One of my favorite blogging priests is Fr. Z. Don’t ask me how to say his last name because I always get it wrong. “Zoo-hls-doorph” there you go; hey, it is much harder than it looks and probably still said it wrong. Every so often, he asks his readership what they heard at Mass over the weekend. Way back in 2001, when I first started reading Catholic blogs, two were daily reads: Mark Shea’s “Catholic and Enjoy It” and Amy Welborn’s site, “open book.” Ms. Welborn would also ask her readership what they heard in their homilies.
Well I would like to share some of the propositions that my pastor, Fr. Bob, shared with us. Fr. Bob is what I would consider a master homilist and liturgist. I have heard many homilies in my life. I have heard Fr. Scanlan preach it; Fr. Pivonka mesmerize his audience; Archbishop Gomez teach the Scriptures as a meditation at an education conference; Fr. Bramwell’s eight hundred pound gorilla analogy; Fr. Klak in his draculan Polish accent explain the Gospel using the Catechism and a spiritual work of a saint in the same homily. I have had the privilege of being present to hear some fantastic sermons and this past Sunday ranks up there. Our pastor quoted from the Responsorial Psalm:
And for the most part, this was the basis of his homily.
Just after Father said:
“In order to achieve this end of a better relationship through the physical aspect of it, some couples may choose to begin to use contraception, a topic much in today’s news, to allow this aspect of the relationship to blossom more freely.”
“God has created the marital act not only to bring a couple closer together, but also to bring forth new life. When the latter is interrupted, the act is left incomplete and falls short of what God intended. These methods also do not have a 100% effectiveness. When they fail, conception can happen, and the new life resulting destroyed by the artificial means used to prevent conception, often times without the couple even knowing what is going on. The woman also becomes a dumping ground for chemicals and foreign agents, which can cause health problems for her.”
In today’s culture, it takes courage and fortitude to stand in front of a packed house and go against the grain by speaking truth. His words reminded me that safe sex is not really safe nor is it sex. Artificial contraception can fail and so is not safe. Artificial contraception does not make sex supernatural, it makes it superficial; it makes it artificial sex. It is like saying, “I want to make fake love to my spouse.” Today’s culture offers this responsorial psalm:
“Your ways, O world, the devil, and pride of life, are hate and lies to those who keep your despair.”
So this fake sex is offered with the culture of deceit. The Catholic Church presents real sex as participating in the creative nature of the Trinity.
Many couples practice contraception for good reasons; like all sin, there is something good to be desired, in this case spousal union, but often the wrong means to that good goal is chosen. Contraception is that bad means. Or as Father put it, “Contraception’s goal does not make it the right means to attain a closer relationship.”
Like all good fathers, who don’t give a serpent when his children ask for a fish, Father Bob offered and challenged his parishioners to learn responsible parenthood, true spousal union, real sex and even proposed natural family planning.
“To help couples to love the whole person of their spouses and to respect God’s plan, Catholic researchers have developed natural family planning (NFP). This method does not depend on a calendar, but on observing certain physical signs in the woman to determine when she is fertile to aid a couple in their decision about bringing new life into the world. This method is as effective as artificial methods, but does it in a way that respects what God intended for the marital act. When coupled with Natural Procreative Technology, doctors can treat, not mask with a pill, the issues a woman may be having with her fertility.
I now ask couples here to have that mustard seed of faith, to take this homily home with you this week and discuss it as a couple. Some of you here are already practicing NFP. My prayer is that the occasional struggles you face are far outweighed by God’s grace and closeness as you try to live your married lives as Christ asks of you. Some here may be using contraception or have had a surgical procedure done to curtail fertility. Please take the opportunity this week to discuss if this is truly working for your marriage. Is this practice of contraception or surgery allowing Christ to fully enter your marriage to pour out His life, grace, and love in your life, which allows you to be the couple you and Christ wants you to become? If not, please know there is hope and forgiveness from Christ and a loving community to support you to more fully follow God’s plan for your marriage. Some here may be dating or even engaged to be married. Take time now to discuss this homily between yourselves, your family and friends, and the priest or deacon preparing you for marriage. Is NFP a way that Christ can enrich your lives and future marriage?”
So when asked what am I seeing at my parish, I am proud to say I am witnessing a pastor shepherd his flock away from the danger of our wives, mothers, and women being a “dumping ground for chemicals and foreign agents” and protecting our souls from the same fate.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.ignitumtoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/JTDTAT-Childrens-House-Copy-e1329964684276.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Jared Tomanek lives in the country of Texas with his wife Denise, a Southern Belle from Trinidad and Tobago, and his three children. He holds two graduate degrees from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, an MBA and Master of Science in Organizational Leadership, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Franciscan University of Steubenville. Having taught for five years in Catholic education, he now works in the construction industry in Victoria, TX. He is a parishioner of Holy Family of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus Parish in the Diocese of Victoria.[/author_info] [/author]