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(((≠))) @ThomasHCrown
, 38 tweets, 6 min read Read on Twitter
To avoid doing the work I'm not inclined to do, I'm going to indulge a bunch of proclivities at once, which is what Twitter is for. Behold: My #HumanaeVitae story.
My mom and dad had four kids, of which I'm the eldest. My wife is the eldest of four, as well. Growing up in the 80s and 90s, this was a large, but not super-large, family. Our Catholic families undoubtedly used contraception, but I haven't asked because ew.
My mom and dad didn't really talk about numbers of kids much. My mom once said my dad was the second of [more even than I have] because "[My grandmother] came from a generation that didn't know how to say no." My dad made clear he thought nothing wrong with the practice.
I figured, when I started dating and therefore really thinking about all of this for the first time, that I'd have four or five kids, or maybe three, and wanted to date a woman who wanted that many so that there would be no significant variance.
As a side note, the women I dated for any length of time who wanted that many were always, to a one, low church Protestants and one Mormon. The Catholics, until I met my wife, wanted 1-2. The one Episcopalian wasn't sure she wanted kids.
I assumed birth control would be necessary but I also assumed it was something that would be done on my wife's end because the options on my end, aside from the surgical one, seemed like mood-killers.

Hey, I was 17-22, give me a break.
I went to Mass weekly, when I remembered on Holy Days of Obligation,* and tried to be a good Catholic even when it meant that attendance at Mass meant a Jesuit would be presiding. But again, I assumed birth control was ok by my parents, it was ok by me.
One brief correction: The first time I thought about birth control as a kid was while watching some dumba** episode of L.A. Law in which a priest, clearly the Bad Guy, had denied absolution, I think, to some woman who'd used birth control. Even my parents thought that dumb.
As a sophomore in college, I decided to decide whether I'd be Catholic or something else. I didn't have much inclination to be anything else, and Confirmation had seemed logical a decade before, but this was my "HEY I CAN DRINK MILK STRAIGHT FROM THE CARTON" moment.
I bought a copy of the Catechism (yes, trad followers, the modern one, I thought they'd officially scrapped the Baltimore Catechism and they didn't have a copy of it at Borders anyway) and like any healthy young man, skipped right to the parts about sex.
The explanation of the illicitness of artificial birth control seemed entirely coherent and logical. This caused me some agita because I'd always assumed the prohibition on artificial birth control wasn't super-important and also wasn't super-thought out.
I actually went back to that a couple of times while reading and translating the Summa that year, because Saint Thomas's thoughts on sex are ... not perfectly in line with the Catechism, and this confused me because I had a child's understanding of St. Thomas's importance.
Skip forward a year. This beautiful girl turns to me the day before the drop date for classes and tells me to ask her out, she's been waiting long enough. Amazing lady, though I must note, not the woman I met later and married.
We had a whirlwind and very nearly permanent relationship. While "casually" discussing kids, she asked me if I wanted them. I said yes, 3-5. I asked her, she said yes. I asked how many, she said yes.
Her mom, I believe, was Catholic, her dad Protestant, and so they did that idiot thing and raised the kids both and she was slowly sliding into the Catholic spot. She said birth control was dumb, could induce abortions, was dumb, and she wanted kids. The end.
As I said, the relationship ended very amicably. She's married with, I believe, six kids right now, in the California underground. If you need an entire Journey tour recreated from memory ... if no one else can help... and if you can find her ... maybe you can hire ... her.
Fast forward again. I met my wife at the very start of my 2L year. I still assumed, without really thinking much about it, that I'd get married and we'd have 4 or so kids and necessarily we'd use artificial birth control because the natural kind is a joke.
Over the course of our dating and engagement, my future wife explained she wanted a lot of kids. She was Catholic and had been raised that way and also sort of assumed artificial birth control would be a given; but also, a lot of kids.

We were young.
The first significant turning point came at Pre-Cana.
I'm sure other people have stories about how magical the NFP counselor was at theirs and blah blah. Ours was this wonderful woman who was pregnant with her sixth who went through all the mystical mumbo-jumbo and also explained it's extremely effective.
So yeah, there was some cognitive dissonance there.
But! The other young couples were amazing, by which I mean not, and really taught us a lot, by which I mean by negative example. They spent the entire session trying, like the future lawyers they weren't, to find loopholes to use contraception whenever they wanted.
It was the first time I'd really seen myself from the outside on this issue. It wasn't a good look for them, or for me.
Later, my wife's uncle was to perform the wedding Mass, and so he told me one of the conditions of marriage in the Catholic Church was being open to whatever children with whom God blessed the marriage.

I managed not to gulp as the impact of that hit all at once.
In a sense, looking back, I've had three great epochs of Catholic formation: When I insisted on studying more before Confirmation; that time period from about October before my wedding through the wedding Mass; and more slowly but certainly, since.
Part of being a good Catholic is understanding that sometimes the rules simply are. They may be inconvenient, they may hurt, but they serve a greater Good, so suck it up, Buttercup.
Anyone who blathers at you about the extraordinary efficacy of NFP, in whatever updated form they use now, is (1) lying (2) delusional (3) self-brainwashed (4) naive (5) blessed with (or his wife blessed with) the most perfectly regular cycle ever.
We do not have this many kids because True NFP Was Never Tried. There are REAMS of graph paper marking all sorts of things I never thought ye gods anyone would ever graph except in a hospital.
The closest we've managed to near-efficacy is a nearly-six year period during which we had one kid, managed to go nearly three years without another, then managed even closer to three years without yet another.

We are now back to every 20-22 months.
I'm going to tell you something else it took me years to understand. Not to know; to understand. Humans are in love with control, even over things we maybe shouldn't control, and honestly can't control. As with many things, in small doses, it's good. In some contexts, it's bad.
All of the NFP propaganda, for Catholics anyway, is an attempt to encourage people trained since early childhood to love control to think they can exercise control in a licit way.

You can't. You're quite literally doomed. Embrace it.
Now I think I'm supposed to say sappy things about my kids. I actually have reams of those and might indulge those later. But I'd be dishonest if I said there haven't been trials; and tears; and so, so, so many headaches.
But there is joy, and purpose, and smiles, and laughs, and late nights and early mornings of love and warmth. There is acceptance of the limits of one's abilities. There is life.
There is going to Mass on Sunday mornings and having the new pastor or junior pastor say, "Are all of these yours?" And then saying, "Father, you're new around here: The last time someone asked, there were [X] fewer."
My #HumanaeVitae story is one of slowly coming to understand and accept a timeless teaching, in no small part by accident and then by realization someone who is actually intelligent would have achieved a lot faster.
Most of all, it's a story of love: Not in the sappy way people too often mean, but the real way: Love unearned but achieved, love given freely and accepted gratefully, love that begins anew each day, quite often with an ultrasound then a new child's first cry outside the womb.
The things I learn and do in this world will be dust inside a generation or two. But that love will live on, God willing until He comes again in Glory to judge the living and the dead.
It's not a great love story, but it's good, and certainly good enough for me.
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