Diocesan ministry to highlight event with reflections by the faithful
By Jake Samour
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the encyclical of Blessed Paul VI, better known by its Latin title, “Humanae Vitae.” Many, including every pope since Paul VI, have understood the cautionary statements offered in HV about the anti-life, anti-marriage, and anti-family values that would ensue with the widespread use of contraception.
It predicted, with amazing accuracy, the dire consequences of a widespread contraceptive mentality: An increase in marital infidelity; a persistent decline in moral standards; a loss of respect for human dignity, especially of women; and the use of contraception and abortion as tools for states to control population growth and to attempt to interfere in citizens’ sexual relationships.
Now 50 years later, we live in a world eerily similar to what was predicted in HV; yet, its message remains countercultural. The incredible challenges facing marriages and families today – and women and children in particular – the battle over the HHS mandate requiring religious organizations to facilitate health insurance coverage of sterilization, contraception, and drugs and devices that may cause abortions, and the ongoing issues regarding the Conscience Protection Act were all predicted by the soon to be canonized pope in what was in his time viewed as a controversial encyclical. However, God, through the working of the Holy Spirit, gives his church what it needs when it needs it.
This year can and should be an opportune time to encourage men and women, particularly young people, to proclaim the truth and beauty of HV by our witness. It is a unique moment in time to speak again, with renewed zeal and strength, of God’s plan for love through the testimony of so many lives that have been impacted by Humanae Vitae.
We want to show the many ways in which this teaching has been a light in a darkened world, specifically through the wonderful gift of natural family planning. The Diocese of Wichita has been blessed by the initiative of our Bishop Emeritus Eugene J. Gerber, who was among the pioneers who made NFP a priority in our communities. The 50th anniversary provides us an opportunity to express our gratitude for all the blessings that God has bestowed upon this diocese through the work, sacrifice, and stewardship of Bishop Emeritus Gerber and so many other people.
Those who learn and practice NFP realize that it provides a beautiful integration of committed love and life communication in their marriage. Yet, we also know that NFP asks for the very thing that couples commit to in marriage – the gift of oneself to the other. NFP helps couples be unselfish and offers them the blueprint to practice the virtue of chastity, which requires self-control and self-sacrifice. But in the end, chastity is the guarantor of true love.
It is time more people are introduced to “the pearl of great price,” in many ways unknown and hidden to so many people, even Catholics. It is time to debunk the misconceptions people have about what NFP is and what is not, and about what chastity is and what is not.
We are looking for couples, women and men, who are willing to share their stories about Humanae Vitae, NFP, and the life-changing effect they have had in their lives. If you have a great story to share and are willing to share it with others, please contact Becky Knapp at knappb@Catholic Dioceseofwichita.org. We hope to publish these stories in the Catholic Advance and other Diocesan social media throughout the year.
Some ideas might include couples who have struggled in some way and have persevered. Such struggles may be spiritual, physical, intellectual, communicative or emotional, or a combination of two or more of these. The stories do not all have to be feel-good stories; we hope to hear about different circumstances and include various examples of ways in which couples have been able to experience the joy that comes with living in accordance with God’s plan for love and life.
The stories of those who are willing to fully trust in God’s design for love and life are bound to be powerful testimonials because they are from real people about their real experiences. They will encourage and fortify others to do the same for the good of their marriages and families. In the end, we will also be pushing back on the pervasiveness of the ills of our secular culture by showing anew the gift of human life and the wisdom and richness of authentic married love.
Samour is the director of the Diocesan Office of Marriage and Family Life

Want to share a story?
Those who wish to share a testimonial about Humanae Vitae or NFP may contact Becky Knapp at knappb@CatholicDioceseofWichita.org.