By Deacon Mark Krejci, Ph.D. // for OND
With the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ annual Natural Family Planning Awareness Week set to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of the publication of “Humanae Vitae” in late July, three men from the Diocese of Crookston provided their perspectives on why they and their spouses practice NFP in their marriage. With less than 5 percent of married Catholics following NFP during their child-bearing years, these men serve as counter-cultural witnesses to following God’s plan for fertility.
Bill and Jen Wilke are members of St. Joseph, Moorhead, where they live with their family of 6 children ranging from twins in college to a four-year-old son. The Wilkes have served as a sponsor couple in the Couple-to-Couple League but have cut down on this work in recent years in order to focus more on their family. When talking about their family, Bill says, “Every time we asked for a child from God, we got one.” Their first five children were girls until their youngest came along which Bill explains as the one, “God knew we needed.” Bill says that through NFP he has learned to “Treasure my wife and how to treat her with love and respect.” He said that when couples practice NFP, they create opportunities for wonderful conversations about intimacy, fertility and family.
More couples, Catholic as well as others, are opting to use natural methods for fertility regulation. According to the online Catholic news agency CRUX, recent studies indicate that women are either turning away from hormonal methods of birth control or are becoming more interested in NFP methods. Jeremiah Johnson and his wife Ashley have one child and are also members of St. Joseph, Moorhead. They decided to practice NFP and, while they were motivated to follow the teachings of the Church, Jeremiah also believes, “why should I expect my wife to put chemicals in her body for something I can control inside of me?”
Dave and Kari Zavoral of Sacred Heart in East Grand Forks were introduced to NFP by a youth minister in their parish. She gave Dave a copy of Christopher West’s review of the Theology of the Body, “Good News About Sex and Marriage” and Dave read it “cover-to-cover.” He said that he “... came away from that book convinced that he wanted to follow God’s plan.” He believes that by practicing NFP he is following what is best for Kari’s body and her soul. As a husband and father, he claims that practicing NFP has helped him to learn to trust God’s plan in many areas of his life that go well beyond his sexual life with his wife.
In a culture where men all too often objectify women as sexual objects, the witness of these three men reflects a holy love for their wives that has been developed and sustained through the couples’ practice of NFP. As Bill Wilke claims, “The longer you practice NFP, the more open to life you become and the greater joy you will get out of life.”
To read commentary from Deacon Krejci regarding the 50th anniversary of Humanae vitae CLICK HERE.