Many individuals and married couples are seeking integration in their lives.  For some, this integration is found through seeking spiritual direction.  For others, it is found when they begin using Natural Family Planning (NFP).  As Sister Marilyn Mangan found in her work as an NFP practitioner and director of the Marguerite Bourgeoys Family Service, there is a natural integration between natural family planning and spiritual development.  Her book, Spirituality Through Natural Family Planning, is an excellent beginning contribution in this area.

Sister Marilyn has aptly drawn upon the contributions of other authors to buttress conclusions from her work with individuals and couples.  The authors she has called upon are known authorities in their respective fields.

One of the major contributors to a deepening understanding of spirituality and sexuality for married couples is Pope John Paul II.  Sister Marilyn has liberally drawn upon Pope John Paul II’s insights in this area.

Deep commitment

In reading this small but meaty book one cannot but be impressed with the difficulty of writing on this area.  There remains much that needs to be explored and developed further.  This area of integration, between spirituality of couples and their love life, is very complex.  To help couples enhance their functioning and to move toward greater integration there is a need for other willing to tackle this area.

Sister Marilyn states near the end of her book: “Through the journey of faith in NFP (Natural Family Planning), couples have committed themselves more deeply to one another and have reached out to learn more about the presence of God in their marital relationship.  Spirituality calls men and women to develop their human relationship as well as, and even by reason of, personal and intimate religious practice.”

Respect for marriage

The principles and practices suggested by Sister Marilyn are well founded and should be of great help to any couple anxious to enhance their relationship on all levels.  Sister Marilyn stresses that couples must find ways to strengthen and support their values, social concerns, personal gifts and conscience.

The ideas expressed in this book are not limited to couples using natural family planning.  As with any ideas rooted in respect for marriage, any individual or couple can profit from reading this book.

Couples need help like this and Sister Marilyn has made an excellent contribution to the field.  Hopefully, Sister Marilyn and others will continue their important work in developing tools for married couples.

John E. Harrington is a marriage and family counselor.