Saturday, September 20, 2014

Family Synod thoughts

Sous le slogan : « Un papa, une maman, on ne ment pas aux enfants », l’association Alliance Vita...I was on the bus today on the seat in front of me was a Muslim women in a headscarf with three young boys and a baby, she was gently telling one of the boys to stop sulking, whilst feeding the baby and chatting and laughing with the  others. On the sideways on row of seats was another mother dressed in western clothes chatting on her phone and  rather noisily telling off her daughter for making a mess with the chocolate she was eating. In fact she was more interested in fixing up a date for this evening a friend. I know I shouldn't have been listening but it was impossible not to. Her shopping seemed to be mainly bottles. The first mother was relaxed with her children and seemed to enjoy them, the other seemed to find her daughter a bit of trial.

I've been thinking about that phrase in the marriage ceremony about 'welcoming children'. It is interesting that so many of the early Fathers speak of hospitality as an important virtue for Bishops, it seems to be one of the virtues our Holy Father wants in bishops and priests, being welcoming.

I went to Bishop Schneider's Mass at Ramsgate some months ago, I was made very welcome by the Parish Priest, as usual and by the other clergy attending and I had several invitations to lunch, which as I had some parishioners with me and lunch was in restaurants I refused because I some couldn't afford it. My last invitation was from Dominic, the director of music, he invited me back to his parents house, I explained I had five parishioners with me, so I couldn't. His reply, "Oh bring them along, I'm taking the choir anyhow, my mother is used to catering for large numbers!" I think there are thirteen in the family, they are one of those large Catholic families that not only welcome the children God gave them but also their children's friends, and anyone else God sends them. They have certainly had a priest or two staying with them for extended periods. What I love about families like that is the sense of abandonment to God's will, which I am convinced is really behind the Church's teaching, not just on marriage and celibacy but on the spiritual life.

Another of my parishioners met a very nice French girl, who was just different, she took him home to meet her family, her parents and ten younger brothers and sisters, immediately he wanted what they had. He been thinking about becoming a Catholic but it was the encounter with her family that seems to have been main reason for his conversion. They had their wedding a few weeks ago in Paray le Monial, celebrated in the Old Rite by an Archbishop a family friend. In fact both these families are attached to the Old Rite. A real Catholic family is a great evangelical sign when it is truly the 'domestic Church'.

The interesting thing is of course that most Catholics have the national average number of children and practically all of the responses to the pre-Synod questionnaire demonstrate that Catholics are really unaffected by Catholic teaching on marriage and sexuality etc, in fact many, including sadly bishops and priests identify, themselves by their opposition tothis very teaching.

Having more than the average, 1.7 or 1.8 children, is often the preserve of the wealthy today, the cost for many is prohibitive, or at least frightening. The choice for children is counter-cultural, a choice against many of the values of what has become mainstream western culture. It needs a stable marriage for a start, it also has serious financial implications, it involves the mother choosing not to work, accepting different roles in the family.

For most Muslims, unlike Catholics, it is not a difficult choice, and yet 'welcoming children' has serious political and economic implications. Not welcoming children has meant the necessity of immigration, simply because we are not replacing our population or producing the number of people we need for industry. In fact we tend to treat poorer nations as a source of trained, educated workers in the same way as we might treat the as a source of other raw materials. Not welcoming children has been the cause of gender confusion, the commodification of sexuality, a trivialisation and narrowing of our understanding of the family, and a cruder and rougher society.

I get the impression children are part of our society on sufferance, that they are seen not as the natural result of the love of two people but 'chosen' and 'planned'. Now we can speak of children 'being wanted', as if there is a possibility in God's plan of a child being anything other than a gift or a result of God's good providence. If in our society children were a natural result of the committed love of a man and women, children themselves mioght grow up with the understanding that they will naturally themselves become parents sooner rather than later. In reality parenthood itself is not now normative, rather than being something which happens in the late teens or early twenties and being the reason for home and family and labour, it is often now the last significant thing that happens before retirement.
Human loving has changed, it is not seen in terms of protecting and nurturing but in terms of personal satisfaction or even personal happiness. Protecting and nurturing is the mark of unselfish adult love. 'Love' in the Gospel is about moving from self to the other, to God and one's neighbour. The family, is or should be the school of loving and a place of human maturing and flourishing.

My hope for the Synod is that it is really about is welcoming children, as important as other issues are, fundamental to everything is children. The fact they they have not figured greatly so far in pre-Synod discussions indicates how the Church has itself become as contracepting as the average Catholic family or the rest of society.


Francisco Franco said...
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Francisco Franco said...

Pardon me, Fr. Blake, but you're hardly being Pastoral. You should have complimented the Bottle Lady on the Telly for her hair or shoes and told her she smells like a fringy sheep.

How do you like Antarctica in the winter, Father? Msgr. Ricca is taking names and there's a Malta Chaplaincy in Penguinville with your name on it.

Dress warmly!

gemoftheocean said...

As usual, a thoughtful article from you. [Actually, I am GRATEFUL that the bottle lady WAS minding her child. Chocolate is messy. young kids who don't watch it, end up smearing seats...which people sit on....which ruins other people's clothes!!!!]

As regards the Muslim woman, a huge percentage of Muslim, apparently are on benefits....while the average English couple tear their hair out how are they going to manage to house/feed and educate their own two (if they are lucky) kids PLUS the Muslim family.....

It likely doesn't help the house of housing has become obscene, and the dutiful family who want to pay their own way, end up supporting 2 families.....they have to pay for their housing while the Muslim family often gets it at the expense of the taxpayer....and the Muslim family simply out breeds them.

You caught it right that the big family now is the purview of the rich....or the benefits class.

You need a government that is pro family for starters. No such thing in the UK at present. And increasingly, the US. At least as long as the White House has a Muslim occupant who is a pro-abort.

Sara Harvey-Craig said...

Dearest Father,

You have captured the current society perfectly in this article. One can go against the tide and be open to life and therefore counter-cultural but one will suffer from the most unlikely sources eg from priests, perhaps purporting to be traditional, who look down on stay-at-home mothers and don't understand why they have no money... I speak as one who is a stay-at-home mother.

Believe it or not, people within the Church are also against those who have a welcoming nature and who show generosity and they will persecute you for it.

Joao said...

In France (at least) there are two catholic cultures now.

Theres's the "Pope Francis is wonderful, but don't bother to practice the faith except when it suits you" crowd, and then there's those large familíes (and younger priests), many of which are "neopelagians, etc...".

The first group is dieing.

They are dieing of old age and no children. They will also have massive heart attacks caused by all that ("evangelii") gaudium coming out of the media coverage of the 2 synods and of the reading of the post-synodal exhortation.

The second group is also dieing !

They are dieing of neglect (by their pastors) and some are being scandalised to death. Many will be martyrs, although, bar the ocasional islamic atrocity, it will be a quite and hidden martyrdom: trying to live as a christian in the middle of the world, day in, day out. Out of this life will come; the Church will ressurect again.

There is a third way. We can ask for a miracle and pray that the synod will be about something that you a I know that it won't be about.

Of course, in spite of what the Pope's favorite theologians might teach, miracles do happen ! Christ did ressurect the son of the widow of naim.

So, keep prayng. I know I will ...

Jeremiah Methuselah said...

An excellent post, yet again, for which I thank you Father Ray.

The fact of this current western world is that children are not wanted by so many people – until it is frequently too late. Children are seen as a nuisance, a brake on living, a hindrance to “getting on with life”. This includes large numbers of Catholics and “obliging priests”. Children are not wanted on voyage.

Until later on, sometimes. Then, married couples, plenty of them Catholic, engage in immoral (and expensive) attempts to have children, after having let all previous opportunities pass them by, while they were “doing their thing” and having what they thought was a good time, oblivious to the richness and rewards for those who marry for the sake of true love and abandon themselves to the will of Almighty God, as you say. IVF procedures, “renting out of wombs” and other repulsive conduct may well sometimes produce children, but who would fancy revealing to their children the depravity of such acts ? Also, they have, more often than not, prevented themselves from enjoying the pleasures of being grandfather or grandmother.

While the topic of Islamic immigration has become near-toxic, the dedication of Muslims to the practice of their faith is a remarkable thing. No Saturday evening masses (so they can have a lie-in on Sunday morning) for them. Anyone who has been to Muslim countries will have seen the daily regular and overt prayer by all and sundry. Contrast this with the almost extinct Catholic custom of crossing oneself when passing a church where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved, sometimes a man would raise his hat in salute. Can’t remember when I last saw that, countless years ago, probably.

Anonymous said...

In this atheistic "culture", which has been imposed by the state, marriage and motherhood and fatherhood are reviled. People need to trust more in God. Man and wife must be open to any child God sends them, and if there is no physical impediment, this will tend to be many. We in the Catholic Church must help each other, as well as those outside, in material ways as well as spiritual. Too many people use excuses to limit how many children they will accept from God, who provides. The values of the atheistic state have been adopted, and those of God and His Holy Church discarded, and so many worldly bishops and priests have misled the people in this as in the moral life generally by failing to teach the Faith in its uncompromising fullness.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Sorry just deleted some interesting comments.

John Vasc said...

A fascinating topic, Fr Ray, and you point at the roots of our cultural as well as spiritual decline.
There are so many reasons why children (and of course meaningful marriage) have disappeared in the west. Once could make a lengthy economic analysis; but basically it comes down to our selfish anxieties about impoverishment, exploitation and restriction, as well as conversely, greed for material things and comfort.
And I must include myself here, as one who has never married. I may tell myself it is because it never 'happened' - but it probably never happened because deep down I feared the prospect, and lacked the proper faith in God's providence.

Jacobi said...

Conflicting forces are at work in the Church today.

Communion for the divorced and remarried, is as the Holy Father has said, is not the issue as far as the Synod on the Family is concerned. No, the real question is the very idea of sin, something which has been under attack by Relativist forces from before and after Vatican II.

But the divorced are being used as a “test case”. If concessions are made under alse “Pastoralism” or false “Mercy”, to the divorced and remarried who are by any objective Catholic assessment, in a state of Mortal Sin, then logically the same concessions should be made to any others guilty of the Seven deadly sins, not t mention the four sins crying out to Heaven for vengeance, and a few others such of course, as casual Mass attendees, and of course contraceptors.

This latter group, the few in my parish who attend Mass seem as Father has said, if anything below the national average of 1.6 children and certainly below that of the ever growing Muslim immigrant community who seem to be at a healthy 3.0, if the many families I now see since the last three years in my local supermarket, is anything to go by.

Yes, the main reason Catholics are decreasing is because they are contracepting themselves out of existence.

Damask Rose said...

With regards to this discussion on the upcoming Synod of the Family, I would say it's all to do with homosexual priests so they can continue to s**w each other.

I have repeatedly stated on the blogosphere that any priest who condones, is soft on contraception, avoids preaching HV, and especially homosexualist priests are sterile. They are not real authentic spiritual f.a.t.h.e.r.s. These are alter christus. Even St Faustina Kowalska, though revealed to her, was not allowed by Jesus to write in her diary how the priest at ordination is united to Him. It's supernatural. God the Father is Creator and Adam was given the seed to create man. Frighteningly awesome.

Contraception, homosexuality, it's all sterility.

It's all about comfort zones.

If you have a catechised, holy, pure laity, this laity will not condone the sexual immoral behaviour of Catholic priests, hetero, or homosexual. In fact, they will be horrified at the homosexuality, yes, really. Because chastity really kicks in.

If you have known homosexual priests, or the knowledge that there are homosexual priests in the Church, then the laity won't think that their sexual sins are as bad as the gay priest's sins. Especially when it comes to the salvation of their children who are maybe fornicating, are adulterers or contracepting. They don't want to consider hell for their children. Sorry, homosexual Father's sins are worse. It's comfort zones. This is why in the teeny articles in Catholic newspapers you always read that parishioners support their alcoholic priest or the priest with a mistress because the laity can then sin the same way.

This is why I have no time for men who are ordained to the Permanent Diaconate whose children have been sinning sexually openly for a number of years, because the witness to Catholic life is null and void. (Thank God the priests aren't married.)

If priests and laity can denigrate the Mass and Sanctuary they can denigrate the Blessed Sacrament. Communion in the Hand is part of this. St Paul said the body is the Temple of the Lord, but if the Blessed Sacrament is treated badly, who is going to be concerned about their own body?

The devil will move a sinner up. If the Church will tolerate contraceptors receiving Communion, it follows it will want to do this for adulterers and then practicing gays.

I wonder if Pope Francis will baptise a "child" of a gay or transsexual in the Vatican? That is the ultimate move. The full circle of the new Catholicism. The new mercy. Nothing denied. Remember, it's already happened in his own diocese. The full circle of the mockery of the Holy Family in the Church.

I would say this is a result of:

1. the abandoning of EENS,
2. St JPII "universalism" and especially, JPII informing the Jews that the First Covenant still stands even though the Son of God gave us a New Covenant.
3. (Please correct me if I'm wrong) The traitorous removal of "perfidious" from the Good Friday liturgy, during an actual Good Friday service by St Pope John XXIII, total slap in the face of crucified Christ. Total belittling of the King of Kings.
4. 25 year reign of St JPII where homosexuality in the priesthood continued unabated.
5. The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. (If I were Pope, they'd have to take me out through assassination.) I used to feel sorry for him in that in his elderly frailty he could be manipulated, God knows they thwarted him enough, what with Benedict's overtures to the SSPX and SP. But now I think differently.

I feel as though my Catholicism is being eroded and that Benedict's reign was a hiatus. In fact, it's almost as though the blow up of the 2002 homosexualist priest sex abuse scandal merely put a spanner in their works (oh, the inconvenience...). It's as though this pontificate of Pope Francis is racing ahead, on catch-up.

To say that the Catholic Faith has problems is an understatement.

Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...

My hope for the synod is that unfaithfullness gets the chop; or unfaithfullness gets recognised by the rest for what it is.

Why, oh why, do contemporary Christian's find demon worhsipping, animal-blood sacrificing false-prophet followers 'sympathetic'? Not, it would seem, as poor deluded souls needing Christ, but, seemingly, without Christ, in and of themselves?

If I had to count up the references made in contemporary 'catholicism' to infidels in the attempt to make a point (Christian?)...well...why bother with Christ? Christ never proclaimed infidels as exemplars of salvations. He only ever pointed to a rich 'Samaritan' as a basic standard for not being a self-centred creep (for all we know the Samaritan's wealth was cause and effect for the poor creature by the road-side). What does this mean?

Since I have never been the cruchiest cookie in any Catholic packet, I would welcome serious responses.

Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...

p.s. @Gem. Usually you go off ya nut at any mention of a Catholic Mass-going female with anything the size of postage stamp on her noggin; - why not got off at the demure admiration of a women stuck in a devilish falsehood being required to live in a shroud while she's alive? Just asking.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Enough of veils, burqas I think I have said something more important this trivial rubbish, nor am I interest in racist Muslim bashing.


gemoftheocean said...

Yeah, but could vit: PLEASE drop me a line so I could answer. Vit, please post comment on the last blog I did and I will answer you there as I saved it...incase it was "disappeared." Or better yet, I will just post a new post on my blog and you can see my answer there. Please don't "disappear" this response, Fr. B.

Православный физик said...

I tend to agree with your reflections Father, this time is no different.

Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...

@Gem. I apologize for brinigng up former outspoken thoughts on female religous attire, and since Father Ray was admiring, I think, 'Hagars' attire, it seemed strange that no one thinks it rather awful when it comes down to it.

Damask Rose said...
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Damask Rose said...
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George said...

Evidenced clearly by the commenters on this blog, we see how so many "good" Catholics are clueless products of the naturalist, secularist modernity. They believe themselves to be Catholics "in the know", but they are clueless agents of Naturalism and Whigism.

And, as shown by your experience on the bus, we can see how so many Muslims are living in conformity with the Logos.

Good luck Catholics, running upstream against the natural order of Creation!

Tristan said...

A brilliant post - but whilst you seem to draw the comparison between the prevailing culture and counter-cultural Christianity there is a brutal economic truth which no amount of catechesis will alter. When I was a child (not that long ago) it was possible to buy a home on one income. That is now impossible.

I am resigned to the fact that I not be able to afford a house until I marry, and quite simply, if we do not both work, then the mortgage will not be paid.

Unless my wife or I gets an amazing income (remembering the average income of the UK is £27k) having more than one child simply will not be possible.

George said...

"For the days are coming in which they shall say, 'Blessed are the barren and the wombs that that have not borne, and the breasts that did not nurse.'"

Yup. We are all functional Malthusians nows.

Dymphna said...

Westerners hate children. Oh we claim to love them but we slaughter them before they are born, stick them in daycare as soon as they are born, buy them stuff to keep them out of our way and complain about them until they leave the house for good. I've never seen a Third World or Middle Eastern woman do this and I've been struck by how much happier their children seem.

George said...


Exactly right.

It's not lack of finances, it's lack of Charity ...and a profound lack of sensus fidelium.

There is no lack of rationalizations for this behavior.

I've even seen "God has called me to serve the kingdom by blogging, rather than having more children."

Anonymous said...

Yes, it's a worldly, evil attitude rather than a natural, Catholic one.

Sara Harvey-Craig said...

Dear Tristan,

Why do you follow the crowd and expect to own your own home? We live on one not very good teacher's income and will never be able to own our own home. That is the price I have to pay for being a stay-at-home mother so that my children grow up with their mother. In other European countries it's not even the norm to own your own home - you rent. On judgement day, God isn't going to ask you whether you own your own home, whether you've paid the mortgage, whether you've left your children an inheritance... but he will ask you how you brought up your children. God bless. Be counter-cultural!

George said...

We're living under a powerfully imbued economic philosophy, which aggressively began 200 years ago. It's the absolute dominant paradigm that rules macro-economics down to the most micro-economics, the family. "Money is fertile and people are sterile." It's the exact opposite of divine mandate. It's the exact opposite of the Laws of Nature. We have an economic system set up opposed to the moral law and to the very laws of Creation. The blessing of being Catholic is that despite our social programming which may never permit us to break the dominant paradigm, we have the Church to guide us, if only we are obedient. "Do whatever He tells you."

I feel blessed to make about $130,000 a year. I have eight children. And I'm open to have as many as God grants me. But very few people (Catholic included) whom I know who have similar incomes to mine, have large families. At every echelon of income there is another economic excuse for not having more children. Someone making $30,000 a year may not believe this. But wake up making $130,000 and you quickly find other things to monetarily fret about. Of course at some point, and at some income level, you may in fact run out of legitimate excuses that even the modern poorly formed conscience can justify. Then, it becomes "I have other ways to serve the Kingdom other than having more children. "I run the schola at the Latin Mass" or "I play the banjo at the Novus Ordo." I've heard several varieties. At every level of income the excuse-maker is being deceived by the Father of Lies.

The culture of sterility is everywhere and affects everything. You can see it of course in our modern Church architecture.

Anonymous said...

Well, said, Sarochka. You and your husband live the Faith, as most baptised Catholic husbands and wives did until being turned to the world in recent decades. I am one of nine siblings - when children our family didn't have many things that so many people now denote as necessary. God bless you, your marriage and your family. May all of you remain strong in the Faith and continue to give witness to it.

Unknown said...

As a mother of 5, I have always been the one with the most children in any mothers' group I've joined. (When I had only 3 I had the most.) It can be awkward. Lately, though, God has blessed me with Catholic friends who have more children. It is amazing how that affects one's attitude toward fertility! It is a joy to be around families who welcome children as blessings.

Damask Rose said...
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Damask Rose said...
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Catholic Mission said...

October 1, 2014

All the Cardinals at the Synod on the family in their catechesis will use the irrational right hand column in the intepretation of Vatican Council II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church

b. said...

Children used to be called "blessings". Not any more. When congratulating a newly wed couple, nobody wishes them the "blessing of children" any more. It is very sad and terrible.

Pelerin said...

Another 'Manif pour tous' took place in Paris yesterday in support of the family. The organisers estimated 500,000 took part whereas the police put the numbers at 70,000.

Did anyone see any mention on the British news? I didn't. However the 'France 2' tv channel led their evening bulletin with the event and it can be seen on the internet.

There was also a similar demo in Bordeaux.

The comment from b. is interesting. However many couples have already had a 'blessing' or two before their wedding so perhaps that is why the custom has died out.

Pelerin said...

Having a much needed 'sort out' and tidy up today I have come across a beautiful poem which I had cut out of the Catholic press many years ago and later lost. It probably dates from either the year of Humanae Vitae or the year the Abortion Act was passed in Britain. It is signed by someone called Mary Collingwood although whether she wrote it or merely contributed it I do not know.
- o -

Side by side on the very front
Four little boys and one little wench
Whilst a baby of indiscriminate sex
Blissfully lolled 'gainst a masculine chest.
The mother, young for so much care
lost in her God knelt quietly there
Accepting from Him the lives of those
Who on her flesh His Breath imposed.

Backward and forward the argument goes
A shuttlecock way from the 'Ays' to the 'Noes.'
Shall we decide on six or on seven
Five, four, three, two or maybe eleven?
And which one prevent, with our right to consent;
Which one accept, with our right to reject;
And which shall we choose for the one who will lose
The right to be born,
Happy, forlorn
Simple or clever-
If one life we sever
Who knows?
Shadowy fingers
And half-formed toes
Are all that the light
Of an X-ray shows.

What precepts shall guide us
whose voice decide us?
Stretching at leisure, crowing with pleasure
The baby awoke from a wonderful sleep,
And kicking ringed legs rediscovered his feet,
The power that was his to raise and to lower,
Make them go faster, keep them at slower.
Entranced with this measure of power and pleasure
Miracle newly by himself wrought,
From toes to fingers and in his face lingers,
A fragment of Joy from the First Fiat caught.

This poem left a big impression on me and I'm pleased that I have rediscovered it.

Jeremiah Methuselah said...

Pelerin, Breitbart has reported the "Manif" :

The Lord’s descent into the underworld

At Matins/the Office of Readings on Holy Saturday the Church gives us this 'ancient homily', I find it incredibly moving, it is abou...