November 10 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

8 - Family_jump

Are we missing joy of the big family?

ROBERT FERGILE CASSIDY reckons having lots of kids can still be fun – provided we all share the workload -By ROBERT FERGILE CASSIDY

Ask the older generation how they managed to raise large families and they will often say: “Well, we didn’t have much, but we had each other.” Having four children was usually easier than having three since the first could usually act as mum’s little helper. A greater help was a community – made up of relatives and neighbours – where having four, five, six, seven (and more) was not an exception.

The joy that the big family often experienced, especially around festive days and family occasions, with music and song, poetry and games, is something that is slipping from common memory. Yet, it is still the case today that having a large family is easier when others are prepared share the workload. When Christians work together in this way the common purpose is ultimately helping fellow members of Christ’s mystical body on their pilgrimage to Heaven. Some points of note for carrying out this task could be as follows.

Firstly, an awareness of basic truths about God Himself gives potential husbands and wives the benefit of knowing that He cannot ask the impossible. He wouldn’t be God if He could. His Providence gives everything man needs to come to Heaven.

Trust in God is the virtue that flows from this, and dispels the error of thinking that God doesn’t give what is needed in each specific moment. He knows all things, and has all things under control. He is not worrying about the future. He is happiness itself, and wills that man share in His eternal happiness. Since man’s goal is Heaven, then having this in focus as much as possible helps men and women see the wonder of new life. Children, after all, according to the Second Vatican Council are ‘the supreme gift of marriage’. So the first thing that helps in the raising of good large family is an awareness of God’s goodness and loving care for man.

Secondly, knowing the truth about marriage is vital. The family—large or small—flows naturally from marriage. One of the greatest enemies to a good large family is selfishness, especially that promoted by the contraceptive mentality. It is this mentality that has pushed two generations into thinking that marriage can be whatever anyone wants. Marriage, however, is a natural institution, which forms the basis of society. Between the Baptised it is a Sacrament.

It is primarily ordered toward children and their wellbeing. Reason teaches that children need more children of differing ages around them to help them flourish. Indeed, children become more generous from the example of their parents’ generosity. Men and women intent on marriage benefit from knowing that a God-welcoming-child-welcoming large family will help them, and their children, on the road to Heaven.

Thirdly, there is need for courage to resist the forces of discouragement working against the large family. The Duchess of Cambridge has been questioned in some quarters for having conceived another child when her health suffers immensely during pregnancy. Her courage is to be lauded. ‘Do not be afraid,’ was the cry of the courageous Pope of the Family, St. John Paul II.

He was aware of how much courage married couples need in order to stand together for a large family. Here their recourse to daily prayer, especially the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and frequent Confession, strengthens them on the road to Christian perfection in charity.

Fourthly, dads need to witness to the joy of a large, and to stand against those who belittle it. Dads have an immense duty, because a large family is only as good as the father of that family. Yes, mothers have managed to rear good large families in the past, but they have not done so with an anti-father mentality. A father missing because of unavoidable circumstances is not to be equated with an absent or abusive father. If the father of a family is not given his due place then a malediction, rather than a benediction, falls upon those responsible for the disrespect. This does not mean accepting unjust behaviour if it occurs, but of standing against the temptation promoting an anti-men, anti-father mentality—the curse of which weakens the family and creates an unjust society. Fathers need to imitate Christ’s fatherhood if a large family is to be what God commands it to be – a source of joy to their wives and children, a blessing on society, and a vibrant domestic church. Finally, the large family can be raised as a good large family when the soul of each child is placed in the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

The Blessed Mother’s fidelity to her Son is echoed in her loving care for each soul consecrated to her. The Saints throughout the ages – most of whom came from large families – have often pointed to the Mother of God as the Advocate for those in need. She teaches large families to go to Jesus, saying to them, “Do whatever He tells you.”

The older generation had each other, and large families imitate what was natural to them. They often go without TV, as they enjoy time with each other. They often have meals around a big table, and share each other’s lives in a wonderful, non-modern way, since the more guests they have at the table the more the family feels alive. Indeed, the attitude they often have is, “There is always room for one more.” The large family that prays and plays together has much to give, and it enjoys giving. Maybe it is the answer for many of today’s woes.



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