Part One is here.
Whatever has been said of truth holds good for all the other virtues. Honesty, humility, kindness of manner, and generosity in judging others, her husband included — these and all the other virtues found in the truly religious wife make her a desirable companion for life.
How many wives have diminished their lovableness in the eyes of their husbands by judging them rashly. Generosity is an attractive quality of soul. All gravitate toward a person generous in her opinions and judgments of others.
I remember a wife who guaranteed the everlasting love and devotion of her husband by being kind and generous in judging him. Although this husband foolishly, yet innocently enough, allowed a series of circumstances to arise which seemed on the surface to implicate him with another woman, he was entirely innocent of any wrong.
There was plenty to arouse the suspicions of any wife. The wife of our story did not rashly judge him. She never mentioned the episode. On the contrary she went out of her way to show her husband her complete confidence and love.
When he told her the whole story and asked her if she was not worried she told him, as her actions already had indicated, that she trusted and loved him and could never stand in rash judgment over him. She did not know all the facts and was confident that there was an explanation.
This wife merited by her bigness of soul the admiration, fidelity, and love of her husband. The religious wife is a wife desired because she merits the love of her husband. She deserves and will have his love.
Because she remains close to God, the source of all true love, because, in other words, she is religious and virtuous, she remains lovable and desired by her husband. “A virtuous woman rejoiceth her husband, and shall fulfill the years of his life in peace.” Ecclus. 26, 2.
Christ did not wish His work of redemption to be a single historic act dead and past. In many ways He has perpetuated Himself down through the centuries. He wished to remain among the people of the world until the end of time.
To point out and explain all the ways in which He has accomplished this desire would carry us too far afield for the purpose of this chapter. Suffice it to say that Christ still remains in the world for those who want Him.
Between Himself and His followers there is a union of love all the more real because it is spiritual. To ever remind us of this union of love He chose the love of man and wife as a symbol and sign.
There is an old saying that all the world loves a lover. The love of a bridal couple is always new and exciting.
In other words, Christ wished the visible union of man and wife in love to keep the world aware of the invisible union between His followers and Himself.
Obviously Christ wished the love of husband and wife to be a sacred thing. To effect this He raised the natural contract of marriage to the dignity of a sacrament for His baptized followers.
Marriage is not all moonlight and roses. To enable husband and wife to meet all the manifold problems and difficulties of married life Christ gives them His help for all their married lives.
They need and have His help to manifest to the world through their love of each other the love which Christ and His followers have for each other.
Because the ideal wife is religious she realizes the sacred character of her marriage and treasures it as her most precious possession.
Although each must work out her eternal happiness alone in the innermost recesses of her soul, yet to the wife God has given many helps in the order of nature as well as in the supernatural sphere.
The greatest of these aids is her husband and the sacrament of matrimony administered to her by him. He brings love and companionship and warmth of life to help bridge the long nights and days of self-insufficiency.
Realizing what a gift from God her husband is to her, the ideal wife clings to him in appreciation. To a greater extent than the average wife ever takes time to fathom, he is her means of salvation. Divorced from him, particularly in the earliest years of her life, she is a rudderless ship on the cruel sea of life.
The ideal wife has a sense of the right order of things. This is religion in the right sense of the word. Just as she understands her connection with God as creature to Creator, she also realizes the proper relation between herself and her husband.
The religious wife knows and accepts the words of St. Paul on obedience. These words of the Apostle are found in some marriage ceremonies. We quote them at length because no one has ever given clearer expression with more authority to the right order between man and wife. “Let wives be subject to their husbands as to the Lord; because a husband is head of the wife, just as Christ is head of the Church, being Himself savior of the body. But just as the Church is subject to Christ, so also let wives be to their husbands in all things. Husbands love your wives, just as Christ also loved the Church, and delivered Himself up for her….”
“Do wives actually have to obey their husbands?” is a sure fire question from some lady in any panel discussion on marriage. I usually try to soften the blow by remarking that any man who enters marriage under the delusion of ordering his wife around is in for a sad awakening.
It goes without saying that there are many equalities between man and wife. Both are human beings. Both have souls to save with inalienable rights.
Yet there must be a head for the home. The husband is it. No wife in her right mind will try to “wear the pants.” By trying to do so she forfeits the most charming and irresistible aspect of her femininity, her surrender and submission.
Likewise, she hardly succeeds in making herself a man, try as she may. She ends up being neither flesh nor fish.
Recently the newspapers carried a decision of the supreme court of an Eastern State that a woman worker has no redress against a male worker who swears at her. The court felt that, seeing that women had won equal rights and responsibilities with men workers in the factories, they must accept the same hazards–to wit, being sworn at.
In a Christian society women need not worry about acquiring “equalities” with men. They are head and shoulders above men– way up on pedestals where they belong. It is the wild eyed feminist who has won for her sex the dubious privilege of being sworn at.
An acquaintance of mine many years ago got himself so involved in his personal affairs that he decided to move downstate and begin all over. He was a physician.
His wife resented leaving the city for a small town. She felt that there she would waste the sweetness of her social charms on the desert air. She began her exile–so she considered it–in a petulant spirit soon degenerating into a nagging of her husband to return to the city.
She had no concept of her obligation of obedience to go wherever her husband knew that he could make a living and a home for themselves. Finally she left him with the ultimatum that, if he still wanted her, he would find her back at their old home in the city. Because the doctor was still mentally confused over his past difficulties and quite lacking in confidence in himself and because he was very much attached to his wife, he shortly followed her back to the city.
The reunion was none too promising for their future for he resented her domination over him and her failure to be a real helpmate.
Her struggle for dominance, and his anguish continued until the wife found him one day in the garage dead of monoxide gas.
The forlorn picture of this wife standing at the grave alone without children and with only the memory of her fatal attempt to lead her husband around by the nose–this melancholy picture remains with me.
“One of the first essential elements in a wife is faithfulness, in the largest sense. The heart of her husband safely trusts in her. Perfect confidence is the basis of all true affection. A shadow of doubt destroys the peace of married life. A true wife, by her character and by her conduct, proves herself worthy of her husband’s trust. He has confidence in her affection; he knows that her heart is unalterably true to him.” -.J.R.Miller
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