Home Forum General Discussion MARRIAGE & NFP

This topic contains 16 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Anastasia 2 years, 3 months ago.

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  • #5217

    Mike
    Participant

    This forum is to provide a place for response to the question of NFP and it’s appropriate place is marriage when brought up in blogs of a different topic. Rather than taking up the blog space with long discussions I think it would be better to link to the posting here, enter the response and enter the link back in the blog posting.

    #5218

    Mike
    Participant

    To Anastasia: From Nov. 01, 2014
    https://akacatholic.com/question/#comment-26742
    I believe that the “doctrine” of marriage relates to the teaching that the couple makes the marriage contract and that it is indissoluble. Your comment seems to imply that the principle of its primary purpose is to be included as part of the doctrine. If that is so, I do not think that “doctrine” in this case would be defined as part of the infallible teaching of the Church but, but its lesser definition as a teaching to be followed, in this case, on the duties of a sacramental marriage. Also, I hope the “only” in your statement, “primary purpose of procreation and education of children was not only to mindlessly populate the world”, was a typo.

    #5219

    Mike
    Participant

    From the Appendix of HUSBAND AND WIFE, by Fr. Paul Wickens
    – Q. Can periodic abstinence be misunderstood?
    – A. Certainly. A husband and wife may be too scrupulous and tend to consider the use of periodic abstinence as displeasing to God. However, if the proper conditions are fulfilled, couples are permitted, without pangs of conscience, to abstain periodically. (Again, couples should review the norms under which periodic abstinence is morally allowed and be sure they are fulfilling them all. Plus, one should refer to the list of Papal statements on page 85.).
    Granted there have been abuses of periodic abstinence, especially on the part of those who promote “Natural Family Planning,” who are, in some cases, it would seem, using this “natural” technique of periodic abstinence simply to limit their families for insufficient reasons. Yet the moral principle remains: Abusum non tollit usum—“The abuse does not take away the use.” In other words, the practice of periodic abstinence is sound, under the conditions stipulated on page 77; it does not become a morally illicit practice just because some couples abuse it and sin by using it wrongly because they ignore some of the prerequisite conditions for its use.

    #5221

    FrG
    Participant

    I believe that Anastasia has raised a critical issue for examination and discussion; namely, the primary end of marriage and the marital act being the procreation and education of children. I would add that primary means not only precedence, but also dominion. “Dominion” not in the pejorative sense of domination, but rather in the Catholic sense of hierarchy and authority. In this sense, Anastasia is correct that the teaching belongs to the infallible magisterium, not by solemn definition, but rather by constant teaching over the centuries since articulated by St. Augustine, and reaffirmed even by Pope Pius XII. But as I think Anastasia pointed out, Pope Pius XII made a strategic error in only proposing periodic continence as lawful under certain circumstances, without qualifying that the practice is not virtuous of itself. This opened the door to the unfortunate promotion of periodic continence as a virtue, beginning with Humanae Vitae and accelerated by the Magisterial support of the Theology of the Body. This, in turn, has resulted in terrible confusion in the modern Church, which finds herself compromised in the face of the ubiquitous use of artificial contraception and the growing acceptance of sodomitic lifestyles. We simply cannot argue effectively against the contraceptive mentality while also promoting barren loving among married couples.

    #5230

    Anastasia
    Participant

    Please see the comment in November 1st topic “One of the most important questions of our time”, in the number eight discussion. When I have more time I will post it here too.

    #6209

    FrG
    Participant

    There is an interesting debate occurring between Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J. and Prof. Michel Fauteux on whether contraception is objectively a greater evil than abortion (http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1351039?eng=y). During the course of the debate there was this exchange:

    MF: The omission of procreation (not contraception, which is always a moral evil) can sometimes be good, in cases in which it is dictated by responsible paternity. The omission of procreation is not always a moral evil.
    (JF: And I never said that it was).
    MF: For example, a couple that already has 12 children and could have another in a responsible way is not obliged in justice to have a thirteenth child. If this couple brings another child into the world, it will be through a form of heroic generosity. In this case, the fact of omitting to have a child would not be a moral evil, and certainly not a moral evil more serious than direct abortion, under the pretext that this omission would impede the existence of a human being for eternity.
    (JF: I agree entirely. And nothing I wrote suggests otherwise).
    MF: The omission of procreation through contraception must be excluded, according to Paul VI, but this does not mean that the omission of procreation is itself a moral evil, as we have now shown. On the contrary, it can be a moral evil not to omit procreation, in the case for example in which generating a new life would be irresponsible. Omitting the procreation of a new life can be very praiseworthy morally, even if contraception must be excluded as a means for reaching this end.
    (JF: Again, I agree entirely. Your comments are not “on the margin” of my letter. They are completely off the page).

    Although I am sympathetic to his opinion that artificial contraception can objectively be a greater evil than abortion, I do not think that Fr. Fessio should so easily concede the point that “Omitting the procreation of a new life can be very praiseworthy morally, even if contraception must be excluded as a means for reaching this end.” My first question is why is Professor Michel Fauteux mostly using an euphemism (“omitting procreation”) to describe the prevention/avoidance of children? Second question: prior to 1965, can any Magisterial authority or Church Father or Doctor be found who has upheld the use of abstinence in order to prevent the conception of children as a virtue? I suspect not. And I recall that it was Cardinal Ottaviani who intervened at the Second Vatican Council and affirmed: “I am not pleased with the statement in the text that married couples may determine the number of children they are to have. Never has this been heard of in the Church.”

    #6210

    Anastasia
    Participant

    This discussion between this Professor of philosophy and Theology and this priest is very strange and has false premises.

    First of all this modernistic error riden term “omitting procreation” clearly should be called into question. One cannot omit something that has not occured. One can omit the desire to procreate but one can never omit “procreation” before procreation has even happened. One can sin by lessening the chances of procreation through hypocritical NFP and sterilization and drugs. But even these methods of contraception don’t always omit completly the chance of actual procreation but only greatly lessen the possibility of conception. The only act that has no chance at conceiving a child is abstinence (aside from the perversion of IVF, embrio transfers and so on.Which are a grave sin nontheless but a diferent kind of assault against God’s plan and order of bringing life into the world through the conjugal act of a husband and wife).

    The priest and father of 13 have both conceded to wrong thinking.They are confusing one another with the error riden words “omitting procreation”. What exactly, pray tell, is this priest talking about when he says “omitting procreation without contraception”? I can only presume that he includes the hypocritical practise of NFP when NFP’s goal is to separate the primary purpose of procreation and education of children for God’s glory from the secondary purpose of unity during the conjugal act on the same level of the sinlessness with complete abstinence.This really is the crux of it. NFP is contraception and this is the first thing they need to understand and get right before they begin any discussion on sexual morals amd ethics.

    It is not clear what their beliefs are on NFP because they don’t actualy bring it up.However it is essential to the discussion to clarify this.They have misused the word procreation and they have not defined what “omitting procreation without contraception for responsible reasons” means. I can not help to conclude, given this priest’s modernist upbringing, that “omitting procreation without contraception for responsible reasons” means planning to have recourse exclusively to the infertile period during conjugal relations in order to avoid having children for grave reasons.If this is the case this priest needs reprogramming from his errors.
    Let me put it this way.Someone who aborts could have had sex in hopes of conceiving but for whatever sick reasons felt they had to,out of coersion, or genetic reasons decided to tragecally go through an abrtion. Not all abortions occur from sex that was trying to avoid conception.I agree that contraception is most certainly closely tied to the abortion mentality. This is an obvious conclusion. However some people say that abortion is used as a form of contraception. Although this could be argued that this is so because they are contra conception in their desires. It realy is not contraception it is murder. A child has already been conceived and is a known reality. The child who is about to be aborted is not some possibility awaiting to happen as it is for all for all sexual intercourse between a man and a woman in a lesser and greater degree.Contraceptors, NFPer’s included, are no different from those who take no precautions to lessen their chances of conception while desiring that conception not take place, in that they both desire no children from their sex act. One is just more careless in hiding the evidence of their contraceptive mentality. However they differ in that someone who aborts commits a second actual tragic mortal sin of murder. A contraceptor doesn’t necessarily follow through on an abortion when their desire to have no children failed through contraceptive methods failed.
    Abortion carries with it more sin in that it not only spits on God’s order and purpose for conjugal intercourse as does contraception but it adds to this sin of contraception through the murder of a child within a mothers womb due to it’s contraceptive desires.
    I would have to say that abortion is the “greater” sin in the sense that it adds on “more” sin because not only does abortion reject God’s order and plan for conjugal relations it murders an actual human being whereas although contraception during intercourse spits on God’s order and plan for conjugal relations it only has the possibility of killing a conceived child through failed methods of contraception, which by the way NFP does this too because of the risky timing of their planned conjugal unions during so called perceived times of infertility which can simetimes allow for conception to take place but not allow for proper implantation due to lack of sufficient hormones to continue the pregnancy due to their irregular and perceived infertile planned timing of their sexual relations.

    #6211

    FrG
    Participant

    Hello Anastasia,
    I think you are agreeing with Prof. Michel Fauteux against the position of Fr. Fessio, who holds that contraception can be objectively a greater evil than abortion, although you obviously disagree with both of them on the legitimacy of NFP. On the contrary, I tend to agree with Fr. Fessio inasmuch I think that to exist is always better than to never have existed, even if one’s life were to be violently cut short by the crime of abortion. At worst, such a soul would presumably live in a state of Limbo, a state of natural happiness, but perhaps not quite the Beatific Vision. Yet to never have existed, when otherwise God wills a soul to cross the threshold of existence, is the ultimate privation of a good that ought to be, which is the definition of evil.

    However, I agree that the terminology “omitting procreation” is problematic, both because it seems to hide the action taking place (the prevention/avoidance of children) and because of the premise that such action can be morally virtuous. If children are a blessing (the supreme gift of marriage), then preventing or avoiding them cannot be virtuous, whether it be child #1 in the family (like me), or child #23 (like St. Catherine of Siena).

    Thus, I think we are dealing with at least venial sin when either periodic continence or total continence is used solely to prevent/avoid children, even for serious reasons (as opposed to artificial contraception, which is always under the pain of mortal sin). Now, total continence can be used for other reasons; such as a form of mutual sacrifice or penance. And this is virtuous continence. Such would be the case with the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, who sought to preserve Mary’s virginity. Such is also the case with those who voluntarily choose the celibate life. In other words, there is a higher motivation to abstain from sexual relations, which also means that more children will not be conceived. (This, by the way, is another reason why Catholics must have larger families: not only to produce celibate vocations, but also to offset the loss of children that these celibates otherwise would have provided to the community.)

    This is why I asked in my previous post: Prior to 1965, can any Magisterial authority or Church Father or Doctor be found to support the notion that using abstinence for the sole purpose of preventing/avoiding children is a virtuous act? If I recall correctly, Pope Pius XII (in his Allocution to the Italian Midwives) affirmed that periodic continence can be permissible (lawful?) under certain circumstances, but he stopped short of upholding it as virtuous.
    Thanks for the discussion.

    #6212

    Anastasia
    Participant

    Dear Fr. G,
    I think I follow what it is you are trying to say but then again I am not so sure about some of your conclusions. To say that periodic continence,and I assume you mean this definition of it i.e. the separation of the primary purpose of marriage during conjugal relations from the secondary purpose of unity in order to avoid having children is only a venial sin I have to disagree. NFP is not only a thought but it is a planned act and even if it were only a thought or desire it still would be a sin just as those who look at a woman with lust commit adultery. I suppose one would have to say in what context and to what degree one practised this thought and desire to separate procreation from unity during the conjugal act. If one is not particularly wanting a child from the conjugal act but will nontheless accept the conception of the new child from this act versus one who will exclusively commit to only having conjugal relations during perceived times of infertility in order to avoid having children are not the same degree of sin at all. One is a weakness the other is a sin.That is why I would not agree with a blanket statement that periodic continence is only a vinial sin” i.e.that separating procreation from unity is only a venial sin. We realy should define our terms clearly.Periodic continence as I assume you are defining it is sinful because of its deliberate attempt and commitment to separate procreation from unity during conjugal relations in order to avoid having children. This separation is what is sinful and the degree to which one struggles with the desire to procreate during conjugal relations can be possibly called a venial sin when one’s degree of desiring children is very low but is however not calculating to have conjugal relations only during infertile periods in order to lessen their chances of conception and is prepared and willing to nontheless accept the children conceived. The reason I wish to be more exact on this is that your statement that periodic continence and I believe you even went so far as to say that complete abstinence for grave reasons is only venial.I disagree that periodic continence is venial. It is a grave sin. Complete abstinence for grave reasons is not even a venial sin because it does not separate procreation from unity during the conjugal act because there is no conjugal act going on.
    I agree that complete abstinence can be a venial sin when it lacks true grave reasons to abstain. However this sin is not the same type of sin as periodic continence because it does not separate procreation from unity during the conjugal act because ,like I said before there is no conjugal act going on.

    I think the weakness in this discussion lies in the weakinness of properly defining our terms. I need to also add that the “possible children” or “the children that should have been born” are other terms that need clarification also. Because we can never be sure if a conception would have always occured from these contraceptive initiatives.This of course does not excuse contraception’s guilt but the it brings up the question for me, “Is this the same as abortion?”
    I really would like to continue this discussion because it is so important to come to some sort of conclusion but I have to go. I’ll be back
    Looking forward to continuing the discussion.
    May our Lord continue to bless you in all you do.
    Anastasia

    #6213

    FrG
    Participant

    Dear Anastasia,
    For the sake of clarity, can we both agree that periodic continence is the exclusive use of sexual relations during the infertile times for the purpose of preventing/avoiding the conception of children?
    God bless you,
    FrG

    #6214

    Anastasia
    Participant

    Dear Fr.G,
    Yes we can agree on this defintion of periodic continence. If I may,I would like to ask if we can agree that periodic continence is therefore contraception?

    In the name of He who “will convince the world of sin and of justice and of judgment”many blessings to you,
    Anastasia

    #6215

    FrG
    Participant

    Hello Anastasia,
    Thank you for the timely blessing of the Paraclete from above!

    I would agree that periodic continence is contraceptive with the caveat that it must be clearly distinguished from artificial contraception.

    That is, since we agree that periodic continence is the exclusive use of sexual relations during the infertile times for the purpose of preventing/avoiding the conception of children, then can we also admit that total continence can also be used for the purpose of preventing/avoiding children?

    In both cases, the procreative end of marriage is being directly intentionally frustrated, not by frustrating the conjugal act nor by suppressing the generative faculty of one or both spouses, but by deliberately abstaining during the fertile times.

    Thus, I think that periodic continence and total-continence-for-the-purpose-of-avoiding-children differ only in degree, but not in kind. Whereas both periodic continence and total-continence-for-the-purpose-of-avoiding-children differ in kind from artificial contraception. Artificial contraception always involves grave matter since it always implies at least either the frustration of the conjugal act, or the suppression of the generative faculty of one or both spouses.

    One of the differences between periodic continence and total continence is that the former is always used for the purpose of preventing/avoiding children (even if only temporarily to optimize the chances of conception at a later date), while total continence may be used for other reasons than the prevention of children, as I mentioned in my previous post above. The other difference is that periodic continence could actually be described as incontinent, since it implies the use of marital relations beyond the need for procreation. But this incontinence (such as having sexual relations when the wife is known to be pregnant) within marriage was held by St. Augustine to be only venial sin at worst.

    It is admittedly a high standard for virtue that I am outlining, but our exemplar is God Himself Incarnate and His Immaculate Mother!

    God bless you,
    FrG

    #6216

    Anastasia
    Participant

    Dear Fr.G,
    There is a lot in this recent reply that needs to be addressed and I might not,in this one stting have the time to cover everything at once. I’ll begin nonetheless.

    You still have not agreed that periodic continence is contraception. You said that it is “contraceptive” but not contraception.For some people they might not see the distinction between the two words and it most certainly is necessary to clarify that we don’t agree on the definition of period continence because of this. It appears that you don’t wish to say that periodic continence when used to separate procreation from unity in order to avoid conception during conjugal is contraception because if it were said to be contraception it therefore would be a mortal sin. This is where the problem lies. To say that it is only a venial sin because Saint Agustine said that to have conjugal relations during known times of infertility can be only be a venial sin at worst is to not understand what he was talking about and therefor err in distinguishing the diferrence between having conjugal relations during known times of infertility with having conjugal relations exclusively during known times of infertility in order to separate procreation from unity for the purpose of avoiding conceptions. These two acts are fastly different. One is not putting conditions on the conjugal act while periodic continence is.i.e. “I will only have conjugal relations if I am guaranteed a child will or even will not come from it. It actually works both ways. One can be sinning by only having conjugal relations exclusively during fertile relations for a type of utilitarian use of the conception of children only (as do IVF and other methods that separate the unity of the couple from procreation). One might say, “but a couple engaging in conjugal intercourse is showing their unity solely because of the guarantee of the unitive effects of sex which they are engaging in.” Having conjugal relations is never a guarantee that unity is or will always occurre.Just like having conjugal relations is not always a guarantee that a child will be conceived from it.

    This distnction between having conjugal relations exclusively during known times of infertility with the intent to separate procreation from unity in order to avoid having children and having conjugal relations during known times of infertility due to the sexual urge must be acknowledged and understood as different. One is not contraception but the weakness of controling the sexual urge without the intent to supress or avoid conception and the other is contraception because it wants liberties to have sex on condition that there will be very little chance of procreation. One can say that “Look NFP is so less sinful because it makes an effort to control their sexual appetite during fertile periods because they abstain periodicaly from conjugal relations. This abstinence is not rooted however in virtue because it only wishes to avoid having conjugal relations during this time because of the awful high chance of bringing forth children.

    I am running out of time. Sorry. I will be back soon. I hope.
    Take care,
    Anastasia

    #6217

    Anastasia
    Participant

    Although complete abstinence can be used for the purpose of avoiding conception it is not the same as periodic continence in that complete abstinence doesn’t separate procreation from unity during conjugal relations because there are no conjugal relations going on. We have to agree first that periodic continence when defined as separating procreation from unity during the conjugal act is contraception. I need to add that even before we define periodic continence as such, we have to establish that the definition of contraception is the planned separation (defects of nature and aging are not considered planned separation of procreation from unity but acts of nature) of procreation from unity during conjugal relations in order to avoid having children whether in thought, word or deed and that this mindset is followed through and coupled with conjugal relations to fufill these intents of the thoughts,words or deeds. A Couple who has conjugal relations during known times of infertility due to defects of nature or due to advanced age or pregnancy will only be in mortal sin if they exclude and reject in their mind the acceptance that conjugal intercourse’s primary purpose is the procreation and education of children for God’s glory and that the secondary purpose of conjugal relations is the unity of the couple which is subordinate to the primary purpose of procreation and is at the service of this grand mission of procreation and is ordered to the exclusivity and fidelity and permanency of the married couple. This permanency and exclusivity is just and warranted because of the grand and serious mission of bringing souls into the world to be educated for God’s glory and because of the sacrificiality of the act particularly on the woman’s part and for the abity of the children to know, love and serve God and witness truth because marriage between one man and one woman is instituted by God and reflects Christ and his one Bride our most holy Mother Church.

    This teaching of the hierarchy of the purposes of marriage and conjugal intercourse-which is what distinguishes marriage from all other human relations- is desperately needed today for these modern day confused couples about to get married and especially for those already married couples who have been infected with these false modern teachings of NFP on sexual morality and marriage.

    One might say,”Come on, most people don’t enter marriage for the lofty mission of procreation and education of children for God’s glory.” And I would have to agree. This doesn’t mean that they can’t get married. Marriage is a school and with the help due To our Lord’s divine mercy by making marriage a sacrament in order to help us on the path of sanctification with special sacramental graces they should be able,with the couple’s cooperation,to graduate the school of marriage with flying colors and discover the meaning and purpose of marriage.But they will be absolutely doomed if we continue to feed them and encourage their already fallen nature with poison on this destructive path in false teachings on marriage which is rooted in the redefinition of marriage through NFP and its separation of procreation from unity during conjugal relations.Most couples start off incredibly handicapped in understanding the theology of marriage. Is there no hope for them? Of course there is some hope but they must be taught and or retaught by our Church to know and respect and understand God’s laws against contraception due to the hierarchy of purposes which can never be saparated or independent of one another because each purpose is at the service of the higher purpose of procreation and education of children for God’s glory and these laws have been instituted by God who is the author of marriage.

    Complete abstinence can be considered “against conception” but it is not contraception in the sense of the meaning of contraception, as we should agree its meaning is the separation of procreation from unity during conjugal relations We need to establish the limits of the defintion of contraception in order to not confuse or mislead the reader on the term “complete abstinence” which is not considered contraception under the defintion of contraception that we should establish as the separation of procreation from unity during conjugal realations as the correct defintion.

    We cannot say that the religious or faithful chaste single people are contracepting. They are activily choosing not to have sexual relations in order to avoid having children for a higher noble purpose i.e the salvation of souls and to respect God’s laws on marriage and purity.When complete abstinence is used to avoid contraception for a higher purpose such as virginity and purity and God’s laws on no sexual relations outside of marriage and when complete abstinence is used for the celibate priesthood who configures Christ as the exclusive spouse of His one Bride the Church for the salvation of souls and when complete abstinence is used by married couples for noble reasons of prayer or avoiding conception for sincere grave reasons while respecting God’s law of not separating procreation fron unity during conjugal relations because they have renounced all conjugal relations in order to respect natural and divine law we cannot be so bold as to say they are contracepting.

    We all know that married fertile couples can abuse the use of complete abstinence for selfish reasons and then this would be a sin of selfishes, greed and lack of charity when it deprives the other spouse of his/her right to the marital act when he/she desires children and unity and there is actualy no sufficient reason to abstain. One must not think that an old age couple is not immune to impurity or sin either during their conjugal unions.

    Complete abstinence is not always easy for all those in marriage who have sincere noble reasons to do so. However there are couples who are blessed with a peace and freedom during those times and for those who stuggle with complete abstinence we have the sacrament of marriage and confession with its many blessings and graces that help us in our quest to live in purity, truth and charity with our spouse and children.

    #6218

    FrG
    Participant

    Dear Anastasia,
    We may be at an impasse, if we cannot agree on a definition for periodic continence. I offered one that attempts to accurately describe the nature of the act of periodic continence: the exclusive use of sexual relations during the infertile times for the purpose of preventing/avoiding (the conception of) children. I suspect that most NFP promoters would agree with this definition, although they would probably insist on the word “avoiding” rather than “preventing”. However, I don’t think that most NFP promoters would agree with your definition: “having conjugal relations exclusively during known times of infertility in order to separate procreation from unity for the purpose of avoiding conceptions”. On the contrary, most promoters of NFP will defend it on the basis of the fact that periodic continence does not separate the procreative end from the unitive end of sexual intercourse.

    Yet, I am sympathetic with your point of view because I too have struggled with understanding the deficient nature of periodic continence. My error was this: to fail to recognize that periodic continence is contraceptive not with respect to the act of sexual intercourse, but with respect to the procreative end of marriage. In other words, the word “contraceptive” or “contraception” has to do with the direct intention. Therefore, if a married couple abstains completely with the direct intention of preventing/avoiding the conception of children, then their sexual abstinence is contraceptive. On the other hand, if a married couple abstains completely for ascetical reasons, then the prevention of children is not directly intended and their abstinence is not contraceptive. In both cases children are prevented, but only the case where children are directly prevented is properly described as contraception.

    Analogous to this scenario is the case where one of the spouses is rendered infertile due to the removal of some pathological reproductive organ. The person has been sterilized, but the sterilization was not contraceptive because the direct intention was to remove the danger to his/her health, rather than the direct intention of preventing children.

    So abstinence for the purpose of preventing/avoiding children is contraceptive, whether it’s a little (periodic continence) or a lot (total continence), but it can be at least venially sinful… and a very light sin at that, depending on the circumstances involved.

    Please note too that if a couple find themselves in a truly serious situation (such as the case when pregnancy could be a danger to the mother), then they can still choose to abstain for a reason other than preventing children… “We have mutually decided to abstain from sexual relations for 10 years out of love for God and in reparation for sins against chastity.” In such a case, their abstinence would not be contraceptive, yet children would not be conceived. However, the couple could not say the same thing about periodic continence, since the use of the periodic continence necessarily betrays the contraceptive intention (while it is being used).

    But it is very important to recognize the moral difference between artificial contraception (which is always grave matter of mortal sin) and periodic continence (which can be only venial sin). If you blur that distinction, then you risk diminishing the gravity of sins against marital chastity.

    St. Monica, pray for us!
    FrG

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