Pope Francis went to the Philippines and spoke out in defense of families and against artificial contraception, praising Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae. Wow. He is once again proclaiming publicly that he is Catholic. Maybe my prayers for him are being heard.
Then he gets on the plane to come home and he speaks what he believes. Too many children are irresponsible, couples ought to regulate births using methods to control the number of children, and he shared a story about a woman who had several children by cesarean section and was pregnant with the eighth. His response to her: you’re tempting God. So, God would punish her for being open to having another child?? [Caution: the link is to the National Catholic Distorter, aka as Father Z would call it, The Fishwrap. Don’t stray from the link!].
Real Catholics know that children are blessings from God, that parents share in His creation plan, that their sexual acts are to be open to new life and that we are not to take measures to thwart what God wills for us. Real Catholics live also among those who have no faith, who see children as burdens, as punishments, and something to be avoided, unless they are the result of a carefully implemented plan. And so, real Catholics can rightly worry about whether they can afford a child or another child, or six of them, or one more. Yet, they fall back on their Faith, they trust God will provide, because that is our Faith, and they accept and cherish their children as the true blessing they are. When they worry about being able to care for their children, they take that worry up in prayer, and even beg that God gives them the means to provide for their family, to feed, clothe, shelter and educate them. It is not always clear how this will be accomplished, but they hope and they know they must trust. That can be very difficult at times, particularly when they cannot see how they will be able to pay the tuition bill on the table before them as well as the other ones for the other children, among all the other needs of the family.
That’s when their Faith really kicks in, and many people can tell us of how God did provide, how when they thought it impossible, God cleared the way, usually in a manner that wasn’t what the individuals wanted or saw as the solutions, but He did it.
This is my life and has been for eighteen years. In the beginning, my wife and I went the contraception route, disregarding what the Church taught. In the early years, I wasn’t a practicing Catholic so I did what the world said was the way to do these things, and in my plan, we would decide when the time was right for us to have children. My wife was a somewhat practicing Catholic, but she was a cafeteria Catholic. After a few years of marriage, my wife became concerned about the effects on her body from using these contraceptives and they were causing weird problems. Finally, we agreed that she would stop using them and we ended up using the methods given by the Church. After a year or so, and against our plan, she conceived and she gave birth to my beautiful daughter.
As I reflect on this now, it seems to me that God had His plan for us, and that He was the cause behind the cessation of the artificial contraception, and that He gave us our first child. My wife could have ignored the science that says that these contraceptives create many health problems for the women, and could have continued to switch from one to the next, but she was guided to the decision, as was I, to stop using them altogether. If I had told myself these things at that time, I would have scoffed at me, and attributed our decision to our own brilliance and knowledge.
So, we raised one child for three years. We planned to have more but in the future, again when we were ready. Well, God decided that would be after three years. And so we had a son. Again, we didn’t plan for him when he was conceived. Then, nearly two years later, she conceived again. It was then that I became worried about how we would be able to provide for all of them. Now the expenses were adding up, and I would read stories in the papers about the hundreds of thousands of dollars each child would cost us to raise.
When we were getting married, I spoke with my grandmother, who was a real Catholic. I asked her about having fears about taking care of a family when she was younger. She looked at me sternly and told me that I was to put my head down, work hard and know God will provide. “And don’t forget that!,” she said. After my third child, another son, was born, I remembered what she said, and I thought about her circumstances: the fruits of her Faith were all around her as she spoke to me that day, in her grown children and in having met their material needs as well as hers. Despite some tragedy, despite having to live through and raise children during the Great Depression and the War, she kept her Faith and trust in God’s providence.
I still had not regained my Faith when my third child was born although I did the culturally Catholic things like baptizing them and sending them to catechism classes, but her example and what she had said to me kept coming back to me.
And, so, we raised our three children, and we were deeply saddened by two miscarriages during those years as well. It’s kind of funny that here I was, a man who openly said he had no faith, and my wife who had some, yet both completely open to having children, and, when we were told to have the children in the womb tested for Down’s Syndrome or abnormalities, we agreed that no matter what the results, our children would not be aborted, which we realized was the point of those tests. I recall that we did not have those tests done for her third pregnancy, and we definitely did not when she conceived a fourth time in her early forties, and when these tests were urged as more necessary than before.
Between the third and fourth child, I had my reversion to the Faith. When she conceived the fourth time, we were well into the next phase of child-rearing and thought our pregnancy days were gone. Of course, we were also well into the financial hurdles of raising a family and my reaction was panic at first. Then, I confronted myself about my Faith and demanded of myself to admit that I did not have real faith or that I did. If I did, then I had to trust and believe, as my grandmother had told me many years previously, that God will provide.
It’s not easy, because our immersion in the world tells us otherwise, to trust in God. Yet, I reflected on how God let me know that He was real, and how that brought me back to the Church, how I was given signal graces that nurtured me in the early years that I could not deny happened, and I saw how the practice of the Faith over the years had changed me, so that I looked back at my faithless self almost in horror and had sworn I was never going back, and had not. So, I came to that crossroad and resolved that I believed, not just by Faith, but because of what I had been given and what I had received from God.
We welcomed our fourth child, another son, with more happiness it seems than the others, even though that is hard for me to believe. He has given us and my whole family great joy and I cannot imagine life without him. In hindsight, our family was incomplete until he was born.
And my trust in God’s providence has been rewarded many times, but I will use the following examples to show this. My children have not been a punishment or a burden, as the pope seems to believe.
Last year, my first son was accepted at the only real Catholic high school left in our area. It is a rigorous curriculum but the school also immerses the boys in the Faith. Because he has his own strong Faith, I wanted him to attend. This comes at a great price and we have had to make sacrifices for him to attend. He told me that he prayed about going to the school and felt he was making the right decision to want to go, but understood that he might not because we could not afford it. I prayed about it as well and I made the decision that it was the right place for him and that I would trust God to provide the means. It worked out “somehow” and he is thriving there. My second son took the exam this past Fall and he received the letter accepting him for next year a few days ago. He also shows a strong Faith and I want him to get the same educational opportunity, but the tuition for both could be difficult to meet. Well, a second letter also came that told him he is receiving substantial scholarships that will cover nearly his entire tuition. I will now have both of them able to get a rigorous academic education in a truly Faithful environment where they are immersed in real Catholicism basically for the price of one. I said to my wife that I was really happy that he was accepted because I knew he would have been crushed if he wasn’t. She replied that she knew he was smart enough and would be accepted, but she had been very worried how we would be able to afford tuition for both of them. Now, to me, this whole situation of both sons is a profound example to me and my family of God’s providence, and a wonderful answer to our prayers.
I thank God every day for making me a husband and father, and for allowing me to participate in His creation plan. I reflect often on the 126th and 127th Psalms that speak to me deeply and I know that I am blessed:
 Unless the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it. Unless the Lord keep the city, he watcheth in vain that keepeth it.  It is vain for you to rise before light, rise ye after you have sitten, you that eat the bread of sorrow. When he shall give sleep to his beloved,  Behold the inheritance of the Lord are children: the reward, the fruit of the womb.  As arrows in the hand of the mighty, so the children of them that have been shaken.  Blessed is the man that hath filled the desire with them; he shall not be confounded when he shall speak to his enemies in the gate.
 Blessed are all they that fear the Lord: that walk in his ways.  For thou shalt eat the labours of thy hands: blessed art thou, and it shall be well with thee.  Thy wife as a fruitful vine, on the sides of thy house.  Behold, thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the Lord.  May the Lord bless thee out of Sion: and mayest thou see the good things of Jerusalem all the days of thy life.
 And mayest thou see thy children’ s children, peace upon Israel.
When I read what Pope Francis said about the irresponsibility of having “too many” children, and his comment to the mother that she was tempting God by having another, it struck me that he believes as the world believes. Of course, at this point I am not surprised anymore, as he has already told us that he goes along with the man-made global warming crowd with their measures to reduce the number of people through abortion and contraception, which are fundamental planks in that political platform. He just continues to make my heart ache.
As for his statements upholding Humanae Vitae, I am again convinced that truly Catholic statements that he makes are scripted for him and he is told he must say these things. What he utters on the plane is what he really believes, I am saddened to realize, once again.
I hope and I pray that Pope Francis and the unbelieving Cardinals, bishops and priests that surround him and serve up this stuff will have a moment where they will look around them and understand that God provides and that trust in God is not a foolish thing, particularly as they sit comfortably in their apartments and homes with all their needs met. Maybe they will even read the Psalms and the Gospels and actually believe them to be the truth they are.
Once again, the lesson for us is to learn and know our Faith, because we cannot trust those who are supposed to teach it to us to do that in reality, and to make absolutely certain that we teach our children and friends if we want them to be with God in Heaven for eternity. You know, like the Church used to teach everywhere and always.