In honor of Natural Family Planning Awareness Week, please once again welcome contributing author Renee McGuire to The Practicing Catholic. Renee and husband Kerry are fellow parishioners at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in West Des Moines, IA, where they also teach NFP classes. Part 1 of their story appeared yesterday.
Pick-up from Part 1. . . So much of my research following our miscarriage pointed to the residual hormones in my body not letting our baby thrive. There was incredible guilt over that possibility. I knew that the Church had told us not to use artificial birth control – we didn’t understand why and thought it was just a completely “outdated” teaching. We pretty much followed the rest of the “rules,” and we were “good” people. Now we had to endure the consequences that God and the Church did not want anyone to have to bear.
After the miscarriage, we had difficulty conceiving again. That’s when I saw a notice in the bulletin for NFP classes stating that the method not only helped couples postpone pregnancy but could also help them achieve pregnancy, all within the guidelines of the Catholic Church. I signed us up for the classes, and Kerry reluctantly came along.
We went to our first class and the Church’s teachings, and theological principles behind NFP were presented in a way that we finally understood. There was finally a “WHY” for all of the rules. This was my “A-Ha moment,” and I quickly accepted everything that the Church stood for, regardless of whether or not I “understood.” With my medical background, I quickly recognized the scientific basis of NFP and acknowledged how easy it was to apply.
Our passion continued, and we became a certified teaching couple for Couple to Couple League (CCL). That wasn’t the difficult part – putting ourselves out there so intimately was. This is frequently a very controversial topic, and we really aren’t all that controversial people. Doing this has kind of felt like our penance for so blatantly disregarding the teachings of the Church and telling God that He really didn’t know what He was doing or asking us to do. We decided that it was time to shout out the good news and share all of the incredible graces that have come into our lives and our marriage since embracing these teachings and the Church as a whole. It’s not always easy (what in life that’s worth it is?), but hands-down this has been the most important decision we have made in our marriage. I’ve often heard that my husband is different and it’s pretty remarkable that he is willing to participate in this with me. He is loving and unselfish; he sacrifices for us. While I agree that Kerry is amazing and an extraordinary husband and father, I don’t know that we didn’t become better spouses by our commitment to the practice of NFP.
So, where do you go from here? This applies to everyone; we can ALL learn to live more chastely. This includes all clergy and religious, all married couples, those preparing for marriage, all single people, all parents, and those who have passed their fertile years or undergone sterilization procedures.
What is keeping you from learning more about NFP, the theological principles, the spiritual benefits, the health benefits, etc? The fullness of the Truth is available to you, but you have to search past all of the secular nonsense and look to the Church. Do not fear the unknown or that God doesn’t have your best interest in mind. Learn the method, the science and theology behind it – that takes a lot of the fear out of it. Talk to your priest, read the Catechism, read the Papal encyclicals, dive into Theology of the Body, take a NFP course, make a good Confession, and embrace the sacraments. Learn that there is true beauty in the marriage of science and theology, and there are untold graces for those taking that leap of faith.
God’s will for each of us is amazing. There are different sacrifices that each of us are asked to make in His name, but the graces revealed in that are innumerable. Pass on the Good News, despite how “uncomfortable” it can feel. Teach your children so that they can avoid many issues in the future – NFP demonstrates credibility and confidence in teaching abstinence to your teenage children. Taking the “easy” way out and encouraging them to use contraceptives in the place of instilling the virtue of chastity can lead to many physical and spiritual consequences. Support people trying their best to follow the teachings of the Church, whether or not you have personally grasped the concepts yet. Even if you don’t believe that this applies to you, pass on God’s message for someone else that it may matter; you don’t know exactly who that could be and God’s role for you in their life.
“Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19).
A few years ago, we based our decision on the knowledge of the 2000+ year history of the Catholic Church, and we took a leap of faith. We’ve never looked back.
Natural Family Planning Classes: For those in the Des Moines area, Kerry and Renee will be leading a three-part series of classes on the sympto-thermal method of natural family planning beginning Sunday, August 7, from 6:00 – 8:30 p.m. at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in West Des Moines. Cost is a one-time fee of $135 for all course materials, classes, one year of consultation with certified instructors, plus a one-year subscription to Family Foundations magazine. On-line registration is required at www.ccli.org. For more information, call Kerry or Renee at 515-278-1623 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s Note: This blog post is not necessarily an endorsement for the sympto-thermal method specifically, rather a post to create and build awareness and understanding of the Church’s teaching on NFP. Full disclosure, Joel and I utilize the Creighton Model FertilityCare™ System as our NFP method of choice. ~ Lisa