Natural Family Planning: Nature's Way - God's Way

10. Family Life Education in Krakow

1. Introduction

Even as I started my career as a psychiatrist in 1951, 1 became committed to pastoral work for families. My work at that time was in two areas:

1. Method of Therapy

It became evident very soon in the course of my work that these people were in conflict with themselves and with their environment. I have therefore elaborated my own method of psychotherapy which I have called the Objectifying Method. After practicing the method for several years I found an adequate theoretical basis for it in the philosophy of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, as explained in his book The Positive Person. The author develops a concept of the integration of the human personality through positive action; passive integration does not exist.

As my work along this line developed it became more and more clear to me that to help people effectively we must show them precisely what it means to be a human person and what is the destiny of a person. It was at that point when I organized courses for basic theology and for moral teachings. That is how the Institute for Theology of the Family in Krakow took its beginning. It now has two branches, one for lay people and another for priests. There is a two-year study program, including theology, pastoral medicine, biology, anthropology and others.

1. The Problem Areas

Experience indicated that the majority of the conflicts had their source in a collision with ethical norms. People, including believers, do not know how to bring their personal lives into harmony with ethical norms. The essential values, such as human life, fidelity, monogamy, the sacramentality of marriage, chastity before and in marriage, and the rest are all in present danger. It has become clear that in addition to theology, foundations in Christian anthropology, in sexuality, in a knowledge of the natural methods of family planning are all necessary.

IV. Pastoral Procedure

We switched priorities from therapy to prevention, since it is clear that the cause of marital conflicts is very often found in a lack of proper preparation for sacramental marriage. For this reason we are working more and more in the area of marriage preparation courses. The Bishops of Poland have issued special instructions for this, which I follow. Personally I also give courses to students, organized at the parish level.

Details of procedure differ from parish to parish. But all of this is organized as an activity of the Church. In Poland, participation in marriage courses is obligatory for those who apply to receive the sacrament of marriage. In addition, it is required that the future bride and bridegroom together attend a course arranged by the Center for Marriage Consultation, to learn the natural family planning methods before their marriage.

V. Activities at the Center for Marriage Consultation

Besides my work as professor of pastoral medicine, I continue to carry on the work of Objectifying Therapy at the Center for Marriage Consultation. This is done in collaboration with a priest. Certain problems cannot be solved except in the confessional.

In the course of time it has become evident that the entire question of pastoral family work and education of couples is really a passing on of ethical norms. When I started this work it seemed to me it would suffice to teach the natural methods of family planning in order to make the dramatic sins-killing children and contraception -disappear. But now I am convinced that the solution of the problem is not in the methods, but in an authentic vision of Christian and human sexuality.

God, in creating man, endowed him with sex; he has given man this body, and fertility as an aim to be reached. it is in this reality that the solution must be found. A man who fulfills his life in accord with the plan of God is at peace, and achieves full integration of his personality, which is called holiness. He achieves the essential purpose of his life. But the man who does not understand what is the function of the body, of marriage, and of the family, destroys himself.

Consequently it is not in biology that the solution is found, nor even in theology. The solution is found in faith, and in a deep personal contact of man with God. To find God in oneself and in others is the true goal of life and of every action in the family. The sexual act of man has its origin in the mind of God, and it is precisely this dimension which needs to be re-discovered. We must make the entire realm of sexual life into something which is also spiritual. Each sexual act is not something which is confined to the body alone; it is an act of the totality of the human person. This person is created as an image of God, and he will find himself again only in God.

Experience acquired during many years of work in family-life problems convinces me that the heart of the problem is not so much planning the family as planning collaboration with God who is Creator of man and of the family.

Editor's Comment:

Dr. Poltawska has provided us with testimonies of couples who have found peace and growth when using natural family planning. Some of these testimonies can be found in this book. She has made a study of 200 cases of couples treated at the Center for Marriage Consultation, which has been published in a Japanese version. Many of the marital problems had developed when the couple were using coitus interruptus, without suspecting that this was the real source of the troubles: pathological fear of children; frustration and depressive reaction on part of the woman; indifference to sex or frigidity; anger and even violence on part of the man; and a gradual death of the love-relationship. Then less frequent intercourse or even a complete halt; perhaps unfaithfulness; then divorce.

Therapy came through insight into the problem, then re-building the love-relationship through the art of natural family planning, through loving during periods of abstinence as well as during sexual intercourse.

Here are conclusions reached by Dr. Poltawska from her studies:

by Dr. Wanda Poltawska
Psychiatrist at the Institute for
Theology of the Family in Krakow

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