In the sacred journey of marriage preparation within the Catholic Church, one of the pivotal discussions revolves around family planning. As clergy, deacons, and dedicated individuals guiding engaged couples, it’s crucial to facilitate a thoughtful and thorough exploration of Natural Family Planning.
While some couples approach family planning as a choice among many options, we, as a Church, know that there is only one way of life that truly aligns with their faith and values.
NFP: Embracing the Natural Rhythm of Life
Natural Family Planning, as the name suggests, is rooted in the natural rhythms of a woman’s body. Here, couples work together to understand a woman’s fertility cycle, which involves tracking her menstrual cycles and identifying fertile and infertile time periods.
By using NFP, a couple is honoring the intricate design of the human body, acknowledging fertility as a gift from God. In recognizing the holiness of the intricate design of our bodies we can also look at the simplicity of using NFP. It is a natural system. There are no chemicals involved, which could possibly have long term effects on a woman’s hormones, and there are no physical barriers.
NFP comes from a non-invasive stance and does not interfere with the marital act. The couple is choosing to participate in the family planning together. By making this decision together, the couple begins their marriage from a place of fostering communication and bringing in unity to their marriage.
The Unity of Pleasure & Procreation
Unity in marriage arises from more than just honoring the body and having good communication. When a couple relies on Natural Family Planning, they forgo practices that intentionally prevent conception, such as using birth control pills, condoms, and intrauterine devices. These various methods are truly the complete opposite of what using Natural Family Planning brings to a marriage.
Couples need to understand contraceptives are intentionally used to disrupt the natural process of conception, often separating sexual pleasure, which is part of the unitive aspect of marital intercourse, from its procreative potential.
Natural Family Planning teaches that the marital act is built on the foundation of being open to the procreative potential. When you separate pleasure from procreation, there is a separation between husband and wife that can occur; it disrupts their unity.
The Moral Dilemma of Artificial Contraception
The use of artificial contraception is contrary to Catholic teaching because it challenges the sanctity of marital love and God’s plan for life. With artificial contraception, not only is the marital act being diminished, but there are health considerations for women and unborn children as well.
From a practical standpoint, it is important for couples to know that some forms of contraception may have potential health risks and side effects. These are well documented, and the implications can be explored for both medical and spiritual outcomes.
Guiding Couples To Education & Prayer
Finally, in working with couples and guiding them into a deeper understanding of Natural Family Planning, it is vital that we as a Church teach them how to continue learning and praying about this subject. This may include inviting them to pray together and seek spiritual guidance along the way. We can also recommend NFP classes to equip them with the knowledge and skills needed for effective Natural Family Planning.
Understanding that each couple is different is important. When guiding couples through this process, it is crucial to have a basic understanding of different forms of Natural Family Planning. We also need to be practical and encourage them to seek medical professionals who will support them in using a natural method.
Respecting God’s Design
In the beautiful tapestry of marriage preparation, helping couples properly understand and choose Natural Family Planning is a vital thread. By sharing the benefits and helping them consider their faith, values, and health, couples can embark on a path which respects God’s design while nurturing the sacred bond of marriage. As guides and mentors, let us continue to support couples toward an understanding of NFP that aligns with their deepest convictions, fostering love, unity, and respect in their marital journey.