This post is a part of the Catholic Wife, Catholic Life’s NFP-week series.
I’ve seen the joke that NFP is one of the Church’s best-kept secrets, because it’s something that so few members of the Church actually know about. That is such a shame!
I recently asked a group of people I know where they first heard about NFP. For some, it was in covered (more like skimmed over!) their marriage prep., for others, they knew about it from their friends — or in rare cases, someone in their family. For very few of them, they had heard about it from their priest or in a homily; again, that was the rarest of cases.
This leads me to believe a few different things…
+ Not enough priests are preaching on Humanae Vitae and on the Church’s opposition to contraception.
+ Not enough marriage prep programs are covering Natural Family Planning.
+ We, the lay people, don’t talk about NFP enough either!
Fortunately, I think we have the ability and the power to change these things in our own parishes. And that’s good enough. That’s the best starting point — in our homes, in our communities, in our churches, in our parishes and dioceses.
So what can you do to change this and further promote the message of God’s plan for marriages and families?
+ You can ask your priest to preach on the Church’s opposition to contraception, on NFP, and on Humanae Vitae. You can tell him why it’s important to you, to your marriage, and you can give him this book: A Preachable Message: The Dynamics of Preaching Natural Family Planning. This book contains interviews with priests who do preach on NFP and who want their fellow clergy to do the same. It also has sample homilies, scripture texts from various Sunday readings that readily lead to discussing NFP.
If more priests knew that we are craving to hear this from the pulpit, perhaps they would preach on it more. If more priests knew what a difference this can make in marriages and in the faith of the married couples in their parishes, maybe they would delve into uncomfortable territory to talk about it.
+ You can also familiarize yourself with this list of the top eight excuses priests give for not preaching on contraception & NFP, and the responses of Father Daniel McCaffrey, STD and Father Matthew Habiger, OSB, PhD, on why those excuses aren’t good enough. Maybe you can use some of their points in conversation with your priest or fellow parishioners, or maybe you can just give your priest this list to read on his own.
+ You can give your priest or deacon a Priest Packet of One More Soul resources for them to be well-equipped and supported to preach on these issues. Here are two resources I recommend particularly for our priests and deacons: A Preachable Message and Called to Give Life.
+ You can ask your Archdiocese to make NFP a marriage prep requirement. It is not required everywhere right now, and one excuse I’ve heard is that there aren’t enough NFP-instructors, so…
+ You can talk about NFP and contraception in your bible study, in your small group or with the parents of your child’s playgroup.
+ You can start or join an NFP support group. I don’t think the NFP education most couples get before marriage is enough to sustain them throughout their marriage. NFP takes work and sacrifice, and we should be encouraging one another and supporting one another when we follow the Church’s teachings.
+ You can talk about NFP and contraception in your home, with your family and friends, and with your children – especially if your children are discerning marriage or are engaged to be married. You can give them CD’s with talks on contraception and NFP, or books, as an engagement present, so they can learn about it in their free time while preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage.
+ You can share these videos and articles, and the posts I’ve shared here, that share the story of how NFP can affect your marriage — in a good way, and what that looks like on a daily basis, and how it’s truly tangible and not nearly as impossible as it sounds.