If I had to choose a motto or phrase to summarize my relationship with natural family planning, or NFP, it would be the command of Pope St. John Paul II: “Be not afraid!”
Despite being a cradle Catholic, my journey with NFP began approximately ten years ago, when the Holy Spirit led a friend to share an article from the AD Times that introduced me to the concept and changed my life.
After receiving diagnoses of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and anxiety as well as undergoing trials of hormonal contraception, I thought that NFP and fertility awareness sounded a bit too good to be true.
Yet, within months of learning how to chart my cycles with the Creighton Model of Fertility Awareness and being treated by NaPro (Natural Procreative Technology) providers, my symptoms faded one by one.
Because God’s timing is perfect, it was around the same time that I met my now-husband, who was on-board for learning about this “magic.”
We soon discovered that it wasn’t magic at all; NFP and fertility awareness are simply becoming aware of—and improving the health of—our fertility and reproductive systems that God so perfectly designs.
Just when we thought we had it all figured out, God gave us a honeymoon baby, now five years old, and helped us understand the medical applications as well as the Church teaching on NFP and marriage.
The Church teaches that every marriage act must remain open to human life, but that “for just reasons, spouses may wish to space the births of their children.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2368). NFP uses self-observation and natural infertile periods to regulate conception.
Over the past thirty years, Catholic doctors have also developed a range of technologies to treat infertility in accordance with the Church’s teaching that the sexual and the procreative act should remain united.
As a couple, we learned (and continue to learn) what it means to live our vows freely, totally, faithfully, and fruitfully, as we are instructed in Pope St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and other Church teachings.
Thank God we have been called to live our lives without fear; and thank God we can trust Him in this promise.
While there are times that following the Church’s teachings seem daunting, trust in Our Lord’s providential plan help me to live my life as a woman, a wife and mother, and a Catholic unafraid.
Sarah DeArment is a lifelong Catholic, wife, mother, licensed professional counselor, member of the diocesan task force on NFP, and parishioner at St. John the Baptist, Pottsville.
July 23-29 is NFP Awareness Week! See below for events throughout the Diocese of Allentown.