A month to celebrate “God’s gifts of love and life in marriage”

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Friday, Jul 15, 2022

By special at the Intermountain Catholic

crystal painter

July 25 is the anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae, which expresses our Catholic beliefs about human sexuality, marital love, and responsible parenthood. With this in mind, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops promotes awareness of natural family planning each year through a nationwide educational program, which runs July 24-30 this year. This year’s theme builds on the same theme as the National Framework for Marriage and Family Ministry, “Called to the Joy of Love”. The framework, developed by the USCCB Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth Committee, is intended to aid in ongoing pastoral planning for accompanying married couples and families through every stage of life, and builds on the teachings contained in Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation on the Family, Amoris Laetitia.

As the American bishops have written, the NFP upholds Catholic beliefs about marital love because it “respects the God-given power to love new human life” (Married Love and the Gift of Life).

The Diocese of Salt Lake City joins U.S. Bishops in emphasizing the benefits of NFP as ethical methods to help married couples live out God’s purpose for their marriage. In this effort, the Office of Marriage and Family Life will host a Creighton Model FertilityCare System practitioner training program, beginning in September. This program, which is held every five to seven years in the diocese, aims to ensure that a sufficient number of practitioners (teachers) are available to provide instruction to individuals and couples in the diocese.

This month also marks the feast of Saints Joachim and Anne (July 26), who were the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Last year, Pope Francis designated the holiday as World Day of Grandparents and Older Persons (fourth Sunday in July), an apt commemoration during National Natural Family Planning Awareness Week.

On July 24, we celebrate the second World Day of Grandparents and Older Persons. The theme chosen by the Holy Father for the occasion is “In old age they will still bear fruit” (Psalm 92, 15), to underline how much grandparents and the elderly are a value and a gift both for society and for the ecclesial communities. In July’s “The Pope Video”, which is a worldwide initiative of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network to broadcast the Holy Father’s monthly prayer intentions, he prays “for the elderly, who represent the roots and the memory of a people; may their experience and wisdom help young people look to the future with hope and responsibility.

In the video, Pope Francis includes himself as he shares his prayer intention for the elderly: “There have never been so many of us in the history of mankind.” The pope adds: “there are many assistance projects for the [elderly]but few projects of existence.

Plenary indulgences have been granted to those participating in the 2nd World Day of Grandparents and Older Persons.

Last year, in his homily for the inaugural World Day of Grandparents and Older Persons, Pope Francis challenged young people with his message: “They protected us while we grew up, and now it’s up to us to protect their lives, to alleviate their difficulties, to meet their needs and to ensure that they are helped in daily life and that they do not feel alone. Let’s ask ourselves the question: “Did I visit my grandparents, my elderly parents, the elderly in my neighborhood?” Did I listen to them? Did I spend time with them? Let’s protect them, so that none of their lives and dreams are lost. May we never regret having been insufficiently attentive to those who loved us and gave us life.

During the week of July 24, Catholics have the opportunity to celebrate, live and promote God’s vision of human sexuality, marital love, responsible parenthood and the value and gift of our great- parents and the elderly. Let’s all take time this week to pray, learn the teachings of the Church, spend time, and listen to older generations as they share their gift of wisdom and love. Let us celebrate the gift of our bodies, our marriages and our elderly.

If you are interested in teaching NFP in the diocese, or to learn more about NFP, contact me at [email protected]

Crystal Painter is director of the Office of Marriage and Family Life for the Diocese of Salt Lake City.

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