UP Catholic 07 14 2017 E Edition Page 18

18 July 14, 2017 THE U.P. CATHOLIC NATURAL FAMILY PLANNING www.upcatholic.org N.F.P. Awareness Week: July 23 - 29, 2017 Celebrate and reverence God's vision of human sexuality." To locate teaching couples or to order a Home Study Course, please visit www.ccli.org or call 800-745-8252. Dcn. Jack, Thank you for your service as the Diocesan Director of the Permanent Diaconate. As you retire from this role, we wish you all the best as you continue your ministry of service and evangelization for your parish of St. Peter Cathedral. - From Fr. Larry Van Damme and your colleagues in the Department of Ministry Personnel Deacon Jack Leadbetter NFP Awareness Week, July 23-29 This years Natural Family Planning (NFP) Awareness Week begins July 23. The week is a national educational campaign of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to celebrate Gods design for mar- ried love and the gift of life and to raise awareness of Natural Family Planning (NFP) methods. NFP, as the U.S. bishops have written, is supportive of Catholic beliefs about married love because it respects the God-given power to love a new human life into being (see, U.S. Bishops, Married Love and the Gift of Life). This years theme is, Its Time! Say Yes to Gods Plan for Mar- ried Love. The theme invites a reflection on how now could be a very good and acceptable time to learn more about NFP and the Churchs beautiful teachings about marriage and Gods plan for married love. Resources for NFP week are available on the USCCBs NFP program website: www.usccb.org/nfp/aware- ness-week/index.cfm. July 23-29 is Natural Family Plan- ning (NFP) Awareness Week. The following has been adapted from the United States Conference of Cath- olic Bishops. To learn more about NFP visit the USCCB's website at www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/ marriage-and-family/natural-fami- ly-planning. WHAT DOES THE CHURCH TEACH ABOUT MARRIED LOVE? Marriage is more than a civil con- tract; it is a lifelong covenant of love between a man and a woman. It is an intimate partnership in which hus- bands and wives learn to give and re- ceive love unselfishly, and then teach their children to do so as well. Chris- tian marriage in particular is a great mystery, a sign of the love between Christ and his Church (Eph. 5:32). Married love is powerfully embod- ied in the spouses sexual relation- ship, when they most fully express what it means to become one body (Gn. 2:24) or one flesh (Mk. 10:8, Mt. 19:6). The Church teaches that the sexual union of husband and wife is meant to express the full meaning of love, its power to bind a couple together and its openness to new life. WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH CONTRACEPTION? Married love differs from any other love in the world. By its nature, the love of husband and wife is so complete, so ordered to a lifetime of communion with God and each other, that it is open to creating a new human being they will love and care for together. The mutual gift of fertility is an integral part of the bonding power of marital intercourse. That power to create a new life with God is at the heart of what spouses share with each other. Suppressing fertility by using con- traception denies part of the inherent meaning of married sexuality and does harm to the couples unity. The total giving of oneself, body and soul, to ones beloved is no time to say: I give you everything I amexcept. . . . The Churchs teaching is not only about observing a rule, but about preserving that total, mutual gift of two persons in its integrity. WHAT IF A COUPLE HAS GOOD REASON TO AVOID HAVING A CHILD? A married couple can engage in mari- tal intimacy during the natu rally infer- tile times in a womans cycle, or after child-bearing years, without violating the meaning of marital intercourse in any way. This is the principle behind NFP. Natural methods of family planning involve fertility education that enables couples to cooperate with the body as God designed it. IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN USING CONTRACEPTION AND PRACTICING NFP? On the surface, there may seem to be little difference. But the end result is not the only thing that matters, and the way we get to that result may make an enormous moral difference. Some ways respect Gods gifts to us while others do not. When couples use contraception, ei- ther physical or chemical, they suppress their fertility, asserting that they alone have ultimate control over this power to create a new human life. With NFP, spouses respect Gods design for life and love. They may choose to refrain from sexual union during the womans fertile time, doing nothing to destroy the love-giving or life-giving meaning that is present. This is the difference between choosing to falsify the full marital language of the body and choos- ing at certain times not to speak that language. The Church and Natural Family Planning

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