Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

The hidden untapped power of Natural Family Planning

By MONIQUE DAVIS, Special to the Bulletin  | Published July 25, 2023

“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried.” – G.K. Chesterton 

Hint: replace “The Christian ideal” with “Natural Family Planning.” 

I was over church hopping. With the idea of becoming Catholic, I asked that we tackle the toughest teaching first: Natural Family Planning (NFP). We were either going to be “all in” or “not at all.”  

To my surprise, this ask was only the beginning of opening wide my eyes to Christ’s teachings. Inviting God into the most intimate areas of our lives, practicing it with a trusting heart and uncovering the beauty of his ways, all led to wanting his plans in every other area. Purity through and through is the gateway to Heaven, after all.  

There is so much hidden power in the mystery of his designs that they simply have to be authentically and prayerfully practiced to be understood within the heart. 

Some of the hidden powers of NFP:  

Rest at Last in the Scriptures. All the sacred Scriptures on human love and sexuality (and divorce) went from being sources of unsettled “God loves you, don’t worry about it” to a new quietude via peace and understanding; no contradiction. 

Trinitarian Alignment. God established the sacrament of marriage to reveal the inner life and love of the Trinity via the complementary and unitive nature of the husband and the wife that directly reflects the inner life of God: pure and perfect intimacy. 

Love of God Increases Exponentially. Within every Mass, there is a climactic moment when the priest raises the chalice and the host and cries out, “Through Him, and with Him, and in Him, O God, almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, forever and ever!” to which we all respond, “Amen!” This is the totality of Catholic Christian life and marriage: to be “all in” for the greater glory and honor of God. Nothing is held back, preferred, nor allowed to taint nor diminish this union; the couple is “all in” for the greater glory and honor of God and spouse. Having responded to God’s call in the most challenging of realms, the marital act, the couple is now convicted of doing what God asks in all areas of life, simply because he asks, and because they love and implicitly trust him.   

Selfishness Fades into Otherness. When practiced authentically and faithfully, NFP embodies this spirit, builds union and opens the heart, mind and soul of the couple. Grace roots the relationship in the good of the other, the health of the family and the embodiment of the love of God yielding selflessness, generosity and submissiveness to the will of God. 

Wounds Surface. NFP, by its nature, draws to the surface every impurity and weakness in the relationship, leaving the couple vulnerable before God and one another: every thought, desire, impulse, fear and shortcoming of the husband and the wife is brought into the light. From there, if both are so willing and mutually supportive, extraordinary healing can occur. 

Marriage Becomes a Fortress. Once the couple has experienced the healing power of pure love in the process of NFP, nothing can ever replace it, nothing will ever be desired, and nothing will be allowed to threaten or destroy the marriage. 

Untapped Potential in Prayer. Praying together morning and evening, the couple enters a spiritual marital embrace, which is then infused into the physical marital acts, acts that become as close to Heaven as couples might experience as one flesh. This seems to be what the world is seeking, not finding, and thereby growing evermore unwell (see human trafficking). During times of abstinence (self-control), couples can unite the power of practicing this virtue with prayers for their own deeper conversion, that of the Body of Christ, the affirmation of celibacy of the priesthood and religious life and in atonement for the world. 

Do we see the hidden power and the direct link between our being “all in” and, through our purification, the world being set on fire, drawn inexplicably into his Sacred Heart? 

Without judgment, I am on God’s side—with all mercy, compassion and love; in his truth, not mine, I, myself a work still in progress, am here for you. 

Editor’s Note: Natural Family Planning Awareness Week is July 23-29. The observance highlights the anniversary of the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae, which articulates Catholic beliefs about human sexuality, conjugal love and responsible parenthood. Monique Davis is a SymptoPro Fertility educator. She may be reached at 404-275-7299.