Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This past week was designated Natural Family Planning Awareness Week because it was fifty-three years ago on this day that Pope Saint Paul VI issued his encyclical Humanae Vitae (On Human Life). In this papal letter, Paul VI provided instruction on the responsible transmission of human life, describing the nature of married love as designed by God and echoing the Church’s unchanging teaching on the immorality of contraceptive behavior.
It is no secret that many people have struggled with this teaching. We live in a culture that has grown forgetful of God’s plan for human sexuality and has erroneously accepted and promoted contraception as a form of liberation. Part of the Church’s mission is to preserve and proclaim what is true, good and beautiful. Her teaching must include God’s beautiful design for married love. According to God’s design, married love involves a total mutual gift of self between a man and a woman, and the totality of this mutual gift means that their love is permanent, faithful, and fruitful. Marriage includes having a disposition of openness to new life and trust in God’s providence to support new life. This is a sacred responsibility, since from the beginning the Lord God entrusted husband and wife with the gifts of love and life!
When a husband and wife express their total, self-giving love for each other in the marital act, their bodies speak a “language” of mutual self-donation. Because the marital act is designed to express marital love, a husband and a wife are to give and receive all that they have to offer, including their fertility. Spouses should want to reverence God’s design for their love and speak “the language of the body” in truth. This is where natural methods of regulating fertility differ strikingly from contraception.
Natural Family Planning, or “NFP,” allows a couple to work responsibly with God to either achieve or avoid conception, while reverencing both the dignity of each other and the nature and dignity of the marital act. NFP allows a couple to give all of themselves, including their procreative potential, to each other in every marital act. If there is a reason to avoid a pregnancy, couples practicing modern methods of Natural Family Planning can identify when they are fertile and refrain from the marital act during that time. So, whenever a couple practicing NFP engages in the marital act, they always speak the “language of the body” in truth.
The theme of this year’s Natural Family Planning Awareness Week is “To Have, To Hold, To Honor.” Because NFP allows married couples to speak “the language of the body” in truth, it allows them fully to have, to hold, and to honor each other by supporting God’s gifts of love and life in marriage.
I encourage married couples to trust in God’s design for their love, and not be afraid to be generous in welcoming new life into the world. New life renews the marital relationship and the world! Abiding in God’s truth, husband and wife have nothing to fear, and can have confidence that whatever effort is required to live according to the truth, God will make it worthwhile.
Speaking the “language of the body” in truth will provide husband and wife with a deep sense of peace, knowing that they never lie to each other in the most intimate form of communication possible between two human persons. God calls husband and wife to live in a manner that is worthy of their call as spouses who are married in the Lord, relying on the Holy Spirit to live lives of virtue. And, as they seek to follow the Lord and His plan for their love, they can be confident to know that God has pledged that He will provide for their needs. If married couples follow God’s plan for their love, they have no reason to doubt that God will reward them with unexpected blessings.
If you would like to learn more about Natural Family Planning, please visit our diocesan website (phxmarriageprep.org) or that of the U.S. bishops’ conference at usccb.org/nfp to learn more.BACK TO LIST