THE CATHOLIC FAMILY
[continued from yesterday]
..."And Jesus went down with them, and came to Nazareth and was subject unto them."
Order is said to be heaven's first command. If, on the other hand, love be said to be the first and final law of heaven, the statement must be qualified by making the love a well-ordered love. Even sin is only love out of order, the love of something contrary to the Divine Will. So also in the family life love must be the ruling principle, but it must be a well-ordered love. Our Lord, therefore, in order to teach us this lesson went down with His parents to Nazareth, and was subject unto them.
Nowhere outside the bosom of the Blessed Trinity was a triple love so perfect as that love between Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Yet St. Joseph was the head and ruler of the family. It was St. Joseph who was told to fear not, but take Mary to be his spouse. It was St. Joseph who was told by the angel to arise and take the Child and His mother and flee into Egypt. It was St. Joseph who was divinely commanded to return and take Mary and Jesus to Nazareth. Although Mary was so much spiritually exalted over Joseph, yet Joseph was to be the ruler of the family. And although Jesus was so much spiritually exalted over Joseph and Mary, yet in the family He was to be subject to both.
Here, then, is the rule for the Catholic family.
The father is to be supreme ruler, the mother is to rule in her sphere under him, the children are to be subject to both. Moreover, the subjection of the children is not to be a slavish subjection, but a filial subjection. It must be informed by love rather than by fear. There must, of course, be a certain fear present in the children, but a reverential fear, a fear by which one is afraid of offending love, rather than a fear by which one is afraid of punishment.
Further, the obedience of children is not unlimited. If parents command anything contrary to divine law the duty of the children is to disobey. In cases of doubt, however, the presumption is in favor of the parents. But wherever there is a question of family interest or domestic arrangements the will of the parents must be obeyed. It is not for children to say which school they shall go to, to say where the family shall take up its abode, to say at what hour the family shall dine, to say what time they shall come in at night. These are points upon which children frequently mistake their place in the family, points in which they are obviously subject to their parents.
There comes a time, too, when children grow up. The relationships between them and their parents then become somewhat modified. Nevertheless, there still remain the duties of reverence and love. The children are free to choose their own states of life. In this they are not bound to follow the wishes of their parents, but they are bound to consult their parents and to weigh the considerations which they put forth. Then, later, when the parents are overtaken with old age, the children are bound in cases of necessity to support them.
The Holy Family at Nazareth was very poor. Consequently we cannot look to it directly for an example in the question of servants. But we can easily imagine how Our Lady would have acted did she have need to call in a little extra help now and then. We shall only fall short of the mark when we do our best with our imagination, to picture the kind and gentle consideration which Our Lady would have shown to any one who did her a service.
From that picture, however, we may get some hints as to the relationship between masters, or rather mistresses, and servants in the circumstances of modern society. The servants of to-day are not on a level with the children of the household; nor yet are they on a level with the slaves of an ancient Roman household. They are not the goods and chattels of those who employ them. Their service is that of free contract. And it Is something more. Since the servants live in the house, the house is, in a sense, their home...
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.