by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Kaylene Brown hadn’t even been born when Pope Paul VI promulgated his landmark encyclical “Humanae Vitae” (“Of Human Life”) in 1968.
And growing up, it simply wasn’t on the radar screen.
All that changed when she and her husband Justin prepared for marriage.
“I grew up Catholic and my mom was very much against birth control, which was a popular thing in secular culture,” said Brown. “She said it was not something [Catholics] do.”
Years later, she and Justin heard a reference to “Humanae Vitae” during an Engaged Encounter session.
“My husband and I are researchers, so we looked it up,” she said. “So we learned about the way marriage is important for God’s love and we should let God’s love flow through us, and that means openness to life.”
“Humanae Vitae: — and its offspring, the theology of the body and natural family planning — seemed challenging to the young couple. Many Catholics, they discovered, reject all three.
“When we were first married, we weren’t super- accepting of it either,” said Brown. “I think it was because we were young, in college and surrounded by people who told us a Catholic could be on birth control and still be open to life.”
This did not make sense to the Browns. A few months into their marriage, they felt a tugging at their hearts to take a closer look at the issue.
“It didn’t make sense to be open to life but using some sort of birth control to inhibit life from being created,” she said. “So we discussed, discerned, prayed and went to confession. We found the true place in our hearts and are now fully in line with the teaching of the church.”
Next month, archdiocesan Catholics will have an opportunity to celebrate and learn a little bit more about Pope Paul VI’s encyclical during the annual Mass in celebration of “Humanae Vitae” at 7 p.m. on Aug. 4 at Curé of Ars Church, 9401 Mission, Leawood.
The main celebrant and homilist will be Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann.
In his January 2007 document, “Life Overflowing: Reflections on ‘Humanae Vitae’ and on Married Love and the Gift of Life,” Archbishop Naumann noted the prophetic aspect of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical.
If, 40 years ago, someone had predicted the weakening of marriage, sexual promiscuity, rampant legal abortion, widespread acceptance of pornography, and, in some countries, forced sterilization and abortions, “we would have to acknowledge this person’s wisdom and adeptness at recognizing the long-term consequences of social trends,” wrote Archbishop Naumann.
Despite these prophesied plagues now presently popular, Catholics should not despair, according to Brad and Libby Dupont, co-consultants in the archdiocesan marriage and family life office.
“Prayer is the most effective way to change culture in the long run,” said Brad Dupont. “If we see problems in our culture, the most effective thing we can do is to gather as the local church to pray with our shepherd, Archbishop Naumann. This will give us the strength to build a culture of life and love.”
“And it will show us and others that we are not alone,” said Libby Dupont.