Deacon Paul and Helen McBlain write the Marriage Matters column for CatholicPhilly.com. Members of St. Joseph Parish in Collingdale, they have been married more than 50 years and have seven children and 21 grandchildren.

Deacon Paul and Helen McBlain write the Marriage Matters column for CatholicPhilly.com. Members of St. Joseph Parish in Collingdale, they have been married more than 50 years and have seven children and 21 grandchildren.

She says:

Monica says: My husband Tom and I have been married for 10 years and have six children. We recently joined a Catholic group in our parish for prayer and discussion.

We are very happy with both the prayer and discussion part, however lately we have been receiving off-hand comments from a few of the participants about the number of children we have and suggestions like “hopefully, that’s the end.” One man even told us that we are “too close to the Church and too far from the drugstore.”

Tom is very upset with this and thinks we should not go back to this group and seek our spiritual faith-life in another parish. Tom is not afraid to speak his mind and I am concerned he may cause a scene at one of the meetings.

He Says:

Tom says: Monica and I initially had problems conceiving a child in our marriage. We were very grateful when God sent our first child to us and, after praying together about it, we decided that we would be open to whatever number of children God would decide to send to us. I am fortunate to be blessed with a very good job, so Monica is able to be a stay-at-home mother and we are financially secure in raising our family.

I will not tolerate snide remarks about the size of our family from our so-called fellow Christians. “Children too are a gift from the Lord, the fruit of the womb, a reward” (Psalm 127: 3).

What do they do?

When the Catholic Church describes the blessings inherent in parenthood, it consistently uses the phrase, “responsible parenthood.” The procreation of life should not be left to chance, or to blind fate. A responsible decision concerning the creation of new life demands a serious, honest discussion between the husband and the wife. It must be a shared decision. To decide responsibly involves consideration of the personal, social, economic, biological and mental health of the existing family unit.

Monica and Tom appear to have had, and continue to have, the discussion all couples should have concerning the size of their family. Their state of life and finances appear to be sufficient to support the large number of children God has sent to them.

Rather than receiving negative comments about their family-size decisions, Monica and Tom should be receiving respect and support from the members of their parish.

Tom needs to dial down his irritation with the negative comments and show some Christian charity on his part toward those who speak them, hopefully winning them over with his patience and forbearance. “He who reviles his neighbor has no sense, but the intelligent man keeps silent” (Proverbs 11:12).

Monica and Tom, give your current group another chance, placing your trust in the Holy Spirit, and perhaps your example and leadership may persuade others to re-examine their own family planning thoughts and ideas.

“My foes turn back when I call on you. This I know. God is on my side. God, I praise your promise; in you I trust, I do not fear” (Psalms 56: 10-12).