AN ESSAY ON CATHOLIC MARRIAGE
Rama Coomaraswamy, M.D.
"It is no accident, as the Socialists say, that Socialism and Sex (or "free love") come in together as "advanced" ideas. They supplement each other. Russian dissident Igor Shafarevich, in his profound book The Socialist Phenomenon, explains that the Socialist project of homogenizing society demands that the family be vitiated or destroyed. This can be accomplished in good measure by profaning conjugal love and breaking monogamy's link between sex and loyalty. Hence, in their missionary phases Socialist movements often stress sexual "liberation," and members of radical organizations may impose mandatory promiscuity within the group, everyone sharing a bed with each of the others, each equally related to each. It is the ultimate in leveling...Few Americans will buy a bottle labeled Socialism. The cunning of the Socialist hive has consisted largely in its skill in piggybacking on the more attractive things. Like Sex.
"Now it is obvious that the Evil one, who from the beginning has wanted to poison and destroy the work of the Creator, will rage incessantly against these four - marriage, sexuality, love, procreation - for he hates everything about them."
"In all times and places it has been man's delight to think of human love as a type of divine Love and of human marriage as a type of the marriage of the soul with God."
Many marriages get into trouble. The causes of this can be listed as "the world, the flesh and the devil." This old canard is not without meaning. The world imposes innumerable pressures on marriage both by its value system or rather, negative value system, and by the difficulties of earning an adequate and honorable living. How often our children are mis-educated and our women forced to work outside the home if the family is to survive as an economic unit. The flesh relates to those problems that arise from within ourselves. A marital couple in conflict can truly be said to be at war - one is reminded of St. Paul's question, "whence come your wars? - they come from your greeds and your lusts. And finally, there is the devil - or evil - which greatly delights in the destruction of marriage and the perversion of sex. There is much talk in Catholic literature of marriage, but very little of sex. Hence I shall try in what follows to deal with this delicate topic, as well as with love and marriage.
Catholics are faced with a serious dilemma with regard to sex. Brought up in an alien culture, bombarded with the distortions of the media, and strongly influenced by a scientific and biological educational background based on false philosophical and theological principles, they have increasingly tended to see sex only in its biological setting. In addition to such influences, they are also subjected to a variety of distorted opinions on the subject from supposedly traditional sources. What I hope to do in what follows is present some insights into the Catholic view of sex based on documents drawn from the Church's Magisterium.
In order to do this let us for a moment consider the nature of man - for sex must be placed within a given context. Unfortunately most of us have been influenced by evolutionary theory and hence we tend to see Natural Selection as a driving force in our lives. If man is only a higher form of animal, the product of natural evolution, then it logically follows that man's sexual and erotic life is seen in terms of an extension of animal instincts. The ultimate, positive basis of human eroticism becomes the biological purpose of the species, usually seen in terms of survival.
Not dissimilar to the purely biological point of view, is that which embraces the concept that sex is "natural" and that repressive cultural forces or religious attitudes have distorted our sexual lives. According to this view, the only normal attitude towards sex is that of the uninhibited and amoral primitive savage - an opinion that refuses to recognize that even the most primitive of tribes in Africa and South America have strict rules with regard to sexual activity. This Rousseauian viewpoint is often embraced by modern writers. Thus, for example, Aldous Huxley in Point Counter Point describes D.H. Lawrence's attitude in the following terms: "the natural appetites and desires of men are not what makes them so bestial... It is the imagination, the intellect, the principles, the education, the tradition. Leave the instincts to themselves and they will do very little evil."
The problem with both these viewpoints is that neither says anything about love. Without love, sexuality becomes like the activities of the birds and the bees. Most philosophers hold that man is distinguished from the beast because of his ability to think and will; similarly, most philosophers place love within the realm of the will.For man to reduce sex to a "natural" or "instinctive" act, or to use the words of Lawrence, "to blood and flesh," can only signify degradation, for what is called natural for man as man is not at all the same as what the term "natural" signifies in the case of animals. This does not mean that sex for man is not natural, but rather that, like all his acts, both his intellect and will to some degree are involved. Clearly man shares certain instincts with animals - but a man is not said to act in an animal manner unless he refuses to use his higher powers to modify his instinctual drives. (The reader is referred to the essay on Psychological Integration and the Religious Outlook in this collection.) Conformity is natural when it is conformity to one's own type. A horse would not be seen as natural if he ran like a rabbit, and vice versa. What is normal to man must take into consideration the fact that he is placed at the apex of God's creation and made in the image of God. For him to act in a manner that refuses recognition to his stature is for him to act unnaturally.
Proof for this contention can be found in the fact that the false notion of sexual love as a physical need. As Julius Evola points out, "A physical sexual desire never exists in man; the desire of man is substantially always psychic, and his physical desire is only a translation and transposition of psychic desire. Only in the most primitive individual does the circuit close so fast that only the terminal fact of the process is present in their conscious as a sharp, driving carnal lust unmistakably linked to physiological conditional qualities which take the foremost place in animal sexuality."Nor can it be claimed that human sex is driven by an instinct for reproduction. As one wit put it, "when Adam awoke next to Eve, he did not cry out and say 'behold the mother of my children.'
I have said that the problem of the biological or Rousseauian viewpoints is that while they speak of the emotions, they say nothing of love. Now, despite innumerable attempts to define the nature of love, none of them have been wholly successful. This is not surprising in that there is something mysterious about this "affliction." However, I believe there are certain characteristics - perhaps one could say "symptoms" that are fairly universally recognized. Love by its very nature seems to 1) involve the whole being. No one ever claimed to love another other than with their whole body, soul, and spirit. 2) love demands or longs for eternity. A person truly in love wants to bind himself forever to his beloved. 3) love sees in the beloved, not his or her faults, but rather his or her perfections. The very names of endearment speak to this, for the beloved is an angel if not a god or goddess; he or she embodies - or at least potentially embodies - all the qualities of the divine prototype - the solar hero, the flawless maiden. 4) both parties to the loving relationship see their worldly, if not their eternal happiness to lie in the perpetual enjoyment of each other's company. 5) love requires an act of the will - a commitment - directed towards what is understood as desirable - an act of the will which also excludes anything that intrudes upon the unity of the parties involved. To say this is not to exclude the emotions, for as has been pointed out above, the act of loving involves the whole of what one is. It follows then that one who refuses to commit himself, or who breaks a commitment in order to start another relationship, fools himself. Such a person confuses the excitement of novelty with authentic happiness.
What role does marriage play in all this? Borrowing from von Hildebrand, "marriage is the friend and protector of love. Marriage gives love the structure and shelteredness, the climate in which alone it can grow. Marriage teaches spouses humility and makes them realize that the human person is a very poor lover. Much as we long to love and to be loved, we repeatedly fall short and desperately need help. We must bind ourselves through sacred vows so that the bond will grant our love the strength necessary to face the tempest-tossed sea of our human condition.... Marriage, because it implies will, commitment, duty, and responsibility, braces spouses to fight to save the precious gift of their love."
Almost all cultures initiate and establish marriage with religious rites. For those that believe in God, knowing how difficult marriage can be when we lose sight of the inner essence of the beloved and see only his or her outer accidental qualities, realizing that they have made a commitment or a vow made to God, and asking a higher power to succor their weakness, becomes an inestimable source of strength; a means of renewing their commitment and of assuming their responsibilities which not infrequently take on the form of a cross. Marriages involve commitments "in illness and in health, for better or for worse."
Religions tend to view marriage as a contract. This in no way is meant to exclude love, regardless of whether that love has led to the marriage, or the arranged marriage has opened the door to love. This is not only because every commitment has a contractual aspect to it, but also because religions tend to see marriage in a broader context - that of society as a whole, and therefore as directed towards what philosophers call the "common good." Whereas modern social theory tends to view each individual as tied to the state, traditional societies tend to see the family as the basic building block of society. The very word economia means family, and so it is that both religion and traditionally minded governments do everything possible to maintain and foster the integrity of the family.
If marriage is a contract, it is not a contract in the ordinary sense of the word. It is not a contract in which man's subsidiary goods - his house or property - are transferred, but one in which it is his and her very person which is transferred. No man or woman has the right to say of another that "you are mine." Two beings alone can say this to one another because they have truly and freely given themselves to one another. What is exchanged is their will and consent, and this, unlike any other contract, irrevocably. "This is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh... what God has joined together let no man put asunder." And subsequent to this proclamation God instructs the couple to "increase and multiply."
To speak of family is to speak of progeny.Now there is no question but that, as St. Augustine says, "the sanctity of the sacrament is more important than the fecundity of the womb."Yet, the childless family always bears a tragic aspect. No wonder then that most religions agree with the Catholic principle that the primary purpose of marriage is the procreation and education of children, and the secondary purpose of marriage is the fostering of the unitive relationship of the parties involved.Let us be clear on what the procreation and education of children means. It does not mean that one should have as many children as possible, but rather that in a marriage the children come first - not just their production, but their upbringing. Further, by education one does not necessarily mean a Harvard degree, but rather the formation and development of complete human beings; individuals whose physical, psychic and spiritual development is fostered. What this means is that, should love grow cold and the unitive aspect of marriage fall apart, the parents are obliged to sacrifice their personal needs - their desires to love and be loved - for the sake of the children. This may seem to us to be a painful course to follow. But, as St. Seraphim of Sarov points out:
"Christian marriage is a life-work. It is easy only in ideal circumstances. Fidelity to the end, St. Seraphim taught, is essential to happiness. If Christians find they cannot live together, they go on living together for their homes, their children, for the Church and for God. It may mean much suffering, but this married life is the way to heaven. For only those who take up the cross can follow Christ."
All of us are familiar with the arguments against remaining married when the interpersonal relationship breaks down. Always rooted in this breakdown is self-will or selfishness. (If as discussed below, the wife is obedient and the husband an alter Christus, there is no real possibility of divorce.) Even apart from the spiritual effects on the partners, one must consider the devastating effects of divorce on children. One has only to consider the studies of Wallerstein to see the long term effects. And so it is that religions either forbid divorce, or make it extremely difficult to obtain. Obtaining a Gett in Judaism is, I am told, almost impossible. In Islam where divorce is allowed, there is a Hadith or teaching of Mohammed to the effect that "God hates nothing more than divorce." Among Hindus, divorce is forbidden in the higher castes, though allowed for the "untouchables," who are those considered outside the pale of religion and hence those not held to high moral values. Before we raise objections to the concept of untouchables, let me remind you that from the orthodox Hindu point of view, those that are not born and do not live in accord with Hindu moral principles are all untouchables.
But the religious outlook on marriage is by no means limited to strengthening its contractual character or safeguarding its social or unitive purpose. Orthodox religion places marriage in the overall context of what, for lack of a better word, I will call "salvation." Religion desires for all men and women, regardless of their state of life, sanctity and ultimately the beatific vision. Morality is not an end in itself, but only predispositive to the sanctified life. And with this in view it encourages each and every person to love Truth, Beauty and Goodness, the essential qualities and names of God. It sees human love as a reflection of divine love and human marriage macroscosmically as a reflection of the relationship between the soul and God; microscosmically as the relationship between what spiritual writers have called the lesser self and the greater Self or spiritual center of our being. This moral and spiritual outlook is clearly stated by St. Paul in Ephesians, Chapter V. After stressing the need to live a life dedicated to their sanctification, Paul instructs the partners in marriage to be "subject to one another, in the fear of Christ." He continues:
"Let women be subject to their husbands as to the Lord: Because the husband is the head of the 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 the wives be to their husbands in all things. 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 laver of water in the word of life... so also ought men to love their wives as their own bodies... 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 a great sacrament..." 
This is by no means the only place where Scripture teaches the hierarchical nature of marriage. Leaving apart the passage in Genesis II:24 and innumerable examples of the relationship of men and women in the Old Testament, let us turn to the new dispensation. In the First Letter to the Corinthians Paul treats of abuses in divine worship in this manner: "But, I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying with his head covered, disgraceth his head. But every woman praying or prophesying with her head not covered, disgraceth her head... The man indeed ought not to cover his head, because he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man. For the man was not created for the woman, but the woman for the man. Therefore ought the woman to have a cover over her head, because of the angels" (XI: 3-10). The Apostle Paul here confirms again the teaching of the submission of the woman to the man. He holds this submission to be important, and under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, institutes a sign of recognition for this submission. The woman should cover her head during worship services, so as to honor her head, that is to say, her husband.
A little later in the same Epistle St. Paul writes again on the subject of divine worship: "Let women keep silence in the churches; for it is not permitted them to speak, but to be subject, as also the [old] law saith. But if they would learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is a shame for a woman to speak in the church... If any seem to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him know the things that I write to you, that they are commandments of the Lord" (XIV:35). This law of the Lord is addressed above all to women, who should keep silent during divine worship. And from this we have to conclude that liturgical functions, such as lector or priest, are forbidden to them according to divine law. To consider that the submission of the wife to her husband is an order from God appears to us to be a proximate notion. For the law states that they ought "to be subject" not only in Church, but everywhere, as for example in the family. St. Paul is only drawing out the consequences of this principle. This law, which should not only be applied to Jews, but also to Christians, is part of the natural law. The submission of the wife in the order of natural law is demanded in marriage and in divine worship, but also by Christ from whom the Apostle conveys this Revelation. Not to accept the Apostle's views is to question the dogma which teaches that every book of the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit.
The Apostle Paul also confirms his teaching on the submission of the wife to her husband in his Epistle to Timothy (II: 9-15). It would be erroneous to assert that this teaching is exceptional and only presented by St. Paul. St. Peter has stated it in similar terms: "In like manner also, let wives be subject to their husbands" (I Pet. III:1). Thus the Apostles Peter and Paul conjointly attest to the veracity of this doctrine.
The position taken by the popes on the question as to who is head of the family is likewise very clear. Leo XIII's Encyclical Arcanum divinae sapientiae states: "The husband is the chief of the family and the head of the wife. The woman, because she is flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone, must be subject to her husband and obey him; not, indeed, as a servant, but as a companion, so that her obedience shall be wanting in neither honor nor dignity. Since the husband represents Christ, and since the wife represents the Church, let there always be, both in him who commands and in her who obeys, a heaven-born love guiding both of their respective duties."
Pius XI was also strongly attached to this principle. In his famous Encyclical on marriage, Casti connubii, he states: "domestic society being confirmed therefore, by this bond of love, there should flourish in it that 'order of love,' as St. Augustine calls it. This order includes both the primacy of the husband with regard to the wife and her willing obedience, which the Apostle commands in these words: 'Let women be subject to their husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is head of the wife and Christ is head of the Church'."
"This subjection, however, does not deny or take away the liberty which fully belongs to the woman both in view of her dignity as a human person, and in view of her most noble office as wife and mother and companion; nor does it bid her obey her husband's every request if not in harmony with right reason or with the dignity of a wife; nor, in fine, does it imply that the wife should be put on the level with persons who in law are called minors, to whom it is customary not to allow free exercise of their rights on account of their lack of mature judgment, or of their ignorance of human affairs. But it forbids that exaggerated liberty which cares not for the good of the family; it 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 he occupies the chief place in ruling, so she may and ought to claim for herself the chief place in love."
"Again, this subjection of wife to husband in its degrees and manner may vary according to the different conditions of persons, place and time. In fact, if the husband neglects his duty, it falls to the wife to take his place in directing the family. But the structure of the family and its fundamental law, established and confirmed by God, must always and everywhere be maintained intact."
I have reproduced this passage in its entirety because Pius XI comes to an important conclusion, the content of which is the basis for the document: the submission of woman to man is the fundamental law of the family established and fixed by God.
Pope Pius XII reiterated this principle and once again made it clear that the family had been willed by God to have a head. "This head has authority over the one who has been given to be his companion... and over those who, when the Lord gives his blessing, will be multiplied and rejoice like the luxuriant shoots of an olive tree." When asked whether or not this teaching was still relevant for modern families he responded: "We indeed know that, just as equality in studies at school, in the sciences, sports and other competitions, gives rise to sentiments of pride in the hearts of many women... All about you many voices will portray this subjection as something unjust; they will suggest to you a prouder independence... Be on your guard against these words of the serpent, of temptation and of lies: do not become other Eves, do not turn away from the only road which can lead you, even from the here and now, to true happiness." One last quote taken from Scripture: "authority as head of the family comes from God, as formerly God had accorded power and authority to Adam, the head of all mankind; Adam should have transmitted all these gifts to his descendants. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not seduced; but the woman being seduced... fell into disobedience" (I Tim., II:13-14).
We will see later that marriage must be entered into with the proper intentions. At least one Catholic theologian has opinioned that the acceptance of a hierarchical relationship in marriage is requisite for the intention to be proper. According to Moersdorf, a marriage is realized through uniformity of the will of both people. Both parties to the marriage have to be in agreement in order to affirm "the essential content of the marriage contract, which is to say the one who wishes to conclude a marriage must be ready to accept the three characteristics of marriage. These are" the right to the body, the indissolubility of marriage and the unity of marriage. The unity of marriage signifies, according to this author, the union of one man with one woman, and therefore a single couple, and that the man and women be united in a hierarchical order by a holy unity. According to Moersdorf, for the realization of a valid marriage, it is indispensable that the contracting parties recognize and fulfill these conditions. "If the necessary understanding and will for the conclusion of a marriage are seriously lacking, the marriage will not be valid."
Obedience and the acceptance of a hierarchy of authority are difficult for moderns to bear with.How are such concepts compatible with the principles of freedom equality and brotherhood?Well clearly they are not. But before wives get too upset about the need to obey - a Fiat reflective of that made by the Blessed Virgin, and implicitly one made by the Church, let us consider the far heavier obligation on the husband - namely that he love the wife as Christ loves His Church. Note here the seemingly double command - to be alter Christus or another Christ and to love as Christ loves. Now such is no easy task, and what woman would not want to be married to such a man? Even God has limits, for He cannot be other than what He is - He cannot be other than love. And there is yet another mystery involved - one that becomes present when the marriage is blessed with children. Consider how it is that God is called Father, the priest is called father and is truly father to the community; and finally, the head of the family is also called father - for all three share in authority, in procreativity, and in love. I will speak in the following passages of "procreativity, " because, just as the fruit of God's love is his creation, so also the fruit of the couple's love is fecund, not apart from God, but because the couple participate in God's creativity.
Custom recognizes this in the practice of the husband carrying the wife over the lintel into their future home. The husband is a psychopomp - a guide of souls to the other world. The lintel or door through which the wife is carried represents an entrance into that state of unity where the two are joined in one flesh. In this relationship the husband bears a spiritual as well as a material responsibility for his wife and offspring - one he will ultimately have to answer to God for. Marriage is ultimately a rather serious affair.
The acceptance of these principles makes Marriage a spiritual path. St. Alphonsus Liguori clearly states that for someone called to the state of marriage to become a priest is to risk damning his soul - he says the same with regard to someone called to the priesthood entering marriage.Let me stress the word "called." This in Latin translates as vocation. Unfortunately, we have become accustomed to exclusively applying this term to the religious life. But such is not the attitude of the saints. St. Francis de Sales once exclaimed "O how agreeable to God are the virtues of a married woman, for they must be strong and excellent to survive this vocation."Similarly, Pope Pius XII spoke to newlyweds on May 3, 1939, telling them that it was "their vocation to found a home" and that this what God had asked of them. Actually, the concept of vocation is broader than at first would appear to be the case - or rather, it is a concept that can be understood on many levels. We all have a vocation to sanctity, regardless of our state in life. And similarly, the professions we engage in - providing they are legitimate - are also vocations. Thus medicine and law are also seen as "callings."
Vocations are of course, a means to an end, and thus ultimately they are a means of sanctification, for sanctification is the true goal which God wishes for all of us. As St. Therese of Liseaux wrote to Mme. Pottier, a married woman with children: "So for both of us the blest days of our childhood are over! We are now in the serious stage of life; we are following very different roads, but the end is the same. Each of us must have but one same purpose, to sanctify ourselves in the road that God has marked out for us.Vocations can be seen as existing on several levels of reference - for example, one's state in life, and one's means of making a living. Strictly speaking, we should all be artists and make our livings by some craft. The craftsman makes useful objects - consider the stone mason who, parallel with his work fashions his soul in view to uniting it with God. How sad that in our day, most of us are denied the opportunity to follow a craft. By practicing one's vocation, one practices the virtues, or more precisely, one eliminates the vices which are their opposite.The obligation to sanctity falls upon all of us. When some of the laity protested to St. John Chrysostom that they were not monks, he responded that "all the precepts of the Law apply equally to monks and to the laity, with the exception of one, celibacy."And who of us can dare to proclaim that the sexual act precludes the possibility of sanctity, especially when this act in its proper setting, as will be shown, is a reflection of the true relationship between God and the soul. To speak of vocations however is not to say they are all of equal stature. Just as a loving father provides each of his children with what is necessary for their proper development, so also does Our Lord provide each of us with a vocation suitable to our needs and abilities. A surgeon is a higher calling than that of a plumber - though both can perfect their souls by the manner in which they practice their calling. And so it is that the religious life in which the individual is "married" to Christ, is a higher calling than the married state.
We of course know that there have been many married saints. St. Marcarius and St. Anthony of the Desert both sent postulants to learn from people in t
[cont'd]We of course know that there have been many married saints. St. Marcarius and St. Anthony of the Desert both sent postulants to learn from people in the married state. Unfortunately however, many authors writing about married saints convey to us the message that such individuals were saints, not because they fulfilled the obligations of the married state with heroic virtue, but rather, despite the fact that they were married. Sometimes, when I look at the clergy and know that some priests have been canonized, I am inclined to suspect that their sanctity was also achieved despite their vocations. But such is equally absurd.
Allow me to string together a few quotations from St. Francis de Sales addressed to women in the married state: "You must not only be devout, and love devotion, but you must make it amiable, useful, and agreeable to everyone one. The sick will love your devotion if they are charitably consoled by it; your family will love it if they find you more careful of their good, more gentle in little accidents that happen, more kind in correcting, and so on; your husband, if he sees that as your devotion increases you are more devoted to his regard, and sweet in your love to him; your parents and friends if they perceive in you more generosity, tolerance and condescension towards their wills, when not against the will of God. In short, you must as far as possible, make your devotion attractive.... Oh my daughter, how agreeable to God are the virtues of a married woman, for they must be strong and excellent to last in that vocation.... Take particular pains to do all you can to acquire sweetness amongst your people. I mean in your household. I do not say that you must be soft and remiss, but gentle and sweet.... My God, how holy, my dear daughter, and how agreeable to God we would be if we knew how to use properly the subjects of mortification which our vocation affords; for they are without doubt greater than among religious; the evil is that we do not make them useful as they do..." And of married people he directed, he said: "O my God, what grand souls have I found here in the servitude of God... the state of marriage is one which requires more virtue and constancy than any other; it is a perpetual exercise of mortification..." He adds an important caveat which we must all take to heart: "And what is it that makes [the commandments of the vocation of marriage] burdensome to you? Nothing in truth save your own will which desires to reign in you at any cost... a person who has not the fever of self-will is satisfied with everything, provided that God is served."ADVANCE \u 3
St. Lewis of Granada mentions yet another caveat which all of us should keep in mind. He tells us "let the married woman look to the government of her house, and take care of her family, please her husband, and do all that a wife should do; when she has satisfied these obligations let her spend the rest of her time in devotion as much as she pleases, but still, let her remember, that the duties of her state call her first." Lest you think I am picking on the women, I shall add the rest of the passage: "let those that are fathers of children frequently reflect upon the severe punishment that was inflicted upon Heli for his neglect in chastising and instructing his sons (I Kings, IV)... Consider the sins of the children are, in some manner, imputed to the fathers, and that the ruin of a son is very often the cause of the father's destruction; nor does he deserve the bare name of father who after having begotten his son for this world, does not also beget him for the next..."
The passage from St. Paul quoted above provides us with the fundamental outline of the spiritual life. Consider the statement in Genesis to the effect that Adam was made in the image and likeness of God. Why this double description? Why should Scripture be so redundant? Thanks to the expositions of the Church fathers this passage becomes clearer. Adam was indeed made in the image and likeness of God. But when he fell, he lost that likeness while retaining the image. Now we are, as St. Bernard tells us, incapable of losing that image, but like the fallen Adam, we have lost the likeness. The entire spiritual life is aimed at regaining that likeness. It is only when we achieve this that we can say with St. Paul, "I live not I, but Christ within me." It is only when this state is achieved that both priest and father can truly - that is fully - love. And if the wife in obeying her husband, obeys Christ; the husband, like any true king, can only rule by "divine right," - that is by commanding what Christ would command. When the king, priest or husband commands other than by divine right - which is to say, enforces laws or rules that are not divine in nature - when he commands what he wants apart from or in opposition to the divine laws, he becomes a despot. The husband in the family may rule by divine right, but never by his own right. By extension, the family is modeled after that established by St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin - our homes should aim at being another Nazareth.
The human being as individual is also a hierarchy in which the higher powers should have authority over the lower ones. Consider the Lord's prayer. "Thy Kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven." That heaven is described as a hierarchical structure is not a historical accident. Nor is it a manifestation of St. Paul's or ancient Jewish misogyny. Christ is our King - both priest and King, and we pay him homage as do the innumerable choirs of angels. Now the saints tell us that this phrase of the Lord's Prayer is one which request this hierarchical relationship to come down in our society, in our families and convents, and above all in our own hearts. It is this hierarchical relationship which explains the statement of several saints to the effect that "all creation is feminine in relation to God."
On the microcosmic level - on the level of each of our lives, we are constantly faced with a need to choose between centering our actions and our being - if such were possible, on our little selves or egos, or on God which dwells within us. This is the battle against self love - or if you prefer, selfishness. It is not God - the Holy Spirit - that imago dwelling within our hearts that is selfish, hurt, angry, resentful or unforgiving - but rather our egos, our little selves. We are constantly at war or as the psychiatrists would put it, in conflict with ourselves. And thus it is that we say to the unruly child or adult, "get hold of yourself." St. Paul describes this well when he says "I see another law in my members, repugnant to the laws of my mind, and capturing me in the law of sin that is in my members" (Rom. VII:25).Some exegetes would infer that this statement refers exclusively to a sexual conflict, but reference to other parts of Scripture make it clear that by members - note the plural - the sacred writers are referring to all the passions that afflict our souls - thus St. James tells us that the "tongue is set among our members which defileth the whole body." (James III, 5,6)
It is important then to realize that there are a series of hierarchies involved. There is God and his bride the Church; There is the husband and his bride or wife, and there is the Spirit of God that dwells within us, and our psycho-physical nature. In each of these there is a hierarchy to which we must conform ourselves. These three hierarchies are intimately entwined.Consider the following exposition of the Parable of the woman by the well to whom Christ offered the water of eternal life. When the woman asked for this water Christ told her to call her husband. John Scotus Erigina explains the mystical meaning of this parable:
"The woman is the rational soul [anima], whose husband [literally vir or 'man' (with the connotation of 'active power') not maritus or conjunx] is understood to be the animus, which is variously named now intellect [intellectus], now mind [mens], now animus and often even spirit [spiritus]. This is the husband of whom the Apostle speaks "the head of the woman is the man, the head of the man is Christ, the head of Christ is God." I other words, the head of the anima is the intellectus, and the head of the intellectus is Christ. Such is the natural order of the human creature. The soul must be submitted to the rule of the mind, the mind to Christ, and thereby the whole being is submitted through Christ to God the Father... Spirit revolves perpetually about God and is therefore well named the husband and guide of the other parts of the soul, since between it and its creator no creature is interposed. Reason in turn revolves around the knowledge and causes of created things, and whatever spirit receives through eternal contemplation it transmits to reason and reason commends to memory. The third part of the soul is interior sense, which is subordinate to reason as the faculty which is superior to it, and by means of reason is also subordinate to spirit. Finally, below the interior sense in the natural order is the exterior sense, through which the whole soul nourishes and rules the fivefold bodily senses and animates the whole body. Since, therefore, reason can receive nothing of the gifts from on high unless through her husband, the spirit, which holds the chief place of all nature, the woman or anima is rightly ordered to call her husband or intellectus with whom and by whom she may drink spiritual gifts and withoutwhom she may in no wise participate in gifts from on high. For this reason Jesus says to her, 'Call your husband, come hither.' Do not have the presumption to come to me without your husband. For, if the intellect is absent, one may not ascend to the heights of theology, nor participate in spiritual gifts."
It is in the light of such understanding that the theologians have said that all creation is feminine to God.
Yet another way of envisioning the relationship between man and women is to recognize that man manifests his "Christic" nature as Warrior (Hero, King) and as Ascetic (Priest), which is to say, in the realms of Action and Contemplation. (Christ is both King and Priest). The woman realizes herself, raises herself to the level of the "man" as Ascetic or as Warrior, insofar as she is either Lover or Mother. In the words of Evola, "as there is an active heroism, so also there is a negative heroism - they are the two sides of one and the same ideal; there is the heroism of absolute affirmation and that of absolute dedication, and the one can be as luminous as the other. It is these differentiations of the heroic concept that determine the distinctive characteristics of the ways proper to men and to woman thought of as types. To the act of the warrior and the ascetic, accomplished in the one case by pure action and in the other by detachment, whereby these are established in a life beyond mere living, there corresponds in the woman the heroism of total self-surrender to another being, of existence altogether for the sake of another being - whether a beloved man (if she is a Lover) or a child (if she is a Mother) - in which she finds the meaning of her own life, her own delight and her own justification."
We are all aware of how love can be a transforming experience - even the love of a child for a dog - and certainly the love of one human being for another. "In a moment," as C. S. Lewis has pointed out, love "has made appetite itself altruistic, tossed personal happiness aside as a triviality, and placed the interests of another in the center of our own being. At one bound, it has leaped over the high wall of our selfhood. We find ourselves as regards the other person really fulfilling the law, really loving another as ourselves. But having done this, the mere falling in love will do no more. Eros has done his stuff. He will not extend this selflessness to others beside the beloved. He may do quite the opposite. He will not even perpetuate it towards her. He will not of himself remain in that relationship and continue to be the sort of lover he promised to be. He may not remain any sort of lover at all. He may simply die. For of course, as we all really know, mere spontaneous feeling will not keep any pair in love even for a few months or weeks. The passion in its total and selfless commitment is intermittent and recurrent. The old self, as after a religious conversion, soon turns out not to be so dead as it seemed. In both the old self may for a moment be knocked flat, but it will soon be up again, if not on his feet, at least on his elbow. If not roaring, at least back to his old surly grumbling or mendicant whine. The corruptions return. Venus may sometimes slip back into mere sexuality, but what is ten times worse, that desire for the beloved, for total unity, may take on a morbid form. It may come to be a sort of imperialism, a desire for absorbing without being absorbed, possessing without being possessed, making the beloved's every thought, wish and interest, a mere reflection of oneself. And since the beloved may often have exactly the same program for you, success, which would be infamous if achieved, is not very probable. At this stage the couple are almost fortunate if they fall out of love altogether, but they may remain in it, in that sort of love which is increasingly a sort of hatred... jealous, exacting and resentful."
C.S. Lewis continues: "My point is not that these dangers cannot be averted. They are averted daily by thousands of couples, but they are not averted by Eros - by love - itself. If love is to remain, it must be supported by outside help.... You need a firm will to justice, you need a will already pretty well formed or disciplined. In the long run you need the grace of God.... Its rather like a garden. A garden is a glorious thing, full of life, and giving us life. But you must not trust your garden to weed itself or fence itself, or prune itself, or anything of that sort. It hasn't got that kind of goodness. A garden left to nature will soon not be a garden. It is the same with our passions. They also are life giving. But when God planted that garden, he placed a man over it to dress it and set the man under Himself."
For most of us, being in love is often the best experience of our lives, precisely because the state excludes vileness and involves a surpassing of our lesser selves. Unfortunately our egos rapidly come to the fore and the relationship becomes riddled with habit and triviality. Retaining a sense of the mystery in marriage requires both nobility and a sense of the sacred. As another author has said, "a profane man may look back on his youthful love and think that now he is 'beyond' such 'illusions of youth'; but in fact it is he who has succumbed to the illusion and triviality of profane life, whereas in his youth he tasted something of greatness and nobility which he ought to have tried to maintain by leading a spiritual life." Man cannot easily escape the temptation to humanize the sacred rather than sacralize the human.
Plato uses many words that we have translated as love. There is storge, best translated as "domestic love"; there is filia, translated as "friendship"; there is Eros, or human love, there is Agape, often translated as "selfless love," or "charity"; and there is epithumia which is "lust." In the Symposium Plato calls Eros a "mighty daemon... being an intermediate between the nature of a god and the nature of a mortal." That Eros should have two sides results from the fact that Aphrodite, the goddess of love, has two aspects, labeled Aphrodite Urania and Aphrodite Pandemia. The first embodies love of a divine nature; the second profane love.
Now marriage as a vocation or way to perfect one's soul requires precisely the commitment and fight not to let the first kind deteriorate into the second. It involves the constant choice of love over selfishness, of giving over taking. Despite its joys, marriage is a life of continuing sacrifice - of destroying the old man that the new man might live.Any father who faces the daily task of earning a living will be acquainted with sacrifice; as indeed, any woman who gets up in the middle of the night after a long day, to breast feed her child. To live in the married state without anger, impatience, resentment, selfishness is extremely difficult - witness the fact that marriages end up in divorce in over 60% of cases and beyond this, even those where the partners stay together, true love not infrequently dies. Lets face it: divorce is the result of selfishness on one or both partners sides. "Marriage is a great sacrament." Notice that we are not taught that there is a sacrament in marriage, but that marriage itself is a sacrament. As the Council of Trent taught, "it is a grace which perfects natural love, strengthens the union into an absolute indissolubility, and sanctifies the persons married." Grace, you will remember from your catechism, perfects nature. Without the sacramental graces, it is a wonder that any marriage survives. With sacramental grace every aspect of marriage can be sanctifying.
Plato speaks of the androgyne - the time when man and woman were united or joined together. They decided however that they would attack the gods and Zeus in his anger split them apart. Now the understanding of Greek mythology is not easy. This mythological story drawn from Aristophanes may well relate to a time before the fall with the female soul was united to the "male" image of God or the divine indwelling. This unity was lost with the fall. And the attraction towards the partner which is said to have resulted from this division - the seeking of "wholeness," is but another way of describing the desire of the psyche-soul to be united with the indwelling spirit. Ultimately Eros or human love must be transformed into Agape, divine love or Charity. The risk is that it will degenerate into mere passion or worse.
While in the realm of mythology it is worth considering the story of St. George and the dragon and a host of variations in which the loathly princess is kissed by the solar hero and restored to her rightful place. St. George slays the dragon, thus liberating the princess. Snow white, poisoned by the apple, is "cured" by the kiss of the prince. We are all in need of this "kiss" which derives from slaying the dragon of self-love.
Some of you will remember the novel 1984 which describes the new socialist world of future. The story speaks of the reverse possibility. In it a couple make the terrible mistake of falling in love. The state has no objection to their having sexual relations - the children of course to be brought up by the state. However, having fallen in love the couple proffer their loyalty to each other. This the state cannot tolerate. In order to correct their errors they are separately tortured. The inquisitor declares himself successful when the individuals concerned come to the point of wishing the suffering on their partner rather than desiring to suffer the torture for the sake of the partner.
I have many Catholic patients come to me as a psychiatrist who complain of having a poor self image. How is this possible if we are made in the image of Christ. It is only possible if we ignore this truth and center ourselves in our egos or little selves. And this brings me back to one of the most horrible confusions imposed upon the Catholic faithful by Vatican II. I say horrible because it fosters and approves the satisfying of this little self.
You will immediately think of the heresy of religious liberty - and indeed in a sense you are correct. For the concept of religious liberty fundamentally teaches that we - our little selves - are the source of truth. This, incidentally, according to the Jewish fathers, is the worst form of idolatry. However, the heresy I am referring to is one which affects us, if possible, even more directly, for it enters into and influences our married vocation from the moment of its inception until death do us part.. It is the heresy about the ends of marriage.
The traditional teaching regarding the ends of marriage is encapsulated in Canon 1013 of the Code of Canon Law (1917). Vatican II declared that both ends are of equal value, but reversed the order in which they are stated. It further declared that the priest was obliged to make reference to this in his sermon and admonition at the marriage ceremony. 
[cont'd] The traditional teaching states:
"The primary end of Marriage is the procreation and education of offspring, while its secondary purposes are mutual help and allaying (also translated "as a remedy for") concupiscence. The latter are entirely subordinate to the former."
Pius XII commented on this in a clear manner in his address to midwives on March 10, 1944. "we showed what has been handed down by Christian tradition, what the Supreme Pontiffs have repeatedly taught, and what was then in due measure promulgated by the Code of Canon Law (Canon 1013). Not long afterwards, the Holy See, by a public decree, proclaimed that it could not admit the opinion of some recent authors who denied that the primary end of marriage is the procreation and education of the offspring, or teach that the secondary ends are not essentially subordinated to the primary end, but are on an equal footing and independent of it."
This doctrine was declared de fide by the Holy Office with the approval of Pius XII (AAS 36 (1944), 103) Let us look at what the change in this teaching leads to: it opens the door to artificial forms of birth control, infidelity and divorce. The traditional view demands that even the unitive ends of marriage must be sacrificed for the sake of the children. The new view declares that selfishness - for as has been made clear above, it is fundamentally selfishness that disrupts both love and marriage - has the right to sacrifice the children for its goals. And make no mistake about it. The psychiatric literature is replete with evidence of the effects wrought on the children by divorce, and that children would prefer to have their parents stay together even if their relationship is far from ideal. And to compound this terrible error, the new Church has made divorce easy by declaring that psychological immaturity is grounds for annulment - as if anyone other than the saint is psychologically mature.
But what of this "mutual help"? This does not mean help in any worldly sense - the saving of money for retirement or succoring each other in illness - though of course such is by no means excluded. Rather, it is that mutual help in gaining paradise. It often seems that the Church is only concerned with the children - that she says little about the "unitive" ends of marriage. Let us then look at this aspect of the married vocation with a little more care. I have already several times pointed to St. Paul's affirmation that marriage is a great sacrament. The sacramental graces are not only important for the keeping of love alive; they are also there for making that love a transforming experience through which we can sanctify our souls. St. Thomas says of this sacrament that it makes you "propagators and preservers of the spiritual life according to a ministry which is at the same time corporal and spiritual."Again, Pius XII informs us that "your place in the Church as Christian couples is not then merely to beget children and offer living stones for the work of priests, the highest ministers of God. The exceedingly abundant graces which flow from the sacrament of matrimony have not been given you merely for the sake of remaining fully and constantly faithful to God's law in the august moment of calling your children to life and for facing and supporting with Christian courage the pain, sufferings and worries that very often follow and accompany marriage. But such graces have been given you rather as a sanctification, light and help in your corporal and spiritual ministry; for together with natural life it is your sacred duty, as God's instruments, to propagate, preserve and contribute to the development in the children given you by Him of that spiritual life infused in them by the washing of holy Baptism."
It is pertinent that the minister of the sacrament of marriage is not the priest, but rather the couple involved and their reciprocal acceptance of each other.The priest acts as the Church's witness. Now a minister of a sacrament is but a simple instrument in God's hands. He and she pronounce the words which signify the grace proper to the Sacrament, but it is God alone Who produces such a grace, using man only as a minister acting in His name. Even non Catholic marriages have about them a certain sacramentality - that is provided they are entered into with the proper intention.And thus the non-Catholic marriage for those whose ignorance of the faith is invincible becomes a source of grace. In fact, when a Protestant couple become Catholic, they do not receive a second sacramental marriage; rather, just as their entire life becomes sacramentalized, their marriage is automatically raised to the level of a Sacrament,. They may receive a "nuptial blessing," but the blessing is a gift of the Church not intrinsically necessary to the marriage.
Von Hildebrand likens marriage to Holy Orders: "with regard to its sacramental character, marriage must be compared to Holy Orders. Leaving aside the internal holiness of the functions implied in the idea of a priest (which of its very nature calls down meriting graces), the priesthood - in its character as a Sacrament - is a source of specific graces, a dispenser of graces. The same applies to marriage. Holy Orders not only carries graces with it, but produces grace and is the channel of special graces. In the same way, marriage has been honored in becoming one of the seven mysterious sources of participating in the divine life. Perhaps marriage as a Sacrament shows the closest affinity to Holy Orders, since it does not effect a rebirth (as do the Sacraments of Baptism and Penance) nor a perfection of this rebirth and a union with Christ (as does the Sacrament of the Eucharist). Like Holy Orders the Sacrament of Matrimony is at the disposal only of certain people who receive a special vocation to it.
Marriage is in Catholic eyes, indissoluble.Such inevitably follows from the fact that it reflects - or should reflect - the divine or metaphysical principles on which it is based. Can the Church be divorced from Christ - Can Christ abandon the Church? Impossible! It is because marriage is a sacred state reflecting a divine prototype that it is indisolvable. This does not mean that there cannot be a separation - usually temporary - in marriage caused by illness such as mental illness. But such a separation is not a dissolution or divorce. And always it becomes another cross. Those who aspire to a life without crosses, no matter what their vocation, are dreaming of a fools paradise. Once again, to quote St. Seraphim of Sarov:
"Christian marriage is a life-work. It is easy only in ideal circumstances. Fidelity to the end, St. Seraphim taught, is essential to happiness. If Christians find they cannot live together, they go on living together for their homes, their children, for the Church and for God. It may mean much suffering, but this married life is the way to heaven. For only those who take up the cross can follow Christ."
But what of the phrase that the couple are joined together "until death do us part." Is not ideal human love eternal? The answer is no. Human love is both a beautiful and at the same time, a pale reflection of Agape or divine love. It is only divine love that is eternal. And so it is in marriage that one must accept the painful fact that the most beautiful and perfect of marriages, like life itself, must see its termination, and that our eternal life is ultimately not of this world.
I have already alluded to the fact that theological writers are prone to admit sanctity is possible in the married state, but almost always imply that this occurs despite marriage and not because of it. When we come to the matter of sex, this becomes even more striking. In fact they almost never write of sex except to warn us that it is corrupted by concupiscence and hence indulgence in the sexual act almost always involves a venial sin.The idea that the grace of the sacrament stops at the sanctuary of the bedroom door is patently absurd.
Let us pause for a moment to state that if marriage is a sacred state reflecting the unity of Christ and the Church, and microscomically of our souls with that Christ that lives within us, than the same must also, by the very nature of things, be true of the sexual act. There is perhaps nothing with which we can better compare the 'mystic union' of the finite with its infinite ambient, than the self-oblivion of earthly lovers locked in each other's arms where "each is both," or to use the Scriptural phrase, "united in one flesh."So much is this the case that in a Mediaeval Nuptial 'Ceremornarium' it is ordered that when a newly married pair are got to bed, the priest and acolytes shall enter, with censer and Holy Water, to give the Church's blessing on their union.
Sex has in every religion been surrounded by a host of what the anthropologists call taboos. We tell our children in a thousand ways that sex is somehow evil or dirty, and unfortunately many - both lay and cleric - carry this attitude over into marriage. Sex is not evil or dirty, but rather sacred, and that is why it is surrounded with taboos. Sex is beautiful, and as St. Thomas Aquinas teaches, "out of the divine beauty, all things are created." Now just as it would be sinful to give communion to individuals publicly known to be non Catholic or not in a state of grace, so also it is sinful to indulge in a sacred act outside of the married state. Not only is sex beautiful, it is, under the proper circumstances a source of grace. Such has always been the teaching of the Church fathers. Consider the following:
. St. John Chrysostom teaches that "thanks to love, the man and the woman are drawn to the eternal life and moreover always attract to themselves the grace of God... [marriage] is the sacrament of love" (Hom. 3 on Marriage). St. Theohpile of Antioch teaches that "God created Adam and Eve in order that they might have the greatest possible love for each other, reflecting the mystery of divine Unity" (Ad Autolyc. 2.28). The German mystic von Baader said that "the purpose of marriage is the reciprocal restoration of the celestial or angelic image as it should be in the man and woman." In the life of Saint Ida of Herzfeld, the wife of Count Egbert (Xth century), we find the following statement: "at the moment when the two are united in one flesh, there is present in them a single and similar operation of the Holy Spirit: when they are linked together in each others arms in an external unity, which is to say, a physical unity, this indivisible action of the Holy Spirit inflames them with a powerful interior love directed towards celestial realities." And finally, St. Bernard in his commentary on the Song of Songs says that sexual intercourse (carnale connubium) between married spouses is the reflection of the spiritual marriage (spirituale matriomonium) which unites the soul with God."
St. Thomas Aquinas confirms this doctrine, while specifying the proper conditions involved: "The marriage act is always either sinful or meritorious in one who is in a state of grace. For if the motive for the marriage act be a virtue, whether of justice that they may render the debt, or of religion, that they may beget children for the worship of God, it is meritorious. But if the motive be lust, yet not excluding the marriage blessings, namely that he would by no means be willing to go to another woman, it is a venial sin; while if he exclude the marriage blessings, so as to be disposed to act in like manner with any woman, it is a mortal sin... "if pleasure be sought in such a way as to exclude the honesty of marriage so that, to wit, it is not as a wife but as a woman that a man treats his wife, and that he is ready to use her in the same way if she were not his wife, it is a mortal sin.... if he seek pleasure (as its own end) within the bounds of marriage, so that it would not be sought in another than his wife, it is a venial sin."
I have said above that part of the discipline of marriage is the giving of oneself to the other - this is the "heart to heart" aspect of marriage as opposed to the "ego to ego" aspect. When we give to the other we suppress our little selves by always putting the other first and by doing everything in our power to please the other. When we make of the marriage act a selfish act; when we seek in it our own pleasure rather than the pleasure of our partner, or when one or both partners seek pleasure as an end in itself, we act in a selfish manner. Yet how difficult it is to always be without at least some admixture of self-love. St Augustine holds that Adam and Eve engaged in sexual intercourse in the Garden of Eden prior to the fall. There was no venality in their act.The venality of self love is the result, not of the act, but of the fall. Our problem is that we have been wounded by the fall and few if any of our acts are free of self-love. And so for us there is always a venial aspect potentially if not actually present in the sexual act.
It is pertinent that Canon 1013 speaks of marriage as a "remedy" for concupiscence. Note that it doesn't say, as a means of indulging concupiscence. A remedy is a cure, and pray God we may all be cured of self love.
This does not mean that one should derive no pleasure from the sexual act. To again quote Pius XII:
"The same Creator, Who in His bounty and wisdom willed to make use of the work of man and woman, by uniting them in matrimony, for the preservation and propagation of the human race, has also decreed that in this function the parties should experience pleasure and happiness of body and spirit. Husband and wife, therefore, by seeking and enjoying this pleasure do no wrong whatever. They accept what the Creator has destined for them."
God would hardly create a necessary act - necessary for the preservation of the species - an act ultimately aimed at producing saints - an act from which we inevitably derive a certain pleasure and then make it sinful for us to enjoy that act. Who can eat, read a book, or do anything else without a certain pleasure. It is my belief that God actually wants us to enjoy our lives - to enjoy all that we do, providing we do it IN HIM, and not as an end in itself. As Peter Lombard, the master of the sentences and the teacher of St. Thomas Aquinas said:
"Thus if there is any sin in sexual relations, it is due, not to the pleasure, but to
some disorder in the way that pleasure is experienced."
The pleasure shared in sexual giving involves the entire person - body, psyche and spirit. It is or should be, as I have said, an action that is not just physical, not just psychic, but also an action that is "heart to heart". But that pleasure must not be indulged in as an end in itself.And certainly, sex must never be used as a tool for reward or punishment. Now the problem with sex is that, in its proper place and usage, it is one of the most sacred of acts, one from which as St. Thomas teaches, we derive abundant grace; it is also one of the most easily perverted of acts. The very word perverted is of interested. It means to turn something intrinsically good to an improper end. When we make of sex a satisfying of our own pleasure, an act of taking rather than an act of giving, we pervert or misuse one of the greatest gifts of God. If this is true within marriage, and certainly true outside of marriage.
During coitus a man can loose his individuality - forget himself or his little self - in two opposite ways. This dis-individualization can occur in two directions - the anagogical ascent above individuality and the catalogical descent below.The parties involved can give or take - in giving transcending themselves; in taking becoming less than human or merely animal. Let me give an analogy which may make this clearer. A policeman enters a house of ill fame as part of a raid. He commits no sin because he is protected by the graces of his function. The same policeman enters the same house on his own time. His act of entering the house has a certain neutrality. But his intention - the ends for which he acts - are sinful. Similarly with beauty. When one sees the beauty of a woman (or music) as a reflection of God's beauty, one can only praise its source. When one sees it as a end in itself - something to be enjoyed for its own sake - then its seductive rather than its redemptive character becomes manifest. One and the same beauty can lead us to, or away from God.
Nor is the sexual act irrevocably tied to procreation. As St. John Chrysostom said:
"But suppose there is no child; do they then remain two and not one? No; their intercourse effects the joining of their bodies, and they are made one, just as when perfume is fixed with ointment."
Puis XII said:
"To reduce the common life of husband and wife and the conjugal act to a mere organic function for the transmission of seed would be but to convert the domestic hearth, the family sanctuary, into a biological laboratory."
Further proof of this lies in the fact that the Church has never invalidated or impedimented marriages where sterility is known to exist or prohibited the sexual act when the woman is beyond the child bearing age. (In passing you may be interested to know that St. Cammilus's mother was 65 and not on any hormone therapy.) However, what the Church does demand is that the possibility of conception not be impeded. How so. Well consider the couple that engages in sex with the express and only intention of enjoying the pleasure. To do so is to make the pleasure - even if reciprocal - its own end. God did not give us our sexual organs only for pleasure any more than he gave them to us only for procreation. And so it is that when adequate reasons are present, the parents may use the so-called rhythm method - better called periodic abstinence - but can never use other methods of preventing birth than abstinence.
The use of periodic abstinence does not absolutely preclude the possibility of conception. When the sexual act is performed in so-called safe periods of the woman's cycle, one remains open to the divine will. Quite the opposite is the case when the possibility of children is absolutely precluded. To quote Father Planque, "to refuse to let one's love result in children, is to commit oneself to the path of egotism, a path which can only lead to the death of love."Moreover, shared abstinence is the only form of "birth control" which demands mutuality or a sharing of the sacrific involved; and shared sacrifice always deepens love. Every other form of birth control is both unilateral and carries with it significant medical risks.
Allow me to take this opportunity to strongly disagree with Solange Hertz, a woman for whom I have a great deal of admiration. The first point of disagreement is fundamental. She states that "Ascribing sacredness to the sex act is a Judaic heresy. It partakes of the talmudic mysticism taught in the Zohar, where the union of man and wife on the Sabbath is seen as a ritual representation of the union of the male and female aspects of God." I have already given the evidence necessary to contradict this; and further, I believe she misinterprets the Zohar, for the Jewish fathers, basing them selves on the Song of Songs, clearly saw the sexual act as reflecting the unity of the soul with God precisely along the lines discussed above.
The second point is perhaps more important, for it is her contention that the "abomination of desolation is contraception... most particularly as practiced... in the guise of so-called 'natural family planning' or 'natural birth regulation.'" In so stating her case, she directly contradicts Pope Pius XII who holds that the use of this method under the right circumstances is entirely legitimate. To quote him directly, "We affirmed the legitimacy and at the same time the limits - truly very wide (my emphasis) - of that controlling of births which, unlike the so-called "birth control," is compatible with God's law. It can be hoped that for such a lawful method a sufficiently certain basis can be found, and recent research seems to confirm this hope." Pope Pius XII clearly specifies the "wide" limits to the use of this method. A marriage entered into with the express intention of excluding the payment of the marriage debt - as the sexual act is called - during fertile periods is invalid because implicit to the contract is that this debt should be paid whenever asked for and because the intention is to preclude the primary purpose of marriage. It is very much a matter of the morality of the intention involved. Thus he states that "The mere fact that the husband and wife do not offend the nature of the act and are even ready to accept and bring up the child who, notwithstanding their precautions, might be born, would not be itself sufficient to guarantee the rectitude of their intention and the unobjectionable morality of their motives. . to embrace the matrimonial state, to use continually the faculty proper to such a state and lawful only therein, and, at the same time, to avoid its primary duty without a grave reason, would be a sin against the very nature of married life."
However, "serious motives, such as those which not rarely arise from medical, eugenic, economic and social so-called "indications," may exempt husband and wife from the obligatory, positive debt for a long period or even for the entire period of matrimonial life. From this it follows that the observance of the natural sterile periods may be lawful, from the moral viewpoint, and it is lawful in the conditions mentioned. If, however, according to a reasonable and equitable judgment, there are no such grave reasons either personal or deriving from exterior circumstances, the will to avoid the fecundity of their union, while continuing to satisfy to the full their sensuality, can only be the result of a false appreciation of life and of motives foreign to sound ethical principles." It is this attitude which Chesterton labeled as "no birth and less control." This is a matter which couples should discuss with their confessor.
There are incidentally excellent books which enable married couples to determine fertile periods with great accuracy. One of the best is The Ovulation Method of Birth Control by Mercedes Arzu Wilson published by Van Norstrand Reinhold, and unfortunately out of print. A proper knowledge of the method makes the old quip to the effect that "what you call couples who use the rhythm method is parents, is not completely true." Every form of artificial birth control has a certain failure rate. With condom usage, it may be as high as 25%. Even with tubal ligations there is a 1% pregnancy rate; and certainly the use of hormones is fraught with a significant number of complications - though it must be granted that they are less life threatening than pregnancy can be. The fact remains however that abstinence is the healthiest form of birth control, and what is more important, it is the only form of birth control where the couples share responsibility. In every other form of birth control the act is essentially unilateral - and we have spoken of the reciprocity necessary in love. Now even with abstinence during the so-called fertile period, there is always a risk of pregnancy and an openness to the possibility should God so will. God's primary purpose in marriage is not precluded. The sanctity of the act remains intact. Abstinence can at times require an "heroic virtue," but is that not what sanctity is all about?
According to Zertnys-Damen's Moral Theology, continence, whether periodic or total, may be practiced under the following definite conditions: a) the practice must be freely undertaken by mutual consent; b) there must be no serious danger of unchastity or loss of conjugal love in either party as a result of the practice; c) there must be a positive and good reason for adopting the practice. the presence or absence of these conditions should be decided with the help of a confessor.
It is perhaps not out of place to comment on the Virginity of the Blessed Mother. How is this compatible with the teaching of the Church that She is the ideal and model for every woman, be she single or married.. First of all, The Blessed Virgin is the ideal and model for both men and women. As Augustine said, "the soul's virginity consists in perfect faith, well-grounded hope and unfeigned love" (Tract. on John, XIII). Similarly, Cornelius Lapide tells us "those whose souls are on fire with charity, and who are ever exercising themselves in it, enjoy the bliss of betrothal to God and the possession of His nuptial gifts of divine joys. For charity is a marriage-union, the welding of two wills, the Divine and the human into one, whereby God and man mutually agree in all things." Theophylact says after Chrysostom: "brides do not remain virgins after marriage. But Christ's brides [we are all meant to be such], as before marriage they were not virgins, so after marriage they become virgins, most pure in faith, whole and uncorrupt in life." (Quoted by Cornelius Lapide). This is why St. Louis de Montfort says: "the more the Holy Spirit... finds Mary, His dear and inseparable spouse in any soul, the more active and might He becomes in producing Jesus Christ in that Soul."- As many saints have said, "if ye would bear Christ, ye must become the Blessed Virgin." It is statements such as these that explain the words of St. Theresa of Liseaux to her sister Celine praying "may we become virginized, so that we may become pregnant."
[cont'd] "St. Paul said 'To this man I have espoused you.' For as marriage between man and wife is binding, so there is eternal marriage between the soul and God. A maid is given to a man hoping to bear his child. And God did make the soul intending her to bear in her His only-begotten Son. The happening of this birth in Mary ghostly was to God better pleasing than his being born of her in flesh... The woman said to Christ, 'Blessed is the womb that bare thee.' To which Christ replied ' Blessed not alone the womb which bare me: blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it.' It is more worth to God His being brought forth ghostly in the individual virgin or good soul than that he was born of Mary bodily.' "
Now the Blessed Virgin is the source of fecundity, both physical and spiritual. Her purity is virginal to us, but precisely because she is eternally wedded to the Holy Spirit. For those of us in the married state, it is not so much her physical virginity which exemplifies, but rather this relationship to the Holy Spirit. For us, and indeed even more for those in the religious life, this is exemplified by the Magnificat and above all by her response to the Annunciation - "be it done unto me according to thy Word." It is she who is the Janua Coeli - the Gate of Heaven, and it is no accident that it is she who in a sense sacramentalized and continues to sacramentalize marriage, for it was her request that led to Christ's first miracle - the changing of water into wine - always a symbol of the sacred transmutation.It is precisely her purity , chastity and virtue, all the qualities of the Magnificat, brought to the marriage state which vivifies its sacramental nature and virginilizes us. Without her virginal graces - she who is Co-Redemtrix and the Mediatrix of all Graces - none of us could ever sacramentalize our lives, much less our marriages. Hail Mary, full of grace, Blessed art Thou among women, and Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
I have, in this paper, attempted to share with you some of the principles on which Catholic marriage and sexuality are based. Marriage is clearly a vocation, a "calling" willed by God, and as such every aspect of marriage is both capable of reflecting the sacred, and of transforming and sacralizing the participants. Eros is always potentially Agape, but Agape both as grace and fruition is necessary to transform Eros, or rather to be transformed into Eros.Without this Eros easily degenerates into epithumia or lust which is nothing other than unrestrained self-love. In accordance with the principle that the highest things are the most easily corrupted, marriage can easily become, not a foretaste of heaven, but a living hell. While grace bloweth where it will, it is always within our power to refuse its refreshing breezes. Our human loves - storge, eros, and filia, can all be said to reflect and to open the door to Agape. They can be valued as demigods, as long as we recognize that demigods, when made an end in themselves, become idols.
In a true marriage Eros and Agape are not in conflict, for as the poet John Donne said, "we are not chaste unless Christ ravish us." "Blessed are they who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb... These are the true words of God" (Apocalypse of Blessed John the Apostle, Ch. 19, 3).
“After this rather paltry treatment and discussion of mine, I am not ignorant of the fact that the question of marriage still remains very obscure and involved. Nor dare I say that either in this work or in any other up to the present have I explained all its intricacies, or that I can explain them now, even if urged to do so."
(St. Augustine, On Adulterous Marriages)
Rama Coomaraswamy, 2001
 Secular Humanism or The American Way, The Human Life Review, Fall 1982.
The Timeless Christian. He continues: "man's participation in God's creative power, something that is denied him - the love between two human beings, the sanctification of nature, and not least, the sacramental character of the married state. He will try to force love to take on an egotistical form, to infect it with jealousy, to destroy its permanence; he will move heaven and earth to bring disorder into every aspect of sex, to turn its stream into a raging torrent, or to dry it up altogether, or to divert it into a false bed; he will lead the partners towards divorce, to petty bickering, to a sterile boredom of everyday life, even to mutual hatred; finally he will try to estrange children from their parents and, recalling his own origin, will infuse their minds with the spirit of vainglory, of 'knowing better,' and of ingratitude."
"Outside the commercial civilizations of the [modern] western world, love and marriage take their place as types of divine union, and everywhere love and marriage are the subject-matter of painters and sculptors. It is true that love is the theme of [modern] western writers also, but, with them, the idea of love is now entirely free from divine signification, either explicit or implied, and, however much they mays still be under the heel of the old tradition which makes marriage the inevitable 'happy ending,' yet, as religion decays, the inevitability of such an ending becomes less and less and the nootion of a permanent union, 'till death do us part' is more and more frequently relegated to the 'scrap-heap' of outworn ideas... The modern world fondly imagines that it has removed the veil with which a more superstitious generation shrouded reality whereas, actually, it has simply blinded itself to the reality of which material life is the veil." Art and Love, Bristol: Cleverdon, 1927.
Love is nothing other than the will ardently fixed on something good... " William of St. Thierry, The Nature and Dignity of Love.
Much that we label "primitive" is only degeneration. As Erich Fromm states, "What is essential in the existence of man is the fact that he has emerged from the animal kingdom, from instinctive adaptation, that he has transcended nature - although he never leaves it; he is part of it - and yet once torn away from nature, he cannot return to it" (The Art of Loving).
Christ loved Lazarus deeply as a friend - it is said that the emotions whelmed up in him on hearing of his death. The more modern translations state that he was overwhelmed with emotion, but such is false, for while the emotions have their place, they would never in Our Lord overwhelm the higher functions of His human soul.
"Nowhere is sexual union regarded as marriage unless it is in some way socially sanctioned." C. Augustine, A Commentary on the New Code of Canon Law, (1917).
Aristotle in his Politics states that "a home must possess three relationships if it is to be complete, namely, that of husband and wife, of father and the children and that between the master and servants." (Quoted by St. Thomas Aquinas in his Commentary on Ephesians).
De bono conjugali, cap. xviii, n. 21
In the words of St. Augustine, "offspring signifies that children shall be lovingly welcomed... and religiously educated" De Gen. ad litt., 1.9,c.7, n.12. Similarly St. Thomas teaches "education and development until it reach the perfect state of man as man, and that is the state of virtue." (III, 41, 1). It is said that a woman who brings up her child in the faith will enter heaven before any theologian.
St. Seraphim of Sarov, A Spiritual Biography, Archimandrite Lazarus Moore, Sarov Press, 1994.
This hierarchical arrangement is by no means restricted to Christianity. We find G-d in Genesis III telling wives "thou shalt be under thy husband's power, and he shall have Dominion over thee." The same hierarchical arrangement is found in Islam and Hinduism. It is not without significance that the newer "catholic" translations of the Bible translate "This is a great sacrament" by "This is a great foreshadowing."
.The Constitution Gaudium and Spes produced by the The Second Vatican Council attempted to soften this teaching: "Just as of old God encountered his people with a covenant of love and fidelity, so our Savior, the spouse of the Church, now encounters Christian spouses through the sacrament of Marriage. He abides with them in order that by their mutual self-giving, spouses will love each other with enduring fidelity, as he loved the Church and delivered himself for it." Here the teaching of Ephesians has been decisively abridged. Only what is agreeable has been taken from it, namely "love." The subordination of women, and correlatively, that of the Church to her Head, the basic outline of which has been presented above, is simply disregarded. Drawing on this statement, the Synod of Wurzurg declared in 1975 that the husband and wife were to be seen as partners, and that "the allotment of roles between husband and wife which was strongly patriarchal in character, has been corrected. In a parallel manner John-Paul II has persistently insisted that love creates equality. In his Familiaris consortio (1981) and in his Charter of Family Rights" (1983) he teaches that God gives man and woman an equal personal dignity, endowing them with the inalienable rights and responsibilities proper to the human person. "Above all it is important to underline the equal dignity and responsibility of women and men... in creating the human race 'male and female' God gives man and woman an equal personal dignity, endowing them with the inalienable rights and responsibilities proper to the human person." The same responsibilities and rights for man and woman clearly exclude man from being the head of the family. John Paul II is of course aware that he is contradicting the constant teaching of the Church. In an article published in the L'Osservatore Romano he explains that "the author of the letter [St. Paul] does not hesitate to accept those ideas which were proper to the contemporary mentality and its forms of expression... Our sentiments are certainly different today, different also are our mentality and customs, and, finally, different is a woman's social position vis-a-vis the man." (German ed., 27.8.82). (In 1953 the Church taught that "anyone who, as a matter of principle, denies the responsibility of the husband and father as head of the woman and of the family, puts himself in opposition to the Gospel and the doctrine of the Church." - supplement to St. Korads Blatt., No. 10, 1953)
Klaus Moersdorf, Kirchenrecht, V. II, 10th edition, Munich, 1958. While not a dogmatic teaching of the Church, it is clear that failure to recognize this aspect of the marriage relationship clearly vitiates the spiritual aspect of the relationship.
The importance of obedience is shown by the fact that Adam fell because of the sin of disobedience, while Christ reversed the fall by being "obedient unto death." In the last analysis, we are all obliged to be obedient to higher authority, and "all authority is from God." Obedience is a "moral virtue," and as such of a lesser order than the "theological virtues" of Faith, Hope and Charity. In accordance with the principle that the higher takes precedence to the lower, it follows that one can never command what is sinful or against truth. True obedience implies going against our self-will and carries with it the principle of self-abnegation.
"We cannot ask ourselves whether "woman" is superior or inferior to "man," any more than we can ask ourselves whether water is superior or inferior to fire. Thus the standard of measurement for either of the sexes can be provided not by the opposite sex, but only by the "idea" of the same sex. In other words, the only thing we can do is establish the superiority or inferiority of a given woman on the basis of her being more or less close to the female type, to the pure and absolute woman, and the same thing applies to man as well." The claims of modern woman therefore, spring from mistaken ambitions as well as from an inferiority complex, from the mistaken idea that woman are intrinsically inferior to man. It has been rightly said that feminism has really fought not for "woman's right," but, without knowing it, for the right of woman to make herself equal to man... it would amount to a woman having the right to pervert herself and to degenerate. Julius Evola, The Metaphysics of Sex., p. 54. Others have pointed out that femininity manifests the feminine aspects of the Divine: Goodness, radiating Beauty, Mercy, Love, and Purity, while masculinity incarnates Truth, Axiality, Intellectuality, Strength and Generosity.
This fiat goes beyond obedience. A woman, in accepting motherhood, places her life on the line. Continuing the passage from Timothy I just quoted: "Yet she shall be saved through childbearing; if she continue in faith, and love, and sanctification, with sobriety." A woman who dies in childbirth - assuming the right disposition of soul - is said to go straight to heaven. With regard to obedience, St. John Chrysostom says St. Paul teaches wives that "when you yield to your husband consider that you are obeying him as part of your service to the Lord." He further says, "a household cannot be a democracy, ruled by everyone, but the authority must necessarily rest in one person. The same is true for the Church.... where there is equal authority, there never is peace. Paul places the head in authority and the body in obedience" At the same time he tells husbands: "Do you want your wife to be obedient to you, as the Church is to Christ? Then be responsible for the same providential care of her as Christ is for the Church. And even if it becomes necessary for you to undergo suffering of any kind, do not refuse." (Homily 20). Obedience in marriage is as essential as it is in the religious life.
 This in no way implies that couples that have fulfilled their obligations in the married state cannot enter religion under a variety of forms. Such was much more common in earlier centuries than in our day.
Quoted by Msgr. Charles Doyle, in Christian Perfection for the Married, Nugent, N.Y., 1964
To quote Pius XI: "It is the will of God, says St. Paul, that you sanctify yourselves. What kind of sanctity does he speak of? Our Lord Himself made this clear. 'Be ye perfect as your father in heaven is perfect.' No one should assume that this invitation is addressed to a small select number of individuals and that the remainder of mankind are allowed to be satisfied with some lesser degree of virtue. This law obliges and applies - and this is absolutely clear - to all of mankind, without exception."
 Seventh Homily on St. Matthew. "Both those who choose to dwell in the midst of noise and hubbub and those who dwell in monasteries, mountains and caves can achieve salvation." St. Symeon the New Theologian, Philokalia. A vocation must of course be intrinsically honorable, which is to say, capable of perfecting the soul.
The comments of Barbe Acarie are pertinent: "If I had but one child and if I were the queen of the whole world so that he was my sole heir and God called him to the religious state I would put no obstacle in his way; but if I had a hundred children and could make no provision for them I would not oblige one to enter religion, because such a vocation must come purely from God. The religious state is so lofty that the whole world together cannot make a good religious if God does not lend his help; it is far better to remain in the world by divine disposition than to be a religious through human instigation" (Biography, Lancelot Sheppard).With regard to virginity, St. John Chrysostom: "virginity does not simply mean sexual abstinence. She who is anxious about worldly affairs is not really a virgin. In fact, he [St. Paul] says that this is the chief difference between a wife and a virgin. He doesn't mention marriage or abstinence, but attachment as opposed to detachment from worldly cares. Sex is not evil, but [it and children are] a hindrance to someone who desires [and is called ]to devote all her strength to a life of prayer." (Homily 19). "Of pure Virgins none, is fairer seen, Save one, than Mary Magdalene" (John Cordelier). May we then "be virginized" as St. Therese of Liseaux said in a letter to her sister Celine.
St. Francis de Sales, Letters to Persons in the World.
Louis of Grenada, The Sinner's Guide, Chapter V.
"In traditional symbolism, the supernatural principle has always been conceived as 'masculine'; nature and becoming as 'feminine'." (J. Evola, Rivolta contra il mondo moderno). It is not accidental that nature is referred to as "mother nature." This principle is in no way "sexist" or "patriarchal." Thus, the Abbess Sarah, one of the saints described by the Desert Fathers stated "I am a women in sex, but not in spirit." Similarly St. Augustine describes some saintly women in these terms: "according to the inward man neither male nor female; so that even in them that are women in body the manliness of their soul hides the sex of their flesh..." (Sermon 282).This "inward man" is of course St. Paul's inward man (Rom. VII:22) and St. Peter's "inner man of the heart" (1 Pet. 3,4). St. Theresa of Avila admonished her sisters in these terms: "I would not want you, my daughters, to be womanish in anything, nor would I want you to be like woman, but like strong men" (The Way of Perfection, 7:8). Throughout the Old Testament, Jehovah is characterized as "betrothed to Israel." Christ is our spouse, telling us in Hosea II: "I will marry thee in faithfulness." And again, "Thou shalt be the spouse of my blood" (Gesta Romanum). It is in this context that St. Paul admonishes both sexes to "play the man." It is in the light of this that the feminine aspect in everyone of us takes on a "seductive" quality; when this seduction is "successful," when the spirit is subverted by the lower soul, Scripture labels the "adulterous" result as "harlotry."
"It is often of the greatest importance," says St. Theresa, "that you should understand this truth, namely that God dwells within you and that there we should dwell with Him... Let us not imagine that the interior of our hearts is empty... And to understand how God is always present in our soul, let us listen to St. John of the Cross, another distinguished master of the science of the saints: 'In order to know how to find this Bridegroom, we must bear in mind that the Word, the Son of god, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, is hidden in essence and is present in the inmost being of the soul... And this is why St. Augustine, speaking to God, said: 'I do not find Thee without, O Lord, because I had no right to seek Thee there, for Thou are within.' God is therefore hidden within the soul." (A Spiritual Canticle, Stanza I).
St. John of the Cross continues later on to explain this more at length, remarking that God may be present in the soul in three different ways: "To explain this," he says, "it must be observed that there are three ways in which God is present in the soul. The first is His presence in essence, and in this respect He dwells not only in souls that are good and holy, but likewise in those that are bad and sinful, and indeed, in all creatures; for it is this presence that gives them life and being, and if it were once withdrawn they would cease to exist and would return to their original nothing. Now this kind of presence never fails in the soul. The second manner of god's presence is by grace, when He dwells in the soul pleased and satisfied with it. This presence of god is not in all souls, because those who commit a mortal sin lose it. The third kind of presence of God is by means of spiritual affection; for God is want to show His presence in many devout souls in divers ways of refreshment, joy and gladness." St. Theresa continues: "Of the first kind of divine presence we can never be deprived. The second we must procure for ourselves with all the powers of the soul, and we must guard it at any cost. The third isn't within our power. God gives to whom He pleases" (St. Theresa's Pater Noster).
Just as Adam's bride was taken from his side, so also was the Church the product of the blood and water which flowed from the side of Christ.
Translation of Christopher Bamford in The Voice of the Eagle, Lindisfarne Press, 1992. This is no novel teaching. Consider Origin: Let us see also allegorically how man, made in the image of god, is male and female. Our inner man consists of spirit and soul. The spirit is said to be male; the soul can be called female. If these have concord and agreement among themselves, they increase and multiply by the very accord among themselves and they produce sons, good inclinations and understandings... The soul united with the spirit and, so to speak, joined in wedlock...."';
Scheeben says much the same: "Marriage, says the Apostle (Eph. 5:32) is the great sacrament that is is, that is, it ranks so highly, because it is a figure of the union between God and his Church, and in consequence, of the union also between God and the soul. Reality and type are more perfect than figure and representation; the union between God and the soul is thus incomparably more real than that of man and woman. They are one in flesh; God is one with the soul in spirit ( 1 Cor. 5:17). The union of God with the soul is as far above the union of man and wife, as spirit is above flesh, as God is above matter. The union of the soul with God in one spirit is so intimate as to have no parallel in creation and the reasoning of the creature cannot grasp it. God submerges the soul in the ocean of His light, floods it with the torrent of His delights, fills it with the plenitude of His Being. He clasps it in the arms of His love. He so binds to Himself that no power in heaven or earth can tear it from Him." (Les Merveilles de la Grace divine, pp. 170ff.)
"To love God, " says St. Bernard, "is to be married to Him. Happy the soul who rejoices in this chaste and blessed embrace which is naught else than pure and holy love, love enchanting and joyful, love as serene as it is true, a mutual love, intimate and burning, which joins together two persons... in one spirit and of the two makes one." (Sermon 84 on the Canticle of Canticles, par. 5-6)
"Thus too it has been said that the Pharaoh of Egypt was a type of the devil, in that he cruelly ordered the males to be cast into the Nile and permitted the females to live. So too, the devil, ruling over the great Egypt of the world from Adam unto Moses, made an effort to carry off and destroy the male and rational offspring of the soul in the flood of the passions, while he takes delight in seeing the carnal and sensual offspring increase and multiply." St. Methodius, Treatise on Chastity.
Chapter on Man and Woman in J. Evola, Rivolta contra il mondo moderno, Milan, Ulricho Hoepli, 1934. Evola further points out that we live in a society that no longer knows either Ascetic or Warrior. The idealized masculine type is characterized by the power that derives from materiality as in the financial tycoon. Feminist demands for equality with the opposite sex inevitably lead to women being driven into the street, the business offices, the schools, the factories and all the other infected and infectious cross-roads of modern society and culture. "the result is a degeneration of the feminine type even in its physical features; the atrophy of its natural possibilities, the suffocation of its inwardness. And hence the garconne type, the neuter or mannish girl, sporty, vacant, incapable of any impulse beyond herself, incapable, in the last analysis, even of sensuality or sinfulness. In the case of modern women we do not even mention the possibility of maternity., but only that of a mere physical love in which she does not feel even so much interest as she does in beautifying herself, in displaying herself as much or as little dressed as possible, in physical training, dance, sport, money and so forth... The traditional woman in giving herself to another, in not living for herself, in willing to live altogether for another and to be all for another than herself, had her own heroism - essentially, she raised herself above the common level to the plane of the ascetic. The modern woman, in seeking to exist for herself, destroys herself... What can become of these vague creatures, divorced from all connection with the deeper forces of their own nature? From these creatures in whom sex begins and ends in physiology, even if abnormal inclinations are not already present.? From these creatures who are psychologically neither man nor woman, if indeed, the woman is not the man and the man the woman, and who boast of being above sex while in fact they are below it? The relations between them can have no other quality than that of a plaster cast, a virtually homosexual anodyne: can amount to no more than the promiscuity of an equivocal camaraderie, a morbid 'intellectual' sympathy, the banality of a new worship of nature shared together... Nothing else is possible in the world of 'emancipated' woman."
From a taped series on Love. It is not clear from this quotation that C. S. Lewis fully realized that in Platonic and Greek symbolism Eros metaphysically represents Christ who would be married to Psyche. Despite this, the quotation does relate to the situation in marriage psychiatrists frequently meet with.
Here again I have used the term Eros as C.S. Lewis and as common parlance uses it. There is of course a more correct understanding of the “Divine Eros” relating to the Logos, for it is God who is Love. Thus it is that classical presentation depicts Eros wedding psyche, which equates with Christ wedding the soul.
St. Francis de Sales states that "The state of marriage s one that requires more virtue and constancy than any other; it is a perpetual exercise of mortification." (Letters to Persons in the World.)
“The 1983 Code of Canon Law reflects this sacrilegious shift in defining the sacrament. Canon 1055 (1) places the good of the spouses before procreation of children. Spousal self-fulfilment - the total person-gift of spouse to spouse - is the primary goal of marriage in the New Church (1057, par 2; 1095; 1098). Sacrilegiously employing this primary goal, the New Church rationalizes its wholesale granting of “annulment divorces”: and thus sacrileges the Sacrament of Matrimony... Cardinal Ratzinger seems to opt for extending this privilege. In the future anyone [with pastoral responsibility] might be allowed to make an extra-juridical statement on the null and void nature of a first marriage (The Salt of the Earth, 1977". Fr. Trincaid, The Sacraments Sacrileged, MAETA, Metairie, La., 1999
Contra gentes, 4:58
"According to the common teaching of theologians, the matter of the sacrament c
"According to the common teaching of theologians, the matter of the sacrament consists in the mutual consent of the contracting parties to give themselves to each other; the form consists in their mutual consent to take each other."
These intentions are that the marriage is insoluble and that the ends of marriage would not be frustrated. Pope Innocent III taught that the sacrament of marriage existed both among the faithful and among infidels. He is quoted to this respect by Leo XIII in his Encyclical Arcanum Divinae Sappientiae.
The indissolubility of Catholic marriage is directly connected with the esoteric nature of the Catholic revelation. It is only within such a framework that one can accept all that happens - both good and bad - as the will of God; the accepting of the will of God - the uniting of ourselves with this will - allows us to see all that happens as a salutary blessing. It is in this sense that the Church teaches that all suffering and any sacrifice is useless unless it be for the love of God. Cf quote referred to in footnote 10.
St. Seraphim of Sarov, A Spiritual Biography, Archimandrite Lazarus Moore, Sarov Press, 1994.
There is a certain Manichean aspect to this disparagement of sexuality. To quote Augustine: "Anyone then who extols the nature of the soul as the highest good and condemns the nature of the flesh as evil is as carnal in his love for the soul as he is in his hatred of the flesh, because his thoughts flow from human vanity and not from divine truth" (City of God, XIV, 5). The meaning of concupiscence should be clearly understood. According to Father Tixeront, "by concupiscence, the Bishop of Hippo [and the Catholic Church] does not understand merely the appetite for bodily pleasures; he understands that general tendency away from the highest good and towards the lower pleasures: 'when one turns away from godly things which are truly lasting and turns towards things which are changeable and insecure'" (History of Dogmas, Vol. II, p. 469). As the Fathers of the Council of Trent decreed: "This concupiscence, which at times the Apostle calls sin (Rom. 6, 12 ff.) the holy Synod declares that the Catholic church has never understood to be called sin, as truly and properly sin in those born again, but because it is from sin and inclines to sin." The Church teaches that, as a consequence of original sin, concupiscence is with us - with both laity and religions - till we die.
St. John Chrysostom: "A man should love his spouse as much as he loves himself, not merely because they share the same nature; no, the obligation is far greater, because there are no longer two bodies, but one: he is the head, she the body. Paul says elsewhere 'the head of Christ is God,' and I say that husband and wife are one body in the same way as Christ and the Father are one. Thus we see that the Father is our head also. Paul has combined two illustrations, the natural body and Christ's body; that is why he says, 'This is a great mystery, and I take it to mean Christ and the Church.' What does this mean? The blessed Moses, - or rather, God - surely reveals in Genesis that for two to become one flesh is a great and wonderful mystery. Now Paul speaks of Christ as the greater mystery; for He left the Father and came down to us, and married His Bride, the Church, and became one spirit with her: 'he who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with Him.' Paul says well, 'This is a great mystery,' as if he were saying 'Nevertheless the allegorical meaning does not invalidate married love.'" (Homily 20). St. Thomas Aquinas makes special note of the fact that the statement 'this is a great mystery' immediately follows upon the statement that 'they shall be united in one flesh' (Commentary on Ephesians). Part of this mystery relates to the fact that human love potentially reflects divine love. Consider the following passage from Garrigou-Lagrange: "If true love carries us towards another person towards whom we wish some good, it draws us outside of ourselves. It is in some ways ecstatic (extasim facit), according to the expression of St. Denys. It follows that it is an intense experience with a certain violent quality, and demands the sacrifice of all self love. It is not rare as St. Bernard writes (Sermon LXXIX, 1) 'O love divine, impetuous, vehement, burning, irresistible, which does not allow us to think of anything other than you.'" (La Vie Spirituelle, Vol. 20, August 1929.)
"It is a union in virtue of which Christ is bound to the soul by ties of love so close that conjugal affection alone affords a term of comparison. In various passages of Scripture the relation of Christ to the Church, and to the individual soul, is described as that borne by the bridegroom to the bride.St. Liguori, quoting St. Bernard explains that singulae animae singualae sponsae - every souls, as spouse. (Commentary on Psalm XLIV, 11) In the Apocalypse (xxi, 2) St. John sees the Church as "the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for the husband." St. Paul, addressing the local Church of Corinth writes: "I espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ" (II Cor. xi, 2). And elsewhere he points out the analogy between the physical union which makes man and woman one flesh, and the far higher and yet more intimate bond between God and the bride-soul, in virtue of which "he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit" (I Cor. vi, 17). Matrimony as a permanent state typifies that union. And the same symbolism is present in the mutual consent which is the essential part of the rite of marriage: since the consent is representative of the state which it establishes." George H. Joyce, S.J., Christian Marriage, Sheed and Ward, 1948.
Quoted by Eric Gill in Art and Love, op. cit. (No. 3 above)
I am indebted to Prof. Jean Hani, La Vierge Noire et le Mystere Marial for the quotes in this paragraph. (Guy Tredaniel, 1995)
Summa III, Q41, Article 4., Q. 49, Article 6. In marriage, the woman takes on the name of her husband, thus symbolically giving up her individual and separate identity, .
St Augustine says that "Christ confirms at Cana what he established in paradise." (Commentary on Ephesians 5:23)
Cf. footnote 14 above.
Allocution to Midwives, October 29, 1951. Allocutions are considered part of the ordinary Magisterium. St. Augustine is often wrongly accused of stating that any pleasure derived in the act of intercourse is sinful. In his book on The Goods of Marriage (Chapter 16), he speaks in positive terms of the "natural delight" that the patriarchs enjoyed in the act of intercourse. Augustine is only against making pleasure the only purpose of the act. Prummer's Moral Theology states: "Not only the conjugal act itself, but also touches and looks and all other acts are lawful between the married, provided there is no proximate danger of pollution and the sole intention is not mere sexual pleasure. Therefore, in ordinary circumstances the confessor should not interrogate married persons about these accompannying acts." Again, Pius XII states: "The Church can rightly declare that, profoundly respectful of the sanctity of marriage, she has in theory and practice left husband and wife free in that which the impulse of a wholesome and honest nature concedes without offense to the Creator" (Allocution, Sept. 18, 1951).
According to Father Kearns, S.J., St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Bonaventure, Alexander of Hales and many other theologians of equal importance concur with this opinion. (The Theology of Marriage, Sheed and Ward, 1964). Denis the Carthusian explains that: "pleasure cannot be avoided in sexual intercourse, and yet it is not a sin when it is not sought after and the act itself is performed as it should be. In the same way the pleasure in food and drink, natural as it is and related to a spiritual goal, is not a fault.... As Aristotle says and St. Thomas repeats, our moral evaluation of an act and the pleasure joined to an act is the same. Therefore the pleasure from a good and virtuous act is good; and to the extent that it is good, it can be desired." (ibid).
St. Thomas quotes St. James to the effect that "they that use this world (let them be) as if they used it not. In each case he (St. Paul) forbade enjoyment." A footnote explains that the Latin fruitionem used in this situation refers to enjoyment of a thing sought as one's last end." (Translation by Fathers of the English Dominican Province).
One can draw certain parallels between eating and the sexual act. Both are physiological, at least in part; both are "natural." Clearly, excessive indulgence in the sexual act can be likened to gluttony. But, hunger has is a function destitute of psychic counterpart, and under normal social conditions, nothing in regard to food corresponds to the part that the sexual function plays in an individual's life, or to the profound and manifold influence exerted by that function on the emotional, moral, intellectual, and, not seldom, spiritual level. As G. K. Chesterton said, "sex cannot be admitted to a mere equality among elementary emotions or experiences, like eating and sleeping. The moment sex ceases to be a servant, it becomes a tyrant. There is something dangerous and disproportionate in its place in human nature, for whatever reason; and it does really need a special purification and dedication." (St. Francis of Assisi).
Orgasm, the point at which "disindividualization" is maximum, is derived from the Greek word Orgy, originally meaning "holy" or "inspired exaltation." It is a sad commentary on the current state of affairs that the word now is associated only with the unleashing of the senses. (Cf. footnote #22.)
An example of beauty leading to God is provided by St. John Climacus where the Bishop Nonnos of Edessa found himself in the presence of a beautiful nude dancer and commented that "he took the occasion to adore and glorify by his praises the sovereign Beauty, of which this woman was only a reflection, and he felt himself transported with the fire of divine love, pouring forth tears of joy." Such an individual, says St. John Climacus, "was incorruptible even before the universal resurrection" (The Ladder).
Allocution to Midwives, October 29, 1951. It was for this reason that artificial insemination was forbidden by Pius XII in his allocution to an International Congress of Catholic Doctors on September 29, 1949. Just as the welcoming of children is a welcoming of God's will, so also, the absence of children in a marriage is a cross to be born, but also an acceptance of God's will.
 The Theology of Sex in Marriage, Daniel Planque, Fides, 1962.
Allocutions to midwives, October 29, 1951, and to the Associations of the large families, November 26, 1951. Solange Hertz sees the use of periodic abstinence as onanism. She claims that the Jews forbade the sexual act during infertile periods and that this is why it was forbidden during menstruation. St. Thomas Aquinas discusses this and states that this was a ritual prohibition no longer applying to Christians, and further stated that the reason Christians should not have intercourse during menses is that children born of such conceptions are not healthy. Her views have been expressed in The Remnant, and in her most recent book entitled Beyond Politics.
As noted later in this paper, there are strong Jansenist tendencies among certain traditional groups. I quote specifically Letter 13 of the Society of St. Pius X dated July 17th, 1990 which while referring to the same document of Pius XII, instructs the faithful in the following terms: "Natural family planning cannot be used by the spouses, except under some very exceptional circumstances, i.e., danger of death or very serious health problems for the pregnant mother, living conditions such that you cannot financially support another child, if you are sure all your children will be born with a pathological condition. If some of our faithful have such a hard time accepting this teaching it is because of the lack of a spirit of penance and of the spirit of the faith! They try to go to heaven without the cross!" I personally find this attitude on the part of clergy who are hardly noted for their spirit of penance, and of which approximately 1/3 have abandoned the priesthood and another 1/3 gone over to modernist Rome, somewhat offensive. I can think of few things which are more "penitential" than trying to raise a Catholic family in a Catholic manner in the modern world. Why could they not have simply quoted the gentle words of Pope Pius XII? Any asceticism not accompanied by strict adherence to the truth is a waste.
Other texts are No-pill No-risk Birth Control by Nona Aguilar, Rawson Wade Publ., New York and Natural Birth Control by Frank Richards, Spectrum, Melborne, Australia. Various organizations exist to promote so-called natural methods of birth control. Not all of them are truly Catholic however.
Taken from two of Meister Eckhart's Sermons, Franz Pfeiffer translation, Watkins, London, 1947.
The use of wine, like sex, is easily perverted.
Christos Yannaras thinks that Christian marriage.... "is most profoundly both an imitation of Christ and a participation in the mystery of His self-offering. This is because both share a true eros. This is why in his view the newly-wed couple are "martyrs" - witnesses to the truth which is being affirmed. Indeed, Yannaras declares that the love of a man for his wife is in fact a love for all the members of Christ's body since she [the wife] sums up the beauty and truth of the world, of all creation. Thus we begin to see why the virginity of monks and the eros which grafts marriage into the life of the Kingdom of God are basically the same. Virginity is eros free from the natural constraint of lust and pleasure, and it is the same eros which marks an orthodox Christian marriage." (The Freedom of Morality, St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1984) Quotation taken from Father W.B. Zion, Eros and Transformation. Unfortunately Father Zion's book is strongly influenced by modernist ideas.)
"In God the 'eros' is outgoing, ecstatic. Because of it lovers no longer belong to themselves but to those whom they love. God also goes out of himself... when he captivates all creatures by the spell of his love and his desire..." Dionysius the Areopagite, Divine Names, IV, 13) Again, "God is the producer and generator of tenderness and eros.... In so far as eros originates from him, he can be said to be the moving force of it, since he generated it. Maximus the Confessor, On the Divine Names, IV, 4. And again, "Blessed is the person whose desire for God has become like the lover's passion for the beloved" (St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Assent, 30th. step.
St. Augustine defined lust as "that affection of the mind which aims at the enjoyment of one's self and one's neighbor without reference to God."