Economic Reasons for Birth Control/Frustrating Fecundity: “Hypocrisy at Its Zenith; Folly at Its Height” November 17, 2016Posted by Tantumblogo in Abortion, Basics, catachesis, contraception, Domestic Church, family, General Catholic, Holy suffering, Interior Life, mortification, sadness, scandals, Society, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
That, according to Fr. Fulgence Meyer, OFM, from his 1920s treatise Plain Talks on Marriage. Of course use of artificial contraception of any type is always and everywhere sinful. Periodic abstinence can of course be practiced legitimately, but even here there are moral dangers, contrary to what far too many NFP promoters convey to their followers. While there may be occasional, and, according to Father, quite rare, family economic situations that couples may find themselves in, permitting them to engage in periodic abstinence to prevent reproduction, Fr. Meyer notes that the economic justifications for such are often self-serving and dominated by worldly, materialist concerns. What is far more virtuous for Catholics to engage in, should circumstances force a perceived need to minimize the likelihood of reproduction, is total cessation from the marital act if at all possible, rather than recourse to periodic abstinence. Of course, this must be agreed to by both parties to the marriage, and if periodic abstinence is all that can be withstood by one or both, they must of course keep the most open heart and soul towards any children that may still result. I still believe, however, that some couples do make use of NFP in a way that is identical to contraception, and with the same overall intent. But that may be getting a bit far afield.
Fr. Meyer presents a very compelling case for the mainstream of Catholic opinion on this subject in the first half of the 20th century, before much of the rot had risen to the surface and broken out into the open. From pp. 83-87, cut and paste to make a concise point:
The economical reason is perhaps the most universally alleged justification for sinful birth control. It is at the same time the most flimsy and hypocritical, and nowhere more so than in our country of great and splendid opportunities for making a living. People say: “We want to give our children a good education. Education costs money. Our money will only erach for the education of one or two children. it would therefore be folly and unfair to have more.” Very well. But conduct yourself accordingly, and practice virtuous abstinence while you desire no more children. No matter to what schools and colleges they send them, parents, who through sinful and selfish prevention have but one or two children, give these children the worst possible education by their own unvirtuous conduct and godless selfishness. They would do immensely better by their children, whether they have few or many, if they did their own duty to God conscientiously, and transmitted to their children this, the best element of true education, the fear of the Lord.
Large families thrive much better economically than small families. This is accounted for naturally……..and supernaturally, since God always provides for those who serve Him in truth and rely upon His fatherly providence. Educationally, too, a child of a large family as a rule is better off for many reasons than the solitary child. The best education of life is in its main elements obtained in the home. At any rate, if selfish couples succeed in deceiving themselves with specious reasons, they must know that they will never deceive God, Who searches the heart and mind……..
What are the reasons of the spread of this moral cancer among our American Catholics? One reason is the husband’s neglect of his duty to assert himself as, and actually to be, the head of the wife, even as Christ is the Head of the Church. The head should lead by superior intelligence and a higher sense of duty, instead of yielding in weak connivance or acquiescence when the woman feels, and winces under, the burdens of her sex and its responsibilities in married life, and directly or indirectly pleads for sinful consideration in asking her husband “to be careful” in the performance of the marriage act. [A clear reference to frustration by withdrawal, or limiting the act to less fertile times] From the very beginning a Catholic man should set himself firmly against the very suggestion. He will be willing and glad, for good reasons, to observe continence to spare his wife; but he will never consent to any unnatural process of conjugal love. Much less will he ever himself take the initiative in intimating or insinuating so wicked a conduct. By weakly yielding to the suggestion and invitation of Eve, Adam brought a tremendous series of evils upon himself and her and all their descendants……
……In reality, however, man is probably as often, if not oftener than woman, the more guilty party in the sin of contraception. Maybe it were more correct to say that the guilt is about equally divided. If so, it is a sign that they both are practically ignorant of the high privilege and inestimable distinction of parenthood. This, more than anything else, accounts for the prevalence of the detestable sin of the violation of nature in marriage. If our Catholic husbands and wives truly recognized what it means to be a parent, they would never be tempted sinfully to shirk or evade their sacred responsibilities in marriage. To be a parent means to be assumed by God as an active partner in the procreation of an immortal being, made after God’s own image and likeness, redeemed by the Precious Blood of His only begotten Son, and destined to shine before the throne of God in indescribable glory and blessedness throughout all the ages of eternity. [Conversely, those who embrace the contraceptive mentality, whether they use artificial contraception or not, on some level reject this beautiful theology of life just outlined by Fr. Meyer. They must, otherwise, they would not make use of the means they do to frustrate fecundity immorally] But, for this parent, this being will never be called into existence to give glory to God, and enjoy God, forever and ever……[That’s a really beautiful point. It is horrifying to consider how many billions of souls have been snuffed out of existence by chemical contraception, or never came into being at all through barrier or other means. This country alone has been economically devastated by the lost tens of millions of souls who should have been born.]
…...If you then appear before the judgment seat of God with but one or two children, or even none at all, [Which some NFP advocates maintain is perfectly fine, to use periodic abstinence to prevent having any children] when, as you and your partner enjoyed the privileges of married life, you should have had 6, 8, 10 or more; and the Judge asks you sternly: “Where are the rest?” – it will not avail you to answer, “Lord, I was the richest man in town, or the whole territory round about; I had the most sumptuous mansion, the finest automobiles, and the largest number of friends”……..All this will be futile over the cutting question of the Judge: “Where are the rest?”
Nor will you have the heart to advance as an excuse of your conduct the empty and futile pretexts of poverty, economic stress, disease and what not, with which you now try to ease and hush your conscience; for in the light of the omniscience of God all their hollowness and speciousness will be apparent and ghastly……..
……But if in judgment you can appear with all the children God gave you, and you can say in the words of Our Lord: “Of them whom Thou hast given me, I have not lost anyone” (Jn xviii:9); then no matter how poor and struggling you were on earth,how socially inconspicuous and politically obscure, the Judge will compliment you highly, and rewarded you amply, saying: “Well done, good and faithful servant: because thou hast been faithful over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Mt xxv:23).
I should stress in fairness, as Fr. Meyer does, that of course periodic abstinence done out of necessity and with a will open to having children should God provide them even during supposed periods of infertility can be morally acceptable, and often is. But in this culture of diabolical narcissism and endless selfishness, I would simply caution that it is incredibly easy to fool oneself into concluding that what are actually prurient reasons for preventing children are morally justifiable. The “default setting” for Catholics should be – totally contrary to what the culture tells us – be completely open to children throughout marriage, and take no steps to reduce or block fecundity if at all possible. Some couples follow that precept and have only two or three kids – that’s perfectly fine, it’s what God willed for them. Others may have 9 or 10 or 15. God knows what we need for our salvation, and what we can stand in terms of work or suffering, and will provide to us both in perfect measure.
I know this topic is probably preaching to the choir for readers of this blog, but perhaps you have some friends, family, or acquaintances with which you could share it.