Only posts tagged with: St. Augustine | Display all
Jun. 30 at 9:56am
I want to continue our conversation about the “self-referential person”--the one who lights a lamp but then gets scared and hides it under a bushel, reluctant to go out into all the (contaminated) earth to preach the gospel.
We can agree there's a big differentce between fearful, self-imposed isolation and the legitimate effort to found new communities and develop a sense of identity for oursleves and our descendents.
That doesn't let us off the hook completely, though: we still have to discern--over and over--when and how to engage the culture and when and how to repudiate it. St.Augustine's speaks of the Israelites taking "gold out of Egypt"
--a metaphor for embracing whatever good is …continue reading
After denouncing contraception, HV gives the conditions for spacing births as “well-grounded reasons…arising from the physical or psychological condition of husband or wife, or from external circumstance.”
Holding it all together, I see every reason to conclude that NFP is a conditional practice and not an ongoing spiritual exercise unto itself for married couples.
Finally, the objection you raise with the questions about why the Church has not said more is a fallacy for a number of reasons, one of which is that there are many occurrences in the concrete life of Catholics which are not in keeping with what the Church has formally taught. That the Church has not especially spoken out against such an occurrence does not mean it does not exist and is not problematic. The many liturgical abuses and innovations in the liturgy after VII come to mind, as they were never intended by the reforms of the Council.
I think, in fact, that the Church has already said as much regarding child-bearing in her teachings thus far, as I have tried to show.
Dec. 19 at 1:11pm | See in context
That stands in contrast, I believe, to the approach of discerning family size beyond those “well-grounded” or “serious” reasons. The alternative is the decision to “prudently and generously…have more children”. It’s also a further definition of that abandonment to God that I see as intrinsic to the marital vow. HV goes on to say something that I think could well conflict with the NFP as a lifestyle approach: “They are not free to act as they choose in the service of transmitting life, as if it were wholly up to them to decide what is the right course to follow. The very nature of marriage and its use makes His will clear, while the constant teaching of the Church spells it out.”
Furthemore, HV says that “some people today raise the objection against this particular doctrine of the Church concerning the laws governing marriage, that human intelligence has both the right and responsibility to control those forces of irrational nature which come within its ambit and to direct them to aims beneficial to man.” It is significant that contraception is not the point of reference here. That comes separately in the lines that follow.
Dec. 19 at 1:11pm | See in context
Actually, what is most pressing in HV is the re-affirmation of the immorality and dangers of artificial birth control; a number of arguments for holding this position; and a call to obedience to this authoritative teaching. Along with this, there is the discussion of responsible parenthood with the consistent reference to the context of spacing births, especially in the section on pastoral directives. One can find expressions such as “the honest regulation of birth,” “the proper regulation of birth” and “the right and lawful ordering of birth.”
Having recourse to infertile periods is linked to there being “serious” or “well-grounded” reasons for “spacing births” or “controlling birth”. I see no evidence that recourse to infertile periods is a spiritual discipline unto itself, that is, apart from this purpose of spacing births, though the good fruits which can come from the practice are extolled.
Instead, what is apparent in HV is that the natural law itself provides its own answer to the spacing of births: “God has wisely ordered laws of nature and the incidence of fertility in such a way that successive births are already spaced through the inherent operation of these laws.”
Dec. 19 at 1:10pm | See in context
For a concrete example, you can search for “When NFP is ‘Too Hard’” by Gregory Popcak. I’m unable to link directly to the article as the version I found online is in Word format. The topic also came up recently on another well-known blog by a Catholic.
In fact, what I’ve been seeking throughout is to know what the Church actually does say about NFP, specifically in what context it is permissible.
The whole of HV is a response, most prominently, to modern man’s attempt to exert “control” in unprecedented ways. The document seeks to address this development, both doctrinally and pastorally, as it pertains to marriage and especially the transmission of human life. To listen to or to read some Catholics, it’s as if the Church has offered an unqualified endorsement of NFP, or proposed it as a pillar of marital spirituality. It is as if the document itself is centered on the merits of having recourse to infertile periods.
Dec. 19 at 1:10pm | See in context
If NFP were morally hazardous, wouldn't the Church say so? HV was promulgated more than 40 years ago. The Church has focused a lot of theological and pastoral attention on marriage, sexuality, and family life during those decades. If NFP were being as widely misused as traditionalists seem to think is, why wouldn't the Church have clarified? Why not say things like,
"Child-bearing is the default mode for Catholic marriages during the fertile years." Or, "Unless couples have a very serious reason for avoiding pregnancy, they have a duty not to avoid it." Or, "NFP is being used too frequently."
But she says nothing like this, does she?
Dec. 19 at 8:46am | See in context
By "reputable Catholics", I mean Catholics who have made known their commitment to orthodoxy and who have some public influence. In other words, Catholics who don't consider themselves bound by Church teaching don't count. Neither does a random person spouting off. I'm looking for you to offer a concrete example of a Catholic who publicly argues that NFP can be used for less than serious reasons. As I said, I don't know anyone who thinks this.
And of course it's not enough in a forum like this for you to just say you know of such; I'm challenging you to show it—to quote or link to a book or article arguing that Catholics don't need serious reasons to practice NFP.
(Please note that the Church nowhere says that NFP can't be used for any reason except to postpone childbirth. It can also be used as a spiritual discipline, like fasting, and it can be used in seeking childbirth.)
It seems to me, Patrick, that you don't like the teaching of the Church in this regard. It seems to me that you want it to be other than what it is. You seem to want the Church to say things she doesn't.
Dec. 19 at 8:41am | See in context
To me, the rationale for NFP has been subverted, and a subjectivist, somewhat modern tendency to ‘plan’ has crept in, when intrinsic to the very spirituality of the marriage vow and call from the Church to be open to life, to be “fruitful and multiply,” is a level of abandonment to God’s Providence—the assumption being that the ‘default’ stance of the married couple is such openness, though those with grave or serious or well-grounded reasons would be the exception, and then, for them, the question of the use of NFP is on the table. This differs from seeing NFP as itself a form of ongoing marrital spirituality.
I also think it’s ironic that some proponents of NFP who value it because of its recognition that we are fallen, concupiscent and yet called to the sacrifices that the practice demands, do not seem to guard against how our being fallen can even influence our ‘discernment’ of family size in the first place.
Dec. 18 at 12:52pm | See in context
Whether the Catholics are reputable or not is to beg the question I think, but they are somewhat well-known at least, and by virtue of their publishing and other communications on the matter, are at least potentially influential.
An example: a Catholic who considers NFP not primarily as a means of spacing children, but rather a broader spiritual exercise, one of the benefits of which is to help the couple prayerfully discern their family size.
That is to take the application of human intelligence to an activity in which a rational creature such as man is so closely associated with his Creator to another level, I think. It is to take the 'planning' into one's own hands, in a sense. The fact that it's done "prayerfully" is not necessarily of any consolation for there are many matters on which the Church is clear and that some Catholics have decided against the Church on, albeit, we're told, because of their prayer, their good faith, their conscience, etc.
To open up NFP wholesale as a matter always and everywhere of "prayer", without the more limiting context in the which the Church, in my understanding, spoke of it, is a fundamental difference.
Dec. 18 at 12:51pm | See in context
What has emerged, it seems, is a mindset among some Catholics that NFP can be used “indefinitely” without any further qualification, and so the initial context of grave or serious reasons (which would allow for that indefinite use) has been lost, which has led, in practice, to a distortion of that original teaching on the matter.
As I said above, I don't know anyone who thinks this. Can you support the claim with concrete examples? I mean with examples of reputable Catholics who think NFP can be used for less than serious reasons?
Dec. 18 at 11:08am | See in context
For, as I wrote earlier, at one time, the Church did speak in terms of “grave” or “serious” reasons. To be of such a mind, then, at least for at time, was not to be unlike the Church. Then, in HV, we see the use of “serious reasons” in one place and then, in another,
“If therefore there are well-grounded reasons for spacing births, arising from the physical or psychological condition of husband or wife, or from external circumstances…”.
I think the context in which NFP is permitted is important, and I am wondering if that context has changed from the pre-HV era to the post-HV era. It seems to me that the reasons were more clearly spelled out pre-HV than they were in HV and since. What has emerged, it seems, is a mindset among some Catholics that NFP can be used “indefinitely” without any further qualification, and so the initial context of grave or serious reasons (which would allow for that indefinite use) has been lost, which has led, in practice, to a distortion of that original teaching on the matter.
Dec. 18 at 10:46am | See in context
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