‘Natural Plan’ — New Couple to Couple League Video Series

The 10 video modules are supported by bonus videos, activities, guidebooks and other resources.

‘Natural Plan’ Video Series
‘Natural Plan’ Video Series (photo: Couple to Couple League)

“Why haven’t I heard about this before?”

This is one of the most frequently asked questions by engaged couples and newlywed couples, reveals Katie Zulanas, the Executive Director of the Couple to Couple League International, which was founded in 1971 to teach natural family planning (NFP).

While quitting birth control and adopting fertility awareness methods have become a “hot” topic in the news these days, many have still not heard about the great resources the Church provides to learn the scientifically based, safe and highly effective NFP methods. During a recent webinar, Zulanas explained some of the reasons why, and said, “In my lifetime, things have changed dramatically. Many doctors now dismiss mothers from their daughters’ appointments, and then talk to them about birth control. With birth control distributed in schools, and available over the counter, these forces have become so forward that they’ve led people on a terrible path.” 

Zulanas articulated other reasons as well, including the decision by medical schools not to include NFP into the regular curriculum — a decision, no doubt, she said, influenced by Big Pharma, which sees little profit in NFP, and the influence of political correctness, which has all but silenced CCL’s “voice” on social media.

“Facebook will not run our ads,” said Zulanas, “and Google regularly cancels our ads because they contain the word ‘fertility’ or ‘health.’ Planned Parenthood gets plenty of play, but we are boxed out — and that should be of concern to every person who values free speech in America.” 

To counteract these forces and direct couples to the lifegiving path of God’s plan for their life of love, CCL recently launched a new introductory video series called “Natural Plan.” Composed of 10 video modules, the series also comes with five bonus videos and modules, activities, downloadable resources, a guidebook for couples, and a guidebook for parish leaders to use in group settings or to instruct individual couples online.

Although each module is brief, the topics covered are comprehensive. Couples hear from experts, such as OB-GYN Dr. Lauren Rubal, a specialist in fertility. Standing in her physician’s coat, she is relaxed and friendly as she describes the fertility process in female and male bodies, and the various forms of NFP. 

Dr. Mike Manhart, a research scientist and current chair of CCL’s Board, discusses how working to achieve healthy fertility makes NFP “a shared way to care for your bodies.” He explains why NFP is safe, and then reveals troubling statistics about why contraceptives are not, saying, “For every 100 women that start using the Pill or an IUD, 35 of them will stop using the Pill after one year, and 65% of those do so because of side effects.” He then applies a common-sense analogy, and asks, “Would you buy a car if you knew that one out of every five customers would trade it in for something different in less than a year?”

Emma was one who “traded in” contraceptives for NFP and explains why in “Natural Plan.” Seated with other women, discussing how NFP has changed their marriages, she says, “We met and got married young, and birth control was a huge part of our lives at that point; I had never heard of NFP growing up in a Protestant home.” It was after Emma and her husband decided to convalidate their marriage in the Church that she learned about NFP while taking classes to become Catholic. But she was afraid. What would her marriage look like after NFP? Would her body undergo a change? All of her fears, however, were dispelled.

“Just seeing the difference between what my body was doing before, and what it was really made for, and then feeling like I could finally take the pressure off me to make sure I’m taking the Pill at the right time; opening it up to my husband, too, and watching him step into that role, completely transformed our marriage. I could never imagine my life now without that.”

Husbands, too, exchange positive outcomes of practicing NFP. Such as John. Seated with other men in an outdoor setting, he says, “Sex causes so many issues in marriage when it should bring couples together and not drive them apart. NFP requires sacrifices and intentionality from us that make us better and bring us closer together.”

Husband and wife, John and Brooke, also witness how NFP became a huge leverage for intimacy and faith. “It encourages us to rely more on God and trust in his plan for us and include him in our decisions,” John says. “It’s not that we have no control over the size of our family — we absolutely do — but we have invited God into those decisions that we make in a more practical way than we would have otherwise.”

Such testimonies — especially in our current day of rampant moral confusion — will provide light for many viewers who still question why Church teaching must be followed in regard to sex. For this, Father Paul Nguyen, a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary and pastor of Holy Ghost parish in Denver, helps explain the beauty of God’s plan according to the teaching of the Church from the perspective of Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. Father Nguyen stands with cell phone in hand while receiving text messages from couples that ask common questions: “Why does the Catholic Church teach the Theology of the Body?” and “Why does it matter what I do with my body?” Answering the questions, he finishes his response with a reminder of the profound but often unknown and misunderstood truth, saying, “Our body is part of how we will be saved.”

A perfect echo of St. Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased and at a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Because priests are endowed by God to teach the faith, including how we are to conduct our life in the body, in order to prepare for the Natural Plan clergy webinar, Father Robert Cannon, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Military Services and a CCL board member, reviewed the apostolic exhortations of Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis and shared inspirations gleaned from these writings.

In particular, Father Cannon references the words of Pope John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio in which the pontiff exhorted priests to be “tenacious,” working “unceasingly towards families as fathers, brothers, pastors, and teachers, assisting them with the means of grace, and enlightening them with the light of truth.” Because of its marvelous content and format, Father Cannon said he now sees the new video series as a great resource for priests and deacons in guiding couples on the meaning of conjugality as a couple and the deep mystery that they have consented to. 

Zulanas is thrilled about the new series as well, saying, “Society is quick to view women and their fertility as a ‘profit center.’ It is an honor to teach them the ‘life skill’ of natural family planning — and witness their surprise and delight as they become the authority of their fertility.” For this reason, Zulanas has great hope for the future, and said, “CCL is doubling down on our efforts to spread the good news of NFP to everyone through Natural Plan and our NFP classes. We hope parishes will grab this low-cost license to use these modules and show it to every group they think might not yet have learned the truth and beauty of the NFP lifestyle!”