Return of the Prodigal Son by Pompeo Batoni - 1773

Evolution for the Catholic Student

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Light in the World

A Light in the World

My wife and I recently learned the happy news that we are pregnant with our fourth child.  (Well, she is, actually.)  This news has brought us great joy, but it has also placed us squarely on the wrong side of our secular culture’s “morals.”  We are now officially menaces to society, contributing to overpopulation and acquiring an indefensible “carbon footprint.”

Now, to our friends and family of Faith, this is a happy announcement.  As Catholics, we are all called to be open to life in our marriages.  God may not bless our marriages with children, but we promise on the day of our wedding that we will accept the children He wishes to give us.  God has a Father’s Heart, He loves children, and we are called to be generous with our fertility.  Large families should be a sign to the world of God’s fruitful Love.

However, judging by the comments my friends with four kids or more have gotten, and the few my wife has even gotten in public with three, the world sees things very differently than God does.  And it will react to our joyous news in a far different manner than the community of Faith.

Perhaps one of these days I will write an article on all the reasons why the overpopulation hype is a heap of nonsense.  Overpopulation is not truly a problem.  In fact, Catholic children from large families may be the only hope our secular neighbors have of ever receiving Social Security or Medicare, given our current demographic nightmare.  But that’s not the point of this post.  See the Population Research Institute for plenty of important facts and information, and links to other useful resources.
I am also not a global warming alarmist, but I believe in clean air and water as much as anyone, and my family tries to be good stewards of God’s creation.

But the fact is, there is a mentality rampant in our society that compels total strangers to verbally attack parents with more than a couple of kids, or to stare at them like they would never dare do to someone with a disability, for example.

Why is this?  Some of it is pure nastiness.  But many believe the ideology extolled by modern Western culture.  Perhaps they feel a sense of moral superiority that gives them license to be rude to complete strangers (nastiness again).  Let’s face it, it has been a brilliant scheme of the devil’s to turn decisions about having children into totally selfish ones and then provide a framework for feeling righteous about it.

Regardless of the level of nastiness in the motives of another, that is not really for us to judge (we have no way to anyway), and the important question is, how should we respond?

It is tempting to respond with a wise crack or a verbal snipe of our own.  Perhaps we should make a rash judgment about their motive, and berate them for it.  But if we are trying to be a light in the world, if we want our families to be a sign of God’s Love, then we had better respond as Christians.  And that means one thing, charity. 

We may have reasoned discussions with our loved ones who have adopted the world’s mentality, but most likely not with the stranger in the parking lot or the check-out line.  We should be prepared to, I suppose.  But we certainly need to respond with patience and with charity.  There is probably no one-size-fits-all response, but getting upset, defensive or accusatory will do no one any good.  So whatever we say, it should uphold Truth, and do so with charity.

This, however, is not always so easy.  If someone is willing to attack us out of the blue, they are probably not bringing much charity to the table.  It will take strength of character not to respond in kind.

There is an interesting parable, from India, I think.  It seems a man saw a scorpion stuck on a rock at the edge of a river, surrounded by water in a storm.  The water was rising and it was clear that the scorpion was going to drown.  So the man reached out to pull the scorpion off the rock and onto dry ground, when it stung him.  He pulled his hand back but a moment later reached out again, only to be stung again.  A third time he began to reach his hand to the creature when his friend called to him: “What are you doing?  If you keep trying to save that scorpion, he will just keep attacking you.”  “I know,” said the first man, “but I will not let his nature, which is to fight, overcome my nature, which is to love.”

Well we are not dealing with mere scorpions, but human beings made in the Image and Likeness of God.  Our nature comes from God and we must not let it be dictated by our neighbor.

Where will we find the strength do this?  We must see our detractors, not as enemies, but as Christ, in whose Image and Likeness they were created.  This is what Mother Teresa did in Calcutta.  She spent time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and when she went out into the streets, she saw Him in the poor.  If we are to see Jesus even in our enemies, at least potentially, and so find the strength to love them, we must spend time with Him.  And some of that time needs to be with the Blessed Sacrament, in Adoration.  If we come to know Him in this great Sacrament, we will fall more deeply in love with Him, and the prayer will come true that says: O Jesus, meek and humble of Heart, make my heart like unto Thine.