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Washington D.C., Jul 31, 2014 / 04:18 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Catholic teaching on sexuality and fertility is being hailed as a moral alternative to hormonal birth control that embraces nature and respects the fullness of women’s lives and dignity.

Author Mary Rice Hasson, a fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Ethics and Public Policy Center, noted that many women, both religious and secular, are seeing the “terrible side effects” of artificial contraception and searching for “a better way” to monitor fertility.

“There’s increasingly an openness to what’s good for women,” she told CNA July 24, explaining that there has been a disconnect in society when “we buy organic milk to avoid hormones, but yet we’re putting these same hormones into our bodies” through hormonal contraception.

As hormonal birth control is called into question, Hasson said, the Church’s teaching on the dignity of women, fertility and sexuality offers an alternative.

“From the Church’s position, women are equal in dignity to men, but our maternity, our motherhood is a part of who we are,” she explained, adding that whether or not a woman has children, “there’s something about that capacity that is to be valued.”

Rather than artificial contraception, Hasson said, Natural Family Planning respects a woman’s capacity for motherhood while giving couples tools to expand or limit family size.

The mindset behind this approach recognizes that “this woman is a whole person who needs to take into account what is God’s will, what are the goals for our family, but you work with that: you don’t have to segment off this part of you.”

Natural Family Planning is the name given to a range of methods that can be used by couples to identify fertile periods, and can be used as a tool to either achieve or postpone pregnancy. The various scientific methods measure a range of fertility signs, including a woman’s basal body temperature, changes in cervical fluid, and the detection of reproductive hormones with a monitor.

Unlike artificial contraception, Natural Family Planning does not disrupt any natural fertility cycles, nor does it require any hormonal or physical barriers between couples.

The U.S. bishops have released resources offering information about Natural Family Planning – known as NFP – which is considered morally acceptable under Catholic Church teaching.

“NFP is unique because it enables its users to work with the body rather than against it,” they explained. “Fertility is viewed as a gift and reality to live, not a problem to be solved.”

When used according to their guidelines, these methods “achieve effectiveness rates of 97-99 percent,” the bishops said.

In addition, these methods can be used by women “during breastfeeding, just before menopause, and in other special circumstances,” as well to identify and treat special circumstances such as irregular menstrual cycles, reproductive illnesses, and risk of miscarriage.

A brochure posted online by the U.S. bishops’ conference underscored that the Catholic view of fertility values “responsible parenthood,” while respecting fertility. Natural Family Planning methods encourage spouses to “weigh their responsibilities to God, each other, the children they already have, and the world in which they live,” and prayerfully discern family size while untimely trusting God’s plan for their lives.

While the methods included under Natural Family Planning can be used to delay as well as achieve pregnancy, they are “different from and better than contraception,” the bishops’ resource explained.

Benefits of NFP include low cost, no harmful health or environmental side effects, and cooperation with fertility rather than suppressing it. In addition, the brochure highlighted that NFP is the responsibility of both spouses rather than just the wife or the husband, and how the mindset behind the practice works to “honor and safeguard the unitive and procreative meanings of married love.”

California writer Chrissy Wing recently wrote on Ethika Politika about what she sees as a disconnect between attitudes towards health and diet- particularly an emphasis on all natural and hormone-free products- and the promotion of artificial contraceptives.

She told CNA that while many people “scrutinize other products for possible toxins,” they often “seem to dismiss the much more blatant health risks” that accompany some artificial contraceptives, such as the formation of blood clots or contribution to early embryo death.

Wing suggested that Natural Family Planning “honors women's and men's ability to procreate and accepts the clear and natural link between sex and children,” while still helping families to plan their family expansion or limitation.

Hasson further critiqued society’s promotion of contraception, saying that the rejection of a couple’s procreative capacity says to women that “your fertility is a risk” and views that part of womanhood as “a problem.”

“It says that ‘something about the way you’re made is not really a good thing,’” she said.

In contrast, fertility monitoring and abstinence when necessary, to limit or expand family size, treats fertility as “a factor in who you are, and it’s a factor in your relationship.”

These Natural Family Planning methods, Hasson said, encourage couples to work with – rather than against – their natural cycles, recognizing that fertility shouldn’t be “controlled, circumscribed, limited or on the back shelf.”    

While “we have a responsibility towards responsible parenthood,” she acknowledged, the Church’s acceptance of the entirety of woman, including her capability for motherhood, shows that “you don’t have to alienate this part of you – your motherhood – in order to do other things.”

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Washington D.C., Jul 31, 2014 / 02:06 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Abortion advocates' recent shift away from the term “pro-choice” could be due to improving medicine and technology showing the harsh reality and effects of the procedure.

“Health is a popular buzz word for abortionists, but is much weakened as medical science shows women's health is harmed by abortion,” Dr. Charmaine Yoest, president and CEO of Americans United for Life, told CNA.

A July 28 article in the New York Times detailed how abortion rights activists are beginning to change the pro-choice label to more vague terminology, saying that they do not want to limit the abortion spectrum to the term. The issue has been transferred to the general labels of “women's health” and “economic security,” but advocates have still not found a suitable alternative name.

Yoest believes that abortion rights supporters are seeking another term as they are working to normalize abortion by creating the misconception that – since it is publicly funded – abortion is healthcare.

“The abortion industry is moving from choice to coercion, changing their strategy from mainstream abortion in culture to integrating it into healthcare,” she said.

Planned Parenthood released a video in January 2013 promoting the change in terms, called “Not In Her Shoes.” This production discussed how abortion advocates do not want to be limited to the pro-choice label because they hold that the issue encompasses more than just a choice.

However, pro-life activists see this shift as a victory, noting that after a forty-year battle, abortion advocates are needing to change their strategy. Advances in medical science and technology have also been viewed as dismantling abortion advocates' cause.  

“Thanks to the miracle of the ultrasound, generations are able to see what the abortionist's 'choice' is – the death of an unborn child. And thanks to a growing body of medical research, we know that 'choice' hurts women as well,” Yoest said.

According to the Times, various polls have shown that many women – when asked if they are pro-life or pro-choice – will answer pro-life, even if they supported the 1973 Roe vs. Wade ruling that legalized abortion in the U.S.

“As exposure to the horror of abortion grows, more and more people identify as pro-life based on their concern for both mother and child,” Yoest noted.

“Today, the abortion industry has moved from 'choice' to coercion, attempting to use the force of government to force compliance with an abortion agenda, or face dire consequences.”  

Yoest added that Americans are increasingly aware of this phenomenon, and that it is making them rethink what the term “pro-choice” really means.

“Pregnancy is not a disease 'cured' by the death of a child,” she reflected. “Real health care respects life.”

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Seeing the Face of Christ in the Poor

Each Sunday, we hear St. Vincent’s name mentioned along with St. Louis and St. Rose Philippine Duchesne during the Eucharistic prayers. St. Louis we know was the King of France. We know St. Rose was a teacher and brought education to all children, especially the Native American Indians. We have heard of St. Vincent and we know he is associated with the poor and that the St. Vincent de Paul Society provides resources to those in need. St. Vincent was involved in the formation of priests and set up missionaries to go out among ordinary people and tell them about Jesus. About 150 years after his death, his missionaries came to the St. Louis area. They asked his intercession on their great mission of reaching out to the people in the wilderness of St. Louis, asking him to be our patron. 

In 1581, St. Vincent de Paul was born to poor farmers. He was the third son and learned how to tend the animals. His father thought this would be good for him, but Vincent was smart and everyone noticed. The neighbors convinced his father to send him to school and let one of his other brothers tend the animals. Therefore, Vincent went away to school. He got along very well and taught others. His teaching ability would become an asset to him and allow him many opportunities to bring others to Christ. Although, he lived almost 500 years ago, St. Vincent had a very interesting life. While making a journey by boat to a new city where he was assigned, St. Vincent was captured by pirates and sold into slavery. After years as a slave, his master decided to help him escape and chose to go with him. St. Vincent’s Christian example would lead his master to repent and return to the Catholic Church. 

The St. Vincent de Paul Chapel at the Cardinal Rigali Center

Everywhere St. Vincent lived and worked the example of his life would bring others to Christ. He was a tutor in a very rich household. He affected the parents of the children he tutored. In the 1500’s, dueling was the answer to any offense. Honor was everything. One day, the father of his students was in church praying before going off to duel. St. Vincent convinced the father that taking another’s life in a duel was cruel and God did not approve. The father amended his ways and followed the example of St. Vincent. The father and mother became St. Vincent’s greatest supporters and after the mother’s death, the father would go on to become a priest. 

This was the effect St. Vincent had on people. People would change their behaviors and amend their ways to live according to the church doctrines and follow the ways of Christ. St. Vincent had no desire to be rich or famous. Although he had influential friends, he was happy to stay working with the poor in every community. In a time when people lived extravagant lives with no regard to how the poor people lived, he would remind them of the vast differences in lifestyles. He found priests to be missionaries and formed Lady’s Charities. While volunteering for these charities, wealthier women would work alongside not so wealthy women to feed and shelter the poor. They founded hospitals and orphanages. Where there was a need, St. Vincent found ways to go to these people and meet them where they were. One day he decided to visit the prisoners who served their sentence rowing the large ships. The inhumane way in which these prisoners were treated saddened and shocked him. He appealed to the ship owners and gained permission to take care of these men. It was difficult work, but St. Vincent managed again to con-vert souls and bring more people to the Church. He said to his followers, “Love makes us see God and nothing else but God in each of those whom we love.” St. Vincent gave his life for others and taught everyone by his exam-ple. 

Each month our Pope has special intentions. He has general and missionary intentions. In September 2012, he asked God to send: “Help for the poorest Churches that Christian communities may have a growing willingness to send missionaries, priests, and lay people along with concrete resources to the poorest Churches.” On September 27, we celebrate St. Vincent de Paul’s feast day. This is an appropriate time to ask God to help the poorest. St. Vincent would approve, he once said, “By mutual support the strong will sustain the weak, and God’s work will be accomplished.” St. Vincent wants everyone to be an example of Christ in the world. To love all people as God loved us. --- Alethea Paradis, M.T.S.

 

St. Vincent de Paul's Legacy

Jesus said, “this is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (Jn 15:12) As Christians we are called by these words of Christ to love and care for one another. The greatest way to outwardly express our love for one another is through charity- by donating our time, talent, and treasures to those in need.

There are many ways to get involved in the Catholic ministries in the Archdiocese of St. Louis that help the poor,
abused, neglected, elderly, disabled and lonely in our community, and one way is through the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. 

“Serving Christ’s needy is the first purpose of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.”

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul provides services in crisis intervention, housing, criminal justice ministry, transportation, and health.

Photo courtesy of svdpstlouis.org

Most parishes have a Society of St. Vincent de Paul conference, which are “chapters” of the Society. To find volunteer opportunities with your parish SVDP conference, you can call your parish office or look at the list of SVDP conferences.

To volunteer or donate to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul call 314.881.6000 or donate online.

 

Read more about the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.


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St. Ignatius of Loyola
7/31/2014 12:00:00 AM
On July 31, the Universal Church marks the feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola. The Spanish saint is known for founding the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits, as well as for creating the “Spiritual Exercisesâ€� often used today for retreats and individual discernment.St. Ignatius was born into a noble family in 1491 in Guipuzcoa, Spain. He served as a page in the Spanish court of Ferdinand and Isabella.He then became a soldier in the Spanish army and wounded his leg during the siege of Pamplona in 1521. During his recuperation, he read “Lives of the Saints.â€� The experience led him to undergo a profound conversion, and he dedicated himself to the Catholic faith.After making a general confession in a monastery in Montserrat, St. Ignatius proceeded to spend almost a year in solitude. He wrote his famous “Spiritual Exercisesâ€� and then made a pilgrimage to Rome and the Holy Land, where he worked to convert Muslims.St. Ignatius returned to complete his studies in Spain and then France, where he received his theology degree. While many held him in contempt because of his holy lifestyle, his wisdom and virtue attracted some followers, and the Society of Jesus was born.The Society was approved by Pope Paul III in 1540, and it grew rapidly. St. Ignatius remained in Rome, where he governed the Society and became friends with St. Philip Neri.St. Ignatius died peacefully on July 31, 1556. He was canonized by Pope Gregory XV in 1622.The Jesuits remain numerous today, particularly in several hundred universities and colleges worldwide.On April 22, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI presided over a Eucharistic concelebration for the Society of Jesus. He addressed the fathers and brothers of the Society present at the Vatican Basilica, calling to mind the dedication and fidelity of their founder.“St. Ignatius of Loyola was first and foremost a man of God who in his life put God, his greatest glory and his greatest service, first,â€� the Pope said. “He was a profoundly prayerful man for whom the daily celebration of the Eucharist was the heart and crowning point of his day.â€�“Precisely because he was a man of God, St Ignatius was a faithful servant of the Church,â€� Benedict continued, recalling the saint's “special vow of obedience to the Pope, which he himself describes as 'our first and principal foundation.'â€�Highlighting the need for “an intense spiritual and cultural training,â€� Pope Benedict called upon the Society of Jesus to follow in the footsteps of St. Ignatius and continue his work of service to the Church and obedience to the Pope, so that it's members “may faithfully meet the urgent needs of the Church today.â€�
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First Reading - Jer 18: 1-6
7/31/2014 12:00:00 AM
1 The word that came to Jeremias from the Lord, saying: 2 Arise, and go down into the potter' s house, and there thou shalt hear my words. 3 And I went down into the potter' s house, and behold he was doing a work on the wheel. 4] And the vessel was broken which he was making of clay with his hands: and turning he made another vessel, as it seemed good in his eyes to make it. 5 Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying:6 Cannot I do with you, as this potter, O house of Israel, saith the Lord? behold as clay is in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. 
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