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God designed marriage as an "intimate partnership of life and love" (see Gaudium et spes, no. 48). In God's design, marriage is a unique union of one man with one woman "for the whole of life" (see Canon 1055, The Code of Canon Law). Marriage is oriented to the good of the spouses and to the creation and nurture of new human life (see Gaudium et spes, no. 48). Making decisions therefore, about when and how many children to have in marriage is a sacred responsibility that God has entrusted to husband and wife. This is the foundation of what the Church calls, "Responsible Parenthood"--the call to discern God's will for your marriage while respecting His design for life and love.
The Catholic Church supports the methods of Natural Family Planning (NFP) because they respect God's design for married love. In fact, NFP represents the only authentic approach to family planning available to husbands and wives because these methods can be used to both attempt or avoid pregnancy. When learning about NFP, it is important to know that:
Natural Family Planning is an umbrella term for certain methods used to achieve and avoid pregnancies. These methods are based on observation of the naturally occurring signs and symptoms of the fertile and infertile phases of a woman's menstrual cycle. Couples using NFP to avoid pregnancy abstain from intercourse and genital contact during the fertile phase of the woman's cycle. No drugs, devices, or surgical procedures are used to avoid pregnancy.
NFP reflects the dignity of the human person within the context of marriage and family life, promotes openness to life, and recognizes the value of the child. By respecting the love-giving and life-giving natures of marriage, NFP can enrich the bond between husband and wife. (Standards for Diocesan Natural Family Planning Ministry, p. 23)
This section of the USCCB website provides information and resources that will help you to learn about the methods of Natural Family Planning and Catholic teaching which supports its use in marriage. Many of the resources here are tailored for diocesan NFP coordinators, teachers and educators.
Please visit the links below for a calendar of special events offered throughout the year and helpful resources on our Humanae vitae page. Register for the historic academic symposium to be held at The Catholic University of America in April. And, visit our Prayer and Liturgy page for monthly prayers inspired by Humanae vitae.
Please visit our education page for healthcare professionals! Remember that we have links and files of resources that can save you time and energy. We have a link to the MP4 files on an introduction to the science and methodology of NFP available from FACTS (Fertility Appreciation Collaborative to Teach the Science). These files provide a general overview of all NFP methods offered in the USA. In addition, PowerPoint slides with notes on the general science of NFP are available from Marquette University's NFP Institute. They have graciously donated them to us for your educational efforts!
See: NFP Education for Healthcare Professionals
The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend is inviting NFP couples to submit a 30-second selfie video in response to the question: "How has Humanae vitae made a difference in your marriage?" The diocesan campaign will kick-off on Valentinie's Day (Feb. 14; also "Ash Wednesday"). All videos must be submitted by Easter Sunday (April 1). The videos will be posted one-by-one on the Marriage, Family & Pro-Life Ministry's Facebook page in the months leading up to the 50th anniversary of Humanae vitae (July 25).The best of the videos will be used in a promotional video for marriage preparation and marriage enrichment programs. Contact: Lisa Everett, Director for Marriage, Family & Pro-Life Ministry; tel, 574-234-0687; e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Minnesota Catholic Conference has available free videos on Catholic teaching on the person and human sexuality from the one-day symposium “Revisit the Catholic Vision of the Human Person.” View the talks at https://www.mncatholic.org (select the link in the scrolling images); or, go to their YouTube page at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiXvsyO7_90YpY4imuBqCbg.
Culture of Encounter Podcast features a 27 minute interview with NFP pioneer, Mary Shivanandan, STD, https://soundcloud.com/user-458215614/ep-13-a-culture-of-encounter. Dr. Shivanandan discusses the profound effect of postmodernism on our understanding of the human person. She then presents an alternative, "after-modernism," which is grounded in the personalism of St. John Paul II, specifically his Trinitarian anthropology. Dr. Shivanandan’s discussion touches upon reproductive technologies, NFP, and Humanae vitae. This interesting and useful conversation centers on her article “Post-Modernism vs. After Modernism” published in the National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly (Winter 2017).
The St. Augustine Foundation has a website to help you educate on NFP and Catholic teaching on human sexuality, the virtue of chastity, marriage, conjugal love and responsible parenthood. A special feature are brief courses tailored to young adults. Also included is a video of interviews with Catholic physicians. See catholicsexuality.com.
Helping couples to deepen conjugal love and achieve responsible parenthood is part of the Church's total pastoral ministry to Catholic spouses. Fulfillment of this ministry includes both education and pastoral care. This means "instilling conviction and offering practical help to those who wish to live out their parenthood in a truly responsible way" (Familiaris consortio, #35).
Natural Family Planning Program
Secretariat for Laity, Marriage, Family Life & Youth
3211 4th Street NE
Washington, DC 20017
Telephone: (202) 541-3240
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