BIG FAMILIES, BIG FAITH

Large families know that God provides

Everyday Jim and Teresa Major do the impossible.

They take their budget fit for two children and stretch it to provide for their brood of 12.

The Majors place their openness to life first and budget second, having faith that God will provide. And he has.

“Here I am everyday living the impossible,” said Teresa, who attends St. Louis King of France Church in Englewood. “So I know God exists.”

They call finances the “boogeyman that the devil holds up” to scare a couple into restricting their family size.

“Being open to having a big family is being open to faith from God,” Teresa said.

Families like the Majors, who are members of the Neocatechumenal Way catechumenate, said they’ve overcome fears and found the joys of a larger-than-life family.

Some are well aware of the secular world’s opinion that it’s financially irresponsible, maybe even negligent, to be open to more than one or two children.

Kali and Lane Reagan, who also attend St. Louis, will get stares over their four children. Reagan is expecting their fifth child in September.

“We get strange looks,” Kali said. “People have asked us if they were accidents or if we had them on purpose. Others have asked ‘Do you know what birth control is?’”

The Reagans have a different view.

Lane and Kali Reagan with their four children. They are expecting a baby in September.

Lane and Kali Reagan with their four children. They are expecting a baby in September.

“I think being open to life can mean so many different things,” Kali said. “For us it means five children. We’re happy to give up some of the things people think they can’t live without to have these kids.”

Budgeting to meet the needs of a growing family requires a more intentional approach to their spending, they said. They look at their budget and determine wants versus needs. They try to pay in cash. They won’t buy a new car until it’s a necessity. Going out to eat and the movies is an infrequent event. When they buy something new, they share it. The important thing is that they’re together, they said.

They love their oldest, 10-year-old Brooklyn, who keeps to herself, and Jersey, 6, and Staten, 3—their two other girls—who are “rambunctious and feisty.” The baby, 8-month-old Bronx, gets all the attention.

“For us the joy we get from our children is way more than you can put a monetary price on,” Kali said.

Lane, 33, added, “With God’s help anything is possible.”

Discovering God’s plan
Eric and Delores Benedict of Immaculate Conception Church in Lafayette are no strangers to the fear of a large family.

After child No. 6 was born, relatives and doctors urged them to choose sterilization. Delores succumbed to pressure and decided to have a tubal ligation.

“My husband and I could just sexually satisfy ourselves. No guilt—no babies,” Delores told the Denver Catholic Register.

But their marital union felt empty and their marriage suffered.

“I didn’t want Eric to touch me. Without the possibility of a child, the act was meaningless. I was so sad.”

Then Delores discovered the Neocatechumenal Way at her parish, and she and her husband had a conversion of heart. They fell in love with Christ, they said.

Eric Benedict, center above, and his wife, Delores, to the right of Eric, and six of their 11 children seated at their dining room table.

Eric Benedict, center above, and his wife, Delores, to the right of Eric, and six of their 11 children seated at their dining room table.

After attending a liturgy with their Way community, Delores asked how she could find peace after choosing to be sterile. Their pastor advised them to consider a reversal.

“We decided it didn’t matter whether we had more kids or not, we were going to get the reversal done,” she said.

In 1995, her fallopian tubes were repaired. They were blessed with five more children.

Eric said being open to God’s plan may be difficult but “God has always, always provided.”

They shared their experiences with life in a letter addressed to the pope in April.

Delores said, “We chose life instead of material things. We put God first and he has provided for everything.”

The Majors had the same experience.

While it may be scary to be open to life, it’s only led to blessing after blessing for their family, Teresa said.

Being open to life has been a true walk of faith.

“The Christian has to know that God will provide. He has to know that. That’s what faith is,” Teresa said.

 

The Reagan Family’s Expenses
Kali and Lane Reagan shared a breakdown of their regular monthly bills in providing for their four children. They trust that God will provide.

Typical month
Groceries: $500
Target and CostCo for bulk items: $275
Diapers: $85
Clothing: $30-40 for miscellaneous needs
Recreation for children: $140
Phones: $150
Cable: $150
Insurance: $150
Gas: $200
The family also pays for medical bills, car repairs, school tuition, parish tithing, birthday parties and entertainment.
Free family activities in Denver
Denver offers free activities and attractions for the whole family that won’t break the bank. Below is a list of ideas for this summer.

Red Rocks Amphitheatre and Park in Morrison—Visit the museum and Performers Hall of Fame or take a hike through the colorful red rocks of the park. Visit redrocksonline.com or call 720-865-2494.

Denver U.S. Mint downtown—Take an hour-long weekday tour of one of only two mints in the United States. Reservations required. Visit www.usmint.gov or call 303-405-4761.

Denver Art Museum downtown—See the latest art exhibits during the museum’s free days the first Saturday of the month. Families may play games in the galleries, make art or take a tour in Spanish. Visit www.denverartmuseum.org or call 720-865-5000.

Hammond’s Candy Factory in Denver—Satisfy the family’s sweet tooth with a behind-the-scenes tour of the candy factory. Visit www.hammondscandies.com or call 303-333-5588.

Washington Park in Denver—Enjoy the expansive lawns, gardens and lake at the 165-acre park ideal for picnics, games or relaxing in the sun. Visit www.denvergov.org/parksandrecreation.

Celestial Seasonings in Boulder—See first-hand the workings of a tea production plant at one of the company’s free tours.  Visit www.celestialseasonings.com/tours or call 303-581-1266.

National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder—Learn about tornados, global warming, lightning and other acts of nature at its visitor center. Visit ncar.ucar.edu or call 303-497-1000.

 

COMING UP: Did Christians ban the Games? Tales, myths and other fun facts about the ancient Olympics

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The 2020 Summer Olympics began less than a week ago, and as is usually the case, there’s been enough stunning athleticism, shocking upsets and yes, even a little bit of drama on display to keep the water cooler chatter abuzz until at least the 2022 games.

At their best, the Olympic games bridge cultural divides and unite countries around the world as the greatest living athletes around the globe compete for the coveted gold medal in their respective events. There’s a spirit of global camaraderie that welcomely comes about during every Olympiad; whether watching the Games at home with the family or going to a local bar to cheer on your favorite country, the Olympics bring people together in a way that most other sporting events do not.

Another astounding thing about the Olympics is how they’ve endured over the millennia. Indeed, they provide a special glimpse into the history of the world and those common qualities of humanity that will never die; namely, the need for both unitive, universal community and friendly but fierce competition.

The first recorded Olympic games took place in 776 B.C., though some historians speculate that they could have began as early as the 10th century B.C. The games were held every four years in Olympia to honor the greek god Zeus as one of four Panhellenic festivals, this one coinciding with the second full moon following the summer solstice, usually at the end of July or early August. The Olympics became so significant that the term Olympiad was used to mark a year the games took place, and became a common unit of historical time measurement.

Now, the ancient world wasn’t exactly known for its amicability or even peacefulness, as indicated by the countless wars and power usurpations that took place throughout its history. However, Olympic festivals were marked by a truce among the Greeks called ekecheiria, which roughly means “holding of hands.” This ensured safe travels for athletes and spectators as they made their way to the festival and was a common basis for peace among the Greeks. That the Olympic games could get even the constantly feuding Greeks to lay down their arms and come together in a spirit of solidarity speaks to their significance in ancient history.

Early Olympic events included the footrace, wrestling, the long jump, the javelin throw, the discus throw and boxing. Of course, it’s nigh impossible to read about the ancient Olympics and not come across epic tales of chariot racing, an event which was briefly banned early on but was reinstated by the first century B.C. and drew the interest of several key Roman figures (more on that later).

By the fifth century B.C., athletes from all over the Greek-speaking world came to Olympia for the games. The footrace, also called the Stade or Stadion, was considered the most prestigious event, and is where the english word “stadium” is derived from. Stade was a unit of measurement in ancient Greece which modern historians say is the rough equivalent to 600 feet or 200 yards, though the actual length has been a subject of debate for many years. Either way, it represents the length which runners in the Stadion ran to prove themselves as the fastest sprinters in the ancient world.

Interestingly, very little record about the Olympics games during the time of Christ exists. History tells us that the Roman emperor Tiberius, who was emperor during Christ’s life, won the chariot races during the 194th Olympiad in 4 B.C. In 17 A.D., the popular Roman general Germanicus, who was Tiberius’ adopted son and the future father of the third Roman Emperor Caligula, won the chariot races in 17 A.D., presumably around the time Christ was a teenager.

About those chariot races: they were known to attract elite political figures, some of whom won based on true skill, and others who only wanted the appearance of winning to further exert their power and status. During the 211th Olympiad, Emperor Nero, known for his fierce persecution of Christians and rather narcissistic personality, forcibly moved the Olympic games set to take place in 65 A.D. to 67 A.D. so he could compete while on a tour of Greece. He participated in the chariot races (with six more horses than the other competitors), and declared himself the greatest Olympic victor of all time, though historical eyewitness accounts tell a different story. Nero actually nearly died after a severe wreck, but Nero being Nero, he was still declared the winner.

Thankfully, Nero’s title as an Olympic victor and the Olympiad he “won,” which did not adhere to the established chronology of the games, were subsequently stricken from the official Olympic records after his death.

The Olympics grew over the course of 1,200 years until 393 A.D., when Emperor Theodosius I banned all Pagan festivals from the Roman emperor after Christianity became adopted as the state religion. Popular culture and history has long maintained this story of Christianity being to blame for the halt of the Olympic games. However, in recent years, some historians have disputed this account, saying that it was not for religious reasons but rather economic reasons that the games ended when they did. In fact, even after Theodosius’ death, there are still records of Olympic games taking place up until the fifth century. As the administration of Roman Empire evolved, the Olympics could no longer be sponsored by civil funds and instead became sponsored more and more by rich elites of the time. Simply put, the games became too expensive, and no one wanted to pay for them anymore.

The Olympics did not make a return for 1,500 years, until the Athens Olympics in 1896. Over the last 125 years since their reinstatement, the Games have become an integral piece of modern culture and a remnant of ancient history that was revived to great avail. As the Olympics in Tokyo continue over the next week and athletes compete for the gold, the words of St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians serve as a pertinent reminder of how the spirit of an Olympian imitates closely that of a Christian:

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Cor 9:24-27).

So let the Games continue! And may the race be run not for a perishable prize, but an imperishable one.


Featured photo: Met Museum, Terracotta Panathenaic prize amphora (jar), ca. 510 B.C. Attributed to the Leagros Group.