Losing hope for NFP, Sex, and Faith


#1

I suddenly feel like I am floundering in faith. I had been married for three years before realizing that part of the Church's teaching on natural family planning is that the couple must have a grave reason to avoid pregnancy.

Even after attending two per-marital counseling sessions with a priest, a weekend long Engaged Encounter, the FOCCUS test, and two additional marital counseling required by our Church and Archdioceses...this little fact was left out. They briefly mentioned that NFP was Church teaching, but that was the end of the entire discussion. Taking it an absurd step further- the priest at our Engaged Encounter encouraged couples to "shop around" to find a lenient priest on sexual issues.As far as I was concerned, NFP was just the way Catholic families lived (if they bothered to do it at all). It was part of the Catholic lifestyle.
I feel horrible, like I was allowed to enter into a vocation under false per-tenses. How can the Church not tell this to a young couple preparing for marriage? And now, to hear that NFP couples are sinning when they enjoy sexual activity outside of vaginal intercourse...it is more than I can bear.

With my (rather sudden) recent doubt, I feel like I am failing the Church, and I also feel like the Church has failed me. :crying:


#2

The Church and its teachings are so complex. If you think not much is said now, you should’ve been around 50 years ago!

Have faith in God and in each other to see you through this misunderstood or incompletely taught issue. The prevailing sentiment on the board seems to be that if there’s no specific rejection or prohibition, then the subject, whatever it may be, is permitted. However, semantics become such an issue here on CAF, so you’ll likely see that point of view argued ad nauseum!

Remember, too, that people are strange, and some seem to take a particular relish in decrying sexual pleasure and in admonishing others to be fearful that they might do something they shouldn’t. Consider the source whenever you hear or read anything, then digest it with “a grain of salt.” Trust in God and in the intellects that He gave to the two of you

There have been very enlightening threads about this issue here on CAF in past months. Maybe someone will cite them for you.

You seem to be a very thoughtful and dedicated child of God. Persevere in learning through reading, discussion, and prayer, but don’t anguish over it. Live your faith as best you can and rejoice in the many opportunities available to the two of you. Partake of the sacraments as often as possible, pray frequently, and ask that He guide you. Cherish each other. As time passes, you’ll have your answers. Just, please, don’t worry about this until it’s nearly all you can think about and practically makes you ill with worry. Life is too short and joy too fleeting.

Each journey is different, but the two of you will get there. Jesus knows your hearts. Let Him show you the way. He won’t let the Church fail you, and He won’t let you fail in this matter, either. Talk to Him!

May the angels hug you tightly!


#3

Thank you for your reply. I feel I am getting caught up in the semantics and the opinions of others.

I was hoping to find a clear cut answer, but in the end I have more questions. Even the original documents are being debated depending on the persons worldview.

I read once, somewhere, that a person should pray the rosary every day. A person cannot live in sin and continue to pray the rosary, they will either give up the sin, or give up the rosary. With that said, I will continue to pray for guidance and see where the faith takes me. And I will trust in the mercy of Christ when I have failed.
Thank you so much.


#4

First of all, the term Humanae Vitae users is “Serious Reasons”, not Grave

With regard to physical, economic, psychological and social conditions, responsible parenthood is exercised by those who prudently and generously decide to have more children, and by those who, **for serious reasons **and with due respect to moral precepts, decide not to have additional children for either a certain or an indefinite period of time.

In moral theology terms, ‘serious’ is a mid level classification of reason

Just, Serious, and Grave are the three classifications.

A ‘Just’ reason is any reason that is not contrary to God. It could be ‘we just don’t feel like having a child right now’

A Serious reason, is one that requires discernment, but is not of the critical nature " Our family reunion is going to happen next year, I’d really rather not be pregnant or have a new born at that time" or “I’d like to wait a bit until little Jimmy is a bit older before we have another

A Grave reason is the most difficult level “With my blood pressure issues, it would be dangerous for me to have another child

All that the Church requires are Serious reasons, ones that are not either purely selfish nor trivial in nature.


#5

[quote="Brendan, post:4, topic:280504"]
First of all, the term Humanae Vitae users is "Serious Reasons", not Grave

In moral theology terms, 'serious' is a mid level classification of reason

Just, Serious, and Grave are the three classifications.

A 'Just' reason is any reason that is not contrary to God. It could be 'we just don't feel like having a child right now'

All that the Church requires are Serious reasons, ones that are not either purely selfish nor trivial in nature.

[/quote]

I don't know whether it is an unintentional mistake in phrasing, or a real misunderstanding on your part, Brendan, but saying that a just reason could be we/I 'just don't feel like having a child right now' is likely to confuse.

In English, the word 'just' there isn't anything to do with justice i.e. doing what is right and fair. It has more the meaning of ' only' or 'difficult to explain our reason but it's how we feel' or something like that.

As I said, nothing to do with 'just' or 'justice' as the Church means it.

Incidentally, 'serious' and 'grave' are used interchangeably by the Church, I think you'll find.


#6

Remember, too, that people are strange, and some seem to take a particular relish in decrying sexual pleasure and in admonishing others to be fearful that they might do something they shouldn’t. Consider the source whenever you hear or read anything, then digest it with “a grain of salt.” Trust in God and in the intellects that He gave to the two of you

There have been very enlightening threads about this issue here on CAF in past months. Maybe someone will cite them for you.

You seem to be a very thoughtful and dedicated child of God. Persevere in learning through reading, discussion, and prayer, but don’t anguish over it. Live your faith as best you can and rejoice in the many opportunities available to the two of you. Partake of the sacraments as often as possible, pray frequently, and ask that He guide you. Cherish each other. As time passes, you’ll have your answers. Just, please, don’t worry about this until it’s nearly all you can think about and practically makes you ill with worry. Life is too short and joy too fleeting.

Each journey is different, but the two of you will get there. Jesus knows your hearts. Let Him show you the way. He won’t let the Church fail you, and He won’t let you fail in this matter, either. Talk to Him!
STC Technologies


#7

The term used most I would in more recent documents is "serious".

In order I think to make it more clear.

Here is the compendium issued by Pope Benedict XVI

  1. When is it moral to regulate births?

2368-2369
2399

The regulation of births, which is an aspect of responsible fatherhood and motherhood, is objectively morally acceptable when it is pursued by the spouses without external pressure; when it is practiced not out of selfishness but for serious reasons; and with methods that conform to the objective criteria of morality, that is, periodic continence and use of the infertile periods.

  1. What are immoral means of birth control?

2370-2372

Every action - for example, direct sterilization or contraception - is intrinsically immoral which (either in anticipation of the conjugal act, in its accomplishment or in the development of its natural consequences) proposes, as an end or as a means, to hinder procreation

vatican.va/archive/compendium_ccc/documents/archive_2005_compendium-ccc_en.html


Now serious does not mean that it has to be life or death thing. Many various reasons can arise that are "serious". The couple are to discern these before God (and perhaps with assistance). All sorts of things can come up in life.


#8

From Compendium of Social Doctrine issued by Bl. Pope John Paul II

  1. The family contributes to the social good in an eminent fashion through responsible motherhood and fatherhood, the spouses' special participation in God's work of creation[519]. The weight of this responsibility must not be used as a justification for being selfishly closed but must guide the decisions of the spouses in a generous acceptance of life. “In relation to physical, economic, psychological and social conditions, responsible parenthood is exercised both in the duly pondered and generous decision to have a large family, and in the decision, made for serious reasons and in respect of the moral law, to avoid for a time or even indeterminately a new birth”[520]. The motivations that should guide the couple in exercising responsible motherhood and fatherhood originate in the full recognition of their duties towards God, towards themselves, towards the family and towards society in a proper hierarchy of values.

  2. Concerning the “methods” for practising responsible procreation, the first to be rejected as morally illicit are sterilization and abortion[521]. The latter in particular is a horrendous crime and constitutes a particularly serious moral disorder[522]; far from being a right, it is a sad phenomenon that contributes seriously to spreading a mentality against life, representing a dangerous threat to a just and democratic social coexistence[523].

Also to be rejected is recourse to contraceptive methods in their different forms[524]: this rejection is based on a correct and integral understanding of the person and human sexuality [525] and represents a moral call to defend the true development of peoples[526]. On the other hand, the same reasons of an anthropological order justify recourse to periodic abstinence during times of the woman's fertility[527]. Rejecting contraception and using natural methods for regulating births means choosing to base interpersonal relations between the spouses on mutual respect and total acceptance, with positive consequences also for bringing about a more human order in society.

  1. The judgment concerning the interval of time between births, and that regarding the number of children, belongs to the spouses alone. This is one of their inalienable rights, to be exercised before God with due consideration of their obligations towards themselves, their children already born, the family and society[528]. The intervention of public authorities within the limits of their competence to provide information and enact suitable measures in the area of demographics must be made in a way that fully respects the persons and the freedom of the couple. Such intervention may never become a substitute for their decisions[529]. All the more must various organizations active in this area refrain from doing the same.

vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/justpeace/documents/rc_pc_justpeace_doc_20060526_compendio-dott-soc_en.html


#9

The Church upholds the faith through Church law (which is taught to the masses), and through pastoral interpretation and guidance (which is specifc to the individual). Some people tend to emphasize one or the other when in fact both are essential. Is seems like the priest at your Engaged Encounter emphsizes pastoral interpretation while you are focusing on the letter of the law. I recommend that you consult with a priest who is understanding of your situation so that you can recieve guidance that is specified to you.


#10

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