Saturday, July 23, 2005

Fargo diocese will require pre-marriage course in natural family planning

Alicia and Brian link to this story.
Bishop Samuel J. Aquila of Fargo has announced that engaged couples across the diocese will have to be instructed in the theology of the body and complete an approved course in natural family planning before they can marry in the Catholic Church... Bishop Aquila said the policy arose "out of a genuine concern for the right formation of conscience, the understanding of the truth, dignity and meaning of human sexuality and the responsibilities a couple accepts in married love."
This is excellent news. This isn't yet a part of every diocese curriculum, but, in my opinion, it should be -- or at least something like it, and maybe this will begin a trend. My only concern is for couples who, for legitimate reasons, may be unable to able to complete a full course together during their marriage preparation. Bishop Aquila continues:
"Through my personal experience in preparing couples for marriage and through discussions with priests, I have seen a great need for this instruction to help couples fully live the sacrament of marriage," he said.

"Young adults are bombarded with negative images of sexuality, with attitudes that demean the marital commitment and with lies about the so-called 'freedom' contraception provides," he added. "They need to know and they deserve to know the plan that God has for them regarding their sexuality and the conjugal love they will share as husband and wife."
Here is basically what the policy entails:
-- Couples preparing for marriage "shall receive an introduction to the church's teaching on conjugal love, modeled after (Pope) John Paul II's theology of the body during their interview with their parish priest, deacon or qualified married couple."

-- They will participate in a Marriage Preparation weekend that will include a presentation on natural family planning. It will also include at least a one-hour introduction to the theology of the body, which the late pope outlined in 129 general audience talks in the early years of his pontificate.

-- They must complete "a full course of instruction in a method of natural family planning" from an instructor approved by the diocese. A certificate of attendance is to be given to the parish priest, who is to place it in the couple's marriage file.

For couples entering a second marriage, past training and experience will be taken into account, the policy says. It says if they are still of childbearing years, the instruction in natural family planning is expected unless "previous equivalent training is already present."

Couples beyond childbearing years are to receive instruction in the theology of the body but need not learn natural family planning, it says.
Some couples may not like being forced to do this, but then it seems many couples come to the Church asking for marriage who only give lip-service to something the Church takes seriously. Other couples may have more legitimate reasons, like I said. We shall see. Perhaps the experience of the Fargo diocese over the next year or two will help other dioceses.
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Friday, July 22, 2005

Maria Magdalena

Today is the feast of St. Mary Magdalene. As I reflect on the meaning of this day, I can't help but recall how this special saint has been used to push forth so many misconceptions about church history. It seems "Da Vinci" mania is all the rage these days, but it didn't start there (understandably, since Dan Brown got a lot of his ideas from previous works, most particularly Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Michael Baigent and friends). Marcellino D'Ambrosio sends over some useful articles:
- Art historian Elizabeth Lev explains why Dan Brown's assertion that it is Mary, not John, who is seated next to Christ in Leonardo da Vinci's famous Last Supper is silly to anyone who knows basic art history.

- Catholic author Amy Welborn (also of the Open Book blog) explains why it is important for Catholics to educate themselves about church history and why Dan Brown's mischaracterizations shouldn't be taken lightly.
Considering that more than a few Catholics base their understandings about the Catholic Church from books like "The Da Vinci Code" as well as the mainstream media alone, I can understand the significance. Personally, I am thankful for the many resources we have available where we can study the writings of the early church (both before and after Constantine). One such resource is the Christian Classics Ethereal Library. I can't count the number of hours I have spent reading this tome over the years.


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