Recently I was wandering around the internet on a page of the World Wide Web titled “Demography Is Destiny.” I find demography very interesting because, while it is difficult to predict the future, we can pretty well assume that people will continue to age and, at a certain point, pass on. That gives us some idea of what the future will look like. For example, there is now no majority race in California, and the same will soon be true of Texas. The future makeup of the state’s population has implications for the economy, politics and even religion.
Anyway, as I was on this demographic web site I saw a comment on an article about the Japanese demographic implosion. The comment was from a 72-year-old Catholic (that is what caught my attention) who in part stated, “More than once I’ve told my three children that one of the worst mistakes I ever made was to decide to have no more children than the three of them.” What surprised me was that the following three comments were all in the same vein, all people expressing regret that they had stopped after two or three children and wished they had more. Now of course it is too late.
Frequently I have heard parents express frustration and exasperation over their own grown children who put off starting a family till late, sometimes too late. I wonder why some of my nieces and nephews are waiting to start a family. No doubt having children is a huge financial, emotional and energy drain. But what a blessing! I cannot help but think that 15 or 20 years from now the memory of a ski vacation will not have the same impact as the memory of a child’s first step, much less of a child’s birth.
Having a child is a huge commitment. To attempt to have more than three would require starting fairly early in life, practically in college, and I don’t see how that is possible. That our modern world makes this almost impossible is kind of a shame. Having grown up as the oldest of six siblings, I am very grateful for that experience and for the on-going relationship with my five brothers and sisters. It is always a great experience when we gather. Of course none of my siblings have six children themselves, and I have none. Sometimes I wonder what kind of a father (without the capital “F”) I would have made.
Life is always a blessing. Often it is a difficult or stressful blessing, but it is still a blessing. Births out of wedlock or in poverty are terribly difficult, but they are still blessings. Life is always a wonderful gift. So I recommend to you the wonderful work of the Gabriel Ministry, that provides emotional, spiritual and material support to pregnant ladies in need. You can get more information by calling the Gabriel Project central office at 512-238-1246 or toll-free 1-877-WeCare2. There is a chapter at St. Austin Parish, and more information is on the parish website under Ministries → Social Justice Ministries → Pro Life → Gabriel Project. They are struggling and could certainly use your help.
If perhaps you have some regrets about children you didn’t have then I encourage you to help those in need who are having children. You can help bring a blessing into the world.
PS: I want to thank all those who responded so generously to my request in last week’s column for assistance in replacing our Christmas Crib figurines. Indeed, we received more help than we needed. THANK YOU, ALL!