Welcome to Natural Family Planning Awareness Week!

A new child is one of the most amazing gifts that a couple can receive.  The child serves as a sign of his parents’ love and becomes a lifelong adventure for the couple as they learn to form and nurture him.  The grave nature of this obligation means that it is important for a couple to exercise responsible parenthood even in regards to fertility.  While the easy solution within our society is to use contraception in order to bar fertility from the union of husband and wife, that action has consequences that are far more serious than a couple would ever expect.  In 1968 in his encyclical letter Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI warned that if the use of contraceptives became widespread, marital infidelity would increase, men would lose respect for their beloved, and immorality would increase especially among the youth.  Looking at the trends over the past 40 years, his predictions have been strikingly accurate.

The solution for married couples is surprisingly simple although often not widely discussed.  That is why this week has been nationally declared Natural Family Planning Awareness Week.  NFP is a way for couples to regulate fertility based on the natural signs in a woman’s cycle.  It is 99% accurate and is helpful for couples to both avoid and achieve pregnancy.  Through NFP, husbands are able to elevate their wives by understanding her body and respecting its design.  It promotes sincere communication and allows the couple to revere the gift of life through every stage of their marriage.  Statistically, couples using NFP stay together.  Studies show that the divorce rate for NFP couples is under 5% compared to the 50% national average.  Women also do not have to face the physical consequences of a pill designed to make her body work improperly.  Take advantage of this week by learning more about NFP.  Perhaps it is something to consider for your own marriage or to share with couples that you know.

Here is a link to more resources from the Diocese of Sioux Falls: Respect Life Office.

May God bless our marriages and families!

Steps for Meditative Prayer

An excerpt from a talk by Fr. Jeff Norfolk

True meditative prayer requires speaking and listening.  Here are a few steps to follow when praying in order to receive from Our Lord and respond to his personal call in your life.

Acknowledge – the anger, frustration, anxiety, etc. that you are feeling. Acknowledge it is real.

Relate – Tell the Lord all about whatever is bothering you. This step of relating gets it off your chest and places it in the Hands of the Lord.

Receive – Ask Him for His grace, His guidance as to what to do with the struggle you are having, what direction to go to find freedom, how to let go.

Respond – Only once you have received the grace or the direction the Lord wants you to go can you respond and take the necessary steps forward to freedom.

A Revolt Against Artificial Contraception

The debate about religious freedom has heated up in recent months as new health care laws lay down the mandate that health care providers will be required to cover artificial contraceptives, abortifacients, and sterilizations.  For many, this has brought up the question: What is the big deal about contraception?  Truly, this is no light matter, and its consequences have been grave.  Relationships have become oversexualized and meaningless, and the problems that were supposed to be solved have increased.  A group of young people, fed up with the situation, have created an online grassroots effort to portray the truth of the situation and provide a better solution.  To check out this edgy site and to learn more about the problem of artificial contraception, click on the following link:


Religion and American Society

Posted by Joe Rutten, Director of Faith Formation – Cathedral of St. Joseph

If you are not aware, the fight for the future of American society has begun.  The fight has been being waged for some years now, actually since our founding, but it has started to heat up again this past year with the imposition of the insurance mandate by the Federal department of Health and Human Service.  In order to win a war, you must first know that you are in one.  Take heed, the battle has begun.

I want to address a great misunderstanding that exists in many American’s minds about the foundation and establishment of the United States as a society that separates Church and State.  Popular understanding believes that America was founded solely on Thomas Jefferson’s famous principle which seeks to divide religion from politics and its influence in the formation of public society.  This certainly has been one of the primary visions for the United States but by no means is it the only vision.

In the modern understanding of separation of church and state, religion is not to be a source for guidance and formation in the public life of society.  In this case, what then should be the source of formation and guidance and what happens to a society that removes God as the source of its morality and virtue?

Science & technology are two of the leading contenders that have replaced God.  In and of themselves they are not evil, but look at what type of a society they formed when divorced from the principle of religion in Hitler’s Germany.  Hitler used the science of Eugenics coupled with Darwinian evolutionary theory to try and produce the Superior race and the superman.  Hitler had a great aversion to religion and persecuted Christians as well as Jews.  (FYI: Hitler received his eugenics policy from the State of California!) We will leave Joseph Stalin for another day.

Science and technology, without moral guidance rooted in God, can have devastating effects on the dignity of the human person and this is where the fight is being waged most today.  We find the fight being waged most in the area of medicine.  If science and technology are the determining factors of morality and not God, then what science can do is said to be moral and what technology permits is made legal.  By separating the Creator from the formation of society, we lose the boundaries and limitations that safeguard us from destroying ourselves and de-valuing persons.  Because human dignity comes from the fact that we are created in the image and likeness of God, not simply from the fact that we exist as material beings, we must not take the principle of separation of church and state to mean that principles of faith can have no influence in society.

Why is it that we kill our babies in the womb? Why is it that 92% of babies that are tested and found to have Down syndrome in the womb are aborted?  Science/technology alone will not make the world a better place; I think the evidence shows that without limitation, they will actually destroy the human societies.

George Washington said the following in his farewell address in 1796:

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports…reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

I think we should consider the wisdom of Washington in the formation of today’s society!

God’s Faithful Servant First,
Joe Rutten

Reviving the Richness of Our Faith

Posted by Dr. Martin Albl

I’ve just returned from a couple of weeks in Germany and Austria. The symbols of the faith are evident everywhere—most obviously the great cathedrals. We visited the great churches in Freiburg, Mainz, and Salzburg. The beauty of the cathedrals is truly awe-inspiring; I was reminded of the work and care that went into the construction of St. Joseph’s in Sioux Falls. In Europe, though, the scale of the centuries is much greater—the different parts of the cathedrals often date centuries apart. They witness to our unimaginably rich Christian heritage.

Yet the visits to the cathedrals saddened me too. Although masses are still offered, they seem to be regarded more as monuments to the faith of centuries past rather than as  living communities of worship for today’s Catholics. One sees a few people kneeling in prayer surrounded by the hordes of tourists with their cameras. One wonders how we can once again tap into that great source of our Catholic heritage in order to renew our faith life today.