Good news for families Print
Grand Mom
Written by Audrey Mettel Fixmer   
Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014 -- 12:00 AM

At my age, it is not too surprising to have a bad health day that keeps me home. But when it happens on Sunday and I must miss Mass, I find myself asking, "Why, God? Why today? Don't you want me to go to Mass?"

Well, this past Sunday I asked that question, then turned on the TV to EWTN to find a televised Mass.

Vocation boom

I thought I hit the jackpot when I was on time for a lecture about the vocation boom -- so it's not just the Diocese of Madison? -- and the Mass that followed would be none other than the Vatican Mass celebrated by Pope Francis himself.

It was the occasion of the opening of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, a world-wide assembly of cardinals and bishops and married couples to discuss such thorny problems related to family life: the denial of sacraments to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, artificial contraception, and the children of same-sex unions.

It is always uplifting to experience the beauty and riches of the Vatican. The one time I visited there personally I was in awe of the majesty and the history of centuries of art that was created for the honor and glory of God.

However, seeing that humble, simple man at the center of the ceremony was a study in contrasts. Pope Francis speaks softly as he consecrates the host. No pomp, no drama, just a quiet sense of wonder that he could share this gift with the world.

A dear friend's funeral

This came at the end of a week that was highlighted by my attendance at the funeral of my dear friend, Harriet Koehler. She was my go-to person all those years we were raising our families. She had 11 children, I had 10, and Mary Sykes had 12.

We were in a weekly Catholic Family Life group meeting in each other's homes. We shared recipes, jokes, and tips for growing vegetables and kids and tricks for keeping our sanity in the midst of chaos.

It was heartwarming to see all those wonderful Koehler kids grown into their own variety but still bearing noticeable traits of their parents.

And of course, one of them had to repeat the oft-told story of the time we and the Koehlers and the Sykes were traveling in one car and I pointed out that if we were in an accident and were killed, we would leave 33 children orphans.

No more large families

We will never return to those days. The large Catholic families are history. Except for some rare cases, we will not see such a time again. Those days of leaving doors unlocked and allowing kids to walk or ride bikes in strange neighborhoods are gone. The cost of raising large families today is too prohibitive. It takes two incomes in most cases.

That is why I, along with most of the faithful, look forward to this synod to study the problems of family life. This is a time to pray and pray hard that the Holy Spirit will enlighten our hierarchy to find solutions to the problems of Catholic families.

And I think he is already working on it. And that explains the surge in priestly vocations. We are getting ready for the Welcome Home Party by having plenty of priests on hand to welcome back those prodigal sons and daughters.


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