Palace of Joy and Peace

Author: Catherine Doherty

A PALACE OF JOY AND PEACE by Catherine Doherty

(This continues Catherine's thoughts on family life.)

* * * We've been discussing here the "re-christianization of the home."

Pope Pius XII told me (in a private audience I had with him in 1951) that lay groups should help restore the family to Christ, no matter what other aims and goals may be theirs.

Basically, the restoration of any life begins with an examination of conscience. So the first question for parents to ask themselves is: "What is our attitude to God - and to each other?"

We have already outlined, sketchily, some searching questions about this first part. Let us now try to touch lightly on the second part.

To begin with, parents are human beings who usually do not know each other very well. They happen to meet; they 'fall in love'; and they decide to marry.

But what do they really know of each another? And what do they know about this glorious, beautiful vocation of marriage they are about to enter into?

It is one of the 'hardest' vocations there is! Priests have long years of preparation. So do all religious, male and female. But who of us gets prepared for marriage? And where is its novitiate?

The learning process should have begun at the knees of our father and mother, with their example. Long ago, perhaps, in other generations, it did.

Back to the present topic: boy and girl about to marry. They are 'in love'. But *do* they love? Do they understand that theirs is a 'vocation' (a God-given 'calling') to love? And to love so well that their children will learn love just by being their children and going to the 'school' of their love?

Do they comprehend that love means total surrender? In this case, to one another ... out of love for God and for each other?

Do they realize that love doesn't use the pronoun 'I'? That it is never selfish or self-centered?

So much depends on the answers to these questions! And who of us can truthfully say, as we enter marriage, that we know these answers?

Take the idea of 'rights' for example. True, before the law (civil and church), a husband and wife have certain rights. That is as it should be, for life is complex and human nature *is* human nature!

And yet, rights are often relinquished for the sake of love. A woman who grows up in the American culture will feel that she has the inherent right of free travelling and movement. And yet, out of love for God, she may enclose herself - voluntarily - in a strict convent and become a cloistered nun. She surrenders her rights - for love's sake!

So it is with a husband and wife. The two are to become one. They leave their parents, their maternal home, to cleave to one another, and to eventually become 'one flesh'.

This means a surrender, a giving of oneself ... until, in truth the two *are* one flesh, one mind, one heart, one soul!

For those who understand the vocation of marriage (and alas, how few there are!) the veil of faith becomes gossamer thin. The depths of its mysteries are seen ... as at Communion, when husband and wife are one in the heart of Christ.

Now *that* is where the oneness is felt most deeply by those who believe, and who, believing, *see!*

The oneness of the marital vocation ... the oneness of love, in mind, heart, soul, and body ... of a man and woman bound by the soft, yet unbreakable, bonds of an awesome sacrament: *this* is what will form a home.

It doesn't matter if this 'home' is a palace or a hovel (or anything in between); or whether comfortable or uncomfortable (by our crazy modern standards)!

*Home* is not a dwelling built by hands. It is built by *Love!* It is built by that unity, that oneness, which turns a veritable hovel into a palace of joy and peace. This transformation takes place because the tranquility of God's order reigns in the heart of it.

Such a home - and all that goes into making that home - will form strong, sound, mentally healthy parents ... and children.

In such an atmosphere, there will be no juvenile delinquency or marital problems or child-parent clashes. Each individual will find love ... and hence security (which alone promotes that emotional health we call *maturity*).

It will be a place where the calendar years and the emotional years blend.

[This article was copied from the July-August 1994 "RESTORATION", the publication of Madonna House Inc., Combermere, Ontario, Canada, K0J 1L0. Italics in the original article are indicated by *asterisks*. Catherine DeHueck Doherty founded the Madonna House Apostolate as a training center for the lay apostolate at the request of P.Pius XII in the late 1940's. Read "Tumbleweed" ISBN 0921440-12-X for a very readable, engaging, and exciting account of this remarkable woman's life.]

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