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Marriage preparation includes NFP

By KATIE LEFEBVRE, Globe staff reporter
(Email Katie)

The purpose for the sacrament of marriage is a loving union and openness to life.

With that precept, all engaged couples are now being asked to attend a full course in natural family planning as part of the marriage preparation guidelines, noted Sean Martin, director of new evangelization, catechesis and family life for the Diocese of Sioux City.

Before, this was just a suggestion.

“Also, part of the new marriage preparation practices, prior to the full course, the couples will receive an introductory session in the Call to the Wedding Feast class,” he said. “In the introductory session, they will learn why the church teaches what she does on natural family planning versus contraception.”

In the introduction to NFP, the couple will also learn what natural family planning is, what the major methods are and what the major fertility signs are, added Martin. The couples will receive information about where to register and be trained in or learn about a particular method.

“What’s exciting about this is we will be among, I would guess, about 15 other dioceses that are asking for a full course in natural family planning versus just the introductory session,” he said. “A lot of dioceses are minimally asking the couples to at least attend an introductory session.”

Martin explained this change is exciting because “we are equipping engaged couples to come to understand their fertility and the gift that is from God. It is not a curse but a gift.”

“This also teaches and allows the couples to experience or come to know this gift of fertility is not meant to be suppressed, but rather given away to each other in the sacrament of marriage,” he said. “They will come to understand that natural family planning respects the dignity of the other person and respects their own bodies as created by God.”

“It’s about life-giving love,” Martin said. “This is utterly and totally contrary to what our modern day culture is feeding us.”

Full course

Couples will take a minimum of three sessions depending on the particular method they choose.

“They will learn their fertility signs and be able to chart and interpret those signs to be able to discern God’s will for their marriage – whether they believe God is calling them to have a child or more children or postponed because there are just reasons to postpone,” said Martin. “We are empowering and equipping couples and that is really important.”

Knowledge, he explained, is part of making necessary decisions or choices.

“In the contraception culture we live in, we’ve disregarded all fertility and suppressed it,” said Martin. “We have become ignorant of our own bodies and what they were created for and to be – life giving love.”

An NFP brochure is available on the Diocese of Sioux City website. There are several NFP methods to choose from. Couples can choose which method they would prefer to be trained in.

“They can go in person to an instructor. We have about 20 teachers in our diocese,” said Martin, who along with his wife, Stacy, is trained in the Couple to Couple League method of NFP. “Couples have free access to in person classes. Some of the methods provide live classes online, such as Couple to Couple League.”

Others have at home studies available for couples.

For more information, visit the diocesan website, www.scdiocese.org. Click on the ministries tab, marriage preparation is listed within family life.

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