THE BLESSINGS OF MANY CHILDREN
[continued from yesterday]
...Many children are a blessing to the family.
First, they provide the opportunity for the exercise of one of the strongest instincts of nature, family affection, the love of parents toward children, of children toward parents, of children toward each other. No matter how many children a mother may have, her love for any one of them is not thereby diminished, but rather increased.
If she had to part with any one of them, she could not make the choice. They are each dear to her, because they are her own, because they are the children of her husband, and because they are brothers and sisters to each other. The family love is so woven and interwoven, that, the greater the number of the threads, the more difficult it is to distinguish any one of them. This may be the result of merely natural affection.
When, however, the family love is intertwined with supernatural faith, supernatural hope, and supernatural love, then is the family bond made indefinitely stronger, and the family love more keen and more satisfying. The mother of the Machabees did not love her children less, but indescribably more, when she had to lead them to be sacrificed for the sake of God's cause. And although her natural sorrow must have been one of the most poignant ever suffered by mother on account of children, yet her supernatural joy must have surpassed it in intensity and have produced in her maternal heart a satisfaction far exceeding the natural void caused by her bereavement.
Secondly, a large family is a means of developing character, both in the parents and in the children. In the case of the father, it is a question as to whether he will face the task of working and saving for the means of bringing up a large family. He certainly needs courage. He certainly needs self-denial and self-restraint. He certainly needs the help of Sacraments and other religious ordinances.
But these are the very warp and woof of manly character. He is only a weakling, therefore, wanting in manhood and wanting in the stamina of a Christian, who shirks the duties of fatherhood merely because they involve a heavier burden.
In the case of the mother, it is a question as to whether she will face the illness and the anxieties incident to a large family of children, and possibly, which is the greatest trial of all, displeasure and neglect on the part of her husband. The burden of motherhood then acts against flimsy attractions of the world of pleasure. It concentrates her attention on the family. It gives her an interest than which nothing is more absorbing and satisfying outside heaven. In a word, it develops her womanhood. And, since she is of the gentler, as contrasted to the sterner, sex, her numerous anxieties will develop in her the quality of gentleness.
Further, if she is so unfortunate as to have a husband who is unkind or neglectful or difficult, then it will bring out her characteristic of tact. There are few husbands who do not need some "managing." And it is the glory of some wives that they know how to "manage" their husbands; how to get what they want without crying or quarreling for it. Surely, therefore, it must be an accomplishment worth cultivating, to be able to rule by tact and by persuasion, rather than by force or harshness....
From Marriage and Parenthood, The Catholic Ideal
By the Rev. Thomas J. Gerrard
Author of "Cords of Adam," "The Wayfarer's Vision," ETC.
Copyright, 1911, by Joseph F. Wagner, New York.