July 23, 2021

Fall 2021 Marriage Supplement

A moral and scientific way to cooperate with God’s plan for fertility

By Gabriela Ross

Gabriela RossAs the Director of Marriage and Family Life, I coordinate Natural Family Planning (NFP) outreach in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. I work with clergy, medical professionals, certified NFP instructors and witness couples, and together we inform the faithful about God’s plan for marriage and family and how fertility is a component of the vocation of marriage and responsible parenthood.

At a Catholic wedding, the bride and groom are asked three questions before they give their consent to marry. One of these questions is: “Are you prepared to accept children lovingly from God and to bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?” (#60, The Order of Celebrating Matrimony). Natural Family Planning is a morally acceptable, medically sound and natural tool to fulfill this promise.

‘Are you prepared to accept children … ?’

In my work preparing engaged couples for the sacrament of marriage, we talk about NFP and how learning about a husband and wife’s fertility can help them cooperate with God to achieve or avoid pregnancy. We address the role of NaPro (Natural Procreative) technology, which is a morally acceptable alternative to in vitro fertilization, and can help couples who are experiencing infertility or other complications.

We are so blessed to have Catholic doctors who are proficient in NaPro technology come to speak to engaged couples at our Pre-Cana and One in Christ marriage preparation retreats about fertility awareness and the science of NaPro technology, and to have dedicated witness couples share their experience practicing NFP in their marriage.

Past retreat participants have said: “I felt that the NFP talk was really great. I wish I was taught this before today, but I’m glad I have another option,” and “I loved having an MD discuss NFP. I was skeptical but the medical background was super helpful and convinced me to do it.”

Many brides are happy to learn that NFP instructors can help their fertility return to normal after their hormones were altered from being on chemical contraception for many years.

‘I wish I was taught this before…’

But NFP is not just for engaged couples preparing to start a family. A new mother-daughter program was recently launched by the Couple to Couple League to help middle school and adolescent girls who are coming of age to understand their blossoming fertility in light of God’s design, without getting into the topics of family planning.

With this tool, mothers can utilize resources to mentor their daughters, parishes can host mother-daughter events, and schools can incorporate the

age-appropriate information into their health curriculum, knowing it is both scientific and from a Catholic perspective.

New mothers and women ending their child-bearing years are two other groups that could benefit from tracking their fertility through an NFP method. Because our society has relied on chemical contraception to treat all fertility issues, women are often left in the dark about the changes their body will naturally go through after giving birth or when entering menopause. With hormone changes come fertility changes, and women often benefit from the additional support that an NFP instructor can provide during seasons of change.

Take a look at the information provided in this issue of The Criterion to learn more about Church teaching on family planning, different methods to track fertility and the mother-daughter program, outreach in Spanish, and where to find local instructors and medical professionals who are ready to assist you.

If you have a personal story of how NFP has impacted your life, I would love to hear from you.

(Gabriela Ross is the director of the Marriage and Family Life Office of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and can be reached at gross@archindy.org.)


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