faithfully that care about the souls of those involved. Henry, you are at odds with the long held and accepted teaching of the Catholic Church. At the same time, you do not seem to understand science if you see the same exact results between faithfully practiced NFP and the condom. There is the little item of sexual pleasure and the mans sperm ending up in a condom. Far different even in science between sperm remaining in the man or in a condom and it is certainly not the same in the Catholic Church.

  148. Mark Greta says:

    Henry, condom is not a non act, it is serious sin. It says to God we want to have sex and deny you the right to creation. NFP does not do that. Fundamental difference.

  149. Mark Greta says:

    Steve, no one is saying to Henry shut up. what is being said is your argument does not hold water and that you do not seem to be able to follow along in a discussion. His point on a condom is spelled out for its error and he wants to keep rining the same chime.

  150. Mark Greta says:

    Henry, It is about sharing sacrifice with God when you are not able to have a baby during that month for a reason that meets Church standards. Therefore it is fully unitive and keeps the man and womn and God together and also within Church teaching and uses natural means provided by God within natural law.

    No chemicals that increse the risk of breast cancer or other issues that distort nature within the woman.

    Ann, it is unitive with man, woman, and God and continues solid ongoing Catholic teaching that sex in marriage should be about the natural joy that the gift of sex from God brings to a marriage AND ALSO its purpose of being unitive in creation. When a reason exists that month to deny creation, only during that time frame is the man and woman also asked to share this sacrifice of sex with Gods sacrifice of not creating life. For the other 3 weeks or so of the month, the man and woman can enjoy the gift of God knowing that they are in union with God which should bring them more joy and peace. Birth control says no to God with every act on every day as long as the woman pops the pills in her mouth or insertes and IUD or the man puts on a condom. Saying NO to God is never something two Catholics should be doing every day of their lives when God has provided a Natural way for this to be done in union with him.

  151. Mark Greta says:

    Pagansister, If a couple has to make a sacrifice to keep God in union with their marriage, it seems a small one to pay. What you are saying you would prefer is for the couple to say to God, excuse me, but babies are not wanted her and we will not give up anything for you in our lives.”

    As to the spontaneous needs, that is why we have the seven virtues in times of required sacrifice. You are proving Pope Paul VI right in Humane Vitae. We simply drop to the level of animals in heat when we have left God out of our marriage.

  152. Mark Greta says:

    Only suggesting that what the Catholic Church teaches should not be thrown off as wrong without taking time to examine our reasons very strongly. What you have presented here seems to suggest that you haven’t fully explored these teaching and your own reasons very well, not how much you pray.

  153. Mark Greta says:

    Henry, You say there are severl TOB’s out there. Not sure what you mean by that as I know of only one written by Pope JPII. There might be various people who have taken TOB and formed conclusions or different teaching around it, but as far as I know there is only one TOB released by the Vatican. As to its being too fresh, that could be said of every encyclical written including documents many centuries old that are still being examined and discussed. I believe that it is a document which will have profound impact on the church and the world in a very postive way for a very long time because many are starting to realize that this life of if it feels good do it and 54 million babies murdered is indeed a holocaust that must stop. Everything predicted in Humane Vitae has come true in today’s world and the only way to turn back to God is laid out fairly well in TOB.

    Second. I agree that there are things we do not have to believe. I hope that you also agree that there are many things in Catholic teaching that we have to accept and obey. One of those the Church teaches us we need to obey is around birth control.

    Third. I thought that was the point you were trying to stretch out of using the virgins, but wanted to be sure. The Church has for a very long time used the family, man, woman, and child as a kind of symnbol of the Trinity. This would mean that the virgins, not being married and one person, might not be used as an example for the Trinity, but they are help in high praise in the Church for their sacrifice to God. Nuns are viewed as the bride of Christ and priests are to the Church in holy union. What is the point. There is nothing here involving sex? So what. It is not relevent to the discussion for we are talking about the special relationship in marriage between one man, one woman, and God which is a different topic. Of course it also makes it clear why it has to be one man and one woman.

  154. Mark Greta says:

    Henry, this is even worse than I thought. I look at the time of Anthony’s post and then see your post about 8 minutes later with your evaluation that the “blog quite problematic” because it was “turning a police officer killed in the line of duty into a martyr.”

    I had not seen it in my look and had to go back again and saw nothing and commented. Now you come back with a link that goes back to a post on the second page and a month before. How did you read all those articles on two pages of the blog and form such as strong opion on the blog in 8 minutes. You just looked for something quick you could see as negative. I hold with my comment.

    Also think Father Hollowell does a nice job defending the very post you attack as well.

  155. Mark Greta says:

    Funny how God in the end still has the decision on life and can create it no matter how much we say no. Of course God has also had a say from time to time when the abortion mills try to murder one of his children and they survive. That is where Obama came along to give the killers a second chance. That is of course why the named Obama their PARTNER.

    NFP has a great track record of success over the old rhythm method. My wife Greta had done a lot of work on NFP and was a praish instructor and guest speaker as well at a lot of Catholic Church programs. I will have to look for some of her papers for she had a huge amount of data. Some of it came from correspondence with Mother Theresa over the years and she had done some great work with NFP in India and other countries and had a lot of information.

    But one thing not discussed here so far that I have seen is the amazing success that couples having trouble concieving have had using NFP to better identify best times to conceive.

  156. Mark Greta says:

    “Perhaps you would better recognize the purpose of law and its application if you were to do so”

    I have read some St. Alphonsus Liguori and do not see anywhere he supports anything you have posted.

    If you use Google for your source on recommendation against using NFP, then you are not finding them in solid Catholic teaching. I think when you make this type statement, you might have a link to some promoment Catholic Church person in some authority. I am sure Satan would agree to this advice not to teach TOB because it is too hard and might spoil what Satan would like to see in marriage.

  157. Mark Greta says:

    Many people reject the commandments and all church teaching. That is why Jesus said that the gate to heaven is narrow. I think the desire to be on the side of the many is not a good thing to be proud of when it is siding against the teaching of Jesus Church he has promised to be with until the end of time. And Pope JPII had the keys as the successor of Peter to forgive or to bind sins and that should be considered when we discuss TOB. It is interesting to see how so many seem to want to be part of the world and so against the Catholic Church. It is also very sad for so many will lose their eternal life in paradise over things of little importance when viewed from that perspective.

  158. Mark Greta says:

    Melissa Kae, excellent work. I will borrow some of this for some work I am doing at the parish.

  159. Mark Greta says:

    There are indeed things we can disagree with the Church on every day. However, when we decide to disagree on matters which the Pope and Magesterium are teaching as those we cannot dissent on and must accept, then we do so with the knowledge that they are speaking with infallibility from Jesus promise of the Holy Spirit. Yes, they are men, but because Jesus loves us and knows we are weak and living lives to care for our families and therefore busy, He gave us the infallible teaching to follow. It is a true north, something that is bringing into the Church many converts from the disaster of those who protested and left have found a massive problem. We have this wonderful teaching and all we have to do is obey. I find it hard to believe that Catholics do not see the amazing wonder in this important gift from God.

    Some scream about positions which the Church teach as non negotiable from which they dissent. At the same time, they hold up teaching the church allows dissent and demand the first group in obedience should hold these truths to the same value .

  160. Mark Greta says:

    When your reason is leading you to eternal damnation, I suggest you abandon it. We are to have a well formed conscience and that starts with understanding and accepting Church teaching that comes from the Pope and Magesterium for it is teaching protected by infallibility. Of course maybe your reason does not accept infallability either which means you view the Church as simply a suggestion box. Up to you, but I prefer to stick with the Church of Jesus Christ founded on the rock and which he promised to be with until the end of time under his protection. but that is just me. Sad to see someone named Peter in open dissent.

  161. Mark Greta says:

    Good point Ron.

  162. Mark Greta says:

    I can honestly say that we lived our entire married life open to God and to creation. A couple times we went as long as 4 years without created life. We ended up with 7 children and lost one of them in the womb named Sarah who never left our thoughts and prayers. We lost a granddaughter in an abortion mill along with her baby. Greta and I have 29 grandchildren, two of which are still in the womb. All our children use NFP and 4 teach it at their parish as part of pre cana teaching and to all families who want to learn several times a year. We also have over 60 children that Greta saved with the help of Christ from abortion and each year we have a giant celebration for life with over 500 people from which we gain contributions to help support more kids in danger.

    I have never on any single day not been overjoyed with our complete and total acceptance of life no matter how hard the times are or the problems presented for our path. My wife Greta is now in heaven caring for those killed in the abortion mills. Her aunt killed in the death camps of Germany is up there tending to those killed by evil in this world against people because of their faith. both are united to make sure we see the Obama evil end this year and badgering God to send out all the angels to America now to fight the biggest enemy to both life and religious liberty this country has ever seen.

  163. Mark Greta says:

    It is really very sad how we always get this from those in dissent. Never fails when their arguments do not hold water, they turn to bashing the Church.

    Peter denied Chirst three times. But Christ did not give up on Peter but came back to ask him three times if he loved Him. But this Peter was obedient to God even to his death. Only those who obey can believe and only those who believe can obey.

  164. Henry Karslon says:

    I will answer two comments at once.

    Mark: just look to the side of the blog, you will see “Most popular posts.” The first of them is the post in question. Simple. Easy to see how I found it.

    Fr. John — is it good for the Catholic Church to elevate the secular sense of freedom, the religion of the state, within the Church itself? This cult of freedom is dangerous – just look to the French Revolution. It’s not the freedom the Church promotes, and indeed, would fight against it seeing the Church as anti-freedom. I indeed find many other aspects of what you write on your blog troubling, but I highlight this because to talk about “martyr” in the Church as such, while using a secular ideology, is quite problematic indeed.

  165. we have a giant celebration for life with over 500 people from which we gain contributions to help support more kids in danger_ end quote

    Mark Greta could you share info on this: when the next one will be and where does this take place, and the name of the event? I’ve been pretty active in pro life for quite a few years, surprised I haven’t noticed it.


  166. A monsignor at my church in Washington DC used to denounce all the “evil secular media” as “enemies of the Church of Christ” for total fabricating the sex scandals when they were first being reported in the Boston media, then the rest of the country, then the world, in the ’90′s. The same day as the Dutch story (since authenticated, a reporter saw the victim’s “surgery”), the glacially slow Vatican report on the Irish sex abuse scandals has come out. Then there is the Belgium situation… are you following the trials of all those priests in Philadelphia, including Msge Lynn, right hand of Justin Rigali (didn’t he suddenly disapear?) and Bevilacqua (the secrets he took to the grave).Our geriatric resentful mens club of a hierarchy and priesthood has written off this problem as well as made a decision to be unresponsive to Europe and North America, so they are going after the ignorant in India (see story above) and Africa to have a “do over” of the same old system, dogmatically imposed without Biblical basis or without being related to common sense. So the Church believes in natural law? What is natural about the exaltation of unnatural celibacy for most clergy? We already have married priests with kids in the archdiocese of Washington (the episcopalians that the Pope has been poaching). Our jaundiced hierarchy has produced a jaundiced theology and discipline, rooted in the Dark Ages.

  167. No priest is transferred out for only one homily.There must be lots more to the story. Even Martin Luther got warnings.

  168. Mark–It’s not you. It happens to others as well with the same person. No doubt it’s a cross for him. Will you join me in praying for Henry? Thanks. Perhaps you can enlist Greta to pray for him as well.

  169. The teachings we are discussing have not been declared ex cathedra, and therefore the doctrine of infallibility is not applicable here. I do struggle with the doctrine of infallibility, because it appears to lack any biblical basis and flys in the face of a significant and impossible to ignore record of errors in Church teaching, and the selection of Church leaders, over the centuries. However, because the Church is composed of humans, I expect error on occassion, and recognize that error can be corrected. Each Catholic must, in the end, struggle to discern what he or she will accept. I will never do that blindly.

  170. Katie Angel says:

    I have been doing a lot of thinking and praying about why the Church is not heeded more on issues of morality. We were once the voice of morality, often considered even by non-Catholics but now we are treated as if we are crazy and have no moral authority. The two things that strike me as most responsible of this are that the Chruch as allowed itself to be corrupted by the world – we have gotten too involved with politics and are now frequently thought of as just another lobbying group, rather than a voice of what is right and good in the world AND the pedophile scandal that has led people to lose faith, not only in the priests and bishops that were complicit in the cover-up but with all priests and bishops. The lack of remorse on the part of most of the involved clergy doesn’t help, either.

    We need to restore our (for lack of a better word) reputation as a moral authority and the best way is for our leaders to stop trying to pass or defeat laws but rather to speak out about the issues the laws are addressing; get out of bed with the Republicans who, after all, have done virtually nothing to stop abortions (it is too good a campaign issue to have it go away) so they can chatise both politcal parties equally and improve our protection of children (and teens) by turning over abusive priests and complicit bishops to the secular authorities for prosecution.

    For too long, the behavior of these clerics has been a smoke-screen used to create a diversion from the real issues facing this nation. It is time for us to return to the role that we should have – one of speakng truth to power, no matter which side of the polical aisle and doing it with strength,

  171. I don’t think what you’re saying is always true. There seem to be some dioceses where anyone who rocks the boat even once is harshly penalized while perpetual dissenters are left alone – what we laity can’t figure out is why this is.

  172. What could the poor peasants do when they didn’t have the advantage of the sophisticated temperature tests etc that we have today? wallow in sin?

  173. pagansister says:

    Mark Greta: If there wasn’t heat, there would be no reproduction. IMO, intercourse is for more than just making babies, it is also for pleasure. Thus my comment about spontaneous love making. But for those who wish to let a woman’s natural cycle (hopefully it is regular) run their intimate lives? That is of course their decision. As for dropping to the “level of animals?” God made those animals, right?

  174. pagansister says:

    Mary Russell: However it is done, NFP, IMO takes a lot of “let’s go upstairs for a nap” out of a marriage. :o)

  175. pagansister says:

    Mary Russell: Fewer with the pill than with NFP, I expect.

  176. pagansister says:

    Mark Greta: Having 7 children worked for you, and since I believe you are of my generation, a large Catholic family was not unusual. However I don’t think many in the younger generation have any desire for 7 children. 2 or 3 maybe 4 works for them. So in order to not have 7 or more children, they use what works for them. As I have mentioned in the past, there was only 2 families in the Catholic school I taught in that had more than 4 kids. One had 8 (and had to leave because they couldn’t pay tuition) and the other planned 4 but had twins in the last pregnancy and had 5 instead. That family could afford 5, the one with 8? Kids were in public school because a Catholic elementary education was out of the question. Both families were Catholic. So large families, no matter the faith, are not always wanted whether financial or desired.

  177. Pagansister, you and Jake are right. The avearge Catholic family is worried about a lot more than contraception. These days families struggle just to make ends meet. All the legalism, philosophy and theology on this blog and elsewhere, have about as much resonance as how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. It has nothing to do with their real lives. NFP and all that stuff just strikes them as a convient fiction and frankly, a little silly. All of this is as important to them as how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Plus, as many of friends and family have said, priest, bishops etc have everything provided for them, how can they make decisions like that for ME. They don’t have a clue.
    As one 62 year old, happily married Catholic woman I work with said:”I used to listen the clergy about family planning, but NOT any more.”

  178. AMEN!!!

  179. Pagansister, my brother had 4 children and not only, did BOTH he and his wife work, but HE worked 2 other jobs as well. His last child will graduate from a Catholic high school this year, as 2 of other 3 silbings did(his oldest daughter married at 19 and moved to Idaho) and wil go to college next fall as the other 2 did. He did everything right, correct? Here’s the kicker, after 24 years of marriage, his wife left him and is now dating a much younger man. NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED!!

  180. pagansister says:

    pol: So much for “until death do us part” and all the teachings against divorce in the Church. Glad your brother’s children seem to be doing well in life, with his hard work and that of his former wife.


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