Daily Archives: April 10, 2011

Hour of Mercy: Thirty Days’ Prayer to Mary

Ever glorious and Blessed Mary,
Queen of Virgins, Mother of mercy,
hope and comfort of dejected and desolate souls,
through that sword of sorrow
which pierced thy Heart whilst thine only Son,
Jesus Christ, our Lord,
suffered death and ignominy on the Cross;
through that filial tenderness
and pure love through that filial tenderness
and pure love He had for thee, grieving in thy grief,
while from His Cross He recommended thee
to the care and protection of His beloved Disciple,
St. John, take pity, I beseech thee,
on my poverty and necessities;
have compassion on my anxieties and cares;
assist and comfort me in all my infirmities and miseries.

Thou art the Mother of mercy,
the sweet consolatrix and refuge
of the needy and the orphan,
of the desolate and the afflicted.

Look, therefore, with pity on a miserable,
forlorn child of Eve,
and hear my prayer;
for since, in just punishment of my sins,
I am encompassed with evils
and oppressed with anguish of spirit,
whither can I flee for more secure shelter,

O amiable Mother of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,
than to thy maternal protection?
Attend, therefore, I beseech thee,
with pity and compassion to my humble and earnest

I ask it through the infinite mercy of thy dear Son,
– through that love and condescension wherewith
He embraced our nature, when,
in compliance with the divine Will,
thou gavest thy consent, and Whom,
after the expiration of nine months,
thou didst bring forth
from the chaste enclosure of thy womb,
to visit this world
and bless it with his presence.

I ask it through the sores of His virginal Flesh,
caused by the cords and whips
wherewith He was bound and scourged
when stripped of His seamless garment,
for which His executioners afterwards cast lots.

I ask it through the scoffs and ignominies
by which He was insulted,
the false accusations and unjust sentence
by which He was condemned to death,
and which He bore with heavenly patience.

I ask it through His bitter tears and bloody sweat;
His silence and resignation;
His sadness and grief of heart.

I ask it through the Blood
which trickled from His royal and sacred Head,
when struck with His sceptre of a reed,
and pierced with the crown of thorns.

I ask it through the excruciating torments He suffered,
when His hands and feet were fastened
with huge nails to the tree of the cross.

I ask it through His vehement thirst,
and bitter potion of vinegar and gall.

I ask it through His dereliction on the cross,
when He exclaimed:
“My God! my God! why hast Thou forsaken me?”

I ask it through His mercy extended to the good thief,
and through His recommending His precious Soul and Spirit
into the hands of His Eternal Father before He expired.

I ask it through the Blood mixed with water,
which issued from His sacred Side,
when pierced with a lance,
and whence a flood of grace and mercy has flowed to us.

I ask it through His immaculate life,
bitter Passion,
and ignominious death on the cross,
at which nature itself was thrown into convulsions,
by the bursting of rocks,
rending of the veil of the temple,
the earthquake,
and the darkness of the sun and the moon.

I ask it through His descent into hell,
where He comforted the Saints of the Old Law with His
and led captivity captive.

I ask it through His glorious victory over death,
when He arose again to life on the third day,
and through the joy
which His appearance for forty days after gave thee,
His blessed Mother,
His Apostles,
and His Disciples,
when, in thine and their presence,
He miraculously ascended into heaven.

I ask it through the grace of the Holy Ghost,
infused into the hearts of the Disciples,
when He descended upon them in the form of fiery tongues,
and which they were inspired with zeal
for the conversion of the world
when they went forth to preach the Gospel.

I ask it through the awful appearance of thy Son,
at the last dreadful day,
when He shall come to judge the living and the dead,
and the world by fire.

I ask it through the compassion He bore thee in this life,
and the ineffable joy thou didst feel
at Thine Assumption into heaven,
where thou art eternally absorbed
in the sweet contemplation of His divine perfections.

O glorious and ever-blessed Virgin,
comfort the heart of thy suppliant,
by obtaining for me the graces and the favours
which I now most earnestly solicit.

(Here mention your requests)

And as I am persuaded my Divine Saviour honour Thee
as His beloved Mother, to whom He can refuse nothing,
so let me speedily experience
the efficacy of thy powerful intercession,
according to the tenderness of thy maternal affection,
and His filial,
loving Heart,
who mercifully grants the requests and complies
with the desires of those that love and fear Him.

Wherefore, O Most Blessed Virgin,
beside the object of my present petition,
and whatever else I may stand in need of,
obtain for me also of thy dear Son,
our Lord and our God,
a lively faith,
firm hope,
perfect charity,
the contrition of heart,
unfeigned tears of compunction,
sincere confession,
just satisfaction,
abstinence from sin,
love of God and of my neighbour,
contempt of the world,
patience to suffer affronts and ignominies,
nay, even, if necessary,
an opprobrious death itself,
for the love of thy Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Obtain likewise for me,

O Holy Mother of God,
perseverance in good works,
performance of good resolutions,
mortification of self-will,
a pious conversation through life,
and at my last moment,
strong and sincere repentance
accompanied by such a lively
and attentive presence of mind,
as may enable me to receive
the last Sacraments of the Church worthily,
and to die in thy friendship and favour.

Lastly, obtain, I beseech Thee,
for the souls of my parents,
brethren, relatives,
and benefactors both living and dead,
life everlasting.


Hour of Mercy Psalm 38 (Vulgate)

2 Dómine, ne in furóre tuo árguas me,  neque in ira tua corrípias me :

 3 quóniam sagíttæ tuæ infíxæ sunt mihi, et confirmásti super me manum tuam.

 4 Non est sánitas in carne mea, a fácie iræ tuæ;  non est pax óssibus meis, a fácie peccatórum meórum :

 5 quóniam iniquitátes meæ supergréssæ sunt caput meum, et sicut onus grave gravátæ sunt super me.

 6 Putruérunt et corrúptæ sunt cicatríces meæ,  a fácie insipiéntiæ meæ.

 7 Miser factus sum et curvátus sum usque in finem; tota die contristátus ingrediébar.

 8 Quóniam lumbi mei impléti sunt illusiónibus, et non est sánitas in carne mea.

 9 Afflíctus sum, et humiliátus sum nimis; rugiébam a gémitu cordis mei.

 10 Dómine, ante te omne desidérium meum, et gémitus meus a te non est abscónditus.

 11 Cor meum conturbátum est ;  derelíquit me virtus mea, et lumen oculórum meórum,  et ipsum non est mecum.

 12 Amíci mei et próximi mei advérsum me appropinquavérunt, et  stetérunt; et qui juxta me erant, de longe stetérunt et vim faciébant qui quærébant ánimam meam.

 13 Et qui inquirébant mala mihi, locúti sunt vanitátes,  et dolos tota die meditabántur.

 14 Ego autem, tamquam surdus, non audiébam; et sicut mutus non apériens os suum.

 15 Et factus sum sicut homo non áudiens, et non habens in ore suo redargutiónes.

 16 Quóniam in te, Dómine, sperávi;  tu exáudies me, Dómine Deus meus.

 17 Quia dixi : Nequándo supergáudeant mihi inimíci mei;  et dum commovéntur pedes mei, super me magna locúti sunt.

 18 Quóniam ego in flagélla parátus sum, et dolor meus in conspéctu meo semper.

19 Quóniam iniquitátem meam annuntiábo,  et cogitábo pro peccáto meo.

 20 Inimíci autem mei vivunt, et confirmáti sunt super me: et multiplicáti sunt qui odérunt me iníque.

 21 Qui retríbuunt mala pro bonis detrahébant mihi, quóniam sequébar bonitátem.

 22 Ne derelínquas me, Dómine Deus meus; ne discésseris a me.

 23 Inténde in adjutórium meum, Dómine Deus salútis meæ.

Hour of Mercy: Psalm 32 (Vulgate)

3 Beáti quorum remíssæ sunt iniquitátes,

 et quorum tecta sunt peccáta.

 2 Beátus vir cui non imputávit Dóminus peccátum,

 nec est in spíritu ejus dolus.

 3 Quóniam tácui, inveteravérunt ossa mea,

 dum clamárem tota die.

 4 Quóniam die ac nocte graváta est super me manus tua,

 convérsus sum in ærúmna mea, dum confígitur spina.

 5 Delíctum meum cógnitum tibi feci,

 et injustítiam meam non abscóndi.

 Dixi : Confitébor advérsum me injustítiam meam Dómino ;

 et tu remisísti impietátem peccáti mei.

 6 Pro hac orábit ad te omnis sanctus

in témpore opportúno.

 Verúmtamen in dilúvio aquárum multárum,

 ad eum non approximábunt.

 7 Tu es refúgium meum a tribulatióne quæ circúmdedit me ;

 exsultátio mea, érue me a circumdántibus me.

 8 Intelléctum tibi dabo, et ínstruam te in via hac qua gradiéris ;

 firmábo super te óculos meos.

 9 Nolíte fíeri sicut equus et mulus,

 quibus non est intelléctus.

 In camo et freno maxíllas eórum constrínge,

 qui non appróximant ad te.

 10 Multa flagélla peccatóris ;

 sperántem autem in Dómino misericórdia circúmdabit.

Save the earth; Save a Baby!

The 2007 NFP Study, revisited

I was just referring to this European study of Natural Family Planning methods that was completed in 2007, and I looked up my blog article on it to double check the numbers (here’s a link to the abstract of the actual study). While writing the elaborate reply to the person, I decided to just write a blog post and link it. 🙂

First, a word on “failure” of birth control methods. When they talk of “failure” of a birth control method, they mean that, when they say “X%” failure rate, they mean that, out of 100 couples who use the given method for a whole year, X women will become pregnant.

Secondly, it is a constant irritation to NFP advocates to have NFP dismissed as “rhythm method” or “modified rhythm method.” The article from _Scientific American_ linked above is so biased, it’s disgusting, and the only comment, after 4 years, is someone challenging whether the study was peer reviewed(!)

It flabbergasts me that liberals, who are “all about science” when it comes to Darwin, “Global Warming” and embryonic stem cell research, deny the science when it comes to women’s fertility. Liberals, who insist that we need to know everything about dinosaurs, the prevailing theories about the origins of the universe, and what’s inside an atom in order to function as ordinary human beings, balk at the idea that a woman should know how her own body works and be able to keep track of her own fertility.

Liberals, who insist that people should have self control about tobacco, insist that people can’t have self control about sexuality.
Liberals, who insist on teaching “safe sex,” and the importance of using a condom “correctly” or making sure a woman takes her birth control pills every day at the same time, think it’s an unbearable burden to ask women to take their temperature every morning, or to check their cervical mucus or to pee into a cup and stick in a test strip to find out if they’re ovulating. . . .

Liberals do not want to give women control over their own fertility. The very people who speak of women “owning their own bodies” and speak of “women’s rights” want women to listen to some doctor tell them what to do with their bodies. They do not want to empower women with knowledge of fertility.

The very people who talk about how important sex education supposedly is do not want to teach the most important thing people should know about sex.

Another preliminary note. There are three sets of “days” at play in understanding these issues. One is the number of days when it is possible for a woman to get pregnant. When cervical mucus is present, sperm can survive in the vagina for about 3 days (some texts say as many as 5, but most agree it’s 3). During the days leading up to ovulation, the woman’s body releases increasing amounts of Luteinizing Hormone (LH). The maximum amount is released on what is called “Peak Day.” In an ordinary cycle, the big shot of LH is followed up by a release of something called FSH, follical stimulating hormone, which actually triggers the release of the egg. There’s some relationship with FSH and progesterone (I’ve read a lot of stuff on NFP over the years but can’t always cite it, and I’ve combined material from a lot of texts).

One of the main problems of NFP “failure” comes from the problem of what’s called “false peak”–the LH is released, so all the external signs indicate ovulation, but FSH isn’t released, so no egg. The reason I advocate Marquette Model is that the ClearPlan machine tests for FSH as well as LH and gives a more precise reading to prove when ovulation occurs.

In any case, once the LH surge/peak day happens, then there is a 48 hour window for the FSH surge and the release of the egg. The egg will live for 24 hours if it isn’t fertilized.

The number of days required for abstinence in NFP depends upon the method and what methods of testing are involved. An ideal method of of NFP would be able to predict when ovulation was likely to occur and isolate ovulation exactly. ClearPlan makes a test which comes close to doing this, but the FDA won’t allow it in the US, and it’s rather expensive to mail order from England.

Again, you’ll hear different ideas of “days.” There are in reality only 4 days per month when intercourse can lead to pregnancy: the 72 hours before and 24 hours after the egg is released.

However, barring the perfect NFP method, that can be expanded to up to 2 weeks of abstinence. I don’t remember sympto-thermal’s rules well enough, but let’s just say 10 days.

OK, so back to the study.

The study showed the following, according to its abstract:
[blockquote]After 13 cycles, 1.8 per 100 women of the cohort experienced an unintended pregnancy; 9.2 per 100 women dropped out because of dissatisfaction with the method; the pregnancy rate was 0.6 per 100 women and per 13 cycles when there was no unprotected intercourse in the fertile time. [/blockquote]

This article, from Science Daily, was the one I referred to in my original post (though the original link was lost when I moved to WordPress from Blogger):
[blockquote]In the largest, prospective study of STM, the researchers found that if the couples then either abstained from sex or used a barrier method during the fertile period, the rate of unplanned pregnancies per year was 0.4% and 0.6% respectively. Out of all the 900 women who took part in the study, including those who had unprotected sex during their fertile period, 1.8 per 100 became unintentionally pregnant. . . .
Of the 900 women, 322 used only STM and 509 women used STM with occasional barriers during the fertile time. Sixty-nine women did not document their sexual behaviour. Out of the women who documented their sexual behaviour and abstained from sex during their fertile period (“perfect use”) the unintended pregnancy rate was 0.4 per 100 women and 13 cycles [2], and 0.6 for women who used STM plus a barrier if they had sex during their fertile period. For cycles in which couples had unprotected sex during the fertile phase, the pregnancy rates rose to 7.5 per 100 women and 13 cycles. The drop-out rate from using STM for reasons such as dissatisfaction or difficulties with the method was 9.2 per 100 women and 13 cycles, and compared well with the drop-out rates from other methods of family planning, which can be as high as 30%, although direct comparisons are difficult due to methodological problems. “This demonstrates a fairly good acceptability for this particular FAB method,” said Prof Frank-Herrmann.

A key point here is that “fertile times” means “thought they were fertile.” It refers to charting fertility. If you’re saying, “.4% of couples who had no intercourse during fertile time had a pregnancy,” and “fertile” means “fertile”, then the only conclusion, Dr. House would tell us, is that the women were going off and having sex with other men.

However, they mean that the people *charted* fertility and had a pregnancy. So that means there’s a .4% error rate in charting itself: out of every 250 couples who use sympto-thermal NFP for a year, 1 couple will have a pregnancy that results from misreading the signs and making a mistake in charting.

When considered by themselves, couples who had intercourse during fertile times had a 7.5% chance of getting pregnant. The researchers suggested that this came from “moderately cautious” use of NFP–only abstaining during the days of peak fertility. It may also indicate that the chances of any given act, even in fertile times, resulting in pregnancy are kind of slim.

Now, what we *don’t* know is how often the couples were engaging in marital rights. Numerous studies have indicated that NFP couples have intercourse more frequently than others, but the average seems to be about once or twice a week. We’ll take the high estimate and say twice a week.

“Fertile” period for sympto-thermal purposes, is day 6 or when the woman first detects mucus (whichever comes first) until day 3 after Peak Day.

If the woman ovulates on day 14 in a 28 day cycle, then that’s exactly 11 days of abstinence out of 28 (again, in terms of those who complain that is too much time to wait, compare to married couples who say they only have intercourse once or twice a month, particularly when the woman’s sex drive has been killed by the estrogen pill).

Again, 11 days of abstinence due to potential fertility, and only 4 days of actual fertility, which in the case of .4% of the couples, those don’t overlap.

So for those who had intercourse sometime in those 11 days (and the data weren’t specific enough to say), 7.5% got pregnant.

Now, let’s look at those who used barrier methods during those 11 days. This is where I think I made a mistake 4 years ago. I have often referred to this study because the rate of pregnancy was .6% among those who used barrier methods during charted “fertile times” and .4% among those who abstained. I was thinking that meant that the rate was 150%. Where I made a mistake was forgetting that the same rate of failure in the .4% is in the .6%.

We’ve established that the failure rate of the method to accurately detect ovulation is .4%, so that needs to come off the top of the other percentages. For those who used condoms when they *thought* they were fertile, it was .6%, but taking off the .4, that gives us .2% of couples getting pregnant because of condom failure as opposed to NFP failure (maybe higher, but that will do).

For those who had intercourse during the 11 days of potential fertility, there was a 7.5% pregnancy rate, and if we take off the .4, that reduces it to 7.1%.

This is the key. 7.1% got pregnant because they had “unprotected intercourse” during charted fertile times, and they charted accurately. .2% used condoms during charted fertile times, and charted accurately.

It is very important to get this down right: 7.1% of unprotected sex during accurately charted fertile times led to pregnancy, and .2% of “protected” sex during accurately charted fertile times led to pregnancy, so that means that 6.9 of those 7.1% would have been prevented by condoms. 6.9/7.1 = 97% That means that condoms are 97% effective *if used during fertile times*.

This has two equal and opposite things to tell us about condoms and other barrier methods.

On the one hand, in terms of preventing STDs, they may actually leak far more than is reported, since the only way to *know* if they leak is if they result in pregnancy, and this is the only study that shows their use during fertile times.

On the other hand, even the couples who used condoms or who had unprotected sex during fertile times were still using NFP information to try and avoid the peak days. So maybe they had sex on day 11, thinking they had time, but the sperm made it to day 14, or maybe the wife ovulated a day early or something. Most people don’t take these factors into consideration. Again, the researchers were surprised at how *low* the pregnancy rate was for unprotected sex.

According to this chart, the “failure rate” among most barrier methods is about 5%, so that tells us that those methods are more effective when practiced in conjunction with fertility awareness, which reaffirms that this is knowledge all people should have.

Look at the statistics on some of these methods. Now, for every method, there’s “normal use” versus “ideal use.”

People are fond of saying “NFP doesn’t work.” You’ll hear lots of people who say, “I tried NFP, and I got pregnant, so I started using birth control.” Yet plenty of people get pregnant on birth control. I once met a lady who conceived her second son less than 2 months after her first son was born. She was breastfeeding, and taking the Pill, and she had an IUD, and she got pregnant.

We’re told that NFP is too demanding, yet the Pill requires a woman to take it at the same time every day, and to have the exact dose for her body. Condoms have to be used “correctly.” So do other barrier methods.

“Failure” of IUDs is .2% (and when inter-uterine devices “work,” they prevent a “fertilized egg”, aka an embryo, aka a baby, from implanting in the uterus–“It’s not an abortion because pregnancy hasn’t started,” they tell us). This is slightly better than tubal ligation at .5% “failure rate”.

The male condom, used improperly, has a 15% failure rate, and a 2% failure rate used properly. The “female condom” (often heralded is a way to keep women from getting pregnant if they happen to be raped) has a 21% failure rate if used “incorrectly” and 5% failure rate used correctly. Diaphragm is 16 percent if incorrect/6% if correct.

There are so many other variants, it’s not worth saying. The chart isn’t entirely accurate, as it states the “failure rate” of “improperly used” NFP as 25% but only because it’s using the “failure rate” of the rhythm method.

The great myth is that somehow NFP is more demanding than any of these other methods or somehow they are perfectly accurate.

People use condoms, diaphragms, etc., thinking that these things are fool-proof “birth control,” and, worse, they use them thinking they’re fool-proof protection against STDs. Of course, they’re definitely not “fool-proof,” since responsibility and careful attention and self control are required for most artificial birth control methods to be maximally effective. And even when maximally effective, that’s no better than 2%.

15% if used improperly, as most people use it. For every 100 people who use condoms for a year, 15 pregnancies will result. That means that for every 100 people who use condoms to prevent STDs, 15 will get STDs. Yet we’re told condoms prevent AIDS.

Even 2% failure rate is unacceptable if we’re talking about STDs.

Similarly, while some critics might point to the 9% dropout rate in the German study, the researches point out in the Science Daily article that the average “drop out rate” among users of any given birth control method is 30%.

There is no 100% effective form of birth control except abstinence, and every argument waged against NFP could just as easily be made against any form of artificial contraception.
This study proves several things:
1) that NFP is actually more effective than the Pill (.4% versus 1.8%)
2) that NFP even used in conjunction with barrier methods improves the effectiveness of barrier methods.
3) that barrier methods leak