A Big Responsibility
My wife and I speak every few months at the local diocesan Engaged Encounter retreats, where Catholic couples are forced to go before they can receive permission from the Church to have a Catholic wedding.
We speak about sex. Specifically, on the usage of Natural Family Planning, the only acceptable methodology of spacing children within a Catholic marriage.
As you can imagine, we frequently get frosty receptions by these groups of theologically force-fed young adults. Occasionally we get some sincere interest in learning the Sympto-Thermal method we promote, but that rate is less than 10% of the couples we speak to.
Our talks are generally filled with humour, and we try to keep the mood light despite the gravity of the topic. My wife (Dawn) and I went over our talk ahead of time, like we always do, and refined it to two pages of bulleted items to touch on.
The last presentation we did was this past Saturday, and we had about 30 couples present. We spent some time in prayer before, and asked the Holy Spirit to guide our words and to anoint the ears of our listeners.
About halfway into the presentation, we were talking about the pro's of NFP and all the good things it brings into our marriage. I was addressing specifically the shortcomings of artificial methods of preventing conception in comparison, and found myself saying, without having planned it, "NFP doesn't carry with it the risk of mortal sin. If you're using contraceptives, you are literally putting the fate of your soul in jeopardy. There's none of that risk with NFP."
The awkward silence in the room at the moment was palpable, and somewhat beautiful too. Truth is always better served raw than when cooked.
We moved on and finished the presentation. When it was over, the priest who was hosting the retreat came up to us and thanked us, saying that they'd had other NFP speakers out for previous retreats who weren't very good at all, and that our presentation was very well done.
I don't know what sort of effect the whole "mortal sin" comment had on the group. Dawn was ready to strangle me, until I explained that it seemed more like an inspired thought than me threatening fire and brimstone down upon them.
I had to wonder though - when was the last time any of them had heard the words "mortal sin" in that context?