[continued from yesterday]
The Church, in her dispensation of the Sacraments, always acts as a good and kind mother. She has regard to the weakness, as well as to the strength of her children.
Her divine message is all beautiful. The ideal which she sets before her children is a perfect ideal. She ever emphasizes this ideal even though she knows that in manycases it will not be realized. She wishes her children to conform to the ideal as nearly as possible.
Consequently she condescends to them, and where in her wisdom she finds that the weak ones cannot realize what she wishes, she allows, within certain limits, that which is less good. She knows that the Sacraments were made for men, not men for the Sacraments. She prefers, then, to administer the Sacraments with certain accidental imperfections rather than allow her children to go without the grace which the Sacraments convey. For this reason she tolerates what are known as mixed marriages.
Strictly speaking, mixed marriages are those which take place between baptized persons, of whom one is a Catholic and the other a non-Catholic. Thus, the ceremony performed between a Catholic and a Jew would not be a mixed marriage in the sense of the word as we use it. A mixed marriage, generally speaking, is that which takes place between a Catholic and a Protestant.
Now, although the Church tolerates such marriages under certain conditions, yet she ever deprecates them. They fall below her ideal. In order, then, to undfirstand clearly why the Church looks so unfavorably on such marriages we must keep before our minds the nature of her ideal.
The bond between man and wife is as the bond between Christ and His Church. The chief characteristic of the bond between Christ and His Church is its intense intimacy and absolute perfection. Christ, indeed, by another comparison, likens it to the substantial union between Himself and His eternal Father.
Nowhere can distinctness and unity be so complete as in the bosom of the blessed Trinity. The distinctness is infinite, and thus enables the Father and the Son each to receive an infinite love. Their unity is that of one infinite substance, which enables them to communicate to each other an infinite love, a love which issues in the person of the Holy Spirit.
This is a type of the union between Christ and His Church. The Church, of course, is a finite creature and incapable of giving an infinite love to Christ. Nor again is the union between Christ and the Church a substantial union. The Church and Christ do not make up together one substance. But since that union has been likened to the substantial and infinite union of the Father and the Son, we conclude that it must be of a nature far more intimate and far more perfect than we can ever hope to comprehend.
And since the union of man and wife has been likened to the union of Christ and the Church we conclude that that also must be of a nature far more intimate and far more perfect than we can ever hope to comprehend.
The Sacrament of marriage is a great mystery, a shadow of the mystic union of Christ and His Church, a shadow of the eternal and substantial union of the Father and the Son in the blessed Trinity....
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.