NFP = New Favorite Place…

Hieronymus Blog. A traditionally-minded guy who promises:

“I will not complain on this blog, and I will not allow anyone else to complain. I will not gripe about the stupidity and ugliness of OCP music and wreckovation, or about the deficiencies of the Novus Ordo Miss? and the postconciliar liturgical reform. I have strong opinions on these matters, but they are hardly original. Everything that needs to be said about them has been said. Instead, I shall discuss what is good and beautiful.”

And he does. I’m kind of a sucker for medieval art. Go, behold.


  1. and, please don’t forget to complete your thoughts of NFP (Not Functionally Possible)! If the plan of Natural Family Planning has a function available to plan and have sex, but not with procreation as the goal, this is Birth Control. This is a Sin before God and the Pope. Pretty ribbons will not hide these Gifts from God.

  2. Jonathan Potter says

    Neverending Fertile Plains (God shed his grace on thee)

  3. Matthew Lickona says

    I return to the Catechism, which I think is a pretty good indicator of the mind of the Church:

    “Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of the infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality.”

    So, periodic continence – not having sex – is a “method of birth regulation” – as opposed to contraception – which is “in conformity with the objective criteria of morality” – that is to say, it’s okay. But there’s also this interesting little clause: “and the use of the infertile periods.”

    Again, I ask: what do you suppose that means? It seems to me like it means “sex during the infertile periods,” and it seems to me that that sex is a part of the “method of birth regulation” is therefore “in conformity with the objective criteria of morality.”

  4. Don’t go by “Cathechism”, go by the teachings of the Pope. NFP is not what the Pope has in mind for having intercourse without the purpose of conception. If you use NFP for planning to have sex/pleasure without planning to have Life, then you are practicing “BIRTH CONTROL”! If you use NFP to conceive, that is a choice to conceive. Sex during the infertile period is BIRTH CONTROL! You make it sound like some lawyers got involved and, without the Pope involved, said that we found a clause!

    PLEASE!!! Find it in the Bible where Birth Control is allowed.

    If you do not have sex… “self-control”… and stop intercourse, that is not Birth Control. That has nothing to do with the release of sperm or egg. If you have intercourse and release sperm for the purpose of pleasure, or for the non-creation of Life… well, that is the perfect description of Birth Control.

    Release of sperm, whether outside or inside the woman, is the beginning of Life. That is why Onan was killed by God. He produced the sperm outside the body and then wasted it. That is the same as producing sperm for purpose of intercourse, as he did, and made it void for conception.

    Where did the Pope say that “birth regulation” was moral?

    You are just spinning words for self indulgence. You can’t find Scripture, and you can’t find the Pope’s leadership. No one is coming to your side, no one who is truly Catholic.

    Anyway, you continue through all of this to give Life, that is good. now you must continue your journey to learn was a true Catholic is, and if that is a path you wish to take.

  5. Matthew Lickona says


    You wrote:

    Don’t go by “Cathechism”, go by the teachings of the Pope.

    At the beginning of the Catechism is the Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum On the Publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Prepared Following the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, written by John Paul, Bishop, Servant of the Servants of God for Everlasting Memory – better known as Pope John Paul II.

    In that Apostolic Constitution, the Pope writes that the Catechism, “the publication of which I today order by my Apostolic Authority, is a statement of the Church’s faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition, and the Church’s Magisterium. I declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion.” Later, he calls it “a sure and authentic reference text for teaching catholic doctrine.” So, since the Pope has said that the Catechism is a statement of the Church’s faith and of catholic doctrine, I feel pretty good about going by the Catechism. A Pope has explicitly approved it.

    Further, since you’re telling me that I mustn’t practice “birth control,” the burden is on you to show me where a Pope said that such practice was always immoral. I see an explicit condemnation of contraception, but I also see an approval of “birth regulation” which makes use of the fertile periods. The Church is not in the business of contradicting itself. Ergo, there must be a difference between “birth regulation” and “contraception.” The difference is this: contraception deforms the actual marital act. Sex during the infertile period does not deform the marital act.

    Release of sperm is not the beginning of Life. Nowhere does the church say this, and nowhere does science say this. Conception is the beginning of life.

    Let’s say I was trying to conceive with my wife, and accidently had sex during her infertile period. If release of sperm is the beginning of life, then I would have committed the sin of Onan (as you interpret it) right there – releasing sperm and making it “void for conception.”

    You wrote:

    PLEASE!!! Find it in the Bible where Birth Control is allowed.

    Happily, as a Catholic, and as indicated by the threefold sources the Pope mentioned in the Apostolic Constitution – scripture, tradition, and the magisterium – I don’t have to base every single one of my beliefs about moral action on a particular passage in scripture.

    You might want to check Canon law about the ends of marriage. The unity of the spouses gets listed ahead of the production of children. The unity of the spouses is most perfectly expressed in the marital act, when the two become one flesh. You keep opposing conception and pleasure. Of course, there is pleasure involved, but there is also the unitive end of marriage, which is wholeheartedly endorsed by the Church.

    You wrote:

    You are just spinning words for self indulgence.

    I’ll thank you to stop trying to judge my motives – I’m not judging yours.

  6. Oh you guys are making me laugh! “When Catholics Collide”, soon to be a major motion picture.

    There are so many different kind of Catholics. If your Church knew how many of their flock had broken Church Law only a handfull would be allowed Communion.

    I have looked at the details of NFP and it does seem like a natural way to help perfect the opportunity of conception. On the other hand it describes a “natural” form of birth control. Since I’ve also read the Pope’s writings on birth control, it would appear even this practice is wrong.

    Anon 1K

  7. Matthew Lickona says

    Glad to provide some amusement.
    There are indeed many different kinds of Catholics. But I don’t think the Church is too terribly in the dark about how many of them have “broken Church law”. In regard to the question of contraception, the number that gets tossed around for American Catholics who disobey the teaching is something like ninety percent.
    Please do cite the Pope’s writings you are referring to.

  8. The Bible does mention the sin of Birth Control, but not Abortion.

    Matthew, if you say that about ninety percent of American Catholics disobey the Catholic Law of Life, why are they receiving Communion?

    In a previous blog you say that you will continue to have intercourse with your Wife with no intention of conceiving Life (the infertile period). Yet you mention an “accident” may happen, that your “plan” to conceive during a fertile period actually may happen during an infertile period.

    I see that you like to poke fun at NFP, how “natural” is it?

    Please, don’t mix me up with Anon 1K, he is not me! I don’t think this is funny.

  9. Matthew Lickona says

    Oh, Anon, I’ve never mixed you up with Anon 1K.

    I have no idea why ninety percent of Catholics who “disobey the Catholic law of Life” are receiving communion. I think it might be worth finding out, but that seems a tricky business.

    I poke fun because there is such manifest disagreement about NFP – so many think it ridiculously restrictive, and yet you think it immoral to practice with birth regulation in mind. And even those who accept it find it difficult – though its difficulty does not necessarily speak to how “natural” it is or is not. I’m not poking fun at NFP; I’m poking fun at humanity.

    My wife will never conceive during an infertile period, because she is not fertile during her infertile period. It is possible that she will conceive during intercourse during what we think is her infertile period – in which case we will have been mistaken. This possibility exists because we have done nothing to deform the marital act – every marital act thus remains open to the transmission of life, as the Church requires.

    Up in the NFP=? thread, Korrektiv suggests a site where this matter is discussed in some depth.


  10. I’d be curious where you got your ninty percent figure from. Quite a large percentage! I can imagine a day that every Catholic will need to attend special classes to qualify them as true catholics, graduating with an ATM like card that must be swiped everytime they enter a Church. Right before Communion, and after you have swiped your card, a red or green light will flash for whether you are able to receive. A monetary donation would then be deducted and a “sin” tax would be added, but you could have it deducted if you went to Confession within a 24 hour period. This would be called “The Hail Mary Pass.”

  11. Matthew Lickona says

    I can’t imagine such a day. Every Catholic is already required to go through a formative period/education prior to the sacrament of Confirmation. The Church is not interested in playing Thought Police – only God knows the secrets of the heart. Heck, even when the Church censures a dissident theologian, all she does is remove his power to teach in a Catholic university – she doesn’t tell them what they can and cannot think.

  12. Ah, but we all miss the greater point!. I know for certain that there are Non-Catholics and Non-Christians who go to a Catholic Church that receive Communion. I know for certain that there are Catholics who by Catholic Law should not be receiving Communion. The Body of Christ is given away to non-believers, they do it for selfish reasons. This is a fact that I know!

    If you believe you are Catholic, and you give yourself before Christ and God, and that the Gifts of Communion are reserved for true believers, why are they given to Anyone.

    You can’t imagine a day when “proof of Catholic” cards are given? It will happen, and in time. When during political troubled times, many Churches are ready and willing to deny Catholics Communion because of their public acceptness of Choice, “John Kerry”, as one example. This is when you should be looking within the Church deeper than you should. Time will tell and voices will need to be heard from all corners of the World and Heaven.

  13. Matthew Lickona says

    No, it won’t happen. Kerry was a politician who made his rejection of Church teaching public, and on a regular basis. This kind of public flouting of Church teaching forces the Church to make some judgment as to whether the person coming to the altar to receive is in fact in communion with the Mystical Body. But the Church leaves a soul’s private convictions to God. It acts only on what it can see, and it doesn’t go burrowing. That’s why non-Catholics can get away with receiving.

  14. Ok, you want to debate the future, we all can take a stab it and all be wrong, I’ll grab on to that! But!!! You make comments that because an individual makes public statements (and not all Catholic Churches felt the same way about Kerry!), a Church can decide to forbid the Communion, but you also say that a “it doesn’t go burrowing”. So if you keep silent you can receive Communion with the same beliefs. “That’s why non-Catholics can get away with receiving”. Why bother?

    This is like buying an expensive bottle of wine and believing you have the best of the grape, and someone who buys an expensive bottle of wine and “knowing” they have the best of the grape. Same grape, same vineyard, same vintage, same wine. It’s the ego that does the “knowing”.

    Kerry believes himself a good Catholic. He actually might be better than most who believe they are “good” Catholics. Would you call an American citizen not worthy of their citizenship if they disagree with their President? If you think that our War in Iraq is wrong, should your right to vote be taken away?

  15. Matthew Lickona says

    The Church is not a democracy. The Church claims its authority not from the people, but from the command of Christ, from revelation and tradition, and from the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

    The US is a democracy. The US claims its authority from the will of the voters. If I disagree with the President, I can vote him out of office.

    I don’t think the comparison holds up.

    I’m well aware that not all bishops agreed about Kerry. I’m not much interested in debating who is and who isn’t a good Catholic. All I’m noting here is that Kerry explicitly and publicly rejected the teaching of the Church regarding abortion. Communion is just that – a communion with the Mystical Body of Christ, i.e., the Church. Communion is a joining with something. So if Kerry presents himself for Communion after publicly stating that he is not in fact in communion – that he has removed himself from communion by the rejecting of an authoritative teaching – then an argument can be made that the priest ought not to grant communion where there is in fact none.

    But again, the Church respects human freedom. Look at the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, which does in fact censure certain theologians who teach things contrary to the faith. First, there is endless dialogue, an attempt to bridge the gap. Then, if no bridge is possible, the Church removes the theologian’s right to teach in a Catholic setting. That’s it. The theologian can still teach elsewhere, can still write and publish books, can still go on the lecture circuit. The only thing he or she cannot do is stand up in a Catholic setting and claim to teach Catholic theology. There are those who argue that dissident theologians have done great harm to the faith of many. This may be true. And yet the Church does not silence them, does not even try to silence them. Such is her respect for human freedom.

    The Church asks those who are not in communion with the Church not to receive the Eucharist. But because the Church respects human freedom and human conscience, she does not go quizzing folks before they receive. Kerry paraded his beliefs in public; his public actions called for a public response. The correct nature of that response is a matter of prudence. Hence the disagreement amongst the bishops.

    I’m not sure what you’re getting at with the bottle of wine image. Yes, the Eucharist is the Eucharist whether or not a person believes it is the Eucharist, and whether or not a person is worthy to recieve the Eucharist. In cases where a person has made no public statements, the Church can only hope for the best.

    ‘Nuff said.

  16. Matthew,

    Acutually you can’t “vote” our current President out of office. BUT, next month there will be a Washington D.C. protest to ask that he step down. I wish I lived closer, I’d go! If I could vote him out of Office I would.

    That’s just my position, Anon 1K

  17. Matthew Lickona says

    Anon 1K,
    It’s true, you can’t vote Bush out of office just now. But the country had a chance to do so in ’04, and will have a chance to select a new leader in ’08. So I think the point still stands. His office (and the authority that goes with it) is granted to him by the will of the people who voted for him.

  18. Actually, the will of the people voted for Gore the first time around beating Bush, it was the electorial vote that granted Bush the winner.

    And, the United States is a Republic and not wholly democratic. The law comes before the people. Our founding fathers knew that a Country founded on democracy alone would fail.

    The will of the people may desire that Bush leave office, but that won’t happen on its own. I hope that the Spirit of Presidents Past (Richard M. Nixon) visits Bush in his sleep!

    Anon 1K

  19. Matthew Lickona says

    Anon 1K,
    I’m aware of these distinctions. But my general point, I think, stands – that a US citizen has, in his or her power to vote for candidates, a measure of power which he or she does not enjoy as a member of the Catholic Church. The pope appoints Cardinals, and the Cardinals elect the next pope.

  20. Your comments are rather “dry”. If Catholics decided not to go to Church to “speak” their voice, and if Churches were empty for months, years, or more, would the Vatican stay to their message, or would they be moved by Christ speaking through the Lamb. Does not Christ speak to all, or only Bishops and the Pope?

    In the Bible, God and Angels spoke to the masses “regular people”. God had Angels spread the word that Jesus was going to be born to Shepards, regular people.

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