My mom was 19 years old when she married my dad. She was 20 when she had the first of her 17 children. Georgette and I were both 23 when we were married. We had the first of our seven children the following year.
I have two questions for you to consider:
1. When is the best time to get married?
2. When is the right time to have a baby?
In 1951, when my parents were married, the best time to get married was generally considered to be shortly after a person graduated from high school. When Georgette and I were married in 1980, the best time to get married was generally considered to be after a person graduated from college.
Today, in 2014, I’m not sure what the general consensus is concerning the best time to get married. For some couples, it’s after they have lived together for several years. For others, it’s after they have given themselves the opportunity to become established in their respective careers.
After a couple is married, when’s the “right time” to have a baby? I tell young couples that there’s never really a right time to have a baby, so they should get started as soon as possible after they are married. For most couples, there’s almost always a (seemingly) compelling reason to wait. They may believe that they need more time to grow together as a couple, or to get ahead financially, or to advance in their careers before taking on any new responsibilities.
What has complicated the decision-making process concerning marriage and children has been the widespread availability and use of modern-day contraceptives. What’s the hurry in getting married if a couple can enjoy the benefits of marriage without worrying about the consequences of a pregnancy? Why should they have a child during the first five years of marriage when they can use contraceptives to delay pregnancy? And after they finally get around to having two or three children, why should they subject themselves to more risks and responsibilities by having more children?
There’s a saying that is relevant to the topic of marriage and children: Where there is comfort, there is no growth. Where there is growth, there is seldom comfort.
Tradition tells us that the Blessed Virgin Mary was 14 years old when the angel Gabriel appeared to her and asked if she was willing to become the mother of God. At that time, she was engaged to be married to St. Joseph. By saying yes, she risked being ostracized by her family and the members of her community. She also risked ruining her chance of ever getting married.
Before the angel interrupted her plans, we can assume that Mary was comfortable with where she was at in life. She had an honorable and holy man who loved her and was going to marry her. Why risk complicating her life and jeopardizing her future by allowing herself to become pregnant?
Her own comfort was the furthest thing from her mind when she said yes to God. She was only interested in doing His will, and if it meant sacrificing her plans for marriage and ruining her reputation, she was willing to take that risk.
By accepting God’s will, Mary sacrificed comfort for growth — growth in faith, holiness, love, humility, courage, and her relationship with God.
Throughout the course of her life, every time Mary said yes to God, she sacrificed her comfort for growth. At the end of her earthly life, her Son rewarded her by ushering her body and soul into Heaven and crowning her as queen of Heaven and Earth.
Each year on August 15th, we celebrate Mary’s assumption into Heaven. On that date, we are reminded of the role she played in God’s eternal plan. We are also reminded of the role she plays in our lives.
When my mom and my wife said yes to marriage and to the children God had planned for them, they sacrificed their comfort. In exchange for their sacrifices, they grew in faith, holiness, love, humility, courage, and in their relationship with God.
The greatest threat to our country is not the terrorists in the Middle East, or the corrupt politicians in Washington, or the illegal immigrants who are flooding across our southern border. The greatest threat to our country is the breakdown of the family and the destruction of the institution of marriage.
With the introduction of modern methods of birth controlled came the ability to choose comfort over growth — the comfort of engaging in sex without having to worry about the consequences, and the comfort of serving our own selfish desires while denying God the opportunity to send us the children He had planned for our lives.
Unfortunately, because of our fallen human nature, we are inclined to choose comfort instead of sacrifice. Even though we know better, most of us routinely choose the route that is most comfortable for us. Whenever we choose comfort, we take the easy way out and say no to growth.
When Christ said, “Take up your cross and follow me,” He was telling us that we have to make a choice between comfort and following Him. By choosing the cross, we reject comfort. By rejecting comfort and following Him, we enhance our relationship with God and grow in faith, holiness, love, humility, and courage.
There is a simple but very powerful ritual that we can incorporate into our lives that will train and condition us to sacrifice comfort for growth. The ritual I’m referring to is the daily recitation of the rosary, while meditating on its mysteries.
The very act of setting aside the time every day to pray a rosary is a sacrifice of comfort in exchange for spiritual growth. Despite the fact that this one daily ritual is so simple, it is ignored by more than 95 percent of Catholics.
Having the desire to imitate our Lord is not enough. We must imitate Him (and his earthly parents) by sacrificing our comfort for growth.