Catholics Do What?,  Contraception,  Culture of Death,  Evangelization,  JPII,  Marriage,  NFP

NFP survey headed to the USCCB (more or less)

Sometimes you just need to crack the door and God kicks it the rest of the way open.

It is my distinct pleasure to tell you, dear readers, that your enthusiastic and heart wrenching and cheering and inspiring and sometimes totally depressing responses (in the neighborhood of 500+ emails, comments, Facebook comments) to last week’s NFP survey are being curated into a helpful guideline for discussion for a panel discussion at the upcoming USCCB’s Convocation of Catholic Leaders on the challenges of living the Catholic vision of sex and marriage.

Which is exactly what we’ve been talking about these past few weeks around these parts.

Catholic author and psychologist Dr. Greg Popcak reached out to me last week asking if he could take a selection of these beautiful, difficult, and numerous responses with him to Orlando where he and his wife Lisa will be leading a panel discussion on the very challenges and scenarios we’ve been delving into in the comments section. Best part is, the convocation will be attended by representatives from every diocese in the United States.

So it was for sure the Holy Spirit who nudged this conversation out into the public square, as it is. I felt a little ridiculous asking “what do you need from the Church?” because, ah, I’m not the Church. But clearly, God had something in mind.

I have so many other ideas for what to do with this tidal wave of interest, with this tremendous wealth of feedback and some of the incredible ideas and suggestions. One thing that really crystallized for me in reading so many of your responses is that in so many areas, my very own parish is already implementing a lot of what is being asked for. And so I need look no further for best practices and implementation strategies than next Sunday. The real question is one of scale, of resources, and of how to light fires that burn brightly in parishes all across the US and the globe.

I want to especially thank the couples whose stories were particularly difficult to tell: the children who have left the faith, the failed marriages, the heartbreaking experiences of being denied by the very Church you are valiantly struggling to love.

I am nobody, just a mom with a blog, but on behalf of every Catholic, please accept my sincere and sorrowful apology that you were not seen. That your family was cast aside. That you went searching for the truth and were given rocks or a snake instead of the bread you desperately needed and deserved.

I’m sorry.

I know it’s nothing coming from me, except that I’m a fellow Christian and I wish I’d have been able to cook you a meal or take your kids for the afternoon or read through an Endow study with you in a small group. I wish that the sexual revolution hadn’t decimated an entire two generations, leaving behind a growing body count of ruined marriages and families and the landscape of utter “go it alone-ness” for so many couples.

We have so much work to do. The past couple weeks as I’ve been reading and responding and conducting interviews with many of you, George Weigel’s words have been ringing in my ears, his sweeping prediction on the importance of the Theology of the Body, and the growing realization that he maybe wasn’t being dramatic enough:“{Theology of the Body} is one of the boldest reconfigurations of Catholic theology in centuries…a kind of theological time bomb set to go off with dramatic consequences, sometime in the third millennium of the church.”

Y’all, he said this in 1999. It’s been close to 20 years, and we’re now ankle deep into the third millennium, and I’m like, “let’s make sometime NOW.”

So stay tuned. We’ve got a lot of work to do. And I thank you for your honesty, your transparency, and your faithfulness.


  • Julie

    First of all, great picture!! Second, YEAH! I love how God works through the faithful! I’m hopeful for what Dr. Popcak can start with this ammunition. And you are so right about our incredible parish–let’s see what fires we can start there! God bless you, Jenny, for starting the conversation!

  • TerriB

    Yay! Way to be obedient to the Holy Spirit, Jenni.

    I am still reading the comments as they continue to trickle in.

    I don’t usually have the time in my day of mothering to think in depth about things. But, I’ve been chewing on this topic and my response for days.

  • Katie McIntyre

    This is such wonderful news! Especially after I am crying to my husband just this weekend about the burden of NFP, especially in postpartum/nursing phase we are in.

    The newsletters that I get from couple to couple league about it being so wonderful your mirror for your marriage are a load of crap!

    • Kathryn

      Dear Katie
      NFP IS hard! As is mothering; as is being being faithful; but it is this kind of sacrifice that CAN and WILL save your soul, your children, your husband, and yes, even the world. Sacrifices borne in love, just like our Lord’s, can do all this.
      With love and prayers from a mom of 10

    • Ann Gundlach

      Just felt the need to defend our/my work at CCL as we try to support couples who choose NFP. I’m sorry, Katie, that our magazine has left you with such a poor impression. As it’s editor, I would LOVE to hear from you — or anyone! — about what kind of content would be helpful to you. I take feedback seriously, and would argue that reader input has helped improve Family Foundations. I don’t deny that in every issue you will find people who are grateful for NFP. I’m sorry…there’s a lot of them out there. But in every issue you will also find content specifically developed to help couples who are struggling with NFP. Here’s one recent example: We’ve even devoted entire issues to the postpartum time, or the cross of NFP. But perhaps a magazine article isn’t what you need. We have a Facebook group, we have local chapters where you can meet other NFP couples, we have trained volunteers who are available to talk to you about your experiences and difficulties. We have consultants at our main office who take calls every day from folks who have questions, difficulties or struggles. I LOVE the survey Jennifer put together and I hope it gets the attention it deserves at the convocation (CCL will be there as well). But we have been in the trenches supporting couples using NFP for decades while the church has been largely silent. We can’t make NFP easy — no one outside of God can do that — but we have never been deaf or blind to the struggles. I welcome any suggestions for how we can do better. [email protected]

  • Christy

    Is it too late to add comments on the original blog post about living NFP, what that would look like, or is it all already sent off to the USCCB?

  • Lesley

    40 years ago when I married my first husband, I wish more than anything in the world we had known about NFP, forced birth control on my part destroyed our marriage I believe – I really wanted to start a family he did not – alas I strayed from the marriage and broke it up. I surely know now better what I should’ve done. I will also confesse that my Catholic faith was not properly formed at that stage of my life either. Thanks for your writing, I enjoy every single blog!

  • Julie Billmeier

    Ah, you are mistaken in one comment in the post. You ARE the Church. We are the Church. The priests, the USCCB, the Pope, they are not the entirety of the Church. We ALL are. Which is why the Holy Spirit can cerntainky use you to ask this question. Well done with this work – it will be so fruitful!

  • Khira

    The Holy Spirit led me to this blog, and surprised me. I was at that panel and great information was provided. Thank you for this discussion and providing so much.
    I truly believe that the TOB timebomb is setting off right now because we are talking to each other about these issues rather than allowing the devil to trick us into thinking we’re alone amd must keep silent. The Church is communal, so let’s continue to gather and converse. We’re not alone in these struggles, and we shouldn’t feel ashamed. We need to take those feelings of shame and isolation as indicators that those are the very things we need to be talking about; however, it is difficult to find the right people to speak to. Prayerfully consider being those people in your parish and starting ministries that address some of these issues.
    Thank you all for your honesty and openess.

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