Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Allow Children to Come Generously: Fr. Gardner

Fr. William M. Gardner left the following comment on another post, and I thought it worthy of sharing here as a post all on its own. Fr. Gardner is a great champion of “heroic” parenthood, and has published several papers extolling the virtue of generously responding to God's commandment that couples "be fruitful and multiply". (See, for example, Purity Honors Creativeness)

Fr. Gardner wrote:

Dear Dr. Boyd,
In an effort to reach out to that 90% group that accepts contraception, I recently sent this letter to our local newspaper:

Letter to the Editor,

Since I choose to have no Cable TV at the rectory, my brother forwarded to me a video of a recent TV commercial that appeared during the prime-time viewing hours. The commercial was sponsored by Huggies (disposal diapers) and it portrayed a couple that was elated to discover that they were now expecting (presumably) their first child. The husband joyfully declared to his wife, pointing to her womb: “There is a baby in here. There is a human being growing inside your stomach!”

May the Lord have mercy on this nation which legally sanctions the killing of its own children both before birth, and sometimes even during the very process of birth.
One congresswoman blasphemously declared that the killing of unborn children is the "sacred ground" of legal protection for a woman's right to choose the size of her own family. What a chilling disregard for little ones, more than half of which are probably little girls.
Yet please note the clearly practical implication for the above-mentioned diapers manufacturer that babies are consumers. Babies are consumers, in fact, not of superfluous luxury items or services (such as those that sustain the pet industry, or the gambling world, or the whole slimy spectrum of adult entertainment), but of the very basic items and services which favor productivity. In other words, children are not only consumers, they are moreover wealth generators. People bring prosperity to a community; and young people bring also their creativity and youthful resourcefulness.

On the contrary, abortion, contraception and those so-called “alternative lifestyles” bring short-term financial gain, but inescapable long-term decline. Only the Devil and his minions can be pleased by the more than 50 million babies who have been destroyed by abortion in this nation alone, and the countless souls who have never come into existence because of the obscene use of contraception and the absurd promotion of sterile loving.

As Americans decide to have fewer and fewer children they are actually allowing fewer and fewer babies to be born, which is restrictive, or stifling. But sexual relations are naturally ordered to fruitfulness, which implies growth and prosperity; and existence is always very good for the babies themselves!

God will not be outdone in generosity. So live modestly and chastely; marry youngish (preferably before the age of 25); allow children to come generously; flee far away from Sodom! Love mercy and “walk humbly with your God!”

Fr. William M. Gardner


  1. Get with the program, Father! Didn't you know you can't have it all AND have children (,9171,2148636,00.html)?

    Seriously, when I saw this Time Magazine article, all I could think was "we're done as a nation," because you can't grow an economy even with a stable population size much less a declining one. Why isn't that obvious?

    Every company, the entire stock market, is predicated on growth, i.e., ever increasing numbers of customers year after year. You can't sell more to less, can you? I've heard people say that the 50+ million children killed or prevented from existing would all be on welfare, so it's money saved. Well, is it? Even welfare provides payments to buy THINGS, like diapers, and toys, and clothes, and furniture, and HOMES! Even if they WERE all on welfare, we would need JOBS to provide the services these children (and later adults) would need. In our current world of craziness, we have a declining number of customers, which means we will need a declining number of jobs to provide goods and services for those customers. And companies expect to grow?

    That Time article, and cover photo, also made me think of how COMPLETELY we have separated the sexual act from its undeniably procreative purpose. Can you think of anything dumber than assuming God created the human body with specific parts whose only or primary purpose was to allow human beings to stimulate each other for fun?

    Crazy world, Father. But I'm glad you're in it so that I know SOMEONE is speaking the Truth to the clueless. I wish I could be more optimistic that they will listen.

  2. We can't use our children as commodities to grow a flawed economy. Now if we were agriculturally based, and the extended family unit intact, then people would have more children, and our culture would be more human, sane, locally based, and dare I say, Catholic.

    It's the unchecked growth that led to the affluence of a very small class at the top that are so deeply impacting our world. And now the chickens are coming home to roost. Along with the increased affluence came lax morals, and the fact that Catholics allowed themselves to be negatively influenced by the culture, instead of influencing it. Have you noticed how poor people tend to have larger families?

    Why not uphold the Gospel value of poverty in spirit, while trusting in Divine Providence, and the rest will take care of itself, and people won't feel the "need" to use contraception or NFP. But this can't take place in a vacuum.

    I think that is what popes were getting at, when they recognized the situation that was leading people to limit their families. As everyone has agreed, we would love to be able to have a big family, all things being equal. But all things are not equal.

    It would be presumptuous, and not in accord with right reason, to ignore circumstances. They help dictate what makes a human action (or habit-/virtue) in accord with right reason, which is what St. Thomas Aquinas said is the principle that determines the judgment of a moral or immoral act.

    C.L.S. (Mrs. Mike)

  3. Well, I don't know Mrs. Mike,

    After all of what you said, and trying to wrap my brain around it, why don't we just teach Catholics (then, in turn, we can teach those who aren't) to be *open to life* as our Blessed Lord, and His Holy bride the Church, has always taught?

    Seems that would be a great place to start to me.


  4. Amen, Kev. After reading Mrs. Mike's comment, it seemed to me that to be good parents we'd all need degrees in economic, philosophy, theology, and a host of other subjects.

  5. I thought that we did teach that; at least we are supposed to. If someone misses it, or is ignorant, it is vincible ignorance.

  6. Mrs. Mike,

    Only you can see my comments and conclude that I recommended commoditizing children to grow an economy. I was merely stating that our "responsible parenthood" policies have economic consequences and, because of that, maybe we should reconsider whether we really understand "responsible parenthood" as the Church does and, instead, embrace the virtue of generous, even heroic parenthood as consistent with God's unchanging message of life AND healthy economic growth.

    Given your very pessimistic assessment of world conditions such that you justify ignoring or modifying both natural law and divine providence, let me make a proposal to you.

    If we really can't afford to have children any more, then shouldn't we begin to encourage people to stop having sex? There is, after all, absolutely no purpose to the sexual ACT other than procreation. Marriage has a larger purpose, but the sexual ACT itself does not. A world that cannot afford to have so many children is clearly a world where the sexual act ceases to be an unqualified good in itself and more resembles a narcissistic, mutually masturbatory biological activity.

    Are you really trying to justify sexual activity for its own sake? Could God really have designed our bodies as He did just so we could entertain each other at the expense of the purpose of the act? With what other human act do we make such allowances? If we no longer needed to eat for nutrition, would you justify communal dining because it is socially bonding and fun? Why should the sexual act continue to be so celebrated when the world has ceased to be able to accept its consequences? If fewer children is the way forward, shouldn't the Church be teaching how to curb all those now harmful sexual passions?

    God did say be fruitful and multiply. If your circumstances no longer permit that, then the first response should be abstinence from sexual relations. If you lack the natural or supernatural virtues necessary to do that without being an occasion of sin for yourself or your spouse, then you are PERMITTED to remedy your concupiscence. Stop trying to make your twisted understanding of the authentic teaching of the Church sound virtuous.

    There are hundreds of millions of people who have been willed out of existence, either through outright prevention, narcissistic "responsible parenthood," and murder (abortion). God reminds us of His Providence in the lilies of the field statements, and you appear to be struggling mightily either to improve upon or correct God. Stop cherry picking quotes taken out of the context of the full historical tradition of Church teaching to justify your own (and others') inability to practice chastity and purity. Can you imagine Our Blessed Mother teaching young Jewish maidens to "chart"?

    If you quote and understand Thomas Aquinas correctly, then it is immoral to engage in sexual activities in circumstances where the fruit of those activities can harm families and the world.

    1. "There is, after all, absolutely no purpose to the sexual ACT other than procreation."


    2. Mr. Carroll,

      Have you by chance read the encyclical letter Populorum Progressio? If you haven't read it in its entirety, and you do, please take note of no. 37. I won't cherry pick here. It has its place within the context of the document.

      Bear in mind that the Church is Catholic, meaning that the pope is speaking about perennial truths of human nature, as pertaining to people worldwide- Africa, the Philippines, Iraq -- where our country is waging war, China, etc.. They recognize children for the great blessing they are, granted.

      But I don't think that they are reaping quite the same *benefits* from the *healthy* growth of our economy. Rather, they are being exploited by it. They could care less about diapers. [Incidently, one mom of six told me she had to choose between gas and diapers. Forget about a Catholic school education. ]

      As for elsewhere in the world, they'd be happy for some clean water and food to fill their empty bellies. And speaking of gas, they are suffering to provide gas so that we can fuel our cars. However since this earth is not our final resting place, they are suffering their purgatory on earth. My heart just goes out to them. We in the western world can hardly fathom.

      But the Holy Father says it much, much better than I. :) He understands.

  7. Funny you say that , Doctor Boyd. My undergraduate degree in political science and economics from the college where I met my husband dealt with the myth of overpopulation. Ah, the irony.

    But you know what? I don't have a career. I never aspired to one, based on the "heroic" example of my mom. My career guessed it-- raising my children. And my husband's occupation, following the "heroic" example of his dad, is studying the truths of the faith, and teaching them to young adults. We want to see a restoration of the Catholic culture as much as anyone. Our mission is to raise saints, not have as many kids as humanly possible.

    Remember, it is my generation that is actually in the trenches, holding the bag from all that went on before. And from my vantage point, my friends ARE all "heroicly" raising families, (if they aren't bearing the cross of infertility) whatever you may think to the contrary. Despite inheriting a mess. So take heart!

    One last thing, grace works on nature. And fixating solely on the number of children as if those with fewer aren't quite measuring up only makes people feel inadequate. Which of course we are, relying as we do on God's mercy. It misses the whole point, which as I said is to raise saints, God willing, and be saints ourselves, God willing.

    So, someone told me that the grace of the sacrament only comes each time a child is born. I don't think this is true. Are those who are unable to have children somehow lacking in grace? Does God not think they're capable of raising children, and that's why He isn't giving them any?

    Infertility is a growing problem, I think partly due to the havoc contraception wreaks with their systems, and partly from the problems inherent in our culture, which is unhealthy in so many ways. To that end, as you know, fertility awareness is helping those who couldn't otherwise bear children! That's something to focus on.

    Mrs. Mike

    feel free to delete my comment if you wish. We could converse privately if you prefer. Perhaps I could call you sometime!

    1. The young Catholics who are infertile, but having never used artificial contraception, are still negatively affected by our environment, and the hormones in the food and water.

  8. Mrs. Mike, I'm deleting some of your comments for various reasons. Mostly, you miss my point, and the point others are making regarding "heroic" parenting or "generous" parenting, and the eschewing of NFP. For instance, in your comment above, I think you misinterpret me if you think I believe the object is for a couple to have as many children as possible. I don't think that at all, and I have never said it; a person can be a control freak about *trying* to conceive as well as trying not to conceive...enter IVF, for example. I object to the machinations of NFP, the failure to teach about "serious reasons", and the pretense that it is "God's plan". NFP is birth control, control by the couple (or at least their attempt to control or limit births).

    I have never touched on it on this blog, but I think there needs to be some re-thinking of "fertility awareness" as a remedy for infertility problems, too. Perhaps God's plan is that a couple only have 2 or 3 children; I know such a couple, and they have never felt the need to employ NFP as a remedy, even though they know about it. NFP practiced as an attempt to increase the chances of pregnancy could be just as much an abuse as using it to prevent pregnancy. (Note that I said COULD BE, not IS.)

    Feel free to email me at I don't do phone calls.

    1. Wow, I can't understand that at all. If NFP is morally neutral, then why can't it be used with a good intention to conceive, since you speak so highly of the need for more people to come into existence? (Obviously IVF is always inherently wrong.)

      I'm not sure that you understand the concept of natural family planning as such, since your statements have been so confusing, and the distinctions not properly made.

      I think that in order to have this debate, we should agree on terms. But my husband is extremely tired of my having this debate!

      Mrs. Mike

    2. You can't understand it because you don't understand trust in Divine Providence. You don't understand that I'm not saying "Have as many babies as possible, at all costs". And I would say that you yourself do not understand all the implications of NFP.

      I'm not really interested in "debate". Honest exchange of ideas is fine, but I'm not seeing that in your comments.

  9. Dr. Boyd, I would respectfully ask you to remove ALL my comments.

    Mrs. Mike

  10. Mrs. Mike, I am not going back through all the posts where you've left comments and delete them. I think you can delete them yourself.

  11. Well, I meant on this post. I'm not sure how to delete. I appreciate your responding to my concerns at any rate, and I apologize if I have lacked charity. The members of the body of Christ need to build each other up.

  12. Dr. Boyd,
    I appreciate Mr. Carroll’s concern about modesty. Also, I think the use of periodic continence always would require great discretion. For example, these are two possible statements a parent might make to a son or daughter:
    “Things were really rough, and then when we decided it was O.K. to have a baby, you came along!”
    “Things were really rough, and then you came along!”
    The latter statement tends to emphasize more clearly the gratuitous nature of the gift of life. So I think, not only with regard to one's children, but in general, the discussion of periodic continence should be reserved and guarded. On the contrary, the condemnation of abortion, artificial contraception, sterilization, and the homosexual lifestyle should be firm and forthright.

  13. May I jump into what seems to be a personal conference? First of all, the grace of marriage is given in the sacrament to the couple. All those who are married have grace to lead each other to heaven and live a beautiful, holy married life. Grace is not given sacramentally when a child is born. Can one rely on nuptial grace in child rearing? Absolutely.

    Secondly, NFP is not the perfect way. It is A way. If a couple can manage unplanned pregnancies, that is more perfect but as NFP is abstinence, of course, there is no sin IF it for a serious cause. One cannot and must not use NFP constantly, as a way of life. That was never the teaching of the Church. But, if one must space or plan babies, NFP is acceptable. I have taught NFP.

    Thirdly, we are not socialists. Socialism has been condemned by all the Popes since 1848. Some people will be rich, some middle class and some poor. As Catholics, it is our duty to help the poor. Being poor is not an excuses not to have children. And, to teach this is wrong. Children are a gift. And more so for those who are poor, as consolation, not worry. I know. I raised my son in poverty. However,the larger picture of the third world is a problem because all the western governments, including the US, set up abortuaries and contraception clinics in the third world. This is abominable. God will punish all nations for the killing of children in the womb. Economically, there are enough resources in the world for all. That is another question of how to help redistribute wealth.


  14. " NFP is not the perfect way. It is A way."

    Yes, I think of it like a knife. A knife can be used to injure and kill people. It can also be used to save lives. It can be used to chop vegetables for dinner, or carve beautiful figurines.

    1. I think that the world's message of contraception has drowned out the Church's message of openness to life. Contraception is an addictive drug that many, many people are hooked on, and I think that the bishops are trying to wean them away from that, with some success.
      How many times do you come across someone who's never even heard of NFP, and didn't know there was a legitimate means at their disposal?

      Once they get on board with accepting and following the Church's teaching, then they are on the right path. Maybe their hearts do need to be changed, but only God can do that. He gives grace, and we have to be open to it. All we can do is keep exhorting, encouraging and trying to set an example.

    2. Please leave a name! Is that you, Mrs. Mike? It helps to have a name and know the history of the comments. Thanks for your cooperation on this!

    3. Yes, it is I. But I figured you all were probably quite tired of hearing from me by now ;)

  15. Commodities. Ahhh. An interesting, important and overlooked term.

    The concept of commodity is what is driving our society today. Everything is becoming (or is) a commodity. Prices fluctuate widely (check the gasoline pumps) based on supposed supply & demand and various "market forces." The number of divorces and the reasons why indicate that marriage has become a commodity (i.e., If one doesn't produce happiness continually for their spouse, they are replaced). Same with employment: work continually or die. No more boundaries between work and home. If you don't work enough/more, someone is waiting in the wings to take your place. Children have become a status symbol: produce (good grades, athletic feats, etc.) or you are a loser.

    Even religion is based on commodity. Personal salvation (no group/society responsibility). Personal Choice. One can lose their salvation at any time (according to the RC Church) if they are not careful-so be safe and build up those indulgences to offset your time in Purgatory. Is the goal to get to heaven based on personal satisfaction/happiness or love of God?


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