Rorate Caeli

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 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!!



  1. Yes, there have been so many liberal parishes converted "from within"... Since the liberal parishes are in fact "without", you must leave the Church to get to them.

  2. Bravo, Long Skirts!

    Just what I was looking forward to -- such a lovely story and poem!

    Clearly Our Good God has blessed you and your husband and your hard work! May He continue to bless you and your flock!

    And it's lovely that you are bursting with opinions about SSPX seminaries, Nicholas, but perhaps prudence would dictate that this is not the time or place.

  3. God bless you, Long-Skirts, and may He cause His Face to shine upon you and yours forever.

  4. Nicholas, you are very welcome here, and I appreciate your enthusiasm for the Church.

    But you also must learn manners towards others, especially mothers who have given their lives to God as Long-Skirts has, and He has provided her many vocations. Whether you agree with the Society's irregular position within the Church or not, they are saving souls -- which is the first and foremost job of Holy Mother Church.

  5. This was a delight to read! I have 8 adult siblings - wait until your children write their own stories Long Skirts!

    Love it! We will keep your son in our prayers. There is heartache among large families too, but think of all the prayers for this young man within the family. Yes, your son has a free will, but God also listens to the prayers of a mother. Hope springs eternal!

  6. Thank you again Longskirts for making us stronger in the Faith--we love your poems and most of all your wisdom.

    It appears Mr. Nicholas, a professed "traditionalist", has a lot more to learn. Too bad he has missed out on Church history, theology, repect for his elders, and the good manners we see so often in FSSP and SSPX chapels.

  7. I LOVE IT! What a great poem!! I had to chuckle about how you have no lamps. I grew up in an all-girl family, and so when I suddenly found myself with a number of sons, it was culture shock...

    Unity among traditionalists is very important, I am sorry to see so many who have a dislike for the SSPX. I was raised in the SSPX, but currently attend the FSSP. We need to support one another, not deliver vitriol one to another. Remember that a house divided against itself cannot stand. I have had personal sad experience about what happens when people start to believe that their "group" is the only one with the truth -- they start to lose their Faith. Don't fall for Satan's lie that only your traditional chapel/group is the right one. We're all in this together under our beloved Holy Father.

  8. Mrs long Skirts.
    I laughed so hard I nearly choked on my lunch. I love a warts and all expose of family life by someone clearly successful at raising kids (a vocation in a sign you did at least something right)... makes my wife & I feel we're not too far off track when the kids are beating each other up... and you should see the state of our lampshades!
    God Bless

  9. By there fruits you shall know them. Big Catholic families, Religious vocations, a sense of humour. Compare that with Nicholas Self righteous, ignorant and Rude.

  10. Terrific story! I especially like the part about not always making it through the rosary. Made me feel better since we have the same problems sometimes. My wife jokes that we could make a reality show out of our family prayer time.

  11. Wonderful story!

    For the son that has fallen away, perhaps ask St. Monica for her intercession. She has been there!

  12. Love the part about gin and mothers-in-law, and that quote from Archbishop Sheen is priceless!


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