“It’s not all for financial reasons,” says Luke Carey, 31. As a Catholic Youth Minister, Luke observes that an adolescent mentality rules the culture of even men his age. “Some men my age don’t want to move on. We just want to keep having fun. It is a fear of responsibility and a fear of screwing up a child.” What then needs to be said to the young men tasked with forming the future? Luke says he plants the roots of his ministry firmly in creating an environment for strong, faith filled families. “In order to feel fully alive your vocation calls you to step outside of yourself. We tend to think ‘if I live for myself, I will be happy.’ But the reality is that if you live for others, you are going to be happy.”
Cassie Butrico married at what would be considered young, age 26. In addition to that counter cultural move, she and her husband conceived right away. “Anthony was totally planned and expected. So two weeks after getting married, when the test said positive, we felt very sure that things were supposed to happen this way for us.” However, being a member of Generation Y, Cassie has felt that the result of the feminist shift into education and the workplace transformed the school systems from a place where women took Home Economics to a place where they have been expected to prepare for a career.
This is not to say that a woman’s only place of contribution is the home. St. John Paul II wrote to women on the 28th World Day of Peace in January of 1995: “the growing presence of women in social, economic and political life at the local, national and international levels is thus a very positive development. Women have a full right to become actively involved in all areas of public life and this right must be affirmed and guaranteed.” But Cassie does feel that she was somehow under prepared by society in general on how to survive family life. “Our mothers didn’t have time to teach us what to do in the kitchen or how to deal with spousal resentment. I had to Google many of my questions in the moment with my new baby because I was never taught or exposed to the trials of breastfeeding or the juggling act of a marriage and a child.”
But is society totally at fault or is it a crisis of faith? Is it a crisis in understanding the value and dignity of human life? “I think the greatest impact on our culture in terms of marriage and family stems from God being eradicated from every sphere of public life,” comments Sperlazzo. “As a result we have a blatant disregard for the poor, downtrodden, helpless and most vulnerable in our society. Our current culture devalues caring for the elderly and abandoned children but encourages warehousing both.”
The Catholic Church has always been the ambassador for the preservation of the culture of life. She has always taught that God as the author of marriage has ordered its purpose to be for the good of the spouses to have a shared life and for the procreation and education of children (CCC 1601). In this way, children are viewed as a gift from God. The 1930 encyclical of Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii, states that “it is easily seen how great a gift of divine goodness and how remarkable a fruit of marriage are children born by the omnipotent power of God through the cooperation of those bound in wedlock.”
At what point did society begin to view children as a financial burden and hardship rather than a manifestation of the love between two spouses? There is no denying that the task of raising children is not an easy one. That is why God ordered that the first purpose of marriage is to share the burden of life with another.
Cassie says that the benefits of watching their son grow outweigh any challenges: “It has been almost a year with our new babe. And our worlds have been totally disrupted and turned around in every way as we navigate this new calling as parents! But the immeasurable joy of watching our son, co-created with God, tickles us. Anthony is an incredible meditation on how Christ lives in me (through carrying my son in my womb) and how Christ loves me. When I see Anthony clamor for his mommy and daddy, I see myself clamoring for rest and total surrender into the arms of Christ."
Gina D’Urso, a Catholic educator and speaker, holds a B.S in Education and an M.A. in Catholic Theology both from the Franciscan University of Steubenville.