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Dr. Jay Boyd was received into the Catholic Church in 2002. Since that time, it has been her desire to understand and proclaim the authentic teaching of the Magisterium, especially with regard to life issues and the sacred liturgy. Some of her thoughts on these topics have been published in articles in Homiletic and Pastoral Review; in addition, Dr. Boyd maintains a blog called “Philothea on Phire”, where most of the chapters in her book made their first appearance. She holds a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
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Dr. Jay Boyd's writing on this critically important topic deserve to be read by serious Catholics who want to put NFP in its proper perspective. NFP is a theme that should be treated carefully and not presented as the "normal" way Catholic spouses ought to relate to one another. I am confident that Dr. Boyd's work here is just the beginning of the broader re-examination of the Catholic emphasis on NFP as the be-all/end-all for Catholic thinking on families and children. She is owed a debt of gratitude for engaging in what is admittedly a controversial topic with courage and conviction.
Jay Boyd does a marvelous job explaining what the Catholic Church (i.e., scripture, magisterium and Tradition) had always taught for more than 1960 years in relation to the first and second end of the Sacrament of Matrimony. The first end: procreation and education of the children (i.e., cooperate with God by being co-creators to the souls He wills to populate Heaven). The second end, is the union of the spouses. Jay explores various aspects of the current situation of many faithful catholic couples who use NFP as if it were the virtuous way to control having children while still being morally correct. She explains why such attitude is not really open to life. Instead of focusing on how to determine what are the serious (i.e., "just causes") for which the Catholic Church gives the dispensation of using NFP to avoid pregnancy, the current way of promoting NFP in the church resembles simply the Catholic contraception. This book (together with other articles, for ex. "Heroic parenthood" and some talks by Michael Voris [Vortex 5-Sep-13] and Mic'dUp [28-Aug-13]) , specially the gem of the first chapter of Jay's book (taken from a talk found at audiosancto.org) are worth the money. To put it simply, the arguments presented in these sources have helped my wife and I stop teaching NFP (after 10 years of being a certified teaching couple) and instead focus on share the blessing of large families, the blessing of children, and complete trustful surrender to the Will of God. This has been truly liberating and a complete blessing! (We are now expecting our 5th child). Sadly, we still find many people who argue: "well, teaching NFP still helps couples to shift from artificial contraception".Read more ›
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Dr. Boyd who is a charming person doing her best to be a faithful Catholic. She has written a fine book which has many points that Catholics following the historic teachings can find agreement with. Nevertheless what is not mentioned is that there are dozens of Church Fathers, Popes and Bishops from the past who absolutely reject the concept of frustrating God's gift of procreation. For nearly it's entire history the Catholic Church viewed the concept of avoiding children and having marital relations for pleasure alone as a serious sin for which no "just cause" can ever exist. The "just cause" is a 19th and 20th century innovation which finds no precedent whatsoever in the past councils and fathers.
Consider for example, Augustine of Hippo:
"This proves that you [Manicheans] approve of having a wife, not for the procreation of children, but for the gratification of passion. In marriage, as the marriage law declares, the man and woman come together for the procreation of children. Therefore, whoever makes the procreation of children a greater sin than copulation, forbids marriage and makes the woman not a wife but a mistress, who for some gifts presented to her, is joined to the man to gratify his passion (The Morals of the Manichees 18:65 [A.D. 388]).
No bishop or pope has the ability to change this law. It is a natural law created by God, that marriage is intended to beget children. In times past, before the 19th and 20th century it was universally recognized that those who intentionally frustrate God's will of the gift of children commit sin against nature.
We can additionally notice the historic teaching of the schismatic Orthodox Church.Read more ›
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"Some people think that a decision by a couple to time their acts of love in order to space their 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 the use of infertile times, give themselves to each other totally and completely as they are at that moment. The contraceptive 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 contraceptive couple alters either both their bodies or one of them and in so doing they violate the integrity of their bodies." ~Rev. Richard Hogan, "The Human Body..a sign of dignity and a gift." (Cincinnati: The Couple to Couple League, 2005).
Please read Humanae Vitae by Pope Paul VI for yourself. It is rather short, plainly written and freely available through the Vatican website and various other locations. Paragraph 10 states "..With regard to physical, economic, psychological and social conditions, responsible parenthood is exercised by those who prudently and generously decide to have more children, and by those who, for serious reasons and with due respect to moral precepts, decide not to have additional children for either a certain or an indefinite period of time."
Serious is less of a degree than grave in doctrine writing. This author misleads one to believe that using NFP is the same as contraceptives and that one needs a grave reason to practice Responsible Parenthood. Please read Humanae Vitae by Pope Paul VI and see church teaching for yourself.
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