So why NFP (or Natural Family Planning)? NFP is safe, healthy and effective. Most importantly, it is a morally acceptable way to avoid and achieve pregnancy.
If we look at the four components of God’s love for us (free, total, faithful, fruitful) and compare God’s love to marital love, we can discover how to live the Sacrament of marriage as the ultimate expression of spousal love.
Free: We need to be able love our spouse freely. If we ask for conditions, that’s not love. If we force our spouse to do something, that’s not love. If we cannot say no to our sexual urges, then we are not free.
Total: The love for our spouse must be total. We can’t say, “Well, I’ll give you everything, honey, except for my fertility.” Total means total. (Re: CCC 1643).
Faithful: Obviously, faithfulness means we must only have intercourse with our spouse and no other. But if we want to be truly faithful to our spouse, we must be faithful in word, action and thought.
Fruitful: Marital relations must be fruitful, open to children, each and every time. That doesn’t mean we will conceive (or want to conceive) a child with every marital embrace. It just means we need to be open.
Birth control, in fact, destroys all four of the essential components (free, total, faithful, fruitful). Birth control violates not only God’s plan in fruitfulness, but it also encourages an “I can’t say no” mentality to sex. When an action, device, medication or operation is purposefully used to remove fertility, a couple cannot give themselves totally, no matter how much they love each other. Contraception says, “I give all of myself to my spouse – except my fertility.”
Natural Family Planning allows a couple to love each other as God loves: freely, totally, faithfully and fruitfully. Couples using NFP chart the wife’s cycle and, if avoiding pregnancy, they abstain in the fertile time. If they are planning a pregnancy, they engage in relations during the fertile time. They are not using devices; they are fully giving of themselves and they are open to children with each and every act of marital relations.
NFP allows us to love our spouse as God loves us: freely, with no reservation, faithfully and open to children. Marriage can be a holy vocation when a couple loves as God loves: freely, totally, faithfully and fruitfully.
Want to live the highest expression of your marital love? Use NFP and be open to life.
For more information about the Theology of the Body:
The theme for NFP Awareness Week is It’s Time: Say Yes to God’s Plan for Married Love. Since NFP definitely says yes to God’s plan for married love, and since today is the 38th anniversary of when my husband and I first met, I’d like to share seven of my favorite quotes on marriage.
1. “Intense love does not measure; it just gives.” (Blessed Teresa of Calcutta) This quote so perfectly illustrates the sacrificial love of marriage and, indeed, of any relationship. I see this illustrated every day when my husband goes above and beyond to sacrifice for our family. I try to live this quote: every morning I wake up and think, “What can I do to make my husband’s life easier today?”
2. “Marriage is an act of will that signifies and involves a mutual gift, which unites the spouses and binds them to their eventual souls, with whom they make up a sole family – a domestic church. ” (Saint John Paul II). Love is not merely a feeling; it is a choice. Every day I have an opportunity to choose to love my spouse. Sometimes it isn’t easy, but it’s always worthwhile.
3. “Be not afraid.” (Saint John Paul II) As shown in the photo below, I certainly wasn’t afraid of what the future would hold for us. I was too happy at that moment to think of future difficulties and challenges. I had no idea what the next 35 years would bring. All married couples will face hardships and challenges. But they will also experience great joy to balance any hardships. Of course, couples who enter into a sacramental marriage (and who live their faith) have the additional graces to assist them in handling any challenges and hardships.
4. “The two shall become one.” (Genesis 2:24) There’s no better illustration of our unity and oneness than our children who are the walking “representations of our love.” (cr Saint John Paul II).
6. “How can I ever express the happiness of the marriage that is joined together by the Church strengthened by an offering, sealed by a blessing, announced by angels and ratified by the Father? …How wonderful the bond between two believers with a single hope, a single desire, a single observance, a single service! They are both brethren and both fellow-servants; there is no separation between them in spirit or flesh; in fact they are truly two in one flesh and where the flesh is one, one is the spirit.”(24) Tertullian (cr Familiaris Consortio Saint John Paul II)
I love this quote from Tertullian, who exquisitely describes the spiritual and physical joys of the one flesh experience of Christian marriage.
7. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Romans 4:6) Prayer is such an important part of a sacramental marriage. But having people pray for you is also essential. In that regard, I’d like to share one of my favorite anniversary gifts: a beautiful card that was lovingly made for us by Dominican Novices back in 2012 when we were celebrating our 30th anniversary. Each sister signed her name to one day in May with a note below saying that “In honor of this occasion, we will offer 30 days (plus one) of prayer with a different sister praying for you each day this month.” Wow.
Text and photos copyright 2012/2017 Ellen Gable Hrkach
Since this is “NFP Awareness Week,” I’d like to share some of my favorite Theology of the Body fiction!
(Pardon the shameless self-promotion of my own books in this list!)
Emily’s Hope (Ellen Gable, 2005, FQ Publishing)
Passport (Christopher Blunt, 2008, Pelican Crossing Press)
Midnight Dancers (Regina Doman, 2008, Chesterton Press)
In Name Only (Ellen Gable, 2009, FQ Publishing, 2010 IPPY Gold Medal Winner)
Stealing Jenny (Ellen Gable, 2011, FQ Publishing)
Finding Grace (Laura Pearl, 2012, Bezalel Books)
Angela’s Song (AnnMarie Creedon, 2012, FQ Publishing)
Rapunzel Let Down (Regina Doman, 2013, Chesterton Press)
Vingede (Friar Tobe #2) (Krisi Keley, 2013, S & H Publishing)
Don’t You Forget About Me (Erin McCole Cupp, 2013, FQ Publishing)
A Subtle Grace (Ellen Gable, 2014, FQ Publishing)
The Lion’s Heart (Dena Hunt, 2014, FQ Publishing, 2016 CALA Award Winner)
A World Such as Heaven Intended (Amanda Lauer, 2014, FQ Publishing)
Working Mother (Erin McCole Cupp, 2014, FQ Publishing)
Stay With Me (Carolyn Astfalk, 2015, FQ Publishing)
Dying for Revenge (Barbara Golder, 2016, FQ Publishing, Finalist Next Generation Indie Book Awards)
Dying for Compassion (Barbara Golder, 2017, FQ Publishing)
Discovery (Karina Fabian, 2016, FQ Publishing)
Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body (Cupp and Gable, editors, 2016, FQ Publishing)
Rightfully Ours (Carolyn Astfalk, 2017, FQ Publishing)
To check out many of these books, go to the Full Quiver Publishing website!
Natural Family Planning Awareness Week begins next week. A great way to start the celebration is with humor!
All images are copyright by James and Ellen Hrkach. Please do not use without permission.
It’s not too late to register for the Catholic Writers Conference Live next week!
Schaumburg, Illinois– Several prominent Catholic writers will speak at the ninth annual Catholic Writers Conference LIVE taking place July 18-21 at the Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center in Schaumburg, Illinois (near Chicago.) Sponsored by the Catholic Writers Guild and the Catholic Marketing Network (CMN) and held in conjunction with CMN’s annual retailer trade show, the Catholic Writers Conference LIVE provides Catholic writers with a prime opportunity to meet and share their faith with editors, publishers, fellow writers, and bookstore owners from across the globe. The theme of this year’s conference is “The Catholic Imagination.”
Presenters include keynote speaker Dr. Barbara Golder (THE LADY DOC MURDERS), authors Amy Cattapan (SEVEN RIDDLES TO NOWHERE), Erin McCole Cupp (MEMORIES OF JANE E, FRIENDLESS ORPHAN), Lisa Mladinich (TRUE RADIANCE), Lisa Hendey (THE GRACE OF YES), Ellen Gable (STEALING JENNY), Ann Lewis (MURDER AT THE VATICAN) and many others.
The conference will give authors an opportunity to meet personally with publishing professionals and pitch their writing projects. Some participating publishers are Ignatius Press, Ave Maria Press, and Servant Books. In addition, attendees have the opportunity to sign up for a fiction critique workshop with award-winning short fiction writer Arthur Powers (A HERO FOR THE PEOPLE), a non-fiction critique group with Nancy Ward (SHARING YOUR FAITH STORY) and attend writing workshops with novelists John Desjarlais (SPECTER). Information for all these events can be found on the conference website.
The Catholic Writers Guild, a religious non-profit organization affiliated with the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, sponsors this conference in July, an online conference in March, and a writers’ retreat in October to further its mission of promoting Catholic literature. CWG President, Joseph Wetterling, says, “The Guild exemplifies the Catholic faith ‘both/and’ with writers from every part of the world, in every genre, and from every walk of life. We’re diverse in personality and style but united in our loyalty and love of the Catholic faith. The Catholic Writers Conference Live is a unique opportunity to come together in fellowship and sharpen each other toward our united mission: a rebirth of Catholic arts and letters.”
Registration costs $75 and $45 for students. CWG Members receive a 10% discount. There’s also a discounted registration combined with a CWG membership. To register or for more information, go to https://catholicwritersguild.org/live-conference
Contact: Ann Lewis, Catholic Writers Guild, 317-755-2693
Amazon synopsis: Joan Dior is an edgy teen artist who finds a corpse in a Florida lagoon, vows to find the killer, and becomes the target of a billionaire and his death cult who believe they have regrown the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.” Joan and her best friend, Mia, along with their two guy friends, Dontey and Rico, get drawn into the middle of the Everglades and must battle not only the cult but also giant pythons, alligators, and a Komodo dragon . . . during a killer storm . . . while methane gas bursts into hellish flames all around them. Good times. Everyone will probably die. Unless . . .
My review: I’m still reading this, but enjoying it immensely. David Athey is an excellent writer and never disappoints. His characters are quirky but real and I find myself laughing out loud many times at his little notes to the “Reader.”
I loved Athey’s first book, Danny Gospel.
Amazon Synopsis: Part conversion story, part tragedy-to-triumph, Fire of Love is a story that begins with the horrific moment when Cassandra Poppe’s 4-year-old son Fulton was severely burned in a homestead accident. Faced with the possibility of losing him forever, the weeks and months that followed offered her many opportunities to reflect on how her earlier years leading up to, and after, her conversion of faith prepared her for the moment in time where her faith would be tested to its limit. And how embracing the crosses that came her way, and surrendering all suffering to God, she was able to sift through the ashes to uncover the love and joy He intends for us all to discover through our suffering.
Fire of Love shows you:
There is always hope for the sinner.
There is always room to grow.
Our Lady, through the rosary, can bring you through any trials that come your way.
Practicing discerning God’s will in the little things can better prepare you for future sufferings.
No matter how intense the pain, how exhausting the moment, or how alone you may feel, there will always be One who remains close by.
And that suffering with love can truly bring a peace beyond all understanding.
My review: I’m looking forward to reading this book. I attended a presentation given by the author at a conference and her story was very compelling and uplifting.
Amazon Synospis: Savannah and Charleston, two sisters living in a small Southern town, have always been close. They’ve shared everything with one another…until Dillon, the one boy in school who’s bad news, sets his sights on Charleston. As she’s drawn down his dark, destructive path, Savannah panics, knowing this isn’t a relationship destined for anything but trouble.
She turns to her lifelong best friend, Ellerbe, for help, but there’s a shift in their relationship. The connection they’ve shared is taking a turn toward something more, something deeper. And Savannah isn’t sure she’s ready for a romance while trying to save her sister.
As Savannah’s foundation begins to crumble, every decision becomes an unchangeable step toward an outcome that could have tragic repercussions.
My review: This has been on my “To Read” list for a while. Looking forward to reading it within the next month!
Rightfully Ours, by Carolyn Astfalk, Kindle edition, is free through July 3, 2017.
Paul’s new home with the Muellers provides solace, especially in the form of Rachel, his friend and confidante. Their abiding friendship deepens as they work side by side to uncover what could be lost treasure.
Will they acquire the strength of character and virtue to take only what rightfully belongs to them or are they in way over their heads, with more than a few lost artifacts at stake?
(NB: That’s my youngest son on the cover!)
To download the Kindle edition for free, click here.
“Rightfully Ours, by Carolyn Astfalk, rightfully belongs on your “Want to Read” list! In Astfalk’s third Christian fiction novel, she introduces us to two teenagers: Rachel Mueller and Paul Porter. At the beginning of the book, when Rachel and Paul meet, they are only 14 and 16, respectively. Throughout the story, we see a deep friendship blossom between the two characters. As they get to know each other, we see that friendship grow into love, young love. Rightfully Ours deals with the virtue of chastity head on; yet in a manner that would make any teen want to be like Rachel and Paul. These two characters serve as excellent role models for teenagers coming to grips with burgeoning love and sexual desire, contrasted against all that they have been taught concerning morals and virtue.I found Rightfully Ours enchanting, with a little bit of mystery. As the story unfolds, Rachel and Paul discover more than each other. They enjoy digging around in Rachel’s garden, only to discover something very interesting. Can’t give too much away, but let me say that what they found is very interesting, for it had the capacity to change their lives. As I continued to read, I wondered how they might handle such responsibility. As I turned each page, I kept wondering if Paul and Rachel would remain true to their morals, or give in to societal pressures. They were only teenagers. What endeared me to this story is that as I continued to read the book, I learned that Rachel and Paul would come to discover that their love for each other is worth more than any earthly treasure, and that their chastity was priceless.” Virginia Lieto, author
“Rightfully Ours is a novel for older teens about the importance and beauty of chastity. This is the first book I’ve read by Carolyn Astfalk and thoroughly enjoyed her writing style. She is an accomplished Catholic romance writer and has brought her skills to the YA market. This book is full of relatable characters, touching family traumas, teenage passions, and an intriguing mystery. While an enjoyable story, this book deals with an important subject matter that teens face in our society- purity. I look forward to reading more from this author.” Leslea Wahl, author
To download the Kindle edition for free, click here.