The lady was a brilliant lecturer. She was convinced of the beauty and truth of natural family planning as it might reflect in the fulfilling love of married couples.
She was invited to speak to the priests of the diocese. They all came.
She looked around the large group, took us all in, and said: “A woman is fertile several days a month between the ages of about 14 and 45. A man is fertile every day from the age of 15 until he’s 90 – and you say we are the problem.”
She had won them in that straight incisive opening. Then came the brilliant lecture. Afterwards, she was invited to four central areas of the diocese to speak to the parishes in each.
Her approach is one which fits perfectly with “Humana Vite” and its teaching on birth control. It is the best answer for those who asked the question but not the only answer. As the bishops of the Church in 1968 told their people: understand the teaching of Pope Paul Vi but be free in conscience to decide what is best for you in your personal circumstances. “Pray and then decide” was the advice. The law of God written on the human heart?
Each of us has the responsibility of acting/speaking for the best in life’s various circumstances. No one can make personal decisions for us – they are our own responsibility. We may advise each other in truth and love but we cannot make life’s decisions for one another. Each of us must decide what is good, better, best. Our faith in God, our love for one another, our belief in the Church will help us form our consciences but, finally, we decide.
The circumstances may be personal, family, work related, faith related, political, social. No Church, Party, Government can take away our God-given freedom of conscience. When they are wrong so are we if we follow them: when they are right we are glad of the confirmation that we were given in prayer.
Biblical literalism, “1984”, dictatorships, nationalist and all prejudices are wrong when they try to take away our freedom of thought and action. I belong to God before all other claims.
Guide us, O Thou Great Redeemer.
(16th June 2019)