[continued from yesterday]
...There may also arise the necessity of temporary separation on account of business. A commercial traveler may be away from home for months at a time. A sailor may be ordered abroad for a year or perhaps two. Whenever possible a man should take his wife with him on his travels. But since this, for many, is not practicable, the mind must be especially strengthened by the practice of restraint when it is not obligatory.
The plight of the very poor calls for special consideration. There are thousands upon thousands who have not got a living wage, yea, indeed, thousands upon thousands who have no wages at all. A poor dock-laborer of Liverpool, writing to me on various topics of the social question, thus very delicately tells his story:
"I will now touch briefly," he says, "on the birthrate. Many good earnest-minded men have often said of us workers, that it was a crime for a man earning a small wage to marry and bring children into the world, whose only heritage was one of poverty and want. Too well do we know with what anxiety the arrival of each little new-comer is looked forward to, as it means more to feed and clothe, while the earning power of the bread-winner is gradually growing less. But as the Church tells us that we are obeying the law of God, we may well ask 'Is it ever to be thus? Must we, in order to do what we were created for, commit a serious crime against our own offspring?'The writer is a good Catholic and so does not go so far as to suggest the artificial restriction within marriage. This evil, though, is closely bound up with the economic evil of which he speaks.
And in this dilemma we inquire: 'Which is the greater criminal, the working-man for obeying God's law, or he who is responsible for his condition in life and who prevents him from rearing his family in decency and comfort?' Although I look on little children as precious heirlooms sent from God, and with full knowledge that they beget happiness, could I be blamed should I advise my sons not to marry till late in life, or else refrain from marriage altogether; and so further restrict the birthrate, the decline of which is causing so much agitation throughout the country?"
Let it be said at once, then, that poverty is no bar to the Sacrament of marriage. The poor are entitled to receive all the graces and all the joys which pertain to the marriage state, and the possession of children. Poverty in its extremity, destitution, that is, is a deplorable evil; but it is a mere trifle compared with the sins of incontinency which would surely follow if the poor were forbidden to marry. It is a mere trifle compared with those detestable sins against nature, the artificial restrictions of the birthrate....
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.