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Just continuing this over here instead of NFP, hope that's ok!
In continuing this discussion with your friend, ask him to elaborate on which manuals he is referring to which indicate that couples must have grave reasons to TTA.
The Church itself does not use the word "grave." Two important resources that I would cite include Pope Paul IV's encyclical Humanae Vitae and the Catechism. Both are authoritative documents and lay it out pretty clearly.
With regard to physical, economic, psychological and social conditions, responsible parenthood is exercised by those who prudently and generously decide to have more children, and by those who, for serious reasons and with due respect to moral precepts, decide not to have additional children for either a certain or an indefinite period of time.
I don't think that language suggests one needs to a life or death "grave" situation in order to justify TTA. That's adding way more emphasis to this than the Church itself does! To me "serious reason" simply means having a good, solid reason....as opposed to a frivolous or silly reason. Feeling maxed out mentally caring for the ones you already have and needing a bit of a break before thinking about another one? That's a good solid reason to me! Wanting to be a size 6 again? Perhaps that's a silly reason. There are no set parameters on what those reasons should be, because each couple's needs and circumstances are different!
And from the Catetchism of the Catholic Church;
For just reasons, spouses may wish to space the births of their children. It is their duty to make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness but is in conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood.CCC2368
I think a good way of discerning whether you have a just or serious reason is to simply consider; does our reason for TTA serve the greater good of our family/marriage in some way? If yes, then it's a good reason. Even if a couple falls into using NFP for frivolous reasons, the sinfulness of that is in no way comparable to the seriousness of contraception. Most couples aren't going to embrace strict abstinence during the fertile phase without a good reason anyway, so I tend to think that's a built-in discernment help!
So sorry to leave this hanging. My friend emailed me a bunch of links/articles to look at so I want to pass them by you and the Catholic folk over here, too. Trying to sift through that, plus we just got back from visiting my parents out of state.
I will get back to this hopefully within several days.
Mom to Titus (12), Isaiah (10), Noelle (8), Joel (6), Hannah (4), Elijah (1), and baby due Nov 4!