Fonticulus Fides

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Populating Heaven

When I take Zooey to preschool, we invariably arrive at about the same time as one of his classmates, Zainab. Zainab’s family are recent immigrants to the U.S., and her mom doesn’t speak much English yet, but we always smile at each other and say "Good morning."

I take Zooey to school by myself, leaving Edyn and Laurel home with my husband, but Zainab’s mother also has a toddler in tow. After we take our older kids to the preschool classroom, Zainab’s mom always stops before the large brass crucifix on the way out and makes the sign of the cross, kissing her thumb at the end of it as is her custom. Then she helps her toddler do the same thing, and they head over to the church for 8:10 Mass.

I was watching this woman help her toddler make the sign of the cross the other day and thinking about all the little things that we parents do to teach our small children the way of the Lord. In our family, we practice the sign of the cross, read religious stories, say mealtime and evening prayers, etc. There’s a lot more we could be doing too, if we just developed the habit. And these are things we want to and need to do, because we want our children to worship the Lord and go to heaven.

That’s our primary role as Catholic parents, isn’t it? To populate heaven.

Sometimes I get into discussions with people about being Catholic and being open to life. On the Internet, I’ve talked about this with Catholics who think the Church’s policy regarding artificial birth control is wrong and the whole idea of being "open to life" is foolhardy. Some worry about over-populating the earth. Some worry about over-populating their homes -- in other words, they want each of their kids to have a bedroom all to his/herself and their budgets won’t allow them to buy 8-bedroom mansions. And some of them worry about over-populating their lives – "I have enough trouble mothering two kids. Imagine what a wreck I’d be with six or seven!"

It’s easy to refute some of these arguments. We’re hundreds of years away from overpopulating the planet, if not thousands. Kids can share bedrooms without ruining their self-esteem/psyche/whatever-it-is-you-want-to-protect. And the more kids you have, the more people in your family there are to take care of chores and each other’s emotional needs. My best friend from high school has nine kids now, and after about the fifth one, her life got easier with each addition, because there were older siblings able to help cook, clean, do laundry, occupy the toddler, etc.

Plus – seriously, now, who wouldn’t want one more person to love them?

But all these answers to the argument pale in comparison to the real key to being open to life. Being open to life isn’t about what you envision for your life on earth. It’s about what God envisions for eternity in heaven: Saints. Multitudes of them.

When I think about my kids, I know the time they spend filling our house and eating up our budget is just a small portion of their lives on earth…and just the tiniest bit of their entire existence from conception to birth to death to eternity.

The bedrooms in my small house are filled to capacity now. We’re just getting by money-wise, so I’m worried about paying for braces and being able to send three kids to Catholic school, let alone college, let alone paying for weddings or seminary or whatever else comes up. And I’m feeling way too old to go through another pregnancy. But by golly, when I think about sharing in the process of populating heaven with Saints for the glory of God, I wish I could have another baby … or two … or three.

That’s what I think being open to life is really all about.



Post a Comment

<< Home