If you’re a young Catholic looking for an effective long-term strategy to reclaim Western culture, having a large family should be on your short list.
I don’t mean to imply that raising a family should not be on your short list for other more important reasons. But as your own personal culture project, raising a good family is very close to the pinnacle of sound Catholic strategy. Moreover, at this particular moment the social stigma so often associated with large families may be receding. This is not only because Europeans and Americans are becoming acquainted with large families again through Islamic immigrants in Europe and Hispanic immigrants in the United States. That in itself could reinforce the stigma in the minds of some. But there is also growing concern (at last!) about a childless future.
Good Catholics want to have children because they place an extremely high value on openness to natural and supernatural life. As Catholicism seeps into one’s bones, it also produces an instinctive desire to share and multiply love, in imitation of the wonderful fecundity of God Himself. Such attitudes dramatically undermine game theory. Catholics simply refuse—or at least ought to refuse—to see themselves as prisoners. Catholics also know that if you want to beat the game, this is the only way to play.
Good Catholic families now have sufficient experience with the post-1960’s secular society to understand what it takes to be successful at passing on their Faith to the next generation (a point to which I’ll return in a moment). At the same time, we are entering a period in which—while certainly not without its hardships—significant family size can be “explained” to the world as a deliberate positive and hopeful contribution to the future, that is, to the common good. We may still be a long way from winning the battle against the sterile and abortive life decisions of others, but we are entering an era in which the many will at least see some wisdom in subsidizing the few to have children. Therefore, we may not be far from acceptance of larger families as an alternative lifestyle.
Successful parents have children because they love God (and each other) in Christ. Love always seeks to extend its blessings to others. Indeed, those who cannot have children will seek to extend the blessings of love in other ways. But for those called to marriage who are able to have children, the most important expression of love, rooted in their very vocations, is found in procreation. Once again, this models the infinitely fruitful generosity—the inexhaustible self-giving—of God Himself.