considering Catholicism but family planning confusion - thoughts? - Mothering Forums

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Old 03-06-2014, 01:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi,

OK where to start?!
I'm a believer in God, but not baptised, attended an evangelical church for a while (would probably still be going if not on rsv lock down with my preemie) but just lately I've been feeling really drawn to Catholicism. I should point out I've never stepped foot inside a Catholic church/mass - but this is a strong feeling that it could be where I'm headed.

The RCIA really appeals to me, I want to know more.

The more I read,the more it feels like it could be a good fit.

The tricky bit that stands out to me is this - my 3 children were all preemies. 29 weeks, 32 weeks, 30 weeks. Our middle child died after a long fight, (we'll never know for sure, but drs think it may have happened even had she been term) she had a lung condition.

We are so happy to have our little rainbow baby, she is such a blessing. But - going back to the nicu was hard.

So anyway - all that being said - what would the catholic view be regarding family planning - we'd have a very high chance of any future babies also being preemies. Would this be one of those cases where BC would be accepted or even advised?

I'd love more by the way, but is it fair on us and any future babies to bring them into the world knowing the chances are they'll be early and small and separated from us etc etc. Our new baby is still having a few ongoing issues which we are being followed up for.

Anyway,that's just something I've been thinking about,any thoughts?

Me and hubby, plus ds 6, angel dd, little mc angels and finally our little rainbow baby, 30 weeker miracle.
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Old 03-06-2014, 06:19 AM
 
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Before Rhogam was available, the Catholic church used to advise couples to find out each other's Rh status before things got too serious, because even if they had incompatibility issues that were life-threatening for their children, birth control would not be acceptable.  That said, plenty of otherwise devout Catholics use birth control anyway.

 

Go to a mass before you get too excited about Catholicism.  I went through a period of religious exploration when I was younger, and was really interested in Catholicism, but then discovered that I'm weirdly, deeply offended by the doctrine of transubstantiation. 

 

I live in an urban area with tons of parishes, and could probably find a mass any day of the week.  Catholic churches have, in my experience, been utterly unphased by strangers at weekday mass, but it's a pretty terrible place to take a baby on RSV lockdown.

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Old 03-06-2014, 06:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh I won't be taking her out for some time yet, too many bugs still lingering!

I guess I'll try it out at some point and take it from there, coming from a non-religious family its a difficult process for me figuring out if/where I fit.

Me and hubby, plus ds 6, angel dd, little mc angels and finally our little rainbow baby, 30 weeker miracle.
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Old 03-06-2014, 07:46 AM
 
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I have no idea of this will be helpful to you at all, but I'm going to share a cliff notes version of my move to Catholicism.

 

 

I grew up protestant, the kind that likes to try to convert other christians to their way of thinking, rather than thinking that the Methodists (or anybody else) are OK.  I became cynical and jaded with the whole church thing fairly early in highschool. Too many things just didn't make sense, and the whole 7 day creation thing was frustrating for a kid who loved science.

 

I followed a boy to a catholic university.  I was taught evolution by a priest, who saw no conflict between the two. I ended up marrying a catholic (not the same boy I followed!). He wasn't devout, but his family was. It wasn't a big deal that I wasn't, and I was willing to attend with him when he felt like going. We went more often.  We had kids, joined a church, and did the part. THe year before my twins went through first communion, I went through RCIA. I struggled with some of the teaching, calling both the priest who taught me evolution so long ago and a devout, gay, catholic friend. 

 

THere are some places I don't think the church should go. I don't want the church in my bedroom, and I have decided that I just cannot accept "pevlic theology".  I've attended talks by NFP folks. I find the whole process extremely offensive. The time in a woman's cycle that she feels most amorous is when she is most fertile-- accept the consequences!  There was another woman there who had a severe heart condition who was told to "just be careful with your days".  There are plenty of people who follow their conscience on this, rather than official teaching. Otherwise, the pews would be filled with more families of 8, instead of 2 or 3. In fact, according to what is coming out from the recent worldwide poll, many are reporting that the laity don't accept the church's teaching on sexuality and birth control. 

 

http://ncronline.org/news/people/church-teaching-must-change-sexual-morality-says-german-bishop

 

   There are plenty of people who would say I'm a bad catholic, or not really catholic at all, and I'm OK with that. I have my reasons.  There are many things I love about the catholic church, many things I feel they get right. When it comes to human sexuality... well, the waters are muddied.  I've formed my conscience. I've made my choice. You can make yours, too.


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Old 03-06-2014, 04:12 PM
 
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I was raised RC (Roman Catholic) baptised, firts communion, confirmation the whole deal. DH is was raised non religious. We had a church wedding the whole nine yards. I still attend mass but there are some things that in my view are not the church's business and family planning is one of them. DH and I used birth control until we were ready to start a family. Frankly unless someone is willing to come and help me raise my child and help shoulder the expenses for raising a child they get no say in how DH and I get to family plan. 


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Old 03-07-2014, 01:42 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Do you know what, after talking with dh about this last night - I realised im kind of searching for someone else to give me rules to follow to take my own accountability/decision making away. Like - 'you must not use bc' - so if we then had more babies and they were premature it wouldn't be my 'fault' for trying again/wanting more.
I'm not proud of that!

There's more to it though - like not feeling like I fit and so wanting to find somewhere I do - this didn't come about because I want another baby - at least not consciously- this is about wanting to go deeper into my faith - I'm searching!

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Old 03-07-2014, 06:45 AM
 
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Do you know what, after talking with dh about this last night - I realised im kind of searching for someone else to give me rules to follow to take my own accountability/decision making away. Like - 'you must not use bc' - so if we then had more babies and they were premature it wouldn't be my 'fault' for trying again/wanting more.
I'm not proud of that!

There's more to it though - like not feeling like I fit and so wanting to find somewhere I do - this didn't come about because I want another baby - at least not consciously- this is about wanting to go deeper into my faith - I'm searching!

Along this line: This isn't church teaching, but it's how I decided to approach the official church teaching human sexuality:

 

If I don't cede authority in a particular area, it's still mine to govern. I have not ceded authority over my choices in regard to sex, birth control, reproduction, views on gay marriage, etc. In order to let church doctrine guide your decisions in regard to family size, you've got to give that authority up to the church. This makes some people very comfortable. It does not make me feel that way. 

 

You can start RCIA with the intent of learning more, without an obligation to join. Most classes start in august/september, and go until easter or a while after. Some parishes have better classes than others, so if you know any catholics you might ask around. If you were to join the church, you join on Easter Saturday. 


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Old 03-07-2014, 10:51 AM
 
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The church teaches that anything besides NFP is not ok. My parents are very devout Catholics, and they used birth control to limit their family size, like all their other Catholic friends did. However, the catechism also has this part about following your own conscience.

I was raised Catholic, and read the entire Bible as well as the Catechism. Yes, officially, the church teaches that birth control is bad.

Over 98% of Catholics use birth control. What I love about the Catholic church, even though I am no longer Catholic, is that the way Catholic lay people practice their faith is a far cry from what the priests and bishops and popes have been saying for years. Study after study has proven that Catholics are the most likely of any mainstream denomination in the US to stray from church teachings, while still keeping their faith. The Catholic lay people are surprisingly, some of the most accepting of marriage equality and reproductive freedom of ANY Christian denomination in the US.

I still occasionally attend Mass. There is a beauty in the Catholic faith that I have never quite experienced in any other Christian church.

Don't base your views of Catholicism on what you hear in the media. Base your views on the amazing works the Catholic lay people do, and the impressive ways they find to make Catholic faith and traditions part of their very modern, not so black&white lives.


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Old 03-07-2014, 11:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I truly appreciate these replies - thank you!

Me and hubby, plus ds 6, angel dd, little mc angels and finally our little rainbow baby, 30 weeker miracle.
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Old 03-08-2014, 01:40 PM
 
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I was raised RC (Roman Catholic) baptised, firts communion, confirmation the whole deal. DH is was raised non religious. We had a church wedding the whole nine yards. I still attend mass but there are some things that in my view are not the church's business and family planning is one of them. DH and I used birth control until we were ready to start a family. Frankly unless someone is willing to come and help me raise my child and help shoulder the expenses for raising a child they get no say in how DH and I get to family plan. 


Hah - my (staunchly) Catholic Grandma once said that if the Pope were willing to come change poopy diapers, she'd consider not using BC.

 

Every Catholic I've known in my family and community (including myself) has used some form of BC.  I get the theology behind the prohibition, and it might be something to strive for, ultimately, but failure to adhere to it shouldn't be at the level it's been elevated to - there are a multitude of sins, both mortal and venal, that Catholics engage in daily that don't receive anywhere near the press and it's a shame. 


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Old 03-08-2014, 02:07 PM
 
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Hah - my (staunchly) Catholic Grandma once said that if the Pope were willing to come change poopy diapers, she'd consider not using BC.

 

Every Catholic I've known in my family and community (including myself) has used some form of BC.  I get the theology behind the prohibition, and it might be something to strive for, ultimately, but failure to adhere to it shouldn't be at the level it's been elevated to - there are a multitude of sins, both mortal and venal, that Catholics engage in daily that don't receive anywhere near the press and it's a shame. 


Well said! I know plenty of divorced Catholics who remarry. That is technically considered adultery by the church. I believe that this sort of thing happens in any religion, but Catholicism gets the most press for it.

I've been following the whole "Muslim hipster" thing- young American Muslim women who blend modesty with fashion, trying to find the balance between authentically living their faith, with life in a society that does not necessarily value all the same things their faith has taught them to value. I think it relates well to the whole Catholics using birth control debate, albeit on a very different level. Faith is not about following rules as much as it is a way to strive to be a better person.

The beauty of any kind of faith, is to use it as a guide. We are human, and we live in a very imperfect world. Nothing is black and white.

Sienna, I wish you many blessings on your spiritual journey!


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Old 03-09-2014, 11:35 AM
 
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To the OP--the good news--or bad news, depending on how much authority you crave :)--is that the Church is not going to tell you whether or not to have kids. The Catechism states that the decision to space children is one to be made prayerfully by the couple, and beyond saying they have a duty not to reject child-bearing for selfish reasons, there's no stipulation about what does or does not constitute a good reason. Assuming a couple decides they shouldn't have children, then they should look towards "periodic continence" (i.e., NFP). Based on conversations I've had with people, this is the point at which many folks feel the Church is being unreasonable, since NFP is regarded as so complicated or risky that She might as well be forcing you to have children.  And I have to be honest--whatever the statistics on NFP's success may be, it's clear that ease and efficacy are going to vary widely from couple to couple, so you might want to do your own research on that and see what you and your husband feel about it.

 

But more relevant to what I think you're saying--and if I'm wrong, please forgive and ignore--is the fact that the Church views procreation as the default function of marriage, whereas our culture as a whole seems increasingly to see it as something you have to go out of your way to choose and even to justify. You speak of wanting more children but seem to feel as if someone somewhere would be blaming you if you did, as if you feel obligated to defend your desire. The Church views life as a gift, period, and children as a gift, period. This is true whether or not you feel you can offer them the best gestational experience, life experience, class position, whatever, possible. You asked in your opening post whether or not it was fair to you and your other children to have more children. Only you and your husband can decide what you and your family can handle. But the Church would say, I think, that any children you have are a gift, to the family as a whole, the parents, the siblings, the world. There is no question of "unfairness" or blame.

 

I hope this is helpful, and again, if I've misunderstood your feelings on future child-bearing, I do apologize.

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Old 03-09-2014, 01:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you - you're right.... I'm confused about my feelings on family size, choices etc . and mixing it up with my searching for where I fit in my faith.

Today I have been reading Philippians 4 and its spoken to my heart especially 6-7 its what I'm focussing on right now as I figure things out.

See the blessing of life is how my heart feels.... my head is unsure ... and my nerves are shredded!

But I'll get there!

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Old 03-10-2014, 02:35 PM
 
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I was raised Catholic and still consider myself Catholic.  I used birth control when I was first married, because I didn't know I couldn't.  All of my Catholic relatives used it.  My mom came from a very religious Catholic family of 10 and she and all her siblings used birth control.  I successfully used NFP for over a year and then stopped paying attention and got pregnant.  My husband will probably have a vasectomy after this baby.  I still deeply love the Catholic church, but am very conflicted about this law.  I am probably considered a sinner, but I feel like my reasons for not having more children are for reasons outside of just myself.  Good luck on you journey!

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Old 04-15-2014, 12:12 PM
 
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Have you considered the Episcopal Church?  It is very similar to Catholic in many rituals and holidays but has NO rules on contraception and is more liberal about many things--female priests, growing acceptance of LGBT people, less rigid doctrine about exactly what you're supposed to believe happens at Communion, etc.

 

I was raised Unitarian but attended a Catholic school just for first grade.  I was intrigued by the Catholic Mass and felt there was some deeper meaning there that I wasn't getting from the Unitarians, but by junior high when I was really feeling the need for a more meaningful faith, I knew Catholicism was not for me because of the gender politics.  Somebody told me Episcopal was similar, so I did some research and visited my local-at-the-time Episcopal church, and I love it!  Here's the church I've belonged to for the past 18 years: http://www.redeemerpittsburgh.org/  On the Resources tab are a lot of links to other info about Episcopalianism.


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Old 04-15-2014, 12:36 PM
 
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Here's a blog post that you may find interesting:

http://www.likemotherlikedaughter.org/2014/04/the-third-secret-to-destruction-proofing-your-family/

Good luck in your search for religion!
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Old 04-15-2014, 01:04 PM
 
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Sienna-forever, I recommend talking to a priest about it. These priests always have good advice: http://cmri.org  Even if you have to wait to talk to one, it is worth it. If you would like their church office phone number, send me a private message. They're not just in Omaha and of course there are other Catholic priests outside their order you could talk to.


May God bless you and His Blessed Mother Mary keep you!  :-)

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Old 04-15-2014, 11:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks all - will take a look. X

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Old 04-24-2014, 03:12 PM
 
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EnviroBecca took the words right out of my mouth. I too would suggest giving the Episcopalian (Anglican) church a try. Beautiful ritual. Thoughtful homilies. Priests who are also wives and mothers. And the unofficial slogan of the church: You don't have to check your mind at the door. I find that the Episcopalian church, at least locally, offers the sort of beautiful contemplative service I need without the authoritarian heirarchy of many other churches. And as a woman, wife and mother, it's wonderful to have a priest who is also a woman, wife and mother.

I was a liturgical musician for many years, so I can attest that there can be enormous differences between Catholic congregations. I like the new pope, but I can see it's probably going to be another hundred years or so before the church gets over the idea of a celibate, male priesthood. 

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Old 04-25-2014, 09:49 AM
 
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I was very touched by the insights you've shared about your spiritual struggle over the issue of family size. Did you know that there are people who train and serve in the capacity of "spiritual advisors"? This might be what you are really looking for — not a doctrine or denomination which might make the decision for you, but a trusted advisor who can help you to explore the difficult choices you are faced with. A spiritual advisor is similar, in some ways, to an anam chara, or "soul friend", but one who serves many people not just one particular confidante. The service provided is not psycotherapy. A good spiritual advisor is a person of faith who has some understanding of psychology, but who is trained in the language and issues of the soul. Through service to many, a spiritual advisor discovers the themes which recur for many people on their spiritual journies through unfamiliar territory and challenging circumstances. A friend of mine serves in this way and she helped me through a difficult health issue as part of her internship. She said afterwards that she was amazed to discover that people seem to ask and grapple with the same questions no matter where they are in their spiritual life. She was surprised initially that I asked the exact same questions, and struggled with the same spiritual issues as a life-long nun she had worked with and an ordinary businesswoman with a big family. A good spiritual advisor will have gone down the road you are now on now many times with other people. Her job is not to show you the way, but to help you find your own way. Her strength is that she already knows the territory.

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Old 04-25-2014, 09:59 AM
 
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P.S. (((hug))) for you and your little one.

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Old 04-26-2014, 05:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you, a spiritual adviser sounds like just what I need! I appreciate these replies.

Me and hubby, plus ds 6, angel dd, little mc angels and finally our little rainbow baby, 30 weeker miracle.
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Old 04-26-2014, 07:44 AM
 
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"And as a woman, wife and mother, it's wonderful to have a priest who is also a woman, wife and mother". It's not possible for a woman to be a priest. The priesthood was established by Christ in a very particular way. To change it just because it strikes your fancy is fallible. And anyway, there are plenty of ways women can be spiritual leaders outside of the priesthood. Plenty of opportunities to council and guide others.

"I like the new pope, but I can see it's probably going to be another hundred years or so before the church gets over the idea of a celibate, male priesthood." That's great that you like the new pope (though likeability is ultimately pretty irrelevant), but you misunderstand the Church's mission and purpose if you think it will "get over" central, authoritative teachings simply to suit the whims of the masses. If pandering to what people wanted were the end game, well, what would the point be? It's a hard and narrow road getting to Heaven- the Church is here to help us in our walk with Christ. Sort of like how parents help their kids make healthy food choices, despite their kids' preferences for donuts..... The parents keep making the effort, encouraging healthy habits. They don't throw their hands in the air and say "okay, you really don't need fresh fruits and veggies."

Does that make sense? The Church has a long line of apostolic tradition, straight from Christ through Peter. The priesthood is a part of that. It does no good to abandon that simply because the idea of a woman priest seems appealing in some way.


OP- your situation sounds really hard. The official church stance is no use of contraception. I really encourage you to read through JP2's Theology of the Body teachings. The Catholic view of birth control and family planning is counter cultural and hard to live out- but it is at the heart if what it is to be Catholic. Catholicity is cohesive and consistent in its celebration of life and the way God created our bodies. Anyway, there ARE accurate and effective methods of NFP that might work for you. Though I won't lie, it won't be easy. There are plenty of "bad Catholics" who find it too difficult to live out that aspect of their faith. In that case, really, the whole idea of family planning (and not using birth control of you can help it) is really just something that should involve God.

So, I think you're good as long as you are prayerful and discerning and involve God in every step of your journey.

Blessings to you! I hope you find peace in this.

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Old 04-26-2014, 07:57 AM
 
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Thank you for sharing your beliefs. I was speaking of the Anglican Church, where women are ordained to the priesthood.

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Old 04-28-2014, 05:56 PM
 
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Thank you for sharing your beliefs. I was speaking of the Anglican Church, where women are ordained to the priesthood.

 

Ah, yes. We're talking about a different priesthood. Important clarification. Thank you. 


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