NFP Awareness week - 2012 was last week. I made a concerted effort on this blog to write a bit about NFP, the fear, challenged others to consider how it can positively impact marriage, why it is good for the body and why we should talk to our children about it alongside any other information they get as they enter puberty and adulthood.
Last week, I organized a Mass on the anniversary of Humanae Vitae. It was our 2nd year to have the Humanae Vitae Mass, as we called it. I am trying hard not to feel disappointed in the turnout because the people who did show up were so grateful to have the Mass said and to hear Father's words of encouragement. It can be a lonely life of sacrifice when families embrace and faithfully live the Church's teaching on marriage and sexuality. Those of us walking the walk need a Mass like this to lift us up and help us remember why it's worth it. For the most part, I had been pretty successful at suppressing the disappointed feelings...
Until Father came and spoke with me after Mass yesterday and asked if we had gotten the word out and wondered why more people hadn't shown up. Yes, we got it into the Catholic Key (diocesan newspaper). Yes, we had gotten it in bulletins. Yes, we had gotten it out on e-mail loops.
Part of me wants to make excuses. There are ball games and vacations and lots of busy things happening the latter part of July. Many of the families that might have come to the Mass (who didn't) had already attended Mass that day through the Totus Tuus program. Our parish had Totus Tuus that evening at the same time Mass was going on.
And then, part of me wants to ask Father if we could please have this special Mass worked into a Sunday. In his homily, Father mentioned that maybe he was "preaching to the choir" at the Humanae Vitae Mass...well, if we were to add this Mass on a Sunday he could reach others. The people who are coming to a Humanae Vitae Mass on a Wednesday night in the middle of an already packed summer week already believe and live this value and Church teaching in their marriages. We appreciated the Mass for sure. We still wanted it. We NEEDED it. But, if the goal is to spread the Good News about the Church's teaching on marriage and sexuality, unfortunately, it's just a fact of life that we're gonna have better luck reaching a broader audience on a Sunday.
My perfect vision of a big Mass celebrating Humanae Vitae and the Catholic church's unwavering and loving teaching on marriage and sexuality includes the Mass being on Sunday including a forum for information sharing afterwards. Perhaps, in the parish hall, in addition to the information re: NFP, we can offer some healing information for post-sterilization, or a support system to help couples make that leap out of the contraception culture. There are lots of couples out there that didn't hear, know or understand the Church's teaching that made some irreversible decisions and they are hurting but may feel like they have nowhere to turn. And it's difficult to make such a drastic change in marriage to accept and learn NFP vs. continuing on using hormonal contraception or barriers or other devices. Maybe we could have information and support for educating teens within the family structure. Perhaps have stock of books like The Good News about Sex & Marriage or something on Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body or TOB for Teens, or Pure Manhood. I admit...that's a lofty "perfect" scenario.
Since we have started this thing of having a special Mass on the anniversary of Humanae Vitae ...how can I drum up the support for this Mass? How can I get more people of our diocese, let alone more people from our Parish, to attend this Mass? Are people queasy about bringing their families with children (my children come to this, I don't find it objectionable...but is this one of those instances where I am weird?)
I suppose I could try to have some influence as to when Totus Tuus happens at our Parish. The past two years it has been the last week in July. If our parish is going to continue to have a Special Mass on July 25, we should try to make sure no other big attendance-draining activities are happening.
I have a year to try and do this thing better. I would like it to continue, so I'm afraid that I need to grow my vision and make it happen. I know the families who attended the Mass the last two years would also like to see it continue. We have two supportive priests at our parish and on that I'd like to capitalize.
Help me? Please? Email me at EndlessStrengthBlog@gmail.com. Tweet me: MichellePHughes. Leave a comment. Retweet this for me to your followers. I would like to get some ideas that I could get started on to make next year's Humanae Vitae Mass more memorable.