is the testimony of Tracy Doyle, who is a physical
therapist. When her husband, Fletcher, converted to
the Catholic Church, they were confronted with the
Church’s teachings on birth control. Their journey
of faith led them to NFP. They have two children.
When my husband and I married in 1980, using birth control
seemed perfectly logical and reasonable. I was Catholic, and
my husband was not. We went through a marriage preparation
course at the Catholic Church, but I do not recall any
instruction in methods of family planning or discussion
about why the Church is against birth control. My husband’s
Church had no problems with birth control, and since I could
not articulate the Catholic position, we did not give it
After seventeen years of marriage, I was shocked when my
husband decided to enter the Rite of Christian Initiation of
Adults (RCIA) in the Catholic Church. I had never pushed him
about religion. He had attended Mass with me sporadically in
the first years of our marriage and more frequently once we
RCIA met weekly from October until Easter, and in the last
three months of instruction, sponsors were invited to attend
the classes. I attended as Fletcher’s sponsor, and I decided
to read all the information he had been given so I could
keep pace with what he was learning. As I studied, I began
to learn about my faith and experience the teachings in a
very personal way.
When my husband entered the Church, we were still not sure
about the Church’s stance on birth control. Our RCIA program
did not address this issue very well, and we were too
embarrassed to ask the questions we needed answers to.
Ultimately I talked to a priest, and he recommended that I
read Humanae Vitae. The document was difficult to understand
at first, but it got me thinking. I then sought more
information about natural methods of birth regulation
approved by the Church.
One day I spotted a brief article in the newspaper that
mentioned a state grant being offered to the NFP Office in
our diocese. I didn’t even know there was such an office. I
soon spoke to the director, and she told me how NFP could
help me live the teachings of the Church within my marriage.
I was so excited. I felt as if I could finally be completely
honest with God. Now all I had to do was convince my
When I told Fletcher that I wanted to start using NFP, he
was speechless. It was right around Lent, and we had decided
to recite a rosary together daily as our Lenten sacrifice. I
suggested we ask Mary, the mother of Jesus, for guidance. So
one of our petitions in our daily rosary was whether
participating in NFP would be pleasing to God.
We laugh now at what Mary did with that prayer. Doors
couldn’t open fast enough to lead us closer to NFP. Our
hearts were changed almost overnight, and my husband became
an ardent NFP supporter.
I won’t say that it wasn’t difficult to make this change,
but the blessings that have come from it are too numerous to
mention. Most importantly, I felt that I was able to say yes
to God completely for the first time in my life. I realized
that I had not trusted God with my fertility. I had wanted
him in every part of my life except the bedroom. When I
finally surrendered my belief that I had control of my
fertility, I was able to see God’s hand in everything.
My husband and I began to appreciate life more. We came to
see the dignity of all human persons in all states of life.
We saw the blessing of children in a profound way – not just
our children, but all children.
A special blessing was that as we welcomed NFP into our
lives, our young teenage daughter was coming to terms with
her own sexuality. In school her mandated health education
classes were teaching things with which we did not agree.
Through NFP and audiotapes like Janet Smith’s
“Contraception, Why Not” and Pam Stenzel’s tape on chastity,
we taught her about the dignity of the body and how it could
not be separated from the soul. We talked about the fact
that our bodies are gifts from God and that he dwells within
us. We told her that a true loving relationship involves
mutual self-donation and love strong enough to be willing to
create a new life if that is God’s will. Finally, we shared
that we are all capable of self-control, despite
contemporary teaching that we are not.
My daughter just finished college, and these lessons have
affected her deeply. She has a firm foundation in her faith
and her sexuality, and she enjoys a real sense of her
personal worth and dignity. My son is in high school, and we
need to be an example for him too.
With NFP I don’t have to say one thing and live another. The
total surrender of my fertility to God has allowed me to
surrender in other aspects of my life as well. I feel at
peace with my faith and my sexuality, and I am happier than
I have ever been.
This testimonial, and 19 others like it can be found in
Fletcher Doyle’s recent book, NATURAL FAMILY PLANNING
BLESSED OUR MARRIAGE – 19 TRUE STORIES (St. Anthony
Messenger Press, 2006).
Fr. Matthew Habiger OSB
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