INSTITUTION AND PURPOSE
[continued from yesterday]
...It is well to keep this supernatural aspect of the case prominently before our minds when we consider the duties and obligations of the state. The end for which marriage was instituted was a most difficult end to attain. Indeed, it were an impossible task without the special divine helps provided.
Remembering these helps, however, the married couple may face their difficulties with a good heart. The sacramental effect of matrimony does not spend itself out within a week or two of the nuptial ceremony. The grace conferred on the wedding morning remains with them when they leave the church, remains with them in their home life, fortifies them in their discouragements, and steels their wills to the emergencies of every difficult situation.
The Church then, having made this clear to them, sets aside all false modesty and tells them in grave and plain language what their duties are.
The first duty is the bringing of children into the world and the educating of them in the service of God; the second duty is mutual love and service in the companionship of domestic life. In the nuptial Mass the priest solemnly prays over them that they may be fruitful in their offspring and that they may see their children's children unto the third and fourth generation. And finally in his exhortation he warns them to be faithful to each other, and to remain chaste at special times of prayer, during the fasts and solemn seasons of the Church.
Now all this involves much trouble and anxiety both on the part of the husband and of the wife.
With the former lies the paramount obligation of working for the sustenance of the household; with the latter lie all the cares of child-bearing; with both lies that anxiety for the temporal and spiritual well-being of each other and of the children.
"But if thou take a wife," says St. Paul, " thou hast not sinned. But if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned; nevertheless, such shall have tribulation of the flesh."
Those who enter this state, therefore, should do so with their eyes wide open to the fact that it is a life fraught with difficulty and that both man and woman are supposed to be willing to bear grave inconveniences. When a man complains of his loss of liberty or the increased burden on his pocket; or when a woman complains of the troubles of children, there has evidently been some radical misunderstanding as to the end of the institution of marriage and of its burdens.
What is needed on those occasions is the consideration that marriage is a Sacrament, — a Sacrament which is a channel of divine strength to bear the burden, of divine light to see the way out of the difficulties, of divine refreshment for the constant renewal of conjugal life and love.
From Marriage and Parenthood, The Catholic Ideal
By the Rev. Thomas J. Gerrard
Author of "Cords of Adam," "The Wayfarer's Vision," ETC.
Copyright, 1911, by Joseph F. Wagner, New York.