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Natural Family Planning

Annual Scarecrow Festival in Kettlewell, United Kingdom
Annual Scarecrow Festival in Kettlewell, United Kingdom
(Photo by Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images)

In photo:  Scarecrows dressed as if attending a wedding in St Mary's church during the annual Scarecrow Festival on August 14, 2010 in Kettlewell, United Kingdom. Every year since 1994, hundreds of scarecrows have been created by the villagers and hidden on a treasure trail around the village .

The Catholic Church teaches that every act of sexual intercourse shared between the married man and woman should be open to the possibility of the conception of a child. The Catholic Church also teaches that the use of contraception for the sole purpose of preventing contraception is a mortal sin. This teaching seems to leave a married couple in quite a quandary if they are faced with circumstances in which the conception of a child may be inadvisable. What is the couple’s recourse if for reasons such as severe financial difficulties, temporary illness, or lack of adequate housing?

There are two natural options that are accepted, moral choices: total abstinence from the marital embrace or periodic abstinence during those times when a woman might be fertile and could conceive a child. From as far back as the Council of Trent, we learn that, “God does not ask the impossible, but by his commands instructs you to do what you are able, to pray for what you are not able that He may help you.” Pope Pius XII, Pope Paul VI, and Pope John Paul II have all taught, “Periodic continence, that is, methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of the infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2370.)

Natural Family Planning (NFP) is a scientific method that charts the woman’s physical signs of fertility and infertility. NFP is an effective method for avoiding pregnancy as well as achieving pregnancy. For more information about NFP watch for NFP classes at your parish, or read, The Art of Natural Family Planning by John and Sheila Kippley.

The Columbus Catholic Connection: On Monday, August 16, there will be a Natural Family Planning (NFP) Workshop at Delaware St. Mary from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., St. Mary Church, 82 E. William St., Delaware. This is the first session of a five-week Natural Family Planning workshop sponsored by the diocesan Office of Marriage and Family Life. Other workshop dates are: Aug. 30, Sept. 3, Oct. 4, and Nov. 1. For more information call, 614-241-2560.