Fewer children? Then fewer nuns


#1

getreligion.org/2011/03/fewer-children-then-fewer-nuns/


#2

[quote="Michael_Forrest, post:1, topic:234950"]
getreligion.org/2011/03/fewer-children-then-fewer-nuns/

[/quote]

Totally true.

People are selfish and refuse to accept more than 1 or 2 kids. Then they are selfish and oppose it if somehow one of those two kids dares propose to give herself to Christ in the religious life. It's just being consistent.

And I believe I've seen it myself. Can't recall hearing a story about a kid from a big family who discerned a call and was discouraged from pursuing it by the parents.


#3

Fewer children does not just mean fewer nuns it also means fewer people period and eventually no people at all if, as it is in Italy for example, the birth rate is below 2.1 and remains that way.


#4

it also means less workers to produce and less consumers to buy which means a shrinking economy. And thanks to the wonders of social security this also guarantees ever increasing taxes on the shrinking working age population who must pay more individually because there are less workers to share the tax burden but the same and even increasing costs to be paid.

Immigration is the only thing preserving the system right now.


#5

I keep teasing my husband that I might convert if I keep running into dorky teenage boys so I can send my daughter to a convent just to protect her. :p


#6

I am not convinced the lower birth rate is the biggest hindrance to religious life. Religious life has so much more competing against it in winning the attention of children. One of the commenters on the article said religious life is "counter-cultural". This is not a new thing.

Unfortunately the "easy" things like attending Mass and religious education is counter-cultural too.


#7

[quote="manualman, post:2, topic:234950"]
Totally true.

People are selfish and refuse to accept more than 1 or 2 kids. Then they are selfish and oppose it if somehow one of those two kids dares propose to give herself to Christ in the religious life. It's just being consistent.

And I believe I've seen it myself. Can't recall hearing a story about a kid from a big family who discerned a call and was discouraged from pursuing it by the parents.

[/quote]

There is no set number of children a couple is required to have by the Church. The Church does not say it is selfish or sinful to have only one child, or two, etc. If the Church doesn't require it, we as members shouldn't either. What the Church does say is that it's part of responsible parenthood to determine what is best for one's family, considering many variables including health of the parents, ability to care for more children, economcis, etc. We do not live in an economy that allows everyone to have 10 children. Those that are called to have large families are doing so. Those that are not called to have large families have small ones.

As to being called to a religious life, parents want what is best for their children. Just like some individuals think that everyone is called to have many children, there are other individuals who think that their children would be more fulfilled by growing up and getting married, rather than being part of the clergy. I know what you mean about some people opposing their children from joinging clergy. They just want their child to be happy, and I feel today there is a stigma of "unhappiness" and "lonliness" associated with being a nun because people don't understand the devout life one is being called to. But I also believe that if a person truly has a calling, their parents won't be able to circumvent that from happening. God is more powerful than parents ;)

There are less nuns simply because girls aren't aspiring to become nuns as much as they used to.


#8

[quote="Rence, post:7, topic:234950"]
There is no set number of children a couple is required to have by the Church. The Church does not say it is selfish or sinful to have only one child, or two, etc. If the Church doesn't require it, we as members shouldn't either. What the Church does say is that it's part of responsible parenthood to determine what is best for one's family, considering many variables including health of the parents, ability to care for more children, economcis, etc. We do not live in an economy that allows everyone to have 10 children. Those that are called to have large families are doing so. Those that are not called to have large families have small ones.

As to being called to a religious life, parents want what is best for their children. Just like some individuals think that everyone is called to have many children, there are other individuals who think that their children would be more fulfilled by growing up and getting married, rather than being part of the clergy. I know what you mean about some people opposing their children from joinging clergy. They just want their child to be happy, and I feel today there is a stigma of "unhappiness" and "lonliness" associated with being a nun because people don't understand the devout life one is being called to. But I also believe that if a person truly has a calling, their parents won't be able to circumvent that from happening. God is more powerful than parents ;)

There are less nuns simply because girls aren't aspiring to become nuns as much as they used to.

[/quote]

Excellent points. I really resent the implication that having a small family means you aren't as good as those with large families.

It's not always selfishness that causes smaller families in the US. Keep in mind that people are getting married later, and waiting longer to have kids. That isn't a bad thing either. I was 28 when my husband and I got married. I would not have wanted to get married sooner, as then I would not be married to my husband. We waited 2 years before having kids so we could learn to be a couple before adding kids. That means I was 30 when my daughter was born. I am 32 and expecting #2 right now. My pregnancies are really HARD on me. I am 6-7 weeks out from delivery and already suffering the pelvic seperation pain that is like being stabbed in the hip joint with everystep. The thought of a 3rd pregnancy right now is horrifying. It is hard enough to give my daughter the attention she needs now, I have no idea how I would chase two of them feeling like this. Also if I want a "big family" I would have to pop out a kid every 18 months to get at least 4 by the time it starts to get into me being too old. Sorry but that is not something I'm going to do just to satisfy nosiy people in my husband's church.

Don't judge people's faith by their family size. I don;t judge peoeple with big families, don't judge those who don't have them.


#9

Of course not. But your defense ignores the all too apparent reality of this culture we live in. Look around a bit. Do you REALLY think God is calling all these people to have just one and two kids?

Generalizations are always hard on the exceptions. But when bloody nearly everybody claims to be an exception, something is fishy! I only have three myself so far and yes, we didn’t marry until age 29 either. But even with only THREE we get the rude comments about ‘lack of control’ and ‘time for the snips…’

I make no judgements about individual couples with one kid. Not my business. But whole parishes full of one and two kid families are a symptom of a problem.


#10

Why are whole parishes with 1 and 2 kid families a symptom of a problem? My sister who is a very active Catholic and her husband have 2 kids. I know it's not right that large families are criticized just b/c strangers think they can judge how many kids are "too" many. But I don't see how it follows that small families are wrong. I know that Popes have spoken out to honor large families but again I don't see where that means small ones aren't doing the will of God. I do come from a family of 3 children and I think saying that 3 kids is a large family is kind of foolish. I never thought of our family of 5 as large and I wouldn't think that today, or that judging parents was my business.


#11

[quote="manualman, post:9, topic:234950"]
Of course not. But your defense ignores the all too apparent reality of this culture we live in. Look around a bit. Do you REALLY think God is calling all these people to have just one and two kids?

[/quote]

Yes I do actually. The reality is that our culture, and our economy, makes it very difficult to be able to give more than one or two children the financial, emotional and spiritual necessities, if that's not exactly what the couple is called to do.

[quote="manualman, post:9, topic:234950"]

Generalizations are always hard on the exceptions. But when bloody nearly everybody claims to be an exception, something is fishy! I only have three myself so far and yes, we didn't marry until age 29 either. But even with only THREE we get the rude comments about 'lack of control' and 'time for the snips...'

[/quote]

Well, I think that if more people would treat others like they wanted to be treated, those with small families, and those with large families would be a lot happier. Rude comments shouldn't be directed to those with large or small familes.

[quote="manualman, post:9, topic:234950"]

I make no judgements about individual couples with one kid. Not my business. But whole parishes full of one and two kid families are a symptom of a problem.

[/quote]

That's a judgement, just saying :) There is no problem with the number of children anyone has. Every family is responsible for determining what is best for their family. Some have one or two, some have more. If the majority of people are having small families, that doesn't indicate the majority of people are doing the wrong thing and only a few are doing the right thing. It just means that not everyone has to have the same set number of children.


#12

[quote="manualman, post:9, topic:234950"]
Of course not. But your defense ignores the all too apparent reality of this culture we live in. Look around a bit. Do you REALLY think God is calling all these people to have just one and two kids?

Generalizations are always hard on the exceptions. But when bloody nearly everybody claims to be an exception, something is fishy! I only have three myself so far and yes, we didn't marry until age 29 either. But even with only THREE we get the rude comments about 'lack of control' and 'time for the snips...'

I make no judgements about individual couples with one kid. Not my business. But whole parishes full of one and two kid families are a symptom of a problem.

[/quote]

Wow! It is so rude that people say that to you! Sometimes people do not understand the Catholic approach to children. I would never go up to a couple with one child and say "You are selfish because you don't have more kids" because I am not aware of their personal life. Maybe they can't have anymore or maybe there is a serious reason to abstain from having children for the time being. If people don't understand the Catholic view of family life, they really should not judge or should keep their thoughts to themselves.


#13

[quote="Rence, post:11, topic:234950"]
Yes I do actually. The reality is that our culture, and our economy, makes it very difficult to be able to give more than one or two children the financial, emotional and spiritual necessities, if that's not exactly what the couple is called to do.

[/quote]

Not really true, in absolute terms, we are more wealthy than any other generation (we can buy more for less).

I have 6 kids myself, on the salary of an engineer to an automotive supplier. That's a pretty good wage and I can live better than our family did growing up (again with 6 kids).

Do my kids have the Xbox's and Disney vacations that my co-workers kids do? No, of course not. Heck we don't even have air conditioning or cable TV.

Pope John Paul II once wrote: ""The greatest gift you can give your child is another sibling." So which would be more important, for me to install air conditioning, or give my children another sibling.

My father once summed it up pretty well : " It costs the same to raise six kids as it does to raise one...every cent 'ya got"


#14

[quote="Rence, post:11, topic:234950"]
Every family is responsible for determining what is best for their family. .

[/quote]

And who knows more about what is best for a family than God Himself. So if a couple is REALLY interested in what is best for their family, they should simply leave that decision in God's hands.

Since children are a gift from God, and God always has our best interests at heart, He will not (in fact cannot) create more children for a couple than is good for them to have.


#15

[quote="Brendan, post:14, topic:234950"]
And who knows more about what is best for a family than God Himself. So if a couple is REALLY interested in what is best for their family, they should simply leave that decision in God's hands.

Since children are a gift from God, and God always has our best interests at heart, He will not (in fact cannot) create more children for a couple than is good for them to have.

[/quote]

Yes, the Lord knows what we can handle. Without him we are nothing, but with him we can do anything and take on any task He nudges us toward.


#16

[quote="Rence, post:11, topic:234950"]
That's a judgement, just saying :) There is no problem with the number of children anyone has. Every family is responsible for determining what is best for their family. Some have one or two, some have more. If the majority of people are having small families, that doesn't indicate the majority of people are doing the wrong thing and only a few are doing the right thing. It just means that not everyone has to have the same set number of children.

[/quote]

There isn't any problem with the number of children anyone has. The problem is that it is virtually impossible for a young, healthy couple to achieve a small family by moral means. The majority of catholics have discovered this and the majority of catholics have decided that using other means is acceptable.


#17

[quote="Brendan, post:14, topic:234950"]
And who knows more about what is best for a family than God Himself. So if a couple is REALLY interested in what is best for their family, they should simply leave that decision in God's hands.

Since children are a gift from God, and God always has our best interests at heart, He will not (in fact cannot) create more children for a couple than is good for them to have.

[/quote]

Not so according to JPII, who called it "responsible parenthood":

The catechism states: "For just reasons, spouses may wish to space the births of their children." (2368).

And from Humanae Vitae: "With regard to physical, economic, psychological and social conditions, responsible parenthood is exercised by those who **prudently and generously **decide to have more children, and by those who, for serious reasons and with due respect to moral precepts, decide not to have additional children for either a certain or an indefinite period of time."

You can't really blame God if you have so many chidren (whether that's 13 or 3) that you can't afford to feed them, that you are having emotional trouble caring for and pulling your hair out of your head, or that you can't find the time, energy or will to spiritually guide. Some people realize this and stop having them. The ones that can have them, do have them. No one is required to have a definite set number of children, or a range of children.


#18

[quote="KostyaJMJ, post:16, topic:234950"]
There isn't any problem with the number of children anyone has. The problem is that it is virtually impossible for a young, healthy couple to achieve a small family by moral means. The majority of catholics have discovered this and the majority of catholics have decided that using other means is acceptable.

[/quote]

According to those who encourage NFP, it's not virtually impossible at all. :shrug:

And I am not saying anything about "moral" or "immoral" means of having large or small familes. I am saying that the number of children one has doesn't define how "good" or "bad" a Catholic one is, and I've cited the CCC and Humanae Vitae to support what I am saying. If people are sinning to do so, then they are sinning to do so, but that's a separate issue entirely. Since we are on a Catholic forum, I am assuming that people are using NFP unless they state otherwise.


#19
  1. For some, that is indeed true. For most, it is not. We Americans are generally the richest 0.0001% of the humans ever to walk the planet, but we are VERY good at telling ourselves we “can’t afford” more kids. Sorry, not buying it. We’re selfish, me as bad as anybody else. Every other weekend I feel sorry for myself as I lie under my old clunker of a commuter car and wish I could afford a newer one - never appreciating that the thing almost never strands me, surrounds me in climate control comfort (winter or summer), treats me to music that only nobility could imagine 100 years ago and allows me mobility not dreamed of by Kings until recently.
    And in this age of vacuums, washing machines, dishwashers, lawnmowers and supermarkets, parents no longer have the ability to give the emotional support to many kids as they did in ages past when such things took from sunup to sundown to accomplish? Really??
    We simply have no ability to keep what is necessary and what is luxury in perspective today!

  2. Rudeness should not be directed at anyone, I’ll agree. It’s not my intent to be rude. But nobody EVER likes to be challenged. People almost always consider it rude. We should all have the ability to evaluate general statements and decide whether or not they apply to us without taking umbrage.

  3. Yes it is a judgement.(gasp) We MUST make judgements about principles or we are sheep, not people. Worse, we would be luke warm instead of hot or cold. The trick is to make judgements about general conditions and avoid making the assumptions that go into applying them to individuals.

Maybe you aren’t aware, but not ONE modern, industrialized nation on earth currently has a lifetime fertility rate above replacement level. Most are in dramatic decline sustained only by immigration from the third world. And the anti-child mentality is spreading rapidly there too. Pray about it, and I believe you will come to see it as a problem too. Children are a gift from God that we should be open to accepting gratefully unless we have a genuinely serious reason for avoiding more. And THAT process is one of continuous discernment involving prayer, fasting (of which NFP can be one form) and reflection.


#20

Americans may be “richer” than other humans to walk to planet, but that doesn’t mean everyone can afford to have a big family. And you don’t have to buy it: If you want to have a big family, more power to you. Other families have to descern the same, and do what’s best for their family.

Yes, really. Not everyone can handle the rigors of a big family. And thank God, we’re not required to. Neither by God, nor by the Church.

What is necessary to one may be considered a luxury to another. There is no set list of “necessary” and a list of “luxury”. The Church leaves that up to individual families to determine.

True, but it’s generally no one’s business what another family is doing about the size of their family. One really doesn’t have the right to challenge another person’s family size choices.

Maybe that’s God’s Will working? If the majority of the people aren’t having large families, maybe that’s what God wants.

I don’t see a problem at all with folks only having one or two children. I see them struggling as it is. It’s crazy IMOHO to increase their burden by having more children when they can’t afford them. Let those called to have big families have them. Let those called to have small families have them. You can’t dupe God anyway.

If you think people should have many children, then by all means, have them. No one is stopping you.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.