A Homily for the Feast of the Holy Family

Christ Among the Doctors of the Temple, by Giotto (1304-06)

Here in the middle of the Christmas Octave, the Church bids us to celebrate the feast of the Holy Family. On the old calendar, the feast of the Holy Family falls on the Sunday after Epiphany, which makes some sense. It is a bit odd to read, a mere five days after celebrating Jesus’ birth, a Gospel in which He is 12 years old. And then, next week, we have the Feast of Epiphany in which Jesus is an infant again.

Nevertheless, here we are. Perhaps, it is a good time to reflect on family life, as immediate and extended family often gather together during the Christmas season. Let us consider the family and marriage along three lines: structure, struggles, and strategy.

I. Structure All through the readings for today’s Mass we are instructed on the basic form, the basic structure of the family.

  • God sets a father in honor over his children; a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons (Sirach 3:2).
  • May your wife be like a fruitful vine, in the recesses of your home; your children like olive plants, around your table (Psalm 128:3).
  • Wives, be subordinate to your husbands, as is proper in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and avoid any bitterness toward them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, so that they may not become discouraged (Colossians 3:20–21).
  • Each year, Jesus parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover … Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety … (Luke 2:45, 51).
  • And he was obedient to them … And Jesus advanced in age and wisdom and favor before God and man (Luke 2:51–52).

In these passages we see the basic structure of the family:

  • A father in honor over his children
  • A wife and mother who is supportive of her husband and his authority
  • A husband who supports, loves, and encourages his wife
  • A mother in authority over her children
  • Children who honor and obey their parents
  • Fathers, and by extension mothers, who instruct and admonish their children, not in a way that badgers or discourages them, but rather encourages them and builds them up
  • A family structure that helps children to advance in wisdom and age and in favor before God and man
  • A father, a mother, and children, all reverential and supportive of one another in their various roles and duties

Here, then, is God’s basic teaching on family and marriage. Here is the basic structure for the family as God sets it forth: a man who loves his wife and a woman who loves her husband. Within this stable, lasting, and faithful union of mutual support and love, they conceive and raise their children in the holy fear of the Lord.

Add to this the principal description of the book of Genesis, which describes how God sets forth marriage: A man shall leave his father and mother, cling to his wife, and the two of them shall become one flesh (Genesis 2:24). To this first couple, God gave the mandate, Be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:22).

Thus, we have set forth biblically the basic structure of the family: a father, a mother, and children, all reverential and supportive of one another in their various roles and duties.

Note how the structure of the family take its basic form in terms of its essential fruit: procreation and rearing of children. Why should marriage be a stable and lasting union? Why is Adam told to cling to his wife and to form a stable and lasting union with her?

Because this is what is best and most just for children! Children both need and deserve the stable and lasting union of a father and a mother, the complementary influences of the two sexes. This is the best environment in which to raise and form children. Hence, the family structure of a father and a mother, a male and female parent, flows from what is best and most just for children. The structure of the family, as set forth by God, is rooted in what is best and most just for children. It is what is sensible and what is best, sociologically and psychologically, for the proper development of children.

Even without looking in the Bible, one can see how sensible it is for a child to have the influence and teaching of both a father and a mother, a male and a female. There are things that a father can teach and model for his children that a mother is not as well-suited to impart; conversely, a mother can teach and model for her children things that only she knows best.

This much is clear: both male and female influences are essential for the proper psychological and sociological development of children. Clearly, then, God’s biblical mandate that marriage should consist of a father and a mother is not without basis in simple human reason and common sense.

To intentionally deprive a child of this environment is both unwise and unjust to children. Hence, we see that the basic structure for marriage takes its shape from what is best and most just for children. Both God and nature provide for a father and a mother, a male and a female, to conceive and raise a child.

It also makes sense based on simple human reasoning that the marital relationship should be stable, something that children can depend on from day to day, month to month, and year to year.

Here, then, is the proper structure for marriage. It is set forth both by God and supported by human reason.

II. Struggles – Yet what should be obvious seems to be strangely absent from the minds of many. Sin clouds our judgment and makes some think that what is sinful and improper is in fact acceptable or even good. It is not. In our current modern culture, we gravely sin against God and against our children through consistent misconduct and by refusing to accept what is obviously true. The words of St. Paul are fulfilled in our modern times: their senseless minds were darkened, and they became vain and foolish in their reasoning (Rom 1:21).

It is clear that the family is in crisis today, and it is also clear that it is children who suffer the most. The modern Western world displays a mentality that is both deeply flawed and gravely harmful to children.

Marriage and family are in crisis due the willfully sinful habits of many adults in the areas of sexuality, marriage, and family life. This includes sins such as cohabitation, fornication, abortion, adultery, homosexual acts, pornography, the sexualization of children, and the sexual abuse of children. Add to this the widespread acceptance of contraception, which has facilitated the illusion of sex without consequences and promoted the lie that there is no necessary connection between children and sexual relations. The rebellion of adults against the plan and order of God has caused endless grief and hardship and created a culture that is poisonous to the family, the dignity of the individual, and the proper raising and blessing of children.

III. Strategy What are we to do? Preach the Word! Whatever the sins of this present generation (and there are many), we must be prepared to unambiguously re-propose the wisdom of God’s Word to our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.  Even if we have fallen short personally, we cannot hesitate to announce God’s plan for sexuality, marriage, and family.

Our strategic proclamation must include these key elements:

  • There must be no sex before marriage, ever, under any circumstances. Sexual intercourse is rooted in the procreation of children and there is no legitimate engagement in it outside of the bonds of marriage. There are no exceptions to this.
  • Children deserve and have the right to expect two parents, a father and mother, committed to each other until death do them part. Anything short of this is a grave injustice to children and a mortal sin before God.
  • Neither homosexual unions, nor single parent households are an acceptable alternative to biblical marriage. To allow children to be subjected to such environments for the sake of political correctness does them a grave injustice.
  • Marriage is about what is best for children, not adults.
  • Married couples must learn to work out their differences (as was done in the past) and not resort to divorce, which offends God (cf Malachi 2:16).
  • The needs of children far outweigh the preferences, “rights,” and needs of adults.

Whatever the personal failings of any of us in this present evil age (cf Gal 1:4), our strategy must be to preach the undiluted plan of God for sexuality, marriage, and family to our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

 Back to the Bible! Back to the plan of God! Away with modern experiments and unbiblical schemes! God has given us a plan. Thinking that we know better, we have caused great sorrow and hardship for our descendants. We have acted unjustly; we have murdered our children through abortion. Sowing in the wind, we have caused those who have survived our misbehavior to inherit the whirlwind. It is time to repent and help our heirs to rejoice in chastity, marriage, and biblical family. Otherwise, we are doomed.

God has a plan and it must be our strategy, our way out of our struggles and back to His structure for our families.

This song says,

So, humbly I come to you and say
As I sound aloud the warfare of today
Hear me, I pray
What about the children?

Pope Gregory the Great: Advice to the Married

121814Every now and again when I write on Holy Matrimony, especially the Church’s more staunch biblical teachings (indissolubility, no contraception, etc.), someone will inevitably write in with a kind of sneer and wonder at or even laugh at a celibate man advising married people about marriage. To be sure, inner experience of something has its place, but so does external observance. I remember as a youth that my swimming coach, who was out of the water, would often correct us if our form was wrong, and advise us on how to adjust it to swim better and faster. His perspective from out of the water gave him an understanding that even I, an experienced swimmer in the water, could not have. I might think my form was perfect, but he could see that it was not.

Similarly, priests and other celibates (such as religious) DO have something to teach about marriage. What we teach is not better than the advice of married people, but it is different; it is given from a different perspective. From our position, sometimes we can see things about Holy Matrimony that even the married have trouble seeing. Further, it is to be hoped that priests and religious are also well-versed in the Biblical teaching on Matrimony and family life and can offer the benefit of our study of God’s Word and our relationship with the Author of Holy Matrimony.

With that introduction, I would like to present some of the teaching of Pope St. Gregory the Great and his advice to the married. For spiritual reading, I am currently finishing up his Pastoral Rule, which contains this teaching. Since he is a priest and Bishop, his advice is less on practical things (such as communication, conflict resolution, etc.) and more at the level of theology and priorities. And yet it does have very practical importance. The following excerpts are taken from his Pastoral Rule (III.27) and are presented in bold, italics.

My own comments appear in red text.

Those who are joined in marriage should be advised that, as they mutually consider what is good for their spouse, they should be careful that when they please their spouse, they do not displease their maker. In other words, they should conduct their affairs in this world without relinquishing their desire for God … They should remain aware that their current situation is transitory and what they desire is permanent.

And in this is the heart of St. Gregory’s advice: God comes first. And even if a spouse may pressure one to forsake what God teaches, or to neglect to pray or attend to sacred duties, let that one with charity and confidence withstand any temptation to negligence of or disobedience to God. Pleasing God is more important and more required than pleasing one’s spouse. And while these two are not necessarily or even usually in conflict, when they are, God must be preeminent.

St. Gregory also reminds that Matrimony is of this world and therefore transitory, while the things of God remain forever. We frequently forget this and focus instead on passing things, joys, and troubles, and forget or minimize the things of the life to come, which have greater significance since they are permanent.

Such an insight is focused on seeing not only marriage’s joys in their proper and passing perspective, but also its sorrows and difficulties. “Trouble don’t last always.” And in this is a remedy that helps to endure difficulties and to see beyond the crosses to the glory that waits and endures.

[Though] as [the married] cannot completely abandon the temporal things [they] can desire union with the eternal … therefore, the married Christian should not give himself entirely to the things that he now possesses, or else he will fall completely from that which he ought to hope … St. Paul expresses this well and so simply saying for he who has a wife should act as though not having one. [In other words he means that] he who enjoys the consolation of the carnal life through his wife, but does so in such a way that his love for her does not divert him. He also has a wife as though not having one, who understands that all things are transitory. 

Here, too, while the love of one’s spouse and the goods of marriage are not necessarily, or even usually, in conflict with the desire for eternal things, nevertheless the married must not fail to consciously work to keep these desires connected and to not allow worldly desires to eclipse or attenuate the desire for heavenly things.

This happens in other areas beyond marriage, too. For example, we have attained great comfort in the modern age with electricity, running water, entertainment, good food in abundance, etc. And sadly, there is a pronounced diminishment today for spiritual things and the things of Heaven. Even many Christians in their so-called spiritual life and prayers, pray more and longer for better finances, improved health, and worldly things than they do for holiness and even Heaven.

Thus the joys of this world and those of matrimony ought to be seen as a mere foretaste of far greater glories to come for which we must more truly long.

The married should be advised that they endure with mutual patience those things that occasionally bring displeasure and that they exhort one another to salvation … They should be advised that they not worry themselves so much about what they must endure from their spouse, but consider what their spouse must endure on account of them. For if one really considers what must be endured on his account, it is all the easier to bear the things of others.

It is so easy to list the sins and shortcomings of others. But every spouse should begin by saying, “My marriage is not perfect because I am in it … I am a sinner and I married a sinner, knowing he was a sinner … I am living in a fallen world, governed by a fallen angel, and I myself have a fallen nature.”

The patience that Pope Gregory reminds us of is a reference to the Cross. And the Lord tells us that we must be willing to endure the Cross or we cannot be His disciples. Frankly, people often lay the heaviest crosses on those whom they love. This is because they care about them.

And love brings vulnerability. The word “vulnerabilty” is rooted in the Latin word “vulnera” meaning “wound.” Thus to be vulnerable is to be able to endure wounds out of love. And patience is rooted in the Latin word “patior” meaning “to suffer.” Hence patience bespeaks a capacity or willingness to suffer on account of others.

The married should be advised to remember that they come together for the purpose of producing children, but when they become immoderately enslaved by intercourse, they transfer the occasion for procreation to the service of pleasure … Thus St. Paul, skilled in heavenly medicine writes “Concerning the things you wrote to me, it is a good thing for a man not to touch a woman, but on account of fornication, let everyone have his own wife and every woman her own husband” (1 Corinthians 7:1).  And thus, by beginning with the fear of fornication, Paul did not extend this precept to those who were strong, but rather showed the couch to those who are weak, so they would not fall to the ground. He then adds, “Let the husband give what he ought to his wife, and similarly the wife to her husband” (1 Corinthians 7:3). … [He says this] because there are many who [though] clearly forsaking the sins of the flesh [i.e., fornication], nevertheless, in the practice of marital intercourse have not limited themselves solely to the confines of righteousness (i.e., intercourse without procreative intent).

And thus, though marital intercourse is both licit and noble, like any pleasure it can take on an importance either too large, or out of connection with its truest purposes.

In the modern age, the contraceptive mentality insists that there is no necessary connection between sex and procreation. When this error (contrary to both natural law and revealed truth) is indulged, sex is reduced to the thing itself and we divide what God has joined. Sex merely for pleasure too easily devolves into demeaning, even unnatural behaviors and to the reduction of others, even spouses, to sexual playthings, rather than eventual parents. A man who looks at his wife as (potentially or actually) the mother of his children sees her differently than if he sees her as a sexual plaything.

It was in this context that Pope John Paul controversially stated that it was possible even for spouses to lust after one another in violation of the Lord’s teaching in Matthew 5:28. And what is lust? Essentially, it is reducing the human person to his or her body and the pleasure that body can provide. It is forgetting that this is a person to be loved for his or her own sake, even if his/her body is not available for pleasure, or becomes less “desirable” through age or sickness.

Thus sexual desire, though beautiful and given by God, is, on account of our fallen nature, unruly and must be governed carefully by reason. It must not be allowed to eclipse what is right and what is greater than sex—God and the new life and the family life of which it is in service.

St. Gregory therefore interprets that St. Paul also teaches that a man ought to give his wife what she is due: not merely his body, but himself, wholly. He also should give her what is due by loving not merely her sexual charms, but her very self, her whole self. Likewise for the wife in return are all the same duties. 

If marital intercourse is just about pleasure and not about bigger and lasting things like the other person and children, pleasure has a way of running its course and becoming routine or boring. Building a marriage on things more lasting than pleasure and happiness is essential. Hence Pope Gregory uses creatively the notion that St. Paul shows couples the couch of true marital sexuality and bids them fall on that couch rather than all the way to the ground through lust, contraceptive sex, or fornication. 

Some wisdom from a great Father, pastor, and Saint of the Church. St. Gregory the Great, Pray for us! 

Musings and Concerns on the Synod

100914We are seeing in Rome a rather unusual unfolding of the Synod, wherein cardinals and bishops with very different points of view are airing those differences quite publicly. Even prior to the Synod there was the publication of various competing books.

To be fair to the bishops and cardinals, it would seem that Pope Francis himself has largely encouraged this. It is more typical at synods for the sparring and debates to take place more privately, and press conferences usually just issue summaries of things discussed. Time will tell of the wisdom (or lack thereof) of such public airings, but if the permission for frank discussion may extend to a lowly parish priest, I will say that it concerns me greatly. It is never pretty to see how the sausage is made and some who are less familiar with the internal debates may well be discouraged, while others will be inappropriately heartened. Again, though, to be fair, vigorous debates in Church Synods and Councils extend all the way back to the first one described in Acts 15.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, what I think about the matter of Holy Communion to those in invalid matrimonial states and other irregular situations is no secret. I simply cannot see how it is possible for us to extend Holy Communion to Catholics living in invalid marriages unless they are willing to live as brother and sister. Rather than restate all the reasons, I’ll just refer you to  earlier posts I wrote: HERE and HERE.

And while the pastoral solution of living as brother and sister may not seem a “pastoral” or reasonable solution to many, it does remain a solution if Holy Communion is sought. Of course it is not a perfect solution. There is still the possibility of scandal, since not everyone will know or understand that an individual who is coming forward is not sexually intimate with his or her current “spouse” from a second union. But if celibacy is generally known as a possibility, others could presume good will and a large degree of scandal could be avoided.

I was speaking of this matter recently on the phone with someone (not a parishioner) and she scoffed at the notion of asking celibacy of people in these situations. She shifted the terms and asked me somewhat rhetorically,

How can you go on denying something as important as Holy Communion to people just because they are in what you consider a bad marriage?

I told her that I would answer her question if she would answer mine:

How is it that many have come to regard having sexual intimacy as more important or necessary than receiving Holy Communion?

I went on to add:

While Holy Communion is important (and I surely think that it is), I wonder why the people you describe as seeing it as so important wouldn’t choose to live celibately in order to be able to receive our Lord. You suggest I’m being cruel by denying it, but it isn’t really I who is making the choice here. The choice is really theirs. I am not the master of the Eucharist; I am His servant. Given Jesus’ description of second marriages as adulterous (Matt 19), and Paul’s clear warning against receiving Communion in an ongoing state of serious sin (1 Cor 11), it doesn’t seem that I have any choice. The choice is and remains theirs: either to so value Holy Communion and intimacy with the Lord that they are willing to forego sexual intimacy, or to seek solutions in the annulment process, or to continue refraining from Holy Communion.

Though I was being accused of somehow denying Holy Communion, I am not really doing any such thing. I celebrate Holy Communion every day for God’s faithful who are not impeded to receive. If they are somehow impeded, I will do what I can to help them overcome this impediment. If at the end of the process there can be no way to address the impediments, then the choice returns to them: live celibately and receive Communion, or choose not to and refrain from Communion. I am not denying anyone Communion; some choose to exclude themselves.

I realize that some people are in difficult and complex situations, but I cannot simply overrule the Lord or what He said to St. Paul. At the end of the day there is a choice for those who desperately seek Communion but are in second unions. That choice is celibacy. I realize that this is difficult and some conclude that this would be unjust to the second “spouse.” But it is ultimately their choice, not mine. I am respectful of the fact that some do not think they can reasonably choose to live celibately in their second union. However, it is not fair to say that just because other avenues have been exhausted, those in these situations have absolutely no choice. They do. It is difficult, but it is their choice to make.

It is sad that the Synod on the family has seemingly become a synod on divorce. I do hope and pray that some discussion is being had about the grace of living according to the Lord’s plan for matrimony and family. Surely the agenda will expand!

A Simple Plan from God For Church Renewal

As we continue to read the letter of St. Paul to Titus in the reading at daily Mass, we see some important teachings about the “domestic Church,” otherwise known as the family. The insights are important, for if the domestic church is not strong, neither will the parish, diocesan or universal Church be strong. And while there is a tendency today on blogs like this, to often focus on the disrepair that some notice of the parish or diocesan Church, it remains a fact that many of our families are in far greater disrepair.

In effect God gives a simple insight for Church renewal in the reading from today’s (Tuesday of Week 32) Mass. So let’s take a brief look at what the Holy Spirit says through St. Paul says about the family, and its relationship to the Church.

St. Paul does begin with the parish priest, saying that the bishop, the priest, must say what is consistent with sound doctrine (Titus 2:1). Hence, it is the role of the clergy to set forth principles and to give, on a consistent and effective basis, the sound teachings of God revealed to us in the Scriptures, and the teachings and sacred Tradition of the Church.

There are many today who lament (often rightfully) the silence of many pulpits, and the ineffectiveness of the Clergy who are often content merely to speak in abstractions and generalities. This has often meant that many critical moral and social issues are going unaddressed. Frankly, too many of us clergy for play it safe. Yet in the world, the gospel is countercultural and the Church is a sign of contradiction. Thus playing it safe means that the gospel goes unproclaimed and the teachings of the Church are hidden from view.

But St. Paul makes it clear that the mouth of the priest is to speak, and to teach that which befits sound doctrine. He must give the teachings of the faith, and set forth principles which the people of God must then apply in their lives.

Therefore, the first step in having the domestic Church in good repair is for the parish church to be a place where sound doctrine is heard, is proclaimed with clarity and with charity, is articulated effectively and without ambiguity.

But this is only the beginning. For the Word of God cannot simply be proclaimed, it must be promulgated in the lives of those who hear. The Word of God cannot simply be announced, it must be applied. And the most essential place of this promulgation and application must take place is not only in the hearts and minds of individuals, but just as essentially, in the family.

It is not enough to say, as many do, “Father should say something from the pulpit.” For it also remains true, that the father of the domestic Church, the father of each family, must say something from the pulpit of his dinner table.

Therefore, in this letter to Titus, St. Paul goes on to describe how older men and women must be examples and models for younger people. Elders, and by extension mothers and fathers, must take their role of leadership.

And thus St. Paul directs:

Older women should be reverent in their behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to drink, teaching what is good, so that they may train younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, chaste, good homemakers, under the control of their husbands, so that the word of God may not be discredited. (Titus 2:3-5)

Likewise regarding the older men, including Titus St. Paul says:

Older men should be temperate, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, love, and endurance….Urge the younger men, similarly, to control themselves, showing yourself as a model of good deeds in every respect, with integrity in your teaching, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be criticized, so that the opponent will be put to shame without anything bad to say about us. (Titus 2:2,6-8)

Elsewhere St. Paul develops thought just a bit more when he says: Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord (Eph 6:4).

And thus it remains clear, that what should begin in the pulpit of the parish church, cannot end there.

And yet, what St. Paul teaches here is often sadly lacking in many (not all) families today. The family should be self-correcting, but many are not and the difficulties caused by this overflow into schools, churches and the public square. Beyond the family, it is also a sad fact that, in the wider culture, many elders have developed a “none of my business” attitude when it comes to teaching and correcting younger people.

I remember some years ago, in the early 1990s when in the certain parish we were struggling with many hard issues related to youth. Some of the teen girls had become pregnant, and there were many young men becoming involved with crime and drugs. I remember going to one of the large women’s groups in the parish and asking that they would consider undertaking a vigorous program of mentoring for the younger girls and women. I received a fairly flat no. Some indicated fear, others said they did not understand young women today and wouldn’t know how to talk to them. Still others spoke of these things as being “none of their business.”

I got a similar reaction when I spoke to the men of that parish about mentoring the teen boys and younger men.

And thus we see that the necessary fraternal correction and mentoring of the young by elders has fallen on the hard times in many communities, parishes, and the family. While the problem may vary from place to place, the problem remains a fairly general one in American culture.

Part of the reason for this is, that in the years following the Second World War, a youth centered culture began to set up in this country. Prior to that time, and still today in many parts of the world, elders were generally revered as being those who possessed experience and wisdom. Through the mid 50s and picking up pace in the 1960s, respect for elders steeply declined. Children and teenagers gradually came to see their parents as out of touch, old-fashioned, and often just plain stupid.

Popular music, especially rock ‘n roll, exulted youthful rebellion and generally presented portraits of adults as being confused, boorish, hypocritical, and undeserving privilege, honor, or respect. The presence of an unpopular war and a nihilistic rejection of the past also fueled this. As the exultation of youth culture began to expand many teenagers felt quite righteous in their overthrow of the parental culture.

Now, at least two generations into this loss of respect for elders, even those who are elders do not sense that they have much to offer, or even that they should be in the position correct youth. Perhaps they fear the push-back that many young people feel entitled to give. Perhaps these elders feel humbled by the fact of their own sins. Or perhaps some of simply bought in the whole youth culture mentality and have themselves never really grown up.

Whatever the causes in any particular case, we have come to a place in our culture where fraternal correction of the young is increasingly eroding. This in turn has led to grave problems in our families, in the schools, and most other social settings. Most tragically, the domestic Church, the family, has been severely impacted. This has also led to intensifying problems in the wider family of the Church. For if the domestic church is not strong, the parish Church will not be strong.

Into all of this disorder and confusion comes a simple plan from God. The priest, who is at the head of the parish family, is to speak teach sound doctrine to his people. And from his pulpit the Word must go forth to the pulpit of the domestic Church we call the family. At the pulpit of the dining room table, and the pulpit of the living room elders, having received the Word of God from their pastors, must hand this on to their children and to all the youngsters in their care.

Many indeed are the sorrows and difficulties that emerge from our failure to live this simple plan.

Here’s a song of rebellion sung by some parents of the boomers who threw the revolution. Many of the boomers are soon to be as old as the elders they once scorned:

Overpopulation: A Persistent Myth Rescheduled Many Times

It was always drilled in to us when I was growing up that the planet was overpopulated. We were promised famines, and disease by the doomsayers. Clearly we were headed for disaster and only contraception could save us. Some also suggested forced sterilization and abortion for recalcitrant reproducers, like they have done in China.

But really! How overpopulated are we? What kind of a physical footprint do we really have on this planet? Try this on for size.

  1. There are currently about 6 Billion people on this planet.
  2. Lets put them, four to house on a quarter acre of land. This is the typical size of a traditional suburban lot.
  3. Now, physically, how big is the suburb of houses we’ve created?
  4. Let’s see, 6,000,000,000 four to a house is 1.5 Billion houses.
  5. 1.5 Billion Houses on a quarter acre each  is 375 Million Acres.
  6. What does 375 Million Acres compare to? Well lets see, The state of Texas is 171904640 acres. 375 Million Acres is just over twice the size of the State of Texas (2.18 Texases to be exact). It also equates to 3.6 Californias. Why Alaska at 420 Million Acres could hold them all and still have 45 million acres left over.

So there you have it. “But Father, but Father… we can’t all live in a suburb like that. We need roads, shopping centers, parks, farmland, schools, etc.”  Yes indeed, but as you can see there is a lot of land left over. I think we’ll squeeze it all in somehow. Point is, there’s plenty good room. We are a long way from fulfilling God’s mandate to “be fruitfull and multiply to fill the earth and subdue it.”  (Gen 1:28)

What of famines? True there are shortages in the world here and there. We have plenty of food here in America but it is sometimes hard to get it to  famine regions due to war and corrupt governments. We have the food, it’s getting it there that is the problem. That’s why allowing starvation is so immoral. We have so much abundance in the god ole USA that our government actually pays farmers not to plant to help keep prices higher.

What of water? Fresh water is limited. But we can desalinate. Right now it costs too much but I have little doubt that as the need grows for more fresh water we will find more cost-effective ways to desalinate.

What about climate change?  – not too sure about that. It does seem clear that the climate’s always been changing, quite radically actually, and we have adjusted.

Why is this on a Catholic blog? Well think about it, contraception, abortion, sterilization, even euthanasia all march under banners that, among other things, appeal to fear about overpopulation. The Church has often been ridiculed for being out of touch and insensitive to the great question of overpopulation. This little presentation has had as a goal to spark a discussion if such fears are really justified or is it just another fear mongering myth? How say you?

The following video gives a little more background to the history of overpopulation concerns. I think its a good video but, as you will see, I think they underestimate a little the acreage necessary to house six billion. They say one Texas I say two. But hey, it’s all pretty clear, we’ve got a lot of land, God’s been generous. Also, the video says population will peak in 30 years and then start to go back down. I am not sure how they say that or know it.