Thursday, January 24, 2008

Putting it in Perspective

On the HMS website, Dr. Greg Popcak, continued the debate about family size with the following quote from Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

"In today's world, where the number of children cannot be very high given living
conditions and other factors, it's very easy to understand." (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in Salt of the Earth: The Church at the End of the Millennium. An Interview with Peter Seewald. Ignatius Press, p.200)

Dr. Popcak says he does not agree with this quote, and nor do I. However, I really wonder what this future pope of ours meant by this quote, as there is no context provided and I do not have the book to reference. Surely Cardinal Ratzinger was not referring to the living conditions in the Western World. How could it be that in today's world, it is not easy to raise a large family given our living conditions. Surely he is not addressing the average American's access to health care, education, clean water, safe streets, sufficient clothing and housing. Even what is considered to be living in poverty in America, much of the current world, and most of the historical world, would be grateful for.

I cannot imagine that I have it so tough, even with all these kids, when I have a comfortable climate controlled home, can wash the families clothes and dishes with the touch of a few buttons, have access to healthy, convenient food, have top doctors a phone call away, plenty of books to learn from, and clean water that pours in whenever I want it with the flip of a faucet. I mean, really, we Americans are so spoiled if we entertain the idea for a second that it is too tough to raise a large family. In most cases, it is considered too tough because we like to keep ourselves comfortable. It is our devotion to the easy life, that gets in the way, not our actual living conditions.

Even today, there are happy families giving glory to God who eat cornmeal for every meal, who carry water from wells a good distance away, who are barely literate and have little access to even the most basic health care, who wash their clothes in rivers and cook over fire pits. I am certainly not advocating that this is God's ideal lifestyle for humans, just putting our own American lifestyle and expectations in perspective.

When considering if we can provide for one more soul in our family, perhaps we should look beyond what the neighbors have and give to their children, and consider all the blessing we really do have to share.

Peace, Hope