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

19. "Humanae Vitae Once Seemed Rigid, Now Prophetic"

As a young married couple, 25 years ago, we, like most Catholic couples at that time, accepted the Church's teaching on birth regulation without question. We had several children in succession, and it was difficult. After the birth of our sixth child we could see that it would be desirable to avoid another pregnancy. It is then that we started, gradually, to discover the richness and truth of the Church's teaching.

We discovered the joys of living our married life in harmony with nature and creation. We knew that regulating births the natural way was accepting the possibility of a pregnancy because the natural methods are human methods with human limitations. We were looking at God's creation, working within that creation. It was saying "yes" to God if he willed a life, the gift of life. The openness to life implicit in natural methods appealed to us. We sensed in our hearts that this was right, that we were not interfering with the fruit of our love.

We discovered that periodic continence, though difficult and demanding at times, enriched our married love. The intermittent periods of abstinence enhanced the marital act when it took place-just as all good things must be used with temperance if the sense of wonder and discovery are to be maintained.

We discovered that natural family planning required all the qualities required of a good marriage -tenderness, affection, deep friendship, self- restraint, fidelity-and that the exercise of these qualities only deepened them. We learned to abstain from the marital act in love, and to enter into it in love.

We enjoyed the equality and mutuality involved in this chosen method, and the freedom implicit in a method which requires self-knowledge and qualities of the heart and mind-all human attributes.

How marvelous for a woman, how indicative of her husband's love for her, that he should take the trouble to understand her fertility and to respect it when a pregnancy would be untimely.

In Humanae Vitae, ten years ago, Paul VI appealed to Catholic scientists to develop their knowledge in the field of natural family planning. People like Drs. John and Lyn Billings gave it their whole lives. Because of this knowledge of our fertility we were able to regulate family size without upsetting the normal activities and the hormonal milieu of our bodies. And this knowledge of our fertility has eliminated the need for long periods of abstinence between the ages of forty and fifty. Understanding our own fertility and the delicate hormonal balance within the woman has helped us to understand our persons better.

Humanae Vitae seemed to us rigid indeed, ten years ago. Now it appears absolutely prophetic. How grateful we are to our Church which, as Chesterton stated, is always there to uphold a truth at a time when it is very unpopular to do so.

"Respectfully submitted to our bishops" by a Canadian couple

Next Page: 20. Will Japan Accept the natural way
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