Homiletic & Pastoral Review,  Humanae Vitae,  NFP

Humanae Vitae and the Law of Gradualism

Three years ago Kristina and I were really struggling with NFP. At the time we were married for six years and dealing with a surprise pregnancy, anxiety/depression, and the real life struggles of having four kids under five years old. This was after learning three different methods of NFP, having four NFP instructors, and seeing a NaPro doctor. All this took its toll on our marriage and our faith.

Our own struggles opened up conversations with many other couples in similar, and often more difficult, situations who were absolutely drowning as they attempted to follow the Church’s teaching about family planning.

All of this caused bitterness towards the Church’s teaching to grow in my heart. The Church’s teaching on contraception felt like a law imposed from on high without any grasp of the real suffering flesh and blood people were going through to try and live it out. This also led to bitterness towards God. How could he allow his Church to do this to people?

But God is always faithful. His grace kept that bitterness from overwhelming me. Particularly through our Blessed Mother and Pope Francis, the Lord broke into my life and gave me what I needed at the time I needed it to keep on with the struggle and stay in the Church.

Through this experience, the Lord purified my heart of the judgement I had often felt towards anyone who struggled with the Church’s teaching. He also lit a flame of desire to find solutions for couples who are suffering through similar things. So that’s what I did.

This article – The Sweetness of the Yoke of Christ – is the fruit of a lot of grace, personal experience, prayer, and research. Of all the things I’ve written, this one is the closest to my heart because it is part of the good that God promised he would bring from my suffering.

Please read and share it with couples who you know are struggling and with instructors and ministers who work with those couples. I believe the pastoral solutions I’ve presented can help real people in the midst of very real suffering.

Read it over at Homiletic & Pastoral Review.

[Image credit:?Jude Beck?on?Unsplash

Paul Fahey?is a husband, father of four, and?professional lay person.?He writes for Where Peter Is and Diocesan.

One Comment

  • Susan Schudt

    I just read this article at Homiletic & Pastoral Review. To all of it I say “YES!” I do not think at all that you are close to subjectivism, as one person commented, and as many others implied.

    One of your statements that resonates with me:

    “I believe there is a lot of confusion about this teaching because I regularly hear pastors and teachers conflate grave matter with mortal sin. In my experience, these teachers focus so much on defending the objective evil of sexual immorality from our relativistic culture that they explicitly or implicitly communicate that every violation of the Church’s sexual teaching is a mortal sin.”

    Absolutely. Every time a priest brings up mortal sin I cringe on the inside. Serious matter, grave matter — Yes, teach us.

    No one except God knows our culpability. We don’t even know it.

    We need the moral law. Yes, we need to know what is serious matter. To say someone has committed a mortal sin is a judgement of someone’s soul that only God is able to make. Yes, more confession, Yes, more Eucharist. Tell people about the grace of the Sacraments, and the grace of the marital embrace. Tell people about the open, welcoming arms of God to sinners. Help them to not be afraid of approaching Jesus in the Sacraments. And then as a priest, and as a pastoral minister, invite, invite, invite! And, of course, if you invite, provide opportunities. The truth that the arms of Christ are open to us the most important knowledge that we need as sinners. These open arms are embodied in the priest providing the Sacraments. So often people feel like they are burdening priests when they want to go to confession! The faithful should never feel this way! This is like a child feeling like a burden because they are asking for what they need.

    We often hear about how St. John Vianney is the patron saint of priests. Yet we still have one hour for confession per week in most parishes. (How long was SJV in the confessional each week?). Jesus fulfilled the law by His very Presence. He fulfills the law in us by His very Presence, not through doctrine and preaching about mortal sin that is not followed up by invitation and opportunities for people to know His Love. The the active, joyful faith that Pope Francis wants us to cultivate is the faith of a sinner that approaches Jesus. Sinners are redeemed, moment by moment in the Church, through repentance and reception of the grace to “sin no more.”

    Thank you for your beautiful article.

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