1. Baptism: Means of Salvation (12)
2. Palm Sunday
3. SS. Jonas and Barachisius
4. Marriage and Parenthood (13)
5. Articles and notices
Holy Week, the most sacred time of the liturgical year when holy Mother Church re-lives the Passion, Death and Resurrection of her divine Spouse, Jesus Christ, is already upon her. She now asks her children to join with her during the liturgical functions as on Palm Sunday she carries the palms and branches in triumph of Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem as King, singing Hosannas. She then has us witness the betrayal by Judas of his Master on Spy Wednesday. On Maundy Thursday she invites her children join the Apostles in the upper room for the Passover and the institution of the Holy Eucharist then leave to witness her heavenly Bridegroom begin His Passion on the Mount of Olives. On Good Friday she stands sorrowfully with her children at the foot of the Cross to suffer with the Spouse who has come to give His life for the salvation of the world. Having laid Him in the tomb she returns with her sons and daughters to wait out the Paschal Vigil for His glorious Resurrection from the dead, knowing that He will be with His Church until the consummation of the world.
As always, enjoy the readings and commentaries provided for your benefit. —The Editor
Means of Salvation
Original Innocence Lost
The Original Sin (g)
To the woman also he said: I will multiply thy sorrows, and thy conceptions: in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, and thou shalt be under thy husband’s power, and he shall have dominion over thee. (Gen. 16)
After announcing, in verse 15, the promise that the woman would crush the head of the serpent, God does not desist from still addressing the woman and the punishment for her sin: I will multiply thy sorrows, and thy conceptions: in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, and thou shalt be under thy husband’s power, and he shall have dominion over thee. (Gen. 3:16) Addressing the plight of woman, Emma Therese Healy, in Woman According to Saint Bonaventure, relates the following:
Sacred Scripture tells us that the loss of sanctifying grace entailed the forfeit of the preternatural gifts enjoyed by our first parents in the Garden. After the Fall, concupiscence, until then properly subdued, suddenly became rebellious (Gen. 3:7). To weakness of the will, ignorance, and inclination to evil were added many bodily punishments,—sickness, toil, disease, sorrow and pain. Then came death and dissolution, deprivation of the vision of God and loss of heavenly glory.  God accepted the special responsibility of Eve and met it with a special chastisement, over and above the lot of the human race. Before considering the special sentence addressed to her alone, we must remember that Eve, as well as Adam, participates in the general chastisement of the sin, even in that laborious, tiresome toil announced to Adam alone. (41-42)
In the next section the punishment of Adam will be visited; but here the punishment of Eve and of all her daughters ought to be thoroughly discussed as God spoke to her directly, not through Adam—though the sons of Adam would be the source of her sorrow. Eve is punished, not because Adam is punished, but because she initiated the Fall by not heeding Adam who had received the command and, as head of the human race, delivered the message to the woman. Both would begin the continuous spiral humanity would enter sinking further and further from their original natural goodness; and, even when raised out by God, would begin to sink again as humanity turned from God and relied on its own fallen nature. The woman, having seduced the man into sin, would find man laying the heavier burden of degradation upon her. She would be punished twofold: “I will multiply thy sorrows, and thy conceptions” and “thou shalt be under thy husband’s power, and he shall have dominion over thee.” (Gen. 3:16)
The multiplying of her conceptions was appointed as a punishment to woman, not on account of the begetting of children, which would have been the natural manner of procreation even in the state of innocence, but on account of the numerous sufferings to which woman is subject in carrying her offspring after conception, in the pains of parturition, in the labor involved in the nurturing of the tender years of her children, and in the sorrows which she experiences through them. (Healy, 42)
As a mother, it is sometimes difficult in a society such as one lives in today to ponder the suffering a woman with child would have had to bear even 250 years ago. No pain medication, no caesarian section, no cleanliness of habitation or pre-natal care and instruction. A woman was usually treated with as much care as an animal giving birth. An animal cannot experience pain as a human person does and seems, by nature, to be able to tolerate more pain. With complications, it meant the woman knew she might be sacrificing her life if she conceived. Disease and infection was sometimes so prevalent that not only individuals and families would succumb, but even large populations—one has only to think of the plagues that ravished Europe in the Middle Ages and the extinction of indigenous populations with the arrival of Europeans on the American continents. Then there was the care of the child to provide nutrition when the mother herself sometimes has barely enough to survive herself. The elder Tobias admonishes his son with these words: “Thou shalt honour thy mother all the days of her life: For thou must be mindful what and how great perils she suffered for thee in her womb.” (Tobias 4:3-4) And our Lord, in John 16:21, brings out the anticipation: A woman, when she is in labour, hath sorrow, because her hour is come; but when she hath brought forth the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.
As a wife,
. . . the woman was punished by being subjected to her husband’s authority, as conveyed in the words: “Thou shalt be under thy husband’s power.” Hitherto there had been no idea of servile subordination. Adam was titular lord of creation, the physical and juridical head of the human race and of the family which is its absolute unit. Woman was the mother of all living, the creator of the family and its queen. Here marriage was a perfect partnership of dignity and equality—the husband exercising ultimate theoretical supremacy; the woman, practical executive supremacy; both working together in perfect harmony, each depending on the other as complementary parts of one social organism. But now, because woman had exercised her influence on the man for evil, she would henceforth be “under his power.” Doubtless this does not imply that woman’s essential condition of equality was altered, but the sentence expresses what, in the nature of things, was bound to follow in a world dominated by sin and its consequences. The natural dependence and subjection of the weaker party was destined inevitably to become something little short of slavery. (Healy, 42)
As a woman, life would become devastatingly harsh. When God created man and woman, he placed them over creation with the command:
Increase and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it, and rule over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and all living creatures that move upon the earth. And God said: Behold I have given you every herb bearing seed upon the earth, and all trees that have in themselves seed of their own kind, to be your meat: And to all beasts of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to all that move upon the earth, and wherein there is life, that they may have to feed upon. And it was so done. (Gen. 28ff)
There was no command of man over woman, for they were to help each other arrive at the fulfillment of their earthly life and then enjoy the beatific vision, or the immediate knowledge (vision) of God, which the blessed Angels were enjoying. But now, the woman came under the dominion of man—not by nature, but by the condition of humanity. Saint Ambrose speaks of this punishment in these words:
Because Eve has admitted her crime, she is given a milder and more salutary sentence [then the serpent], which condemned her wrong-doing and did not refuse pardon. (Cf. Gen. 3:16) She was to serve under her husband’s power, first, that she might not be inclined to do wrong, and, secondly, that, being in a position subject to a stronger vessel, she might not dishonor her husband, but on the contrary, might be governed by his counsel. (Cf. 1 Peter 3:7) I see clearly here the mystery of Christ and His Church. The Church’s turning toward Christ in times to come and a religious servitude submissive to the Word of God—these are conditions far better than the liberty of this world. Hence it is written: ‘Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God and shall serve him only.’ (Deut. 6:13; Luke 4:8) Servitude, therefore, of this sort is a gift of God. Wherefore, compliance with this servitude is to be reckoned among blessings…. By this kind of servitude Christian folk grow strong, as we have it expressed in the words of the Lord to His disciples: ‘Whoever wishes to be first among you, let him be the slave of all of you.’ (Matt. 20:27) Hence charity, which is greater than hope and faith, brings this servitude to pass, for it is written: ‘By charity serve one another.’ (Gal. 5:13) This, then, is the mystery mentioned by the Apostle in reference to Christ and the Church. (Cf. Eph. 5:32) The servitude existed formerly, in fact, but in a condition of disobedience which was to be later made salutary by the generation of children ‘in faith and love and holiness with modesty.’ (1Tim. 2:15) What was certainly among the fathers a generation brought into existence in sin shall become salutary in the children, so that what was a stumbling block to the Jews shall in the society of Christians undergo improvement. (Paradise, 14, 72)
It was not that a wife would not have been subject to her husband in the bond of love (cf. Augustine, Gen. ad lit., XI, 37, 50), but, as Saint Augustine continues to point out, the servitude by which men later began to be slaves to other men obviously has its origin in punishment for sin. (Ibid.) Therefore, the submission should have been one of love.
St. Paul says, Through love serve one another. (Gal. 5:13) But by no means would he say, “Have dominion over one another.” Hence married persons through love can serve one another, but St. Paul does not permit a woman to rule over a man. (cf. 1 Tim 2:12) The sentence pronounced by God gave this power rather to man; and it is not by her nature but rather by her sin that woman deserved to have her husband for a master. But if this order is not maintained, nature will be corrupted still more, and sin will be increased. (Ibid.)
The dominion of man over woman overreached to such an extent that it placed even man over man in slavery.
In regards to the welfare of women prior to the coming of Christ, Emmy Healy writes:
As we look back over the interval of several thousands of years since God Himself, the Author of human society, established it upon the perfect law of marriage, we are not surprised that the state of woman called down the pity of the Most High. An awful degradation had fallen on the women of pagan nations and even among the chosen people of God, woman was held in low esteem. Even as far back as the Antediluvian period, polygamy was rife and where such custom prevails, we find woman downcast and downtrodden. During the Patriarchal Age, wife-capture was foremost among the contributing influences which lowered the status of woman and finally accomplished the degradation of her sex. Women were the spoils of war. The mother of Sisara, looking through the lattice, wondered: “Why is his chariot so long in coming back? Why are the feet of his horses so slow? One that was wiser than the rest of his wives returned this answer to her mother-in-law: Perhaps he is now dividing the spoils and the fairest of the women is chosen out for him” (Judges 5:28-30).
Sacred Scripture is silent regarding the vicissitudes that befell the Israelites during the four centuries that elapsed between the time of Malachi, the last prophet of the Old Testament, and the dawn of the Christian era. Profane history, however, tells us that they were subject in turn to Persian, Greek, Egyptian, Syrian, Maccabean, and Roman rule, and we know that the seventy years of captivity in Babylon and subsequent intercourse with heathen nations did not fail to leave its imprint on the laws and customs of the Israelites.
Retrogression goes hand in hand with false religions. Lacking the power to raise man out of the mire, sooner or later the gratification of lust with the resulting debasement of woman becomes the central feature of their pagan worship. In Babylon every member of the sex was required to enter the Temple and prostitute herself in the presence of its idol; parents deemed it an honor to devote their daughter to a life of sexual commerce for the enlargement of the sacerdotal coffers; and every year the great slave markets of Babylon opened for the sale of women.
Throughout all heathendom, religion and law worked together for the degradation of the sex. In Persia, even at her best, woman was but “the maid of man.” And when Athens won the hegemony of Greece in 476 B.C., women, under the wise rule of Solon, were separated into five classes “for the convenience of all conditions of men.” Wives, who constituted the first class and who existed for the sole purpose of propagating Greek citizens, were kept under strictest surveillance. Practically prisoners in their own homes, they possessed no rights or privileges beyond the will of their lords. Regarded as inferior beings neglected in heart and intellect, they were barred from all education and intellectual pleasures. The second class, the heterae, were the only free women in Athens. They were the intellectuals, accomplished women who delivered public addresses, taught rhetoric and elocution and founded schools of philosophy. They associated freely with men of their own rank and station—philosophers, statesmen and poets. They wielded wide influence in affairs of state, but disdained the marriage relation on account of its enforced ignorance, seclusion, and subjection. Then, there were the auletrides or flute-players, fashionable imported slaves, who were auctioned off to the highest bidder; the concubines, likewise purchased slaves, who with full knowledge of the lawful wife became members of their master’s household; and the dicteriades, slaves of ill-repute procured at the expense of the state and the revenue from whose services was used to enrich the general treasury.
Greek literature abounds in mockery of woman. We have seen how even the great Aristotle rates her as man’s inferior, not exactly as a slave or a child, but incapable of courage and justice. Legally, she was a minor. Not only could she not transact any business on her own account, but even the transactions of her husband, if undertaken by her counsel and at her request, were rendered null and void. Pericles, one of the lights of classic antiquity, thought that women should be in utter self-effacement, unworthy of mention whatsoever, good or bad. Demosthenes, the world’s greatest orator, said: “We have heterae for our pleasure, wives to bear us children and to care for the household.” Even the divine Plato, the most naturally Christian of the pagan philosophers, advocated a community of wives on the ground that the children would then be the property of the State. And granted that Xantippe may not have been the most amiable of creatures, Socrates the Wise made a rather broad statement when he said that the society of a wife is the last thing in the world to be sought after by a husband.
In Rome at this period, every right of woman was invaded. In the time of Augustus, the very mention of the ancient Roman virtues would seem a bitter satire upon the actual corruption. Conquest had inundated Rome with slaves, and the license engendered by slavery infected every relation of the family. There was no pure and noble religious belief to preserve the weaker sex from this contagion and all the evils which were debasing Grecian life were in full force here. Hymen, the god of marriage, was represented in Roman mythology as the son of Venus, the goddess of impurity, by Bacchus, the god of drunkenness.
Roman law prescribed the perpetual tutelage of woman. A female, though released from her father’s authority by his decease, continued subject through life to her nearest male relative, or to her father’s nominee as her guardian. The right of manus, which carried with it the privilege of wife-lending, was acquired by the husband with every form of marriage. And according to the Roman law, the wife was included in the “patria potestas” of her husband, who had absolute control over her person and property. Rome and Greece talked much about their respect for good women, but they saw to it that the life of a good woman was almost that of a slave.
Thus, instead of the dignity, indissolubility, and unity which characterized the first relationship between man and woman, we find man heaping every kind of degradation upon his hapless mate, continually forcing upon her the sense of her own weakness and incapacity. Carrying mistrust to the utmost point of barbarity, different heathen legislations actually obliged her in the full bloom of her youth and beauty to follow the corpse of her husband and to immolate herself on his funeral pile.
A passing glance at the actual position of woman during the last years of Augustus will convince us of the truth of this statement. Already dishonored by so many outrages offered to her weakness, she was liable to repudiation by her husband. Among the most civilized nations,—the Greeks, the Romans and the Jews—the sanctity of marriage was entirely disregarded on the part of man who exercised with the greatest abuse the right of absolute divorce. Over a large portion of the world where polygamy had destroyed the unity of marriage, there was an open proclamation that woman was not the partner of man’s life, but the instrument of his selfish pleasure; that if made from him at all, she was made not from the region of his heart, but from his feet. But when we consider woman in marriage, we consider her in her highest position. Tarnished as was her honor as wife and mother, all her honor lay in these two characters. Outside of them, that is as a human being, she had none.
. . . . the gentle subordination under a lawful headship had as a penalty been altered to a severe rule. Human sin had converted it into a servile subjection, a pitiless tyranny. Not only did the shadow of Eve rest on all her daughters since the fatal day of the first deceit, but to the divine sentence the hand of man had added such severity of degradation that the penance seemed turned into a curse. . . . (43-45)
(To be continued)
Benedict Baur, O.S.B.
WEDNESDAY OF HOLY WEEK
Judas, the traitor
- In St. Mary Major in Rome, we recall the passion and death of the Lord in company with His sorrowful mother. In a special way the Church reminds us of the treason of Judas. From ancient times the Church has set aside Wednesday of Holy Week to commemorate the betrayal, and she keeps a penitential fast in memory of this event. Six days have elapsed since the catechumens were examined. That is the reason for the two prophetic lessons which deal with the suffering of the Lord which are fulfilled in these days.
- Judas approaches. The Garden of Olives was the foot of the altar where Christ prayed before He ascended the great altar of Calvary. He suffers unspeakable anguish of soul. So intense is His interior suffering that His blood is forced through His pores in a bloody sweat. He turns to His apostles, whom He has left at a short distance; “Arise, pray,” He admonishes them. While He is yet speaking, the band sent to apprehend Him approaches. At the head of this motley crew is the apostle Judas. He approaches Christ and greets Him with a kiss. “Dost thou betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” What a spectacle! Christ betrayed by one of His own apostles and handed over to His enemies. That act sounded the depths of ingratitude, hypocrisy, and baseness. The act was made more despicable by the fact that it was performed for money.
The Church suffers with Christ. She has suffered similar experiences, for often in the course of her history many of her children have proved traitors to their Lord and Redeemer. This is as mysterious as it is terrifying—an apostle turned traitor. He who had been selected from among millions for the special love and esteem of Christ, sells his benefactor for thirty pieces of silver. He who stands, “let him take heed, lest he fall” (I Cor. 10: 12). “Watch ye and pray that ye enter not into temptation” (Matt. 26:41).
Christ sees the traitor approaching, and although He knows his foul plan, He does not withdraw. He offers His cheek to be kissed. He has feelings only of love and kindness even for this traitor. He even calls him friend. In effect He says: Even if you no longer love Me, I still love you and am prepared to forgive you the injury you are doing to Me. Christ shows no bitterness; He has no harsh reproach even for Judas. For this fallen apostle He has only sympathy. What did Judas gain? Thirty pieces of silver and the curse of God. He received a small temporal reward for his treachery and was burdened with a remorse of conscience that drove him to eternal damnation. This is the mysterium iniquitatis, the mystery of iniquity. Sin, the blindness and perversity of the human heart, is indeed a mystery. If the Lord were not so full of kindness and understanding, if He did not love us much beyond our deserts, what would become of us? Even an apostle can become a traitor.
- The Church makes a recompense to Christ for the disgrace heaped upon Him by Judas. “In the name of Jesus let every knee bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth; for the Lord became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Therefore the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father” (Introit). The Lord was humiliated by Judas, but out of that very humiliation grows His exaltation, out of the suffering of Good Friday is born the glory of Easter. Christ the Lord, the Savior, is in the glory of God the Father.
“Simon, sleepest thou? Couldst thou not watch one hour with Me?” With these words, spoken by Christ to Peter, the Church calls upon us at Lauds not to leave the Savior alone in His suffering and humiliation. At least during Holy Week let us remain close to Christ. That this may be easier for us, we are led to St. Mary Major. Behold the mother. Behold how Mary suffers with Jesus. Mary represents the Church suffering with Christ. Each of us should imitate Mary in her suffering with her Son. With her we should follow Him with sympathetic hearts and stand under His cross on Calvary. May not Christ address to us the sad words, “Couldst thou not watch one hour with Me? . . . He does not sleep, but hastens to betray Me to the Jews” (Responsory at Matins). It is often true that the friends of Jesus sleep while His enemies are hard at work.
“But he was wounded for our iniquities, he was bruised for our sins; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his bruises we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray, everyone hath turned aside into his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was offered up because it was his own will, and he opened not his mouth; he shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter and shall be dumb as a lamb before his shearer, and he shall not open his mouth” (Second lesson).
Grant, we beseech Thee, O almighty God, that we who are continually afflicted by reason of our excesses, may be delivered through the passion of Thine only-begotten Son.
O God, in order to expel from us the power of the enemy, Thou hast willed that Thy own Son endure the gibbet of the cross; grant that we Thy servants may not fail to obtain the grace of rising with Him. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Love unto the end
- At the Lateran basilica, the church of the Holy Redeemer, we are to witness today the readmission of the penitents into the community of the faithful. They have been excluded from the Offertory procession and from Holy Communion. But the time of their penance is now ended, and they may again approach the altar with their gifts and receive Holy Communion. We share in their joy and gratitude. The prayer they say when they offer their gifts, we make our own. “I shall not die, but live” (Offertory). We recall today also the events of the life of Jesus that distinguish Holy Thursday. We commemorate this day Jesus’ departure from Bethania, the Last Supper, the washing of the feet, the institution of the Holy Eucharist and of the priesthood, Christ’s farewell discourse, the journey to the Garden of Olives, the agony in the Garden, the betrayal by Judas, and the apprehension of Christ. Holy Thursday is particularly dedicated to the memory of the institution of the Holy Eucharist.
- “Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them unto the end” (John 13:1). He continues to love them in Holy Eucharist. His love was not satisfied by His suffering and death on the cross; He wished to remain with us always. Yes, he wished to do more: He wished to become the nourishment of our souls, to fill us with His own life, and to unite Himself to us. He is the vine, we are the branches. Christ loved His own to the end—the end of the cross; He will continue to love them until the end of time in the tabernacle. This is a love without bounds; this is our treasure in our poverty. This is the extraordinary good fortune of Christians, that Christ loves them with an infinite love. “As the Father hath loved Me, I also have loved you. Abide in My love” (John 15:9). We, too, must love Him with all our strength.
Christ gave the apostles an additional proof of His love in the washing of their feet. Today the liturgy closely associates the washing of the feet with the reception of Holy Communion; when Holy Communion is distributed to the faithful, she uses this prayer: “The Lord Jesus, after He had supped with His disciples, washed their feet, and said to them: Know you what I, your Lord and Master, have done to you? I have given you an example, that you also may do likewise” (Communion). Daily Holy Communion and the love of our neighbor are complementary. “If we love one another, God abideth in us, and His charity is perfected in us. . . . If any man says: I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar. For he that loveth not his brother whom he seeth, how can he love God, whom he seeth not?” (I John 4:12, 20.) How can such a man receive Holy Communion worthily? On the other hand, the worthy reception of Holy Communion impels us to love the other members of the mystical body of Christ. The antiphons sung during the washing of the feet show this connection: “A new commandment I give unto you: that you love one another as I have loved you, says the Lord, Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord,” “If I your Lord and Master have washed your feet, how much more ought you to wash one another’s feet. Hear these things, all ye nations; give ear, all ye inhabitants of the world. If I your Lord and Master have washed your feet, how much more ought you to wash one another’s feet.” “By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for another.” The Holy Eucharist is a gift of love. Love becomes an obligation: “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another as I have loved you.” Let us examine ourselves to see if we really keep this commandment to love one another always.
- “Where charity and love are, there God is,” The love of Christ has brought us together. Let us exult and be joyful in Him. Let us fear and love the living God, and love one another with sincerity. Where charity and love are, there God is. Having assembled here to worship God, let us beware of divisions among ourselves. Let malicious upbraidings cease; let there be no wrangling. And may Christ our God be in our midst; for where charity and love are, there God is. “Together with the blessed may we also see Thy face in glory, O Christ God. . . . Through endless ages. Amen” (Antiphon at the washing of the feet).
The Holy Eucharist is the fruit of the cross. The more closely we press to the cross, the more fully we shall profit by the reception of Holy Communion. “It behooves us to glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Introit).
O God, who in this wonderful sacrament has left us a memorial of Thy passion; grant us, we beseech Thee, so to venerate the sacred mysteries of Thy body and blood that we may ever feel within us the fruit of Thy redemption. Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen. (Collect for Corpus Christi.)
29: SS. JONAS AND BARACHISIUS, MARTYRS (A.D. 327)
WE are able to quote here from what purport to be the genuine acts of the martyrs SS. Jonas and Barachisius, compiled by an eye-witness called Isaias, an Armenian in the service of King Sapor II. The Greek versions contain certain additions and interpolations, but the original Syriac text has been published by Stephen Assemani and by Bedjan.
In the eighteenth year of his reign, Sapor or Shapur, King of Persia, began a bitter persecution of Christians. Jonas and Barachisius, two monks of Beth-Iasa, hearing that several Christians lay under sentence of death at Hubaham, went thither to encourage and serve them. Nine of the number received the crown of martyrdom. After their execution, Jonas and Barachisius were apprehended for having exhorted them to persevere and to die. The president began by appealing to the two brothers, urging them to obey the King of Kings, i.e. the Persian monarch, and to worship the sun. Their answer was that it was more reasonable to obey the immortal King of Heaven and earth than a mortal prince. Barachisius was then cast into a narrow dungeon, whilst Jonas was detained and commanded to /696/ sacrifice. He was laid flat on the ground, face downwards, with a sharp stake under the middle of his body, and beaten with rods. The martyr continued all the time in prayer, so the judge ordered him to be placed in a frozen pond; but this also was without effect. Later on the same day Barachisius was summoned and told that his brother had sacrificed. The martyr replied that he could not possibly have paid divine honours to fire, a creature, and spoke so eloquently of the power and infinity of God that the Magians in astonishment said to one another that if he were permitted to speak in public he would draw many to Christianity. They therefore decided for the future to conduct their examinations by night. In the meantime they tortured him too.
In the morning Jonas was brought from his pool and asked whether he had not spent a very uncomfortable night. “No “, he replied. “From the day I came into the world I never remember a more peaceful night, for I was wonderfully refreshed by the memory of the sufferings of Christ.” The Magians said, “Your companion has renounced!” but the martyr, interrupting them, exclaimed, “I know that he long ago renounced the Devil and his angels”. The judges warned him to beware lest he perish abandoned by God and man, but Jonas retorted, “If you possess your vaunted wisdom judge whether it is not wiser to sow corn rather than to hoard it. Our life is seed, sown to rise again in the world to come, where it will be renewed by Christ in immortal life.” He continued to defy his tormentors, and after further tortures he was squeezed in a wooden press till his veins burst, and finally his body was divided piecemeal with a saw and the mangled segments thrown into a cistern. Guards were appointed to watch the relics lest the Christians should steal them away.
Jonas having been thus disposed of, Barachisius was once more advised to save his own body. His reply was: “This body I did not frame, neither will I destroy it. God who made it will restore it, and will judge you and your king.” So he was again subjected to torments, and was finally killed by having hot pitch and brimstone poured into his mouth. Upon receiving news of their death, an old friend bought the martyrs’ bodies for five hundred drachmas and three silk garments, promising never to divulge the sale.
MARRIAGE AND PARENTHOOD
The Catholic Ideal
By the Rev. Thomas J. Gerrard
BETWEEN HUSBAND AND WIFE
Thirdly, a husband’s love must be exclusive.
The Christian dispensation in forbidding polygamy shows how much more it is in conformity with the laws of human nature than the other religions which allow plurality of wives. If there is one instinct which is paramount in woman it is that the love given to her by her husband must be exclusive. And what the law of nature demands the law of revelation confirms and sanctions. The Christian wife cannot for a moment tolerate the idea which prevails in the Mormon or the Mohammedan social systems.
Even more peremptory is the law of nature against the crime of adultery. Nowhere, however, are these laws of nature more carefully protected than in the Catholic Church. She has had twenty centuries’ experience of human nature. She knows quite well that those laws cannot be observed by merely forbidding the grosser sins of adultery or polygamy. One does not fall into those sins suddenly, while leading an otherwise pure and blameless life. The way is prepared by a series of seemingly less harmful sins, the unchaste thought, the unchaste look, the unchaste word. Therefore it is, that in the matter of purity the Church brands as mortal sin even the lesser faults when deliberately committed.
The true Christian husband, then, will not be content with merely guarding against sin. He will strive all he can in the opposite direction. He will avoid even innocent attentions to others which may possibly give displeasure to his wife. He will make it a special study and effort that his wife shall realize that she is the only one who has any attraction for him. If this habit of thought and action be sedulously cultivated it will bear fruit on both sides. The mutual love between husband and wife will be so strong and constant as to leave no room for jealousy, for such love is strong as death, and actually is the death of that jealousy which would be hard as hell.
What has been said of a husband’s love applies equally to a wife’s love. It must be affectionate, practical, and exclusive. Although these qualities are ordinarily found more pronounced and more natural in the wife than in the husband, yet even the wife cannot afford to leave them to natural impulse. She also must cultivate them, must watch them, must seek out opportunities of giving them free and healthy exercise. There is only a slight difference in their order. Bending to the nature of the man, instead of making her love first affectionate, then practical, then exclusive, she will simply reverse the order, so that her love shall be first exclusive, then practical, and then affectionate.
“Wives, be obedient to your husbands in the Lord.” Like all other social movements, the movement for the emancipation of women is fraught with the danger of rushing into the opposite error of that which is to be remedied. Impotent of discernment, the agitator will purge away both the dross and the gold together. Especially in this question of the obedience of wives to husbands will he, or rather she, persist in confusing the true obedience with false, in condemning an obedience which no Christian wife is supposed to render.
Let us see then what is conjugal obedience.
No one will deny that in some sense the husband is the head of the family. Man was made first, and made lord of the earth. In his overlordship he was lonely and had need of a helpmeet for him. To this end was a woman taken from his flesh and bone and given to him to be his wife. She was not to be reckoned, among the rest of creation, as part of the man’s goods and chattels. Nor yet was she to be reckoned above man. Nor yet again was she to be reckoned as fulfilling the same office as man. She was to be his complement, helping him in those things for which by nature he was unsuited. He was to be the strong element, she the gentle. He was to be her protector; she was to find her joy in the sense of the security of his protection. Obviously, then, she was meant to yield, at least to some extent, to his overlordship. The only question is as to what extent.
We all know the distinction between servile and filial obedience. The one is the obedience of slaves, informed by the motive of fear: the other is the obedience of sons, informed by the motive of love. So, likewise, there is a distinction between servile obedience and conjugal obedience. The obedience of wives is as much raised above that of sons as that of sons is above that of slaves. Doubtless there have been many husbands who have demanded of their wives the obedience of a slave. And doubtless such husbands are largely responsible for much of the present misunderstanding of the nature and limits of wifely obedience. Broadly speaking we may say that the obedience of the wife is due to the husband only within certain limits. It is not absolute. It is due to him in all those matters where it is evident that he must rule. It is not due to him in those matters where it is evident that the wife must rule.
All matters of business, everything which seriously affects the income of the family, the choice of trades or professions for the children, —these evidently belong to the judgment of the husband. The wife may be, and ought to be, frequently consulted. But having expressed her opinion she ought to abide by the decision of the head of the family. On the other hand the interior domestic arrangements pertain to the judgment of the wife. The management of servants and babies, for instance, are points upon which the husband should have nothing to say, except perhaps when he is asked, or when he divines that his suggestion will meet with his wife’s approval. And a wife would be acting well within her rights were she to resent any interference in these matters.
Hard and fast rules, however, cannot be laid down. Much depends upon the temperament of individuals and the force of circumstances. If a man has failed in business, say three times, and eventually has to depend on his wife’s dowry for a livelihood, or upon another business built up by his wife, then he cannot expect to have the same authority as one possessing the full complement of manhood.
Again, no obedience is due to him when he is obviously demanding something contrary to divine law. To require a wife to give up any of her religious duties as a Catholic, to ask her to do something which is against any of the Ten Commandments,—these are occasions when she not only may, but must disobey. In all cases of doubt, however, the presumption is in favor of the husband.
Above all things, however, the obedience must have its foundation in mutual love. Unless there is present that determination to love each other through thick and thin, through success and through adversity, through life and through death, it will be useless to try to decide by argument who has the right to command and who the duty to obey. The love in marriage is a great mystery, and he who would reduce it to mechanical laws must possess a higher knowledge than that ever yet possessed by mere man.
(To be continued)
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