Marriage Contains Three Roles
For a young man to be an ideal marriage mate he has to be eminent in three roles: he must be a hundred percent husband, a hundred percent father, and a hundred percent lover, steadfastly and consistently.
And the girl who is an ideal nuptial partner must be a hundred percent wife, a hundred percent mother, and a hundred percent sweetheart, loyally and constantly.
No one makes grades of a hundred percent without long, diligent and painstaking preparation in any science, art, trade or profession, let alone in the sublimest and most difficult achievements of life.
The holy priesthood subjects its candidates to a lengthy and arduous discipline, preparatory to the reception of the sacrament, in order to qualify then to become good, efficient and happy priests of God.
Similarly only a long and close self-discipline and general practice of virtue and piety will give the matrimonial candidate the strength of character, the power of self-repression and the store of good habits which matrimony requires to insure its partners a peaceful, fruitful and contented life.
Unfailing loyalty and devotion, abiding love and consecration, unstinted service and attention, in the closest and most intimate relations of life, to one and the same person year in and year out, possibly for a long stretch of years, often tax the most generous and virtuous persons to the limit.
At any rate one can never start too early in life to make ample provision of them. Their acquisition implies the spirit of unselfishness in a high degree, a habit of industry, economy and thrift, the quality of magnanimous forbearance and forgiveness as well as of ready and boundless sympathy, together with an endless capacity for patient suffering, heroic endurance and angelic resignation of self.
The Summary of Goodness
All these qualifications are summed up in the words: “Blessed are all they that fear the Lord: that walk in His ways” (Ps. 127, 1).
I know that what I have mentioned as the necessary remote preparation for matrimony refers to the ideal. Yet it is only by striving after the ideal that one attains what is worthwhile and grateful in life.
With reference to marriage, too, our Savior spoke the words: “For which of you, having a mind to build a tower, does not first sit down and reckon the charges that are necessary, whether he have wherewithal to finish it: lest, after he hath laid the foundation and is not able to finish it, all that see it begin to mock him, saying: This man began to build and was not able to finish?” (Luke, 14, 28, RO).
How often is not this mockery indulged in nowadays at the expense of thoughtless and frivolous young persons running haphazardly into the tremendous responsibilities of marriage.
There Are Bad Days Ahead
In regard to marriage also the other words of the Bible are pregnant with advice: “Remember thy Creator—and the vocation He has given you—in the days of thy youth, before the time of affliction come, and the years draw nigh of which thou shalt say : They please me not” (Eccl., 12, 1).
No matter how soon and how early you prepare yourself for holy matrimony, certain days of affliction will come upon you. These are unavoidable in every station of life. But as long as you feel guiltless of their coining, they will be much easier to bear.
It is only when one has only himself or herself to blame for the evil days which are on, that one experiences and winces under all their bitterness and woe.
All About the Hope-Chest
The hope-chest has got to be quite a piece of furniture for girls preparing for marriage. They usually get it before they are actually and finally engaged to be married. Hence its filling pertains to the gradual preparation for marriage.
If they were as eager to store their hearts and minds with the virtues and knowledge necessary for a happy marriage as they are bent on supplying the hope-chest with useful and useless articles of housekeeping, there would be more successful and fortunate marriages.
It is very unwise to be frantically concerned about incidentals, that will always be comparatively easy of acquirement, and at the same time to pay no or very little attention to the essentials, the obtainment of which is gradual and laborious, and the lack of which in marriage is never anything short of catastrophical.
And this applies as well to the man who donates and helps fill the hope-chest, as to the girl to whom it is presented. The requisite remote and proximate preparation for marriage is strictly a bilateral or a fifty-fifty proposition, incumbent as much on the one as on the other partner to the marriage.
The marriage can be ideal only if both prepare themselves duly for it. A very important item of this preparation is, that the man is well able to supply, and the woman to keep, a good home.
“Our perfection does not consist of doing extraordinary things but doing the ordinary well.” ~St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows
“Marriage is much bigger than the couple’s love for each other. Marriage is a sacred work two people have to do for God. Love helps, makes it easier to do, but the job demands doing even if ardor has cooled….”
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