this is taken from my weekly pastor's pen in my parish bulletin
Over the years I have written many columns. Some have been easy, most have been difficult. One, though, I have absolutely dreaded writing and have often prayed for both the courage to write it and the wisdom to write it well. So, here we go….
If I were to tell you that dying your hair pea green and painting your face blue was the norm, you would hopefully think I had gone mad. But if I persisted and got others to join me and dye their hair green and such it would start to be seen first as abnormal. If I successfully enlisted the entertainment complex to back me up, got scientists to concoct scientific proofs at the advantage of such behavior and got more and more people to do it till most people did it, what was at one time the abnormal becomes the norm, and those who opposed it would be seen at the abnormal. This might be seen as silly, but it has in fact happened.
Back in the early part of the 20th century a woman named Margaret Sanger started saying things that were initially seen as the ravings of a lunatic mind. She saw motherhood as lessening a woman’s dignity and potential. She saw large families as destructive to society. She found certain types of people as the kind that should not have children at all. She favored the use of contraception and sterilization as something that should be the norm. She had particular contempt for Slavs, blacks, Jews, Hispanics, and Catholics. They were human weeds. She did not support abortion, but she did support infanticide, saying that the most humane thing parents of large families could do was to kill their infants. She hated religion. Within a few decades her initially abnormal way of thinking became the norm. Today motherhood is looked down upon. Large families are seen as wasteful and selfish. Today the contraceptive and attendant abortion industries have become very lucrative and profitable. Today, the organization Margret Sanger founded is respected in the highest corridors of power; an organization she founded to carry out her mission of weeding out the undesirables: Planned Parenthood. Our youth have been taught for decades that this mentality is good and anyone who opposes it is outside the norm. It has been so much jammed down our collective throats that we cringe when this behavior is challenged and get caught up in personal attacks and dire arguments. What was at one time considered the abnormal is today the norm.
I try to presume on the best of intent of all of parishioners. That said, the abnormal attitude about life has become the norm. I am not looking to condemn, but to give pause for thought. The contraceptive attitude has laid waste to the church in the 1st world. It is one of the lead reasons that the church in France, Italy, Germany, Ireland, England, Spain, Portugal and elsewhere is in a demographic freefall. The contraceptive attitude has led many to leave the Church and has left most others having children at a rate of 1.9 children per family when 2.1 children is what in necessary to replace the status quo. With the contraceptive attitude came the dissolution of marriage as the norm. Fewer couples are getting married. Fewer are having children. Those who do get married are getting married later in life. This last point is an observation, not a condemnation. In the years since Roe v Wade and Doe v Bolton, over 50 million children who were conceived where put to death in the womb. All of these things have consequences. Parishes and dioceses are not exempt from such consequences.
I have heard parishioners talk about how when they were kids there were 200 kids in our school. It was not because we had five times the households there are now, but that large families were the norm. As large families became less and less the norm, school populations shrunk because the pool of school age children shrunk. For example, if we were to have every school age child in our school we would still come nowhere near the number of children we had at one time on our school. I do not believe for a moment that this was the desire of families over the decades, but it is what has happened. For the most part this behavior went unchallenged or was done so heavily handed so that all people were left with was a stinging condemnation. There is another way. It is forcing us to re-evaluate the norm and call for the abnormal that it is. It represents a wild change of thought. We have got to once again look to the Author of Life for the norm.
The Church has taught for all her history that being a mother or father is a vastly noble calling flowing from the even nobler calling of marriage. Children are not an impediment to fulfillment and happiness, but a cause for it. Human life is not a disease to be treated, and the contraceptive mentality does treat pregnancy as if it were a disease, but sees new human life as a precious gift from the Creator. No one is saying that all Catholic families need have 10 kids, but there is a happy medium between 10 kids and the contraceptive mentality. I think this is where we begin. I believe we need to recapture the beauty and blessing that is family life. I believe that we need to support and uphold the nobility of motherhood and fatherhood as greatly positive callings. I believe we need to fully recognize the blessing that children are and move away from referring to children in terms of cost and financial liability. I believe that if we recapture what was once the norm, it will positively influence the Church and society as a whole.
This calls for a rejection of the abnormal. It is hard because society openly mocks such thinking. As people of faith, though, we are called to a higher standard where selflessness, love, and a profound respect for life are the norm. Our attitudes about life must reflect the attitudes about the dignity of human life seen in the Scriptures. God, the creator of all life, saw even the fallen version of human life as something so lovable and worthy as to send His Son to redeem it. Life is good. Every human person is worthy of love and dignity because of its author. Margret Sanger was wrong. She was dead wrong. No person is a human weed because of their race, creed, economic class, or other factors. No human person is a weed. Motherhood and fatherhood are not impediments to happiness; they are great sources of joy. Children aren’t blockages to fulfillment but the ultimate expression of fulfillment. Let us pray for a new spring to break through where life is welcomed, honored, and afforded the full dignity and integrity afforded it by the Author of all life, human and divine.