I’m sure it’s already on your calendar, but just in case you weren’t aware, NFP Week kicks off on July 23!
While I wait for fellow NFP’ers to catch their breath from the excitement, I’ll briefly touch on what NFP actually is for the uninitiated. NFP is the acronym for Natural Family Planning, the Church’s answer to married couples working together with each other and God’s natural plan, to practice responsible parenthood while maintaining that special gift of unconditional love meant to be shared by partners in marriage.
There are different methods of NFP, from Billings to Creighton to Sympto-Thermal to Marquette, and couples typically look into the options and select the method that works best for them given their specific life circumstances.
To be fair, the Church’s teaching on contraception and married love can be one of the most difficult for Catholics to understand and accept. There are many reasons for this disconnect between the teaching in the Catechism and the people in the pews: not hearing the reasons behind the teaching, the culture’s consistent messaging that contraception is not only okay but actually good and necessary, and (perhaps most underrated) the real sacrifice and struggle that go along with being open to life.
NFP Week is the Church’s move to counter all of that, a week dedicated to our beloved bishops getting out the message that the Church’s teaching on married love is the answer to many of the problems we face in today’s culture.
The problem is, not very many people are listening.
Sure, the USCCB has pulled together some professional looking graphics and other marketing ideas for NFP Week, but how many of the faithful who pack the pews each and every Sunday are actually going to hear the message?
That’s where we come in.
We lay folks can’t just sit back and watch NFP Week from the sidelines. If NFP Week stands a chance at getting the message out to the people who need it most, it’s only going to be because the laity get involved.
In his post-synodal apostolic exhortation Christifideles Laici, St. John Paul II wrote
“The call (to evangelization) is a concern not only of Pastors, clergy, and men and women religious. The call is addressed to everyone: lay people as well are personally called by the Lord, from whom they receive a mission on behalf of the Church and the world.”
We are called by our Lord and His Church to step out into our time and place to share the Good News in our own special way. When it comes to Natural Family Planning and the Church’s teaching on married love, our culture needs to hear our story. What brought us to embrace the Church’s difficult teaching? What is it actually like living this teaching out? What’s the good, bad, and ugly that comes with a life of NFP?
Rather than expecting our priests to come up with the perfect homily to help lead people to holiness, rather than relying on the USCCB’s efforts to make a splash with NFP week on social media, let’s take up the challenge to answer the personal call the Lord makes directly to each and every one of us.
Let’s make NFP Week a success.
Tommy Tighe is a Catholic husband and father of four boys. You can find out more about him at CatholicHipster.com.