Sometimes as Mass is about to begin I notice there is more than one procession going on. Yes, there is the priest and his altar servers... but there is also a procession of two kid families filling the pews.
"Be fruitful and multiply" is a command and a blessing (Genesis 1:28). Is this command and blessing being fulfilled at your parish?
Some families struggle with infertility but that may impact only up to 10% of families. When you see the procession of two kid families, something else is going on for at least 90% of them.
Is it just the later age of marriage? The average age of marriage for a Catholic woman is still in the 20s, so that leaves an average of at least 15 years of fertility so that doesn't explain it. It might explain a few cases, so let's say 5% can be explained by lower fertility due to advanced maternal age.
Severe financial problems, miscarriages, children with special needs, abandoned spouses, mental issues, or health risks for the mother in pregnancy may also explain some particular cases of families who stopped at two children. But can this be the case for so many families in our free and prosperous society? Let's say these account for another 15% of two kid families.
My guesses above have only accounted for about 30% of the two kid families at Mass. What can possibly be holding back the other 70% from being more fruitful in their marriage? What can be stopping them from being blessed with additional "supreme gifts of marriage?"
A study found that among Catholic parents age 25 to 45 in the U.S., 75% had two children or fewer in the home, while 92% had three children or fewer and almost 99% had four children or fewer.
We can't presume to know the situation of a particular family but we can know the situation of our parish family. Statistics are useful with large sample sizes. Something is going on.
When it comes time for the homily, I have never heard this situation addressed.
Can anyone help me figure out this puzzle? How is it that so many in the parish have been stopped at just two children for their family?
Feel free to comment or send me an email if you have any guesses.