Every year on Mother’s Day, our parish gives a small bouquet of roses to the oldest mother in the congregation, the youngest one, the mother with the most children and the mother with the youngest child. When we got to asking the mother with the youngest child to stand up, it was asked that any pregnant woman stand – no pregnant women at Mass. Then, the question went from all the months of babyhood with no response and finally ended up with a ten year old. Many at Mass thought this was pretty amusing. I thought it was sad. Where have all the children gone?
I think that Archbishop Naumann of Kansas stated in 2014 what every Catholic pastor and bishop should put to their dioceses and congregations early and often: The question for Catholic couples should not be: How many children do we want to have?” According to the Church, Catholic couples should be open to having the children God gifts them. Too many, today, decide their ‘perfect’ family on the basis of providing them with all the pluses in life rather than the faith, sacrifice, and love of a family with more than one sibling.
In view of this, Archbishop Naumann has offered to take the time to baptize the third (fourth, fifth, etc.) child of any family in his diocese. He said, “My purpose in doing this is to demonstrate my personal support for those couples who take seriously the call to be generous in cooperating with God’s grace in giving life.”
Just about every bishop is bemoaning the lack of vocations and we do seriously have a shortage of priest and nuns. Why? Because parents want the perfect family and think that replicating themselves with a son and daughter, in many cases, fulfills the “go forth and multiple” BUT when it comes to vocations, they often feel that surely God wouldn’t take away their chance to have grandchildren so leave the vocations to some other family. These days, too many Catholics are relying on vocations coming from ‘some other family’.
I had a friend in school who had six brothers and the family lived in a three bedroom home but no one felt deprived and there was always a team to play ball. Another family in our parish in the olden days had thirteen children in a tract home but they were always dressed, clean, and happy. I learned later that all the children had gone on to be productive, well-educated people in the world. I don’t know if they had any vocations but I wouldn’t be surprised.
My husband and I married later in life having waited for the perfect person! Everyone was so pleased that we had the ‘standard’ boy and then a girl to complete our family. When we had our third, the world ‘forgave’ us for the ‘mishap’ but when we were expecting number four . . . The obstetrician for number four was so rude and antagonistic about me daring to have a baby outside of his view of when you should have a baby, we had to find another doctor weeks before the baby’s birth. You could say that with an agnostic doctor, you could expect that but I got similar remarks from other Catholics!
Well, God has given his mortal men freedom of choice but often our mortal choices are not in line with what God knows is best for us. Many proclaim the ‘Let Go and Let God’ but not when it comes to what they consider TOO many children. Life is an adventure and allowing God to work with and in our lives could bring about some joyous and learning events that may never have happened without our submission to God’s Will. When you deliberately limit your family, you may be limiting a multitude of blessings in your lives.