Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Poster Children for NFP*

(Originally Run on  7/26/09...in honor of NFP week).

Showing up for mass on time and worried that I didn't look at the schedule to see if three of the oldest kids need to serve, we huddled guiltily in the back of the church. Some of the ushers know that this is our habit, to send the oldest five upstairs to watch the mass and for my husband and me to wrestle with the "non sentient" crowd unobserved by the majority of the parishioners.

Occasionally we get a pushy mass attendant who will repeatedly try to insist that we take the two, three, five year old and 9 month old to sit at the front of the church. Usually, the two, three year or nine month old will dissuade said usher with a few well placed random happy screams.

At the back of the church there are folding chairs for the stragglers and for us, and a table where one can pick up handy literature on the needs of the food pantry, materials concerning pending legislation that will affect Catholic schools or the Church, teachings on Abortion, flyers for CYO and for retreats, and now, a giant poster covered with sunflowers advertising Natural Family Planning. Sitting with nine children in the back, it was hard not to giggle with the backdrop.

Still, upon reflection, I came to understand that we are NFP poster children. Only if the goal is to have no children, are we not. The fact that we have nine is more a tribute to my stellar book keeping skills and our great love, than the efficiency or effectiveness of NFP. If you succeed in keeping your family small using this method, it is because you have practiced the virtues of obedience and patience and sacrifice --all beautiful virtues which God loves. You have followed God's plan. If you sometimes ignore, forget, or willfully chose to ignore the times when one must abstain to avoid conception, you have abandoned yourself to life, to love, to a future of hope, and allowed yourself to be used in the great first gift of creation, also virtues that God loves. Either way, NFP places you firmly on the path to God.

And the bonus of all this, a man with his young daughter came by and walked in our midst to the table. He took up a flyer for the next session teaching NFP. Whether he did it out of desire for the massive number of sunflowers we had surrounding us or not, it didn't matter.

The usher came by right after that moment, and gave me a wink.

P.S. It wasn't our week to serve, or at least, it wasn't our week to have kids on the altar up front.

21 comments:

Catholic Mom of 10 said...

We used nfp to conceive 12 babies...

People think the method failed!

Darryl said...

9 children...oy.

Why is the church teaching about abortions? Aren't they illegal for catholics?

SherryTex said...

The flyers about abortion are designed to 1) stress the Church's teaching on abortion, that it is absolutely always a moral evil and 2) offer alternatives. There are also flyers offering counseling for women who mourn having made that grave moral error, and who suffer from the pain of knowing they chose to end the life of an unborn child.

For the record, The Church does not teach that abortion is illegal for a Catholic, it teaches that abortion is immoral, (a grave sin), and against natural law.

And I would say, 9 children...you left out the "j"

9 children..."Joy."

Aussie Therese said...

I remember a priest on EWTN saying that the proof that nfp worked was the fact that people that used it had many children.

NFP has been such a great blessing to our marriage. I am so grateful for the churches teaching against contraception.

Darryl said...

Oh, I thought they were illegal by canon law. Excuse my ignorance.

Do you ever feel guilty for overpopulating the earth with so many children? I'm sure you love each and every one of them but so many?

Cheers

SherryTex said...

I'm not an expert on canon law. I know the moral elements but when I hear illegal, I think of the system of laws which govern this country, not the theological doctrines and dogma that cover the church so I would direct you to In Light of the Law, a blog by a canon lawyer, Dr. Peters. His son runs American Papist, another good Catholic blog.

As to do I ever feel guilty about overpopulating the earth...no.

Anonymous said...

Hey Darryl--

Overpopulation is largely a myth. The habitable surface of the earth is largely underpopulated. There is plenty of room for the entirety of the earth's population and then some. What we often have is a misallocation of resources.

Keep on keeping on fair Sherry.

Darryl said...

Thank you anonymous for your feedback. My understanding from a large body of scientists is that we are approaching the maximum population (or have exceeded it depending on who one listens to) of population that farmers can feed with present technology and land allocations. If there are more people than earth can feed, I suspect that would meet a qualification of overpopulation.

I love learning about other viewpoints. Thanks

Cheers

SherryTex said...

Darryl,

My faith leads me to follow the Church's teachings on how sexuality is a gift and how it is to be managed and addressed within the confines of a sacramental marriage. The blessing of that union has been nine children.

I did not plan to have nine, it was not a goal. Nor do I consider my nine to be the tipping point for the population of the Earth.

I have Faith, and as such, trust that God has a plan for each of my children as well which may include finding ways to better allocate resources in the world to feed everyone, or cures for diseases that affect millions. It may be simply that they are people of faith as well, that would be sufficient.

I can't know.

What I do know is that we aren't called to be mere stewards of the Earth who leave no footprints and act as phantasms which have no impact on others.

What we are called to be is indellible actors on each other's hearts.

My own understanding as dim as it is, is this: the way God has chosen to use me and my family, is as witnesses to the world that one can be open to life, even lavishly and with abandoment and that this is not an impossibility in this day and age.

Most of the industrialized world has a shrinking to non existent birth rate, which will result eventually in excessive strain on the government bodies that require a working population large enough to sustain revenue. It is why other countries --France, is the first I think of, pay people to have children. So maybe my kids will help repopulate France. :)

As a final note, I find the question problematic. Scrooge talked about decreasing the surplus population. The Egyptian Pharohs of old, killed Hebrew sons. Hitler did away with "undesirables" like the gypsies, the gays, the Jews, the elderly and the disabled.

Our whole history as a world has been to use the mantra of "excess population" as an excuse for grave inhumanity, for grave devisation of whole cultures, whole peoples, whole families.

The only way we will ever come close to solving the tangible problems that plague mankind --sickness, starvation, wretching poverty, ignorance and blood feuds, is if we will take on the values that say every soul, in the underpopulated and overpopulated parts of the world, every person, born and unborn, sick and well, young and old, is infinitely valuable and worthy innately, regardless of income, intellect, political affiliation or gender.

I believe that type of thinking starts with never thinking that we should be fearful and limit our willingness to love. My youngest son has Downs Syndrome. I would say, our hearts were large before him, but he made our hearts roomy.

All the best.

Darryl said...

I say bless you and the love you have for your children.

That is not the right path for me but god has obviously made it work for you.

Cheers

Aussie Therese said...

Australia also pays couples to have children.

We are expecting our 8th child in February and I will get a $5000 bonus from the Govt for giving birth.

Wonderful thing you say about your ds baby Sherry. Did you have testing done to see if he had it? I had the 12 week scan done and will speak with my doctor tomorrow. If we are in the high risk group I really don't know what I will do as far as testing further. I am leaning away from having amnio because I am sure someone will try and pressure me to have an abortion. Then again, maybe the world needs to see some pro lifer saying no. I will not abort a downs baby. Hard to say.

Anonymous said...

Darryl,
Those are likely "political" scientists that suggest that the world is overpopulated. From what I have seen statistically, there are roughly 12 million square miles of arable land. If there are 6 billion people, everyone gets about a half acre of land. Sherry's family should get to live on five and a half acres, which is more than enough for a self sustaining farm. Even at double the current population a quarter acre of land is not too bad.

SherryTex said...

Darryl, thank you for your kind words.

Aussie, Congrats!

We did have prenatal testing after the ultrasound indicated an increased likelyhood of Downs Syndrome (there is a thickness to the back of the neck that is measurable and statistically significant). It was the first time I had ever agreed to such testing.

I did get some pressure which I promptly ignored.

There was a lot of oblique comments that danced around the subject of abortion. The genetic counsellor would ask every time I came in for another scheduled ultra sound "How do you feel?" Did I want to talk about my options? "You have a decision to make." "It's okay, you know, you could have another baby and that one might not have Downs." "Have you made a decision?" (How many times do I have to say "I'm keeping the baby." to get them to believe I mean it?). And I was quite clear.

And while it is important to hear people say, "No." to the offer of death, to the offer of an easy way out and a quick fix, it's not a reason to get testing.

The reason to get testing is that there is some medical need to know --in our case, there was a heart condition that also mattered. If not knowing will make you anxious, that too is a legitimate reason for knowing.

And we did feel sad that our son would never be able to have children, and would have limits the world could easily discern and that would cause many to easily dismiss him.

I will find the three articles those incidents generated and forward them to you if you wish.

Aussie Therese said...

Those articles would be great. Thanks.

Therese said...

Sherry, I just love this. I'll be doing that class in NFP for the underprivileged who come to our pantry tomorrow morning. The rest of our parish was invited as indicated on the flyer.

I'll be praying they can come!

Much love, always, Therese

MightyMom said...

to throw my 2 cents in...

I said no to all testing other than US. because I wouldn't do anything different anyway so why bother. (heart probs and most others can be seen on US)

as it was the US showed "problems" with the first kiddo. and then we went on for about 14 US's total before the premature birth.

As to NFP....I saw a great article the other day...I'll have to find it and link you up, you'll like it.

I have a fantastic mental picture of you and the clan sitting in the second row....but maybe that's because one of my church friends was in the second row with all 9 of hers a couple sundays ago. Her 1 yr old is a wiggle worm!! hahahaha.

Andrea said...

Hello! I popped over this afternoon because Elizabeth Foss shared your post on Google Reader.
I was so moved by this quote:
"If you succeed in keeping your family small using this method, it is because you have practiced the virtues of obedience and patience and sacrifice --all beautiful virtues which God loves. You have followed God's plan. If you sometimes ignore, forget, or willfully chose to ignore the times when one must abstain to avoid conception, you have abandoned yourself to life, to love, to a future of hope, and allowed yourself to be used in the great first gift of creation, also virtues that God loves. Either way, NFP places you firmly on the path to God."

We have, thus far, produced the maximum number of children possible given my level of fertility. We have 3 (4 in the next few weeks here!) in 6 years - having conceived the first within a week of the wedding.
Anyway, we learned NFP and are supporters of NFP, but have never used it (I am always pregnant as soon as I stop nursing!). Sometimes, I have guilt about that and that I couldn't possibly be a good example to others about the beauty of NFP because it just appears that I am pregnant all the time! I love your statement that one is pleasing God either way, and I can't even tell you what peace that idea gives my heart!

If you don't mind, I am going to link back to this post on my blog! I just love it!

SherryTex said...

Thank you Andrea, and to your friend on Google Reader. I'm honored. I too have had several via the just stopped nursing method.

Adeline said...

The habitable surface of the earth is largely underpopulated. There is plenty of room for the entirety of the earth's population and then some.What we often do is misallocation of the resources.
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JimmyV said...

Good stuff!

Rose Godfrey said...

I've studied NFP, but I've come to suspect that pregnancy is really caused by giving away all the baby clothes and the carseat.

Joyfully awaiting a new one.

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!