Cana is Forever

Author: Charles Hugo Doyle



Charles Hugo Doyle

Nihil Obstat: JOHN M. A. FEARNS, S.T.D. Censor Librorum

Imprimatur: +FRANCIS CARDINAL SPELLMAN Archbishop of New York January 5, 1949

Copyright 1949 by The Nugent Press, Tarrytown, N. Y. Printed in the United States of America



Gospel Story Prologue 1. Marriage Is a Career 2. This Thing Called Love 3. Remote Preparation for Marriage 4. Proximate Preparation for Marriage 5. Mixed Marriages Are Dangerous 6. The Great Sacrament 7. The Period of Adjustment 8. Basic Requisites for Marital Happiness 9. The Great Sin in Marriage 10. Marriage Wreckers 11. The Important Role of Parents 12. Cana Is Forever

At that time . . . There was a marriage in Cana of Galilee: and the mother of Jesus was there. And Jesus also was invited, and his disciples, to the marriage. And the wine failing, the mother of Jesus saith to him: They have no wine. And Jesus saith to her: Woman, what is that to me and to thee? My hour is not yet come. His mother saith to the waiters: Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye. Now, there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three measures apiece. Jesus saith to them: Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And Jesus saith to them: Draw out now and carry to the chief steward of the feast. And they carried it. And when the chief steward had tasted the water made wine, and knew not whence it was, but the waiters knew who had drawn the water, the chief steward calleth the bridegroom, and saith to him: Every man at first setteth forth good wine, and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse. But thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. (St. John 2:1-11)


". . . and Jesus also was invited" (to the marriage).

IF YOU ARE contemplating matrimony as a career and you honestly want your marriage to be an unqualified success, your task may be far greater than you realize.

Today, in this country, one out of every three marriages ends in divorce or separation. So oft repeated is this in the press that it now produces little more than the raising of eyebrows. What really would prove startling would be an accurate survey of the felicitous state of the other two-thirds who maintain common domicile alone through force of public opinion, circumstances or, as they say, "for the sake of the children." I would venture a guess that at least one half of the two-thirds who do remain together experience unhappiness in all its various shades from the powder gray of discontent to the deep black of desperation. The tragic failure of so many others only proves that many pitfalls await you in marriage.

Taking unto oneself a partner, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health until death, is serious business. A happy and successful marriage is one of life's greatest blessings. On the other hand, an unhappy marriage is one of the cruelest afflictions that can befall anyone. Who fails at marriage fails at living!

The pages that follow have been written with the hope that they will assist those contemplating marriage to choose wisely and well. They are written, too, for those who have quaffed deeply of the heady wine of wedlock and found it sometimes very sweet and sometimes very bitter, and also for those whose complete disillusionment has made them so cynical that they pronounce the word "marriage" with all the fervid sadness and loathing with which Job must have said "boils."

If you are standing only on the shores of the sea of matrimony, or if you have already set sail and find yourself tossed about on the topmost waves, this book is for you. Read it carefully, follow its counsels, and you too may be spared the folly of so many others: that of dropping broken pitchers into empty wells and growing old in drawing nothing up.

Since marriage is such a hazardous venture it would appear reasonable that God should provide men and women with certain guiding principles to insure its success. That is why, in my mind, Cana of Galilee assumes such tremendous importance. It is a spiritual Baedeker for matrimonial careerists.

Nothing that God ever does is the result of mere chance. Everything is divinely planned to the minutest detail. Christ's presence, therefore, at the marriage in Cana was not accidental but pre-ordained from all eternity. Indeed, the evangelical prophet Isaias foretold centuries beforehand that the light of the Messias would first shine in Galilee. And shine it did, in the miracle of the changing of water into wine, and again in the miraculous curing of the sick child.

That Cana was chosen for two great miracles, the first in tribute to conjugal love, the second in tribute to paternal love, removes all doubt as to its being anything but a place of God's special predilection and providence. The events that took place there followed such a pre-eminent pattern that they ought not to be considered as favoring individuals but rather as extending to the instruction and ennoblement of all mankind, especially to those embracing the marital state.

There is deep significance in the fact that the Son of God chose a banquet table as a backdrop for the event that marked the beginning of His public ministry and again another banquet table to preface its ending. As an invited guest at the marriage feast in Cana, Christ changed water, universal symbol of sorrow and tears, into wine, symbol of joy and love. As host at the Last Supper, the same Christ changed wine into love's overflow, His own most precious Blood. When William Makepeace Thackeray remarked that meals with friends were "the greatest vehicles of benevolence," he provided a more than adequate explanation for Christ's presence in Cana in Galilee and again in the Upper Room in Jerusalem.

Certainly, it was no mere coincidence that He who came to redeem a world plunged into degradation by the reckless action of the first man and his wife should perform His first miracle as the Messias for another man and his wife. It would appear that Our Lord, by gracing with His presence the marriage in Cana, and making of it the occasion for working such a striking miracle, wished to demonstrate to all men that the ultimate success of the work of redemption of mankind would rest with the family unit as such.

Terse as Saint John's accounts are of the events at Cana, they nevertheless would provide adequate material for numerous volumes of essays and many years of meditation. Regarding the first miracle, there is the question of why Our Lord chose Cana at all, a village of fewer than six hundred souls, when He might have chosen the crowded city of Jerusalem, or even the palatial summer home of the rich Simon, the Pharisee, at Magdala. There is the matter of the amount of water made wine--more than eighty gallons--or the fact that the miracle was done through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary simply because she remarked to her Son, "They have no wine." Again, there is the point that the names of the bride and bridegroom are not recorded, as if God covered this couple with anonymity to impersonalize the whole affair.

Likewise, the second miracle is equally rich in exegetical material. There's the question of who the royal official was, whose son was mortally ill; the nature of the illness; whether it was the little son who had asked his father to seek out the Divine Physician, or whether the father had sought Christ without the child's knowledge. These and a thousand other questions would provide interesting material for many a book. There is even a font of hidden meaning in the word "Cana" itself, as well as in its providential geographical position, to say nothing of the deep significance of the rich ceremonials of that day, especially those surrounding the ancient Jewish marriage ceremony.

Out of the wealth of essay topics provided by these and other incidents relative to Cana of Galilee, I have chosen to write the present volume around certain points in the scriptural accounts that in one way or another indicate guidance toward success and happiness in marriage. For instance, the lamentable and alarming numbers of marriage failures today may be traced to the fact that too many who enter this sacred relationship fail either to invite Christ to their marriage or, having done so, fail to follow in married life the counsel our Blessed Lady gave to the waiters at Cana: "Whatsoever He shall say to you, do ye." Again, the failure of the wine would indicate inadequate preparation, and the failure of many modern marriages may be traced to the same cause. If there is one career that demands prayerful consideration and careful preparation it is marriage. Circuit Judge L. D. Miller of Chattanooga, Tennessee, who has handled over twenty-five thousand marriage failures in his long career, unreservedly asserts that over forty per cent of those marital tragedies resulted from hasty marriages of the physically and mentally immature. Cana's lessons thoroughly applied will help you to avoid such pitfalls.

Indeed, narrow is the gate to marital bliss and few who enter therein; but with a consciousness of its hazards and a determination to avoid them, by the grace of God, you can make a grand success of your marriage. At least, that is the prayer of the author.


There is something formally prohibitive about a sign on a door reading "No Admittance Except on Business," and it usually gets results. There would be fewer disappointing marriages if none entered the sacred relationship but those bent on serious business. Believe me, marriage is serious business. It is no lark, no adventure in the vacuous emotion of youth; it is a decision that will affect for life, and perhaps for eternity, not only oneself but one's partner and any children God may send.

Marriage is a career, one so vital and so splendid that it ranks next to the priesthood and religious life in the trinity of top-flight careers in the world. All other careers are incidental to them. The fact that marriage was the first career ever to be embraced by man is most significant. And our common Father, Adam, when his pure gaze fell upon the first incarnation of unalloyed womanhood, Eve, proclaimed the inviolable law that was to bind all his descendants until the end of time: "Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be two in one flesh." (Gen. 2:24.)

The etymological meaning of the word "career" is interesting. It comes from the Latin word carrus--"wagon"--and means literally something that carries one along a road. In this sense, marriage is truly a career--one instituted by God Himself to carry a man and his wife and their children along life's highway to heaven.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines "career": "As a course of professional life or employment which affords opportunity for progress or advancement in the world." According to this definition marriage certainly qualifies as a career. History bears this out. There was hardly ever a great deed done by man that did not somewhere bear the fingerprint, no matter how faint, of a fond mother or a loving wife. How often have we not heard successful men humbly proclaim that the Herculean feats they have accomplished they owe to a devoted, saintly wife.

Indeed, not only is marriage a career that affords opportunity for spiritual and temporal progress and advancement in this life, but it reaches far into the next. "Marriage," said Taylor, "is the mother of the world, and preserves kingdoms, and fills cities and churches, and heaven itself. The state of marriage fills up the number of the elect and hath in it the labor of love and the delicacies of friendship, the blessing of society and the union of hands and hearts. It is indeed the very nursery of heaven."

The nature of man's career in marriage consists primarily in a permanent union for the procreation and education of children, the provision of a home, support of his wife and his offspring, constant vigilant care for the spiritual and temporal welfare of his household. The nature of a woman's career in marriage consists in the bearing and education of children, insoluble union, home- making and housekeeping. These are not matters of choice but of obligation.

A married man may give proof of power to rule an empire, master abstruse sciences, write immortal tomes--yet if he fulfills not the primary ends of the marriage career he is a failure.

A married woman may win by her particular capabilities and capacities the plaudits of the world for her contribution to medical and scientific research, or for works of art that grace the greatest museums and art galleries in the world; yet if she fulfills not the primary ends of her marriage career she is indeed a failure. Her first duty is to be a wife and mother and homemaker.

Failure to realize that marriage is a career is one of the tragedies of our day and the chief cause of the countless broken homes. People readily accept law, teaching, medicine, nursing, singing and advertising as careers, but neglect to include matrimony among the top-flight careers. Important as all careers may appear to be, only two were elevated to the dignity of sacraments--the priesthood and marriage. That consideration above all else should merit for the matrimonial state special veneration.

No one would deny that for Gainsborough painting was a career, after feasting one's eyes on his famous Blue Boy. But what comparison is there between the colored oils skillfully blended on canvas by the hand of the artist and a tiny, lovely infant born to an adoring mother and father whose union had been sanctified in marriage? If painting the picture of a child is a career, dare we deny that parenthood is a career?

What artist could reproduce the faint azure blue of a baby's eyes or gather rays of pale dawn and distill therefrom the delicate pink that graces a baby's dimpled cheek? Who but God, in using human agencies, could put such innocence and trust into a baby's smile or bless such frail little hands with enough terrible strength to help weld two hearts into one until death do them part?

No one would think of denying that teaching is a high career, but, by far and large, the first and most important school is the home, and the most influential teachers, all mothers and fathers.

Nursing is a career, but a mother's untaught hands can often heal and nurse with such latent skill that they can coax a waning life back to strength when it has slipped beyond the reach of a registered nurse and even the physician.

If entertaining an audience from the stage, screen, or over the radio is a career, creating joy and happiness in a home is also a career.

Diplomacy is a career, but where is diplomacy so necessary and so frequently required as in marriage? Indeed, the keeping of a husband or a wife for life demands more consummate diplomacy than that ever exercised by Richelieu and Churchill together. The author of the "Lady of the Lake," Sir Walter Scott, sums up for husbands the most contradictory and salient characteristics of all wives in a single verse thus:

"Oh woman! in our hours of ease, Uncertain, coy, and hard to please, And variable as the shade By the light quivering aspen made; When pain and anguish wring the brow, A ministering angel thou."

Some careerists are successful though they may only practice the virtues requisite to their own particular vocations. Thus, it is quite possible for a doctor to be successful in medicine or surgery without having to practice the subtle arts of the diplomat. When a traffic officer stops your car and roars at you that highly original greeting, "Pull over, Buddy. Where's de fire?", it is evident that his career as such does not require the sympathy and gentleness of the mortician.

Marriage as a career differs from all others inasmuch as it demands for its success a great combination of many virtues and qualities peculiar to many particular careers. Marriage demands the patience of the teacher, the training of the psychologist, the diplomacy of the statesman, the justice of a Supreme Court judge, the sense of humor of a good comedian, the self-sacrifice of a good doctor, "the-customer-is-always-right" attitude of the successful department store salesman, the mercy of the confessor, and so on, ad infinitum.

Having once established the fact that marriage is a topflight career, it naturally follows that the same rules govern its success as govern those of other careers. Every successful career demands adequate preparation, intelligent earnestness, persistent industry, and the will-to-win, but marriage demands all these, plus the anointed strength of love.

If every couple would but bring to marriage one half the consuming zeal for success that Thomas A. Edison brought to his scientific career, how different many of them would be!

As a youth, Edison spent long dreary hours practicing on the tiny telegrapher's key, learning the code and manner of sending and receiving messages. There was a four-day walk from Port Huron to Boston in search of work. There was the penniless arrival in New York and a chance job repairing a telegraphic communication system in a stock exchange on Wall Street that led to financial betterment, but it was dogged determination to succeed that made him so outstanding as a scientist.

Take, for instance, Edison's work on the carbon filament. In October, 1879, he determined to make his experiment work if it was the last thing he ever did. So convinced was he that the carbon filament was utilizable that he refused to leave his laboratory until he completed his work. On the second night he said to his associate, Charles Batchelor, "We will make a lamp before we sleep or die in the attempt," and make it he did, though it took four sleepless days and nights before the now famous Edison incandescent light was invented and the whole lighting system revolutionized in the world.

Edison's career was successful solely because he brought to it a determination to succeed no matter what the cost. Success in any field rarely comes without great sacrifices. One has only to read about the life of Madame Curie and her devoted husband and follow the discovery of radium to evaluate the cost of success in a career.

Madame Curie's sufferings as she worked in the smoke-filled shed, cold in the winter and stifling hot in the summer, defy description. The work of days became months and years, and failure dogged her every minute of the time, but Marie Curie, with terrible patience, continued to treat kilogram by kilogram the tons of pitchblende residue. Poverty hampered her in the acquisition of adequate equipment. The obstacles seemed insurmountable in the forty-five months of experimentation, but in the end the Curie work produced radium.

Who could look at the great Marie Curie as she lay on her deathbed, after thirty-five years' work with radium, and see her tired, burned, scarred hands without realizing the awful cost of success in a career?

Success in marriage depends upon acceptance of the fact that it is a career and upon the readiness and willingness to bring to it all the determination possible to overcome every difficulty and obstacle on the road to success. If a marriage breaks up, it is not because a man or woman must accept defeat but because the defeat is willed.

A kite cannot be made to fly unless it goes against the wind and has a weight to keep it from overturning. No marriage will succeed unless there is readiness to face and overcome difficulties and a willingness to accept the responsibilities of a parent, for parenthood is the weight that keeps most marriages from somersaulting.

When Divine Love Incarnate came to Cana of Galilee to sanctify forever pure conjugal love, He came to that marriage fresh from His terrible bout with Satan.

Since the first man and his wife had succumbed to temptation in the Garden of Eden, it was divinely planned that Christ, the New Adam, should permit the same tempter to attack Him and be ignominiously defeated and thus set a pattern for all to follow in the resistance of temptation. His sacred presence at the wedding was ever to be an earnest of the help and special graces He would grant those called to the marriage career who would likewise resist the onslaughts of Satan. Yea, more, Our Lord would elevate matrimony to the dignity of a Sacrament and make of it a veritable channel of special graces.

It is worthy of note, however, that while en route to Cana, the Master called His first five apostles, one of them being Nathanael (St. Bartholomew), a native of Cana of Galilee. The timing of Nathanael's call to the apostolate was, doubtless, to indicate the primacy of dignity and honor of the priesthood and religious life over marriage, and that, in that very order, they would form a trinity of top-flight careers.

It was only after choosing a nucleus for His priesthood that Christ went down to the marriage at Cana of Galilee.


Lord Bacon, one of the great English philosophers and essayists, tells us: "He was reputed one of the wise men that made answer to the question--when a man should fall in love and marry--'a young man not yet, and an older man not at all.'"

I, for one, cannot dismiss the feeling that the formulator of that answer was either once in love and was jilted, or he was married and his wife beat him. Love is the wine of existence and marriage is an honorable estate, or, should I say, for some it is an imperative one, and go along with Saint Paul, who fiercely puts it: "For it is better to marry than to be burnt."? (I Cor. 7:9.)

In the second chapter of the Book of Genesis we are told that when the world was in its freshness of new beauty and Adam was master of it all, God saw the need of making a companion for him. One thing was lacking: "for Adam there was not found a helper like himself" and "it was not good for man to be alone"; and so God made Eve. Strange as it may seem, falling in love means searching and finding in another, the partner who will make it easier for you to fulfill your destiny and realize God's plan for yourself. At least, that is one conception of love.

A clear-cut definition of love is not as easy to find as one might imagine. Few encyclopedias even carry the word. They devote pages to economics, art, and music, but ignore love. The writers of books on marriage either avoid giving a definition of it or frankly admit that it is indefinable. Cole Porter went so far as to set the question "What Is This Thing Called Love?" to music, yet he gave no satisfying answer. The inimitable George Bernard Shaw when invited to contribute to a book on marriage replied: "No man dare write the truth about marriage while his wife lives." Perhaps that answer may supply a key to the problem of why so few have dared to define love. There may be as much "dare not" as "cannot" involved in this complex matter.

The gifted St. Thomas Aquinas had no inhibitions on the subject and boldly declared that "to love a person is to wish him well." And Webster, as we shall see a few pages hence, goes along with the Angelic Doctor on that definition.

Sir Walter Scott says:

True love's the gift which God has given To man alone beneath the heaven. It is not fantasy's hot fire Whose wishes, soon as granted, fly; It liveth not in fierce desire-- With dead desire, it doth not die.

It is the secret sympathy, The silver link, the silken tie Which heart to heart and mind to mind In body and in soul can find.

To Scott, then, love is a composite thing which, laying hold upon one's nature, binds it with another in secret sympathy. Like grace, the effects of love are easier to treat than its nature.

Love, like death, is the universal leveler of mankind. It is nature's motive and reward. "We are all born of love," said Disraeli, "and it is the principle of existence and its only end."

It is only natural that since love was to be the mainspring of man's existence it would be the very thing Satan would endeavor to counterfeit. Thus true love, like every genuine thing of value, has numerous imitations. The cruel task for many is to sift the wheat from the chaff, to distinguish the true from the false, the precious metal from the slag. There is but one thing against which genuine love is helpless and that is time. Love is like wine in that age improves the good and sours the bad.

If we are to accept modern songs, novels, the radio, and movies as our criteria, we shall believe that love comes at first sight and with such a crushing force that one is powerless to resist. Such, however, is not the case. If love were always to strike like lightning, then no one would be safe. Your mother might be smitten by the paper boy and your father by John's Other Wife. Momentary attraction must not be confused with love, for love needs time.

Love at first is fancy, then there follows admiration, joined with respect and devotion. In this melange of emotions there occurs, sometimes, violent agitation, but more often there is a gentle simmering, a confused but agreeable mingling, until gradually all becomes transfused into a vital feeling called love. "The introduction to this felicity," says Emerson, "is a private and tender relation of one to one, which is the enchantment of human life; which, like a certain divine rage and enthusiasm, seizes a man at one period and works a revolution in his mind and body; unites him to his race, pledges him to the domestic and civic relations, carries him with new sympathy into nature, enhances the power of his senses, opens the imagination, adds to his character heroic and sacred attributes, establishes marriage and gives permanence to human society."

Since so much depends on love for abiding happiness in marriage, it stands to reason that a comprehensive understanding of what real love is takes on paramount importance. There is nothing so misunderstood and no word so abused as the word '"love." Little boys and girls "love" candy; women "love" mink coats; trees in every village and in every lane have "love" carved in their bark, and fences on every back street proclaim that A.B. "loves" C.D., while recapped Romeos whisper it gently and its magic is supposed to make liberties righteous. Ignorance of the development of love, as well as the multitudinous forms love takes, makes for the misunderstanding of it. A great many people imagine that all children are born with an innate love for their parents and their immediate family; that, later, puppy love develops; and finally that they will quite naturally go through the process of dating, courting, and then marry. Would that it were quite so simple!

Under the most favorable conditions everyone's love life develops through five stages. The first stage comes in infancy when, as Dr. Vladimir G. Eliasberg, a psychology professor at Rutgers University, says, we begin by being narcissistic--that is, lovers of ourselves. Next comes our love for our Parents--then a love for our playmates--then a crush on a companion of the same sex (for example, a girl's crush on her teacher)--finally, as teen-agers, we show the usual interest in the opposite sex, with thoughts of finding a life mate and marriage.

During any one or all of these stages, external forces may hinder or help the growth of love. Let us examine some of these hindrances or helps in detail. For instance, in the first stage of narcissism, a child in the normal home learns to depend upon its parents and finds it easy to transfer some of its love from itself to its parents. In those homes, on the other hand, where the child is definitely not wanted and lacks love, that child is a cheated individual and because he is not loved he refuses to love in return. In order to acquire a fine personality, a child must feel himself a worthy and wanted member of the family. A child needs to feel secure. Without security he is cheated, and a cheated child is a future delinquent. Parents who really love one another and who are considerate of one another and avoid harshness naturally provide the best background for the child's security. The shrewish, nagging, domineering mother will stunt the growth of a child's life. The proud, arrogant, sawdust-Caesar-like father, who rules his home with dictatorial edicts, will set a pattern for his child's later love life. Knowingly or unknowingly, we become like those with whom we live and associate.

Another extremely important matter in the growing love life of a child is the proper attitude toward sex. The vast majority of children will grow up, choose a mate, and find in marriage the fulfillment of a real vocation. How successful this venture will be will depend upon a sensible sex education in the home. Growing up in a home where there are condemnation and embarrassed looks when the child asks the normal questions about sex and questions concerning life's beginnings, as if it were something terribly unclean and sinful, tends to make of it a personality problem. Curiosity is merely whetted by such mid-Victorian attitudes and the child will seek information elsewhere. Parents actually warp a child's sex life by their attitude of evasion or embarrassment when sex is mentioned. It suffices to say here that the best Catholic authorities assert that parents should avoid the extremes of prudishness on one hand and vulgarity of detail on the other. Pope Pius XI, in the Encyclical letter "On Christian Education of Youth," pointed out the duty of parents to instruct their sons and daughters in sex matters when they are requested to do so by their offspring.

Sex questions should then be answered directly and reverently. The way in which parents handle this problem may affect their children and their children's children for generations.

Still another way the love life of a child or teen-ager may be permanently affected is that by which a selfish mother or father resents sharing the child's affection with friends and playmates. A mother who emotionally ties a child to her apron strings does that individual a great injury. Obstacles placed in the way of a child's development in normal friendships can later turn out to be a real booby trap. Parents should endeavor to develop in their children, from early years, a wide range of friendships with other children of both sexes. The mother who boasts that she is her "son's best girl" and who is eternally berating all girls as flirts, and who, to her daughter, pictures all men as "wolves," does her offspring a disservice. The teen-ager's normal adjustment may be impaired or irreparably damaged by such conduct.

Let us now consider some of the different manifestations of love. There is, as we all know, such a thing as a deep love of country; there is the love in friendship such as that which existed between Jonathan and David and between Our Lord and Saint John; there is filial love such as exists between a child and its parents; there is romantic love such as exists between two lovers; and nuptial love-- that which exists between a man and his wife.

Common sense tells us that in each of the above cited examples, the love is different. For instance, the simpler love in friendship is more or less restricted in external expression, for while there is genuine esteem and deep regard, we do not kiss or fondle all our friends. Again, the love that exists between members of the family, while much more demonstrative, has definite natural limits. A mother will have as deep and abiding a love for her child as she has for her husband, but the difference lies in the fact that her love for her husband is flavored by sexual attraction. The romantic lovers will love their parents, brothers, and sisters, but the love between themselves is the sexually flavored variety. And sexual attraction is a normal, natural, healthy desire, created by God Himself, without which few men and women would desire to marry and have children. Frankly, without sex attraction the human race would soon die out.

A deep understanding of the different kinds of love will keep parents from making the mistake of resenting the romantic love of sons and daughters. The new love will not extinguish filial love, it will strengthen it.

Romantic love is such a subtle thing that human intelligence must be assisted by divine grace to be able to discern the true from the false. Few realize that true love is, as defined by Webster, "a desire for and earnest effort to promote the welfare of another," and not simply another name for external manifestations of affection and sex satisfaction. Nuptial love that is built on passion alone is doomed to failure. Almost all passions are temporary by nature. We know from experience that the passion of anger, for instance, is rarely able to be sustained at a high pitch. Once we "get even" with our enemy, the force of the rage is spent. The same is true of love as a passion, for from this point of view the chief pleasure is in anticipation and once its object is attained it may wane and even pall. Marriage must be built on a much firmer basis.

A happy marriage depends on one's early education in what real love is and what it is not, and what its end and object are. A happy marriage depends too on one's capacity during courtship to discern true love from mere infatuation. Love whets the appetite; infatuation leaves hunger still.

"Love hath its seat In reason and is judicious,"

says Milton, while infatuation directs action without reason and precludes judgment. Love is a learned quality; infatuation is a play of humor in the blood. Infatuation can even be a one-sided affair, but not so, love, for as the Italian proverb says, "To love and not be loved is time lost." One strives in vain to light a cigarette from a dead coal.

A doctor of medicine, a close friend of mine, and I were discussing a young man, a problem child, in whose case we had both become concerned. I ventured to suggest that what really ailed the boy was that "he had a touch of love." "You ought to know better than that," said the doctor. "Love is like diabetes. There is no such thing as a touch of it. You have it or you don't have it."

Granted that one knows when he or she is in love, is there no infallible way of telling the genuine from the unreasonable facsimile? I'm afraid not, but I hasten to say that you can be morally certain your love is true and genuine if you find gentleness, beauty, refinement, generosity and intelligence and a reciprocal love made up of all these qualities and one that outdistances your love, day by day, month by month. What? No sex? Yes, indeed, but when two persons are really in love and that love is genuine, the sex feelings are so controlled that, without realizing it, they find great pleasure merely in being in one another's company.

Newell W. Edson of the American Social Hygiene Association, in a pamphlet entitled "Love in the Making," has listed the following signs as indicative of true love:

1. A genuine interest in the other person and all that he or she says or does.

2. A community of tastes, ideals, and standards with no serious clashes.

3. A greater happiness in being with this one person than with any other.

4. A real unhappiness when the other person is absent.

5. A great feeling of comradeship.

6. A willingness to give and take.

7. A disposition to give fair consideration to the other party's judgment.

8. A pride in the other person when comparisons are made.

9. A wealth of things to say and do together.

Mr. Edson neglected to mention something that I consider a most indicative sign of love, and that is a willingness to sacrifice oneself for another--to sacrifice something prized by the giver. Sacrifice stimulates love while expressing it. It was Antoine de Saint-Exupery, I think, who said: "The mother gives nourishment from her own body for her child. By her giving she creates her love. To create love we must begin by sacrifice. Afterwards it is love that makes the sacrifices. But it is we who must take the first step."

Emerson sums up the whole problem in his own inimitable way as follows: "All that is in the world, which is or ought to be known, is cunningly wrought into the texture of man and woman:

The person love does to us fit Like Manna, has the taste of all in it."

Upon parents, teachers, and clergy alike falls the grave obligation of forewarning and forearming teen-age youths against the folly of permitting themselves to "go steady" during high-school years. Youth must be taught the dangers of this procedure well in advance of its actuality, for once the love-bug gets them they become blind to reason and deaf to admonition. Teen-agers must be shown that the wisdom of nature must be respected and that ventures into love demand maturity--physical, intellectual, and emotional maturity. The bird does not leave the nest until its wings are grown strong enough to carry it. The chrysalis does not tear open until there are wings to take the tiny insect aloft. Teen- agers likewise ought to wait until they are of proper age before going steady or being allowed to do so.

My experience with adolescents has been that under ordinary circumstances, they react favorably to logic. For instance, few teen-agers would let themselves fall in love during their high- school years if they knew that more than sixty-nine per cent of those who were madly in love during that period of their lives did not marry the object of this youthful affection at or after the age of twenty-one. This proves simply that a person at twenty-one has a different sense of values than at, say, sixteen or seventeen.

No youth would fail to condemn the folly of a sixteen-year-old lad who had set his heart on a red convertible coupe and had gone so far as to have a car salesman give him several road demonstrations, but who at the same time had no money to buy a car, no money for its upkeep, no place to keep a car, and, lastly, couldn't drive a car. Now, applying the same reasoning to steady- company-keeping by minors, it is easy to point out the utter folly of permitting themselves to fall in love until they are old enough to distinguish real love from mere infatuation; until they are mature enough to assume the complex and responsible duty of parenthood; and until they have the income sufficient to establish and maintain a home. Teenagers should ponder the wisdom of the words of Owen Felltham, who warns that "love is never lasting which flames before it burns."

A person may not vote until his twenty-first birthday has been reached. Now, this legislation was enacted simply because the politicians felt that anyone younger lacked mature judgment. Anyone who is too immature to vote is too immature to choose a life partner. There are physical reasons also involved in such a decision. The Germans, according to Julius Caesar, ruled that the act of reproduction in marriage was not permitted to anyone under twenty-one without incurring infamy: and to this he attributed the great strength and fine stature of that simple people.

But is it possible to keep from falling in love? It is, if kissing and petting are not indulged in, no endearing terms expressed through little intimacies, no gifts exchanged, and no confession of love made. It's just as simple as all that. Ovid, a writer in ancient times, said "Love gives place to business. Attend to business and you will be safe."

It is a wise thing to have a few, good, well-founded principles to guide you when about to choose a mate. One of those principles should be that beauty of face and figure will not be the sole motivating factor in your choice. Remember that "you can never tell the depth of the well by the length of the handle on the pump." A ready smile, a bright mind, a pleasing personality, a courteous manner are all more important than a pretty face. All the flaunted beauty of certain screen actresses and actors has not served so well in keeping them happily married.

To those who are intellectually, physically, vocationally, and emotionally mature enough to fall in love, we say emphatically that enduring love is ever built on virtue which cannot be seen in the other person at once. Long acquaintanceship--one to five years--has better prospects than "love at first sight." Above all, we remind them that many more qualities than the severely practical go into the composition of married life and home building. Abstract traits are beautiful and indispensable, but:

Will the love that you are rich in Build a fire in the kitchen Or the little god of Love turn the spit, spit, spit?

Flour is the chief and most quantitative ingredient in a good cake, but flour alone won't make a cake. You also need baking powder, salt, sugar, shortening, eggs and milk, a lot of sifting and mixing, a smooth batter, and just the right amount of heat. Love is the chief ingredient requisite for a happy marriage but not the only one. A good many other things go into the making of a happy marriage, especially in these modern times with changing attitudes. Speaking of recipes, here is an old grandmother's recipe that has a lot of wisdom in it:

"When once you have made your selection, let it remain forever settled and give your entire thoughts to preparation for domestic use. Some wives keep their husbands in pickle, others in hot water. Even poor varieties may be made sweet, tender and good by garnishing with patience, well sweetened with smiles and flavored with kisses. Wrap in a mantle of charity, keep warm with a steady fire of domestic devotion. Serve often with peaches and cream. When thus prepared, husbands will keep for years."

But getting back to our main topic--love--most readers will agree wholeheartedly with what we have stated thus far. There will be perfect agreement with the tenet that a person ought to know what real love is and be so well grounded in the knowledge that the true can be easily detected from the false. Sound advice, all this is, for those who have not yet entered holy wedlock, but what about those already married who find the fires of love reduced to but smoldering embers, if not, as some protest, gone out completely?

To such persons we say that were it not within the power of man to "will to love," there would be no solution to such a problem and most marriages would rarely remain happy for more than a few years at best. That it is not impossible to foster love for one's husband or wife is being proven daily by thousands of thoughtful men and women who, while disillusioned as to the fitness of their match, nevertheless have forced themselves to look for the good and noble in each other, with the amazing result that a new understanding and respect has grown up between them.

No matter who it is, there is some loveliness in everyone that lurks undiscovered, and patient, kindly exploration will render it easily discernible and upon this a new comradeship can be born and fostered. Always remember that the great bridge that now spans Niagara Falls first began with the spreading from side to side of a tiny wire. The wire was used to haul across a rope and at the end of the rope was a heavy cable, and so on until a bridge was begun that today supports the traffic of trains, cars, and honeymooners. The point is that someone had to will that a bridge be built across Niagara Falls and from that will flowed the determination that provided the means for overcoming what appeared at first to be insurmountable obstacles. The same holds true in marriage, and while one or both parties may not experience all the rapturous moments of happiness that they might have had had they chosen their life partner more wisely, consider that few marriages are a tale of uninterrupted bliss.

That everyone has within him the power "to will to love" is proved by the fact that in certain countries, in the past, there was no free choices of mates, and yet such a deep sense of the duty of loving was taught in the home--and not only a great and high sense of duty but the grandeur of loving--that the husband and wife usually managed to make a good job of mutually respecting one another. So successful was this sort of thing that some wag--Lyttleton or Shaftesbury, I think--said: "Marriages would be happier if they were all arranged by the Lord Chancellor."

The person who says, "I do not love my wife or my husband any more," acknowledges simply that "the will to love" is absent. Such a person lacks good sportsmanship too, for a good sport will take pride in succeeding in every adventure, and marriage is one of life's chief adventures. Morton puts it this way: "In love, as in religion, faith worketh miracles."

Whatever you do, give love time. "Love," says Blucher, "is the river of life in this world. Think not that ye know it who stand at the little tinkling rill, the first small fountain. Not until you have gone through the rocky gorges and not lost the stream; not until you have gone through the meadow and the stream has widened and deepened until fleets could ride on its bosom; not until beyond the meadow you have come to the unfathomable ocean, and poured your treasures into its depths--not until then can you know what love is!"

And the measure of love? Mrs. Browning gave the world a wondrous formula:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight For the ends of Being and Ideal Grace. I love thee to the level of everyday's Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight. I love thee freely, as men strive for Right; I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise. I love thee with the passion put to use, In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith; I love thee with a love I seemed to lose With my lost saints,--I love thee with the breath, Smiles, tears, of all my life!--and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death.[1]

There is every reason to believe that all the ancient Jewish customs were observed at the marriage in Cana. If that be true, Our Blessed Lord and His Virgin Mother witnessed a most significant reminder of the fragility of love. According to custom, from time to time during Jewish wedding feasts, someone would put somewhat of a check on the joyous festivities by shattering the wine glasses of the happy pair.[2] The idea was to remind the bride and the groom that all felicity is subject to instability, and that love, like a glass once dashed to the ground, could be shattered into a thousand pieces--and were repair possible, the cracks would always show.

In this, as in so many other ways, the lessons of Cana are tremendous and Cana Is Forever.


1. Sonnets from the Portuguese.

2. "Fortuna vitrea est, tum quum splendet frangitur"--Publius Syrus--see Berachot F. 31. 1. "The Christ--The Son of God," by the Abbe Constant Fouard (I, p. 193).


I read somewhere about an old prospector who discovered a gold mine which he later sold for more than ten million dollars. The story related how the miner came to a certain spot and threw down his pick, remarking: "Where my pick falls, I'll dig for gold." What the story did not make clear was that it took him forty years to find the right spot to throw the pick.

Success that results from mere chance is extremely rare and this is doubly true in the matter of matrimony. There are those who, when they see a happily wedded couple whose marriage has made them eloquent in love, believe it to be solely the result of a lucky meeting, a decent courtship, and an adequate period of engagement. Believe me, these are but a few of the many ingredients that go into the making for happiness and success in marriage. But marriage is not nearly as much of a gamble as some would have you believe. It does not belong in the lottery class. It is definitely an open-and-shut proposition. How marriage turns out is the exact working out of cause and effect. What you bring to marriage and what your mate brings to marriage will determine its success or failure. Therein lies the importance of remote preparation.

It is sheer folly to attempt to build a massive superstructure on a weak foundation. That was dramatically proved when the Saint Francis Dam in Southern California collapsed a few years ago and the waters it was built to hold back rushed down the valley, causing terrific loss of life and property. Here was a case of faulty foundation construction. When a marriage collapses, the blame most frequently may be traced to a faulty foundation--a faulty remote or long distance preparation.

Being the right kind of person is as important as finding the right person to marry. But being the right kind of person depends not only upon what you have made of yourself or upon whether the influence exerted by other persons and circumstances has been good or bad but also upon that with which you began life. When Victor Hugo said, "To reform a man, you must begin with his grandmother," he enunciated a principle that opens up fields for speculation. Naturally, whatever is said here concerning heredity, environment, social and moral development, applies equally to the one you have already wed or whom you will eventually marry. Consideration of these matters when judging yourself or another may clear up some of life's complexities.

Your life began with a single cell. That cell divided in two, the two cells divided and became four, the four cells divided and became eight, the eight became sixteen until as a single individual you represent a total of some thirty thousand million or more cells. The single cell in the fertilized ovum or egg from which you started increased in weight more than seven million times in nine months.

More marvelous still is the fact that the single original cell from which you began--a cell no bigger than the head of a pin -- contained forty-eight chromosomes each with its genes derived partly from your mother and partly from your father--passed on to them through the generations--and determining your features, traits, and even the color of your eyes. With all this in mind, one is confronted with the intricate and staggering force of heredity.

Out of the dim past every child brings a two-fold deposit: an ancestral and a racial inheritance. Scientists claim that the ancestral inheritance is determined by the individual maternal and paternal cells which unite to form one from which the new life begins. Mendel explained in his theory of heredity that "the offspring is not intermediate in type between its parents but the type of one or the other parent is predominant." It is the idea of continuity, the steady flow from the past into the future, that every married person or anyone contemplating marriage must strive to understand, if he or she is to grasp the significance of the vastness of the problem of differentiation between one man and another and one woman and another and cooperate with it intelligently.

Heritable traits are admitted in animals. A brood mare which has developed a mean streak or trickiness will be promptly removed from the breeding stables by a wise horseman because he knows that such traits will show up in the colts. In human beings heritable traits are frequently totally discounted. Most authorities agree that a normal healthy baby inherits nothing but (1) a fear of noise and a fear of falling, (2) a capacity to learn, (3) physical characteristics, and (4) a certain glandular mechanism, and they drop the matter right there.

Too few of the authorities, I fear, grasp the far-reaching effects that good or bad glandular mechanisms play in determining what sort of a person we are or become or their effect on our relations with others with whom we live. An over-active thyroid gland in a pregnant mother may be transmitted to her child, and such a transmission will certainly produce nervousness and irritability. Who can determine the extent of the effect that such nervousness and irritableness will have upon that mother-child relationship and upon other relationships?

What has been said of the thyroid gland might be said of the other glands. Preponderance of activity or underactivity of even one gland will upset the balance of the whole system. All of us have seen side-show freaks. They became bearded ladies, giants, dwarfs, or fat monstrosities because of defective glands, glands that were in many cases transmitted to them from their parents.

There is nearly perfect agreement among geneticists that, (1) close relatives should not marry since such individuals draw their genes from the same common ancestral sources and there is grave risk that defective genes may simply be duplicated and (2) that persons not related but whose family records show similar defects ought not consider marriage together, since they would bring to their union the same trends toward hereditary evils. How well your ancestors and mine observed those principles has determined what sort of persons we are today.

Not many people stop to realize the profound influence of ancestry on their present status. The person who has such soft bones as to be crippled or partially incapacitated, the young man or woman whose whole life has been influenced and inhibited due to unsightly, decaying teeth, most likely can trace these defects to a physically incapable or downright careless mother who paid no attention to her diet during pregnancy, and so her blood was non- productive of the calcium and silicon necessary for good bone and dental structure. The fault might not even be the mother's, but the grandmother's. The ultimate effect of these bad teeth might be to alter one's whole personality, close certain professions to that person, and generally affect his relations with others. Indeed, heredity plays a most important part in one's life. Remember this when you come to choose a mate. The prudent choice should be made in the light of your own heritable physical make-up and that of your mate.

Present-day authorities on genetics have the annoying habit of blandly and unequivocally stating with all the finality imaginable that every baby starts at zero and comes into the world with no heritable traits. They claim that environment alone is to blame for what a child turns out to be. Then they qualify this statement. For instance, they hold that a child is born into this world with a hereditary fear of noise and a fear of falling. If two traits are hereditary, why not twenty-two?

Amram Scheinfeld, in his famous book, "You and Heredity,"[1] goes to any lengths to disprove hereditary influences, but yet he admits that excessive smoking, drinking, or drug addiction may reach the unborn baby through the mother and cause harmful and even disastrous effects. Heavy drinking, he claims, can cause malformation; excessive use of quinine can cause deafness in the baby; while addiction to morphine or opium to a point where the mother's tissues are saturated with such drugs, may cause the baby to come into the world as a drug addict. More amazing still is this statement by Scheinfeld--the ardent anti-hereditarian: "From the very first instant--we might say even before conception--both heredity and environment are at work."

Much has yet to be explained by the scientists before we have a complete picture of the matter of physical heritable traits. Can it be that our physical side is so plastic that an unborn baby can be affected by what enters its mother's mind through her senses? We have all heard of disfiguring blemishes and birthmarks that were said to have resulted to the unborn baby by its mother having seen a frightening object. Medical authorities today reject this as utterly untenable.

However, before dismissing such things as physical impossibilities, it would be well to read the thirtieth chapter of Genesis, beginning at the thirty-second verse. The story found therein tells how Jacob, after making an agreement with Laban to accept "all the sheep of divers colours and speckled: and all that is brown and spotted, and of divers colours, as well among the sheep, as among the goats, shall be my wages," proceeded to increase the number of spotted and speckled animals by this most ingenious method.

"And Jacob took green rods of poplar and of almond, and of plane trees, and pilled them in part: so when the bark was taken off, in the parts that were pilled, there appeared whiteness: but the parts that were whole remained green. And by this means the colour was divers. And he put them in the troughs, where the water was poured out: that when the flocks should come to drink, they might have the rods before their eves, and in the sight of them might conceive.

"And it came to pass . . . the sheep beheld the rods and brought forth spotted, and divers colours, and speckled." The same process worked for the goats too, and the Sacred Writer adds that "the man was enriched exceedingly."

Unanswerable as the problem is of whether or not what enters a mother's mind through her senses can affect an unborn child and alter its physical development, a greater problem is presented if we ask whether or not the very thoughts and desires of parents can affect the unborn. Yet Dr. H. S. Pomeroy makes this curious observation: "For twenty years I have made a study of first-born children, and I am satisfied that it is one of the laws of heredity that they should resemble the father. The reason for this appears to be that in a happy marriage the husband is, during the first year, an object of peculiar interest and admiration to the wife: she thinks of him rather than herself and her child is patterned after the model she has before her. The second child, under favorable circumstances, usually resembles the mother, for the reason that, having already one child like the father, both parents unite in the desire that the second child be like the mother. When the first child resembles the mother markedly, it is occasionally difficult to account for it, but usually it will be found that the wife is innately selfish, intraverted, or was led to think of herself rather than her husband."[2]

Dr. Pomeroy, by the way, goes all out for the passing on of hereditary traits from parents to child. "It is," he writes, "an established fact that the children of drunken parents will furnish a much greater percentage of inebriates than will the children of temperate ones. It is known that 'love children' are particularly difficult to bring up in paths of virtue."

The above has not been included in this essay to supply you with a ready answer to someone's dubious query of "How do you get that way?", but simply to point up the fact that although one is not born with a ready-made personality, many potentialities of one's character and personality may possibly have been established before birth. You were born with a certain kind of body--thin or fat, strong or weak, active or sluggish, insensitive or responsive, and those things affected your output of energy, push, indefatigability, and these formed the physical foundation to your personality. The kind of body you have today is in no small way the result of good or bad heredity. Sallust once remarked that "the glory of ancestors sheds a light around posterity: it allows neither their good nor bad qualities to remain in obscurity."

Be all this as it may, both those who differ on the question of more or less potent transmission of heritable traits from one's ancestors and those who contend that the human individual starts only with the union of sperm and ovum, all agree that every newborn babe is a potential saint or sinner, a scoundrel or an ornament to society, a joy or a heartache to its parents. What the newborn babe will eventually become depends in a great part upon certain external forces or factors and upon its own internal mechanisms, plus the grace of God and the individual's cooperation with it.

The growth of the human child is divided into three main periods: infancy, childhood, and adolescence. From birth to the end of the first nine months represents early infancy; and from nine months to two years later infancy. From two years to six years we have early childhood, while from six to thirteen, later childhood. From about thirteen years to sixteen is termed early adolescence, and from sixteen years to maturity is called later adolescence. From the day an infant is born it requires parents to love, nourish, and teach it, and good religious and social environment to give it a chance, for human behavior is made and not born. Human beings are unbelievably complex things, constantly played upon by numerous forces.

So much stress is laid on personality today that one is said to succeed with it and to be a failure without it. Certainly, no one is born with a definite personality. In fact, you had so little individual personality at your birth that had you been accidentally mixed up with other newly born infants neither your own father nor mother could have pointed you out. Today your mother or father could pick you out of ten millions of people. What makes you you? Evelyn Duvall and Reuben Hill wrap the answer up very neatly in the following quote: "What makes you you depends upon years of responding to life's situations. Your personality is made up of many things: the kind of body you started with, the type of home you were born into, the sort of people you had to associate with, the way you have been brought up and the things you have learned and, most important of all, how you felt and acted about them. Your personality is the sum total of the characteristic ways of feeling, responding, and behaving, which determine your place in society."[3]

Let us examine some of the above-mentioned influences in detail.

The kind of body with which you started. Having already gone into this matter, it suffices here to say that your personality was affected by circumstances that even preceded your birth. The very way in which you were attached to the womb of your mother had something to do with your development. T. Wingate Todd asserts that "many low-grade mentalities are not instances of hereditary feeble-mindedness but examples of defect in brain development induced by mal-nurture during pre-natal and post-natal life.[4] The quality and quantity of food, the balanced or unbalanced diet of the mother, partial starvation or overfeeding; in short, whether your life was one of comfort, of luxury or hardship, made for gross differentiation in your personality and profoundly influenced it.

The type of home into which you were born. Your body was your primary environment. Your home was your secondary environment, and it influenced your present personality in no small way. If you were born to a family which dwelt in the country you absorbed different ideas about life than you would have, had you been born to city folk. Having been born and brought up in a squalid tenement section of a large city would have differentiated your social influence from a person who was born to a multimillionaire's residence on Park Avenue. In a word, you share the status of your family's standing in your neighborhood and your community. Where you actually dwell is more significant than perhaps you think. Would you be surprised if I were to tell you that sixty-three per cent of people marry someone who lives within eight blocks of where they live? Thus, such a trifling thing as where you dwell will have its influence upon whom you marry, and where you live once you are married will have its influence upon your children. It seems that there is something to what Alexander Smith once said: "Trifles make up the happiness or misery of mortal life."

How your parents acted toward each other and toward you has had a great influence upon your personality development. If your parents made a success of their marriage, the chances are good for your making a success of yours.

The basis for your marriage has been laid in your own home and the example you there absorbed will be the basis of your own happiness in that career. It is not pure accident that for generations, in certain families, there have been no divorces or unhappy marriages. The influence of family background, traditions, and ideals is powerful. According to leading sociologists, psychologists, clergymen, and others best fitted to know, it has been pointed out that there is a close relationship between childhood impressions of family life and the achievement of married happiness as an adult. The happier the recollections of the parents' marriage, the better the chances of happiness in the child's subsequent wedlock.

In a revealing article by Barbara Benson in the February, 1947, issue of "The Ladies' Home Journal," entitled "Would You Marry Your Husband Again?", a new nationwide survey shows that from persons whose marriage turned out better than they expected, fifty-seven per cent say their parents' marriages were very happy, too. In contrast, among the people whose marriage has been a disappointment, only one in three (thirty-six per cent) recalls his parents' marriage as a happy one. Note the evidence of the power of example! This indicates, too, that care should be taken to avoid marrying a person whose parents failed in marriage. The cards are stacked against you!

Such a trifling thing as the memory of a mother, on the one hand, loving her home and enjoying her role as housekeeper, or the memory of a mother, on the other hand, who constantly protested and groaned about the slavery of housekeeping, may spell the difference between your liking or despising housekeeping and be the cause of your present urge to be a career woman.

Your personality has been affected for good or for evil by the differences in familial relationships. Psychologists now all agree that the feeling of being wanted, being loved, and having a place in your own world constituted a fundamental need in your life even from infancy. Perhaps I can best explain this with an example. Some years ago a father and mother came to me regarding what they termed their problem boy, Dore, an eighteen- year-old son, who had become defiant, sulky, uncompanionable. The boy had no interest in sports and just wanted to be left alone.

As the parents told their story, the reason for their son's strange behavior became evident. When their son was born they wanted a girl, and they could not conceal their disappointment. From the very beginning they began to treat him as if he were a girl. They chose a name as nearly feminine as possible. The gentlest companions were picked for him and rough games were roundly discouraged.

Naturally, at eighteen, Dore did not fit into sports, and in an endeavor to give himself something in the way of toughness, he developed the habit of vile language and of drinking. The defiance of parental direction and authority was a natural result of this attempt to gain an appearance of manhood.

Dore's parents were taken aback when I pointed out that they and they alone were responsible for what they termed their "problem child." He was simply an example of what happens when the feeling of not being wanted is present in a child's mind and heart.

The way you have been brought up. Every child is a very complex human being. Hence the problems of development are by no means simple. Every infant born into the world is a bundle of potentialities, and how the various potentialities will develop depends to a large extent upon environmental factors--in the child's case these are largely the personalities with whom he comes in contact. "During infancy," says Mary E. Spencer, Ph.D., "and the pre-school years, the patterns of development are well outlined. The foundation of what the child will become has already been laid. This ground structure may evidence careful planning and well-defined outlines. Or it may have been built hit or miss, with supports too weak to carry a superstructure of any lasting value. Or the masonry may be very shoddy, giving evidences of poor workmanship, as we review the foundation work on which the later personality and character building are to rest." This line of reasoning seems to be borne out by the following story.

Some time ago a New York Sunday paper ran a full-page story concerning a sensitive plant which would respond to the most delicate outside movement. The article was strikingly entitled "Even a Good Holler Scares These Sensitive Plants." The author pointed out that the rumble of a passing automobile or a gust of wind or the heat from a match would cause the small light blue flower to collapse. Luther Burbank was cognizant of this, too. He claimed that all plants were sensitive and would become unconscious in the presence of ether. He would never hire a man who used alcohol or who smoked because plants were affected by the odor of both alcohol and tobacco.

Never did the great horticulturist discuss the delicate nature of plants without asserting that while they responded to the most delicate outside influences, a child was infinitely more sensitive. "A child," Burbank would say, "is as sensitive to outside influences and forces as a seismograph is sensitive to an earthquake which is ten thousand miles away."[5]

Some authorities maintain that a tiny infant is influenced by angry and bitter talk indulged in by its parents in its presence. A baby in its mother's arms is said to acquire a lasting fear of lightning, simply by feeling the trembling of the mother as she clasps the little one to her breast. Baseless fears resulting from feelings of suffocation, or pains and clutching sensations suffered in adult life, have been traced back to times in early childhood when the senseless punishment of being locked in a closet was administered by an irate parent. Do you understand now what I mean when I say that external forces contrive to make each of us what we are? Those good or bad forces will make us good or bad risks in marriage years hence.

The delaying of the development of self-reliance likewise can be destructive of essential character formation. While it is true that the human child has the longest term of infancy of any living creature, nevertheless it must gradually be taught to acquire independence if it is to develop normally. Much damage is done to the child in its early formative years by the faith parents have in their protective powers over their offspring and the tendency from force of habit to think of them as much more immature than they are. This robs the child of the opportunity to take care of itself and of the enjoyment of assuming responsibilities.

Catherine Cox Miles, Yale psychologist, states: "There is nothing more important we can do for children than give them all the responsibility their shoulders can bear. As a result, in manhood and womanhood, whether they are building a building, running a farm or business, becoming president of a club, leading a community drive, editing a magazine, inventing an engine, writing a book, or managing their marriage, home, and children, they will be able to handle the responsibilities of these jobs from the sheer momentum of habit."

The things you learned, how you felt about them and reacted to them. Educational experiences are among the strongest environmental influences affecting one's life. What you are or will be depends in no small way on how you were trained and what you were taught. Samuel Johnson once wrote: "Every man is a worse man in proportion as he is unfit for the married state," and no person is fit to marry who lacks a good sound intellectual, social, moral, and religious training.

Pope Pius XI, in his famous Encyclical letter, "On Christian Marriage," stresses the importance of a long-range moral preparation for matrimony in the following words:

"For it cannot be denied that the basis of a happy wedlock, and the ruin of an unhappy one, is prepared and set in the souls of boys and girls during the period of childhood and adolescence. There is danger that those who before marriage sought in all things what is theirs, will be in the married state what they were before, that they will reap what they have sown; indeed, within the homes there will be sadness, lamentation, mutual contempt, strifes, estrangements, weariness of common life, and worst of all, such parties will find themselves left alone with their own unconquered passions."

From the Pontiff's words it is obvious that one who has acquired and practiced the Seven Great Virtues of Faith, Hope, Charity, Temperance, Prudence, Fortitude, and Justice, and the Ten Little Natural Moral Virtues of Tact, Order, Courtesy, Punctuality, Sincerity, Unbiased Judgment, the Good Use of Time, Cheerfulness, Loyalty, and Caution in Speech, will certainly make a success of the matrimonial career. On the other hand, what marriage could be happy where one or both of the mates bring to their union souls steeped in habits resulting from frequent commissions of the Seven Deadly or Capital Sins--namely, Pride, Covetousness, Lust, Anger, Gluttony, Envy, and Sloth? The scale of marital happiness tips toward that in which one's soul inclines.

Need we stress the well-known fact that a person will be after marriage what he was before it? For instance, a young man who was inordinately proud as a child and teen-ager will most certainly be an arrogant and domineering husband, for pride is not founded on the sense of happiness but on the sense of power. "Unwarranted pride," as Johnson puts it, "is seldom delicate. It will please itself with very mean advantages." What is true of sinful pride is true of all the other Capital Sins. What chance for happiness has a girl who marries a drunkard or one whose temper is uncontrollable? Pope Pius XI, as noted before, warns against marrying one whose weakness is lust, for he said: "There is danger that those who before marriage indulged their impure desires, will be in marriage what they were before and they will reap what they have sown . . . worst of all such parties will find themselves left alone with their own unconquered passions."

A survey made several years ago of the real causes of unhappiness, separations, and civil divorces is most revealing. I say real causes, because in most cases the excuses given in the courts are not the real causes at all but the required legal grounds for civil suits. Here follows the list of the true causes of unhappiness or failure in marriage:

On the part of the wife: Extravagance Dirty--untidy home Unattractive person Accepting attention of other men or outright infidelity Resentment of father's discipline of children Too much time spent with mother Accepting advice of neighbors Nagging or disparaging the husband Indifference to the husband Not being tactful or feminine Drunkenness

On the part of the husband: Stinginess Interference in household management Gloominess Lack of consideration Lack of love-making and kindness Living with relations Drunkenness Vulgarity or slovenly habits Infidelity Laziness

It would be interesting and worth while to write in alongside each of these items the deadly sins that caused it or the different virtues it violates. For instance, laziness is the result of the sin of sloth; and drunkenness the sin of gluttony and the lack of the virtue of temperance. Such an exercise will make the poet's lines more understandable.

We make the world we live in: and we weave About us webs of good or ill, which leave Their impress on our souls.

Strength or weakness of will, its training or the lack of it, may spell the difference between being a good marriage risk or a bad one. Pope Pius XI, in his great Encyclical letter "On Education," wisely stated that:

"The inclinations of the will, if they are bad, must be repressed from childhood, but such as are good must be fostered, and the mind, particularly of children, should be imbued with doctrines which begin with God, while the heart should be strengthened with the aids of Divine grace, in the absence of which none can curb their evil desires, nor can their discipline and formation be brought to complete perfection by the Church, which Christ has so provided with heavenly doctrines and Divine Sacraments, as to make her an effectual teacher of men."

There is no gainsaying the fact that there is a vast difference between what you could have learned and what you did learn, and a vast difference between how you were trained and how you could have been trained--between what you are today and what you could or can be. While it is true that you are the product of your environment, nevertheless if your parents were remiss, you don't have to remain a sensitive, anti-social, immoral, frightened, irreligious, or nervous person. As the Chinese say, "You can't stop the birds from flying overhead but you can prevent them from building their nests in your hair." You can force yourself to change. You can learn new things and form new and better habits. There is no limit to what determination, love, and the grace of God can do.

The kind of marriage you make depends on the kind of person you are and the kind of person your mate is. The success or failure of your marriage will depend in a large measure on what each one of you brings to that union. What each of you brings to marriage likewise depends on the kind of remote preparation each has made for wedlock. Regarding this foundation,

"Build it well, whate'er you do; Build it straight and strong and true; Build it clean and high and broad; Build it for the eye of God."

When Our Lord went to Cana for the marriage feast, it is assumed that He arrived in time for the great procession which formed such a colorful and important part of the ceremony. According to custom, the marriage procession always began late on Tuesday night and was made up of a troop of singers, their voices mingling with the notes of the flute and the clash of tambourines, with, last of all, the bridegroom, gloriously clad, his forehead wreathed with a golden turban entwined with myrtle and roses. About him marched his ten friends called "sons of the groom," holding palm branches in their hands while the kinsmen acting as his escort bore lighted torches. Arriving at the home of the bride, the bridegroom and his companions entered within and, taking her by the hand, escorted her to the threshold, there to receive the tablet of stone on which was inscribed the dowry. This done, the whole party left for the home of the bridegroom.

At Cana, as in every ancient Jewish marriage, the receiving of the tablets of stone on which were inscribed the dowry formed an important part of the wedding. The dowry still forms an important part of every wedding--for Cana is forever. Today both the bride and groom bring a dowry to their marriage--a dowry made up of two individual personalities, each with its own particular history and background. Each dowry is made up of the sum total of good or bad environmental influences, good or bad habits, good or bad ideals, good or bad fundamental moral principles, good or bad religious background, or, in a word, the good or bad remote preparation for marriage.

By trifles in our common ways, Our characters are slowly piled, We lose not all our yesterdays; The man has something of the child. Part of the past to all the present cleaves, As the rose-odors linger in the fading leaves.

In ceaseless toil, from year to year, Working with loath or willing hands, Stone upon stone we shape, we rear, Till the completed fabric stands, And when the hush hath all labor stilled, The searching fire will try what we have striven to build....[6]


1. Philadelphia, Pa.: J. B. Lippincott Co., 1939.

2. "The Ethics of Marriage," p. 114. New York: Funk and Wagnalls Co., 1888.

3. "When You Marry," Evelyn Millis Duvall and Reuben Hill, p. 4. New York: Association Press, 1945.

4. "Growth and Development," T. Wingate Todd. Cleveland: Brush Foundation Publications, 1930.

5. "More Stories in Sermons," William L. Stidger, p. 101. New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1944.

6. "The Building of Character," J. R. Miller, D.D. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1894.


"Choose your horse from a hundred, your friend from a thousand, and your wife from ten thousand." That is an Arabian proverb, and it is startling in its blunt annunciation of a patent truth. The choice of a life partner in marriage is a great and grave responsibility. It obligates one to love and serve another, to rear children and govern them, and, at the same time, to serve God with one's whole heart and soul and mind--works any one of which alone requires great faith and perseverance, and which, taken together, cannot be accomplished without special aid from Heaven.

To choose a life mate for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health until his or her death, is obviously a task that requires sane and sage judgment. So much depends on the right choice that a prayerful proximate preparation is imperative. Upon the choice of a husband or a wife depends happiness or bitter regrets during this life and even heaven or hell in the next.

Important as the remote preparation for marriage is, the proximate preparation is vastly more important, since it must serve as a novitiate for wedded life. Speaking of novitiate, I am reminded of the words of St. Francis de Sales, who said: "Marriage is an order where the profession is made before the novitiate," and then he adds this startling observation: "But if there was a year of trial or testing as is required before the profession of vows in monasteries, few would be professed."

St. Francis de Sales' observation has been borne out by a recent nation-wide survey made by a great American woman's magazine. The interviewers talked to a cross section of the country's married adults and found out that one married person in five doubted he or she chose the right partner and stated they would choose differently if given a second chance.

The importance of making a correct choice is stressed in Holy Scripture. Here are but a few salient quotations:

"Happy is the husband of a good wife, for the number of his years is double."

"A virtuous woman rejoices her husband; and he shall fulfill the years of his life in peace."

"It will be more agreeable to abide with a lion and a dragon than to dwell with a wicked woman."

"As the climbing of a sandy way is to the feet of the aged, so is a wife full of tongue to a quiet man."

"Roofs dropping through on a cold day, and a contentious woman, are alike."

Few readers will have experienced the calamity of having a roof fall in on them on a cold day, but I feel that the married reader of this page who steals a look across the room at the face of a belligerent wife, or at a sullen, gloomy husband whose face constantly bears the grieved look of an untipped waiter, will readily understand what the Holy Ghost had in mind.

Broken hearts and homes would be the rare exception if more serious thought was given to this matter of preparedness for wedlock. An adequate proximate preparation for marriage demands:

(1) A healthy moral and social teen-age development (2) Physical, intellectual, emotional, and vocational maturity (3) Prudence in choosing a potential mate (4) Persevering prayer for guidance (5) Parental counsel (6) Consultation with your pastor or confessor (7) A proper period of engagement

Some may wonder at the inclusion of teen-age development problems in a chapter dealing with proximate preparation for marriage, and the point is well taken until one considers that it is during the teen-age that many friendships are formed from which love and marriage later result. Again, since many of the virtues and vices acquired in the teen-age period find their way into marriage as good or evil habits, it can be readily seen that the teen-age can truly be said to be a part of the proximate preparation for marriage and the venture may succeed or fail according to what is blended in the joint alchemy of "keeping company."

A healthy moral and social teen-age development

Morality may be defined as "human conduct in so far as it is freely subordinated to the ideal of what is right and fitting," and the Church has always maintained that morality and religion are essentially connected. She contends that without religion the observance of the moral law is impossible. For this reason Holy Mother Church states that certain conditions are required for the growth and development of morality in the individual and the community, namely: (1) a right education of the young, (2) a healthy public opinion, and (3) sound legislation. Since we are primarily concerned here with right education of the young as it concerns morality, let us endeavor to find out what constitutes a solid basis for such an education.

According to the mind of Holy Mother Church, right education of the young includes the early training in the home as well as the subsequent years of school and college life. The family is the true school of morality and its good or bad effects will remain with one during the whole of life. It is in the home that we learn obedience, truthfulness, purity, and self-restraint and the other primary virtues. The Church also maintains that the best scholastic education is the one that is given in a moral and religious atmosphere. Morality and religion go hand in hand. Mark Hopkins once remarked that "Everywhere the tendency has been to separate religion from morality, to set them in opposition even. But religion without morality is a superstition and a curse; and anything like adequate and complete morality without religion is impossible. The only salvation for man is in the union of the two as Christianity unites them."[1] Father Joseph Roux, in Meditations of a Parish Priest, remarks that "morality is the fruit of religion: to desire morality without religion is to desire an orange without an orange tree." To the above we simply add the warning that morality will be terribly difficult for the person who does not pray.

Two persons who want to find success and happiness in the marriage career must bring to their marriage a healthy moral development founded on the teachings of the one true religion. G. A. Coe, writing in "Education in Religion and Morality,"[2] states that "the capacity for love between persons of the opposite sex, the beginning of which is the central fact of adolescent psychology, is usually treated as a matter of indifference to religion or else as a positive hindrance to spiritual development. Yet the worst evils are always perversions of the best goods. The higher sentiments that cluster about the relation of the sexes are, in their normal development, precisely the ones that constitute a spiritual as distinguished from an unspiritual life. The great unselfishness that knows no life except through losing its life is not an experience of childhood; it awaits adolescence, and it is an upshoot of our capacity for devoted love to a person of the opposite sex. So, also, it is love that refines away the grossness of our nature. It spreads through the life of lovers and is communicated to the whole of society."

From this quotation the reader may grasp something of the importance of what we have listed as a prime requisite for a healthy moral development--namely, the good moral education in the home or a good Catholic education in the school. Religion as a basis for morality is essential for good living. It was Jung, the psychiatrist, who said: "Among all my patients, there has not been one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a religious outlook on life. It is safe to say that every one of them fell ill because he had lost that which the living religion of every age has given to its followers, and none of them has been really healed who did not regain his religious outlook."[3]

All we have stated so far may be resolved into the following sentences:

Love, honor, obey and respect your parents. Attend Catholic schools. Learn your religion. Frequent the sacraments. Avoid the company of those without faith or those who criticize or scoff at religion. Base your morality on the teachings of the Church.

Before quitting this topic of morality, I feel I should say a few words on good manners, for good manners are nothing less than little morals. If not virtues themselves, they are shadows of virtues. Burke once said that "Manners are of more importance than laws. According to this quality, they aid morals, they supply laws, or they totally destroy them."

But what are good manners? One aspect is the art of putting others at their ease. The person who makes the fewest persons uncomfortable is the best-mannered. It is worthy of note that ill manners spring from vanity, ill-nature, want of sympathy, and want of common sense. Avoid the pitfall of being unmannerly yourself and above all avoid the company of a person who is ill- mannered.

Manners are not idle, but the fruit noble nature and of loyal mind.

I once read that "he is an ill-mannered man who is always loud in the praise of himself or his family; who, boasting of his rank, of his business, of his achievements in his calling, looks down upon lower orders of people; who cannot refrain from having his joke at the expense of another's character; who tries always to say the smart and cutting thing." That is not a bad observation and might be used as a yardstick to measure your own manners or the manners of others. Take care, however, not to confuse etiquette with good manners. The former is quite arbitrary, varies in different ages and places and, very often, is absurd; whereas good manners, founded as they are on common sense, are universally the same.

So much for morals (and manners). Let us turn our attention to the problem of social development. In this matter we shall confine our remarks to those things that promote a normal development of human love and to whatever prevents or degrades it.

We have already noted that every child passes through five definite stages on its way from the narcissistic tendency of self- worship to a covert interest in persons of the opposite sex. Psychiatrists term the last stage heterosexuality, which, along with gradual liberation from parental domination and preparation for a life career, make up the triune tasks of adolescence.

Heterosexuality is usually completed when the child reaches the age of fourteen or fifteen but there is no hard and fast rule concerning the exact age. With some it may come earlier and with others later. The important thing is that when the adolescent first feels the desire to seek the company of persons of the opposite sex, he must be aided by parental help and sympathy. Any parent who throws an iron curtain around a son or daughter in a shortsighted, selfish attempt to protect him, rather than to educate him for living, does more harm than good. Remember, the little boy of five who ran to his mother for protection from a belligerent female of four will suffer if the same sort of protection is forced upon him at sixteen, seventeen, or eighteen. His Catholic education, his frequentation of the Sacraments, his moral development should help him to stand on his own feet during his social development. This does not mean that youths should be turned loose with no supervision and no notice taken of the company they keep or the hours they come in at night. Far from it. It means simply that new and more advanced methods of achieving protection must be used in place of those employed when the child was of preschool or grammar-school age.

The moral development must be continued by all means with renewed zest during adolescence, for this is the very time in the youth's life when he or she is given to brooding Over religious misgivings. Such doubts and difficulties must be met with deep sympathy, patience, and frankness. The penny catechism method of question and answer must give way to meaningful concepts of sound moral and dogmatic essentials. Generalized religious teachings will be adequate for children up to teen-age, but from then on a specialized instruction is required if the adolescent is going to carry into adult life a knowledge of what is right and what is wrong and the development of the desire and determination to do right.

When adolescents begin high school it is time for them to know all the pitfalls and dangers of this period of life and the inadvisability of allowing their affections to be settled upon any one particular person. Should particular friendships develop at this time an interesting and distracting program of activities ought to be engaged in to divert attention, such as basketball games, tennis, handball, excursions, picnics, fishing, hunting, or photography.

The last two years in high school are particularly dangerous years. These might be termed the puppy-love years. Undue anxiety and opposition during this period then may do more harm than good. It is much more sensible to endeavor to launch the teen-age boy or girl into proper social contacts with those of the opposite sex.

The symptoms of the development of the romantic urge are usually quite obvious. When a boy starts to wash up to his wrists and down to his collar line, shines his shoes, and starts polishing down his hair with machine oil, it's happening. When a teen-age girl raids mother's lipstick and cold creams, stands staring into a looking-glass, finds the furniture old-fashioned and father more so, the battle is on.

Fortunate were you beyond estimation if Providence gave you understanding and intelligent parents--parents who were wise enough to help in your social development rather than hinder it. Had your parents "kidded" about your first dates, two unhealthy conditions might have resulted: their attitude might have made you crawl back into a shell or made you defiant and rebellious. Equally great damage could have been done you had your parents been, on the other hand, too anxious to force your social development.

Katherine W. Taylor notes the following factors as interfering with one's achievement of good social development: "Homes lacking in affection, homes deviating too widely in cultural levels, failure on the part of girls to be modishly attractive, and on the part of boys to grow rapidly enough for successful participation in sports."[4] It is noteworthy that favorable social adjustment follows a more or less set pattern. Generally, one starts out with a "yen" to belong to a club, gang, or group, and then, gradually, a close and intimate association with one person is substituted. As the capacity for love develops and matures, the desire for single dating appears and the desire to "go steady" with a very special friend develops. These first attachments are usually not very permanent, but they play an important part in one's development.

Modern adolescents need not take too seriously the charge that they are a lost generation. The oldsters of every age have thought their youths were the worst ever. A cuneiform fragment found in the ruins of Babylon bears this ever ancient, ever new comment: "Alas! Alas! times are not what they used to be."[5]

A certain lady writing in 1817 about the youths of her day said: "Nothing like the young people of today has ever been seen. They make one's hair stand on end. They have neither manners nor morals."[6]

Today, we hear tirades about the apparent insanity of our bobby- soxers and their overwrought hero worship. But every age has had a swoon-gang! Franz Liszt, the piano virtuoso, was the Frank Sinatra, the Van Johnson of his day. Women and girls went to his concerts equipped with knives and scissors so that they could rush onto the stage and snip off a lock of his hair. Even the water in which he washed his hands was bottled and sold to admirers. His cigar butts were worn as prized lockets.

"Humanity," says Donn Piatt, "is about the same the world over--the same in every age; and while the earth has its uniformity, with slight differences in mountain and plain, so its products are very nearly alike."

Accepting the fact that our age presents new problems to youth, granting that our generation has more than its share of problem children and even bad boys and girls, this much must be stated clearly and definitely-that the adolescents who go wrong are usually the ones who are seeking the love they have been denied at home or are those who have not been conditioned for right living.

Here are some timely and important directives to teen-agers. Every youth should have a rigid code of rules if he or she would blossom into a mature person capable of selective choice of a life mate.

Girls should not cheapen themselves by engaging in a conversation with a boy who is so uncouth as to think a two-toned whistle or a "Hiya, babe!" constitutes an introduction. The boy who stands by the school fence ogling girls as they pass is not worth knowing.

Don't accept a lift in a car from a stranger, no matter how movie- actor-like he looks. Be constant in this. Say "no" and mean it. Girls who can be picked up by strangers are usually "just pick-ups" and will be treated as such.

Don't "hang around" the usual city or small town haunts. When you go out, have some definite place to go. Don't dress as if you did it just to attract attention. Too much make-up, too daring clothes, no place to go and nothing to do but stand or sit around somebody's "sugar-bowl" or hot dog stand, will mark you as a "fast, stupid dame."

Girls should avoid the companionship of boys who tell smutty stories or who blaspheme. A person who does not respect your company will not respect your moral principles. A girl I knew was with a group when a smutty story was started. "If you'll excuse me, I'll go home," she said. "I would step around a puddle so as not to get my feet dirty, and I like to take the same care of my mind." I was impressed no end.

Beware of the boy or girl who must have a drink to achieve the mood. The sought-after teen-ager is the one who dares to be different, and it is during your first dates that you must keep your wits about you and look forward to the time when you will have to make a final decision about a mate. Courage and a plain coke will do more to make you sought after than all the giggle water in the world. The girl who needs a highball to bring her out of her shell is a poor bet for an interesting companionship. Remember always: The teenager who drinks is a boy or girl who lacks the courage to be different. Write that in your diary and make it a guiding principle throughout your whole life.

Teen-agers, as we said before, ought to exert every effort to keep from falling in love with anyone. Wait until you are twenty-one for that. You will have a whole new set of guiding principles at that age. Buzz around and meet new friends--be ladylike or be a gentleman, as the case may be, and enjoy youth as God intended it to be enjoyed. How true is the saying: "Youth is such a wonderful thing it is a shame to waste it on youth." Don't waste yours!

Above all, be careful of the amorous companion. Teen-age kissing, petting, necking or love-making is dangerous and should be a warning signal to give such a companion the brush-off. Such things show definitely that the instigator of amorous demonstrations is emotionally immature and that he or she is selfish and weak-willed. The teen-age "necker" is well on the way to becoming a Kinsey Report statistic. Love knocks less often at a door that is wide open.

One of the most rational and striking articles I ever read on petting appeared in the December, 1947, issue of "Your Life,"[7] entitled "Public Petting Wastes Romance," and written by Miriam Allen De Ford. After denouncing the prevalent habit of public petting in parks, cars, and theaters, the author states that "such intimate contacts in public often inflame passions which demand quick satisfaction in private. Secondly, they stir up sleeping dogs of desire in the onlooker. And thirdly, it is always open season on a girl who thinks so little of appearances and reputation as to be guilty of flaunting her love life so openly."

Moreover, since so many young people have no home where they can do their courting, it often leads to serious frustration and nervous tension, which is the stuff of which neuroses are made.

Miss De Ford then referred to the great physical dangers that result from any sort of amorous kissing on the part of teen-agers (and unmarried adults). Speaking of the great epidemic of "unsolved murders in which women and girls--by no means always women of bad repute--have been found horribly beaten and mutilated, the girl who permits and participates in 'necking' anywhere and everywhere, without regard to self-control or the standards of civilized society, and then suddenly attempts to draw the line and dam off the forces she has aroused, may find herself in terrible peril."

"One of the worst aspects of this practice," concludes Miss De Ford, "is the effect it has on the very young, both by precocious stimulation, and by spreading the belief that it is necessary for them to allow it in order to be 'popular.' When mere children become convinced that companionship with children of the opposite sex implies promiscuous endearments, they are lighting a fire in which they will be burnt out long before their real season of love-making has arrived." The moral side of this question will be treated later in this chapter.

Let us now turn our attention to the important consideration of the four maturities demanded of those who would begin serious company-keeping with a view to subsequent marriage--namely, physical maturity, intellectual maturity, emotional maturity, and vocational maturity.

Physical maturity

When we speak of physical maturity in relation to marriage, we speak of the obvious. Exhaustive comment on this topic is definitely unnecessary. All know that the period in life at which a person of either sex becomes functionally capable of germination is called puberty. It is equally common knowledge that pubescence usually is achieved in girls at twelve and in boys around fourteen and that whenever it does arrive, the sensory stimuli scream for attention. What not a few individuals fail to realize is that how these stimuli are met and held in check will play an important part in future behavior.

Many a romance has been doomed to failure from its inception by a suitor who failed to make the will rule the physical. The swelling river, so long as it is made to flow in its appointed channel within its own banks, can have its rushing waters harnessed so as to be a source of benefit and power to mankind. When the river overflows its banks and floods the surrounding land, it can bring death in its wake. So, too, with the physical stimuli of man. Harnessed, they can be real sources of power, but let run rampant they can cause sorrow and regret, and can destroy reputations and souls.

Remember that while puberty is usually reached at between twelve and fourteen, the development is not completed until one is twenty-one. It is a progressive affair and takes time. Above all, nature must not be tampered with. Bad habits acquired in junior or senior high school years may carry over into marriage and may even rob marriage of the complete physical satisfaction the innocent mate has a right to expect.

Nature punishes always, and pardons never, when her laws are violated or disregarded. Dr. James Foster Scott, writing on the subject of the solitary vice, says that "it produces its own train of personal neuroses, diseases and degenerations, injuring the soul, the character, perverting the instincts, ruining the nervous system and by striking at the very foundations from whence love comes, it unfits the victim for the high functions of marriage. It is a 'furious task-master,' universally berated, and its perpetrator is universally despised."

Modern psychiatrists believe that the solitary vice is an expression of a fixation on self and thus is a narcissus complex. Self-abuse, when it becomes a deep-rooted habit, may render one incapable of heterosexual love and thus must be regarded as pathological.

Before quitting this topic of physical maturity it might not be amiss to point out that good health in both partners ought to be an important concern. Persons suffering from active tuberculosis, chronic and serious heart conditions, brain and nervous ailments as well as kidney disorders and diabetes, ought to seek the advice of their doctor before attempting marriage.

Above all, these matters ought to be talked over by the interested principals. It would be criminal for a person afflicted with a communicable sex disease to marry because of the serious injustice to the other party. A confessor would be obliged to refuse absolution to a penitent determined to contract a marriage under such circumstances. A cure, if possible, must be effected before the marriage, or the disease must be made known to the other party. However, if one must choose between a leper with high moral principles and deep faith, and a shop-worn Miss America, or a muscle-bound Adonis without faith or morals, I'd say, take the leper.

Intellectual maturity

Intellectual development must also be attained along with the physical development as a required condition for a good proximate preparation for marriage. The eminent scholar and author, the Reverend Edward Leen,[8] defines education--that is, Christian education--as "that culture of the mind, the will and the emotions, which, whilst adapting a man for the exercise of a particular calling, disposes him to achieve an excellent personal and social life within the framework of that calling." In other words, he defines the object of education as nothing else than human happiness. Van Dyke expresses nearly the same idea in his definition of education, for he says: "Education is to create men who can see clearly, image vividly, think steadily, and will nobly."[9] God help the young man or woman who thinks of marriage without being able to see clearly, image vividly, think steadily, and will nobly!

"The human soul," says Ruskin, "in youth, is not a machine of which you can polish the cogs with any kelp or brickdust near at hand. The whole period of youth is one essentially of formation, edification, instruction; intaking of stores, establishment in vital habits, hopes and faiths. There is not an hour of it but is trembling with destiny."

His Holiness Pope Pius XI, in his great Encyclical letter "Divine Illius," writes these important words: "When literary, social and domestic education do not go hand in hand, man is unhappy and helpless."

The foregoing quotations will but strengthen the claim we make for the importance of intellectual development and maturity as a basis for a happy marriage. "The discipline by which it is gained, and the tastes which it forms," says Newman, "have a natural tendency to refine the mind and to give it an indisposition, nay more than this, a disgust and abhorrence, towards excesses and enormities of evil, which are often or ordinarily reached at length by those who are not careful from the first to set themselves against what is vicious and criminal. It generates within the mind a fastidiousness, analogous to delicacy, generally lively enough to create a loathing of certain offences or a detestation and scorn of them as ungentlemanlike, to which ruder natures are tempted or even betrayed." It is noteworthy that Cardinal Newman was speaking of Catholic educational development, for always remember that Basil and Julian were fellow students at the Schools of Athens; one became the Saint and Doctor of the Church, the other her scorning and relentless foe.

The better the intellectual development, the better chance there is for happiness in marriage. The more Catholic is that intellectual development the more hope there is for holiness and happiness in marriage. Remember this when you come to make the choice of a mate!

Emotional maturity

Let us consider another and a most important requisite for happiness in marriage: emotional maturity. Emotion has the same physical basis as a mental reaction but the primary end of emotion is to move. For instance, a person who is hungry will be moved to steal something to eat; a person who is afraid will be moved to shout his lungs out or run like a rabbit. The examples of emotional stimuli I have mentioned list but two of the four primary emotions, namely hunger and fear, while the other two are rage and pain. All other emotions are offshoots of these four; e.g., anxiety, worry, sorrow, admiration, scorn, revenge, shame, envy, reproach, and a multitude of others. Without emotions you would be a moron; with an overdose of emotion you are a social misfit, an abnormal member of society.

Control of emotions, mastery of emotions, is a very important part of the training for living. Without control emotions can, if allowed to run rampant, bring on a neurosis, ulcers of the stomach, or can even lead to a prison cell. Anger, for instance, can move one man to use harsh words, another man to strike his wife, and yet another man to kill. Which of these three would you say had the most control and which man most lacked control? Nothing is more destructive of marital bliss than is emotional immaturity, and oddly enough, a person may be perfectly developed physically and intellectually and yet be emotionally immature. For instance, the adolescent or grown man who pouts for long periods over real or imaginary wrongs, who flies into towering rages, hollers and curses; or the young teen-age girl or young woman who goes into fits of anger and screams, slams doors, stamps her feet, dashes to her room and throws herself face down on the bed to pour out her tears, are people who are emotionally immature.

Here is a list of other things that indicate emotional immaturity.

(1) Gloominess over little failures

(2) Pessimism over slight difficulties

(3) Complete panic when frightened or in an emergency

(4) Throwing or breaking things when angry or crossed

(5) Tears when thwarted, disappointed or upset

(6) Selfishness, aggressiveness, rebelliousness, stubbornness

(7) Needless and prolonged worry over trifles

(8) Morbid fears, strong hates, and unreasonable prejudices.

But how, you ask, may one acquire emotional control? To this I answer:

(1) Know yourself as you really are.

(2) Be individual. Try to pick your own hats and clothes.

(3) Fight your own battles.

(4) Don't seek sympathy from others.

(5) Don't feel sorry for yourself.

(6) Never be indecisive.

(7) Avoid too much sentimentality over persons or causes.

(8) Resist parental over-possessiveness.

(9) Check first signs of jealousy.

(10) Resist feeling of depression. Laugh at yourself.

(11) Train your emotions as you would your will.

(12) Learn to check your tongue when you are angry.

If this looks like a superhuman task it is not so difficult if you keep in mind that control of emotions does not mean suppression. Control of emotions means direction into channels that are founded on reality and bring material and spiritual satisfactions to you. Victory over self is achieved with great effort! It may spell the difference between happiness and unhappiness here and hereafter.

Anyone who plans marriage ought to make certain that he or she is emotionally mature and that the mate is also grown up emotionally, for without this maturity such a marriage is certain to be unhappy if not doomed to failure.

There is one more maturity that is equally important and should be well founded before any thought of marriage enters one's head, and that is vocational maturity. By vocational maturity is meant simply the know-how and acquisition of a trade, position, or profession that will permit the future husband to support a family and the acquisition of vocational knowledge that will permit a young woman to manage a home and wisely govern her children.

No wise young man will consider marriage until he has spent at least two years working at his chosen trade, profession, or position. Wisdom also demands that savings of from $1200 upward ought to have been laid away against the wedding day, as well as a permanent assured monthly salary income. It is an accepted rule that the first week's pay ought to be large enough to pay the rent for the month. No fear is so haunting, so destructive, as that which results from economic insecurity. Love and an empty stomach are poor companions. Too, any young woman who considers marriage, yet possesses no skill in homemaking, cooking, and housekeeping, is one who is asking for trouble.

Prudence in choosing a potential mate

Now we come to the very important consideration of when and how to choose a mate, what to look for in a mate, and how not to spoil your chances of marriage.

All authorities on the subject agree that the best age for a man to marry is between twenty-two and twenty-nine and for a woman between twenty-one and twenty-eight. Allowing oneself a year at the most for courtship and engagement, a girl ought not to consider seriously any one individual before she is twenty, and no man ought to consider making a final choice of a life companion until he is at least twenty-one.

And how is a choice to be made? Believe me, there is a lot more skill than chance to picking the right person in marriage. It would appear prudent to write down a list of the qualities that you insist your one and only should have and then keep your eyes and your heart open. Here are a few suggestions for that list:

Good morals Intelligence Fine physique Neatness Sportsmanship Sincerity Dependability Good sense of humor Truthfulness Consideration for others Thoughtfulness Nice manners Modesty Personality Industry Good family background

When making your list, be sure you determine whether you have these required qualities yourself--if not, set out to acquire the ones you lack. The time of proximate preparation should be spent not only in the eradication of evil habits but also in the acquisition of the virtues needed for happiness in marriage.

If diligent search has led you to believe that there is no one in your immediate circle of friends and acquaintances with the minimum of the ideals you have set for your future wife or husband, you should circulate. Join a club in a neighboring parish, attend church socials, political organizations, and sports groups, or mixed bowling leagues. Hold out, though, for a formal introduction and don't accept the two-toned whistle or the moron's mating call of "Hi, Toots!" as any substitute.

A "knock-down" to someone who appears to have most of the qualities you have set for a suitable "steady" is but the beginning. An introduction alone is useless without the follow-through. Here is where tact and common sense plus warmth of character come into play. Girls who want to know a man better will ask him where he lives and what he does, thus affording him a chance to talk about himself--the male failing. It places the girl at the receiving end of the conversation, makes her a good listener. If he stalls, start him on the weather, sports, his home, brothers and sisters. Get around to speaking about church, and let him know right from the start that you are a Catholic.

If things progress according to plan, invent a little house party during the following week. Tell him you were planning to have a few friends in and ask him if he would join them. In the case of a young man making a play for a nice young lady he has just met, he might suggest a movie with a couple of friends or a dance.

Here are a few important "don'ts" for first dates:

Don't try to be the life of the party.

Don't forget to introduce the new dates to your parents.

Don't overdress.

Don't talk too much--be a good listener.

Don't drink.

Don't forget to serve a nice lunch prepared by your own hands.

Don't neglect to learn to dance well. Your date has a right to expect this.

Don't "neck or pet." This shows lack of control and selfishness.

Don't park. Keep out of dark streets and country lanes and don't allow yourself to be led into temptation. Any time you can't answer "yes" to the question: "Would Christ or His Blessed Mother stay in this room or car?" it's time to move.

Don't be openly affectionate in public.

Don't write gushing, sloppy letters.

Don't waste your time on a person who is: domineering bad-tempered boastful jealous: (Holy Scripture says: "A jealous man or woman is the grief and mourning of the heart.") overaggressive lacking in consideration.

Remember marriage is not a reform school! A young woman must make a careful study of the person she intends to marry. It is important that she look for signs of selfishness, such as the honking of a car horn to summon her from the house. She must beware of the sulky young man, the fellow who boasts of his female conquests, the one who grabs the best chair in the house to rest his love-torn frame in, and the fellow who always wants things his way--all of these denote selfishness.

A young man ought to study the way in which his girl friend gets along with her parents and the others of her household. Beware of the street angel and house devil. Is she cheerful? Has she good judgment? Is she economical? Can she cook? Is she possessive? Hearken to the words of Holy Scripture: "A virtuous woman rejoices her husband, and he shall fulfill the years of his life in peace."

Someone has said that personality is like an iceberg--two-thirds of it is hidden. Now this is not quite true. If you are observant you can determine quite definitely the hidden characteristics of others by noting their common traits. For instance, a person who bites his fingernails is usually an introvert and is self-centered. The chain smoker is usually a deeply nervous person. The cigar-chewer is an aggressive person. The person who spends long periods gazing into the mirror is usually affected with infantilism. And the bushes are full of border-line screw-balls. Albert Deutsch asserts that there are 450,000 New Yorkers alone who need psychiatric treatment. By their fruits you should know them.

Here are a few characters you ought to give a wide berth: They are usually psycho.

The hard-boiled variety. These are invariably insensitive, heartless, ruthless, and cruel.

The grouchy variety. These growl at everything and everybody.

The suspicious variety. These think everyone is against them. They feel people talk about them.

The moody variety. One day on top of the world--the next down in the depths. These pout for days.

The neurotic variety. These frequently display hysteria. They complain of physical ailments on little or no medical basis. They love to talk about their ills.

The perverse personalities. These are always getting into trouble--at home, in the office, the plant, or in school.

Girls should beware of the following types of suitors: Sugar daddy Philandering Paternal Domineering Possessive

Men ought to avoid the following types of girls: Baby doll Over-romantic Masculine Frigid Domineering Matriarchal Possessive Gold-digger

In choosing a mate for marriage remember that the happiest unions are those wherein both parties are socially and intellectually equal; both have the same high ideals; both are in good physical health; both are of the same faith; both have the approval of their parents; and both have a good attitude toward sex.

Here is an example of how tragic the absence of even one of these essentials for marriage can be.

A year or so ago I was fishing from a dock at a nearby yacht club when an elderly gentleman joined me. As we fished, a boat headed in for the dock and my companion said: "Father, there's a queer duck. He was once married to a school teacher, although he himself had only a grammar school education. The marriage ended in divorce because he could not stand his wife eternally correcting his English. That woman in the boat is his second wife. She is Spanish and can hardly speak English at all."

That conversation supplied concrete proof of the fact that social and intellectual inequality can wreck marriage.

The Holy Ghost very wisely warns that there are three things that disturb the earth: (1) a slave when he reigneth; (2) a fool when he is filled with meat, and (3) an odious woman when she is married.

Persevering prayer for guidance

So important is the matter of the choice of a mate that prayer for guidance and enlightenment is most essential. An old Russian proverb runs like this:

Before embarking on a journey, pray once; Before leaving for war, pray twice; Before you marry, pray three times.

And His Holiness Pope Pius XI, in his Encyclical letter "On Marriage," warns suitors in these words:

"To the proximate preparation of a good married life belongs very specially the care in choosing a partner; on that depends a great deal whether the forthcoming marriage will be happy or not, since one may be to the other either a great help in leading a Christian life, or on the other hand, a great danger and hindrance. And, so that they will not deplore for the rest of their lives the sorrows arising from an indiscreet marriage, those about to enter into wedlock should carefully deliberate in choosing the person with whom henceforward they must live continually. They should in so deliberating keep before their minds the thought first of God and of the true religion of Christ, then of themselves, of their partner, of the children to come, as also of home and civil society, for which wedlock is as a fountain head. Let them diligently pray for Divine help, so that they will make their choice in accordance with Christian prudence, not indeed led by the blind and unchecked impulse of lust, nor by any desire of riches or other base influence, but by a true and noble love and by a sincere affection towards the future partner; and then let them strive in their married life toward those ends for which this state was constituted by God."

Parental counsel

Before thinking of engagement, be sure to consult your parents regarding your choice. Here, again, the wisdom of Pope Pius XI is evidenced in his words addressed to young men and women as follows:

"Let them not fail to ask the prudent advice of their parents with regard to the partner and let them regard this advice in no light manner, in order that by their mature knowledge and experience of human affairs they may guard against a baneful mistake, and on the threshold of matrimony may receive more abundantly the Divine blessing, the Commandment: "Honor thy father and thy mother," which is the first Commandment with a promise, "that it may be well with thee and thou mayest be long-lived upon the earth."

I can't imagine a worse insult to one's parents than to become engaged, much less married, without consulting them. It is something that will bother conscience as long as one lives. I can vividly recall a middle-aged man who called at the rectory one day. When I came into the office I noticed he was weeping, and he told me that the reason for his tears was simply that he had heard that day his daughter had been married a month earlier. He was hurt and crushed. Like every father, he had planned for the pleasure of seeing his daughter married to a worthwhile man. However, she had seen fit to mistrust him. "But, Father," he said, "why I weep today is that I did the same thing to my parents. I married without telling my parents and when I did break the news to Mother, she just looked at me--dry-eyed and calm--and said, 'Just wait, Son. Your turn will come too.' And it did!"

Consultation with your pastor or confessor

Not only should your parents be consulted, but also your pastor or confessor. Many a broken home or heart or both might have been avoided if the spiritual father had been asked as to the wisdom of the choice of mate in life and the choice of the life partner. And don't wait until you go in to have the banns announced. Call on the pastor or confessor before you become engaged.

When all these suggestions have been wisely followed and the choice has been made only after prayerful consideration and wise counsel, the parties become what is known as "engaged."

A proper period of engagement

What do we understand by engagement? An engagement is simply a mutual promise to marry. Its purpose is to permit the parties to get to know one another better and to test the depth and the sincerity of the mutual affection and love. As regards the length of the engagement, from six months to a year is reasonable and desirable.

The period of engagement is in no way to be considered a license for dangerous and/or impure love-making. Bear this in mind:

(1) All actions performed for the purpose of promoting or stimulating venereal pleasure are mortal sins.

(2) All directly venereal actions are mortal sins.

(3) All actions involving the proximate danger of performing directly venereal actions or of consenting to venereal pleasure are mortal sins.

(4) Indirectly venereal actions performed without a relatively sufficient reason are venial sins.

Now, regarding kissing and embracing the general rule is as follows: If they are indulged in from impure motives or if immodest intimacy is involved or if there is proximate danger of something seriously sinful happening, such kissing is mortally sinful.

The Reverend Gerald Kelly, S.J., in his fine pamphlet entitled "Modern Youth and Chastity," which should be required reading for all young men and women, says: "It is clear that two people eligible for marriage and genuinely in love do not sin by manifesting their love in a modest and moderate fashion, with a reasonable assurance of controlling themselves should passion be unintentionally aroused. Again, the kiss or embrace which is according to a recognized convention of good people is not sinful. Generally speaking, such things do not abuse passion, or if they do, it is slight and easily controlled."[10]

During the period of engagement do not make the mistake of building your love on lust. Lust and love are two different things Sex indulgence before marriage, in place of giving pleasure, can be most bitter and disillusioning. I remember reading once of a little boy who while visiting his grandmother in the country noticed some buds on a rose bush. He kept pestering his grandmother to let him open one of the buds to see the rose. In spite of the injunction of the wise grandmother that the roses must bloom in their own natural way, the boy still insisted on opening a bud. Finally, when the permission was granted, the lad tore open the little hard green bud and was disappointed in seeing nothing but a nondescript pulp.

The same thing holds true of those who attempt sexual pleasures before marriage. They will find them bitter and disturbing Prof. C. E. Groves, a leading sociologist writing on the subject, says:

"In addition to the part this experience of petting plays in bringing greater maturity to heterosexual urges, there are also two contrasting results connected with it that need to be separated and understood. One is the fact that courtship to a considerable degree acts as a sublimation of physical sex desire. The biological hunger is transferred into complex expression that is essentially mental and social and were this not true the idealization of courtship would be negligible and human maturity would continue close to the pairing of animals.

"Were this all that analysis reveals, the problem would indeed be simple, but it is certain also that expression of sex attraction in courtship acts upon the organism in exactly opposite ways. It is truly a stimulating as well as a sublimating experience. Whatever may be the reaction of the imagination, there is a basic body structure organized to respond to sex stimulation in whatever form it appears. And this body mechanism, once it is aroused, has no concern with inhibitions or sublimating experiences but is set to proceed directly to a purely physical release of nervous energy.

"Experience with this problem has led to the recognition of certain hazards that the intelligent person will recognize. One is the danger of precocious commitment. Under stimulation, intimacy may go so far as to make it seem to one or both individuals that marriage is an obligation, even though as a result of this recognition there may be loss of the desire to marry--obligation is always a dangerous doorway to matrimony, and anything that makes it liable is detrimental to the social purpose of courtship.

"The second consequence of courtship intimacy may be a fixation of sex hunger upon the line of what is known as its secondary expression. In cases, not a few, as the specialist knows, individuals who seemed highly sexed in courtship have lost, because of their habit of secondary sex expression, their normal biological hunger and on this forced to find in marriage an anticlimax.

"It is also found in some instances that by allowing sex intimacy to go to great lengths, the value the woman had for the man, or that the man had for the woman, and which had previously prophesied marriage, is lost and the association is aborted by having become so largely physical in character."[11]

It would appear from Holy Scripture that one is rewarded for a virtuous life by the choice of a virtuous mate. In the Book of Ecclesiasticus we read: "A good wife is a good portion, which shall be given in portion of them that fear the Lord." Endeavor then during your time of courtship and engagement to shun evil and avoid senseless temptations so that you might merit a worthy mate. Prayer will help in that choice too, for "unless the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it." (Psalms 126:1.)

For those who, after reading through this entire chapter, find themselves confused and amazed by the seemingly infinite number of requisite virtues and characteristics demanded of those who seek union of mind and heart in wedlock, there is some small consolation in the knowledge that it takes the exports of thirty-six different countries to supply the ingredients of a single lowly hot dog. Should we be surprised then that many different virtues and characteristics are required in marriage to assure its happy outcome?

When every other requisite is met as suggested in this chapter, be sure that the love is genuine. Here is how the Reverend J. J. O'Connor, S.J., says you can be sure that it is true love and not a facsimile.

"Happiness and joy in each other's company, an anxiety for self- development to be more worthy of the partner, a consciousness of an intellectual, moral and emotional advancement as a result of being together, a longing for each other when separated, a toleration of each other's foibles, and a willingness to make concessions--if these are the experiences had by a courting couple, then they can be fairly certain that between them true love exists."

There is an old Tuscan proverb that says: "In buying horses and in taking a wife shut your eyes tight and commend yourself to God." I think you will fare much better if, while commending yourself to God, you keep both eyes wide open!

Let us return to Cana of Galilee for a consideration of a most meaningful Old Testament custom observed in every Jewish wedding, which doubtless must have formed a part of the wedding feast at Cana.

In those ancient days every bride went to her nuptials wearing on her head a crown of myrtle,[12] an evergreen shrub especially prized for its fragrant leaves. Likewise, every bridegroom wore a crown of myrtle, to which were added red roses.

From time immemorial myrtle has been considered as sacred to Venus, the legendary goddess of love, while red roses have everywhere symbolized love. The old song runs:

"My love is like the red, red rose."

The wearing of the myrtle and rose crowns by the bride and bridegroom is strikingly significant. The lesson is obvious. The placing of the symbol of love on the head was done to point out that the mind, the intelligence, must play the dominant role in any choice of a life partner. In other words, the importance of sound judgment in all matters of love.

In this, as in so many other ways, the lessons of Cana are thought- provoking. And it might not be amiss to observe that a crown has only to slip down a little to become a noose!


1. Speech in Boston, Mass., April 9, 1871.

2. P. 221. New York: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1914.

3. "Modern Man in Search of His Soul," C. G. Jung, p. 264. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1933.

4. "Do Adolescents Need Parents?" Katherine W. Taylor. New York: D. Appleton-Century Co., 1937

5. "Literary Digest," November 23, 1929, p. 24.

6. "The Journal of Social Hygiene," April, 1927, p. 227.

7. Published monthly, 227 East 44th St., New York, N.Y.

8. "What Is Education?" Rev. Edward Leen, p. 1. New York: Sheed & Ward, 1944.

9. "The Pivotal Problems of Education," W. P. Cunningham, p. 18. New York: The Macmillan Co., 1940.

10. The Queen's Work, 3742 West Pine Blvd., St. Louis 8, Mo.

11. Marriage, E. R. Groves, pp. 113-115. New York: Henry Holt and Company.

12. Ketoubot II:[1].


Worshippers at the shrine of Bacchus may differ as to the potency and merits of various spirituous beverages, but they are unanimous in denouncing the folly of mixing drinks. Such universal accord is due in no small measure to the inevitable pink elephants, splitting headaches, and the-morning-after dejection. Strangely, the untold numbers of broken hearts and homes resulting from mixing religions in marriage have failed to produce similar unanimity concerning its injudiciousness.

In spite of the frequent warnings of the Church against mixed marriages, they continue to take place, and while some turn out well, the vast majority are doomed to failure. Never, in my twenty years experience in the ministry, have I interviewed young people of different religious beliefs who wanted to marry, without hearing the old refrain: "But Father, our case is different. We have reached a complete understanding about religion. We have decided never to permit religion to interfere with our lives." And my answer is always the same. "Whether you like it or not, religion will interfere with your life It is too important, much too important, to be relegated to the background of life." The proof that difference of religion in marriage does interfere is demonstrated by the fact that it is one of the great causes of separations and divorce today.

The Reverend Robert Good, a Presbyterian minister, addressing a church group in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, said recently that "mixed marriage ought to be avoided at all cost because of the high rate of their failures. Only six per cent of the marriages in which the husband and wife were of the same faith ended in failures as compared with fifteen per cent in the case of mixed marriages."

Brother Gerald J. Schnepp, S.M., M.A., in his survey made in 1942 for his dissertation entitled "Leakage From a Catholic Parish," asserted that in "sixty-two per cent of the marriages leading to separation, one party was Catholic and the other not." In other words, the percentage was high because of the mixed marriage angle.

Dr. Clifford R. Adams, director of the Marriage Counseling Service of Pennsylvania State College School of Education, and author of the recent book, "How to Pick a Mate," stated in an article appearing in the September, 1946, issue of "The Woman's Home Companion" that "Three out of four girls seriously date, at some time, a man of different religion. To a girl in love the matter of religious difference is apt to seem inconsequential. After all, the man she marries will be a freethinking adult. To such girls I point out the jarring fact that my records show that seventy per cent of such marriages now end in divorce or separation." Now, Dr. Adams should know what he is talking about, since he counsels some four thousand persons a year. Perhaps, after considering well this high percentage of failures in mixed marriages, the Church's warnings may not seem too exaggerated.

To those who think this problem is solved when they plan to enter matrimony with a person without any religious convictions or beliefs at all, I say that they worsen the condition and merit to be nicknamed after a nationally known decaffeinized coffee, whose advertisements claim "it has no active ingredient in the bean." "A man without some sort of religion," says Marvel, "is at best a poor reprobate, the football of destiny, with no tie linking him to infinity and the wondrous eternity that is begun with him; but a woman without religion is even worse--a flame without heat, a rainbow without color, a flower without perfume."

This much is certain, the single state in life is a thousand times more preferable, in nearly every case, to a mixed marriage. Even in the Old Testament mixed marriages were definitely forbidden. The Jews were not permitted to contract marriage with the Canaanites nor indeed with the Samaritans, who, while practicing heathen ceremonies, kept the law of God and had the books of Moses. God's abhorrence of mixtures is evidenced by His command in the ancient law: "Thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed; neither shall a garment mingled with linen and woolen come upon thee."

The Church warns her children today against mixed marriages for the same reason that a loving mother might warn her child against undertaking a journey she knows will expose her offspring to great peril. Lowell once said: "One thorn of experience is worth a whole wilderness of warning," and it has been the sad experience of the Church during her two thousand years that mixed marriages are dangerous both to the faith of the principals and even more so to their innocent children. Let us consider these two angles separately.

That mixed marriages are fraught with danger to the salvation of those who contract them can be amply proved. For instance, the wise and enlightened King Solomon took to himself heathen wives in his old age, and they prevailed over him so far that, from a worshipper of the true God, he himself became an idolater and allowed temples of the false gods to be erected in his kingdom. Solomon's folly has been perpetuated down through the centuries by untold thousands who, like him, lost their faith because they failed to marry their own. Take, for instance, the apostasies listed in the official German civil census for the year 1929. This document shows that 40,000 souls were lost to the Church in Germany in one year through mixed marriages, while the number of converts was only 8,762.

Claire Boothe Luce, in her inspiring apologia entitled "The 'Real' Reason," which appeared in the February, 1947, issue of "McCall's Magazine," very frankly states that her mother was born a Catholic but fell away from the Church when she married a non-Catholic. That this very thing has happened to so many others who marry a person of a different faith is easily understood. Human nature being what it is, it is prone to take the line of least resistance. The mixed marriage that is entered into with the best of intentions may result in the loss of faith for the Catholic party in later years. It happens this way. In nearly every mixed marriage the Catholic party honestly believes and hopes that some day, somehow, his or her mate will enter the Church. The danger lies in the fact that the Catholic may suddenly come to the realization that all the good example, tolerance, and patience displayed through many years have in no way brought the other party nearer the faith and thus they grow weary of hoping and praying and gradually lose faith. It is not so difficult to give up doing or believing something that upsets someone we love very dearly. Herein lies the secret of the ultimate loss of faith! Joubert puts it this way: "Religion is fire which example keeps alive, and which goes out if not communicated."

In the rare instances where in a mixed marriage the Catholic party does not actually suffer loss of faith there is definitely violence done to the essential and complete unity demanded in all marriages. His Holiness Pope Pius XI, of happy memory, pointed this out very clearly in his famous Encyclical "Casti Connubii." The Pontiff stated: "If the Church occasionally on account of circumstances does not refuse to grant a dispensation from her strict laws provided the Divine Law remains intact, and the dangers already mentioned are provided against by suitable safeguards it is unlikely that the Catholic party will not suffer some detriment from such a marriage." It was in this same letter that His Holiness listed the two well-known evil effects of mixed marriages--"deplorable deflections from religion" and "religious indifference."

That mixed marriage is an obstacle to complete harmony is readily understandable. People of different religious beliefs have different philosophies and in marriage these differences take on new importance. When the first glow of the honeymoon is over, a couple with different religious backgrounds may become impatient and even intolerant. Complete unity of mind and heart, complete happiness in such a marriage, is threatened when two persons of different faiths find themselves obliged to ignore the most discussed topic in the world, and by that, I mean religion. The very thing parties to a mixed marriage wish to ignore, will come into prominence every Sunday of their lives. The Catholic will walk to Mass alone and the non-Catholic will sit alone in his seat in some Protestant church. Both will hear doctrines diametrically opposed to their life partner's faith. The Catholic may hear in a sermon that the Mass is the continuation of the Sacrifice of Calvary, while the non-Catholic may hear the Mass denounced as idolatrous, sacerdotal trickery; in one edifice the Holy Father may be denounced as a humbug and in the other, at that very moment, the little woman may be contributing a dollar from her husband's last pay check toward a Peter's Pence collection. Fundamental differences in religious beliefs invariably form a gulf between two married persons. Such differences are more insurmountable than differences of education, race, culture, or economic standing. Love could be said to be an outgrowth of our recognition of another's resemblance to ourselves, and where the resemblance is only faint, the love will be faint. The more things two married people have in common, the greater are their chances of happiness in marriage and the fewer adjustments will be necessary.

Another important thing that must be considered in a mixed marriage is that such a union offers the Catholic party the minimum of matrimonial security. In the case of a serious misunderstanding the non-Catholic may feel free to walk out and obtain a divorce and marry again; whereas the Catholic is bound not to take a second partner as long as the former lives. On the other hand, two practical Catholics, while not exempt from the possibility of grave misunderstandings, will usually avoid the extremes that lead to difficult reconciliations because they know they must reconcile, since divorce for them is out of the question.

Dangerous as mixed marriages are to the faith of the Catholic parties involved, the dangers to the faith of the children are even greater. Here are a few statistics from the Holy Name Journal that may amaze you.

(A) In families where both parents are Catholics only eight out of every hundred will forsake the practice of religion in later life.

(B) In families where both the parents are of the same Protestant denomination some thirty-two out of every hundred will be lost to the practice of that religion.

(C) In families where one parent is Catholic and the other a non- Catholic sixty-six out of every hundred will forsake the practice of religion later in life.

Some years ago Rev. M. V. Kelly, C.S.B., made a survey of the leakage in the membership of a Catholic city parish of seventeen hundred souls. He limited himself to the special study of one hundred twenty-one cases in which the whole family was lost to the Church. Here are his findings:

1. There is not one case out of the one hundred twenty-one in which both parents were brought up Catholics. Six were cases in which one of the parties had become a Catholic on the occasion of marriage and the remaining one hundred fifteen were cases of mixed marriage.

2. The falling off can be explained in six cases by the death of the Catholic parent and in eight cases by a divorce or permanent separation.

3. There remain today, therefore, one hundred six clear cases of a Catholic father or mother who had contracted a mixed marriage and who is allowing his or her children to grow up outside the Church.

4. In these one hundred six cases the Catholic party is almost entirely to blame; instances of any determined or effective resistance on the part of a non-Catholic husband or wife are almost negligible.[1]

Such tremendous leakage from the faith through mixed marriages is easily understandable when one considers the whole problem in the light of cold judgment. For instance, how can a non-Catholic mother, even though she signed the pre-nuptial promises in the best of faith, very convincingly teach her children doctrines they must study in the catechism when deep in her own heart she believes them to be false, if not downright evil? Or take the case of a Catholic mother who rises early on a Sunday and starts out for Mass with her children on a cold winter's morning. In between the biting blasts of wind one of the children is certain to ask, "Why doesn't Daddy come to Mass, too?"

"Your father is not a Catholic," the mother must say, "and his religion does not demand that he attend Church under pain of sin." Right there and then a division is created between the father and the rest of the family--a division which ought not to be there. Too, human nature being what it is, it is quite possible that a less exacting religion might seem more appealing in view of the biting wind.

It is possible, too, that the faith of the little ones might even suffer damage by a thoughtless remark of a non-Catholic parent. I recall once hearing of a little lad who asked his father to go with him to the Catholic Church for the closing exercises of the Forty Hours.

"You go, son," said the father. "I can't stand all that ritualistic stuff." So saying, he finished putting on his long tails and white tie, and packed a sword, apron, fancy cuffs, embroidered collar, scarf and a white-plumed Lord Nelson hat. "I'll be home late," the father said; "there is an initiation at the lodge tonight, and I'm on the ritual team."

The father's scorn of religious rites was bad, but his logic was worse!

Another great disadvantage for children born of mixed marriages is that they rarely receive a Catholic education. The public schools today have hundreds of thousands of Catholic children on their registers who are there because a Catholic mother or father has compromised on the matter of their Catholic education, and such compromise leads to subsequent loss of faith by the offspring.

If the Church never warned against mixed marriages, good logic would dictate their avoidance. Marriage is based on perfect sympathy and understanding. It is a career-partnership, and the fundamental requisite for any successful partnership is common interest. A wise lawyer who wished to take a partner into his firm would naturally choose another lawyer and not an electrician. Then apply that same logic to matrimonial partnerships. A woman who has made a career of painting would not let herself fall in love with a man who despised art and artists; then why should she fall in love with a man who, if he does not despise religion outright, at least is cold and indifferent toward it? No other partnership would succeed under like conditions. That is just common sense, and when common sense and love work together, you can expect a masterpiece.

A Catholic who begins serious company-keeping with a non- Catholic and does not at the outset discuss the problem of religious difference as it affects them acts unfairly and selfishly. Many a non-Catholic falls in love and becomes engaged before the Catholic party dares mention the sweeping promises regarding the Catholic upbringing and education of all children of either sex born to them in marriage.

Long before the matter of the engagement is contemplated, religious differences should be discussed as well as the problem of birth control and Catholic school education of the children. Above all, the non-Catholic should be acquainted with the fact that certain promises regarding the Catholic education of the children must be signed and, if possible, a visit should be paid to the rectory and permission asked to have the non-Catholic person read over the promises. Did you ever see those promises yourself? Here they are in their usual form:


MIXED MARRIAGE (Mixta Religio Vel Disparitas Cultus)

Rev. dear Sir: 19 ____________________________________________________________ (Name)

Child of________________________and_________________________ (Maiden Name of Mother)

of___________________________________________________________ (Address)

A Catholic of this parish wishing to marry

_____________________________________________________________ (Name)

Child of__________________________and______________________________ (Maiden Name of Mother)

of____________________________________________________________ (Address)

A non-Catholic baptized in sect. never baptized (If non-Catholic, a Hebrew, please so indicate)

humbly petitions the Archbishop of , as delegate

of the Holy See, to grant a dispensation from the impediment


THE REASONS ARE (give sufficient canonical reasons in proper form; cf. approved authors):

The necessary promises in writing are attached hereto; there appears to be no unusual danger of perversion and there is present MORAL CERTAINTY THAT THE PROMISES AS MADE WILL BE FULFILLED.

Yours respectfully, _____________________________________________



I, the undersigned non-Catholic, desiring to contract marriage with the Catholic party named in this application before a Catholic priest, duly authorized by a special dispensation from the Archbishop (or Bishop) hereby promise in the presence of the undersigned witnesses:

(1) That all children of either sex born of this marriage shall be baptized and educated in the Catholic religion.

(2) That I will neither hinder nor obstruct in any manner whatsoever the Catholic party in the exercise of the Catholic religion.

(3) That in the solemnization of my marriage there shall be only the Catholic ceremony.

(Signature of non-Catholic)


I, the undersigned Catholic party, hereby promise in the presence of the undersigned witnesses:

(1) That all children of either sex born of this marriage shall be baptized and educated in the Catholic religion.

(2) That in the solemnization of my marriage there shall be only the Catholic ceremony.

(Signature of Catholic)

We, the undersigned, hereby declare that we witnessed the signatures of the above mentioned contracting parties in their presence and in the presence of each other, on this day of the month of 19 .

(Signature of priest)

(Signature of witness)

Many a mixed marriage could be avoided if only the Catholic party had sufficient strength of character to insist that marriage is out of the question if the other person cannot conscientiously accept Catholic doctrines. Many fine, worthy Catholics today owe their submission to the Church, after God's grace, to the presence of that condition. Sad to say, there are many who are not willing to accept the alternative of abandoning the prospect of a marriage which seems in every other way most desirable. They have all sorts of excuses ready to offer for their indifference or fear, and usually they are cloaked under such statements as: "I would not have him enter the Church just for my sake," or again: "I knew others who became Catholics just to marry someone, and they gave it up soon afterward."

It might be well to remark here that no one is admitted to the Church unless a priest has first given the person adequate instruction and passed upon the candidate's disposition and assumed responsibility for the serious step to be taken.

It has been the experience of most priests that where the Catholic party is prayerful, firm, and patient, he or she will inevitably be rewarded with the conversion of the non-Catholic before marriage. Too, it has been the sad experience of priests that where such converts later lose the faith, the blame must be laid directly to the bad example of the Catholic mate.

When Our Lord changed the water into wine at the marriage feast in Cana, the change was complete and total. There was not just part water and part wine, but the contents of the whole six waterpots were miraculously changed into superb wine. Let there be no mixture of religions in marriage. Good common sense demands that you marry your own, and if there must be any converting done, by all means get it done long before the marriage. And don't be too anxious about the possibility of losing your beloved because you are holding out against a mixed marriage, for Thomas Carew naively suggests:

Then fly betimes, for only they Conquer Love, that run away.

Remember it's better to say "no" now to a mixed marriage than be tempted to say "Reno" later!


1. The Ecclesiastical Review, Vol. LXXXIII, No. 2.


William Shakespeare, in "As You Like It," put these words into the mouth of Jacques:

"And will you, being a man of good breeding, be married under a bush, like a beggar? Get you to a church and have a good priest that can tell you what marriage is. This fellow will but join you together as they join wainscot; and then one of you will prove a shrunk panel, and like green timber, warp, warp."

The fact that Shakespeare, writing in the year 1598, should demand the services of a priest and advise a definite, sacred surrounding for marriage, might indicate to some a certain antiquity and venerability for the matrimonial ritual. The truth is that the origin of the sacredness surrounding marriage goes back to the Garden of Eden and our First Parents.

The very first marriage on this earth was a wondrous affair. It was glorious in its simplicity. God created man separately and He created woman separately; then He joined the two in a sacred union. Here are the exact words of Holy Scripture: "And God created man to His own image; to the image of God He created him. Male and female He created them. And God blessed them saying: Increase and multiply, and fill the earth...." (Gen. 1:27, 28.) The mingling of the two elements of human nature engendered in Adam and Eve an unsurpassed unity of conjugal life--a unity so pronounced that Adam exclaimed the principle which was to be the guiding rule for all his descendants: "Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be two in one flesh." (Gen. 2:24.)

There is no question about the divine origin of marriage. The words of Scripture just quoted bear this out. That it was a special union and contract that merited a special blessing is equally patent from the words of the sacred and inspired writer: "And God blessed them saying: Increase and multiply, and fill the earth...." (Gen. 1:28.) And the immediate descendants of Adam and Eve and those who came after them down through the dim vista of the years recognized in marriage a definite sacredness and recognized, too, the need for the special blessing of God upon it. For instance, it was perfectly natural for the young Tobias before his marriage to pray to God and say in that prayer: "Lord God of our fathers, Thou madest Adam of the slime of the earth: and gavest him Eve for a helper...." then, turning to his beloved Sara, say: "Sara, arise, and let us pray to God today, and tomorrow, and the next day: . . . For we are the children of saints: and we must not be joined together like heathens that know not God." (Tob. 8:4, 5, 7, 8.) So sacred did God want man to consider marriage that He imposed two special commandments--two out of ten--to preserve it from profanation. The two prohibitions were: "Thou shalt not commit adultery." "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house: neither shalt thou desire his wife...." (Exod. 20:14,17.)

Thus, from the beginning of the world, marriage has been considered by God as a very special and sacred contract in which two people promise to be faithful to each other, to help each other, and never to forsake each other. In this, marriage differs from all other human contracts. Any other contract may be set aside by mutual agreement, but not so marriage. While it is a private affair-- private to the extent that the choice is free--once the marriage vows are made, the fate of all mankind is connected with that marriage and it becomes a public affair, and no one has the right to dissolve it. Indeed, marriage is more than a contract. It is the mystical union of two bodies and souls. To hold less than this is to refuse to identify ourselves with the divine plan of God, and we reduce ourselves to the sad plight of our First Parents.

The first love this world ever knew between a man and a woman went wrong because Adam and Eve betrayed their God. They had been asked simply to accept the Creator as the master of their hearts and souls and actions. Freely, however, our First Parents rejected God as their ruler and in that rejection lay disaster. That first mortal sin lost for them supernatural life and the consequent loss of the friendship of God. Severed from God by their sin, Adam and Eve found that their human nature became dominant. They who had been made by and for God were conscious of their orphanhood and awful isolation. They had cut themselves adrift in a storm-tossed and cursed sea. Never must our First Parents have so realized the awful cost of their lack of unity with God as when their son Cain murdered his brother Abel and displayed the depths to which impaired nature could descend.

It took four thousand years of waiting, of prayer and penance, to make ready for the coming of Christ who, out of boundless love for fallen humanity, offered to come down on this earth and take a human nature and re-establish contact with the Creator.

F. J. Sheed very beautifully puts it this way:

"At last God did for man what man could not do for himself . . . but consider what man by his own act had become, and it will be small wonder if the new road lacks some of the simplicity of the old. The first road had been planned for man as he came all perfect from the hand of God; the second had to be planned for man as he was, with the wounds and stains that were upon him after countless ages of bearing the assaults of the world, the temptations of the devil, the warfare within himself. For the first road God had made man; for the building of the second road God became man."[1]

It is worthy of profound contemplation that the first recorded act of the public life of the Son of God made man was to assist at and bless the nuptials of a man and his wife at Cana in Galilee. He it was who raised marriage to the dignity of a sacrament and His divinely instituted Church has never ceased through the ages to promulgate and protect marriage as such.

The triune God is made up of the Three Divine Persons--the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. In marriage--the holy union of husband and wife--God is ever a third partner, and the union of all three is for the sole purposes of the Creator. The union of man and woman in Christian marriage is effected through the priestly power of Christ Himself. It is a union effected by God and for God. When a man or a woman, or both, deny God's plan in their union, the result is disaster. The incomparable Father Isidore O'Brien, O.F.M., puts it this way:

"Man was created with no contradictions in his soul or body. But certain evil influences did exist outside him and these he admitted into his soul by a single deliberate act, and since that day they have remained within him. When man let these negative agencies (sin) into his soul, they at once weakened his positive powers and struck an alliance with his nature which is called a propensity to evil."[2]

Our Saviour, conscious of man's misfortune and altered state when He came to save man from his sins, and realizing that man would need special help to succeed in the marriage career, raised matrimony to the dignity of a sacrament--that is, He made it an official channel by which baptized members are united to His mystical Body or, in other words, He made it a means of grace. It should be carefully noted that while the marriage of two unbaptized persons is certainly not a sacrament, and while it is more probable that the marriage of a baptized person to an unbaptized person is not a sacrament either, such marriages are, nevertheless, important, serious things besides being valid contracts[3]

Now since the sacramental character of marriage is ofttimes denied today, it might be well to have a ready answer for those who raise such an objection. Only recently I heard a nationally famous radio broadcaster say that marriage did not become a sacrament until the middle of the fourteenth century. I took him to task and pointed out that the prime requisite for a sacrament is that it has been instituted by Christ. The other two requisites are that it is an outward sign and that it gives grace. I hastened to inform him of St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians (5:32), in which he wrote these words when comparing marital love with the love of Christ for His Church: "This is a great Sacrament [or mystery]: but I speak in Christ and in the Church." In case he might think that I was attempting to use this text to prove immediately the fact that matrimony, for a Christian, is a sacrament, I hastened to quote the following from THE SACRAMENTS, by Rev. Isidore O'Brien, O.F.M.: "As explained, the Greek word mysterion, "mystery" (which St. Paul employs here) was often used for "sacrament." In this text Catholic theologians so understand it. The King James Version of the Bible translates it "mystery." But this literal translation does not exclude the Catholic significance of "sacrament." The civil contract, is not a "great mystery"; it is not mysterious, in the sense of being transcendentally sublime, unless it is a Sacrament. St. Paul describes matrimony as the symbol, the sign of Christ's union with the Church: and not, let us note, in the sense of a certain loose resemblance. It is a sign of that union because of the spiritual love by which Christ loves and rules the Church and by which the Church cleaves to Christ as a wife to her husband. Christ's union with the Church sanctifies the Church. The sacramental union of marriage sanctifies husband and wife in the holy state of matrimony.

We have, therefore, in the marriage contract between Christians, as described by St. Paul, the three essentials of a Sacrament: an external sign, internal grace, and institution by Jesus Christ.

It is worthy of note that the Council of Trent derived its main argument for the sacramentality of marriage, from the teachings of the Fathers and the early councils, and from the universal practice and belief of the Church. Let us here examine a few excerpts from the works of the early Fathers.

St. Ignatius, writing in the second century, said: "But it is fitting for those who marry--both with the men and the women--to accomplish their union with the consent of the bishop that their marriage may be according to God and not according to lust."[4]

Tertullian, in the same century, wrote: "How can we find words to describe the happiness of that marriage which the Church joins together and the oblation confirms (the Mass) and the blessing seals, the angels report and the Father ratifies."[5]

And should you need to prove that the Church has always been the careful guardian of marriage and that marriage before a priest is in no way a modern invention, read these words of Timotheus of Alexandria, successor to the See of St. Athanasius, written in the third century A.D. "If any one call in a cleric, to unite in marriage but he shall hear that the marriage is unlawful . . . ought the cleric to accede or to make the oblation? Answer--Say to him, if the cleric hear that the marriage is unlawful, the cleric ought not to become a partaker of another's sins."[6]

Again, this matter is well summed up in the following ancient Anglo-Saxon ordinance: "At the Nuptials there shall be a Mass- priest by law who shall with God's blessing bind their union to all posterity."[7]

When in the sixteenth century the professors of Tubingen University sought to win the Greek Church to the creed of the reformers, the Greek Patriarch Jeremias indignantly scouted their suggestion that his Church could ever be won to their doctrine of only two sacraments. Testifying to the unvarying belief of the Oriental Church in the seven sacraments, including matrimony, he terminated their overtures with a scornful refusal. Thus eloquently do the voices of Christian tradition testify to the sacramental character of matrimony equal to the other six sacraments. Marriage, too, was instituted by Christ.

Speaking of the so-called Reformation, it might be only justice to say that if there is little or no respect today for marriage either as a binding contract or a sacrament, the blame can be laid to the reformers themselves. Most non-Catholics are shocked to read that Calvin taught that "there is nothing more sacred about marriage than there is about agriculture, architecture, shoemaking or hair- cutting."[8] Luther was just as vigorous in condemning the sacramental character of marriage, saying that "claims of sacredness for marriage are a mere jest."[9] In Luther's words lies the secret of marriage failures today--men and women continue to make a joke of it.

Be this as it may, the task of present-day Christians is to follow the laws of God and of His Church and safeguard themselves against the pagan onslaughts of the modern world. Christian lovers might well repeat often the poetic prayer of Thomas Moore:

O guard our affection, nor e'er let it feel The blight that this world o'er the warmest will steal. While the faith of all round us is fading or past, Let ours, ever green, keep its bloom to the last.

Pope Pius XI, in his famous Encyclical letter "Casti Connubii," already referred to, expresses the benefits of the sacrament of matrimony in the following terms:

(1) Husband and wife possess a positive guarantee of the endurance of the marriage bond.

(2) They are provided with a strong bulwark of chastity against the incitements to infidelity, should they arise.

(3) They are freed from anxiety lest in advanced years the partner prove unfaithful.

(4) The human dignity of man and woman is maintained.

(5) Mutual aid is assured.

(6) It perfects natural love, confirms the indissoluble union and sanctifies both man and wife.

(7) Christian marriage opens a treasure of sacramental grace from which is drawn the supernatural power of fulfilling the rights and duties of married life faith fully, holily, perseveringly till death.

(8) In addition to sanctifying grace, the sacrament bestows particular gifts, dispositions, seeds of grace, by which the natural powers are elevated and perfected.

(9) It assists the parties in understanding and knowing intimately, in adhering to firmly, in willing effectively, and in successfully putting into practice those things which appertain to the married state, its aims and duties.

Little wonder then that Dr. Paul Popenoe, director general of the American Institute of Family Relations, and author of "Marriage, Before and After," could say: "Those who consider marriage a sacrament are naturally more disposed to turn it into success than are those who look on it as merely a ninety-day option." Remember that, before you choose a mate who does not or will not hold that marriage is a sacrament.

The marriage of baptized persons is ruled not only by the divine law of God but by the Canon Law of the Church, and this without prejudice to the power of the civil authority over the merely civil effects. To the Church alone belongs the right to safeguard the sacraments and therefore the marriage of the baptized, since the contract of marriage is a sacrament. Since there is no distinction, it is not possible that the State should regulate marriage as a contract, and the Church should be allowed to regulate it as a sacrament. The power of the Church is legislative, judicial, and coercive. Legislative, inasmuch as it can lay down laws for valid and lawful marriages; judicial, since it can decide marriage cases; and coercive, because it can threaten and punish those guilty of dereliction of marital duties.

Having established the sacramental character of marriage and the Church's exclusive and independent authority over Christian marriage in respect to validity and lawfulness, let us get down to the practical application. Those who plan to marry should follow the Shakespearean advice and get you to a Church and have a good priest who can tell you what marriage

It is strongly advised that those who plan to marry ought to approach the girl's pastor a good month or more in advance of the date set for the wedding. In case of mixed marriages, the Catholic's pastor is the one to be consulted. It is important, and it will save time, if on that initial visit you bring certain essential documents. Catholics planning marriage should surrender to the priest on their first visit:

(1) A recent copy of your baptismal certificate

(2) Your First Communion certificate

(3) Your Confirmation certificate

(4) And in the case of a man a Letter of Freedom from his own pastor, stating that to the best of his knowledge he is free to marry.

In the case of a non-Catholic who plans a mixed marriage a baptismal certificate should be brought along as well as a letter from some well-known person, stating his belief as to the freedom to marry of the subject.

In any case, and especially where a mixed marriage is planned, we cannot overstress the importance of calling on the girl's pastor one month or more in advance of the date chosen for the marriage, since some dioceses demand that the non-Catholic take six instructions before the wedding.

Unless a special dispensation from publication of banns is requested and obtained in writing from the Bishop, three Sundays or two Sundays and an intervening Holy Day must be allowed for the publication of the names of the two Catholic parties at the principal masses in the parish church of both persons concerned.

In the matter of mixed marriages the banns are not announced, but instead, the regular application for a dispensation for such a marriage must be made in writing to the Bishop. Attached to this application must be the signed promises already spoken of on page 84 (see Form of Promises). Let us look at the matter of impediments and dispensations--a dispensation meaning a relaxation of law in a particular case.

Ever conscious of her obligation to safeguard the great sacrament of marriage, the Church places certain restrictions around the sacred contract and enacts laws concerning it. Pope Leo XIII made this quite clear in his Encyclical letter "Arcanum," when he said: "Therefore when Christ bestowed marriage to the care of the Church, He entrusted and recommended the whole discipline of marriage to her. Concerning the sacrament, the Church alone can and should determine and prescribe."

The Church teaches that there are certain conditions which because of their nature make it impossible for persons to contract a marriage. Such conditions are called invalidating impediments. There are also conditions which make it unlawful to contract a marriage, but which do not actually prevent a real marriage from taking place. These are called forbidding impediments. Some invalidating impediments are clear from the Natural and Divine Law. Some are specified by the Church, which has been given authority over society by Christ. These latter are called impediments of Ecclesiastical Law.

The chief impediments which invalidate marriage are the following:

Blood relationship in the direct line, i.e., father and daughter, grandfather and granddaughter, etc.

Blood relationship in the collateral line, i.e., brothers and sisters, first and second cousins.

Spiritual relationship, such as sponsors at baptism and the person baptized.

Affinity, i.e., relationship arising out of marriage. One cannot marry the blood relation of his partner in marriage except beyond the second degree.

Solemn vows taken in Sacred and Religious Orders.

Disparity of religion, i.e., marriage of a baptized Catholic with a non-baptized party.

Crime, i.e., adultery with the promise of marriage.

Violence or compulsion by grave fear amounting to violence.

Error regarding a person's identity or error substantially equal to that.

Impotency, i.e., incapacity to have marriage relations. This must be perpetual and antecede the marriage.

The following are forbidding impediments:

Simple vows of chastity. Marriage with baptized non-Catholics.

By the same power which the Church has over society in virtue of which she can place an impediment to marriage, she can also dispense from these impediments which she has established in particular cases. Thus the Church may dispense and permit the marriage of a baptized person with one not baptized, or without the publication of banns. But as regards impediments contained in the Natural Law or the Commandments of God, the Church has no power of dispensation. The Church cannot dispense a person who is already married from the obligations of his or her marriage and permit remarriage.

The parties themselves, their parents, relatives, or friends are bound to make known to the priest the existence of any of the above-listed impediments.

In the case of a mixed marriage it is important for the nonCatholic party to state whether or not he or she has ever been baptized and if not, to freely admit it. If the non-Catholic has been baptized, the priest will apply for a dispensation for "mixed religion"; and in the case of non-baptism, he will apply for a dispensation covering "disparity of cult."

It may occur to some that the Church acts very arbitrarily in the matter of declaring the attempted marriage of a Catholic to a non- Catholic before a justice of the peace or a minister as invalid, while holding that the marriage of two non-Catholics under the same conditions is valid and binding. While comparisons are said to be odious, they do at times clarify an issue. With this in mind, let us compare the stand of the Church regarding the marriages mentioned and the arbitrary actions of important educational institutions regarding the recognition and refusal to recognize degrees of other institutions. Doubtless you have noticed from time to time advertisements in the national magazines inviting students to take correspondence courses leading to A.B., A.M., or B.Sc. degrees? True, if you take the course and pass the examinations, the said university or school will award a very formidable-looking diploma, but you will find that universities like Columbia, Yale, Harvard, Fordham, and Georgetown will refuse to recognize such a degree. No one denies the universities this right. Then why deny the Church similar authority in the case of marriages which do not conform to her regulations? She really acts so in the case of mixed marriages because, as the Father of the Third Council of Baltimore declared: "The Church . . . has always been against marriages of Catholics and non-Catholics both on account of the disgrace to the divine communion and on account of the most grave danger of perversion of the Catholic party and of the evil institutions for raising the children."

Isn't it rather strange that people who agree wholeheartedly with the United States Government's strict control of the atom bomb, and the formation of a special commission to safeguard its development, should resent a similar control by the Church over marriage and the fact that Christ should appoint His Church to safeguard its sanctity? Right reason dictates that anything that could wreak such havoc on mankind as an ill-used atom bomb should be controlled. In the same way, unless marriage as a contract and as a sacrament is protected and reverenced, mankind could wreck human society. Even the pagan Cicero taught this, for he said in "De Officiis": "The first bond of society is marriage, the next, our children; then the whole family and all things in common."

Until and unless the Church, through her pastors, is certain that there is no danger of perversion to the Catholic party or the children will she grant a dispensation for a mixed marriage. The usual form of the application is such as that found on page 83, with the promises signed in the presence of the priest and one witness by both the Catholic and the non-Catholic party.

After the marriage license has been secured from the proper civil authorities and turned over to the priest who is to perform the ceremony, the future bride and groom must answer under oath in the presence of a priest the following or a similar questionnaire:

THE BRIDE (or Bridegroom)

(The parties must be interrogated separately. The priest will propose the questions and write the answers.)

The prospective bride (bridegroom) is to be reminded of the sacred character and binding force of an oath and then asked to take the following oath: "I solemnly swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth in answer to all the questions that shall be proposed to me, so help me God."

What is your full name? When and where were you born? What is your address? How long have you lived at that address? Have you lived in any other parish for six months or more since you were twelve years old and, if so, in what parishes, and for how long a time in each one? What is your father's name? His religion? What is your mother's name? Her religion? What is your religion? If non-Catholic, indicate particular sect. Have you proof of baptism? When? Where? Have you proof of baptism? (a) Check whether proof was obtained by certificate------, or by competent witnesses----- (b) If not baptized, check whether person is a Jew------, or a Mohammedan------, neither----.

Catholics are to be asked:

Did you receive First Communion? When and where? Did you receive Confirmation? When and where? When and where did you receive religious instruction?

Arrange for instructions before marriage if necessary. Remind person to go to Confession and receive Holy Communion before marriage. Have you ever been married before? How often?

1. To whom? When? Where? Priest, Minister or Civil Magistrate?

2. To whom? When? Where? Priest, Minister or Civil Magistrate?

Proof of death of former spouse or of nullity of former marriage must be obtained. Check whether or not there is present the impediment of crime.

Are you related to your intended husband by blood? By marriage?

If a relationship exists, please indicate the precise degree by use of the genealogical tree at bottom of page.

Are you aware of any physical defect that will prevent you from fulfilling the marital duties of a wife?

Have you ever been treated by a neurologist or psychiatrist or suffered any mental disturbance?

If so, how often? When?

Are you marrying freely, i.e., free from compulsion or pressure exerted by any person or circumstance?

Is your intended husband marrying freely?

Investigate and check if any of the following impediments are present: (a) Vow in Religion (b) Spiritual relationship (c) Legal relationship (d) Public propriety.

Explain the nature and essential obligations of Christian marriage and then ask:

(a) Do you intend to enter a permanent marriage, i.e., a marriage that cannot be dissolved by divorce or any other way except by death?

(b) Do you intend to be faithful to your husband (wife) always?

(c) Do you understand the object of marriage to be the begetting of children, God willing?

(d) Does your intended husband (wife) accept and propose to fulfill these obligations?

(e) Do you know that the use of methods or means to frustrate the purpose of marital relations is sinful?

(f) Have you or your prospective husband (wife) the intention of denying to the other the right to true marital relations and the natural consequences thereof?

(g) Have you or your prospective husband (wife) made any conditions or reservations concerning marriage or marital relations?

Did you ever make a private or public vow? What was the precise nature of the vow?

Are you a member of any condemned or atheistic society?

If either party has not yet completed his twenty-first year ask: Do your parents consent to your marriage (if not, consult canon 1034).

When do you intend to be married? Are the witnesses to the marriage to be Catholics? Have you fulfilled the license and other civil requirements?

Do you now swear to the truth of the above answers?

Signature of Bride (Bridegroom)

Signature of Priest

Explanation Date

The priest will record the following: 1. Date and place of marriage 2. Dispensations granted 3. Delegation asked for or given 4. Permission asked for or given 5. Date of notice sent to parishes of baptism

Note the question regarding the witnesses. The Church law is that both witnesses to the marriage of two Catholics or the witnesses to a mixed marriage must be Catholics. (Catholics may not be "attendants" at a non-Catholic wedding without the consent of the Bishop of the diocese.)

Let us now turn our attention to the matter of time, place, and types of ceremonies. A marriage may take place at any time of the year but the different enactments of the civil law should be observed in this matter. Marriage at a Nuptial Mass, with the accompanying blessing, is forbidden by the Church from the first Sunday of Advent to Christmas inclusive and from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday inclusive, unless special permission is granted.

Regarding the place of marriage, if the bride is Catholic the marriage is celebrated in her parish church; and if it is a mixed marriage, the ceremony usually takes place in the parish rectory of the baptized non-Catholic bride.[10] It sometimes happens that very unreasonable requests are made for the performance of marriages in hotels, country clubs, private homes and scenic gardens. In the name of all that is holy and good, don't ask for special concessions. It usually happens that those who want such special permissions are the ones least worthy of special favors.

As to the type of ceremony, let it be said that it is hard to imagine two Catholics who would consider any other ceremony than that which takes place at a Nuptial Mass, since it is only during a Nuptial Mass that the important Nuptial Blessing is given. Hearken to the words of the Fathers in the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore: "Frequently and with grave words, pastors of souls are to inculcate that pious and laudable rite of the Church by which the faithful contract marriage not at night but at the time of Mass with the blessing of the Nuptials. By which they profess tacitly their Catholic faith and show before all, how highly and splendidly as is becoming, they consider the dignity and sanctity of matrimony. And this is not only worthy of praise but seems necessary to us in these times, when the enemies of religion leave nothing unattempted, in order to strip matrimony of all sanctity, of every species of sacrament, if this were possible, and have it considered as a mere civil contract."

Catholics who withstand all types of urging in the matter of a Nuptial Mass for their wedding would be the first to raise a fuss if they were not allowed to have a funeral mass for a loved one. The Mass at a wedding is as important as a Mass at a funeral.

I know of no priest who does not become a little sick at heart when a Catholic bride-to-be says, "Oh, yes, Father, we want the organ and a singer at our wedding, and flowers on the altar and all that but-- not the Mass"! Not the Mass? Why, the mind of the Church is that marriage ought to be performed before the sacrifice and at the very altar of the Lord where it is sealed by the merging of the common sacrifice of each to the other in the universal sacrifice of Christ through participation of the husband and wife in both the sacrifice-oblation and the sacrifice-banquet.

The whole Nuptial Mass, the prayers, the instructions are themed around unity in God. "May the God of Israel make you one," are the first words spoken in the Introit and the prayers ask God's blessing in a most special way.

Apart from the proper parts of the Mass text, the priest prays twice for the newly married couple, each time intensifying the ordinary progress of the liturgical action of the sacrifice. After the Pater Noster the priest turns to face the newlyweds and recites the long prayer that follows. Read it slowly. It is beautiful.

"O God, who by Thy might has out of nothing made all things, who, in the beginning, didst create the world, and having made man, to Thy image, didst give him woman to be his constant helpmate, fashioning her body from his very flesh and thereby teaching us that it is never lawful to put asunder what it has pleased Thee to make of one substance; O God, who hast consecrated wedlock by a surpassing mystery, since in holy matrimony is shown forth the Sacrament of Christ and His Church; O God, who dost join woman to man, that theirs may be the blessing given by Thee in the beginning, and which was the only one not taken away as part of the punishment inflicted for the sin of our first parents, the only one left untouched by Thy wrath at the time of the flood; look down in mercy on this Thy handmaid, who is about to enter upon her wedded life, and who seeks to be strengthened by Thy protection.

"May the yoke she has to bear be one of love and peace; faithful and chaste, may she marry in Christ; may her whole life be modeled on that of the holy women; may she be pleasing to her husband as was Rachel, may she be wise as was Rebecca; may she be long-lived and true as was Sara; may he who is the author of all evil have no part in her actions; all the days of her life, may she be true to the troth she has plighted, faithful in obedience, innocent and pure, strengthened against weakness by wholesome discipline; may she be respected for her seriousness, venerated for her modesty, schooled in Divine wisdom, rich in children, worthy of all praise and above reproach, and in the end may she enter in a blessed rest and have a place in heaven. And may she and her husband see their children's children to the third and fourth generation, and come to the good old age to which they look forward."

Finally, just before the blessing of the Mass the priest again turns, takes up the last notes of the preceding occasion and recites the concluding prayer of the Church's rite in behalf of the happiness of the couple:

"May the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob be with you, and may he fulfill unto you His blessing; that you may see your children's children unto the third and fourth generation; thereafter enjoy forever eternal life, with the help of Jesus Christ our Lord, who with the Father, and the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth, God through all eternity. Amen."

How, I ask you, can Cana be better re-enacted than for your marriage to take place at Mass, so close to the Master that He can hear your heartbeat? How better to commence life together than by receiving Holy Communion side by side, so that the first nuptial kiss will have in it, too, the heavenly taste of Jesus. No kiss will ever be so sweet!

Have you ever thought how weak and trivial are the reasons given for not having a Nuptial Mass? For instance, I've heard brides-to-be say: "Oh, Father, I could never stand through a Mass!" Lady, you don't stand through a Nuptial Mass--you sit, and kneel. It has been my experience that the frail damsel who is jet-propelled up the aisle and down again at an afternoon wedding--too weak and nervous to sit and kneel through a thirty-five-minute Nuptial Mass- -usually can find sufficient reserve strength to go to a public hall or hotel and stand in a reception line for two hours or more. No, it adds up simply to lack of faith. Remember, you cannot receive the Nuptial Blessing outside of Mass and but once in your lifetime. Don't pass it up. You will regret it later on, for no Catholic celebrates his marriage in full conformity with the desires and spirit of the Church without the Nuptial Mass. Those who will not have the Mass cannot have the special blessing except by Apostolic Indult.

The ideal way to prepare for a worthy reception of the sacrament of matrimony is for both parties to make a week-end retreat, or at the very least make a general confession before marrying.

Just a word about the modern scourge of picture-taking at church weddings. I know of nothing so distracting, nothing that can so detract from the solemn dignity of a Catholic marriage as a shutter-happy photographer dashing hither and yon from sanctuary to belfry, in pursuit of an "unusual" candid shot, while setting off eerie pyrotechnics at the most sacred parts of the Mass and, at the same time, shedding used flash bulbs from reredos to narthex with all the reckless abandon of a startled porcupine shedding quills. If you are going to insist on pictures, first ascertain whether or not it is permissible and in accordance with local parochial custom. If permission is granted, brief your photographer to stay out of the sanctuary and away from the front of the church. "Back and center" might be a safe slogan!

As regards the social side of the wedding, don't make a vulgar display of your nuptials a la Hollywood. Money wasted on a monster reception may later be regretted. Lend even to the social side of the wedding an air of dignity and reserve. As a point of information, it is quite proper to invite the celebrant of your nuptials to the wedding breakfast, and if he is free to accept, a place at the right hand of the bride should be reserved for him. He will say the grace before and the thanksgiving after the breakfast.

And if in the rush and fuss prior to the wedding you may be irked by the several essential requisites demanded by the Church and her apparent opposition to the modern element of speed, remember the advertisement prevalent in national magazines that says: "Some things just can't be hurried!" The Church feels that way about marriages. On the other hand, be grateful that the Church takes such care of this great sacrament. Christ raised marriage to the dignity of a sacrament and the Church maintains that dignity.

Shakespeare may have been more right than he realized when he advised the church wedding mentioned earlier. There is more than a passing relationship between the kind of marriage ceremony one chooses and its ultimate results. Judge Sabath, who has for twenty years headed the divorce branch of Cook County, during which time he has heard more than one hundred thousand divorce cases, states that it is his experience that "the more impressive the wedding ceremony--one conducted in a church in a dignified and sincere manner, with both families present, the fewer chances there will be of that marriage breaking up." What could be more impressive than a marriage at a Nuptial Mass?

Too few of the faithful realize the abiding character of the sacrament of matrimony. The sacrament is not left behind when the bride and groom leave the altar. It is not just a sacrament that two lovers administer to each other but a very particular kind of sacrament. Like the Holy Eucharist, it is an abiding sacrament. In fact, St. Robert Bellarmine compares marriage to the Eucharist.[11]

St. Robert wrote: "The sacrament of matrimony is a sacrament like unto the Eucharist, which, not only while it is being conferred, but as long as it remains, is a sacrament. For as long as the husband and his wife shall live, so long is their life together a sacrament of Christ and of the Church."

Little wonder then that the Church looks upon a violation of marriage and the marriage bond with horror, because such a violation is the desecration of a sacrament of God.

Always remember that not only is sanctifying grace increased by the sacrament of matrimony but both parties receive another most special grace: They become entitled to God's help in all trials and difficulties that affect them in this holy state and all the special helps necessary to make of their marriage a real and permanent success. In every trial, in every misunderstanding, in every great or small problem, a simple heartfelt prayer such as "Dear Lord, help us in our need, help us now," will bring swift and powerful spiritual aid.

Reverend Edmund D. Bedard in a recent radio talk on the sacrament of marriage, said:

"This is the union of husband and wife. The little tasks of every day, the words they speak to one another, the joys they share and the sorrows they endure, the strength they give and the strength they borrow, their hours and days and years together, shine with the brilliance of a sacrament, and are colored with its glory. And the house that shelters them and their family, whether it be a mansion or a cottage, a tenement or a Quonset hut, is like the tabernacle on the altar that protects the Body of the Lord!"

As at the marriage feast at Cana of Galilee--and Cana is Forever--be sure Christ is invited first and made the honored guest. No marriage has a better chance of retaining its flavor and of withstanding the wear and tear of prosaic wedded life than one begun at a Nuptial Mass. The words of Tertullian, written in the second century, bear repetition: "How can we find words to describe the happiness of that marriage which the Church joins together; and the oblation (Mass) confirms; and the blessing seals; the angels report and the Father ratifies."


1. "A Map of Life," F. J. Sheed. New York: Sheed & Ward, 1937.

2. "Greater Love," "The Anthonian," 1938, V. I, 12 (No. 1).

3. When subsequent to the marriage the infidel is baptized, or both of the unbaptized receive baptism, then and there the sacrament of marriage is wrought.

4. Ad Polycarp No. 5.

5. L. 11. Ad Uxor. No. 9, P. 171

6. Galland T. VII Resp. Canon. pp. 348-349.

7. Liebermann--Gisetze der Angell-Sachsen 1.422.

8. Institutions--IV, IX, 34.

9. De Captivitate Babylonica--by Luther.

10. Woywod, I, p. 682.

11. "De Controveriis de Matrimonii sacramento," lib. I. Cap. 6.


It is related that King Louis XIV of France, shortly after his ascension to the throne, stood at an open window in his palace and silently admired the simple beauty of the Church of Saint Denis, standing some distance away. A servant ventured to remark that all the king's ancestors lay buried there and that doubtless it would also be His Majesty's last resting place. The very next day the king ordered another palace built so that the Church of Saint Denis would be hidden from his view.

Many newlyweds behave like King Louis XIV. They build dream castles designed to hide life's cold realities. They readily accept as a fact the existence of trials and difficulties in the lives of other married couples but refuse to acknowledge them as possible in their own particular union. Even in the best of matches the first year is one fraught with dangers and has been called "the period of disillusionment," which I prefer to term "the period of adjustment."

It would be well for all newlyweds to prepare themselves for a certain letdown after the dizzy heights of the honeymoon. A sweet grape and a bitter nut look the same in the moonlight. Only in tasting or in the cold light of day is the difference perceived.

There is no gainsaying the fact that it is a shock for every new husband to discover that a great deal of his wife's beauty comes out of bottles and jars. Who could adequately measure the depth of the disillusionment of the young bride who beholds for the first time her Romeo with a three-day beard and hears him go into a tantrum when in the dark he walks into three pairs of wet nylons hanging from the bathroom light cord. Such situations point up what Lowell said in "My Study Windows": "It is in untried emergencies that the native mettle of man is tested."

Marital adjustment, though but one process, is usually and wisely subdivided into two periods: that which immediately follows the marriage, coyly termed the honeymoon; and the other, beginning on the way home from the honeymoon and enduring until death.

The purpose of the honeymoon is to provide the couple with the chance to start making new and more intimate adjustments between each other before they are required to adjust to their relatives and friends. This is a most important period and should for no reason or circumstance be omitted. In a great many cases of marital rupture it has been found that there had been no honeymoon.

It is advised that the duration of the honeymoon should run from a week to a month and should be enjoyed away from the prying eyes of relatives and friends. The real value of the honeymoon lies in the opportunity it affords the newlyweds to meet the first experiences in conjugal love and also the opportunity to get over the self-consciousness which comes with their new role of "Mr. and Mrs." The honeymoon provides, too, that necessary and wondrous chance to practice generosity, patience, mutual forbearance and, above all, tact. Should the ultimate in sexual enjoyment be restricted, due to nervousness, fatigue, or excitement, it is well to remember that this, like love, grows with the years and is a matter of learning. A grand rule to follow on the honeymoon is for the couple to be good pals rather than to try to be dramatic.

The second period of marital adjustment begins, as we have already stated, on the way home from the honeymoon and endures till death. It is the tougher because it is the longer.

Newlyweds start their honeymoon in a burst of excitement and enthusiasm, surrounded by well-wishing relatives and friends, fiendishly hurling rice and confetti. All the world loves lovers, and so the bride and groom are treated with privileged respect and veneration at the secret, quiet haven of retreat (the Mount Royal or Waldorf-Astoria). However, all too soon the honeymoon is over, and they find themselves on the way home. But now they are just another married couple. No friends bother to meet them at the station, so they have to hail a taxi to convey them to their abode. If they, disregarding the advice of authorities and ignoring the statistical proof of fatality, move in with their in-laws, it is quite possible that the mother-in-law who looked so perfectly ravishing in ice-blue satin at the wedding may be in the midst of the weekly wash and garbed to suit the occasion. Or suppose the returning honeymooners have been fortunate enough to have secured an apartment or home of their own, it is none the less very disillusioning to the bride that while she is being carried across the threshold it dawns on her that her husband does stutter and all the time she had thought it was emotion.

The pay-off comes, however, when hubby, after nonchalantly appropriating the twin bed nearest the window for himself, hears his beloved say that she can never sleep in a room with the window open--"Sinus, you know...." Brother, the period of adjustment has arrived!

Every newly married couple ought to be disillusioned to the extent that they must expect occasional disagreements. Perfect and perpetual harmony in marriage is so rare as to be termed unique. A little serious reflection ought to be sufficient to convince any mature man or woman, any two normal individuals of this. Since each person is a distinct being with particular and personal patterns of feeling, behavior, and thought, of background, desires, motives, and impulses--some or all of which are alien or incomprehensible to the other--the answer to marriage failure or disillusionment lies hidden therein. Let us get a better picture of this matter here and now.

The whole problem of human adaptation consists in fitting dynamically into an environment made up of other individuals, whether considered in groups or singly. The equation of adaptation is made up of (1) the raw materials inherent in a person and (2) that person's environment. Individual variation is greater in man than in any other species. Two flies are more similar than two birds, two birds are more similar than two cows, but not until one gets to the human species does individual variation become so sharply remarkable.

First among these variables comes intelligence, then temperament, inherent personality, emotions, will, and environment. These things differ in every individual and thus adapting oneself to a mate is, to say the least, tricky. Causes of maladaptation may be divided into two general categories: first, those arising in self; and second, those arising from environment, such as a bad example derived from the family, harmful education, or ignorance.

Newlyweds must keep all this in mind during the period of adjustment, and they must accept the fact, too, that adjustment or adaptation is never a static condition but requires continual effort and continual improvement in technique. All human relationships, and above all marriage, grow only through increased mutual understanding. There should be no such thing as a state of routine relationship. Human relationships either grow or starve. The general slump that follows the honeymoon must not be accepted as the normal flavor of marriage. It is really essential that when the new low is reached, that is the time for the ideals that developed during courtship to be renewed, and the promises made to be restated, and for love to be intensified.

Many of the recent books on marriage would incline one to the belief that the only important problem for newlyweds is adjustment in the matter of suitable and satisfactory physical mating. Important as this is, it is but one in the adjustment group. As we shall see later, it is seldom that violent acts cause unhappiness and failure in marriage, but rather an accumulation of small things. Small cumulative irritations are harder to put up with than great sporadic blasts of human nature. A vulgar belch, an unsocial mannerism, a constantly repeated hackneyed expression, nagging, fault-finding and the lack of a sense of humor can be as catastrophic as an atom bomb. To have achieved excellent sex adjustment and to have ignored any of the other elements that go into the making of a happy marriage may easily hamper or ruin sex compatibility.

Generally speaking, marital adjustment falls into several logical divisions, namely:

(1) Personal adjustment (2) Domestic adjustment (3) Sexual adjustment (4) Social adjustment (5) Economic adjustment

Personal Adjustment. Anyone who enters marriage armed only with a faulty preconceived idea of matrimony, based on the unreal movie or modern novel pattern of a sticky romance kept aglow with constant burning thrills, is headed for failure. The Hollywood- or love-story attitude toward marriage is deceiving and fallacious simply because it ignores the fact that both individuals must put forth constant effort to keep happy and stay married. The whole problem of happiness in marriage begins first with the individuals. Finding the right mate is not the most important thing in making a success of matrimony. What is more important is being the right mate.

Being the right mate demands personal adjustment. It means acquiring and practicing such traits as:

(1) Thoughtfulness (2) Neatness (3) Friendliness (4) Cheerfulness (5) Enthusiasm (6) Humility (7) Patience (8) Eagerness to help (9) Sociability (10) Emotional control

Volumes might be written on each of these ten traits and their effects on marriage. Their importance might be pointed out by taking number ten, emotional control, as an example. For instance, let us consider the effect of the voice in our relation to others. The personal adjustment of the voice as the vehicle of the emotions is so important that it can be used to provoke or reduce about seventy per cent of daily frictions in marriage Have you ever noticed the effect of your voice on, say, a strange cat you encounter on the street? If you speak kindly to it in a sweet, gentle voice, saying, "Come here little kitty--nice pussy," you will invariably find that it reacts favorably. On the other hand, if you raise your voice and say, "Get out of here, you mangy brute," you will experience the opposite effect. If the dumb beast reacts favorably to the controlled voice, how much more the intellectual being-your mate. Always remember that a gentle, controlled, persuasive voice will most certainly reduce friction. Foghorns screech only when the deep fog surrounds them. The person who has to sound off in a loud, raucous bellow to get a point across demonstrates that he or she is in a fog. It is a good rule never to holler except if the house is on fire.

What we have just said concerning one little angle of emotional control may open up a new avenue of thought concerning this whole matter of personal adjustment to marriage. It is told by the great sculptor Michelangelo that when at work he wore over his forehead, fastened to his artist's cap, a lighted candle, in order that no shadow of himself might fall on his work. There is a fine thought here for every married person and one that teaches a great lesson, since most of the shadows of doubt and unhappiness that fall over marriage come from the individuals themselves. It was Tennyson who wrote:

Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control These three alone lead man to sovereign power.

The same three lead to happiness in marriage.

Domestic Adjustment. One day not long ago, when I was taking a walk, I passed a very old brick residence. It must have been built well over a hundred years ago. As the sun played upon it, I was struck by the fine brick work in the construction. As I gazed upon that wall, the sun lit up the little shining crystals of sand in the cement between the bricks. I reflected that while the sand blended with the cement to hold those bricks in place, each grain retained its own individuality. The sand remained sand, the cement remained cement, but both were united in such a way as to form one to keep that house together.

Much the same thing takes place in marriage. Two people are united to form one in a union that surpasses human estimation. "They shall be two in one flesh," says Holy Scripture, and yet each will retain his or her own individuality. Domestic adjustment must be considered in this light.

If men and women could only see the worst side of each other before marriage and demonstrate their real tempers, dispositions, manners, pet peeves, and weakness of character instead of camouflaging them until after the honeymoon, many of the hazards would be removed from marriage. Since that does not happen (nor will it ever happen), those who enter marriage must do so with a spirit of adventure and the determination to make a success of it in spite of the faults or imperfections that time will expose.

It is a good idea not to expect too much of matrimony. The very vows of marriage warn one against this by having each of the parties repeat aloud: "I take thee for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part." The very fact that such a promise is required points out the margin of error or chance in the lives of all married couples. The ideal thing is to enter wedlock with the firm purpose to take the other partner as he or she is. Marriage is no reform school. The man who is a drunkard before marriage doubtless will be a drunkard after marriage. The careless, untidy girl before marriage will be a slovenly housekeeper after marriage. The best you can hope for is to be able to alter to a degree the deep, ingrained fundamental traits. The rest calls for adjustment on your part. For example, once I knew a timid man who became a nervous wreck simply because his wife tried to remake him into an aggressive businessman and social lion. Her mistake was in not being content with a partial accomplishment of her designs and in her failure to adjust her life as much as humanly possible to her husband's.

Domestic adjustment entails the task of trying to understand the other partner. Love, of course, is the leaven of married life. It was Goethe who said: "A man does not learn to understand anything unless he loves it." But even with a heart full of love, right reason must also function.

Fewer conflicts would arise if the husband and wife would stop to think that they are really two fundamentally different persons and that their approach to things is different. Each person is influenced by the kind of body he started with, the kind of home he was born into and the persons he associated with in that home, by his relatives, and by circumstances such as being the only child, the youngest, middle, or last child. The age of the parents when he was born, his religious educational advantages, early emotional training, family status in community, and other things influence him. Domestic adjustment simply means taking all these items into consideration and attempting to adapt oneself and one's life to them.

I have said that men and women differ fundamentally in their approach to the same problem. This is so true that it would be well to examine this statement. Its acceptance will lessen conflict because it will make married couples patient with one another.

The very fact that man as an individual and woman as an individual can be so different in their approach to the same matter, yet be so one in their common life, is one of the great mysteries of matrimony. Let us take the subject of clothes as an example. Most men would rather be shot than wear, say, a pink vest. They would argue that other men do not wear such things. The fact that ten men at a banquet were dressed in the same dress suits would not be thought strange. But ten women at a banquet wearing the same color, the same style of dress, would make each of them most self-conscious and uneasy. A man feels comfortable only when he wears what every other man wears, while his wife strives frantically to purchase the gown that differs from all others. Right here we see a difference of opinion in a man and a woman's approach to the simple matter of wearing apparel. Men and women differ in their individual approaches to numerous other matters.

Men and women also differ in their emotional demonstrativeness. When angered, a woman generally expresses her emotion in tears, while a man wants to fight with his fists. Reaction to certain circumstances shows differentiation in men and women. A man will think nothing of taking a mouse from a trap while his wife would shudder at such a task; but a woman, in turn, would care for the personal needs of a sick infant, while the child's father entertains only the urge to flee.

Again, the fact that women differ psychologically from men is another thing that demands consideration. Elizabeth Kidd[1] gives the following list as the basic differences between the sexes. (I'm glad a woman compiled this list. I'd hate to have had to do it. The parentheses are mine.)

1. Women are intuitive Men are intellectual

2. Women are identificationalists Men are realists ("It's an adorable dress, Angela. ("What mileage can you get I had one just like it when I was per gallon?") your age.")

3. Women are subjective Men are objective ("I like--I think") ("He's O.K.--he is a good guy.")

4. Women go by inner perception Men go by rationalization ("I don't know why--but I just ("Do you have any figures on do.") that?") 5. Women are more indulgent Men are more influenced by in fancy facts. (That is why there are so (No comment.) many soap operas on the radio these days.)

If the reader's temper has a low boiling point, the truth of the above will be apparent. Take, for instance, the matter of feminine intuition. Intuition in women is uncanny. By it, she is able to grasp what is not openly stated better than if it were openly stated. A few weeks ago, a mother came to me with a letter from her daughter, who was a student in a fine college. The girl told her mother that she was not interested in her course and could not seem to decide what she wanted to be. The mother read between the lines and she said to me, "Mary will be home next week. I just feel it." Mary was home that Saturday. It is that same intuition that plagues many husbands. Most wives know things are not just right long before they find that blonde hair on the coat collar or the lipstick on the pocket handkerchief.

Good domestic adjustment can never be achieved unless allowance is made for the difference in the mental processes of men and women. Whenever I hear a man storm and fume over the fact that his wife "does not talk his language," "does not see things his way," or when he says that he "does not understand how her mind works," I know I am in the presence of one who is utterly ignorant of the fact that men's and women's minds work completely differently. Unless and until this fact is accepted there will be conflict.

It is a good rule for married people to take each other as they really are. To desire to make radical changes in another is not the sign of love but of hate. When a wife wants to make a man over into something she wants him to be, it shows clearly that she dislikes him as he is. When a husband always wants to have his wife think as he does, see eye to eye with him in everything, he is asking the impossible. Don't start married life under that delusion.

Mrs. Dwight Eisenhower offers brides the following sage advice:

"If a bride can make up her mind at the beginning of her marriage that she is the wife and that her husband is the head of the house, all of the adjustments and strains that are sure to come will take care of themselves. 'Happily ever after' does not follow the ceremony automatically. It takes wit and straight thinking and a good deal of adapting on both sides. The wise wife is the one who says at the beginning:

"'I will be the one to volunteer to do most of the adapting. It is worth it.'

"If I were newly married today I could wish nothing better for myself than to understand that idea in so many words, rather than instinctively. Men are so easy to please if you do not become belligerent over the little things that make no difference anyhow. But there were many times in my early married life when I had to go into conference with myself and say:

"'Listen. Is it worth it to have my own way about this? What am I gaining, anyway, if Ike would rather have it some other way?'"[2]

Since domestic adjustment involves putting up with another's habits it will serve a great purpose if newlyweds during the first year will, on their monthly anniversary of the wedding, check up on the things they have found more or less irritating. It could take the form of a little celebration. A nice dinner out or at home, exchange of little gifts, then after eliciting a promise from each other not to get angry, go over the little (or the big) things that are found to be irksome in the other. The lists might include such things as:

Sloppy table manners (be specific) Nervous mannerisms (e.g., snapping knuckle bones) Slamming doors Leaving clothes around on chairs Yelling from room to room Leaving wet towels on bathroom floor Sulkiness Jealousy Belching without effort at apology No privacy Cold cream on face at night Thoughtlessness of others (radio on when the other wants to sleep) Chin-strap worn to bed Impatience Garbage left in sink.

If such a check-up is really made in a mutual spirit of help and love, it will be found to be of inestimable value. After the first year, the monthly check-up can be changed to a quarterly one, but never less frequently. Make it a rule never to use these check-ups as an excuse or occasion to nag. A grindstone will sharpen a knife to a razor-edge, or it will ruin the blade--it all depends not on the grindstone but on the way you hold the knife. Monthly or quarterly friendly, understanding discussions of the annoying traits of the other partner can make living together a keener thing, but if such exchanges of "peeves" bear the least tinge of sarcasm, they can do more harm than good.

Some readers may feel that none of these things is really big enough to cause any marital trouble. Believe me, it's the small things that cause most trouble in marriage. Never underestimate the effect of small things on a common life. Here is something I read lately. I think it is very good and to the point. "One day in Colorado a great stalwart tree fell to the ground. It was a sapling when Columbus landed at San Salvador. It had been struck by lightning fourteen times. It had braved storms, defied earthquakes and hurricanes. But in the end tiny little beetles killed it. They bored underneath the bark, dug into its heart, ate away its mighty fiber--and down came the king of the forest. It is the little things that make or break marriage.[3] Oliver Wendell Holmes realized this when he wrote: "Life is a great bundle of little things."

It is advised that newlyweds study each other carefully during the first months of marriage to find out the other's vulnerable spots. Once determined, you avoid these altogether or tread gently as you pass them. The great art of living happily in marriage--the great achievement in domestic adjustment--is never to develop a martyr complex, but rather to use all your skill in developing in the other partner the habits that please you. This might be called "the art of arts."

A cardinal rule to follow during the adjustment period and throughout life is for the husband to strive always to make his wife proud she is his wife and for the wife, on the other hand, to make the husband proud of her and proud of himself.

Nothing can kill respect so completely as for a husband to habitually berate women as inferior, weaker, and less efficient than men. It's never very flattering to a wife to hear her husband scoff at, say, "women drivers," and blame them for most of the traffic snarls or fatalities. In addition, the records do not bear this statement out. Never do anything that would induce an inferiority complex. Without a feeling of equality--of partnership, of really belonging--no married person can be happy.

Domestic adjustment is not accomplished in a day or a year. This calls for persistence, patience, the acceptance of the other mate as he or she is and then making the most of the bargain. It is said that when an oyster cannot eject an annoying and irritating grain of sand from its shell, it proceeds to cover it with a coating that produces a pearl. When you come to think of it, a diamond is nothing but pieces of coal that stuck together at the same spot for years and years under terrific pressure.

Here is a little prayer that should be displayed in a prominent place in every home and recited daily by every married couple. It contains the whole secret of domestic adjustment.

God grant me the sense To accept the things I cannot change; The courage to change the things I can: And the wisdom to know the difference.

Sexual Adjustment. Happiness in marriage depends in no small way upon good sexual adjustment. Ignorance of the sexual side of marriage has brought unhappiness and has done irreparable harm to the bodies and souls of millions of men and women. Many of the recent books on marriage stress too much the sex side, confuse and mystify the reader with hard and fast principles for what their authors determine to be the ideal sex life. There is no such thing as the ideal sex life but only sex life that is good and satisfactory for each individual married couple. Certain types of marital relations that please one couple might be frustrating to another.

Smugness has no place in the matter of the sexual side of marriage Ignorance is unpardonable. No person should dare think of marriage unless and until he or she has read some good book[4] treating the physiological side of marriage. Complete sex knowledge sufficient for happiness in marriage is not "just something that comes naturally." In the vast majority of cases this knowledge must be acquired.

Every married couple has its own story of sexual disharmony. Some mates are oversexed, some undersexed. Even the most exquisite made-to-order garment will need a few alterations to make it fit perfectly, and even where two people might be classified as perfectly suited mates, alterations in demands, procedure, approach, frequency, in sexual relations may be required. It is here that adjustments must be made. Impatience, unreasonableness, coercion, lack of cooperation and roughness should by all means be avoided. The end and object of marriage is the procreation of children--this is its primary function in the biological sense. The secondary and spiritual function is the furthering of the higher mental and emotional processes, the fortification and enlargement of the whole personality in all its aspects.

Proper sexual functions in wedlock is the passing from husband to wife of the chalice of love, the wine of which imparts one of the deepest joys man and woman can know on the earth. The wine is of their own vintage and requires expert blending and time to improve its strength and savor.

Social Adjustment. The problem of adjustment of newlyweds to their enlarged circle of friends, relatives and in-laws resulting from marriage is by no means the least. In fact, it is a most important adjustment, and one that requires prudence, tact and skill. A basic principle for happiness in marriage is "Don't live with your in-laws. Go it alone."

The worst snare and pitfall to newlyweds is the offer of a nice apartment with "his people" or "her people." Usually, such offers are made by parents who naturally want to keep the lovebirds a little longer in the old nest. Even when the motives are of the highest nature, such arrangements are fraught with dangers.

The first years of marriage, no matter how they are considered, are trying, and the very presence of a third party is always a disturbing element. Usually, the first months of marriage are filled with much fondling and caressing, and nobody wants to carry on so in front of in-laws. Unfortunately, the whole tone of wedded life is keynoted by the first year of marriage, and if all the little affectionate acts are neglected then, they may never again burn or even flicker.

Cruel as it may seem, the best marriages result from the breaking away (and I mean a complete break) from the ties of the former family life. Social adjustment in marriage calls for a new attitude, a subordination of, and, in a certain manner, a forgetfulness of, the home of one's childhood. It would be better to postpone the wedding if it means having to live with in-laws. For the one marriage you know of that has weathered the storm, ninety-nine have failed from "in-lawitis."

As is the case for all rules, there are exceptions. Circumstances may arise where a newly married couple must move in with in-laws or permit in-laws to move in with them. In such cases, the following suggestions may minimize the causes of friction and assist social adjustments under such conditions.

Primarily, it is important to rid the mind of the idea that in-laws are natural enemies. Every effort must be put forth to overcome this common in-law complex. There is no law--human or divine-- against liking in-laws. Begin by resolving never to repeat old, hackneyed "mother-in-law" jokes. At the best, it is bad taste.

If you have moved in with in-laws, remember it is their home, and it was just that long before you came into the picture. Try to settle a program for a division of the work and do it in as far as you are able according to the existing procedure. Fix up your own room as a bed-sitting room where you and your mate can spend whole evenings together. Keep your personal problems to yourself. Discourage in-law interference in such matters right from the start. Sharing a house does not include sharing your problems.

If "his" parents or "yours" must of necessity live with you fix up a nice bed-sitting room for them--with a radio, good lights and easy chairs--and encourage its use. Divide the work, take turns at getting the meals, and giving a little praise now and again will work wonders. You can stretch a point to rave about the coffee, even if it tastes like something the Borgias might have concocted. Your partner will love you the more for your efforts. Make it a rule to report something your mother or father said that was complimentary to your mate. Forget the uncomplimentary things. Samuel Johnson observed that "Praise, like gold and diamonds, owes its value only to its scarcity."

Should conditions become intolerable, remember you have but one choice to make--"A man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife," and that's Holy Scripture. Find new quarters for yourself or for the in-laws.

Now, regarding his or your parents when, God willing, they live apart from you. Social adjustment is demanded in your relations toward them. Encourage frequent visits by your partner with his or her parents. Never be afraid of a woman who is devoted to her parents. Such a grand quality will revert to your benefit if you are prudent in your attitude. The same holds true of a husband and his parents. Never force visits to your parents on your mate. Above all, don't have two nights a week set aside for such visits. That sort of routine is killing. Have it understood by your relatives that you want to be free to drop in any old time, but not on a fixed day and time schedule.

Remember your mother-in-law's and your father-in-law's birthdays and anniversaries, but be wise enough not to spend more on gifts for one side of the house than for those on the other side. Don't side with your mother or father against your mate in arguments or someone is going to be certain the cards are stacked against him. Never brag about your rich relatives or your brainy aunt or uncle. Brains, like lightning, seldom strike in the same place (or family) twice, and the person who has nothing to be proud of besides a rich, dead relative is poor indeed. Avoid mentioning the obvious defects of your partner's family. Blood is thicker than water. If you berate his "shiftless brother," he'll throw up to you your "half- witted sister." The law of compensation, you know. And it is a good rule to discourage long visits from your relatives or friends, or his.

Everyone, even though married, has the right to keep the friends he or she had before marriage. To ask one to sacrifice a friendship is asking a great deal. Social adjustment demands that every effort be made to make your partner's friends like you and to make yourself like them. Consider that there is something wrong with you (and there really is) if all your wife's or your husband's friends displease you. Find the cause and eliminate it. It usually stems from selfishness or jealousy on your part.

A couple of good principles need considering in adjusting oneself to one's in-laws and your husband's or wife's friends--Be courteous- -Be agreeable. "Courtesy," says Hamerton, "lives by a multitude of little sacrifices," and Lady Montague remarks that "to be beloved one must ever be agreeable."

Economic Adjustment. Many marriages go wrong simply because the husband and wife have never become economically adjusted. Usually, discussions of money problems have a way of starting reasonably enough and then suddenly deteriorating into a series of blasts and explosions.

In most cases the wife earned her own living before marriage. The money she earned then, apart from a token allowance she donated to her board and room (and which she borrowed back again with an additional two dollars), was hers to spend in any way she chose. After the wedding she finds herself rebelling against the awful role of having to beg for an allowance. Under normal conditions she should never have to experience that feeling of lost or surrendered independence. Here is where economic adjustment comes in. Every wife should, after the current expenses are taken care of, be given a separate and fixed allowance for her to do with as she pleases with no accounting required. In like manner, the same holds true of the husband. My heart bleeds for the man who must hand over his pay envelope and then be doled out two dollars as his share for the week. That is not a partnership, but a dictatorial monopoly. I'd picket such a wife.

Budgets are, I suppose, necessary in the first few months of marriage, but speaking from experience I hate the idea. I kept a budget for but one month, and when I totaled up what I spent on tobacco, tips, magazines, papers, and gasoline, I nearly swooned. Post-mortems are always disconcerting, to say the least. If you must follow a budget, then make it a flexible one. ("Magazine Digest" published one called "The Way to Save Money," April, 1947.)

The happiest couple I ever met had a good system all their own. They paid all their bills by check, set aside money regularly for savings, insurance, rent or payment on house, then put the residue in a cigar box in the buffet. When the wife wanted a hair-do she just went to the "kitty" and took out the cash. The same procedure was followed for clothes, hats, and other items. The husband did likewise. When he wanted golf balls or a fishing pole he was, as the Irishman says, "beholdin' to no one." There was only one restriction on raiding the "kitty"--withdrawals of more than ten dollars were mutually discussed. Of course, what is one's man's meat may be another man's poison. The point I want to establish is that some system must be evolved for the handling, saving, and the spending of the family income. Public libraries are well stocked with books on the subject of home economics. For instance, if you ask for "Controlling Your Personal Finances" by David F. Owens (published by McGraw-Hill, N. Y., 1937), or "Managing Personal Finances" by D. F. Gordon and E. F. Willett (Prentice-Hall, N. Y., 1945), your librarian will get them for you.

In drawing up your budget, make provision for a widowed mother or mother-in-law or a father who lives with you. A little personal spending money, to do with as they see fit, will go a long way to ease the feeling of utter dependence. If you live with your own parents or your in-laws, make ample provision for your share of the expenses or set a straight rental payment.

Where husband and wife both work, the income should be pooled and rent, taxes, household expenses, medicine, recreation, insurance, investments, and savings deducted, then the residue divided in proportion to each one's income. What each does with his or her share should rest with the individual. However, I still like the common "kitty" idea. It suggests a fine partnership.

It was Cato, I think, who said that "the foundation-stones of a home are the woman and the ox: the ox to plow and the woman to save." Part of every pay check, if it is only five dollars, ought to be put into a savings account. "The trip of a thousand miles," say the Chinese, "begins with one step." Someone has calculated that if the Dutchman who "squandered" twenty-four dollars on the purchase of Manhattan Island had invested that money at current rates of interest, he would today be able to purchase the island as it now is and have forty thousand dollars over.

Train yourself in resistance to installment buying. Experience shows that articles purchased for cash are usually cheaper. If you must purchase something on the installment plan, complete the payments before the next article is ordered. Never run up bills anywhere. Make it a rule to pay as you go. Your credit is part of your reputation. Keep it good. You can judge a person's intelligence by what he does, and his character by what he doesn't. A person of good, honest character does not demand luxuries he can't afford.

All this bosh about bringing a wife flowers before breaking the news of the purchase of a new fishing pole, or preparing a husband's favorite meal, getting his slippers, and lighting his cigar before mentioning the purchase of that "divine" little hat, can be overdone. No husband, no wife, ought to be too apologetic about asking for money or getting things they really want or need. Get started right and keep your self-respect.

Looking back over this chapter, the reader must of necessity be impressed with the importance of proper adjustments in the role of being a Mr. and Mrs. How the various adjustments are accomplished may spell the difference between harmony and heartache. Tact, persistence, a spirit of fair play, determination, and compromise are omnipotent.

The changing of the water into wine at Cana in Galilee provided one of the greatest lessons in adjustment this world has ever seen. Our Blessed Lady, when she noticed the failure of the wine, merely mentioned the fact to her Divine Son. She did not give her request a big build-up, nor did she demand a miracle, but, with reserve and superb tact, said simply: "They have no wine." Now Our Lord, although He remarked that His hour for miracles had not come, nevertheless adjusted His divine plan in favor of His mother's request and changed the water into wine, or, as the poet put it, "the water beheld its God and blushed."

If all husbands and wives the world over would follow Our Lord's example and, in marriage, adjust themselves to the likes and dislikes of one another, the years of their lives, like the waterpots at Cana, would be filled to overflowing with the rich, red, intoxicating wine of love.


1. "Just Like a Woman," Elizabeth Kidd. New York: D. Appleton- Century Co., 1945.

2. "If I Were a Bride Today," by Mamie Doud Eisenhower, as told to Llewellyn Miller in "Today's Woman," June, 1948.

3. Quote--"The Weekly Digest," October 12, 1947, Vol. 14.

4. Recommended: "The Art of Happy Marriage," James A. Magner. Milwaukee: Bruce Publishing Co., 1947. (Request your Public Library to get this book for you.)


In the blessing of Moses, pronounced before his death upon the different tribes, there was this strange, added warning, particularly addressed to Aser: "Thy shoes shall be iron and brass." A little geographical research will help make the meaning of the warning plain. You see, part of Aser's allotted portion was hilly and rugged. Common sandals made of wood or leather would never endure the wear and tear of the sharp, flinty rocks. There was need therefore for some special kind of shoes. Hence the form of the warning: "Thy shoes shall be iron and brass."

Turning the age-old phrase into a caution for married couples, we get from it these salutary lessons. The road two lovers must travel together in matrimony is usually rough and rugged. The words of the marriage ceremony warn of this: "So not knowing what is before you, you take each other for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death." Now, no living soul could keep such a vow and live nobly and worthily without rugged self-denial and an uphill struggle against the world, the flesh, and the devil. Indeed, the more one thinks of the dizzy heights that must be scaled and the rugged terrain that must be conquered before the summit of happiness in marriage is reached, the more necessary the shoes of iron and brass become.

One other lesson is apparent in Moses' caution. He wisely suggested that the shoes be of iron and brass. Not of iron alone or brass alone, but a combination of both metals. In marriage, likewise, not one element alone, even though that be love, will suffice for its ultimate success. A strong blend of many other elements must be mingled in the alchemy of wedlock if the treacherous ascent be made safely.

As we remarked elsewhere, the real cause of broken hearts and homes, of separations and divorces, is seldom the isolated violent and vicious flare-up, but rather the result of an overwhelming accumulation of little things--little annoyances, little aggravating mannerisms, thoughtlessness, and so on. Nor ought the little things be ignored as inconsequential. Small leaks can sink a ship. A tiny sharp pebble in a shoe may be ignored as a "little thing," but it may cause such an irritation or serious infection as to lead to an amputation.

Most of the sharp, flinty rocks on the road to happiness in marriage could be traversed in easy safety if both husband and wife would don the following shoes of iron and brass. And they come in pairs too. Let us try them on for size:

Love and Contentment Cheerfulness and Courtesy Patience and Helpfulness Truthfulness and Tact Neatness and Politeness Generosity and Loyalty


Love: Nothing is so tragic in marriage as the taking of love for granted. "Love," remarked Beecher, "cannot endure indifference. It needs to be wanted. Like a lamp, it needs to be fed out of the oil of another heart or the flame burns low." There is a wealth of wisdom stored up in that statement, and a good deal of food for thought, too. Why in the world two people who were so eloquent in love before their marriage should suddenly become so indifferent to love after marriage is beyond me. It is one thing to marry and quite another thing to stay married, and no one can hope for the latter without love, love frequently expressed and with an ever increasing number of external acts to prove it.

Fine grapes and water need time to become a superb wine. Romantic love in the hearts of two newly married persons likewise needs time to become wholesome conjugal love. There is a difference, you know, between romantic and conjugal love.

A marriage built on romantic love alone is a precarious thing. After the first ecstasies of romantic love are over, after the heart is filled to overflowing, giving the impression that there can be nothing more perfect, such a love begins to diminish. Conjugal love, on the other hand, waxes stronger with the months and years. Each day opens up new vistas. Each day gives birth to new joys. Conjugal love is purified, sanctified and perfected romantic love, or as Gustave Thibon puts it: "The final essence of the great love of man and woman consists in the confidences and divine graces transmitted from one soul through the chosen channel of another soul."

True marital love, according to Amiel, is "that which ennobles the personality, fortifies the heart, and sanctifies the existence. And the being loved must not be mysterious and sphinx-like, but clear and limpid as a diamond; so that admiration and attachment may grow with knowledge."

One of the most strikingly beautiful stories of a love between a man and his wife that grew stronger and greater with the years, in spite of poverty and adversity, is that of Nathaniel and Sophia Hawthorne. On the first anniversary of their marriage, Nathaniel wrote these touching words to his wife: "Dearest Love, we have never been so happy as now. This birthday of our married life is like a cape, which we have now doubled and find a more infinite ocean of love stretching out before us."

Twenty-two years later, shortly before his death, Nathaniel again wrote of his love--love that had grown stronger from continuous association, love that he called "that enchanting mystery." Writing then, he left the world this single touching testament: "Happiness has no succession of events because it is part of eternity. And we have been living in eternity since our marriage."[1]

Nathaniel and Sophia Hawthorne had learned the lesson that every married couple must strive to learn and to practice, and that is that conjugal love can never survive neglect. Like a precious, delicate plant, it must be diligently tended daily if it is to grow. Never must the weeds of indifference be allowed to smother it. A husband must never grow into that sort of person who takes his wife's love for granted, content solely in the knowledge that it is always there. All through the years he must reassure her of his continued love--by paying compliments, by sending flowers and candy, by taking his wife out evenings, by tenderly caressing her-- such things will reassure his wife that she is still "lovable." Love frequently and adequately expressed will keep a woman young and give meaning and purpose to her life. Without love of a sufficient degree to fill her heart and warm her soul, a wife becomes disinterested in married life and, like a tender plant, withers and fades.

A wife must never, on the other hand, blackmail her husband into loving her by crying spells or by using such hackneyed expressions as "You don't love me any more," simply because he forgot a birthday or wedding anniversary gift. If he has given up that gift-giving routine perhaps it is because his wife has taken such things for granted and neglected on past occasions to praise him for his choice of remembrances. It is a smart wife who makes a fuss over her husband's gifts, even if he gives her the car or golf clubs he always wanted. "As long as he brings home the bacon," says Matilda Rose McLaren, "don't beef if he forgets an anniversary. You should casually mention the event days in advance or helpfully mark his fresh desk calendar on New Year's. It isn't easy for Bill to bring the flowers and candy he proffered as a sweetheart; marrying you gave him a bread and butter complex."[2]

The best all-round resolution for husbands or wives is to renew daily the intention of loving the other party enough to make him or her happy, rather than seeking to be made happy himself. Never be afraid or ashamed to express your love. Malcolm Canmore and his sainted Margaret gave to the world a wondrous formula for successful living. The soldier-king, Malcolm, was remarkable for his reverence, gentleness, and tenderness in the presence of his lovely wife. He could scarcely think of her without tears, without wondering how such an angel was given him to keep and love. The very prayer book she used was something holy, which he would allow no one but himself to carry, kissing it reverently as he gave it to her or received it from her, even in the presence of his rude Scottish chieftains. Until his dying day he demeaned himself in public and private toward his spotless queen as if he were her servant and bondslave. How truly Margaret must have loved him all the while--how truly, how tenderly--that she could inspire him with a devotion that never decreased and a reverence which ever grew with age.

Conjugal love dies in that heart where respect diminishes instead of daily increasing, and where delicacy and courtesy in word and manner--what we call outward respect--is dispensed with on pretext of nearness, intimacy, and reserve.

Make it, therefore, the law of your life that as the years pass by, they shall find the ever-blooming flower of love in the center of your home-garden--the flower of undying reverence. One cannot live without the other. And to the wife we say: If you would have your husband's love and respect to know no fading, make it a sacred duty to God, every day of your life, to invent new methods of showing your companion that your love in turn is ever new and fresh.

Contentment: Be ever mindful, however, that love alone is not the sole requisite for marital happiness. Love is but one of many requisites.

I have known scores of married people who were very much in love with one another, but they were not happy. Love must be accompanied by a sane, placid spirit of contentment if happiness is to be attained in matrimony. Never in any age was the spirit of contentment so rare as it is today. Everyone is striving to get more than they have--more money, more power, more pleasure, and more luxury. Yet Cicero wrote, centuries ago, that "to be content with what we possess is the greatest and most secure of riches." And speaking of contentment in marriage, Le Sage compared it to "a river which must have two banks--one on either side." In other words, both the husband and the wife must be content.

Married couples could get much more out of life if they made the best of what they have. Grumbling does no good. If the thing that bothers or aggravates is of such a nature that it can be changed, change it. If it is not, then why grumble? Ignoring an unpleasant situation minimizes its unpleasantness. Remember no home that shelters a grumbler can be happy. On the other hand, a home where conditions are accepted as not only right but pleasant, or at least to be tolerated, or made the best of, is a haven when one grows up with the sweet spirit of satisfaction with things as they are.

True contentment does not interfere with advancement, nor does it narrow one's outlook or inspire indifference and lethargy. Contentment is the antidote for restlessness; indeed, it is the calm, quiet influence that is so sorely needed in the home today.


Cheerfulness: Thackeray gave as good a definition of cheerfulness as I ever read anywhere when he defined it in his "Sketches and Travels in London": "It is a contented spirit, it is a pure heart, it is a kind and loving disposition, it is humility and charity, it is a generous appreciation of others and a modest opinion of self."

Nothing can possibly be more conducive to happiness in marriage than a sustained mood of cheerfulness, a cheerfulness that is made up of the various components described by Thackeray. Lightheartedness will do so much to smooth out the rough spots on the highway to heaven. Horace reminds us that "the mind that is cheerful in its present state will be averse to all solicitude as to the future and will meet the bitter occurrences of life with a happy smile."

There are no greater enemies of cheerfulness than gloominess, sulkiness, and moodiness. Gloominess is like dark glasses; the sun may be shining all around you but so long as those dark lenses shut out the sun from your eyes all appears dark and overcast. Then the reasonable thing to do is to take the glasses off. Gloominess can be overcome by training oneself to look for the bright side of every difficulty. Don't be like the old lady who complained about the failure of her potato crop one year, and the next year complained about the bumper crop of potatoes, and especially of their large size, gloomily remarking that now she would have no small potatoes to feed the pigs.

Sulkiness is also a great enemy of cheerfulness. It is a despicable thing in child or adult. Sulkiness is definitely indicative of emotional immaturity. The silent treatment after a misunderstanding or a real or imaginary offense is a great wrecker of marital happiness. The best cure for hurt feelings is simply not to let on to yourself that you have been offended. Refuse to notice an insult or a slight. Keep right on talking and smiling and the thing will fly right over your head. Never hold out for an apology for any sort of offense (real or imaginary). Just be your own self and multiply your kindness, and you'll soon see an apology on its way that will be more sincere than anything you could elicit at the point of a gun or from the "I'll go home to Mother" line.

The third of the triune-demons and arch-enemies of cheerfulness is moodiness. Moodiness takes several forms in different people and not infrequently in the same person. A moody husband or wife will be all smiles and cheerfulness one day, but the very next, for no apparent reason, will be all gloom and silence and storm. A moody husband will leave the house in the morning the pleasantest of men, only to return in the evening like a bear with the mumps. A man may himself possess an even temper but be married to a wife whose temper he can never trust. Although all smiles and perfectly serene one moment, she changes quickly from sweet to sour, from mildness to the downpouring of wrath.

It is difficult to say which is more unbearable--a person who suddenly gives way to successive or continuous spasms of ill- humor, censoriousness, and impatience, or the one who subsides into a gloomy silence lasting day after day and making the whole atmosphere of the home as unendurable as the cold darkness of the long polar region nights. Both are cruel.

For your own happiness and that of your home, fight these enemies of cheerfulness in an unrelenting warfare. Work and pray for a cheerful, even disposition. This won't be too difficult if you force yourself to like what you like more than you dislike what bothers you. E. P. Whipple, in "Success and Its Conditions," says: "Cheerfulness, in most people, is the rich and satisfying result of strenuous discipline."

Courtesy: Lack of courtesy on the part of a husband or wife, or both, is the basic cause of eighty per cent of the coldness and estrangements, if not absolute quarrels and separations, in married life. "Politeness," said Joutert, "is one development of virtue," and in reply to those who would contend that it is to be used in society only, not in the horne, he remarked that "we should wear our velvet indoors," that is, give those nearest and dearest to us the chief benefit of gentleness. It is a terrible mistake to suppose that the forms of courtesy can be safely dispensed with in the family circle. Like charity, courtesy begins at home.

Courteousness demands that a husband refrain from teasing a wife on a subject in which there is danger of hurting her feelings. Never ought a husband speak of the virtues of his own mother, or of another man's wife to remind his own of a fault. Nor should a man treat his wife with inattention in company or upbraid her in the presence of a third party.

The courteous wife is never too tired to accept an invitation from her husband to step out for an evening. She ought to be wise enough to reach for the Lady Esther powder, the Chanel No. 5, put on an extra snitch of lipstick, and say, "Let's go!" It is courteous and wise, too, to remember always to say "Thanks" for such sorties. A sincere "Thanks, John--that was a swell night," will do much to make him say, "Let's do this more often!" The Big Three in marriage are "Pardon me," "please," and "thank you." Use them as often as you can. They are miracle words, and they are infinitely more potent when accompanied by a tender caress. One of Shakespeare's heroines suggests the latter as the easiest and most successful method of getting things done.

"You may ride us With one soft kiss a thousand furlongs, ere With Spur we heat an acre."

A courteous wife or husband will never invade the privacy of the other party. Being married to someone does not privilege one to dispense with the rules of common decency. A closed door is usually closed for a purpose. Someone wants privacy. Never enter a closed room without knocking and without receiving a gracious permit to enter. A courteous (and trusting) wife or husband will never open the other's mail, read opened mail without permission, or go through pockets or pocketbook. A courteous wife will not keep her husband waiting while she fusses in dressing. A wise wife begins that intricate and delicate operation well in advance of the zero hour. A courteous person does not read a paper or letter while the better half is talking or, worse still, contradict while the other is relating something.

Observe these rules and the thousand others that will become obvious as the years go on, and you will appreciate more keenly what Hamerton meant in "Human Intercourse" when he said: "Courtesy lives by a multitude of little sacrifices."


Patience: It has always been interesting to me that the words "patience" and "passion" are so akin to one another. Etymologically, they are synonymous. "Patience" comes from the active participle to suffer; while "passion" comes from the passive participle of the same verb. In other words, patience signifies a determination to suffer, while passion signifies what one suffers due to the lack of power to prevent it. Patience, simply put, is the spirit to endure without bitterness, without complaint, whatever things are hard to endure in life. With that definition in mind, it will be apparent how essential the virtue of patience is to every married person. No career makes so many demands on patience as does matrimony. When Plantus said "patience is the best remedy for every trouble," he must have had wedlock in mind.

Most married couples can muster enough patience to put up with the great crosses and vexations of marital life, but where many fail is in exercising patience with the little annoyances that crop up when two people live so closely as do a man and his wife. It is the old story of "the little foxes spoiling the grapes."

Many a wife can suffer the physical discomforts of childbearing-- morning sickness and all--and come down from the delivery room after hours of racking pain with a smile on her face, but that same woman may fly into a fit of temper at the sight of the once neatly arranged dresser drawer thrown into a sudden state of chaos by a clumsy husband in pursuit of an elusive collar button. And many a husband can keep a stiff upper lip when sickness or financial losses crowd in upon him, yet the same lad may lose patience beyond all reasonable bounds because half the evening paper was used to roll up the garbage before he got a chance to see the sports pages.

Little wonder St. Paul said "love is patient," and since love must ever abide in the hearts and souls of married couples, so must patience. It is needed all the days of marriage. It is needed when the children come. It is needed in the acceptance of great crosses, trials, and misunderstandings. It is needed when such cutting little digs are passed out in the old routine: "Well, she doesn't get that from my family."

While all will agree that patience is a "must" during the first years of marriage, few realize how essential it is for every day of married life, especially around the twenty-fifth anniversary. The first year and the twenty-fifth year are both dangerous. It has happened that some married men or women, feeling themselves slipping down the sharp decline to old age, will step off the reservation in an attempt to prove to themselves that they are just as young and attractive as they were years before. The delusion is only temporary. They soon realize that age has cramped their style, and they quickly want to come back to their old love. Patience and understanding can make this easily possible--impatience can cause an unforgiving rupture and be the spearhead that leads to the eternal ruin of one or both of them.

Bad temper grows strong upon what it feeds, that is, itself. When displayed over a long period of time its victim receives a sort of pleasure from it. Little does he who hugs anger and bad temper to his heart realize that it is like a serpent that will sooner or later strike a fatal blow.

Home is no home, and home life is at best but a long purgatory, where a wife or husband lives in constant dread of doing or saying something that will set off the fireworks of ill-temper. If you know you have a quick, uneven temper, do something about it. Never apologize for an ugly scene of ill-temper by saying, "But you know I have a bad temper," as if the mere fact of your being quick- tempered were a sufficient excuse for it.

Here are a few hints for the bad-tempered person. Know the things that provoke you and by all means avoid them. Resist the temptation to speak or act during the first moments of excitement. A prime rule is to keep your mouth shut. A fire that is sealed off with no vent will burn itself out. In your better moments reason with yourself whether it is better to have a home with an untidy husband, or have all the bath towels perfectly arranged on the towel rack and no husband. Are the little things that cause you to flare up worth fussing about? Make it a rule never, never, never, to bring up anything at mealtimes that might prove disagreeable. To do so is unpardonable.

When you feel out of sorts keep away from people you can hurt. Mary E. Thomson tells this story of a handsome, rosy-cheeked old gentleman of about eighty, who went to a doctor for a general physical examination.

The physician checked him over with great care, and reported that he had no cause for worry. "Tell me," he asked the octogenarian as he helped him into his overcoat, "how do you account for your unusually robust condition at your age?"

"That's easy, Doc," chuckled the old chap. "When Martha and I married sixty years ago, we made an agreement never to quarrel. When I lost my temper and began to blow off steam, she was to keep quiet. And I promised that when she was in a bad humor I'd leave the house. And, Doc, I've enjoyed a fine outdoor life for sixty years. Guess that's why I'm still hale and hearty![3]

If fate has been so unkind to you as to have thrown you into the union of marriage with an irascible person, here are a few rules for you, too. Do your best to avoid the things that, in the past, have caused your partner to blow his or her top. Wives would do well to learn a few fundamental principles in dealing with men:

Give him his meals on time.

Cook him a real he-man meal. Don't make him diet because you are on one.

Fold the paper up again in its original state after you have finished giving it the once-over before hubby gets home.

Never touch his razors or pipes.

Never reprimand a waiter or waitress or be too fussy with them when you go out with the lord and master.

Never talk about his relatives--in fact, try always to praise his mother and father and even his dopey sister.

Don't get on the telephone when you know he is coming home, waiting to eat, or ready to go out.

Never call him at his office or place of business. (Except if Junior has swallowed the egg-beater.)

Don't kiss him when you have on fresh make-up.

Don't argue over unimportant things.

Don't ask him to carry parcels that would stagger a coolie.

Don't start discussions at breakfast.

Don't give away his things without asking him. (That old brown hat is his prize possession.)

Don't go with him to pick out his clothes unless he expressly asks you. If he comes home with a green plaid suit, praise him for his individuality.

Don't give him a list of things to lug home from the store on his way from work.

And here are a few good rules for husbands:

Never butt into the management of the kitchen and the children.

Never say her hat is crazy. Praise her for her unusual headgear.

Don't complain about the junk in her purse. Think about your own pockets.

Don't keep telling your wife to "step on it" when she is trying to do her nails or pour herself into one of those new dresses. You'd be all thumbs then, too.

Don't forget her birthday or the anniversaries. (The same goes for her parents.)

Don't pass remarks about her girl friends.

Don't stay at a party when you can see your wife is uncomfortable or bored. Take your cue from her when to leave.

Don't neglect to compliment your wife often on her beauty and efficiency. It works wonders.

Remember she loves attention. In public, really turn it on. Help her off with her coat, stand behind her chair until she is seated. Order for her. Light her cigarette. Look interested in what she is telling you. Just remember that women love attention. Pour it on!

There is nothing like a good start, and if, during the first scene of temper displayed by a husband or wife, the innocent party would pay no attention to the outburst at all, the irascible one will see that fits of temper are not going to achieve much. When the storm is past, talk the matter over and simply state that such storms are not going to be effective ever. Frank and open discussions of tensions and disagreements can promote understanding. Claude C. Bowman gives the following observation, which I think is very good. "In all honesty," he says, "it must be admitted that frank and open discussion of intimate problems is difficult for certain types of husbands and wives. There is, for example, the self-assured egotist, so thoroughly convinced of the superiority of his own claims that any cooperative effort is out of the question. The dogmatic man or woman whose mind is completely closed is hard to deal with. So is the person with a strong sense of inferiority who is afraid to see any merit in the views of his mate."

The sulky, petulant type, who stores up resentments secretly and will not talk them out, is likely to be a poor risk for the method of rational discussion. Such persons brood darkly and build up barriers of isolation. Both the woman who expects to weep her way to triumph, and the man whose impatience is touched off by any family problem that keeps him from the evening newspaper, are incapable of understanding the approach advocated here. Yet I believe that the great majority of married people can learn the secret if they are determined to do so.[4] And he might have added, "if they have patience," for as Benjamin Franklin once said, "He who can have patience can have what he will."

Strive for a happy medium in the matter of patience. "Be not too sweet," says an Afghan proverb, "else men will eat you; be not too bitter, else men will loathe you." Avoid extremes and remember the words of Pope Pius XII addressed to newlyweds on June 7, 1939: "Eucharistic Communion," he said, "generates strength, courage and patience."

Helpfulness: Another important factor in achieving success in matrimony lies in the development of the spirit of helpfulness. Marriage must of necessity be more of a mutual aid society rather than a mutual admiration society. I think it was H. G. Wells who said that "a day arrives in every marriage when the lovers must face each other, disillusioned, stripped of the last shred of excitement--undisguisedly themselves." Doubtless that is true, and when that time arrives, every husband and every wife must instinctively turn to his or her mate for mutual aid, courage, and comfort to continue in love and life together.

Every married person ought to take time out to read and meditate on the words of Holy Scripture relative to the first married couple who were ever joined in sacred wedlock. It is worthy of note that after God had created Adam and set him in "a paradise of pleasure to dress it and keep it," He commanded the first man not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Only after that primeval command was given did God say: "It is not good for man to be alone: let us make him a help like unto himself.... Then the Lord God cast a deep sleep upon Adam: and when he was fast asleep, He took one of his ribs, and filled up flesh for it. And the Lord God built the rib which He took from Adam into a woman: and brought her to Adam."

Observe in the Scriptural account as recorded in Genesis, Chapter 2, first verse, that one of the reasons for Eve's creation was that she should be a helper to her husband. Secondly, note that Adam was commanded to abstain from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge prior to Eve's creation, that, doubtless, God created Eve to help Adam keep that law, and finally, that Eve was made from one of Adam's ribs--that is, from his side. The early Fathers of the Church drew therefrom this lesson. They reasoned that God had not made Eve from a bone from Adam's foot, lest some might believe that woman's place was ever to be at the feet of her husband, groveling in servitude. Nor was woman made from a part of Adam's head lest woman might claim dominion over man's mind, but, rather, Eve was made from the side of man, to indicate forever that a woman's place was to be beside her husband as his helper.

With this in mind, let us consider the different kinds of help, and the extent and scope of the help a husband and wife must render each other. To be effective, such help must extend to the spiritual, moral, physical, economic, and domestic life of the other mate.

Spiritual help takes in everything that would assist the other partner to save his or her soul. This implies encouragement by word and example in such things as family prayers, assistance at Mass, reception of the sacraments, keeping of the commandments of God, and the precepts of the Church, along with the faithful observance of many duties implied in this state of life. Every husband and every wife must strive to make God the central figure of the whole family program. Salvation of one's soul and the soul of one's partner and the children must be a chief concern of married life, for Our Lord said, "What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul?"

Moral help is equally important. A married person must strive to diffuse around the home an atmosphere of cheerfulness, piety, truthfulness, generosity, and magnanimity. This is not so much a matter of great talent as it is a matter of great effort. There is an obligation on the part of every husband and wife to point out the moral faults of one another, pointing them out tenderly, humbly, sadly, yet with such plainness as not to have to repeat it over and over again. Wives can do so much to help an erring husband.

There is no man so full of pride, And none so intimate with shame; And none to manhood so denied, As not to mend if women blame.

If a husband is not chivalrous, or is selfish, shiftless, and lacking in consideration, it is generally the fault of the wife. In such cases it will be found that the wife does not demand and insist upon attention, consideration, and help.

Sir James Mackintosh paid a wonderful tribute to the helpfulness of his wife when he wrote: "She gently reclaimed me from dissipation; she propped my weak and irresolute nature; she urged my indolence to all the exertions that have been useful or creditable to me; and she was perpetually at hand to admonish my heedlessness and improvidence."

For every man who can rightfully claim that a woman ruined his life, there are ten thousand who could never have succeeded in any career--including marriage--except for the help and guidance of a wife.

Every wife must strive to realize that a sweet, modest influence will never be exercised over a man so long as she resorts to sharp, bitter words or resorts to hateful nagging. Nothing can snatch power quicker from her heart and hands than the latter.

Nagging is one of the sharpest stones on the highway to happiness in marriage and its varieties are legion. While most writers on human relations intimate that most wives nag and that no two nag in the same way or on the same subject, I feel that husbands can be naggers too. It matters not too much whether it is the husband or the wife who is given to nagging--the point is that it is one of the most destructive forces in married life. Whatever you do, shun it as you would the most loathesome of infectious diseases.

In the vast majority of cases, nagging may be traced to the following real or imaginary causes: frustration, jealousy, faulty preconceived idea of marriage, or the downright feeling that the wrong choice of a mate was made. A little thought will demonstrate how each or all of these will set a husband or wife to nagging one another.

Since, as we have already stated, few persons realize that they are naggers, the following questions may help you determine whether or not you are a nagger.

Do you repeat the same request over and over?

Do you make frequent comparisons between your spouse and other married men and women, being vocally eloquent in praise of them and disparaging of your own mate?

Do you continually point out the glaring faults of your mate?

Do you frequently point out the ill effects of the other's choice of food?

Do you excuse your nagging by saying, "It's for his (or her) own good"?

Do you harp on "duty"?

Do you keep love-nagging? (Do you love me?--I don't believe you do love me.)

Should one or several affirmatives to the questions indicate that you are a nagger, do all in your power, by prayer and self- discipline, to shed the habit. Nagging is deadly to marital bliss and marital security. In the words of Percy there is much wisdom:

Oh shun, my friends, avoid that dangerous coast, Where peace expires, and fair affection's lost, By wit, by grief, by anger urged, forbear The speech contemptuous and the nagging air.

Praise, constructive criticism, tact, and good old common sense will accomplish more than all the combined nagging that has ever scourged this world.

Physical help is as real a necessity for a happy marriage as any one of the other aids. Adam's proclamation stands today and will until the end of time, ever the same: "Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be two in one flesh." The obligation to help one another to bear the burden of human nature is clear from those words and must be clearly understood as such if the ends of marriage are to be achieved.

Pope Pius XI, in the Encyclical letter "Casti Connubii," after confirming the primary end of matrimony to be "to procreate children," goes on to say that "in matrimony as well as in the use of matrimonial rights there are also secondary ends such as mutual aid, the cultivating of mutual love, and the quieting of concupiscence, which husband and wife are not forbidden so long as they are subordinated to the primary end and so long as the intrinsic nature of the act is preserved."

Regarding the obligation of husband and wife in the matter of marital intercourse, St. Paul is very definite: Let the husband render the debt to his wife: and the wife also in like manner to the husband. The wife hath not power over her own body: but the husband. And in like manner the husband also hath not power over his own body: but the wife." (I Cor. 7:3, 4.)

It has been the constant teaching of the Church that sexual intercourse cannot be withheld by a husband or wife without a grave reason, for the rendering of marital dues is an obligation of justice. Consequently, it is grievously wrong for married persons to live apart from one another, except by mutual consent, or for clearly specified and grave reasons; to refuse marital relations from a whim or for minor inconveniences is to violate a grave contract for insufficient reasons, and to expose the partner not infrequently to sin. So that the marriage act may remain a lovely thing, it must be governed by rational kindness.

Economic help is an important factor in the matter of marital success. The satisfaction the family needs and feels in its home life may be vitally influenced by the amount of income Without an adequate income to provide the family with the needs and comforts demanded by the normal standards of good living makes for the distressful feeling of insecurity.

Recent trends toward higher living costs have had drastic effects on those whose salaries have not kept pace with the cost of living. As a result of this, hard-pressed wives have sought elimination of the problem by going back to work. In seeking the solution of one problem, many have raised newer and greater problems, such as neglect of the family to such an extent that juvenile delinquency is on the up-grade;[5] divorces have increased and are blamed upon the arrogance of the working wife and upon her lessening domestic tranquility, due to over-fatigue, nervousness, and irritability.

Married women would do well to reflect that all men have an insatiable ego, and if that is punctured, man is reduced to a second- or third-rate chattel. Even nature goes along with this. The males of most species of birds and animals are usually more colorful and stately than the females. Take the rooster, for example. His bright, colorful feathers and stately strut are obvious. The hen, by comparison, is rather drab and dumpy. The same holds true for most all of the animal kingdom. In the human race, man must be allowed to think he is cock of the walk or he loses something of his nature. There are exceptions, but the general rule holds good.

Some husbands just can't keep their self-respect and allow their wives to work. (The old Pennsylvania Dutch husbands used at one time to give their wives marriage plates inscribed: "Rather would I single live than to my wife the britches give.") Most of them have been brought up to feel that a woman's place is in the home. The wise wife will sound out her husband on this matter and if there is the slightest danger of its developing in him an inferiority complex, it would be better to struggle along with love and fewer of the world's goods than to have luxury and no love.

I wonder if working wives have ever sat down to figure out a balance sheet of profit and loss in the matter of their employment outside the home.

Here are a few questions they might ask themselves.

(1) How much extra money do I bring into the house each month?

(2) How much more could I save by being home to plan and prepare food than I spend on prepared foods and on eating out?

(3) How much more could I save by doing the washing and cleaning at home rather than sending things out to be done?

(4) If I were home all day, how much more could I save on making clothes for myself and the children, whereas by working I have neither the time nor energy to do such things?

(5) By staying home, couldn't I be more rested, more ready to please my husband, better groomed when he comes home from work; couldn't I keep the house cleaner and prepare more tasty and wholesome food?

(6) Don't I spend most of what I make working out, on myself, for clothes or for furniture for the home--always things that I want?

(7) Isn't the real reason basically for my working that I am bored by home and domestic routine?

His Holiness Pope Pius XII addressed these wise words to working mothers in an allocation delivered October 21, 1945. He said in part:

"We see a woman who, in order to augment her husband's earnings, betakes herself also to a factory, leaving her house abandoned during her absence. The house, untidy and small perhaps before, becomes even more miserable for lack of care. Members of the family work separately in four quarters of the city and with different working hours. Scarcely ever do they find themselves together for dinner or rest after work--still less for prayer in common. What is left of family life? And what attractions can it offer to children?

"To such painful consequences of the absence of the mother from the home there is added another, still more deplorable. It concerns the education, especially of the young girl, and her preparation for real life. Accustomed as she is to see her mother always out of the house and the house itself so gloomy in its abandonment, she will be unable to find any attraction for it, she will not feel the slightest inclination for austere housekeeping jobs. She cannot be expected to appreciate their nobility and beauty or to wish one day to give herself to them as a wife and mother.

"This is true in all grades and stations of social life. The daughter of the worldly woman, who sees all housekeeping left in the hands of paid help and her mother fussing around with frivolous occupations and futile amusements, will follow her example, will want to be emancipated as soon as possible and in the words of a very tragic phrase 'to live her own life.' How could she conceive a desire to become one day a true lady, that is, the mother of a happy, prosperous, worthy family?

"As to the working classes, forced to earn daily bread, a woman might, if she reflected, realize that not rarely the supplementary wage which she earns by working outside the house is easily swallowed up by other expenses or even by waste which is ruinous to the family budget. The daughter who also goes out to work in a factory or office, deafened by the excited, restless world in which she lives, dazzled by the tinsel of specious luxury, developing a thirst for shallow pleasures that distract but do not give satiety or repose in those revue or dance halls which are sprouting up everywhere, often for party propaganda purposes and which corrupt youth, becomes a fashionable lady, despises the old Nineteenth Century ways of life.

"How could she not feel her modest home surroundings unattractive and more squalid than they are in reality? To find her pleasure in them, to desire one day to settle in them herself, she should be able to offset her natural impressions by a serious intellectual and spiritual life, by the vigor that comes from religious education and from supernatural ideals. But what kind of religious formation has she received in such surroundings?

"And that is not all. When, as the years pass, her mother, prematurely aged, worn out, and broken by work beyond her capacity, by sorrow and anxiety, will see her return home at night at a very late hour, she will not find her a support or a help, but rather the mother herself will have to wait on a daughter incapable and unaccustomed to household work, and to perform for her all the offices of a servant.

"And the lot of the father will not be any better when old age, sickness, infirmity and unemployment force him to depend for his meager sustenance on the good or bad will of his children. Here you have the august holy authority of the father and mother dethroned."

Better think it all over; in the vast majority of cases, you must agree that little is gained by the economic help wives can contribute by working. Much more might be achieved in the way of economic help to the husband and family if the wife would remain home and make of it a haven of peace and rest. Three blocks away from where I live two little children were burned to death in their home where they had been left alone while the father and mother were away at work. Moral damage to lonely children can be as tragic as death.

The extra dollars earned by a wife may be costly indeed. They will never compensate for the other losses. The constant pressure that goes with trying to run a home, prepare meals, doctor Junior's cold, and do outside employment, is killing. No wife can do all her home duties and work out, too. Something will suffer, and usually it is her home. She will soon find her most useful tool is a can- opener, and find that she comes home too tired to enjoy the family. Even her social life will suffer, simply because her evenings must be devoted to duties which ordinarily would have been done during the day. In most cases, a married woman who works builds up her world on a false security--the security of the dollar. Gulping coffee on the run in the morning; dashing home like mad at noon to see if the house is still in one piece; worrying every time the fire engines pass the office, store, or plant; wondering whether little Jane decided to light a fire on the living room floor; plodding home at night too tired to be fit company for man or beast, ready to pick on the least little annoyance, to create a scene--I ask you, is it worth it?

Think it over, and if your job is costing you too much, give the boss two weeks' notice!

In committing all this to type, I have not intended to condemn in toto the practice of married women working at jobs outside their homes. In some cases such work is an absolute necessity, and the wives who perform it deserve the full credit due them. A sick husband or a not too robust one, a veteran husband, a casualty of the wars, a family plagued by debt or business failure, a son or daughter being afforded a college education, or a thousand other valid reasons might well make such work imperative and even meritorious. My peeve is with those who work from caprice and not necessity.

In no family should a wife work outside the home without first weighing the necessity, the advantages and disadvantages, and without careful discussion of the matter with her husband and securing his unqualified approval of the project.

In many cases such a thing would be unnecessary if both husband and wife would endeavor to live within their budget and stop imagining luxuries as necessities and by refusing to "keep up with the Joneses," if that means saying those tragic words, "Charge it."

The best help to be given to the permanency of married life is for husband and wife to plan and save for a home of their own, a home with a garden, too. It is a wise wife who insists on this, for it is very seldom a husband will "walk out" of a home in which he has invested his life's savings. As to that garden, well, someone said once that "the man who plants his own apple tree will never betray his country" (or his family). Home ownership is one of the answers to America's divorce problem. Statistics show that divorce is thirty times more prevalent among those who do not own homes than it is among those who do.

Domestic help is also an important feature in the smooth running of marriage. By domestic help I mean, here, the teamwork demanded in household management.

One of the remarkable changes in society today is that of the attitude toward the traditional home life. A few generations ago there were marked and sharp distinctions between a man's work and a woman's work. A man in those days did the outside chores-- worked the farm or garden, milked the cows, or looked after the stables; while the woman ruled supreme in the home, doing the cooking, cleaning, and sewing. Today those sharp distinctions do not exist. Today our educational system is such that most young people graduate from high school and college with an adequate scholastic training but with little training for the important task of home-making. The finishing school will see that one knows how to serve cafe noir in a demi-tasse but not how to make it. Modern education includes the subtle art of mixing a cocktail but ignores the more important art of making a pie or a pot of soup. As a result of this, many a girl comes to marriage with little or none of the know-how of cooking and so many a husband is forced into the role of chef. It is my personal belief that any young woman who goes into marriage without a good basic knowledge of cooking and home management is guilty of fraud. The average husband has a right to expect such knowledge and, believe it or not, many divorces or separations spring from the kitchen. Good cooking is simply a matter of getting the know-how and patience.[6] A wise husband will encourage his wife in the culinary arts and be loud in his praise of each and every attempt by his wife to provide new and appetizing dishes. Not a few potentially good cooks are ruined by the take-it-for-granted type of husband. The husband who forgets to praise his wife's cooking is a knave. He will soon be trying to draw water from the well with a broken pitcher!

Teamwork in the home requires a division of the chores and a well- defined division. Work as well as pleasures ought to be shared. If the wife remains in the home, then she should, with a little bit of planning, be able to look after the whole matter of meals and housework. Here is a keen observation by a housewife and I think it is most apt:

"The advantages of a home should be obvious-a great deal more freedom than most men ever enjoy, a self-made schedule that can be changed at will. The woman dusting is all too likely to exaggerate the joys of being tied to a desk with occasional trips to the water cooler or ladies' room for diversion; I, for one, am sick and tired of hearing about the poor woman who works from morn till night. It's absolutely true, no doubt, that many women spend their entire day doing housework, but what they do is beyond me. A six- or seven-room house can be handled quickly and efficiently in the morning hours, and a woman who spends her entire time cleaning is making a grave mistake, costly to her mental and emotional balance.

"No house is more important than a well-rounded personality, and dusting never taught anyone anything. Those perfectionists whose homes are always sparkling are usually unhappy women trying to work off a sense of disappointment and failure.

"We all believe in a neat and clean house, but it is second in importance to husband, children, and fun. If you can't always eat on my kitchen floor or see your face in the bottom of my pans, still, none of my family has ever expressed a desire to do so. My children don't have a cross mother or my husband an exhausted wife at the end of the day."[7]

As for the husband of a wife who remains in the home, his communal tasks should be those of the heavier and more burdensome type, e.g., removal of snow, tending of furnace, removal of refuse, handling windows and screens, lawns, etc. It's a wise wife who will encourage him to help around the kitchen, too. In this matter, as in so many others, the wife must know her husband. Perhaps his early training was such that dishwashing and drying was such a burden that the mere mention of it now will outdo the atom bomb explosion in force and intensity. A little praise for his feeble efforts at such distasteful tasks will work wonders. Never find fault if he breaks a few cups or mixes your tea spoons with the soup spoon. The best way to promote teamwork is to do it together. Never ask a husband to do housework unless you help, too.

In a home where both husband and wife work, then the division of the housework ought to be settled upon and faithfully executed (not the husband, but the work). The woman who complains that her husband never helps with the work or the children in most cases has only herself to blame. She is usually the fussbug type. She scolds if hubby splashes water on the floor when he is doing the dishes, or can't stand to see him wax the floor his way. If you're fussy, you had better quit your job and stay home or, better still, join the Foreign Legion. If you don't, he will!


Truthfulness: Truthfulness is the foundation of all personal excellence and it is the cornerstone of wedlock, for there it exhibits itself in conduct.

Truthfulness in the dealings between husband and wife and the family is rectitude, or truth in action, shining through every word and deed. It means reliability and proves that one can be trusted-- that when one says he knows a thing, he does know it; that when he says he will do something, he does it, no matter what the cost.

No husband or wife is really truthful who minimizes important things or exaggerates minor things into things of major proportion; who conceals or disguises; who pretends to be with you but is really against you; who promises things which are never intended to be done. Such a person is insincere and is an impostor.

Make it a rule of your married life never to attempt justification of the sacrifice of truth. Truth must be sovereign in your relations with one another and the family. I think it was Lord Chesterfield who declared that "Truth made the success of a gentleman," and I might add that it can help make a success of marriage, too.

There is no excuse for telling your husband that the adorable hat you bought yesterday--you know, the one with the two crossed violets and the trailing ostrich plume--cost only $5.95, when you actually paid the bargain price of $29.95. The worst part about lying, aside from the moral evil, is the fact that it is much like the atom explosion--it has a chain reaction. One must tell so many other lies to cover up the original one. If you needed the hat--and what woman will ever deny the awful need of new headgear--there is no necessity for lying about its cost. Tell the truth and let the chips fall where they will. Your husband will recover, and it will make it easier for him to tell you about the bargain fishing-rod he picked up for $19.95. "To Truth," says Richter, "belongs freedom."

Tact: Hand in hand with truth must go tact. Without tact, truth can be cruel; it can be destructive. And it is important to remember that tact is a talent, or as W. P. Sargill puts it: "Talent is something, but tact is everything. Talent is serious, sober, grave and respectable; tact is all that and more too. It is not a seventh sense, but it is the life of all the five. It is the open eye, the quick ear, the judging taste, the keen smell, and the lively touch; it is the interpreter of all riddles, the surmounter of all difficulties, the remover of all obstacles." Sargill would appear to ignore the added two senses that make seven in all--the two additional ones being common and horse sense--and believe me, those two are basic in dealing with any consideration of Tact. It may be true, as Amiel says, "that kindness is the principle of tact," but good common sense plus a good dash of horse sense make up the prime requisites of savoir-faire.

Let us go back to that "adorable hat" again. A tactful wife will never bring up such a topic as the price of a hat, or a dress, or that fur coat, until after she has served a good meal--one that included the lord and master's favorite dishes and, above all, until after coffee. A tactful wife will always speak the truth but she will pick the most effective, the most gentle way to say it. The same is true of a wise husband. For instance, he may have a pet aversion for purple but when his wife shows him a little bargain she ran into in Saks' or Eaton's--a purple dress-the tactless husband will say, "What did you get that horrid color for?"; while a tactful one would say: "Gee, honey, that is a nice dress, but you know blue or brown always matches your eyes or seems to frame your hair and set it off better." If the wife has an ounce of sense she will take the hint. And it is easier to take, too, when what is said is said so tactfully.

Here are a few hints for tactfulness. A tactful husband or wife will:

Never nag. Never ask embarrassing questions. Never contradict or correct in public. Never appear curious about the other partner's mail or telephone calls. Never use the word "mine" where the word "ours" will fit. Never blame or criticize until after one has first found something to praise. Never appear jealous when another is praised. Never accuse the other of thoughtlessness or inconsideration. Never speak slightingly of the other's parents or relatives. Never permit relatives "to outstay their welcome." Never try to put the other person on the spot. Never forget the words of Holy Scripture: "The soft answer turneth away wrath."

If married couples would only practice the same tact that clerks must use in dealing with their customers, how different their lives would be! A little of that public relations' routine about "the customer always being right" would pay off in marriage, too. Ask yourself how long you would last in Macy's or Gimbel's if you "sounded off" at every silly thing your customers did or said. Then, why say the catty or cutting thing to those who love you most?

"If I am building a mountain," said Confucius, "and I stop before the last basketful of earth is placed on the summit, I have failed." That is true also of marriage. If you have not used every effort and power to achieve self-control, if you have not tried always to be tactful, the mountain of matrimonial bliss will remain unfinished. Tact is that last basketful.


Neatness: A few years ago I received a telephone call from a young wife asking that I make a visit to her home that evening to discuss what appeared to be one of those distressing marital blow-ups. She was in tears and begged me not to fail to drop in that evening. After consulting my appointment book I found out that I had other appointments for that evening, so I decided to run over then and there.

Arriving unexpectedly, I found the young wife in a most hideous get-up. Her hair was all done up in curlers and rags; she had about an eighth of an inch of some sort of beauty cream plastered all over her face; she had slacks on and a smock that an attendant in the Fulton Street Fish Market wouldn't have been found dead in- and the house! Well, that beggars description.

It was the old story--a whirlwind romance, no preparation for marriage, no thought as to the mutual responsibilities and duties of marriage, a gradual cooling-off of love (if it ever really existed), bitter words, and finally the near collapse of the whole deal.

One glance at the pathetic wife and the condition of her home, and I could see one of the basic reasons why her husband was acting as he was. He simply could not stand her personal and domestic untidiness.

Why any woman who before marriage will go to such limits to appear beautiful and well groomed, and yet after marriage can take her husband's love so much for granted that she feels he will love her in spite of her appearance, is beyond me. It is one thing to find a husband but quite another to keep him. Thomas Jefferson once wrote a letter to Martha Jefferson in which he laid down a rule that every wife the world over might do well to make her very own. "Some Ladies," wrote Jefferson, "think they may, under the privileges of the deshabille, be loose and negligent of their dress in the morning. But be you, from the moment you rise till you go to bed, as cleanly and properly dressed as at the hours of dinner or tea."

Mrs. Dwight Eisenhower goes along with this, too. In a recent article entitled "If I Were a Bride Today" Mrs. Eisenhower writes:

"A wife does not have to be dolled up in expensive clothes all the time but I think it is dreadful for a pretty bride to go around in cold cream or curlers or a sloppy dress. Who ever heard of a secretary wearing a spotted dress to work "because it is just the office and no one will see but the boss?

"Your husband is the boss--and don't forget it."[8]

I often feel that wives are, as a rule, very poor psychologists. They are usually as simple as doves when they ought to be wise as serpents. Take, for instance, a married man who goes to business. Usually, the girls in the office come to work well dressed (becomingly dressed), and their frequent sorties to the washroom afford them the opportunity of keeping their hair in place and their face on straight, to say nothing of lip-sticking and nail polishing, plus the right dab of perfume behind the ear. All right, that is what hubby comes to believe is an accepted factor in human relations in office routine.

Now, home he comes for dinner. What he may find there is problematical. It might happen that his one and only is in the throes of cooking turnip and cabbage, the aroma of which alone could slay Goliath. Making his way in through the steamy apartment, he is fortunate if, without radar, he can locate his wife. When he does, what he beholds is no vision of loveliness--a halo of curlers, a soiled housedress if not slacks, unstockinged legs, heel- turned mules, plus a tale of all the woes that befell his spouse and the children from breakfast on. Brother! No wonder he bolts down his food and has to rush back to the office. It's time to find out what is wrong with you and/or the house when a husband starts to invent excuses to remain away from the home fires.

A woman is least ladylike and least attractive:

When she smokes on the street. When she is seated on a stool or standing at a bar. When she is noisy in a restaurant. When she argues in public. When she scolds or slaps a child in public. When she applies make-up in public. When she has her hair in curlers. When she does battle for advantageous position during a bargain sale. When she runs for a bus. When she is laden down with parcels. When she studies her neighbors' clothes in church. When she wears a handkerchief or Kleenex on her hair for a hat in church. When she is passing on a choice morsel of gossip. When she tells a shady story. When she is tugging at her nylons. When she wears slacks.

There is no excuse for a wife letting herself get fat and sloppy, for being none too clean about her person, for allowing her hair to be unkempt, or, in general, for becoming careless or slipshod about herself or her home.

No wife is so busy that she can't take time out during the day to set her hair while her husband is at work, or change into a fresh housedress before her one and only arrives home. You can buy make-up and perfume in the same drugstore his secretary does. Don't take him for granted. And if you must have cabbage and turnips cook them early, then air the place out and tidy up the house so that when your husband does come home he will think you the most beautiful woman in the whole world and his home his castle and not a stable.

And this works both ways, too. I know wives whose love for their husbands has been lost because of the personal untidiness, slovenly habits, careless mannerisms, and vulgar habits of their mates.

Every husband, no matter what type of work he does, ought to wash, even shave, and change into a good suit for dinner. Believe me, it does something to a person. One may be poor, but poverty is no excuse for uncleanliness or untidiness. The happiest couple I ever knew, middle-class people, too, made it a rule to make of Sunday dinner a cause celebre. They both helped to prepare the dinner, setting the table as elegantly as they could, using their best silver (even Aunt May's pickle fork). Then they went upstairs and the wife changed into her one and only evening dress, long skirt and satin slippers, and the husband donned a tuxedo he had bought at college. Then they went to the table and ate in the soft candlelight, with softer dinner music provided by their portable radio. Any wonder they were happy?

My heart aches for the husband who is married to a downright lazy and incompetent housekeeper. I was invited to dinner with a college friend of mine some years ago. He had called his wife and said I was coming. Well, first she dictated a list of things to bring home as long as your arm. When we did arrive at the house, the husband started picking up papers and clothing at the door. There was a pile of damp wash on the dining table, and although the wife had six hours' notice of our coming, she had just begun to prepare the vegetables. Her husband had to set the table and cook the meat while his wife seated herself meanwhile in a big chair, anxious to discuss the latest philosophical book she had been absorbed in all afternoon. It was eight-forty P.M. when that meal began. Once was enough for me! I fear the woman who can't cook and does. I pity the woman who can cook and won't!

Likewise, my heart aches for the wife who wants so much to elevate the social manners of a home only to find an uncooperative husband who, in spite of all the hints in the world, finds it less restricting to spear a piece of bread from across the table with a fork, who insists on buttering a whole slice of bread on the palm of his hand, while risking his eyesight by leaving a spoon in his cup. Neat table manners go hand in hand with personal and domestic neatness. It is unusual that you find the one without the other.

Make it a cardinal rule in your home to keep the house in that state you would put it in if your most critical friend were about to visit you. And never serve a meal to the family that you would be ashamed to serve to your husband's boss. Plain, simple food, served on a neatly set table, will more than compensate for all the bother and extra work.

Before quitting the topic it might be wise to warn against overdoing this business of neatness. It can be overdone, you know. All of us are familiar with that fusspot type of person who is constantly on the run, emptying ash trays or picking up threads from the carpet or off the furniture, and slipping newspapers under your feet so you won't soil the carpet. These are the people who think more of the tidiness of the house than they do of the comforts of the family. Sir John Ervine in his "Sophia" made a very understandable comment on this matter "I'm not so fond of efficiency. Those energetic, neat people who go about the world furiously tidying things appall me. I like a little dirt about. It shows there has been activity. That people have been present, that there is life. The neatest places I know are museums, stuffed with dead things."

I read the following in the "Western Recorder":

"Now and then, one hears complaints that young people are inclined to make a 'ruckus' in the house. Seemingly, young people, unlike some of their seniors, have never developed aptitudes for acting other than their age.

"From where we stand, an ounce of boy is worth a ton of rugs and upholstery, whether in the home or in the classroom.... Boys and girls have drifted into dangerous, so-called recreational centers because they were made to feel they stirred up too much dust at home.... A blacksmith's shop too well kept is a pretty good sign there hasn't been much horseshoeing going on."

By all means, avoid extremes. Better a shack warmed by love than a palace chilled by icy formalities!

Remember that a house only becomes a home when it is created by love, joined with cleanliness and attractiveness, yet where these do not limit comfort and ease.

Politeness: Politeness is very essential, too, in married life. It ought never to be dispensed with, for, as Joubert said: "It is one development of virtue." Since marriage is for life, it is to the mutual interest of each party that neither grow tired of the other, and the best possible safeguards against such a thing are kindness and civility.

Politeness is simply the showing by external signs the internal regard we have for others. It stems from sincerity and exhibits itself in the disposition to contribute to the welfare and happiness of others and in refraining from anything that would annoy them. I think it was Dr. Johnson who once remarked: "Sir, a man has no more right to say an uncivil thing than to act one--no more right to say a rude thing to another than to knock him down."

Try to keep in mind that you may love your husband or your wife with deep tenderness and affection, but if you lack politeness you will cause that love to lose its beauty and luster. "Virtue itself," says Middleton, "offends when coupled with a forbidding manner."

The basic rule for politeness is being benevolent in small things. Observe this rule and there will never be any big things to mar your family relations.


Generosity: Writing on generosity in "The Bee," Goldsmith remarked: "True generosity is a duty as indispensably necessary as those imposed upon us by law. It is a rule imposed upon us by reason, which should be the sovereign law of a rational being." The more one goes over the statement, the more one is inclined to believe that the author must have had married couples in mind when he wrote it. Generosity is a duty and it must be the sovereign law in marriage, for without it the husband or wife or both of them become unbearably selfish. To be selfish is to be ignoble.

I can think of no quicker way to weaken the wedding knot than by being selfish, for, as Beecher reminds us, "Thorough selfishness destroys and paralyzes enjoyment," and to do this at the expense of others' happiness is demonism.

Since the word "generosity" is usually associated with the idea of money it might be logical to begin by saying that generosity in this regard is quite essential. The stingy, penny-pinching husband is the cause of no end of uneasiness and unhappiness in the home. There must of necessity be a happy medium between stinginess and too much generosity. The husband must understand that his wife is not a servant or a galley slave, but a partner, and that what is his ought likewise be his wife's. It is a wise husband who makes it a rule to bring home from time to time little gifts--surprises in the way of candy, flowers, and other presents to the wife and family. Sacred Scripture says that "by a man's gifts he makes room for himself." Think that one over!

Generosity extends to other fields of marital relations too. For instance, His Holiness Pope Pius XII, speaking to newlyweds on July 10, 1940, urged all married couples to be generous in pardoning one another's faults and sins. His Holiness stressed the necessity for a rigorous application in marriage of Our Blessed Lord's answer to Saint Peter's question as to whether or not a person ought to pardon another seven times. "I say not to thee, till seven times," said Christ, "but till seventy times seven times." (Matthew 18:22.) Or, in other words, without reserve and without limit. The Sovereign Pontiff urged on all married people the advice of St. Paul--"Bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if any have a complaint against another. Even as the Lord hath forgiven you, so do you also." (Col. 3:13.)

Generosity extends to the social side of married life too. A wife might like nothing better than to stay home and get caught up with her darning or she might just prefer to relax by the radio, but a wise wife will put her own personal likes aside and step out with friend husband for dinner, a show, a bridge game with friends, or a game of golf. The same holds true for the generous husband. He ought to think of his wife's desires more than his own. This type of generosity pays off in so many ways. The happiest couples or families are those who do things together. Many a wife has found out too late, to her sorrow, that by not being generous with her time and/or charm, she lost her husband to some blonde who did take time to be friendly and sociable.

Generosity excludes possessiveness, which, along with jealousy, can cause no end of unhappiness. Let us focus our attention on these two marriage-wreckers in turn. First, possessiveness. Possessiveness is an offshoot of selfishness, and although it is more prevalent in wives, it is not exclusively a wifely fault. Husbands may be possessive, too, but it usually is with less force. The ruinous part of possessiveness is that it demands that the other mate be an exclusive piece of property that may not be shared with friends or even with relatives. Possessiveness is progressive. It starts usually with making the other party divorce himself or herself from the old set. It proceeds then to take dominion over the other mate's thoughts and actions. Possessiveness is fatal to love--fatal because in the selfish desire to possess completely, the other person is held so tightly that love is smothered.

It might be well for the possessive person to remember that we get happiness only out of sharing what we have with others. It was Richter who remarked that "distance injures love less than nearness." A night out with "the boys" for the husband and a night out with "the girls" for the wife may prove most beneficial to both.

It's good to remember that you will never get more out of marriage than you put into it. Be generous in your giving to marriage. It was Pliny the Younger who wrote: "Generosity, when once set going, knows not how to stop; the more familiar we become with its lovely form, the more enamoured we become of its charms."

The sharing of self with one's partner and with the children is the hardest kind of giving, but it is the best kind of giving.

Generosity is an antidote to jealousy--another of those hateful enigmas that stem from selfishness. We become jealous when the love that we feel is our own possession is shared with others. It arises too from a fear of losing that love to another, and when such fears become uncontrolled it becomes a mental illness. La Rochefoucauld wisely and expertly notes that "there is more self- love than love in jealousy." That is true.

Should you ever notice the first signs of jealousy rearing its ugly head in your soul smite it with all your strength. Pray as you never prayed before. Examine your conscience and see wherein you are failing in your married life. When you arrive at that stage where you have to worry about your mate two-timing--the fault is yours. You're slipping. Most likely you will find that you have become careless about your home, your clothes, your grooming, your charm, or your home manners. You must then make yourself so attractive, so alluring, so companionable that your mate will find all others "phony," and distasteful facsimiles.

Never doubt the love and the good intentions of your partner. Jealousy lives and thrives on doubt. It is a magnifier of trifles. Heed the sage warning of J. C. Hare in his "Guesses at Truth," in which he says: "Jealousy is said to be the offspring of love. Yet unless the parent makes haste to strangle the child, the child will not rest till it has poisoned the parent."

If, after sincere prayer and frequent reception of the sacraments, your jealousies remain unabated or should they reach an uncontrollable stage, see your doctor.

Should you ever be the innocent victim of a jealous mate, you will find no little consolation in the midst of your mental agonies by realizing that jealousy is the cruelest proof of love there is. The jealous person must and does love you greatly, or he wouldn't care who played up to you. Be patient and understanding. Try your best to bring the whole matter out in the open. Often when such matters are discussed openly and freely they lose their force. Jealousy is always worse when it is disguised or concealed. Suggest that it be made a matter of confession.

There is no cruelty akin to that of walking out on a person who has developed this meanest and deadliest form of mortal ills. Generosity in such a crisis will pay off in gratitude when the rough spot has been passed over. Would you leave a wife or husband who was developing cancer? Indeed, you would not. You would do all in your power to effect a cure. Jealousy is cancerous, too! Prayer, patience, and generosity can cure jealousy. Generosity can prevent jealousy!

Loyalty: The handmaid of generosity is loyalty, and loyalty is a keystone in any marriage. Be certain, however, that the basic loyalty is first to God and to His laws, for as Malbie Babcock so wisely states: "Loyalty to God alone is fundamental. Feeling, words, deeds, must be beads strung on the string of duty. Let the world tell you in a hundred ways what your life is for. Say you ever and only: 'So I come to do Thy Will, O my God.' Out of that dutiful root grows the beautiful life, the life radically and radiantly true to God--the only life that can be lived in both worlds."

Married couples might well ponder the warning that the Archangel Raphael gave to that young and ardent lover, Tobias. "Hear me," the Angel said, "and I will show thee who they are, over whom the devil can prevail. For they who in such manner receive matrimony, as to shut out God from themselves, and from their mind, and to give themselves to their lust, as the horse and mule, which have no understanding: over them the devil hath power." (Tobias 6:16, 17.) Thus from the inspired Word of God a warning--timely and important. Loyalty first, then, to God and His laws.

Next, loyalty to one another. No loyal husband or wife will ever run the other down in the presence of the children or attempt to get even with the other mate by speaking slightingly of his or her personal habits or family background to the children. A loyal husband or wife will refrain from criticizing the other to friends or relatives. "Keep your family troubles to yourself" is a wonderful rule to observe. You wouldn't go to a party in a shabby housedress; then why wear the seamy side of marriage in public, either? Some people love to discuss their family troubles. They go out of their way to bring such things up. I heard a story the other day about a priest who met one of his parishioners and said to her: "Hello, Mrs. Brown! I hear your husband is ill."

"Yes, I'm sorry to say that he is ill, Father."

"Is he critical?" asked the priest.

"Critical!" said Mrs. Brown. "He's worse than critical--he's downright abusive!"

You see, she couldn't lose an opportunity of getting her family troubles off her chest. Don't be like that. Domestic silence is the most important part of domestic science.

Loyalty is paramount when sickness or misfortune strikes one or the other mate. Nothing is so consoling and fortifying as the knowledge that the one you love can be counted on to stick with you in thick or thin, no matter how hard the winds of adversity blow. Such loyalty should extend itself to every branch of married life. For instance, if your husband has had a violent disagreement with his boss and he feels low and beaten as he dejectedly relates the whole story to you that evening, hear him out. If you can see his side of the problem, back him up. Tell him he was right. On the other hand, should you feel his stand was unjustifiable or that he was entirely wrong, let him get the whole story off his chest, and then suggest that you would like to think the whole matter over and that you will discuss it the next morning. The following day you might try to have your husband see both sides of the problem and suggest that a certain mode of procedure be followed that would save face for both your husband and his boss.

Should he have decided that he is going to quit and you know from experience that nothing can change him, you had better agree that that is what he should do. What is the use of a man working under conditions that will make him unhappy or difficult to live with? Once the decision is made, back him up. He will never forget your loyalty. You have the same right, of course, to expect loyalty when you have that inevitable disagreement with Mrs. Quelquechose, your next door neighbor, over sweeping leaves onto your walk.

At no time in married life is loyalty so necessary and imperative as when any husband or wife has to face the awful truth that the choice of his or her mate has been unwise if not downright foolish. God forbid that any such calamity befall you, but if it should your one consolation will be found in prayer and in the frequentation of the sacraments. At such a time, you must recall that the sacrament of matrimony which you received is an abiding one and that in it you are assured enough grace to see you through to the very end. The crosses and sacrifices that such a union will inflict can, if rightly accepted, be a great means of personal sanctification. When the true, evil character of such a mate is made apparent, your sense of duty and loyalty must rise to the occasion. Humble prayer will be found most efficacious when joined with good example and patience in the task of reforming what is deformed in the other's character and temper. They may easily rise higher in such a heart and lift the level of all goodness and forbearance. The stronger must support the weaker member of the union. In a word, a Christian sense of loyalty will lighten the burden that was your own free choice.

Nothing that I know of will do more to impress the husband and wife with the abiding need for loyalty to one another all during life than the wise custom of reciting together on the wedding anniversary date each month the words: "I take thee for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health, until death do us part." Renew this allegiance, this fealty, each month of your life and your loyalty will grow and blossom with peace and love.

With that final suggestion, we come to the close of our consideration of the iron and brass shoes which every married couple ought to don before setting out on the highway of life together. Only the utterly reckless would go barefoot over a road that has been found so mountainous, craggy, and precipitous by so many other travelers.

No one will ever convince me that Moses was not speaking prophetically to all married couples until the end of time when he warned Aser about the need for having shoes of iron and brass. You see, Cana of Galilee is right in the middle of what was once Aser's territory.[9]


1. "Husband of the Month of May," John K. Lagemann, "The Reader's Digest." Copyright, August, 1946.

2. "How to Keep Your Husband," St. Anthony Messenger, June, 1946.

3. Your Life. October, 1947.

4. "Home Remedies for Marital Ills," "Your Life," July, 1947.

5. Many of the homes nowadays seem to be on 3 shifts--father is on the night shift, mother is on the day shift, and the children shift for themselves.--"Highways of Happiness," Central Culvert Corp'n.

6. Here is an excellent book for brides: "Your First Hundred Meals" by Mary Scott Welch. Published by Chas. Scribner's Sons, N. Y. C. ($2.75.)

7. "The Marriage Mirage," Marion Magee, "Today's Woman," December, 1947.

8. "Today's Woman," June, 1948 (by Mamie Doud Eisenhower as told to Llewellyn Miller).

9. Jerome: Peregr. S. Paulae.


I read recently of a man who attempted to make a jump from the top of his high barn by using an ordinary umbrella for a parachute. As you can well imagine, the umbrella collapsed under his weight and the poor unfortunate chutist fell to the ground, severely injured. He was rushed to a local hospital and later detained for psychiatric treatment.

Any man or woman who enters matrimony with any other end in view save that ordained by God acts more stupidly and more foolishly than an umbrella parachutist. The manufacturer of umbrellas makes his product for the primary purpose of shielding the purchaser from rain. He may foresee, however, such secondary uses as a shield from the sun or as a cane for support. No rational umbrella manufacturer would claim that his product could be used safely as a parachute. When used for its primary or secondary ends, an umbrella can be a most useful thing. When, on the other hand, an umbrella is used for an end never dreamed of by its maker, it may be a medium of destruction.

The same thing is true of marriage. The primary end of matrimony is the procreation and education of children, and its secondary ends are mutual assistance and comfort of the parties, together with allaying of concupiscence. Anyone who makes use of marriage for any other ends is headed for disaster. Therein lies the secret of the vast majority of marriage breakups today.

Examine carefully the word matrimony. It comes from two Latin words, matris munus, meaning the "office of mother," and it implies that the man and woman are united principally that the woman, if possible, may have the privilege of lawful motherhood. For anyone to enter matrimony with any other intention is to act fraudulently.

Is it not thought-provoking that the first command God ever gave to human beings was addressed to a man and his wife, phrased simply in these words: "Increase and multiply, and fill the earth." And never once in all the ages that followed has that command ever been modified or changed.

God commanded other things in the Old Testament that were ordered modified, changed, and even abrogated when His Divine Son became Man. Take, for instance, the ancient sacrifices of the Old Law. The whole Book of Leviticus treats of the matter and form of all the sacrifices that were to be offered to God. It was evident that these sacrifices were to terminate when God's Son was sacrificed on the Cross.

Four hundred years before Christ came, the prophet Malachias, speaking for God, told of the passing of the old sacrificial rite in favor of the new: "The table of the Lord is contemptible.... I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord of hosts: and I will not receive the gift of your hand.... For from the rising of sun even to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles; and in every place there is sacrifice and there is offered to my name a clean oblation." (The Sacrifice of the Mass.)

St. Paul revealed under inspiration the change from the old to the new. In Hebrews, chapter 10, we read these words:

Wherefore, when He cometh into the world He saith: Sacrifice and oblation thou wouldst not: but a body thou hast fitted to Me.

Holocausts for sin did not please thee.

Then said I: Behold I come to do thy will, O God: He taketh away the first, that He may establish that which followeth. In the which will, we are sanctified by the oblation of the body of Jesus Christ once.

Let us take another example of how a law of the Old Testament was changed by the Messias when He came. Moses, in chapter 24 of Exodus, promulgated God's law relating to justice. Therein we read how if a man caused fatal injury to another he was to be punished in like manner: "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe."

In the New Law under Christ all this was to be changed.

Hear His words as recorded in St. Matthew, chapter 5.

"You have heard that it hath been said: 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.'

"But I say to you not to resist evil: but if one strike thee on thy right cheek, turn to him also the other."

From the several examples cited, it will be apparent that it was Christ's policy to make known any changes that were to be made in the Old Testament laws. In fact, such changes were so numerous that the New Testament is frequently referred to as the New Law. But nowhere do we read that Christ rescinded or abrogated the primal command issued to the first man and his wife "to increase and multiply and fill the earth." If any change was to be made Christ would have said so at Cana in Galilee or on the other numerous occasions when He was questioned concerning marriage. The primary end of the first marriage in the Garden of Eden was the procreation of children. That primary end of marriage still remains the same.

The early descendants of our First Parents realized this to be so. Note these noble words of Tobias in his prayer to God:

"And now, Lord, thou knowest that not for fleshly lust, do I take my sister to wife, but only for the love of posterity, in which Thy name may be blessed for ever and ever." (Tob. 8:9.) Indeed, had not the Angel Raphael--a messenger from God to man--stated quite clearly to Tobias this essential condition when he said: "Thou shalt take the virgin with the fear of the Lord, moved, rather for love of children than for lust: that in the seed of Abraham thou mayest obtain a blessing in children."

To thou who are inclined to the belief that God's command to our First Parents "to increase and multiply and fill the earth" was directed to the peoples of the Old Testament only, I say, read the great teacher of the New Law, St. Paul, and heed his words. Writing to Timothy, his beloved disciple, St. Paul said:

"And Adam was not seduced: but the woman, being seduced, was in the transgression.

"Yet she shall be saved through child-bearing: if she continue in faith and love and sanctification with sobriety." (I Tim. 2:14, 15.)

Again, in that same epistle, St. Paul wrote:

"I will, therefore, that the younger should marry, bear children, be mistresses of families, give no occasion to the adversary to speak evil."

Commenting on this latter text, St. Augustine said: "The Apostle himself is therefore witness that marriage is for the sake of generation: 'I wish,' he says, 'young girls to marry.' And, as if someone said to him, 'Why?' he immediately adds: 'To beget children, to be mothers of families.'"

Woe to the man or woman who enters marriage moved rather from lust than from love of children. Woe to the married man or woman who refuses to see a blessing in children. Such make a mockery of the name "matrimony" (office of mother). The cardinal rule must ever remain that those who are not willing to become parents ought not to marry.

To enter the holy state of matrimony with a purpose to defeat its primary end is to violate it. Those who pervert it inevitably degrade themselves. They descend from the plane of a spiritual and intellectual relation into a union beneath their nature as a whole. Such surrender themselves to a part which is the lesser and which, out of its proper adjustment to the noblest, not only becomes the lower, but ceases to be human at all and lapses into the purely bestial. When the true end of marriage is ever kept in view, the whole nature of the union is elevated.

In those marriages where parenthood is avoided and where children that are procreated are accidental, unwanted, and intruders, the innocent ones become victims of a cruel fate. According to the principles of heredity, so far as they are known at present, it would appear that such unwanted children may be permanently affected. It is known that the mental state of parents modifies the condition of children physically, mentally, and morally. The repugnance to offspring on the part of the parents makes of the child a sort of orphan. It is cheated of natural affection and such a defect may show up later in its development.

Birth prevention is the curse of our generation. Unless and until men and women see in it the evil God does, it may wreak its own punishment on mankind. To prove that contraception is a grievous sin, one has only to consult the pages of God's Word and read Genesis, chapter 38, verses 8, 9, and 10. Therein you will see that Onan (from whom the sin derives its name) "spilled his seed upon the ground, lest children should be born in his brother's name. And therefore the Lord slew him, because he did a detestable thing."

If contraception was a sin in Onan's day, it still is. God does not change. If it was grievously evil then, it is grievously evil now. And it is worthy of note that the word detestable is used only seven times in the whole of Holy Scripture.

When I wrote that contraception is the curse of our generation, I did not mean to imply that it is peculiar to our generation alone. Other peoples and other ages have embraced it, and it destroyed them. Here is what Polybius wrote circa .c.:

"In our time all Greece was visited by a dearth of children . . . and a failure of productiveness followed . . . by our men's becoming perverted to a passion for show and money and the pleasure of an idle life, and accordingly either not marrying at all, or, if they did marry, refusing to rear children that were born, or at most one or two out of a great number, for the sake of leaving them well off or bringing them up in extravagant luxury."

Doesn't that read like something Will Durant might have penned in 1948? Mentioning Will Durant brings to mind one of the most striking confessions I have ever read. It was made by Durant before a group of bankers--the New York State League of Savings and Loan Associations--at their fifty-third annual convention held at Lake Placid, June 12-14, 1940. Mr. Durant spoke on "The Crisis in American Civilization" and readily admitted that, while he had once been a great admirer of Margaret Sanger and an apostle of birth prevention, he suddenly began to realize that he had participated in the creation of a Frankenstein's monster that now menaces our civilization. Let me quote Mr. Durant verbatim, and I urge you to read every word of the following:

"I remember, in the first private school that I taught, having among my pupils two little boys whose name was Sanger. They were the children of Margaret Sanger, whom at that time I knew as a modest nurse in a hospital in New York. During that woman's brief maturity she has changed the whole biological face of the western world.... She taught the human beings of this country to make parentage voluntary, discriminating, and perhaps dangerously sparse.

"As I contemplate the movement, I must congratulate it on its victory. It has won almost completely, and perhaps today that movement stands in the midst of its victory, wondering if it was good. It is a terrible thing--isn't it?--to give your life to an enterprise of human liberation and then, having won all the goals that you set out for, to stand in doubt as to whether this was what you sought. For today the people of America who could bring up fine children, whose homes are equipped to give education and civilization and health, keep those homes more and more empty. And the homes that are not equipped either biologically or socially to give civilization and health and education are the homes that are making the future citizens of America.

"Sometimes, when I look at America today, I wonder: Are all our victories defeats? And perhaps some of our defeats might be victories.

"I, too, worked for this birth control movement--preached it, shouted it almost from the housetops shamelessly; and today I see America breeding from the bottom and dying from the top because we won so thoroughly. I am not sure that it was good. We have solved one problem and we have created another that is immeasurably profounder.

"I know what happened to Athens. Infanticide was raised to such a point that nobody raised children in Athens except the lowest of the low and the most barbaric of the immigrants. I know what happened to Rome. I know how Caesar almost scratched his head bald thinking how he could induce the Roman women to have children. He decreed that they should have no diamonds if they had no children--that they should have no jewels of one kind if they had none of the other. I know that Augustus passed law after law in the first decade of our Christian era almost two thousand years ago, trying to stop this current of family limitation. I know too that all that legislation failed. I know that Rome at last had to till her soil with barbarians and with slaves; and that finally, the rapidly breeding immigrant Germans overran Italy. It was the end of the Western Roman Empire.

"Civilization has to kill itself before it can be conquered. . . . You will be conquered from within, not from without."

Would that every Planned Parenthood worker could read and study this apologia. They are blind leaders of the blind. They know not what they do. Such groups and their sponsors may even in our day wreak such havoc on our civilization that their names may go down in the pages of history linked closely with those of Herod-- the slaughterer of the Innocents and with Benedict Arnold, the traitor to his country.

It is certainly not my intention to go into an exhaustive study of this birth prevention question. I intend rather to state briefly the teaching of God and His Church on the matter and then cite certain authorities to uphold the reasonableness of that teaching.

As far as the Law of God on the morality of birth prevention is concerned we have already seen that the first man who practiced it was struck dead because "he did a detestable thing." We have seen too that the Angel Raphael pointed out to Tobias that marriage was for the procreation of children and not for lust. We saw St. Paul's inspired words to Timothy on the ends of marriage, and there remains but to add the apostle's salutary counsel: "Let marriage be held in honor with all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the immoral." (Heb. 13:4.) Could anything be more clear?

For the benefit of those who salve their conscience on this matter of birth prevention by saying that it is nowhere specifically named as immoral in Holy Scripture, I may say that it is true that the words "birth control" or "birth prevention" do not appear in the Bible. Little wonder such words do not appear in Holy Scripture, since they were only concocted as a propaganda catch phrase some forty or fifty years ago. The point is that Onan was slain because he first practiced birth prevention and thus the mind of God was indicated on the subject. General principles are given quite clearly in the Bible but not every concrete application of those principles. All will admit that it would be gravely sinful for a person to allow himself deliberately to become an opium addict; yet there is no text in Holy Scripture that says, "Thou shalt not become a dope fiend."

Indeed, were there no Holy Scripture references to the matter of birth prevention at all, the sacred traditions of God's infallible Church would be as binding as the Sacred Word itself. Let us examine some of these traditional teachings.

Origen, writing against the pagan Celsus in the third century, says: "At least the more our people obey Christian doctrine, the more they love purity, abstaining from even lawful sex-pleasures that they may the more purely worship God. Christians marry as do others, and they have children; but they do not stifle their offering. They are in bodies of flesh, but they do not live according to the flesh."

In the next century, the fourth, we find St. Augustine writing: "Relations with one's wife, when conception is deliberately prevented, are as unlawful and impure as the conduct of Onan who was slain."

St. Thomas Aquinas, writing eight centuries later, says: "Next to murder, by which an actually existent human being is destroyed, we rank this sin by which the generation of a human being is prevented."

Again, St. Thomas says that a man who asks his wife to cooperate in the marriage act where the intention is to prevent the natural result of it treats her as a harlot. Here are his exact words: "A husband seeks from his wife harlot pleasures when he asks from her only what he might ask from a harlot."

Such testimony from the earliest days of the Church must of necessity confuse those jokers who would have modern Christians believe that the Church's present-day stand is an innovation. Read this portion of Pope Pius XI's great Encyclical letter "Casti Connubii," and see for yourself how constant the Church's teaching on this matter has been. Every word is important. Read it carefully.

"And now, Venerable Brethren, We shall explain in detail the evils opposed to each of the benefits of matrimony.

"First consideration is due to the offspring, which many have the boldness to call the disagreeable burden of matrimony and which, they say, is to be carefully avoided by married people not through virtuous continence (which Christian laws permit in matrimony when both parties consent) but by frustrating the marriage act. Some justify this criminal abuse on the ground that they are weary of children and wish to gratify their desires without their consequent burden. Others say that they cannot on the one hand remain continent nor, on the other, can they have children because of the difficulties, whether on the part of the mother or on the part of family circumstances.

"But no reason, however grave, may be put forward by which anything intrinsically against nature may become conformable to nature and morally good. Since, therefore, the conjugal act is destined primarily by nature for the begetting of children, those who in exercising it deliberately frustrate its natural power and purpose sin against nature and commit a deed which is shameful and intrinsically vicious.

"Since, therefore, openly departing from the uninterrupted Christian tradition, some recently have judged it possible solemnly to declare another doctrine regarding this question, the Catholic Church, to whom God has entrusted the defense of the integrity and purity of morals, standing erect in the midst of the moral ruin which surrounds her, in order that she may preserve the chastity of the nuptial union from being defiled by this foul stain, raises her voice in token of Divine ambassadorship and through Our mouth proclaims anew: Any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin."

No matter what you think of the Catholic Church, you have to admire her steadfastness in preaching the Gospel to a rebellious world. She never varies her doctrines to suit the tastes of the age. Little wonder that Professor Draper, historian and rationalist, a severe but oftentimes wondering critic of the Catholic Church, could say of that Church in a discussion of "The Age of Faith" in Europe: "From little better than a slave she raised each man's wife to be his equal, and forbidding him to have more than one, met her recompense for those noble deeds in a friend at every fireside. Discountenancing all impure love, she put around that fireside the children of one mother and made that mother little less than sacred in their eyes."

To recapitulate, then, the moral law is simply this: "Any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin."

Note that I have stated that this is the moral law--the law of God and of nature. Since the Catholic Church did not make the law, she can never change it. The Church's task on this earth is to declare to men the right interpretation of the natural moral law imposed by God. And since Christ said to His Church, "He who hears you, hears me," it is really Christ who still teaches men through His Church.

Remember this, too, when a priest in the confessional is unable to absolve you unless and until you promise to desist from such offenses: he is morally bound to act as he does. See the spot he is in from the words of the Pope himself: "We admonish, therefore, priests who hear confessions, and others who have the care of souls, in virtue of Our supreme authority and in Our solicitude for the salvation of souls, not to allow the Faithful entrusted to them to err regarding this most grave law of God; much more, that they keep themselves immune from such false opinions, in no way conniving at them. If any confessor or pastor of souls, which God forbid, lead the Faithful entrusted to him into these errors or should at least confirm them by approval or by guilty silence, let him be mindful of the fact that he must render a strict account to God, the Supreme judge, for the betrayal of his sacred trust."

So much for the moral side of the question. Now let us turn our attention to the physical damages done by the violation of this same natural moral law. Here, too, I am going to confine myself to the barest minimum of medical and lay authorities.

In Monsignor Edward Robert Moore's book, "The Case Against Birth Control,"[1] this eminent writer quotes one Frederick J. McCann, M.D., F.R.C.S., writing in "Natural Life," March, 1931, as follows: "All known methods of contraception are harmful to the female; they only differ in being more or less so."

Dr. M. A. van Bouwdigk-Bastiaansi, a veteran gynecologist of Amsterdam, declares: "I point to the possibility that the large increase in cervical cancer may be due to the wide use of contraceptives. It is admitted that cancer may be caused by long- continued irritation, produced by a foreign body in contact with the cervix or through continual vaginal flushings using chemical elements. I state that inflammation of the neck of the womb results not infrequently from the use of preventives. That such inflammation may in turn lead to cancer is mentioned in nearly all scientific publications dealing with the subject."

Dr. James T. Nix, in his work, "The Unborn," writes:

"In all probability thirty per cent or more of persons who go to the operating table or are otherwise incapacitated by long illness resulting from pelvic infection, are there as a result of malicious interference with conception or impregnation. I would like to suggest also that one of the principal causes of sterility in the female comes from this same cause. If I were asked a percentage of this, I would state about sixty per cent."[2]

That birth prevention and the avoidance of parenthood is bad neurologically, psychologically, and psychiatrically is also indicated. Sir Robert Armstrong-James, M.D., F.R.C.P.S., a London specialist in mental diseases, said in an address to the People's League of Health: "Birth control leads to lunacy in women. If we are to have birth control on a large scale we will have to add to our lunatic asylums for the mothers. The absence of children leads to neurasthenia in married women and that leads to insanity. I know from my practice that that is a fact."

This may have some bearing on the terrific increase in mental cases in our nation. National statistics show that at least one in every twenty persons will some day be a patient in an asylum. America has today some six hundred thousand in insane institutions and an estimated six million mentally ill outside.

This bears out what Dr. Marynia F. Farnham, an outstanding New York psychiatrist and co-author of the current best-seller, "Modern Woman: The Lost Sex," stated in the September, 1947, issue of "Coronet," in an enlightening article entitled "The Tragic Failure of America's Women."

Dr. Farnham says that a clear majority of all adult American women are engulfed today in emotional difficulties.

"They come to me complaining about their 'nerves.' These fall into two classes: the feminine careerists, women who have invaded the 'big league' of male competition; and the women who have no careers--but wish they did. Both these groups usually have no more than one child (if any), although physically capable of bearing more. When I ask them why, they give all sorts of reasons, they blame their husbands, their figures, their incomes, their landlords, their health--anything, in fact, but themselves."

Then the author makes this fine observation that is worth contemplating:

"There is one type of woman rarely seen in a psychiatrist's office. That is the woman who is glad she is a woman. Although not a minority in our female population, she honestly enjoys homemaking, and more than anything in the world wants to raise a family of healthy, normal youngsters. During twenty years of listening to distressed patients, I have never met her in my office-- because she doesn't need help."

The following quotation from this same article shows what a clever diagnostician Dr. Farnham must be:

"In rearing the child, this normal, feminine mother is not bothered by the guilt feelings that afflict the rejecting mother. For example, since she has no guilt phobia about germs, she casually sets her baby down on the butcher's shelf while ordering meat. If Junior refuses spinach, she says: 'Okay, I don't like spinach either. Try these peas.' And thus the child eats normally.

"Furthermore, if a mother feels that Junior is taking advantage of her good nature, she has no qualms about wielding the switch because she knows she is acting objectively, instead of venting secret hostility toward the child.

"Such a mother finds child-rearing satisfying because she honestly likes children. They seem interesting, strange and unaccountably captivating. The children know that Mother likes them. They also know that she likes herself and likes Father. And they know in turn that Father likes Mother and likes them. That combination is unbeatable for building a sound America![3]

The social effects of birth control are terrible too. Dr. Friedrich Burgdorfer, in the April 10, 1931, issue of the "Deutsche Allgerneine Zeitung," scores the two-child system and gives these revealing statistics:

"A population in which the two-child system prevails, and in which consequently there are but two children on the average surviving to each marriage, is condemned to extinction.... A thousand people among whom the two-child system rules will shrink in the first 30 years to 621. In 60 years there will be but 386; in ninety years 240; and in 120 years 194; in 150 years 92, and in another 150 years there will be but eight to replace the original thousand. Practically speaking, therefore, the two-child system leads to extinction of a population in three hundred years."

Little wonder that Theodore Roosevelt could say that "the severest of all condemnations should be visited on willful sterility. The first essential in any civilization is that the man and the woman shall be the father and mother of children so that the race shall increase and not decrease."

And now some practical applications--"But the doctor says I will die if I have another baby!" How familiar that old chestnut is! And Pope Pius gives such a question its only answer. He gives an answer, too, to the question: "But how can we have more children when we have barely enough money to support our present family?" Hear the Pope on the first question. "Holy Mother Church very well understands and clearly appreciates all that is said regarding the health of the mother and the danger to her life; and who would not grieve to think of these things; who is not filled with the greatest admiration when he sees a mother risking her life with heroic fortitude, that she may preserve the life of the offspring which she has conceived? God alone, all bountiful and all merciful as He is, can reward her for the fulfillment of the office allotted to her by nature, and will assuredly repay her in a measure full to overflowing (Luke 6:38)."

And to the second he replies:

"We are deeply touched by the sufferings of those parents who, in extreme want, experience great difficulty in rearing their children. However, they should take care lest the calamitous state of their material affairs should be the occasion for a much more calamitous error. No difficulty can arise that justifies the putting aside of the law of God which forbids all acts intrinsically evil. There is no possible circumstance in which husband and wife cannot, strengthened by the grace of God, fulfill faithfully their duties and preserve in wedlock their chastity unspotted."

In other words, where the problem of the health of the wife comes up, or where economic conditions are such that more children cannot be raised at that time, then two courses are open: first, both parties must live as brother and sister until such crises are past or, after consultation with the confessor, avail themselves of the act during the so-called "safe period" during the month. Regarding the use of such "safe periods," His Holiness says:

"Nor are those considered as acting against nature who in the married state use their right in the proper manner although on account of natural reasons either of time or of certain defects, new life cannot be brought forth. For in matrimony as well as in the use of the matrimonial rights there are also secondary ends, such as mutual aid, the cultivating of mutual love, and the quieting of concupiscence which husband and wife are not forbidden to intend so long as they are subordinated to the primary end and so long as the intrinsic nature of the act is preserved."

The common name now used for such periods is rhythm, and the system is technical enough to demand a consultation with your family physician to work out the date schedule.

On this matter of "rhythm," Rev. Hugh Calkins, O.S.M., makes the following important comment: "The Church neither approves nor disapproves of the rhythm method as a system to be followed. The Church merely tolerates the use of the method. Toleration indicates reluctant permission. And the Church only tolerates this method when three definite factors are present. First, there is sufficient serious reason for a given couple to use this method, sufficiently serious enough to justify sidestepping the first purpose of marriage; second, both husband and wife are truly willing to follow the method--neither one can force the other to adopt this system; third, the use of this method must not cause mortal sins against chastity nor become a proximate occasion of such sins. The breakdown of any one of these three factors makes the use of rhythm sinful. So the correct attitude is this: The use of rhythm is sometimes no sin, sometimes venial sin, sometimes mortal sin. So please stop saying: 'Oh, it's okay, the Church approves it.'"[4]

Getting back to the first suggestion, to say that such a thing as living as brother and sister is impossible is to admit a terrible lack of faith and will power. Indeed, it can be done. It was done during the war years when husbands and wives were separated, and it can be done again. The Little Flower's mother and father denied themselves by mutual agreement the marriage act for the first year of their marriage as a sacrifice to God that He might bless them with many children. He did. He sent them nine in all, and He sent them a Saint for heaven and earth--Saint Therese.

To those who want children, but practice contraception solely to achieve a degree of economic security beforehand, we say that such a procedure is dangerous. When these persons are ready for children, they may not be able to have any.

Dr. Edward Reynolds of Boston says that "many cases are seen in which prudential prevention of pregnancy in early married life has set up consequences of congestion which persist after pregnancy is desired."[5]

Here is a word of consolation from the Sovereign Pontiff Pope Pius XI himself, addressed to the mate who wants children and is refused this honor and privilege by a faithless husband or wife. Where birth control is forced on such a one, the Pope says:

"Holy Church knows well that not infrequently one of the parties permits the sin rather than commits it, when for a really grave cause a perversion of the right order is reluctantly tolerated. In such a case, there is no sin provided that, mindful of the law of charity, one does not neglect to seek to dissuade[6] and to deter the partner from sin." Note well, that where contraceptives are made use of in the marital act, this teaching does not apply.

Whatever you do, do not confuse birth control with abortion. Abortion involves the cutting short of a life already begun and hidden in the mother's womb. Birth control or contraception, on the other hand, is the obstruction of the union of the male and female cells.

The Natural Law forbids any attempt at destroying foetal life, and the Church decrees excommunication against all who seek to procure abortion, if their action produces the effect. The abortion here meant is that which is strictly so-called--namely that performed before the child is viable (before the twenty-eighth week). Such an act is murder pure and simple.

And who can find words strong enough to denounce doctors who perform or advise the cutting or tying off of tubes, husbands who encourage or consent to it, and the wives who submit to it. These are usually the same persons who would not dare to turn back the hands on an expensive watch lest they harm its delicate machinery. Ah, but nature usually punishes in her own way for such a crime as tube-tying or cutting. Indeed, nature is tenacious of her rights; she resists grandly and when forced to yield to violence, she repays the offender with chastisement which is no less sure because it is sometimes long delayed. Nature is no fool. Her revenge is quite terrible. Shattered bodies, minds, homes, and families bear this out. Scripture is most explicit. Four times in God's Word we read: "For I am the Lord thy God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon their children unto the third and fourth generation." That holds for mothers, too.

My best advice to married couples is to leave off matching their wits with God. There is plenty of authority for saying that if married couples would live properly they would not be overburdened with offspring. That much is true of the lower animals, for not one of them, when left to the course of nature, produces offspring too rapidly.

The supreme folly of humans lies in trying to separate duty from pleasure when they belong together. In marriage these two belong together and may not be separated.

I plead especially with those couples who have barely crossed the threshold of wedlock to resist this sin of contraception with all their strength. Happiness in marriage may depend on just such a resolve. If contraception is practiced in the early years of marriage, it will breed disgust for the marriage act and the partner thereto, and I can say from my experience with broken marriages that contraception is one of the prime causes leading to separations and divorces.

Dr. Henry A. Bowman, who organized the marriage preparation courses at Stephens College, Columbia, Missouri, and whose staff deals with some eighteen hundred enrollments a year, said in an interview with Gretta Palmer[7] that "marriages based on a decision to put off motherhood until later years are highly vulnerable: fear of parenthood does not make a good companion for a husband and wife trying to get along together. Approximately three fourths of all childless marriages end in divorce--ten times the rate of those where there are children.

"Rather than marry, it is better to remain engaged until a plan can be worked out that permits a baby to be a blessing, not a catastrophe."

Supreme Court Justice Lewis of Brooklyn some years ago observed that among one day's undefended divorce cases--sixty-four in all-- there was but one child for every two couples and that the average duration of such marriages was less than three years. Justice Lewis said: "If our women had more children there would be more happiness and fewer divorces. Absence of children promotes discord."

I listened to a radio play recently wherein one of the actors was made to say that "he had two children--a boy and a girl." Then he added, "That is par, you know." I could not help wondering that if one or two children had always been par the world would have suffered great losses. Benjamin Franklin was the eighth among ten children; William T. Sherman was the sixth among eleven; Horace Greeley was one of seven; Longfellow was one of eight; Washington Irving one of eleven; Beethoven one of eleven; Saint Mother Cabrini one of thirteen; St. Therese of the Child Jesus, one of nine; General Pershing one of eleven; and General D. D. Eisenhower one of seven.

There is nothing so sad as a deliberately planned one- or two-child family. Commenting on the fact that once upon a time the family made character just through its size, Will Durant said: "When you had eight or nine brothers and sisters, you learned civilization by attrition. You had decency knocked into you. I had a brother whose name was Frank. He had two years' start on me--and powerful muscles.... When I look back on my education, I realize that Frank was the best teacher I ever had. He had no textbooks, no theories, he had never heard of Teachers' College. But he just knocked me down. And to be knocked down at the right time is worth the best college education. But who is going to knock you down now, when you are the only son in the family? Your sister can't do it, if you have one. Your father must not do it--the latest books are against it. How are you going to be civilized?"

Isn't that a gem?

There can be no doubt that Bacon was right when he said: "Children sweeten labors and they mitigate the remembrance of death." Your fortune will be your children and your children may be your comfort and joy in this life and your salvation in the next. That numerous children are a comfort is so evident as to need little proof. Go to any home for the poor and infirm, and you will find that the great preponderance of those unfortunate and lonely inmates, if married at all, brought but one or two children into the world and now find themselves alone--lonely, and dependent on the state for food, clothing, and shelter.

To faithful married men and women who, through no fault of their own, are childless, I suggest the adoption of children. Such great charity is repaid a hundredfold even in this life. Begin, however, to adopt children within the first five years of marriage. They who adopt homeless little ones stand nearest to God.

God never intended any love, not even that between husband and wife, to forever feed upon itself but rather that it should seek and find ever wider and greener pastures. The mission of children in lawful marriage is to purify and sweeten the stream of life by bringing to it a new supply of happiness, so unsullied that it seems fresh from the eternal fountain and purifies as it blends with it.

Let us return to Cana, for its lessons are forever. There is every reason to suppose that Our Blessed Lord was present for the customary bridal procession which made up such an important part of the ancient Jewish ceremonial at all weddings. If He was present, then He no doubt saw the bride approach wearing a chaplet of golden wheat, indicative of fertility, and rose with everyone else to salute the procession, or join it. It was almost a religious duty to break into praise of the beauty, the modesty, or the virtues of the bride, and repeat to the rhythm of clapping hands:[8] "May you be the mother of thousands of millions!"

How striking such a consideration really is. To the first man and his wife, God the Father, the Creator, had said, "Increase and multiply and fill the earth," and, at Cana in Galilee, the Son, the Redeemer made Man, may have addressed similar words to another bride saying: "May you be the mother of thousands of millions!" That ever was and ever will remain God's plan for married couples and His earnest wish for their happiness.

Take particular care that you build no false conscience in this matter of unlawful family limitation. I think it was Father Ginder who remarked that "a freshly painted park bench bearing the sign 'Wet Paint' will not suddenly become dry if the sign be removed." That holds true of contraception too. Just saying it is no sin in your particular case will not alter the facts. It is always gravely sinful and no cause may ever excuse. It is going to be pretty tough for birth controllers to attempt to excuse themselves on the score of economic necessity when they stand before a Judge who was born in abject poverty in a stable, worked as a laborer, and who could say in full manhood that "the foxes had holes and the birds of the air nests, but the Son of Man had nowhere to lay His head."

Cana gives the answer to this problem too. Aser's portion which contained this memorable village was so rough that Moses was inspired to warn that shoes of iron and brass would be imperative. Yet there were compensations. The rugged hills abounded in iron ore. There is your answer. If God sends you children, He will send you the grace and means to support them. This law of compensation runs through all God's distribution of duties and gifts.

It is more than mere coincidence, too, that Christ should have chosen a marriage in Cana at which to perform His first miracle. You see, Cana of Galilee was situated in the terrain given to Aser, and the word "Aser" itself means "to make or to declare happy." Odd as it may seem, that name was bestowed by a mother who was thrilled at the birth of a son, by a mother who hoped, she said, that through child-bearing, women would ever call her blessed. (Gen. 30:13.)


1. New York: The Century Co., 1931.

2. Quoted in "Birth Prevention Quizzes," by Rev. Fathers Rumble and Carty. "Radio Replies Press," St. Paul 1, Minn.

3. Copyright, 1947, by Coronet, Inc., Coronet Bldg., Chicago 1, Ill. (Coronet, September, 1947.)

4. "Rhythm--The Unhappy Compromise," Rev. Hugh Calkins, O.S.M., "Integrity," June, 1948, Vol. z, No. 9.

5. "Case Against Birth Control," by Monsignor Edward Robert Moore. New York: The Century Co., 1931.

6. Because of the danger of developing laxity in conscience in this matter it is advisable to consult your confessor as to the manner of formulating the warning and the frequency of its issuance.

7. "Marriage Control; A New Answer to Divorce," by Gretta Palmer. "Your Life," August, 1947.

8. It was specially related of King Agrippa that he had done this, and a curious Haggadah sets forth that when Jezebel was eaten by dogs her hands and feet were spared (Kings 410) because, amidst all her wickedness, she had been wont to greet every marriage- procession, by clapping hands.


The Reverend John A. O'Brien, in his scholarly work "The Faith of Millions,"[1] gives a fine pen picture of his visit to the old home of Napoleon and Josephine, situated a few miles outside of Paris. He describes how the furniture in Napoleon's room was, on the occasion of his visit, exactly as it was when the First Consul mapped his brilliant campaigns which led to his great victories at Marengo, Austerlitz, Jena, and the Pyramids--victories which changed the map of Europe. It was in Malmaison, a retreat of sylvan loveliness, that Napoleon and Josephine passed their happiest days.

The writer then mentions visiting Josephine's room, a study in contrasts. There he saw the incidentals that minister to the needs of womanhood and that echo the notes of love and domesticity. There, among many things, stood one dominating item in the center of the room--a harp, a harp played by Josephine in the days of her happiness but now standing mute and silent, its strings broken asunder.

The broken strings on that harp were a jarring reminder to Father O'Brien of a broken home, a family torn asunder, a sacred vow trampled underfoot, a domestic travesty and failure that will forever mar the escutcheon of the great Bonaparte. The man who successfully conquered Europe, and built new empires, failed at marriage. Napoleon divorced Josephine and the broken harp in Malmaison will ever stand as a mute monument to love's failure and matrimonial disaster. "The broken harp," wrote Father O'Brien, "sounds with superlative irony a warning to the world today against the tragedy of a broken home, for which no other victories over men or nations can ever compensate. It reminds mankind that the building of a home, where peace and love abound, is man's supreme achievement, and the source of his deepest and most abiding happiness. If a man fail in business, politics, or other enterprises, but has kept intact the empire of his own home, with the myriad ties of sympathy and understanding unbroken, his failure is overshadowed by a victory which soothes the sting of uncounted defeats and brings the richest returns in love and happiness."

Have men and women in any age ever repudiated marriage vows with such recklessness and in such terrifying numbers as in our day? Statistics point out that there is now one divorce for every three marriages. And who can estimate the numbers of husbands and wives who avoid the divorce courts, but whose marriages have failed just the same and who have decided to call it quits and separate? Indeed, their number is legion--and this latter group is made up in no small way of Catholics who are kept from the divorce mill simply through fear of the discipline of the Church.

How inconsistent such people are! They are the very ones who would be loudest in their condemnation of, say, a soldier who, in the midst of battle, would throw down his arms and desert. They are the ones who would hurl the worst blasts at a pitcher in a world series who, because he found himself in a tough spot, would throw down his glove and walk off the mound. Yet the one who walks out on a marriage when things get tough is the lowest form of deserter and the poorest sport on this earth.

It is not my intention to give here an exhaustive treatise on the immorality of divorce or cite in detail its multiple evil effects upon husband and wife and upon their children. I intend rather to confine myself simply to presenting the inspired words of God Himself, the words of His Divine Son in condemnation of divorce and arbitrary separation from bed and board. The whole argument for the indissolubility of marriage is based upon the premise that God is the creator of man and as such has the right to command what He wills and forbid what He wills. It is based, too, on the fact that Christ is the Son of God--that He and the Eternal Father are one--and that therefore whatever the Redeemer of the human race commanded must be obeyed and whatever He forbade must be avoided. But let the Master speak for Himself. Here are His very words: "Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you, I speak not of myself." (John 14:10.) Again, "He that loveth me not keepeth not my words. And the word which you have heard is not mine; but the Father's who sent me." (John 14:24.) Did not Christ proclaim his sweeping authority to command men when He said: "All power is given to me in heaven and in earth." (Matt. 28:18), and did not His eternal Father oblige all to hear Christ, when He said: "This is My Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, Hear ye Him." (Matt. 17:5.) To hear Christ, then, is our duty; to obey Him is our obligation! We must therefore believe and do all that our Saviour commanded.

If you ask where does one find all the things that must be believed and the things that must be done that salvation may be attained, we say that these things are found in (1) the inspired word of God, Holy Scripture; (2) in the traditions handed down to us from the time of the Apostles; and (3) in the doctrines believed and taught by the infallible Church which Christ established on this earth.

With all this in mind, let us first see what the Holy Bible says regarding the indissolubility of marriage. When the Creator instituted marriage, He inspired Adam to proclaim to all his descendants that "a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be two in one flesh"--a command that is clearly vitiated by divorce. Marriage from the very beginning, therefore, was to be considered as a most special form of union.

This primal idea of the indissolubility of marriage persisted throughout the whole of the Old Testament save for a relatively short period when Moses, because of the hardness of men's hearts, permitted divorce. Some writers hold that the fact that Moses was constrained to permit divorces only goes to prove that the idea of the indissolubility of marriage except by death was so universally held that some desperate men tried to circumvent the law by taking the life of their innocent mates and thus freeing themselves from the bond. It may have been that Moses permitted divorce as the lesser of two great evils. Be this as it may, the point is that Christ, when He came down on this earth, spoke plainly and authoritatively on this matter of divorce. He forbade it in no uncertain terms.

One day some Pharisees came to Him with this leading question:

"Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? But He answering, saith to them: What did Moses command you?

Who said: Moses permitted to write a bill of divorce and to put her away.

To whom Jesus answering, said: Because of the hardness of your heart, he wrote you that precept.

But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female.

For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife. And they two shall be in one flesh....

What therefore God had joined together, let no man put asunder." (Mark 10:2-9.)

When the tempting Pharisees had left, His disciples went back to the question again and this time the Master was very explicit. And He said to them:

"Whosoever shall put away his wife and marry another committeth adultery against her. And if the wife shall put away her husband and be married to another, she committeth adultery." (Mark 10:11- 12.)

There is no mincing of words here. It was straight from the shoulder; and to give emphasis to this teaching, the words are repeated in the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke. Curiously enough, divorce adherents lay claim to some authority for their stand, from the recorded words of Our Lord in St. Matthew's Gospel. Let us look at them. Contrasting His mission with that of Moses, Christ said:

"And it hath been said: Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a bill of divorce. But I say to you that whosoever shall put away his wife, excepting for the cause of fornication, maketh her to commit adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away committeth adultery." (Matt. 5:31-32.)

The clause "excepting for the cause of fornication" in no wise is to be understood as an "out" for those who wish to remarry. It simply means that by reason of this terrible sin against conjugal fidelity, the offending mate may be sent away, effecting what is generally known as "separation from bed and board," but this separation does not destroy the marriage bond nor render remarriage permissible.

That the Apostles understood Our Lord to have indicated remarriage for separated husbands and wives to have been forbidden is proved from the cryptic reply they made when Christ explained His doctrine on the subject. "If the case of a man with his wife be so, it is not expedient to marry." (Matt. 19:10.) That is, if marital infidelity is a reason for separation, but afterwards neither mate can remarry, then it is better not to separate at all.

St. Paul had no delusions on this subject, either. He also spoke clearly and authoritatively; note his words:

"But to them that are married, not I, but the Lord, commandeth" (note that!) "that the wife depart not from her husband. And if she depart, that she remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband."

That would seem to explain very nicely the "excepting" clause in St. Matthew.

"And let not the husband put away his wife," adds St. Paul (I Cor. 7:10, 11).

In a different way, but just as uncompromisingly, the Apostle sets down this teaching on marriage in another Epistle:

"For the woman that hath an husband, whilst her husband liveth is bound to the law. But if her husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. Therefore, whilst her husband liveth, she shall be called an adulteress if she be with another man; but if her husband be dead, she is delivered from the law of her husband; so that she is not an adulteress, if she be with another man." (Rom. 7:2, 3.)

Well, there you have the words of the Son of God Himself on this matter of divorce as well as the inspired writings of the Apostle Paul. And Paul was not inclined to view lightly any attempt to change the Gospel as he preached it. He it was who said: "If any one preach to you a Gospel, besides that which you have received, let him be anathema" (Gal. 1:9), and anathema means cursed-- excluded from the Kingdom of God.

So much for Holy Scripture. Let us turn now to the traditional doctrine on this matter handed down to us from the earliest days of the Church.

St. Ignatius, in the second century, said: "Speak unto my sisters that they love the Lord and be content, in flesh and spirit with their husbands." (Ad. Polycarp. No. 5.)

St. Basil, in the third century, wrote: "Though the husband be harsh and savage in temper, the wife must bear with him and on no pretext seek to sever the union." (Hexaemer. Hom. VIII.)

St. Augustine, in the fifth century, wrote:

"By conjugal fidelity it is provided that there should be no carnal intercourse outside the marriage bond with another man or woman; with regard to offspring, that children should be begotten of love, tenderly cared for and educated in a religious atmosphere; finally, in its sacramental aspect, that the marriage bond should not be broken and that a husband or wife, if separated, should not be joined to another even for the sake of offspring. This we regard as the law of marriage by which the fruitfulness of nature is adorned and the evil of incontinence is restrained. (De Genes. ad. Lit. IX.)

Again, St. Augustine writes, "And they who are well instructed in the Catholic faith know that God is the author of marriage, and that as it is from Him, so divorce is from the devil." (In Johan. Evang. VIII:[1], and IX:[2].)

Thus you have a rather striking array of traditional proof as to the constant teaching of the Church regarding the indissolubility of marriage, one that comes down to us unchanged in spite of the assaults upon it by the loss of the sturdy faith of ages past.

The solemn declaration of the Council of Trent is final. "If anyone should say that on account of heresy, or the hardships Of cohabitation or a deliberate abuse of one party by the other, the marriage may be loosened, let him be anathema."

And again: "If anyone should say that the Church errs in having taught or in teaching that according to the teaching of the Gospel and the Apostles, the bond of marriage cannot be loosed because of the sin of adultery of either party, or that neither party, even though one be innocent, having given no cause for the sin of adultery, can contract another marriage during the lifetime of the other and that he commits adultery who marries another after putting away his adulterous wife, and likewise that she commits adultery who puts away her husband and marries another: let him be anathema."

The Third Council of Baltimore decreed the pain of excommunication, reserved to the Bishop, to be incurred ipso facto by those attempting marriage after obtaining a civil divorce.

Anyone who would be so reckless as to attempt or even consider divorce in the face of its prohibition by the Son of God, by Holy Scripture, by tradition and by the Church, is foolhardy indeed. Such a one would be well advised to arrange with his or her favorite funeral director to be sure and place a copy of the divorce decree, along with the names of the lawyers and the judge, in the casket when this mortal sojourn is finished. Even then it is going to be pretty tough trying to convince Christ, the Eternal Judge, who so vehemently forbade divorce, that their case had special angles that He hadn't foreseen.

The unqualified statement of Our Lord's that remarriage after divorce or separation is adultery might not be so terribly restricting had the Holy Ghost only avoided inspiring St. Paul to write: "Fornicators and adulterers God will judge" (Heb. 13:4), and again: "Do not err: neither fornicators nor adulterers shall possess the Kingdom of God." (I Cor. 6:9.) There are teeth, you see, in all God's laws.

In spite of the increasing divorce rate in the world today it must be said, in all fairness, that among Catholics the percentage is comparatively low. This group has not accepted the prevalent belief that "marriage itself constitutes grounds for divorce." No matter what the numbers of Catholics who defy God's law and His Church's mandates are, if there be but one case, that is one too many. What is beginning, however, to be relatively prevalent among Catholics is separation from bed and board--that is, husbands and wives deciding, when things go wrong, to separate and go their own individual ways. The question arises, then, may a Catholic who is married and for some reason or other tires of his union, may such a one separate from his lawful mate? He may, but only under certain well defined conditions.

The Canon Law of the Church regarding separation from bed and board states this general principle: "The married couple is obliged to live together in conjugal relations unless a just cause frees them from the obligation." (Canon 1128.) Then the law states the following: "For reasons of adultery of one party, the other has the right to solve even for all times, the community life, though the marriage bond remains, unless the other consented to the crime, or was the cause of it, or expressly or tacitly condoned it, or finally, committed the same crime himself or herself." (Canon 1130.)

Other reasons for separation are listed in the Canon Law as follows:

If one party joins a non-Catholic sect; or educates the offspring as non-Catholics; or leads a criminal and despicable life; or creates great bodily or spiritual danger to the other party; or if, through cruelties, he or she makes living together too difficult, and other such reasons, which are to the innocent party so many legal causes to leave the guilty party by the authority of the Ordinary (Bishop) of the diocese or also by private authority, if the guilt of the other party is certain beyond doubt, and there is danger in delay.

In all these cases the common life must be restored when the reason for the separation ceases; if, however, the separation was pronounced by the Bishop either for a time or indefinitely, the innocent party is not obliged to return except when the time specified has elapsed or the Bishop gives orders to return. (Canon 1131.)

Note well that where separation is indicated the bond still remains and there may never be a remarriage while one or the other mate lives. Note too that one may not separate without consent of the Bishop, unless delay is dangerous or excepting where adultery is proved beyond doubt. Father De Smet says that confessors ought to refuse absolution to those who do not act according to this latter condition.

Rt. Rev. Louis J. Nau, S.T.D., in his "Manual of the Marriage Laws of the Code of Canon Law," states that in every case, by reason of the scandal, permission to go to the civil courts, whether for a decree of separation or for divorce, must be obtained from the Bishop of the diocese.

In most of the dioceses in the United States, to sue for a separation in civil courts, even if only the civil effects are intended, is a reserved sin, unless the Bishop has granted the proper permission.

Pope Pius XI, in the Encyclical letter "Casti Connubii," points out that separation from bed and board eliminates the need for legal divorce. Read his words.

"This separation, which the Church herself permits and expressly mentions in her Canon Law in those canons which deal with the separation of the parties as to marital relationship and cohabitation, removes all the alleged inconveniences and dangers. It will be for the sacred law and to some extent also the civil law, insofar as civil matters are affected, to lay down the ground, the conditions, the method and precautions to be taken in a case of this kind in order to safeguard the education of the children and the well-being of the family, and to remove all those evils which threaten the married persons, the children and the State."

"But this is a free country," I hear you say, "I can do what I like." Can you? You have freedom of speech guaranteed by the Constitution, but try to use that free speech by yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater and see what happens to you. You are free, it is true, but that freedom is curtailed where the common good demands it.

The common good demands that when a man and woman marry they remain married. Should one have been so unfortunate as to have been stuck with a lemon, he or she is stuck, and that's that. Remember the vow: "For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death!" That takes in every emergency imaginable!

That the common good demands indissolubility in marriage, that it demands a husband and wife to stay together, is so generally admitted and so universally proved as to need no underscoring by this writer. For instance, Judge McNaff of Fort Wayne declared: "A great majority of the delinquent boys and girls who appear in juvenile court come from homes that have been broken principally by separation, desertion or divorce. Therein lie some of the greatest tragedies of life."

The effect on the children is the same whether the parents are divorced or simply agree to separate. A two-year study of New York criminal records reveals that forty-seven per cent of those convicted of major crimes came from disrupted families. I have before me on my desk as I write a clipping from a Chicago newspaper. It is the account of a mysterious brutal killing of a seven-year-old boy by a twelve-year-old youngster. The alleged murderer's mother said she and the child's father had been separated since he was seven months old, and that she had worked as a domestic to rear him. "He wasn't brought up, he was dragged up," she said.

Perhaps this and the millions of other examples that might be cited will at least indicate that the common good demands husband and wife to stay together for the sake of the family and the nation. As Dr. H. S. Pomeroy notes: "For reproduction, men need not mate. For the care of the offspring, they must. And for the proper care of the moral and intellectual development of the child they must mate permanently. This is the judgment of the civilized world."

And what does Holy Scripture say about separating? It commands: "Keep then your spirit and despise not the wife of thy youth . . . yet she is thy partner and the wife of thy covenant." (Mal. 2:14, 15.) St. Paul says: ". . . The Lord commandeth that the wife depart not from her husband. And if she depart, that she remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband." (I Cor. 7:10, 11.)

St. Paul in that same chapter cried out: "Art thou bound to a wife? Seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? Seek not a wife." Finally he proclaimed the reason for this doctrine when he said: "But to them that are married, not I, but the Lord commandeth that the wife depart not from her husband." Could any doctrine be more clearly stated or more forcefully promulgated?

Better remember this rule: Before you decide to separate from your lawful spouse, take the case to your pastor. Whatever you do, don't try to make such a terrible decision all by yourself. Someone once said that "he who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client." That holds true for the person who would settle his marital difficulties by separation without leave or license from the Church.

"Marriage is the beginning and the end of all culture," wrote Goethe; "it civilizes the savage and gives the most cultured the best opportunity of displaying their delicacy. It must be indissoluble, for it brings so much happiness that any exceptional unhappinesses it may bring with it are, when weighed in the scales against the happiness, of no account. There can never be any adequate reason for separation. The scale of joy and sorrow in mortal affairs is so high that the sum which two married people owe one another is incalculable. It is an infinite debt, which can only be discharged throughout eternity."

There remains now but to examine the causes of marital failures. Every effect must have a cause. The most eminent and outstanding court judges, directors of bureaus of domestic relations, and psychologists point to the following list as basic causes of divorces and separations.

(1) Meddling and obnoxious relatives (2) Deliberate childlessness and birth prevention (3) Boredom, frustration, and disappointment (4) Hasty marriages (5) Difference of religious beliefs and lack of religion (6) Jealousy (7) Emotional, physical, intellectual, and vocational immaturity (8) Nagging (9) The triangle (10) Sex ignorance (11) Low mentality (12) Drink

Practically all the foregoing items have been treated elsewhere in this work. For instance, we laid down certain basic rules to follow where a married couple have to move in with in-laws, only to find them meddling and obnoxious. We did likewise in regard to the problem of having in-laws move in with you. There is little we can add except to advise adoption of the rule laid down centuries ago by St. Benedict for the early monks of his order. It runs something like this: "If a monk comes to visit from another monastery, receive him in all charity and permit him to abide as long as he wishes. However, should it be found that he is contumacious, he shall be advised to leave. Should he refuse to go then have two stout monks, in the name of God, explain the matter to him."

We have discussed the dangers to marital bliss resulting from birth prevention; the folly of hasty marriages--those entered into without adequate remote and/or proximate preparation; the high percentage of marriage failures resulting from mixed marriages; and we have considered the destructive effects of jealousy, nagging, and sex ignorance, along with the requisite maturities demanded in every right-ordered union.

There remain but three items in the foregoing list for cursory treatment; namely, the evidence of low mentality in those who unjustly seek release from their marital responsibilities, the triangle, and finally the problem of drink as a cause of marriage failure.

Dr. William J. Hickson, famous Chicago psychiatrist, when asked by Rollin Lynde Hartt what he considered the chief cause of divorce, unhesitatingly replied, "Feeble-mindedness, with or without dementia praecox." The doctor stated that low mentality was prevalent in a great percentage of the cases that came to his attention (and his psychopathic laboratory Committed two thousand cases a year). He intimated that if all divorce petitioners were given an intelligence test, a great majority would fall into the twelve-, eleven-, or ten-year mental age class.

Such tests, he felt, would reveal dementia praecox too, which he described as an insanity of the emotions which in one form produces fits of uncontrollable rage, and, in another, it declares itself in the abominations such men and women dodge calling by their right names.[2]

Mr. Ralph Hall Ferris, one-time director of the Bureau of Domestic Relations in Detroit, after handling some twenty thousand marriage cases, concluded as follows:

"Most of them are subnormal, borderline, semi-criminal types. Most of them are registered in our hospitals also, and with various social agencies, where they have applied for help. They are physically inadequate, economically inadequate, socially inadequate. Having failed in all other relations, they fail in domestic relations.[3]

Such opinions are somewhat strengthened by the suicide rate, which is very high for divorced people. Dr. Frederick L. Hoffman,[4] an insurance statistician, has furnished this comparative table for New York City showing the suicide ratio for married and divorced people of both sexes:

Male Female Married 34.1 15.0 Divorced 113.5 61.2

Now let us turn our attention to the problem of intimate attachments outside marriage.

The "triangle" is a perennial cause of divorces or separations and is too obviously immoral to need much discussion here. It generally results from boredom, frustration, or disappointment on the part of one or both mates. The new attachment for someone other than the legitimate spouse is usually an outgrowth of an attempt to find sympathy.

More often than not, the person seeking a divorce or separation has fallen for a third party. The reasons given in the courts are usually trumped-up reasons, designed to provide adequate grounds for freedom. Everywhere, divorces are obtained for alleged causes wholly different from the real causes. In a court it is generally adultery, cruelty, or desertion, but in rectory parlors the excuses run something like the following:

She is jealous and suspicious. He doesn't understand me. She treats me like a child. He won't give me money enough to run the house. She can't cook. He resents my friends. She refuses to have a family. He cares more about his mother than me. She never loved me. He finds fault with everything I do. The house is filthy. Sex relations are repulsive. And so on and on and on.

The lawyers call some or even all of these "incompatibility," and in most cases Mr. Dooley's explanation of the term is applicable. The famous American philosopher puts it this way: "Ye can always git a divorce f'r what Hogan calls incompatibility iv temper. That's when husband and wife ar-re both cross at the same time. Ye'd call it a tiff in ye'er family, Hinnessy."[5] Dr. Jules Guyot sagely observed more than one hundred years ago that a person who divorces with the hope of finding happiness with another mate "is like a wretched fiddler who demands another violin, hoping that a new instrument will yield the melody he knows not how to play."

The person who attempts divorce or separation from a lawful spouse because he has met someone who, it is thought, will bring greater happiness, is a great fool indeed. Study well these passages from Holy Scripture and see if it is worth it.

"Every man that passeth beyond his own bed, despising his own soul, and saying: Who seeth me? . . . This man shall be punished...." (Ecclus. 23 :[25], 30.)

". . . because they have committed adultery with the wives of their friends . . . I am the judge and the witness saith the Lord." (Jer. 29:23.)

"This man shall be punished in the streets of the city, and he shall be chased as a colt: and where he suspect not, he shall be taken." (Ecclus. 23:30.)

"Take heed to keep thyself, my son, from all fornication: and beside thy wife never endure to know a crime." (Tob. 4:13-)

To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Avoid beginnings. Be careful and be suspicious of anyone who is attempting to make a play for your affections, or who praises your beauty or your general behavior, for, as Saint Francis de Sales says: "He that praises the ware which he cannot buy, is strongly tempted to steal it; and if to your praise, such a one adds dispraise of your mate, the injury is heinous since the bargain is half made with the second merchant, when one is disgusted with the first."

Should you ever become involved in a triangle, stop and think the whole matter over and ask yourself if any earthly pleasure is worth risking the loss of eternal happiness. Get to the sacraments and pray as you never prayed before. It is important, too, to make a clean break once and for all from such an attachment and resolve not to see that person again. If need be, move to a new locality or even a new city. The alternative is too awful to contemplate, for the Holy Ghost says: "The eye of the adulterer observeth darkness . . . cursed be his portion on the earth.... Let mercy forget him; may worms be his sweetness. Let him be remembered no more, but be broken in pieces as an unfruitful tree." (Job 24:15, 18, 20.)

No matter how difficult you find married life, remember the power of the grace of the sacrament you received on your wedding day. Matrimony is an abiding sacrament and the grace abides until death of one of the partners. It is wiser to take your counsels from the Holy Scriptures, from the Church and the writings of the Saints and the Popes, rather than from some shyster lawyer. In times of great stress recall the words of St. Basil, written in the third century: "Though the husband be harsh and savage in temper, the wife must bear with him and on no pretext seek to sever the union. Does he strike? Still he is your husband. Is he drunken? Yet he is united to thee by nature. Is he harsh and hard to please? Still he is a member of your body and the most honorable of thy members." Such a set-up might be pretty tough, but you can suffer great things so long as you have the grace of God to support you. The sacrament of matrimony guarantees you such grace.

Let us consider, now, the problem of alcoholism and marriage. Overindulgence of intoxicating beverages is high on the list of marriage wreckers. Too few realize what a disastrous wrecker alcohol can be. According to recent surveys, there are upward of a million chronic alcoholics in America alone, and there are more than four million excessive drinkers. This nation alone spent $8,700,000,000 on whiskey, beer, and wine in the year 1946--that is an average of eighty-nine dollars for every man and woman over eighteen years of age. Aside from the material cost of alcoholism to our nation, the physical, psychological, and moral damage is inestimable.

Alcohol can cause great physical damage or impairment. From sixteen to twenty ounces of alcohol, fully absorbed, can kill a man of average size, and lesser quantities can be seriously harmful. What many fail to realize is that alcohol is an irritant, a habit- forming depressant narcotic (or anesthetic) drug. Contrary to the common belief, it is not a stimulant. Its apparent stimulating effects are due to its suppression of inhibitions. Dr. Emil Kraepelin of Stuttgart says: "The effects of alcohol are due chiefly, if not solely, to its toxic action upon the brain and spinal cord and the central nervous system of man. Alcohol is a narcotic, as are ether and chloroform, acting on the brain and other parts of the central nervous system."

The physical damage of alcohol is outdone by the evil psychological damage. Drunkenness, according to the great psychiatrists, is a temporary psychosis, and this bears out what Seneca said thousands of years ago "Drunkenness is nothing but an insanity purposely assumed."

Recent tests point up the fact that alcohol lessens reasoning power. Two ounces of whiskey was found to impair judgment over twenty per cent. Half a pint decreased reasoning power by sixty- seven per cent.

And what does Holy Scripture say on the matter? Here are some quotations from the Holy Bible:

"Woe to you that rise up early in the morning to follow drunkenness, and to drink till the evening, to be inflamed with wine." (Isai. 5:11.)

"A drunken woman is a great wrath: and her reproach and shame shall not be hid." (Ecclus. 26:11.)

"Fornication and wine and drunkenness take away the understanding." (Osee. 4: 11.)

". . . for wine hath destroyed very many." (Ecclus. 31:30)

"Neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor drunkards shall possess the Kingdom of God." (I Cor. 6:9, 10.)

And what can alcoholism do to marriage? Hear the words of Superior Court Judge John A. Sbarbavor of Chicago:[6]

"Seventy-eight per cent of the divorce cases I have heard resulted from alcoholism." Another judge, Judge Elmer J. Schnackenberg,[7] Chicago Circuit Court, stated recently that "the failure of marriage is the major cause of divorce, and liquor the underlying cause in over fifty per cent of marriage failures."

The mere fact that liquor has been such a wrecker of happiness in marriage for so many other couples ought to point up its awful consequences, thus moving the wise married man or woman to abstain completely. Whatever you do, don't kid yourself along with the belief that "to drink in moderation" is perfectly safe. We might parody two well-known lines from Macbeth:

"Another, and another, and another Creeps in each little glass from day to day."

"What is moderation in drinking?" asks Dr. Richardson. "I have asked that question of many people. A few cocktails, a few whiskey-and-sodas, a half pint of wine (the devil in solution)? I find that six ounces of whiskey taken in moderation does this to a man--it makes his heart beat eighteen thousand times a day beyond what it ought to do, and it makes that unfortunate heart raise what would be equivalent to nineteen extra tons weight one foot from the earth. The worst part of moderate drinking is its indefinability."[8]

Here are a few hints that may help. The wise husband and wife will not drink liquor at all. If you must drink, do it at home. Women ought never to drink at a bar. Know your saturation point and stop well before you reach it. Never drink if you feel you need it. Never drink alone. Never nag an alcoholic. Encourage such a person to approach the sacraments frequently. Have such a one join Alcoholics Anonymous. Heavy drinkers will find it easier to stop altogether than to attempt to moderate their drinking. Dr. Samuel Johnson remarked once: "I can abstain, but I cannot drink moderately." Above all, avoid persons and places associated with drinking, once you have resolved to quit.

The mention of women drinking in saloons recalls to mind an editorial which appeared December 1, 1947, in the New York Journal American. Here are a few excerpts from that editorial. It is important, since four out of every six alcoholics are women.

"Public drinking by women is bad morally and it is in excessively bad taste, and it lowers them in the opinion of all who behold them and particularly in their own self-respect.

"It is no accident that so many women who frequent public drinking places become involved in violent and sordid crimes, for when a woman holds herself so cheaply her conduct sets the example and constitutes both incitation and invitation for disrespect by others.

"Moreover, when women who drink publicly are mothers, they not only cheapen and endanger themselves, but by neglecting their homes and disregarding their duties there they deprive their children of the natural companionship and guardianship which are the sacred trusts of motherhood, and lose both the confidence and the faith of their children.

"Probably the greatest single contributing factor to juvenile delinquency is the mother who drinks habitually and promiscuously in public saloons, and it is surely the lowest and most unsavory estate to which motherhood can sink--and the nation's accusing and tragic rate of delinquency among boys and girls bears challenging witness to this fact.

There should be a persuasive and an insistent moral appeal to American women, and especially to mothers, to refrain from lending themselves to the personal indignity of public drinking, but above all to desist from a form of conduct which is loathesome to those who depend upon them most and love them most.

Should you be one of those unfortunate people who married a heavy drinker with the secret hope of reforming such a one, you were foolish indeed. But don't walk out on your marriage. Do your best to accomplish what you set out to do, pray hard, and God will surely ease your path. If, on the other hand, your mate did not drink until after the marriage, then find out the cause. Often a person drinks as an escape from some unpleasant situation. Check up and see if perhaps your nagging, lack of affection, lack of sociability, extravagance, untidiness of person or domicile or plain boredom might be the cause. Last, when you find the cause do all in your power to remove it. Wives of such unfortunate husbands must, above all, avoid the martyr complex. Often the wife must share the blame for her husband's intemperance simply because she was not firm enough at the beginning of the married life. A wife's firmness is a lot more effective at the outset of marriage because that is the time her husband loves her most and would sacrifice anything rather than lose her.

Married couples who realize that no reason will ever justify dissolving of the marriage bond have a better chance of being forbearing with the weaknesses of their partners; such forbearance will move them to attempt every means of curing the failing member of the partnership. Continuance of the married life can work miracles. It was Lucretius who wrote:

Yet when, at length, rude huts they first devised, And fires and garments; and in union sweet Man wedded woman, the pure joy indulged The rough barbarians softened. The warm hearth Their frames so melted they no more could bear, As erst, the uncovered skies; the nuptial bed Broke their wild vigor, and the fond caress Of prattling children from the bosom chased Their stern ferocious manners.

With the foregoing reflections fresh in mind, let us return to the marriage in Cana of Galilee. That particular wedding blessed by the presence of the Messias Himself, if it followed common Jewish custom and prescribed ritual, must have included a special prayer for unfailing fidelity and a significant ceremony indicative of both the perfect unity and indissolubility essential in every marriage.

The prayer was offered by the Friend of the Bridegroom and it took this form:

"Lord God, King of the universe, thou who hast set a place in Thy Paradise for this sweet fruit, this rose of the dales, so that no stranger may ever hold domain o'er this sealed fountain--wherefore it is that this fair form of love hath never proven false to her plighted faith. Blessed be thou forever, O Lord."[9]

Following this, a long white napkin was placed over the heads of the bride and groom, beneath which they clasped hands and then the groom slipped a ring on the finger of the bride in token of their indissoluble union.

If Our Blessed Lord heard that prayer in Cana of Galilee, and if He beheld the bride and groom seated with hands clasped beneath the single white napkin, He must have been reminded of how closely that wedding followed the pattern of the first marriage in the Garden of Eden. The words He had heard Adam pronounce in the morning of creation must have flashed before His eternal mind with all the depth of their original pathos: "Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall be two in one flesh." Holy Scripture is silent on this and so many other touching details, but this much we know for certain, that Christ went out from Cana of Galilee and by His prayers, His works, His sufferings, and His death on the Cross, amassed for all married couples who would receive the sacrament of matrimony until the end of time, grace enough to stay together and fulfill the duties of their state in life.

It was Christ Himself who raised marriage to the dignity of a sacrament so grace might be made available to all those disposed to receive it. He was fully aware of the weakness of human nature and the force of Satan's temptations, and that is why He instituted the sacrament of matrimony.

Only a few days before He went to Cana, had He himself not been subjected to Satan's vicious attacks? Had not Satan offered Him, too, the whole world if He would only abandon His vocation? Christ understood, better than any man who ever lived, the fickleness of human nature-how one day men want to make you king and the next cry out for your crucifixion. He knew what it was to be betrayed--to be kissed even by a traitor. He knew what it was to be tempted to seek release from trouble and sorrow. Did He not cry out in the Garden of Gethsemane, "Father if Thou wilt, remove this chalice from me?" but, also, did He not quickly add, "But not My will that these be done"? Temptation is one thing, yielding is another.

No matter how poorly you prepared yourself for marriage, no matter how unwise your choice of a mate, no matter how crushing your disappointment and disillusionment with marriage, don't be a quitter. Christ will never understand if you do. He hung on His cross for three long hours, nailed hand and foot, to merit enough grace for you to carry your cross. When the soldiers, in cruel mockery of their dying Saviour, cried out: "Save thy own self. Come down from the Cross," did He come down? Then don't come down from yours.

Christ changed water into wine at Cana in Galilee at the merest suggestion from His Blessed Mother. When the wine of love runs short in your marriage, turn to Our Lady for help. At her prayer, her Divine Son will change tears into the wine of love again. Whatever you do, stay together. In marriage, as in Cana, often the best wine is kept for the last.


1. "Our Sunday Visitor," (Huntington, Ind., 1938).

2. "Habit of Getting Divorces," Rollin Lynde Hartt, "World's Work," 58; 403-9, August, 1924.

3. Ibid.

4. "For Better, Not for Worse," Dr. Walter A. Maier. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1936.

5. "Mr. Dooley Speaks." New York R. H. Russell, 1902.

6. Clipsheet, September 9, 1946.

7. Quoted in "Some Notes on the Alcohol Problem," by Deets Pickett. Published by the Board of Temperance, 100 Maryland Ave., NE., Washington, D.C.

8. "Manners Maketh Man," Anonymous. London: T. Fisher Unwin.

9. "Halechoth gedoloth," 51 b. Quoted in "The Christ--The Son of God," p. 143, op. cit.


A young man called at the rectory quite a while ago seeking vocational guidance. He had just been discharged from the army and was in a quandary as to what he should do. I advised him to seek an interview with the vocational guidance director at the local high school and submit to the latest aptitude tests. A short time later he reported that the tests indicated that he might do well in drafting or commercial art. He chose the latter and had already made application for entrance to an art school, where he looked forward to a four-year course. When I asked why he had rejected drafting he replied, "That is a tough, tedious course. Anyway, I could never see myself taking the responsibility for planning bridges or skyscrapers. That's not for me."

Two more months passed, and the same young man again called to see me. This time, he had in tow a pretty, misty-eyed maiden. Very nonchalantly he said he wanted to make arrangements for marriage. A little questioning brought out these facts. They had met at a U.S.O. dance in the city some four months earlier. He had never met her family, and she knew little or nothing of his background. Neither of them had ever read a book on marriage and obviously knew nothing about child psychology.

Here was a typical case of a young man who accepted as quite normal and logical the fact that he must train for four long years to learn commercial art, but who had never thought of giving one day, one week, one month, or one year to training for another career, infinitely more technical and important--parenthood. He who shied away from the responsibility of building a bridge or skyscraper was ready rashly to rush into marriage and parenthood without giving it a second thought.

I imagine that that sort of fallacious thinking and acting will go on until our educators wake up to the fact that an obligatory four-year course in domestic science and domestic relations would serve students in high schools and colleges better than some musty course in Chaucer's English, or, as Mr. Dooley would say, "Th' Relations iv Ice to th' Greek Idee iv God."

Marriage is a career--a highly specialized career--and as such, demands adequate training and preparation. Just pause for a moment and ask yourself if there is any career on the face of this earth that you could embrace that does not call for special training? Could you teach a high-school class without normal school or teachers' college training? Could you practice medicine, dentistry, law, without long years of study and sacrifice? Could you be a successful mortician, chemist, pharmacist, musician, radio entertainer, opera singer, radio operator, electrician, or plumber, without training? And yet, men and women marry, and in so doing, assume responsibility for one of the biggest and most important tasks in the world--and this they do with little or no thought of preparing themselves for their work.

The sacrament of matrimony confers grace on its recipients, but there is no mention of any miraculous infusion of knowledge. The rearing of children is not something that comes naturally. Nor is it instinctive. Instinct alone can be a dangerous and deceptive guide. I heard once of a man whose job it was to assist a circus balloon in its ascension. His particular work consisted in holding on to one of the many guide ropes while the balloon eased its way up. On one particular occasion this man's bulldog followed him to work. Seeing the master take hold of one of the ropes, the dog did likewise and, doing what instinct directed, hung on and was carried aloft only to fall from a great height to its death.

The office of a mother or father is one that demands training and skill. With the wealth of printed material in books and magazines today, it is inexcusable for a parent to be ignorant of "the know- how" of raising children and thus preparing them to face problems of living normally, happy and holy in a topsy-turvy world.

"We are struck," say the authors of the book entitled "What Is Wrong with Marriage," "with an immense pessimism. It is not over the institution of marriage. It is merely despair over the way in which the sins of the fathers are visited upon the children, and the children growing up, inevitably repeat the process. Again and again, we see the misery of maturity driving men and women to teach their children exactly those things which will perpetuate the misery when the children themselves grow up.... Our pessimism is not, of course, that the circle cannot be broken, but only that it is so hard to make men and women see this in the face of hoary tradition. They are so much more interested in their own troubles than in the troubles their children may some day have. They are not interested in vicarious atonement. They cannot see that as parents they can do more to put an end to the things that breed misery for all who have to follow the way of love from the cradle to the grave. They cannot see that they are the gods upon whose knees rests the married happiness in the next generation--and the next and the next and the next."[1]

Ignorance is no excuse before the law, nor should it be an excuse in the matter of rearing children. There are right and wrong ways, there are good and bad ways of bringing up the family. One must be progressive enough to make use of new ways and methods, in so far as they produce the desired results. Many a child has gone through life with a set of neuroses that have handicapped it far more than, say, infantile paralysis, simply because its mother or father knew nothing about child psychology. Many an ignorant, selfish mother has so dominated every single iota of her sons' or daughters' lives as to render them completely unfit to stand on their own two feet and face life's problems or solve them. "Momism" is more prevalent than we like to admit, but the number of men and women who walk out on marriage and return to their parental homes because encouraged to do so by their mothers or fathers, or because they cannot live away from them, is legion. The awful increase of marriage failures is due in no small way to mothers and fathers who have never given their children a deep and abiding reverence for marriage. Their own unhappiness, their quarreling, their example, has served to pattern the low estimation their children have of marriage. How the mother and father of a family succeed at marriage will in turn condition their sons and daughters for success or failure of their marriages. As Joubert wrote, in Pensees: "Children have more need of models than of critics."

Let us examine together a few basic principles governing the important role of parents.

The moment you become aware of the fact that the plenitude of office of mother is about to dawn upon you, joyfully and prayerfully repeat the words of Our Blessed Mother: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to thy Word," and begin at that moment to prepare for the arrival of your child. The little life scarcely begun, although apparently shut away from all the influences of the world is, nevertheless, very much under the influence of the mother.

"The unborn child breathes," writes Dr. Pomeroy, "the air of heaven through its mother's lungs; it sees beauty through her eyes, hears harmony or discord through her ears; it lays up stores of future gladness through her joy in all that is gladsome and good; it lays foundations for future hope and courage through her exercise of them at this time; and its quantity and quality of brain and heart must largely depend upon the pattern she furnishes for its copying. In view of this, will any woman dare spend the subsequent months in selfish repining or in the mad whirl of social gayety? Will anyone worthy of the name woman dare ask for a larger or more honorable sphere than to mould the destiny of unborn generations?"[2]

At the first sign of the great tidings of pregnanc[3] turn to the mother's Saint, St. Gerard, and recite daily this splendid prayer, imprimatured by His Excellency Archbishop Gerald Murray, C.S.S.R., of Winnipeg, Canada.

"O good St. Gerard, powerful intercessor before God and Wonder- worker of our day, I call upon thee and seek thy aid. Thou who on earth didst always fulfill God's designs help me do the holy Will of God. Beseech the Master of Life, from Whom all paternity proceedeth, to render me fruitful in offspring, that I may raise up children to God in this life and heirs to the Kingdom of His Glory in the world to come. Amen."

It is important, too, to place yourself under the care of a capable doctor. Be sure he is worthy of your trust. Avoid, as you would a leper, the fashionable medico who has the reputation of taking upon himself the role of the Deity--with power of life or death, or who tells you when you can observe the moral law and when he dispenses from that law. By their fruits ye shall know them.

Once having conscientiously chosen your doctor, follow his advice regarding diet and exercise. We have touched on the matter of the effect of diet on the unborn child elsewhere in this volume. Go regularly for check-ups. Such visits will pay dividends in a healthy, normal child. Ask the doctor to suggest a few good books on infant care and child-training. You can't begin too early to amass good reference books on such topics. Could you embrace any other career without having to purchase textbooks? Your public library may be well stocked with such books. However, it's better to have your own.

When the great day arrives, offer your sufferings and discomfort to God in behalf of your offspring. Place yourself in the tender hands of His Blessed Mother, and she will guide you through the valley of pain and up the Mount of Tabor where your suffering will be transfigured into joy--joy the like of which no human being experiences--the joy of bringing into the world a child created in the image and likeness of God.

From the moment of birth, a baby must experience a feeling of "being wanted" and needs above all to be loved. That is why a wise nature calls into play the expression of that love in breast-feeding. Breast-fed babies have a better chance of good health, and few ever fall victims of the infectious and ofttimes fatal diarrhea common among bottle babies.[4] Breast-feeding completes a natural circle that begins with love, procreation through the birth, and then through nursing, weaning, and guiding the child to maturity. To avoid breast-feeding when possible is to break that magical circle.

"This union, it's true," says Dr. John C. Montgomery,[5] "must some day be broken. Emotionally as well as physically, mothers must also wean their children. But psychologists have learned that this 'weaning' is most successful and the child's separateness and independence best achieved when the early tie with the mother has been a deep and a warm one."

This same eminent Detroit pediatrician points out the utter folly of present hospital regulations which restrict to certain set times the mother's fondling and feeding of the new-born infant. He says that the infant should be kept with the mother as much as possible. It is better for the infant, too, inasmuch as it has a good psychological effect on the child.

"Peaceful, satisfied infants, so psychiatrists tell us," says the doctor, "are more likely than others to grow into self-reliant youngsters who eventually develop iron enough to stand life's hardships. The comfort and pleasure of the mother's breast in the early months favors this sense of blissful well-being. To the mother herself, the experience brings also a quieting sense of fulfillment which is deeply satisfying. Such harmony is the surest foundation for mutual enjoyment in the years ahead."

Don't delay the baptism of the baby beyond a month. It is customary to have this important and essential sacrament administered two weeks from the date of birth. The sponsors must be Catholics (practical Catholics). And be sure the names you choose are saints' names and not ones which would be suitable for a dining car, or that spell "box car" backward and nothing frontward. Incidentally, "Twinkles" doesn't qualify either. Seriously, though, the choosing of names for your children is very important. Don't reach too far for originality. "Certain names," says Joseph Roux, "always awake certain prejudices." Consult your pastor if in doubt of the propriety of your choice. Anyway, can you think of better heavenly patrons than Mary or Joseph?

When you receive delivery of a new car, your dealer will invariably warn you that it should be given special care for the first thousand miles. He will advise a speed not greater than thirty miles per hour for the first five hundred miles, and not more than forty or fifty for the next five hundred. Why does he bother to give out such information? Simply because experience has taught that a car that is not broken in properly at the outset of its service may never again perform properly.

This same thing holds true for new babies. Their whole lives may be adversely affected by injudicious handling by the parents. Ill- advised attention can be as bad as neglect. Take, for instance, rocking a baby to sleep. Nature intended the healthy, normal child to go to sleep by itself and has arranged that darkness and quiet assist this natural act. In many cases children are trained from earliest infancy to expect and then demand to be laboriously put to sleep with electric lights blazing and parents or in-laws rocking them, singing to them or later telling them weird bed-time stories. Under usual circumstances, ninety-nine out of one hundred children would more quickly go to sleep without artificial props if they had not been badly trained or spoiled in infancy. Picking up a baby every time it cries is a bad practice and an injustice to the tiny mite, because it sows the seeds of selfishness which may follow it all the days of its life.

This example may point out what I mean when I say get the best books you can buy on child care and training. Profit by the experience of the so-called experts. They may have a few crack-pot ideas about child training, but learn how to separate the wheat from the cockle.

Let us return again to the example of the automobile manufacturer. Every car manufacturer issues a book of basic instructions for the care of his product and prudence demands that such instructions be followed. This same procedure of issuing printed instructions for the study and care of their product is carried out by manufacturers of watches, fountain pens, refrigerators, washing machines, radios, and an infinite number of other articles. Since God made man, it would be only natural to expect Him to set down a few basic principles relative to man's early training. The Holy Bible contains such basic rules. Let us examine a few of them now.

From the first dawn of reason, a child ought to be trained to know, love, and serve God. The Creator warns parents: "It is better to die without children than to have ungodly children." (Ecclus. 16:4.)

Regarding training and discipline, Scripture says:

"He that spareth the rod hateth his son; but he that loveth him correcteth him betimes." (Prov. 13:24.)

"A horse not broken becometh stubborn: and a child left to himself will become headstrong. Give thy son his way, and he shall make thee afraid.... Give him not liberty in his youth: and wink not at his devices. Bow down his neck while he is young . . . lest he grow stubborn, and regard thee not, and so be a sorrow of heart to thee." (Ecclus. 30:8, 9,11,12.)

That is the broad outline. Nor is it to be considered as addressed solely to parents of the school-age child. Proper training is essential from the infant's earliest days. I think it was Aristotle who, when he had finished an important lecture on child training, was approached by a bewildered mother and asked by her when she should begin to train her child. He answered her with this question: "How old is your child, madam?" Upon hearing the mother reply that the child was five, Aristotle said: "Hurry home, madam, you are now already five years late."

While the first child is still an infant, begin to collect your family library of books on child training. Instead of flowers for an anniversary, or useless gifts on birthdays, let husbands and wives give each other the following good books:

(1) "Infant and Child in the Culture of Today," Dr. Arnold Gesell and Dr. Frances Ilg. $4.50

(2) "The Child from Five to Ten," Gesell and Ilg. $4.50. Both may be purchased at any bookstore, or from the publisher, Harper & Bros., 637 Madison Ave., N. Y. C.

(3) "As the Twig Is Bent," Dr. Leslie B. Hohman, published by The Macmillan Co., New York City.

(4) "Living Together in the Family," Lems T. Dennis, published by American Home Economics Association, 620 Mills Blvd., Washington. D. C.

(5) "Stop Annoying Your Children," William W. Bauer, M.D., published by Bobbs-Merrill Company, Indianapolis, 1947.

(6) "Some Notes for the Guidance of Parents," The Reverend Daniel J. Lord, S.J. A superb work--paperbound for $1.00, published by The Queens' Work, 3742 West Pine Blvd., St. Louis 8, Mo.

When the child is old enough to start school, be sure you enroll him in a Catholic school.[6] Children need religion from their earliest youth. The short time devoted to Sunday School or released time can never supplant whole-time Catholic education. Public schools as a rule never teach anything offensive about God. What is worse, they ignore Him. Lt. Ralph Brophy, head of the police juvenile bureau at Des Moines, Iowa, in his 1946 report, asserted that "religious education was an antidote for juvenile delinquency. At least eighty-three per cent have had to deal had no religious training and the other seventeen per cent were poorly instructed."

For parents who are neglectful of their children's welfare and their future usefulness as American citizens, he listed four certain ways for making a child delinquent.

1. Don't give your child any religious and spiritual training.

2. Don't let him tell you about his plans, problems and pleasures, so he won't develop affection, security or trust in you.

3. Don't open your home to his companions; they may muss up the place. Don't be concerned where he spends his leisure.

4. Never praise your child for his worth-while effort because he might take advantage of you and try harder to please in the future. In other words, just don't pay any attention to what your child does or says. He should be able to take care of himself in this day and age.

Regarding school, see that home assignments are neatly and correctly done, and never side with your child against the teacher in his presence. If you think the child has a case, go to see the teacher yourself.

Encourage the children by word and example to approach the sacraments weekly. The example of parents is by far and large the greater stimulus.

And now to the question of discipline. Not infrequently parents confuse discipline with punishment. They are by no means the same thing. Nor are their ends the same; the end of punishment being to inflict pain for a crime or evil done, while the end of discipline ought to be the development of self-reliance and self- control. Punishment, at best, is only an emergency treatment of a problem. Discipline, on the other hand, is a long-range program concerning itself with ways and means of establishing controls with the greater aim in view of developing self-reliance and self- control. Were this always borne in mind, fewer senseless beatings would be administered to children.

It was James Douglas who once said that "if a history of cruelty were written, it would fill thousands of volumes and the largest section would be allotted to the description of cruelty to children." The parent who through ill-temper slaps a child on the face or head or who administers severe physical punishment is not fitted to rear children. The late Monsignor E. J. Flanagan, director of the famous Boys' Town, once said that even in prisons and jails "flogging and other forms of physical punishment wound that sense of dignity which attaches to the self. The result of such negative treatment is that the child comes to look upon society as his enemy. His urge is to fight back, not to reform.

"The child is not born bad. It is not born to be bad. The child who makes mistakes is a spiritually sick child. He is the victim of bad environment, bad training, bad example. In short, he is a product of neglect. A person who goes ill-clad into the snow and cold becomes sick with pneumonia. But who would seek to cure his illness by forcing him again into the snow and cold? And yet some people think a child who has become a misfit as a result of being ill-treated can be socialized by more mistreatment."

To deprive a child of some much enjoyed pleasure is often more effective as a chastisement than corporal punishment. In justice, the punishment must fit the crime. Often there is little or no proportion between what evil or fault a child has committed and the unreasonable punishment.

The trouble with most parents is that parental authority is divided. Mother tells Johnny he may not go to the show. Pop vetoes the order and slips Johnny the money to see the current "Madame X and Her Fourth Husband." Or parental edicts are not consistent. It is wrong one day for Junior to walk through the house with muddy rubbers and he is slapped for so doing, but tomorrow he could walk through the house with mud galore on his feet and no comment. Again, the punishment is often delayed far beyond its proper time, so that Marcella is punished in the evening for some fault committed that morning. When the punishment does arrive, her little mind can hardly connect the gravity of the crime with the severity of the punishment.

No parent ought ever punish a child in anger. Cool down and think it over, and then think up a proportionate privation of some pleasure that will have a punitive effect. Mothers ought never to say to a child who has done something wrong, "Wait till your father gets home. He'll punish you within an inch of your life." That is the worst thing you could do. The child will just hate to see Pop make the bend in the road. Do your own sentencing. Each parent must agree to back the other up in every instance of punishment.

Here are two excellent rules from the Bible.

"Fathers, provoke not your children to indignation, lest they be discouraged" (Col. 3:21), and for mothers, here's a good one for you: "Be not as a lion in thy house, terrifying them of thy household and oppressing them that are under thee." (Ecclus. 4:35.)

It is of cardinal importance that parents treat their children as they themselves would want to be treated. As a parent never ask a child to do something you yourself would not want to do. If you wanted a twenty-dollar bill changed would you go into a store and buy an evening paper? I'll bet you wouldn't. Then don't make a child do it.

Work out a schedule of work and play for the child and then, barring great urgency, don't break in on a child's playtime to ask him to run up the street for a box of eye-shadow. Don't blame a child for taking your things without first asking, if you have the habit of acting arbitrarily with his. Treat a child with consideration and he'll treat you with consideration.

I've heard of one mother who was tops as a child psychologist. She realized that her children had feelings too. She noted how her neighbor thought nothing of throwing open a door and letting go a war whoop: "JunIOR, come in here this instant. It's time for bed." There was no thought of what a spot Junior was in--with three men on bases and two out, he himself in there pitching to a home-run king from the next block. The other mother, with a keen sense of the nice thing to do, arranged with her son that when it was time to go in she would put the porch light on. Note the difference in the two approaches. One mother had no consideration for her son, while the other mother did. One mother was helping her son save face before the gang, and when he saw the light out of the corner of his eye, he finished his game as quickly as he could and then, as if he had decided all by himself, said: "I guess I'll go home." Such consideration will be appreciated by the tiniest child. The sooner you begin the better.

I found this little clipping in my desk. I have no idea who published it, but it sums up clearly what we have tried to say.

"Bring thy children up in learning and obedience, yet without outward austerity. Praise them openly, reprehend them secretly. Give them good countenance and convenient maintenance according to thy ability, otherwise thy life will seem their bondage, and what portion thou shalt leave them at thy death, they will thank death for it, and not thee. And I am persuaded that the foolish cockering of some parents, and the over-stern carriage of others, causeth more men and women to take ill courses than their own vicious inclinations."--Lord Burleigh.

Regarding the sex education of children, Pope Pius XI reminds parents that it is their duty to handle this delicate matter. It should be always given individually and modestly. It's better for parents to tell children the truth about "where babies come from." Let them catch you in a lie about that fabulous stork and they may not believe you in other matters. Don't underestimate the "education" of your child in this matter. Junior may be able to enlighten you quite a little. There is a wonderful little booklet for girls written by a Catholic woman doctor, and I earnestly advise mothers to buy a copy and leave it around where Sis can get her hands on it. It is entitled "Growing Up--A Book for Girls" (and it is in the twenty-five- cent class), published by Benziger Brothers, 26 Park Place, N. Y. C. This is a "must" for the noble sex education of girls. Whatever you do, don't make a ceremony of telling children the facts of life. They hate lectures. Make it short and to the point.

To better understand the different phases of growing from infancy to childhood and then from teen-age to adulthood, review what we have already treated in Chapter III. Facilitate as much as possible the different transitions. The struggle is pretty rugged in passing from boyhood or girlhood into the teen-age or adolescent group. Faults in character-building either on the part of the parents, or in the response to good training by the teen-ager himself, must be corrected. Where the foundation has been faulty, a repair job must be begun in early teen-age, and while some of the marks of the repair may be noticeable, it must nevertheless be undertaken.

It is important to remember that the same tactics used in the development of the moral and social characteristics of a child cannot be used in the repair work done on the early teen-ager. This needs a decidedly different approach. It demands on the part of those directly responsible for such training, self-control, good example, sympathy, and a willingness to let go at the proper times.

The old idea of treating teen-agers as you yourself were treated by your parents demands radical changing. Parents must keep abreast of the times and endeavor, if possible, to attain the old standard results by modern methods. What does it matter what method, ancient or modern, is used, so long as the desired results are attained?

Few parents seem to realize the terrific effect growing from childhood into manhood or womanhood really has on a child. A lad at eighteen is a vastly different person from the one he was at eleven. Doubtless he was, at eleven, a lanky, gawky little person, all legs and arms, habitually untidy about his personal appearance, with everything but the kitchen sink stuffed into his pockets. The same boy at sixteen is in all respects a man; he takes particular delight in a swanky sports coat and puts his dad's tonic on his hair, and if the truth were known, rubs a bit on his face to encourage a beard so he can brag about his five o'clock shadow.

Changes in a girl's body take place more or less rapidly between fifteen and eighteen too. While the body changes vaguely mystify and confuse a girl, the moods accompanying them upset both her and her parents. She goes through a spell of daydreaming, she assumes an air of bored condescension, she plays to the gallery by endeavoring to be noticed, she is moody, unduly emotional and more or less deaf to parental edict and direction. Frankly, these moods are common to youth of both sexes.

It is during the adolescent years that young people need cooperation and sympathetic understanding most. They must feel the assurance of parental love and affection. Gradually, through the adolescent years, the youth must be granted his liberty from the hard and fast rules that tied him to his mother's apron strings in earlier years. In other words, there must be a gradual emancipation. The task is to know when to let go and when not to let go, and parents have to judge this for each individual case. The best parents are those who "No" best.

What most parents dread above all else is the development of the romantic urge in their children, and usually they take drastic methods to circumvent it. Errors in judgment in solving this problem can do untold harm. Where a good Catholic grammar and high school education, where good home example and family prayers and frequentation of the sacraments have been provided the youth in question, the problem is not how to keep your son or daughter from getting involved with the opposite sex, but how to get them launched as graciously as possible.

As much as you may hate to see the children grow to adolescent stature, you must face it; how you react will affect them more than you can ever imagine. The best plan is to be pleasantly interested at the signs of normal social development. It is important that all "kidding" references, no matter how well intentioned, be omitted. Adolescents teased about having "girl friends," or "boy friends," or the "Mary's in love" routine, will have one of two serious effects--it will make the youngsters crawl back into a shell, or it will cause the young lover to be defiant and rebellious. On the other hand, any obvious attempts toward forcing social development will most certainly back-fire.

Social development must be aided and fostered. The teenager should be permitted to have friends in on Fridays and/or Saturday nights. School and church group activities should be encouraged and supported. Parents who are afraid the furniture might get a few scratches from such adolescent pow-wows in the home have no sense of values. Which is worse--a broken chair or a broken life? If the children can't meet and feel free in their own homes, they will meet in less protective places.

Care and caution is urged on fathers who take their daughters to parties and social affairs and who call for them when they are over. If a father must do this for peace of mind or peace in the home, he ought to be subtle enough to say that it is for transportation purposes only and not the act of a virtuous parent.

I recall a family where the father took his two teen-age daughters to every social affair the girls ever attended, even to church, too. There was no end to the daughters' embarrassment and the net result was that the girls never got to know any of the boys well. Deprived of the chance to make comparisons, one of the girls met a young man on the train she took to and from her office job in the city during the summer vacation, and she ran away with him and got married, a marriage that lasted but two years. Train children well from their youth as adolescents, let them mingle freely and normally, and the ultimate results will be better. Never mistrust youth. Nothing hurts as much as mistrust. Parental supervision must be exerted, however, yet in such a way that it won't be resented.

One of the finest little booklets, and a "must" for parents confronted with teen-agers in the family, is "The Adolescent," by Henry C. Schumacher, M.D., B.Sc. (Write to "Our Sunday Visitor," Huntington, Indiana. It may not cost more than twenty-five or fifty cents.) It is tops for practicality.

Later, when your son and daughter show definite signs of being bent on marriage, help them then more than you ever did in your life before. Encourage enrollment in one of the finest courses given anywhere today. It is a correspondence course in marriage preparation. Write Marriage Preparation Service, The Catholic Centre, 125 Wilbrod Street, Ottawa, Canada. That would be the best ten-dollar gift you ever gave your son or daughter. The whole fifteen installments are issued under the guidance of a priest, a doctor, and a lawyer.

When Sis or Junior is old enough, if he or she has all the maturities herein stated, if everything looks to be in order, give them the green light with your blessing.

May no child of yours ever say about you what St. Augustine had to say about his father's indifference:

"My father never bothered about how I was growing towards You (God) or how chaste or unchaste I might be, so long as I grew in eloquence."

Decrying the lack of sympathy and guidance again, the great Saint bitterly protested:

"If only there had been someone then to bring relief to the wretchedness of my state and turn to account the fleeting beauties of these new temptations and bring within bounds their attractions for me: so that the tides of my youth might have driven in upon the shore of marriage: for then they might have brought calm with the having of children as Your law prescribes, O Lord, for in this way you form the offspring of this our death, able with gentle hand to blunt the thorns that You would not have in Your paradise.... My family took no care to save me from this moral destruction by marriage: their only concern was I should learn to make as fine and persuasive speeches as possible."

I can never understand the psychology of parents who, if a son chooses, say, to be a doctor, lawyer, dentist, or an electrical engineer, or if a daughter wants to be a nurse, opera singer, or artist, will in every case feel it a duty to help in a financial way toward the achievement of such goals. But when a son or daughter chooses marriage as a career, how few parents will ever offer them any real financial help to get them established. Make that one of the highlights of your relation with your children. Resolve to help them in marriage as you would if they chose any other career. They will appreciate your least generosity more in the early years of marriage than they will if you leave them a huge legacy after you have passed away. They may feel then that you left your money to them simply because you couldn't take it with you.

Among life's tragedies the saddest is a mother and father who when they start down the hill of life into the shadows of old age find themselves burdened under the crushing weight of remorse for having neglected their marital duties. The bitterest yoke, however, is the remorse that follows neglect of parental responsibilities. The mistakes they made in training their children they may see perpetuated in their children's children. The marriage failure of a son or daughter they may then be able to trace to the faulty pattern they themselves set before such a one. The weak, watered-down faith of their grown children will haunt them and will reproach them for the lack of example they gave in religious practices. The whip of repentance will be severest on a mother or father who realizes too late that their own personal selfishness kept a son or daughter from marriage, and in their last years they must see them wither like leaves at the touch of a heavy frost.

Disturbing thoughts, you say? They are meant to be. Marriage is a serious business. It's a glorious career but a responsible one. It can be a joyous career, and it may be a wearisome and even a thankless one. Children who trample your feet when they are small may even trample your heart when they grow up. But aren't there such contingencies in every career? Can you name one career that one can hope to be a success in without fidelity to duty, untiring effort, and sacrifice? Do you think Balzac's career as a writer was an easy one? He wrote sixteen hours a day, sometimes never left his room for three days at a time. At the age of thirty he started writing "La Comedie Humaine," and worked at it almost without stopping for twenty years. If a person could put such zeal and devotion to duty into writing a book, what can we say of the zeal and devotion mothers and fathers ought to demonstrate in the procreation, education, and salvation of their children?

Take care, however, that in being a good mother or father you do not neglect the duty of being a loving husband or wife. Foolish indeed is the mother who lavishes all her love upon her children, reserving little or none for her husband. Such a one may find, when the children are grown up and have moved away from the family circle, that she is a stranger to her mate. Diffidence and neglect are the two antidotes to love. Marital love, like the ancient manna, must be collected every day. Live such a life of mutual love that in the closing hours of your life you might in all truth be able to express sentiments similar to those expressed by Mark Twain to his beloved wife, Olivia. Keep in mind as you read the following charming protestation of love that it was written by a man who was then standing in the awful shadows of financial disaster and at about the time his great genius was ebbing.

On the seventeenth anniversary of his engagement to Olivia, Mark Twain wrote:[7]

"We have reached another milestone, my darling, and a very, very remote one from the place where we started but we look back over a pleasant landscape-valleys that are still green, plains that still bear flowers, hills that still sleep in the soft light of that far morning of blessed memory. And here we have company on the journey--ah, such precious company, such inspiring, such lovely, and gracious company! and how they lighten the march! Our faces are toward the sunset, now, but these are with us, to hold our hands, and stay our feet, and while they abide, and our old love grows and never diminishes, our march shall still be through flowers and green fields, and the evening light as pleasant as that old soft morning glow yonder behind.

Your Husband."

Co-equal with the obligation resting on husbands and wives of sustaining and increasing their love for one another is their duty as mothers and fathers of loving, respecting, instructing, and giving good example to their children. Above all, they must pray for their children--for the prayers of parents are most efficacious. For a proof of this, let us return to Cana--of Galilee.

The immortal village of Cana is mentioned twice in the New Testament, once in reference to the marriage feast and once in connection with the story of a father and his dying son. It is to this latter incident that we now refer.

We should not, in the absence of positive information on the matter, be far from the truth, we think, in surmising that Christ, in returning to Cana a second time, simply did so to visit the young couple at whose marriage He had performed His first miracle the year before. In any case, Scripture tells us that the Master had been to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Jews and from there started for Cana. Passing through Samaria, Our Lord stopped to talk to the Samaritan woman at the well and gently reproached her for her infidelity in marriage.

Reaching Cana, the news of His presence spread rapidly and a certain royal official whose little son lay dying at Capharanaum "approached the Master and besought Him to come down and heal his son for he was at the point of death." The deep faith, the urgency in that father's simple petition, "Sir, come down before my child dies," touched the tender heart of Christ and He said to the man: "Go thy way, thy son liveth." And the account written by St. John ends thus: "And he himself believed, and his whole household."

Two wondrous lessons flow from the touching mystery of love and power in Cana of Galilee. The first great lesson concerns the efficacy of a father's or mother's prayers for their children. Were a history ever written of all the spiritual and temporal miracles that have been wrought in favor of children through parental prayer, the world itself, I think, could not contain the books. For instance, the conversion of St. Augustine is but one of a legion. Small wonder that St. Monica, "whose tears flowed down and watered the very earth beneath her eyes in every place where she prayed," should have been, after God, instrumental in his conversion. It was the great Ambrose who said to her: "Go your way: continue as you now are: it is not possible that the son of these tears should ever perish." Monica's prayers and tears saved Augustine. You can save your children in like manner.

The second lesson is equally great. The royal official "became obedient unto the faith" and "went his way," presently to find his faith both crowned and perfected--he and his whole household. In other words, the believing father and mother can strengthen the faith of the whole family. Never let your faith waver for an instant, even when the salvation of your child seems hopeless. Say through your tears: "Lord, come down before my child dies." Keep saying it while there is breath in your body. In heaven, some day, your faith will be rewarded, and your joy will be full when the Christ of Cana says to you, "Thy son lives."


1. "What Is Wrong with Marriage," Hamilton and MacGowan. New York: Borli, 1929, pp. 307, 8.

2. The Ethics of Marriage. New York: Funk and Wagnalls Co., 1888.

3. As far as we know now parents have little or no control over the sex of their offspring. In a way, it is better so. Does not nature manage this matter better than man ever could? However, according to Dr. R. T. Trall, the time of impregnation may exercise some control over the sex of the child. From experiments he carried out, the weight of testimony goes to show that early impregnation forms the development of females and late impregnation the development of males.

Dr. Trall explains it this way. If the impregnation is very soon after the ovum is matured, it is far up in the Fallopian tubes and consequently a fewer number of spermatozoa reach it. The result will be that the germ element will most likely prevail and the offspring be a female. On the other hand, if the impregnation takes place at a later period, the ovum will be farther down, and consequently more spermatozoa will be capable of reaching it and the probability will be that the sperm element will predominate and a male will be the result.

4. Breast milk, according to James A. Taylor, M.D., F.A.C.S., of Tarrytown, N. Y., "imparts to the baby many of the maternal immunities to contagious and infectious diseases."

5. "Will You Nurse Your Baby?", John C. Montgomery, M.D., "Woman's Home Companion," May, 1947.

6. Neutral schools from which religion is excluded cannot exist in practice. Pius XI declared such schools "are bound to become irreligious."

According to Canon 1374; and Instruction, Holy Office, Nov. 24, 1875, parents need permission of the local Ordinary to send their children to other than Catholic schools.

(a) Parents who send their children to non-Catholic schools on principle because they prefer them, or (b) to schools that are positively harmful because heresy, etc., is regularly taught, or (c) to non-Catholic schools when nothing is done to offset the danger of perversion, cannot be absolved. (Noldin II, n. 296.)

7. "The Love Letters of Mark Twain" Edited by Dixon Wecter. "The Atlantic Monthly," January, 1948. Copyright, The Mark Twain Company.

Chapter Twelve: CANA IS FOREVER

One night some years ago when I was stationed in the prairies, I went to the wake of one of my oldest parishioners. She had been the kind of person whose name would instantly have come to mind were one asked to select the outstanding mother in the district. It was not so much her genial disposition, her charities, her neighborliness, her deep faith, or her abiding love for her husband and her seven children, as much as the universal consensus that her family was the closest-knit unit in the district. Everyone marveled at the love her husband and children demonstrated toward her in private, as well as in public. So completely did she symbolize noble motherhood that her passing was taken as a personal loss to nearly everyone in the community.

As I prepared to say the holy rosary that night, her devoted husband knelt beside me and whispered: "Father, if you don't mind, may I say the rosary tonight? You see, for forty-four years we have never once missed saying the rosary together with the family. Her last night with us must be no exception." Needless to relate, he said the prayers.

As I knelt there and answered the prayers, through tear-dimmed eyes I gazed first upon the placid features of that noble mother and then my gaze became fixed on the well-worn rosary, wrapped around two old, wrinkled, parchment-like hands. My thoughts wandered back through the years to when those hands were smooth and white and beautiful. One morning long ago they had clasped other hands before God's altar and vowed love and fidelity, a trust they never violated. Those same hands had fondled tiny babies and guided their first steps, and through the years they had assuaged fevered brows and broken hearts and even clasped other hands in last farewells. And the key to their terrible strength- -the rosary--now bound those hands together forever in peaceful rest.

I never hear that modern cliche, The family that prays together, stays together, without thinking of that old mother. I know now the secret of her happiness in marriage. I know, too, why her family was so outstanding and so respected; it was the family rosary.

Tennyson was right when he wrote:

More things are wrought by prayer Than this world dreams of. Wherefore, let thy voice Rise like a fountain for me night and day.

For what are men better than sheep or goats That nourish a blind life within the brain, If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer Both for themselves and those who call them friends? For so the whole round earth is every way Bound by gold chains about the feet of God.

If married couples would but learn the necessity of and the power of prayer, especially family prayer, there would be few, if any, marriage failures. The necessity of prayer in every chosen state of life was exemplified in Our Blessed Lord's life. Before He went to Cana, He had prayed and fasted forty days. During His sacred ministry He often passed whole nights in prayer, and on the eve of His death did He not pray in the garden of Gethsemane? Indeed, He it was who inspired Peter to tell husbands to dwell with their wives "as to the co-heirs of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered . . . Because the eyes of the Lord are upon the just, and His ears unto their prayers." (I Pet. 3: 7, 12.)

And who could adequately describe the power of prayer? Prayer with faith can accomplish anything. "All things," said Christ Himself, "whatsoever you ask when ye pray, believe that you shall receive: and they shall come unto you." (Mark 11:24.) And of family prayer, did He not say: "Where two or three are gathered together in My name there I am in the midst of them."?

A few blocks away from where I live there is a large, empty old house. No one has lived in it for years and years. Every time I pass it, it seems to be in a worse state of dilapidation. No fire has as yet touched it, nor have hurricanes shaken it, nor has it been abused by constant use, but, rather, it is falling into ruin through decay. It just seems unable to bear the weight of emptiness and silence. Much the same thing happens to all homes when pagan silence locks the mouths and freezes the hearts, so that no family prayer ever ascends from them to the heart of God.

J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the FBI, in a recent radio broadcast urged a return to the practice of daily family prayer. "Our nation," said Mr. Hoover, "is sadly in need of a rebirth of the simple life--a return to the days when God was a part of each household, when families arose in the morning with a prayer on their lips, and ended the day by gathering together to place themselves in His care. A Godless home is built upon sand; it is an inviting breeding ground for moral decay and crime."

Whenever in ages past an antidote was discovered for some dread ill, its use has been maintained even to our day. "The Holy Rosary," said Pope Leo X, "was instituted to crush heresiarchs and growing heresies," and we know how well it accomplished its purpose against the twelfth century Albigensian heretics. In the sixteenth century we know its effect upon the Turks, who at that time threatened to impose the yoke of superstition and barbarism on nearly the whole of Europe. Its use in favor of victories at Temeswar in Pannonia and at Corfu needs no reiteration here. For centuries now, the rosary has been an antidote to heresy--will it cease to be effective against modern heresy inherent in the false doctrines of easy divorce, birth control, free love, broken homes, and juvenile revolution?

Whether you are on the threshold of matrimony or whether you have already set sail on its unchartered seas, I beseech you, begin the daily recitation of the rosary in your home. After you have read the following Promises of Our Lady to those who devoutly recite the Holy Rosary, you may better understand how and why those who pray together stay together.

1. Whoever will faithfully serve me by the recitation of the Rosary shall receive signal graces.

2. I promise my special protection and the greatest graces to all those who will recite the Rosary.

3. The Rosary shall be a powerful armor against hell; it shall destroy vice, decrease sin, and defeat heresies.

4. It shall cause virtue and good works to flourish; it shall obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God; it shall withdraw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities and shall lift them to the desire of eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means!

5. The soul which recommends itself to me by the recitation of the Rosary shall not perish.

6. Whoever will recite the Rosary devoutly, applying himself to the consideration of its sacred mysteries, shall never be conquered by misfortune. God will not chastise him in His justice; he shall not perish by an unprovided death; if he be just, he shall remain in the grace of God and become worthy of eternal life.

7. Whoever will have a true devotion for the Rosary shall not die without the sacraments of the Church.

8. Those who faithfully recite the Rosary shall have during their life and at their death the light of God and the plenitude of His graces; at the moment of death they shall participate in the merits of the saints in paradise.

9. I will deliver from purgatory those who have been devoted to the Rosary.

10. The faithful children of the Rosary shall merit a high degree of glory in Heaven.

11. You shall obtain all you ask of me by the recitation of the Rosary.

12. All those who propagate the Holy Rosary shall be aided by me in their necessities.

13. I have obtained from my Divine Son that all the advocates of the Rosary shall have for intercessors the entire celestial court during their life and at the hour of death.

14. All who recite the Rosary are my sons and brothers of my only Son, Jesus Christ.

15. Devotion to my Rosary is a great sign of predestination.[1]

It is striking to note that the Canon Law of the Church nowhere obliges priests to say Holy Mass daily while it does specify "that the Ordinary must take care, (1) that the clergy frequently go to confession, (2) that they make each day a meditation of some duration, visit the Blessed Sacrament, say the Rosary, and examine their conscience." (Canon 125) Holy Mother Church knows that a priest who frequents the sacraments, meditates and says his rosary, will have such a love for the Holy Sacrifice that to miss it would cause such a one keen sorrow.

If frequentation of the sacraments and prayer, especially the Rosary, is so important for priests, how much more so for those in the midst of a sinful world who have embraced the holy state of matrimony? Indeed, married persons will find in prayer and the sacraments the greatest source of their strength. There is no conceivable situation that cannot be bettered by prayer. Prayer divinely dissolved the worries of Moses and the doubts of Jeremias; it purified and sanctified Tobias' love; it brought about the return of the Prodigal Son; it extricated David from a vicious triangle; it guided Ruth in the problem of handling in-laws. And to the husband whose bitter experience has taught him that he chose neither wisely nor well, we respectfully point to what prayer did for Daniel in the lion's den.

But let us again return to Cana and learn well its lessons. First, note that Christ came to that marriage because He was invited; by the same token, He will come to your marriage and dwell with you in your heart and home only if He be invited. The familiar painting of Our Lord Knocking at the Door was completed when someone remarked to the artist that he had neglected to put any latch on the door. The artist replied that "the door at which Christ knocks must be opened from the inside." Secondly, note that it was through the power of prayer--the simple prayer of Our Lady--that the great miracle of the changing of the water into wine took place. Therein lies a two-fold lesson: the power of prayer and the power of Mary's prayers. Likewise, in the second miracle, the curing of the son of the royal officer, the efficacy of parental prayer is made obvious. Nothing great happened in Cana that was not the result of prayer. Cana's greatest lesson, other than the sanctity of marriage, was the power of prayer.

Ever since I began this book, I have searched high and low for a hidden meaning behind the word Cana. I knew, for instance, that Bethlehem meant "House of Bread," but what "Cana" could be, puzzled me. Today, I found out. It comes from the Hebrew word for "reed," and so Cana simply means a reedy place. It was not until I had consulted the encyclopedia that I realized the full depth of mystical meaning that the name "Cana" implies.

I learned that these Palestinian reeds were of considerable importance in ancient days. They were useful in binding the soil and impeding denudation. Their close-set stems broke the current of water around them and so caused deposition of rich sediment that furnished annual contributions to incipient soil. Their tall, straight stalks were much sought after for use in the building of the walls and roofs of homes; they provided pipes for musical instruments; and very frequently they were used as measuring rods.

The mystical application to marriage found in the nature and the common usage of reeds is intriguing and limitless. The most striking application, however, to my way of thinking, lies in the use of the reed as a measuring rod. I firmly believe that God in His great providence intended Cana ever to be the measuring rod against which all Christian marriages should be laid. The closer they measure up to it, the greater the success--the greater the happiness. Verily, Cana Is Forever.


1. "The Crown of Mary." Apostolate of the Rosary, 141 East 65th St., New York City.