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:

My husband and I were married on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul in 2002.  We selected this day for a number of reasons, mostly because this was when all our siblings' children were out of school and could be present at the wedding, but as the years have gone by I believe it was Divine Providence.  I was homeschooled myself, my husband attended Catholic grade school and all-boys Catholic high school.  I was raised in the SSPX, my husband was raised in the Novus Ordo, finding the indult Mass while in college.  We met unconventionally on St. Raphael Singles website,, when it was in its beginning stages.  

We have six children born in the first ten years, four sons and two daughters, ranging in age from ten years to sixteen months.  We have homeschooled from the beginning, the four oldest are all in piano or violin lessons, our oldest son is in a boys choir to which the second son also aspires to join later this year.  Our oldest son began serving Mass two months before his eighth birthday, and serves pretty much every Mass (both Sundays and weekdays) that we attend. The second son, who just received his First Holy Communion, is "in training", currently serving as a torchbearer at High Masses.  My husband has been at the forefront of all this, as he is the primary catechism instructor in the home and also drills them on their altar boy responses.  He comes home from work and often goes right out again, with the older children in tow, taking them to a daily Mass.  

This year the oldest four will be homeschooling, complete with an overactive toddler and preschooler underfoot, which means that the house is not in the best condition all the time, dinner sometimes is sandwiches or cereal, Mom is often exasperated and tired, we drive to the ends of the earth for various activities.  We have had our share of difficulties.  It has not been all sweetness and light, and there have been times of great darkness.  This should surprise no one.  Anybody who is trying to raise a family in this day should be concerned, rather, if they do NOT have difficulties!  If you have difficulties, it means that Satan hates you and is going to throw everything he can at you.  So, rejoice!  

Here are the points that I think are essential:

1.  We have never allowed video games in our home.

2.  The children hear only classical music and Gregorian Chant.  We haven't forbidden all other music, but we have trained them to have a taste for the classic and the sacred.  We don't have other music in the house, except for some carefully selected things (i.e., Mario Lanza, things like that).

3.  Severely limit movies.  Even a lot of "harmless" cartoons have subtle messages over which you should be vigilant.  While they may have been all right in previous generations, we are now living in a generation that is so perverse even the tiniest messages can become revolutionary.  It's important to realize that things that we dismissed as "harmless" and "not so bad" are what led us, over a period of decades, to where we are now!  Stick with various carefully-screened classics -- and watch out for those, too, because even the "good" movies have subtle messages in them -- lives of the Saints and one of our favorites, Bishop Sheen transcriptions (Keep the Faith has some excellent films and CDs, things children can enjoy as well).

4.  Promote unity in the Church.  I think a huge tendency in the traditional circles is to condemn relatives, friends and others who attend the Novus Ordo and think we are better than they.  We also think our "group" is superior to others.  This must be fought at all costs.  It has been my experience that children who grow up believing they have the whole truth within their group, and shun all others eventually leave the practice of their Faith.  The disunity among the groups is exactly what the devil loves.  Never shun another group of like-minded people just because they may be with the FSSP or the diocese while you attend the SSPX.  Encourage your children to develop friendships with the children in various Catholic circles.  Keep your family rules and explain why you have those rules (i.e., modest dressing), don't judge the others if they don't have your standards, set a good example, and let God do His work while you do yours.  


  1. Most movies on the Lives of the Saints are terrible and inaccurate, especially the ones put out by Ignatius Press. Bad Catholic movies can cause more damage than secular movies.

  2. Anonymous5:52 PM

    I must agree, Ignatius Press movies are awful. Masses hundreds of years ago were apparently in English and versus populum!

  3. "Never shun another group of like-minded people just because they may be with the FSSP or the diocese while you attend the SSPX."

    I would never try to shun ANYone as a practicing Catholic. We all must be willing to listen and explain our joy in the Faith! Of course if someone tries to harm you or your children then we "turn the other cheek" and walk away but always with Charity (& maybe a little joke)

    "which means that the house is not in the best condition all the time,"

    My motto: Not that housework will kill you but why take a chance?!

  4. Superb and reasoned advice. I'm certain it will bear much wholesome fruit throughout the years and your children will be as an abundant vine.

  5. This has been a helpful, and inspiring series.

  6. Keep on sharing your observations on what is going to keep your kids in the faith when they are adults. The more observations as to what works/doesn't work the better. I've heard numerous people talk to me about the "family that took up a whole pew" and ask where have the children gone now that they've grown up?

    There's no point in having a large number of Catholic children if they are all going to end up as atheist adults.

  7. Humble and wise advice from a holy mother. May God bless and protect your family.

  8. Anonymous7:44 PM

    I thank this young mother for sharing her great wisdom. Truly, beyond her years.

    We allow no TV signal into our home, but this post has inspired me to review our movie collection, since we are in the process of moving. It is a perfect time, and I think my wife and I have allowed too many questionable or even bad movies to stay, from before our really getting exposed to Tradition several years ago.

    We do allow some very simple video games, basically, cheap little throw-away games like pinball and car-race, absolutely nothing that has even a remote message.

    If the mother reads these comments, I would appreciate her thoughts on even such "tame" video games. Is it a distraction/bad habit issue, or is it the horrid content in games like Grand Theft Auto, etc., that she is trying to avoid? Or both?

  9. Dom and Adfero, I'm so glad somebody said it out loud. Ignatius Press movies are very, very bad and probably repel the kids who are forced to watch them in CCD class.

  10. Anonymous3:17 PM

    I'm the mother who wrote this story, and would be glad to answer the question about the "tame" video games.

    I don't approve of them either for the following reasons:

    1. They are a huge distraction. My experience with friends and relatives who allow ANY such things into their home is that their children are drawn to them as to a magnet. It is too easy for other things that may be more difficult, yet more important to development, to be neglected, such as practicing one's musical instrument, doing the chores, or doing schoolwork.

    2. The video games that simulate a physical activity are very inferior to actually going out and doing the activity. While I'm not going to go on the soapbox about childhood obesity, it cannot be denied that children are very sedentary compared to their counterparts of previous generations, and that contributes in no small way to the health issues we see in our children now. This is also related to point #1.

  11. Anonymous3:23 PM

    Oh, and one more thing: I've only viewed one Ignatius Press movie, the one on Padre Pio. It was awful. I couldn't say anything about other Ignatius Press movies, because I haven't seen any more. We have movies from Keep the Faith which are quite good. You may want to look into those. They are also very inexpensive.

    We have one film which my husband taped off EWTN for his mother years ago. Originally in Italian, the English is dubbed over, and unfortunately the dubbed dialogue is very "canned"...but the movie is superb. It is (in English) "The Night of the Prophet" and our children fell in love with Padre Pio watching it. It was very well done.

    On the video games: yes, I also want to avoid the horrible content. But that is more universal among people who avoid them; my other reasons which I recounted in my previous comment are the more pressing, simply because I think those aspects of video games are often ignored.

  12. Anonymous10:10 PM

    Yeah, I don't think either are an issue for our kids. They don't average an hour a week on them, if that. I'd say the little hand held throw away games they got a few years back have mostly been forgotten.

    I don't know that outright banning is necessary to achieve the goal you seek. Obesity and lack of exercise aren't even remotely an issue for us.

    But thank you for the advice.


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