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.