The following story appeared in the June 24 Idaho Catholic Register.
Marriage for Life
Each year during the last week of July, the Catholic Church in the United States celebrates National Natural Family Planning Awareness Week.
“Called to the Joy of Love” is the theme of this year’s week, an educational campaign of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to celebrate God’s vision for marriage and promote the methods of Natural Family Planning.
Natural Family Planning (NFP)
is a general title for ethical, natural, safe and effective methods for both achieving and avoiding pregnancy in marriage. NFP methods teach couples how to observe and interpret the wife’s signs of fertility and infertility. Para-graph 2370 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church says NFP methods “respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them and favor the education of an authentic freedom.”
This year Natural Family Planning Awareness Week is July 24-30. These dates highlight the anniversary of the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae issued on July 25, 1968. The document articulates Catholic beliefs about human sexuality, marriage, conjugal love and responsible parenthood.
The Diocese of Boise Marriage and Family Life Office joins with the U.S. bishops in highlighting the benefits of NFP as ethical methods to help married couples live God’s design for their marriages.
To promote Natural Family Planning in the Diocese, the Marriage and Family Life Office has been hosting quarterly NFP networking calls with NFP instructors and advocates from around the Diocese. Funds from the Idaho Catholic Appeal make it possible to provide financial assistance to those interested in becoming NFP instructors so they can better serve married couples in our parishes. Currently, we have four future NFP instructors training in the Sympto-Pro, Creighton/NAPRO Technology, and Couple to Couple League methodologies.
This year, NFP Week has a special connection to the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly. Grand-parents are uniquely qualified to be sharers of wisdom and practical care for future generations. When new children are born, grandparents offer their help and experience to their children raising the next generation.
The U.S. bishops’ website notes that in January of 2021, after praying the Angelus, Pope Francis declared the fourth Sunday in July as World Day for Grandparents. The date has been chosen to be near the liturgical memorial (July 26) of Saints Anne and Joachim, grandparents of Jesus. Because the date of the memorial also falls within the week devoted to raising awareness of Natural Family Planning, “it is appropriate for all NFP Week celebrations to include reflection upon the vital role that grandparents play in the lives of their grandchildren,” the bishops’ website says.
The second annual observance of the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly will be July 24. The theme from Psalm 92 is, “In old age they will still bear fruit.” Given that National NFP Awareness Week is observed in the U.S. at the same time, here are some ideas from the bishops’ conference for celebrating both observances.
Organize a weekday afternoon luncheon for grandparents where you can give them the tools they need to speak with their grandchildren about the virtue of chastity, the vocation of marriage, and the morality of NFP methods.
Create an intergenerational event where grandparents can share their wisdom about courting, marriage and family with youth. Be sure to include a means for youth to speak about their hopes for their future and what challenges they face as they date and won-der about the possibility of marriage for themselves.
Offer prayer events and special Masses where grandparents can come together to pray for their families, and especially for their adult children who are struggling with infertility. On this note, consider hosting a speaker who can provide current information about adoption and foster care.
Plan a “gratitude” celebration for married couples, their children, and their parents to praise the Lord God for the blessings of families.
Pray for grandparents at Mass that the Lord God will give them wisdom and patience as they assist their children and grandchildren in growing in the Catholic faith and living lives of truth and integrity. We can also pray that God will sustain grandparents who are living with pain or distress, either physically or emotionally. Pray that grandchildren will not forget their grandparents and will give them the precious gifts of their time and love. Remember, also, to pray for deceased grandparents who have given us and our families life and faith.
The Catholic Church invites the faithful of all ages to embrace God’s plan for married love. Learn more about the beautiful teachings that support the use of NFP in marriage at usccb.org/topics/natural-family-planning/church-teaching.
If you want to learn more about the methods of NFP offered in our Diocese, see our website at catholicidaho. org/marriage-and-family-life or visit the NFP section of the USCCB website usccb.org/nfp.
We invite you to join the diocesan NFP efforts to spread the word about God’s design for married love and the gift of life as well as the methods of NFP. Contact us at 208-350-7535 or at email@example.com.
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