It's NFP (Natural Family Planning) Awareness Week! I was somewhat surprised by that fact at Mass on Sunday when our new priest mentioned NFP. Now, this was his first Sunday with us, which just happened to coincide with NFP Awareness Week, but I think if he hadn't been celebrating Mass, I would have been kept in the dark about it. Unfortunately.
It's unfortunate that more priests don't talk about NFP, either this week or at all, because it's one of the most beautiful teachings of the Catholic Church. The Church teaching on sexuality is one of the things that sets it apart from all the protestant churches....and pretty much the whole world!
There was a time when we knew this week was coming and did something to prepare for it at our parish, but we've let that fall by the wayside since we reached a tipping point in our childbearing years that made teaching too difficult. And now we're past all that, anyway. Don't snort because we stopped teaching because we had "too many children" thanks to NFP! We had those children because we wanted them, not because NFP didn't work.
For us, NFP was (and is) a huge gift to our marriage. We've been very blessed to have little trouble conceiving, but even with my irregular cycles, we were able to avoid pregnancy when we needed to and able to conceive fairly quickly when we were ready for another child. It wasn't always easy to abstain and it made for some difficult, stressful times in our marriage, but, on the whole, it strengthened our marriage enormously AND brought me into full communion with the Catholic Church.
I didn't start out using NFP because I believed the Church teachings, but because we needed some way to space our children (Yes, I had a "contraceptive mentality"!) and, with my tendencies toward more natural living and fewer pharmaceuticals, I was happy to learn NFP. Win for both spouses! Nevertheless, my eyes were opened by the changes in our already-happy marriage, and if the Church was right about the reasons for married couples should not use contraception, maybe She was right about other things, too.
Feel free to share your experiences or thoughts! NFP is a huge hurdle for many couples in this age of sex anytime, anywhere, with anyone. The widespread belief that we shouldn't have more than 2 children these days is also a challenge for couples. Rest assured that you don't have to have a dozen (as I thought) or a half-dozen, but you do have to invite God into your sexual relationship (because He created it, and He's there whether you like it, or admit it, or not!). And there are no guarantees that you will be given all the babies you want, either, but you will find grace and joy in abundance even through the struggles and the sorrows.