CHOICE OF A MATE
[continued from yesterday]
...So the problem to be solved by all young Catholics is this: How are the claims of this mysterious and inexplicable love and affection to be reconciled with the claims of stern reason and sublime religion?.
Let it not be supposed that these rival claims are incompatible with each other. They all come from one and the same Author, and so it is only a question of adjustment.
In order to make this adjustment, then, both parents and children should know what are the rules of the Church and what are the rules of right reason. With this double guiding light the young people may then frequent such places and cultivate such company as shall be likely to afford a fitting environment for the passion of love when it makes its appearance.
The rules of the Church come first. Marriage is a great Sacrament, and the Church, having the guardianship of all the Sacraments, claims the right to say what is the best preparation for marriage and what are the conditions under which it may be contracted.
She has a right to say what conditions afiEect the validity, and what conditions affect the lawfulness, of the contract. The contract is the Sacrament, and, therefore, only the Church can say what impediments render the contract unlawful, and what impediments render the contract null and void.
They will all be found to be eminently practical and possessed of a special aptitude to foster that pure and passionate love which the young people value so highly.
The first qualification that a Catholic would look for in a partner for life would be that the partner should also be a Catholic. Mere acquaintances feel that they have a common and lasting bond between them if they are both Catholics. This feeling must be indefinitely intensified between two who are to live together in the intimate life of holy matrimony. Indeed, the advantages of such a condition, together with the evil consequences following upon the neglect of it, need a separate treatment.
It will be sufficient here to say that the Church regards the matter as of the most vital importance. The impediment is classified, with two others, under the title of "Prohibition of the Church."
These two also will recommend themselves as obviously conducive to the safe-guarding of the Sacrament. The one is the proclamation of the banns, by which each party is protected against possible fraud or mistake. The other is that which requires the consent of parents. It is part of the solemn duty of parents to watch over the children in an affair of great consequence.And indeed parents, especially the mother, do watch their children most anxiously. The law of nature compels it, the law of the Church sanctions it.
With reason, then, does the Church oblige children to consult their parents in the matter. Of course, cases may and do arise in which the consent of the parents is unjustly held back. Some parents out of mere selfish love dislike to lose their children, and act all regardless of the divine ordinance that for the sake of matrimony a man shall leave his father and mother. In case of dispute, however, the children will not go against the wishes of their parents without first consulting their confessor....
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.