Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tomatoes, Roses, and NFP Awareness Week

There’s a rose bush in our back yard that’s been there since before we moved in here. It’s off in the corner, far from the nearest water faucet, and so it doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. Nevertheless, it blooms. Every year, I’m amazed at the fruitfulness of this plant. This year, it seems to be particularly prolific.

But then, it’s a rose bush. A rose bush is meant to produce flowers. That’s its natural end. Right? We shouldn’t really be too surprised that a rose bush yields a bunch of roses!

On the other hand, this year I bought three tomato plants, which I have planted in a sunny spot, and watered; and I have even fed them with “Miracle-gro”. They’re green and bushy, looking quite healthy, and they blossomed a while back, so I’ve been waiting for the little tomatoes to appear.

But…after waiting and waiting and waiting, I can only find three actual tomatoes! What’s up with that? I am much more surprised that my tomato plants are barren than that my rose bush has blossomed. The natural end of a tomato plant is to produce tomatoes, is it not?

After some thought, I have discerned that my tomato plants are being responsible. This summer is supposed to be hotter than other summers, and there just might not be enough water for them. If they have to divert their resources to bushels of little tomatoes, they’ll be strapped. They don’t know when I’ll water them again, and they don’t know if there are enough nutrients in that soil I’ve provided. They are wise to limit their progeny.

The rose bush, though, is just being so…providentialist! It knows it might not get watered for days on end! It’s painfully aware of the neglect it’s suffered over the years, I’m sure! And yet…and yet…it is producing a multitude of “offspring”. Has it never heard of being responsible? Has it no concern for how it will provide nourishment for all those new buds?

If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? (Matthew 6:30)

Click on the NFP tab at the top of the page for a list of other NFP posts on this blog.


  1. I'm afraid there is evil afoot here. Do you have squirrels? They are incurable tomato thieves. We had to give up growing tomatos years back because the squirrels got every single one. Given the choice, I will take a home-grown tomato over a squirrel any day. Just remember that squirrels are just rats with fluffy tails and that the only good squirrel is a dead squirrel.

  2. LOL, Brother Juniper!Nope, no squirrels here. Maybe just a slow season. A few more little green tomatoes are starting to show now!

  3. Hi:
    I recently came across a link to your discussion of NFP. I commend you for the seriousness and intellectual honesty with which you have approached the topic. I read through some of your other posts on NFP, but since this one is current, I'll post my response here:

    1. You make an excellent point when you say that whether one laughs at Harry Crocker's essay or gets angry is a good litmus test for whether one has a contraceptive mentality.

    2. You are entirely correct when you state that there is an even bigger problem revealed by the data that less than 2% of Catholic women are using NFP. What this means is that the entire NFP industry is one big Potemkin Village. It is simply a salve to the conscience of those Catholic bishops, priests and lay leader who look out over their congregations and fail to see any large families. It is the misdirection of the stage magician who directs your attention over towards the non-existent NFP while the reality is that everyone is using artificial birth control. It is the "gateway drug" that allows one to say, "The Catholic Church says it's all right to use birth control," and then after a few "failures" with NFP, one decides, "Well as long as birth control is okay, I might as well use a method that actually works as well as NFP claims to work."

    3. You've provided links to a great many excellent resources in the course of your NFP discussion, so perhaps I just didn't notice whether you have linked to the best one of all: Pope Pius XII's "Address to Large Families." This is one that will really move your heart and give you the true Catholic spirit of generosity and fruitfulness. If one truly imbibes the spirit of this allocution and still decides that they have "grave reasons" to use NFP, then they probably do. Here is one place where it is available on-line:

    4. It seems like you have done some serious thinking on the question of "grave reasons." Here is a discussion which you may find helpful: "Popes on Natural Family Planning."

    - John Galvin (sorry for posting anonymously, but I don't have any of those other accounts)

  4. John Galvin! I have tried to find an email address for you! Would you please email me at


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