“Woe to me if I did not preach the Gospel,” I echo the words of Saint Paul, “Preaching the Gospel is for me no reason for glory; it is rather a duty incumbent on me.” (1 Cor. 9: 16) This is the reason why I feel strongly about sharing the good news of Natural Family Planning. As my mother used to tell me, “God is going to ask you to account for your talents.”
My parents were instructors of the Billings method of NFP in Mexico, so I grew up attending national and international Catholic congresses, in pro-life and pro-family environments. But when I got married and came to this country, I left my values on the border in a rebellion against my parents, God and the Church. I challenged my principles.
In our marriage, we used both NFP as a natural contraceptive and also the condom. We knew that Pope Paul VI taught against artificial contraception in his encyclical Humanae Vitae: “Any action which either in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible” is intrinsically wrong. (HV 14)
I decided, in my arrogance that it wasn’t really wrong, and as a “good Catholic” I would go to Mass and receive Communion, and as Saint Paul says, “Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord.” (1Cor. 11:27)
I lived condemned, my life, spirit and mind; my marriage was hell, we lived in spiritual death. But I thought I was “free,” so I no longer had to obey my parents, or the Church or God.
But God blessed us with his mercy, and in July 2009, my husband and I experienced a retreat of new life. In that retreat, I met the living God, and I reconciled with him. I met God the Holy Spirit, and in a presentation about charisms, I made a deal with the Holy Spirit. I said: “If you want me to teach the Billings method, give me the gifts I need. I’m very shy, I don’t know how to speak in public, I don’t understand the method and I don’t know how to teach.” A month later, my husband and I started teaching it to a group of couples in their homes.
My married life began to improve. We had vices in our marital and sexual life but the Holy Spirit was changing and purifying it little by little. Our personal, marital and family prayer life was strengthened. Communication improved a lot, but most importantly, our sacramental life came alive and we were able to receive Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist, which is the source and summit of our faith and of our family life. The Lord gave us the grace to never use contraception again and with much effort and with God’s grace, we began to live a holy, conjugal love.
We discovered after more than ten years of marriage the true joy of married love, because with everything we did in our marriage, we gave glory to God.
“The Trinity is present in the temple of matrimonial communion. Just as he lives in the praises of his people, he lives intimately in conjugal love that gives him glory.” (Amoris Laetitia 314)
We are temples of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is the source of all love. Therefore, invoking the Holy Spirit in this very sacred moment for marriage purifies and sanctifies this union.
With NFP each conjugal act is open to life, because of this it is a sacred moment that not only unites the couple, but invites us to participate in the act of creation at that moment. This is the good news: NFP is a gift from God, if it is lived with an openness to the will of God, and it is to be shared.
Learn more about Natural Family Planning at aod.org/nfp