[continued from yesterday]
...The Church has her eyes wide open to the weakness of human nature when she tolerates a mixed marriage. A mixed marriage is a real Sacrament, and all the graces of the Sacrament are capable of being conveyed through it, though these graces may often fail in their effects through the want of disposition in the non-Catholic party.
The Catholic party may do his or her best, as the case may be, but as human nature is so weak, there is naturally an ever-present danger of the Catholic losing the faith. Over and above the certainty of spoiling God's ideal there is the disadvantage of risking the loss of faith altogether.
Therefore it is that the Church, when she allows a mixed marriage, insists on the condition that the Catholic partner shall not be hindered in the practice of the faith. The non-Catholic must give an explicit promise to this effect. He may not make any contrary conditions, either before or after the marriage.
Any attempt to compel or persuade the Catholic to go to a Protestant Church, to stay away from Mass, or to abstain from Confession, is a dishonorable violation of the condition and promise.
The Church by a long experience knows that such attempts are only too common. Sometimes they are done openly and menacingly. Oftener, perhaps, they are done quietly and in a friendly way.
Numberless are the occasions when the danger creeps in. The Catholic is perhaps too late for Mass on Sunday. Then the obvious suggestion of the non-Catholic is: "Oh, well, come to our Church for a change."
Or it may be merely a social gathering under Protestant auspices, a bazaar, a tea party, an excursion — surely one cannot be so narrow as to object to these! There would be less danger in them for a Catholic who was out and out a Catholic, a Catholic joined to a Catholic in marriage, and generally subject to Catholic influences.
But for the Catholic who is the partner of a Protestant, and who is without all those helps which an entirely Catholic family provides, these social functions are so many pitfalls.
They seem harmless enough in themselves, but they lead from one thing to another, from the social to the religious. Indeed, wherever one partner is Protestant, the opportunities of perversion are as persistent in their frequency as they are subtle in kind and degree.
In this, as in all other dangers, prevention is better than cure. Foster a strong dislike for mixed marriages. Avoid company where you are likely to meet a partner of another religious persuasion. Reject the first overtures made by one who is not of your faith.
Then, if circumstances have been too many or too strong for you, make up your mind at once that only by strict observance of the conditions laid down by the Church can your faith and your hope and your love be saved....
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.