N.B. The author of the following sermon has requested that it be treated as copyrighted. It is part of a book of his sermons. His address is: The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary, PO Box 147, Denton, NE 68339.

Contraception: Sermon Omaha /23/97, Last Sunday after Pentecost, by Father Chad Ripperger, FSSP

‘We have been praying for you unceasingly, asking that you may be filled with knowledge of God’s Will…”

The only reference Christ makes to contraception and the contraceptive mentality finds its place amidst the agony and torment of the passion. He approaches the weeping women who are wailing over His suffering. He then says to them one of the most powerful sets of words which speaks directly to our impenitent and selfish age “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming in which men will say ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.“ (Lk.23: 28-29)1 Throughout the entire history of humanity, never have we seen an age in which contraception is so wide spread than this one.

In 1968, in the encyclical Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI confirmed the constant and unchanging teaching of the Church regarding the seriousness of the sin of contraception. He explicitly states that the use of artificial contraception is a grave sin, i.e., it is a mortal sin. In paragraph fourteen, he says that contraception can never be justified because it is intrinsically, i. e. in its very nature, evil. But before Paul VI actually makes this statement, he provides the intellectual groundwork necessary in order to understand why the Church teaches what it does.

The encyclical discusses the fact that Christ entrusted to the Church the right to judge moral matters and thereby making it the Vox Dei, i.e., the voice of God. Within this responsibility and competency to judge moral matters, the Church has always understood that this judgment extends to the Natural Law and the interpretation of it. You have heard me mention the Natural Law in the past in reference to the problem of feminism; the Natural Law is the expression of God’s Eternal Law or Will in the heart of man which guides him and directs him to act in accordance with his own nature. In other words, God made us a certain way and we see what His intention was regarding how we should act and behave based on the way He made us.

I. For a reference to the Fathers and their interpretation of this passage in this manner see Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, vol. 2. The passage lends itself to several complementary but very different interpretations and meanings

It is analogous to the building of an automobile. When the manufacturer builds an automobile, he builds it in a certain way, based on what he wants the car to do. For instance, it the intention of most automobile manufacturers that you put unleaded gasoline in your car and they have designed the car to run the best based on that type of gasoline. But if someone was to go contrary to the intention of the car manufacturer by putting leaded gasoline in the car, he will cause the catalyst in the exhaust system to be burned out or destroyed as well as a number of other problems, and the final result is that car will not run right. So it is with God in making us.

We see that God designed our faculties a certain way. A faculty is something which gives us a capacity to do something, e.g., God gave us the faculty of the intellect or reason so that we might understand and comprehend the things we see. This intention of God when he made us is the very Natural Law written into the very essence or nature of man. So what does this mean? Well, it means that God designed our generative faculty (that’s the one that allows to have children) in such a way that two aspects of it are inseparable. If one separates these two aspects of the generative act, i.e., the conjugal act, one seriously goes contrary to the Will of God. These two aspects are the unitive and the procreative. The unitive element in the conjugal act is that the act by its very nature was meant to make a man and a woman “one flesh,” i.e., to unite them physically together. The procreative aspect means that in looking at the very structure and nature of the conjugal act, we see that it is fundamentally ordered toward having children. Angels do not have a gender, even though they are rightfully depicted as males, which is a topic for another homily, but angels do not engage in the conjugal act because angels do not have bodies and they do not reproduce like man does: God creates them directly. With man, however, God intended for him to reproduce, and we see that by virtue of the nature of the conjugal act as well as the nature of the reproductive organs themselves.

It is very, very important that you understand that these two elements, the unitive and the procreative, are inseparable. God intended us to have children by engaging in the conjugal act, it is that simple. But this teaching, then, condemns a number of things. It condemns masturbation which is not even unitive at all. It condemns in vitro fertilization, i.e., test tube babies because it breaks this inseparable bond between procreation and union. It forbids artificial insemination because that too separates the unitive aspect from the procreative aspect. All of these sins have always been understood by the Church to be objectively mortally sinful.

But this teaching also means that one may not be sterilized; that means no tubal ligations or tying of the fallopian tubes, it also means no vasectomies. It also means that you cannot use condoms or other types of barrier methods such as the diaphragm, etc. In other words, you cannot cause the conjugal act, which you engage in to be intentionally infecund, i.e. they must be open to the possibility of having children. It also means that you cannot use the pill, which is, incidentally, an abortifacient for contraceptive reasons. Not only does it in most cases cause the woman not to ovulate, i.e., not to not release an egg from her ovaries, and thereby not allowing her to become pregnant, but in those cases in which the pill does not cause the woman not to ovulate, she can become pregnant, and the chemicals in the pill make the uterine wall either incapable of receiving the new child, or it causes an artificial menstruation – which results in the child’s loss of life who may have be implanted in the uterine wall. In short, using the pill is an indirect means of abortion which is, as we all know, nothing short of murder.

This is a serious problem. It is very evident to all of us who live in this society that a majority of non-Catholic couples use contraception. But even worse, according to the statistics, 95% of Catholic couples either are using or have used in the course of their marriage some form of contraceptive. Yet, priests sit in the confessional day in and day out and virtually never hear the sin confessed. The result of contraception is that it erodes the marital life; it causes women and men to be seen as sexual objects to be bought and sold or manipulated purely for the sake of lustful pleasures.

Moreover, it has caused serious problems in our society. The abortion problem is directly linked to the contraception problem; one is merely the logical consequence of the other. If my goal is to have contraceptive conjugal acts, i.e., I want to do everything possible to engage in the conjugal act and not have children, which is at the root of the contraceptive mentality, then what do I do when the contraception fails? What do I do when I am “irresponsible” and do not take contraceptives? Well, when I get pregnant that goes against my intention of not having children so I abort them. The next thing is infanticide, because once you have abortion there is no logic which can keep you from having infanticide. If abortion is murder in the womb, infanticide is murder outside the womb. Change of place, i.e., from inside to outside the womb, does not change one’s essential desires or our perceptions of the licity or permissibility of the act in the slightest. The fact that the pro-abortion people have tried to hold onto the notion that location or place makes you and I a person or not, i.e., those in the womb and those outside the womb are essentially different, is a logic which even the most irrational of people implicitly see as bogus. Once people begin killing children in the womb, they will shortly kill them outside the womb.

One quick observation about the supposed ‘irresponsibility’ of not taking contraception you hear in the secular media: that taking contraception and avoiding unwanted pregnancies is the responsible thing to do. Nothing could be more contrary to the truth. Contraception is precisely an indulgence in irresponsibility. The responsible person is the one who accepts the responsibility or the blame or merit for the effects or consequences for his actions The natural consequence of the conjugal act is children: those who use contraception do not want to take the responsibility for the natural consequences of their actions. Is there any wonder why our children and society are becoming more and more irresponsible?

The next logical step in this whole process is euthanasia. If the reason we don’t want to have children is because they are bothersome or inconvenient, then the next step is to kill the elderly who are likewise inconvenient. The logic does not stop because the principle or the idea adopted has a life of its own. Once you accept it, it will carry you to its final conclusion which is the killing of those in society which are inconvenient, bothersome or emotionally difficult for us to deal with. We have no right to sit in judgment of Hitler and the concentration camps for we are doing exactly what Hitler did – kill children and experiment on babies in the womb! Where else could such a hideous thing begin to be developed? The modern day abortion methods were developed in the concentration camps in Nazi Germany. We have no right to look down at them; neh, we are worse than they. Because they killed the children of whom they considered enemies, but we kill our own children. The contraceptive mentality is so powerful, it leads to all these things. Those who say that contraception is only venially sinful, or not sinful at all, are blind to the profound impact it has on people.

Two last things: the first – there are methods of postponing birth which work in accordance with the Natural Law, and have always been recognized by the Church as morally licit. The first is what has become widely known as Natural Family Planning. I have recently heard that there has been even a corruption of this, but certain methods of Natural Family Planning have full Church approval.

The second is abstinence. Nowhere in the marriage contract does it say that you have to engage in the conjugal act all the time. It has always been spiritually and morally salutary for couples, by mutual agreement, to abstain from conjugal relations not only for not having children, but also to gain self-discipline and thereby root out selfishness which is very inimical to the married life.

Which brings me to the last point. In the litany of saints, there is a petition sent to our Lord which says “A spiritu fornicationis…libera nos, Domine,” i.e., “from the spirit of fornication, deliver us, O Lord.” THIS is the real root of our problem. We, in this society, have become so appetitive and so out of control when it comes to our sexuality and everything else, that we are driven by the spirit of fornication, i.e., the desire to indulge the appetites, particularly that of sex, without regard for the moral code. Once the end of a society become pleasure, then sexual pleasure becomes its fixation. All you have to do is to turn on the T.V. The media is completely fixated on sex. Moreover, when pleasure is our end, then any form of it is consider OK and thus comes the homosexual mentality. We hear it justified all of the time under the supposed guise of an “alterative life style.” A professor of mine once said that in his initial studies, historically, any time a society becomes contraceptive, there is a concomitant rise in homosexuality, in other words, employment of contraception begets a rise in homosexuality.

Therefore, we can see that this is very serious business. Stay away from contraception and everything that follows from it. Our attitude toward children should be the same as Our lady’s. “Be it done to me according to Thy word.” Our Lady and St. Joseph, i.e., the holy family, are a constant witness to the blessings of those who follow God’s will with respect to their sexuality. They placed their sexuality, i.e., themselves, at the complete service of God, keeping nothing for themselves, Should we not do the same?

2001 Catholics Against Contraception