[continued from yesterday]
...Further, the Church has also a cure for the non-Catholic party. He has already received the Sacrament of baptism and now he receives the Sacrament of matrimony. He is a subject of the Church, albeit a rebellious subject. His rebellious state may be due to no fault of his own, and he may not recognize his rebellious state.
The Church, however, recognizes it and consequently makes a special effort to win him back to her obedience. She places a third condition to a mixed marriage — the Catholic party must strive to bring about the conversion of the non-Catholic.
The condition tends to the perfection of the ideal, tends to the preservation of the faith of the Cathohc partner, tends to the preservation of the faith of the children, tends to the eternal salvation of the non-Catholic partner.
The reasonableness of the condition is evident. Its application, however, seems at first sight to be fraught with considerable difficulty.
How is one to know whether there is any hope of a professing Protestant becoming a Catholic?
Does not the Spirit breathe where He will?
Must the non-Catholic have already entered upon a course of instruction?
The practice of the Church does not require the manifestation of such clear signs as suggested in the last question. But the two conditions concerning the faith of the wife and the children, if generously fulfilled, would seem to go a long way toward fulfilling the third condition.
If the non-Catholic party willingly signs the declaration that his wife may have the free exercise of her religion, and that the children may be brought up Catholics, then that may be deemed suiEcient grounds for hoping that he, too, may some day become a Catholic.
Evidently he is not fighting against the Church. Evidently he has some good will toward it. Presumably he is not resisting grace. Under such conditions one may reasonably hope that the grace of God will some day prove effectual.
We must strive, then, to keep three things well to the front of the Catholic consciousness.
First, the union of marriage is a great Sacrament, having its ideal likened to the union between the Father and the Son, and to the union between Christ and His Church.[End of Chapter V]
Secondly, mixed marriages are discountenanced by the Church because they spoil God's ideal, because they endanger the faith of the Catholic party, and because they endanger the faith of the children.
Thirdly, they are sometimes tolerated in order to avoid greater evils, and then only on the three conditions that the Catholic shall have free exercise of religion, that all children shall be educated as Catholics, and that there shall be a reasonable hope of the Protestant becoming a Catholic.
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.