Happy NFP Awareness Week!

I don’t have a lot planned for this week. 

Last week, I got a post up most days of the week about NFP. See here:

My NFP Posts page has a few more posts with reflections how NFP has impacted my life.

This week…I got nuthin’. 

But our priest delivered the most amazing homily yesterday at Mass and gave permission to share on social media so, I will share it here for today’s entry (Please share — tweet –etc). We need more priests to step up and preach on this issue in our times. 

In support of the Church on the 45th Anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae 

Homily by Father Vince Rogers 
St. Andrew the Apostle Catholic Church 
Gladstone, Mo. 64118 
July 21, 2013 

The Church has a lot to say about the human person and the choices we make. And the Church has been teaching about these matters since the Lord first breathed life into Her on Pentecost. 

Frankly, we should listen to the Church more. She’s wiser than any of us individually, because She comprises the collective wisdom of the ages. 

She’s fought battles that most of us have never even heard of. I only know about them because I had to study them. Montanism, Sabellianism, Arianism, Pelagianism, Nestorianism, Iconoclasm, Jansenism…just to name a very few. These are footnotes in history which I don’t expect you to know. What I do want you to know, however, is that your Church was fighting against false teachings way before you were around. 

These teachings were widespread. Some of them taught that there was no sin–others, that everything was a sin! Some claimed that Jesus was not divine. Others, that the human body was evil and you could do no good, or, the opposite, that you could do anything you want with your body. Still others claimed that the Eucharist is just bread. Some said that making statues and images was sinful. I could literally wear you out with all the heresies your Church has had to correct over the last 20 centuries! 

So, why do I tell you this? Well, because, here we find ourselves in these modern times thinking that our issues are so unique and completely different from anything the Church has had to deal with. But they’re not! Homosexuality, polygamy, infanticide, abortion, euthanasia, contraception… were around through all of human history before Christ. The Church has been teaching about these things in every age since. 

This week marks the 45th anniversary of a letter from the pope that is hardly ever spoken about, but which affects almost everyone in society. In this letter, entitled Humanae Vitae, the Holy Father reiterated what the Church had always taught about the sacredness of marriage, about responsible parenthood, and about contraception and sterilization. 

Many people misrepresent and oversimplify this teaching by saying that the Church is anti-science. Does that make sense to you in light of the fact that our own Church runs some of the finest medical schools in the world and in our country? Boston, Creighton, Fordham, Notre Dame, Georgetown…We heard the same argument when we were in the middle of the embryonic stem cell debate. Our Church is pro-science. Science is part of the reason why we have concluded that human embryos are human beings, and they shouldn’t be destroyed in order to harvest their cells–anymore than someone shouldn’t kill you for your kidneys. 

So contraception is wrong because it violates the meaning of marriage, which is for love and procreation. Furthermore, contraception and sterilization involves an anti-life mentality. God cares about what is in our minds and in our hearts. He wants to be Lord of our life, not just in church, or work, or in the kitchen, but also in the bedroom. Some say, “Keep the Church out of our bedroom!” I suppose you could do that, but you shouldn’t keep God out, and the Church is the voice of God in the world today. 

Interestingly, when the pope wrote this letter in 1968, he outlined a number of things that would happen if contraception became widespread (many laughed at him then). He said that it would lead to marital infidelity, divorce, and a general lowering of morality. He also said that men would lose respect for women, considering them as mere instruments of sexual pleasure, and not as respected and beloved companions. Moreover, he warned that widespread contraception would lead to manipulating our fertility, treating it, not as a blessing from God, but as a disease or an infection to be attacked. It’s a very short leap to having the same view about unborn life. 

They laughed at the pope in the late 60’s during the sexual revolution. Who’s laughing now? Other than Satan, I can’t think of anyone. 

This is not an easy subject for me to discuss, but I do it because a feel compelled to speak about the truth of the fullness and beauty of our faith. Having said that, I feel less sorry for me and more sorry for the women who have to live in this society which glorifies ultra-skinny over normal, living together over marriage, careerism over family, and contraception over motherhood. 

The priest with whom I’m closest in my life shared something with me. He said that, “I learned something about my mother that maybe was a little too late because she has already died.” “My mother,” he continued, “was always right. The reason she was always right was because she was continuously looking out for me. She was never seeking her own good, but was always seeking what was good for me.” The same could be said for the Church. The Church, in Her motherhood and in her wisdom, is looking out for the needs of her children. And while it may be difficult for us as children to listen to the advice of our Mother, we should remember that She is our Mother and She is right. 

We come to church, among other things, to pray for the grace and the strength to do what is right. May God give us the strength to do what is right, even when it is difficult. 

Father Vince Rogers

I am linking to Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversion Diary and posting every day this week! Click HERE to see who else took the challenge!



Humanae Vitae Mass — A Request for Help

NFP Awareness week – 2012 was last week. I made a concerted effort on this blog to write a bit about NFP, the fear, challenged others to consider how it can positively impact marriage, why it is good for the body and why we should talk to our children about it alongside any other information they get as they enter puberty and adulthood.

Last week, I organized a Mass on the anniversary of Humanae Vitae.  It was our 2nd year to have the Humanae Vitae Mass, as we called it.  I am trying hard not to feel disappointed in the turnout because the people who did show up were so grateful to have the Mass said and to hear Father’s words of encouragement.  It can be a lonely life of sacrifice when families embrace and faithfully live the Church’s teaching on marriage and sexuality.  Those of us walking the walk need a Mass like this to lift us up and help us remember why it’s worth it.  For the most part, I had been pretty successful at suppressing the disappointed feelings…

Until Father came and spoke with me after Mass yesterday and asked if we had gotten the word out and wondered why more people hadn’t shown up.  Yes, we got it into the Catholic Key (diocesan newspaper).  Yes, we had gotten it in bulletins.  Yes, we had gotten it out on e-mail loops.

Part of me wants to make excuses.  There are ball games and vacations and lots of busy things happening the latter part of July.  Many of the families that might have come to the Mass (who didn’t) had already attended Mass that day through the Totus Tuus program.  Our parish had Totus Tuus that evening at the same time Mass was going on.

And then, part of me wants to ask Father if we could please have this special Mass worked into a Sunday.  In his homily, Father mentioned that maybe he was “preaching to the choir” at the Humanae Vitae Mass…well, if we were to add this Mass on a Sunday he could reach others.  The people who are coming to a Humanae Vitae Mass on a Wednesday night in the middle of an already packed summer week already believe and live this value and Church teaching in their marriages. We appreciated the Mass for sure.  We still wanted it.  We NEEDED it.  But, if the goal is to spread the Good News about the Church’s teaching on marriage and sexuality, unfortunately, it’s just a fact of life that we’re gonna have better luck reaching a broader audience on a Sunday.  

My perfect vision of a big Mass celebrating Humanae Vitae and the Catholic church’s unwavering and loving teaching on marriage and sexuality includes the Mass being on Sunday including a forum for information sharing afterwards. Perhaps, in the parish hall, in addition to the information re: NFP, we can offer some healing information for post-sterilization, or a support system to help couples make that leap out of the contraception culture.  There are lots of couples out there that didn’t hear, know or understand the Church’s teaching that made some irreversible decisions and they are hurting but may feel like they have nowhere to turn.  And it’s difficult to make such a drastic change in marriage to accept and learn NFP vs. continuing on using hormonal contraception or barriers or other devices.  Maybe we could have information and support for educating teens within the family structure.  Perhaps have stock of books like The Good News about Sex & Marriage or something on Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body or TOB for Teens, or Pure Manhood.  I admit…that’s a lofty “perfect” scenario.

Since we have started this thing of having a special Mass on the anniversary of Humanae Vitae …how can I drum up the support for this Mass?  How can I get more people of our diocese, let alone more people from our Parish, to attend this Mass?  Are people queasy about bringing their families with children (my children come to this, I don’t find it objectionable…but is this one of those instances where I am weird?)

I suppose I could try to have some influence as to when Totus Tuus happens at our Parish.  The past two years it has been the last week in July.  If our parish is going to continue to have a Special Mass on July 25, we should try to make sure no other big attendance-draining activities are happening.

I have a year to try and do this thing better. I would like it to continue, so I’m afraid that I need to grow my vision and make it happen.  I know the families who attended the Mass the last two years would also like to see it continue. We have two supportive priests at our parish and on that I’d like to capitalize. 

Help me?  Please?  Email me at EndlessStrengthBlog@gmail.com.  Tweet me:  MichellePHughes.  Leave a comment.  Retweet this for me to your followers.  I would like to get some ideas that I could get started on to make next year’s Humanae Vitae Mass more memorable.