Dear Father Phil,
After having read a letter from 'Ken' regarding birth control and your response, I feel the compulsion to throw in my 'two cents'. My wife and I decided to live in accordance with the church's teaching regarding this matter. It was a combination of learning, faith and an historical perspective of what contraception has done to the world. Anyway, we have three little girls (5 1/2,3,1 1/2) and are expecting our fourth. My wife also miscarried about 7 months ago. Natural family planning hasn't exactly worked well for us, primarily because my wife is not regular and I guess we haven't adequately adjusted for that. Nevertheless, I think it is important to note that there is always risk with any natural method. Articles that I have read are always stating how successful NFP methods can be. However, they also fail. God works in mysterious ways and things such as an airline flight may cause a woman to ovulate early. Any number of strange things can happen. The important thing, to me, is to have an attitude that is open to children as gifts of God. Arguments over passive / active, etc. seem to muddle the issue, although they do create an intellectual exercise.
I enjoy your web site very much. God bless you.
Thanks for the letters and for signing the guestbook. Is it OK to post the letters on my website? Also do you have the book and chapter reference for section you mention from City of God? (cf. letter re: dinosaurs.) It sticks in my mind but it has been a long time since I read the work.
I am so glad to hear you and your wife's openness to children. That of course is the bottom line as far as the meaning of marriage--and sexuality itself. Can I ask about the preparations, training you received in NFP? Couple to Couple? Creighton model? Self study? I am sure your letter would bring some responses, including, "See, NFP doesn't really work."
Anyway, Eric, I do appreciate you writing & look fwd to hearing back from you. God bless.
Fr. Phil Bloom
Dear Father Phil,
Yes, you can post my comments. In trying to find the City of God reference, I could only discover chapter 6 of Book XI. This is contained in Part III, the origins of the two cities. It is not what I was thinking of in my earlier response. However, it is good reading and I would suggest reading the entire Book XI. As it is pointed out, the first three 'days' of creation passed without the benefit of sun. Therefore, we are under no obligation to believe these were periods of 24 hours. Any one of these days could have been billions of what we currently call 'years'. This does not detract from our faith, it seems to me. Within that thought, dinosaurs could have come and gone on 'one day' of creation.
Anyway, the part I was speaking of earlier was a logical argument against things such as 'time travel', etc., where St. Augustine says that arguments regarding time ultimately turn into meaningless babble. We only measure time because we are mortal. Either I couldn't find it, or perhaps it is in 'Confessions'. The chapter on finding the Church in Genesis from that book is worth reading several times, as I recall. I've since lent the book to one of my brothers.
As far as NFP. My wife and I are 'self-study'. We followed the method of charting temperatures and observing mucous. All of the things you say about it are true (e.g.- appreciating women, etc.). However, life doesn't always work out the way we plan it. Abortion will never go away until we realize that and accept certain things (such as children) with humility and trust. I think that promoting NFP is great, but we must realize that even this method may not work, and that's OK. Clearly in the Gospel's Jesus didn't want to die, but he did it anyway. You can't always get what you want.
May God Bless,