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I want to continue the theme from last week’s letter by Sarah Bartel and share with you a reflection written by a man on Natural Family Planning. Citing Bishop Galeone in my homily last week I mentioned some of the side effects that Pope Paul VI predicted if the use of contraception escalated: increased marital infidelity; a general lowering of morality, especially among the young; husbands viewing their wives as mere sex objects. By trusting in God, we can begin to heal these trends and show our children how to love and respect each other genuinely. We men have a great responsibility in this area and God is calling us to be the light, illuminating the dark ways of the world regarding sexuality. God has so much more in store for us than we can even imagine, if we trust in him.
“Be her Joseph!” By Tom Mealey
When we first married, my wife, Misty, and I were the typical secular couple. We relied on hormonal contraception. Due to bad side effects, that didn’t last long. Misty found out about
Natural Family Planning (NFP) through a Catholic friend. Admittedly, I was suspicious of all the “hocus pocus” involving thermometers at o’ dark-thirty in the morning and observations written down in cryptic symbols on the NFP chart. That would all change in surprising ways once we got into living the NFP lifestyle.
Before having children, Misty had been an atheist and I had been an agnostic. With our first child, the miracle of life spurred a spiritual awakening in us. We realized the Holy Spirit had already led us into a Catholic life. Even after our conversion, however, NFP grew our relationship with each other and with God in ways we never expected. We studied Pope John Paul II’s “theology of the body” and became excited about living out our faith and sharing it. It was thrilling to learn the compelling reasons behind the Church’s beautiful teachings on sex and marriage.
Much to my surprise, I also learned how grateful my wife was that I was willing to learn how her body worked. Sharing the family planning responsibility, as well as finding non-sexual ways of expressing affection and intimacy when we had good reasons to postpone pregnancy, strengthened our marriage and made me a better husband and father.
When we became Catholic, I knew I wanted to be the spiritual leader of our family, but I didn’t understand what that entailed besides herding our children to church on Sundays. Through NFP and Scripture, I discovered that I had a choice in the kind of man—the kind of husband—I was going to be.
Tom and Misty Mealey have four children and live in the Diocese of Richmond.
For more articles and more information on NFP go to the U.S. bishop’s website at usccb.org. There are also many great resources for growing in your marriage and in the love of God through the sacrament of Holy Matrimony at foryourmarriage.org.
Fr. Jack D. Shrum
For more of Father Jack's reflections click here