From Fr. David Nix: This is a short conversion story written by a married friend. As you read it, notice how her own conscience comes into play with objective truth. She writes…
As a new Catholic, I quickly fell in love with the Rosary. I loved the prayers, the meditations, the lovely beads. Not long into my devotional life with the rosary, as I was praying I had the fleeting thought, “Why am I not getting out of the Rosary what I think other people are receiving?” In the tiniest flash, the Blessed Mother’s face was before me and I got the interior the message: “Birth Control.”
I had the theological response, “What about it?”
You see, I was an unbaptized person when I married my husband, a lifelong Catholic. All I knew of God was that He was the Creator. I knew nothing relational of Him and certainly nothing about a God Who cares about each one of us and has a plan for our salvation. Upon our engagement, we began the pre-Cana process where we casually mentioned we wanted to go on birth control. The priest said, “As long as you pray about it, you’re fine.” No church teaching, no catechism, just “pray about it.” I don’t know about my husband, but I think my prayer was something like, “Ok, free sex without kids until we want them and then we’ll stop the pill. We’re not saying we don’t want kids… just not now…That’s ok, right?”
It was about 10 years into our married life when I got the above “message” from the Blessed Mother. At the time I would have told you that I was a devoted and faithful Catholic. We never missed Mass and I would have told you then as I would today that being Catholic is my favorite thing.
The following morning after receiving “The Message,” I was getting dressed and putting on my make-up. I opened my vanity drawer and saw the birth control pills. They were like a snake in my drawer. I cannot convey to you the visceral, internal response their presence had on my soul. Just then, my little boy about 4, walked into the bathroom where I was getting ready. I remember slowly closing the drawer so he wouldn’t see the birth control pills. I was ashamed that they were there but I didn’t even know why. But I did think, “Why am I ashamed? Why don’t I want him to see my birth control pills? There’s nothing wrong with this.”
Shortly thereafter I attended a Fullness of Truth Conference in Houston. A priest was recounting a story to us about a woman who met him after Mass one time who was very argumentative and combative to him. Upon reading her soul he told her, “Your problem is, you’re in mortal sin because you’re on birth control!” As he said this he was pointing into an audience of about 3000 right at me. I thought I would die. What is this? Mortal sin? Birth control? I never heard such a thing, but something shattered within me. I felt as though I died a thousand deaths.
Immediately upon my return home from the conference I met with my priest. I told him about what I had heard and how I felt. I was told again, “As long as you pray about it, you’re fine”. Honestly, I left his office with great relief. Unfortunately that did not even last until I got to my car. I knew it was wrong, I felt it in my bones, heart and soul although I could not explain it. So, I called another priest. Then another, yet another, then on to the “orthodox” priests. Same answer.
All this was weighing on me when my husband and I went to dinner with friends. I was explaining to them my dilemma when one of the men said, “You need to read Humanae Vitae“. I said, “I’m not going to read some hefty encyclical!” He said, “Uh, It’s only about 12 pages long.” So I thought, “Well, there’s a conflict with what’s going on in my soul and with what I’m hearing from the Church and evidently being in mortal sin is at play so I guess I’ll find this little book and read it.”
I read it. Absolute truth. Black and white teaching of the church. I was convicted by the truth of what I read. Then I was MAD! As a catechumen I was asking questions, inquiring, seeking and yet not one priest told the truth of the church. Then, I was a practicing “faithful” Catholic seeking to grow in holiness and still nothing. I don’t know if it was ignorance on their part or not, but my soul was at risk and I knew it…I FELT it.
I realized then I had to do some seeking on my own. What is the Church’s teaching on birth control, mortal sin and culpability?
CCC 2370 states: “every action which…render(s) procreation impossible in intrinsically evil.” Notice it doesn’t say “pray about it and if you feel good about it—you’re good.” Rather, it is intrinsically evil. The very nature of birth control is evil. I don’t want that in my life!
Mortal sin has to have 3 conditions: grave matter, full knowledge and full consent. I thought I was off the hook here as every preist told me I was as I had no knowledge or full consent. Except for the palpable feeling of a wall between me and Jesus. I have a fervent prayer life, loved bible study, never missed mass or the sacraments… but I could feel the wall. There was something blocking me from Him. I know enough to know that if there’s something blocking me and Jesus, I’ve put it there. I decided to go to confession for this mortal sin. Thanks be to God I wasn’t dismissed in confessing this mortal sin. It’s hard to explain, but once I had confessed this, the wall came down and I feel like I have eyes to see and ears to hear my Lord in ways I hadn’t before.
There’s another huge matter with the pill. Most are abortifacients. I had no idea and even to this day I haven’t had the courage to look it up to see if the pill I was on is one of the pills that killed new individuals before implantation. This fact still gives me a heartbreak when I think of it. I’ve confessed it so it’s forgiven, but the possible loss for me, my family and my children is impossible to calculate.