NFP and connaturality

by Kathleen van Schaijik

Speaking of connaturality, (see “St. Thomas and Catholic connaturality” in this issue) Dr. Waldstein has made an important point apropos of the NFP discussion. Last week he wrote me the following: “When one makes the distinction between actions that are the fruit of careful and prayerful moral reasoning and actions that are mechanical, one should perhaps emphasize a tertium quid: namely, actions that flow from a connaturality with what is good: St. Elizabeth of Hungary gave alms to beggars out of an intense connaturality with Christ and His mercy. Such actions seem similar to those that proceed from careful and prayerful reflection in being truly morally good actions, and yet also similar to mechanical ones in being immediate and spontaneous, without requiring reasoning.”

He zeros right in on a weakness I had sensed (without being able to articulate it to myself) in my original article. My criticism of “providentialism” left the impression that married couples best live out their vocation when they consciously deliberate over the number of children they should have. Dr. Waldstein reminds me that many live by a more spontaneous conformity with the divine plan for family life—without conscious “discernment” about family size, but nonetheless with a free and responsible openness to and trust in God’s perfect providence. It seems to me that NFP can be part of this connatural union with goodness—i.e. when it is practiced by couples who, without delving minutely into the the doctrinal question or worrying about whether their reasons are grave enough, spontaneously recognize its blessing for their family and receive it with gratitude.

My thanks for a insight which enriches the discussion and at the same time gently corrects a mis-placed emphasis in my position.

Meanwhile, his letter also raised the intriguing question of the role of communities in developing connaturality, which I hope will be taken up with more completeness by him and others in future issues of the Concourse. I am wondering particularly about the relation between the charismatic renewal—with its strong emphasis on discerning God’s will—and the break-down of “normal” Catholic culture and parish life.

In some ways it seems to me that the conscious awareness of and cooperation with God’s plan for our individual lives, which is so characteristic of those in the renewal, represents a definite advance in the lived-faith of Catholics. (This is particularly evident among the numerous youth in the renewal, who not only consider themselves Catholics, but who deeply and ardently desire to lay down their lives for God.) But at the same time, I think it can be seen as a sort of “unusual” gift of grace given (perhaps only for a time) to help the faithful survive the emergency situation of the anti-Christian culture of the day, and all the time intended to lead us to the re-establishment of an unselfconscious, connatural communal life of faith.

Would love to read others’ thoughts on this.

Kathleen van Schaijik, Class of ‘88

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I,1 NFP, by itself, does not compromise the marriage vocation I,2 What is a ‘real’ Catholic education? I,3 Orthodox not paradox I,4 How does a university evangelize? I,4 NFP and connaturality I,5 Thomism and intellectual freedom I,7 Keeping our worship in step with ‘what the Spirit is saying’ to FUS II,1 Can charismatics and traditionalists peacefully coexist? II,1 The horror of polygamy and the persistence of chauvinistic theories in Catholic academia II,2 The challenge of the Concourse: discussion without (much) contention II,3 When old ideas are breaking up II,4 Why the polygamy problem is not as passe as it appears: Kathleen van Schaijik responds to critics II,9 Why ‘charismatic spirituality’ belongs at the heart of our communal life III,1 What is the University Concourse? III,1 How not to help households III,3 Silence betokens ... What? III,4 The freedom of stricture III,5 What were households meant to be? III,5 Different degrees of authority IV,1 Love Never Leaves IV,2 Faith and Reason IV,5 A different perspective on the modesty question IV,6 Strangers to the world V,1 New face, same spirit V,3 The ‘Stratford man’ and the Shakespearean canon: no match at all V,4 Bringing the masses from starvation to full strength V,6 Branching out through Christus Magister V,6 Kathleen van Schaijik replies to John Doman on Shakespeare V,7 A Catholic critique of a current notion of courtship VI,1 The evil of exorcising judgement VII,1 Jump Start VII,1 Abusing NFP VII,1 It’s not the Vatican, it’s the laity III,6 Last words (for now) III,6 A suggestion regarding Extraordinary Ministers III,6 Catholic teaching on capital punishment III,6 A final thought on the household issue III,6 What is our mission, really? III,6 What if Shakspere wasn’t Shakespeare? III,6 Clinton’s sorry legacy III,6 Evolution III,6 Intimidated? Please don’t be. III,6 A gift for the graduates of ‘98 III,6 A point of policy III,6 A point of principle III,6 A word of thanks IV,7 Happy & sad IV,7 Oxford gaining on Shakspere IV,7 Of private and collegiate morality IV,7 Newman, education and context IV,7 Witnesses to Faith in the face of death IV,7 Viva the class of ‘99! IV,7 A prize winning physicist out of his depth IV,7 A positive psychology IV,7 How to become a leader IV,7 Campus politics IV,7 Thanksgiving V,8 Fr. Michael’s achievement V,8 Charity may be severe V,8 On the other side of the same coin V,8 The Weimar Republicans V,8 Drawing out an analogy V,8 Beware of economic Puritanism V,8 How to support the Concourse by buying books V,8 Shakespeare debate update V,8 What the education debate is and isn’t about V,8 Dear Class of 2000 V,8 Thanksgiving