Eastern Vicariate celebrates Catechetical Month
November 9, 2021
Wednesday November 10th: The Touch of Jesus
November 10, 2021

Accompaniment is key to learning about NFP

The use of Natural Family Planning (NFP) is supported and encouraged by the Church. At BOMA-TT we strive to offer “competent, compassionate, patient” teaching of the Billings Ovulation Method® of Natural Fertility Regulation.

In this year which Pope Francis has called the Amoris Laetitia (Joy of Love) Family Year, please see an excerpt from Fr Luke Dysinger’s 2018 article titled  ‘Using AMORIS LAETITIA In Defense of Natural Family Planning’ that identifies how the Amoris Laetitia (AL) document highlights the need for NFP to be taught, caught, and accompanied by engaged and married couples. (https://celebratehv50.com/2018/06/19/using-amoris-laetitia-in-defense-of-natural-family-planning/)

“Pope Francis has warmly recommended both NFP and the earlier magisterial documents that promote this practice. AL §222 encourages the ongoing development of a culture of life based on a rediscovery of Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae and of Pope Saint John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio (FC):

The pastoral care of newly married couples must also involve encouraging them to be generous in bestowing life. “In accord with the personal and fully human character of conjugal love, family planning fittingly takes place as the result a consensual dialogue between the spouses, respect for times and consideration of the dignity of the partner. In this sense, the teaching of Humanae Vitae (HV) cf 1014 and the FC cf 14; 2835 ought to be taken up anew, in order to counter a mentality that is often hostile to life…”

Moreover, “the use of methods based on the ‘laws of nature and the incidence of fertility’ HV 11 are to be promoted, since “these methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them and favour the education of an authentic freedom’” Catechism of the Catholic Church, §2370.

Not infrequently, couples new to the practice of NFP report to their parish priest that a given method “doesn’t work for them”. In many cases, this is because they have attempted to research and practise methods without any formal instruction.

Often, they have only partially understood descriptions of NFP in books or articles on the internet. Clinical research has demonstrated the importance of taking classes where participants are free to ask questions and raise concerns; and where, most important of all, they develop an ongoing relationship with a qualified and experienced teacher.

A recurrent theme in AL, and a constant emphasis throughout Pope Francis’ papacy is the practice of “accompaniment”. No-one should have to wander through life alone. Just as Christ the Good Shepherd is present to us throughout our lives, so all Christians are called to “accompany” those in any kind of need: that is, to walk with, assist, and empathise with their fellow human beings.

AL § 216–243 emphasises the importance of spiritual and emotional accompaniment during all the stages of married life and specifically recommends (§230) that more experienced married couples make themselves available to advise and encourage younger couples.

In the context of natural family planning, this should take the form of an experienced teacher who “accompanies” newly married couples in their journey of discovering the possibility of a natural and holistic approach to intimacy and fertility that is in harmony with the tradition of the Church.

Anyone who has “accompanied” couples who are in the first stages of learning natural family planning knows the importance of patience and perseverance. More specifically, both teachers and learners must appreciate the moral courage required to turn away from the pervasive contraceptive mindset of our culture towards an approach that respects the physical, psychological, and spiritual integrity of both the human person and the marital relationship.

It takes time, sometimes a great deal of time, for couples to trust that the method they are learning is scientifically based and reliable, and that they can rely on the physical signs and symptoms they learn to interpret.

The “principle of gradualness” AL §295: […] Saint John Paul II proposed the so-called “law of gradualness” in the knowledge that the human being “knows, loves and accomplishes moral good by different stages of growth”. This is not a “gradualness of law” but rather a gradualness in the prudential exercise of free acts on the part of subjects who are not in a position to understand, appreciate, or fully carry out the objective demands of the law.

The principle or law of gradualness is an encouragement to practise the virtues of patience and perseverance. Couples, not infrequently, stumble and revert temporarily to contraceptive practices that the prevailing culture and their previous experience persuade them to trust and prefer.

It takes time, encouragement, and “accompaniment” by a qualified teacher for newcomers to the practice of natural family planning to fully embrace its life-giving potential.”

Contact BOMA-TT: 384-1659, email: billingstt@gmail.com, website: www.billingstt.com