Friday, December 21, 2007

Chesterton and Christmas, Part V

After today, our office will be closed until January 2.

Thus, I won't be working until January 2.

Thus, I won't have a lunch break until January 2.

Thus, I won't be blogging until January 2.

So, I'll have to include not only today's installment of the Chesterton Advent Calendar (explanation here) but also those for the 22nd through Christmas Day itself.

21 December

Christ commanded us to have love for all men, but even if we had equal love for all men, to speak of having the same love for all men is merely bewildering nonsense. If we love a man at all, the impression he produces on us must be vitally different to the impression produced by another man whom we love. To speak of having the same kind of regard for both is about as sensible as asking a man whether he prefers chrysanthemums or billiards. Christ did not love humanity; He never said He loved humanity: He loved men. Neither He nor anyone else can love humanity; it is like loving a gigantic centipede. —Twelve Types

22 December

Religion has had to provide that longest and strangest telescope - the telescope through which we could see the star upon which we dwelt. For the mind and eyes of the average man this world is as lost as Eden and as sunken as Atlantis. —The Defendant

23 December

Fortunately, however, being happy is not so important as having a jolly time. Philosophers are happy; saints have a jolly time. The important thing in life is not to keep a steady system of pleasure and composure (which can be done quite well by hardening one's heart or thickening one's head), but to keep alive in oneself the immortal power of astonishment and laughter, and a kind of young reverence. This is why religion always insists on special days like Christmas, while philosophy always tends to despise them. Religion is interested not in whether a man is happy, but whether he is still alive, whether he can still react in a normal way to new things, whether he blinks in a blinding light or laughs when he is tickled. That is the best of Christmas, that it is a startling and disturbing happiness; it is an uncomfortable comfort. The Christmas customs destroy the human habits. And while customs are generally unselfish, habits are nearly always selfish. The object of the religious festival is, as I have said, to find out if a happy man is still alive. A man can smile when he is dead. Composure, resignation, and the most exquisite goo dmanners are, so to speak, the strong points of corpses. There is only one way in which you can test his real vitality, and that is by a special festival. Explode cracker in his ear, and see if he jumps. Prick him with holly, and see if he feels it. If not, he is dead, or, as he would put it, is "living the higher life." —Illustrated London News, 1908

24 December

Almighty God to all mankind on Christmas Day said He:
"I rent you from the old red hills and, rending made you free.
There was charter, there was challenge; in a blast of breath I gave;
You can be all things other; you cannot be a slave.
You shall be tired and tolerant of fancies as they fade,
But if men doubt the Charter, ye shall call on the Crusade –
Trumpet and torch and catapult, cannon and bow and blade,
Because it was My challenge to all the things I made." —A Christmas Song for Three Guilds

25 December

The Christ-child lay on Mary's lap,
His hair was like a light.
(O weary, weary were the world
But here is all aright.) —A Xmas Carol

Season's greetings! Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas!

Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.

"Lights, please."

Linus said it best.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

What Works and What Doesn't Work

From LifeSite:

"Shoddy Research" in Study Claiming all Types of "Sex Ed" Delayed Teen Intercourse

Made no distinction between abstinence education and usual "comprehensive" sex ed

By Hilary White

WASHINGTON, December 19, 2007 ( - A new American study has implied that any or all types of "sex education" significantly delays the start of sexual activity in teens. But what some news media is downplaying is that the research made no distinction between abstinence education and more mainstream "comprehensive" sex education based on contraception.

In the study, students were understood to have received sex education if they had either or both types of instruction.

Read the whole thing.

Previous Related Coverage on the Generations for Life blog

[Cross-posted at Generations for Life]

Chesterton and Christmas, Part IV

Explanation here.

20 December

Meanwhile, it remains true that I shall eat a great deal of turkey this Christmas; and it is not in the least true (as the vegetarians say) that I shall do it because I do not realise what I am doing, or because I do what I know is wrong, or that I do it with shame or doubt or a fundamental unrest of conscience. In one sense I know quite well what I am doing; in another sense I know quite well that I know not what I do. Scrooge and the Cratchits and I are, as I have said, all in one boat; the turkey and I are, to say the most of it, ships that pass in the night, and greet each other in passing. I wish him well; but it is really practically impossible to discover whether I treat him well. I can avoid, and I do avoid with horror, all special and artificial tormenting of him, sticking pins in him for fun or sticking knives in him for scientific investigation. But whether by feeding him slowly and killing him quickly for the needs of my brethren, I have improved in his own solemn eyes his own strange and separate destiny, whether I have made him in the sight of God a slave or a martyr, or one whom the gods love and who die young—that is far more removed from my possibilities of knowledge than the most abstruse intricacies of mysticism or theology. A turkey is more occult and awful than all the angels and archangels In so far as God has partly revealed to us an angelic world, he has partly told us what an angel means. But God has never told us what a turkey means. And if you go and stare at a live turkey for an hour or two, you will find by the end of it that the enigma has rather increased than diminished. —All Things Considered

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Chesterton and Christmas, Part III

Explanation here.

19 December

The writer writes these words before Christmas; some readers will read them after Chrismtas; an awful thought. For I always dimly and dumbly think of life after Christmas as of life after death. I hasten to add that I believe that both will occur. I also add that, as becomes any healthy man, I fear death, but do not fear Christmas—no, not even if it result in death. But I do unconsciously count them both as the end of something and all days beyond them as comparatively vague and visionary. Whenever the year is ending I feel that the world is ending, and I desire to make a good end. I think the best end ever made by mortal man—better than Nelson shot through his stars or Douglas hurling the heart of Bruce—was the death of Faber, who confessed and received all the sacraments of his Church, and on being told he had an hour to live, said: "Then I can hear the last number of 'Pickwick,'" and died hearing it.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

During Advent, I'm trying — and often failing — to spend time looking at each day's Scripture readings (the Gospel readings in particular) with the help of the Navarre Bible — which, incidentally, is a highly invaluable resource I can't recommend highly enough.

The Gospel reading from today's Mass is Luke 1:18-25. In the commentary on verse 25, I came across this rich theological and mariological (is that word?) tidbit the editors pointed out:

St. Jerome gives the following reasons why it was fitting that the Mother of God, as well as being a virgin, should also be married: first, so that Mary's child would be clearly a descendant of King David (through the genealogy of St. Joseph); second, to ensure that on having a son her honour would not be questioned nor any legal penalty be imposed on her; third, so that during the flight into Egypt she would have the help and protection of St. Joseph.

This, I thought, was particularly interesting:

He even points to a fourth possible reason, expressly taken from St. Ignatius Martyr, and to which he seems to give less importance—that the birth of Jesus would go unnoticed by the devil, who would not know about the virginal conception of our Lord (cf. Comm. on St Matthew, 1, 1).

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Chesterton and Christmas, Part II

Explanation in my last post.

18 December

When, in "[A] Christmas Carol," Scrooge refers to the surplus population, the Spirit tells him, very justly, not to speak till he knows what the surplus is and where it is. The implication is severe but sound. When a group of superciliously benevolent economists look down into the abyss for the surplus population, assuredly there is only one answer that should be given to them; and that is to say, "If there is a surplus, you are a surplus." And if anyone were ever cut off, they would be. —Charles Dickens

Monday, December 17, 2007

Chesterton and Christmas

I mentioned in my last post two elderly friends of mine, Frank and Ann Petta, whom I know through the Chicago Area G. K. Chesterton Society (they founded the group when I was but a wee lad living 400 miles away in Northeast Minneapolis).

Every year in the mailing advertising the society's annual Christmas Party, Frank sends along "A Chesterton Advent Calendar", a sheet containing excerpts from Chesterton's writings — a mix of prose and poetry — one for each of the ten days leading up to Christmas, and for Christmas Day itself. Some of the quotations are directly related to Christmas; others not so much.

Why, you may ask, doesn't he include a Chesterton quotation for each day of Advent?

Beats me. That's just the kind of sui generis fellow Frank is.

Throughout this week, I'll be including these quotations herein, with references whenever possible.

15 December

Here am I, Father Christmas; well you know it,
Though critics say it fades, my Christmas Tree,
Yet was it Dickens who became my poet
And who the Dickens may the critics be?

16 December

Comfort, especially this vision of Christmas comfort, is the reverse of a gross or material thing. It is far more poetical, properly speaking, than the Garden of Epicurus. It is far more artistic than the Palace of Art. It is more artistic because it is based upon a contrast, a contrast between the fire and wine within the house and the winter and the roaring rains without. It is far more poetical, because there is in it a note of defence, almost of war; a note of being besieged by the snow and hail; of making merry in the belly of a fort. —Charles Dickens

17 December

Damn it, I sometimes think the only English thing left in England is cherry brandy. —The Quick One

Friday, December 14, 2007

Catherine Doherty, Servant of God

Today is the 22nd anniversary of the death of Catherine Doherty.

Catherine Doherty

Her Wikipedia entry begins:

Servant of God Catherine Doherty (August 15, 1896–December 14, 1985) was a social activist and foundress of the Madonna House Apostolate. A pioneer of social justice and a renowned national speaker, Catherine was also a prolific writer of hundreds of articles, best-selling author of dozens of books, and a dedicated wife and mother. Her cause for canonization as a saint is under consideration by the Catholic Church.

An amazing life story, hers.

Born in Russia, she and her family were nearly killed during the Russian Revolution. A website dedicated to her cause for canonization explains its impact on her:

The Revolution marked Catherine for life. She saw it as the tragic consequence of a Christian society’s failure to incarnate its faith. All her life she cried out against the hypocrisy of those who professed to follow Christ, while failing to serve him in others.

Get Yourself Mutilated and Return to Work the Same Day!

As reported in today's Chicago Tribune:

Panel OKs tubal ligation alternative

WASHINGTON, D.C. - An advisory panel to the Food and Drug Administration recommended Thursday the approval of a new method for sterilizing women as an alternative to tubal ligation.

The procedure takes 15 minutes and involves using radio signals to create a lesion inside the fallopian tube. A catheter delivers a soft material smaller than a grain of rice into the tube. Healthy tissue then grows on and around the material to create a permanent blockage.

Patients typically can return to work within a day.

This New And Improved Sterilization Procedure ® is currently in Phase One of the Two Phases of History (per Mark Shea). To wit:

1. What could it hurt?

It will, sooner or later — and my money is on sooner — enter Phase Two:

2. How could we have known?

Because, you know, no one could ever possibly foresee that a procedure that mutilates a woman's body will lead to significant health problems, right?

Previous attempts to create the ideal sterilization procedure — either for women or for men — have resulted in major health risks.

Why the blazes would anyone think this New And Improved Sterilization Procedure ® will be different?

It's maddening to consider how many billions of dollars have been spent in Sisyphean pursuit of The Perfect Contraceptive.

All this, as Mary Beth Bonacci once said, "to prevent a single little egg from doing its thing once a month."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

You Learn Something New Every Day

As today is the feast of St. Lucy, happy feast day to our third daughter!

Her given name is actually Maria Lucia (all three of our daughters have the first name Maria, and we call them by their middle names), so she actually has two patron saints (Our Lady and St. Lucy), as well as a hopefully-will-be-declared-a-saint-someday patron, Sister Lucia dos Santos.

And, coincidentally, in light of yesterday's celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I just learned this morning that St. Juan Diego's wife's was also named Maria Lucia.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I Don't Read Books Much Anymore

Over the course of my adult life, I've had innumerable conversations that go something like this:

Interlocutor: Have you read [Name of a Particular Book]?

Me: That's the one by [Name of Said Particular Book's Author], right?


Me: That's the one about [Very General Plot Summary of Said Particular Book], right?

Interlocutor: Yeah — have you read it?

Me: No.

Interlocutor: [With much gusto] Oh, it's great! You've gotta read it...

As I have remarked previously on this blog, I love to read — not entirely unlike Burgess Meredith's character in one of the most famous episodes of The Twilight Zone.

But since Jocelyn and I started having kids, I have precious little time for personal reading.

It must have been with guys like me in mind that University of Paris professor Pierre Bayard wrote How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read.

The problem is, of course: When would I have time to read it?

I've already read this review — written, ironically (or rather, not ironically, come to think of it), by someone who hasn't had time to read it either.

That'll have to do, I guess.

Now I'm able to talk about How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read.

[HT: Mark Shea]

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Fighting for Our First Amendment Rights

Last month, we — that is, the Pro-Life Action League, the organization I work for — decided we needed to start holding monthly protests outside the recently opened Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Aurora, IL. (As I have remarked previously, since this facility is the largest abortion clinic in the U. S., we have taken to calling it the "Abortion Fortress of Aurora".)

In the course of exercising our First Amendment rights by organizing prayer vigils, rallies, protests, and the like outside the facility's site these past several months, we've encountered not a few difficulties from the City of Aurora's powers that be.

We've already sued the city once
, and will likely have to do so again.

Why, you may ask? For a whole host of reasons, really.

For starters, pro-life blogger Jill Stanek explains:

With no plan in sight to pour sidewalks so those citizens can safely protest according to their First Amendment rights, or even so the poor women of America can safely trudge barefoot and accidentally pregnant to Planned Parenthood's largest abortion mill in the U.S., Aurora city officials have instead erected nonsensical signs to nowhere banning pro-life presense from anywhere across the street from PP (click to enlarge)....

My friend and co-worker Eric Scheidler, who has been spearheading our multi-faceted activism campaign in Aurora, comments on these signs:

The "beyond this point" one is funny. There isn't any "point" there. It's just in the middle of Oakhurst, sort of facing the south, as if to say you can't protest north of this sign. But the other one, that just says "no protesting," is actually SOUTH of the "beyond this point" sign. It's nonsense. Typical Aurora incompetence.

There are a similar pair of signs farther south. One faces west, out into the street, and says "beyond this point." But there's no logical "point" the sign could be referring to. Across the street is a regular "no protesting" sign. But that's the one place where a "beyond this point" sign might make a little sense. Heigh ho.

During our protest last month, Aurora police approached a fellow I know named Roger Earl, who was walking with his five-month old daughter on the only public sidewalk in the vicinity of Planned Parenthood. (His wife, meanwhile, was sidewalk counseling.)

Here's how a reporter from the Chicago Tribune described the events that transpired:

Police threatened to arrest a man praying and walking with his infant along the east side of Oakhurst, near a residential community.

"I wasn't planning to be part of the protest today," said Aurora resident Roger Earl. "I didn't realize that I was breaking any law by walking along the sidewalk praying."

Earl said he was near the protest because his wife was participating, and he was watching their infant. He said police approached him and asked him whether he was part of the protest, warned him twice and then threatened to arrest him.

Police spokesman Dan Ferrelli said Earl was praying and wearing an insignia indicating he opposed abortion.

[Aurora Police Chief William] Powell defended the police enforcement.

"If he's praying here, he's here because of the building. He can pray at home or anywhere," he said.

Believe it or not, in light of comments made by Chief Powell at an Aurora City Council meeting earlier that week, what he said here is not out of character for him.

Another friend of mine, JT Eschbach, just posted video he took of Roger talking about the incident with the Chicago Tribune reporter — and, it appears, at least one other reporter as well. (Note also: The fellow in the red hat, standing behind Roger, is Jason Craddock, one of our attorneys from the Thomas More Society Pro-Life Law Center.)

Here's the video:

For our part, we remain undeterred. Our next protest is this Saturday.

Pray for us. And, more importantly, pray for an end to abortion — an especially fitting petition as we prepare to celebrate tomorrow the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who is the Patroness of the Unborn.

[Cross-posted at Catholic Dads]

Monday, December 10, 2007

Who Knew?

As we were getting the song sheets ready for next week's Empty Manger Christmas Caroling outside several local abortion clinics, I learned two things about one of my favorite carols, God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.

First, I learned that the title is "God Rest Ye Merry [COMMA] Gentlemen", and not "God Rest Ye [COMMA] Merry Gentlemen".

Heretofore, I'd always thought the carol had only three verses. It actually has seven:

God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
For Jesus Christ our Saviour (or Remember Christ our Saviour)
Was born upon this day (or Was born on Christmas Day)
To save us all from Satan's power
When we were gone astray

O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

In Bethlehem, in Jewry, (or "in Israel")
This blessèd Babe was born
And laid within a manger
Upon this blessèd morn
To which His Mother Mary
Did nothing take in scorn

O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

From God our Heavenly Father
A blessèd Angel came;
And unto certain Shepherds
Brought tidings of the same:
How that in Bethlehem was born
The Son of God by Name.

O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

"Fear not then," said the Angel,
"Let nothing you affright,
This day is born a Saviour
Of a pure Virgin bright,
To free all those who trust in Him
From Satan's power and might."

O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

The shepherds at those tidings
Rejoiced much in mind,
And left their flocks a-feeding
In tempest, storm and wind:
And went to Bethlehem straightway
This blessed Babe to find. (or The Son of God to find)

O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

But when to Bethlehem they came (or And when they came to Bethlehem)
Whereat this Infant lay, (or Where our dear Saviour lay)
They found Him in a manger,
Where oxen feed on hay;
His Mother Mary kneeling, (or His mother Mary kneeling down,)
Unto the Lord did pray.

O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas
All other doth efface.

O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

Friday, December 7, 2007

"What Would Jesus Do?" Is the Wrong Question

From Catholic Pillow Fight, via Christina at RealChoice:

"When someone asks you 'think about what Jesus would do', remember that a valid option is to freak out and turn over tables" -- Unknown

Which prompted me to recall...

A down-to-earth, smart, holy, and funny priest I know once gave a talk in which he said that the ubiquitious WWJD question is quite the *wrong* question for a Christian to ask.

If we want to ask what Jesus would do, we'd have to look at what He did, in fact, do, and emulate it to a "T".

Among (many, many) other things, He grew a beard, became a carpenter, remained single, lived with His Mom until He was 30, and kept kosher.

But that doesn't meant we have to do these things.

The question we should ask is not, "What would Jesus do?" but rather, "What would Jesus want me to do?"

"Without Stain"

In honor of tomorrow's solemnity, it never hurts to remind ourselves what Holy Mother Church teaches (and what she does not teach) about the Immaculate Conception:

It’s important to understand what the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is and what it is not. Some people think the term refers to Christ’s conception in Mary’s womb without the intervention of a human father; but that is the Virgin Birth. Others think the Immaculate Conception means Mary was conceived "by the power of the Holy Spirit," in the way Jesus was, but that, too, is incorrect. The Immaculate Conception means that Mary, whose conception was brought about the normal way, was conceived without original sin or its stain—that’s what "immaculate" means: without stain.

It's interesting to note that the Church places greater importance on this day, when she commemorates the conception of Mary in the womb of St. Anne, than on the day she commemorates Mary's birth — celebrated, appropriately enough, nine months from today, on September 8.

In honor of the celebration of Our Lady's Immaculate Conception, I've included below what is, in my opinion, the most cogent paragraph ever written on Marian devotion.

It's from The Everlasting Man, my favorite work of G. K. Chesterton.

Given that we're in the midst of Advent, it's also rather timely:

If the world wanted what is called a non-controversial aspect of Christianity, it would probably select Christmas. Yet it is obviously bound up with what is supposed to be a controversial aspect (I could never at any stage of my opinions imagine why); the respect paid to the Blessed Virgin. When I was a boy a more Puritan generation objected to a statue upon my parish church representing the Virgin and Child. After much controversy, they compromised by taking away the Child. One would think that this was even more corrupted with Mariolatry, unless the mother was counted less dangerous when deprived of a sort of weapon. But the practical difficulty is also a parable. You cannot chip away the statue of a mother from all round that of a newborn child. You cannot suspend the new-born child in mid-air; indeed you cannot really have a statue of a newborn child at all. Similarly, you cannot suspend the idea of a newborn child in the void or think of him without thinking of his mother. You cannot visit the child without visiting the mother, you cannot in common human life approach the child except through the mother. If we are to think of Christ in this aspect at all, the other idea follows as it is followed in history. We must either leave Christ out of Christmas, or Christmas out of Christ, or we must admit, if only as we admit it in an old picture, that those holy heads are too near together for the haloes not to mingle and cross.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

There's a Little Bit of the Erstwhile Gerasene Demoniac in All of Us

A few weeks ago at our men's bible study group (consisting mostly, but not entirely, of other guys at our parish), we were discussing the story of the Gerasene/Gadarene demoniac in Luke 8:26-39.

I suppose I've read this story many times before, but I was particularly struck by one thing in verses 38-39 that I'd never paid attention to until then:

The man from whom the demons had come out begged to remain with him [Jesus], but he [Jesus] sent him away, saying,

"Return home and recount what God has done for you."

The man went off and proclaimed throughout the whole town what Jesus had done for him.

Isn't it intersting how this man told Jesus he wanted to remain with Him — what could be more noble of a sentiment than that? — and yet Jesus tells him no!

Perhaps this is a bit of a stretch, but it seems to me there's something of an everyman in the erstwhile Gerasene demoniac. How often does each of us formulate in our own mind a plan for how we want to live out our discipleship, only to have the Holy Spirit illuminate a path for us that we never expected to traverse?

My friend and co-worker Matt Yonke posted an entry on his blog recently that prompted me to recall this Gospel story. Therein, Matt — the father of a just-turned-one-year old boy — wrote about how he and his wife Erin have found it rather difficult in recent months to really immerse themselves in Divine Liturgy, what with their having to tend to their son.

My wife and I can surely relate (our oldest will be five next month, and our youngest is seven months), and no doubt many of you can, too.

I'm inclined to think that this is simply one of the things we as parents simply have to deal with. Once we start having kids, are we going to be able to immerse ourselves as fully into the Mass/Divine Liturgy as we would before we had kids?

It seems to me the answer is clearly no; we're not. It's inevitable — to one extent or another, depending on a given child's temperament — that dealing with little ones at church means we're not going to reach the level of sublime contemplation we would otherwise like to achieve.

It also seems to me that this is — paradoxically — a sacrifice we as parents are called to make on behalf of our children.

[Cross-posted at Catholic Dads]

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Hanukkah Candles Are the New SUVs

I'm still not entirely convinced this is for real, but apparently it is.

From the Jerusalem Post:

'Green Hanukkia' campaign sparks ire

In a campaign that has spread like wildfire across the Internet, a group of Israeli environmentalists is encouraging Jews around the world to light at least one less candle this Hanukka to help the environment.

The founders of the Green Hanukkia campaign found that every candle that burns completely produces 15 grams of carbon dioxide. If an estimated one million Israeli households light for eight days, they said, it would do significant damage to the atmosphere.

"The campaign calls for Jews around the world to save the last candle and save the planet, so we won't need another miracle," said Liad Ortar, the campaign's cofounder, who runs the Arkada environmental consulting firm and the Ynet Web site's environmental forum. "Global warming is a milestone in human evolution that requires us to rethink how we live our lives, and one of the main paradigms of that is religion and how it fits into the current situation."

Read the whole thing.

HT: Sean Dailey at Blue Boar

Monday, December 3, 2007

Would You Send Jesus a DIS-Invitation to Your Wedding?

I mentioned last week the discussion on contraception taking place on my friend Matt Yonke's blog.

His most recent post on the subject is spot-on, methinks, and it prompted me to recall a down-to-earth analogy that a priest-friend of mine used in a humdinger of a homily he preached on contraception last year. The analogy isn't his originally; it's also been used by Christopher West — and maybe others, too — but I hadn't heard it before:

Now, Natural Family Planning is not Catholic contraception. I repeat, Natural Family Planning is not Catholic contraception. Let me give you an example:

Suppose John and Mary are planning a wedding. They are sending out invitations and wonder if they should send an invitation to their good friend Jesus. Jesus has always been gone on the last 7 days of every month, and their wedding is at the end of the month. John and Mary, knowing Jesus is always gone at the end of the month, send him an invitation anyway because they would like Jesus to be there. This is Natural Family Planning, the invitation is there for God.

But suppose John and Mary like Jesus, but they do not want him at their wedding. Now they know he is going to be gone when the wedding is scheduled, but just to make sure he does not accidentally show up by some fluke, they send him a note saying that under no circumstances is he to come to the wedding. This is artificial contraception; it sends a note saying NO to God.