by Celestine Strub, OFM, The Christian Home
A good perspective on Catholic parenthood….remembering there are exceptions where parents, for serious reasons and through the direction of a good priest, and never crossing Church guidelines in the use of artificial contraception, limit their number of children…
A Selfish Life
The whole argument against large families only shows the absence of the salutary restraints of religion. At bottom it is not the desire to give their children a more excellent training but the desire to lead a more selfish and comfortable life that clamors for the unnatural limitation of the family.
No one is more desirous of having well-trained children than deeply religious parents; but such parents, regarding their office in the light of Faith, are bent mainly on rearing their children for Heaven. They understand that, even should they be able to provide them but scantily with the goods of this world, by training them for Heaven the main thing is achieved and their principal duty performed.
They realize, too, that the success of all their efforts in behalf of their children depends mainly on Heaven’s blessing, and that if they merit that blessing by their upright lives, He who feeds the birds of the air and clothes the lilies of the field will also provide for their children.
Consolations of Parenthood
Happy the parents who still retain this religious outlook on life, whose religion is their guide, their support, and their consolation amid the arduous duties of their state of life!
They know that they are the chosen instruments of Divine Providence for peopling the abode of the blessed. They know that in assuming the office of parenthood, they cooperate with God himself in bringing into existence beings destined to praise and enjoy him forever in Heaven.
They know that every child they receive is a gift of God; since, do what they will, they can have no child that God does not give them.
But above the solace of all this knowledge is the supernatural aid which the true religion affords them. They have the actual graces of the sacrament of Matrimony, of frequent Communion, and of daily prayer to strengthen them, and the example of their suffering Savior to console them.
Yes, with religion in their homes, they can resist the evil example of those godless couples who seek only their own gratification. And though eugenic wise-acres scoff, and even misguided misguided friends smile in derision at their old-fashioned families, they will never thwart Heaven’s designs concerning their families, but look upon every child as a new token of Heaven’s trust and Heaven’s love.
The Parents’ Pride
It is remarkable how often God rewards parents of large families by making the children that came last become the chief joy and pride of their life.
The Little Flower of Jesus was the last of nine children; St. Ignatius of Loyola, the thirteenth and St. Catherine of Siena, the twenty-fourth or twenty-fifth.
Many parents owe the honor of having a son raised to the priesthood to the fact that they had large families. Had my own parents been willing to have five children but no more, they would never have had a priest in the family.
But because they were blessed with eight children, they had the happiness of seeing the sixth and seventh celebrate their first Mass on the same day, and though they have gone to their reward, they are no doubt happy to know that two sons of their eighth child are studying for the priesthood.
A few years ago, I received a letter from a young mother of two children, in which she related how certain worldly-wise women try to induce mothers to limit the number of their children.
On the occasion of a social call, a lady acquaintance of hers had remarked: “It is not a woman of refinement nowadays that has more than two children.”
To which the young mother replied: “In that case I hope to belong to the common herd, as I intend to take all that the good Lord wants to give me.”
In replying to her letter, I commended her for her truly Catholic stand, and then added: “I thank God that my own good mother did not have such a false idea of refinement; for if she had, I should have had no chance at all, as I was her seventh child.”
And the very first time I related this incident, namely, to a group of Franciscan Fathers at St. Elizabeth’s Friary, Denver, Colo., each one of the five priests present declared that he, too, was his mother’s seventh child!
“If your large family brings ridicule from neighbors and even strangers, remember that you have a lasting treasure worth suffering for, and that the Lord called blessed those who suffer persecution for justice’s sake.” – Fr. Lawrence G. Lovasik. The Catholic Family Handbook
What happened to Veronica’s veil was simply an outward expression of what happened in Veronica’s soul. Are we “Veronica’s” in our everyday life? Do we seek to serve, to encourage, to listen….?
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Cardinal Wiseman’s classic story of the Christian persecution under Emperor Diocletian in the 300s AD. Fabiola is perplexed by the new-found faith of her cousin Agnes as well as her servant, but is especially intrigued when she finds the noblest Roman soldier she knows, Sebastian, is also a Christian. In this moving description of the Roman catacombs and the captured Christians who faced cruel death with unearthly fortitude, a story of faith and renewal unfolds in the decaying Roman empire.
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Vickie K said:
Thank you for this post. I’ve been struggling with teaching 8 children–with 4 little ones in tow. Sometimes, like today, it all seems pointless. I really, really needed this short read. Thank you, thank you.
My youngest sister says this so many times to “well intentioned” colleagues! Years ago my dad had a lady stop by his desk and scoff at all the kids in his family picture and he just said “well who should I get rid of.. They are all special!”
I agree with Vickie, a lot of days seem like I just existed to get to the next day.. No one is listening, I can’t sit down to read my favorite spiritual reading blog (FF) without major catastrophe, everyone had a life treating emergency, but no one does their chores, no one knows how to talk nice, etc….
Some days are better, but to find real catholic friends I think would help…..
Thank you for this reading.