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Called to the joy of love

By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

July 6, 2022

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
During the National Family Planning Awareness Week (July 24-30), the Church calls our attention to married love and to the blessings of children. The Church invites us to deepen our understanding of God’s plan for marriage and sexuality. Within that understanding, we come to appreciate the great gift offered to married couples through NFP.

In Marriage, Love and Life in the Divine Plan, the United States bishops remind us that “the divine plan, like the gift of marriage itself, is something we receive, not something we construct or change to fit our purposes. It is a firm foundation, a truthful guide, a trustworthy light for the way.” Tragically, God’s teaching on marital love and the family is ignored or discarded by many. But, as this year’s theme indicates, God’s ways lead to the Joy of Love. Darkness will not overcome the Light, where true happiness is found.

As we pray and study the Scriptures, we learn that God looks at the world and human life differently from human beings with our limited vision. His view encompasses the whole of the human family and all the ages for all eternity. Today, for many, God’s plan gives way to my plan. Contraception and sterilization – technological means of preventing conception – are tragic examples.

The Church teaches that marriage is a lifelong partnership of the whole of life, of mutual and exclusive fidelity, between a man and a woman, and ordered towards the good of spouses and the procreation and education of children. God is the author of marriage. God has endowed marriage with certain essential attributes, without which marriage cannot exist as God intends.

The Church speaks of an inseparable connection between the two purposes of marriage: the good of the spouses themselves as well as the procreation of children. In their marriage vows, the spouses pledge love and fidelity for as long as they live. The transmission of life is a concrete realization of this radical self-gift between a man and a woman. Using contraceptive practices to close off an act of intercourse to the possibility of procreation makes the act signify something less than the unreserved self-gift intended in the marriage promises.

It’s no secret. A couple’s responsibility to serve life by being open to children is being rejected so frequently today. There is a loss of belief in the value of these purposes when couples treat, as separate choices, the decision to get married and then the decision to have children. This indicates a mentality in which children are seen not as integral to a marriage but as optional.

Viable scientific methods of Natural Family Planning are available to support responsible parenthood. They represent authentic family planning. This practice fosters an attitude of respect for human life, which is always sacred. It also fosters profound respect for one’s spouse.

I am grateful to Suzanne and Angelo Pietropaoli, Diocesan Directors of the NFP Office. Through their ministry as directors and educators, we offer assistance to families throughout our diocese. Should you like more information about Natural Family Planning, please contact our office. Let us all renew our commitment to respect human life and follow the divine plan for marriage and family life. Children –treasured gifts for a lifetime into eternity!

Faithfully yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Terry R. LaValley
Bishop of Ogdensburg


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