NFP presentation marks Humanae Vitae’s 50th anniversary

STORM LAKE – On the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, July 25, a presentation focused on the document and Natural Family Planning (NFP) was held at St. Mary Parish.
Fred Shellabarger, director of evangelization and discipleship, noted there were about 25 in attendance including five couples preparing for marriage.
“We always offer something during NFP Awareness Week to meet the (marriage prep) requirement,” said Shellabarger. “With the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, we thought this was a good opportunity to provide catechesis on this landmark teaching as well as an introduction into NFP.”
He said the presentation was necessary to offer because it’s important for Catholics “to recognize the importance of Humanae Vitae – its impact and implications.”
“It’s incredible how prophetic Blessed Pope Paul VI’s teaching was,” said Shellabarger. “It is just as relevant today, as it was 50 years ago, if not more. It’s also important for Catholics to understand the theological foundations and practically speaking, how to apply this teaching to everyday married life.”
Humanae Vitae
Father Patrick Behm, associate pastor at Holy Trinity Parish in Webster County, offered the presentation on Pope Paul VI’s document Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life).
“He published it 50 years ago today,” said the priest. “This was a guiding light, a guiding moment in the history of the church.”
He offered a historical perspective of the document. Prior to the Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Bishops on Aug. 15, 1930, every Christian church was unanimously opposed to contraception.
“All of a sudden, one group of Anglican bishops changed this,” said Father Behm. “A resolution that came from the conference opened the door to contraception becoming more widely accepted within marriage. Within a few years, other churches began to follow suit.”
However, he said, one denomination “hung in there and said, ‘This is wrong.’ It was the Catholic Church.”
“The Catholic Church always taught and always will teach that contraception violates the dignity of the human person and is therefore immoral,” said Father Behm. “This is a key point. This is really an important thing to understand.”
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the oral contraceptive pill for use on May 9, 1960. The priest pointed out this was debated among Catholic circles until 1968, when Humanae Vitae was published. This is commonly known as the birth control encyclical.
“It was incredibly controversial,” said Father Behm. “There was great dissent from leading theologians.”
He went on to point out the opposite of “love is not hate. The opposite of love is use. Contraception uses another person for one’s own pleasure.”
“We love things and use people,” said Father Behm. “We are supposed to love people and use things.”
Pope Paul VI made four predictions in Humanae Vitae when he published it – there would be a general increase in marital infidelity and divorce, general lowering of moral standards, societal loss of respect for women and government coercion into using contraceptives.
“All of Pope Paul VI’s predictions came true,” said Father Behm. “Every single one of them. What is the solution? First of all, throw away any contraception you have. Second of all, go to confession if you need to.”
The third solution, he offered, was to teach sons self-control and to respect women. Fourth was to teach daughters to say, “No,” and to respect themselves. Finally, he said to not let daughters go on the pill.
“Jesus Christ invites us to holiness,” said Father Behm. “The way that we do that is by following that which is true.”
Natural Family Planning
Lisa Willis, who teaches the Creighton Model Fertility Care System, was the presenter of the Natural Family Planning portion of the evening. The presentation was during Natural Family Planning Awareness week – July 22-28.
“There are a lot of other NFP systems out there,” said the presenter, a registered nurse, who is a married Catholic mother of three. “I think this one (Creighton Model) is the best. The added benefit is Natural Procreative (NaPro) Technology. This really helps treat the woman.”
Dr. Thomas Hilgers is the co-founder of the Creighton Model System and has done research on NaPro Technology and treatment for women, explained Willis.
“He felt called after hearing about Humanae Vitae,” she said. “He was an OB/GYN resident at the time. In the encyclical, they called to men of science. He felt the need to answer that call.”
The unitive and procreative part of love, Willis said, “need to be present for a good marriage and for true marital love to be there.”
“If you take away the unitive way or the love part, that is when invitro fertilization, artificial inseminations, sperm banks, surrogates and things like that come in,” she said. “That is why those things aren’t promoted in the Catholic Church. A life might come of that, but the marital love of a man and wife is gone.”
On the other side, if the procreative, the life part is missing, then that is when “the birth control pill and other forms of contraception” come in, noted the presenter.
“We know what the church teaches and we want to follow it,” said Willis. “How do we go about carrying out that call? That is where NFP comes in.”
With the Creighton Model System, one of the focuses is truly appreciating “our fertility and the children that might result from its use,” she commented.
The model can help couples achieve pregnancy, avoid pregnancy and time conception. It also offers pregnancy evaluations, NaProTracking the procreative cycle and marital bonding.
“It is tailor made for you,” said Willis. “Women that have any kind of cycle can chart this and be confident that what they are seeing is their true window of fertility. Women with regular cycles, irregular cycles and anovulatory states (don’t always ovulate in a cycle). Whether a woman is breastfeeding, premenopause, post-pill or any other situation, we can help you figure out your procreative life and cycles.”
The advantages to the Creighton Model System include it is medically safe, reliable, inexpensive, natural and cooperative with the body, there are no side effects and it is a shared system, so communication is there.
“It respects the dignity of women and marriage,” said Willis. “This is a Catholic-based system, but it isn’t just for Catholic women. It is a standardized system as well.”
She shared charts of varying cycles and women with varying issues.
“The charts give a lot of information as to what is going on hormonally and if there are possible issues we need to address,” said Willis. “It (the chart) is an amazing health record.”

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