Natural Family Planning by Deacon and Mary Perrydore

As a Catholic convert the Church’s teaching on contraception was a challenge for me.  Recall, last week Fr. Pieter gave an excellent homily that included the topic of contraception and spousal love.  Marriage prep for Mary and I didn’t reveal God’s design for marriage in this area nor did it generate a desire to learn more.  My interpretation of what we heard was each couple could decide and most couples use contraception.  Over time, we became more enlightened regarding NFP as we met couples who shared their stories.  We attended a Natural Family Planning class, and our minds were opened to the health issues related to contraception and our hearts were opened to God’s plan for marriage.

This was a life and marriage changing time and continues to be.  As Christians, our greatest joy and freedom is in following God’s plan vs. our own.  This applies to all aspects of our lives including the sexual relationship of a husband and wife.  It doesn’t mean it’s always easy.  NFP can be difficult for a variety of reasons.  Whether due to health, work schedules, finances, genetic conditions or personal needs, following Church teaching in this area brings challenges.  Christ did not promise life would be without trial, but our Lord is faithful in providing the graces needed during our trials and He does not abandon our needs within marriage.

Using NFP does require self-mastery.  But this is part of the Christian life.  We are all called to be disciplined in our living.  The disciplines promoted by the Church help us on this path; penance on Fridays, fasting on Ash Wednesday, abstaining from meat on Fridays of Lent along with prayer and almsgiving.  There are a variety of ways the Church “trains” to have self-mastery.  

Though we may not recognize it in ourselves, we can become bound by sexual desire and treat our spouse as an object of gratification vs the recipient of our selfless love.  Contraception can turn marital intimacy into an action of taking vs. giving.  It betrays God’s FULL intention of the marital act by being open to only the pleasure – which certainly can be unitive – but eliminates the creative element.  Both are essential.  Each marital act is ordered to be open to the miracle of life. 

If you are struggling with NFP, I encourage you to seek resources and support for help.  Some may not know why the Church teaches contraception is wrong.  Others may believe this is optional.  Wherever you are, I encourage you to access resources that will help you understand the beauty and truth of marriage void of contraception.  It doesn’t mean all are destined to a bakers’ dozen of children.  There is no prescription or formula for family size - simply the grace of following God’s plan.  Each child is a gift and spouses are privileged to participate in God’s creative plan.  What God offers is an exit from the way the world views sex and marriage and an entry to great grace within marriage.

Natural Family Planning - A Testimony by, Mary Perrydore
We were married for a couple of years when we first heard about Natural Family Planning. A man spoke up about it at a conference we were attending. We did not immediately jump on board. In fact, we may have shaken our heads in wonder at such a strange thing. But God wanted to get our attention because he placed us in situations where we did learn more. And slowly, over the course of a couple of years, we opened our eyes and hearts to this profound teaching of the Church.

Once we read and understood more about God’s perfect plan for marital unity and intimacy, we were on board. We were also fortunate to be acquainted with a beautiful couple who we admired, and they shared that NFP was at the center of their marriage. Their witness was life changing. While practicing NFP wasn’t always easy it did change our views on many things. We grew in a greater appreciation of each other and the gift we are to one another. We grew in our understanding of the profound miracle each child God entrusts to us is. And we grew in deep respect for the Church that stands so uniquely counter to the culture in which we live.

I could say many things about NFP, but I’ll simply say it changed our marriage, the way we parent and our family for the better. I often wonder at the brave man who spoke of it that day. I wish I could thank him for his bold witness to the truth.

Here are some great resources:
Janet Smith, Ph.D. “Contraception: Why Not”
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Edition, 2360 – 2370
Good News About Sex and Marriage: Answers to Your Honest Questions about Catholic Teaching (Revised Edition), Christopher West
Life-Giving Love: Embracing God’s Beautiful Design for Marriage, by Kimberly Hahn
Holy Sex, by Gregory Popcak, Ph.D
Resources to learn more about NFP:


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