by Fr. Martin J. Scott, S.J., 1950’s
Before a girl permits courtship to begin, she should ascertain whether the man is a Catholic and a good Catholic. The single state in life is a thousand times preferable, in most cases, to a mixed marriage. When husband and wife are of the same faith, there is a bond uniting their very souls. In joy they will rejoice more abundantly, and in sorrow they will have an unfailing support.
To sum up, therefore, let me say again that choosing a husband is, humanly speaking, the most consequential thing in a girl’s life. In regard to it, there should be exercised more deliberation than on anything else.
In courtship, maidenly reserve should never be compromised. Modesty should be sacred. It is the guardian of purity. It is a maiden’s most beautiful adornment. Even the men who will do their utmost to rob a maiden of that adornment will despise her when they have succeeded.
A Catholic girl should not be guided by the loose moral code of those who have no religion. Courtship has degenerated among certain classes into downright sin.
Some young folks think that courtship entitles them to free love. The law of God holds for young people during courtship just as strictly as it does for everyone else.
The young lady who joins maidenly reserve to her other actions inspires love far more than does a girl who makes concessions to her lover. And when I speak of concessions, I mean anything and everything which a girl would hesitate to do in the presence of her sister or mother.
Courtship is preparation for marriage. If she expects God’s blessing on married life, she must respect His law during courtship. I say it is only right and proper that a girl should be at her best during courtship-but let me remind her that it should be her genuine best.
Moreover, as marriage is so important an event, everything should be done to have it as God wishes it to be. Without every possible safeguard, marriage with a non-Catholic is a losing venture, and even with every precaution, it risks true welfare.
A girl should prepare for marriage by being true to her religion. Marriage deserves every effort to draw God’s special blessings on it by prayer and frequent Holy Communion.
If my advice and counsels have helped one young woman to recognize and accept the right man, a man of her own religion, who will find in her a God-given wife, I shall be recompensed for my efforts. My words may perhaps, in some respects, seem to restrict inclinations, but I can affirm from experience that they point the way to permanent peace and welfare.
In conclusion, I say: Seek first the kingdom of God and His justice. God’s way is always the best way, here and hereafter. The longest life comes to an end. May the marriage of the Catholic girl be the means of making that end the beginning of everlasting life and blessedness for herself and the man to whom she gave her heart in wedlock.
The Dispositions for receiving the Sacraments-duties and obligations of married people. Abridged from Perry’s Full Course of Instruction.
What is Matrimony? -Matrimony is a Sacrament which gives grace to those who contract Marriage with due dispositions to enable them to bear the difficulties of their state, to love and be faithful to one another, and to bring up their children in the fear of God.
DISPOSITIONS AND PREPARATION NECESSARY FOR RECEIVING THIS SACRAMENT WORTHILY
- You should endeavor to procure the favor and direction of Heaven, by fervent prayer, by being attentive to all the duties of a good Catholic, and by avoiding sin.”A good wife is a good portion: she shall be given to a man for his good deeds (Eccl. xxvi, 3).” Nothing is of greater importance in entering into the married state than to obtain the divine blessing; and yet nothing is sometimes less attended to!
- They who are about to get married should consult their parents and not allow themselves to be hurried away by passion. “My son, do nothing without counsel, and thou shalt not repent when thou hast done (Eccli. xxxii, 24)”
- They should have a right intention such as God had in the institution of Marriage: namely, to be a mutual help to each other; to have children who may serve God; and to prevent incontinence. Their intention, then, should not be to gratify ambition, or avarice, or carnal desires.
- They should be careful to choose a proper person. This is of very great importance; yet, to be of a high family, rich and beautiful, seem oftentimes to be made the chief considerations by many of those who marry. These may be very well as secondary, but should not be the chief determining motives.
The choice should fall on one of the true Faith and a good Christian: your own peace and happiness, your salvation and that of your children depend greatly upon it. Family, riches and beauty, are but poor helpers to happiness, if the temper be bad, the humor extravagant, or the passion violent.”Happy is the husband of a good wife, for the number of his years shall be doubled.’ (Eccli. xxvi, 1).”
What is the more immediate Preparation?
- To be instructed in the nature of this Sacrament, and in the conditions necessary for receiving it; also in the duties and obligations of married life-and to resolve to comply with them.
- To be in the state of grace: otherwise the marriage would be sacrilegious; and would tend to draw down the curse of God, instead of His blessing.
- To receive the Sacrament of Penance, if in the state of sin.
DUTIES AND OBLIGATIONS OP THE MARRIED STATE
The duties of married people are most serious and important, because their own and their children’s happiness, both here and hereafter, depend very much upon them. For the fulfilling of these duties special graces are necessary; and Faith teaches the graces this Sacrament gives them.
What, then, are the Duties and Obligations of the Married State?
- The husband and wife must have a mutual love for each other. “Husbands, love your wives as Christ also loved the Church . . . So also ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself’ (Ephes. V, 25, 28).” Without this there will be no happiness. The only limitation in this mutual love is – husband and wife must love God more than they love each other.
- They must give each other good example and pray for one another, and preserve inviolably the sanctity of marriage (cf. Heb. xiii, 4). Infidelity is a most grievous crime, being: 1st, the violation of a sacramental contract; 2nd, the breach of a vow made before God and the Church; 3rd, a great injustice to the innocent party. If it should be discovered (or suspected, which is often the case), it then sows the seeds of perpetual discord.
- The husband should exercise his authority with prudence, meekness and charity.”The husband is head of the wife, as Christ is head of the Church’ (Ephes. v, 23). Therefore, as Christ is solicitous for the good of His Church, so the husband should be solicitous for his wife.”
- The wife should behave towards her husband with due respect, obedience and submission.”Let women be subject to their husbands, as to the Lord . . . As the Church is subject to Christ, so let wives be to their husbands in all things (Ephes. v, 22, 34).”
If both parties would observe these duties, how happily they would live together!
- There is another very important duty of married people, namely, to bring up their children religiously. They must instruct their children; instill into them religious habits; see to their prayers, confessions and Holy Communions; watch over them; keep them from bad companions and from the occasions of sin; set them good example; and pray for them. These duties towards children lay parents under a heavy responsibility, and yet how often they are neglected!
These are the duties and obligations of the married state. They are important and difficult, and cannot be fulfilled religiously, without particular graces. These graces the Sacrament of Matrimony gives to such as receive it with proper dispositions. How important, then, it is to make a good preparation for it, how great the advantages of receiving it with proper dispositions, and how careful husband and wife should be afterwards not to lose, by sin, those special graces which it gives to those who receive it worthily!
CAROLUS DOYLE, S.J., Censor Theol;. Deput.
@ EDUARDUS, Archiep. Dublinen
“All of us know so deeply, from our everyday experience, the sweetness and the strength, the beauty, tenderness, and power of our holy religion, and the cheer and guidance that it gives us on our way toward Heaven, that we should be dull clods indeed not to desire to share these amazing and neglected treasures with our fellowmen.” -The Everyday Apostle, Fr. Edward Garesche, 1950’s https://amzn.to/2E8BQ23 (afflink)
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