Marriage & Children
Here is everything you wanted to tell your married child, and everything you wish your parents had told you about marriage. First Comes Love is a collection of the very best the Church has to offer to help couples have long and very happy marriages. Drawing from Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, Christopher West, Emily Sederstrand, Steve Wood, St John Chrysostom, and many others, this publication offers articles, quotes, personal testimonies, graphs, prayers, and recommendations. Subjects include finding the right mate, the blessings of children, the value of Natural Family Planning, how chastity works inside of marriage, and infertility; everything a young couple needs to get their marriage onto a solid foundation.
Natural Family Planning (NFP) is an umbrella term for certain methods used to achieve and postpone pregnancies. These methods, also called Fertility Appreciation or Fertility Awareness methods, are based on the observation of naturally occurring signs of the fertile phase of a woman’s fertility cycle. Couples using NFP to achieve pregnancy engage in intercourse during the woman’s fertile phase. Couples wishing to postpone pregnancy simply abstain from sexual relations during the time of fertility. No drugs, devices or surgical procedures are used in the practice of NFP.
Natural Family Planning accepts our fertility.
Natural Family Planning (NFP) is a comprehensive acceptance of the divine gift of fertility within marriage, wherein the couple monitors their fertility to determine fertile and non-fertile phases for the purpose of either achieving or postponing pregnancy. It is not to be confused with the older and significantly less effective “calendar rhythm method” which estimates and projects the couples fertile and non-fertile phases by observing when these phases occurred in previous cycles.
Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII promulgated on February 10, 1880.
To the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, and Bishops of the Catholic World in Grace and Communion with the Apostolic See.
The hidden design of the divine wisdom, which Jesus Christ the Savior of men came to carry out on earth, had this end in view, that, by Himself and in Himself, He should divinely renew the world, which was sinking, as it were, with length of years into decline. The Apostle Paul summed this up in words of dignity and majesty when he wrote to the Ephesians, thus: “That He might make known unto us the mystery of His will . . . to re-establish all things in Christ that are in heaven and on earth.” (more…)
December 31, 1930 – To the Venerable Brethren, Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops and other Local Ordinaries enjoying Peace and Communion with the Apostolic See.
Venerable Brethren and Beloved Children, Health and Apostolic Benediction.
How great is the dignity of chaste wedlock, Venerable Brethren, may be judged best from this that Christ Our Lord, Son of the Eternal Father, having assumed the nature of fallen man, not only, with His loving desire of compassing the redemption of our race, ordained it in an especial manner as the principle and foundation of domestic society and therefore of all human intercourse, but also raised it to the rank of a truly and great sacrament of the New Law, restored it to the original purity of its divine institution, and accordingly entrusted all its discipline and care to His spouse the Church. (more…)
Three old friends, middle-aged mothers all, are having lunch together. Nancy is a Methodist minister; the other, Mary Ann, is Catholic and a pro-life executive; the third is myself, a convert to Catholicism and freelance writer. The subject of contraception comes up.
“Why can’t you Catholics just do it the sensible way,” says Nancy in a good-natured crack.
“It may look sensible to you, Nancy, but you know the facts as well as I do: the society that accepts contraception inevitably comes to accept abortion, too.” states Mary Ann.
As for me, like the tar baby, I ain’t sayin’ nuthin’. I listen to my two friends argue, their kind faces rigid and defensive now, and I am silent because I feel the “tar” of my own sins. I once thought, like Nancy, that artificial contraception was sensible. But Mary Ann is right; a contracepting society becomes a society that sanctions abortion and euthanasia, as experience and research have shown. My friends are deadlocked within these two irreconcilable attitudes toward unnatural contraception: Is it sensible? Or is it a preliminary to genocide, or at least infanticide? The Catholic Church recognizes that there can be no resolution and no compromise between the two attitudes, as incompatible as oil and water. (more…)
How are children a blessing?
The Church’s teaching on contraception is not just a prohibition but a calling to the joy of parenthood. Procreation of children, far greater than an obligation, is an outpouring of God’s love to spouses, who in turn pour out their love to their children. Parents accordingly become mediators, instruments, and ministers of God’s love. This sharing in God’s love of His children, as is true of all instances in which we share in the administration of God’s gifts, heightens our dignity, conforms us to Christ, and deepens our self-knowledge.
The transmission of human life is a prerogative so cherished by God that it has been entrusted only to the covenantal union of man and wife. That is why openness to procreation is essential to the vocation of marriage.1 Yes, marriage is a vocation raised by Christ to the level of a sacrament. Like all the sacraments, marriage is an encounter with Christ that nourishes one’s own earthly pilgrimage as God’s life and love (grace) is poured into one’s soul. Yet God in his abundance fills the soul to overflowing, surging beyond our boundaries so that we become vessels of his love. In so doing, we become living images of Christ in the world. (more…)
My husband Joe and I have four children; a good size by today’s standards, but paling in comparison to the large traditional Catholic families we were raised in. We both would have said at the start of our marriage we wanted an even larger family, but as the realities of marriage and parenting set in, we found ourselves overwhelmed, stressed, and losing steam fast for the challenge of more children. Like many modern Catholics, we decided the Church’s teaching on contraception was simply not conducive to our needs and lifestyle, and could be ignored without consequence, so we took control of our fertility. I wouldn’t have considered doing something to permanently end our fertility, as this seemed like “mental menopause,” and I really did love kids, especially babies. But after four very difficult pregnancies and raising four children, we were drained. Accumulated stress during those years had left me depressed and anxious. Most of the time I felt like a failure as a wife and mother. My sense of humor had been my lifeline to sanity during stressful times, but during those years I often felt both humor and sanity slipping away, and that was scary. (more…)
We had our health, six-figure salaries, a beautiful house, two great kids, and a vasectomy. And we were miserable.
We were married in 1987 and had our first child, Christopher, in 1988. In 1989 we gave birth to Lauren. The doctors told us we were the “perfect family” with two children, one boy, one girl. So, I had a vasectomy. We were Catholics, but we really didn’t know much about the Church’s moral teaching. (more…)
To observe that we live in a society that is suffering greatly from sexual confusion or, if you will, sexual misconduct is not a novel insight. There is little need to provide a full set of statistics to demonstrate the consequences of the sexual revolution, for who is not familiar with the epidemic in teenage pregnancies, venereal diseases, divorces, and AIDS? Our society has undergone a rapid transformation in terms of sexual behavior, and few would argue that it is for the better. Today, one out of two marriages end in divorce. Six out of ten teenagers are sexually active. The millions of abortions over the last decade and the phenomenal spread of AIDS indicate that our society has serious problems with sexuality. In the last generation, the incidence of sexual activity outside of marriage-with all of its attendant problems-has doubled and tripled, or worse. We have no particular reason to believe that we have seen the peak of the growth in sexually related problems. (more…)