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Natural Family Planning: Join the revolution

By JOANNE FOX, Globe editor
(Email Joanne)

Sean Martin, diocesan director of new evangelization, catechesis and family life, acknowledged the term natural family planning can be misinterpreted.

“Natural family planning is just a term for natural methods of achieving and postponing pregnancy which are morally acceptable when used for just reasons,” he said. “The method is 99 percent effective in avoiding pregnancy and has no harmful physical or spiritual side effects.”

Natural Family Planning Awareness Week, July 20-26, is a national educational campaign coordinated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. This year’s theme is “Natural Family Planning: It’s Worth It. Join the Revolution.”

Individual dioceses offer a variety of educational formats to focus attention on NFP methods and church teachings which support their use in marriage.

One of the benefits Martin pointed out for a couple practicing NFP is it improves communication between a husband and wife.

“It also fosters the couple to prayerfully discern what the Lord is asking of them regarding their fertility,” he said. “While practicing NFP, a couple can grow closer to Christ and each other.”

According to Martin, the biggest hurdle in convincing couples to embrace NFP is unfamiliarity.

“A concern for couples, who wish to practice NFP, is the effectiveness of the method,” he said. “It has a higher effectiveness than any form of birth control. With natural family planning being the only moral means to space children and knowing the effectiveness, who wouldn’t want to practice it?”

Those couples who practice the method cite their communication becomes more open and honest, which permeates into all other areas of marriage, Martin pointed out.

“Using NFP allows couples to discern what God is calling them to regarding their family size,” he said. “If God’s love is generous, how can we possibly imitate his love without being generous? Catholic sacramental marriage is rooted in Christ and his love; then, our marriages must also reflect his love, which holds nothing back ever.”

For those unsure where to garner information about natural family planning, Martin noted the Diocese of Sioux City provides much assistance to help couples better understand the method.

“The diocese has many trained NFP teachers and we have a brochure listing the teachers and methods,” he said. “We also have opportunities for couples who may not live near a teacher to be trained virtually.”
Martin felt there are no excuses for couples not to be trained in a method and practice it.

“The diocese can provide financial help to couples who need assistance,” he said. “We are also blessed with many medical professionals who are trained NFP teachers, who do not prescribe any birth control, and help women deal with any fertility issues in a safe and moral manner. These professionals are also listed on our NFP brochure.”

It was Martin’s hope more health care professionals would encourage couples to embrace the method.

“Some medical professionals are trained and aware of the medical benefits, but most are not,” he said. “We need more doctors and nurses to get trained in NFP and willingly promote it.”

The church also needs to better reach couples with the NFP message, Martin noted.

“We need our priests and deacons to support our married couples in practicing the Catholic Church's teaching by actively promoting NFP by preaching in homilies and hosting parish NFP programs and studies on the church's teaching, such as studies on Humanae Vitae (Pope Paul VI’s encyclical),” he said. “We need our priests to continue to teach and preach against the usage of contraception and sterilization for contraception purposes and teach that its usage is gravely immoral.”

For further information on NFP classes or if you are interested in becoming an NFP instructor, please contact the Office of Family Life at (712) 233-7530 or email Martin at seanm@scdiocese.org.

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