[continued from yesterday]
...Lawful restraint requires three conditions.
First, it must be by mutual consent; secondly, it must be only for a limited time; and thirdly, it must be for the sake of a higher spirit life. "All things have their season: a time to embrace and a time to be far from embraces."
And the time most fitted for this abstention is the time of solemn fast or feast.
"Blow the trumpet in Sion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: let the bridegroom go forth from his bed, and the bride out of her bride-chamber."The two observances are mutually helpful: the abstention promotes religion, and religion promotes restraint.
The Church makes no law about the times of this restraint. She recommends, however, that it be practiced at the times of the ecclesiastical fasts and festivals. At the end of the marriage service the priest is directed so to admonish the bridal pair. Owing to the delicacy of the public conscience this admonition is usually omitted. It remains, however, to be read privately by all those who will avail themselves of the wisdom of Mother Church.
The counsels of St. Paul and the Church are supported by the counsels of nature. Nature will allow a wide liberty, but she will rebel if she is over-taxed. It is astonishing how the race continues, considering the extent to which its reproductive powers are abused. But nature is both kind and strict. She gives ample warning as the limits of moderation are transgressed. If the excess be persistent and grave, she visits the offenders with grave chastisement.
The married pair, then, have the advantage of two guides, nature and religion. Nature will give the first warning against excess. The moderate exercise of the sexual life ought not to interfere with the working-life of either husband or wife. The strength of the weaker partner, then, will be the measure by which restraint is judged.
If the advice of the Church, too, be followed. It will be a strong help to the married couple to regulate their life within the bounds of physical fitness. To be explicit, the Church mentions the eves of all great festivals, and the seasons of Advent and Lent. But, once again, the rule is not one of obligation, but only one of counsel and can thus be changed to suit each one's individual needs....
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.