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he cried, "This now is bone of my bone | tial benediction was solemnly given by God and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called himself to the first authors of the human woman because she was taken out of man, wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife." Hoc nunc os ex ossibus meis et caro de carne mea; hoc vocabitur Virago, quoniam de viro sumpta est. Quamobrem relinquet homo patrem suum et matrem, et adhærebit uxori | full light of the Gospel, blinded men and sua." (Gen. II. 24).
I ask the thoughtful minds who do me the honor to read me; do not these brief and marvellous words consecrate at once the unity, sanctity, indissolubility, fidelity, tenderness, religious respect, and natural and necessary subordination of the conjugal union? And how admirable it is! to bind more closely to this beautiful order him who could most easily violate it. God willed that the immortal law of marriage and its indissoluble unity should be uttered for the first time by the lips of man himself, and gush, so to speak, from his heart without effort as the spontaneous cry of his nature, and the just feeling of his first love.
And what are we to say in fine for I wish to leave nothing unsaid, the language of the Gospel tells everything with an incomparable simplicity and profundity, and where the thoughts of men only know how to be frivolous and unworthy, the Christian language always remains chaste and purewhat are we to say then of that grave and remarkable expression of the Scriptures by which the Spirit of God describes this new creation Aedificavit? Thus, from this superfluous bone, God with his divine hand formed, reared, built up the companion of ædificavit.
And this is why, even to-day, the benediction of human alliances, among all civilized people, is one of the most august functions of the sacerdotal ministry. This is why we bitterly groan when we see, in the
misguided women disgracing themselves by shameful alliances; when we see, above all, legislators without dignity and enlightenment yielding to narrow prejudices and low resentments, persist in banishing-degrading the conjugal union- far from the benediction of God and outside the religious civilization of all nations.
God then blessed them, and gave them this remarkable command: "Increase and multiply," Crescite, multiplicamini, replete terram. Your children, who will be mine, will never multiply too much on earth. Cover it therefore with your families; let your alliances always be pure, fruitful and without stain. Rear your children in my love, and fear not; my providence is great; I will provide for everything, and the means of life shall never be wanting to those who have received it from me.
Then God regarded what he had made, Videtque Deus cuncta quæ fecerit, and He said that all was good, and very good; Et erant valde bona.
It is thus that the human family went forth from the hands of God! . . . . to remain in all ages, the primitive and ever blessed element, the necessary foundation of the great society of the human race.
The family that mysterious unity, in Behold by what an astonishing expression which is reflected, in so magnificent and the Creator wished to make us remark, in touching a manner, the power of God, who this new masterpiece of his power, some- protects it, His wisdom which governs it, thing grand, magnificent and complete; or and His love, which inspires and sustains so to speak, a magnificent edifice in which it. The family! the august sanctuary of the he delighted in lavishing a nobility, dignity, authority which created it, of the education grace, purity, modesty, and all the sweet- which raised it, of the providence which ness and charm of the marvellous propor-perpetuated it. The family! the living and tions that a divine workman could give to inextinguishable centre of the two noblest his most beautiful work. sentiments which are in the hearts of the chilThus was instituted humanity, and there-dren of men-gratitude and respect. The by all human life and the family. For God family! the immortal object, the first and then blessed them, Benedixit illis; it should last aim of the solicitude of heaven and the be remarked that it was in the perfect inno-divine laws, as it should also be of earth cence of the terrestrial paradise that the nup-and social legislation. The family! that is
to say, in fine, the names that are sweetest at the extremity of the East, and the faithto the ear of man father, mother, son, ful guardian of the divine revelation, pabrother, daughter, sister- the purest affec-ganism covered everything with its darktions, the first friendships of life; the most ness, and in that profound night no words confiding and the simplest joys; the most can tell in what basement and ignominy amiable virtues, - simplicity, candor and in- human alliances were sunk; in this respect the nations who were the most highly civilized were the most corrupt; and we know in particular to what lengths Roman depravity and hardness of heart were carried.
I have already said that evil was humanly irremediable; a divine aid was required; but this aid was not wanting to humanity; Jesus Christ appeared and soon regenerated the face of the world.
And what shall we say of the paternal roof, the home? No! human language has no more enchanting names, and the religious man, no more imperishable memories! Thus when our Saviour Jesus Christ wished to make us comprehend the tenderness of His heart for those who accomplished here below the will of His celestial Father, He could say nothing better than, "He shall be to me as a brother, a mother, or a sister." Ipse meus Immortal thanks be rendered the God of frater, et soror, et mater est. (Matt. xii. 30.) the Gospel! Marriage found again, all at Such is, then, to go back to its origin, once, under His hand and by virtue of the the primitive sanctity of marriage. Such is power of His benediction, the dignity, grace, the nature and nobility of the union which and inviolability of the primitive institution. begins and constitutes the family: a truly It has been said, and it is true, that there sacred union in which the Creator binds is nothing pure and noble in nature which man and his companion so closely to each other, and associates them with His created power itself by bonds so sweet and strong, to enable them to rear the children He has given them.
the blessing of the Redeemer of men does not purify and ennoble still more, nothing holy that it does not sanctify, nothing great that it does not elevate; and it is a beautiful and touching spectacle to see Such therefore, were the primitive laws Christ at Cana honoring first with His presof marriage, and also the first laws of hu- ence the innocent nuptials of a poor couple, man society. But we know that these ad- adding by a shining miracle to the happimirable laws were not long respected, the in-ness of their feast, and soon after, giving a violability and the glory of the most beneficent institution of the Creator soon disappeared with the happiness and innocence of the first days, and the companion of man was not slow in descending with man himself from his original greatness.
And here is seen for the first time what will be the sad and never-failing experience of all ages; everything becomes debased and disgraced in the human family when it separates from God, who alone makes its blessing and nobleness; and this society of father, mother and children are so closely connected, that one cannot fall without dragging down the other with it. Yet God did not abandon them, and in the darkest days, according to the beautiful expression of the Holy Books, He did not leave Himself without witness upon earth. Who does not remember with emotion those pure joys and marvellous consolations with which the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob took delight in surrounding the chaste alliances of the ancient patriarchs? and in this age, we wish that Christian brides may be loving as Rachel, faithful as Sarah, gentle and wise as Rebecca, courageous and pure as the wise women of the Old Testament.
But with the exception of that little people of God, hidden in a corner of the earth,
higher dignity to this alliance, worthy of veneration, by imprinting upon it a new and more august character and making it a sacrament of the evangelical law: Sacramentum hoc magnum est in Christo, et in Ecclesia in a word, consecrating the conjugal society to that degree that it became a part of religion; protecting it in fine against the impatience and caprice of the passions by the vigor of the most holy laws and sanctifying forever its unity, individuality, and holiness, at once by the menace of the most severe penalties, and at the same time, by the promise of the most glorious privileges.
To all serious and attentive minds this was a work manifestly divine.
Thus the Evangelists, so brief, so sparing in details, in other things, have here multiplied them, that we may fully understand all the grandeur, as well as all the purity, of the evangelical work.
I would point out here the two principal features. The unity of the conjugal alliance had been sadly forgotten, the ancient law itself had become relaxed; Ad duritiam cordis: Jesus Christ brought back this holy unity, and after having pronounced anew the words of the primitive Institution, Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and cleave to his wife, adhærebit
uxori suæ," the Son of God added a new force thereto; and reproved forever all unworthy plurality. They shall be two in One flesh, said He, and they shall be but two, and the unity between hem shall be so intimate, and so perfect, that they shall be like two in One, duo in una." Or rather, resumed Jesus Christ, they shall no longer be two; "Jam non sunt duo." No: they shall absolutely be but One. It is not only their destinies but it is their natures, that are so closely united and blended together that all shall be as one between them; one heart, one 'soul, one body, one life, "Jam non duo, sed una caro."
And in regard to indissolubility, Jesus Christ adds, that what God has joined together, no man shall ever put asunder, but God only, by death, when it pleases Him. "Quod ergo Deus conjunxit, homo non separet;" and when the disciples seemed astonished at His words, He told them, such had been the primitive law, ab initio fuit sic, and if the ancient law had tolerated some deviations in this regard, it was only on account of the hardness of heart of a gross people, Ad duritiam cordis.
It was certainly difficult to proclaim the law and its sovereign reason, with more simplicity, energy, and grandeur. Thus it was God who united them, God who made them one for the other, and in the beginning one from the other, God who made them for Himself and in the work of Creation associated both with His supreme power. It is destroying the divine work itself to separate or disunite them, it is interfering with the entire design of the Creator. The power of man cannot go thus far, quod ergo Deus conjunxit homo non separet; It was difficult to plant more firmly, or to raise higher the barrier which should be the safeguard of public morals and the surest rampart of conjugal friendship. It was also difficult to protect more surely the source and education of human generations, and that mysterious association in which unity and stability are the only strength and honor.
It was difficult, in fine, to stigmatise more forcibly, in advance, the blind attempts of those men, who have tried to destroy one of the most admirable laws of the Gospel to the family, and to dishonor the conjugal union, by introducing into the legislature of a Christian nation, the scandal of divorce, and by permitting its corruption, caprice, and passion to break at their will, those ties the hand of God had created, and which are alone honorable, because they are eternal.
In fact, the evangelical law is here but the divine stamp imprinted upon a great
moral and natural truth, which men, it is true, would not have had the power to define without the Gospel, but the admirable wisdom of which they comprehend as soon as the Gospel reveals it to them. All men of true genius, in rendering here a solemn homage to the evangelical law, have recognized that this question has an immense social scope, and that everything was involved in it: Bossuet, whose clear mind penetrated all things, after having said, " conjugal love is no longer divided, so holy an association ends only with life, and children no longer see their mother put aside, and a step-mother take her place," Bossuet adds, "The fidelity, holiness, and happiness of marriages, are of public interest, and the source of fidelity to the State. This law is political as well as moral and religious."
Bossuet clearly saw here the full scope of the design of God, and it was through profound solicitude for all humanity that Jesus Christ did so great a work.
And indeed, what was in question? first, to found the happiness of the family, to raise up woman from the abasement into which she had fallen, to restore to her her proper place, and her primitive dignity under the conjugal roof, to make of this feeble creature the noble companion of man, to ennoble man himself, by giving him a sister, a mother, a daughter worthy of him. But Jesus Christ did still more. He laid the foundation of social morals; He fettered human depravity and inconstancy by this holy severity; He held in check the tumultuous passions in the midst of an imperiled society; He wished to protect, bless, and sanctify all humanity by establishing on an inviolable basis the concord and holiness of marriage, the peaceful association of all the human race, and thereby finally insure the necessary and great accomplishment of the paternal and maternal work of education, without which the unity and stability of the marriage tie is impossible.
It is for this the Church has always displayed such an extraordinary energy in the defence of the matrimonial laws, it is for this that she has labored and suffered so much to preserve intact that sacred deposit of evangelical morality.
All the great struggles of the priesthood, and of the empire, have had no more serious object than this, and we will find them unceasingly involved therein. The most grievous persecutions the Church has endured for ten centuries have been caused by the jealous care with which she has always defended the purity of marriage and the indissolubility of the human family; at all
epochs, in the Middle Ages, as in times | constantly raised towards heaven, that the nearer our own, the princes most beloved holy Catholic Church blesses her married by her and others whom she saw crowned children, and consecrates their union, thus with glory, all have found in her an invin- responding at once to the needs of the famcible resistance in whatever touched upon ily, to which she procures holy and irrethis law. Who does not know the struggles proachable alliances, and chasing from the against Louis VII., Philip Augustus, domestic hearth suspicions and misunderLothaire, the Emperor Henry the Fourth, standings, giving to society pure, faithand so many others? The greatest Popes ful and spotless marriages. have shed their blood therein; the Church Among the happy things in this world has done more, she has sacrificed for it in where there are so few, among the rare some measure, the Christian unity itself. spectacles of happiness, to which the beneShe has let her heart be rent asunder, and her diction of heaven has not been refused, there members he cut off, rather than yield on is no picture more beautiful and touching than this point, or even draw back before sover- to see a young Christian, with the wife of eign passions, or the audacity of all-power- his choice, both prostrate at the foot of the ful libertinism. Henry the Eighth, Cathe-same altar, humbly receiving from the hand rine of Aragon- and England can render of God, the benediction on their alliance. testimony to this, as well as Germany and Philip of Hesse, through the cowardly compliance of Luther and Protestantism.
It is thus that the Church takes possession in the name of heaven of the most ardent faculty of the soul to make of it the pure glory of youth, the ornament of the family, the crown of society itself and the triumph of fidelity to virtue.
So much is true, and it is well to repeat it, and it is time that the earth and those that govern it, should remember it; so much is true, that the Gospel has been given It is thus that religion ennobles in the to the world doubtless, to teach it before name of virtue, the most ardent as well as all things the road to heaven, but at the the gentlest of the affections, to secure for same time that the inhabitants of earth may it in advance a consolation for the bitterness seek there with confidence, laws for all their of life, a support for its weakness, and a needs, lessons for all their fortunes, conso- prop for its strength, and by turns grave lations for all their griefs, infallible securi- and indulgent, gentle and austere, she reties for the happiness of the world! See strains by the firmness of a holy alliance, the how in this divine plan all things pertain- passions of this turbulent age; she unites ing to marriage assume a character of no- the married pair by ties that death alone bility and grandeur, and are endowed with can break, and receiving their solemn vows, celestial dignity, and if I may so speak, permits them to give themselves up with sublime taste! How the vain and light security to a virtuous happiness, opening thoughts of the children of the age fade their hearts to the most joyous, as well as away before these divine revelations! How the holiest of hopes, and promises them, miserable appears human frivolity! How whilst they are willing to taste near her, we comprehend and appreciate in this light, the grand words of St. Paul: " Marriage is holy and honorable: " Honorabile connubium. The nuptial bed is without stain." Thorus immaculatus! Oh, holy religion of the Christian, it is alone in thee that we find this divine ideal, and these things clothed in so pure a language.
In fine marriage is a great and august sacrament: Sacramentum hoc magnum est. It is not then, simply a low and profane contract, a natural and fleeting affection, a capricious and uncertain association: No: it is a sacrament; and God Himself, intervening as witness, judge and avenger in this great contract, Christians banish thence forever the coldness which would be outrage, the dislike which would be perjury, and, finally, the infidelity which would be sacrilege.
'Thus it is with the cross in one hand, and the gospel in the other, and with eyes
and under her eyes, a pure joy and innocent delight, that she will cause the happiness of a faithful friendship and all the prosperity of a chaste union and a holy companionship to survive a few fleeting days of enchantment and illusion.
The holy Catholic Church does even more than this. She reveals to the married Christians that this image of time is but the image of a yet more perfect union, which will have for them neither time nor end and which awaits them in the bosom of God.
On that great day, she embraces their entire life with a glance, and blessing them with power and love, looks beyond the present, even to the end of their days; whilst she invokes the prosperity of time upon their alliance bere below, she thinks more of the eternity to come; hidden under the veil of the most holy ceremonies, she mingles with her vows the hope that these two noble and amiable beings whom
she blesses upon earth will find at the foot of her altar, the invisible wings of faith and of virtue, to pass through life without soiling their souls, that they may be gathered one day, into the bosom of God, there to live as the angels, in that true heavenly union, which can no longer be troubled by the clouds of earth or the sad separations of time.
We have seen that unity, indissolubility, and sanctity, are the great laws, the grave and solemn obligations of marriage. Such too are the instructions by which the Church elevates those whom she blesses to a level with their new duties, and inspires them as well with the sweetness of the tenderest of affections and the courage of the strongest virtue; such are the auspices under which she invites them to give themselves one to another and both to the Lord! Can there be any purer or more favorable?
Thus, according to the grave and sweet picture drawn for us by Tertullian, which I am glad to place before the eyes of my readers (of St. Elisabeth of Hungary and her spouse) this gentle pair, blessed by heaven, having but one roof, one fireside, one name, one heart, one life, both disciples of religion, both impressed with love and respect for her, and both finding near her the guarantee of their happiness, both bear together the yoke of the Lord. They will be seen praying and prostrating themselves together: if heaven grants them a holy and happy fruitfulness, they will be found applying themselves together to rear their children, and to give them pious lessons and touching examples; they will teach them to lisp the name of God, and to mingle it with their first expressions of love for their parents. Then they will come together to praise God in His house, together to listen to His word, and to participate at the holy banquet, thus exhibiting to the astonished eyes of the world, the charms of virtue, and the rare and sweet image of an inviolable fidelity to the divine commands in all things, so sweet, yet so seldom seen here below.
In fine they will equally share together the good and the evil, the consolations and inevitable pains of life. Who does not know that the pains are more frequent than the joys? Toil and poverty are oftener met than repose and opulence. But no matter, poor or rich, they will nobly bear to the end the burthen of their duties.
If they are poor they will both willingly toil together, and the blessing of God will rest upon their laborious home, on this pair devoting each day to the trying toils to obtain bread for their family; on the manly constancy of a father struggling
against the difficulties of the times to gain a livelihood for his wife and children on the active resignation of a mother, who according to the word of God himself, is truly the aid "adjutoriam," the gentle, yet firm support, the constant sustainer of a father and children. Such was the touching spectacle that formerly was often met among us in better and happier days, and which is still seen here and there in our cities, and above all in the provinces, in the homes of Christian workmen and laborers.
If they are rich, in the midst of debased morals and general laxity, they will form for themselves a regular life of useful occupation, they will not condemn themselves, as so many do, to a sad and shameful idleness. They will surround themselves if needs be, with a glorious singularity, and together they will visit the poor, console the afflicted, and tend the sick, and the world itself will bless them as the tutelary angels of virtue and misfortune.
I know it is not always under such favorable auspices that the marriages of men are contracted, but I may be pardoned for having turned my eyes from so many deplorable scenes -so many scandalous catastrophes with which our age echoes dailyto rest them for a moment, on the smiling images of a virtuous felicity, which, thanks to the God of the Gospel, is found yet upon earth.
And, it should be said in closing, that when the Church blesses human alliances, it is not without profound alarm and secret terror. Those who have observed her closely at that solemn moment, have often seen her anxious looks, sadly fixed on those she blessed. And how could she resist being sad at the thought of the perils that menace here below those who are too often drawn to her temples by a sacrilegious temerity? Must not her tenderness be troubled at the sight of the anathema already pronounced against those guilty alliances which are formed only by the impulse of blind passion, or a viler interest? Will there not be domestic dissensions, angry disputes, or even still greater unhappiness? What will become of these young creatures, what will be the tissue of their lives? This is what strangers, and even the indifferent ask themselves, who are drawn into the anxiety with which such a spectacle inspires to-day, more than ever, all who are capable of serious thought.
In fine, since the relaxation of laws, the open irreligion among some, and the madness of worldly dissipation among others, have so profoundly deteriorated domestic morals, what has become of the peace and