CHOICE OF A MATE
[continued from yesterday]
...Another impediment, similar to that of previous betrothal, is the impedimental vows. Obviously, a vow to do one thing is a hindrance to the making of a vow to do something contrary. So rarely, however, does this impediment arise that it may be left for individual treatment. If there has been a vow of any kind, the matter should be mentioned to the confessor.
Further, there are a number of impediments which not only render a marriage unlawful and sinful, but also null and void. Let us clearly understand the difference between what is unlawful and what is invalid. If I burn down my neighbor's haystack, it is validly burnt down, for there is no haystack left; but it is unlawfully burnt down.
My action is valid, but not lawful. If I shoot at my neighbor in the dark and miss him, my action is both unlawful and invalid. I have intended to take my neighbor's life, but have failed to do so.
Likewise there may be certain attempts to get married which, on account of certain impediments, produce no effect. Such ceremonies are both unlawful and invalid. It is the duty of the priest to inquire whether there be any such impediments before he allows the celebration to take place. Most of them are so rare as not to need public treatment.
When the banns are published the faithful are told that if they know of any impediment, either of consanguinity, affinity, or spiritual relationship, they are bound to declare the same as soon as possible. The impediment of spiritual relationship is that which arises out of the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. The chances of this relationship are reduced to a minimum by the custom of having a man as sponsor for the boys and a woman as sponsor for the girls.
The two great diriment impediments, therefore, which need to be carefully watched by young people are the impediments of consanguinity and affinity. Consanguinity is the connection of blood relationship ; affinity is the connection of relationship by marriage. The Church excludes marriages between persons who may be related to each other within certain degrees of relationship. She thus forbids marriage between first, second, or third cousins ; and also between a man and his deceased wife's sister. These are the more common cases in which difficulty arises and which need to be carefully guarded against. In some of them, of course, which are not involved in the primary law of nature the Church may grant a dispensation.
Nevertheless, she regards them as evil, and only grants dispensations in order to prevent greater evils. The disastrous results of intermarriage are well known. It leads to deterioration of the race, to insanity, to physical deformity, and to a general weakening of the social bond. The Church, therefore, in setting her face against such marriages, proves herself to be the friend and guardian of the temporal, as well as of the spiritual, well-being of her people.....
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.