By David R. Hentges
The Catholic Sun
With the backdrop of a culture widely in sexual ruins, dozens of faithful married couples chose to spend their Saturday afternoon at the Diocesan Pastoral Center Dec. 1 for an NFP Day of Renewal. The day was the culmination of a five-part “Shepherd Series” presented in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the promulgation of “Humanae Vitae,” the Pope St. Paul VI’s encyclical on the regulation of birth.
With humor and compassion, Steve and Becky Greene focused their keynote on the challenges and blessings of embracing couple fertility, specifically regarding God’s call to be both “generous and responsible” in living out the Church’s teaching for married love.
Together the Greenes conveyed the general fear of fertility in society in contrast with NFP, which is empowering, liberating and provides a profound experience of “God’s breath” in life and marital love. In contrast, the peddlers of contraception capitalize on fear with products that impair the natural and are contrary to God’s will, they said.
A cradle Catholic, Steve is director of the diocesan Kino Catechetical Institute, while Becky, a former agnostic feminist, now blogs, writes and speaks about authentic feminism, the vocation of motherhood and her conversion story. Together, they host “The Catholic Conversation” radio show on AM 1310 Immaculate Heart Radio and podcast channels.
The Greenes also emphasized how NFP helps foster conversation (prayer) with God and with each other in discerning marital and family matters. At this time of our life, they asked rhetorically, “are we being called to partner with God to incarnate our love again?” They encouraged the couples to acknowledge Christ the King for the good of their marriage, family and fertility.
Breakout sessions looked at NFP during breastfeeding and the pre-menopause years while others offered infertility support and chart reviews. A question-and-answer session with a panel of NFP-only healthcare professionals followed.
Among young couples in attendance were Ryan and Jennifer McCann who said the event helped them grow in understanding about true love in marriage. Jennifer, who was raised Lutheran before becoming Catholic, joked that her initial reaction when informed that they would have to take a class about sexuality, was asking surprisingly, “What! I’m to take my temperature daily?”
Fr. Charlie Goraieb, parochial vicar of St. Louis the King Parish in Glendale, spoke to “The Culture of Life: A Choice and a Blessing” and said he has seen countless people adopt that viewpoint as they discover the great news about NFP, resulting in countless conversions.
“Humanae Vitae” was at “ground zero of the sexual revolution” Fr. Goraieb said, and asked attendees to imagine how different the world would be if Church members and society had fully abided by the teaching. While appropriate abstinence seems to terrify so many in today’s culture, it is actually a “way to victory,” he affirmed.
Since suffering in life is unavoidable, the question is, which type of suffering do we choose? There’s suffering of a “violence to the body,” distrust, fights about sex and increased probability of divorce stemming from artificial contraception, Fr. Goraieb said, or there’s NFP suffering, which tends to be a holy type of cross — sacrificial love. “The true nature of love” he said, does not want to sin and cause separation from God.
The priest encouraged NFP couples to boldly share about the blessings of their love and great value of children. It’s a crucial form of evangelization, Fr. Goraieb said, adding that NFP affords couples “monthly mini-honeymoons.”
“Humanae Vitae” and Natural Family Planning are indeed counter-cultural, but, Fr. Goraieb assured, God has called His people in a real sense to be “peculiar.”