I’ve discovered that a clever way to write these posts is to take the “day’s best” from my various e mails at work and post them for all to see… So, the next few days will be a mix of random topics.
A question today comes from a father of 15 children (11 living and 4 miscarried). The Church teaches that preventing or achieving conception ought only be done by Natural Family Planning and must be done for “serious reasons.” Dr. Janet E. Smith is an expert in the area of Catholic sexual ethics and has written extensively on this topic.
The understanding of the word “serious” in this context has created much misunderstanding among the Faithful who wish to follow the Church’s teachings and recommendations in the procreation of children. Some wrongly think that a serious reason can be a stubborn desire to not want children or to buy a fancier car, while others wrongly think that a reason must be as serious as severe illness of the mother or famine in the country.
In her essay “The Moral Use of NFP” first published in “Why Humanae Vitae was Right,” she states the following:
Some Christians believe that in having children they are bringing forth new souls to share an eternity with God, some think that spouses must have children and have as many children as they can care for, since by not having children they would be denying souls the opportunity to come into existence. This view seems to be based on the false view that souls preexist and are, in a sense, awaiting a landing place. But souls do not preexist an act of sexual intercourse, nor is the act of sexual intercourse at a fertile time sufficient to bring forth new life that comes into existence and is thus the immediate source for that new soul coming into existence. Sexual intercourse provides God an opportunity to do his creative work.
These words sum up the not only the Church’s teaching on prudence and the use of our God-given intellect and will, but also explain in a profound way the impact that the contraceptive mentality has had even on faithful Catholics.
More to come on this later. What do you think?
Many of Dr. Smith’s essays are available here.