A Joyful Noise

(Futterung der Kaninchen - by Felix Schlesinger)

(Futterung der Kaninchen – by Felix Schlesinger)

“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord…” – Psalm 98:4

By Charlie Johnston

When my kids were little I had become close friends with a big, brawling extended family of a fellow I collaborated with in politics. One year I had passes to the Milwaukee Zoo’s Winter Night Lights Festival, when the zoo would open at night with Christmas lights all around for a few weeks. The son of Cindy, one of the women in the family, had become close with my two children, so we agreed to pick him up and take him along. At the time, Cindy had seven children. When we arrived at her house her brother, Joe, was there. I started describing how magical the zoo is at night with the Christmas lights out. Cindy got absolutely charmed by my description. She was so enthused I told her everyone could go – my pass was not limited. So she asked Joe if he could come and help her with the kids. Alas, Joe had another engagement he could not change. She had a huge, 12-passenger van, so I told her let’s load everyone up and head on out. She was still a little wary about whether I would get flustered with so many kids. I told her I was the oldest of six in my own family – and then delivered the clinching line with a broad grin, “Besides, it will drive the Planned Parenthood types nuts.”

So we loaded up and headed out. Oh, it was magical! The temperature was in the low teens. There came one of those twinkly snows you only get when it is very cold – a snow that is more like glittering fairy dust than anything else. A vivid, evocative snapshot remains engraved in my memory; a Bengal tiger resting regally in that way cats do atop a ledge, gazing serenely out at us, his subjects, as the snow twinkled ever so delicately all about him. What a hoot when we decided to get hot cocoa and snacks for the kids! With nine kids in near-zero weather, you really need a logistics consultant to perform the simplest tasks. We laughed and carried on and had an unforgettably joyful, if raucous, night.

Cindy and I became great friends. Her home parish was the Church I usually went to Daily Mass at before starting my midday radio shift – and she was usually there with some of the kids. We had so much fun together with all the kids that, when I phoned her house, it tickled her husband, if he answered, to call out, “Cindy, it’s your boyfriend!” (if you knew how joyfully saintly she is, you would know there was nothing untoward intended or ever taken by it. It was just amusing – but she did know who he was talking about).

On several Christmas Eve celebrations, I was invited by the larger family clan to join them at the home of the Patriarch and Matriarch of the whole bunch. Ha! You could have 50 people there at any given moment, sometimes much more. The grand patriarch, Papa Nick, father of all my friends in that extended family, makes the most fabulous roast in the history of the world. At one of these celebrations, Cindy took me aside and told me, face glowing, that she was pregnant – and she wanted me to be the first to know. I was a little taken aback and chuckled that that didn’t sound quite right. She was immediately  earnestly sincere and said, “Charlie, you were the one person I knew who would be completely overjoyed about it.” I was a bit startled: all her brothers and sisters were pro-life activists, some of them prominent. As we talked she said that even in a big pro-life family, the jokes get made about how maybe you don’t know what’s causing it and you feel the subtle disapproval that maybe you are taking things a bit too far when you have so many, “but I knew you would feel nothing but joy that a new soul is coming.” In my entire life, it is the compliment I most cherish.

When my son was out visiting me last month, we visited with some close friends of mine who have seven children. They are a raucous, joyful bunch. My little granddaughter just loved it, jumped right in with them having a right jolly old time. We had dinner, laughed, joked…we all said a somewhat fractured family Rosary together (you try being piously serene while the two-year-old is running, giggling and jubilantly tugging at people’s legs and hair), then laughed some more. The household radiates joy – which is why I so love visiting them. While my son was with me in the mountains, he referred back to them – and told me that is what he dreams of…having a big, raucous, joyful family that plays together roughly, argues together loudly, and loves each other fiercely.

Last week, when Pope Francis said Catholics need not procreate “like rabbits,” my heart went out to him. Having been in media and public politics a long time, I have said a few dumb things off the cuff that I immediately regretted and didn’t mean. But my heart went out more to all the faithful families who I know must have been cut to the quick by that statement. Not a one has commented to me about it, but I have talked often with the parents of large families about the silent disapproval they always face – and the open disapproval they frequently face in these benighted times. It has got to hurt when the leader of the very institution you are living fidelity to seems to criticize you for that very fidelity. I am sure the Pope has tortured himself over this one…when you read the transcript he seemed to be trying to reach out to some population control types, not mocking faithful Catholics.

When my kids were little, being a single Dad, frequently people tried to commiserate with me over what a burden it must be. Whether the kids were around or not, I always responded that it was a complete joy. Well known as a fanatical lover of baseball, I would usually say with a big grin, “Oh, it will tire you out, but it is the good tired, like how you feel after playing baseball all day long – exhausted, but satisfied and grateful you got to enjoy what you love all day.” I was offended by the culture that considers children an optional burden. Even more, I was horrified that my kids would ever think I thought them a burden, when they were and remain my greatest joy. I didn’t mind them knowing I was mad or irritated or crabby – but I never wanted them to doubt for a minute that they were my heart…even if I, at a particular moment, seemed intent on wringing their little necks.  There is no greater, no more joyful honor, than to know that God has entrusted some of the little souls He made into your care for a time. Guiding them into life is the greatest, most joyful adventure any of us will ever live. I have lived many roles and had a few titles in my life…but internally…how I see myself…is as a Catholic father. To bring children into the world in these times, to love them, to hang in there with them, is the most generous single act of faith, hope, charity, love and fortitude I know of. The people who step out in faith and have large families are those who will rebuild the very concept of family. In doing so,  they are the vanguard of those who will rescue our culture. They are the brave lights who, even now, are busy renewing the faith of the world. Thank God for them.

I delight in how Pope Francis’ bold personality has broken down so many barriers with people outside the faith, including even some who are hostile to the faith. He is an Evangelist par excellence. But it is a brutally tough calling to live. Please join me in praying that the Lord helps the Holy Father to persist in the boldness that breaks down barriers to those without while keeping it from becoming brashness that unintentionally wounds the faithful within.

You may wonder why I titled this column, “A Joyful Noise.” Go to a schoolyard, to the home of a big family – anywhere that many children are at play, wrestling, laughing and fussing with each other. You’ll figure it out. And as for those generous parents who give of themselves with fortitude and love to keep raising up that joyful noise on behalf of the whole world, thank you. Every time you change a diaper, wipe a nose, sit up all night with a sick child soothing and comforting him, it is a sweet incense rising up to the Lord. You lay up treasure for us all in heaven.

About charliej373

Charlie Johnston is a former newspaper editor, radio talk show host and political consultant. From Feb. 11, 2011 to Aug. 21, 2012, he walked 3,200 miles across the country, sleeping in the woods, meeting people and praying as he went. He has received prophetic visitation all his life, which he has vetted through a trio of priests over the last 20 years, and now speaks publicly about on this site. Yet he emphasizes that we find God most surely through the ordinary, doing the little things we should with faith and fidelity. Hence the name, The Next Right Step. The visitations inform his work, but are not the focus of it. He lives in the Archdiocese of Denver in the United States.
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170 Responses to A Joyful Noise

  1. Lil Wild Rose says:

    Thank you for such a beautiful post, Charlie. Every time I think you have written your best, you post again. The truth of children is written in the hearts of every man, it doesn’t matter what anyone else says, cling to the truth. The comment was hurtful, like a canon ball wound actually, but truth and love is a salve that heals these types of wounds, and when understood in the context of the Dec 20 vision, well then I understand. I pray I can be forged in the fire of Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, that is the only safe place to be.


  2. vicardwm says:

    Mark Mallett’s latest – The Black Ship Part II – is quite amazing and discerning!



    • Tarja says:

      I was very relieved when I saw what Mark Mallet wrote yesterday:

      “As I mentioned in Part I, Satan has foreseen the end of this age and the new era to come for millenia, and thus that fallen angel has been plotting a counterfeit era that looks very much like the real thing. [13] And, to be honest, it’s fooling some of the faithful, but in a different kind of way. It’s not that they are falling for the false church, but rejecting the true Church. They see any form of ecumenism as a deception; they confuse mercy with heresy; they see charity as compromise; they see Pope Francis as a false prophet, much the way Christ was considered a false prophet because he did not fit into “the box.”

      I wrote like this on MoG forum 31. August, 2013. Some understood, some not. I think from outside it is easier to see some trends….
      “I read some new locutions from MDM just to see what’s new there. While reading them I got a very strong impression that this whole system of theirs with numerous messages is only aimed against pope Francis. The whole thing started well in advance before his election that so many people as possible would become sceptic towards the new pope. Of course the Church is also targeted, but somehow this seems to be kind of operation of misguidance: much talk about end times and so on but there is only one real aim behind all that “rigmarole”…
      This was just so convincing experience to me, who at first in March was suspicious of pope Francis. All made suddenly sense…”

      My relief is so great! Pope Franciscus is so important to me and I have been glad to see how well he and our Patriarch Bartholomeus get along and understood each other. And then some traditionalists, both Orthodox and Catholic, reject this friendship and close connection as something bad and dangerous…
      I have a feeling that everything good is turned upside down. Black is seen as white and vice versa.


  3. anne says:

    so much is happening and so quickly. i asked the Holy Spirit to help me have a bigger picture……the sense i recevied is that when all is said and done…….we are being prepared for the Kingdom of Love. Hence the great battle! lines are being drawn, and i believe a moment of Grace will come for all. We can only choose in knowledge and the lies and deception have done a great job. Come Holy Spirit come and renew the face of the earth.


  4. anne says:

    just been to a conference and Dr Mary Healy spoke. Marvellous. She is on You tube and the one i listened to is on Dec 5th, 2014.Shalom Night Vigil. Really worth the listen.


  5. Alphonsus says:

    I once read an excellent thought on parenthood and how caring for children is the charity done for others that Jesus considers as charity done to Him.

    Matthew 25:
    35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me,
    36 naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’
    37 Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?
    38 When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?
    39 When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
    40 And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

    Every meal prepared for the kids is feeding Jesus when He is hungry and giving Him a drink when He is thirsty. Welcoming the child when born is welcoming Him as a stranger. Washing the kids’ clothes and dressing them is clothing Him when He is naked. Caring for the child when ill is caring for Him when He is ill. Listening to and comforting the child in all his difficulties is visiting Him in prison.

    The LORD ordained parenthood – such a natural state – as a supreme daily vocation of love and a sure path to perfection. How beautiful.

    And after all, didn’t He also say in Scripture? “Parents don’t raise children into adults as much as children raise parents into adults.” (Just kidding on that).


  6. Terry O'Loughlin says:

    A wonderful column, Charlie, and inspiring comments from everyone. Though my six children are miles apart, I praise God for iphones and texting because all of them share and keep in touch with each other. Sometimes they even call each other on! Love triumphants!


  7. Ignacio says:

    Hi Stephen loved your comments especially the words about embarrassing your wife! Number five is almost six months and as a family of seven in Brisbane we get lots of comments. My boss offered to pay for foxtel last year. Imagine my comment in return. You sound like a good natured happy guy and I look forward to saying hi when we depart the mortal coil. Seriously though with the recent comments from the media wow Charlie the storm increases. To the point that truly God loving souls have questions. You mentioned that even you would lose hope – I really think this is just the beginning and it underlines your comment. Please pray for one on the border who desires to love him despite my total misery. Thanks mate.


  8. Ignacio says:

    Just for you Charlie. Hope your stay in the woods is blessed. Words cannot express the hope you’ve given me. Even in the midst of darkness and despair that sucks oxygen from me I hear in my heart just the next right step! A sinner I am in truth I often feel like a beggar before my King shamed by the state of my dress more so my soul. He led me to you to hear those simple words repeated by so many readers. They are for me personally a true sign of hope. Thank you and one day a great new day I hope to say it in person when we are finally home. For your strength and health I offer a poor mans blessing. May the Lord of all bless you and yours.


    • Bob says:

      Ignacio we are all sinners shabbily dressed before our God and our King but the promise of Divine Mercy for us is sure if we trust in it and honestly repent of any sins we are aware of. As Faustina said “Jesus I trust in you”.


  9. CrewDog says:

    As we can see below, the UN is less interested in the Joyful Noise of Children ;-(
    I’m guessing The Smoke of satan has been wafting through UN HQ since 1948!
    “Amb Bolton: UN Uses Any Pretext To Promote Abortion” . Washington Times


  10. Jennifer says:

    This article was like a healing balm to my soul. Once when I lived in a suburb of DC, after I had given birth to my 5th or 6th child the state actually sent someone to visit my home and offer to pay for my tubes to be tied. The person was a parishioner of a local Catholic Church. I think Pope Francis was trying to balance Humane Vite with Pope John Paul Il’s Love and Reponsibility. We actually moved and part of it was to escape some of the persecution, mostly from locals and some from family.


  11. Pingback: Notes From the Edge of Armageddon | The Next Right Step

  12. MMBev says:

    You know, from what Charlie has told us about the demons, I have a strong feeling that we’re all going to get our butts kicked in ways we won’t expect–from the last people that we would expect to do it to us. But looking back in our lives, dollars to donuts, all of us will be able to point to similar “knives in the gut” experiences in past years.

    Bill (don’t call me Father, the name’s Bill) never told us anything about Natural Family Planning. So guess what we began with. And yes, and I can clearly and truthfully say, that our first son was part of our Sacrament of Marriage. Now this was something I was so utterly joyful about –until I saw my mother’s face and realized what she was thinking. And I realized from that what all our family friends would be thinking.

    I prayed so hard, so unbelievably hard, that my baby would not arrive prematurely. And God blessed my prayers because my son was born nine months and three days from our wedding. But those nine months of joy were rather bittersweet, being filled with an agony of what I knew people were thinking about me.

    Yup. A butt kicker. We’ve all had many of them in our past lives. And guess what’s likely coming. Gird up, guys. We’re a lot tougher than that. God’s with us, Charlie’s leading us, and if worse comes to worse we can snark a bit at each other. (gently).


    • Mick says:

      Bev, I know exactly what you’re talking about. Our oldest son is a “honeymoon baby.” Telling my husband’s parents was difficult for a couple of reasons. First, they hadn’t really wanted us to get married (something to do with “you come from different cultures” just because my husband and I are different colors. Weird.) After he proposed, they said that we should wait a couple years to have kids, so that Chris could finish graduate school. So here we are, newly married and expecting a baby right away. So, Chris gets on one phone extension and I get on the other; and we call across the country to his parents. After a stunned silence, my mother-in-law asked how far along I was. I answered, “Six weeks.” Then there was a long, long pause during which I knew she was “doing the math.” Then she said very pointedly, “You haven’t been MARRIED six weeks!” I assured her that it was because of the stupid way the doctors make you count the weeks of pregnancy. But WOW, did it sting to have them thinking that about their son and me. And then, fast-forward… our son was a born a week before his due date. So on our 9-month anniversary, my husband and I had a week-old baby. We can all laugh about it now, 19 years later (my in-laws are truly some of the most wonderful, caring, loving people that I know), but it wasn’t much fun back then.


      • charliej373 says:

        My paternal grandmother had her first son (my Uncle Billy) six months after she and Poppo were wed. But in the American South, they always had means of dealing delicately with such matters. Country southerners will still tell you that though babies usually take nine months to develop fully, the first child can develop much earlier than that. My grandmother often earnestly assured people long past her child-bearing years that “six-month” babies are very common for first children. IN the southern hill country from which she came…that was a fact, though the reason was not what she would have liked you to believe.

        When I tell people my Mother was 15 when I was born, most assume the wrong thing. I was not a “six-month” baby. Mom and Dad had been married fully a year and a half before my birth. Mom married Dad about a week and a half after her 14th birthday – another one of those southern hill country things.


  13. Julia says:

    I don’t know what the general opinions of USA and Canada would have been back in the 60s, 70s and 80s from my teens and up to as recent as it was not deemed politically correct to be blunt about our views on these matters.

    But I can honestly tell you, as an Irish Catholic living in the UK, I had heard the term used about Catholics breeding like rabbits. I was subjected to the opinions of those who claimed the Pope did not want Catholics on the ‘pill’ because he wanted us to breed.

    I went as a teenager to my parish Priest and asked him bluntly if this was true. He, God rest his soul told me, this was not true, and that the Church could not be part of what was in essence an experiment, and time would tell if contraception would prove to cause all sorts of health problems.

    The Popes encyclical came out after I asked this direct question, I made it my business to read it, and found it to be in line with what my parish Priest had told me.

    I believe the Pope is using language that everyone knows exactly what he is talking about. And finally, I was amazed at how prophetic Pope Paul V1 was when you consider the degeneration we have seen and still see. No one is being honest about the many cancers in females which I see as a result of contraception. And the sad truth is women who have taken the pill will have passed genetic problems to their daughters. Cancer is endemic and the chemicals which are recycled in the sewage systems which by the way end up in our drinking water again! could in my limited opinion be causing the problem with gender confusion. Just my opinion.

    Whether we have large families or small families is not the real issue here. Just wait till the Illumination, and the truth about the appalling health consequences of the artificial birth control is made clear to everyone.

    God wants us to be happy. I believe it makes Him happy if we want to have large families, it makes Him happy if we want to have small families. He just wants us to be happy, and Holy Father is sharing the good news with us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • charliej373 says:

      Humanae Vitae was the single most prophetic document of modern times. It is only about six pages. Anyone who has not read it, should – and know this was written in the late 60s. And Pope Paul VI was scourged publicly for the rest of his Papacy because of it. Frankly, issuing it and steadfastly standing his post after doing so is ample reason for his canonization in my opinion.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Mick says:

      Really insightful, Julia. Thanks.


  14. Julia says:

    Hope it is ok to recall this comment section in light of the clarity from Vatican about Holy Fathers way of bringing to our attention the serious attack on families in our Godless societies.

    I feel it is a confirmation that people with large or small families should not be worried about thinking Holy mother Church is not on our side. The Holy Catholic Church is on our side (families), always has been and always will be.

    The rabbits word is a wake up call to those inside the Church or outside the Church who ignore the Churches teaching. I second Charlie’s post; read Paul VI (prophetic) encyclical Humanae Vitae.


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