In our attempts to convince the world of the rightness and goodness of our message, we often forget to be completely honest about the difficulties on the path to holiness. We forget saints had very dark nights and arduous climbs while at times tangibly experiencing the immense joy of God. We often focus too much on the abstract and the realm of ideas without focusing on the complexities and practicalities of being Fallen human beings. The path of redemption is one of hope and joy, but it also comes with great challenges.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in his encyclical Spes Salvi states:
“Redemption is offered to us in the sense that we have been given hope, trustworthy hope, by virtue of which we can face our present: the present, even if it is arduous, can be lived and accepted if it leads towards a goal, if we can be sure of this goal, and if this goal is great enough to justify the effort of the journey.”
Natural Family Planning (NFP) can be one of those challenges for some couples.
We want to draw people away from contraception and a contraceptive mentality, which is a great good. Our hope is for people to begin to see the true plan for marriage that God has in mind for each couple. In a world of promiscuity, hook ups, divorce, adultery, and abortion our desire is to share with the world another way. It is a way of joy and it is found in an encounter with Jesus Christ through His Church.
This encounter which leads us ever deeper into the great mystery and love of Our Triune God makes tremendous demands of us. We work to meet those demands in love, but we are weak, fallen, sinful, tempted, and wage intense spiritual battles where demons await our fall. This isn’t an ordinary journey. The path to sainthood is the hardest thing we will ever do. It comes with sacrifice, losses, pain, illness, weakness, and eventually death. We experience all of these things while keeping our eyes fixed on Christ in constant hope. We have to keep getting back up over and over and over again. We fall for the same reasons time and time again. God asks us to get back up, to cling to the Sacraments, and to pray always. We are to stay close to Him, even in our failings. We are to cling to Him when what He asks of us is a great struggle and sacrifice.
We will have periods of great joy and peace, but it comes at a price. The Divine Gardener has His pruning shears at the ready always to cut away any part of us that is not producing brilliant roses. He cuts deep. In fact, He will cut us all of the way back to the ground, so that we can become the brilliant, beautiful, holy person He created us to be. It is this pruning that we live each and every day as we continue to progress spiritually. For many people, NFP is a part of the pruning process and at times it is a great sacrifice.
Read the rest over at Catholic Exchange.
One Reply to “Catholic Exchange: Being Honest About When NFP is a Cross”
Just wanted to say i am in a similar boat. We got married in our mid twenties and thought we’d easily pop out at least half a dozen. My body is devastated beyond repair after three giant boys. I am essentially crippled and having another would be insane, as my kids need me to be able to at least do the little i still can. That’s not even considering that i throw up from about week 6 until the baby’s born, i have arthritis, which goes nuts during pregnancy, and get so big it feels like the child is doing his own C-section from the inside. We’ve never used contraception either and get pregnant super easy. So, yeah, NFP. Thank God for it or I’d have 14 like my great grandmother and would be bedridden or maybe dead. It’s hard, but not as hard as having no recourse at all, nor as awful as contraception. I sometimes get a little jealous, like right now a friend is expecting her fifth, but that’s only when I’m lying down. Then i stand up and my guts fall out and i remember, “Oh. Right.”
On the other hand, my husband and i realized that the Church’s teaching on contraception is not proven by the peeps who drive up in the 15 passenger van. They’re regarded as either possessed of health and support the likes of which we can only fathom, or just recklessly having sex come what may. It’s for you and me where the rubber hits the road and it can be seen that NFP actually works, both physically and spiritually, psychologically, emotionally, etc. It’s a Cross, and it’s our only hope, as the Cross Itself is our only hope in everything. We are tormented by those who say, “why don’t you just get your tubes tied?” and those who don’t think we’re “Catholic enough” because we can fit our families into one car. So, ours is a somewhat hidden pain and hidden pursuit, but i thank you very much for keeping it real on your blog here.
I’m so sorry about your husband’s illness and all you are going through. Let’s both keep our eyes on the prize and offer up our sufferings and view them as a commodity of graces. Hard to remember in the midst of pain, but I’ll pray for you and please pray for me.