The emphasis seems to be on finding a morally acceptable way to limit the number of children in marriage. The reasons for not using contraceptives in marriage are given, and they are very good, but there is little mention on relying on Divine Providence in this extremely important decision. The only mention I could find of generous openness to life is in the same sentence where they mention the need for limiting the number of children:
The Church teaches that a couple may generously decide to have a large family, or may for serious reasons choose not to have more children for the time being or even for an indefinite period (Humanae Vitae, no. 10).
And that’s that.
In a time when the contraceptive culture is so prevalent in our society, the bishops have sent out a letter which essentially shows the flock the way to using ‘the only type of birth control approved by the Catholic Church’ – this is the way natural family planning was described to us in our NFP course.
Granted, there are couples whom I know who used NFP, and by using it came to a richer understanding of the gifts of children, but they appear to be in the minority. What we have seen more often are couples who are beyond child-bearing years and now regret limiting the number of children they had. While the number of couples I know in this situation would never make for a scientific study, their thoughts do give one pause.
This letter also strikes a chord in our own life, as I consider that perhaps we are reaching the end of our child-bearing years (there are a LOT of people I know who would like to hear that!). I know that one day there will be no more Noisykids on the way, and the thought saddens me.
I will end with a real-life story and an answer to a question Joee Blogs asked in a comment to this blog(actually it is THIS BLOG! MEA CULPA) a while ago. My wife was upset that I never gave him a straight answer. But first a little story:
When I was a resident in anesthesiology, I informed my residency director that I would not anesthetize patients for sterilization procedures or abortions. His response was to the effect that after nine kids, some people just need to stop. I then told him that my wife is the tenth child, and I am forever grateful that my in-laws didn’t ‘stop’ after nine.
The fruits of letting God decide how many children He gives us has been more than I would have ever imagined. My part of it has been to work hard to do whatever is necessary to provide for my family. In this area, God has also been more that generous. We have twelve children, eight sons and four daughters, and we pray for God to bless us with more.
UPDATED AT 2200 TO INCLUDE A LINK TO JOEE BLOGS BLOG.