So, in practicing NFP couples "give proof of a true and authentic love."
I call that "a good" for marriage, don't you?
But wait, there's more!
The right and lawful ordering of birth demands, first of all, that spouses fully recognize and value the true blessings of family life and that they acquire complete mastery over themselves and their emotions. For if with the aid of reason and of free will they are to control their natural drives, there can be no doubt at all of the need for self-denial. Only then will the expression of love, essential to married life, conform to right order. This is especially clear in the practice of periodic continence. Self-discipline of this kind is a shining witness to the chastity of husband and wife and, far from being a hindrance to their love of one another, transforms it by giving it a more truly human character.
To treat NFP as morally dubious except in very grave circumstance is to be very unlike the Church.
Dec. 18 at 3:22am | See in context
There is a perfect coherence between HV, the theological and philosophical reflections of Karol Wojtyla/John Paul II, and the experience of lay faithful who practice NFP.
The resistance to it among traditionalists seems to me strange.
Here's a passage from HV. [my bold]
With regard to the biological processes, responsible parenthood means an awareness of, and respect for, their proper functions. In the procreative faculty the human mind discerns biological laws that apply to the human person. (9)
This is among the goods of NFP. It increases responsible awareness of and respect for the functions of a woman's body.
The Church is the first to praise and commend the application of human intelligence to an activity in which a rational creature such as man is so closely associated with his Creator.
The Church praises and commends NFP. (Would she praise and condemn something dangerous and risky and morally suspect?)
And when the infertile period recurs, they use their married intimacy to express their mutual love and safeguard their fidelity toward one another. In doing this they certainly give proof of a true and authentic love.
Dec. 18 at 3:18am | See in context
It works both ways. Present teachings have to be justified on the ground of past teachings. Developments have to be shown to be organic.
But new teachings influence our understanding of what has come before. They provide the true interpretation of what has gone before. We understand Vatican I's teaching on conscience better and more fully in light of Vatican II's teaching on conscience.
So, for example, when a mustard bush breaks out in leaves, we understand a potency of the seed in a new way. We don't cut off the leaves, because the seed didn't have any.
The Church doesn't just sit on her patrimony, protecting it from corruption. She offers it to the world; she watches it unfold in the world; she interprets it constantly in light of human experience and Christian reflection.
John Paul II is the same man as Karol Wojtyla. And Wojtyal was a major influence on Humanae Vitae. He then, as Pope, composed the highly important Theology of the Body.
Hence, if we want to understand the mind of the Church on the issue of NFP, it makes sense to study Wojtyla's thought.
Dec. 18 at 3:02am | See in context
Isn't it the other way around? My understanding is that present teachings are interpreted in light of past teachings. Present teachings can clarify aspects of past teachings, but present teachings need to be reconciled with the past teachings. Tradition by its very nature is something we receive from the past, from the Apostles ultimately. Present teachings come organically from the existing teachings.
Also, if present teachings interpret past ones, how to interpret present ones when they are present (current)? It would seem that teaching is always fluid, then, and we can never ‘arrive’ at the meaning of a present teaching (when present).
If the goods of NFP were indeed spelled out in L&R, then that’s the judgment of a private theologian, and not that of a Pope speaking authoritatively. The judgment may be sound, but in itself it has no relationship with magisterial teaching as such, does it?
Dec. 17 at 3:06pm | See in context
Present teachings interpret past teachings. That's how it works in a living tradition. We know that it's a legitimate development, because it's been authoritatively promulgated by the Pope and it's been received as legitimate by the faithful. It is substantively the same teaching it's always been. Children are still the prime end of marriage. That hasn't changed. All that's changed is that another aspect of the truth about marriage has been drawn further into the light. A too-heavy pastoral emphasis on the duty to procreate has been balanced by a different pastoral emphasis.
Love and Responsibility, if I'm remembering rightly, includes a section on the great goods of NFP. Among them are a greater knowledge of and respect for the woman's body, a more conscious collaboration in the procreativity of the spousal union, a habit of communication between husband and wife, a habit of discipline and sacrifice in the conjugal relation, and the goods that come to parents and children both from having parents who are not exhausted and overwhelmed.
The Catholic couples who practice NFP consistently testify to its benefits.
Dec. 17 at 12:03pm | See in context
Another point: NFP is okay to use for a host of reasons. The catechism uses the term “just reasons.” HV used the term “serious reasons” and Popes before that used “grave” (ex.: “to embrace the matrimonial state, to use continually the faculty proper to such a state and lawful only therein, and, at the same time, to avoid its primary duty without a grave reason, would be a sin against the very nature of married life.” Pius XII) Again, I think the shift is monumental. If it is a great good, I’d like to understand how and why. Could you point to where JP II spoke or wrote of this?
Dec. 17 at 11:28am | See in context
It’s the different emphasis which is a cause of confusion: how could it be that, at one time, primacy was given to the procreative end, but later, procreation has been put on par with the good of the spouses? This is an expansion, which I can see from one angle, and yet how is it not also in contrast to what was taught as the primary end in the past? That's a monumental change in perspective, isn’t it, with far-reaching implications?
How do we know this is a valid development, consistent with Tradition, and not a rupture? Doesn't HV need to be read in light of past teachings of the same magisterial weight?
Dec. 17 at 11:28am | See in context
I'm sorry for all the typos. We haven't been able to figure out why the edit function isn't working.
Dec. 17 at 7:13am | See in context
Before new discoveries in modern science, the only licit means of posponing or avoiding childbirth was total abstinence (something very hard on a marriage.)
Before modern developments in philosophy and culture, including, for instance, the philosophy of Dietrich von Hildebrand, Catholic teaching laid very heavy stress on the duty of procreation; it tended (culturally at least) to neglect the role of love in marriage. In the modern period, we have been the beneficiaries of a deepening understanding of the unitive value of sex.
These two things (along with us) bring up sincere questions for the faithful.
Is it okay to use birth control in some circumstances? Is it okay to limit the number of children we have? etc.
The Church listens to these questions; she interrogates the experience of the faithful; she ponders anew, and she answers.
Is is not okay, ever, to use artificial birth control. It is okay to use NFP for a host of reasons, provided it used with due moral seriousness, prayerfully, and with a generous sense of what's owed to God, to one another, and to society.
JP II went farther, expressing at length the way NFP is a great good in marriage.
Dec. 16 at 5:18pm | See in context
Of course HV doesn't contradict early teaching! Rather, it expands and clarifies it.
Dec. 16 at 5:03pm | See in context
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