NFP Week: What We’re Reading Wednesday–The Sinner’s Guide to NFP

*Disclaimer: I am away on a cruise and may not have access to update/edit this post or moderate comments. Please be charitable!*

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Hilarious. Frank. Encouraging. Blunt. Wish there was more. TMI. This book is all of these things and more. What it is is a collection of essays by Mrs. Fisher. You might recognize some of the content from her blog “I Have to Sit Down” and columns for the National Catholic Register online. Those selections have been edited and incorporated into this book to form a cohesive point, which you get to by the end. Meaning, you essentially have to read the entire thing to see the big picture. But that’s okay–one chapter builds off another. And they’re an engaging read. The brilliance of this book is that you can also get the same great reading experience a la carte if reading one chapter at a time. You may find yourself wanting to go back again and again to the one on discerning God’s will—even when you’re discerning something other than a pregnancy.

What I loved most about Mrs. Fisher’s tone is how non-judgmental she is. I am a bit of a weirdo in that I read family life forums, worked on materials that edified readers on NFP, and write about it myself, so I know there’s a whole lotta judgment—too many kids; too few kids; just reasons; selfish reasons. In one chapter,  Mrs. Fisher lays out (like I tried to do the past few days) different scenarios in which concrete human beings anonymously lay out their thoughts for wanting/not wanting another baby at a particular point in time. She presents the very human face of NFP.

So you may think that if I’m in love with how human her approach is and how pastoral that feels, why, when I sometimes beg for no “cross” language in responses to young people on this issue, do I rate this book so highly when the ultimate point is about the cross? Because the cross is a very human thing too. What Mrs. Fisher’s writing did for me is to realize that. Jesus went on the cross because he was human—if we didn’t tap into that and relied only on his divinity, he could’ve ascended to Heaven from the Garden of Gethsemane. But no. He needed to die a very human death for us very humans. Jesus was on the cross for us humans. In embracing the cross, he procured our salvation. We humans are called to be like Jesus. And to do that, we must take up that very cross to procure our salvation.

The easiest answer to give to the proverbial girlfriends regarding NFP and birth control is the hardest one for them to take: like it or not, we have a cross, and there is a purpose to that cross. Crosses are hard, and the side effects uncertain. And even if maybe someday there will be a magic device that takes one reading one time a day and gives us as much ease and clarity in predicting fertility, NFP will always be a cross. Because the cross is not in the method, but the decision to give of one’s self or not. In that light, the Pill seems to be the greater cross: a daily decision to not give your all—the weight of that burden—and to what purpose?

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