A Life Of Charity, A Life Dedicated To Justice, And Not The Mere Generation Of Life, Is The Christian’s Duty
It sometimes seems that for a Catholic family to prove their fidelity to the Church, they must have large families. They promote themselves and their Catholic identity by saying how many children they have had. Anything but a large family is seen, by some, as proof of sin. Even though salvation history shows how this attitude often has hurt some of the holiest people in history (such as Sts. Joachim and Anne), this attitude comes up again and again, constantly causing emotional pain to those who are faithful and yet looked upon with suspicion. Is it any wonder some even get so caught up in this desire to procreate at all costs that they end up using illegitimate means to create life? What is often seen as a promotion of the pro-life agenda, that one should be open for life, ends up being used to judge others: you don’t have children, so you must not be open to them. Because of this judgmental attitude, a good (the promotion of life) is abused in such a way that it leads to the reverse, the destruction of so much life. Not only are so many families destroyed by the gossip surrounding them, but many others give in to the demands and think they must have children by any means possible. Science has provided the means by which many can indeed have many children, but the process is more than unnatural, but requires the conception of many children, many who will be sacrificed and killed, so that one or two might live.
We need to stop thinking the size of one’s family (or lack of family) necessarily indicates anything about one’s faithfulness.
We must really be open to God, and God’s grace. We must even recognize that sometimes a large family is not in itself a good thing. “Many people have children to their own harm, and many are without them for their own good.” Not everyone is called to have children, and having them often leads to all kinds of worldly affairs, making sure one can have all the financial backing necessary for such a large family. In other words, parents must secure wealth for their family, and in doing so, ignore the requirements of true spiritual wealth, leaving children a bad moral legacy:
Although this is not universal, there are very many who condemn their children’s souls to eternal poverty while they store up too much treasure for them on earth. Because they want to leave their children rich in this world by robbery and fraud, they not only neglect to distribute alms but also try to seize their neighbor’s wealth. It is to be feared that although their children abound in their riches in this world, they themselves will be destroyed by eternal punishment.
The more children one has, the more one wants to make sure they are financially secure, and the more likely one is to engage questionable money-making practices, justifying any deviation from the moral good as necessary because of the needs of their children. So many ignore the lack of social justice for others while having large families and placing all kinds of demands on society through them. They do not understand that with more children, they still have social responsibilities. A wicked economic system which ignores universal justice is not acceptable just because one can make it rich in such a system. Just because some can find success does not mean the system itself actually promotes success. It is for this reason, many who try to promote themselves as good Catholics because of the size of their families are anything but good Catholics; appearances are one thing, but their alignment with unjust social policies indicates the reverse. Many of the most libertarian of Catholics, the most unsocially just among Catholics, have the largest families and align themselves with the most unCatholic of political agendas. They promote themselves and their lack of social justice by saying they defend life: “Look at me, I have a lot of children, which proves I am pro-life.” But that is no excuse, and their lack of charity is going to hurt not only themselves, but their children. Their lack of respect for the life of others, for the human dignity of others and their suffering indicates they are not pro-life. If they loved their children, they would fear how bad their example in the world is going to be for the spiritual health of their children. They might try to suggest they are good, charitable Catholics. They might say something like, “Look, I make great amounts of money, it is true, but I also give a great amount back to charity” and use that as an excuse. Those who have more have more responsibility toward social justice, not less. The fact that they take more out of the system and give some (but very little, all things considered) back only points out that they know they are a hypocrite. Just like their large family, this is just an appearance created to deceive others and gain their applause. God is not fooled. God will not be mocked. “But I ask you, brethren, where is the justice in a man insultingly giving God money in almsgiving while handing his soul over to the Devil in avarice? In the money he offers God the image of the emperor, but in himself he gives the Devil the image of God.”
A large family can be a means of using the resources of the world better. Many learn how to be frugal and share with others by having more immediate family members with them. In this way, for many, a large family can be a good, and it can teach charity. A large family in and of itself is not indicative of people of ill will, just as a couple with few or no children should not be seen as a couple who lives in sin. We can’t rely upon appearances. That is what hypocrites do. Instead, we must seek, wherever we are, in whatever situation we are in, to live for God, in charity, looking for the welfare not only of our own families, but all humanity, seeking the betterment of all. Only then do we properly hold the Christian life.
 St. Caesarius of Arles, Sermon 51 in St. Caesarius of Arles Sermons 1 – 50. Trans. Sister Mary Magdeline Mueller, O.S.F. (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1956), 257.
 Ibid., 257.
 St. Caesarius of Arles, Sermon 32 in St. Caesarius of Arles Sermons 1 – 50. Trans. Sister Mary Magdeline Mueller, O.S.F. (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1956), 159.