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Blind Obedience

Blind Obedience

 

Presence of God – O Jesus, who out of love for me were willing to submit to Your own creatures, teach me to obey blindly.

MEDITATION

When we see God in our superior we obey without argument or futile reasoning and with no delay: Christus jubet, sufficit, Christ commands, that is enough. What more do I want, when I know that the orders of my superior are those of God Himself? Even if the thing commanded is hard or painful, my certitude that Our Lord expects it of me will give me the strength to undertake it promptly, without offering the least resistance.

Of course there may be cases where there is good reason to think an order has been imposed without taking into consideration facts which, if overlooked, might be prejudicial to the superior himself; then it is well and sometimes even necessary to bring it to his attention. Neither is there any imperfection in asking for explanations when the order does not seem clear or when it places us in a very embarrassing position; however, this must be done with humility, without insistence and with readiness to submit oneself to the decision of the superior. We must have the firm determination not to reason or debate about an order, not to inquire into the motives which might have made the superior give a certain command. If we begin to argue about obedience, we put difficulties in the way of obeying; therefore, we must stop all rationalizing, even interiorly, if we wish our obedience to be a pleasing sacrifice to God. It would be worse still to discuss our feelings with others or to criticize the superior’s decisions; acting in such a way, we should create difficulties in obedience for others as well as for ourselves.

If we want to offer our entire being to Our Lord, we must completely renounce our own way of thinking, for however good it may be, it will always be infinitely inferior to God’s, and God will accomplish His will in us only when we carry out the orders of our superior.

COLLOQUY

“O Lord, how different are Thy ways from our clumsy imaginings! When once a soul has resolved to love Thee and has resigned itself into Thy hands, Thou wilt have nothing of it save that it shall obey Thee and find out for itself how it may best serve Thee and desire to do so. It has no need to look for paths or to choose them, for its will is Thine. Thou, my Lord, takest upon Thyself the task of guiding it in the way which is the greatest benefit to it. And even though our superior has no mind to our soul’s profit … Thou, my God, hast a mind to our profit, and dost dispose the soul and prepare things for it to do in such a way that, without knowing how, we find ourselves so much more spiritual and so greatly benefited that we are astonished” (Teresa of Jesus, Foundations, 5).

blind obedience“O my God, from how much disquiet do we free ourselves when we make the vow of obedience! Having nothing for a compass but the will of our superior, we are always sure of following the right path, and need not fear that we will be misled, even when it may appear that our superiors are mistaken. But when we cease to consult the unerring compass, immediately our soul goes astray in barren wastes, where the waters of grace quickly fail. O Jesus, obedience is the compass You have given me to direct me safely to the eternal shore. What a joy it is for me to fix my glance upon You and then to accomplish Your will” (cf. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Story of a Soul, 9).

O Lord, I want to apply myself to obedience with unshakable confidence in Your divine Providence which rules, guides and directs everything, making all things work together in an ineffable manner for the good of my soul. I wish to apply myself to obedience without the slightest hesitation, binding myself to You and to Your divine will.

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Note from Dan: These posts are provided courtesy of Baronius Press and contain one of two meditations for the day. If you would like to get the full meditation from one of the best daily meditation works ever compiled, you can learn more here:  Divine Intimacy. Please honor those who support us by purchasing and promoting their products.

Art: Teresa of Avila, Peter Paul Rubens, 1615, painting out of copyright, photograph DMonniaux, own work, 2005, CC; Gravure de “Sainte Thérèse de l'Enfant Jésus, Histoire d'une âme écrite par elle-même, Lisieux, Office central de Lisieux (Calvados), & Bar-le-Duc, Imprimerie Saint-Paul, 1937, édition 1940″; PD-US copyright expired; both Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of SpiritualDirection.com, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • judeen

    obedience one of the top gifts for a saint…. every saint needs obedience and submission…. when married a women needs to be obedient and submissive… there needs to be a leader of the family… most of the times it is together.. but at times one has to go with what is decieded either it is right or wronge… knowing the your self and your children will suffer for this decsion… obedience is so important.. and God looks on this kindly.. trusting God in all things one has to let go of ego, pride, vanity, self centeredness.. selfishness, control , and many other things in the soul…. to let go .. and trust knowing God will bring out the best in our prayers…
    Lord how you were obedeint to the Father.. how you did not want to suffer so ,, the angious in the soul and the troubled mind of not wanting such pain…. the fear effected your body. and you lay upon your face in prayer and tears and sweat of blood… Lord you know every though and deed we do.. and you know our hearts… . help me to pick up my cross and follow you….

  • John

    A very inspiring, and humbling meditation. How does one reconcile the positions taken by – or an order from – a superior when that position or order is clearly at odds with God’s teaching (e.g., supporting abortion)? Do we not have an obligation to point out the grave error, first to the superior and then if he/she does not rectify the position/order to point out the grave error to others so that they can avoid being led astray? Any insights would be greatly appreciated. God bless you!

    • Dear John – The key principal is that the obligation for obedience breaks down when sin enters the equation. In the case of a superior who holds a position that the Church would clearly condemn, we should respectfully enter into discussion about the situation. If they do not listen we should then surface the issue to their superiors and so on. Does that help?

      • John

        Dear Dan, that helps a lot….thank you!

  • SJ

    Dear Dan, how does this apply to the lay in the context of ecclesiastical life and who do not take the vow of obedience? Sometimes it seems that “mature obedience” would be a better phrase to describe the obedience one gives to spiritual / ecclesiastical authorities…

    • Dear SJ – in principal, any mature soul should follow the same path as those who take a vow of obedience. Of course, the vow elevates obedience to a level that has a higher degree of accountability and consequence.

  • patricia

    Taking a vow of obedience is different than virtue of obedience in which we laity should practice by obeying our confessors spiritual directors and pastors of our parish. There is also civil obedience as long it does not go against our faith and concience. When being married is there a vow obedience too along with practicing virtue of obedience? I mean the husband is called to be a leader of his family right?

  • MB

    As a married person, I know that I am called to obedience and submission. But what about when your spouse is not religious – does not believe in Jesus as his Savior or God. I want to take on more small acts of sacrifice for myself and for our kids, but to do so would cause tension in our relationship, I want to be open to more kids, but he doesn’t. Am I called to submission in the first situation, even though he hasn’t ordered me not to do those things? He would never give me an order yet in some instances we just come to a stalemate where neither can compromise and I give in due to my own beliefs on submitting. Am I called to submission in the second? We practice NFP to prevent conception.

    • Sandra Traw

      I hope Dan will answer your question. I have the same basic question. Is it good and pleasing to God to have a totally submissive spirit toward your husband ( UNLESS it were a direct opposition to Christ or Church teaching). Is this “blind obedience” a type of obedience we should have?

      • Camila

        Dear Sandra,

        You ask “Is this ‘blind obedience’ a type of obedience we should have?”

        We (in the Avila Institue, course on Mary) are currently reading a document by the Church called Redemptoris Mater. It is an AMAZING, AMAZING document. If you want to understand obedience I would recommend you read it.

        Here’s a tiny morsel of stunning truth

        This blessing (the incarnation) reaches its full meaning when Mary stands beneath the Cross of her Son….this happened “not without a divine plan” by “suffering deeply with her only-begotten Son and joining herself with her maternal spirit to his sacrifice, lovingly consenting to the immolation of the victim to whom she had given birth,”in this way Mary “faithfully preserves her union with her Son even to the Cross. It is a union through faith.”

        Later it says

        At the foot of the Cross Mary shares through faith in the shocking mystery of this self-emptying. This is perhaps the deepest ‘kenosis’ of faith in human history. Through faith the Mother shares in the death of her Son, in his redeeming death…

        (Redemptoris Mater 18)

        I quote these here to remind us of our magnificent Mother Mary who knows obedience to a degree we can’t even begin to fathom. She being the Mother of God and vouchsafed to all of us is obedience par excellence. She now stands in heaven with her Son interceding for us. Let us kindly and gently ask her help. She is a most worthy and faithful Mother.

        • Sandra Traw

          Oh, that is truly wonderful. Thank you for sharing. I guess I am not making my question clear….obedience of a religious superior or even religious director…in a way is a “blind obedience” in trust of God. My question has to do with what type of obedience should a woman have toward her husband ( especially if not RC). Should their still be the same type of obedience except if it were against Christ or the Churcg ‘s teachings….in other words …”in all other matters should there be this kind of submissive heart?

          • Camila

            Dear Sandra,

            In marriages with disparity of cult the Catholic spouse has a particular task: “For the unbelieving husband is consecrated through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is consecrated through her husband.” It is a great joy for the Christian spouse and for the Church if this “consecration” should lead to the free conversion of the other spouse to the Christian faith. Sincere married love, the humble and patient practice of the family virtues, and perseverance in prayer can prepare the non-believing spouse to accept the grace of conversion.

            (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1637)

          • Sandra Traw

            This kind of reverence and honor I believe in wholeheartedly. I have even began to see a few fruits.

          • patricia

            Beautiful insightful information by the CCC. It helps me to understand deeply the call to married life and the context of obedience.

          • Camila

            Dear Sandra,

            Another thought occurred to me on this area. I don’t know how you were brought up, but the struggle with obedience can actually be a kind of symptom of other problems. A lot of these problems have roots in feminism for example, and unless these get resolved – one can try to obey until the cows come home, and the person won’t find peace.

        • patricia

          Truly beautiful thanks for sharing

      • $1650412

        The submission of love to the greatest good and happiness of the other is what we are aiming for in married life, I think. My life is for Christ in the context that it is for my husband and my children according to their greatest good and hierarchy of needs in the moment. A complicated and highly individualized matrix appears in which supreme skill and delicacy dictate how to proceed in most points- this is why women are so incredibly important especially as wives and mothers. I mean, who else is going to know how and when to do all the stuff we have to do the way it needs to be done so that everyone is happy, healthy, close to God and experiencing the most benefit to themselves and the integrity of the whole? (My husband, bless his holy soul, can’t even order for the group in the drive through…:o) ) How and when and how best to be submissive in love to one’s spouse is something that has to be directed in prayer, maybe peppered with the sage advice of a few close girlfriends who have strong spiritual lives over a good bottle of wine, or gourmet coffee…..

    • This situation is more delicate and I would strongly urge consolation with a spiritual director. The bottom line is that obedience cannot properly lead to sin. Non-obligatory sacrifices, if neglected, are not matters of sin but of preference or desire. The desire to draw your spouse to Christ and to honor them, in most cases, should take a higher place of priority over lesser desires. That said, there are cases where a spouse can cause some measure of discomfort that is helpful to the ultimate issues regarding their relationship with God. That said, this is far too complex to address via general comments like this.

      • $1650412

        I heartily agree with this counsel!

    • Camila

      Dear MB,

      You say
      “I want to….. but to do so would cause tension….”; and
      “we just come to a stalemate”; and
      “I give in due to my own beliefs on submitting”….

      St. Benedict says that

      This very obedience, however, will be acceptable to God and agreeable to men only if compliance with what is commanded is not cringing or sluggish or halfhearted, but free from any grumbling or any reaction of unwillingness…..Furthermore, the disciples’ obedience must be given gladly, for God loves a cheerful giver. If a disciple obeys grudgingly and grumbles, not only aloud but also in his heart, then, even though he carries out the order, his action will not be accepted with favor by God, who sees that he is grumbling in his heart.

      (The Rule of St. Benedict)

      In other words. If you really and truly desire to obey God by obeying your husband, you must find joy in that act. Also, it is our pride that makes it ‘hard’ or ‘difficult’ to find joy in obedience. The humble puts on the yoke of love and finds obedience to be a light burden.

      Pray MB – only God can give you the grace you need, and He will give it to you, but you need to humbly listen to Him in the silence of your heart.

    • Estefania

      Hi MB,
      I will only comment because I have been through a similar situation. My husband did not believe but thanks be to God his faith and his commitment to The Lord has been growing. I did understand according to the teaching of the Church and scripture, I should be obedient to my husband but after some research I found an article (sorry, I don’t remember the source) that this depends on your spouses beliefs as well. If you’re following someone who is not committed to Christ, then you are not following Him. In my case, I would always be obedient to the Church first and foremost and I would teach my husband about the doctrines as I learned it myself. Still today, I also have mentioned being open to a large family ( we also practice NFP) and my spouse is not necessarily sure about it but in my opinion I think in this case and in certain delicate situations as Dan mentioned you have to take all things into consideration and seek spiritual guidance at least on your own if not as a couple. For example, there will be instances such as this one where you have to be careful you are not forcing anything on anyone, Jesus always invited but never forced anyone. I think overall when you have a spouse who does not share your faith, it is hard to know when to be obedient and when you could be violating your own conscience so it’s a constant balancing act and takes a lot of patience and prayer. But God gives you the grace, hope this helps somewhat. God bless!

      • MB

        Thank you. That’s exactly it.

    • MarcAlcan

      My two cents.
      The obedience to Religious Superiors is called for because we see them as the ones standing in for God.

      In the case of a husband who is obviously not Godly and has not the interest of God in mind in the least bit, then I think you should follow your conscience.

      What is happening in this case is someone is actively asking you to disobey God.

      If your husband asked you to abort your child, would you do it in obedience to him? Clearly, there is a line drawn here. Otherwise, the Nazi’s who committed those atrocities can be excused because they are merely obeying orders.

      You said that you wanted more children. If you are contracepting in obedience to your husband, then you are contracepting in disobedience to God.

      • jack g.

        Since my conversion 5 years ago I’ve lived in a situation like that and it was at many times very challenging to me and my wife personally, but also took a great toll on our marriage. Overall we both grew out of quarreling and more into mutual understanding and acceptance. And, so now, I pray and patiently wait for her conversion and she is participating as much as she can in our family spiritual life. She attends Mass and receives Communion, but she is one of those Catholics that believes in God Who is dead on the cross, not The Living God as Jesus Resurrected. One day I know that Jesus will come to her life as Living Water and nourish her soul with His Life.
        But throughout all this trials I have stayed firm and bold to the teaching of The Catholic Church and I have not compromised. In my opinion Catholic faith is to be black and white, no grey area. We see a lot of the diluted faith of the “Church of nice”, where Catholics are just nice and politically correct instead of being radical and bold with The Holy Spirit as The Leader of the soul. We generally lack the courage to be bold, but that is exactly what Apostles were when they came out of the Upper Room. Same applies to family, and yes, it will hurt sometimes, and yes we would need to learn to be bold with charity, but that is part of spiritual journey. I am not a saint, but striving for sainthood, and that is what counts at the end, “The Race”, to the end.
        With persevering love of Jesus in my heart, jack g.

        • MarcAlcan

          Wow! What a wonderful testimony.

          Just in case you have not heard of Scott and Kimberly Hahn’s conversion, I highly recommend Rome Sweet Home. You can also download for $2.50 Kimberly Hahn’s conversion from Lighthouse Catholic Media http://www.lighthousecatholicmedia.org/ which your wife might find inspiring.

          Yes, yes, yes, to the need for the courage to be radical and bold. Catholicism should be counter cultural in this day and age. We live in Maccabean times and we need to be bold in our witness of the faith. If the Apostles played according to the script of the Church of nice, Christianity would have remained the tiny sect it was in Jerusalem.

    • Camila

      Dear MB,

      (I woke up thinking about your question and looked up what St. Thomas has to say in the Summa.)

      St. Thomas asks

      Are subjects bound to obey their superiors in all things?

      He explains that subjects (those under a superior) must obey “in all things’ insofar as what commanded falls within the sphere of authority of that superior. If however a superior commands something against God, THEN “superiors are not to be obeyed in all things.” (Summa Theologica, Second Part of the Second Part, Question104, Article 5)

      For example: contraception is an intrinsically evil act – If a spouse demands the use of contraception then he/she is demanding something that falls outside his/her ‘jurisdiction’ so to speak. A husband has no authority over this matter. God does and He has spoken clearly through His Church that contraception is not allowed. So here it would be right to disobey the demanding spouse.

      Link to the Summa Article I mention above:
      http://www.newadvent.org/summa/3104.htm

      • MB

        But the church allows use of natural family planning to space and prevent children when there is sufficient reason. Is the fact that this could cause a huge strain in our marriage and possibly drive him further from the church sufficient reason and therefore falling more under obedience to husband than disobedience to god?

        I think Dan is right. I’m not expressing myself very well as this is a very complicated question. But spiritual direction has been hard to come by since I live in a rural area.

        Thank you to every one for your replies and comments.

    • Camila

      NFP is permissible by the Church and it is NOT contraception.

      • MarcAlcan

        Actually, it is contraception.

        Contra-ception means against life, against conception.

        The purpose of NFP – of using the natural cycle of the woman – is precisely that: to prevent conception. Otherwise, if it is not to prevent conception, then why abstain during the fertile cycle?

        So yes, it is contraception but it is natural.

        Humanae Vitae is very clear that it must be done only for serious motives and that there is licit and illicit use of this method. If this is not contraception, then there would not be an illicit use. And in our fallen state, it is very easy to rationalize away a non-serious motive and make it into a serious motive.

        The only time abstinence during the fertile period is not contraception is when the purpose of the abstinence is to gain self-mastery or as a sacrifice to God. In which case, the abstinence should also be done during the non-fertile ones. But in the case of NFP, the whole point of abstaining during the fertile period is to ensure that no life will form. No matter how we twist that, that is working against conception – against life.

        Marriage should be open to life. When one makes sure to engage only during the non-fertile periods, that is hardly being open to life.

        • Camila

          MarcAlcan,

          You are incorrect. Read Humanae Vitae again, especially section 16. The question of Licitness of Recourse to Infecund Periods is addressed in there.

          NFP is permissible by the Church. She has spoken repeatedly on this issue. Further, there is NO WAY you can ever decide what are serious causes for a couple to use NFP. The Church has given some general guidelines, but this delicate discernment must be done strictly between the couple, God, and their priest, or spiritual director. There are simply too many intimate variables that come into play that no one from outside is entitled to a lazy and quick answer to.

          Finally, if you deny that NFP is permissible then you are denying an infallible teaching of the Church. Be careful.

          • MarcAlcan

            I never said that NFP is not permissible. If you read my post, it was very much in keeping with the
            Church’s stand. I said it is permissible only on certain grounds – those that are SERIOUS MOTIVES.

            You said it is NOT contraception and I said it IS contraception. Even Church documents call this the “natural” method. Method of what? Method of contraception.

            And while the Church does leave that to the couple to decide whether the motive is serious or not, it does not mean that the couple’s decision is infallible in this regard. Therefore a couple may deem the reason serious and thus the use of NFP licit, but in fact they could just be rationalizing away a reason that is not serious and thus the practice is not licit.

            HV 16: If, then, there are serious motives to space out births , which derive from the physical or psychological conditions of husband and wife, or from external conditions, the Church teaches that it is then licit to take into account the natural rhythms immanent in the generative functions, ……

            Ergo, what makes NFP licit is the seriousness of motive. If the motive is not serious, then it is not licit.

            Furthermore, the text says “serious moves to space out births “. When couples who use NFP end up having 1 or 2 children only because of serious use of NFP, then that is hardly spacing out of births is it? That is in fact, seriously controlling the number of children one wants to have rather than being open to life.

            And I am not saying, that “I” am deciding the serious motive. I am saying that being the flawed and fallen human beings that we are, our decisions are not infalliable and are open to our own rationalizations to make something that is not licit permissible. This is just the way we are. This is in fact a cautionary note, that we need to be mindful and search our hearts before we start applying the “serious motive” tag to our decisions.

          • Camila

            You say “When couples who use NFP end up having 1 or 2 children only because of serious use of NFP, then that is hardly spacing out births is it?”

            MarcAlcan, we can’t possibly know the reasons of every family that practices NFP and have 1 or 2 children. First, I would say that is probably very unusual. NFP users tend to have larger families. Statistically, it is much more likely that a couple (perfectly healthy and financially stable) to have so few is that they are actually using contraception. Which is a much more prevalent problem within the Church than we really want to imagine. NFP users are between 2-3% of the population (and declining) – contraception and sterilization is by far the more popular choice.

            Also, you don’t know whether for example a couple have decided to perpetually be continent either. You might judge they have few children in your estimation, but they have reached their capacity, and in respecting the Church’s teaching including NFP which always carries with it the possibility of a new baby a couple might decide to live in continence.

            OR, you don’t know whether a couple have had a very hard time conceiving and they are two miracle babies. They have prayed and prayed and prayed are open to life, yet God has kept the womb closed and have only blessed them with two (or one) child. These couples experience immense sorrow.

            I have learned to be quiet on this matter MarcAlcan. I have simply met too many honest Church loving holy folks who desire a big family and for reasons they don’t know God has given them none, or one or maybe two babies – but it wasn’t their fault.

            Now, having said this. I do agree with you that the majority of our culture is completely upside down. There are two ends of the marital union and one must not be sought for at the expense of the other. The real and serious problem is not with NFP MarcAlcan, its contraception. It is rampant within he Church.

            Have you ever read the Life of St. Catherine of Siena by Blessed Raymond? After having a vision of hell and purgatory she says:

            I was specially struck by the punishment meted out to those who sin in the married state, who do not respect their vows as they should and seek to satisfy their lust. I (Raymond of Capua, her spiritual director) then asked her why this sin, which is no more serious than any other, should be punished so severely. She replied, “Because the people concerned don’t regard it as important and consequently are not sorry for it as they are for the others, and so they succumb to it more readily and frequently.” And she added, “This fault is all too dangerous, however trivial it may seem, because no one who commits it bothers to get remission of it through penance.”

            It is at the wedding vows that the couple give themselves to each other for the procreation of children. The act must never be separated. People imagine that with NFP they are entitled to somehow marital union without children. Although this is permissible, it is not necessarily the best framework of mind and understanding of marriage. On the wedding day the husband now belongs to the wife and wife to the husband – this means that they have rights and duties in particular as it relates to the marital union and the procreation of children. Technically, either one can request the ‘debt’ and the other is bound to agree (not on a month to month basis) but anytime (fertile or non-fertile). This consent was given at the wedding and can’t be revoked. This is where I see the biggest struggle. Engaged couples are not taught this. Instead they are taught NFP right off the bat – which is (in my opinion) a secondary option for them. It’s there, should they need it during some hardship – but it ought not to be the modus operandus.

          • My parents use NFP. There are only two of us becuase my Mom and bro almost died giving premature cesarean birth to my bro. There a number of families I know who I’m sure wouldn’t contracept … only 1-3 kids but that’s also due to fertility problems….

        • Marc – it isn’t. Here’s a good summary to explain why: NFP vs. Contraception

          “Isn’t NFP the same as contraception if a married couple is using it to postpone or avoid a pregnancy that they are not ready for?”

          The short answer is “No.” The reason is, contraception involves the deliberate frustration of the marriage act; NFP does not. In some ways, that may seem like a small difference, but in reality, the difference is huge and very important.

          Traditionally, the Catholic Church has always taught that married couples have the right to “plan” their families, provided this is done in a responsible and just manner, and is done with the proper motivation. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

          2368 A particular aspect of this responsibility concerns the regulation of births. For just reasons, spouses may wish to space the births of their children. It is their duty to make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness but is in conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood. (emphasis in original text)

          So, it is not “birth regulation” that the Church opposes, but selfishness and any immoral means of accomplishing that.

          Father Richard Hogan has written: “Some people think that a decision by a couple to time their acts of love in order to space children using NFP is the same as the decision by a couple to avoid pregnancy through contraception. This is a confusion of purposes and means. The purpose may be the same, but the means are different. The NFP couple delaying another pregnancy and the contraceptive couple delaying a pregnancy are engaging in two radically different acts…The NFP couple, while engaging in non-procreative intercourse by making use of the infertile times, give themselves to each other totally and completely as they are at that moment. The contracepting couple withholds their fertility from each other in an anti-procreative act and do not give themselves totally. Remember, love is defined as a total self-gift…Further, the contracepting couple alters either both of their bodies or one of them, and in doing so they violate the integrity of their own bodies.” (The Human Body….a sign of dignity and a gift, page 9)

          Author Christopher West addresses the difference between contraception and NFP in his book, Good News About Sex & Marriage:

          Suppose there were a religious person, a nonreligious person, and an antireligious person walking past a church. What might each do?

          Let’s say the religious person goes inside and prays, the nonreligious person walks by and does nothing, and the antireligious person goes inside the church and desecrates it. (I’m framing an analogy, of course, but these are reasonable behaviors to expect.) Which of these three persons did something that is always, under every circumstance, wrong? The last, of course.

          Husbands and wives are called to be procreative. If they have a good reason to avoid pregnancy, they are free to be non-procreative. But it’s a contradiction of the deepest essence of the sacrament of marriage to be anti-procreative.

          To use West’s terms, NFP couples are both procreative and non-procreative, depending upon what parts of the cycle they choose to have marital relations. Contracepting couples are always anti-procreative.

    • $1650412

      You might draw encouragement from the example of Elisabeth Leseur. I have not read her work, but I know she is much regarded and loved because of her fidelity in a similar situation- with dynamic results! Check her out here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Secret-Diary-Elisabeth-Leseur/dp/1928832482
      I think loving submission in all things lawful is a good way to go and to defer to your husband’s preferences for the sake of his happiness and security. I think this is a good way to bring him closer to Jesus and to ultimately attain a loving union in salvation. You can trust God with a lot of things- He is very faithful to lead and reveal Himself and Truth to others through the pathways of grace forged by others in sacrificial submission.

      • MB

        Thank you. I will look for that book.

  • jack g.

    We need to be obedient to God and the Church first and teach that, or at least try to teach that, to our unbelieving spouses. IT is part of marriage cross, the journey to Holiness. In marriage if we work with God we will become saint by the time we die and so our reward id greater with less purgatory time, but only if we work with God and become meek of heart. That is hard for me and for men especially, I would think, but it is the only way. Pride has no place in heaven and so it is better to suffer here than have to make it up in Purgatory. Jesus never said it would be easy, he said the opposite, but with Him in our lives all the burden are light.
    My take

  • Mrshopey

    I think one of the most important lessons I am learning from this is how I am, have, responded to things that seem not to fit – questioning those in authority in humility.

    It is a slow process but what I have found is when I want to strike out at someone, it could very well be they are telling me something that is true and I should be dealing with – moving to acceptance.

    Of course, in general, we have been accused of having a hand in the abuse scandal through blind obedience. Except there is one thing missing – we are to obey in all things not sinful.

  • jack g.

    This NFP topic needs a special post Dan.
    I need to agree with both sides, Marc and Camila, because like Marc said, there are licit and illicit reasons. I would leave the judgement to God but for me the key is prayer life. If we really have relationship with a living God and sincerely ask Our Father for His will to be done, He will help us in finding answers to all those difficult choices. I ask Him if He wishes for us to have one more, and since I have 4 children with 3 women, it is difficult family(s) dynamics as it is and seems to me that God will tell me when, if He wants me to have more children. I tell my wife that I am open to life and she grows into this openness for the last year. So, what I want to convey here is, that we need to ask God and He will answer or build on that desire if we let Him.
    I believe that if two married people use NFP to just cultivate pleasure, it is fundamentally selfish and in essence not sacrificial giving; therefore egoistic and hedonistic approach, that surely is not pleasing to God. If people have less sexual relations in both parts of the cycle, and use NFP then we know it isn’t for the pleasure only. Obviously every person has a conscience, and even in one marriage there might be different or even opposite desires, and that is precisely why we need God’s guidance, asking Him every now and then.
    Let’s all pray that we won’t abuse NFP
    jack g.

  • GregB

    There is a problem with equating NFP with contraception. The abstaining from sex during the times of fertility to space births maintains the image and likeness, and the purpose, of the sex act as created by God. In artificial contraception the people using artificial contraception are altering the image and likeness, and the purpose, of the sex act to be something other than what God created.
    *
    When I read things written by people who dissent from the Church’s teaching on human sexuality, it is interesting how little is said about God the Creator. Only God can create an eternal soul, so He is an active participant in human procreation. A sex act performed while using artificial contraception is closed to God the Creator. When the sex act is closed to God the Creator, it makes abortion the next logical step when there is contraceptive failure.

    • Thanks Greg – you will the last word on this.

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