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Life Lessons – On Marriage

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Two months ago, on 2nd September, 2017,   I attended a friends’ wedding at the Holy Family Basilica. There are many things that make weddings exciting, from the flowers, the happy faces, the smiling people, the wonderfully adorned bride and the her carefully selected bridal party, the charming girls and boys, the music… the list is endless. While weddings still make me cry, I want to share the teachings from this one from the celebrating priest…

  1. The people who cause us so much heartache and pain are the people we love the most. Those who are supposed to bring joy into our life. The pain can be caused by anything, from continued neglection, criticism, lack of responsibility, distancing self from your spouse, cheating, not defending your spouse from externalities from other people among others. Our spouses will hurt us, more than once. We are human and it is that weakness that make us wrong those we come in contact with many times. Our humanity though is perfected in Christ. In Christ we can look at the other person, acknowledge our weakness and tell them, I am sorry. In apologizing we acknowledge that we are ready to start all over. In a clean slate. In seeking forgiveness, we acknowledge we have caused hurt, and that we are ready to mend the wound that we have inflicted. We acknowledge responsibility of inflicting that wound and seek never to wound again.
  2. God institutes Marriage. God sustains marriage. He cannot sustain it if we do not commit it to Him. The intimate community of life and love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator. God himself is the author of marriage. The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator (Catechism of the Catholic Church-1603). There are joys in Marriage. In the contemporary society, wine is usually shared in joyous moments. In the Bible, during the wedding at Canaan, the wedding ceremony was running out and the hosts were expressing anxiety. Christ, who was invited as a guest, restored that joy by bringing in new wine, in His own way. We must invite Christ to our marriages, so that when our wines run out, He will always be there to restore that which we have lost, squandered, rejected, or left behind. With Christ,there is abundance Joy. In Him, our marriages will last. He will rejuvenate when we run dry. May we always remember to invite Christ. May we always consult Him who instituted it when challenges come.
  3. We should not found our marriages on “Accidents”. I have talked severally of accidents and substance in my previous write ups (Article 46: Accidents VS Substance-A new Hope for Kenya; Accidents vs Substance…). We may want to found our marriage on physical appearance, financial stability, tribal lines, political views etc. All these are transitory. We cannot found lasting marriages on something transitory. We have to found our marriages in Christ. Christ enables our human selves to always appreciate our substance, the substance in our spouses. The closer we are to Christ, the closer in communion we remain in Christ, as a couple, the closer we remain in communion with each other.
  4. Let our love be perfect. We are human beings. The many divine things we are endowed are limited by our humanness. Love is a gift of the Holy spirit. While we may receive it with abundance, exercising  it is limited by the fact that we are human. We, more often than not, notice the imperfections in the other and that which made us look at each other in awe, disappears and in its place we look at each other in disgust. Christs instructs us to love each other as He has loved us. We are very imperfect people in the eyes of God, but He loves us still. We are also called to love our imperfect spouses the way Christ loves us. Love their imperfections as much as we love their perfections. Imperfections can be overcome, but only if we are willing to surrender to the inspiration that Jesus brings to the union. Personal imperfections can also be overcome, when we work hard to grow in faith, and in love that Christ instills in us. We commit ourselves to being better than yesterday.
  5. Forgiveness. Forgiveness is the salve that heals wounds we inflict on each other often. In forgiveness we sacrifice, even our rights, for the well being of the institution, for the well being of our spouse. Many are the times we will wound the gift of love, out of our weakness, out of pride, out of our belief in entitlement, out of arrogance, out of our fears and complexities. However being offended should not be the last word, just like sin is not the last word with our relationship with Christ.

Let the Lord build our house and watch over our city. If God does not do it, we labor in vain. May we always invite God to journey with us in our marriages. In Him, we will always have the joys of marriage, just like they were when we first got married. Not because there wont be problems, not because there wont be storms but because, with Christ, we will have the grace to sing and dance in the rain.

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Article 47:- The Many faces of Friends

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…A faithful friend is a strong defence,

A faithful friend is the medicine of life…

bdr

The beginning of the climb

23rd September 2017. I joined my friend Eric on his 4th Journey up Mt. Longonot. I had promised myself severally how I needed to do this, my own Bucket List activity off the chart. But then there is this friend who has traveled with me in many journeys of life. He has known my downs and my ups, my frustrations and my achievements, my laughter, my celebrations, the toast moments and the lets keep it under the table moments. Eric. He lost his sight sometime back. Every year, through the Kenya Society of the Blind annual Longonot climb, ever since he lost his sight, he goes up the Longonot. This year, I decided to do this with him, as a thank you for the journeys he has traveled with me. The climb attracted quite a gathering. It was flagged off at the entrance to the park and up we went, a step at a time, one meter after another. As much as it was a check off my bucket list, it was a great learning experience especially on friendships. I learnt, on that climb that friendships presents itself in many faces. I will just highlight a few…

The fall back:-

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TEAM ERIC!

The climbers were from several representations. We called ourselves TEAM ERIC. It was a group of Eric, his parents, his neighbour, a gentleman nicknamed Governor, Muthenya and myself. When we started the climb, everyone was all energetic. We had a pacesetter, and the rest of us trooped behind him or her. But as we went up, the energy levels went low. By the time we got to rest post 1, Eric was a bit dizzy. We all took a break. Muthenya snacked all of us. We took out water. And we waited for Eric to get better. How many times do we feel drained in this life we keep walking? How many of us can always look out for that one person who will be there for us at such low moments, when we know that no  matter our lows, someone will stand and wait for us to rethink, refocus, gain back the energy. Someone will give us that boost of energy. That word that will let us know, it is okay to feel weak, it is okay when we don’t have the energy to move on, it is okay to take a break, it is okay to be weak, it is okay to need a shoulder to lean on. All this is a phase of life. And it will pass. We will not be weak forever, we will rise and conquer the rest of the mountain.

The bounce back/motivator:-

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Crater Point

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After the rest, we continued our climb. We got to the first summit-Crater point. Here one can appreciate the distance traveled. You can see base down below. You can see the crater. Very beautiful. There is a group of people taking rest after the torturous climb. Some who arrived way earlier have already started their descent, others have started going round the crater. We take a breather, a few photos. Then we have to decide whether we are going round or not. Eric’s parents decide not to. Muthenya and Governor are already decided, they are going round. The set off. Eric is undecided. It’s a whole 7.2Km walk. I challenge him. He hesitates. Eventually he falls for the temptation. We set off too. We call the other two to wait up. Another climb to summit 2 begins, Team Eric now a smaller group. Off we go, one step at a time. It is more challenging than the firs climb, but eventually, after a little crawling and falling, a little slipping and trudging, silence and small talks, we get to KILELE NGAMIA. Wohoo! We all need that friend to challenge us to the next level. That friend who realizes our potential even when we don’t know we have it. That person who reminds us that our limit is only our own selves. We can finish the climb together. We shall travel it together. When you lack the energy, you can lean on me, but climbing we must. I remembered the many climbers we passed on. Literally holding on to others to take the next height, the “keep on going” voices behind them, those who gave up but with their team members were kept on their feet. Who with all this motivation got to the top, whichever summit.

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The energy sucker:-

While the motivator challenges us to achieve new heights, this one is the exact opposite. This friends will drain all the energy left in you. Whatever little. They will tell you how much you cannot make in life. How much you don’t have the energy to finish. How untalented you are, how unfit, how feeble, how much a loser you are. I do not know if they are friends or “friends”. Whichever the case, they have a way of making life all doom and gloom. I may not have a perfect example from the climb, but it occurred to me that there are those who probably did not make it to the top because of that voice. Sometimes this voice is our own selves. We tell our selves how much we have not exercised, so we cannot finish the climb. How much unprepared we are for the interview, how many people have failed in life and it won’t be no different, how hard the task is and it should be performed by someone better than ourselves. We kill our own innovation, we drain our own strength. We kill our own self-belief.

The advocate:-

I have learnt that when something happens to us, there are those friends who will be called to answer on our behalf. It is good to have them because they know the real us. They can always speak on our behalf. They can say when we are afraid, they can say when we are being foolish, they can tell when we are falling off the road and going in a tangent of our desired positions. They are the other us. They are our voice when we have none. They can loudly tell one who is trying to make us look bad, “Whatever you say, I dont believe you, because I know her…”. They know that when we fall, we can count on them to lift us up and not laugh and jeer when everyone else is. They know that when my feet refuse o move that one step, its probably because I have a boil in the thigh or a blister on my toe. They don’t judge, they want to know the reason why. They can even explain that why we we do not have the reason.

The twin:-

One thing that has stayed in my mind is this group of two boys, both visually impaired, they passed us in the ascend to the first summit, stumbling, trudging but holding each other up. I think one was partially blind or both were, I do not know, but the determination in their faces and the arms they kept around each other spoke volumes. They passed us the second time just before we got to the second summit. When they did, we cheered them on. They really inspired me. There are those friends who literally walk with us in this wake of life. They stumble when we stumble, they rise when we rise, they laugh with us, they cry with us, they celebrate with us, and they struggle with us in our daily endeavors. They do not necessarily do what we do, they are not necessarily present, but they share in our every moments.

While we all know that faithful friends are hard to come by, while we also appreciate that some friends are multi faced in our lives, we live to thank God because, we have a defense to always lean on, depend on, look up to, and are always nourished in by their presence. A faithful friend is the medicine for life.

What to consider when going to meet someone you do not know so well…

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I walked into a coffee house yesterday with a friend. It was in the evening and there were several people in enjoying their drinks of choice. We sat in the table next to a gentle man and a lady. They were an arms-reach from our table. We ordered. We get engrossed into our discussion. After a while, the lady walks out. For a toilet break I think. She leaves her handbag on the table. Nothing unusual. After a short while, the guy stands and walks out. He leaves the handbag on the table. That is very unusual. It is a non written rule in my head that if I am having a meal or drink, I need to watch the belongings of my companion if they take a toilet break. I shouldn’t take a break when she or he is still away. unless there is a third part. The rule applies to the party too. Or I guessed. Wrong. especially for the scene unfolding. I tell my companion. It is strange that the guy walked out and left the ladies handbag. My statement was more suggestive though, I used the word girlfriend. My companion tells me the guy unzipped the handbag and picked a phone, stood and left. It shouldn’t ring a bell still. In any case,once in a while my husband tells me to put his wallet and phone in my bag, right? Wrong. The waitress comes and puts reserved notice on the table. The ladies handbag is still there. The lady comes back. Runs into the waitress and asks, where the guy went to. She says he just walked down. But little did we know he was not coming back. She comes and sits. Goes through her bag, then she casts a look across and asks if the guy took her phone. My companion answers yes. Then she goes, “Oh My God”.

Of course we inform the management (through the waitress). The waitress says there are many such cases. She also says the guy frequents there. Maybe with fresh bait every time. This brought back memories of what I used to be told when I was growing up on precautions to take. I am going to share a few tips I gathered a long the way in my journey of life:-

I do not drink alcohol, and probably one of the reasons why was for my own safety. Drinking to some extent reduces the rational capacity of a person. The level of loss is different. Others need only one glass of one, others need a whole crate of beer. I have never wanted to test my limits. Some say that you limit your alcohol consumption. I have learnt that , sometimes in some company this rule does not work. If it is a group outing, it is always easy to volunteer to be the designated driver, or the cab advisor when everyone else has since stopped being themselves. In the least you will ensure everyone is home safe and sound.

One of the safety tips I remember my brother ever mentioning to me way before I joined college was when you are having a drink with anyone, if you need to pee, finish your drink first. If you had not, order a fresh one when you get back. It may look unusual to those who you will be with but just in case your drink was spiked, you will be okay. This does not only apply to alcohol, but also to the teas, coffees we do with friends, prospective clients or customers, and even strangers on blind dates.

It is good to let someone know where you are. It is also good to let this person know at least one person you are with. We may assume we are in control of things, but stuff happens. Picture a guy who goes out for a drink with friends. He drinks later than them. His drink is spiked. He goes Missing in Action (MIA). Or those thieves who unleashes things that you breath and pass out. When someone has been keeping track of your movements it would be easy for them to, in the least know where to start looking for you or who was last with you and what happened when you parted ways. It may be strange but I try my level minimum to always let my spouse know where I am, who I am meeting, where. Even when he is not around, I still let him know.

It is also good to have at least one contact off head. This is where the back up phone mentioned in My Accident… My Lessons makes sense. This will make sure that when tragedy happens to you, even if your phone is dead or has been stolen and you cannot access your contacts list, you can contact one person, hopefully this person is the same as the one you had told where you are.

I also remember a friend of mine telling me never go out without extra cash, enough to cater for your food and drinks just in case the person you are meeting bails out on the bill. Make sure you also have enough money to get you home. This may come in handy when group outings go in a direction you did not anticipate and you need to flee them. You may not have to tell them you are leaving. Excusing yourself for a pee will give you time to walk out on company you do not want to be in discreetly.

In addition to all these, ladies, carry your handbag to wherever you are going in case you are taking a break from the company you are with. Unless that person is your spouse or fiance or your really bestest of friends.  In the least this should apply. If you go to the loo, go with it, if you want to go to the counter for an extra order, please don’t leave it, if you want to walk across the room and say hi to a long lost friend who just walked into the restaurant, that bag is not so heavy, pick it, walk with it. A lady,s bag has everything, from her friends spare keys to her identification documents. If that bag goes MIA can you survive a week without its contents? If not, please make it a part of you.

other advise gathered online include googling the person you are meeting, pepper spay, meeting is busy places, watch for disturbing behaviors and if your instincts say run, then just run.

I asked the girl if she knew the guy well. She she knew him but not so much. I hope in the least she gets her phone back. I also appreciate the restaurants that have CCTV, though I highly doubt they assist much. Maybe another caution should be to sit within camera range. Either way, hopefully this can stop someone from getting into the same pit.

 

Article 46: Accidents VS Substance-A new Hope for Kenya

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Accidents vs Substance…, The first time I wrote this, I was in a  sole searching mission. But in the wake of Kenyan Election, Election Petition and call for a re run, I believe I need to remind call us to pause for a moment and do some self evaluation on why we are doing what we are doing, why we are supporting who we support, why we are crying foul or celebrating.

“There are two aspects of each and every thing on this world, living or non living, the accidents and the substance. Accidents are those parts of us that we can live without, the things that appertain to us, not by intention or necessity, a nonessential property or quality of an entity or circumstance; for instance, a hand, a leg, an eye, a kidney, the language we speak, the country we were born in, our culture, our names, among others. Substance is a fundamental or characteristic part or quality, that which defines us, that which makes us us, that which makes timber timber, or a cow a cow, without which it would be a carcass and we would be corpses. That which when we lose we are baptized other names instantly, I cease being Judy, Caroline, Duncan or Eric, we become “The late” or “Marehemu”. It is the same principle that William Shakespeare applied when he wrote a “Rose by any other name would smell as sweet” in Romeo and Juliet.

I have asked myself severally why we keep voting the way we vote, and now that we have a chance to vote our presidency once more if we will vote the same way. If the name Uhuru and the tribe Kikuyu was removed from him, and we made him nameless, or replaced the name with Ekwueme, and his running mate we called him Agwoturumbe; then attached their CVs and their leadership history, the corruption scandals bedeviling their leadership regime, their own personal scandals, would we still vote them in? Would we still be willing to shed some blood, and lose our numerous friendships because we are their staunch supporters? If we removed their accidents, would their substance suffice?

If we assume that Raila was called Emenike and his running mate Elechi, would they still arouse the emotions they are? Would we still fight wars for them? If their accidents were removed, would we still be supporting them, regardless of their history?

Those of us who were celebrating the presidential win, was it because they represent the values we want in a Kenyan leadership or was it solely because of the accidents they have? If we were to swap Uhuru with Raila, complete personality swap, assume that they posses whatever the other party does, would it be the same, If Raila had been head of state for five years, with the track record present, he campaigns as Uhuru did, etc,  would things remain the same, or we would recoil at our choices? Those of us who were disappointed, was it because of Rail’s accidents or because of the values that he would have introduced to the leadership of this country, or the hope that he presented for the nation? Did we go to the streets because he is Raila or because he is the kind of leader that this nation wants at this point but seemingly been denied by the structural failures of our systems? Does he present hope for our nation as a leader or it is just the luoness in him that is irking us?

Leadership can be defined s a process whereby an individual effectively and ethically influences a group of individuals to achieve a common worthwhile goal. This leadership, as per the Catholic church, must be guided by and be consistent with Religious doctrinal teachings. It lays importance on the following values: Solidarity, Family, Dignity of human life, Option for the poor, Dignity of work and rights of workers and Care for God’s creation. The bible has many verses on leadership, but I will just highlight a few, “It is an abomination for kings to commit wicked acts, For a throne is established on righteousness(Proverbs 16:12)”; “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9)” “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant(Mathew 20-26)”, “not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others(Philippians 2:4)”,”Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach (1 Timothy 3:2)”, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you (John 13:17)”, among many other examples. What are we looking for really? An upright leader of good moral standings, a leader who is impartial, a humble leader, a leader who looks out for the interest of others, a person faithful to his or her family, self controlled respectable and hospitable, a servant leader. 

We lay so much importance to our accidents; especially in our Kenyan political arena we forget what really counts when we are looking for leadership. The language we speak is so important we are willing to fight every electioneering year since the dawn of Multiparty elections in 1992. We are so attached that we can never define our substance, neither can we define the substance of the leadership we seek.

All of us will go or have gone for interviews. What leadership values do employers seek? Assuming we were CEOs and their CVs were dropped on our in-trays, if we would not employ any of them for whatever short comings, then we are cheating ourselves twice by electing them as our leaders.

We the electorate are the CEOs and we are hiring. What are the leadership values that we are looking for as a nation? Their CVs public or otherwise are in our in-trays now. We have been given a second chance to interview them and appoint the president a new. What do we want? Is it integrity? Is it Accountability? Honesty? Commitment? Dedication to electorate? Transparency? Impartiality? Confidence? Passion? Innovation? Even as we seek to vote the lesser evil (which is ridiculous) what criteria are we using to evaluate? Accidents or Substance?

We have another chance, to interrogate ourselves more than the we need to interrogate the persons vying for presidency, know what we really want, then express that desire in the ballot.

 

Teaching by Witnessing

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aOn 13th May 2017 we had a recollection organized by the Jomo Kenyatta University – Catholic Community Alumni Association (JKUAT CATCOM ALUMNI). It is one of the events that the group organizes and members participate in. Other activities being: a charity event; an annual planning meeting and an annual Mass at JKUAT main campus.

This year’s recollection was special, not only because it has been a while since we were together as a group, but also because it was facilitated by an alumnus of JKUAT CATCOM. Many of us remember him singing tenor in the CATCOM Choir, getting stressed with assignments and exams like the rest of us, as an organizing secretary of CATCOM, or even as the fastest man during social day. It was fascinating to watch him on the other end facilitating a recollection, celebrating mass. It was seeing him in a new dimension.

Whatever he taught was also a new dimension to what we are used to, where as a disciple, we are supposed to preach through more than our words. Many are the times we fail to do that because we preach one thing and do something else. He encouraged us to teach by witnessing. An action based kind of preaching Christ. The online dictionary gives the definition of witnessing as: to give or serve as evidence of or testify to. We are called to live life as an evidence of Christ in us, to be a living testimony of Christ in our lives.

How do we do that?

In Mathew 28:16-20, Christ gives us a command, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”.  He authorizes all whom he have called for himself to go and make disciples. In Acts 1:8, we are told, we will be witnesses of God. In the famous walk to Emmaus (Luke 24:16-35), after resurrection, Christ exemplifies what teaching by witnessing is all about in the following ways:-

Jesus went with them: – We must walk with those we are witnessing to. We must go where the flock is. “If we are to be good shepherds, we must smell like sheep.” – Pope Francis. We must live in such a way that those we are witnessing to recognizes us as followers of Christ. The famous statement preaching water and drinking wine does apply. We must live according to Christ’s teaching and in this way, we will be preaching Christ with our actions. We however may not be recognized by our own, just like the disciples failed to recognize Christ on the walk to Emmaus. This could be due to sadness in their hearts due to whatever experiences they are going through just like Christ’s disciples were sad because He was dead. There could be detachment between “Us and Them”, meaning just because we know Christ, we start living in utopia and detach ourselves form the realities of their daily emotions that affect who they are and what they believe in, we become strangers to them. There could be because of hopelessness and doubt, just like the disciples doubted the resurrection even after the women shared the good news of the resurrection and were hopeless because He whom they believed will “save” them from the Roman oppression was no more.

Jesus was patient with them: – Jesus walked with them the whole journey. He not only walked and listened to their version of what had happened in Jerusalem, but also explained to them the scripture. Not just a single verse expounded, he explained from the old and new testament, the first to the last prophets and how Christ fit in in the whole picture.  He listened to their foolishness, and filled it with knowledge. How patient are we when our Christianity is challenged by doubt. How knowledgeable are we on the gospel of Christ. How willing are we to sit and explain it to those we encounter, like explaining the concept of lightning and thunder to a three year old.

Jesus Nurtured a strong Bond: – Christ’s journey with the two disciples was a great encounter. He understood their weaknesses. He taught them patiently, in a language they could understand what salvation was. He made himself part of them, of their weak selves. However much he did not participate in their foolishness, they felt understood. They felt they belonged. They felt identified and appreciated. They felt wanted. They felt a part of this stranger who did not rebuke them for being foolish but accepted that they needed a little more knowledge so they could understand. They felt appreciated even in their weakness. How many times do we seek to be appreciated for who we are? How often do we identify ourselves with those who we deem unknowledgeable? How many times do we flee from those who are really in need just because we do not want to be associated with them? How many times do we alienate those we deem different from us? We are called to nurture strong bonds with those we encounter, those who need to encounter Christ through us. We are called to “Make Disciples, before we can teach or baptize them”. They can only become disciples if they feel appreciated, not condemned for who they are.

In Acts 2:22 & 32; we are called to witness the risen Christ. We are called to be the living faith amongst the lay Christians. We are called to be the light of the world, not the light in the world. We are called to live such that in our absence, the light we lit will still shine in those we encountered while we lived. We are called to give who we are not to give what we have. We need to give ourselves to those we are witnessing to because giving ourselves is an act of love. We are called to, like St Francis of Assisi “preach the word always, but only use words when necessary”. The modern man listens more to witness more than to teachers…

An example is given of St. John Marie Vianney who despite his deficiencies in formal studies, he witnessed Christ as a great confessor who touched many souls beyond his parish and indeed his country.

Lay Christians who witness Christ with their lives do as much evangelization as ordained ministers. When we understand that we were created for a purpose then we live a fulfilling life and influence all those around us positively. Let us also remember to pray for others.

Above all “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect …” (1st Peter 3:15).

 

 

NFP: Just another form of contraception? By Jeanette Alexander

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nfpContrary to popular belief, Natural Family Planning (NFP) is not “Catholic Contraception” like it is commonly misconstrued. It isn’t the outdated “calendar rhythm method” either, where a woman estimates when her fertile period is, based on information gleaned from her previous six cycles. This method is quite unreliable indeed. So what exactly is NFP and what’s all the fuss about?
Natural Family Planning or NFP is an umbrella term for scientific, natural and moral methods of family planning that can help couples either achieve or postpone pregnancies by observing the fertility signals of a woman’s body to determine the most likely days of conception in the month. Some methods of NFP include the Sympto-Thermal Method, the Creighton Model System of FertilityCare (CrMS), and the Billings Ovulation Method (BOM).
The BOM is the method taught locally at NFP Singapore. Essentially, NFP is an approach to fertility awareness and management; a way of life and responsible parenting.
Natural Family Planning vs Contraception
Contraception (“Contra” means against and “ception” refers to conception) is the deliberate use of artificial substances, methods and techniques to interrupt or sterilize an act of sexual intercourse with the use of a host of drugs and/or devices, to prevent pregnancy. The more common forms include the condom or sheath; the contraceptive pill, which contains synthetic sex hormones to prevent ovulation in the female; intrauterine devices (IUD) which prevent the fertilized ovum from implanting in the uterus; and male or female sterilization (vasectomy and tubal ligation).
In a very informative and enlightening interview on EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network), famed author and chastity speaker Jason Evert draws some clear distinctions between contraception and natural family planning and defines NFP as “the method of avoiding or achieving pregnancy based on observing the changes in a woman’s body that indicate her fertility. This method of planning a family, he explains, is scientifically endorsed by the British Medical Journal as 99% effective (with proper use), without the harmful effects of chemicals and devices. It is a “totally natural way to plan out one’s family if you have a good reason to space out your family,” says Evert.
He weaves in a great analogy about NFP vs Contraception being two women who want to maintain slim figures – one who’s dieting and the other who is bulimic. Both have the same goal of losing weight and keeping it off, he says, but their approaches and methods are entirely different. The woman who is dieting practises temperance by sacrificing and avoiding fatty foods while maintaining the discipline to exercise regularly. The bulimic woman, on the other hand, “binges on all kinds of fatty foods and then throws up to purge the weight-gaining effects of bingeing”. Contraception is like the woman who binges and throws up. NFP is the woman who practises temperance and sacrifice. Contraception is like bingeing on sex and then purging its life-giving effects, says the father of five, who is expecting his sixth with wife Crystalina Evert early next year.
NFP is Couple Orientated
NFP is also couple orientated and promotes sharing and joint responsibility in family planning. It helps cultivate intimacy in a marriage and enriches it, since the same qualities that make marriage work such as respect, patience, fidelity, regard, self-mastery, understanding and consultation are required and developed when a couple faithfully practises NFP. Since the methods of NFP respect the love-giving (unitive) and life-giving (procreative) nature of the conjugal act, they support God’s design for married love. It is an entire approach to life.
Love and Responsibility
In his book Men, Women and the Mystery of Love (Practical Insights from John Paul II’s Love and Responsibility), Dr Edward Sri highlights that according to the canonised Pope, contraception is not just immoral, it “destroys the love between a husband and wife in marriage”. He brings to light four important points St John Paul the Great made:
Accepting the Possibility of Parenthood: for sexual relations to become a true union of persons, it must be accompanied in the mind and will by the acceptance of the possibility of parenthood. Sexual union itself does not automatically bring about a true union of love. One of the key ingredients needed to make the bodily union between a man and woman an expression of an even deeper personal union of love is a willingness to accept the possibility that through the sexual act, “I may become a father” or “I may become a mother” (227-228). This openness to parenthood is crucial if love is to mature in a marriage. He adds: “When a husband and wife are truly open to life in their marital relations, it is as if they are looking each other in the eye and saying, ‘I love you so much I am even willing to embark on the adventure of parenthood with you’”.
Rejecting Parenthood, Rejecting one’s spouse: Contraceptive sex is not just a rejection of the possibility of parenthood, but a certain rejection of the other person, in that it prevents the physical union of marital intercourse from blossoming into a full personal union of love, says JPII (228). When spouses reject the possibility of becoming parents together in the marital act, the focus of their experience in sexual intercourse becomes merely “centered on sexual pleasure”. It is as if they are saying
“I want the sensual pleasure from this act, but I reject the possibility of you becoming a parent with me” (234).
Periodic Continence: While couples should never reject the possibility of parenthood in sexual intercourse, John Paul II teaches that they do not need to “positively desire to procreate on every occasion when they have intercourse” (233). Couples may face certain situations in which they desire to postpone the conception of a child. In those cases, they may choose to abstain from having sexual relations during the times the woman is most likely to be fertile.
Still open to life: According to St John Paul, the most important point to consider involves the couple’s attitude towards procreation. Periodic continence may be used to help regulate conception, but it should not be used to postpone having a family. The Pope explains, “We cannot therefore speak of continence as a virtue where the spouses take advantage of the periods of biological infertility exclusively for the purpose of avoiding parenthood altogether” (242), pointing out that the good of the family should be weighed seriously before practising periodic continence, as he notes that “giving children siblings can contribute in an important way to a child’s education and upbringing, since brothers and sisters form a natural community that helps shape the child”.
Fertility is a gift
Jason Evert puts it beautifully: “There is no reason to interrupt the sexual act at the moment we are supposed to be renewing our wedding vows. If we are going to come together as one flesh, it should be as God designed: in the love of husband and wife”.
After all, fertility is a gift, an end of marriage, for conjugal love tends to be fruitful (CCC 2366).

Finding Myself; Finding Peace when he is gone…

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Candle

When someone loses a beloved one, it is very easy for us to call and say sorry, or type RIP in their social media, or call and give a word of encouragement. I know I have done it. One of my favorite quotes has been “They are not dead those who still live in the hearts of the living”. My encouraging words have been “May you find joy in appreciating that they lived, than mourn that they are gone.” Its been a month since my dad breathed his last. It’s been almost two years of him living with cancer, and though I find solace in knowing that he is in no more pain, accepting and following my own advice has not been easy. There is knowledge that he will be gone. Nothing prepares you for the reality that he is gone. That those we love are gone.

While I come to terms, while I cry and let my shower wash my tears, I learn to encourage myself, to walk the path of knowing that phone number will never be answered by the same voice, to see pictures on the wall are our memoirs, the advice he ever gave is all I have, the moments shared of love are all I hold on to, and I cry some more because its saying good bye every morning to the man who was so present in our lives.

It’s been a month of total loss. I am probably still a mess even if I smile at you. I may come to your office and will probably cry a bucket. Maybe more than a month, because since that diagnosis, in your head you know the eventuality. But isn’t death a reality we live with everyday?As I sit back and reflect, I choose today not to mourn, but to be thankful.

28To be thankful to God for who he was to us. A man who loved his family, with a big bias to his daughters, of which he had many. He literally fought fights for his daughters. I remember some random guy who decided to abuse my sister with those vulgar unmentionable words. One day he was summoned and given a lecture of his life. Well let’s say it never happened again. I choose to thank God for the guy who not only instilled hard work as a character trait in us, but was hardworking himself. He was a pre-colonial man who never went to school, but he worked his way up the ladder as a professional driver for the public service, educated his children, built homes for the two families he had, supervised development projects at home and his dynamism and embrace of technology was such that by the time of his death could use a smart phone. He achieved much, am nowhere close to what he achieved. Hope someday I will. I choose to thank God for the sacrifices he made for us his family, his children. I choose to thank God for the discipline he instilled in us, for the advice he offered, for the shoulder we depended on especially at our weakest. I choose to thank God for the privilege of the moments of success and failure that we shared. For the support that he gave so we may live our dreams, for the tough love- he never shied away from telling you are making a stupid decision that will land you nowhere-, for the woman I am, for the relationships that we have with my sibling which he directly and indirectly contributed, for everything I learned from him, especially on friendships and how to live and interact with people- he believed in respecting everyone we encounter no matter how unworthy we thought of them (if that even makes sense) because there was something to learn from everyone. He was an exceptional planner who went for nothing less than excellence in what he organized, from when and how to pay for whose fees, which head teacher needs to be spoken to, which applications need to be proof read, which child is weak in which subject and what needs to be done, which one needs disciplining and how to discipline, which celebrations, who to hire, when to hire, who to speak and many more. He planned everything, to his grave. He left instructions on what to be done when he died. We only executed his plans at his death. He was a dad. I am not writing this because he was an angel. He was human. I am writing so that someday, my children who never met him will learn a few things from him. Hopefully they will ask questions about this grandfather who will forever indirectly influence the people they become.

I choose to appreciate those who traveled with me in the low moments. I give thanks to God because in all that we went through, we never lacked, materially, emotionally, spiritually. You and you and you, who prayed, who sent contributions, who traveled with me to see him, who came to cry with me, my spouse, my family,  my in-laws, my sisters and bffs, my godchildren, our God Parents, colleagues, priests, everyone. God knows you supported us and He will abundantly reward you. I still need you. We all still need each other.

FILE18592While I still walk this path of finding peace in his absence, it is easier to live with these memories. I will still cry every once in a while. However, I pray the peace of Christ that has been with us continue to be with us. May the knowledge that for him life is changed not ended console me. May I find peace in knowing he is in peace, he is not in pain anymore. He rests, totally. In death his face was at peace. His legacy lives in us, his candle burns in our lives, his influence is so much in us, his love for us we will always cherish. In his absence he lives because, they are not really dead those who still live in the hearts of the living. Fare thee well.

“Raha ya milele umpe, Eh Bwana, na mwanga wa milele umwangazie, Apumzike kwa amani- Amina”.

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