[continued from yesterday]
...Let us see now how this higher satisfaction is reached. There are three ends for which marriage was instituted, and consequently three reasons which make the marriage act lawful and holy. The first and chief is the begetting of children. The second is the calming of concupiscence, and consequent avoiding of incontinence. The third is the fostering of conjugal love and affection.
But all these minister to the perfection both of the individual and of the race. The married pair see in their offspring the continuance of their own life. Their joy is to know that a child is born to them, to see the child grow up and become settled in life, to hear that their own son is making his mark in the world, or that their own daughter is married well and happily.
The second and third reasons minister to the first. Unless there were a remedy for concupiscence, incontinence would follow, and with it all the evils of jealousy, quarrels, illegitimacy, separation, or divorce. Further, the fostering of conjugal love tends both to the increase of offspring, and to its good bringing up when born.
Sensual pleasure for its own sake is not amongst the recognized reasons for the exercise of the marriage act. It passes away with its own satisfaction, and if indulged merely for that purpose has neither use nor dignity. As a matter of fact it was made to minister to higher ends. It is a mere adjunct to the marriage act, intended to make it attractive for the benefit of the race. If, therefore, it is perverted and made an end in itself, and if its higher ends are exclifded, then it defeats the aim of matrimony, it kills the love between husband and wife, it shirks the burden of children.
In order that sensual pleasure may be the servant and not the master of man it must be restrained. It must not be crushed or destroyed. That was the error of Manicheism and Buddhism. But it must be moderated so that it may remain as long as possible a help towards conjugal love, towards the normal satisfaction of the sexual appetite, and towards the procreation of a large and healthy family of children. To let it have its full fling is to lessen its keenness, to destroy its power, and to render it disgusting.
There can be no general law for everybody. What is excess for one pair may be moderation for another. What is moderation for one partner may be excess for the other. Each case must be judged according to its own circumstances....
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.