The more we read this kind of inspiration, the more it sinks in just how much power we have in the home….and how much we must pray to have a right spirit within those four walls.
ANGELS GUARD THE CATHOLIC HOME
It is for every father, who is by the divine law of nature, king in his own family, to consider well the truth here presented to him, and to conceive of his own little kingdom the pure and lofty notion, which is that of the divine mind as well as the mind of the Church.
When a father, though never so poor, firmly believes that his little home and his hearth-stone are a thing so precious and so holy that God will have “His angel keep, cherish, protect, visit, and defend it, and all who dwell therein,” he, too, will lift up his eyes and his heart to that Father over all and most loving Master, and exhort himself daily and hourly to walk before Him and be perfect.”
But it is to his companion,—the queen of that little kingdom, the wife,—that it is most necessary to have high and holy thoughts about the sacredness of her charge, the obligations incumbent on her, the incalculable good which she can do, and the many powerful helps toward its accomplishment that the All-Wise and Ever-Present is sure to multiply under her hand.
To every true man and woman now living there is no being on earth looked up to with so pure, so deep, so grateful, so lasting a love, as a mother.
Let us look at our mother, then, in that dear and holy relation of wife which she bears to him who was for us in childhood the representative of the God “of whom all paternity in heaven and earth is named.”
WOMAN’S DUTIES AS WIFE
The first duty of the wife is to study to be in every way she can the companion, the help, and the friend of her husband.
Indeed on her capacity to be all this, and her earnest fulfillment of this threefold function depends all the happiness of both .their lives, as well as the well-being of the whole family.
Hence the obligation which is incumbent on parents providing for the establishment of their children, — to see to it, so far as is possible, that the person chosen to be a wife in the new home should be a true companion for their son, a true helpmate in all his toil, and a faithful friend through all the changes of fortune.
SHE OUGHT TO BE A COMPANION TO HER HUSBAND
One half of the unhappiness of married life comes from the fact that the wife is either unfitted or unwilling to be a true companion to her husband. This companionship requires that she should be suited by her qualities of mind and heart and temper to enter into her husband’s thoughts and tastes and amusements, so as to make him find in her company and conversation a perfect contentment and delight.
Persons who are perfectly companionable never weary of each other,—indeed, they are never perfectly happy while away from each other;—they enter into each other’s thoughts, reflect (and increase by the reflection) the light in each other’s mind; cultivate the same tastes, pursue the same ideals, and complete each other in the interchange of original or acquired knowledge.
But there is more than that in the companionship of the true wife. She studies to make herself agreeable, delightful, and even indispensable to him who is her choice among all men.
If true love be in her heart, it will suggest to her, day by day, a thousand new devices for charming the leisure of her husband.
Woman has been endowed by the Creator with a marvelous fertility of resource in this respect: it is an unlimited power, productive of infinite good when used for a holy purpose and within her own kingdom; but productive of infinite evil when employed in opposition to the design of the Giver, or allowed to lie idle when it should be used to promote the sacred ends of domestic felicity.
There are wives who will study certain languages, sciences, arts, or accomplishments, in order to make themselves the companions of the men they love, and thus be able to converse with them on the things they love most, or to charm the hours of home repose by music and song.
The writer of these lines remembers, that, while a young priest in Quebec, upward of thirty years ago, he was much struck by seeing a young lady of one of the best families there, applying herself assiduously to study the sign-language of the deaf-mutes in order to converse easily with her husband—a wealthy young merchant, thoroughly trained himself in the admirable Deaf and Dumb Institution of his native city.
They were devoted to each other, and the young wife’s earnestness in making herself companionable to her husband, must have brought many a blessing on the home in which the writer beheld them so rapt in each other, so virtuous, and so full of bright hope !
It must not be concluded from this, that a woman who applies herself to acquire knowledge for the purpose of being more of a companion to her husband, should thoroughly master either a language, a science, or an art. . . .
In the case of the young wife just mentioned, a thorough familiarity with the language of signs was indispensable as a means of easy conversation with her husband.
But this is evidently an exceptional case;—and is only mentioned to show what difficulties love will overcome to be helpful or agreeable to its companion.
The word helpful, just used, will furnish to every wife the true measure of the knowledge she may be prompted to acquire.
Her husband has to know perfectly whatever he knows, because his success as a professional man or a business man depends on this thorough knowledge, whereas his wife only acquires to please and to help her companion.
But there are other things beside this scientific, literary, or artistic knowledge, which may be more needful to a wife, if she would make herself of all earthly beings the most delightful and necessary companion to her husband.
She must study him,—his needs, his moods, his weak as well as his strong points,—and know how to make him forget himself when he is moody and selfish, and bring out every joyous side of his nature when he is prone to sadness.
God, who has made the soul both of man and of woman, and who has united them in the duties and burdens of home-life, wills that they should complete each other.
Man has bodily strength, because it is his duty to labor for the home and protect it; he has also certain mental and moral qualities which woman does not need, and which fit him for the battle of life and his continual struggle with the crowd.
But she has, on her part, far more of fortitude, of that power to bear and to forbear, to suffer silently and uncomplainingly herself while ministering with aching heart and head to the comfort, the cheerfulness, the happiness of all around her.
At any rate, she has by nature the power, the art, and the disposition to please, to soothe, to charm, and to captivate.
It is a wonderful power; and we see daily women exerting it in an evil way and for purposes that God cannot bless, and that every right conscience must condemn.
Why will not women who are truly good, or who sincerely strive to be so, not make it the chief study of their lives to find out and acquire the sovereign art of making their influence as healthful, as cheering, as blissful as the sunlight and the warmth are to their homes ?
Let us give an example of what is meant here—and this illustration will suggest, of itself, many other applications.
We all know—a mother more than anyone else—what a potent spell praise is in making children master whatever they are learning, and, what is far more difficult, acquire a mastery over themselves, both in repressing wrong inclinations and in gaining the habits of the noblest virtues.
A word of praise from a mother will stir the heart of every well-born child—and few children are ill-born, that is, with radically bad dispositions—to the most extraordinary exertions, and fill the whole soul with delight, when that word is sweetly spoken of successful efforts made.
We say nothing here of the stimulus which praise from the queen of the home gives to the zeal and conscientious labors of servants. We are concerned with the master of the home. Do you not know that all men, even old men, even the proudest and coldest men, are only great children, who thirst for praise from a wife, a mother, or a sister’s lips?
There are men —and they are the noblest, the most high-souled—who care but little, if anything, for the praise or censure of the crowd, even of the learned or titled crowd; but their heart is stirred through all its depths by one sweet word from the lips of mother, sister, or wife.
Why, O women, are you so niggard of a money which you can bestow without making yourselves the poorer, and which your dear ones prize above gold and gems?
Give generously, but discerningly, what is held so dear as coming from you, and which will only encourage those you love above all the world to strive to-morrow for still higher excellence, and look forward to still sweeter praise.
“We’re terribly in danger all the time of taking God’s goodness too much for granted; of bouncing up to Communion as if it were the most natural thing in the world, instead of being a supernatural thing belonging to another world.” – Msgr. Ronald Knox, 1948
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