Link to Springfield, Illinois Diocese on Natural Family Planning: https://www.dio.org/familylife/nfp.html
P.O. Box 2392, Orange Grove, TX 78372, (361) 384-0067,www.facebook.com/nfpandmore
June 2022 Newsletter
There can be no doubt that the Church promotes NFP as a way of providing practical help to live out the demands of chaste love in marriage. And yet I think there is more. In the publication of The Theology of the Body: Human Love in the Divine Plan, we get a clue from the title of Part Two: “Life according to the Spirit.” As Christians, we are called to live according to the Spirit of God. To put it briefly, the primary mission of the teaching Church is to evangelize the world, and that includes its own members.
Evangelization, then, is what I think is or should be the prime impetus behind the conscious efforts of the Church to promote and teach natural family planning. The Gospel of Mark shows us that Jesus began his public teaching with a great summary of all that would follow. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe the Gospel.” The fuller translation of “repent” is “Have a change of heart,” and believing in the Gospel is more than a purely intellectual acceptance of the teachings of Christ. It is also a trusting faith. To paraphrase a part of the Sermon on the Mount, “Don’t be anxious about the material things of life. God knows you need these things. Sure, you need to work, but seek first the kingdom of God and do his will and trust Him to take care of the rest of these things.”
The teaching of Christ as it comes to us through the Church calls married couples to authentic love. We all know that. And we have heard many times from the First Letter of St. John that “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” What about the opposite? Can something close to perfect fear cast out love? Why do some couples refuse to accept the teaching of the Church regarding marital love? Isn’t it fear? Specifically, isn’t it fear that another child in the family might bring anything from inconvenience to real hardship? And isn’t there a fear either to accept the discipline and self-control involved in systematic NFP or a fear of an unplanned pregnancy? In short, isn’t it a fear to have that change of heart that Jesus calls for, a change of heart that involves carrying the daily cross of self-control and trusting God and not just ourselves? And isn’t a prime task of the Church to help its members to undergo that change of heart that allows real trust and casts out fear?
Call me crazy if you will, but I think the teaching Church should welcome the task of promoting and teaching NFP as a way to carry out its mission of evangelization in a very practical way. After all, what other moral teachings of the Church affect so closely the lives of its adult members on a day-to-day basis? As such, the Church should make sure that the NFP programs that operate under its umbrella are not just teaching anatomy but are consciously helping to carry out this mission. That means that we who teach NFP have to learn and use the biblical language of evangelization—conversion and discipleship, faith and trust, hope and love, sin and repentance, prayer and fasting, Jesus as the Lord of lords and the King of kings. We who teach natural family planning are blessed with the opportunity to share in the evangelization mission of the Church. We need to thank God for this opportunity and do what we can to fulfill this responsibility.
John F. Kippley
Co-founder and current volunteer
May 2022 Newsletter
God has wisely ordered laws of nature and the incidence of fertility in such a way that successive births are already naturally spaced through the inherent operation of these laws (Humanae Vitae, n.11).
While breastfeeding should be promoted for its many health benefits for mother and baby, in this newsletter I will direct my attention to the natural child spacing benefit of breastfeeding.
“After contraceptive use, breastfeeding duration is the major determinant of the birth interval length… In many countries the duration of breastfeeding is more important in determining the length of birth intervals than is contraceptive use” (Becker, Rutstein, & Labbok, “Estimation of Births Averted due to Breastfeeding and Increases in Levels of Contraception Needed to Substitute for Breastfeeding,” J. Biosocial Science, 2003, 35: 559- 560).
Breastfeeding is the strongest natural influence in spacing babies within an individual family and in maintaining a slow rate of population growth. As the researchers above stressed, in developing countries where contraceptive use is low it is rare to have birth intervals of less than two years, thanks to breastfeeding. They add: “Today , it is clear that breastfeeding, as a major biological determinant of fertility return postpartum, contributes significantly to this interval” (Becker, Rutstein & Labbok, 559).
For me it is uplifting to hear a speaker rave about the mucus sign or the sympto-thermal method to couples, but, on the other hand, it is dismaying when the breastfeeding aspect of NFP is ignored at such events. The only organized NFP program in the U.S. that I know of that gives any serious attention to the form of breastfeeding that normally delays the return of fertility for over a year postpartum is NFP International. Catholic Nursing Mothers League also teaches eco-breastfeeding and natural child spacing.
With systematic natural family planning, the couple deals with fertility on a regular basis with their cycles. Many of these couples abstain during the fertile time of each cycle to avoid pregnancy. With breastfeeding the couple deals with infertility. Breastfeeding couples usually enjoy a year or more of infertility, and thus abstinence is often not an issue. Breastfeeding Catholics might practice abstinence for spiritual reasons during Advent and Lent, or periodically at other times, but abstinence is not required for spacing purposes when a couple breastfeeds properly. I use the term “couple” because a mom who is doing ecological breastfeeding definitely needs the support of her husband in a bottle-feeding culture.
What we need in our Church and in our society is a strong emphasis on natural child spacing so couples will learn how to use breastfeeding to space their babies. Wouldn’t it be a teaching moment to have a conference on natural child spacing with speakers who have experienced this aspect of breastfeeding in their professional work or in their personal life? There are still countries or areas where breastfeeding is the primary family planning method. Couples from these countries would have much to share with us.
Dr. Roger Short from the Department of Physiology at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia contributed to the United Nations symposium report on Nutrition and Population Links – Breastfeeding, Family Planning and Child Health (Nutrition Policy Discussion Paper No. 11, May 1992). Dr. Short concluded:
Since the dawn of civilization, we have been interfering with breastfeeding. The rearing of infants on artificial foods has been the largest uncontrolled clinical experiment ever undertaken, and it is still going on, despite the disastrous consequences. It has brought untold suffering, disease and death to countless millions of babies. The erosion of breastfeeding’s natural contraceptive effect has been a major factor in bringing about the recent explosive growth of the human population. There is no cheaper or more effective way of improving maternal and infant health and lowering fertility, than the promotion of breastfeeding. (Ch. 4: Breastfeeding, Fertility and Population Growth, p. 11)
Co-founder and current volunteer
March 2022 Newsletter
In my opinion, the real purpose of NFP instruction sponsored by the Catholic Church is to evangelize Catholics, other Christians, and anyone who will listen. Yes, the practice of NFP is safe and healthy; yes, it is very helpful for achieving pregnancy and highly effective for avoiding it; but the greatest benefit to the Catholic Church is that the right kind of NFP course can be an effective vehicle for conveying a very basic lesson in morality—do good and avoid evil.
Do good by being generous in having children, looking upon them as gifts of the Lord, and bringing them up in the ways of the Lord. Avoid evil by not engaging in the evil of contraceptive behaviors and the use of potentially abortifacient drugs and devices.
Do good by appreciating the fact that the Holy Spirit guides the Church through its magisterium. Avoid harm to your health by not using potentially harmful methods of birth control. Avoid harm to your marriage by making sure that your marriage acts reflect the unreserved self-gift you vowed on your wedding day.
John F. Kippley
Co-founder and current volunteer