By Vatican News
Natural Family Planning (NFP) Awareness Week is slated for 19 to 25 July this year, and has for its theme: “Live the truth and beauty of God’s plan for married love!”
This annual week-long event is a national educational campaign of the Natural Family Planning Program of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference that promotes Catholic beliefs about human sexuality, conjugal love and responsible parenthood.
According to the U.S. Bishops, Natural Family Planning is the general title for “the scientific, natural and moral methods of family planning that can help couples either achieve or postpone pregnancies.”
The week highlights the anniversary of the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae (25 July 1968) on human life, and the feast of Saints Joachim and Anne (26 July), the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Natural Family Planning
The Church teaches that the “Sacrament of matrimony symbolizes Christ’s relationship with His Church…a relationship of total, faithful, permanent and fruitful love," the Bishops explained in their Prayer and Liturgy guide for the event.
Therefore, when couples live out their vocation according to the Church’s teachings, especially with regard to the transmission of life, they grow in “holiness and consequent deepening of their respect and awe of God’s gift of human sexuality, marriage and family.”
NFP methods are based on the “observation of the naturally occurring signs of symptoms of the fertile and infertile phases of a woman’s menstrual cycle, " the Bishops said. It requires “no drugs, no devices or surgical procedures” to avoid pregnancy.
2020 NFP Awareness Week
Every year, the USCCB’s Natural Family Planning Program issues a poster, alongside basic supportive materials for the campaign. However, it is individual dioceses that offer a variety of educational formats best suited for the local church to focus on NFP methods and their use in marriage.
The USSCB materials for this year’s event include among others, homily aids for priests and deacons, documents and articles on the Church’s teachings on NFP, and stories from real-life couples who have put the method to use.
In one of the stories, the writer recounts that after taking an NFP class, she understood “the relationship that God designed between the marital act and procreation” and it made her “open to life.”
“Today, I am confident that had I not been open to life in the practice of NFP,” she said. “I would not have needed to depend on God, and not have grown as a person. This growth benefits my family and the people I meet in everyday life. Jesus calls us to serve others. Marriage and parenthood are ways we can immediately apply this call in our lives.”