I'm greatly relieved to learn that Christina Watkins (Letters, Jan. 9-15) is aware that spacing births two to three years apart usually requires a combination of breast feeding and natural family planning (NFP). However, her original letter, at least as printed (Nov. 7-13), contained only a vague reference to “what nature provides,” giving the misleading impression that this “natural” interval can be achieved without any conscious effort or planning by the couple.

Moreover, I doubt that too-frequent conception can be blamed on “the advent of baby formula.” Over the centuries, too many women were told to accept their husbands' sexual demands as “the will of God,” regardless of the consequences for their own health. My mother's great-grandfather (1809-1855) fathered 15 children during 24 years of marriage; and my father's mother, who bore five sons in eight years, had some harsh things to say about “those brutes of husbands who make their wives have a baby every year.” Pope Paul VI encouraged the development of better natural methods because he understood this, and sympathized with the large numbers of devout Christian women who were turning to birth control out of desperation.

Doubtless some users of NFP are motivated by selfishness — but isn’t this a matter between them and their confessors? In my opinion, the decision to renounce artificial contraception and use natural methods will, in and of itself, foster respect for life and a more open attitude toward children. So I agree with Father Serafini (Letters, Nov. 28-Dec. 4) that couples who are “doing their level best to live by the teachings of Jesus Christ and his Church” should be encouraged rather than criticized — even if they don’t produce as many children as Ms. Watkins thinks they should.

Anne G. Burns Cos Cob, Connecticut

We Are Light

Thank you, Mr. George Sim Johnston, for your excellent column “Time Missed the Story of the Millennium” (Jan. 23-29). One thing has not changed since the word “Catholic” was first uttered: Roman Catholicism is not mainstream.

Today, as the “Culture of Death” rears its ugly head in the form of riches, honor and pride, the humble roots of Jesus Christ, namely poverty opposed to riches, scorn or contempt, opposed to worldly honor, and humility opposed to pride are tossed upon the heap labeled, “contempt prior to investigation.”

As a member of St. Timothy's Catholic Community in Arizona, I congratulate you for stepping into the truth and claiming the brilliance that is the Church. As the Roman Catholic Church sometimes, we have forgotten that we are a great light; we do not have to try to be a light, we already are a light.

Mark Schwietz

Mesa, Arizona