|A Catholic family who travel in a mini-bus: Witnesses to Life and Faith|
This evening, having earlier made the Rosary Crusade from Westminster Cathedral to Brompton Oratory with a large throng of Catholics, praying the Rosary and singing hymns to Our Blessed Lady, I went to a restaurant, Bella Pasta in South Kensington, to be precise, with my fiancee and her family. Half way through the meal, a family of nine arrived at the restaurant and sat next to us. The waiter had to arrange another table so that the whole family could be seated. I thought that this family might just be Catholic and might just have been on the Rosary Crusade and this was confirmed by the mother who was wearing a Miraculous Medal and the parents themselves when I, er, asked them.
It need not be said that large families - this delightful couple have seven delightful children - are extremely rare. They are, perhaps, as rare as Franciscan friars wedded to Lady Poverty wandering towns barefoot, but, my oh my, what a wonderful sight they are to behold! It appeared to me that their love and cherishing of the gift of life and their generosity to God shone forth like a light in a dark World. Everyone is used to seeing a family of two or three sit down at a restaurant. There is nothing ordinary or particularly counter-cultural about it, though in Brighton, of course, families do still run against the grain.
A family of nine, however, can turn a whole room on its head, a whole restaurant stop and wonder, and doubtless, a whole parish stand back in awe at what, today, is something like a modern day miracle. No, today, it is a miracle. It is impossible to sit with or near a family of nine and not be changed in some way, not be struck nearly speechless by the holiness of life and the generosity with which such couples live. To top it all, the children were well-behaved and the parents had this air of simplicity, humility, charity, strength and joy. They weren't stressed out and manic or fretting. I expect that, interiorly, this was rather the disposition of those who witnessed the family and reflected upon their own lives which had not borne such visible fruit - in terms of new life - and in terms of the spiritual fruits of the Holy Spirit Who has so graced this couple with jaw-droppingly bewildering peace and serenity. The children seemed to take care of themselves and the parents chatted while the mother fed the newest born on her high chair. Far from being in any way depressed, or encumbered, or 'burdened' this family radiated with joy, peace and love. Then, to double top it all, the mother told me that she home schools the children! She's a wife, a mother and a teacher to her children! Amazing!
|Large families: consigned to history or due a glorious resurrection?|
I am sure the Priest in question will not be embarrassed when I say that now I understand exactly what he meant. This family and all those who are like them, who are open to life and who co-operate joyfully and generously with God's plan, are holy, heroic, saintly, counter-cultural, life-giving to the World and the words attributed to St Francis of Assisi can equally be said of them! For wherever they go, Christ's message of salvation, redemption, life, faith, hope and charity follow in their wake. They are the future of the Church's evangelical mission, as much as are those who follow Our Lord in Priesthood and Religious Life. They are Evangelists yet they need not say a word!
In order for people to see the Catholic life lived - to see Faith in action - these families must surely be esteemed and honoured by the Church which has given them the Graces to respond to God's call and be held high for the Church and the World to see their light. For the message of the Gospel is a challenge to us all: Do we choose Death, or do we choose Life? Do we say "no" to God? Or do we say "yes"? Do we trust that God will provide for all of our needs? Or do we not trust God's promises? Are we selfish and self-centred? Or are our lives centred on Christ and His love? The family I met tonight indeed preach the Gospel at all times and they do not have to use words. Wherever they go, they teach.
|The rejected encyclical: Humanae Vitae|
To married brother and sister Catholics, I urge you, if you are generous enough to live the Catholic Faith with great joy and for your family to be abundant and fruitful then do it quickly, before the Government bans large families and endorses the Optimum Population Trust's two child per family quota campaign! I pray their plans fail! As it stands, the country's average birth rate is so low that the population is struggling to replace itself anyway, apart from Muslims, of course.
Ultimately, this family and families like them are also the Church's answer to the proposal to legalise 'gay marriage', because they have refused to go with either the 'spirit of the age' or its evil pseudo-religious twin, the 'spirit of Vatican II' and are immensely loyal sons and daughters of the Church. Both the 'spirit of the age' and the 'spirit of Vatican II' divorced both marriage and human sexuality from their primary function - the procreation of new life - children. It will, perhaps, surprise nobody to hear that they attend the Traditional Latin Mass every Sunday at 9am at their local parish Church in Northamptonshire. May God bless them and all couples who are open to the gift of new life and who endeavour to be faithful to God's loving plan for them. May their holiness of life continue to awaken in the hearts of men and women the flame of hope and the light of the Gospel. If we refuse God's gift of life then it is us who are poor and in the words of St Paul, 'to be most pitied'. I know that some will read this and call me a vile hypocrite because I'm not married and I have no children. All I ask you to do is pray for me, a poor sinner, that God may complete His work in me, for His Eternal Glory. It's incredible to see what you can make out of a white van, isn't it!?