The Black Sheep – Plain Talks on Marriage


by Rev. Fulgence Meyer, 1924, Plain Talks on Marriage

Lifeless Idols

There are parents who in regard to their children are very delinquent in the necessary vigilance. They are like the idols mentioned in the Bible: “They have mouths and speak not; they have eyes and see not; they have ears and hear not; they have noses and smell not; they have hands and feel not; they have feet and walk not” (Ps. 113, 6, 6, 7).

Their children practically do as they please, without let or hindrance of their parents. They go where and with whom they like. They stay out as long as they choose. They read whatever they fancy.

When, then, they become involved in some scandal, say the son or daughter becomes an unwedded father or mother, the parents throw up their hands in horror. They grow terribly indignant, and exclaim that they cannot understand why such a disgrace should ever have befallen their family.

But often they are more guilty than the child. They were mature in years and had the experience of life; had they watched properly and prudently over their children, their going and coming, and had they used kindness and firmness upon them according to their needs, the lapse would likely have been avoided. After it has taken place it is too late to wax indignant.

When the girl is in dire distress, and faces ostracism and disdain on the part of the cold and cruel world, and that from many apparently respectable people who in their private lives may be immensely worse than she has been, it is not the time for her parents to increase her mental tortures by apathy and severity, and thus perhaps to drive her to a worse crime than her first offense, namely to abortion and, possibly, suicide.

But then it is the part of sensible and conscientious parents to take her back to their hearts in warm and generous sympathy, forgiveness and love, and to tender her in her delicate condition every protection and assistance.

The Black Sheep

Of course, if without any recourse to sinful practices the matter can be kept secret, it must be done for the girl’s and the family’s sake. If it cannot be concealed, the girl and the family should bear the consequent disgrace with humble patience and resignation to God’s providence, and in the spirit of compunction and atonement for sin.

There are many worse sins done in public and in private, which the world does not visit with its scorn and excommunication, but which are nevertheless grosser and more damnable in the sight of God.

Whilst the parents are often as much or more at fault than the child that goes wrong, it must yet be admitted that sometimes the best parents, in spite of all their good efforts in the interest of their children’s education, are afflicted with a wayward child that brings shame upon the family and overwhelms the hearts of the parents with bitterness.

This is one of the mysteries of the inscrutable providence of God, which it is given us devotedly to adore, but never to fathom in this life.

Still it is good for all parents to remember that eternal vigilance is the price they are asked to pay for the welfare and felicity of their children.

In addition to this it is consoling for good parents of bad children to reflect that, even as the winter wheat that is covered with snow seems hopelessly dead and gone, but soon comes to view again under the sun’s glow, so, too, a boy or a girl that has grown bad, and appears to be desperately lost to virtue and to God, is of a sudden touched by God’s grace and the warmth of the parents’ love, and rises and thrives again unto goodness and holiness of life.

“I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament. There you will find romance, glory, honor, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves upon earth.” — John Ronald Reuel Tolkien

Photo: Solemn Mass of Exposition for the Forty Hours’ Devotion on March 12, 2013 at the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in London.

Photo credit: Charles Cole

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Considered by many to be the greatest single book of Marian spirituality ever written, True Devotion to Mary is St Louis de Montfort’s classic statement on the spiritual way to Jesus Christ though the Blessed Virgin Mary. Beloved by countless souls, this book sums up the entire Christian life, showing a way of holiness that is short, easy, secure, and perfect—a way of life chosen by Our Lord Himself. In this beautiful and sublimely inspiring book, de Montfort explains the wonderful spiritual effects which true devotion to Mary brings about in a person’s life.
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