On the Saints Peter and Paul Church website we have a section called "Ask the Fathers" where people can email in questions. We get questions from all over the world, and from members of every (and no) religion. Although Fr. Malloy is no longer stationed at SS. Peter and Paul, he still answers questions on the site.
Yesterday, we got a question that ties in very well with this 40th anniversary of "Humanae Vitae." The question, and Father's answer are below.
I have a question about family size, my husband and I are active catholics, we go to mass every sunday and Holy day of obligation and raise our two lovely (and very lively..) daughters in the Faith. My husband works full-time and I part-time, also sometimes in the evenings and weekends, unfortunately (but we need all the money for our loan etc).
Now, our second-born is 3.5 years and I start to think should we actively try to conceive. We use no contraception, and NFP only not too strictly. A new baby wouldn't be a disaster, exept maybe financially... but that doesn't matter so much to us. The best "prevention" for us has obviously been nursing and then, being so tired in the evenigs that we normally just go to sleep. frankly, we don't have sex really often...
I feel sometimes (especially when much work) exhausted, mentally and physically. Both of our girls are very dear to us but sometimes I find myself thinking, that just two of them is quite enough. We both try our best as parents. We spend time with them, much.
But at the moment a thought about it all starting anew (our second didn't sleep much at all during the nights in one year... and I was studying at that time... I was like a zombie sometimes.. it is a scary prospect..) is almost devastating, at times. I do pray, a lot and if God would bless us with a child I would comply, of course, but it would be a sacrifice. My husband says he wants more children but not, if I consider them as a "sacrifice".
So, in order to be good and exemplary in the Lord's service, what should we do? What would be best for me to think? Would you please pray for me, as I pray for you!
Many thanks in advance,
Fr. John Malloy answers:
It would take a whole book for me to give you a suitable answer to the questions you have raised. So let me apologize in advance, as I attempt to answer some of your queries.
Your experience with your two daughters is your unique privilege. I draw on experience as a Salesian working with boys from third graders to college men, and on my experience as one of eight children in a family that went through the Great Depression.
From my point of view: We were poor, but as children we did not even realize it, because all the kids around us were also poor. There was no TV then. When we got a radio I would sit with my sisters, close to the set as possible, and follow the popular programs of the day. That, and our outdoor games, was our recreation. Movies were too expensive, but we did manage to get to some matinees, And we were happy. We had a vegetable and flower garden which I loved to tend. We never went hungry, even when my father was out of work on the Santa Fe Railroad strike.
What I am trying to get across is that necessity is the mother of invention. Too many of our needs today are superfluities. Can we not get along with one TV and not one in every room? One refrigerator ? One less expensive vacation? This housing crises has been fueled by a perceived need (beyond our means) that we must have more room, more furniture, more, more, more.
Visiting a remote village in Mexico, I cringed as traveled over muddy roads and saw what seemed to be shacks in which the families lived. But I was delighted see the young boys and girls going back to school after their lunch break skipping happily along in their very clean clothes and smiling faces. They certainly did with a lot less than our kids, but seemed happier than many a family I view in our towns.
I remember what I heard from one mother with a large family: "How can you stand so many kids night and day?" Her answer: "When I had my first baby I was busy all the time. And after several babies I am still busy all the time. And love it!"
Benefits to come: As children grow older they become surrogate parents for the younger ones and help give mom some rest from time to time. Old age comes fast and having a caring family around at that time is worth millions! I pity parents with only one or two children. Their old age will probably not be as joyful as the family with more kids. Practical experience has taught me this.
So you can now skip all the above and go to my direct answer to your question. Having a baby is not a sacrifice, but a blessing. Or is it both? What does God ask of us?
What was God's command to Adam and Eve? Increase and multiply. But He gave us free will to decide how to do just that. Adam and Eve's lives were damaged by their submission to Satan's intrigue. We have suffered from it through original sin. But the Lord has assured us: "My grace is sufficient for you!" He does not give us a cross larger than we can bear. Do His will and you will be happy. Many sacrifices we make are blessings in disguise and come home to nourish and support us in time of need.
You seem to be well on the road of living a true Catholic life. Take time to "smell the roses." Maybe you can do with a little less so as to have more time to love each other. It's love not work that conquers all. I predict that more children will make your lives happier and that happiness will grow with old age!
Yes, I will pray for you. As I celebrate mass today in a Carmelite Monastery, I will ask these cloistered nuns to pray with me for you and yours.
With many blessings,
Fr. John J. Malloy, SDB
Posted by Gibbons