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NFP Week 2021: To Have, to Hold, to Honor

By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

July 28, 2021

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

Paul Anka wrote the lyrics. Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley made the tune a hit: “I Did It My Way.” The theme captured well the spirit of the day as well as the current philosophy of life. In too many cases, when it comes to decision-making, God’s ways take a back seat (if God is in the vehicle at all). Persuasive commercials and alluring ads exert a certain seductive power over our decision making. “Have it your way.” “Just do it.” Such is the world that tries to distance itself from the Divine, or at least ignore, restrict, or usurp God’s reign.

National NFP Awareness Week (July 25-31) provides you and me the opportunity to study God’s ways in one important element of family life.

Natural Family Planning leaves God’s sovereignty over marital life intact. The married couple cooperates with God in planning to have or not have children at a given time, rather than leaving God out of the picture by using artificial barriers in the couples becoming one flesh. NFP is about fidelity to God and making God the center of married life and love.

Following the teachings of the Church seems especially difficult today for many reasons. I might find myself struggling to follow Jesus because: 1) I don’t fully understand Church teaching; 2) outside pressure, stress or even ridicule from others sours me toward it; 3) it affects my personal pursuit of worldly goods; or 4) my pride convinces me that the Church has got this wrong. Struggle can be good and healthy, so can obedience to a higher Power.

It is only by taking the time to reflect on Scripture and on the life of Christ, by praying regularly and celebrating the Eucharist, will I gain the humility to allow God to be God and not me. As Catholic Christians, we owe it to ourselves to understand Church teachings.

To help you in your faith journey, I encourage you to learn more about what the Church teaches about marital love by visiting our Natural Family Planning office at our diocesan webpage: https://www.rcdony.org/nfp.html.

We are truly blessed to have Suzanne and Angelo Pietropaoli directing our diocesan NFP efforts as well as all those who assist with its instruction in our marriage preparation classes.

This year’s theme: To Have, To Hold, To Honor, focuses our attention on how NFP supports God’s gifts of love and life in marriage. Pope Francis tells us that NFP is about healthy, effective, morally acceptable and truly organic approaches to family planning. He wrote: “These approaches are to be promoted, since these methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between husband and wife, and favor the education of an authentic freedom.” (Amoris Laetitia, 222) Respect, Tenderness, Authentic Freedom are the fruits realized by those who practice NFP and live marriage God’s Way.

A child is never a threat, a diminution of freedom, a limitation of self-fulfillment.

The future will surely suffer if we deny ourselves the one force that can give us the future: children.

St. Joseph, Pillar of Families, Pray for Us.

Faithfully yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Terry R. LaValley
Bishop of Ogdensburg

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