Does It Just Mean Having Lots of Children?
Having children, is of course the first way to give life... and it is a beautiful and extraordinary adventure. However, there can be other ways. Adoption is one example, or a couple's commitment to society, or to the poor.
Having children does not just mean giving them biologial life. Neither has quantity anything to do with it - to have lots of children. To have children implies the responsibility to bring them up. Education, indeed, is a true kind of child-birth. Man, unlike the animals, has to learn to take responsibility for his existence, as far as possible.
To educate someone is to lead them out of a naive existence into a consious, free and responsible life. It means giving the child, the potential man or woman, the possibility to build their personal life, to develop their own talents while integrating the cultural, moral and spiritual values of mankind.
At this level, education about love, about the gift of oneself is very important. "the parent's love (...) is the norm inspiring and guiding all concrete educational activity, enriching it with the values of kindness, constancy, goodness, service, disinterestedness..." (Familiaris Consortio 36). In short, Christian parents are invited to offer their children everything that is necessary to develop their Christian personality.
August 1982: How happy I am! I became a grand-mother. My daughter just gave birth to Celine, a baby girl in Germany. I immediately decide to join them there. My husband has to go to Italy for business. Anne, our youngest daughter decides to go with him. I spend a great week taking care of my baby grand-daughter. One evening, the phone rings. My husband tells me Anne has been severely injured in a motorcycle accident. Mad with worries, I take the first plane to Milan. As soon as I see my husband, I realize our daughter died. She was fifteen years old, beautiful, happy, full of life and I have to find her at the morgue... why, why...?
At our daughter's funeral, I feel my heart break apart at the time of communion : I feel a deep desire to receive the holy species, it seems like it is the only thing that could soothe the burning pain in my heart. But I have never been baptized and I cannot fully understand this blazing desire to take communion. A week later, I decided to visit the priest of our local parish.
Mother of a Multitude
A few months later, I was baptized and the discovery of God allowed myself not to remain enclosed in a wall of pain: indeed, when it was back-to-school time, I was asked to teach the catechism to the local children. I thought:"Why me who cannot bare the sight of a child without bursting into tears?". But God knew what He was doing. He knew that the only thing that could cure my sorrow was the other children's affection.
The children have been enlightening my life for ten years now; the anguish and the tears have been swept away by their love. And the story is not over because I am now taking care of elderly people in a retirement home: come to think of it, I am now the mother of a multitude of children whose youngest is 8 years old and the oldest 102!