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So far, in our discussion of the fulfilling of the life of Christ that is in our soul from baptism, we have made little mention of the usual type of external good works that are generally considered a major part of the spiritual life, such as social work and philanthropy. One of the reasons for our silence is because these works are only really valuable for sanctification when they arise from an interior life of union with God. “If I have not charity it profiteth me nothing” (1 Cor 13:3). There is further the fact that too many Catholics consider such works to be the essential part of their Catholic life—whereas these works are merely one of the possible external expressions of the true spiritual life which, like the kingdom of God, is within us.

There is also a certain lack of due perspective in our estimation of the relative importance of such works. Sunday, we all admit, is a day for certain religious exercises. On weekdays the more fervent will adopt certain voluntary practices, daily Mass, or a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, for example. If something further is desired, it generally takes the form of some social work. Once that is done, there is generally a vague feeling that religion has purely a negative concern with the rest of the day; that the most one can do with the rest of one’s time, as far as religion is concerned, is to avoid sin and possibly fit in a few extra prayers.

Now, since we are members of Christ, this view is obviously wrong; for we are His members—and He is our life—in everything we do. So that every single action of our lives should come under the influence of our religion. And so should our relations with every single person we meet during the day, for they must all be regulated by Christian charity. And if we seek for a further exercise of that Christian charity, we should begin with the person who has the greatest claim upon that charity. And that person is not society in general. For the most important person in the world to a married man should be, and must be—his wife. Therefore, after their personal practices, the spiritual life of married people—in its external expression—begins in their relation with each other; and this relation is always one of its most important expressions and certainly that which is primary.

No romantic novelist, no poetic idealist, no impractical dreamer, has ever dared set so romantic an ideal for married love as God does by the pen of St. Paul:

Let women be subject to their husbands, as to the Lord: because the husband is the head of his wife, as Christ is the head of the Church. He is the Savior of his body. Therefore, as the Church is subject to Christ, so also let wives be subject to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives as Christ also loved the Church and delivered himself up for it; that he might sanctify it, cleansing it by the lover of water in the word of life that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy, and without blemish. So also ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife, loveth himself. For no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, as also doth Christ the Church; because we are members of his body, of his flesh and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife and they shall be two in one flesh. This is the great sacrament, but I speak in Christ and in the Church. (Eph 5:22–32)

In other words, not only is the love and mutual surrender of Christ and His Church the model proposed by God for the love and mutual surrender of husband and wife, but their union is also a “sacrament” of that union of Christ and His Church. Writing on this very point, Pius XI reminds husband and wife that the love of Christ for His church should be their model. He continues:

This precept the apostle laid down when he said: “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved His Church”; which of a truth He loved with a boundless love, not for the sake of His own advantage, but seeking only the good of His spouse.

The Holy Father continues:

Their love then, is not that based on the passing lust of the moment nor does it consist in pleasing words only, but in deep attachment of the heart which is expressed in action, since love is proved by deeds. This outward expression of love in the home not only demands mutual help, but must go further; it must have as its primary purpose that man and wife help each other day by day in forming and perfecting themselves in the interior life; so that by their partnership in life they may advance ever more and more in virtue, and above all that they may grow in that true love towards God and their neighbor, on which dependeth the whole Law and the Prophets.

For all men of every condition, in whatever honorable walk of life they may be, can and ought to imitate that most perfect example of holiness placed before man by God, namely, Christ, our Lord, and by God’s grace arrive at the summit of perfection, as is proved by the example of many saints.[143]

We would draw the reader’s attention to the last passage of the above quotation. It contains a sufficient refutation of a widely current error, which suggests that marriage is not a state in which sanctity can be sought or achieved. For we see that not only can married people “arrive at the summit of perfection,” but they ought to do so; so far from being an obstacle, their married life is a means to this end.

It is clear that Christian marriage is a union of love, both natural and supernatural. It would be highly imprudent to assume that the sacramental power may be properly invoked in advance to make a success of a union that is doomed to failure from its very conception by a lack of any degree of that mutual love which moves a man and a woman to give themselves completely to one another. Let it not be thought that marriage is a mere physical union. To quote Pius XI:

By matrimony the souls of the contracting parties are joined and knit together more directly and more intimately than their bodies, and that not by any passing affection of sense or spirit, but by a deliberate and firm act of the will, and from this union of souls by God’s decree, a sacred and inviolable bond arises.

What really happens then in true Christian marriage is that a man and a woman, abandoning their own individual life, give themselves completely to one another, as Christ does to His Church (only think of Christ giving Himself in Holy Communion!) and together form one new unit, living one new life. They are not only two in one flesh, they are two in one life.

The standard then set for married love by St. Paul is very high. The man is to love his wife “as Christ loved the Church and delivered himself up for it.” And Christ delivered himself up to death, even to the death of the cross, for His spouse the Church. And St. Paul connects that very headship of the family which he gives to the man with his willingness to deliver himself up for his wife, where he writes: “He is the Savior of his body.”

This, you may say, is an ideal beyond human attainment. Perhaps. But marriage is not a mere human union. It is a supernatural union, a sacrament that gives grace—that sharing of Christ’s strength—to enable the two partners to achieve this ideal. In point of fact, it takes three to make a happy marriage: a man, a woman, and God. And there is a sense in which it could be said that these three are one. For they are certainly one in Christ.

Marriage, being a sacrament, not only gives that increase in supernatural grace which is the effect of all the sacraments, but it gives a special grace and assistance for all the difficulties and decisions that belong to married life. That is the reason why we can set such a high ideal before husband and wife. It is indeed a superhuman ideal. But the strength at their disposal is superhuman also. They must, therefore, rely on that strength that comes from God, and not upon themselves. And they must develop that “superhuman” life—their spiritual life—by suitable exercises. Perhaps it may seem old-fashioned to suggest that these exercises should be done in common. But there are many old-fashioned things that are of a value quite misunderstood by the moderns. This is one of them. If then we here point out some of the human difficulties that arise in married life, it is to indicate the need for the continual use of and reliance upon the supernatural means which the sacrament of marriage places at one’s disposal. And if in a limited space we confine ourselves to the relations of man and wife, rather than to those of parent and child, it is because the former is one that is most often forgotten.

The man and the woman are both members of Christ; to receive the grace of the sacrament they must be living members in the state of grace. Otherwise no supernatural love between them is possible. Just as two cells in the human body unite to form one, which is the beginning of a new human life, so two people in marriage become one in Christ, and one with Christ, to the end that the life of Christ may be fruitful—that a new member may be given to Christ.

For there are certain special features in Christian marriage. It is a contract; and that contract is a sacrament of which the man and the woman are ministers. But unlike many other contracts, its terms and its purposes are not determined by the contracting parties; they are already fixed by the law of nature and the law of God. Marriage may be approached under the influence of various motives, some better than others; but once accepted, it must be taken as it stands. And as it stands, its primary end is the begetting of new members of Christ and their formation in Christ for heaven; and that end must never be frustrated by unlawful means. Its secondary end, the mutual completion and perfection of the man and the woman in Christ, has its own importance which is often overlooked, but it can only be pursued as long as its primary and natural result is not positively and unlawfully prevented. Otherwise the union is not union in Christ.

That being always remembered, we would like to stress here the spiritual aspect of the secondary end, that which concerns the man and the wife. First of all, let us get rid of the heretical notion that there is anything sinful or shameful about that physical expression of married love, which forms the matter of the marriage contract. There is a peculiar feeling, vague perhaps, but nonetheless prevalent, that marriage merely gives a license to do something that is really unlawful and indecent, a toleration of a necessary evil, a mere concession to fallen nature and human weakness. Such a feeling is completely false.

Not only are the intimacies of married life free from sin or shame, they are actually holy. Read again the text of St. Paul quoted above, and remember that the Holy Spirit is the real author of these words, and note that He chooses the intimate union of married life as a symbol and a “sacrament” of the union of Christ and His Church. How can there be anything that is not altogether holy about such a union unless human malice deform it from its true nature? Let us once and for all get rid too of the notion, so harmful to the spiritual life, so heretical in its origin, and so widespread today, that there is anything intrinsically wrong in pleasure as such. God forbid! God made pleasure; man made pain. God shares the pleasures of His creatures. All pleasure that is not inordinate, no matter how intense it is, can be offered to God. What is lawfully done to one’s neighbor or to one’s self is done to Christ. Our Lord insisted that St. Gertrude should take grapes when she was ill and assured her that the pleasure she thus gave to herself was given also to Him. It is only when pleasure becomes inordinate—that is contrary to the will of God—that it is wrong. And no one can live without some pleasure, just as no one can live without some food and some rest.

Love demands expression, and love is nourished by expression, and that is true even of the most spiritual love. And the love of a man for his wife is a unique love and demands a unique expression, and God has provided an unique expression for it and has attached intense pleasure to it. And God has gone further still. For He has arranged that by that very act of expressing their love for one another, husband and wife become partners with Him in the work of producing a new creature. They produce the body, and God infuses the soul. And that is only the beginning of their work of partnership. For they have the privilege and the duty of bringing that new creature to the maturity of the life of Christ, when as an independent Christian, formed by their care and love and molded by their example and teaching, it shall work out its own way to complete union with God in heaven.

Marriage, then, implies a complete donation of one partner to the other and a love that symbolizes the love of Christ and His Church. The very obstacles put by human nature to the fulfillment of this ideal can make marriage the foundation of an intense spiritual life. For it will soon become apparent that neither party is an angel; both are human. And the love and sacrifice demanded on both sides are so great and so costly that the questions soon arise: “Is any human being worth all that?” “Can any human being give all that?” The answer lies in the fact that it is not a mere human being who gives, nor is it a mere human being who receives. Each one loves, and sacrifices self, in partnership with Christ; each one is loved and is served in union with Christ. Beyond her husband, and in his heart, the wife sees and loves and serves Christ. Beyond his wife, and in her heart, the husband sees and loves and serves Christ. The strength to go on, to give all the substance of one’s house for love and count it nothing, comes from Christ and is used for Christ. Christ is the lover and Christ is the beloved. For, even in marriage, “there shall be one Christ loving Himself.”

In fact, the very difficulty of the situation throws one back on Christ; we seek strength in union with Him. Only the perfect Christian can be the perfect lover. And the disappointment which is inevitable in all human affairs—the seeming inability of the other to return the love given—leads one to look further for the perfect lover—the tremendous lover—who is Christ. For by falling in love one realizes that all one’s happiness is bound up with “somebody.” And it is often only after the comparative failure of that “somebody” that one learns to know the real “Somebody,” who is Christ. When the inevitable separation from one’s partner comes—as come it must, for part of the day at least—and one realizes that things have lost their meaning because there is no one with whom to share them, one is forced either to fall back on the distraction of work or pleasure, or else to advance further and to develop that union with Christ, which is latent in all Christian souls, and by which one can always share everything with Him who made all things.

Even in a perfect partnership, human limitation will become evident. Even there, effort is always necessary to build up new links and associations, to forge new bonds, which will defy the corrosion of custom and time. Love can never merely be taken for granted; it does not stand still; it lives and develops—or else it dies. But even at its best, love must be supernaturalized. Properly understood, there is a sense in which one might say that husband and wife should be to one another a “sacrament” of Christ. All that is lovable, all this is pleasing, all that is beautiful in each other, is merely a pale reflection of the charm, the beauty, the lovableness of Him in whose image all things are made. There is a time in the life of some who are fortunate, when the beauty of all creation is summed up for them in one person. The song of the bird in the summer evening, the crystal beauty of the young night sky, the merry dance of running water, all and each of those hearttouching charms of nature that made the poet sad have but one message for the fortunate lover who has learned that all things in the world are but things and infinitely below the worth of persons, and that there is only one person who for him sums up the glory of all creation. These things will pass, and the foreshadow of their passing will sadden his heart if he does not learn that all these, and even the one in whom they are all contained, are in turn the expression of the beauty of Him who made them, and whose love they affirm and reflect. For husband and wife are not merely symbols of Christ and His Church, they are the “sacrament” thereof, and in some mysterious way they share in the reality which their union symbolizes.

Unfortunately, not all marriages are so perfect. It may be mere cynicism that is responsible for the saying: “There is always one who loves, and one who lets oneself be loved,” yet too often it contains a measure of truth. Literature gives ample expression to the pain of unrequited love; and the half-requited love that is only too common in marriage is one of the keenest forms of participation in the Passion of Christ.

Few things can hurt so much as the heart that demands love, and which is still so much in love with itself that it cannot and will not give itself in return. For love demands that one make one’s own the joys and sorrows of the other. The lover finds happiness in giving himself, in making some one else happy. But that happiness is shattered if he is forced to realize that his devotion is merely accepted, and not returned; that it is used against himself; that it is accepted merely out of self-love, and used to nourish self-love. That, it seems, is what broke our Lord’s heart in Gethsemani. And we, His members, have often to share in that suffering, in our work for souls, in our friendships, in family life, and in many human relationships.

It is in such cases that an interior life becomes so essential for marriage. To love is to become capable of considerable suffering, and human limitations make it fairly certain that he who loves much will suffer much. “The disciple is not above the master” (Mt 10:24). Where painful disappointment with another is felt, it is always well to turn the searchlight of criticism on one’s own self to see what is the attitude of one’s own heart towards God. The love of man and wife should be the image of Christ’s love for the Church. Sometimes God allows the love, or lack of love of one partner for the other, to be the image of that other’s love, or lack of love, for God. If one thinks one is badly treated, the question should immediately arise: “Is that, perhaps, how I treat God?”

This is but a typical example of the way that God will use creatures to show us His love for us, to elicit our love for Him, and to show us our lack of due love for Him. In this way our relations with creatures—and especially the relations of man and wife, whether happy or unhappy—can be a continual support and incitement for progress in the spiritual life and in union with God.

For those who have discovered that the only thing that matters in this life or in the next—the only thing that can give true happiness—is to love and to be loved, married life can be a source of continual and untold suffering, even when on the surface it appears to be a success. What women may have to suffer in this way is beyond the power of any man to describe. There are husbands who consider their wives as glorified housekeepers or secretaries, as an ornament in their home and a hostess at their table, a social acquisition, a mere means of pleasure and self-gratification, in fact as anything but as what a wife really is: another and better self, a partner in living, one who is a continual influence for the development of all that is good. So few men realize that a man’s wife is his best friend. So few men realize to what an extent their family life, and in particular that part of their family life which they share with their wife, should be the principal part of their life in this world. They work for their own “advancement”—whatever that may mean. They have a “career,” and they feel everything else must be subordinated to that.

One wonders to what extent educators are responsible for this folly. How many boys leave school with the idea that if they are not going into religion or the priesthood, they can do no better than carve out for themselves a career of worldly “success!” What a return to offer God for all He suffered for us! It is true, of course, that it is desirable that Catholics should stand in society as an asset to it, and that they should have the poise and assurance that success brings. This is especially true in a society where Catholicity is despised or where it has just emerged from a state of siege or of persecution. To that extent, the policy of our educators is, perhaps, justified. But God forbid that we should make an end of what can only be a means to an end!

It is also true, that, although a man’s wife has first claim upon his devotion, she has not got the only claim. He has a duty to his parents and to the society to whom he owes his origin and development. In the particular case of a man whose work is of Catholic importance, such a work has an added claim upon his time. But if he is married, he is married. And he must devote himself in the first place, adequately and generously, to his wife and family. It is utterly wrong, for example, on the excuse of important social work, to rush out on all or many evenings of the week after the evening meal to some philanthropic work or meeting, or even to some exercise of devotion. Yet one often finds good Catholics doing that. The point is they are giving away something that is not their own; they are stealing from their wives to serve—as they imagine—God. God does not want such service. Far, far better for a man, and more meritorious, to spend the evening at home with his wife, or to take her to some entertainment which they can both share, and so to develop and manifest his love for his wife and their community of life. He will find Christ in his wife on such occasions more certainly, more fruitfully, and more intimately than he will in all his needy neighbors, or even—we would venture to say—in a visit to the Blessed Sacrament. For Christ is present and is to be received wherever His will is to be done. And His will is that they whom He has joined together should not be put asunder by any man.

There are other sufferings that women have to undergo in secret. There is the shy husband who will not tell his love; the timorous man who is afraid to let his wife know his love for her; the man with that peculiar, but by no means unusual, habit which makes him set his face and assume a mask of solid indifference when his wife shows her affection for him in any way, despite the fact that there is a song in his heart that seems unending. There is the husband who has no tact; there is the husband whose sense of humor manifests itself by teasing. There is the man who always patronizes his wife and who will never show her any deference in public. But there is no need to extend the catalog. It could not be completed even in a book. It is, however, clear that nothing but a deep spiritual life will enable a woman to sustain such continual disappointment and suffering and still remain happy. God, however, can always fill the void in her heart.

However, it is not always the man who fails to reach ideal standards. Not every single wife brings to marriage a sufficiently high ideal of self-surrender and self-sacrifice. And failure on the woman’s side has more far reaching consequences than on her husband’s. For a man needs two women to perfect him, his mother and his wife. If his wife fails him because of her self-centeredness and unwillingness to sacrifice herself, he has an especial need of the spiritual life. The Mother of God must come to his aid to repair what her daughters have spoiled.

Both man and wife have need of a spiritual life to succeed in their own individual part and to sustain the effects on them of failure by their partner. Both men and women tend to live their life before a “gallery”—a small group of acquaintances—before whom they play their part, whose applause and whose approval they seek, by whom they are swayed and influenced. Only frequent contact with our Lord in prayer, in reading, and in the sacraments can prevent the ruin of married life where such a circle of critics and admirers lacks a true Catholic outlook. This is especially true with regard to the wife. There is no greater enemy of married happiness than the wife’s women friends. Unless she is a woman of character and of spirituality, she dresses for them, she lives for their applause, she learns from them and takes her thoughts and her ideals from them. It would be hard to exaggerate the possibility of harm that can come from such a source.

This is especially true today. Women are not prepared for marriage at school. They are dependent on their acquaintances for their whole philosophy of married life, and that philosophy always tends to take its tone from the current fashion of so-called thought. This is not the place to discuss careers for women or women’s place in public life. They undoubtedly have a very important role to play. But, apart from special circumstances arising out of need or misfortune, few Catholic married women can take up a career after marriage without thereby advertising their failure as women and their failure as Catholics. That may seem too strong, but one feels the necessity of reacting against the errors of the times. It is one thing for a married woman whom God has not blessed with children to find occupation for her leisure; it is quite another thing for her to make a career the first interest of her life. The parable of the talents is often quoted in this connection. The first answer to that is that if her talents are clamoring for development, let her not marry; marriage, in the modern phrase, is a “full-time job.” The second, and more fundamental, answer is that the fundamental talent in every Catholic’s soul is the life of Christ, and for a married woman, that is to be developed inside marriage and not outside it. Beside that talent, all others pale into insignificance.

The woman who marries, intending at all costs to retain her own career, or who absolutely refuses to be dependent on her husband, does not know the meaning either of Christian marriage or even of true human love. If she is in love with anybody, it is with herself. Marriage means abandoning one’s self to enter into one new life, shared with her husband. There cannot be two “careers” where this is only one life. Nor can there be independence. For man and wife are dependent upon one another for everything. Where there is love, all joy or pleasure that cannot be shared loses its value. There is no need here to give the true name of such unions where independence of life is insisted upon, but that should not prevent clear thinking as to their nature. Further, it must be remembered that as regards their work and their place in civil society, husband and wife are in different positions. The husband has a direct connection with the civil economy; the wife is integrated into it only through her husband. To put it another way: Husband and wife form one unit; and the wife’s role in that unity is to assist her husband, not to rival him; she must be an accompanist as regards his public life.

St. Paul’s exhortation to wives to be subject to their husbands as the Church is to Christ raises much comment. Let it be noted that the husband to whom St. Paul wants a wife to be subject is one who, he insists, must love her so much that he is ready to lay down his life for her, and who actually does give his whole life to her. One must understand what this “subjection” really means. A woman does not lose her personal liberty or freedom or dignity in marriage. She is not bound to obey her husband’s every request if it is not in harmony with right reason or with the dignity due to a wife. She is not a minor, nor immature, nor incapable of judgment. As Pius XI says, this subjection merely “forbids that in this body which is the family, the heart be separated from the head to the great detriment of the whole body and the proximate danger of ruin. For if the man is the head, the woman is the heart, and as he occupies the chief place in ruling, so she may and ought to claim for herself the chief place in love.”[144]

The wife is not her husband’s servant. They are partners. They complement and supplement one another. She has a right to her opinion, and her husband ought to take cognizance of it. It is not because he is the more expert or more intelligent, or has the better judgment or the greater courage, that the ultimate decision is his; for in fact, the contrary is often the case. The real reason is because where there are two minds in partnership, someone must take responsibility for their work; God has made the husband the responsible partner; therefore he must have the ultimate authority.

He has the grace of state. This is a notion that has been lost sight of in the world today, but which is of essential importance in the spiritual life. It comes to this in practice. Where God has appointed someone to decide things for others, those others may securely follow his decisions where they are in accordance with reason and inside the limits of allotted authority; and they may be sure that God’s providence will adjust itself (or has adjusted itself, if one prefers to look at it that way) so that in the long run, things work out best as so decided. This is not inspiration, although it often does mean a special help to decide correctly. But it is one way of finding out the will of God, and putting one’s part in life in perfect harmony with the rest of His providential symphony.

There is a passion, if one may call it such, prevalent nowadays for managing other people’s affairs. It tends to show itself very much in family life. With a reckless assurance and a smug selfsufficiency, men and women “arrange” other people’s plans and order others’ lives without any thought of their own unwarranted interference with the guidance of Providence, or with the individual’s personal rights and development. One finds many examples in marriage, where women “manage” their husbands by any or all of the inexhaustible variety of weapons and tactics at their disposal. Commands, browbeating, faits accomplis, silence until it is too late to alter plans, public arrangements where protest is impossible, private coldness when consent is refused—the list is endless. These are all symptoms of pride and show an ignorance of true spirituality and even of the true functions of a wife.

The true woman rules by submitting; she humbles her husband by the generosity of her love. She strengthens him by her dependence, she builds up his character by throwing responsibility upon him; she is queen of his heart by her love. Now the woman who leaves her throne to do by masculine crudeness and guile what she cannot do by feminine love and tact admits her own incompetence, and in the modern phrase, “lets herself down,” very, very badly. Not only herself, in fact, but also her husband. Not only her husband, but also Christ. For in refusing to be subject to her husband or to be loyal to him, she is also refusing to be subject to Christ or to be loyal to Him. And her plans and achievements of this sort always go wrong in the long run; for she is working against God. The harm done by such a policy is incalculable.

One great difficulty in married life arises from the tendency to measure one another’s sacrifices and to try to lessen one’s own because of the apparent insufficiency of those of one’s partner. Now it is impossible to strike such a balance because one is trying to equalize different things—one is measuring the reality against the appearance. On one’s own side, one has a vivid realization of the interior cost entailed in making the exterior sacrifice. For the other side, however, one can only guess the cost, which is often much higher than it seems to be. The result is that the estimate is too low, and one’s own actual investment is correspondingly reduced below what is really necessary, which causes corresponding reaction on the other side. One, in fact, is trying to balance the apparent large size of the metal of one’s own five-cent piece against the hidden value of the partner’s apparently tiny dime.

How different is the ideal of Christian love. “If a man should give all the substance of his house for love, he shall despise it as nothing” (Sg 8:7). As soon as one starts to count the cost, that is the beginning of the end of love. True love is reckless. Those who are afraid to tell their love lest they be called upon to live it, or lest it be used against them, should take a lesson from the Crucifix. No love has ever been abused as the love of our Lord for us has been. We assume it, we trade upon it, we even allow ourselves to sin because of His mercy. Yet our Lord went to endless suffering in order to try to convince us of His love for us. He even carried the manifestation of His love for us “to death . . . even to the death of the cross.”

The ideal is a high one, and the difficulties of married life are far from negligible. To realize this, it is only necessary to remember that every single word or gesture in married life calls up a whole chain of associations, some pleasant, some quite unpleasant; each word may be the last straw in a series of unspoken sufferings that leads to an outburst altogether out of proportion with the immediate occasion—which is often too ridiculous to be spoken of—and yet which has its real reason in quite considerable anguish of heart. Only the continual grace of God can make such a life successful. Only the grace of God can make it possible for a man or a woman to live, as it were, in front of a mirror, with somebody who knows one in ways better than one knows oneself, who can see through all one’s self-deception, and realize all the motives behind one’s every action.

Another example is that of the incalculable sacrifice which is necessary to maintain that candor and mutual trust, without which marriage is a mockery. It is so easy to use reservations, to evade questions, to use half-truths, and so difficult to have the courage to lose “face” for the moment by candor for the sake of building up that mutual trust which in the long run is so valuable and so essential to married life. Many marriages fail merely because the husband or the wife begins to suspect the veracity of the other’s replies and excuses. Yet no one can deny the difficulty of constant candor. Still, the very difficulty of such a life is a foundation for confidence in its sanctifying power. And sanctified it must be. Marriage is a secret society. Public society is formed by secret societies. And unless such secret societies are formed in Christ, Christ will not be formed in public life.

We have said little about the responsibility of parents to their children. The subject would need a book. Let it suffice to say that all that is done for the child is done for Christ. And it should be evident that one cannot give life without giving oneself. The seed must die if it is to bear fruit. The truth of that is written in the face of every mother; her self-sacrifice is written large in her eyes.

One final word. There is one thing that must be done in marriage for the child and for each other that is often overlooked. The whole of any man’s spiritual life is influenced principally by the idea which he has of God. Now, that idea is formed chiefly by the example and model of one’s parents’ love and kindness, and in later years by the love and kindness of one’s partner. No lower standard can be safely set for husband and wife—for father or mother—than to be “another Christ.” That is the burden of this whole book, and that is why we insist upon applying all the principles of the spiritual life and allotting the highest of its aims to Christian marriage, for in loving as in being loved, Christ is our perfect supplement and partner. And in marriage, as in all else, we may sum up the essentials of the spiritual life and of union with Christ in five points: faith, hope, charity, humility, and generous acceptance of God’s will. Thus do we put on Christ, and He is “all in all.” So much so, that the ideal of Christian marriage can be stated in St. Augustine’s words: “And there shall be one Christ loving Himself.”

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