The Hour Is Late

Ladies and gentleman,

May I have your attention please?  Put down the birth control.  You heard me.  Put it down and walk away.

I don’t like to be harsh, but the hour is late.  The citizens of many countries belong on the endangered species because they are dying out.  Never before in the history of the world have so many countries lost so many people without disease or war to blame.  This loss is by choice and it’s downright suicidal.


swan.jpgI am not telling you to have more children if you do not want them.  I am telling you to want them.  Couples have come to think that there is some cosmic balance that limits families to two children.  Of course there are families that want to have children but can’t and those that can’t have more.  This article is not addressed to them.  Or do I (or I hope anyone) give dirty looks to small families assuming they are not doing their parts.  It is between them and God.  Even when people express shock at learning I have ten and proceed to either categorize me as a “special person” or announce the reasons why they don’t want more, I don’t judge them.  Alas, I was once in the group that thought family planning was all about the planet, money and freedom.  These are the main reasons people choose not to be open to new life.

Money.  Portfolio or another soul?  I get that this is between you and God.  Do you?  It’s not between you and the banker.  Children cost money.  How much depends on your perspective and spending habits.  For the record, my kids get jobs to buy their own cars and get themselves through college.  We might wear brand names if we stumble onto them at rummage sales or on sale, but really, we don’t care about labels.  So, my kids cost less than some.

For thousands of years children were considered treasures and investments for the future — including eternity. Poor families tended to have large families because their children represented help and security.  But in the last few decades it’s all about money.  Nowadays, children are treated like siphons on the ledger sheet.  Spending money on children leaves less for parents.  For many couples, there’s a level of comfort and financial security they refuse to dip below.  Pity.

Population control.  Now, this reason has become a real hoot.  We were lied to and bullied senseless.  People were made to feel guilty for even having children at all.  During the sixties and seventies, people were told we would run out of food and natural resources.  The opposite occurred.  We still pay farmers not to farm.  Our technological advances have provided for abundant food production.  As for the natural resources, they are there, but in many countries, there are just not enough people to get to them.

The lies have been revamped as global warming — oh wait — make that “climate change” now that we have many months where average temperatures are below normal.  Climate has always fluctuated but now anti-people groups blame humans for the change and change is not good according to them.  The solution: stop making new people.

Climate change actually even reared its head in the seventies with the bestseller in 1976, The Cooling: Has the New Ice Age Already Begun? Can We Survive?  I’m all for taking care of our planet.  It’s a gift from God and I absolutely hate pollution.  But radical environmentalists like to throw birth control at every problem.  In reality, we need humans to fix the problems.

Are we running out of space?  Yeah, right.  Get out of the city and take a trip across the country.  Entire books have been written debating both sides of the overpopulation debate so I’m not going to cover this in depth.  Ironically, the latest and most troubling news is actually the exact opposite of what we were warned about — there are not enough people.  It’s as if we went to sleep to one scenario and woke up to another.

Freedom.  People often count 18 years from the birthday of their youngest to figure out when they will be “free” again.  Or, they just don’t have children and openly admit they are too selfish to do so.  In such a case, may God have mercy on them.

The Numbers Tell the Story

In Europe, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Japan and Russia, the only thing we are running out of is people.  There are not enough babies.  We are witnessing the self-extermination of entire nations.

According to the United Nations Population Division discussing the 2007 population changes in Eastern and Central Europe: “The expected global upheaval is without parallel in human history.”  Germany’s population is down 10.3 %, Poland’s is down 20.5%, the Russian Federation’s is down 24.3%, and Bulgaria dropped 35.2%.  The only population increase in Western Europe will be due to the large migration from Africa and Asia.  There are pockets of growth here and there, but this is due to Muslim populations.  For instance, among the districts in Russia there are exceptions to the dying trends — the high abortion, high HIV infection, low birthrate, high alcoholism and other social ills.  Twelve of the eighty-nine Russian federal regions showing substantial population growth are Islamic regions.  Islam is growing rapidly in a country where the native population is in the death throes.  This is a country awash in natural resources except the most important one — people.  It possesses a resource — rich eastern hinterland that it cannot get to without people.  It is also the land of nuclear weapons and know-how.  The future possibilities are frightening.

The number you need for merely maintaining a population is 2.1 babies per woman.  Seventeen European nations are now at the “lowest-low”, 1.3 births per woman.  This is the rate from which, according to demographers, no human society has ever recovered.  In theory, countries at the “lowest-low” are falling fast, halving every thirty-five years or so.  In reality this will likely happen much faster.  Imagine the social upheaval as an aging population grows increasingly dependant on youth to support all the government services they need (certainly not enough children to take in parents).  It’s likely that many young people will head for the hills, or at least another continent where their entire livelihood will not be sucked up into government social security.  It also seems inevitable that euthanasia will become ever more popular and aggressive.  With more old people to support and less young people to do it, the pressure will be to reduce the burden.

Why are so many countries, more educated, more peaceful, wealthier and healthier than at any other time in history, failing to create the next generation?  On June 24, 2008 in Moscow, His Holiness Alexy II, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia spoke to the Bishop’s Council of the Russian Orthodox Church on the population decline.  He attributed Russia’s demographic crisis to the pitiable status of family and marriage and the low level standards of morality and spirituality.  His Holiness claimed that any attempts to overcome the crisis by economic means only, without a spiritual component, are “doomed to failure since the sources of the crisis are not in purses, but in the souls of people.”  He said it is not accidental that believers have more children than non-believers in identical economic conditions.

“Demographic problems do not arise in poor countries that have kept their religious traditions,” he observed. “Thus Russia should be looking for a way out of the demographic crisis in a spiritual and moral transformation of the person and society” (1).

In a sermon at a Neocatechumenate meeting in Jerusalem on March 27, 2008, Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, the Archbishop of Vienna, issued an attack against birth control, blaming it for Europe’s declining birth rate.  He blamed his predecessors for lacking the courage to speak out after the publication of the encyclical Humanae Vitae, that reiterated the constant teaching of the Church on birth control.

“But those bishops,” said Cardinal Schonborn, were “frightened of the press and of being misunderstood by the faithful”.  Blame lay not only with the bishops responsible at the time — none of whom is still alive — but with all bishops for the fact that Europe is “about to die out” (2).

In the Unites States, Christianity is a bigger part of everyday life than post-Christian Europe.  Prayer, church membership and participation are higher.  Also encouraging is that America still is willing to share its future with children.  Although our birthrate was declining for many years and generally falls in around the 2.1 replacement, the United States reported a rise by 3.1% between 2005 and 2006 reaching almost 4.3 million births.  According to the National Center for Health Statistics, that is the largest single-year increase in the number of births since 1989.

An Associated Press examination of global data also shows that the United States has a higher fertility rate than every country in continental Europe, as well as Australia, Canada and Japan.  Fertility levels in those countries have been lower than the U.S. rate for several years, although some are on the rise, most notably in France.  “Americans like children.  We are the only people who respond to prosperity by saying, ‘Let’s have another kid,'” said Nan Marie Astone, associate professor of population, family and reproductive health at Johns Hopkins University (3).

Yes, this is somewhat encouraging.  Statistics show we pray more and have more children than Europeans.  But really, our tendency to teeter at replacement is not a position of strength.  Let’s go back to Europe — the motherland for many of us — to see what is accompanying the decline in native births.

Changing Faces

Europe’s increasing social welfare programs depend on a growing population.  Unable to generate such an increase on their own, they depend increasingly on immigration.  And the majority of immigration is from Islamic cultures that are becoming increasingly more radical.  Immigrant Muslim populations are not acclimating to the European culture.  Europe gets older and its faith grows ever more feeble while Muslim populations within Europe increase due to the need for immigration to support the aging population.  Muslim religious fervor is strong and they have large families, thus their population is increasing on both ends.  Christianity fades while Islam increases.  Already, much of Europe is catering to Sharia law.  In Brussels, ten of the eighteen members of the ruling Socialist Party Caucus are Muslim.  “That’s to say, the capital city of the European Union already has a Muslim-majority governing party.”  The introduction of Sharia bonds make London the world capital of Islamic banking.  In country after country, civil laws, schools and cultural norms accomodate Sharia sensibilities (4).

According to his book, America Alone, Mark Steyn contends that the growing, youthful populations of Europe will ultimately take over.  “What’s the Muslim population of Rotterdam?  Forty percent.  What is the most popular baby boys name in Belgium?  Mohammed.  In Amsterdam?  Mohammed.  In Malmo, Sweden?  Mohammed.  What country today has half its population under the age of fifteen?  Spain and Germany have 14 percent the United Kingdom 18 percent, the United States 21 percent — and Saudi Arabia has 39 percent, Pakistan 40 percent, and Yemen 47 percent.  Little Yemen, like little Britain two hundred years ago, will send its surplus youth around the world-one way or another” (5).

If you look at it in terms of birthrate, consider these birthrate numbers from Islamic countries:  Niger is 7.46; Mali, 7.42; Somalia, 6.76; Afghanistan, 6.69; Yemen, 6.58.  Yes, we can change the world, and we are; by disappearing.  The future belongs to those willing to create the next generation.  Islam is the fastest growing religion in North America and Europe.  And throughout the world, Muslims are becoming more radical and aggressive in their faith.

By now, some readers have branded me racist for comparing the dwindling populations with the growing populations given who’s who in the scenario.  Well, don’t even go there.  I have two boys from Kenya, as dark as they come, who call me Mom.  Besides, Muslims are not of a single skin color or culture.  Am I phobic of non-Catholic religions? Don’t go there either. The books in the Amazing Grace series that I co-authored included stories from people of other faiths.  God’s grace is for everyone. This is not a war of who has or has not the most people; it is spiritual warfare. We are losing because we aren’t living our faith.

In 2008, the Vatican announced that Islam has surpassed Roman Catholicism as the world’s largest religion.  “For the first time in history, we are no longer at the top: Muslims have overtaken us,” Monsignor Vittorio Formenti said in an interview with the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.  He said that Catholics accounted for 17.4% of the world population — a stable percentage — while Muslims were at 19.2% (6).

The growth is attributed to both aggressive conversion tactics and large families.  While millions of Westerners have bought into the secular one-or two-child mentality, Islamic societies are rapidly increasing in numbers.  If current trends continue, Europe will make up just 7.5 percent of the world’s people by 2050, compared to 22 percent in 1950.  At the same time, the countries with the most youthful populations will all be Muslim:  Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Iraq.  Worldwide trends indicate that by 2050, Muslims will comprise 30 percent of the world’s population, with Christians making up 25 percent (7).

If anyone walks away from this article thinking that I’m sounding an alarm based on them versus us, they would be misinformed.  This is really about us.  What has happened to us?  Why are we dying out or just teetering on existence?

I contend it’s all based on a people that have become worldlier and less religious.  God matters less and the world more.  Religion has taken a back seat to Wall Street.  Selfishness precludes parenthood, and people are hugging trees instead of babies.

If the statistics alone convince you to have more children, then, again, you are not hearing me clearly.  If our homes and hearts are not open to more children, then we need to go back and open them.  We do this by putting God at the center.  Whatever stands in the way of openness to life, needs to be pushed aside.  Souls, life, God, eternity… these are of the greatest value.  The rest will fade away, just as it should.  For it is the world that should be fading away and not us.

(1)  “Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II: Demographic Crisis Can Only Be Overcome by Morality not Money”, translated by Andrey Bystrov, July 8, 2008,

(2)   “Cardinal Schonborn Lambasts the Failure of Bishops to Condemn Contraception”,, November 6, 2008

(3)  “More U.S. Babies Born, Fertility Rate up, Defying Low-birth Trend in Europe”, Mike Stobbe — Associated Press, January 15, 2008

(4)  Steyn, Mark, America Alone, Regnery Publishing, Inc., xii

(5)  Ibid, pp. 6-7

(6)  “Vatican: Muslims Now Outnumber Catholics”, USA TODAY, 4/2/2008

(7)  Ali, Daniel and Spencer, Robert, “Inside Islam: A Guide for Catholics”, Ascension Press, 2003

Patti Maguire Armstrong


Patti Maguire Armstrong and her husband have ten children. She is an award-winning author and was managing editor and co-author of Ascension Press’s Amazing Grace Series. She has appeared on TV and radio stations across the country.  Her latest books, Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families and children’s book, Dear God, I Don’t Get It are both available now. To read more, visit Patti’s Catholic News and Inspiration site. Follow her on Facebook at Big Hearted Families and Dear God Books.

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  • Grace Harman

    A great article! This is TRUE and Urgent. We must listen to God who loves us -or we won’t BE..
    God created us Male and Female. He told us to be fruitful and multiply. He urged faithful marriages and purity. And told us not to kill.
    Both the U.N. and OUR government leaders have been deceived by lies of population controllers who support abortion, self-centered sex and sterile unions, and disbelief in, or disobedience to God. They are ruining our world and destroying humanity and civilization. We have become pagans who sacrifice our own babies.
    There is also a spiritual battle led by Jesus who gives us truth and a loving Church. The Muslims spread terror, but we are spreading the culture of death by our politics. WE must obey OUR God before our freedom to obey is taken away.

  • mfernand71

    the article seems to be well researched, and I will read the articles and books included in the references. I have four children, two women and two men. My youngest son, a devout Catholic has three boys and plans to have at least one more. Both my son and his wife are artists, my son a guitarist, and my daughter-in-law a singer (soprano) They make enough money to survive, but they often need some help from me or my son’s mother-in-law. Still they follow their religion and their beliefs. My oldest son has only one son, and he and his wife don’t plan to have another child. I am not sure of the reasons, but none of them practice a religion. My two daughters do not have children. My not so young youngest daughter is now trying to have a child. My oldest daughter who is also my oldest child has no children, and I pray to God she will have at least one before she gets too old.

    What I find ironic is that the one who has the most children is the one who cannot really afford them. I think this is a good example of what is said in the article.

    The only part of the article that I feel needs more research is the part about Muslims. Are all the Muslims becoming more radical? Are the Muslims in Europe, the USA, and other countries as radical as the ones in Afghanistan? I would like to know more about the Muslim population.

    It is a very important article that touches all of us young and old.
    Maria Teresa Fernandez

  • Catholic Mom of 9

    Thanks, Patti, for another great article.

    I think it’s an important point to remind everyone, too, that artificial birth control IS pollution! Just this month it was reported that …the birth-control pill is causing “devastating” environmental damage and plays a role in rising male infertility rates…. !


    Even two years ago in July 2007, World Net Daily was reporting an article from the National Catholic register which stated,

    “….While environmentalists are usually vocal about perceived threats ranging from pesticides to global warming, there is a silence when it comes to one threat already harming the water supply: hormones from birth-control pills….”

    “….University of Colorado physiology professor David Norris, and the EPA team were among the first scientists in the U.S. to learn a cocktail of hormones, antibiotics, caffeine and steroids is flowing through the nation’s waterways, threatening fish and contaminating drinking water….”

    Why is this not deemed newsworthy in secular press? If reported at all it is relegated to the third or fourth section, last page. If a different source than water were contaminating our water supplies I have no doubt this would be on the air and publicized freely. Yet, the fact that BIRTH CONTROL is the culprit makes the news “touchy” or pushed to the back of the news pile. Who wants to offend the increasing number of women who join the birth control ranks yearly?

    There’s lots of money to be made in the artificial birth control industry, and I don’t doubt that plays into it as well.

    In previous years my husband and I helped with marriage preparation at our parish. We once came across a young lady who, prior to her inquisition into the Catholic faith, had used oral contraceptives and reported decreased sex drive and actual repulsion of the idea of sex, most likely caused by the hormones in the birth control pills she was taking. (“Well, yeeees…..the doctor said that might happen but ….” This young woman was 25 years old and the hormones had made her feel like a post-menapausal woman…or worse (I think many post-menopausal women don’t even feel that way) After she was off the birth control her natural desire for her husband returned.

    Artificial contraception is not only polluting our environment, but also our bodies, which we ought to treasure as one of God’s greatest gifts to us.

    Thank you, Patti, for a well-researched article. The secular press would do well to heed the contraceptive environmental warning.
    God bless,
    T. Thomas

  • HomeschoolNfpDad

    I would like to know more about the Muslim population.

    There are (at least) two important things to know about Muslims as it pertains to population growth:

    1) Islam permits birth control but venerates motherhood. Secularism, on the other hand, began by permitting birth control and has moved either to force it upon the populace by law (China) or to denigrate those who refuse to use birth control (Europe, India, United States, Canada, Latin America, Australia, and much of Asia). In the process of doing this, some cultures have come to denigrate motherhood, while others have not yet fallen to that point but are falling. Religious Islam may be strong enough to resist the path from birth control to denigrating motherhood, but forty years ago people thought Christianity was strong enough to resist such a path. Those folks were wrong about Christianity (though not about a few individual Christians).

    2) In Europe, Muslim immigrants actually tend towards the European model of few children within a generation or two of immigration. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but not many. The Wall Street Journal ran an article many months ago that examined the cultural tendencies of Western Europe. It touched on many points, including the demographic tendencies of some countries there. I believe it was either Belgium or the Netherlands (and perhaps both) where the article observed that Muslims born in Europe tend to have as few children as other Europeans — namely one, or in exceptional cases, two. Muslim families in Europe are, in fact, much larger than non-Muslim families. However, most of these larger Muslim families are probably of parents not born in Europe — or else of the first European-born generation.

    In this, Europe is really no different than the U.S. Regardless of race or ethnicity, native-born Americans have, on average, fewer than 2.1 children per woman. Immigrant families tend to have more than 2 children per woman (I believe the number is close to 3). Births are going up in the U.S.; this is true. But most of the growth is probably due to births within the families of immigrants. A major difference between Europe and the U.S. is that the vast majority of U.S. immigrants are at least nominally Christian (and probably most are at least nominally Catholic). Here’s an irony, however: Mexico, the source of the vast majority of U.S. immigrants, has itself reduced its birth rate to less than two, Mexicans who immigrate to the U.S. have more than two. Thus, there is truth to the statement, “Americans like children. We are the only people who respond to prosperity by saying, ‘Let’s have another kid.’” Immigrants pick up this message as well. Nevertheless, without immigration, the U.S. would also be on a track of declining population.

  • jchege

    Maria, read Daniel Pipes articles to see how far radical Islam has spread. Most Muslims (Islam’s) are peace loving and would give you the shirt off their back, but they are as concerned with radical Islam as we are, and feel as threatened as we do. Daniel Pipes is one of the columnists who contributes to CE, his articles can be found above under Columnists.

  • elkabrikir

    I agree, Patti, low birth rates are the result of spiritual poverty. There is no economic incentive that effectively encourages people to have more children. (witness France’s failed policy of paying women who have 3 or more children.)

    There has been a concerted effort in this country to drive God out of every aspect of our lives. The heresy of Modernism as detailed by Pope Pius X, has overtaken many Christians and others of goodwill. The pope said that Modernism would poison from the “tap root”. It has, since even most Christians are contracepting and have anorexic sized families. These “good folks” are clueless that they’ve been poisoned.

    The propaganda for the legitimacy of an artificially created “Family of Four” began in the late 60s and was supported by the US Gov’t (1973 the Family Planning postal stamp was issued)!

    Satan’s lies twist everything, including the gift of children. I can not even use the word “gift” here because our culture doesn’t even understand the term. (that’s another article). Suffice it to say, that many people see their children as objects that they have a right to. They don’t see children as a gift to a marriage. (which is why folks who undergo infertility treatments may then go on to contracept!)

    Only a concerted and sustained effort by many Christian churches can undo the damage caused by Margaret Sanger and her atheism. Only through understanding the spiritual poverty behind the “perfect family of four”, will people of good-will be moved to have more children–if they are able.

    As the mother of 11 children, I know the witness of our family, has given others the courage to persevere through difficulties and have more children. Even having “one more soul” (intentionally used phrase to elicit the apostolate of the same name) can take courage and be a marvelous witness to life, love, family. We can’t change the world, but we can affect the world around us.

    I will never understand why God chose to reveal to me the beauty of having a large family. I feel blessed that I was preserved from the error of sterile love. (quite an oxymoron). All my friends who have accepted many children into their family feel like we have a secret and have found the Pearl of Great Price. All wisdom is a gift. Take Patti’s words to heart. It’s never too late to come to the truth.

  • jmtfh

    I taught NFP for 25 years and I also believe that a BIG contributing factor in many families’ decision to stop at 2 kids, or maybe 3 if they are “very generous,” is a crisis in FATHERHOOD!

    I cannot tell you how often during my tenure as an NFP instructor, that women would cry to me that their husbands had said, “NO MORE KIDS!” after they had 2 children. This never made sense to me, as in the vast majority of cases, the bulk of child raising and rearing still falls to the woman—even when both parents work outside of the home!

    Turns out that often men are hassled at their office, or by their colleagues with incredibly rude comments. I heard some of these from both husbands and wives. “Didn’t you get fixed, yet??? Or, “Don’t you know how to turn that thing off?”

    In today’s economy, being open to more kids can feel scary to many men who are the primary providers for their families. Please men, I beg you to step up to the plate and be the fathers GOD has appointed and anointed you to be! Even if your wife is a bit nervous about another baby, when a husband lovingly shows his wife encouragement, reassurance, and attention, her heart (and womb) will open to a child…it is how GOD made us, after all.

    “Be not afraid!”

  • MichelleGA


    I understand your last paragraph well. I am humbled by this blessing. This Pearl of Great Price is actually invaluable ;-)!


    Great article. Thank you.

  • elkabrikir

    To JMTFH:

    My husband, an attorney, is subjected to ridicule on a daily basis in his professional setting. People with whom he comes in contact will say, “When are you going to ‘get fixed'”. He is gentle and jokes, “I’m not the family pet.” (said with no acrimony). Sometimes folks, while seated in his office, will get a look of complete disgust on their faces when somebody says he has 11 kids. (My husband NEVER brings up anything personal including his family size. Other folks feel compelled to announce it.) Once an attorney said, “He has to ask GOD” (about whether to have more kdis…I’d just delivered our 10th child). Rarely, but on occasion, somebody will make a positive statement like, “Blessings! Blessings!……when you gonna get fixed?” (that’s my husband’s personal favorite as a joke between us.) Actually there are some very decent people, too…especially when they see the kids, or even better, have met them.

    He attributes many of the comments to people who are angry or bitter at their own choices. Sometimes he discerns a spouse may be angry with their partner. (My husband thinks many men would have more children if the wife was open to it: postponed career, not ‘owning’ her body, etc…)

    He handles the mocking and ridicule with grace and perseveres along the path we have discerned for our marriage. The most negative consequence, for us, has been that we feel limited in being able to share our joy with others. Announcing another pregnancy is a horrible thing to do. Announcing my recent miscarriage won’t happen….even with family members.

    Even so, this conversation reenforces the peace and joy I have found in giving over my life and my body as a co-creator with God. Talk about awesome!!!!!!

    Fathering a large family, forces boys to grow up. It forges men of steel….nay, men of God. Even better, Men after God’s own Heart.

  • Grace Harman

    A previous comment reminds us that ordinary Muslims may be friendly and peace-loving but Hamas and Hesbollah have a different goal. there is a website called “Act!for America” that gives insight on them. see: They make them sound pretty scary.

  • La Sandia

    Elkabrir–God bless you for your generosity and openness to new life! The world may sneer, but God is surely grateful to you and that is what matters.

    My fiance and I are planning our marriage this summer, and are lucky to be getting pre-Cana instruction from a wonderful holy married couple with 9 children. They told us that when their children were born (in the 70s and 80s), friends of theirs would tell them that they were polluting the planet, etc. The callousness of such people disgusts me.

    Our “save the world plan” is to have as many children as God sees fit to send us (8 sounds like a good number), and keep them as far away from the public school system as possible. We are not just raising new workers and taxpayers, we are raising laborers for God’s harvest. And forget what others might say! My great-grandmother had 13 children, and they did just fine (even during the Depression)!

  • Piper

    True blessings to all large families and their hard working parents open to God’s plan of life! Remember to pray for those who don’t understand, they have bought the lies…..

    Just a reminder to not look down upon smaller families………Our re-version happened in our early forties and even ‘reversal’ surgery did not equate to more children for us. We hope to adopt but we have been told that due to a potential legal situation we have to wait. We offer our suffering hearts up and will lovingly abide by His Perfect Plan for us.

    We sure bought the lies but belive others’ prayers saw us through, thanks be to God!! I now boldly answer to fellow faithful Catholics that we have two children, instead of looking apologetic and saying, “We only have two.” I believe that takes a tad of their dignity away and it’s not their fault!

    Thanks for your compassion! God bless!

  • sccdc

    I often tell people I feel like a horrible under-achiever having only one child. We care for my mentally retarded brother, which my siblings felt unable to do. As one of 12, growing up was interesting. My parents had 9 and adopted 3 more. When I see children with mothers, as i often do as a Catholic school recruiter, I tell them, “You should have more. You have such good ones.” Who will our children know as adults? Who will have enough children to fill our Catholic Schools? Who will fill the seats of our parish churches? Adoption, child birth and evangelizing are our best plans. A non-Catholic friend, who like her husband was a doctor, was profoundly moved by an article in First Things about the problems with birth control. She was pregnant with her third and considering ‘getting fixed’.

    We also need to stop counseling young adults to wait for financial security to marry and have children. Our bodies are made to have children when we are young. If we’ve been raised right, we are mature enough. Intellectual and monetary pursuits can sterilize us like a knife. Let’s think multi-generational to this problem. Grandparents can live with their children and offer assistance, as can siblings. At what point did we decide our families are for fun instead of our responsibilities? Holidays and play dates are not enough.

    Love to all who embrace large families. Love to all who marry young. Love to all who love children. Christ loved them too.

  • lastrati

    Elkabrikir — I am so very sorry for your recent miscarriage. I am especially sorry that you can’t share that with your family without facing the inevitable comments. I understand those comments. We only have 4 children (so far!) but we had 3 girls before we had a son. Everyone assumes that we kept trying to have a boy and now we will stop. They look really confused when I tell them that we don’t feel that decision is up to us; we leave it up to God. I don’t feel ready for another baby right now (my son is only 8 months old) but I also do not feel “done” having children. We’ll have to wait and see what He has planned for our future.

    Thank you, Patti, for a wonderful article. I’m planning to share it with several friends and family.

  • jmtfh

    Pray also for our parish priests–and all who lead God’s church. Even the clergy are confused and misled. I have four beautiful children–and 3 in heaven (due to miscarriages).

    When I miscarried at 40 yrs old, we had been trying to conceive, rather than comfort me my parish priest looked me square in the eye and said, “What are you doing getting pregnant at your age, anyway!”

    I was stung to the heart and deeply saddened. Yes, many of those who “should know better” do not.

  • HomeschoolNfpDad

    Just a reminder to not look down upon smaller families………Our re-version happened in our early forties and even ‘reversal’ surgery did not equate to more children for us.

    I often tell people I feel like a horrible under-achiever having only one child.

    Like a great many matters of doctrine, the Church (and her faithful members) usually finds itself on the edges. Sometimes, when understood in secular terms, those edges appear to be contradictory one to the other. This can help explain some of the misunderstandings even among faithful members of the Church.

    We really need to understand that when we deal with issues of infertility, issues of openness to life, and issues pertaining to matters that lead (for example) to the licit use of NFP to postpone or even avoid all other children, we deal with different parts of the same doctrinal teaching. Paul VI covers them all in Humane Vitae. John Paul II covers them all in Familiaris Consortio, citing Humane Vitae heavily. One person’s metanoia is as valid as another’s lifelong faithfulness — or have we forgotten the parable where Jesus speaks of the workers who work in the field all day getting the same payment as the recent arrivals?

    The real problem is silence. For too long we have accepted birth control as a private matter between two people — married or not. And we have accepted this alleged private matter even as more and more public money and public pressure is applied to coerce people into accepting birth control. Coercion is a public matter! It is another of the evil fruits that grow when enough people close themselves off to the great adventure of life. Therefore, we must speak…

    …of our joys in having several children.
    …of our sadness when one dies in the womb.
    …of our regrets and penitence over abortion.
    …of our attempts to conceive, even after allowing the deceit of the adversary to enter our very bodies via sterilization.
    …of our suffering when infertility is entirely natural.
    …of our use of moral means to avoid more children when those we have or inherit already require so much of us.

    These are just a few episodes in the great adventure of life. These expressions are the same expression of Love. They exclude all expressions that do not conform to chaste living, though chastity be found only after a conversion experience. But they are part and parcel of each other, different facets of the singular Truth which inhabits us.

  • Mary Kochan

    Amen! NFPDad. thank you for your balanced and comforting words.

  • Grace Harman

    I was reminded at Mass that we need to pray to Our Lord and Our Lady for the protection of us all and conversion of humanists, atheists, people of other faiths, and especially for those Catholics/ Christians who don’t know or understand what God wants us to believe about life, marriage, and contraception or abortion.

  • Daughter of the King

    According to Fr. Corapi large families are not for everyone.

    I don’t think that large families are necessarily the answer either. LARGER families than we have now, yes, but this is not a case of one size fits all. Not everyone is gifted with what it takes to have a large family. And not all large families are ‘successful’ in passing on and living out the faith thus making the world a better place.

    From my own background my mother is the oldest of 17 and of them only about 3 still go to the Catholic Church, most were pregnant before married or now on their second/third spouse, divorced, have prison records, or are running from the law. On my husband’s side his folks come from families of 12 each and same statistics, only his side also includes suicide, drugs, and alcoholism.

    So just having big families is not necessarily the answer. Having faithful families is the answer and that just might mean having a few less (six instead of ten) children but raising them well. We haven’t all been given 5 talents. Some of us only have 2 or 1. It’s using that talent that is most important.

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  • Grace Harman

    Family leadership matters even more than the size. If a father (or sometimes the mother) is violent, abusive,(or away in a mental hospital or jail, or has abandoned them), the children grow up with all sorts of issues- whether the family is small or large. Alcohol often produces “co-dependant” issues that hurt the whole family together. Mental illness follows down through generations too.
    Strong, faith-filled, and loving families (real traditional families) are the foundation of civilized society. Without this basic structure that FIRST honors God and His Laws, there can be no real society and it will collapse or be taken over if it abandons these rules of life.