Many of us who live in rural areas of Nebraska are
once again enjoying the marvelous miracle of nature as we watch the crops in
the field grow. Abundant rains accentuate the productivity of fertile ground
wherever it is found.
The Gospel passages proclaimed at Sunday Masses of
late have featured parables that feature seed that is sown. Chapter Thirteen
of Matthew’s Gospel is presented in three hearings. A couple of weeks back,
Jesus’ parable of the four types of ground on which seed can fall
accentuated the need to have "good soil" (faithful Christians) for the
"seed" (His Word) to produce thirty or sixty or a hundredfold. Our minds and
souls are the very ground that Jesus wants to make fertile so that His
teachings might take root and bear spiritual fruits that offer authentic
fulfillment to our lives.
The following week brought out the fact that wheat
growing among weeds (faithful Christians living in the midst of pagans) not
only can survive, but indeed can flourish. We often find that our faith
becomes stronger when we respond to challenges, and even attacks, from those
around us. Like wheat, we must be deeply rooted in order to survive. We must
engage in the battle for truth lest we perish with the weeds.
Finally Jesus proclaims, "The kingdom of heaven is
like a treasure buried in a field" with such great perceived value that he
who finds it "out of joy goes and sells all that he has" in order to possess
it. The treasure is much like the aforementioned seeds in that it represents
a great gift from God—His Word—that requires real sacrifice to obtain. Our
spiritual efforts at receiving, studying, discussing, defending and sharing
the great gift of Divine Truth found in Jesus naturally bear fruit in our
lives. Fidelity and joy are just a couple of the fruits of being "fertile
ground" for Jesus.
Natural Family Planning (NFP) Awareness Week spans
the final full week of July. It purposely is situated around the July 25th
date of the publication of the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae (On
Human Life) by Pope Paul VI in 1968. The mindset of those who lived in the
radical sixties did not provide fertile ground for receiving the Catholic
Church’s reaffirmation of its age-old teaching that using artificial
contraception is gravely sinful and that NFP is a divinely blessed gift from
God to humanity.
Just as the seed of God’s Word has been all too
often ignored, cast aside and even blatantly destroyed, so also the seed of
humanity, planted and nurtured in and through the exquisitely designed
system we know as human fertility, also has been neglected and abused. A
newfound understanding of and appreciation for human fertility is the goal
of having annually a week that heightens our awareness of this great gift we
know as NFP.
The staff at the FertilityCare Centers in
Lincoln and throughout the diocese (with ads that appear regularly in this
publication) exist to provide the knowledge and training that couples in
their childbearing years need in order to provide God with the fertile
ground needed to sanctify His people and build up His kingdom. Learning
about and using NFP is just one of many ways that we can help the seeds of
God’s love grow.
You may reach Fr. Eickhoff
and the Office for Evangelization
at 402-488-2040 or