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Guidance for young parents: how to raise a big, holy Catholic family (ongoing series)

After posting a video of a Catholic family with 15 children -- that boasted eight religious vocations -- we asked our readers (see here) to write into us and share their stories on what it's like to raise a big family, and what they did or are still doing to make their family holy, happy and peaceful. Here is one of those stories.

Please consider sending your story to Rorate (see here for very flexible instructions) to post in this on-going series to help inspire young Catholic couples to forgo the abuses of Natural Family Planning (NFP) and simply go fourth and multiply with faith and confidence in a loving and all-knowing God.

To view all of these stories, click the "The joy of big families" tag at the end of this post. For those who have sent in stories, we will post soon:

Written by Long-Skirts:

“God doesn’t give you more than you can handle”… but sometimes I thought He had me mixed up with a cow in a field somewhere!

The husband and I have six boys, no lamps (the boys broke them all) and four girls.


Raising a large Catholic family meant that I had to be up before the “sparrow’s fart” and start each day with a prayer that’s been in my family since God was a boy –  “Come Holy Ghost … give me the faith of your Saints, the courage of your martyrs and the money of your atheists.”  

Having many children you must speak loudly and carry a big stick (i.e., wooden spoon).  If you don’t speak loudly you’ll never be heard while swingin’ that big stick. 

With “Eight You Get Egg-Roll”, with ten you get peanut-butter.  I’m not talkin’ color scheme, nope, just plain old peanut-butter everywhere and by the way … it’s not “Cheaper By The Dozen”! 

A good day for me when the children were all little was being well stocked with peanut-butter and I didn’t have to make a trip to the hospital to have little cinnamon-candied Red Hots vacuumed out of a little one’s nose after they had been so carefully stuffed one by one up each nostril.  Even then, you say a Hail Mary and make the best of it and laugh.  Oh, you’ll cry too but as my favorite Irish Saint, St. Ignatius O’Loyola said,  “Laugh and grow strong!”  You might not have money because of so many trips to the Emergency Room but souls are what’s important as “the shroud has no pockets”. 

Being of Irish descent  I learned to mix humor with the Faith for as Chesterton said, “It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it.” 

The Sacrifice of the Holy Mass & prayer must be a constant in Catholic family life and especially the Rosary.

We have always tried to say a family Rosary at night but sometimes could only get a decade in because of crying babies, sickness or someone messing things up and causing us to burst out into laughter and we couldn’t go on, for instance …  we were letting each child take turns announcing the Mysteries and I heard one of the boys ask his brother, “What’s the next Mystery?” as his turn was coming up.  The other boy whispered, “the Crucifixion” the first boy frowned and then leaned over and asked his brother, “… of who?” 

A bit of advice for you young mothers.  Never drink anything stronger than gin before breakfast unless the mother-in-law is coming over.  Oh, the dreaded mother-in-law, but it should be remarked in defense of all mother-in-laws, according to Archbishop Fulton Sheen, “that St. Peter remained the truest friend of Our Blessed Lord, despite the fact that Our Lord cured his mother-in-law.”

Mother-in-laws, peanut-butter and Red Hots aside, we were extremely fortunate to have moved to an area where the Society of St. Pius the Tenth had a Chapel, with daily Mass and a School.  Seven of our children have been ensconced in a truly Catholic education from Kindergarten through 12th Grade attending the SSPX Boarding High Schools where they have had examples of True Shepherds and been taught the whole Catholic Faith and they are all able to defend the Faith on their college campuses.  Boy, could I tell you some stories! 

One son is now starting his sixth year in an SSPX Seminary and will be Ordained a Deacon in 2014.  A daughter is starting her 2nd year as a Novice in an Order of Sisters affiliated with the SSPX and she will be teaching in their schools eventually where she had taught for 3 years after going to college before entering the Convent.

One prayer that we learned from the Priests to say daily, even if we couldn’t get a whole Rosary in was this no matter what was this:

O, Lord grant us Priests,O, Lord grant us Holy Priests,O, Lord grant us many Holy Priests,O, Lord grant us many Holy Religious Vocations,St. Pius X, pray for us!

I think it’s very important to start with praying for Priestly & Religious Vocations first and then if the children find out they don’t have them God will lead them to what He wants. But remember, they all have free will...you lay that Catholic foundation with the Sacraments and if they fall, hopefully they will land on that foundation of solid Catholic Doctrine.  Unfortunately one of our six sons has fallen away from the Faith, free will, but we pray constantly for him, that "one lost sheep" but that's a whole 'nother basket of possums.  In your Charity pray for him.

But this summer I have 5 boys at home. Two on summer vacation, one from the Seminary and one from Notre Dame De LaSalette Academy (an SSPX Boys’ Boarding High School) and 3 in College along with the husband, termites and a large bottle of wine. MY LOVE

Husband my love Father of our twoWhen we come together we fit like a shoe,A shoe on the foot just below the old shinAnd hey, did I say we’re expectin’ again’?

Husband my love Father of our fourYour kind talk and love I do so adore,Love sweet as honey from the bee in the hiveLove like a sting…’cause we’re havin’ number five!

Husband my love Father of our fiveLet’s hop in the car and go for a driveAnd on Blueberry Hill let’s neck just for kicksAnd hey, did I say I just felt number six?

Husband my love Father of our sixLove of my life together we mixLike a recipe written by God up in Heaven‘Cause in the oven is cookin’ number seven!

Husband my love Father of our tenLove of my life again and again,Six boys, no lamps, four girls for keeps…But just kiss me tonight and let’s go to sleep!!

JMJ
Long-Skirts