Sacrifice, Lent and Practicing NFP

Written by Katie Zulanas

As we enter into Lenten season 2023, I have been meditating on many Saints who remind us that Lent is a chance to “begin again.” With prayer and fasting, our 40 days can give us a time and a place to invite Christ into our hearts in a way more fruitful than ever before.

There is always the problem of setting ambitious goals of fasting or prayer for Lent and then “failing” when life gets in the way. Let’s face it: as a society, we’re hooked on the “hero story.” From “paying it forward at Starbuck’s” to “offering up your seat on the train,” there is not an undeserved celebration of kindness and selflessness as these stories are recounted in the media—they are uplifting to hear!

But they can be a bit of “hero candy” for all of us—meaning we can all feel good, but does this mislead us about the nature of “true heroism?” The kind that calls us to “take up our cross” and follow Christ? Yes, some heroism is dramatic and extraordinary, but much of our vocation as Catholics revolves around striving each day to live in a Christ-like manner. To clean up the floor after the umpteenth spill by your toddler, to have patience with your spouse as work keeps them late yet again, to keep a level head as your teen objects once more to your screen time limits…to work in a prayer for guidance…to ask for forgiveness and help…and to begin again.

The practice of NFP often sees these moments of everyday challenge. It is often not “fun” or “convenient” but nevertheless, there is strength and power that comes as a result of self-sacrifice! It is an honor to work together in the CCL ministry helping couples find and build their spiritual strength as we encourage each other in this holy lifestyle.

I wanted to share the story of a teaching couple with a young family who were explaining that finding time to schedule and hold CCL classes could be a challenge; however, they felt so strongly about the importance and benefits of NFP, that they made it happen. “Easy? No,” they remarked, “but somehow it always works out. Not only do we love when we see our student couples have those ‘ah-ha’ moments, but just giving our witness helps remind us why we sacrifice, and what a good thing NFP has been for us and our marriage.”

The CCL Staff will be meditating on the Stations of the Cross together again this year—praying for you and for our mission. We are taking the time to reconnect with our existing volunteers (thank you for the wonderful work and stories!!) while setting up training for new promoters and teaching couples. The efforts of our volunteers and staff are paying off–as we are seeing our class numbers begin to increase—it is an exciting time!

And at long last, we are in final preparations for the updated CycleProGo—our new PeakDay app. I often take consolation in the verse from Habakkuk 2:3, “For the vision is a witness for the appointed time, a testimony to the end; it will not disappoint. If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.” We certainly have been waiting for the app, but I am reassured it is in God’s time –and therefore not late! We have been so blessed by your generosity and support – so thank you! Whether you have worked alongside us in prayer, in service, or in terms of financial generosity, you have played a vital role in helping thousands of couples begin their married life with the gift of Natural Family Planning. None of what we continue to do would be possible without your help.

For those of you considering helping Couple to Couple League, the holy seasons of Lent and Easter could not be a more perfect time. If you have already contributed financially or find that economics do not allow this to be possible, please know we are still in great need of your prayer or support as a promoter or teaching couple. If you do discern a sacrificial gift, it is a promising year for CCL, and we could absolutely use your support in continuing our new parish and evangelical outreach and to assist couples in need of scholarships.

You can download the Stations of the Cross here in PDF form and visit our Youtube page to watch the video reflections each week.