Thursday, July 10, 2008

Count on me to belabor the point

Amma Bernhoft with her husband and 15 children.

From the Bernhoft Family Ancestry page.

Someone was batting this photo around on facebook and when I saw it you can imagine my reaction.

Another irresponsible providentialist.

God bless her!

You might wonder how Amma fared after raising 15 children.

Here is a picture of the poor,broken down woman. Mrs. Bernhoft was born November 14, 1874 and died October 31, 1968. That would be a mere 94 years.

Only imagine how much longer she might have lived had she not ruined her health, tempted God's providence, and exhibited such a shocking lack of self control.

One other small point on the issue of large, generous families (or so some call them). Take the analogy of a philanthropist who donates a million dollars to build a hospital. Generally speaking there is a press conference, gratitude is shown for the donation. People at this event are smiling and congratulating the donor and the recipients of donation. There are stories lauding the event. And never in such a scenario have I seen the following angle explored,

"Well not everyone can make such a large donation. Indeed for some people only a dollar or fifty cents is all they can manage to give. And we should think no more of someone who gives a million dollars than someone who puts a penny in the donation box."

Now obviously it is correct that not everyone can give a million dollars. You can only give what is in your capacity to give. But that sentiment never obscures the greatness of the gift at hand. The person making the gift is never admonished for arrogance or corrected in their generosity. That sentiment is one of defensiveness and often defensive is the result of guilt.


Anonymous said...

Let us not forget The Man in all of this. Where is his picture ? Either he had no time to pose for one or he was driven to his grave at a young age. Afterall he did have, "A WIFE" in addition to the kids - Gos Bless His Soul.

Dust I Am said...

If anyone is looking for the key to financial success in their old age, tell them to raise lots of kids!

Many years ago I met five Catholic families with many children (each with over ten children). Interestingly, all of the parents of these large families are now financially well situated and are good donors to the Church.

M. Alexander said...

Dear Dust I am,

Probably they had no choice. LOL

M. Alexander said...

Dear Anonymous (a.k.a Andy, my dh),

No one is forgetting the man in all this, obviously he took such wonderful care of his wife that she lived for 94 years. He has all our admiration.

How's that?

Anonymous said...

We need some financial honesty in these Catholic posts of many children. This photo-ed family is very well dressed. What was their relative assets in their day?
This past week in NY City, a butcher, Mr. Martinez, was killed crossing the street, and left for dead leaving a wife and 4 children but thank God in the US, that means that she can receive Social Security as a widow for all 4 children. In other countries, this is not so.
Years ago for ten years I sent money through Catholic Near East Welfare Association for a mother of 4 children who had to give them away to nearby Catholic orphanages when her husband suddenly died of a brain aneurism. In India, there was no safety net in her area and she then became a maid and would visit her children in the Catholic orphanages. I sent money for one child and added more each month just for the mother.
Faith does not mean that we will be protected from the tragic financially....Christ was broke financially at the very end. That is why the Church for the past 60 years has not been vocal about large families even though Pius XI was. Finance is real. One of our friends had six children early and always talked the talk that that was the way to go. His salary however was astronomical and then it became public that he was also slated to inherit great amounts later in life. His cred as a spokesman on this particular issue evaporated. Did he have great faith...or great assets in a country which also had social security for widows. Catholic posts around this issue never seem to discuss how much moolah is coming in....and are large families choosing relative poverty for their children if none will be able to attend anything but a community college.

M. Alexander said...

Dear Anonymous,

No one (least of all I, who lay awake at nights wondering how we will pay the electric bill, let alone grocery bill!) has ignored economics. Would that I could!

And yet even in the face of daunting odds we persevere! That is it!

Remember the scene in the "Last Samurai" when the character played by Tom Cruise tells the samuria chief of a famous battle where the "good guys" are outnumbered 1000- 1? And the chief likes those odds and asks how the battle turned out? And Cruise responded, "slaughtered to a man" ?

It was at that moment they charged into battle.

That's courage.

Go and do likewise as Our Lord said.