Thursday, August 21, 2008

HLI Humanae Vitae Priests: Responsible Parenting and Large Families

    Humanae Vitae Priests
  Human Life International e-Newsletter
for Priests, Deacons, and Seminarians

Volume 01, Number 24 | Thursday, August 21, 2008

Responsible Parenting and Large Families
Father Bill Belrose, CPM

On a Sunday after Mass I remember looking outside and seeing all the families playing. The older children were taking care of the younger children and it was interesting to see all the children having fun together, and how the older children were also learning how to be future parents. In the larger families that were coming to Mass it was obvious that the older children were learning how to take care of their younger siblings, and then when the younger children grew older, some of their brothers and sisters were having children and the younger siblings learned this valuable lesson by caring for their nieces and nephews.

We hear so much today about the breakdown of the family and we see it right before our eyes. Where has the breakdown of the family come from? One reason is that parents today never had this valuable lesson given to them. The experience of a small family was something they grew up with and did not equip them as children to become responsible parents. Parents have to struggle with what they hear or read about responsible parenting instead of having lived and learned it.

In Paragraph 10 of Humanae Vitae (HV), Pope Paul VI talks about responsible parenting, saying, "In relation to physical, economic, psychological and social conditions, responsible parenthood is exercised, either by the deliberate and generous decision to raise a numerous family, or by the decision, made for grave motives and with due respect for the moral law, to avoid for the time being, or even for an indeterminate period, a new birth." He was promoting the fact that large families are a good, both for society and for family life. What many people do not think about is that the decision not to have children should be made for a grave reason and according to God's will.

I have had many people tell me they only wanted to have one or two children and give a litany of reasons why, which are usually their own plans. They wanted to go to college, or because of the job, they wanted more money, or pets would do for now. This shows that they had a plan for their future and went with it. But what about God's plan? Maybe God had the same plan that they did and they would have had only a small family, but what if God's plan was for them to have had a large family, maybe one that would help spread the faith through the world? Do any of the reasons listed above constitute a grave reason not to have children?

Responsible parenting means being willing to make sacrifices for your family, sacrifices for God. The Catechism in Paragraph 2372 says, "Sacred Scripture and the Church's traditional practice see in large families a sign of God's blessing and the parents' generosity." This blessing in today's world is portrayed as a curse. In a world that mocks family values, morality and God, the large family stands out as a contradiction to what the devil is trying to promote. It becomes a beacon of light to the idea that God will be generous to those who are generous with Him. Large families, like all families, have their struggles and it would be naive to say that one will find perfection there, but one will find people open to God's will.

Paragraph 10 of HV continues by saying "In the task of transmitting life, therefore, they are not free to proceed completely at will, as if they could determine in a wholly autonomous way the honest path to follow; but they must conform their activity to the creative intention of God, expressed in the very nature of marriage and of its acts, and manifested by the constant teaching of the Church."

In conforming to God's creative plan large families show society the beauty of responsible parenting.

Father Bill Belrose is a Father of Mercy in Kentucky. He maintains a Blog at



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