Friday, December 16, 2005

Critical Demographics

I read recently in Discover Magazine that societies under intense persecution or threat of extinction have been shown to produce more female offspring. They suggested it was some sort of evolutionary effect that kicks in to ensure the long-term survival of the group.

My wife and I, as Catholics, are part of a societal group that is constantly subjected (praise God!) to quiet scorn, subtle disdain, and occasional outright contempt.

We have three children so far, all girls.

I foresee at least one of them becoming a nun. We definitely want to encourage any sort of inquiry to religious life that they manifest. I'm reminded of St. Lucy of Syracuse, who dearly wanted to take religious vows, so much so that she actively delayed her arranged marriage. She also prayed that her mother would accept her desire, and as a sign from God, her mother was cured of a chronic hemorrhaging. She then consented.

Her scorned fiance ratted her out as a Christian, and St. Lucy went on to die a horrible death at the hands of the governor of Sicily in the year 283.

That, odd as it may sound, is what I would love one (or more!) of my daughters to experience. For when we think of St. Lucy, we do not think of a murder victim, but rather of a cohort in the great cloud of witnesses who cheer us on in our race (Heb. 12:1). We think instead of the saint who could not be dragged to her sentence in the red-light district even by a team of oxen; we think of the saint whose faith prevented the wood around her stake from burning; we think of the saint whose eyesight was restored after her eyes were gouged out.

But why would any father want his little girl put through such torture? The forge of martyrdom is a fierce one, true, but Pope John Paul II knew that we need saints more than ever in this era of impending doom - that's why he recognized the holiness of more than 500 saints by canonizing them.

The Communion of Saints is one of my favorite themes in the Church. You'll note I link to an "Exhaustive Calendar of Saints" on the sidebar of my blog. Every day I look at the saints associated with that day to see who is there and why.

These are the type of people we need to breed nowadays. To think that my daughter(s) could someday be on a similar list is quite a joyful prospect for me.

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