By Jessica Ragsdale
St. Joseph’s feast day, March 19, is especially significant this year as it is the 150th anniversary since Pope Pius IX named St. Joseph the universal patron of the church. St. Joseph, as the foster father of Jesus, is our spiritual father and head of the holy family. He was a silent saint, a man of few words. However, actions speak louder than words. We can reflect on his noble actions as he led his family and apply these lessons to our own families today.
Throughout his life, St. Joseph taught us the importance of a man’s role in marriage and parenting. It is scary to think what could have happened to Mary and Jesus had it not been for St. Joseph. Mary could have been stoned to death since she became pregnant out of wedlock, but St. Joseph fearlessly stood beside Mary and protected her and the beautiful life in her womb. St. Joseph taught his family what perfect love and obedience look like by fearlessly keeping his heart open to God’s direction for his life.
St. Joseph and Mary were the first teachers for Jesus. They perfected their “school of love,” or “Schola Amoris” by living out their lives in union with God’s plan. We, too, are called to be the first teachers for our children. St. Joseph serves as one of our models as we teach our children and nurture their spiritual development by embracing God’s plan for our lives and being aware of our actions, not just our words.
Our church stands firm in its teachings on love and sexuality through the establishment of natural family planning (NFP). NFP provides an opportunity for parents to teach our kids the importance of giving God control over all aspects of our lives, including our fertility. We can teach this to our kids with our daily actions — living our lives in union with God’s plan for marriage and sexuality.
NFP focuses on fertility awareness. NFP uses measurable signs of fertility so that married couples can make decisions regarding intimacy based upon whether they are trying to achieve or postpone a pregnancy. NFP challenges men and women to fully trust in God’s divine plan rather than their own. To practice NFP means we are willing to show our family unwavering love founded in God’s truth and to stand up for values that are countercultural.
NFP is a lifestyle that involves hard work, sufferings, sacrifices and courage. It allows us to teach our families God’s plan for marriage and sexuality by how we live our lives, day by day, prayer by prayer. I bet we can all become saints, just like St. Joseph, if we make a firm commitment to love and teach our families with honest love every day just as God desires.
My husband and I are certified NFP teachers using the Sympto-Thermal method and offer classes throughout the year with Couple to Couple League International. All are welcome to learn the God-honoring practice of NFP as we strive to love and teach our families the best we can. Visit www.ccli.org or reach me at (563) 343-6809 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. I would love to hear from you.
(Jessica Ragsdale and her husband, Nick, and their children are members of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Bettendorf.)