To you, O man of the world, your home-garden, your paradise—the source of your purest and dearest felicity on this side of the grave, is the mind and heart and soul of your wife, your companion, the mother of your children.
Her soul, her life, is given you “to dress and to keep” and on your appreciating her nature and her worth, on your knowing how to call forth by your love, your care, your devotion to her service, by the sunlight of your examples much more even than by your mere love and tenderness—must depend whether or not you shall have a home-garden, a paradise—or a hell upon earth.
There is no delicacy, no purity of thought and word and act—no feeling of respect or reverence so exalted—no chivalrous devotion to the honor, the unblemished name, the generous and holy purposes of a true woman—to be compared with the all-embracing sentiment of God-given love in the sinless soul of a man, united, through God’s blessing, with the maiden chosen in accordance with God’s will.
Catholics, who are thoroughly acquainted with the sacred character of the matrimonial union, who know what untold graces are set apart for their whole after-life by the sacramental blessing, enter upon married life with mingled joy and fear—because they are made aware both of their responsibilities and of the mighty aids divinely given them, to make of their whole career one long day of rejoicing, because it must be one long day of generous devotion to duty.
The husband’s first duty, under God’s service, is to his wife. He must give himself to her as she has left all to follow him. His must be—from his bridal hour to his dying day—one long, uninterrupted, most loving and unstinted service to her. He must, every day that he rises, set her image higher in his heart; reverence her more, seek to have others know her worth better, and show her greater honor.
It is the death of conjugal love, where respect diminishes in the heart instead of daily increasing, and where that delicacy and courtesy in word and manner which we call outward respect, is dispensed with on pretext of nearness and intimacy and unreserve.
Make it, therefore, the law of your life, that as the years of your wedded life pass by, they shall find, beside the ever-blooming flower of love in the center of your home-garden the flower of undying reverence. One cannot live without the other.
And to the wife we must say: If you would have your husband’s love and respect
to know no fading—make it a sacred duty to God, every day of your life, to invent new methods of showing your companion that your love is ever young and fresh as the flowers that bloom on high in the City of God.
Let men of culture and position, who owe to those beneath them—much more than to those of their own level—the light of good example, read and ponder carefully every word in the following exquisite lines from a woman: “If I leave all for thee, wilt thou exchange
And be all to me? Shall I never miss
Home-talk and blessing, and the common kiss
That comes to each in turn, nor count it strange,
When I look up, to drop on a new range
Of walls and floors…another home than this?
Nay, wilt thou fill that place by me which is
Filled by dead eyes too tender to know change?
That’s hardest! If to conquer love, has tried,
To conquer grief tries more…as all things prove;
For grief indeed is love and grief beside.
Alas! I have grieved so, I am hard to love—
Yet love me—wilt thou? Open thine heart wide,
And fold within, the wet wings of thy dove.”
A priestly voice is daily and hourly wont to guide the young amid the first trials and bitternesses of wedded life, as well as amid the storms which attend on its noon and its setting.
The reader knows also how precious and safe a refuge fathers and mothers alike find in that guidance, when worldly wisdom and worldly friendship are of no avail.
It was, nevertheless, best that these lessons should be given from the experience of persons of worldly station.
We have listened to the most intimate secrets of a true manly heart, still in death for many a year: the accents seem to come from the depths of the sanctuary. And this last wayside flower of poetry we have culled, as we seemed to pass from the altar and the awe of the cemetery, will also have its pregnant reminder.
Yes, loved and infinitely dear as are the ties of the home of childhood, when a woman turns her back upon it and puts her hand in her husband’s hand to walk the earth alone with him, it is as if a deluge had swept over her past, and her spirit, in going back in thought to the fireside of father and mother, found nothing but a ruin, with her loved ones all dead to her.
In her grief for the separation, she turns to the Ark of her husband’s home and heart like the dove sent forth by the great patriarch; has she not a right that her husband shall open his “heart wide and fold within, the wet wings” and drooping spirit of her to whom he is now all in all?
There are so many who fail, on the very threshold of their new existence, to understand the yearning of their companions for the home-life they have lost, and to make up by unselfish and unbounded tenderness for this great loss!
We crave pardon for dwelling thus at length on the necessity—so all-important, so indispensable—of this union, of hearts between husband and wife. Without it there is no home, no home-life, no true family.
We have insisted upon it, because without it there can be no life-work done to any good or meritorious purpose by the wedded pair, become thus most miserable yoke-fellows. God only grant them to say, each to the other:
“The world (our home-world) waits
For help. Beloved, let us love so well,
Our work shall still be better for our love,
And still our love be sweeter for our work,
And both commended, for the sake of each,
By all true workers and true lovers born.”
Most blessed are those who can thus look back to the parental home, and dwell with rapture on the memory of such a union between the father and mother who reared them! Still are they not to forget that this great gift of hallowed conjugal love was only bestowed for the dear and sweet work of making home a paradise not only for their children, but for their own parents, if privileged to possess them and shelter them there, for their servants, and for their friends.
The wisdom and training you give to your child will determine the outcome. It is not the time to give in to weariness, indifference, laziness or careless neglect. Their souls are in your hands…. -Finer Femininity
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