Children are a blessing, and the family is the very foundation of civil society.
In a society where the contraceptive mentality has seeped into almost every corner of society, including the Church, larger families are often frowned upon. Many husbands and wives joyfully welcoming their fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh or more child into their families have to endure the skeptical questioning of family, friends, and complete strangers.
For these families, the curiosity, skepticism and judgment of others regarding their family size becomes an opportunity to witness to the Gospel of Life, and the joy of the family.
When men and women live out their marriage vows with fidelity, welcoming all the gifts that God has for them, they participate in re-establishing a firm foundation for the future of humanity.
In 2011, for the National Day of Croatian Catholic Families, Pope Benedict XVI gave an important homily on the missionary role of Catholic families. In this homily, he points out how a faithful Catholic family can be a profound testimony to marriage and family.
“By the grace of God, many Christian families today are acquiring an ever deeper awareness of their missionary vocation, and are devoting themselves seriously to bearing witness to Christ the Lord. Blessed John Paul II once said: “An authentic family, founded on marriage, is in itself ‘good news’ for the world.” And he added: “In our time the families that collaborate actively in evangelization are ever more numerous […] the hour of the family has arrived in the Church, which is also the hour of the missionary family” (Angelus, 21 October 2001).
In today’s society the presence of exemplary Christian families is more necessary and urgent than ever. Unfortunately, we are forced to acknowledge the spread of a secularization which leads to the exclusion of God from life and the increasing disintegration of the family, especially in Europe. Freedom without commitment to the truth is made into an absolute, and individual well-being through the consumption of material goods and transient experiences is cultivated as an ideal, obscuring the quality of interpersonal relations and deeper human values; love is reduced to sentimental emotion and to the gratification of instinctive impulses, without a commitment to build lasting bonds of reciprocal belonging and without openness to life. We are called to oppose such a mentality!
Alongside what the Church says, the testimony and commitment of the Christian family – your concrete testimony – is very important, especially when you affirm the inviolability of human life from conception until natural death, the singular and irreplaceable value of the family founded upon matrimony and the need for legislation which supports families in the task of giving birth to children and educating them.
Dear families, be courageous! Do not give in to that secularized mentality which proposes living together as a preparation, or even a substitute for marriage! Show by the witness of your lives that it is possible, like Christ, to love without reserve, and do not be afraid to make a commitment to another person!
Dear families, rejoice in fatherhood and motherhood! Openness to life is a sign of openness to the future, confidence in the future, just as respect for the natural moral law frees people, rather than demeaning them!
The good of the family is also the good of the Church. I would like to repeat something I have said in the past: “the edification of each individual Christian family fits into the context of the larger family of the Church which supports it and carries it with her … And the Church is reciprocally built up by the family, a ‘small domestic church’” (Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI to the Participants in the Ecclesial Diocesan Convention of Rome, 6 June 2005). Let us pray to the Lord, that families may come more and more to be small churches and that ecclesial communities may take on more and more the quality of a family!
Congratulate married couples who announce they have been blessed with another child. Rejoice with them, assist them if needed, encourage them in their vocation as parents. This encouragement is deeply appreciated by parents as their families grow larger than the average family, as often they face thoughtless judgement, even by those in the Church.
Blessing of Parents Before the Birth of their Child
Gracious Father, your Word, spoken in love, created the human family and, in the fullness of time, your Son, conceived in love, restored it to your friendship. Hear the prayers of N. and N., who await the birth of their child. Calm their fears when they are anxious. Watch over and support these parents and bring their child into this world safely and in good health, so that as members of your family they may praise you and glorify you through your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.