By Kathleen Guthrie Woods
I’m not a Catholic, but I have attended numerous services to support friends in their faith journeys and I am familiar with the vow in wedding ceremonies that asks, basically, “If you are blessed with children, will you raise them in the Catholic faith?” (“We will.”) It was an unpleasant surprise, then, when recently I attended a beautiful wedding mass and the priest, in my humble opinion, went too far.
“There are many here who are eager for you to bear fruit—as soon as possible!…May you soon become co-creators and bring many children into the world…Now that you are husband and wife, we look forward to your becoming parents…When you have your children….”
I get that the parents of the bride and groom are eager for grandchildren, but as the calls continued for my friends to procreate, I got uncomfortable, sad, and, well, angry. The kicker for me was when the priest invited us to pray for this beautiful young couple to produce babies asap. Oh, I prayed for them alright, but my prayer went something like this:
Dear God, Please be present for this wonderful man and woman. Bless their marriage. If they have a desire to have children, I pray that you spare them the heartache of infertility, miscarriages, and any other impediments to parenting. If children are not to be a part of Your plans for their future, please be a comfort and guide to them, and please soften the hearts of their family members.
I’m rankled whenever I hear someone say that “it’s not God’s will” or “you aren’t faithful enough” or some other condemnation for why good people are not “blessed” with children. I know in my heart that none of these statements are true, yet they can be so hurtful. I hope and pray that my newlywed friends never have to be at the receiving end of this kind of pain.
I’d like to hear from you. What does your church have to say about this? How do you feel about wedding vows that call for bringing children into the world? And most of all, how has your faith helped you in your journey through life without babies?
Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She is mostly at peace with being childfree.