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This weekend I’m away on retreat, staying with our novices in Colorado.  As priests and religious we’re expected to make an 8-day retreat every year.  That’s our special time alone with the Lord in prayer, which should strengthen and refresh us so that we can serve you better.  I know that we are very fortunate to be able to take this time away – I know that most people don’t have the luxury of unplugging for 8 days, however much they’d like to.

Today marks the beginning of Natural Family Planning Awareness week, so this seems like a good time to put in a mention of NFP, especially since we’re very blessed to have NFP instructors right here in the parish.  In the encyclical Humanae vitae, written 50 years ago this week, Pope Paul VI describes marriage in this way:

 

[Married love] is above all fully human, a compound of sense and spirit. It is not, then, merely a question of natural instinct or emotional drive. It is also, and above all, an act of the free will, whose trust is such that it is meant not only to survive the joys and sorrows of daily life, but also to grow, so that husband and wife become in a way one heart and one soul, and together attain their human fulfillment.

 

This week is a great opportunity to learn more about NFP as a natural way for couples to make decisions about their family planning, a way that is in harmony with God’s design.  It’s also a great way to learn about the many ways that NFP can strengthen a couple’s marriage in the process, which makes it really important not only for married couples, but also for people who hope one day to be married.  The U.S. Bishops’ web site has a lot of great articles and resources, which you can check out to learn more:  http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/natural-family-planning/awareness-week/articles.cfm.

Short column this week.  Please pray for me while I’m away on retreat, as well as for our novices in Colorado.  See you  next Sunday.