One in Mind, in Heart, in Affections

Author: William R. Clark, ed.


(A Series of Lectures and Discussions in Preparation for Marriage)


Edited by THE REVEREND WILLIAM R. CLARK, O.P., PH.D., Professor Of Sociology, Providence College

Copyright 1950,1952 By the Providence College Press Providence 8, Rhode Island

Printed by The Rosary Press, Inc., Somerset, Ohio



Imprimi Potest: TERENCE STEPHEN MCDERMOTT, O.P., S.T.LR., LL.D. Prior Provincial, St. Joseph's Province

March 19, 1952

Imprimatur: +RUSSELL J. MCVINNEY, D.D. Bishop of Providence

March 22,1952


During the Lent of 1947, in answer to insistent requests from the students of Providence College and from others, the Sociology Department and the Chaplain's Office of the College collaborated on a series of lectures on Courtship and Marriage. These lectures were delivered by five members of the faculty, and were attended by an average of one hundred and seventy-five persons. Those responsible for the series were sufficiently gratified to promise that it would be repeated the following year.

This was done in 1948, 1949, and 1950. During the Lent of 1949 and again in the Fall of the same year, the editor and Father Michael P. Coyne, O.P., presented the same material in two series for engaged and married couples at St. Pius Priory. The 1950 series, then, represents a refinement of the five previous courses. It was, from the point of view of attendance by far the most successful, with an average of more than two hundred and fifty persons present for each of the six discussions. There were approximately four hundred present for the talk by the "Catholic Physician."

The 1950 Lenten Series is presented here, very much the way it occurred. Stenographic records were kept at each session and with only slight changes here and there each is reproduced almost word-for-word. The talk by the married couple is presented in more detail, as also is the physician's talk, because the discussion or question period assumed more importance in those than in the other talks. For teaching purposes, "Questions for Review" and "Questions for Discussion" are appended to each of the chapters, with the exception of the one by the physician. We feel that his treatment of the lecture material as well as the questions put to him is rather complete. Here, only review questions are listed.

The technique used in this series was as follows: the program was divided into a straight lecture and a question period. After the lecture a five-minute intermission was declared during which those present had an opportunity to write questions on slips of paper distributed by student ushers. These questions constituted the material for the second half of the program. During this part of the evening the discussion was open to the floor, but no one asked a question vocally; only the written questions were discussed. It might be added that ten percent of those in attendance were married; another twenty-five percent, engaged.

We are indebted to all those who contributed to the success of all of the Lenten series, and we have only praise for the contributors of this pamphlet. We are grateful to those who so kindly read the "Pro Manuscripto" edition and sent in their comments. A word of thanks to Mrs. William J. Flatley and Mrs. Owen M. Bannon must be spoken for their stenographic work, and Mr. Joseph F. Cavanaugh, B.F.A., who did the art work.

NOVEMBER 15, 1950 W. R. C.

In little more than one year the first printing of 5,000 copies was disposed of to schools, colleges, study clubs, Cana groups, and parishes. In preparing the second edition it was decided to include one of the papers from the 1951 series, the one on the "Sanctifying Power of Matrimony," a topic which is sometimes overlooked in marriage preparation.--We are grateful to all who, by their purchases of the first edition and by their encouragement, have helped to make this second, revised edition possible.--Daniel F. Higgins, A.B., did the illustration for chapter VII.

MARCH 7, 1952 W. R. C.


I. GETTING INSTRUCTED (On the Sacrament of Matrimony) Rev. John T. Dittoe, O.P., S.T.Lr., S.T.D.

II. GETTING ACQUAINTED (On Courtship and Chastity) Rev. Charles H. McKenna, O.P., B. Litt. (Oxon)

III. GETTING INSPIRED (On Family Retreats, Cana Conferences, etc.) Rev. John F. O'Neil, A.M.

IV. GETTING MEALS (On Home Management) Mr. and Mrs. Charles F. Reynolds

V. GETTING THE FACTS (On the Medical and Personal Side) A Catholic Physician

VI. GETTING MARRIED (On the Ceremonies and Contract of Marriage) Rev. William R. Clark, O.P., Ph.D.

VII. GETTING THE CROWN (On the Sanctifying Power of Marriage) Rev. Thomas H. McBrien, O.P., S.T.Lr., S.T.L.

Appendix A--The Catholic Marriage Ceremony, the Nuptial Mass with the Nuptial Blessing

Appendix B--Recommended Readings




The Reverend John T. Dittoe, O.P., is an assistant to the Chaplain of the College and professor of Theology.

MARRIAGE, today as always, is an intriguing subject. This fact is attested to by the countless times marriage is the subject, and perhaps--the object of conversation. As has often been said, the three most widely discussed topics of conversation are: religion, politics, and sex. For one reason or another, people are always interested in all three. Right now we are going to turn our thoughts to something that has to do with the first and the third topic, and in particular we are going to speak of the sacrament of Matrimony.

The proper view of marriage is often lacking even in those who, by today's standards, are learned and cultured and good people. Some, looking at marriage, are overwhelmed by its dignity and its obligations; hence they look upon it with fear. To these, marriage is not an ideal--but an ordeal. Some see in marriage something of the comical. To these, an announcement of a coming marriage conjures up a picture of the flustered bridegroom forgetting the wedding ring, or the blushing bride kissing the altar boy instead of her husband. Still others see in marriage something of the sensational, and so they are married in a unique way, perhaps--in the air, or under the sea. Imagine--kissing your bride through a diver's helmet. Yet, the proper outlook on marriage demands that we see it for what it truly is: the man and the woman embarking upon a life where two become one and remain one until death.


On that day in the Garden of Eden when the Creator looked upon His most perfect creature and saw that Adam, despite his countless possessions and his sovereignty over the whole world, was lonely, God spoke these words: "It is not good for man to be alone!" (Genesis 2,18) and He created for Adam a helpmate, Eve. Since that day when Almighty God gave Eve to Adam and Adam to Eve, marriage has been a good and sacred thing. On that day in the dawn of this world, the Author of Nature Himself instituted marriage, giving it a divine character. From its very beginning even the mere contract of marriage has been sacred; its origin was divine. Marriage is not merely a matter of human institution; it is God-given. The Sacred Scriptures tell us: "God blessed them (Adam and Eve) saying: Increase and multiply, and fill the earth" (Genesis 1,28). With these words God sanctioned the union of man and woman and bestowed His blessing upon the newly-married couple.


In the course of ages, the pagans and even the chosen people of God, the Jews, forgot the sacredness of the institution of marriage and considered it a mere invention of man. But the God of all, coming upon this earth, was again to bless the joining of man and woman. At the marriage-feast of Cana, Christ gave divine approval once more to the lawful union of husband and wife. On that occasion Christ Himself gave a glorious note to marriage, a note that has rung down through the centuries. Christ marked that day by His own

Divine Presence and blessed that marriage with His first miracle, by changing water into wine, lest the newly-weds be embarrassed at the failing of the wine. All this was but the forecast of the time when He Himself would add that touch of Wisdom Divine, when by His God-head He would raise marriage to the heights of heaven, when He would confer upon marriage the great dignity of one of His seven sacraments. If marriage was divinely blessed in Eden and at Cana, its crowning certainly came when Christ conferred upon it the dignity of a sacrament, whereby He Himself would be present for every future marriage, blessing it with the richness of a thousand blessings, and bestowing upon the young bride and groom the helps needed for a blessed and happily married life. The dignity of marriage is tremendous, for marriage is blessed and holy. It is blessed because God Himself is its Author; it is holy because Christ Who is God, made it the great sacrament which is an image of His union with the Church.

To speak of marriage, then, is to speak of the sacrament of Matrimony.


The nature or essence of marriage seems most complex, yet, seen in its true light the notion of marriage is readily grasped. Rightfully understood, "marriage is a lawful and exclusive contract by which a man and a woman give and accept a right over their bodies for the purpose of acts which are in themselves apt for the generation of children." The essential notion to be grasped here is contained in the word contract. At the outset, we see that marriage is not primarily something in the physical order, but in the rational or intellectual order. A contract has to do with our wills. Actual marital intercourse is not of the essence of marriage, for we can have a true marriage without its being consummated; after all, Our Lady Mary was truly the spouse of Joseph. The very essence of marriage consists precisely in that act of the deliberate will by which a man and a woman each surrenders rights in view of the ends of marriage. This renders marriage between animals an impossibility. You cannot picture Fido saying to Josephine and Josephine to Fido: "I will." When a couple pronounces the words that makes them husband and wife, they make a contract with each other, a contract that is different from any other contract for the object of this contract is the common life. With the words: "I take thee...", this man and this woman proclaim to the world and before God that they are embarking upon life together, life together as a means of advancing nearer to God as they advance nearer to each other, so that truly they are "two in one flesh" (Mark 10,8). The words themselves are nothing other than the exterior manifestation of the interior consent, of the giving and the receiving of the rights over each other's body. If the internal consent is not present, then the words are meaningless and in truth there is no contract, there is no marriage. All this is true of any marriage, not only of Christian marriage, but of each and every marriage from the beginning of time.


The nature of this contract to which the partners bind themselves is subject to justice and the conditions which justice demands. The nature of marriage is outside the mere whim of man. Persons are free to marry or not to marry; they are free to marry this man or this woman; they are free to marry in June or in September. True, marriage does have its roots in nature, in the nature of man and in the nature of woman, in the incompleteness of man or woman alone, in the limitations of our physical life and in the need of perpetuating society; still it is not something that just happens to every man and to every woman; they must bring it upon themselves. The free will must come into play. One must make the choice. Yet, once the choice is made--to marry and to pledge one's love and devotion to another for life, matrimony is entirely independent of the ideas and the wishes of the individual. Marriage is not merely a matter concerning individuals; it concerns society, and hence is subject to the social welfare. Once two people have embarked upon the vocation of marriage, they are not free to do as they will in all matters. The common good of all men demands that they be bound, and be bound absolutely by the laws of God and of His Church in the living of that vocation. Marriage is a personal matter in that you can take it or leave it, but once you take it and enter into it, marriage is a matter of society.

(Society's interest in marriage will be touched upon later under the question of marriage laws; but in passing, let it be said that marriage is the foundation of the family and the family is the foundation of society. Anything that gnaws at the foundation, as divorce does, gnaws at society itself.)


Everything in this world exists for a definite purpose, and marriage exists for a very definite purpose. In fact, the purposes of marriage are many, and usually they are divided into primary and secondary. The primary purpose is clear from the definition of marriage given above. The reason for marriage in the Divine Plan is the generation of children and their education. In other words, marriage exists, first of all, for the purpose of bringing children into the world and educating them in the knowledge and the love of God. Secondarily, marriage exists for the mutual help the partners can give each other in living the good life, for their mutual love and devotion, and for the protection they afford each other against temptation. How different is this view of marriage, God's view, from that of sentimental moderns, where convenience and physical attraction are the only "sane" reasons for marriage.

Marriage is a good and holy thing. The narrow mind which looks upon it as something merely to be tolerated is to be condemned. Marriage existed before sin entered into this world, and it exists after sin, not as an effect of sin, but as a remedy against evil and a way to holiness. It came directly from the hands of God with the nature of man. And it was inevitable that when Christ came upon earth that men might have life more abundantly, He would certainly give greater fulness, greater holiness, greater union to this thing which is human love. Christ made marriage a source of divine life as well as of human life. He raised marriage to the dignity of a sacrament. From God and the sacrament come the goods and the compensations, the blessings and the benefits of marriage.


The blessings of marriage are threefold: these are the good of the child, the good of faith, and the good of the sacrament. In that order we shall treat of the blessings and benefits of marriage. For the modern man and woman, to hear children listed as the first blessing of marriage would call forth a wry smile. To the modern mind it is not merely a joke when a certain man seeing his son pass by, turning to the fellow next to him and instead of saying: "There goes my boy, Johnny or Jimmy or Joe." says, "There goes one of my tax deductions."

The Child

That children hold the first place among the blessings of marriage was taught by God Himself, when He said to our first parents: "Increase and multiply and fill the earth." God Himself chose marriage as the means of bringing more souls into this world that they might someday enter into the glory of Heaven. Children are the primary reason for marriage, and they are actually the first fruit of the pure love of husband and wife. The child is the perfect expression of love, for here is a union which is an embodiment of the father and the mother. Here is, as it were, a human trinity--the father, the mother, and the child.

The coming of the child brings not merely a new life into the home, but with the birth of the child a new kind of life enters into the home--family life. It is when God sends the fruit of marriage--children--that the parents begin to know what true love is. Certainly, there was love before the coming of the child, but now there is a deeper love, a nobler love, an enduring love. True love is identical with sacrifice. To love someone with a true love, a spiritual love, an abiding love means thinking of them often, means trying to please them, means making sacrifices for them. It means being able to accept another person into their love, not so as to deprive each other of one bit of love, but broadening the same intense love to include another. The coming of children into the home offers countless opportunities for the expression of all these sentiments, for with children come responsibilities, and cares and duties, and anxieties, and sleepless nights and work-filled days, and above all the need of patience and kindness and forebearance. No truer words do we find than those which are read to us in the instruction before the marriage ceremony: "Sacrifice is usually difficult and irksome. Only love can make it easy; and perfect love can make it a joy. We are willing to give in proportion as we love."

Conjugal Fidelity

The second blessing of marriage is the good of faith, conjugal fidelity--the faithfulness of husband to wife and of wife to husband. To this blessing pertains specially conjugal chastity by which the spouses render to each other and to no one else the mutual rights granted by marriage. Here is had that perfect unity of a man and a woman, that oneness of mind and heart and affections to be achieved in a whole lifetime, not in a day or in a year. Without faithfulness to each other, love cannot endure. This benefit of marriage includes the minimum that can be asked of the partners, the fairness to each other in thought and in desire as well as in external honorable acts which justice in the household demands. But it goes beyond, to a deep mutual confidence and trust, binding husband and wife closer as they spend the years together. Perhaps only those who have lost it, who can no longer trust their partner can fully appreciate how profoundly this absolute confidence has entered into every thought, word, and action of their married life. Without this faith, every gesture is interpreted as a sham, a lie. If the husband is late for dinner, he has been entertaining someone else. If the wife accepts a ride home from a party with someone else's husband, her mate is sure that she has been unfaithful to him and there wasn't any party at all. And suspicion grows and mounts with each passing day until all trust in one's partner is lost and the living of married life is unbearable. Without the blessing of conjugal fidelity, here truly is a betrayal of love.


The final compensation of marriage is the good of the sacrament. This blessing of marriage goes beyond the act of marriage to its very essence. The love part in marriage is never forgotten and neglected; often the part of sex is stressed far above its rightful place. The third and last blessing of marriage, however, is too frequently given little or no thought. This is the "good of the sacrament," by which is meant the noble significance which this sacrament of matrimony has of the union of Christ with His Church. Marriage itself signifies this transcendent union of the Divine Spouse, Christ, with His Mystical Body. Here we find the greatest dignity of marriage. Just as the union of Christ with His Church was a union of love, and a union by which grace entered into the Church, so also is marriage a union of love, and a union by which sacramental grace enters into the spouses of Christian marriage through each other. In Matrimony, the spouses are the ministers of the sacrament. The man and the woman are the instruments which God uses in conferring grace upon each other. The priest, present at the ceremony, is not the minister of the sacrament; he is only the witness to the proclamation of the intention of these two before him to live a common life to the glory of God and to their own salvation. The Wisdom of Divinity alone could conceive of making marriage the means by which two in love might confer grace upon each other.


As a blessing of marriage the good of the sacrament denotes above all the indissolubility of the bond which is of the very essence of the consummated marriage. Nature itself dictates the need of stability in marriage; nature demands that marriage be not merely a temporary arrangement, but rather a permanent union, for there is always the child, with its nourishment and care and education to be considered. However, nature alone would not dictate the complete unity and lastingness of marriage.

The consecration of Christ gives to every marriage which is a sacrament the blessing that it be perfectly one and enduring until death. From this consecration comes the ultimate perfection to human love. Just as the union of Christ with His Church cannot be dissolved, neither can the union of man and woman in holy wedlock cease to be, except by death. In this way alone can marriage be a worthy climax of love. The realization of the life- long endurance of marriage is bound to have its effect upon the living of life together. It is a positive guarantee to each spouse, making easier and safer the total giving of oneself to the other. To bear with one another, to give and to take, to forgive and to be forgiven--all this must be if marriage is to endure, and marriage must endure. Yet, marriage does not change the persons involved so that they are entirely different. No, they remain the same, with the same faults and failings. Each has his or her own ideas on certain matters; each has his or her likes and dislikes; each knows what he or she wants and what he or she does not want. Yet, here we have two who are one. It is this oneness that is itself an endless process. Each must learn that gentleness and sympathy from which spring real peace and fulfillment. There can never be complete agreement of desire in every little issue, but beneath these little differences, there must be a solid core of unity which nothing can shake.

Sacramental Grace

The first blessing of the sacrament guarantees that the marriage will never fail, and it will never fail because of the other gifts the sacrament brings to the spouses. Marriage, above all, is a sacrament. As a sacrament it increases sanctifying grace in the soul, for it is a "sacrament of the living" to be given only to those already friends of God. To receive Matrimony in the state of sin is to commit a sacrilege, the defamation of a sacred thing, and instead of beginning married life with the blessings of God the spouses enter wedlock with the scorn of their Creator upon them, having made a mockery of His Wisdom and His Mercy. Besides this increase of the Divine Life in the spouses through sanctifying grace, there is given in Christian marriage a very special grace, called the sacramental grace of Matrimony. This grace is not conferred for the moment, for the time being, but this sacrament confers upon the man and the woman a right to all the graces of a lifetime, a right to all the special helps they will need to live a holy and happily married life. The grace of this sacrament assures them that in the time of difficulties, which, although unforeseen on their wedding day, will certainly come, they will have the strength and the courage to bear with the problems of living the common life. They know that through this sacrament they will have, on the promise of God Himself, the help they need to overcome each and every temptation in their married life. (A more complete discussion of sacramental grace will be found in Chapter VII.) These temptations may be an attack on any of the three goods or compensations of marriage. All told, there are just three roads which the enemies may take in an attempt to disrupt the peace and the sanctity of the home. Whether the temptation be against the child, during pregnancy, at birth, or after birth; against mutual justice, by denying another's right, notably in the use of Matrimony's act, through the practice of birth control or adultery; against the indissoluble bond of union, by divorce and attempted re-marriage- -no matter what, each partner will have the particular grace and special help he or she needs to overcome that temptation because of the sacrament which has been received. The right to these graces has been given them, and this right will not be denied by God.

Attacks on Marriage

In this day and age the interest in marriage is one of desecration rather than consecration of the home. The attack upon Matrimony is growing day by day as is evidenced by the number of divorces granted each year, by the conservative estimate of one million abortions performed last year, by the tremendous manufacture and sale of contraceptives. All this is an attack upon the home, but at the same time it is an attack upon society. The family is the basic unit of society; without the family society could not exist. Yet, the advocates of legalized adultery and legalized murder and legalized self-abuse are ignorant of their undermining our democratic way of life, a way of life to which they profess to be so greatly devoted. In the midst of all this corruption and degradation there is but one means of saving all that we hold with a sacred trust. To save society, we must save the family; to save the family, we must save the sacrament of Matrimony.

To Husbands and Wives

Upon those who have the one and only true concept of marriage, there rests a tremendous burden--the task of living their own married lives after the manner God Himself, the Author of marriage, has decreed; and the task of inducing others to realize the solemn contract they have made before God. Married men and women must be true to themselves, to their partner, to their children, to society--in other words, to their contract--and above all to their God. They must live the good life of married love encompassed with the love of God.

The beauty of Matrimony can be seen at a glance. We have only to recall the blessings of marriage--children, companionship, and grace--correspond to the three kinds of love, physical, sentimental or emotional, and spiritual. God alone could blend them all so beautifully. To those living the married life, we say: With courage go forth and face the world with its condemnations and desecrations and vices and selfishness. The courage is yours, for you have the absolute assurance of the helps and graces you will need to lead a virtuous life in the midst of corruption. Be the help and assistance to each other that you proclaim you will be on your wedding day. Teach your children of God and the way to God. All this, that the day may come when you will be united in the glorious family of God with the angels and saints in Heaven.


1. What is the definition of marriage?

2. What is the essential notion contained in the definition of marriage? Explain your answer.

3. What is meant by the statement: Marriage is a good and sacred thing?

4. In what way is marriage a concern of society?

5. What is the primary purpose of marriage? secondary purpose?

6. For what benefits was marriage instituted?

7. What is the source of the indissolubility of marriage?

8. What is the special grace of the sacrament of Matrimony?

9. How does the sacramental grace of the sacrament of Matrimony enable marriage to achieve its purpose?

10. In how many ways can the enemies of the home attempt to destroy marriage?


1. Is marriage a mere invention of man?

2. How did Christ show His approval of the union of man and woman in marriage?

3. What are the effects of Christ's raising marriage to the dignity of a sacrament?

4. How does nature dictate the stability of marriage?

5. In what way does the sacrament make the bond of marriage stable and permanent?

6. Are children a blessing for the parents?

7. What sins make an attack upon the three benefits of marriage?

8. Is every marriage a sacrament?



The Reverend Charles H. McKenna, O.P., has been the chaplain of the students at Providence College for more than ten years. He teaches in the Department of History and Government.

MARRIAGE is a vocation, a distinct vocation for certain souls. It is a serious and sacred union of man and woman for life, not in the manner of a business partnership, but rather in a most intimate relationship affecting their present, future, and even eternal destinies. To perpetuate Divine Life on earth Christ established His priesthood and gave us the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. To perpetuate human life, the Creator not only endowed man and woman with certain physical and mutually complementary characteristics, but He also implanted in them natural impulses and objectives which are consecrated in the sacrament of Matrimony. Both the priesthood and the married state are vocations. Both are blessed with sacraments. Both are lifetime consecrations--"thou art a priest forever"; husband and wife take each other "until death do us part."

Now the Church is particularly careful about those whom she anoints as priests, or whom she admits into her service in the religious life. For those who would share in her ministry she demands a long period of study and preparation, while for the religious life a time of novitiate is required in which the candidate has an opportunity to investigate the life that eventually will be his, to live according to its rule and to learn something of the responsibilities and obligations of such a career.

Novitiate to Marriage

The period of courtship is somewhat similar to the novitiate for the religious life. It is a time of investigation and preparation for that common life which begins with the reception of the sacrament of Matrimony. Since marriage is a real vocation to a divinely instituted mode of living, since it is a union of husband and wife until death, the people who enter into it should not do so with too great haste, nor without the proper appreciation of all its responsibilities, realizing that the better one prepare for it, the more likely it is to be a happy and successful union. The boy and girl, to quote the phrase of Father Bede Jarrett, "should be apprenticed, as it were, to the trade of family life." They should look into the family life of their own homes and study the reasons for the success of their parents. They should learn wisely of others whose households are an inspiration. Unless fundamentals are understood beforehand and realities seen, at least in outline, the future "with its hopes and disappointments, its successes and its failures" may be unbearably rough and embarrassing.

Sacrifice Necessary

It cannot be too forcibly impressed on the minds of those contemplating marriage that although marriage serves many purposes and brings immeasurable happiness, nevertheless it demands positive sacrifice, sometimes for long periods, and a mutual give and take in matters in which each has held a stubborn point of view. Every advantage received in matrimony seems to exact a yielding of a corresponding freedom, yet every sacrifice involved means a commensurate benefit. It gives strength and endurance to the bond of partnership, but only at the cost of mutual cooperation and confidence. It offers social stability and protection and, at the same time, imposes social restraints and limitations. It allows and enobles physical gratification, but, in turn, demands a mutual self-surrender and the obligation to accept the responsibilities that may follow as a consequence of this physical union.


The initial stage of courtship might be called the "Discovery Era." Before true courtship really exists there is generally a period of investigation, of romantic window-shopping. Both boy and girl look over the eligibles. This is the time when practically every date is with a different boy or with a different girl. Sometimes a couple will go out together for a month or more and then if one or the other begins to "get serious" a new partner is immediately sought. This process goes on for a while with the usual waverings of the affections, the awakening of enthusiastic interests followed by a series of wounding disappointments. But despite the surface attitude of flippancy there may be, in fact there should be, a very serious search for genuine value. The choice of one must eventually be made by both the boy and the girl. Marriage is with one partner. It is an investment not only for life, but an investment of life.

Many things cause initial attraction. Physical beauty and personal charm play a great part in bringing together young people; a kindred field of interest, or work, a similarity of taste in literature, music, or the theatre may be other reasons. But these are really accidental and, important chiefly at the outset. Subsequently, however, the hidden qualities, the deeper and more sterling revelations of character should gain pre- eminence and help in the definite selection of this particular boy or girl.

Theoretically, for both the choice is equal. But because the girl too frequently does not wish to take the chance of remaining single throughout life, she makes the decision sooner than the boy. Unfortunately, at times this decision is prompted not by love, but because there is, or there seems to be, no immediate prospect of another choice. The natural desire for motherhood in every woman and the fear of "remaining on the shelf" with all the accompanying stigma attached to that state is the true motive for this hasty selection. Too late is it realized that it would have been better to have stayed single than to have entered into an unhappy marriage--until death--is the wisdom of the old adage impressed on her: "Marry in haste, and repent at leisure."

Going Steady

Gradually this period of shopping narrows itself down to the choice of the individual partner. Perhaps the selection was slow in coming; perhaps it was delayed because of necessity. But eventually there is that unforgettable occasion, usually some night, when the heavens seemed to take on a new glory, when the moon appeared brighter than ever before and the stars more brilliant, when the air was more exhilarating, when the world had taken on a new meaning. Life had suddenly become more purposeful. In the quietude of each other's company, it was discovered that boy and girl are in love. The girl thinks that she has found the man of her ideals, or at least as near to those ideals as possible; the boy feels that this is the girl of his choice, the one he wishes to make the mother of his children, the only one that was ever made like her.

Once the decision has been made it is followed by a period in which the affections are quickened. There is a constant search on the part of each to say and to do the things that please each other. The free moments of the day, and the sleepless hours of the night are spent in planning things that will be mutually enjoyable. There are frequent treasure hunts through the stores, trying to find gifts for each other's birthday, for Christmas and other occasions.

In this period the boy seeks to secure his position and to cement his affections. He showers his attention on the girl and endeavors to make himself acceptable to her parents. She, on her part, tries to understand better her fiance and to make herself acceptable to his parents.

Consider the "Old-folks"

Why should parents be considered? After all, boy takes girl and girl takes boy, not each other's family. That is true; the marriage contract is between the boy and the girl, but how often do parents attempt to interfere with their children's plans? How often do parents attempt to arrange a marriage according to their longtime secret ambitions. One does not have to search for long, nor very far, to find examples of parents who for reasons of social prestige, of wealth, or of personal advantage forced their sons and their daughters into unhappy marriages without any consideration of the wishes of the parties themselves. Such interference and coercion, under certain circumstances, may vitiate the marriage contract and render it null and void.


The principal purpose of courtship is to find out whether the couple can adapt themselves to a common life, to see whether their personal lives are compatible, whether their love can stand the test of sacrifice and persist through periods of difference and difficulty. Much time will be spent together, at dances, in restaurants, and in the theatre. There will be automobile drives together, walks through the park and parties with friends. But the most important opportunities for discovering the possibilities of a successful marriage will be found in the hours that are spent at home, away from all the artificial stimulation and the external excitement and glamour of public entertainment. Here they will learn to know and respect each other. As future man and wife their lives together will be lived in the home, and the proper time to discover whether they are capable of establishing a true home is the period of courtship. Can they carry on for any length of time a serious conversation about topics of mutual interest? Are their cultural likes so diverse that discussion is impossible? Are their ideals and standards of morality, of economics, of social life such that there can be no agreement? The answers to these questions will be unfolded in the hours spent together at home.

Not Compatible!

If perchance it should be discovered that a harmonious future cannot be foreseen, that the pattern of these two lives cannot be reconciled, then a separation should take place immediately. The fear of emotional upsets, the apprehension of what other people will say, should not be made the reasons for prolonging a courtship which will eventually end in tragedy. In all such cases time is a great healer. A change of scenery also may help one to forget a broken romance, although this may not always be possible because of family obligations or economic necessity. But to continue keeping company when it is known that marriage is out of the question merely postpones the difficulties of separation and delays the chances for each party to begin a new romance with someone else. For the girl this can be most unfair, because time works more to her disadvantage than to the boy's. The longer she waits to find the truly compatible partner, the more limited is the choice, if she is given the opportunity of a choice at all.

But the couple who have tried themselves in the school of daily living, who have investigated their differences in thought and habit, who have weighed their sensitive natures and finally come to the conclusion that marriage is possible, then, with the help of God, they may look forward to a future filled with the happiness that comes only from true love.

True Compatibility

This true compatibility of the boy and girl is assured if both have similar or complimentary tastes and habits. It is not necessary that their likes and dislikes be identical, but each must be ready to appreciate the other's temperament and eccentricities. Each must be willing to make concessions in favor of the other. This yielding to the ideas of the other must be mutual. It must not always be the boy who gives in to the girl, or the girl who constantly has to do what the boy wants. There should also, of course, be some common interests which can be shared together, especially during leisure time.

Social Compatibility

Social compatibility is another essential to marital happiness. This does not mean that there must be equality of social prominence, or of wealth, but it does demand a harmony of ideals and social adaptability. Class distinction is not part of our American system of life. The traditions of our national and social life are founded on the equality of individuals. Not infrequently, however, social and economic differences create hazards to a happy married life. This is particularly true if the wealthy party receives expensive gifts and financial assistance from his parents. A patronizing attitude is sometimes manifested by wealthy in-laws which makes the less fortunate member feel that he has lost his economic independence, or gives him the sense of a social orphan, who has been suddenly elevated to a station which would have been unobtainable without this help. It puts a stigma on lowliness of birth and poverty that is not easily erased.

During the time of courtship the young couple should endeavor to enjoy themselves within the capacity of the boy's income or allowance. For a girl always to seek luxurious gifts and costly entertainment may create the impression that she has such expensive tastes that even with a reasonable salary the boy would never expect to support her in the future in the style to which she has been accustomed. Consequently, that romance is ended. Or, for the boy always to suggest that he take the girl to the most expensive night clubs and to the most highly priced shows, when he really cannot afford to do so, deliberately leads the girl to false impressions of his economic standard. Frankness in such matters may be a little humiliating on occasion, but if the truth is not made known at the outset, then false criteria may be set up and when the sham is eventually revealed--as it must-- disillusionment and discontent are the normal results.

Extravagance is understandable and tolerable on rare occasions: a birthday, a college junior promenade, or some similar event. These are exceptional instances, however, and a boy who pretends that such is the normal routine is doing a grave injustice to himself and to his girl. He is inviting future trouble when it becomes apparent that his wallet just will not support a continuous round of such activities with all their attendant appeal.

Religious Compatibility

A common faith and religious background are the cornerstone of a happy marriage. Differences of religion hit at the very basis of the married life. The Church, with the divine authority that is hers, and the wisdom that is based on the experience of centuries, places obstacles in the way of a mixed marriage, that is, a marriage between a Catholic and a non-Catholic. The reason for these obstacles is to create a greater awareness on the part of the young couple of this very fundamental difference and to cause them to think well before entering into the life-lasting contract.

The whole relation of the emotional and sensual life, the question of children, their baptism, education, and religious instruction are involved in mixed marriages. These are root issues, and where there is friction or disagreement on them, trouble is sure to follow. Not too infrequently the bitterness engendered by these problems becomes so tense and so constant that the home is disrupted and the family separated.

Certain promises must be signed by the non-Catholic before the marriage ceremony can take place. First of all, the Catholic doctrine of marriage as an enduring contract "until death," must be recognized. Then the non-Catholic specifically states that the Catholic shall in no way be impeded from the free and complete practice of his religion; secondly, that all children--not just the boys, or just the girls, but all--will be baptized and raised in the Catholic Faith; lastly, it is pledged that no other ceremony, either civil or religious, will take place before or after the Catholic wedding. These promises are made in writing and must be witnessed by a priest. The mere expression of good will and a verbal pronouncement to observe them are not sufficient. The signed document must be forwarded to the bishop of the diocese where the wedding is to take place, and he gives the dispensation and the permission for the marriage ceremony.

Even after these promises have been made and the marriage ceremony over, there may be difficulty and unrest because the non-Catholic takes very lightly, or completely disregards the pledge not to interfere with the Catholic's practice of religion. Because he is no longer concerned with the struggle to obtain the partner of his choice, and takes advantage of the security of a Catholic marriage, his sworn pledge loses its meaning. For instance, a Catholic is obliged under pain of serious sin to attend Mass on Sundays and Holydays. It may happen that on occasions an outing of some sort had been planned on one of these days, and an early start is desirable. The Catholic insisted on first going to Mass, which gave rise to an argument. The brief delay caused by this fulfillment of the Commandment and obligation to God was made the reason for "running into heavy traffic" or any other inconvenience that occurred during the whole day. Or, the Catholic husband should say that he does not want breakfast early on a certain day because he intends to receive Holy Communion, and the non-Catholic wife decides that there will be "only one breakfast served in this house." If her husband wants breakfast he either takes it when it is served, or he does not eat breakfast that day at home. Multiplied over the course of years, such instances become not a little annoying and produce positive rancor and unhappiness. (A further discussion of the Church's attitude toward mixed marriage is to be found in Chapter VI, under the treatment of impediments.)

The best protection against a mixed marriage is to avoid keeping company with a person of a different religion. It is often difficult, sometimes too late, to break up after the couple has fallen in love. To prevent trouble, avoid the circumstances that cause it. Perhaps it will be objected that a mixed marriage is an opportunity to effect a conversion of a Protestant. This is true, but unfortunately experience has proven that the number of conversions which do take place occur quite often after the couple has lived together many years. Sometimes it is the occasion of a child's first Holy Communion that proves the inspiration, sometimes it does not happen until the silver jubilee, or even later. Therefore it is repeated, and with emphasis, that company keeping with people not of the same faith is one way to invite an unhappy marriage.

Clean of Heart

Two people who have discovered that they are in love want to do more than merely tell each other about it, they want to manifest it. This is natural. But demonstrations of affection must be held within the bounds of the moral law and the accepted standards of social propriety. True love tends towards union, a union of hearts, not necessarily of bodies, certainly not before marriage.

There are men who will attempt, even on the first date, to persuade a girl to yield to their sensual demands. There are girls who believe that the only way to attract and to hold a man is to allow him liberties and erotic pleasures which belong only to those who are married. Courtships based upon these ideas put love as a synonym for sex and cannot have an enduring value. A marriage that has its origins in such circumstances is practically certain to end in disappointments and disaster.

True love is something noble, dignified, precious. True love is something natural, but it is also very spiritual. If it seeks to unite two beings of opposite sex into one, if it seeks to bring together two intellects, two free wills into one life, it is because the Creator "made them male and female," and because the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity consecrated this union in the sacrament of Matrimony. The husband and wife who share such conjugal love will enjoy real, lasting happiness. On the other hand, the couple whose love is based solely on sexual attraction will know no other, no higher enjoyment, than the sensual, which is ephemeral and as changeable as the ocean tide.

"Blessed are the clean of heart for they shall see God" was the message of Christ on the Mount of the Beatitudes. He was speaking to all peoples of all ages. It was a doctrine not only for those of His time, but it was a universal principle, equally applicable to our own day, despite the current public disregard for the sacredness of marital love. The boy and girl who indulge in pre- marital sexual relationships steal the joy of the honeymoon, weaken the affections because the emphasis is placed on the sensual, and lastly, invite suspicion and lack of mutual confidence in the faithfulness of each other after marriage.

It is not wrong to show affections by caresses and kisses, but when these reach the intensity that cause either the boy or the girl to become physically excited, then it is time to change the scene, time to have a smoke, time to quit. Of course, if the intention is wrong at the outset then it is definitely a sin. To continue demonstrating affections under these circumstances is to expose oneself to the deliberate occasion of sin, which is itself sinful because it is toying with the grace of God. It is setting the stage for sin and then hoping--maybe praying--that sin will not happen.


Temptation is strong, passion is powerful, youthful love is grasping for union, but temperateness must guide the young couple in their courtship. This is not simply a negative thing, a policy of restraint, but a positive and creative virtue It is an essential quality of love because it sees the human body as the temple of the Holy Ghost, the sanctuary of God, and it treats that body with reverence. To do otherwise is to be irreverent to God.

Temperateness is one of the virtues that is acquired by diligent self-discipline, a continued chastising of the assertive cravings of the flesh. Hence, instead of being masters, enslaving the soul, these cravings become what God intended them to be, a part of the total, unified personality. The practice of this virtue, therefore, safeguards and perfects the life of the senses by steadfast restraint and by the development of a deep appreciation for the purpose and the position of man in the Divine economy. Since love is the total enchantment of being and identical with what is good and beautiful, it follows that true love is not possible without temperateness. Sensual indulgence is an isolated part of the expression of love, and, separated from the whole being, it is naturally selfish and destructive. One does not love less, but more, when the passions are ordered and controlled by reverence for the human body and a respect for the laws of the Creator. It is well to remember that boys who are permitted sensual liberties by girls frequently do not choose these same girls to be their wives and the mothers of their children. Boys will often take every advantage of such opportunities for pleasure, but when it comes to the permanent partner in life, they want to feel that they are taking a girl that has not been violated by another man. Restraint, therefore, in the days of courtship, may be well rewarded by happiness in marriage and an unquestioned confidence in each other's fidelity.

One of the best known means of helping to preserve purity during the days of courtship is to "double date," that is, for two or more couples to go out together. "There is safety in numbers" goes an old saying, and there is a great amount of wisdom in it. Certainly it is much easier to control one's emotions and to keep passions disciplined when others are present. Even if it is not possible for several couples to go out together, a good practice is for the boy and the girl not to seek isolated spots where opportunity for unbridled emotional display is possible. To stay out in the open, to keep in public view may be restraining, but it is good insurance against wrongdoing. This may sound like mid- Victorian advice; nevertheless, it is still helpful in maintaining self-respect and purity in love.

The Ring

After the boy and girl have been keeping company for some time and have made the decision that they are meant for each other, the engagement is announced. Weeks may be spent in trying to choose the engagement ring. Perhaps the ring will be purchased on the installment plan (unknown to the girl); but whatever the circumstances it will be bought only after physical and economic sacrifice. All that the ring symbolizes, however, is sufficient compensation for every sacrifice involved.

Primarily the ring is a pledge of marriage and a sign of the bond which will bind them together for life. Made of gold, or some other precious metal, it portrays the value and the rarity of true love. The diamond reflects the interior joy of the engaged couple, while its crystal clearness is indicative of the purity that should animate their affections. The ring is a public proclamation that from this day forward the couple belong to each other, and the announcement of the wedding date is awaited.


The period of engagement is a time of specialized study; it is the graduate work in the school of romance. Conflicts of opinion may be more apparent as the hidden qualities of personality are revealed and the willingness to adapt oneself to economic and social standards is made more evident. The capacity to build and to maintain a home is, at least, foreshadowed as they search for furniture and have long conversations about who will be invited to the wedding and who will be the attendants. This is the most crucial time of courtship because of the frequent occasions when they are alone for long periods planning the future, and the increased intimacy that comes as the day for the wedding gets closer. If ever there was a time for self-discipline, it is during the last few months of the engagement.

No new privileges are conferred by the announcement of the engagement, as so many like to believe. On the contrary, the nearer the wedding day approaches, the more should the engaged couple strive to remain pure in their affections. While the dangers are increased, there is also a greater opportunity to prove their individual fidelity to that which is right and to build an impregnable confidence in each other.

A much disputed question is "how long should the courtship last?" Every case is different and, consequently, it is difficult to give a specific answer. Certainly, courtships and engagements should not be drawn out. A year--at the most, two years--is considered a sufficient duration for an engagement. Ordinarily the young man and young woman should have found out in that length of time whether they are suited to each other. Of course, circumstances of emergency, family obligation, or financial difficulties may alter the individual case. But when a courtship is prolonged into five, seven, or even ten years, there is obviously a lack of intention to marry. Furthermore, protracted courtships are spiritually dangerous because, as the affection is increased, so also is the danger of sinning. With no possibility of getting married in the foreseeable future the idea of "going steady" should be abandoned.

With God's Help

Man cannot afford to forget his Creator, to ignore his complete dependence upon God. Moreover, the words of Christ have re-echoed down through the centuries: "Without Me you can do nothing." Certainly in such an important matter as choosing a partner for life, it seems that divine guidance should be sought. Our Blessed Lord prayed before selecting the Apostles, who were to be his companions for three years and then to continue His mission after His Ascension into Heaven. Was He not giving humans an example, pointing the way for man to seek enlightenment at the time of choosing a companion for life?

During the period of courtship, too, spiritual assistance is necessary to preserve purity in the young couple's relationships. "My Grace is sufficient for thee," is the assurance of Christ to St. Paul at the time of temptation. But with sexual impulses so strong and public vice so prevalent, is not grace needed in abundance to persist in love's ideal?

The prayers of the wedding ceremony invoke the divine blessing on the common life which is just beginning at the altar. A special blessing, given during the Nuptial Mass, asks that the union may be fruitful and that all the offspring may enjoy heavenly protection. After that common life has begun and the glamour of the honeymoon has worn away, there may be many occasions when the tranquillity of the household is threatened. It is then that a prayer to the Prince of Peace should be offered asking Him to restore domestic harmony. There may be other occasions when it will be consoling to turn to Him Who came in poverty, that we might know the riches of divine gifts, and beg for spiritual and material help in a time of economic crisis. It will always be inspiring to glance up at the Crucifix adorning the wall of every Catholic home, and see Divine Love with outstretched arms renewing for us the lesson that true love demands sacrifice.

The Catholic who looks upon marriage as a vocation with serious obligations and responsibilities will very early in the days of romance learn the necessity of turning to prayer and of putting trust in Him Who said: "Come to Me..." The road may be rough and the young couple may know dark days of trial, of want, of disappointment, but no matter how troublous the times may seem, courage will not be lacking, because their marriage was founded on true love. Husband and wife see in each other a mutual inspiration. even in difficulty, the calmness, the happiness, the security of a union "until death."


1. What is meant by the expression: "Courtship is the novitiate to the married state?"

2. What is the discovery era in courtship?

3. Should parents be considered during courtship?

4. Why should a couple look for compatibilities during courtship?

5. What is true compatibility?

6. Should a couple have identical tastes to be compatible?

7. What about economic and social status?

8. How important is religious compatibility?

9. How can one avoid a mixed marriage?

10. Does "being in love" grant moral liberties to a couple?

11. Does being engaged allow greater moral liberties?

12. Is true love noble?

13. Why is temperateness important to true love?

14. How long is the ideal engagement?

15. Should a couple pray for guidance during courtship?


1. How can Catholic boys and girls meet one another?

2. Should date bureaus be run by schools and colleges?

3. Should a couple when not yet going steady attend a lecture series such as this one?

4. Is it advisable for a young man to spend a week-end with his fiance s family?

5. With the possibility of another world war, what do you think of war-time marriages?

6. If the young woman does not agree with her fiance on matters of politics, world conditions, etc., does this mean that the couple is not suited to each other?



The Reverend John F. O'Neil, is an assistant in the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul, Providence, R.I. He has been active in preparing young couples for marriage, not only in parish conferences, but also in conducting weekend retreats for engaged young ladies.

IN THIS third conference of our series on Courtship and Marriage, we propose to discuss the importance, in fact the necessity, of religious inspiration and motivation throughout any courtship that will be a proving-ground of real and enduring love, and during any marriage that is destined to be a permanent, happy union of husband and wife in Christian wedlock.

Our dictionary defines the word inspiration as "an awakening of thought and purpose by some specific external influence." And so, tonight, when we speak of the necessity of young people who find themselves called to the marital vocation "getting inspired," we mean precisely that they must be awakened to the practical application of their religious principles to everyday living, that they must be alerted in thought and purpose by active cooperation with the external influence of God's grace, from the first days of courtship down through the days and years of married life, if they are desirous of making their union in marriage permanently happy, successful, and secure. In our day, there is no work of zeal more important in the eyes of a priest, whether he be a college professor or engaged in the work of a parish, than to point the way to the sources of this inspiration to those who have sense enough to desire it.


Practice in yielding readily and without awkwardness to instinctive yearnings, both physical and emotional, is generally regarded by young people today to be the most important practical test of marital compatibility. The modern agencies of misinformation: the radio serial, the romantic novel, and the screen portrayals of idyllic love have so influenced the minds of our young people that at an early age, they become saturated with a type of living that is essentially different from the pattern found in nature and stamped with the seal of nature s God. Therefore, their preparation for the married life and their general concept of conjugal love are not essentially different from their cursory knowledge of the barnyard mating of domestic animals. This may be a crude manner of expression, but a nodding acquaintance with such studies as the Kinsey Report is ample evidence that it is a statement of fact. And while we are facing facts, let it be noted that in spite of the ever-expanding influences of Catholic Education, the departments of human living that may be designated as love-making and marriage, are considered by all too many of our young people out of bounds and beyond the sphere of influence of moral principles and religious inspiration.


That marriage is a sacrament of the New Law--one of the seven instituted by Christ--is a doctrine of Catholic Faith, an infallibly revealed truth. Two of the seven sacraments have the specific purpose of dedicating and consecrating baptized Catholics to a new and special kind of Christian living: the sacrament of Holy Orders, and the sacrament of Matrimony. Even the poorly informed Catholic has some notion of the lengthy preparation that is required and that is necessary for the reception of the sacrament of Holy Orders. Everyone knows too, that those who have taken up the life of a priest require and receive constant spiritual rejuvenation in order to maintain the ideals of that special kind of living.

Now a vocation to the married life and the reception of the sacrament of Matrimony appeals to a larger number of people because of their particular characters and temperaments, than does the vocation of the religious life. But the duties of this state of life, as decreed by God, are sometimes just as demanding, just as difficult of fulfillment as the duties of the priesthood. It is foolhardy to presume that these responsibilities can be undertaken and these duties fulfilled by the recipients of the sacrament of Matrimony, without a spiritual preparation and a frequently renewed consecration of ideals, at least comparable to those demanded of the recipient of the sacrament of Holy Orders.


When civilization was essentially Christian, Holy Mother the Church did not find it necessary to stress formal preparation for the reception of the sacrament of Matrimony. Christians of former generations did not have to be reminded of the necessity of seeking God's abiding assistance constantly during their married life in order to secure a maximum of happiness and adjustment during the exercise of the marital vocation. But during the last fifty years, she has seen the minds of her children clouded with the fog of confused thinking on marriage, its nature and its purpose, and with alarm and solicitude, she has sounded a call to action. Pope Pius XI and our present Holy Father have written solemn, eloquent, and forceful appeals to Catholics throughout the world, emphasizing anew, the great dignity of the marital vocation and the necessity of restoring to married life the Christian principles that make of this vocation a means in itself for the salvation of souls. Throughout the world, these admonitions have been heeded. The Catholic Press has made the exposition of the principles of right living in Christian marriage its most popular subject; Christian Marriage has become the timely topic of the day. On the assumption that knowledge of principles is the first step in the restoration of all things in Christ, the Church is exerting every effort in popularizing every type of appealing treatise on the subject of the Christian marital vocation.

But education is only the first step, and by no means the most important step in bringing Catholics to recognize, in the practical routine of their everyday living, the implications of their delegation by the reception of the great sacrament to a special kind of Christian living. To know is not always to do, or to act. And this is precisely where inspiration becomes necessary. Conviction and purpose must be awakened and then translated into action. Minds must be illumined and hearts must be moved by the transforming power of God's abiding grace.

Priests who are engaged in the care of souls in Catholic parishes are moved almost to discouragement when they observe how many of their people who have the divine gift of Faith and who have been given all the advantages of a thorough Catholic education, and yet are permeated with the secular standards of married life, that are so conspicuously prevalent everywhere in America today. They see day by day, the remorse of conscience and the bitter mental torment visited upon those husbands and wives who have lost sight of the spiritual ideals of their marital vocation. From their pulpits, they preach these ideals frequently and forcefully, but their admonitions fall upon ears that are deafened by the engrossing predominance of the one secular norm of a happy marriage: self-seeking pleasure. Periodically missions are preached in the parishes during which more intensive attempts to inspire are made. But the results are not as effective or widespread or permanent as they should be.

Family Life Bureau

In 1931, shortly after the appearance of Pope Pius XI's encyclical "On Christian Marriage," the Family Life Bureau of the Social Action Department in the National Catholic Welfare Conference was established by the Bishops of the United States with the distinct purpose of spreading the doctrine of the Church as contained in the encyclical. Father Edgar Schmiedeler, O.S.B., Ph.D., then on the faculty of the Catholic University of America, was placed in charge of it and is still the director. As this revision goes to press the twentieth annual meeting of the National Catholic Conference on Family Life is meeting in Columbus, Ohio, with some three thousand delegates and members in attendance.

The work of the Conference, and of the Bureau which sponsors it, is concerned with education for family living, conducting family retreats in parishes, the appointment of the "Catholic Mother of the Year," and many other activities aimed at giving Catholics a deeper appreciation of their married vocation.

Cana Beginnings

More recent in origin is the Cana Conference. Not quite ten years ago, a Jesuit priest, Father John P. Delaney, inaugurated a movement in New York City called the Family Renewal Association. He conducted periodical retreats for husbands and wives which were immediately successful to a marked degree in solving marriage problems and in bringing to the lives of the participants, the inspiration so badly needed in the daily routine fulfillment of the marital vocation. Shortly afterwards, a similar movement began in Chicago which grew so rapidly that in 1946 a full time Chaplain was appointed to take charge of coordinating such activities throughout the Archdiocese. A few months later, the movement began in St. Louis. The first retreat day for married couples was held there on October 15, 1944 under the direction of Rev. Edward Dowling, S.J. It was he who gave the name "Cana Conference" to the movement and it was largely due to his influence that the movement spread so rapidly throughout the country. In some form or other the Cana Conference Movement is now operating in about thirty dioceses of the United States.

Spiritualize Marriage

The Cana Conference bears some resemblance to a Retreat. It is a day set apart for recollection and discussion by married people for the purpose of spiritualizing the ordinary activities of family life and nourishing the corporate life of married people. The lectures are given outside of Church or Chapel and questions are invited and encouraged by the speaker. Husbands and wives sit side by side. Comfortable chairs are provided and the participants are permitted to smoke if they wish.

The Cana Conferences are essentially a Christian marital adjustment movement; they are an attempt to adjust modern couples to the Christian plan of marriage and family life as drawn by God in the natural law and transformed by Christ. Although the Conferences discuss the meaning of marriage and the problems of married life, emphasis is placed rather on the Christianizing of marital and parental attitudes than on the here-and-now solution of a particular problem of a particular married couple. The attempt is made to replace the secularist attitude towards marriage and the family with the Christian outlook in the belief that thus the root cause of much marital friction will be stunted and the obstacles to an even greater happiness be overcome.

From experience with the various groups, it has been found that the conferences are more effective when there are not less than fifteen and not more than twenty couples present. Such a small group has been found necessary to create the informality and intimacy of contact during the day of the conferences.

Cana Day

The typical Cana Conference Day opens with Mass and a Communion breakfast. Two talks are given in the morning followed by lunch. A third talk and a question-and-discussion period are held in the afternoon followed by Benediction of the most Blessed Sacrament and the renewal of the marriage vows.

It has been also found that the success of the Cana Movement is strictly dependent upon the couples themselves; the more actively they participate in the Conferences, the more lasting will be the effects and the more closely will they be tied in with the Movement. Moreover, its activity must proceed from the laity; the clergy provide only the necessary direction and encouragement.


In dioceses in which the Cana Movement has been popularized, Pre- Cana Conferences have been encouraged and enthusiastically received. These Conferences are forums for the pre-engaged and engaged couples. Priests, doctors, and lay persons engaged in the work endorse it whole-heartedly.

The ideals of Christian Marriage must be re-taught to our young people in a manner that will captivate their minds and hearts to bring them to a realization that marriage is a vocation just as surely as is the priesthood and the religious life. Therefore, young people of sixteen years of age and up are invited to participate in the Pre-Cana Conferences. The forum is usually held one night a week for four weeks. The first talk is given by a priest; the second is by a physician who is also available for private consultation on questions that could not be broached publicly without embarrassment; the third talk is a combined discussion by a Catholic married couple; and the last talk is given by the priest. This arrangement solves the problem of questions that demand answers by a priest, and at the same time provides the priest with an opportunity to tie up all four sessions into one compact, complementary whole.

Marriage Inventory

While there are many successful methods of solving individual marital difficulties, the Cana Conference Movement is the only method thus far tried and found successful in removing the basic causes of unhappiness and maladjustment in marriage. Partners in Christian marriage are theoretically aware of the principles of right living in holy wedlock, but in our day, they are inclined to lose sight of the fact that the career of marriage is very much a spiritual life, a vocation to a particular way of sanctity and that married Catholics have no reason to seek outside of their chosen vocation any other means of achieving their supernatural destiny. To be a full life and a happy one, married life must draw constantly upon the sources of spiritual power and strength. It is a vocation and a spiritual endeavor of great importance, in which God has an intense interest, because through marriage, partners share in God's power of creation; as parents, they are instruments of His Divine Providence. They have also a share in Christ's work of teaching, ruling, and sanctifying.

In other words, Cana Conferences are one means of teaching Catholics to think habitually of marriage as one of the seven sacraments. Thus conceived, the life to which this sacrament delegates them will be characterized by reverence, dignity, and supernaturalized emotions everywhere along the line, from the first days of courtship to the end of life. Thus conceived, marriage is the genuine Catholic's way of coming to know, love and serve God, and thus being happy with all the happiness of God.

The St. Cloud Plan

Most recent and most outstanding is the pre-nuptial education program conducted in the diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota, under the guidance and direct supervision of his Excellency, the Most Reverend Peter W. Bartholome, D.D., Bishop of St. Cloud, who is also the episcopal chairman of the Family Life Bureau. Engaged couples, and those expecting to be married within one year, are invited to participate in the course which is conducted during Lent each year. The fifteen lessons of the Ottawa Marriage Preparation Course entitled "This is a Great Sacrament" serve as a basis. In this sparsely settled diocese (the total population is little more than that of the city of Providence) more than 1600 engaged couples have been thus prepared for marriage. A certificate, the design of which is reproduced at the head of this chapter, is given to the couple on the completion of their "novitiate" to marriage. The course is now being taken by correspondence in every State in the U. S., and in almost every foreign country of the world.

Marriage is more than a partnership; it is the fusion of two lives. And just as the carpenter must make accurate measurements and skillfully use the saw and chisel in joining two irregular surfaces, so must the partners to the marriage contract thoughtfully and deliberately measure their individual differences and use the saw and chisel of religious inspiration and self-discipline if they are to achieve the blissful union that is the basis of permanent marital happiness. God's help is always available to those of good will who cooperate with the supernatural graces that accompany the reception of the sacrament of Matrimony.

Happy Marriage

Happy marriages are not made in Heaven. They are made on earth by facing down-to-earth realities. They are made by partners who set out to learn slowly how to build their lives together. More than any other earthly vocation, married life is a labor of love and married love is a love of giving. It is within the reach of all those who do not reject God's Grace, deny His assistance, abandon His love, and degrade their own.

There are two philosophies therefore, that govern the success or failure of marriages; one is that philosophy by which married couples live their lives according to the rule: Is it fun? These people shun anything and everything that is difficult and dull. In the other attitude toward marriage, lives are regulated, rule: What is God's will?

Those who base their lives first of these principles will be inevitably unhappily married. But those who pattern their lives according to God's plan, will raise their marriage to the heights of the sublime and beautiful ideal that God intended it to be and will walk down the road of life together toward the celestial beatitude that is the fulfillment of that ideal: the perfect happiness that God never intended to be found in this life. They will bear in mind, day by day, that Christ came not to remove our crosses, but to help us bear them. And when storm clouds gather on the horizon of their lives together they will go together to the altar of God to seek and find that help.


1. What do you understand by the word "inspiration"?

2. Show how the Catholic attitude toward Marriage is opposed to the attitude of worldlings.

3. Why is preparation for the reception of the sacrament of Matrimony so important?

4. Identify the following: Bishop Bartholome, Father Edgar Schmiedeler, Father John P. Delaney.

5. What is the National Catholic Conference on Family Life?

6. What was the Family Renewal Association?

7. Who gave the name "Cana" to conferences for married couples?

8. Is a Cana Conference a kind of Retreat?

9. What is meant by Pre-Cana Conferences?

10. What part do the laity play in a successful Cana Conference?

11. Describe the "St. Cloud plan" of pre-nuptial instruction.

12. Is the theme of the Catholic Family Movement spiritual or material?


1. When young men and women have received a thoroughly Catholic education, are not Cana Conferences superfluous?

2. Why cannot priests engaged in parish work accomplish the objectives of the Cana Movement in their pulpit discourses?

3. Does not the Church teach that discussions of matters of sex should be confined to the confessional?

4. How can a Cana Conference be organized on a parochial basis?

5. How can irreverence and frivolity be effectively excluded from Cana discussions?

6. Is there not a danger of scandal in admitting some young people to pre-Cana forums?

7. How is the expense of the Cana Conference kept at a minimum?



Mr. and Mrs. Charles F. Reynolds were married in the Fall of 1929, and are the parents of ten children. Mr. Reynolds is a former college athlete of renown, and a graduate of Providence College in the class of 1926. He is in business in Providence.

Introduction by Father Clark

IT IS appropriate that on this the Feast of St. Joseph we should have a married couple, representative of Catholic Family life, address this group which is preparing for marriage. In the recent past the public has been regaled with descriptions of large families, especially on the humorous side. The best sellers that have been made into movies have pointed up the funny side of family life. One needs a sense of humor, there is no question about it, especially to raise a large family. In presenting Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds, parents of ten children, we allege that they are qualified from their experience alone, even had they not stopped to think about the issue, to answer most of the questions you may care to ask on family living. While it seems true that most of the books and speeches on modern family living have come from "bachelor uncles," it does not mean that those who are living family life have nothing to add to this collection of wisdom.

This evening's program will vary in that the first part, instead of being in lecture form, will be after the manner of "Information Please," with your chairman asking the questions and our guests answering them.

FR. CLARK--Mr. Reynolds, as most Rhode Islanders and even most people in New England know, you got into the newspapers a long time ago by pitching the Providence College Friars to a victory in a 20-inning baseball game against Brown University. We are proud of you for that, of course. But I would like to ask if Mrs. Reynolds were in the stands cheering for you on that famous day?

MRS. REYNOLDS--NO, I didn't know Charlie at that time. He was already the famous boy when I met him.

Fr. C.--I understand that your married life didn't have too fancy a beginning because you were married on the day of the Stock Market Crash.

Mr. R.--That is true.

Fr. C.--Is it true that when you got back from your wedding trip you had no job?

Mr. R.--Oh, I had a job all right, but I didn't have very much money to start with.


Fr. C.--Would you say that those who place a great deal of importance on money are getting off to a bad start?

Mr. R.--I read recently that a national survey attributed to money the main source of conflict in marriage. It wasn't a question of having too much or having too little; but how it was to be spent. I don't think a couple need everything their parents had before them. But they should have a little reserve and have their furniture and honeymoon paid for so that by the time they arrive back home they can start off on an even keel. It's nice to have some money in the bank, but I don't think it is entirely necessary. It wasn't in our case.

Fr. C.--Do you think that a couple ought to submit to a lower standard than move in with in-laws?

Mr. R.--You have to qualify the answer to that. In some cases it is a good thing to move in with in-laws. There are cases where it works out well. But ordinarily, two families under one roof do not work out well.


Fr. C.--What do you think of a budget for a young married couple? Do you think it is helpful?

Mrs. R.--Yes, I do. I think the couple should sit down together and work it out. Of course, even with a budget, unforeseen expenses come up and you just don't have enough to meet them. Some people place a lot of importance upon a budget, but many others work it in reverse: they spend whatever they have and keep account of where it goes. Instead of setting aside certain amounts, in particular departments, they spend all they have and keep tabs on what they have spent. Most people never have too much, and for that reason a planned budget will help to make what they have meet the necessities. Someone has said recently that the economic goods are to be divided into three classes: necessities, comforts, and luxuries. And that no couple should have the comforts until they have the necessities, and no luxuries until they have the comforts. I am sure that if people don't have the money to spend they will not get the luxuries even before they have the necessities. They must work it out together.

Fr. C.--What about household expenses? Do you think the couple should plan together, or do you think that this part of the management should be left entirely to the woman?

Mrs. R.--I think this is where the budget comes into its own. And it should be made out together. Make a list. Plan well for your light, heat, food, and other necessities, and allow a margin for doctor's bills. And then, of course, if you have a little bit left over you can tuck it away for a rainy day. You have just so much to live on, and you must stay within your means.

Fr. C.--Do you think that the husband should do all the shopping for the food and things of that sort?

Mr. R.~--Definitely not! I'll leave that to the good wife.

Mrs. R.--It depends on the size of the family when it comes to buying the food. Take mine, for instance. I buy my meats wholesale. I am sure most large families buy that way. With a small family, it is necessary to be more careful in buying food.

Fr. C.--Did you learn some of the tricks of marketing by being a member of a large family?

Mrs. R.--Yes, I did. I learned quite a bit from my mother because I watched her take care of a large family. Of course, I didn't know that I was going to have a large family, but I am very glad I kept my eyes open when I was at home.

Who's Boss?

Fr. C.--You said a moment ago that the married couple should work out things together. I wonder if that isn't the secret of success in married life in every department. The question might be stated in another way: Who is boss in your house, the husband or the wife?

Mrs. R.--There just isn't any boss in our house. We really work out things together. Everything is done on a partnership basis. I don't see any necessity for a boss in the home. I think that the husband and wife, the father and mother, should stick together and plan and work these things out together. That is really the way it should be done, I think. Where this partnership is concerned, one person is not a dictator with all the others taking orders.

Mr. R.--I subscribe entirely to that. It is the only way married life will succeed--each of the partners cooperating with the other.

Fr. C.--That gives rise to several other questions. I know that it is advised by some marriage guidance clinics that husbands and wives should take separate vacations.

Mrs. R.--That's out. I feel that people who want separate vacations should never get married. They are not prepared to take each other for better or for worse, in rainy days and sunny days.

Mr. R.--I think that the and wife should have a vacation. It is good for them to get away, but together. They married each other; they should stay with each other; they should enjoy each other and relax together on a vacation. But I certainly do not approve of separate vacations.

Fr. C.--What do you think of these people who get married with plans all laid so that the husband will have one night out each week to spend "with the boys?"

Mrs. R.--If he wants to be a drugstore cowboy, he should stay single. He couldn't be with you enough before you were married; why does he have to leave you alone afterwards?

Mr. R.--I think there is another angle to that question. There are times when a business man needs to go out and meet business associates. And I believe that it is not wrong for the wife to belong to a bridge club, or have some other outside interest.

Mrs. R.--Yes, I agree to all that, and we know we do those things. There is no reason why the husband can't take care of business and even belong to a fraternal he chooses; but just to hang around the corner and talk things over--there's no necessity for that. He could stay home and do the dishes, or some other chore around the house.

Fr. C.--Do you subscribe to that, Mr. Reynolds?

Mr. R.--I do, Father. There will be no difficulty between the husband and wife if there is understanding between them.

Working Wives

Fr. C.--Another question related to money--What do you think, Mrs. Reynolds, of the wife working to supplement the family income?

Mrs. R.--If it is absolutely necessary it is all right for the wife to work. But when there are small children to be cared for, the mother belongs in the home. The child needs the mother's care right from the beginning. But, I suppose, if they are near destitution, that is another thing. But leaving children in the care of others always poses a problem. It is not easy to find someone who is capable and otherwise qualified to care for your children while you go to work. And by the time you pay someone to care for the children, you are not much ahead by working. Certainly, I would say, the mother belongs in the home. Someone wrote just recently that the wife and mother staying at home could earn almost as much for the family, except in extraordinary cases where she is earning a big salary, as she would if she went to business. By staying home she would save on special lunches, and extra clothes, since she would not have to dress so expensively at home. In most cases, she would be better off to stay at home than to pay someone to take care of the home and children, unless she is a highly paid career woman. But the children would suffer even if she were highly paid.

Child? or Children?

Fr. C.--We know that a couple gets married because they are in love with each other and they say that they are very happy with each other. But how important to the happiness of marriage is the child? Do you think the couple will remain happy without children?

Mrs. R.--I think that children are very necessary in every home. I couldn't imagine living without children. It would be a very long, lonesome life. Of course, we have a lot of them, and we never have a dull moment; so I couldn't imagine not having a family.

Fr. C.--Mr. Reynolds, do you have anything to say on this question?

Mr. R.--I think Mrs. Reynolds has covered the question pretty well. But I might add that I believe that those who are not blessed with children of their own should adopt them if their situation is such that they could manage it. The child cements the relationship between the husband and wife and gives a reason for the home. Monsignor Sheen says that it takes three to make love--father, mother, and child. This is the perfect triangle, not the so-called eternal triangle of conflict; but rather the perfect triangle of completed love.

Fr. C.--Regarding this question of adoption, you hear people say that they don't know much about children who are up for adoption; there is often no information available about the parents, the child has gotten off to a bad start in life, and may have questionable heredity, etc.

Mr. R.--I think the same way as Father Flannagan of Boys Town. He said that there is no such thing as a bad boy, and to my way of thinking that goes for the girl too. If these children are adopted when they are small and guided through life carefully, they would help the foster parents to be very happy with them. No one knows what the future of any child will be. But with the proper care and guidance on the part of the parents the child will usually turn out all right. No one knows infallibly just how a child will grow up. Even though he may have the best of care and heredity, there is still that unpredictable thing called "human nature." Sometimes, children from the very best of families will turn out to be "bad eggs." I have never heard of a couple who have adopted a child who have not been blessed beyond the average. I once heard it said that it seems to be in the plan of Divine Providence that some married couples will go childless just so that the unfortunate children born out of wedlock will have a home with care and loving attention.


Fr. C.--Here is a question for Mrs. Reynolds. In these days when the High Schools are placing more emphasis on homemaking, do you think this should be left to the schools, or should the mother teach her daughters to cook and sew and other domestic arts?

Mrs. R.--In that department, the children can usually learn more from the mother. The schools do teach them a lot, but the mother should not leave it to them, but should teach them all she can. It helps both the daughter and the mother.

Dad, a Pal

Fr. C.--Here is one for the "father department." We have been told that parents should have their children while they are young and that they should "grow up" with their children. How can a father find time to grow up with his sons and daughters?

Mr. R.--I think he should make a pal of them. He should take the sons, and daughters too, for that matter, to sports events, and if he has time on week-ends he should play sports with them. All boys like sports, and if the father can spend the time with them he will easily make a pal of them. He should also be close to his daughters, so that his daughters will confide in him as well as in the mother. This helps to make a better future for the boy and girl. I feel that the father should spend all the spare time he has with his children. He owes it to his wife, too, to help care for the children as much as he can.

Discipline for Children

Fr. C.--What about the times when the children get fractious and need discipline.

Mr. R.--I believe in a system of rewards and punishments for the sake of discipline. When the children are in school, for instance, and they become delinquent in their studies, they should be deprived of privileges until their marks get back to normal. And around the house, if they are helpful they should be rewarded. It takes a lot of imagination to keep up with them, and in trying to keep up with them our pooled imagination still sometimes lags behind.

Mrs. R.--This is one time when the partnership between husband and wife is of extreme importance. They must present a united front to their children, and not give them the impression that they can "get by" with something on the mother, but not with the father. If the father corrects the child, the mother must support him, and vice versa.

Fr. C.--Our time has just about run out, and we have almost run the gamut. So we will have our brief intermission and continue with the question period.


Question: How do you utilize your time during a typical day?

Answer: (Mrs. R.) They are all typical days, as far as I am concerned. But to begin at the beginning, I usually arise at 7:15--during Lent it is earlier because I have been trying to get to the seven o'clock Mass every morning--and of course the first thing is breakfast for the children. After that I drive them to school and when I get back home I sit down and have my own breakfast. Then it is a day full of dishes, dry mops and dusting, and then I do the marketing. By then it's lunch time and they're home again and dishes again. If I have hurried in the morning and have the ironing done I may get down-town a while in the afternoon. If not, it's down with the ironing board and iron some more. Then they're home again and milling around wondering: "what's for dinner?" All they do is eat, it seems. But there are days when I manage to get out of the house for a few hours. It is usually a good long day in the home of a large family.

Question: Please give the ages and sex of your ten children.

Answer: (Mrs. R.) The names will help tell the story: Sally Ann-- 19, Charles, Jr.--18, Lynn--17, Jim--16, Joe--15, Mike--13, Peter--12, Paul--11, J. Howard--10, and Jane--5.

Question: How many baby sitters does it take to handle ten children when you go out?

Answer: (Mrs. R.) Sally Ann and Lynn stay with them when we go out, and they can handle them pretty well.

Question: Which are harder to raise, boys or girls?

Answer: (Mrs. R.) In my case I would say that they are all alike. With so many boys the girls had to learn to take care of themselves. But I don't see much difference, except perhaps, the boys are inclined to be tougher. They would like to play football in the house if you let them.

Question: Do you have a maid or do you do your own house work?

Answer: (Mrs. R.) I had a maid for years, but she got married and I just decided that I wouldn't have one any more. You have more privacy. I like to have help on the heavy jobs of house-cleaning, but when I think of having a maid again I usually decide to do the work myself.

Question: If you spent a large sum of money on your daughter's college education would you expect her to work for a long time before she gets married? Do you think she owes it to her parents?

Answer: (Mr. R.) Certainly not! Children are not made for parents. It is the parents' duty to their children if they can afford it. It is true that a child can never repay what the parents have done for him. But there are too many parents who think that just because they gave things to their children at a sacrifice they should intrude on their children's welfare in order to get back penny for penny, what has been invested in them. That sort of thing would be very selfish on the part of parents.

Question: Do you think, assuming that a couple is going to live with in-laws, they have a better chance with her folks than with his folks?

Answer: (Mr. R.) As we said before, this works out well in some cases, especially where a parent is alone. But as a rule, it seems, when the couple lives with the wife's relatives it works out better.

Question: Approximately how much money does it take each week to support ten children?

Answer: (Mrs. R.) There is never enough!

Question: Do you think it is a good idea to patch up any quarrel that may have occurred before the end of the day?

Answer: (Mr. R.) I definitely do. We have had differences just as any married couple would. But before the day ended we sat down and talked it out to clear up any misunderstanding. When you analyze these arguments they usually don't mean a thing.

Question: What do you do when you get on each other's nerves?

Answer: (Mr. R.) It sometimes happens that one will have the nerves a little closer to the surface on one day than on another. But I think I have already answered that question by saying it all depends on an understanding between husband and wife.

(Mrs. R.) When the husband has had a hard day and is nervous and upset, the wife can usually tell what mood he is in as soon as he opens the door. Then the best thing for the wife to do (and the husband too) is to keep quiet and you won't get on his nerves.

Question: Should the husband help with the housework?

Answer: (Mr. R.) When we were first married, I used to help.

(Mrs. R.) I don't think it hurts the man to dry a few dishes now and then, especially on Sunday when he is hanging around the house.

Question: How old should a boy or girl be before they "go steady?"

Answer: (Mrs. R.) That rather puts me on the spot, but anyway, this is what I think: When I was a youngster we didn't think of going steady until we were older than the High School age. Today it seems that as soon as youngsters get into High School they have steady dates. They don't "play the field" as we did. That is too young, I think. They should meet different people and have many friends rather than restrict their attentions to one, alone. I am not opposed to boys and girls meeting socially, but it should be at parties in the home rather than on dates.

Question: Would you advise a couple to wait an extra six months before marrying so that the man can finish his college education and get a job to make sure they will have the necessities of life?

Answer: (Mr. R.) Since the war, we have men in college who are older, having gone through the war and are now being educated under the G. I. Bill of Rights. Some of these are married. In my time in college such a thing was not tolerated. You were expelled if you got married. But now, the number of Veterans returning to college is diminishing and soon that problem will not exist. But I think it is all right for a man to get married while he is in college as long as he recognizes the problems that he will have to face, and as long as the wife is willing to face them with him. They will have difficulties, but both must work together and understand each other to make a success of their marriage under such circumstances. Our experience has been that each time God blessed us with a child a new opportunity presented itself to me, and I was fortunate in that each child seemed to bring something new by way of help to take care of him. I think that the Lord will provide for anyone with a large family, providing, of course, he uses a little energy of his own. It is true that some large families are in financial distress, but it is not usually because of the large number of children, but some other circumstances, such as sickness, unemployment, poor management, or some other condition.

Question: How can you get along with in-laws?

Answer: (Mrs. R.) It is true that you cannot avoid in-laws. But their reasonable opinion is to be respected. If their opinion is prejudiced and they seem unreasonable, then they can be ignored. In-laws, with their advantage of age, which usually brings prudent judgment, should be consulted on serious problems. They have already gone through most of the problems the young couple is just now facing. Their seasoned judgment usually can help. But if it is prejudiced and unreasonable, ignore it!

Question: Would a person coming from a large family find happiness by marrying an only child?

Answer: (Mrs. R.) It would seem to me that if both parties came from large families they would have a similar background, and therefore be better able to understand each other. But it is not impossible for an only child to find happiness in marriage with one from a large family. The trouble is that the only child may be selfish, and there just isn't room for selfishness in marriage. One thing in the only child's favor is that he has been so alone, he might be inclined to make up for that in marriage and have a large family as a result.

Question: Should the husband hand over his entire pay to his wife?

Answer: (Mr. R.) That goes back to the question of the budget, and that should be worked out together with care and patient understanding. The husband is the breadwinner, but he is not making the money so that he can have it, but so that the family can have it. Just because he works for wages or for a salary doesn't give him a right to spend it on himself.

Question: Would it be more Catholic to have eight or ten children looking "the worse for want of clothing and food" than to have three or four children and give them the good things of life?

Answer: (Mr. R.) God takes care of those things; you cannot control them. If God blesses you with children, He will give you the means to see that they are properly brought up. They may not have all of the luxuries of life, but in the end they will be good Christian children and good American citizens.


1. Is it necessary to have a bank account to get married?

2. What is a budget?

3. Who should plan the budget, husband or wife?

4. Is it necessary that one of the married partners be "boss"?

5. Should the husband have one night out a week with "the boys"?

6. Is it good for the mother to work outside the home?

7. How important to the happiness of marriage is the child?

8. Should a childless couple adopt a child?

9. Who said "There's no such thing as a bad boy"?

10. What do you mean by the expression "the father should grow up with the children"?

11. Should children be punished and/or rewarded for the sake of discipline?

12. Is it important for parents to be firm with their children where discipline is concerned?


1. Can persons expect happiness when they marry for money?

2. Is it true that "when poverty comes in the door, love flies out the window?"

3. How important is it for men and women to recognize the psychological differences between them?

4. How important is it for the parties in marriage to remember anniversaries, birthdays, etc.?

5. Should the wife take an interest in her husband's business?

6. Is it good for either father or mother to have a favorite child?

7. What do you think is a minimum salary requirement for a family with three or four children?

V. Getting the Facts


The "Catholic Physician," who is author of the following paper, prefers to remain anonymous because it is in keeping with medical ethics and also for personal reasons. It is sufficient to say that he is a product of Catholic education and an obstetrician of wide experience.

I SPEAK tonight as a Catholic doctor under the auspices of a Catholic college on the subject of Catholic marriage to Catholic students and their friends. Among the friends must be members of other faiths. To them I say that I'll not talk a word of controversy. Agree that humans have spirituality, and a believing person of any faith does, and you'll like what I say tonight. So open your hearts and listen.

Being a public speaker neither by inclination nor training, I approach this lecture tonight with true humility and not a little trepidation. I wrote most of this talk during the Novena of Grace. My prayer was that the Holy Spirit would touch my mind and help me to accomplish the perfection demanded for this occasion. My prayer tonight is that He touch my mind and my lips, and your ears and your minds, that in so involved a subject as marriage, I may say what is right and you may rightly interpret what I say. Let this be our special invocation.

When you talk on sex and marriage, you are certain to touch on many physiologic facts that have moral ramifications. However, I'm no moralist and I'm not talking morals here tonight.

I will outline the social and biologic background of modern secular marriage, then bring out the pertinent anatomy, physiology, and psychology of the sexes. Lastly we will tie the loose ends together in a discussion of the psychosomatics of marriage--a relatively new term by which medical science at least is again admitting that man has spirituality as well as a physical nature. Medicine was deeply secularized. But physicians have been the first scientists to admit their error. You can secularize biology and speak of man and guinea pigs in the same breath, but a doctor cannot cure a man of a disease by treating him like a laboratory animal. So now we have the psychosomatics of all disease entities, the effect of the disease on the total man--body and soul. Now marriage is diseased today--with a frightening mortality rate of 25% in 1946. I know of few diseases with a higher mortality rate. Secularized, godless marriage is a major disease of society. And the cure is going to be found along spiritual lines. Medicine today is stressing psychosomatics. It can't otherwise cure human beings. And when our social scientists give man's spirituality the dominant place it deserves in marriage and all human relations then marriage and this socially sick world of ours will be cured of its worst ills.

"Modern" Marriage

Until recently Catholic marriage presented no great problems. Why does it present problems today? Largely, because our society has been changing during the first half of this century, at an almost cataclysmic rate. The institution of marriage, the cornerstone of any society, has been caught in these changes. Catholic marriage has held rigidly to its traditional norms and customs. Too much of the rest of society has accepted a new marriage--"modern marriage." The danger today is that too many Catholics, accusing the Church of being old-fashioned and out of touch with the times, are accepting modern marriage as the real thing.

Modern secular marriage is relatively new. Like so many things in our culture, it found its seed in the great mass of new, materialistic, scientific knowledge brought forth in the last half of the Nineteenth Century, that reduced man from his traditional role as a son of God, to that of a brother of the animals. The Freudian concept of sexuality took root here and in turn it affected man's concept of marriage as did nothing since the new force of Christianity centuries earlier. Modern marriage was nourished by the new secularism that took God, paradoxically enough, even out of religion; and also out of education, and all of life. It grew with the new-found, highly developed individualism with its corresponding weakening of social controls.

Urbanization, the mass migration to the cities, and its concomitant industrialization, provided further rich soil to strengthen it. It moved millions of mothers from the home to the factory, attending machines instead of children. It made the child, who for centuries had been a help on the farm, at first a less useful tool of industry and then with the enactment of child labor laws, an outright economic burden. Urbanization brought prenatal and well-baby clinics and hospitalization for safe delivery and thus the cost of bearing and rearing children was multiplied. More and more unwanted, they in turn became neglected. Here entered the crusading Birth Controllers. It is only charitable to say that almost without exception they were misguided, untrained, shallow-thinking zealots who attempted radically to eliminate effects rather than patiently reshape causes. They accomplished little in reducing the number of children, but they did succeed in prostituting man's conception of the marriage act, and effectively persuaded the unthinking millions and the selfish few that children were to be accepted as a burden once or twice and after that only in so far as Nature could not be controlled.

And lastly, universal modern education with its emphasis on freedom of expression without any reasonable restraints or discipline, helped modern marriage to reach finally and quickly, large numbers and to take a central place in the landscape of the new society, leaving the old, traditional Christian marriage in its shade.

A Hybrid

Modern Marriage, then, has come into being as an off-shoot of all these new forces. It is presented now as a hybrid with deceptively little trace of the original seed. But remember, it took seed in naturalism, materialism, and atheism. If it ran true to stock it would today teach that marriage is but the union of a male and female animal, solely to perpetuate life and the species. Generation, it would say, a blind compulsive force, is the fist commandment of nature. Motherly love, also blind and compulsive, is the second commandment. Love is but a powerful instinct. Insects, as well as man and woman, make love. And above all, man admits of no spirituality any more than the rest of nature. Now some scientists teach those things today. At the human level they logically teach free love before marriage and concubinage in marriage, thus combining the social advantages of monogamy for the children with cohabitation for the male, which they consider proper to his nature. Easy divorce settles the few difficulties that could arise in such a so-called natural free society. That is what the naturalistic philosophers teach to be marriage. And give them credit at least for consistency. But they were so consistent that the common ordinary thinking man sensed their inhumanity and rejected them. Man will stand for human love being called the same thing as the force that brings two love birds together cooing at each other on the branch of a blossoming tree. That is beautiful. That could be love, all right. But, these philosophers are not satisfied to stop there. They debate whether man's ability to paint represents as high a development of the color sense as that displayed by certain species of birds. To the ordinary man, that doesn't make sense. Then the cold rascals come up with a real shocker. For instance--and I take this from one of their writings--they describe the beautiful love of two vultures mating in the carcass of a dead horse. That chills the ordinary man. That, he is somehow sure, is false. That is not beautiful. That is not love. But the philosophers who have given us the hybrid that is passed off as modern marriage, steer away from these too consistent naturalists. They tell us a little bit of pre-marital sex experience is desirable if it is done intelligently enough to avoid pregnancy. A little philandering in marriage is in keeping with man's polygamous nature and is to be accepted and winked at. We must have contraception and easy divorce if man is to enjoy the full freedom of action that is his right. All these new ideas might trouble man's conscience, pardon me, his sub-conscious, so they do away with a personal God and substitute a vague notion of humanity.

"But, There is a God"

That is the inseparable social and biologic background of modern marriage. Now, either there is no God, man is just an animal, the mating of the vultures is love, and the materialists are right; or God exists, man has a spiritual as well as a physical nature and marriage is the union of two immortal beings bound forever by a powerful, beautiful, spiritual force--love. The principles underlying the two philosophies are totally incompatible--an attempt to mix them in any proportion flies against reason. The more materialism is mixed into a philosophy of marriage, the surer are its vow-takers to end up unhappy and in failure. And remember--this is basic--in any discussion of marriage, at the extremes you embrace the philosophy of Catholic marriage or the vultures.


A man and a woman on the threshold of marriage have certain spiritual, physical, psychological, and emotional resources that are more or less manifest. From them we can predict the success or failure of a marriage with some accuracy. They are the important things. A very minor consideration are the hereditary resources of the couple. Some of this is manifest; most is masked in hidden assets and liabilities. Most present here tonight, I know, have a working knowledge of genetics; for those who do not, let us recall a few basic facts. There is no family tree that does not have some undesirable skeleton in the closet--insanity, epilepsy, diabetes, some malformation or other, to name but a few. The important thing to remember is that there is no family tree, now perhaps millions of years old, that has not some undesirable branches. The undesirable branch of your tree might not show in this generation, but may in the next or the next. Any family tree will be weak in some things, strong in others. But except for very rare instances, one family can look another in the eye and rightly say: "We are no better than you are, but we'll be darned if we're not as good." Fortunately, most undesirable characteristics and diseases arise from genes that are recessive and tend to be weeded out. A recessive, such as a tendency to schizophrenia, can never show in an offspring unless it is present in the family trees of both parents. Even then it is extremely rare. Related family trees are apt to have the same undesirable recessive, and that is why marriages are forbidden within the third degree of kindred.

Another principle to remember is that acquired characteristics are not hereditary--lameness from Polio, for example. That is an acquired characteristic and never hereditary. There are diseases which are inherited from genes that are dominant--creeping paralysis is one. These dominant, lethal genes are rare. If a person did not have such an inherited disease, but a parent did, the chances of transmitting it would be nil. When we leave characteristics and begin to talk about hereditary traits and tendencies, we find that these are even more difficult to assay and predict. When all is said on the subject of heredity and marriage, there are four worthwhile rules to remember. One:--Take a look at the family tree of the person you are courting, the mother, the father, brothers, sisters, aunts, and uncles and you can get a pretty good idea, whether from it will come little acorns, or little chestnuts, or what is more important, little screwballs. Two:--If you have any fears about heredity, have them settled by a competent authority before marriage. Three: choose a partner who epitomizes "sana mens in sano corpore"--a sound mind in a sound body--and let the devil worry about hidden undesirable characteristics. Four:--Remember that at the time of conception the genes of the two partners are shaken up much like a pair of dice. When you are married and are hoping for a child, it is wise to ask God to stack the dice in favor of that little person to be conceived. If He will, there is nothing to worry about, because there is no undesirable dominant characteristic that is inherited in a proportion higher than one in two, and with God watching over the dice, as it were, you can always get the child of your dreams and miss little "snake eyes." So much for heredity.

We will turn now to the anatomy, physiology, and psychology of the sexes. A basic knowledge of all three is necessary for a man and woman to understand and love each other.

Anatomy of Sex

Bookshelves are filled with treatises on marriage, all with the anatomy of sex adequately and usually profusely illustrated. It is a good idea to take such a book along on one's wedding trip. Before that time we have to strike a balance between innocence and a knowledge of sex anatomy which is essential to a knowledge of the physiology of sex. A minimum background knowledge of anatomy then seems desirable and necessary. It can be presented briefly using symbols and employing a comparative technic, that could spoil the innocence or offend the sensibilities of no one mature enough to attend these lectures.

When the embryo is about two months old, the two sexes are indistinguishable both externally and internally. Using symbols to illustrate, the picture is this:

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Each circle is an undifferentiated internal sex gland, later to be an ovary or testis. There are two duct systems in every embryo, the broken line the male, the solid line the female. The square and the rectangles represent the undifferentiated external genitalia. If things develop completely and it is very exceptional if they do not, the rectangles representing the genital folds receive the male sex gland when it descends. The female internal sex gland descends only as far as the pelvis and remains an internal organ. The genital tubercle represented by the square becomes the erectile tissue of either sex. The male duct system develops into narrow tubes to transmit the male sex cells, the spermatozoa. The female duct system develops into the tubes to transmit the female sex cell, the ovum; the uterus, to nourish and house the fertilized ovum; and the vagina, the external passage to allow the developed products of conception to reach the outside world. The extra duct system of either embryo degenerates and disappears.

The sexes in their origins then are completely alike. In all respects other than the organs of generation, male and female are very similar anatomically, but in every respect the male organ, say the heart, is bigger and stronger than the female indicating, right at the start, that, the feminists to the contrary, God did not create the sexes equal. Over and over again we will see that as we go along. Male and female are seldom equal, but they do not compete with each other; they complement each other. Anatomically speaking, God obviously meant man and woman to come together in marital union and complete their otherwise incomplete natures. There is no reason for a male genital apparatus to produce and transmit the male sex cells, spermatozoa, if there were no female sex apparatus to receive and unite with and develop the seed. And likewise, the female sex apparatus is unintelligible without the male component. That is all you need to know about the anatomy of sex to understand intelligently God's design, which is even more interestingly revealed by a brief study of the physiology of the sexes.

Requirements for Marriage

Before leaving the anatomy, let us say a word about the minimal physical and mental requirements for marriage. A person must be able physically to perform the sex union or if not, marriage is impossible. If there is a development anomally the time to discover it is before marriage. Surgery can correct most defects. If it cannot, and the marriage has taken place, there may be the embarrassment of an annulment. This has happened; so it can happen. There are less serious deficiencies that have to be individually appraised. For instance, should a person marry who has been hospitalized more than once for a major mental illness? Is it wise for a woman to marry who knows that she has a fatal form of hypertension, likely to be aggravated by pregnancy? Any serious disease should be revealed and appraised before marriage, its risks known and accepted by both partners. "A sound mind in a sound body" is one of the foundation stones of a happy marriage.

Physiology of Sex

Now we will take up the physiology of sex. The physiology of the female is much more complicated than that of the male, because while the marriage act ends with the physical union for the latter, for the female it may activate a gestation period of nine months. To take up the male physiology first:--The internal sex organ, the testis, from puberty on, is continually forming millions of motile cells--the spermatozoa, microscopic cells with a head, and a tail for locomotion. These sperms are capable of uniting with the female sex cell, the ovum or egg, in what is called fertilization. Actually only one does. Millions are formed apparently so that surely one will reach the female sex cell. This is not a perfect explanation because a lot less than two hundred to four hundred million, the actual number deposited at sex union, would guarantee that one would reach the ovum. Only recently it has been discovered that the others, previously thought wasted, secrete a substance which dissolves a resistant membrane around the ovum, enabling one sperm to unite with it. To this point there is an attraction between the male and female sex cells much like the attraction between the negative and positive sides of an electric circuit. Once contact is made between the ovum and sperm, the attraction is neutralized, the circuit is closed as it were, and there is no further attraction.

The Man

Sperm production is continuous. Differing with the individual, when large numbers are manufactured and stored, there is a sex tension set up, the intensity of which varies according to the individual. Mental activity seems to mitigate the sex drive and lessen fertility in the male. To control the sex drive is no problem whatever in the life of a normal man. Many husbands sell their wives the idea that it is, and begin talking about rights and duties. There are physiologic outlets for the physical component and the psychic tensions can be sublimated and thus channeled into other activities. That is normal human male sex physiology. A man who is a sex addict, who centers his very existence around sexuality, will find any reasonable continence in or out of marriage a source of psychical and physical discomfort. The morphine addict does too when he is deprived of his drug. One is as pathologic as the other. All this is said to refute the idea that continence is harmful in the male in or out of marriage. In a sex addict it is. But not in a normal man and that is one of the first principles of married sex life. For years some professors of science in a few of our secular colleges have been teaching that continence is harmful. This view has gradually reached large numbers of men at lower educational levels with harmful sociological repercussions. Far from being harmful, continence is natural in courtship. In marriage, linked with a spirit of sacrifice, it is not a cold, negative thing, but a virtue that can fire married love.

Here let us pause to recognize that it will be an uncommon marriage in which at some time husband and wife do not think there is reason to postpone conception. They should then bring their individual personal problem to the moralist--preferably in the rectory rather than in the confessional. Let them tell him what the family doctor or the wife's doctor or the husband's doctor has said or tell him their sociologic or other problem, and if he agrees that they have a reason to postpone conception, then they know, not just think, they have a reason to postpone conception. Then they are faced with a problem involving their total natures, separate and as joined in marriage. Its solution must logically be along broad lines; continence, periodic or total, will obviously be a part of it. That will usually be more of a burden to the husband than the wife. Then they must sublimate their sex drives. Here we look to the developing Cana Movement to help couples accomplish this. We must teach them that marriage is more than opening the door to sexual union. We must stress the need to develop its full physical potentialities. For instance, in sports enjoyed together, there aren't enough mixed foursomes on our golf courses, mixed doubles on our tennis courts. Too few couples dance together after marriage or bother to keep up with the new steps. We must impress on them that their marriage can be psychologically richer, fuller, and happier by learning to enjoy good music, literature, and the other arts together. Spiritually, they must be impressed again and again with the necessity of continually seeking the miracle of Grace. It would seem that when postponement of conception is necessary, continence for short or prolonged intervals is going to be a much more important part of marriage in our generation. And continence is a virtue. Because the sex drive is stronger in the male, the burden of continence will have to be shouldered a bit more by our Catholic men than by the women. Up to now, in all, but especially in the spiritual and psychological spheres, many of the most precious, deepest, and best well-springs of happiness in Catholic marriage have been stumbled upon by too few of our Catholic couples. The Cana Movement must show more of them the road to these well-springs.

The Woman

And now to the physiology of woman. Beginning at puberty, new secretions of the pituitary gland come into action and act on the ovaries stimulating them to periodic activity. The ovary is the center of things--more specifically, an egg follicle that begins to grow. It takes roughly fourteen days for the egg to grow and be discharged from the ovary. This is called ovulation. As the microscopic egg develops, it becomes surrounded by a cavity filled with fluid. When the egg is discharged, a rent about the size of a hazelnut is left in the ovary and this is filled with a yellow substance. In about fourteen more days the rent is completely healed. Both the fluid present about the egg during the first fourteen days and the yellow substance that closes the rent over during the second fourteen days are active chemicals, and they act upon the uterus in succession to cause a thickened membrane to line its cavity. This membrane receives and nourishes the fertilized egg if conception occurs at the mid-point of the cycle, namely, at ovulation. If conception does not occur at the time of ovulation, the yellow substance peters out at the twenty- eighth day; the nourishing force of the membrane of the uterus entirely disappears; the membrane dies and is shed with a moderate blood loss as the menstrual flow. If conception occurs on the fourteenth day, the yellow substance is thereby stimulated to further growth, the menses do not occur and the woman, having missed a period by one day is already at the fifteenth day of gestation.

There are several other basic facts of interest: (I) It is thought that many if not most women do not ovulate until they are seventeen or so. The egg fluid and the yellow substance form in the ovary, but an egg does not grow full enough to be capable of becoming fertilized. A practical effect of this is that promiscuous Junior Highers, especially the innocent ones, are providentially protected from pregnancy. (2) At the time of ovulation most women have symptoms to tell them that the event is occurring. This has a practical application concerning conception. (3) During the two phases of the menstrual cycle, the woman's temperature taken the first thing on awakening--the basal temperature before activity changes it--is higher in the second fourteen-day phase. This also has a practical application concerning conception. (4) The egg is fertilizable for at most a few hours after ovulation. (5) The sperm can live in the uterus and be capable of fertilizing the egg for perhaps as long as four or five days.

(Here, to digress:--these newer facts of woman's physiology can be used to enchance fertility in the fourteen percent of couples who are sterile. This is a physician's problem. The same facts can be used to avoid conception, never with certainty, or here would be an invitation on nature's part to be promiscuous outside of marriage. When the facts are used to avoid conception, it primarily concerns the moralist who has to deal with a husband and wife and their personal, individual problem. The doctor does not enter the picture, except at the priest's invitation.)

Now back to the physiology of woman. (6) It is thought that only one out of four ova is capable of being fertilized. (7) Besides the period between puberty and seventeen-or-so, when a woman is quite infertile, there are three other periods of differing fertility. From eighteen to twenty-six a woman is most fertile. From twenty-six to thirty-four, less so. From thirty-five to forty-five, or whenever the menopause or cessation occurs, she is least fertile. The difference is apparently due to the frequency of ovulation at these different ages. In other words, a woman of twenty-two probably ovulates on the fourteenth day of every cycle. A woman of thirty-eight may ovulate only on the fourteenth day of every fourth cycle. There is a practical application of this. Many couples marrying at twenty-one have two children by the age of twenty-four. They figure two children in three years-- there are eighteen producing years left; therefore, they will have twelve more children, other factors being equal. Stop the music! They won't, of course, because fertility decreases with the years.

Also let me stress that fertility is a relative not an absolute thing. For multiple reasons known to science, some couples are relatively very fertile and some are relatively infertile. For instance, the wife may occasionally ovulate twice a month instead of once. There is incontestible medical evidence to show that women were meant to have their children in the early twenties. Endometriosis and fibroids, for instance, both of which tend to cause sterility, are frequently seen in the late twenties and very often in the early and mid-thirties. Another point, while a mother is nursing successfully, ovulation and menstruation do not occur and pregnancy is impossible. So, suspension of fertility is a function per se of the lactating breasts. But if nursing is not completely successful, ovulation may occur unpredictably and pregnancy may follow without the menses returning between pregnancies.

The cessation of the menses in the early or mid-forties is accompanied by many disturbing nervous symptoms in some women, requiring sympathetic understanding on the part of their husbands and all about them. So much for the physiology of woman up to pregnancy.


Conception or fertilization, which signifies the union of the male and female sex cells, takes place in the Fallopian tube that runs from either side of the uterus to the proximity of the ovaries. In the sex cells are chromosomes, small rods that carry different hereditary characteristics, such as eye color, etc. One pair of chromosomes is exclusively concerned with sex determination, and the male element is the final controlling factor here. This fact affords comfort to many a woman when she has presented her spouse with a fourth daughter and no son. Every species has a fixed number of chromosomes. The human species has forty-eight. To keep this number from increasing to ninety-six when the male and female sex cells unite, it is necessary that the sex cells halve their chromosome total before fertilization. This is accomplished by a special reduction division of the cells and is just one of the miracles involved in the phenomenon of conception.


If conception occurs, gestation lasts 267 days or so. From the thirtieth to the one hundredth day a woman is apt to be sick in the morning. A few are very sick. Some are not sick at all. This is to be considered if a girl entering marriage hopes to work the first few months, anticipating that conception may occur right away. The couple should not let their finances depend on it. However, if she is not sick, she can work for five months. A woman should not fear any element of pregnancy. Pain is a thing of the past. If a woman gets adequate prenatal care, statistics show that she is more apt to die from a fall in her home than she is from pregnancy. Fears about child-bearing can seriously mar the happiness of marriage. Sometimes the fear is based on something the girl has heard. Again, it may stem from a previously mismanaged birth of her own. There is no good reason, though, to fear childbirth. Any fear about childbirth must be baseless.

Psychology of Sex

A brief discussion now on the psychology of the sexes. In marriage a man and woman agree to live together the rest of their lives. They are more apt to live in happiness if the lives they match are well endowed with virtues. That term is never mentioned in books on modern marriage. The need of virtues is recognized, but denying man's spirituality, their meaning is lost when they are grouped with psychologic aptitudes. Faith is passed off as emotional security; charity, as the aptitude to share; courage is but a fear reaction; envy is not a sin, but merely a show of emotional immaturity. But the truth is man has spirituality, can develop virtues, and they are important to successful marriage.

We must early inculcate in our little girls the virtues of their ideal--the Blessed Mother. Teach a little girl modesty and at fourteen she will not be involved in a Junior High sex scandal. Though she did not know where babies come from, she would instinctively know that any violation of her modesty had to be wrong. We can teach little boys to be chivalrous In games we can teach them courage. St. Joseph is their prototype. Teach a boy to protect his little sister and as a man he will protect the woman he loves. Teach children of both sexes to see through the eyes of faith the beauty of God in all things about them. To get the most out of marriage you must have the ability to appreciate the beautiful. These are some of the essentials of sex education.

Some virtues find more fertile soil for development in one sex than in the other, and some find fertile soil in both. One of the latter and an important one is understanding. For a man and woman to live happily together they must understand each other's psychological natures. In this the two sexes differ considerably, and because love presupposes understanding, let us outline the psychologic differences of man and woman. First, it is not all contrast. There are fundamental psychological aptitudes common to man and woman that both must bring well developed into marriage.

Early Beginnings

The common acquired psychological aptitudes that lead to a happy marriage and a happy life have their beginnings in the cradle. A child is delivered from its mother's womb and cries. If it does not cry, something is alarmingly wrong and the obstetrician gets busy to remedy the situation. The infant cries for its basic physical needs--oxygen, warmth, food, and water; and for its basic psychological needs--recognition (and how he cries for it!), a sense of security, and love in an instinctive form. Receiving these, he is off to a good start in life. Soon he is going to know self-esteem, a consciousness of pleasing others, perhaps when he is praised for getting up a good big bubble. Later on he is going to learn self-respect, an inward satisfaction in doing right--perhaps the first time he overcomes the impulse to throw a spoonful of cereal on the wallpaper and slobbers it into his mouth where it rightfully belongs. Later on he is taught to share, and he grows into a social being. He puts one block on top of another and first experiences the thrill of creative expression. By now real, rather than instinctive, love becomes known. He feels it shown to him and he returns it to others. Now at the age of one an infant has already laid down the psychological foundations for a happy life. The most important thing is love. The more love the better; literally, a home full of it.

All these basic aptitudes then are well developed very early in life. A child is said to have developed his personality at two. Any nun teaching kindergarten will tell you that she can but further develop the child that is brought to her classroom door. The basic behavior pattern has already been set. The psychologic foundation for a happy marriage then is laid early in life and is practically beyond changing when adulthood is reached. The selfish wife in marriage was the little girl who once stamped her feet and got her own and her brother's share. The little boy whose parents never taught him self-esteem won't care very much whether he holds a job or not as a father. So much for the psychological foundation of marriage common to the sexes.

Man and Woman Complementary

The psychological aptitudes of which we have spoken play a vital role in a happy marriage. Especially important is the sharing of creative activity since it is spiritually stimulating and physically relaxing. For example, the preparation--the creation-- of this lecture has been a source of much happiness to my wife and me. The invitation from Father Clark quite naturally produced feelings of self-esteem and self-respect. Then a joint project was begun. On returning from the office in the evening there were notes that had their inspiration in the consultations of the day. Meanwhile, my wife had made notes from assigned reading. All these were shared, discussed, shaped, reshaped, and finally a manuscript was "created" by her typewriter from my scribbled pages. And so for weeks we shared a creative experience. Successfully completing the project resulted in self-confidence, contributing finally to the emotional security which is so essential to happiness. This was purely a psychologic activity. As simple a thing as reading a book together would be a comparable activity. At other times projects with a predominant physical component can be undertaken--as an example, and a very natural one--planning and creating the nursery for the first arrival. Such creative activity is an extremely important source of happiness in marriage and a life together brings countless possibilities of sharing it. So much for the psychological foundation of marriage common to both sexes.

Equally important are the psychologic traits peculiar to each sex. Here again the vital difference man's spirituality makes in his nature must be recognized. For example, in animals the senses have a limited function. A dog sees and scents a rose, finds nothing appetizing and moves on. A man, endowed with spirituality, sees a rose and finds God. In like manner, man's spirituality vitally affects sex. In animal life, sex is a superficial thing. In action, a male and female cat, for instance, are much alike. But in humans sex goes deep. It goes to the soul. The street-walker who abuses sex, mutilates her soul and betrays it in her face. That is how sex affects the whole of human nature. Because of sex, human nature is realized in two spiritually, psychologically, and emotionally contrasting personalities, meant to complement each other. When this is understood, these differences make for happiness. Not understood, they provide an ever fertile soil for clashes and misunderstandings and cause tragic unhappiness--tragic because it is all so needless. Men and women, then, must never forget that they think, feel, and love differently.

Essentially, metaphysically if you will, man by nature is said to be centrifugal, woman centripetal. Man is the wanderer, restless, the seeker, the inventor. Woman is content by the hearth, more stable, more serene, man's anchor. Sex is linked a bit differently in the two. It is linked more to a man's body as it were, and more to a woman's soul. A man deficient in sex power will respond to sex hormones. Give him an injection of male hormones and you can improve him tremendously. Not so the woman. Half of all women never experience the specific, emotional sexual climax in marriage. When this is so, complex emotional factors, often going right back to childhood, are usually the cause. No injections of female sex hormones will change the situation. The cure is to be sought along psychologic paths with the help of a psychiatrist.

Further making the contrasts glare, we say that man is reasonable, woman intuitive; a man gets the general, over-all effect; a woman grasps details and reacts spontaneously. A man's judgment is more accurate; a woman's more rapid, she relying more on intuition and first impressions. A man's self-assurance is more marked than a woman's. Because she is a mother to her children and in a sense to the world, a woman is more devoted to others. A man speaks literally; a husband should try to understand what his wife means by what she says.

Woman is more sensitive emotionally. A man will say, "I understand your sorrow": but a woman, "I feel your sorrow." A man recalls vivid emotional experiences; a woman will relive them forever. A woman then is hurt more deeply by an emotional offense. Emotional life has been likened to a river, with a dam at one point of its course. Something happens and we say, "That's water over the dam." It may be entirely so for the man; but there is a good chance that much of the experience for the woman is left to well up in the deep waters forever. So a man must handle a woman's emotions with understanding care. A deep psychological sex trauma, for example, may never be erased and may mar a woman's sex life forever. Some women's emotions vary with their changing physiology and an intelligent husband remembers this. We men should not expect to learn all the emotional secrets of woman. Nor should a woman ever hope to read us like a book. Marriage would be boring if this were possible. In marriage, in a sense, you grow on each other as you share your lives together in married love, and as you share your thoughts and emotions over and over through the years. The human mind can never communicate all of itself to another in any conceivable number of words. Somehow a man and woman blend their thought processes in marriage so that many times a day one will say to the other, "That's funny. I was thinking the same thing." Peculiarly many men have morning sickness of pregnancy when their wives do not. During the war it was not unusual for a serviceman, still not knowing his wife got pregnant on his farewell leave, to find himself thousands of miles from home in the station hospital or sick bay with morning sickness.

And in a similar mysterious fashion, a husband and wife blend their emotions. Here it is much like the way we take to a new symphonic recording. It must strike a responsive chord to begin with, but beyond that it may hardly touch you the first few hearings. But little by little it does and you like it more and more, until you feel it is a part of you. But never so much a part of you that you will not want it to be still more a part of you; and you desire to hear it again and again. So with the emotional adjustment of a man and woman in marriage. With knowledge and understanding, more and more they will strike only responsive chords. It is as indefinite but as simple and satisfying as that.


So much then for the nature of man and woman. The Creator chose to express humanity in two forms, male and female, and there you have them. To live humanity in the fullest, it is essential that they come together. What brings a man and woman together in marriage? Angels without bodies cannot marry. Animals with bodies but without spiritual souls can mate, but they cannot marry. Only humans can marry, composed as they are of a body and a spiritual soul--only a man and a woman created to complement each other anatomically, psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually as perfectly as we have seen. Romantic love draws a man and woman together. This is the beautiful thing that is not at all overdrawn by Disney in "Cinderella" and "Snow White." But this romantic love is but a superficial thing cloaking the deep force- -human sexual instinct--the intense desire of each to give and receive completion of their natures. A man and a woman are united in marriage by a specific, deep, beautiful, powerful, lasting spiritual force--married love. Because of it at last they are two in one flesh. Because of it now their emotional natures blend all their responsive chords, and two hearts beat and sing as one, and now their thoughts are one, even to sharing the common dream. Because of it, one soul sees beyond all the superficial imperfections of another and grasps there the nearest thing to the image of God it has found on earth, something more appealing to it than anything else in all creation, and loves it. All happiness in marriage rests on that spiritual foundation. This is it! The "res" of marriage. The "sine qua non."

Without Love . . .

When a marriage lacks this love a man and a woman find living together impossible though they possess all the material things of life. Flying from each other in the divorce court, they charge mental cruelty, and some are chagrined when they are granted freedom on such trivial grounds. But in charging mental cruelty they are saying in legal terms, "We two could not live together without love. Joined in marriage, our souls cried for love. But it was not there and living together without it was intolerable, literally a cruel thing." After God Himself, this love of man and woman has inspired the most beautiful songs of our poets, the purest work of our artists, the most sublime music of our composers. Love, far from being blind, is light. A man buffeted by the cares of his day, comes home to his love, who knows that he should have had that raise, who knows the boss was wrong. And she is right. She as no one else except God, she who knows him through the eyes of love, knows the true worth of that man. And he, as no one else on earth, knows how truly lovable she is. Love, then, is truth as well as light.

Eternal Triangle, Man, Woman, God

The moth blindly, impulsively, throws itself in the flame. In the marriage act itself, a man and a woman by an act of intellect and will, in a bond of the spiritual, pure thing that is conjugal love, fully complete their human natures. Spiritually they reach the zenith of creative expression and fittingly so, for God willing it, an immortal soul can come into being through this love. That is marriage. That is scientific marriage. That is true marriage because it gives man's spirituality its full recognition. Only in such a marriage can a man and woman develop the greatest perfection of their beings and attain full happiness. That is Catholic marriage when its nature is fully understood and all its potentialities are fully realized.

Recall that at the start I said that in preparing this talk I prayed that the Holy Spirit would touch my mind so that I would accomplish the perfection demanded for this occasion. And in our invocation I asked that the Holy Spirit touch my mind and my lips; and your ears and your minds that you rightly interpret what I said. If He has, you understand that moral truth and scientific truth are mirror images. If He has, I know that now you must share my faith and reasoned belief in the inherent righteousness, the essential goodness, and the sublime beauty of Catholic marriage and its perfect adaptation to the true and full nature of man and woman. If you do share that faith, then we have our benediction.


Father Clark: Ladies and Gentlemen, while I am sorting the questions into categories, Doctor will discuss some topics that were part of his original script but were omitted to meet our time limit.

Doctor: What essential place do children hold in marriage? Children give a man and a woman a new dignity, that of fatherhood and motherhood. They change the marriage community into the family community, the basic unit of society. The diagram shows how humans live ideally in society with marriage and the family the main supporting unit. It also shows the important relationship of sexuality to personality.

A world community of givers and sharers. God Who is Love is its center and that Love radiates through the world. Its heart is a community of incomplete human personalities, (using "personality" in the sense of modern psychology, not metaphysics), the family unit sharing diversified potentialities helping each other to reach perfection and full happiness. Man and woman's conception of, and relationship with, God, their conception of, and valuation of each other and of children, will be a dominant factor in determining their personalities. The total personality of the family unit will largely form the character of a society, and, in its widest scope, of a civilization To a lesser degree the members of society immediately about us share in the interplay. Further out the human personality creates art, music, and literature, and these in return act on countless other personalities. At the boundary is the earth, the extended body of man, because men leave the stamp of their personality on the lands they inhabit and the land in turn, be it cultured or primitive, leaves its mark on the human personalities that touch it. The antithesis of all this is the materialistic conception of things. Hate the center--society a community of exploiters and grabbers in conflict for survival--the whole thing is a rat race.


Then I want to stress the importance of children in marriage and point out the specific place that children hold in marriage. Almost every day a woman in my office for the treatment of sterility will say, "Doctor, no one on earth wants a child as much as I do." It is tragic that we humans lacking genius, have to learn through want or loss the real value of so many things in life we take for granted. How precious is a new-born infant? This precious: when a mother loses her newborn infant, a doctor is faced with a distressingly difficult task in breaking the news to her. There is no consoling her. Her whole being has been craving and expecting a child for nine months, and the void that is left when the infant does not survive can never be filled by consolation--words too are empty. Time alone and merciful forgetfulness can cover the void, but it is never filled in a mother's lifetime. That is how precious an infant is.

How precious is a child? This precious. And I have seen this at one of our local hospitals as a student intern there--I have often seen hysterical, grief-stricken parents just told that their child has died, run madly about banging their heads against the walls and floor. That is how precious a child is. When you hold out your arms on returning home and into them runs a smiling, happy child who loves you, you hold a precious gift you would not exchange for all the world's riches. Children come as the natural fruit of conjugal love as we have seen, but always as a gift. They are an ever-present miracle to remind us of God--His power, His goodness, His wisdom, His love. Thus do they help a mother and father to live in the presence of God. A marriage cannot reach its full potentialities without children. They are the givers. They come to us from God loaded down with gifts--none more precious than their deep inborn love for their parents. If we have not learned to love at this late stage of our development, here is our last chance to learn. Then they are brimful, yes, overflowing with happiness. They have not yet learned our million and one ways of destroying it. So they are ever-present reminders that we too--were meant to be happy-- always. That is the importance of children in marriage. They may at times call for sacrifice, but what precious thing in life does not?

Speaking to a group of Scholastic Philosophers, I would like to say that the existence of the two sexes metaphysically, that is essentially, so different yet complementing each other in innumerable, specific, and complicated details, is a most effective argument for the existence of a Supreme Intelligence, the Personal God, the Love that forms the foundation of the philosophy of marriage. But the existence of the two sexes, essentially so different, yet so complementary, is an even more effective argument against the atheistic conception of the evolution of mankind. For granting for the sake of argument, that there was a primordial life force from which man and woman evolved, then we have this analogy to contend with:--Here is a handful of metal particles, and by chance an object shaped as a key evolves. By chance. Incredible! And in another place a second handful of metal particles, and by chance an object--a lock-- evolves. Also by chance. A million, million times more incredible! But, "mirabile dictu," the key that evolved by chance, by chance fits the lock that evolved by chance and that is infinitely incredible. And not by chance!

Rh Factor

Question. There are several questions asking you to explain the Rh Factor?

Doctor: In 1940 in an attempt to explain a disproportionate occurrence of transfusion reactions among newly delivered mothers, it was found that eighty-seven percent of humans had an antigen producing substance in their blood similar to one isolated from the blood of Rhesus monkeys. It was termed therefore the Rh Factor. Since then in preparing for transfusion, donors' and recipients' bloods are studied for Rh compatibility as well as for the four blood groups previously known. That is the main significance of the Rh Factor. It was soon discovered that in some pregnancies a mother without the Rh factor (termed Rh Negative), developing a child with the Rh factor (termed Rh Positive), formed antibodies against the developing infant's blood that destroyed it to a lesser or greater degree. Fortunately this rarely occurs because the mother's and infant's bloods normally do not mix freely across the barrier of the placenta or after-birth. Unfortunately, prior to 1940 many women were transfused without regard for the unknown Rh factor and did have the incompatible bloods directly mixed, with a resultant high antibody reaction. When these women conceived, severe damage to the baby usually occurred. Such instances were frequent in the early 1940's and soon made the public conscious of the Rh factor. For ten years now transfusion mistakes have been eliminated, and so have most of the severe Rh sensitivities. The lesser ones are now almost all completely cured by recognizing the condition in the infant at birth, and doing an exchange transfusion which removes virtually all the sensitized blood from the newborn baby and replaces it with normal blood or simply giving the infant repeated small transfusions.

Of all things the Rh factor is not a pre-marital problem. An Rh Negative woman marrying an Rh Positive man, unless she has been transfused with incompatible Rh blood, has but a negligible chance of ever having a damaged infant on these grounds. Besides there are other blood incompatibilities that can occur with the Rh factors matching, and we could not begin to worry about all of them. The thing to remember is that we have an answer to all of them in the new technics used on the newborn infant in the instances where damage has occurred.

Question: So far as I know I am a perfectly healthy, normal girl. How would I find out that I could not perform the sex act and have children?

Doctor: There are two questions there. To answer the first, if a woman could not perform the sex act there would be external genital malformation that would preclude menstruation. Certainly a woman would have such a severe functional abnormality investigated before marriage. Even then surgery could correct matters. Answering the second part of the question, there is no way of determining fertility before marriage, granting the presence of the internal genital organs. If they were absent there would be no menstruation. If the organs are present no matter how poor their development and function may be, it would always be possible to bear children, especially with modern diagnostic and therapeutic aids to fertility.

See a Doctor?

Question: Would you recommend a physical examination before marriage?

Doctor: Yes, I would, but I think we are still a long way from getting the average couple to acquiesce. In this state and in many others, it is necessary that each party to a marriage see a physician and get a certificate that says the person is free of venereal disease and tuberculosis. This examination is usually limited to these details. If there is a serious defect of development or function in either person, there would certainly be consciousness of it, and in these special instances any intelligent person would seek a complete examination before marriage. But at present the average couple does not think such a complete examination necessary as a routine thing, and I think that is a reasonable attitude. We do need conferences such as this to give couples a broad outline of the personal side of marriage to prevent the few serious mistakes that could lead to an annulment. The interest in lecture courses such as this confirms their need. For knowledge of the intimate side of married life, it is wise to take a book on sex and marriage on one's wedding trip. Then after a reasonable period of adjustment after returning home, in the very rare instance where all has not gone as smoothly as expected, the couple should consult a physician. This I find they do. Also I have found they have always handled their problem to this point with commendable understanding and taken it in stride.

Question: If pregnancy has not occurred after a year of marriage should a couple consult a physician?

Doctor: Yes, because a great majority of women conceive within three months and have a child by the end of their first year of marriage. A year of infertility almost certainly means there is some organic or functional disturbance in one or both parties. Recognizing that God helps those who help themselves, the couple had better consult a physician as well as start the Novena to St. Jude. If a woman marries in her late thirties, when there is a natural lowering of fertility, she and her husband should have a sterility examination after as little as six months, lest their last chance at parenthood be lost through unjustified expectancy. And again, when a woman whose menstrual function has been subnormal before marriage, finds it worse after and also notes a rapid gain in weight, she should consult a physician before her endocrine failure reaches the irreversible stage. Somehow, undertaking married sex life can precipitate such a failure in a woman whose menstrual function to this point has been considerably subnormal, while it may act as a stimulus to normalcy in the woman whose function previously has been slightly subnormal.

Feminine Modesty and Sex Education

Question: Isn't it common for a woman, perhaps through a misdirected sense of modesty, to feel a sense of shame about sexual activity that might prove a barrier to sexual compatibility? How does one overcome such a feeling and how does one prevent one's daughter from developing it in the future?

Doctor: Whoever asked that one is in no hurry to go home. The questioner implies that woman bears the onus in sexual incompatibilities, and that is true because sex has a closer psychologic tie in woman as we have seen. Male impotence is rare by comparison. It is estimated that in fifty percent of all marriages the woman does not attain the specific emotional climax of the marriage act. As a rule frigidity, as this is called, is an absence of pleasure. In some instances there may be fear or a feeling of repulsiveness. It may be but one facet of a completely neurotic personality pattern, or equally it may be an isolated psychologic defect. We are concerned only with the latter problem.

The cause lies in a lack of sex education or what is worse, unwise, misguided sex education. There are three phases of sex education, childhood, adolescence and pre-marital. Lecture courses such as this are adequately taking care of the last phase, preparation for marriage. But adequate, intelligent education in the other two periods is largely neglected. To answer the questioner: yes, a misguided sense of modesty, and a misguided sense of shame, can give rise to sexual incompatibility. To answer the second part, a cure is sometimes effected by uncovering the psychologic trauma, that is, the causative factor and eradicating it through rationalization or some other psychologic technic. But if ever an ounce of prevention were worth a pound of cure, it is in a crippling neurosis such as this, and that leads us to the third part of this question--how does one prevent a daughter from developing such a condition? The answer is by adequate intelligent sex education in childhood and adolescence.

The questioner has mentioned a misguided sense of modesty and a misguided sense of shame. Both happen to be pivotal points in sex education. First, let us agree that modesty means the avoidance of indecency, anything in act, manner, or ornamentation that may be an occasion of sin to oneself or to another. Modern child psychologists urge that we put Nancy, aged four, out in the yard in the nude for her sun bath. Not yet being conscious of sexuality, this may not harm Nancy, but it may be an occasion of sin for the fifteen-year-old boy on the other side of the fence who has reached consciousness of sex and has begun to wrestle with concupiscence. Better to teach Nancy that there are special parts of her body and special functions that are good because God created them, yet so precious, so much her very own, so secret, that they are to be shared with no one.

Just about the age when modesty especially with regard to nudity and the matter of biologic functions become a problem, a child is ready to appreciate the idea of a secret, and the natural pleasure the child experiences in keeping a secret, can be utilized here. For essentially, sex or better one's sexuality, is one's deepest, innermost secret self--soul deep. A man and a woman joined in marriage do not probe the full depth of that secret in a lifetime. In this way sex is a constant vitalizing force in marriage. Modesty is misdirected when it is linked with fear, which is never natural to it. Fear unfortunately is natural to a sense of shame, a second important factor in sex education. So it is a more fertile soil for sex maladjustments and neuroses. By definition a sense of shame signifies one's consciousness of concupiscence and a concomitant fear of one's ability to control it. It does not mean the fear of appearing ludicrous. A sense of shame enters life at a later period than modesty, at puberty and early adolescence. The problem here is as personal as sex itself, intimate, more subtle, closer to the soul and the subconscious than modesty, which by comparison is superficial.

Parents can help here only so far as they can bring the child to this period armed with self-discipline and inculcated with every possible virtue. The priest as confessor will best be able to help a boy or girl through this most dangerous period of change, when the adolescent first comes to grips with sexuality and masters it through chastity, which signifies the use of sex according to right reason as a positive force in life. If he does not master it he becomes a victim of sexuality, on the one hand, sensual; on the other, fearful of it, confused, scrupulous and neurotic; in either case later to be a misfit in marriage. Other basic principles of sex education are: supply sex knowledge, honestly, intelligently, and wisely as it is sought, recognizing that one child may inquire about a fact at eight that will not trouble the mind of her sister at the age of fifteen.

Sex knowledge then has to be individualized. That is why it cannot be given by a teacher to a group of children. Then teach a child to love--that is, to be sensitive to the goodness that he receives from all sides--parents, brothers and sisters, God Himself. A child who loves deeply later on will love deeply in marriage. And a last principle--never should a mother tell her daughter frightening details of childbirth. Believe it or not, this is commonly done. As I see it, that is how sex education can prevent sexual incompatibilities in marriage. Prevention, as has been said, is hr better than cure. Parent, priest, and physician then, more or less successively, assume the burden of sex education.


Question: Is it true that sexual maladjustments in early marriage cause emotional and mental disturbances during the menopause?

Doctor: There could be a cause and effect relationship between the two if a woman first acted as a neurotic as a result of a specific serious sexual maladjustment in marriage. More frequently, the sexual maladjustment itself would be the result of the earlier development of a totally neurotic personality, so both would stem from the same root cause, going back to childhood or adolescence. The menopause is an excellent illustration of a psychosomatic syndrome. The organic cause is the same in all women; the ovaries slowly cease to function and several other glands are thrown out of balance. The somatic component may result in localized obesity if anything; the psychical component may range from a slight change in temperament all the way to a severe psychoneurosis.

I have often asked myself what is the reason for the climacteric syndrome of the menopause. God could have had women uneventfully cease menstruating in the forties. A possible explanation is this: the spiritual woman who has long since learned to be tolerant of suffering takes these years in stride without complaining, seeking help in prayer when things really get rough and moves on to the quieter but spiritually richer years ahead. Her sister who has never adequately developed the essential qualities of womanhood that we spoke of earlier in our discussion on psychology, would seem to have in the climacteric her last chance to adjust to a serious physical and emotional stress through strength of spirit in keeping with God's design of her nature. Then the climacteric is met with the faith, hope, patience, and courage that a woman of this age easily finds in her rich spiritual reserves, and a greater woman emerges. The alternative is to fall back solely on ovarian injections and sedatives, and the weaker for another failure to await the next crisis, perhaps an anxiety-neurosis centered about cancer-phobia in the fifties.

Modern Motherhood

Question: Were women of twenty or thirty years ago better able to bear and nurse children than the mothers of today?

Doctor: At least ten times as many women of the last generation died in pregnancy and childbirth as do in this, and the first year loss of newborns was much greater too. Scientific advances and woman's universal acceptance of prenatal care are most responsible for the improvement it is true; but I believe that because of better nutrition and medical supervision during the growing years the modern young mother actually is much better fitted physically for childbearing. Because of the factors previously detailed that helped shape modern thought on sex and marriage, I'm afraid that many young women today are not as well fitted psychologically for childbirth or motherhood as were their mothers. Today there are too many married women, usually with college degrees, confessing that they just cannot stand housekeeping and that children make them so nervous that they could simply fly. And many, many more of their marriages end in total failure--divorce.

Now the second part of the question. The problem of breast feeding an infant is important in a marriage preparation course, because quite surprisingly in it lies the possible cause of a big problem in marriage today, that of naturally spacing childbirth. A recent study showed that sixty-two percent of mothers leaving American hospitals were not nursing their newborn infants. Just the other day I was talking to a War bride from rural France, an expectant mother, and I asked her what the situation was over there. She said that she was the youngest of ten children. Her mother nursed them all for a long time. The children were spaced two years apart, except for herself and her older sister who were three years apart. That is the way families were raised a generation ago in America too. Mothers nursed up to a year and children were spaced by nature, because as we said before when a woman successfully nurses, she does not ovulate, does not menstruate, and cannot conceive. I was surprised that this young woman said that the great majority of present-day French mothers do not nurse their infants either. Because of this new custom, we have this unnatural state of affairs; a woman delivered in January can have her menses return in March and be pregnant again in April. Now this rarely happens, but every mother worries that she may be the exception, and so we have a new medical and sociological problem. The problem of securing for our mothers who do not nurse the breathing-space between pregnancies that nature meant her to have.

Now you say it is too bad about them--it is their own fault that they do not nurse. But that is not true. The great majority of mothers who do not nurse are confronted with valid medical, obstetrical, pediatric, psychiatric, or sociologic contra- indications. A small minority, it is true, magnify a weak contra- indication into an excuse. A larger minority, thirty-eight percent, to be exact, do nurse but few find their milk supply lasting longer than days or weeks. All told, about eighty percent are not nursing at six weeks because it was impossible to start, or impossible to continue. Many believe the human breast is unable to sustain a baby as it did in primitive times. There is an analogy in nature--the Eastern cow bred for milk production feeds a nation; the Western cow bred for beef production, produces barely enough milk to give its calf minimal sustenance. Without selective breeding, it is possible that the human female has developed into a poor milk producer. Various organs have failed to function entirely as man has progressed--the appendix and the pineal gland are examples. What their primitive function was, we have no idea. But all this is speculation. For all we know the human female breast was never better at sustaining the newborn than it is today. It would seem that by modern standards of infant nutrition, except in very rare instances, the breast is not an adequate source of sustenance for an infant after a few days or weeks. Then we have to supplement its feeble efforts. Then a nursing mother has the impossible task of nursing and preparing a formula too, and that is the end of breast feeding and the end of her natural infertility.

In America we are super-feeding growing cattle, chickens, and pigs with balanced scientific stock foods instead of nature's natural grasses and seed, and getting bigger and heavier cattle, chickens, and pigs to market. We are also super-feeding the most important growing things on earth, the infant and child, and getting bigger (by an inch) and heavier (by ten to fifteen pounds) boys and girls into college.

That is why women are not nursing. By modern infant nutrition standards they cannot. Large numbers of women are never going to nurse for as much as six to twelve months again. The pendulum will swing back to more women doing token breast-feeding for three to six weeks to obtain psychological benefits for themselves and their infant, and to pass over immune bodies to the infant's advantage. But from six weeks on, eighty percent of mothers will continue to give their infants the benefit of modern artificial superfeeding. A lucky ten will be able to nurse for about a year and provide very adequate nutrition for their infant, and secure natural infertility of themselves. It is the eighty percent who present a problem, medical and sociological, and it would appear that we will have to find a solution for them in our newer knowledge of infertility inherent in the normal menstrual cycle. Father Clark, as an interested sociologist and moralist, what have you to say?

Get Back to Nature

Father Clark: Well, I believe the practical solution of that problem is for individuals to consult their doctors. It looks as if I am throwing the problem back in the doctor's lap, but that isn't my intention. My point is this: the matter should be a part of prenatal care. As the end of pregnancy approaches, the mother should discuss the question of breast feeding with her doctor, asking if she is capable of breast feeding, and, if capable, should she do it. Psychologically, sociologically, medically, it is the natural and normal thing and the closer we get to nature in these things, the better it would be. Now if it happens that the modern Twentieth Century woman is incapable of accepting what we used to take forty or fifty years ago as the normal, then we have to provide a substitute. There is one little practical thing: those who bottle-feed their babies should not just put the baby and the bottle in the crib and say, "See you later, Butch!" Hold the baby! Give it some of the security it has a right to have. A baby needs to be cuddled and nestled. The substitute for breast feeding I think should approach the natural act as nearly as possible.

Doctor: Yes, that's a good point to stress. Let me make it clear that women of this generation are as capable of nursing as were their mothers of forty or fifty years ago, but to meet raised standards of infant nutrition, it is now usually necessary to supplement breast feeding with artificial formulae and foods. And consider this: As long ago as 1800 the birth rate in New England is estimated to have been fifty-five. In the depression it was fourteen. During the past War birth boom it reached about twenty- two. Breast feeding was the rule in 1800. So where does that leave the moralist who holds that there would be natural child spacing and one less moral problem in marriage if women would do the natural thing, their duty no less, and breast feed their infants? Still, for all we know, one hundred and fifty years is but a minute in the history of mankind. How did breast feeding space childbirth in primitive times? What was the Creator's intention in the matter? These are interesting points for discussion.

Question: Would it be possible for a mother who wanted to nurse, to bring herself to the point where it would be possible through diet and medication?

Doctor: Well, a good diet, vitamin supplements, and other measures may help, but insignificantly. Actually they are used routinely today, prenatally. Their lack is more definitely a deterrent to nursing, the body being quicker to conserve its depleted resources and weaken the milk output than it is to enhance it when its resources are intentionally enriched. Any future hope to improve women's efforts at breast feeding will lie in some new endocrine substance. The first one, Prolactin, isolated years ago, did not fulfill its promise and with the newer formula feedings working out so well, I doubt that there will be much incentive for research along those lines in the future.


Question: Does working affect adversely the fertility of a woman? If so, to what extent? Is the cause a psychological one?

Doctor: Many scientific facts take their origin in impressions. There is the impression that excessive mental strain adversely affects male fertility. A recent report indicated that ninety percent of the children delivered by wives of a large group of college professors were conceived during vacation months. That strengthens the impression. There is an impression that infertile women frequently conceive soon after adopting a child. A carefully done study recently completed refuted this. To my knowledge the idea that working decreases fertility in the married woman, perhaps along psychological lines, has not yet reached the impression stage. Conceivably, (no pun intended), the strain of working might be the last straw to tip the scales towards sterility in a woman with many obvious signs of subnormal development and function. I am certain that it is much more important to correct one of these real defects as a help to fertility.

Question: How long after ovulation is an ovum capable of being fertilized?

Doctor: On the outside, forty-eight hours Some believe that the ovum, which is undergoing the reduction division preparatory to fertilization as it escapes from the ovary, has to unite with the sperm within a matter of minutes; the sperm would have to be there waiting which you will remember, it can do for as long as five days.

Question: How long after the birth of a child should a couple practice continence?

Doctor: Normally, complete involution takes up to six weeks. Complications may prolong the period. Continence should be practiced until the woman physically and psychologically feels like herself again. This would seem to require that the menses be reestablished, which without nursing occurs eight to twelve weeks after delivery. Then if she is going to watch her fertility periods, continence would be necessary for as long as four or five months.

A Baby Each Year

Question: Can a Catholic couple live as good Catholics and not have a child every year?

Doctor: I have indicated that continence in one form or another is part of the answer. But the continence factor is but a minor part of the answer.

The problem presented must trouble the minds of many Catholic couples, so it is important and I will answer it in detail, objectively, and with carefully placed emphasis. To begin with, there is no medical contra-indication to having babies close together. A recent study proved this, completely refuting birth control propaganda to the contrary that had been widely and intensely disseminated for many years. The best ally of safe childbirth is youthfulness, and by spacing children at unnaturally wide intervals large numbers of women will pass up the chance to have children when all the complications of childbirth are at a minimum.

On the other hand, nothing, except sin itself, causes as much unhappiness in the world as does chronic fatigue, chronic ill health, and monotony. Life is then a dull thing and living, a tread mill. Unreasonably frequent pregnancies can be the direct cause of this. Of course a husband who subjects his wife to such a life is in no sense following the desires of the Catholic Church, as is so often alleged.

Having balanced these considerations, can we with any authority determine the ideal interval between conceptions? No, we cannot. One survey conducted by physicians showed that the majority of women questioned thought two years the ideal interval between the birth of one child and the conception of the next. I would be inclined to make it one year. Not longer than this because most couples first have two children of the same sex before they have one of the opposite sex. It would seem advantageous that the brothers or sisters be close enough in age to share the same interests throughout childhood and adolescence. The interval should be no less than a year because the majority of women are sick to some extent in the early months of pregnancy, and for the nine months almost all are definitely below par mentally and physically. So to give an infant the care it needs and deserves during its very important first year, it would seem ideal that the mother be in the best possible health so that she will have the energy and vitality to manage successfully this trying, difficult phase of her child's development and growth. This norm would not apply to the exceptional woman who actually feels better throughout pregnancy, nor to her sister, at the other extreme, who is so severely weakened by pregnancy and childbirth, that she still has not regained vigorous health a year later. Clearly then, while a year may be the ideal, there is need for individualizing this phase of the problem.

Economic Factor

Moving on, family economics enters into the problem too. Here it is wise for a couple to let their spiritual adviser share in the decision that they cannot afford another child at the moment. Otherwise there is danger that selfishness will creep in here, human nature being what it is. Remember that a sound mind and body, and then training in character, are the greatest assets you can give a child. Too many Americans think it better to give a child or two everything rather than have a number of children and not be able to provide them with every material advantage. Meaning well, nonetheless they usually succeed in giving the child everything but happiness. It is the spiritual resources that matter. A child needs parents' love, devotion, and care. It is the psychological resources that matter. A child needs brothers and sisters to live with, play with, and to share with, to become a well adjusted happy social being. Money can purchase none of these vital assets.


Then let us face the issue of continence. This may be total, subtotal, or periodic. For the majority of young couples at the peak of fertility, there may be need at times of subtotal continence. The minority, the relatively infertile group, can successfully practice periodic continence, or what is usually thought of as rhythm. Paradoxically, they are just the ones that shouldn't, because they will have difficulty having children in family proportions anyway. A doctor should point this out to couples in this category. But whatever the degree, when continence is practiced, an artificial element enters into marital life.

When resorting to continence a couple therefore needs the guidance of their spiritual advisor. Obviously then, this element of continence further complicates rather than solves the problem. The real solution to the problem embraces the whole philosophy of Catholic marriage. First, when you marry, do so with the hope of having a family, not "children" which in Twentieth-Century America means "two" if they are of different sex, and an absolute limit of three, no matter what. Remember, children are precious. They, not we, are the givers in family life. Marriage cannot reach its full potentialities without them. They are among God's greatest gift to man and woman on earth. I have often asked a mother if she would take a million dollars for her baby. No one has ever said "yes." You could buy that woman's house, car, or anything else she possesses but not her baby. So remember that each one is worth a million dollars, and how to avoid a million dollars a year is a very pleasant problem to contend with, life being what it is. Some of the crusading birth controllers never had a child, none of them ever had a family. They wrote such books as "I Hate Children"--only God and the psychiatrists know why.

Life Together

Then remember, marriage is a natural thing, so not difficult, not a problem, unless we distort its nature and make it one. We must concentrate on living a full married life in the Catholic tradition as detailed in this lecture series. Marriage is not just the right to sex life. Nor is it this, plus having children. It is all of life shared together: the dreams, the disappointments, the joys, the sorrows, the trials, the triumphs, the risks, the losses and the gains. It is the art, the music, the good books, the sports, the dances, all the good times enjoyed together. It is a lifetime of happiness shared together. Its soul is love, its heart is a family of children, and what is not well enough understood, its life blood is sacrifice. Sacrifice and love mentioned in the same breath? Yes. They are natural to each other and inseparable. For really to become a part of anything, and to have that thing become a part of us, to know it intimately so we can love it, we must sacrifice a part of ourselves for it. That is necessary in the world of inanimate things--this piece of land long dreamed about, one day discovered, after great sacrifice of toil and time, is cleared, cultivated, and fenced to at last become something again, something precious--our land. So also by sacrifice does this house become our home. And sacrifice is even more essential in the world of vital things in which the vocation of marriage holds such a prominent place.

The Soul of Love

Life together in marriage is a succession of acts of sacrifice. Continence on occasion is just one small manifestation of this. When you practice it, you must put something else into your marriage in place of the sex act--you enjoy a book together or an evening of dancing, and in this way the sex urge can be suppressed. Or far better, sublimate this urge to unite and create by creating something else together at this time, for instance the dreamed of game room in the cellar or it can be as simple a thing as a young wife typing her student-husband's theme. Mark this well now, for creative activity in essence is physically relaxing and spiritually stimulating. Sacrifice is the principle instrument that accomplishes this sublimation, which enables continence to become a positive force for happiness in marriage. In this way your cup of happiness is just as full to the brim. Not faced, repressed, it becomes a source of tension, irritability and a fertile soil for neuroses.

We are apt to recoil at the mention of the word sacrifice; the immediate implication is something difficult, something hard, a cross. We would like to skip that. But in marriage it is neither hard nor difficult. Rather it is the eternal source of happiness. A woman cheerfully doing her task as a mother, a man happily doing his day's work, both express their love of God, though in a different way than the Trappist Monk working in his monastery fields. God does not ask the Trappist's love of all of us. Nor does He ask that kind of sacrifice of all of us. But to live any vocation, and marriage is a vocation, we must give something of ourselves to it over and over again, for this is the essence of sacrifice, no matter what kind or degree. Only by continually giving something of ourselves to our marriage, only by sacrifice, does this partnership, this bond, this union, become our marriage, our own eternal love. That is the only way Catholic marriage can be lived. In that way you take the problem of child spacing, just one of its millions of problems and actually an insignificant one, in stride, happily.

Positive Approach

When all is said now, you will note that I have not answered the question asked--I have not told you how to be a good Catholic and not have a child a year, but rather I have told you how by being a good Catholic you can reasonably space a family of children. Because it is a complex, individual problem, this could mean the blessing of a child every year or at the other extreme, it could mean one child in a lifetime as, for example, when pregnancy is complicated by nearly fatal, incurable disease. The outline for raising a family I have detailed has a positive psychology that is in tune with traditional Catholic marriage and the Catholic family, and is free of the negative, squeamish, absolute- security-first psychology of the birth controllers. The point is that any limitation of children that takes place does so "per accidens." Family limitation "per se" is not sought. To other than a group of scholastic thinkers, that distinction would seem so superficial as to be ridiculous, but I know you can appreciate its significance and realize how the distinction is also the focal point in determining ethical values. That is a long answer to an important question, but anything other than a complete answer would be no answer at all. What do you say to all this, Father Clark?

Father Clark: I only wish that I had said it.

Doctor: I have used many Freudian terms such as sexual instinct, suppression, repression, and sublimation; none is used in a strict Freudian sense, since his whole system of psychology starts with the idea that man is but a superior thinking animal, soulless, and without a will. By contrast, we say man is a son of God, His image, a very different animal with an intellect to discern the greater good and a will to seek it. The Freudian sees sexuality as the soil in which everything takes root. We acknowledge its great importance as a force in life, but we do not see sexuality in every thought and act, conscious or unconscious. Denying man's spirituality, the Freudians say that sublimation is accomplished by instinct alone. We say it is accomplished by the spirit's power to integrate with itself a lower state, instinct. For an analogy: coming across a beautiful flower, the Freudian says, "I know you; nothing but the earth transformed or sublimated." We say that flower has a soul-- vegetative in this instance--something different from and infinitely superior to the earth; it has drawn up the earth, transformed it and sublimated it if you will, into a beautiful thing. So, with spirit and instinct and specifically with sexuality. We admit the value of Freudian terms and techniques, but find little or no agreement with him on meaning.

What About Rhythm?

Father Clark: Doctor, most of the remaining questions are concerned in one way or another with the rhythm theory. I realize that this is a much misunderstood question, and that it is practically impossible to explain all its phases to a group as large as this. But perhaps you have some pertinent remarks concerning it.

Doctor: Yes. It must be completely individualized and it is a time-consuming problem. In practice, I tell the patient that it is such an involved theory that they had best buy the booklet that is available on the subject and, after they have read it, call me if there is anything that puzzles them. The organic or physical component of periodic continence, or "rhythm" if you must, has so many variable factors that it has to be strictly individualized to be effective. Unfortunately an explanatory booklet is just about as useful as a home medical book is in coping with illness. It is better than nothing, but that is about all. So, much as we would like to avoid the nuisance, doctors have to help even the most intelligent patient to fit the physical facts of the rhythm theory to herself. Now even more important is it to individualize the spiritual component of periodic continence. Remember that I said that it introduces an artificial element into marriage at its very essence. It directly touches the love union and the conception of children, the heart and soul of a marriage. Further, depending on the spirit in which it is used, it will enrich or impoverish a marriage. It therefore affects marriage in its totality. So, obviously it must be individualized spiritually, used with the guidance and help of one's spiritual advisor. That is why the priest cannot avoid the nuisance either, much as he would like to.

The large number of questions touching on family limitation asked at conferences such as this reveal how deeply birth control psychology has permeated Catholic minds. There is a big task ahead for all concerned to reorientate Catholic thinking so that a family of children will again be a goal to be sought, not a burden to be avoided. Fortunately, when periodic continence or rhythm is unavoidable in a Catholic marriage, with guidance and effort it can become a positive force for good. That is because human nature is a fusion of body and spirit and the balance between the two is fluid enough so that spirit can rise over body to meet an abnormal circumstance, and still keep the whole being in a state of balance and happiness. Is that an ideal, impractical, too difficult of attainment, by the majority of Catholic couples? That is a problem and not for a doctor to decide.

Marriage by nature is a living social institution. Catholic marriage has remained unchanged since its beginning at its elemental core where principles and laws are involved. But outside that zone, it is constantly adapting itself to changes in culture, knowledge, and many other things. The important thing is that when changes are taking place in a social structure that they be constructive, that they evolve towards perfection; otherwise, they may destroy that structure. The closer a change touches the elemental core, the greater the danger is that through misdirection it may destroy. Rhythm touches the core of marriage as we have said. It could conceivably be destructive. To my mind, the exact place of rhythm in the Great Design of Catholic marriage has not been clearly established. While it is a controversial matter, my intention is to leave the problem as much as possible in other hands.

So, that is more than enough about rhythm. Any discussion of it except along the general lines we have pursued is entirely out of place in a marriage preparation course. Basically, it can be part of the solution to some individual marriage problem. If you are fortunate, you will never have such a problem and never have to trouble yourself with its technical details. But do remember the principles: it is an artificial element that affects a marriage in its totality; it must be strictly individualized spiritually and physically, contrary to the prevailing notion, it is something infinitely more than freely choosing to live Catholic marriage by a calendar--and lastly, it is an accessory to marriage used when unavoidable to space reasonably a family of children in the Catholic tradition, not a dodge to accomplish birth prevention.

While it is not my special work to speak on the morality of this topic, I can say this: Morally, too, it must be individualized. For a couple to use the rhythm system there must be a good and just reason, which reason is not a matter of private interpretation, but must be submitted to the judgment of the spiritual adviser. It is difficult to see how a couple could go on, year after year, practicing rhythm to avoid conception without committing sin.

Big Mistake

Question: In your experience, Doctor, what is the most serious mistake made by couples entering marriage?

Doctor: One thinks immediately of the relatively uncommon instances where one or, even less commonly, both partners are hopelessly unqualified for marriage. Typically, all efforts to prevent such a marriage have gone unheeded.

But another too common mistake comes to mind, and that is entering marriage intending to postpone conception for a while. I see scores of women every year seeking help for sterility, who by one means or another attempted birth prevention for the first year or two of their marriage. A few have wittingly permitted an organic cause of sterility to progress to a point where it is beyond correcting. (An example of this would be the small fibroid tumor that could have been removed soon after marriage, sparing the uterus; but because of increased size, its removal two or three years later would require sacrificing the uterus as well.) Such persons have disregarded the old adage: "Take your first child when it comes." I would change that to: "Accept the gift of a family when God offers it to you." Seldom in life are we given the opportunity to spurn a gift and accept it unchanged on the same terms later on. And the precious gift of a family is no exception.

The family--father, mother, and a number of children joined by the common bond of love with God Who is Love, as we illustrated earlier--is the prime generating force for love in this world, and one of its few great positive forces for good. In a special way, love flows naturally from the family as it does from no other grouping of humans. See a mother with an infant in her arms and, presuming she is normal, you can say with moral certitude that she loves it. Just as certainly you can predict the existence of love in a family. Such is God's design.

Looking back on our lives, no matter what our material wealth may be, we can all count our real treasure in the golden pieces of love we have collected along the way. The family is the mint of the world's love. Whatever you do, don't start marriage intending to pass up the treasure of a family for a while. Accept God's gift as soon as it is offered. If a few months of married life do not bring the promise of this treasure, don't wait too long before seeking medical help in attaining fertility. I would say this course of lectures would be worth the combined efforts of all concerned if it accomplished but one thing--to make the couples present aspire to have a family along traditional Catholic lines.

Father Clark, in your role of Sociologist, will you add something here on the importance of the family to society and to the individual?

Father Clark: The testimony of clear-thinking parents, which attests the fact that they "have not lived" until their first child came, and that each succeeding one has brought more happiness, is a good starting point. Social studies have shown that the best adjusted persons in society have come from large families. Also that happily married persons as a rule have come from large families. The nation has had to depend on large families for her defense forces. Our ideal of an expanding economy takes for granted large families. These are but a few points that could be enlarged upon to show the importance of a more-than-two-child family.

Mother or Child?

Question: Here is a last question which I am anxious to hear you, an obstetrician of wide experience, answer publicly with authority. If a situation arose during delivery where you had to decide whether to save the mother or the baby, what would you do?

Doctor: Such a situation never does present itself. Period! In preparing the formal talk, I originally mentioned that point in discussing pregnancy, but my reaction was: "Why resurrect that old ghost and keep alive a baseless old wives' tale?" So in the end I omitted it. A death in childbirth today is extremely rare. Then there is either unpardonable neglect of prenatal care or the cause of death remains an enigma even after autopsy. Never does the problem of saving mother or baby even remotely enter the mind of a doctor. The practice of obstetrics would be a nightmarish ordeal if it could.


1. What do you mean by the expression marriage is diseased today."

2. Name some of the causes of "modern marriage."

3. What is meant by the distinction between anatomy and "physiology" of the sexes?

4. What are the minimal physical requirements for marriage?

5. Name the sex organs of the male, of the female.

6. What is the sperm, the ovum?

7. What must a couple do who think they should postpone conception?

8. What happens to the sperm and ovum at conception?

9. At what age does ovulation usually occur?

10. What is the duration of the period of gestation?

11. Are there virtues peculiar to men, others to women?

12. Of what importance to marriage is the understanding of masculine and feminine nature?

13. Is love between the parties necessary to successful marriage?

14. How does the existence of the two sexes argue for the existence of a Supreme Intelligence?

15. Summarize the question of hereditary factors.

16. What place does the child hold in the home?

17. What about sex education?



The Reverend William R Clark, O.P. is head of the Department of Social Sciences and Professor of Sociology at Providence College. He acts as chairman of the Lenten lecture series each year.

EACH time I have witnessed a wedding I have been deeply impressed with the thought that the ceremony is over so quickly. After weeks and months of preparation the actual wedding ceremony takes place in about five or seven minutes. It is startling to think that one can bind himself in so short a time "until death." Yet it is so in the other vocations. The religious pronounces his vows in a very few minutes. And the priest is ordained a "priest forever" in a comparatively short ceremony.

As the couple stands before the altar in a Catholic wedding you know that there has been a great deal of preparation leading up to that solemn moment. We propose, tonight, to follow this imaginary couple, whom we may call John and Mary, back to the early days of their preparation. We know that they have been preparing because they could not come before the altar without many, many preliminaries.

Setting the Date

One of the first preliminaries is to set a date. Some persons get very upset when they go to the rectory to make arrangements for their wedding and find that the date they wanted is already taken. So, we have our first practical conclusion--go to the rectory in plenty of time! The absolute minimum is a month ahead. Some may think that this is hardly any time at all. I say it is the absolute minimum because the banns must be published on three successive Sundays (or Holydays, if they intervene). If one of the parties is a non-Catholic, six instructions on the Catholic Faith are to be given, and in some places, no more than two of these instructions may be given in one week. In some places, too, there are prescribed instructions for the parties where both are Catholic.

One month in advance of the wedding day is not too early to begin the civil preparations. The first item on this list is the "declarations of intention" (required in Rhode Island and some other jurisdictions). This is a preliminary investigation by the civil authorities. If the couple passes this inspection, they may proceed to the next step. In this investigation such information is sought as "Name, residence, date of birth, age, color birthplace, occupation, father's name, mother's maiden name, father's birthplace, mother's birthplace, father's occupation, number of this marriage, divorced (place and date), and to be married by whom and where."

The next step is the physical examination, which means being certified by a licensed physician that neither of the couple has tuberculosis or the venereal diseases in the infectious stages. The license will not be granted until a "clean bill of health" is presented. The physical examination and the blood test must be made within forty days before the issuance of the marriage license. All of this may sound very formidable, but any licensed physician may perform the physical examination and there are many places (in Rhode Island about twenty-five laboratories are listed) where the blood test may be made.

The issuance of the marriage license is a simple matter after these preliminaries have been taken care of. The license in Rhode Island is good for a period of three months. If the wedding is delayed longer than three months a new license must be obtained.

Society is Interested

You may wonder "why all this red tape" so far as the state is concerned. People have said "we are in love and want to get married, and we aren't concerned with marrying the city or the state, and we are not trying to carry the whole human race with us. This is our affair. Why do we have to bother with all this stuff?" It may be very well for our romanticists to say that "when two people are in love, nothing else matters." But ever since the history of mankind has been written, and even from remnants left by pre-historic man, society has taken an interest in marriage. It is not a mere private affair. In the Church doctrine, it is classified as one of the social sacraments. There is not a civilized or uncivilized people living on earth that does not have some kind of laws for the protection of the persons themselves. Last semester I was teaching a course on "Marriage and the Family" and some of the students objected to the textbook being used. The book did not give them answers to particular questions, or supply them with a lot of "facts." It was subtitled "A Social Philosophy." I insisted that it was exactly the kind of textbook to be used for something as important as Marriage, because the most important thing is to acquire the proper attitude toward Marriage, rather than get a collection of information, much of which might be out of date before the person was ready for marriage.

It is important to recognize the fact that marriage laws are made for the protection of married people. Recently the Director of Public Health in Providence stopped a marriage because one of the parties applying for a license was incapable of making a legal contract. The Rhode Island law forbids marriage under such circumstances. This is but a sample of how the laws are made for the protection of the persons themselves.

Civil Laws

One of the important regulations of the civil law concerns the age of the parties. If they are both over twenty-one years of age, they do not need the consent of their parents to their marriage. If John is eighteen and Mary sixteen, they may obtain a license if their parents give approval, and if John or Mary is below the ages just given, they must also obtain permission of the Juvenile Court before a license will be issued to them.

Unlike other states, Rhode Island does not impose a waiting period between the issuance of the license and the performance of the marriage ceremony, when the woman concerned is a native of this state. If she is from outside this state, however, a five- day wait is demanded by law.

Church Laws

Having passed the civil barrier, John and Mary must now have their status determined by the other body of which they are members, the Church. The Church official who is the equivalent of the recorder in the city hall, is Mary's pastor, or a priest authorized to act in his place. To determine who they are in the eyes of the Church, they must present a copy of the baptismal record, always to be obtained from the church in which the baptism took place. That record will also contain information about their reception of two other sacraments, their first Holy Communion and their Confirmation, both of which should precede their marriage. (It might be added, in passing, that the copy of this record should be of recent date, and not one taken from the "family Bible.")

Whether they know it or not, John and Mary are now to face a more searching examination than was required to obtain their clearance by the civil authorities. For the ordinary couple it is not embarrassing or difficult, and it will normally require less time than was necessary to satisfy the state laws. But it is thorough, and it may be well at this point to state exactly why. The rules of the Church would be different if John and Mary were about to enter a master-and-slave contract. Or if the contract they proposed to negotiate were merely one entered into by two owners of property and concerned itself with the transfer of goods and chattels, the attitude of the Church would be something else again. But because in the eyes of the Church, John and Mary are two creatures of God, capable of reasoning, possessing free will, and are about to enter into a contract and a union which will last as long as they are both alive, a union which will normally result in the birth of free creatures like themselves--because of these considerations, the Church throws around this contract a series of inquiries and safeguards to protect them, to protect their future offspring, and to insure, as far as her vigilance and experience can, that their marriage will be both happy and lasting.

There are many fields into which the Church does not enter. There are, for example, no church laws to regulate or to forbid the marriage of persons from different levels of society or of persons of different cultural backgrounds. A king may marry a commoner, and be validly married in the mind of the Catholic Church. No church law forbids marriage between persons of different countries or races. No distinction is made in the Church's law concerning marriage between those who are rich and those who are poor, nor is there one law for Catholics in Asia and another for Catholics in other parts of the world. The laws of the Church in this matter concern the fundaments of religion, not accidental circumstances or social views; they do not regard local prejudices, but are framed in conformity with divine and natural law, and they follow from the commission which the Church has received from Christ to instruct her children properly, to shield them, and to bring them eventually to Heaven. Catholics, therefore, cannot act as Catholics and evade the authority and regulations of their Church in effecting a marriage. For marriage is a sacrament and must be received from the Church as the other sacraments are received. A Catholic who attempts marriage before a civil authority would be just as logical if he went to the justice of the peace for Confirmation or the sacrament of Penance.

The pastor of the bride has always had the duty of investigating the status of those who present themselves for marriage. More recently, the Congregation of the Sacraments, an ecclesiastical body in Rome in charge of all matters pertaining to Matrimony and other sacraments, ordered that a special form of questionnaire be prepared and employed, and that each party to a marriage be questioned separately. In this way what was always the duty of the pastor has been more accurately defined, and the exact questions on which the pastor should secure information have been put down literally in black and white.

Freedom to Marry

A few moments ago I said that the Church regarded this marriage of John and Mary as vitally important because they are creatures of God who possess free will and are capable of thinking and choosing for themselves. For that reason the questionnaire they answer is entitled "An investigation concerning the state of freedom..." That freedom or liberty is a most important aspect of this contract. The couple must be entirely free, not only in the sense that they are not already bound by the obligations of a previous marriage, but they must be absolutely free from all pressure or force in deciding to marry one another. They must swear that they are marrying whom they themselves choose to marry, because they want to.

That is why both Mary and John will be asked (Question 17 in the form): "Are you entering this marriage of your own free will, without being forced by anyone whether physically or morally?" That liberty to choose is the very heart of the contract and its importance cannot be over-emphasized. With it rank the two questions which follow it in the investigation: "Do you realize the obligations which marriage entails?" and "Do you realize that you cannot marry again once you have contracted this marriage, unless death dissolves the bond?"

Anything that destroys freedom of consent, destroys the marriage entirely. When John and Mary say "I will" to the contract, they must do so of their own free will and without being forced by anyone or anything. The mutual, free consent of each is the essence of marriage. Incidentally, when they each have exchanged their consent to the contract they have married themselves. The priest is a witness whose presence is necessary because this is a Church ceremony and a sacrament, but they themselves, not the priest, are the ministers of the sacrament of Matrimony. A priest, or a bishop, is ordinarily the minister of the other sacraments. In Matrimony only it is the candidates themselves. Consequently, that they know what the sacrament is, and that they willingly bind themselves to its duties and accept its rights, is all important. That is why the inquiry of John and Mary by the pastor, although it contains many other questions, is properly called an investigation concerning their state of freedom.

We might follow this questionnaire point by point to discover the other matters with which the pastor's inquiry deals. But perhaps it will be simpler to look at it from another angle. The pastor's purpose is to discover if there is any obstacle, removable or irremovable, to the union of John and Mary. These obstacles in Church language are called "impediments," and are of two kinds, "prohibitive," and "diriment." If, in the enumeration of these impediments, you are struck with the thought that many of these obstacles could rarely present themselves in the lives of the ordinary candidates for marriage, you should remember that those who framed these laws are also aware of that; but the law must be prepared to provide a decision or the basis for a decision in any case which may arise. From a knowledge based on long experience, the Church has legislated for the many situations which may occur, and the almost innumerable complexities in which her children may entangle their lives.

Prohibitive Impediments

"Prohibitive impediments" are those obstacles which make a marriage gravely unlawful; yet if the marriage is performed, these particular impediments do not make the marriage invalid--it will be a real marriage but sinful. Church law lists three prohibitive impediments: 1. if a person has taken a vow not to marry, a vow of virginity, or a vow to receive Holy Orders or to enter the religious life; 2. if the persons to be married are related by legal adoption, in countries where the civil law forbids such persons to marry; 3. if one of the persons wishing to be married is baptized in another religion, or, although a baptized Catholic, has been a practicing member of another religion since his baptism. This is an important impediment to understand, and it is one which arises more frequently than the other two. All marriages between Catholics and Protestants run into this impediment, but not a marriage between a Catholic and one who is unbaptized, as for example, a Mohammedan. Such a union is blocked by a diriment impediment (see below).

Mixed Marriage

The objection of the Church to such marriages is that married persons live so intimate and close a life that in a marriage of persons with mixed religious beliefs, there is present a real danger to the faith of the Catholic involved. The Church can give no one permission to live in the proximate danger of losing his faith. How, then, does it happen that the Church gives her permission to the marriage of a Catholic with a Protestant? The answer is that this danger is removable, and when proper steps have been taken, the Church considers that the danger has been removed. These steps consist in the following: a.) giving the non-Catholic party some knowledge of the Catholic's belief and practices (the Six Instructions referred to above); b.) in obtaining a freely given promise that the Catholic party will be interfered with in no way in the practice of the Catholic religion; and c.) in obtaining a further promise that all the children of such a marriage will be baptized in the Catholic faith and brought up as members of the Catholic Church.

In the absence of such promises, the danger to the faith of the Catholic remains, and the Church will not countenance the marriage, as the state would not license a marriage if one of the persons concerned refused to submit to a blood test.

It is not a question here of being narrow-minded or broad-minded. Neither is it the intention of the Church to stigmatize the Protestant man or woman involved as morally inferior, or as a person who enters marriage with an evil motive. Nor is the Church unaware that sometimes the heroic faith and practice of the Catholic spouse has been instrumental in bringing the non- Catholic to the Catholic faith. The basic fact is that one cannot tie one's whole life and happiness so closely to that of another and not be influenced in that association, which is unlike any other on earth.

Destroying Impediments

So much for the first type of impediments. The second kind, called "Diriment" or "Destroying impediments," are more serious, because when not dispensed by the Church they render the marriage invalid, that is, no marriage. In a word, there is no marriage when a diriment impediment blocks the way. These impediments are more numerous, and they include the following:

1. a want of proper age; the man must be at least sixteen, the woman, at least fourteen;

2. impotency, or the physical inability of either person to perform the marriage act from which children will normally be born. This does not mean sterility, or the inability to beget or bear children, but the impediment is limited to the inability to perform the act which leads to the generation of children. This impotency must be perpetual, and of such a nature that it cannot be remedied by natural means. (Sterility is not an impediment, because, although it prevents the attainment of the primary purpose of marriage--the generation of children--it does not prevent the attainment of the secondary aims, namely, mutual association and a remedy for concupiscence and the good of the sacrament.)

3. the bond of an existing marriage. Any previous marriage must have ended either through the death of one of the contracting parties, or must have been declared "no marriage" by an ecclesiastical court. A document of such a decision must be offered in evidence;

4. if one of the applicants for marriage is an unbaptized member of another religion. This is similar to the obstacle to the marriage of a Catholic and a baptized member of another religion, but this obstacle is more serious. The same conditions are prescribed for a dispensation from this impediment, namely, a grave and just cause for proceeding with the marriage, and a sworn guarantee concerning the faith of the Catholic party and the children;

5. no one who is in Holy Orders may validly marry, nor may one who has taken solemn vows;

6. the act of adultery with the promise of marriage, or the murder of a husband or wife to clear the way for another marriage;

7. relationship to the third degree--second cousins. This relationship is called "consanguinity," or that which exists between persons of the same blood. Once a person has been married, a relationship called "affinity" exists between the person and his relatives by marriage. An impediment to a second marriage is thus raised and it extends to the first cousins of one's former wife or husband, and all who are more closely related by marriage;

8. living publicly in an invalid marriage relationship, with or without a marriage ceremony. Anyone in such a situation is impeded from marrying any person directly related to the one with whom he has lived, that is, with parents or children of such a person.

9. spiritual relationship. Such an impediment exists between a sponsor in baptism and the person baptized, or between the one baptizing and the sponsor.

If our imaginary John and Mary find one of these diriment impediments standing in the way of their marriage, may they secure a dispensation? That depends on whether the impediment arises from divine law, from the natural law, or from ecclesiastical law. In the case of an impediment that comes from Church law, it is apparent that since the Church has the power to make the law, she also has the power to dispense from it. Thus an impediment arising from want of age may be dispensed, if a sufficiently serious reason can be advanced. But when it is a question of divine or natural law, the Church, which did not make these laws, cannot dispense from them. Thus, one who is already validly married cannot be dispensed, because the divine law forbids it, and one who is directly related to another, in the same family, is prohibited by the natural law from marriage with such a close relative.

The Banns

When it has been established that there is no impediment to the marriage of John and Mary, the next step is the publication of the banns, or public notices of their intention to marry. In the ordinary course of events this intention must be announced on three successive Sundays (or Holydays, if one intervenes), at the principal Mass, in the parishes in which Mary and John have official residence. For a sufficient reason, the pastor may omit one publication of the banns, and the bishop may give permission to omit them altogether. But the banns are intended to call to the attention of the faithful the fact that these persons are planning to be married, and if any obstacle to such a marriage is known, the opportunity is thus afforded to prevent what might be an improper marriage, or perhaps an invalid one.

The care and precautions which are taken in the preliminaries to marriage are not without their compensations. Nothing that is worth while is accomplished without effort and taking pains, and a happy marriage is no exception. Not only is their future welfare assured, with as much certainty as human prudence and wisdom can bestow, but the ceremony in which they exchange their vows is a ritual especially designed for the reception of this sacrament. This marriage ritual is an old one, so old that some of the language used has long since passed out of common speech. According to this rite, John and Mary declare in public their intention to be married, and they pronounce separately their promise to one another in all the fortunes of life, until death separates them. The ring, the symbol of their wedded union, is blessed, and in the act of giving the ring, they "plight their troth," or pledge their faith and loyalty to one another. The prayer of the priest, with which this ceremony closes, is that those who have thus been joined together by God, may be preserved together by His help.

Instruction Before Marriage

In the beginning of this talk we visualized our imaginary couple, John and Mary, before the altar about to be married. The first words they will hear from the priest will be those of the "Instruction before Marriage." To those of you who are married it will strike a familiar note. To all of you it will be a summary of the other discussions in this course of lectures. It is a beautiful expression of the Christian doctrine of love and the theology of marriage and its purposes.

"My dear friends, you are about to enter into a union which is most sacred and most serious. It is most sacred because it is established by God Himself; most serious, because it will bind you together for life in a relationship so closed and so intimate that it will profoundly influence your whole future. That future with its hopes and disappointments, its successes and its failures, its pleasures and its pains, its joys and its sorrows, is hidden from your eyes. You know that these elements are mingled in every life, and are to be expected in your own. And so not knowing what is before you, you take each other for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death.

"Truly, then, these words are most serious. It is a beautiful tribute to your undoubted faith in each other, that recognizing their full import, you are nevertheless, so willing to pronounce them. And because these words involve such solemn obligations, it is most fitting that you rest the security of your wedded life upon the great principle of self-sacrifice. And so you begin your married life by the voluntary and complete surrender of your individual lives in the interest of that deeper and wider life which you are to have in common. Henceforth you belong entirely to each other; you will be . And whatever sacrifices you may hereafter be required to make to preserve this common life, always make them generously. Sacrifice is usually difficult and irksome. Only love can make it easy; and perfect love can make it a joy. We are willing to give in proportion as we love. And when love is perfect the sacrifice is complete. God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son; and the Son so loved us that He gave Himself for our salvation. 'Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.'

"No greater blessing can come to your married life than pure conjugal love, loyal and true to the end. May, then, this love with which you join your hands and hearts today never fail, but grow deeper and stronger as the years go on. And if true love and the unselfish spirit of perfect sacrifice guide your every action, you can expect the greatest measure of earthly happiness that may be allotted to man in this vale of tears. The rest is in the hands of God. Nor will God be wanting to your needs; He will pledge you the life-long support of His graces in the holy sacrament which you are now going to receive."

The Nuptial Mass

The Mass which follows the marriage ceremony is proper to this occasion alone. Those portions of the Mass which change with the various feasts of the year are in this case altered to ask God's grace upon the newly married pair. The prayers of this Mass, the Epistle and the Gospel are an appeal for John and Mary's welfare, or a reminder to them of God's pronouncements on the married state through the mouth of St. Paul the Apostle or through the teaching of Christ Himself. Twice during the Mass the ordinary sequence of the sacrifice is interrupted to impart the Nuptial Blessing. That alone would indicate the solemnity with which the Church regards this occasion, for the only other time such an interruption occurs is during the Ordination of a priest or the Consecration of a bishop. It hardly needs to be pointed out that the Church considers the ordination and consecration of her own representatives highly important. The Church indicates that the marriage of John and Mary is no ordinary event by inserting two special prayers in the Nuptial Mass, one immediately after the Our Father has been recited by the priest, and one before the last blessing of the Mass.

The Nuptial Blessing

The long prayer which follows the Our Father is directed. in a general way toward the happiness of both John and Mary, but in a special way it concerns Mary alone. Much of this prayer seeks for her the grace that she may be strong and faithful, that she may find peace, and that she, who will know so much of life in her new state, may remain good and innocent. For her the Church requests the happiness and virtues exemplified in three famous wives and mothers of the Old Testament, Rachel, Rebecca, and Sarah.

Finally, before the customary blessing for all the congregation is given, the priest departs from the regular service again, and in a final benediction for John and Mary only, calls upon the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob to be with them, and to bless them greatly in every way, that on this earth they may live to see not only children of their own, but their children's children to the third and fourth generation, and that after this life is over, they may enjoy everlasting life in Heaven.

With this wish, the ceremony and the Mass are concluded. (The Marriage Ceremony, with the Nuptial Mass and Nuptial Blessing are reproduced in Appendix A.

The Church, Our Mother

One final note, regarding the Church's maternal attitude toward her married children, could be made concerning the business of fixing up wrong marriages. The Church is always eager to rectify wrong marriages, that is, marriages which were illegally made but to which there is no obstacle now. It is one of the most difficult problems of the priest to bring back to the Church persons who have left it in this way. However, if they really wish to abandon their sinful life, they will find a most cordial welcome from the priest. The priest will be happy to cooperate in the necessary steps. The hardest thing for such Catholics is for them to realize the harm they have done themselves. But it is one of the greatest consolations to the priest to be able to sanctify a marriage union and thus restore the parties to the life of grace and friendship with God.


1. How long in advance of the wedding day should a couple consult the pastor?

2. How does one go about getting a marriage license?

3. Is there a "waiting period" in every State?

4. What is meant by the "physical examination" required by civil law?

5. Why is the state interested in Marriage?

6. Why is the Church interested in Marriage?

7. What is the "Investigation of freedom to marry"?

8. Who has the obligation of the pre-nuptial investigation?

9. What is an impediment?

10. Distinguish the two kinds of impediments.

11. Who administers the sacrament of Marriage?

12. Who are the persons to be present for a lawful Catholic Marriage?

13. What is the Nuptial Mass?

14. At what part of the Catholic ceremony is the Nuptial Blessing given?


1. What is the customary stipend to be given at a Catholic wedding?

2. How much does it cost to have a formal wedding with a reception for two hundred persons?

3. Is one required to follow Emily Post in all details of a formal wedding?

4. What about throwing rice and confetti at the church door?

5. Must all of the parties in the wedding party be Catholics?

6. Should all of the members of the wedding party receive Holy Communion at the Nuptial Mass?

7. Is it possible to have the wedding in the church when one of the parties is a non-Catholic?

8. What is considered "appropriate music" during a "low" Nuptial Mass? Name the pieces.



The Reverend Thomas H. McBrien, O.P., is an assistant to the Chaplain of the College and professor of Theology.

DO YOU remember the children's story of Cinderella? Cinderella was changed by her fairy godmother into a beautiful princess. With a touch of her magic wand, the fairy god-mother transformed a ragged and wretched working girl into a charming immaculately gowned young lady. Our Divine Lord did something similar to marriage, the union of man and wife; only Christ did not use a magic wand--but a Cross. By His presence at the wedding feast in Cana of Galilee, Christ consecrated and sanctified marriage. By His preaching during His Public Life, He sanctioned the essential properties of marriage; its unity, its indissolubility. By His Death on the Cross He merited all the graces which are administered through the sacrament of Matrimony.

There is another similarity between the action of Cinderella's fairy god-mother and the action of Our Divine Lord. Cinderella was good, a hard-working girl; but her condition had been reduced to slavery by the abuse heaped upon her by her miserable sisters. Marriage as it came from the Hand of God in the garden of Eden was good. The divinely established purpose of marriage was good. Through the years, however, this sublime institution was desecrated by the twin sisters of lust and selfishness.

By the fire of His love for men, Christ cauterized marriage of its pagan corruption. He purged it of its cancerous infection. Bandaging up the wounds inflicted by centuries of malpractice, He restored marriage to its primitive perfection. The original beauty and luster of marriage Christ renewed, but He changed nothing essential. Whatever came from God in marriage, He retained, for it was good, whatever came from the malice of men, He eradicated, for it was evil. Christ did more than restore marriage to its former beauty, He not only purified it; He sanctified it; He made it holy; He raised marriage to the sublime dignity of a sacrament.

Channel of Grace

In elevating marriage to the dignity of a sacrament, then, Our Divine Lord made it one of the links which unite men to His Passion. He made it one of the channels through which His grace could flow into the souls of men. He made it one of the instruments which can sanctify the lives of men, one of the instruments which can make men holy. Since it is grace that makes men holy, it is the grace that the sacrament of Matrimony causes which is able to make married men and women holy. Theologians tell us that there is a threefold supernatural effect of marriage, a triple grace which this sacrament causes: an increase in sanctifying grace, sacramental grace, and a right or title to actual grace. Our task here is to discover the role of each of these graces in the life of husband and wife. In so doing, we shall discover the sanctifying power of Christian marriage.

Sanctifying Grace

Just exactly what is sanctifying grace? What do we mean when we say that one of the effects of sacramental marriage is an increase in sanctifying grace? No doubt you have heard it described as a white and shining dress that clothes the soul; a wedding garment which must be worn to the heavenly nuptials; a pearl of great price; a treasure hidden in a field. These are all true, but they are metaphors. What is sanctifying grace in itself? Most people think of it as something strictly supernatural; something mysterious; something imaginary. Well, it is supernatural, something above our nature; it is mysterious, something we do not understand. But it is not imaginary! It is real! You do not see it; you cannot feel it. It is spiritual, even as your soul is spiritual. You cannot see or touch your soul, but you would not deny the reality of your soul. So also is grace real. It is a real quality placed in your soul by God; a real quality which modifies your soul. It disposes your soul; it brings your soul into perfect harmony with God. As we look at a group of engaged couples we see that all the young men are strong and handsome; all the young ladies are charming and beautiful. That beauty and that health are qualities, dispositions of your bodies. So grace is a quality, a disposition of your soul, which makes your soul strong and healthy and beautiful in the sight of God. As the air we breathe penetrates every nook and cranny of the room we are in, so God's grace penetrates the very marrow of your soul, cleansing it of imperfections, purifying it, making it pleasing in God's sight.

Sharing Divine Life

This sanctifying grace, this real spiritual disposition in your soul, is nothing else than a participation in the very life of God. According to St. Peter, it makes men "partakers of the divine nature" (II Peter, I, 4). It does not make men gods; but it does make men God-like. Everyone in the state of grace lives a supernatural life; everyone in the state of grace shares with Christ divine life.

Grace Perfects Nature

A young couple, therefore, beginning their married life together, are already united by the mystical bond of sanctifying grace. Having already received the sacraments of Baptism, Penance, Confirmation, and the Holy Eucharist, they possess sanctifying grace in their souls. Even before they are joined by the sacred bond of Matrimony they share with each other the common life of Christ. When they receive this sacrament that supernatural life which is sanctifying grace is increased, and it penetrates their natural life through and through. It transforms and makes divine their natural lives. Their natural qualities of mind and heart, grace perfects and supernaturalizes. The young wife is kind, sympathetic, gentle; the young husband is thoughtful, generous, good-natured. These natural dispositions are not changed by grace. Ten minutes after the wedding ceremony--as well as ten years afterwards--the husband and wife still possess their natural characteristics. Grace does not crush them, but rather blends them, elevates them to the supernatural order, transforms them into Christ-like virtues. It channels them into the service of each other and the service of God. Just as electricity is transformed into light and heat, giving warmth and illumination to their bodies, so grace transforms the natural capabilities which give light and warmth to their hearts. The snow which falls on the trees does not destroy the tree, but clothes it in a dress of white; so grace makes the natural powers of their souls shine brilliantly in the sight of God. Above all, their natural love and affection for each other, removed by grace from the slush of concupiscence, is sanctified and transformed into a pure and sacred passion. Their purified love becomes a high and holy romance.

The sanctifying power of Matrimony is, therefore, derived first of all from the increase of sanctifying grace in the soul. At the moment when the sacrament is received, a channel opens between the souls of the bride and groom and the Passion of Christ, and grace--supernatural, mysterious divine life--pours into their souls to make them holy.

Sacramental Grace

Marriage is a vocation, a noble, divine vocation. By a divine vocation we mean a special calling by Almighty God. No one has any difficulty in recognizing that a vocation to the priesthood or the religious life is a special calling. It is a distinct, solemn, personal call from God to an individual man or woman. In His loving Providence, God has His own definite designs on each of His children. For some He plans a sacred vocation to the priesthood or cloister. For others He plans a sacred vocation to the married state. To one He offers the sacrament of Holy Orders; to another He offers the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. To everyone God gives the grace to live his vocation worthily.

In order that the Blessed Virgin might carry out her sublime duties as the Mother of God, her soul was flooded with grace. Mary had a special calling, and, therefore, she received a special grace. St. Dominic was called by God to special duties in the Church--the founding of a religious order. God gave to him the special talents, the special equipment, the special grace necessary for such a tremendous undertaking. It is always thus. God is never inconsistent. Whenever He calls someone to a special office or a special duty, He always supplies the necessary grace to carry out that duty. In those called to the priesthood, He infuses special sacramental grace--grace which will enable the priest to perform his duties worthily. To those whom He has given a vocation to marriage, God also gives special sacramental grace. When the bride and bridegroom exchange their consent, they receive the sacrament, and it is then that God gives them the grace to their vocation--the sacramental grace of Matrimony. Grace makes a person holy. The sacramental grace of marriage makes married persons holy. It is God's wedding gift to the bride and groom--a wedding gift that will perfect their conjugal love, that will preserve their fidelity to the marital obligations, that will enable them to educate their children in the ways of God. On the day of their wedding, "they open for themselves a treasure of sacramental grace from which they draw supernatural power for the fulfilling of their rights and duties faithfully, holily, and perseveringly unto death" ("Casti Conubii").

"The primary end of marriage is the procreation and education of children; its secondary end is mutual help and the allaying of concupiscence" (Code of Canon Law, No. 1013). The sacramental grace which God infuses at the time of marriage is a permanent disposition in the soul which inclines the husband and wife to attain these purposes with holy regard for God's law, and, in attaining the ends of marriage to sanctify themselves, to make themselves holy. Sacramental grace, God's wedding gift, is the second source, or font, of holiness in Christian marriage.

Actual Grace

How different is God's wedding gift from the gifts of human parents. A father presents his son with a new car for a wedding gift. On the day of the wedding he gives him a check for a thousand dollars and says: "All right, son, now you're on your own." What the father means is that from the day of the wedding the son can expect no more help from his father. The recipients of the sacrament of Matrimony can expect God's help not only on the wedding day, but every single day of their married life. They can expect that divine help because they have a right to it. This is the third supernatural effect of the sacrament--a right to all the actual graces necessary for living holy lives in the married state.

Sanctifying grace and sacramental grace are permanent qualities, lasting dispositions, existing in the soul. They remain as long as mortal sin does not crowd them out of the soul. Actual grace, on the other hand, does not exist permanently in the soul. It is not an habitual disposition in the soul. Rather is it a special help, a special divine motion, here and now assisting man to perform a particular good action or to avoid a particular bad action. After the good action has been performed or after the temptation has been overcome, the actual grace, the movement from God ceases. It is a passing, transient assistance which God gives in time of necessity.

When the sacrament of Matrimony is received--at the very same moment when sanctifying grace and sacramental grace are infused into their souls, the bride and groom also receive a right, a title to this actual grace of God. God binds Himself, so to speak, directly to assist the married couple whenever they need His help. Here again there is a similarity between the sacraments of Holy Orders and Holy Matrimony. At ordination, a supernatural character is impressed on the soul of the priest. In virtue of that priestly character, God obliges Himself directly to concur with the action of the priest.

Every Day in Every Way

In the sacrament of Matrimony, there is no character impressed upon the soul of the husband or wife; there is formed, however, a moral bond which permanently unites the couple. By reason of that moral bond, God obliges Himself to assist the couple whenever they need the strengthening power of actual grace. Since the matrimonial bond cannot be broken, it remains a permanent title to divine assistance. God, Who is ever merciful, will not be found wanting. He will give His actual grace--not just during the wedding ceremony so that the bride will not faint, so that the groom will not stumble up the altar stairs--not just during the wedding ritual, or not just during the honeymoon, but every moment of every day of every year of their married life.

Almighty God knows the frailty of human nature; He knows the limited strength of man; He knows that raging passions sometimes crave sinful satisfaction; He knows how great the fears that gnaw at human hearts; He knows the abysmal depths of sin to which man can plunge. And He knows that these are the elements which cause the temptations, the failures, the pain, the sorrow in married life. God knows all this. Because He knows full well the human mind and heart, because God knows man so well, He is ever present with His Divine grace to turn failure into success, pain into pleasure, sorrow into joy, fear and disappointment into high hopes, and to turn a perilous voyage on the sea of matrimony into a peaceful moonlight sail.

The Midnight Hour

One brief consideration remains. Let us, just for a moment, return to Cinderella. When the fairy godmother changed Cinderella into a charming princess, she placed a condition, a stipulation. Cinderella must be obedient; she would have to return home early; for at the stroke of midnight, she would be changed back into her wretched condition.

Almighty God has placed a condition on the graces which He gives in Christian marriage. He will continue to sanctify marriage. He will continue to sanctify those who are married--with His presence through sanctifying grace and with His assistance through actual grace--as long as the husband and wife are obedient to His commandments, as long as they walk worthy of the vocation in which they are called. If they desecrate the sacredness of marriage by violating their marriage vows, if they destroy the sanctity of the Christian home by unholy practices, if they kill the supernatural life of their souls through grave sin, then the peace and happiness which He has promised in marriage will not be theirs.

We are living in a materialistic society, a society which, denying the spiritual order, measures all things in terms of material or earthly values. The dignity of the human person is scoffed at and, therefore, the sanctity of marriage is ridiculed. Adultery, divorce, birth control, every type of impurity is no longer looked upon as sinful, as base and disgraceful. It is justified even praised, by some allegedly learned scientists. In the wake of this materialistic living, we find broken homes, diseased bodies, neurotic souls. The hospitals of the world are overflowing with men and women who deny the dignity of the human person and the sanctity of marriage. Even more terrifying is the thought that Hell is probably overflowing with the same type of people!

That is why the Christian home and Christian marriage must be immersed in prayer. That is why constant recourse must be made to Christ Our Lord who gave us the Great Sacrament. That is why husbands and wives, fathers and mothers with their children, must be on their knees every day praying to Mary, the Mediatrix of All Grace. That is why in the exhortation after the marriage ceremony, the priest charges the newly married couple: "Cherish with solicitude the grace that this day has been conferred upon you; it will direct you in every difficulty; it will comfort you in the hour of trial; it will be a continual source of peace, of joy, of mutual affection on earth, and a pledge of your eternal union in heaven" (Roman Ritual).


1. Was the natural institution of marriage good?

2. How did marriage become a source of grace?

3. What is the ultimate source of the grace of Matrimony?

4. What is sanctifying grace?

5. What other means of grace are available to a man and woman even before marriage?

6. Is marriage a special vocation?

7. How does Canon Law define the purposes of marriage?

8. What is meant by "God's wedding gift?"

9. What is the difference between sacramental grace and actual grace?

10. How does sacramental grace work in the soul?

11. Under what conditions may a couple expect to receive grace during their married life?

12. Why must the Christian home be "immersed in prayer?"


1. In sacramental marriage, is everything a husband and wife do a source of grace?

2. Is this sacrament, with all its graces, received by both parties whether Catholic or non-Catholic?

3. Does not the grace of the sacrament of Matrimony take the husband and wife "out of this world" and make them impractical about human affairs?

4. Since grace does so much in marriage, why bother about social and economic preparation?

5. Does every sacrament bring with it sacramental grace?



The Priest asks the Bridegroom:

N., wilt thou take N., here present, for thy lawful wife, according to the rite of our Holy Mother, the Church?

Response: I will.

Then the Priest asks the Bride:

N., wilt thou take N., here present, for thy lawful husband, according to the rite of our holy Mother, the Church?

Response: I will.

The consent of one is not sufficient; it must be expressed in some sensible sign by both. After obtaining their mutual consent, the Priest bids the man and woman join their right hands. (In places where it is customary, the man and woman pledge themselves each to the other as follows, repeating these words after the priest.)

The man says:

I, N. N., take thee, N. N., for my lawful wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.

Then the woman says after the Priest:

I, N. N., take thee, N. N., for my lawful husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.

The Bridegroom and the Bride may kneel, and the Priest says:

I join you together in marriage, in the name of the Father, + and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

He then sprinkles them with holy water. This done, the Priest blesses the ring, saying:

Versicle: Our help is in the name of the Lord.

Response: Who made heaven and earth.

V.: O Lord, hear my prayer.

R.: And let my cry come unto Thee.

V.: The Lord be with you.

R.: And with thy spirit.

Let us pray: Bless + O Lord, this ring, which we bless + in Thy name, that she who is to wear it, keeping true faith unto her husband, may abide in Thy peace and obedience to Thy will, and ever live in mutual love. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Priest sprinkles the ring with holy water in the form of a cross; and the Bridegroom, having received the ring from the hand of the Priest, put it on the third finger of the left hand of the Bride, saying:

"With this ring I thee wed, and plight unto thee my troth." (Plight is an old English word which means promise; troth means faithfulness or fidelity. The sentence then means: "With this ring l thee wed and promise unto thee my fidelity.")

The Priest then says:

In the name of the Father + and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

This done, the Priest adds:

V.: Preserve, O God, what Thou hast wrought in us.

R.: From out Thy holy temple which is in Jerusalem.

V.: Lord, have mercy.

R.: Christ, have mercy.

V.: Lord, have mercy.

Our Father (silently)

V.: And lead us not into temptation.

R.: But deliver us from evil.

V.: Save Thy servants.

R.: Who put their trust in Thee, my God.

V.: Send them help from the holy place.

R.: And from Sion come to their defense.

V.: Be Thou to them, O Lord, a tower of strength.

R.: Against the face of the enemy.

V.: O Lord, hear my prayer.

R.: And let my cry come unto Thee.

V.: The Lord be with you.

R.: And with thy spirit.

Let us pray: Look down, we beseech Thee, O Lord, upon these Thy servants, and graciously protect Thy institutions, whereby Thou hast provided for the propagation of mankind; that those who are joined together by Thine authority may be preserved by Thy help. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Mass follows with the Nuptial Blessing.


The Introit or Officium. Tobias 7,15; 8,9

May the God of Israel join you together; And may He be with you, who took pity upon two only children; And now, O Lord, make them bless Thee more and more.

Psalm 127. Blessed are all who fear the Lord. Who walk in His paths. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be world without end. Amen.

May the God of Israel join you together; And may He be with you, who took pity upon two only children; And now, O Lord, make them bless Thee more and more.

The Collect.

Let us pray. O God, who hast consecrated the marriage bond by so excelling a mystery, that in the nuptial bond Thou should foreshadow the sacrament of Christ and the church; grant, we ask, that what is done by the ministry of our office may be fully perfected by Thy blessing. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God: world without end. Amen.

The Epistle. Ephesians 5, 22-33

Brethren: Let wives be subject to their husbands as to the Lord; because a husband is head of the wife, just as Christ is head of the Church, being Himself Saviour of the body. But just as the Church is subject to Christ, so also let wives be to their husbands in all things. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the Church, and delivered Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, cleansing her in the bath of water by means of the word; in order that He might present to Himself the Church in all her glory, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she might be holy and without blemish. Even thus ought husbands also love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife, loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh; on the contrary he nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ also does the Church (because we are members of His body, made from His flesh and His bones).

"For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh."

This is a great mystery--I mean in reference to Christ and to the Church. However, let each one of you also love his wife just as he loves himself; and let the wife respect her husband.

The Gradual or Responsory. Psalm 127,3

Thy wife is like a fruitful vine, In the inmost parts of the house: Thy sons are like shoots of the olive, Round about thy board. Alleluia, alleluia.

Psalm 19. May the Lord send you help from the sanctuary. And from Sion may He guard you! Alleluia.

(After Septuagesima, time of penance, the Gradual above is said up to the first alleluia only, when the following tract is added):

The Tract. Psalm 127, 4-6

Yea, thus is he blessed Who feareth the Lord. May the Lord bless thee from Sion: Mayest thou see the weal of Jerusalem, All the days of thy life. Mayest thou see thy children's children. Peace be on Israel! (During Eastertide all the above is omitted and the following is laid):

The Alleluia.

Alleluia, alleluia. Psalm 19, 3. May He send thee help from the sanctuary, And from Sion may he guard thee!

Psalm 133. May the Lord bless thee from Sion, He who made heaven and earth! Alleluia!

The Gospel. SS. Matthew 19, 3-6

At that time: There came to Him some Pharisees, testing Him, and saying, "Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for any cause?" But He answered and said to them "Have you not read that the Creator from the beginning, made them male and female, and said. 'For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one 'flesh'? Therefore now they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder."

The Offertory Chant. Psalm 30

I put my trust in Thee, O Lord! I say: Thou art my God! In Thy hands is my fate.

The Secret.

Receive, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the offering made for the holy law of marriage; and be Thou ruler of this institution of which Thou art author. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God: world without end. Amen.

After the "Our Father" the Priest interrupts the usual sequence of the Mall, and turning to the bridal couple who kneel before the altar, confer the Nuptial Blessing upon them.


Let us pray: Be appeased, O Lord, by our humble prayers, and in Thy kindness assist this institution of marriage which Thou hast ordained for the propagation of the human race; so that what is here joined by Thy authority may be preserved by Thy assistance, Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God for ever and ever. Amen.

Let us pray: O God, by Thy mighty power Thou didst make all things out of nothing. First, Thou didst set the beginnings of the universe in order. Then, Thou didst make man in Thy image, and didst appoint woman to be his inseparable helpmate. Thus Thou didst make woman's body from the flesh of man, thereby teaching that what Thou hast been pleased to institute from one principle might never lawfully be put asunder. O God, Thou hast sanctified marriage by a mystery so excellent that in the marriage union Thou didst foreshadow the union of Christ and the Church.

O God, Thou dost join woman to man, and Thou dost endow that fellowship with a blessing which was not taken away in punishment for original sin nor by the sentence of the flood. Look, in Thy mercy, upon this Thy handmaid, about to be joined in wedlock, who entreats Thee to protect and strengthen her. Let the yoke of marriage to her be one of love and peace. Faithful and chaste, let her marry in Christ. Let her ever follow the model of holy women: let her be dear to her husband like Rachel; wise like Rebecca; long-lived and faithful like Sarah.

Let the author of sin work none of his evil deeds within her; let her ever keep the faith and the commandments.

Let her be true to one wedlock and shun all sinful embraces; let her strengthen weakness by stern discipline. Let her be grave in demeanor, honorable for her modesty, learned in heavenly .doctrine, fruitful in children. Let her life be good and innocent. Let her come finally to the rest of the blessed in the kingdom of heaven.

May they both see their children's children unto the third and fourth generation, thus attaining the old age which they desire. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God for ever and ever. Amen.

The Communion. Psalm 127

Yes, thus is blessed the man, Who feareth the Lord. And mayest thou see thy children's children. Peace be on Israel! (T.P. Alleluia)

The Postcommunion.

Let us pray: We beseech Thee, almighty God, accompany the institutions of Thy providence with gracious favor; that Thou mayest preserve with lasting piety those whom Thou unitest in lawful union. Through our Lord, Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God: world without end. Amen.

Before the Last Blessing of the Mass, the priest once more turns to the bridal couple. These are the final good wishes, the final prayer of the Church for the married. Afterwards the priest blesses them with holy water.

May the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob be with you, and may He bless you greatly in every way; that you may see your children's children unto the third and fourth generations, and therefore enjoy without end the blessed life of heaven, with the help of Jesus Christ our Lord, who with the Father and the Holy Ghost, lives and reigns, God through all eternity. Amen.

(The priest continues with the Mass, giving the Last Blessing and concluding with the Last Gospel.)


CANA IS FOREVER, by Rev. Charles Hugo Doyle, xii, 260 pages, The Nugent Press, Tarrytown, N. Y. (1949). $2.50--Essays on Christian Marriage for those contemplating it as a career and for those already married who are beset by the complexity of human nature.

MARRIAGE GUIDANCE, by Rev. Edwin F. Healy, S.J., xvi, 411 pages. Loyola University Press, Chicago, Ill. (1948). $3.00--A study of the problems of the married and those contemplating marriage, written especially for use at the college level.

LIFE TOGETHER, by Wingfield Hope, viii, 199 pages. Sheed and Ward, New York City. (1946) S2.50--A thoroughly Christian study of the "pattern for marriage" and family life. Frank but delicate treatment of the problems, both personal and social. Recommended not only for those about to be married, but for all husbands and wives as well.

THE HOUSE OF GOLD, by Rev. Bede Jarrett, O.P., 292 pages. The Newman Press, Westminster, Maryland. (1930) $2.50--A collection of Lenten sermons by the great English Dominican preacher.

THE CATHOLIC BOOK OF MARRIAGE, by Rev. Philip C. M. Kelly, C.S.C., xiii, 297 pages. Farrar, Straus & Young, Inc., New York, 1951. $3.00.---The Marriage ceremony and counsels for success and happiness in married life.

LOVE'S ROSES AND THORNS, by Rev. Nicholas Kremer, 331 pages. The Mission Press, Techny, Ill. (1931) $2.00--Radio talks containing a wealth of commonsense told in a very delightful way.

MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY, by Rev. Jacques Leclercq, xx, 395 pages. Frederick Pustet Co., New York City. (Revised 1948) $4.50--One of the best social studies in the field. A scholarly treatment with frequent philosophical and theological references, yet quite readable.

NAZARETH, by Rev. M. S. MacMahon, 278 pages. The Newman Press, Westminster, Maryland. (1948) $2.50--This little book is sub- titled "A book of counsel and prayer for the married." It has a prayer for every possible occasion of married life, along with special instructions for special problems.

THE ART OF HAPPY MARRIAGE, by Rev. James A. Magner, The Bruce Publishing Co., Milwaukee. (1947) $2.75--A pleasing discussion of the problems before and after marriage.

THIS IS A GREAT SACRAMENT, the Marriage Preparation Service. The Catholic Centre, Ottowa, Ontario, Canada.--This is by far the best course on Marriage Preparation. In fifteen separate lessons the problems are taken up, one by one, arranged with questions after each lesson to make study and review more attractive. Circulation is restricted to those specially recommended by the clergy.

TWO IN ONE FLESH, by Rev. E. C. Messenger. 3 vols. on Sex and Marriage. The Newman Press, Westminster, Maryland. 1948. ($7.50 for the set.) Under the headings, "An Introduction to Sex and Marriage," "The Mystery of Sex and Marriage in Catholic Theology," and "The Practice of Sex and Marriage," Dr. Messenger has a scholar treatise of the Catholic viewpoint.

BODY AND SPIRIT, translated by Donald Attwater. Longmans, Green, New York, (1939).--A collection of essays written from the standpoint of agreement with the teaching of the Catholic Church on sexuality and sexual relations.

MORALS AND MARRIAGE, by T. G. Wayne. Longmans, Green, New York, (1936).--This small book with the subtitle "The Catholic Background to Sex," is written by a professor of theology and a doctor of Catholic philosophy, a member of the English Province of the Order of Preachers. T. G. Wayne is a nom de plume.

THE CANA CONFERENCE, edited by Rev. John J. Egan. The Cana Conference, Chicago, (1950).--This book of about 100 pages is a report of the proceedings of a Study Week for Priests held at the Dominican House of Studies in River Forest, Ill., in June 1949, under the direct auspices of His Eminence Samuel Cardinal Stritch.

THE FAMILY FOR FAMILIES, by Rev. Francis L. Filas, S.J., The Bruce Publishing Co., Milwaukee. (1950) $2.50. A book to show Catholic husbands and wives how to reproduce in their own homes the spirit of holiness and happiness that prevailed at Bethlehem and at Nazareth.


MORAL QUESTIONS AFFECTING MARRIED LIFE, by Pope Pius XII, The Paulist Press, New York, 1951. The text of the Holy Father's Allocution delivered on October 29, 1951, to the delegates attending the Congress of the Italian Catholic Union of Midwives.

MODERN YOUTH AND CHASTITY, by Rev. Gerald Kelly, S.J., The Queen's Work, St. Louis, Ninth Printing, 1949.--A careful presentation of the psychology of sex attraction and the moral principles to guide its expression. This booklet of 100 pages will answer most of the questions that arise during courtship and will help to establish rules for healthy adjustment in married life.

OUR GREAT SACRAMENT, by Rev. John F. O'Neil. St. Mary's Church, Pawtucket, R. I. Nine short chapters covering the essentials of preparation for marriage.

WHAT IS MARRIAGE?, by Rev. A. Vermeersch, S.J., The America Press, New York. The text of Pope Pius' Encyclical on Christian Marriage is broken down into 188 questions and answers. Splendid for study clubs.

CHRISTIAN MARRIED LOVE, by Rev. Gerald Vann, O.P. Collegeville, Minn. 1950.--A profound study of the beauty of married love by a great theologian.


Abortion Abuse of sex Actual grace Adoption Adultery Affection, demonstrations of Affinity Age, lack of Anatomy of sex Atheism Attacks on marriage Attraction, physical

Banns Bartholome, Bishop Beauty of marriage Birth Control Birth controllers Blessing, nuptial Blessings of marriage Blood test Boss Boys Town Breast-feeding Budget

Cana Conference Cana day Cana movement Cana wedding feast Catholic Mother of Year Catholic Press Ceremony, marriage Channel of grace Children Children, how many? Children, good of Child-spacing Christian Marriage Christianizing marriage Church investigation Church law Civil law Civil preparations Cinderella Clean of heart Compatibility Compatibility, religious Compatibility, social Compatibility, true Complementary, man and woman Conception Consanguinity Continence Contraception Contract, Marriage Courtship

Dad, a pal Delaney, Rev. John Destroying Impediments Diriment Impediments Discipline for children Discovery era Divorce Double-date Dowling, Rev. Edward

Economic Goods, kinds of Economic Factor Education, Catholic Education, Family Life Education, Sex Engagement Engagement, long Engagement ring Equality of sexes Eternal Triangle

Family, Foundation of Family Life Bureau Family Renewal Ass'n Family, the large Fear of Pregnancy Female Physiology Feminine Modesty Feminists Fertility Fertilization Fidelity, Good of Flannagan, Father Foundation of Family Forum, Marriage Free Love Freedom to Marry Freud Frigidity Fruit of Marriage

God's Help God's Wedding Gift Going Steady Goods of Marriage Grace, Actual Grace, Channel of Grace, of Marriage Grace perfects Nature Grace, Sacramental Grace, Sanctifying

Happy Marriage Heredity Holy Orders Homemaking Humor, sense of

Impediments Impediments, Destroying Impediments, Diriment Impediments, Prohibitive Impotency Indissolubility Individualism Industrialization Infertility, Natural In-Laws Inspiration Institution of Marriage Instruction before Marriage Inventory, Marriage Investigation, Church Investigation, Civil

Jarrett, Fr. Bede Justice in Marriage Juvenile Court

Lactation Large Family Law, Church Law, Civil Laws, Reasons for License Life Together Love, Kinds of Love, Married Love, Soul of

Maladjustments, Sexual Male Physiology Man and Woman Marriage, Blessings of Marriage Ceremony Marriage Contract Marriage, Forum Marriage, Good of Marriage, Institution Marriage Inventory Marriage Ministers of Marriage, Mixed Marriage, Novitiate to Marriage Purpose of Marriage Sacrament of Marriage, Sacrifice in Marriage, Vocation of Marriage and Society Married Love Married Students Mass, Nuptial Materialism Menopause Mental requirements Ministers of Marriage Misinformation, agencies of Mixed Marriage Mixed, Promises in Modern Marriage Modern Motherhood Modesty Modesty, Feminine Money Mother Church Mother or Child Mothers, Working

Natural Infertility Natural Law Naturalism Novitiate to Marriage Nuptial Blessing Nuptial Mass

Old Folks Only Child Original Sin and Marriage Ottawa Marriage Course Ovulation

Partnership Pius XI, Pope Philosophy, Social Physical Examination Physical Attraction Physical Requirements Physiology, Female Physiology, Male Physiology of Sex Postponing Conception Prayer Pre-Cana Pregnancy Pregnancy, Fear of Pre-Marital Sex Preparation, Necessity of Preparations, Church Preparations, Civil Press, The Catholic Priesthood, Vocation to Prohibitive Impediments Promises in Mixed Marriage Psychology of Sex Public Decency Purpose of Marriage

Rachel Rebecca Relationship, Affinity Relationship, Consanguinity Relationship, Spiritual Religious Compatibility Requirements, Mental Requirements, Physical Responsibilities of Marriage Rh Factor Ring, Engagement Ring, Wedding Rhythm

Sacrament, Good of Sacrament of Marriage Sacramental Grace Sacrifice in Marriage Sanctifying Grace Sarah Schmiedeler, Rev. Edgar Secularism Self-discipline Self-seeking pleasure Sense of humor Setting the date Sex, abuse of Sex, Anatomy of Sex, and Marriage Sex, education Sex Pre-marital Sex Physiology of Sex, psychology of Sexual maladjustments Sheen, Bishop Fulton J. Social Compatibility Social Philosophy Society's interest Solemn Vows Spiritual Relationship St. Cloud plan Sterility Temptations in Marriage The Lord Provides This is a Great Sacrament Triangle, Eternal

Understanding Urbanization

Vacations, separate Virtues Vocation Vocation, Married

Wedding Gift, God's Wedding Ring Who's boss? Window-shopping Working Mothers Working Wives