Sample Homily for NFP

Rev. James Conley
Sample Homily for NFP Sunday
(October 17-18, 1992)


Today we observe the beginning of Natural Family Planning Week throughout the Diocese of Wichita. It is "natural," so to speak, that we highlight Natural Family Planning during the month of October; a month the United States Catholic Bishops have designated as, "Respect Life Month." The theme for this year is: "Natural Family Planning: The Choice for a Health Marriage."

The scripture readings for this Sunday's liturgy teach us the value of perseverance. We heard how Moses persevered in prayer and remained steadfast against great odds and thereby was delivered from his enemies. In the gospel parable, the widow kept persisting in her cause for justice and pleading with a corrupt and unbelieving judge. In the end, the judge gave in to her pleas and ruled in her favor. Jesus teaches us the "necessity of praying always and not losing heart."

Not losing heart in living up to our Church's clear and consistent teaching on marriage and human sexuality requires perseverance and steadfast prayer. This is particularly true today when we live in a culture that is dominated by a "contraceptive mentality." Jesus' words to us about the "necessity of praying always and not losing heart" must be taken seriously by all people but especially by married couples who today are trying to be faithful to the message of the gospel, against "great odds."

It is a sad reality that the use of artificial contraception is widely practiced today. What is even more tragic is that some Catholic Couples use contraception as a method of family planning; and some Catholic physicians do not hesitate to recommend the use of birth control and even prescribe contraceptives to their patients. The Catholic Church has consistently taught and continues to teach that the use of artificial contraception in all its forms, including direct sterilization, is "gravely immoral" and is contrary to the law of nature and nature's God.

While artificial contraception is always considered immoral, there is nonetheless, a morally acceptable way by which married couples may space the births of their children and even postpone a pregnancy for an indefinite period of time. For "good and sufficiently serious reasons," spouses may regulate births by abstaining from the marital act during the wife's easily identified fertile periods. This exercise of "responsible parenthood" is known as Natural Family Planning. Recent scientific research has so refined the methods of Natural Family Planning that today, couples may practice responsible parenthood in ways that are altogether reliable, (99% effective), medically safe without harmful side–effects, and morally acceptable.

When couples give their mutual consent to be spouses in the holy sacrament of matrimony, they give themselves to each other and to God in a holy bond of love. This mutual self–donation is expressed most completely in the marital act itself, which is a renewal of the marriage covenant. The God–given meaning of the marriage act is realized in the union of the spouses and the openness to new life. The Church teaches that this "unitive" and "procreative" meaning of conjugal love must never be separated and must always be respected.

Natural Family Planning was originally developed to help couples who were suffering from infertility and has been proven to be very effective in this regard. When Natural Family Planning is used to avoid a pregnancy or to space the number of children when there are justifying reasons to do so, it is free of the detrimental moral and physical elements which are so intrinsic to artificial methods. Natural Family Planning is a method which fully respects the beauty of human sexuality according to the design of God. It is actually a way of life. It is a method which is shared fully by both husband and wife. It respects the personhood of the spouses and the dignity of the marital act. No doubt, Natural Family Planning involves a measure of sacrifice and at times self–restraint, but it can also lead to greater self–mastery and mutual respect. Additionally, it gives rise to a creativity in developing new ways of communicating love and showing affection.

Just as Jesus Christ put no conditions or reservations on His love for us, so married couples give themselves totally and unreservedly to each other in the bond of marriage. This totality of giving, which is required of conjugal love, is rooted in a deep faith in God's providential love and care for his people.

In the second reading from St. Paul to Timothy, St. Paul encourages his listeners to remain faithful to the full message of the Church, a message we must preach in season and out, whether convenient or inconvenient. Natural Family Planning is not the easier route consistently paraded by the contraceptive mentality of our society. But it is the most love generating and life–giving. Strength for doing so is to be found in "praying always and not losing heart."


Response: "Lord, hear our prayer."

  1. In gratitude to God for the gift of our sexuality. May all persons use this gift wisely according to their state in life and in accordance with your holy will. (response:)
  2. For all married Catholics, that they may have the courage to accept and be faithful to the Church's consistent teaching on marriage and Natural Family Planning. (response:)
  3. That God will bless all those married couples who are wanting to achieve a pregnancy. (response:)
  4. That God will comfort all those parents who have lost a child through miscarriage or stillbirth. (response:)
  5. That all husbands and wives will be faithful to their marriage covenant and deepen in their love for one another. (response:)
  6. For young people and all single people, that they will have the moral courage to resist the temptations of today's culture, and live chaste lives in Christ. (response:)
  7. That Church leaders and Catholics physicians will actively promote Natural Family Planning to the people they serve. (response:)