Written by Silvia Schmidt. Originally published in Family Foundations.
Being an apostle means you are someone who preaches the Good News of Jesus Christ, sharing the richness of your Catholic faith. When I was younger, I would never have imagined that being an apostle could have meant teaching NFP. I guess it makes perfect sense. NFP is part of the Church’s teaching, so it is part of the good news. Being an NFP apostle is an adventure, taking me to places and allowing me to help people that I would have never encountered otherwise. It has been a journey of faith – challenging, humbling and beautiful. It never gets old to be part of a mission that helps other people learn about their dignity, created and loved by God, through a greater understanding of their fertility.
From the time I was engaged to my husband and learned natural family planning, I knew I wanted to share NFP and the STM method with other couples. God placed this desire in my heart. Apostolic zeal is a gift of the Holy Spirit. I have been working and volunteering for CCL for 21 years. As the years have progressed, this desire and zeal have continued to grow, like a fire in my heart. At first, I felt a duty to share the truth with those who just did not know what were the Church’s teachings were about contraception. I wanted couples to understand that they had moral options other than “the pill”.
Over the years, how many times have I heard couples say “Why was I never told any of this before?” I knew that it was not my job to convince anyone but rather present to them the truth about NFP and fertility. The Holy Spirit will do the convincing and move their hearts to be open and act on the truth. It never stops amazing me, when one of my students stops using contraceptives or removes an IUD. It gives me so much joy and peace, to know that I am part of this incredible work. Teaching with CCL has helped me understand the saying that “Christ would die for just one soul.” For me, I feel like my many years of teaching NFP is worth it for me if just one couple changes their mind and chooses to practice NFP.
Many times teaching couples will ask me, “Silvia, what is the hardest thing for me about being a CCL teacher?” For me, it is not about changes in technology or making the time to teach. The hardest thing for me is knowing that there are so many people out there who could benefit from this method and that I can’t teach them all. I wish I could do more for the people who are thirsty for the truth. After a class, couples have told me “I can’t go back to the way things were. I know this truth now and I have great peace in practicing this. It has brought us closer to God. It has helped save our marriage.” To think that as CCL teachers, we can bring a couple closer to God and they can live with greater peace in their marriage… that is what motivates me to keep teaching.
CCL has been for me a vocation inside my vocation of marriage. I believe that God calls us to be NFP teachers and apostles of NFP. It’s not an easy task. It’s hard sometimes to talk to other couples about these tough topics. Mucus? Teaching NFP is not for everyone. It is definitely a personal call – that God places on your heart to share with others.
After 21 years, teaching in Couple to Couple League has changed. The world has changed. Technology has changed. When we started, there was no app and no online classes, and now we have these new tools to help us. I appreciate that CCL is always trying to find innovative ways to meet people where they are at. Change can be hard and even scary. I feel like the first apostles after the Pentecost, who set out to spread the good news to parts unknown and encountered people who did not know Jesus. Learning to use a new app can seem to be as intimidating as learning Greek! I have had to adjust how I teach over the years, and in doing so, I have been able to teach more couples NFP, outside my parish or town.
NFP is a gift to share and God does not give us gifts to hide them from the world. Each one of us needs to figure out how we can share that gift today. CCL has many options for teaching, mentoring, or even promoting. All I can say from my experience is to be open to whatever is next on your adventure as an NFP apostle! There are many roads and many people who need us to share the gift!