One of the best things about the Catholic Church (which of course, there are many, many things) is the communion of saints. The wisdom and holiness of the men and women who have gone before us can guide us toward the light that is Christ. There are few areas of our faith life that we are unable to turn to the lives of the saints for perspective, encouragement, and direction when we are in need.
The vast majority of saints lived, died, and were canonized long before natural family planning became a way for couples to plan their families while remaining open to God’s will. This means that modern couples looking to the saints for encouragement while practicing NFP may find themselves coming up empty-handed. Now, of course, the saints have condemned the use of contraception as far back as the early church fathers but in regards to NFP specifically, there really isn’t much out there yet.
A notable distinction to this comes in the form of a small woman who made an incredibly large impact on the world. Saint Teresa of Calcutta is still affectionately referred to as Mother Teresa all around the world. The impact she made was so strong that she is beloved by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. She had a wonderful gift of making powerful statements that made many in the secular world actually stop and ponder her words.
One such statement came at the U.S. Congress National Day of Prayer breakfast in 1994 where she said:
Wow! For couples who love God, each other, and themselves enough to follow the Church’s teaching on contraception, this quote from Saint Teresa should be very affirming. Love is the reason behind the decision to use natural family planning. To know that contraception destroys that very love can help us to remain steadfast – especially when the pull of the culture begins to sway us.
Christians, as a rule, should immediately reject anything that destroys love. God is Love, therefore to destroy love is to destroy God in our lives. It means that we shout, “Crucify Him!” loudly and proudly along with the rest of the culture who are doing everything they can to destroy His Love.
And of course, a Catholic who is truly following Christ and His Church is set firmly in their stance against abortion. While many couples may struggle with NFP from time to time (or day to day for some couples), following Saint Teresa’s logic will lead directly from the use of contraception to the acceptance of abortion should certainly help keep them on track. The Church makes this reality very clear but Saint Teresa’s simple and concrete statement help to drive the point home in a way that is difficult to deny. From the destruction of love, more destruction will inevitably follow.
So, husbands and wives, turn to the world’s beloved Saint Teresa when NFP proves to be challenging. Turn to these powerful words, yes, but turn to her. Ask her for her prayers and to help guide you with her wisdom and holiness so that you as a couple may also grow in wisdom and holiness. She is ready and waiting with open arms for you to turn to her for prayers…just as our Lord Jesus Christ is ready and waiting to embrace us with open arms always and forever.
Let us turn to her saintly wisdom for guidance when we need it. But more importantly, let us turn to the One she guides us to…let us turn to Jesus and offer Him our suffering. He is waiting.
Saint Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us.