Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The connection between large families and priestly vocations

Cardinal Raymond Burke gave an interview in January to a LifeSiteNews reporter on questions related to the Synod on the Family held last fall in Rome.

Catholics who have been following this know about the division between the Kasper thinking and traditional Catholic teaching. Cardinal Kasper emphasized the need for mercy and compassion when dealing with Catholics who have been divorced and wish to receive Communion, for Catholics who find themselves to be homosexuals; Kasper seems to be advocating for affirming the good in these Catholics and he also seems to be saying that there is something redeeming in their current relationships, even if those relationships are not in keeping with Catholic doctrine.

On the other hand, we have the book Remaining in the Truth of Christ ( which is a compilation of essays written by Cardinals on the Church's teaching on marriage, remarriage, divorce, homosexuality, etc. The book that was mysteriously removed from the mailboxes of the bishops who were attending the Synod and which they did not get to read prior to the Synod.

It is an interesting interview and I recommend that you read it, if this interests you.

It is not really new stuff, as I read a lot of this kind of thing anyway. But one section impressed me. It is a perfectly obvious fact if one thinks about it. And that is the relation between parents' being generous in welcoming new life into their families and children in turn being generous with their lives should they hear a call to religious life.

Some years ago, the Halifax diocese held a public meeting to deal with the amalgamation of parishes, as we simply don't have the material resources to keep all these churches open. But even more importantly, we don't have the priests to be the resident pastors of all these churches. Hence the need to amalgamate two or three parishes into one larger parish. It struck me then that, if we had had bigger families in the 60's, 70-'s and 80's, we might not have the dearth of priestly vocations that we now have. Priests generally come from larger families, not always, but it is quite common. In fact in my own family on my husband's side, one family produced two priests.
....  if God has called a couple to marriage, then He is calling them also to be generous in receiving the gift of new human life. And so we need many larger families today, and thanks be to God I see among some young couples today a remarkable generosity with regard to children. The other thing that I seldom hear mentioned today but which was always emphasized when I was growing up, and also in the tradition of the Church, is that parents should be generous in having children so that some of their children could receive the call to the priesthood or to the consecrated life and service of the Church. And that generosity of the parents certainly will inspire, in the child who has a vocation, a generous response to it.
Now God can bring vocations out of any situation, but children raised in families that are larger do learn to be less selfish. It is as simple as that. And following a call to a religious vocation does entail a call to be selfless.

So when people lament the declining number of priests today, perhaps they should be aksed the question "and how many children did you have?" Because the answer might be that they/we contracepted them away.  Perhaps not so bluntly as that, since that would be quite harsh, but we do need to look at the question of birth control and ask the question:
 "have we brought these consequences upon ourselves?"

1 comment:

Elena said...

This made me cry.