This Sunday kicks off NFP Awareness Week. So what’s NFP, you ask? Natural Family Planning. This Church teaching is one that is often misunderstood. NFP refers to fertility-based awareness methods of regulating conception. It’s not “Catholic birth control” but rather enables a couple to achieve or postpone conception when it is the right time for their family.
Contraceptives use various hormones to prevent pregnancy throughout a woman’s cycle. NFP, on the other hand, helps a woman to understand her fertility cycle and know when she is able to conceive or not. Working with her husband, the couple uses scientific-based fertility tracking to attain or delay pregnancy. There are various methods that couples can use to track their fertility, such as Creighton or Billings.
When using NFP, couples work together to recognize signs of fertility and discuss their willingness to welcome a child. Although it may seem awkward at first, being able to discuss fertility helps couples to have other challenging conversations. NFP can help them to grow closer to one another and strengthen their bond as husband and wife.
NFP is not just about avoiding pregnancy or conceiving. It’s about God’s design for love and life. NFP reflects the dignity of the human person. It promotes openness to life and recognizes the value of the child. In marriage, the husband and wife are united as “one flesh.” When spouses conceive new life, they participate in God's creative power. This is an awesome gift and sacred responsibility. The Church calls married couples to responsible parenthood.
This year’s theme for NFP Awareness Week is “Marriage: One Flesh, Given and Received.” This calls to mind couples being united as one flesh, giving themselves to one another as well as the gift of life. NFP supports God’s gifts of love and life in marriage. We celebrate fertility-based awareness methods and the marriage-strengthening benefits NFP offers to couples.
The dates of Natural Family Planning Awareness Week highlight the anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, which articulates Catholic beliefs about human sexuality, conjugal love, and responsible parenthood. July 25 and 26, which fall during NFP Awareness Week, mark the feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, the parents of the Blessed Mother.
Want to know more about NFP? Visit usccb.org/topics/natural-family-planning
Looking for a local instructor? Contact Kristina Seipel for a contact list.
Director of Discipleship & Catechesis