BETWEEN HUSBAND AND WIFE
[continued from yesterday]
There is a very old Hindu legend in which the making of the first woman is described in this wise. When the creator Twashtri had made man he gathered together a million contradictory elements, and out of them he made a woman whom he presented to the man. After eight days the man became dissatisfied.
"My lord," he said, "the creature you gave me poisons my existence. She babbles unceasingly, she takes all my time, she grumbles at nothing, and is always ill."
So Twashtri took the woman away. But after another eight days the man became again uneasy.
"My lord," he said, "my life is very solitary since I returned this creature."
So Twashtri gave him the woman back again. This time, however, only three days had gone by when the man came once more to the god.
"My lord," he said, "I do not know how it is, but somehow the woman gives me more annoyance than pleasure. I beg of you to take her away."
But Twashtri would not. "Go and do your best," he said.
"But I cannot live with her," cried the man.
"Neither can you live without her," cried the god.
"Woe is me!" mourned the man, " I can neither live with nor without her."
Since that story was written thousands upon thousands have felt the conflicting experience which the story expresses. The underlying truth is that when man and woman are joined together in matrimony neither of them is perfect. It is their mutual life and constant adjustment of mind and heart, under the influence of matrimonial grace, which is to make them perfect.
Marriage is one of the means of their salvation. Let us refer to St. Paul to see how the grace acts. He touches two sensitive nerves when he says: "Wives, be obedient to your husbands as you should be in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and be not bitter toward them."
Doubtless the Apostle was writing to correct certain abuses prevalent among the people to whom he wrote. He was not necessarily giving a full and comprehensive description of the marriage ideal. Forgetting this, many people have misunderstood the Apostle's words, especially that portion of them which speaks of the obedience of wives.
How many women there are now who, reading the epistle in the light of present day abuses, "cannot stand that man Paul!" Let our consideration then be confined to these two virtues of conjugal relationship, love and obedience, for it is the failure to appreciate their true nature which issues in multitudes of other evils, affecting not only individual families, but communities, nations, nay, the whole human race...
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.