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The 50th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae at the beautiful shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in Rama, SK was recently celebrated by One More Soul Canada and the Rama parish of St. Anthony. Parents, clergy and professionals sought support and guidance in Christian marriage and family life while the children enjoyed crafts, entertainment, sports and games supplied by Rama’s balloon man, Steven Halifax,  the Myriam Sisters of Regina and Saskatoon Diocesan youth coordinator, Colm Leyne.

The July 13-15th celebration in Rama, focused on the keys to a happy, healthy marriage as Blessed Pope Paul VI wrote in his timely Letter in 1968. Of Human Life clarified and restated the 2000 year old teaching of Holy Mother Church which seeks only the good of her children. “We are deeply convinced that this is truly a great work, both for the world and for the Church, since man cannot find true happiness, toward which he aspires with all his being, other than by respecting the laws inscribed by God in his very nature…”.

Although Humanae Vitae is often associated with Natural Family Planning, the prophetic document was much more as the Conference Speakers attested to.

Dr. Brett Salkeld directed us to his Youtube talks on Couples Connect: “Marriage makes us holy by forcing us to see God more perfectly”. Dr. Brett explained the various levels of intimacy which include social, emotional, spiritual and physical. The key to happiness is to fulfill each level at the right time. His stirring words on the blessings of children encouraged the families present as they pondered the Church’s healthy attitude toward children. “Children are not a commodity”, he explained. “Children are not a product to be made, but a gift to be received.  Using NFP helps us to see them as gifts."

Dr. Martin Owen recalled the history of Natural Family Planning in this country. “In the early 50’s, NFP was making progress throughout the world and even enjoyed some financial support of Health Canada.” Humanae Vitae, promulgated on July 25, 1968, “gave affirmation to the researchers” who were working on various methods at that time. The Pill, however, turned the world upside down and it has been a difficult road these past 50 years. Dr. Martin continued with hope. “This culture, through the use of the smart phone, is now surprisingly embracing the ‘natural solution’ largely thanks to environmental concerns.” He spoke about the newest app on the market: Fertility Education and Medical Management (FEMM) which now boasts over 400,000 users. While FEMM pales in comparison to the billion-dollar Pill industry, this fertility awareness app may finally ‘spawn’ increased respect for women which has been seriously lacking since the onset of the Pill.

Article 17 of Humanae Vitae prophetically cited three serious consequences of artificial contraception which have been proven many times over: 

#1 Artificial contraception, such as The Pill and/or sterilization, would increase the probability of conjugal infidelity and a general lowering of morality. (Divorce, co-habitation and abortion rates confirm this prophecy);

#2 The Pill and other contraceptives would be a dangerous weapon placed in the hands of public authorities which would have little concern for morality. (As has been seen in China with their draconian one/two-child policies);

And #3, the late Blessed Paul VI said it best: “It can also be feared that the man who becomes used to contraceptive practices, may finally lose respect for the woman, and no longer caring about her physical and psychological equilibrium, come to the point of considering her as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment and no longer as his respected and beloved companion.”  (The fact that the widely-used Pill is a known cancer-causing agent is telling).

Indeed, the testimonies, given at the end of the day, were tragic examples of the resulting victims in the wake of this societal disaster.  Nancy Garez’s personal account on abortion gave hope and healing to all those who may have suffered from past abortions. Nancy’s pro-life work continues in the classroom and at numerous events throughout the country.  Percy and Roseann King attested to the humbling and merciful love of God’s forgiveness following the grave sin of sterilization in their marriage. “By far the biggest cross that we’ve had to bear in our marriage, was sterilization. What we thought would be our sexual freedom, became our sexual bondage. That ‘freedom’ led to a mindset of lust and personal satisfaction.” Percy ended with these poignant words: “Sterilization plays with a person’s manhood. I was fearfully and wonderfully made in the Image and likeness of God and I chose to mess with that perfection.” 

Due to illness, Fr. Jeffrey Stephaniuk was unable to speak at the conference. His  hand-out was a summary we take to heart: “What the Church wishes above all is to help Christian husbands and wives to perfect one another, to purify their love, to taste the happiness of a married life lived in the sight of God and in complete respect for His law….They must then be persuaded that it is possible, with the help of God – Who never exposes man to trials superior to his strength, to progress in chastity just as in the other virtues…” God does not order the impossible is a well-known phrase. (Deus impossibilia non jubet). Then directed to clergy, the hand-out exhorts, “…in the confessional and in the pulpit,…every necessary pastoral effort needs to be made that no ambiguity exists among the faithful or in public opinion concerning the Church’s position in this serious matter.” 

One More Soul Canada wishes to thank Bishop Mark Hagemoen for celebrating the Holy Mass in the Shrine and sharing his profound insights. Fr. Michal Pajek, St. Anthony’s parish priest, was also greatly appreciated as he led the attendees through Friday’s Stations of the Cross and Adoration as well as the Holy Mass to close the weekend on Sunday. Desiree Nieckar ably MC’d the weekend’s talks which was no small feat.  Mary and Joseph Kowalyshyn and St. Anthony’s parish  have worked ceaselessly to make this Shrine one of the most beautiful in the province. We now look forward to their August 14-15th annual pilgrimage. Details can be found on Rama’s facebook page while One More Soul Canada will keep you updated on more Life and Family events in the future. Check out our parish and family resources at:  Call 306-862-2338 for the 50th Anniversary discounts.

Submitted by,
Marcy Millette, Nipawin, SK

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