I have been Catholic my whole life but never appreciated the depth and the beauty of my faith until eight years ago.
How is it possible to grow up with the Catholic faith and comfortably overlook certain Church teachings, most notably the one on contraception? There may be some explanation from being raised in a “Sunday Catholic” home (Mass on Sunday and holy days, no other discussion of God or faith in between) along with being surrounded by many Catholics over the years who did not follow the teachings of the Church. Perhaps it came partly from my experience over the years within the churches where I lived. In some regions, the Catholic culture seemed to place the Catechism in the background and avoided controversial topics at the pulpit. Yet, it would be most grievous to exclude my own contribution of convenient ignorance. Even though I may not have had thorough teaching on the Church’s moral objection to contraception, I knew the Church was opposed to it and did not seek to understand why. I simply chose to do what I wanted.
In my twenties, I married a man who was not Catholic. Although we planned to raise our children in the Catholic faith and regularly attend Sunday Mass, we were neutral on the morality of contraception. Both of us were completing education and training in our future careers and were far from the thought of having children. And so, we chose to use contraception in the beginning of our married life. As God is always the one who pursues us, He began to tug at our hearts and we began to desire having children. We were blessed with this great gift, but even so, still disregarded the conflict in faith surrounding our use of contraception.
It was not until we began to hear from the pulpit the truths about contraception, that we became unsettled. At first we were angry and defensive. However, as we sought more knowledge through programs in our parish, we began to understand the beauty of the Church’s teaching on marriage and family. We decided to live our married life with God as the center and to trust in the authority of His Church and her teachings. Driven by this, eight years ago we learned, and still continue, the practice of natural family planning (NFP). This change of heart strengthened our marriage, and we found a greater respect and appreciation for each other. The sacrifices that are always required of spouses and parents became easier and a general peacefulness settled into our home.
Both of us still have much to learn about our Catholic faith (my husband completed RCIA many years ago), but we believe that our children will take with them what we now know and live. The strength and beauty of our Catholic faith comes from living it in its entirety. This is what we have discovered and hope for our children.