Marriage and Children
-Homily November 6, 2016
Interesting: the reason Jesus says that there will be no
marriage in the resurrection of the dead, is that there will be no more death.
In other words, because there is no more need of preserving the species, there
is no more need of marriage in the resurrection of the dead. Does it not mean
that the end of marriage is procreation, having children? Yes. God said to the
first man and the first woman: “Be fruitful and multiply.” It is not the only
end of marriage, but it is the one of which I will speak today.
Pope Francis in his Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris Laetitia”
has repeated once again the appreciation of the Church for the family: “Large
families are a joy for the Church. They are an expression of the fruitfulness
of love.” (AL
167) This in no way implies lack of responsibility or lack of awareness of what
is involved in rearing children. But to have 7, 8 or 10 children does not mean
lack of responsibility. Many of you come from large families. If you have seven
children, but all of them are educated, work and then even go to University if
they want, I cannot see any lack of responsibility there. We have families like
this in our own town. A large family is a blessing in itself, because each
human being is a blessing, and the more, the better.
There are people who like to criticize large families.
Mind you: it is one thing to not have a large family yourself, for any reason,
and another thing to criticize those who have it, or those who intend to have a
large family. Other people may be afraid of having a large family because of
what people say. Let me say something about this.
1. You do not choose to have children.
Marriage is not a way of producing children. A man and a woman have relations,
and when they do, a child may be given. I will not go there today, but this is
very important: a child is not made because a child is not a product,
but a person. Parents have the right to have relations, but there is no right
to a child, because a child is not a thing. As pope Francis says: “A child is
not an accessory or a solution to some personal need. A child is a human being
of immense worth and may never be used for one’s own benefit” (AL 170) A
child is loved even before it comes, not though as we love things, but as we
love persons. A person is a gift. Parents who have relations in openness to
life dispose themselves to receive that gift from God. They do not “produce” a child, they receive it as a gift, as the fruit of their
mutual love. The consequences of this vision are huge. I cannot “produce” a
child by any available technique just because I want it: I can buy and produce
things, not persons. Also, I cannot discard a child just because I don’t like
it, because he will be sick or disabled or not beautiful: this is what we do
with things, not with persons. Behind many techniques of assisted fertilization
and of prenatal diagnosis, we find this confusion between person and thing,
which is a modern expression of human domination and slavery: it is to use and
discard people as if they were things.
2. Why should parents have children? Look:
the reason God created the world was to bestow himself as the happiness of
every human heart. God created the world so that many men and women may enjoy
him in Heaven, together with the angels. God wanted human parents to help him
in creation, so that He may have more people whom he could love and make happy.
God thought and determined the number of people who will go to heaven; but he
gave to parents the role of completing this number. When a Christian couple is
open to life, they help God to complete the number of his children.
Of course, to be open to life, as the Catechism says,
means not only to give children physical life, but also moral, spiritual and
supernatural life. It means to educate children in their human behaviour and in their faith. In that way, even those
people who do not have children of their own, complete the number of the
children of God by educating foster children or even by preaching the Gospel to
people. Even more, we should say that the person who educates is more father or
mother than the person who simply gives physical life and does not educate.
3. “But if I have many children I will not
be able to give them everything.” There is no better toy than a baby brother.
Toys and phones don’t make children happy (smartphones
usually make us more stupid). Smiles and affection make children happy, and
those come from people, not from smartphones. “How
will I feed them?” Every baby comes with a loaf of bread under his arm. I have
never seen a large family with problems of hunger. If there is hunger it is
because of lack of justice, not because of lack of food; and we cannot speak
about lack of food in Canada.
“But if we both work we cannot take care of them.” Those are excuses. There is
always a way out. Large families have found it. The problem we have is that we
think we need many things when we actually don’t. We need love to be happy, not
things, and love comes from people, not from things.
“Father, you have no idea of what it means to rear
children, how many sacrifices and suffering a father or a mother has.” OK: do
not suffer. I now speak like a fool, of course. Let us say this to young
couples: do not suffer. Have one child, or none, so you can enjoy yourself.
Enjoy what? Things. Holidays abroad.
Things. What they show you in TV that will make you
happy. Enjoy things! You and your things! Let things fill your heart and the
heart of your small family with joy! Work like a slave to get the money! Fight
against the one who wants to have more than you! Suffer the envy of those who
have less than you! Suffer your own envy for those who have more than you! Yes,
and then, sink into the loneliness and existential void of those who have
things but are not loved! If you want to have a “good life” as they call it,
you need money. You need less money to have a large family. Material welfare
requires suffering and rewards with more suffering. A large family is worth the
pain. What makes you happy is not the goods you have,
but the good you have done, even for that disabled child that you may end up
having. Every person has the value of God and of the blood of Christ. Nothing
we can do for a person is ever enough. God died for them!
I am not telling anyone how many children they need to
have. But I don’t want people to be deceived by false reasons about a large
family. We have only one life, and I want you to enjoy it. That is why I tell
you the truth, the truth revealed by God in the Bible and preached by the
Church in her documents.
May the Lord give us the courage to trust in his plan. Let us undertake family planning according to the plan
of God. There is no better plan than his. May our Lady bless our families with love. –Fr. Andrew