bySpecial to The Pilot
"Natural Family Planning. Love. Mercy. Life. Opening the Heart of Marriage" is the theme of this year's Natural Family Planning Awareness Week, July 24-July 31. This national educational campaign of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops celebrates God's design for married love, the gift of life and seeks to raise awareness of Natural Family Planning (NFP) methods.
Natural Family Planning (NFP) is an umbrella term for safe, natural and effective methods of both achieving and avoiding pregnancy. NFP education teaches couples how to understand their "fertile window" by the observation and interpretation of the woman's biological signs of fertility and infertility.
The slogan for this year's NFP Awareness Week was inspired by the Holy Father's call for a Jubilee Year of Mercy, a special time of grace wherein all married couples and families are invited to open their hearts more fully to the love, mercy and life the Church offers us.
What do love, mercy and life have to do with Natural Family Planning? Everything! Through the practice of NFP methods, married couples live in harmony with God's plan for human sexuality and marriage. They integrate God's design for life and love in their daily lives. This helps a couple open the heart of their marriage to love, mercy and life and recognize that God wants the best for them.
What does NFP have to do with married love? The methods of NFP both respect God's design for married love and support this love. Husband and wife participate in a lifestyle that reminds them they are cooperators with the love of God the Creator. A love in which all the elements of a person enter- body, mind, heart and soul.
How does practicing a method of NFP encourage spousal mercy? Mercy is love expressed in imperfection and honest struggle. NFP helps couples see and cherish each other -- gifts and weaknesses included. It requires effort, sacrifice, forgiveness and honest communication.
How does NFP use in marriage support life? NFP methods do nothing to oppose God's gift of human fertility. The practice of NFP helps couples appreciate their fertility as a mutual gift from God.
Want to know more about NFP? Visit bostoncatholic.org/nfp to view the schedule of NFP instructional programs and download a NFP booklet.