Be Not Afraid (of a Plus Size Family)

Oldest and youngest (for now) reading this past Christmas

Oldest and youngest (for now) reading this past Christmas

    Our current Western society praises itself on being rooted in control over nature through application of science and reason.  Nowhere is this more evident than through control and size of the family.  Embracing a large family is in fact the anti-thesis of control of nature.  Therefore any counter-cultural move away from strict family control sets off a firestorm of emotion, debate, and shunning to bring people back into the fold.

    The argument for a controlled size family is a logical outgrowth of the Enlightenment.  The penny sized description of this philosophy is:  If I can reason something out (logically order it through science) and I want to will it into being, the result I want to make can and should be as I want it to regardless of any historical or scientific obstacles.  While the goal of Enlightenment thinkers is good, to make the world a better place, it fails because it assumes all things are ordered according to a single person’s will.  

    In a precisely ordered world replacement level children would not be bad…it would simply ensure a stable society with Mom and Dad being replaced by their little children.  It assumes there is no war, famine, enjoyment of bountiful years, divorce, recurrence of the Spanish Flu, accidents, control of passion by all people, natural spoiling of children, or change of political order.  When in history has this ever happened?  If I apply a scientific method to the review of history against any one of these factors, much less a combination of two, I can say never with confidence.

    A view of family across all traditional cultures shows having a large nuclear family is a reward and sign of prosperity.  Large families can take a loss, as tragic as it might be, and still survive to another generation.  Families with large families embrace passion and reap the rewards with a 99% stability rate (i.e. no divorce) when using Natural Family Planning.  In large families where parents have all the children help each other natural selflessness arises.  Even economic science shows growing populations increase GDP, while stable and declining populations result in a loss of economic power despite automation.

    Yet just saying have a large family is also a poor scientific argument as well.  Many large families fail because they may be open to life, but fail in another basic component of success.  One has to look into the why behind successful families everywhere, and its origins.  These reasons come from observations in natural law, not man’s law.

    In Genesis we see man was not complete until he had a wife.  Together they were to be fruitful and multiply.  Proverbs tells us a man will have no fear to argue in the city gates when surrounded by his children.  Jesus tells men they must serve their families to the point of complete self sacrifice, and women must listen to their self sacrificing men.  (This addresses our greatest vices as men and women of power going to our heads, and sets the example for their children’s future relationships) Time and time again we also read throughout the Bible we all must look for the Lord’s direction, and build our world towards it.  Embracing these lessons points us towards successful family models.

    St John Paul II, in his masterful Theology of the Body, also reminds us men and women complete the other sex in marriage.  In the marital act we participate in renewing creation with God.  Acceptance and loving our resulting children then completes the family.  When viewed in its totality, this sets up an environment where family life can mimic the Biblical revelations of Natural Law.  This type of environment fosters good and minimize bad family effects we can see in the physical world around us, while moving from generation to generation.

    In the a few short words above I hope this lets you understand where I started on my journey towards embracing the title of this post: Be Not Afraid (of a Plus Sized Family) in today’s world.  This decision does not come without challenges, doubts and trials.  It is emblematic of real life, needing a constant renewal.  Nothing worth doing ever came without cost…and never will.  So be not afraid to look at the reality of the world, and use its very nature to form a better future according to the will of God revealed through nature.  I promise the experience will really ENLIGHTEN you!

-ehw

P.S. Besides where would I get my cute photos of family life from without this many kids?

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Spunky

    At then end of a long day, when you just came inside from playing in the dirt with your brothers you just get SPUNKY!

    I love my kids….this is just all part of loving the moments on the high ground of life.

-ehw

Photo Essay: Connecting to the Christ Child’s Heart

    At the center of the plaza in front of the Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament is the statue of the Child Jesus extending his Sacred Heart towards us.  The heart of a child, broken of it’s innate narcism, recognizes the blessings Christ brings to us in some moment of silence.  For most of us, those childhood moments form the closest and purest connections to God we will ever have.  it is the closest we will ever come to touching the Sacred Heart of our Lord.  

    The reason is once we leave the narcism free window of youth, our lives get busy.  Our lives fill with noise and competition needed survive in the adult world.  The moments of peace needed to connect to God in the manger, at the Sermon on the Mount, on his cross, or arising from the dead in his glorious triumph over death get crowded out on the clock.  The devil uses our fallen world to challenge your attempts at connection to Christ using trials to us at work, his mocking us when our children go astray, or physical ailments used fogging our mind and blocking reception of God’s treasures bestowed on us.

    We should not lament on this spiritual torment.  We must accept it, and revel in the few moments of childlike joy we do get when our hearts open to the Lord.  We must treasure those moments as a triumph over the forces of Satan, and know this constant spiritual battle is the one the Lord encourages us to have.  A heart constantly striving for the Lord is one which never leaves faith or hope aside, and provides a path where charity can flower.

    See the striving heart, the one cutting through the distractions of the world, is a mature heart seeking Jesus Sacred Heart.  The striving heart completes the circle of spiritual life for those blessed with a childhood connection to the Lord.  See if charity flows through your heart to others, you again stripped yourself of narcism like you did as a child.  In the charitable acts you will build not just a moment of joy, but the potential for an eternity of heavenly joy with Christ.

-ehw

P.S. Thanks to Mom for the inspiration for this blog post!

Open to Grace: Two Fruits of Classical Catholic Education

    Today our little Catholic Hybrid School will graduate our senior class.  Through family friendships and school events, I watched two of them grow into peaceful and God Fearing young adults.  These two also became my very first senior photo clients!  

    Neil is a quiet young man of deep thought (like some of my best high school friends).  He will go out west to college, and will begin the study of media production from a Catholic perspective at John Paul the Great Catholic University.  This is a great fit for him.  

    In our school I observed how he is a quiet, humble leader of the younger students.  Many boys looked to him, literally looked directly at him, before doing almost anything to observe the example he would set.  His example became their course of action.  He respectfully fulfilled his duties to the school and family very well.  His quiet leadership leaves a void for the school population, which will be noticeable until another boy fills his vacated role.

    Mikayla is a lovely young woman, of sincere virtue.  She lets God’s grace work through her life to help others.  She will enter studies at Aquinas College in Nashville this fall.  She will be more than a normal student though, as she continues her discernment of vocation with the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, a teaching order of nuns.  

    Again a great fit for this woman’s character.  In our school, and with her family, she is a guidon for a prayerful life. You can see it when she enters a room.  Small children hold her hand, and admire her.  Her baby sister simply adores her.  She also walks with a grace beyond her years.  When she enters chapel with her matillia, she peacefully focuses herself and those around her on the mass and prayer.  She is no wallflower though.  She demands unimproved family campsites, and can rough it with the best of them.

   I hope I captured a bit of the reflected glory of God these two bring to the world.  I enjoyed watching as my children gravitated to them at school and band over the last two years.  I knew their example would be good ones, and not misguide my children on their own path to adulthood.  I continue to learn a great deal from their parents as well, since they are good examples of parenting in a stormy world.

    Mikayla and Neil:  May God’s grace continue to fall on you, and your souls never let your eyes wonder off the prize of heaven.  You’ve started the race for the prize well, and may the finish be even more virtuous in God’s eyes as you change the world for His Glory.  Amen!

-ehw