Do I have to?


Over the last few years in discussions with first time parents, a recurrent phrase has been “I have to”. As in ;“I have to buy a more expensive house/ go back to a paid job after my baby’s birth/send my child to the local school/ continue doing a job which I hate/ go on the Pill (although I would rather not and feel that this is destructive)”

The words “have to” are probably those I have most frequently heard when talking to Catholics who are explaining why the Church’s teaching” doesn’t work for them”. A young woman who decided not to rethink her life after years of unsuccessful fertility treatments writes; “If we’d had a baby when we first started trying, we would still be living in England now. Stuck in jobs that were unrewarding in every other way but financially, handing over our children to childminders so we could maintain the two incomes required to cover our mortgage, trying to keep up with a ubiquitous Jones family to whom we could barely relate” quoted in The Independent Extra 4th July 2006) (Pink for a girl” by Isla McGukin is published by Hay House.)

Yet it is not having a baby that forces many people to continue to live lives with which they are unhappy and which many know in their heart of hearts falls short of the life they could and should be leading. Rather it is a refusal to rethink their lives and a lack of trust in God..

Mary did not have to say no to Gabriel’s message; she could have pointed out to him that she was young and unmarried and likely to be stoned if she were found pregnant. She did not. Instead, she opened up her heart, mind and body to the Holy Spirit and said “Yes I will do what God wants me to do; I know He will make it come right even if I don’t know how!”.

Likewise, no one has to follow a path which they feel is the wrong one. Like Mary we are called upon to open our hearts, minds bodies and souls, to ask God what He wants us to do with our lives and then when we feel we have an answer, to pray that Providence will show us how.

Providence often works in ways we do not expect but once we open our hearts and lives to its power it never lets us down. I wish I had realised this when I was 20.


Do you have to buy a more expensive house/ send your child to a nursery/ go on the Pill? No, you don’t.