Sunday, December 27, 2009

NFP- Say it loudly, say it proudly!

The Holy Family

Today on the Feast Day of the Holy Family, I decided to do a blog directly related to family. Since you get enough about my pictures and happenings of my family, I'm writing about a very important, yet very misunderstood, and even less talked about topic. NFP--it stands for Natural Family Planning. Well, here I am, saying it loudly, and saying it proudly- NFP is beautiful and if you are married, you don't want to miss out on the best tool God has given you to strengthen your marriage.

Until recently, my husband and I had little knowledge of the beauty of NFP (because of the aforementioned reasons). Although we practiced it, we were unaware of the virtues one can grow in when using it, and unaware of how it enables God to strengthen your marriage by leaps and bounds with grace filled intimacy and genuine romance.
And for your reading enjoyment, here is a list taken directly from Dr. Popcak's Holy Sex showing just how great NFP is:
  • NFP is the shared responsibility of a husband and wife (unlike contraception)
  • facilitates communication between them about each others' bodies
  • requires a husband and wife to continually talk and pray about their priorities and keeps in play discussions about becoming or being parents
  • is completely natural with no side effects
  • has been found again and again (particularly in the Creighton Model) to be over 99 percent effective)
  • keeps lovemaking fresh and exciting by building in little breaks for the couple to work on their overall marriage
  • requires the couple to focus on relationship and romance rather than just habitual sex
  • can even be an extraordinary useful tool for helping couples to intentionally conceive (in fact, ob/gyns use modified forms of NFP as a first-line treatment of fertility)
To learn more about how NFP can transform your marriage, read, Love and Responsibility by John Paul II, (Karol Wojtyla). Or, a less intimidating book, Holy Sex by Dr. Gregory Popcak.

NFP is not contraception (artificial or otherwise). If someone says they practice NFP, yet in the same sentence says, "We are not having any more children- two or three or however many is our 'perfect' family. This couple/individual is probably using NFP as contraception. Rather, NFP is always life giving. Besides being open to life each and every month by prayerfully discerning God's will for your family on whether or not to have any more children, NFP enables a couple to meet the spiritual, emotional, and physical needs of each of the family members. Even couples who have passed the time of having more children can use NFP to be life giving in generous service to others.

Contraception, on the other hand, is not life giving. Aside from the fact that certain kinds of contraception being abortifacts, it also kills the love between a couple. Love is not love until it is (fully and completely) given away. A couple practicing contraception can not give of themselves because their holding back one of their most precious gifts- his/her fertility. For more information on the Church's stance on contraception and NFP: Read Pope Paul VI's Humanae Vitae: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-vi_enc_25071968_humanae-vitae_en.html

A couple who practices NFP recognizes that the Sacrament of Marriage is a holy gift given by God and it is only God who can decide the will of the Family because only God knows best. So, the next time I get asked for the millionth time how many children I want, my response is still the same, "As many as God wills." (if you think this means I'm going to willy nilly be a baby producing machine, reread above paragraph on "meeting the spiritual, emotional and physical needs of current children")

For more information on how to use NFP, here are a couple links to two different kinds of NFP- the Creighton Model: http://www.creightonmodel.com/
and the Sympto-Thermal (couple to couple league): http://ccli.org/

6 comments:

MUJERLATINA said...

WOW, Sarah! This is your best post ever. I learned a lot, especially as a physician who struggles constantly with the contraceptive issues with my patients. I try to promote NFP, but find that many of my patients are ignorant even to what ovulation is, let alone the prayer and discernment piece. This is such a dicey issue, especially amongst my teenager/secular patients. I am unable to say much more about this because of confidentiality issues. But may I request that you pray for me, my practice of medicine and my patients? This has been an on-going, shall we say, 'confessional' conversation -- and I daily make greater strides in my decisions as a physician vis a vis my patients. With the government forcing our hands, we doctors are coming under more and more scrutiny and pressure to, say prescibe the 'morning after pill' -- when I say 'no', sometimes patients will even call their insurance company to complain... you get the drift. I feel I am in a virtual spiritual battle. Thanks for your post, the links, and your prayers. Blessings to you.

Sarah Harkins said...

Mujer Latina,
You certainly are in a battle zone. I prayed a rosary for you and will continue to keep you in my prayers. May God lead you in calmer waters. Is is possible to start your own Catholic practice? I know personally, I would love to be able to go to a Catholic physician and not have birth control pushed on me every time I go to the doctor's office. May God Bless you for your faithfulness! Sarah

Jessica said...

Wow, what an honest testimony, MujerLatina! I will pray for you. If you haven't had a chance to read it, "Physicians Healed" is a great resource and is full of testimonies of physicians who've gone through the same journey. It's available through One More Soul. You may find other resources/ testimonies on my blog as well.

Sarah, thank you for this post, for your testimony and authenticity. While NFP can be abused, the gifts far outweigh the dangers, not the least of which is getting people away from contraception, which are usually abortafacients.

MUJERLATINA said...

Thanks Jessica:
I will certainly look at your blog. Ironically, 98% of my patients ARE Catholic, and they are the very ones whom I try so hard to sway against birth control, and certainly against abortions. My practice has taken a major financial 'hit' in the past two years because I am so pro-abstinance with my unmrried patients and pro-life in general. It's been very difficult -- especially trying to live out my faith, while trying to ffed my two little children. So I continue to pray that God will open professional doors and/or that I accept the cross of 'living on the edge of financial ruin', while busily practicing medicine. You get the idea. Many thanks to you. Blessings in 2010 to you and yours.

Allison said...

Sarah, Did you know that there is a practice of Catholic, NFP-only physicians in Virginia? It's called the Tepeyac Family practice, I believe...

I was so excited to discover them and have already made an appointment! :)

Sarah Harkins said...

wow, no I didn't! I will have to check it out. hopefully my insurance will cover it. thanks, Allison!