October 7, 2008


So, I've been thinking a lot about NFP (Natural Family Planning) lately and I've realized that I do this thing where I assume everyone who is Catholic and under the age of 30 practices NFP. It can be a struggle for me to not have a contraceptive mentality at times, and so I'm wondering if I'm alone or not. I put a little poll on the side of this blog and I would appreciate it if you would take a minute to answer.

Please select all that apply when you're voting.



  1. so what exactly does "I'm a product of newman ministry" mean?

  2. Well, it means that much of your formation came from Newman ministry. It's another way of saying, "I was active at my college's Newman Center. I did more than Sunday Mass and one Koinonia. Maybe I was in Bible Study and went to FOCUS Conference. Maybe I was on Newman Board. Maybe I didn't LIVE at Newman, but I did hang out there more than once."

    You could have gone to Catholic school, too, but Theology of the Body isn't covered in Catholic high school the same way it's covered at Newman (at least as I've encountered).

    You could come from a strong Catholic family and received a great formation from your parents.

    Or you could have not really practiced your faith very faithfully but after your college years at Newman you are now very devout.

    Does that make sense?

  3. meaning you obviously believe in the church's teaching and follow nfp since you had such a strong foundation in the faith? I'm just curious, because you can only vote for one, but we are newman people (obviously) and use nfp, so have two answers. :)

    but, its interesting that you just wrote this post, because i was just talking to some younger, newer catholic nfp-using couples. we were discussing just that - that we think we use nfp too much as a contraceptive. but, im not really sure how to deal with that, because right now we're young and not 'trying' to have babies - God has just given us two without having to use nfp to 'plan' babies ourselves. and, at this point in our lives, we are trying to 'wait' to have another child. even if i wasnt in school, because i have such nasty pregnancies (throwing up and feeling nautous everyday for 5-6 months) my body and my emotions cannot take having two children so close together again (and for us, thats a good 'reason' to 'wait' on having another baby....btw, reasons to 'wait' = a whole different topic that i'm suggesting we not even try to delve into right now) maybe this is too much info, but i just find it a very interesting topic with a fine line somewhere....we are just trying to find out where that line is. :)

  4. Actually, you should be able to click on all that apply. I'll double check that, though.

    I agree - it is such a fine line! I wish priests preached on this more! Right now I really do not want to get pregnant again because of how bad my "baby blues" were. I could barely function some days. But I don't know if I'm supposed to "trust in the Lord" and if I'm just being scared. Then there's the whole money issue. We're already living paycheck to paycheck, barely staying out of credit card debt. We still owe our midwife for the last birth - we really can't do a whole new bunch of bills. But again, am I just scared and not trusting?!

    Thank you for engaging in this discussion, Veronica!

  5. We're in the same boat as you guys. It is definitely a fine line. I found myself being worried that we might become pregnant, instead of happy about the possibility. I had bad "baby blues" also and didn't feel like myself until Elie was a year old. Plus, our current financial situation made us feel guilty about the prospect of becoming pregnant. Sometimes I'd even think it would be my "fault" if we got pregnant. Or when my cycle would become irregular, I would resent my fertility.

    God gave us the gift of prudence and reason. We have to use those in our discernment, and that includes considering our emotional/mental state. I think I heard that from those Christopher West Theology of the Body CDs. Sometimes during my more difficult times, it helped being around or talking to other pro-life women. My NFP practitioner has always been so supportive, and so inspiring. Her joy always knocks that contraceptive tone out of me.

    Veronica, I was telling Paul the other day that you guys are such an inspiration. I know it's hard with two young kids, but your witness is beautiful.

    And God rewarded you with a van, a promotion, and a house! ;) I kid, I kid.

  6. For those concerned about pregnancy, a free 100 page NFP manual and free charts are available at www.nfpandmore.org. All the fertility signs and rules are taught including God's plan for spacing babies through breastfeeding (The Seven Standards). We also review learner's charts. Ample articles at this site support Church teaching. Sheila, NFP International volunteer

  7. Bonnie-I love you-but I don't think it's fair that the poll is only open to Catholics. So I shall make my own comment poll:
    I am married-check. (obviously I cannot check in the comment)
    I practice nfp-check.
    I practice nfp for spiritual reasons-check.
    I practice nfp for other reasons-check.
    I struggle with contraceptive mentality-not sure what you mean, will remain unchecked.
    I am a newman center person-unchecked.
    I don't know what you mean about the struggle. I have lots of feelings about nfp but I don't know about the struggling part. I think it's weird to know what days I could get pregnant. When I finish ovulating, I get a little sad every month. (We aren't trying for a little one just yet.)
    Anyway, I just wanted to add my two cents as a non-Catholic. :)
    It is definitely an aspect of the Catholic faith with which I connect.

  8. Mary, Thanks for your response. However, the reason I had it only for Roman Catholics is because NFP is a Church teaching. If you're Roman Catholic, married and receiving the Eucharist you should NOT be contracepting. To my knowledge, the Roman Catholic Church is the only Christian Church that requires its flock to practice NFP. So it was not to be exclusive, but based on a curiousity of how many of my fellow Catholics embrace Church teaching.

    Or in other words, It's a Catholic thing, you wouldn't understand.
    ;) jk

  9. I know this is a catholic thing and that I don't need to understand. It's probably none of my business, but I'm really confused by this. If the church advocates this NFP system, why do you feel guilty about having a "contraceptive mindset"? Doesn't the name of the system imply that you are meant to use it to plan your family? I don't understand why the system is in place at all if you aren't supposed to have a "contraceptive mindset." Why not just ignore all your biological signs, go about your business, and have babies as they come? If the church says NFP is okay, why do you feel conflicted about planning your family? Feel free to ignore this inquiry. Again, I know I don't need to grasp this. I guess I'm just curious.

    Also, I responded to the survey. I just didn't click the roman catholic option. Sorry if I messed up your results!

  10. Hi Bonnie!

    I'm not sure what you mean when you say that you struggle not to "have a contraceptive mentality at times". I'm a Catholic NFP user. (I'm actually getting trained to teach the sympto-thermal method currently.) I'm also almost finished with my masters in theology and hope to continue on to work on a Ph.D. in moral theology, so I hope I have something meaningful to share with you about this topic.

    There seems to be a misunderstanding among some people that NFP can be used with a "contraceptive mentality", making it just as wrong as using contraception. However, this just isn't true. Please bear with me on this explanation... (You probably know a lot of this, but I just want to be clear and systematic in what I'm saying.)

    - True love involves the disinterested gift of self to the other. This mutual self-gift is the unitive meaning, and the openness outward to an other (to life, the third, the child) is the procreative meaning. - "Procreative" does not mean that a child will/should result from your union, or even that a couple should intend for a child to result. It simply means uniting in such a way that there is an opening outward beyond the couple.
    - Each and every conjugal act has its own inherent dignity and must retain both the unitive and procreative meanings in order to be a marital act; otherwise, it becomes a different kind of act.
    - Contraception is not wrong because it is artificial; it is wrong because it interferes with and undermines the language of the body, the inseparable meanings of the marital act.
    - Contraceptive sex is not truly unitive (not a total gift of self – withholding part of self, i.e. fertility, from the other) and is not truly procreative (the action of contracepting is the opposite – a “closed-ness” to life, to the other). That is why it is a different kind of act, not the marital kind that retains the unitive and procreative meanings.
    - Thus the Church strongly opposes all forms of contraception.

    - The "contraceptive mentality" is having a mindset that affirms turning the marital act into a different kind of act.
    - The "contraceptive mentality" is never present in a couple using NFP, even if they are using NFP for the “wrong” reasons. They may have a "selfish mentality", but their acts retain the marital (unitive and procreative) character, the right kind of act. If they sin, it is a sin of selfishness.

    If I had to guess based on what you've said, you indeed have good reasons to avoid conceiving another child at this point. God wants us to be responsible parents. Even if you're thinking "I really don't want to get pregnant right now", you're not doing anything wrong; it's an honest thought. The point is that you don't turn the marital act into a different kind of act, meaning you remain open to life. Furthermore, saying you're "open to life" does not even mean that you have to be happy about becoming pregnant should it happen; it means that you are willing to accept that new life lovingly, even if such a situation presents hardships.

    Hope that wasn't too long or tedious of a response!

    (P.S. I voted in the poll, but we didn't technically have a Newman center at my college. However, we did have a Catholic center that was mostly student-run and we studied TOB on our own. But I didn't check that box in the poll. Just wanted to let you know!)