Friday, August 03, 2007

Unfathomed Blessings

Despite the precipitous decline in births in the more civilized nations of the world, there are always those who swim against the cultural tide:

It's a girl - again - for the Duggars. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar welcomed their 17th child, and seventh daughter, into the world Thursday.

While unbelievable, or nearly so today, there was a time when large families such as the Duggars weren't the impetus for a national news story. St. Catherine of Siena, the twenty-third of twenty-five children, the brilliant mystic and Doctor of the Church, springs insensibly to my Catholic mind. And while it is true that the middle ages were not home to birth control, thank heaven, one scarcely suspects that the mother of one of the most remarkable saints of the Church would have used it, just as some Catholics and conservative Protestants, though not nearly enough, deign to stoop to that evil today.

All the children - whose names start with the letter J - are home-schooled.

I know I'm surprised. Here are seventeen children who will not lapse, without a fight, into decadent hedonism. No one knows what the future holds, and some may fall away, but the seed which the Duggers will plant will never be uprooted, and though some may leave the path, this now convinced Catholic knows that the path will never leave them.

"We are just so grateful to God for another gift from him," said Jim Bob Duggar, 42, a former state representative. "We are just so thankful to him that everything went just very well."

Another shock. Since atheists are more moral than we antediluvian Christians, there should be no shortage of atheist families who are bringing as many blessings into the world as the Duggers. I know of no such family, though should one arise, as if from the primordial soup, I shall laud their behavior.

I come from a fairly large family; I am the oldest of eight children. No one would ever pretend that having so many children is easy, but Christ never promised that our walk would be painless; He promised that He would be with us, and that the narrow path, which leads not to destruction, yields a comparatively lighter yolk. His Saints, who have suffered extensively, yet testify to the truth that their is both freedom and joy in sharing Our Savior's cross.

No one who has had a large number of children would ever trade a single one of them for the world. And a world that does not understand the blessing which a new life brings has lost more than an innumerable number of children. It has lost more, even, than its way of life, which cannot be replicated without people to pass on its traditions. It has lost its soul.

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