David Millswrites today:
Only the affluent will find being open to life easy. For us, another child means an adjustment downward, but he doesn’t tip the family into poverty, or into deeper poverty. He may mean giving up a vacation if the family’s wealthy, or the Thursday family dinner out if the family’s middle class. Her arrival won’t mean giving up food, or rent or the parochial school that can make all the difference to his older siblings’ future. Most of us who write about these things can afford to be romantic about them. Those in the Catholic chattering classes who compose warm glowing stories about the beauty of the Catholic teaching—as I have here, for example—tend to forget that we write from privilege. We forget what Marxism 101 would teach us, that we see the world from a specific place in society and favor its interests, and without great effort will be blind to the perspectives and interests of others, especially the poor.
David perpetuates a common misunderstanding that the only way to be open to life is to be open to conception. Through the doctrine of “integral procreation” (c.f., #18), the Church reminds us that creating a certain number of children is not the goal of being open to life. What is the goal? Cultivating an openness of heart to receive all the blessings God wants to give. And God can bless families of different circumstances in different ways. As I explain in both Holy Sex! and in the new, revised and expanded, 2nd edition of For Better…FOREVER! , while the Church does most definitely teach that children are a blessing and that large families are praiseworthy, integral procreation reminds us that being open to life does not end at conception and birth. Rather, it finds its fulfillment in the way parents commit themselves to forming well-developed Christian persons by attending conscientiously to the temporal, psychological, emotional, spiritual and relational needs a child has at each age and stage.
You’ll want to see what else he has to say.
And while you’re at it, stop by and see what Simcha Fisher says on economics and the same topic:
Poverty is (or at least can be) a great teacher, because we are (as Mills points out) all poor in one way or another — if not materially, than maybe physically, or emotionally, or in our relationships. Being poor in any of these ways makes it obvious that we are not in control, but that we still need to work very hard to get more in control — which is an excellent model for how to approach parenthood, and marriage, and life in general. Try really hard all the time; realize, all the time, that a lot of what happens is not up to you. Is it easy to trust God, with your sexual life and otherwise, when you’re poor? I’m not going to say yes! Poverty is no joke, and being poor and pregnant can be twelve different kinds of miserable. But I’m not going to say that money makes it easier to trust God. There’s a reason Jesus warned about getting bogged down with riches.