My wife, Karen, and I had a wonderful time attending a conference this past weekend in Nashville. “Love & Life in the Divine Plan” was a one-day examination of the U.S. bishops’ recently pastoral letter on marriage (of the same name) and was hosted by the Ruth Institute and Aquinas College ( a local college run by the Benedictine sisters of Nashville). CCL was the only NFP provider exhibiting. Our presence was important since many speakers referenced the benefits of NFP and we were there to answer attendees’ specific questions and point them toward instruction.
The conference had six top notch speakers who addressed in some detail the themes outlined in the pastoral letter. Specifically, the speakers addressed the four threats to marriage in the modern world; contraception (Janet Smith), cohabitation (Brad Wilcox), divorce (Doug Allen) and same sex unions (Jennifer Roback Morse). In addition, Sam Gregg from the Acton Institute provided a fascinating comparison of Christian anthropology to the many secular anthropologies in vogue today. This provided for a deeper understanding of the underlying assumptions proponents who wish to change the definition of marriage hold. This address also helped explain why, just like in the pro-life/pro-abortion debates, we often seem to be talking to others who simply don’t understand what we are saying.
Beyond the conference topics, the event provided a great chance for CCL to connect with others interested in doing more to promote NFP. It was wonderful to meet with our local Teaching Couple – Tim & Mary Beth Callahan – who are part of a group being formed to increase the profile of NFP in the Nashville Diocese. Separately, I met with a physician who is a Benedictine sister and part of the local Catholic Medical Association Guild. She told me the Nashville CMA guild wants to do more to make NFP more visible across the diocese but they are struggling with how to get started. I was able to share some insight from another CMA guild who has been working the same issue in another state, and offered CCL’s resources to help in whatever way we can.
In all the conference provided a much deeper insight on the ongoing struggle to maintain the definition of marriage as it has been since God created it, and was a great opportunity to re-energize both the local advocates and myself to work harder to have NFP a more normative part of marriage preparation and married life in the diocese of Nashville.
EWTN filmed the entire event for broadcasting at a later date, so watch the EWTN listings for air dates. I encourage all to view it so you can benefit from the program’s richness.
Mike Manhart, PhD