The easiest way to illustrate how family life is bolstered by vowed religious is to point to how so many consecrated people serve the needy. There are whole religious congregations who conceive of their charism as intimately bound up with babies and birth. The Sisters of Life are a community of women religious centered in New York. When I asked them how they would characterize their mission, they said, “The Sisters of Life are Catholic religious Sisters who believe and witness to the truth that every person is good, necessary, and unrepeatable—a truth that is all too easily forgotten today. This is why we accompany women who find themselves struggling with a pregnancy, helping them to experience their own goodness and to move in freedom, not in fear.”
Our world denigrates vulnerability and dependence, even to the point of discarding human beings deemed inconveniently needy. What a witness against this evil we have in vowed religious like the Sisters of Life and the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne, who serve those dying of incurable cancer at no cost to them or their families. Both in their vows and in their acts of mercy, they embrace a radical dependence that our strength-surfeited society needs. To learn to make room for the radically dependent (babies, the disabled, all of us when we are old and sick) we could do worse than look to the humble leadership of the many sisters who embrace what the world throws away.
If a Christian wishes to claim the label “pro-natalist,” he has to be clear about what that means in the light of faith. It cannot mean merely attempting to maximize the world’s output of babies, as if Christians were only some substrain of utilitarian. A Christian pro-natalist should focus on championing the Kingdom of Life against the forces of spiritual darkness, and fostering a society hospitable to parenthood, children, and radical dependence. Whatever our denominational backgrounds, it is easy to observe how religious sisters contribute to a culture of life.
Read the whole piece at First Things here.