CHOICE OF A MATE
[continued from yesterday]
...Now, although the Church is very strict in limiting the freedom of her children whenever It is for their good, yet at the same time she leaves much to their own individual judgment.
Those who look forward to a happy marriage, therefore, must avail themselves of that freedom which the Church allows, and use also their own sound judgment and common sense. In this sphere one cannot lay down hard and fast rules.
What is good in England may be bad in America ; what is permissible in one degree of society may be inadvisable in another. The custom of the country or of the particular sphere of Catholic society is a point which must always be considered. Nevertheless, a few general suggestions may be offered.
Character or virtue will be the first quality to be sought for in the choice of a mate.
The predominant and essential virtues expected from the man are honesty and sobriety. These are especially manly virtues.
In the natural order it is the sense of honor which will keep the husband faithful to his wife, and insure for her that respect, care, and protection to which she has a right.
Sobriety, too, is absolutely necessary for the making of a happy home. The love may be there and the fidelity may be there, but they will be in constant peril if they are accompanied by drunkenness.
And if drunkenness be a failing during the days of courtship, a reform after marriage cannot be expected. The pity of it is that girls are only too eager to find excuses for a lover addicted to this failing. "Oh, but he is as quiet as a lamb when he is sober!"
The only reliable advice to give to a girl with an intemperate sweetheart is to break off the engagement at once. The predominant virtue expected from the woman is chastity.
This will be measured by the care which she takes in avoiding occasions of sin. Here it is not a question of having sinned grievously, but of a constant observance of all those habits of modesty, reticence, sobriety of language and gesture, and, above all, utmost decorum in all necessary intercourse with members of the opposite sex.
They are habits which can be observed and felt much more effectually than they can be described. In fact, every Catholic girl knows them, and no one is so observant of and sensitive to them as the honorable young man who comes to pay court to her....
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.