that there's a lot of love on that loveseat—and room for more
I don't write much about the ins and outs of having a large family. Generally, I have a tendency to think that in practice I'm not a great example. But I believe so strongly in the love and life that are present in a large family as a witness to God's love for man, that just the fact that we exist is enough of a witness. "Whatever is worth doing is worth doing badly," and all that.
On that note, I read these two articles and found them juxtaposed in my head, opposite sides of the same coin. The first is from Msgr. Charles Pope, who had some of the exact same thoughts I found myself thinking this Sunday at Mass:
Yes, the days are here when most people cry out: blessed is barrenness, blessed are small families. Life it would seem, is a terrible burden to be contracepted and aborted away and some awful threat. It is an age that cries out “Blessed the career women who has not stymied her life and progress by the terrible and terrifying prospect of children.”If life nowadays is so much better than fifty or a hundred or two thousand years ago, when the life expectancy wasn't so long and the quality of life was so comparatively limited, why does there seem to be so much suicidal nihilism in today's world? (I have my theories: words like "control," "fear," "surrender," and "will" float around in my mental attempts to get a handle on the collective mindset of today's mankind. Nothing new.)
Yes, said the Lord to those ancient women, in effect, “You think this is bad? The days are actually coming when things will be so bad and so dark that people will celebrate NOT having children, will celebrate barrenness.”
But the Lord does not stop there. He goes on to describe quite well the culture of death so literally lived out in our times: people will say to the mountains, ‘Fall upon us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’
One may argue that this is just a Jewish way of speaking that indicates despair. Perhaps. But we live it out quite literally in our times, for it is the refrain of the culture of death. And what is the culture of death? It is the mentality that increasingly sees the death or non-existence of human beings as the “solution” to problems. In our times there has arisen a group of radicals who see human beings as a hindrance to their ecological goals, and they seek population reductions and even dream of a pristine earth without humanity. They peddle History Channel programs such as “Life after People” as a kind of fantasy of their vision and advocate contraceptive and abortive policies that see mankind as the problem that must be eliminated. In effect they cry to the mountains “fall on us” and dream of a world that is “post-human.” They even peddle disaster movies as though they were longing for it all.
In contrast, this piece about why most people have only two children is a beautiful encouragement to reject that despair. It is sympathetic but gently forthright about where such leanings come from.
Really, who would do this again and again? You are so tired and overwhelmed that you know that God doesn't want someone to exist in such a way. You will say, "I'm not being a good mom to the two I have, why would I have more?" "I can't imagine feeling this way the rest of my life." "I can use my talents in much more productive ways besides having more children." "I was much more patient before I had children." "I am of no use to anyone in such a state." This little voice in your head is not from God. It is the devil trying to discourage you from THE MOST IMPORTANT WORK you will ever do.Read the whole thing—especially if you are a young mother—about how children, and motherhood, and love and time shape you, and beautify you, and eventually allow you to change the world.
It's a good dose of hope, and hope is always the point of the journey through Holy Week.