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As I drive around town on various errands, I sometimes notice billboards advertising atheism. Recently I read an article in our local newspaper explaining who sponsors these billboards. Someone was really scratching for a lead that day.

The only time I really get a chance to read the whole sign is when I happen to pause for a long stop light in view of the sign. One thought that I've had is that the atheists are striking against a Church that I don't recognize. When someone mischaracterizes the teachings of the Church, then it becomes fairly easy to argue against these teachings. These false arguments might even become attractive to those who are not very well acquainted with the actual teachings of the Church.

The Catholic Church has a rich Tradition of intellectual exploration that goes way back to the Scriptures and the beginning of Christian thought. Early on the Church made use of philosophy and various types of literature to bring together faith and reason. Down through the hundreds of years, the Church has continued to take into account new scientific discoveries and theories. Sometimes it takes a while for new ideas to mature and for theology and Church teaching to address new circumstances.

These days we hear more about atheism than we did in former decades. There seems to be a sort of perverse pride in those who announce their allegiance to atheism. Even though I can acknowledge their right to renounce belief, I do wonder why an atheist would be eager to bring others to the same state of denial.

There have always been those who oppose the teachings of Jesus and His Church. We really ought not to be surprised by their opposition. Jesus told us that we would be opposed. What we need to be very certain about is what the Church actually believes and teaches. It appears to me that many arguments against the teachings of the Church don't address our actual belief but caricatures. Sometimes when we state clearly our true belief, the opposition fades.

Each year on the Memorial of SS Joachim and Anne, parents of the Blessed Mother, the Church highlights the value of Natural Family Planning. There are many sound theological and ecological reasons for following nature’s rhythms when planning for the conception and spacing of children.

The Church has long recognized that there is a moral component to sexual expression. When the unitive and procreative aspects of intercourse are maintained together, sexual expression is more fully in line with God's intention. 

Years ago when I was a young priest, I noticed that many people were seeking to limit the size of their families. Today I notice that many couples encounter infertility issues. NFP has been tremendously helpful to couples in either category. It is a safe, moral method for conception or for avoiding conception. NFP methods have been greatly improved over the years as research into fertility has advanced.

NFP is ecologically friendly. With our increased concern over introducing chemicals into our bodies, NFP relies on the body's natural cycles to provide natural spacing of children.

I have often heard from couples who practice NFP, for a variety of motivations, that it improves their communication and helps them both participate actively in this intimate area of their married life.

There are several reliable methods of NFP. The one we recommend to engaged couples in our parish is taught through the Avera McKennan Fertility Care Services. The phone number is 322-4434.

A few days ago when I stopped by our parish St. Vincent DePaul meeting, they were discussing how they might raise some funds for their many acts of charity. The demands have been heavy this summer, so they have run low. If someone would like to help out, they accept donations online through the parish or through their Alms box in the Gathering Space. You can be sure your charity touches people who are down and out.

Financial Report: Even though our crowds have been on the light side this summer, we are really pleased that our income has been keeping pace. Last weekend our collection counters found $5,195 in envelopes and $1,992 in the loose offering, along with $8,800 given online. Thanks so much for your generosity.

A Stewardship Testimonial: "Nothing gives me more joy than helping out."
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