July 26, 2015
17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
“This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.”
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
This weekend we wrap up Natural Family Planning Week in the Church. Natural Family Planning is the only form of family planning that the Church endorses as an alternative to contraception, abortion, and artificial means to conception. According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), “Natural Family Planning (NFP) methods represent authentic family planning. They can be used to both achieve and to postpone a pregnancy. NFP makes use of periodic abstinence from sexual intercourse based upon the observation of the woman’s natural signs of fertility, in order to space births or to limit the number of children when there is a serious reason to do so… this practice fosters in couples an attitude of respect and wonder in the face of human life, which is sacred. It also fosters profound respect for one’s spouse, which is necessary for…authentic intimacy.” (Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan, USCCB, 2009, p. 20). NFP does not employ the use of drugs, devices, surgical procedures, or other artificial means to avoid pregnancy, but rather respects the body’s natural reproductive functions. Any woman can use NFP, as it does not depend on regular menstrual cycles. Each woman and each cycle is treated as unique. NFP teaches a woman to be attentive to and understand the physical signs within her body that indicate that she is most likely to become pregnant. The decision to abstain or not can then be made in conjunction with her husband.
NFP has a number of benefits that make it a desirable option for couples:
- Effective: NFP is shown to be as effective as contraception in preventing unwanted pregnancy (greater than 99% effective, when followed correctly). It has also been shown to increase a woman’s chances of achieving pregnancy, if she should be wanting to conceive.
- No harmful side effects: While most artificial means of contraception have marked side effects (ranging from allergic reactions to infertility), NFP has no harmful side effects, as no artificial means are used.
- Strengthens marriage and promotes intimacy: Successful use of NFP requires a couple to communicate openly about their marriage, particularly their sexual relationship and their hopes and desires for their family. Couples find that as communication increases, their marriage is strengthened.
- Respects sexuality: Couples who practice NFP are encouraged to discover the wonder of how their spouse’s body works, leading to an increased respect for one another.
- Promotes openness to human life: Couples who practice NFP promote openness to the transmission of human life in the purest way. And they come to recognize the value of children as a planned part of their family. These couples are strengthened as they share responsibility for planning their family.
There are various methods of NFP available to those who are interested in learning more. The most common methods are the sympto-thermal, symptom-hormonal, and cervical-mucus methods. For more information on these methods and classes in our area, check out any of the following websites:
- Billings Ovulation Method: www.boma-usa.org
- Couple to Couple League: http://twincities.ccli.org
- Family of the Americas: www.familyplanning.net
- Northwest Family Services: www.nwfs.org
- Twin Cities FertilityCare Center: www.tcnfp.org
Fr. Chris Shofner