August 5, 2005

Natural Family Planning Week
includes Mass, adoration

By Mary Ann Wyand

Natural Family Planning ( NFP ) helps married couples grow in intimacy with God and each other, St. Luke parishioners Tony and Vivian Kurzendoerfer of Indianapolis said, and communicate better with each other as spouses and parents.

“We have found that practicing NFP has really helped our marriage,” Vivian Kurzendoerfer said following an archdiocesan Mass on July 29 in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis.

The Mass and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament were held as part of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ national observance of Natural Family Planning Week on July 24-30.

“In His Presence—A Call to Chastity” was sponsored by the archdiocesan Office of Family Ministries, archdiocesan Office of Pro-Life Ministry and Couple to Couple League of Greater Indianapolis.

“Originally, we were thinking that we needed to practice NFP because we wanted to space out our children,” Tony Kurzendoerfer said, “but then as we practiced it we began to realize that we were more accepting of children than ever before. God brings us what we need to take care of those gifts that he gives us. He helps us by giving us peace with the idea that he provides for us.”

The Kurzendoerfers have been married for 10 years and are the parents of three children. They serve as a sponsor couple for engaged couples preparing for marriage at St. Luke Parish.

“We always advise engaged couples to practice chastity if they aren’t already,” he said, “and to continue to practice it before they get married because the time they spend practicing a chaste life is going to help improve their communication and help them welcome in the sacrament when they receive it at the time of their marriage.”

Natural Family Planning dramatically increases communication between the couple, he said. “In every way, in the practice of your intimacy, you are inviting God into it with you. That’s what brings you closer together. You realize that the two of you have become one with God, and you’re practicing something which is sanctified by God that he gave us a way of sharing our love for each other. So you take it to a whole other level. It’s not just a physical intimacy. It’s a spiritual intimacy.”

They also encourage couples to pray together at home, she said. “We pray together as a family, and it really helps.”

During his homily at the archdiocesan Mass celebrating the virtue of chastity, Father Daniel Mahan, pastor of St. Louis Parish in Batesville, encouraged Catholics to pray for God’s help in living chaste, holy lives in the midst of a secular culture that promotes sinful lifestyles to adults and teenagers.

“Chastity is that particular good that has to do with the great gift that God has given us of bringing new life into the world and expressing love in its most tender and genuine manner between husband and wife,” Father Mahan said. “God ordained that new life would come into the world through the expression of love between husband and wife. What a beautiful gift that is. Chastity is the practice of the proper use of that gift.”

Failure to practice chastity and make morally sound decisions results in heartbreak, he said, and feelings of shame caused by sexual exploitation.

“The Lord’s grace makes it possible for us to rise above our human limitations and to live honorably as children of the light,” Father Mahan said. “Stay close to Jesus. Stay close to the sacraments of the Church. Stay on the path by which you will find the grace that you need to get to heaven. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.”

Father Shaun Whittington, associate pastor of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis, preached about chastity as athletic training for eternal life during Benediction on July 30 to conclude 16 hours of eucharistic adoration.

“Perhaps no greater aspect of the Christian life is so closely analogous to the athletic ideal as chastity is,” Father Whittington said, because it enables people to train for the crown of eternal glory.

“The Church has the experience of 2,000 years of helping Christians live according to the way God has intended us to live,” he said. “… The goal of chastity is love—true love within the structures of committed love. … This is the way that we prepare to live the Christian life in its fullness, a way that leads us to eternal salvation.” †


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