CHOICE OF A STATE
[continued from yesterday]
...The Church recognizes three normal states of life: marriage, which is good; single blessedness in the world, which is better; single blessedness in religion, which is best.
This does not mean however that the single life is better for everybody, nor that the religious life is the best for everybody. These states are only good, better, and best, when regarded in themselves.
If we look at them with regard to particular people, the order of good, better, and best may be reversed. Indeed, for the vast majority of people marriage is by far the best thing. The single life In the world would maim them, and perhaps life in religion would ruin them.
Everything depends on the Individual's circumstances, his temperament, his health, his ability, his desires, above all his graces. This then is the problem with which all young people are confronted: To what state of life am I called?
Let us say at the outset that the solution is love.
But what is love? Its mystic nature defies an exhaustive description. There is, however, a simple definition which may be applied to every kind of love. It is: To will good for some one.
This is the essence of love, whether of father, mother, husband, wife, child, friend, or enemy. It may be accompanied by the passion of affection or by the passion of aversion.
If I love my mother, affection is also present. If I love my enemy, aversion is probably present. I may feel a dislike to a man, yet at the same time will to do him good.
Further, love may be devoid, or almost devoid, of passion. I may have a love for the religious life, for instance, without having any affection for it. I may see that only by entering religion shall I be able to do the greatest good to my fellow men.
Even though I have an aversion for common life and loss of liberty, yet I may see in those things my best chance of salvation and love them accordingly.
In the choice of a state of life then the leading question will be: Which state do I really love? Do I want to be married? Do I want to live singly in the world and devote myself to a special profession? Do I want to be a priest? Do I want to be a nun? Above all, is my desire constant, or do I waver between one thing and another, never knowing my own mind?....
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.