This weekend we welcome Fr. Alan Abalon for our annual missionary appeal.  Fr. Alan will speak on behalf of the Diocese of Cartarman in the Philippines.  It is one of the poorest areas of the country.  Please be as generous as possible.  Our parish family has always responded very generously to those who are in need and I know that even with inflation and the state of our own economy you will do whatever you can to help the people in the Catarman Diocese.  May God continue to bless you for your generosity in the past, present, and future.

We have just concluded Natural Family Planning Awareness Week (July 24 to 30).  This is an especially important topic for all of us, even those beyond their child-bearing days.  A deeper understanding of NFP helps us to understand more deeply the sacrament of Marriage and how all married couples can better live out their sacrament. Couples across the country are discovering Natural Family Planning! The simple, natural, and effective means of understanding a couple’s fertility goes beyond the decision to avoid or achieve pregnancy.  NFP methods provide husband and wife with useful information about their combined fertility and requires them to cooperate with each other and the Lord God as they build their family.

NFP methods can foster a fresh depth of intimacy (physically, emotionally, and spiritually) in a couple’s marriage. Through understanding their bodies, desires, and hopes, husband and wife can grow in their spousal communication and build a deeper level of trust, commitment, and fidelity. Since husband and wife need to learn their NFP method together, adapt their intimate spousal behavior to follow their intentions regarding when to attempt or postpone pregnancy, and use periodic sexual abstinence for the purpose of postponing conception, there will be struggles and self-sacrifice. But, as NFP couples testify, the sacrifice is worth it! NFP couples say that the discipline is necessary to individual and mutual growth as a couple. It is no wonder that married couples who practice NFP are less likely to divorce than the general population.

Unfortunately, we live in a culture that has reduced human sexuality to something very casual and commonplace.  God created human sexuality as a great and wonderful privilege for a married couples to bring a new life out of their love for each other and at the same be able to express and deepen their love and commitment toward each other.  It is particularly important for us as Church and as parents to understand this well and teach it to our children.  We need to be very careful of what our children are exposed to through the media and even our schools and the so called “sex education” that our children and young people receive in public education. 

It would be very helpful for parents to acquaint themselves with St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.  Our Confirmation candidates have been learning about this for several years now prior to their receiving the sacrament of Confirmation.  St. John Paul II gives us some amazing insights into the real meaning and purpose of our human sexuality in the context of marriage.  God created the human body as a means for us to glorify Him and to show our love for Him and one another.  Jesus redeemed the whole person, body and soul, in His suffering, death, and resurrection. 

The human body is a beautiful creation and not something to be looked down upon or used for our own selfish ends and/or entertainment.  This is the mentality of the world we live in the reason that pornography is so widespread in our culture, especially on the internet. The only way to combat this terrible plague is through grace and knowledge.  We must learn well the true meaning of our human sexuality and what it has to do with our relationship to God and to others.  A very good resource on the internet is tobinstitute.org.  This will give you a general introduction to the Theology of the Body as well as many links to other sites that will be helpful.