NFP’s Legitimacy

Why is it that every time your writers praise natural family planning (NFP), someone writes in to scold them? While Don Murray (Letters to the Editor, May 6) is obviously sincere in his concerns, it seems to me that his attitude unconsciously reflects that of the dissenters to Humanae Vitae, who, in effect, tell women, “You have two choices: You can take the pill and be a modern, liberated woman who controls her own fertility. Or you can be a ‘good Catholic wife’ and just hope your husband is considerate enough to grant you a decent interval between pregnancies.”
Yes, that’s a caricature of HV, but it led many to reject the Church’s teaching.
However, Pope Paul VI did point out a third course, when he encouraged medical researchers to perfect what was then known as “the rhythm method.” The result is NFP, which — especially when accompanied by breastfeeding — allows births to be naturally spaced at two- to three-year intervals. Isn’t protecting a mother’s health a “serious” enough reason to do this?
Just because a woman is physically capable of conceiving every 11 months doesn’t mean it’s “the will of God” that she should.
So, should NFP “be popularized and taught as a legitimate practice for everyone”? Absolutely. Teaching all couples to understand and respect one another’s bodies and fertility strengthens their marriage and gives them the strongest possible defense against the temptations of the contraceptive culture. Cooperating as equals, they use God’s gift of reason to procreate as he intends them to. And I for one see no reason not to trust a couple committed to NFP to be able to discern when to use it.

Anne G. Burns
Cos Cob, Connecticut


‘A Great Opportunity’

Regarding “SSPX-Vatican Rift Nearing an End?” (Vatican, May 6 issue) and “Bishops on Faith” (In Brief, May 6):
It seems to me that there is a connection between the two.
I have always had a certain empathy for SSPX, because, while I firmly believe the teaching of Vatican II, in practice it has suffered a lot of misinterpretation in many of our Catholic schools and universities and in our parishes over the years.
Some people who have left the Catholic Church have done so because of irregularities seen in the celebration of the Mass; others do so because they think the Church should change its teachings.
In any case, it all boils down to ignorance in matters of both “faith and morals” and/or infidelity to the teaching magisterium of the Church.
Hopefully, the New Evangelization that both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have called for and the Year of Faith that begins this coming October will open wide our hearts to the Lord Jesus and be an occasion for the enlightening of our minds and the strengthening of our wills.
Indeed, we cannot separate our love for the Lord Jesus from the teaching of the Church: “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me; and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me” (Luke 10:16).
Study of the Catechism — which addresses matters of both faith and morals — is sorely needed these days. In “Bishops on Faith,” it seems, to me, that Archbishop José Gomez summarizes all of the above this way: The Year of Faith “will be a great opportunity for us Catholics to reflect upon our faith, to try to understand better our faith, because in the end the most important issue we have in our times in the Church is education in the faith.”

Pamela T. Haines
St. Petersburg, Florida

Wayward Sisters

“Reform of Sisters Group Under Way” (page one, May 6 issue) was most interesting.
It appears the Leadership Conference of Women Religious sisters have lost sight of their Catholic mission.
The religious orders should review the guidelines set up by their founding religious. I am reading Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict about the Rule of St. Benedict. Prayer, work and obedience have been priorities for the Benedictine Order from the very beginning and were under the authority of the Pope — and this focus has not changed. Have the religious sisters forgotten the reason they are in existence?
I pray that God will send the Holy Spirit to help the sisters return to the fold. When Jesus’ messages turned people off, Jesus did not send the apostles after them with a watered-down message to get them to come back.
God’s message is provided through the Pope, through the teachings of the Catholic Church. The sisters have a choice: to follow God’s message or to excuse themselves. But, most of all, do not use the Catholic Church to give the wrong message.
The LCWR cannot pick and choose what they will believe. “Pride goeth before the fall.”

M. Zachman
Albertville, Minnesota

From Our Heart

The conflicts between civil and religious authorities are a constant in the Church.
I am astonished that a Cistercian monk may feel qualified to get involved in political decisions (Letters to the Editor, June 17 issue).
Jesus refused to be “a judge or arbitrator” on economic matters, and St. Paul in the Epistle to Philemon says, “I did not want to do anything without thy counsel, in order that thy kindness might not be as it were of necessity, but voluntary.”
Whatever is forced destroys merit, and we are supposed to act properly from our hearts and not by force.

Raul Alessandri
Davidsonville, Maryland

Culture of Virtue

Thank you for your article “Here Comes the Catholic Bride” (Culture of Life, April 22 issue).
At a time when even modest photo art can be hard to find, your publication strives to promote modesty in picture and in writing. For, even if the bride is a “good Catholic girl,” her wedding dress sends a mixed message when the white says “pure” while the fashion says “not!”
Referring to the prevalence of cohabitating couples, one might say that having a strapless wedding dress, for example, is better than having no wedding at all.
Certainly we do not want to discourage couples in their wedding preparation, but, rather, to edify them by our own consistency in following Pure Fashion modesty guidelines that are not only for teens.
In the tale of “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” it is a simple child who cries out that the new clothes are actually no clothes. While the story might seem like an exaggeration here, it can still serve to open our eyes to just how far things can go if we do not honestly face pop culture.
I believe we can all learn something from the dress code at St. Peter’s Basilica. Thank you for promoting the culture of virtue. Mother Most Pure, pray for us.

Beth Waller
Maple Grove, Minnesota

Pray the Rosary!

I really enjoyed the article about the miracle for Baby James (“Sacred Heart Miracle,” June 3 issue).
What was especially striking was the number of Rosaries being prayed for him.
We are well aware of the power of the Rosary, as exemplified by the Baby James miracle, along with countless others, and the desirability of the Rosary, as requested by the Blessed Mother at Fatima and elsewhere.
Should we not be pleading for Catholics all over America to be praying the Rosary for our Church and our country during this time of persecution?
The Fortnight for Freedom is a wonderful idea, but is it enough — when we look at not only this direct attack on our beloved Church, but also the serious lapse of moral values in our society?
I long to see the day when we have large groups of Catholics praying the Rosary in every parish and families praying the Rosary in every Catholic home.
Since I have not heard the bishops calling for the Rosary in our parishes, are there enough laypeople to appeal to their pastors and priests to encourage a widespread effort to follow the Blessed Mother’s desires? The results would surely be astounding.

Marcia E. Pilsner
Seaford, New York

A Rosary a Day

Regarding the editorial “National Character Test” (June 17 issue), I want to say that, as a layperson who is also a home-schooling mother of three sons, two with autistic symptoms, I am doing something very positive and effective against the HHS mandate and the upcoming elections.
Do you remember learning about the Battle of Lepanto, when the Christians were fighting an evil that seemed insurmountable? On the morning of Oct. 7, the day of a great and decisive battle, the Holy Father went to the cathedral to pray the Rosary with some of the good people who could not fight the battle — and the battle was won. And for that, now we have the wonderful feast of the Holy Rosary.
If you are already praying a Rosary a day, all you need do is add those intentions to the ones you already have. This battle here in America will not be won by lawsuits alone, but with Rosaries prayed every day to support the efforts of the good cardinals, bishops, people, universities and institutes who are going out there to do battle for religious liberty.

Jane Jones
via email

Perpetuating Scandal

Pertinent to “Here Come the Graduates … and Speakers” (Education, May 20 issue):
Based upon Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s comments, Baptist friends of ours assumed the Catholic Church was okay with “gay marriage.”
Even many Catholics do not know what the Church teaches on grave issues. Why? The “average Joe” Catholic does not hear these teachings from the pulpit. Thus, the media and graduation speakers will form our graduates’ minds and consciences.
The Catholic Church does not have to be made illegal to remove the Church’s influence. Just make “legal” what is contrary to Catholic teachings. The law is a great teacher. Laws requiring all adoption agencies to place children with same-sex couples, HHS mandates, fetal stem-cell research and “gay marriage” are just the beginning.
How about a well-placed “Judas” or two, like a “Catholic” HHS secretary. Until those causing grave public scandal are actually publicly reprimanded, the scandals will continue and the laws they pass and speeches they give will continue to teach our youth.
All authority comes from God; therefore, those in authority will have a supernatural effect on all they oversee, for good or evil. Influential American Catholics in leadership positions are scandalizing impressionable and un-catechized university “little ones” and leading them down the wrong road.
The Catholic Church is infallible in its teachings on faith and morals. However, the execution, teaching and implementation of those teachings is not infallible (recent sex scandal). I hope the scandal caused by “Catholics” supporting the HHS mandate and “gay marriage” will be better handled than past scandals.

Joe Marincel
Flower Mound, Texas