Rorate Caeli

A call for volunteers: inspire us!

The post below on the Prado family sparked many emails, and discussions in my own home, about what it takes to be like them. While we don't know what they're really like with the cameras off, all evidence points to their holiness, and their happiness

As the father of four very young children, many people see photos of my family in social media, or see us for an hour or two in public, and ask us how we're so happy and have so much fun. My wife and I always laugh later, as these people aren't privy to the stress that hides at home, when no one's around, and it's just you and the children. Yes, there is fun, and there is happiness. But there's also yelling, stress and many prayers to Our Lady for peace in our home.

What I'm often told by families we know that are bigger than ours with older children is that "it gets easier." Once the children can help at home, do their schooling without complaint, take care of each other, etc., it gets easier. 

We believe our readers, many whom homeschool and have many children or know they will most likely have many children, may be facing the same issues. And, in this Catholic desert many of us suffer in, there isn't always a lot of good examples around us. Many, unfortunately, can only turn to the internet for support.

Volunteer: We are looking for a mother or father (or both) of large families who have peace in their homes and have found joy with their many children to submit their stories to Rorate. Our readers need your expertise and your guidance -- they need you to help them see the light at the end of the tunnel! 

A couple of prerequisites: One, we need to hear from parents of truly large families. We don't want to set an arbitrary number, but let's say six or more children. Also, we want to hear from families whom homeschool. While having a large family with children who go to school is in no way easy or not meritorious, it's a whole other thing to homeschool those children, and we need to hear from you. And, last, we need to hear from traditional families. That isn't to say we don't want to hear from families who attend the Novus Ordo. But we would expect those families to live fully traditional lives at home and explain how that brings peace and joy. 

If you've had that peace and joy at home from your first child on, tell us how! If you struggled at first then found that peace and joy, tell us what you did to find it. Tell us about your religious lives at home, your discipline methods, whatever you believe brought Christ's peace upon your families.

If you have the time to write us, send in your stories to Don't worry about the grammar, the length, etc. Just jot your stories down and send them in. And tell us if you want to stay anonymous or not. Pictures are welcome as well as links to family blogs.

If you don't have the time but can comment, please do so in the comments box of this post. 


maconceli said...

We are a Chilean family with ten children. All of them are now grown up. Nine of them are married and one is a priest. Apparently, my children enjoyed their big family- even though during their childhood we always lived a very difficult economic situation- because they have given us fifty eight grand children and they still keep coming. Two of my sons have have only three and four children each, as their wives have had difficulties to become pregnant and children simply have not come. They regret such "small" families and would have liked to have more children.
We have been a very happy and close family. We still meet once a month in a very noisy family reunion and I feel a great joy when I see the deep friendship amongst them all. We all agree that we have a very amusing family and that we always have a great time together. Of course, there have been difficulties and distress, mainly serious health troubles that are inevitable in such a large family, but our mutual support and understanding makes suffering less keen and more bearable.
These are hard times for us Catholics, who have to go cross current with today's culture (or in-culture), but a big family is a great help. We are never alone in this individualistic world we must live in. Thank God, all our children have kept their Catholic faith and their children have done as well, always supporting each other also in this. My priest son is the family's favourite.
A big family is not an easy task, but what it gives us is much more than what it takes from us. I think my family is a gift of God and I thank Him every day for it.
María Concepción

Adfero said...

Thank you Maria!

When your children were young, was it a peaceful home? If not, did that change when the children got older? Would love to know what you did to raise that wonderful family.

jeff said...

I've got a young family for whom I shall have to render account as to how good a custodian of their. souls I was. I say more stories of this nature!


We have ten Children and I am not yet 40. The eldest child is a girl and then nine sons. My wife was homeschooling for a number of years until we found the SSPX had a school in our state. We relocated when we had about five and were really happy to be among other likeminded families.

The youngest in about 2 1/2, we are a roudy bunch but wouldn't have it any other way. And yes it does get easier once the older ones get to about 16 +. My wife and recently went a wedding interstate by ourselves "no children" first time in twenty years.

St John Bosco said one in three boys have a vocation. Those are odds I would be very happy with.

Kathleen said...

I wanna draft Long Skirts for this task!

And while I'm being pushy (something I excel at!) I wanna poem and more about the mothers of Lu ( ) and how it got her a fine bunch o'religious vocations in her flock!

Adfero said...

Does it get a little easier when the oldest turns 8 or 9? :)

Salve Caput said...

Having come from a large family Catholic myself, it needs to be clearly stated once and for that the notion of a happy and holy Catholic family where everyone lives together in complete peace and harmony without any serious rows, fights, bust - ups, whining and backbiting is nothing but a sentimental Victorian myth! This was not true of even the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph: remember how the boy Jesus openly disobeyed and disregarded Mary and Joseph in the episode when he was found in the temple, causing them untold distress? Not even the best families are free of serious difficulties and anxieties. This notion of family does not and cannot exist, for the blunt truth clearly taught by St. Augustine of Hippo that the effects of Adam's fall and original sin affect us all, no matter what our class, status or race may be. Sin is transmitted at conception along with sacred human life. To conceive of Catholic family life in this way is a dangerous fallacy and its premise is fundamentally Pelagian: I have seen many well meaning families come to grief because of this. No, a truly virtuous and holy family life is one that fully accepts the reality of sin with all the problems and unpleasantness of human nature that go with it and make it a source of grace and virtue: whether it be rebellious teenagers, crying children, nagging wives, drunken and irresponsible fathers, you name it. It is not very nice: but to make family life work there just is no other way than the exercise of hard virtues aided by grace.

Adfero said...

Salve, point taken. But clearly there are families with more peace and happiness at home than others. We didn't ask for problem-free families.

Salve Caput said...

Adfero, of course there are families with more peace and happiness at home than others, and I would be the last to disagree. But this can only be achieved the hard way: in short, the way of the cross. In real Catholic life with its joys, sorrows and tribulations, we share in Our Lord's passion and death and yet ultimately his resurrection. And it was from the cross where Our Lady was proclaimed Queen of Families, when Our Lord said to the beloved disciple, "Behold your mother", and from that moment he took her into his home.

Just another mad Catholic said...

I wish I had come from a large Catholic family.....

Osusanna said...

How I love to see the large families at Latin Mass, the little ones all dressed up, and so quiet and reverent. I admire the moms and dads.

Sign me, sad no kids.

Jack Tollers said...

I'm nearly 60 years old, and live in Argentina.

Mine is a big family, we have 13 children, their ages ranging from 36 to 14 years old: 7 of them are married, we have 12 grandchildren and counting, but...

I'm very grateful for all of this, etc, but let me tell you, I just hate it when people say to us "What a lovely family!"...

Don't get me wrong. It is.

And it isn't.

But that's not here nor there. I think that there's a trend in the modern world (especially among Catholics) who idolize family as such... and sometimes, caught unawares, you feel they idolise their own family in a self-congratulatory manner, if you know what I mean.

And the rising of a good Catholic family does not depend so much on one (and one's spouse's) virtue. It depends on Grace, on following Orthodoxy to the end, on loving truth for it's own sake, on receiving all the Sacraments, on praying daily... and, even then, you'll need a bit of luck too (health, money and so forth).

On the other hand, you must protect it fiercefully from all these (Catholic) sects like the IVE as I recount here:

And when you finally arrive where I actually am there's no room for anything except thankfulness--and now and then, a sense that somehow, we don't quite know how, we pulled it off (up to a point Lord Copper).

So, no thank you, I have no wonderful family. If anything, I'll repeat to the end of my days T.S. Eliot's taxing lines: "For us there is the trying, the rest is not our business".

Best regards from Argentina.



Adfero said...

Mr. Tollers, I appreciate your comments, but do you truly mean your family isn't wonderful, or just not wonderful in the corny, movie ideal sense?

We are looking for honest inspiration, not so much for family horror stories!

Please elaborate.

Parmenides said...

I love your blog and follow it regularly. I just want to make a comment in a respectful way for your consideration.

Homeschooling is not really a Catholic ideal. By this I mean that historically it was not found to be something that the Magisterium of the Church has ever encouraged. Homeschooling became a necessary thing because of the crisis in the Church that also severely affected the Church's educational institutes. Previous to the crisis, homeschooling was culturally a Protestant thing - never Catholic. While on the one hand I recognize that today there may be a need for it in some cases, it worries me a little to see many good Catholics beginning to think that homeschooling is the Catholic Church's ideal.

Adfero said...

While the need to homeschool now is clearly greater, it was never just a Protestant thing.

Catholics have homeschooled out of desire and necessity for centuries. And saints have come from it, like St. Thérèse.

culbreath said...

I would like to associate myself with Mr. Tollers' remarks (mostly).

We have six children, and they have been home schooled from the beginning. The oldest two are headed to Thomas Aquinas College in the Fall. I have no words that can adequately describe my delight in their personalities, character, piety, and virtue. It's more than we ever had a right to expect by many orders of magnitude.

We have certainly had trials as parents (and spouses); they have had trials as the children of sinful parents; and there will be many more trials to come. With each trial I pray my way through it. I beg the intercession of Our Lady and St. Joseph and their guardian angels. I pray that God would be their father where I have failed them. I ask them to pray for their parents as well, and I know they do.

Despite our sins and occasional unpleasantness we do have, I believe, a happy Catholic home with lots of love and laughter. When people visit they often describe a sense of peace and they are reluctant to leave. I can't explain it. There is prayer here, every day, and some striving to please God, along with gratitude for God's mercies. This family is in many ways a miracle and I am acutely aware that it all hangs by a thread.

I have an amazing wife. She's exceptionally intelligent, highly educated, and hardworking. She's always worked outside the home, which isn't ideal, but it has been the lesser of evils for our family. For most of our marriage we have been able to coordinate our work schedules successfully, though not without some compromises. Our children have never been in day care.

When people ask about raising children I try to give one or two bits of advice from the following:

- Pray unceasingly
- Regular confession
- Never let the sun go down on your anger
- Forgive seventy times seven
- Teach your children not only to apologize, but to forgive
- No television in the home
- No popular music in the home
- Homeschooling if possible
- Make sure your wife has good Catholic lady friends
- Try not to argue in front of the children
- Insist on obedience from your children without being overbearing
- Insist on honesty and truth-telling from everyone, according to their age and understanding
- Don't live a double life, and don't let your children live double lives
- Fill your home with good music, literature, and art
- Spend time every evening, if possible, reading out loud and discussing some facet of the Catholic Faith or life in general with the children. Be open to their contributions and honest when you don't have the answers.

Of course, as Mr. Tollers' points out, none of this will obtain its goal without the grace of God. He may well refuse you the gift of virtuous children and a happy home life for your own spiritual good, so don't presume that this formula or any other will guarantee a particular outcome. But fathers, let me promise you this: St. Joseph is your best friend.

culbreath said...

With respect to discipline, here's my recommendation:

From about 18 months to the age of five or six, disobedience is the only punishable offense. We spank - two or three sharp swats on the thigh, not the diaper. Just enough to sting but usually no more. Make sure the child understands what he's being spanked for. If you start this fairly early your life after the child's fifth birthday will be much easier.

Spanking, if done correctly, gets it over fast. Parents who don't spank tend to drag out the unpleasantness for too long and everyone is miserable. Spanking is far preferable to screaming and less traumatic for the child. The child disobeys, you spank, the child apologizes and makes amends if needed, a kiss and a hug and everyone moves on.

It works. I have a five-year old daughter who hasn't needed a spanking in six months.

In my view, spanking after the age of seven usually does more harm than good, humiliating the child and breeding resentment. After age seven it's push-ups, essays, or other creative measures. And don't wait for the third or fourth or fifth act of defiance or disobedience, when you're angry and exasperated: the first or maybe second offense, if deliberate, is enough. Maybe a talking-to after the first one and discipline after the second. Be consistent.

Jack Tollers said...


That my family is not "just not wonderful in the corny, movie ideal sense" rounds it off rather nicely.

But my English isn't good enough to elaborate as you ask me to.

And in any case, I wouldn't know how to elaborate on my family's virtues whithout sounding corny.

I did, however, tried my hand writing a novel closely based on my family and general entourage... for what's its worth:

(Anyone interested can download a free sample to see what I mean).

Best regards,


Adfero said...

Unknown, I know you were joking, but others will probably think you are serious.

J said...

As i think this is not a competition for the bigger family, and as far as im amused by the topic, let me put my humble contribution as a father of just 5, so far. They range between 15 and 4 years old.
This is based on my experience. The first kid is like an earthquake, the second doubles the intensity on the Richter scale...then, the shakes made by the third are marginal...since everyting is already a mess (in a good way).
Then it just can´t increase. But the happiness does. Its a mistery.

So...dont be afraid of happiness and dont get fooled by the commercial and advertising. Nobody really needs what they have for sale.
I think we just need the Grace and a graceful good sense of humor.