NFP Awareness Week

Listmania: NFP 3

If you haven’t noticed, I’m a big fan of Natural Family Planning. For this reason, and because this is National NFP Awareness Week , I’ve blogged about what the Catholic Church teaches about marriage and sex and contraception here and here. Last year I rambled about why I hate the ever-popular horribly-annoying question “Are you done?” (Update 7/31: oops, I forgot the one about how NFP works even with it doesn’t and how to share the gift of NFP with L.O.V.E)

Since I already shared what the Church says about it all, tonight I intend to share a list of reasons why I like NFP and why my husband and I choose this tool to achieve pregnancy or postpone pregnancy. Before I do though I want to be upfront about why I share information about NFP. First, I’ll say that I share it not because I want to put myself or my husband or my marriage above others in a self-righteous way. Admittedly, I can look back at my past and see that this was a subconscious reason in the past but has never been my first intention, more like an unintentional side affect of wanting to share the truth while also trying to live it. That said, I realize that there will always be someone who perceives what I say or share (on this subject as well as others) as “offensive” or “judgemental” or “self-righteous” or “uncompassionate”. I apoligize if what I say causes you pain but I will not apologize for sharing the truth. My hope and goal is not to hurt; on the contrary- it is to bring comfort by offering a solution and an answer that in the end will bring life; not death, hope; not despair and love; not hate.

So without further ado, my list of why I like NFP:

1. It is natural–it goes along with the way my body was made and naturally designed to work.

2. It is REAL–no drugs, no new-fangled contraptions, just the good old fashioned way.

3. It’s amazing–when I first learned about my body’s fertile and infertile cycles I was completely amazed and thought to myself–“Wow, I am “beautifully and wonderfully made”!

4. I love nature (like #1). I appreciate it and I respect it. To me, nature–science and math precisely–is God’s language–it’s how He explains Himself, the world, and me and you. While I appreciate the Church’s teachings on marriage and contraception and sex and all that, I only need to look to nature–to biology–to see the truth about sex and contraception. STDs, male and female reproductive issues, sexual reproductive organ cancers (and even some not-really-sexual reproductive body part cancers)—these are God’s way of speaking to us and warning us through nature about the consequences of non-monogamous, promiscuous, and illicit sexual relationships and using contraceptive devices in and out of marriage. (Nature also has some big lessons to teach us when it comes to the unethical infertility methods out there.) On the flip side, there’s something to say about the simple beauty of a random field of wildflowers or a lone cucumber plant growing unexpectedly in a compost box instead of the time and location it was ‘supposed to’ grow in.

5. It is self-giving and therefore self-less. (That said, those who practice NFP must keep a good checks and balances system in place to avoid using NFP in a selfish way.)

6. It provokes “interesting” and “unique” conversations. Hey if I can talk to my husband about how stretchy or non stretchy my mucus is I should be able to talk to him about anything, right?

7. It fosters laughter–probably another one of those “most important things to have lots of” in a marriage. Aside from prayer and stuff.

8. Speaking of prayer–relying on NFP in our marriage cultivates a good prayer life. On a fairly regular basis we have to pause and think and pray before making any “heat of the moment” decisions. Or, when we (ahem)…don’t pause and think first, we have to pray that God will give us strength to humbly accept whatever those consequences blessings from that may be.

9. It is respectful. Using NFP makes me take a step back and re-look at my husband. It makes me see him as God made him and see him as the man who I chose to love, honor and cherish. It also makes me take a closer look at myself. Unlike what the ‘world’ tells me, I’m not just some ‘body’, I am a woman, I am a wife, I am a mother and I am greatly loved by my husband. And together, NFP helps us step back and look at God and what He wants for us and for our marriage and family. We don’t tell him to “stay out of the bedroom”, we invite Him to participate–too converse with us in all parts of our life, especially the most intimate ones.

10. NFP is Love-giving and Life-giving. NFP is awesome, it’s beautiful, it can and does work—but it is also hard. It is a sacrifice. As interesting to me as mucus is, I’d rather sometimes not have to remember to check every time, every day. I’d also rather not have to take time to write down what I observe or mess with deciding whether to put on the slightly sticky-looking mucus sticker or the drool-string-like mucus sticker. And I always feel a bit funny about the baby stickers–though it does serve as a good visual reminder for my husband and me about what this is all about—Life.

Using NFP correctly gives my husband and I a way to work with God, through my natural cycles, in the amazing miracle of creating a new life. Three times now, we have been honored and humbled to conceive life. When I look into my daughter’s and sons’s eyes, I remember the love my husband and I share together with God and see it there in front me in human form.

That said, I know that there could come a time when we cannot conceive any more lives within us. We might follow all the “rules” and do everything “right” and yet still bare no more fruit. Who knows, we could be “done” with our precious three now. This would be a very difficult cross to bear. Especially since I “know” so much about NFP and about infertility. It would be frustrating if we tried everything–ate all right food and said no to the wrong ones, excercised enough but not too much and cut down on stress, bought a fertility monitor to use in conjuction with NFP or even worked with the specialists trained in NaPro technology–and still could not conceive another child. It would be painful. I would know that I should be happy to have the three that we do–especially since some have been trying longer than I though have yet to be blessed with even one or, if they were, sadly lost their baby or babies in pregnancy or birth or after birth. My heart cries deeply for these women and men, it is a pain I know I could never fully understand, yet it does not stop me from caring for them; for hoping for them; for praying for them.

Fertility is a gift. Not everyone is blessed with it and some seem to have more than enough to spare. One thing that all married couples can have is their love–that is always there and available for those who choose it. Even those who are ‘infertile’ can have a ‘fertile’ marriage. This may not translate into biological children or even any children. Marriage, and the marital act, are made to be love-giving and life-giving, yes. But even when it cannot be ‘life-giving’ for indeliberate reasons, it can still be love-giving.

Natural Family Planning is a wonderful tool for communicating and understanding sex and life in marriage. But its benefit–its “product”– goes beyond the charts–beyond the mucus stickers and baby stickers and sun and moon symbols–beyond even sex—to a deeper place where it implants itself deep into our souls where it grows and develops and impregnates us with love, and life and God.


Continued Humanae Vitae; Sex, Life and Artificial Birth Regulation

Continued from Monday’s post, here are the rest of the the parts I highlighed while reading Humanae Vitae; Encyclical Letter of His Holiness Pope Paul VI.

Continued from Serious Consequences of Using Artificial Birth Regulation

Consequently, if one does not want to see the mission of generating life exposed to the arbitrary decisions of men, one must of necessity recognize certain absolute limits to the possibility of a human beings’ dominion over his or her body and its functions, limits that no one, whether a private individual or someone invested with authority has any right to exceed. And such limits cannot be determined except by the respect owed to the integrity of the human organism* [*to the whole human body]…

The Church, Guarantor of Authentic Human Values

One can foresee that this teaching will perhaps not be easily received by all: too numerous are the voices – amplified by today’s communications media – which disagree with the voice of the Church…yet she does not, because of this, cease to proclaim with humble firmness the entire moral law, both the natural law and the law of the Gospel. The Church was not the author of the moral law and therefore cannot be its arbiter; she is only its depository and its interpreter, and can never declare to be permissible that which is not so by reason of its intimate and unchangeable opposition to the true good of man.

III. Pastoral Directives

Possibility of Observing the Divine Law

– The teaching of the Church on birth regulation, which is a promulgation of the diving law, will easily appear to many to be difficult or even impossible to put into practice. And certainly, like all great and beneficial realities, it calls for serious commitment and many efforts on the part of individuals, of families and of society. Moreover, it would not be livable without the help of God, who supports and strengthens the good will of men.

Mastery of Self

A proper practice of birth regulation requires first and foremost that a husband and wife acquire and possess solid convictions about the authentic values of life and of the family, and that they tend to the achievement of perfect self-mastery.

Creating an Environment Favorable to Chastity

Whatever in the communications media today leads to overstimulation of the senses, to the loosening of morals, as well as every form of pornography and licentious performance, must provoke the open and unanimous reactions of all person who are deeply concerned about the progress of civilization and the defense of the highest values of the human spirit. It is futile to allege artistic or scientific needs as justification for such depravity, or to deduce an argument in their favor from the freedom allowed in this sector by public authorities.

Appeal to Public Authorities

– To those who govern in civil society and who are principally responsible for the common good, and can do so much to safeguard morality…

– We are well aware of the serious difficulties experienced by public authorities in this regard, especially in developing countries…”These difficulties are not to be overcome by having recourse to methods and means that are unworthy of man and that are based solely on a purely materialistic concept of man himself and of his life. The true solution is found only in economic development and social progress that respects and promote authentic individual and social human values.”

To Men of Science

We now wish to express our encouragement to men of science, who “can contribute much for the benefit of marriage and the family and for the peace of consciences, if by uniting their effort they seek to shed more light on the various conditions that make possible a proper regulation of human procreation.”

Apostolate of Couples

Among the fruits that result from a generous effort of fidelity to the divine law, one of the most precious is that married couples themselves not infrequently feel the desire to communicate their experience to others. Thus a new and most noteworthy from of the apostolate of like-to-like comes to be included in the vast field of the vocation of the laity: it is married couples themselves who become apostles and guides to other married couples. Among so many forms of apostolate, this is assuredly one of those that seem more opportune today.

To Priests

We now turn to you with confidence. Your first task – especially in the case of those who teach moral theology – is to expound without ambiguity the Church’s teaching on marriage. Be the first to give, in the exercise of your ministry, the example of loyal internal and external submission the Magisterium of the Church…

– But this must ever be accompanied by patience and goodness, such as the Lord himself gave the example of in dealing with men. Having come not to condemn but to save he was indeed intransigent with evil, but merciful toward individuals.

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