Cluster of wheat image Grapes and vines image Cluster of wheat image
July 19th, 2010


This unusual letter by Bob Muckle of  Connecticut Right to Life in Waterbury CT arrived in my email today.  It is addressed to Brian Brown (formerly of Connecticut)  who is currently president of the National Organization for Marriage [2029 K Street, NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC  20006.]

I was impressed by the letter because Muckle, without half trying, gives a comprehensive overview of what has gone wrong in our country in his lifetime, since the Lambeth conference.


Long time no talk to.  I hope that everything is going well.  I hear all kinds of good things about you and what you are doing.

I would like to make some comments about the Council of Catholic Bishops and marriage. If this goes too long, forgive me, but I have a lot to say.
Over 44 years ago my wife and I became a teaching couple of Natural Family Planning.  In 1965 we became a teaching couple of the Symptothermal Method of NFP and taught it on a couple-to-couple basis to married and engaged couples.  We lived in complete awareness of our fertility for over 20 years.  We, or I, have attended many conferences and talks over the years.

My hero is the late Father Paul Marx, the founder of Human Life International.  Father Marx always said that every nation that accepted  contraception eventually legalized abortion.

In 1985 I attended a talk by Msgr. George Kelly in Bloomfield.  He is the author of the book “The Battle for the American Church”  During the Q and A period, the topic of contraception came up.  He quoted a comment by Anglican Bishop Charles Gore at the Lambeth conference of 1930.  This is the conference when for the first time in 1900 years of Christianity that a Christian church said that contraception would be OK in certain hard cases.  Bishop Gore voted against the majority.  His comment was, according to Msgr. Kelly, “Once you deny the presence of God in the marriage act and separate the loving relationship  from the life relationship with God, then not only is contraception allowable and permissible, but there is no reason why it has to be confined to married people. Once you separate sexual fulfillment, as a human value that is independent of God, then there is no reason why it has to be confined to members of the opposite sex.”  When I heard that, my ears perked up.  To me, he said that the acceptance of contraception would eventually lead to the acceptance of homosexuality.  I taped the talk, so I have it on a cassette.

After the American Federation of Churches followed suit with the Lambeth Conference in 1931, the Washington Post on March 22, 1931 editorially said, “Carried to its logical conclusion, the committee’s report, if carried into effect, would sound the death knell of marriage as a holy institution by establishing degrading practices which would encourage indiscriminate immorality.  To say that the use of legalized contraception would be careful and restrained is preposterous.

Within 30 years every Protestant Church legalized contraception.  The Catholic Church was the only holdout.  In the 1960’s the big move was put on the Catholic Church to follow suit.  The New York Times led the way with Catholic theologians like Father Charles Curran not far behind.  Everything was settled with the 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae when Pope Paul VI reiterated the teachings of the Catholic Church.  The American bishops did not defend the encyclical the way they should have.  The only bishop that I know of who did was Bishop Glennon Flavin of Lincoln, Nebraska.  Because of his defense, he never lost a priest and his vocations flourished.  Most of the other dioceses fell by the wayside.  As years went by, a number of dioceses did follow bishop Flavin’s example and they too began to get many vocations to the priesthood.

The reason I am bringing this up is because I am convinced that until the American bishops defend Humanae Vitae 100 %, the battle against same sex marriage and homosexuality will never be won.  They can say all they want about Genesis and “A man leaving his mother and father and clinging to his wife and the two of them becoming one flesh” to no avail.

Listening to married couples who went from contraception to NFP over the years and the way it changed their lifestyle is very encouraging.  Many times I have heard about homosexuals making  the comment that if married couples could contracept, why couldn’t they live their lifestyle.  What’s the difference?

Keep up your good work, but every time I hear the bishops on this topic, I can’t help but wonder!

God bless,

Bob Muckle
July 19th, 2009


Our U. S. bishops have proclaimed July 19-26 as Natural Family Planning Awareness Week.  They publish  a poster and make available educational  materials that the various parishes can use but promoting Natural Family Planning is left up to each diocese.  The week is meant to highlight the anniversary of the publication of Humanae Vitae and the feast days of Saints Anne and Joachim. Happily it also coincides with the publication of Benedict XVI’s new encyclical, the very beautiful  Caritas in Veritate (Love in Truth).



The varieties of contraceptive medications are multiplying so quickly that it is hard to keep track of them – pills (choose monthly periods or every-four-months), patches, implants, inserts et al.   All  of them come with warnings about side-effects, both in the package inserts and the TV commercials. In the face of all this hype, I feel that Natural Family Planning (NFP) needs an advocate. The old “rhythm” method, which was used primarily by Catholics, was sometimes referred to as Vatican Roulette because it often resulted in pregnancy due to the variations in cycles among women.

Many people are unaware that “rhythm” has now been replaced by Natural Family Planning which has an effectiveness of over 95%, equaling that of “the pill” and without the expense or the side-effects. NFP, which involves cooperation between man and wife, awareness of the cyclical changes in the woman’s body, and a measure of self-control, has been steadily gaining in popularity among various groups.

The first of these groups might be referred to as the “ecological” group. These folks want to preserve the integrity of their bodies, and would not want to pollute the human body any more than they would pollute the environment. They delight in a fully functional body and do not choose to interfere with normal function. They think it inconsistent to say “Avoid drugs” on the one hand, and on the other hand to say “Take this drug so you won’t get pregnant.” They do not think it is true that self-control is possible in the areas of drugs, food, and alcohol, but impossible in the realm of sex.

A second group, not entirely distinct, consists of those who are aware of the effect of oral contraceptives (OCs) on a woman’s body. They have either experienced the unpleasant side-effects of “the pill” themselves or know someone who has. Or they may have read the warnings in the Physician’s Desk Reference or in the package inserts. They wonder why the responsibility and physical consequences of birth control should be borne by the woman alone. The woman who takes OCs daily bathes every cell in her body with powerful hormones which may lead to problems in multiple areas. It has certainly been a boon to the manufacturers (700 billion dollars a year) to have millions of women taking their pills daily but it is hardly a boon to womankind.  After years of abusing her body by medicating it when there was nothing wrong with it, can a woman really expect that body to immediately snap back and produce a baby on demand?   Some are lucky; many are not.   Some doctors are talking about a current ‘epidemic’ of infertility.

A third group consists of those who for religious reasons consider artificial birth control wrong because it interferes with the design of God. Contraceptive pills and appliances are seen as means of trying to outsmart God by sabotaging his handiwork. The Catholic Church has emphatically spoken out against artificial birth control. However, with growing awareness that the new OCs do not prevent ovulation as effectively as the previous, stronger, more hazardous pills, but rather render the uterine lining inhospitable so that the developing embryo dies, many non-Catholics are looking for an alternative to the “pill.” In essence, the “pill” can cause a very early abortion.

Looking into Protestant history it is found that John Calvin, John Wesley, and Martin Luther all spoke out against birth control. In his book, The Bible and Birth Control, Charles Provan, a Protestant, states “there is no doubt about it; the contraception laws of the 19th century were passed by Protestants for a largely Protestant America…no Christian church ever accepted contraception as morally permissible before 1930.”

How, then, does Natural Family Planning work? It is possible by observing the changes in a woman’s body, in her cervical mucus, and in her body temperature to accurately determine the one day in her cycle that she ovulates. By avoiding sexual intimacy for several days surrounding ovulation a couple can also avoid the hazards, the expense, and in many cases the guilt of artificial contraception. Couples report that they have better communication and that the brief period of abstinence is the best aphrodisiac! In No-Pill No-Risk Birth Control by Nona Aguilar a husband reports: “I wasn’t enthusiastic when we changed to NFP, but we saw no other way. We went to class very, very reluctantly. Almost right away it started happening again: that incredible yearning I used to feel for my wife returned–and not just once in a while. It was there every month. Every cycle gradually turned into courtship and honeymoon all over again.” A wife says, “Our last baby was conceived out of love, with full knowledge that we would conceive. From that moment on we could picture the hours and days of growth. But before NFP I feared going to bed, as I didn’t know my fertility cycle and worried that I might become pregnant. Now I know my fertility signs and feel 100 percent confident in those signs and no longer fear. It is a great relief and a burden off my shoulders. I want more children — but when I am ready and capable.”

Natural Family Planning is not something that is taught in any depth in medical schools but there is a Natural Family Planning Medical Consultant Program offered for physicians at the Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction, in Omaha NE. Information on NFP is available there. You can teach yourself much about the practice of NFP by using the online manual, Natural Family Planning: The Question-Answer Book by John and Sheila Kippley. This online manual is short, easy-to-read, and free.

Man is the only animal that mates year-round. Other animals mate by instinct and only for a season. We have the option of using our reason and our will to choose our season, to achieve pregnancy or no pregnancy, which is the only true reproductive freedom. And we can have this without polluting our bodies, without exchanging normal bodily function for years of abnormal function!


There is a season for everything, a time for every occupation under heaven, a time to be born and a time to die…a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing. — Ecclesiastes 3:l,5.

Intelligence and love are not in separate compartments: love is rich in intelligence and intelligence is full of love. — Benedict XVI, Love in Truth.

August 2nd, 2008


Dear Holy Father,

Because I love you, I have to tell you the truth. You are a voice crying in the wilderness! You are sitting there on your papal throne, making pronouncements and writing encyclicals, but apparently you don’t know where it’s at. You are using all the wrong words. You are saying all the wrong things. You are wasting your breath and ink. Nobody is listening, least of all Catholics.

Take, for instance, the recent poll that said over 90% of Catholic couples in the United States practice birth control using contraceptive practices forbidden by their church. According to “America’s Most Quoted Catholic Magazine,” many good Catholics have thoughtfully and prayerfully decided in favor of using the Pill and it is time that the Church stopped telling them they are not good Catholics. The Church has to listen to the people, according to the magazine, and the people, good people, are pro-Pill. (Well, I know a few who aren’t, but they are hung up on living “naturally” and I don’t know if that’s very realistic.)

To get back to the Pill, popping the Pill is what you might call a grass-roots Catholic movement. The people are saying, “The pill is easy; the pill is safe; we can’t take a chance on having more babies.” And what are you saying? You are still talking openness to life and self-discipline. Do you know how long it has been since I’ve read anything in favor of self-discipline? Now that’s really obsolete. Self-realization is the important thing. What you have to do is get in touch with your inner self and do what feels right. No more pronouncements from on high. It’s look into yourself, be yourself, do your thing, form your own conscience.

Now I will grant you that in forming your own conscience it is very easy to rationalize so that what you want to do becomes what is right. Just as an example, I have known of people who were very much anti-abortion because it is killing a human being, taking an innocent life. Until– UNTIL– it was their own unmarried daughter who was pregnant. .THEN there was another side to abortion. It was the easy way out. It spared them social embarrassment and the bother of a baby. People are like that, you know. They think something is wrong until it is more convenient to think it is right. Then they switch. You could take a lesson from your people.

To get back to the Pill again. More and more of late we are hearing medical warnings against it. It causes blood clots and strokes and fifty other side effects. It changes your whole body metabolism. You should not take it if you are over forty, or have migraines, or if you smoke, etc., etc. People are beginning to turn away from the Pill so it’s really too late for you to start being for it. Maybe when you opposed it as being unnatural, you were wiser than you knew. The I.U.D.’s have also caused problems. The upcoming thing now is sterilization.

It is not too late for you to come out in favor of sterilization. I realize that your predecessors felt that individuals are not free to mutilate their God-given bodies and render them unfit for natural functions. But surely you can see that it is so much easier to have a little operation and be done with it. Then married couples can have sex whenever they want to and never worry about babies. Not to mention unmarried couples. And we could sterilize the retarded and other people who are not fit to propagate. We could have one big happy love-in, with no kids as a result. No need to try to educate people to act responsibly and consider the consequences of their acts. There won’t be any consequences. (Perhaps an increase in sexually transmitted diseases, but we’ll find better drugs for those.)

It puzzles me a little that folks should so easily part with their freedom to have children when they hang on so grimly to their other freedoms. Do you suppose sex will lose something if there is no possibility of it accomplishing what it was designed for? I mean it is obvious, even to me, that the main purpose of sex is the propagation of the human race. I get this weird picture of a world full of sterile zombies, endlessly going through the actions of sex with never a chance of achieving its goal!

I hear that Russia is encouraging mothers to have more children and the same is true of Japan. I guess the birth rate fell off too much. Malthus said long ago that if an effective method of birth control was ever found, populations would decline because people were too selfish to have babies if they had a choice. So what’s wrong with a little selfish? We only live once and babies are expensive, time-consuming, and a real drag. I read once that babies make adults out of parents. Whoever wrote it seemed to think that babies helped the parents to grow up as much as the parents helped the babies grow up. But you have to admit that the things babies do for parents are very intangible–-so intangible, in fact, that you have to experience them to believe it. And everyone knows you an get a lot more tangible things without babies.

Holy Father, I seem to be rambling a bit. Just thinking out loud. But I hope I’ve given you something to think about. While you’re at it, you might let up on priestly celibacy. Obviously the world thinks that that is too much to expect from anybody. When a priest breaks his vows and swings a little or gets married, he becomes a real hero and is praised by the media for being true to himself. Being a renegade priest is one of the best ways to get on talk shows. Years ago he would have been considered a man without honor, whose promises are worth nothing. Things are different nowadays, Holy Father, and all those things like honor and integrity, chastity and fidelity, self-control and Christian heroism are really old hat.

Marriage is another example. People are still getting married “till death do us part” but these are just promises to be jettisoned when the going gets stormy. People are weak, Holy Father, and you have to meet them where they are. Stop trying to raise them to saintly heights. As Ann Landers would say, “Wake up and smell the coffee.”

I’m sure you mean well, Holy Father, but you have to stop insisting that Catholic doctrine is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. The fact is that things change, and more people would pay attention to you if you said what they want to hear. Really, if you stopped paying so much attention to Holy Scripture and the ten commandments and the church fathers, you’d get a much better press

With love, from your devoted follower,


P.S. You can talk all you want about Love. Love is very “in” nowadays.  Just make sure it is Love without Sacrifice.


For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son…….. John 3: 16

July 28th, 2008


It is 9 AM Monday morning and I am listening to a rebroadcast of Father Benedict Groeschel’s Sunday Night Live program on my TV. This is a hard choice because I really enjoy having a cup of coffee after mass with Regis and Kelly at 9. But I am glad he’s on again because I fell asleep watching him last night. He’s talking about change in the Catholic Church.

I always enjoy Father Groeschel because he is well informed and talks in language everyone can understand. He tells about changes he, himself, has seen in the church–-and we have all seen in the church if we’ve been around for awhile–but these are not changes in basic teachings (dogma) and, as he says, do not not go beyond what you can conclude from sacred scripture. He recommended (and I heartily second the recommendation) that Catholics who have trouble with the church’s stand on contraception read Mary Eberstadt’s The Vindication of Humanae Vitae in the latest issue of First Things.

It is my opinion that this particular session with Father Groeschel is one of his best, well worth trying to locate on EWTN at a later time. It is absolutely amazing how sharp his mind and memory are after his terrible accident and ensuing coma a few years ago.

Today I am also excited by an interview I watched yesterday on EWTN with a young lady named Danielle Bean, a home-schooling Catholic mother of 8. What a blessing to other Catholic mothers who are, of course, counter-cultural if they are serious about their religion. Catholic mothers often find themselves isolated in many ways. To quote Danielle loosely, “For sure, there aren’t any other mothers of eight for miles around!” Danielle somehow finds time to have her own very beautiful blog, and also takes part in Faith and Family Live, a group of Catholic mothers who likewise hope to provide mutual aid and comfort.

The best thing about her blog is that it says that her interview will air again Wednesday, July 30 at 11 pm Eastern. If you don’t have EWTN, you can watch it live on your computer here. Those last few words got me even more excited! I had not realized before that EWTN was available LIVE on my computer.

Because I am blessed with a son who provides me with DirecTV and EWTN 24/7 I have for years been able to watch EWTN on my television anytime I wanted to. But we live in an area where cable TV only provides EWTN for a couple of hours in the middle of the night. Through Danielle’s blog I discovered that apparently anyone can get streaming EWTN live on their computer here. Just click on Live EWTN TV – English US when you get there.

Please pray for Mother Angelica. She is 85 and Father Groeschel says she is ill. We owe EWTN to her!