God had a childhood. On the way to salvation, Jesus, the Son of God, passed through childhood under the loving care of Mary and Joseph. He was born into a culture where being fruitful and multiplying was seen as a blessing. It still is a blessing today, seen clearly by some but distorted and rejected by others. Granted, there always have been atrocities against children, such as those against the Holy Innocents, but in my lifetime, children have lost their standing in the world as precious gifts from God.
The culture has been hard on children and increasingly so since contraception began preventing their existence, abortion began ending their lives, and false notions of overpopulation and limited resources began treating them as hostile intruders. And then there are all the measures that harm them such as administering irreversible puberty blocking drugs, allowing minors to have abortions without parental consent, and turning babies into commodities by creating them in laboratories through IVF and contracting with surrogates to carry them.
The ramifications can be heart-wrenching. For instance, last year, a surrogate mother in California lost her court battle for custody of the triplets she carried for a 50-year-old man. When he had learned three of the embryos survived and were growing, he demanded that she abort one because of financial concerns. Given that he is deaf, unable to speak, lives in squalor in the basement of his elderly, disabled parents and earns only $750 a week as a night postal worker, he had reasons to be concerned about finances. But what about concern for the babies who are now 2 years old? The judge said the contract was valid, so the triplets are treated like property.
Why should the desire of adults override the well-being of children? There was a time when the culture understood that children should be safeguarded.
As the birth rate goes down and seeking self-fulfillment goes up, children often are viewed with price tags where the investment of time and money are too high a cost. No one claims that children are easy to raise, but they are worth it. They possess eternal value and make us better people — not in spite of the work and sacrifice, but because of it. Consider the ways they bless us.
- They are the key to open a room in our hearts not possible any other way.
- Time and money spent on children is an investment in eternity.
- They are the only things we can take with us to heaven.
- Children hone our virtues, making us more patient, more giving, more understanding, and more loving.
- They help us to focus more on God as we realize we need his help raising the children he gave us.
Ways to cherish children in our culture
Although we cannot single-handedly change the culture, there are many ways that we can be instruments toward a kinder, more protective world for children as we head into Respect Life Month in October:
- Nurture and protect children through voting and speaking up against programs that harm them, such as drag queen story hours.
- Consider becoming a foster parent or adopting hard-to-place children.
- Acknowledge and grieve miscarriages. Those are our babies, too.
- Support local pregnancy centers, which help mothers even after the birth of the baby.
- Seek to improve your marriage and if not married, acknowledge the difficulties your children might face and find help for them to overcome obstacles.
- Compliment big families for being open to life. As a mother of 10, I know firsthand that wisecracks or negative expressions are more common.
- Look for opportunities to help families, such as offering to babysit so a young couple can go out or bringing a meal over to a busy single mom.
- Volunteer to teach faith formation classes at your parish and support other child-centered programs such as battered women’s shelters.
- Read Pope St. John Paul II’s “Letter to Families,” published on Feb. 2, 1994, during the Year of the Family. He identified the family as the pathway to holiness and emphasized the roles of fathers and mothers as key to building up a “civilization of love” at individual and societal levels.
- Avoid complaining about your children. It’s a bad habit that associates negative feelings with children and is often heard by them or others. Instead, develop the habit of gratitude for the blessings that children bring in order to help create a more loving atmosphere around them.
- In your prayer intentions, include the love and protection of children and ask God to lead you to the ways he would like you to help fulfill that.
Patti Maguire Armstrong writes from North Dakota.
|Pope Francis and young life in Africa|
During the recent in-flight press conference on Pope Francis’ return to Rome from his visit to three African nations, the pope spoke of the joy of the African children.
Pope Francis contrasted the differences in the European culture and Africa in a Vatican News report: “‘I think it is rooted in well-being,’ that attitude that chooses a life filled with goods and tranquility and expresses a general distrust in the future over the wealth of having a child. In contrast, Pope Francis says he appreciates the Prime Minister of Mauritius who told him he wants to provide the country with free education and vocational training for young people. Recalling the episode of a little girl taken care of by a policeman during the Mass in Port Louis because she had lost her parents in the crowd, he took the opportunity to point out that: ‘The state must take care of families, of young people. It is the duty of the state to sustain them in their development.'”