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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Revolution in the Home: The Marxist Theory of the Family

By:   Dr. John Senior (RIP)
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Whose Side Is This Guy Really On? Whose Side Is This Guy Really On?


by Michael J. Matt


The following article was published in The Remnant back in 1987. It was written by the late, great Dr. John Senior, and it is so excellent that I fear I lack the necessary skills to sum it up with due justice in a few words. It is long, very long—so, alas, I suppose most bloggers and tweeters working diligently in the cyber vineyard will likely not bother with it -- the days of the thoughtful, well-developed article having long since passed in order to make room for the video clip, the meme and the one-sentence paragraph.


The article is so inherently Catholic, however, that it makes one wonder: What has happened to us? We spend our days and nights on the Internet rummaging through the ruins of Christendom in a cyberspace filled to capacity with sound bites and pointless proofs of lingering consciousness around the globe, but we never really seem to get anywhere. The most valiant among us make Quixotic attempts to combat the ubiquitous effects of social and spiritual revolution in our world and Church, but even we are too overwhelmed by disinformation and apathy to confront the actual causes anymore.  We expend almost all of our energies combatting the heinous crime of abortion as if that were the fundamental cause of all that's gone wrong in the world.  But is it?  Abortion is much less of a cause than an effect, and until we can learn to target the root causes of such evils I wonder if we will ever really eradicate any of them.


We respond, react and reply as best we can while continuing to lose huge tracks of ground to the very worst enemies of Christ, even as the vast majority of our own co-religionists, jaded and confused, begin to resemble the brainwashed and benighted citizens of Oceania described so prophetically by George Orwell.


It’s not our fault, really. After all, we’ve been systematically dumbed down from kindergarten on; our attention spans are being fried a bit more every day by the puppeteers of Google and YouTube and Facebook and all the rest. We’re growing addicted to little blinking lights, thumbs up and down symbols, smiley faces, view counts, selfies, email, tweets and retweets.  And then there are all those thousands of “friends” we have collected along the way like bonus points in a video game. We’re oblivious to the fact that we’ve become increasingly isolated, alone, and unaware of our surroundings, our actual friends, even our own children. Lulled to sleep by a virtual reality animated by pixels,  moving lights and ruthless marketeers, we are becoming just like the song says— “comfortably numb”.


The men who pioneered the traditional Catholic “movement” fifty years ago were among the last generation that was still awake, which is abundantly obvious in their writings. From their graves, then, they have so much to say that could wake us up even still-- if we can only remember how to read. They jotted post-it notes that were more useful to the common good than most of what passes for excellence on the blogosphere these days. They forgot more about living the Catholic life than most of us will ever know.


Read the following article by John Senior—yes, all 6,000 words of it. It can remove blindfolds, and even help solve the mystery of what has happened to our families, our Church and the world in which we live. And then it provides a roadmap for how to get out of this nightmare. Question is: Can you handle the "criminally" politically-incorrect truth? If so, read on… MJM


Revolution in the Home


The Communist Manifesto had two co-authors; later on in the division of labor between them, Karl Marx developed the economics of Communism, especially in Das Kapital, while Fredrick Engels developed the cultural and philosophical side. The principal Marxist work therefore on a theory of the family is not by Marx, but by Engels; it is The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State.

This book, written about a hundred years ago, in 1884, turns out to be a blueprint for the state of things today. Engels posits Darwin's evolutionary descent of man from apes, but not as living naturally in families. On the basis of a book by Louis Morgan, a 19th century American anthropologist who lived among the Iroquois Indians, he believed that man lived first and naturally not in families but herds. One can see the importance of an idea such as this to Communist theory, because it grounds mankind by nature as a communistic species, living without private property or monogamous marriage. Primitive man, he says, lived by food gathering rather than food production, moving from place to place according to need, propagating indiscriminately, even including incest. Women ruled the domestic economy of the tent or cave, while men marauded, hunted and fished. In such a society government was matriarchal, that is, women ruled because since no one knew his father, rights and privileges could only be established through the female line, by mother-right as it is called, even down to the succession of chiefs and kings. But, he says, when mankind first turned from food gathering to food production, that is from hunting and fishing to the domestication of animals the cultivation of fields, the human herd became the patriarchal tribe. The men established farms, and had to know their sons in order to secure their inheritance. This was the first of the world's great revolutions, according to Engels.

The overthrow of mother-right was the world historical defeat of the female sex.

He continues: in order to establish patriarchal right, a kind of temporary marriage was struck for the first time, lasting about a year so that a man could at least be sure who a particular child's father was. Engels calls this "pairing-marriage", following the anthropologists of his day, and such relationships indeed exist in primitive societies throughout the world.        And, as we know, they are recurring again today in civilized ones under the cover of multiple marriages and divorce.

The second revolution issued in the bourgeois or the capitalist state. Where a more intense cultivation of animals and fields results in surplus, farming turns from sustenance to profit. In a word, we no longer have food gathering or food production, but commodity production, that is, for profit; and therefore personal private property, with certain boundaries, deeds, money, etc.; where a father's children must be known exactly and permanently and when, worst of all, says Engels, women become commodities themselves, the private property of their husbands with a lifelong lease that we call monogamous marriage.

The third and last revolution, yet to come, will result in a return to communism. When profit production reaches the monopoly stage, and the State which was called into existence to protect private property in the first place, achieves such power that it effectively owns everything; the conditions of the herd – on a higher level, the industrial level, but still the conditions of the herd – recur.

Today, Engels says, writing now a hundred years ago

We are at that stage where then economic division of society between owners and workers, bourgeois and proletariat, is reflected in the relations between men and women.

If you want to destroy private property, he says, and advance history to its natural communistic state, you must exterminate the family, which is its nucleus, and liberate women from the slavery of households, and from marriage bond and bed.

Those who think that the fight against communism is a political or military affair, are wrong; reading of this book will cause them alarm. The barricades in kitchens and in bedrooms are far more dangerous than those in jungles or in city streets.

Here are Engels' words:

In the great majority of cases today (again he wrote this a hundred years ago), at least in the possessing classes, the husband is obliged to earn a living and support his family, and that in itself gives him a position of supremacy without any need for special legal ties and privileges. Within the family, he is the bourgeois, and the wife represents the proletariat. The peculiar character of the supremacy of the husband over the wife in a modern family, the necessity of creating real social equality between them, and the way to do it, will only be seen in the clear light of day when both possess legally complete equality of rights. Then it will be plain that the first condition for the liberation of the wife is to bring the whole female sex back into public industry, and that this in turn demands that the characteristic of the monogamous family as the economic unit of society be abolished.

Well, you have to give him credit; that is very plain and clear. To achieve the next and final evolutionary stage of human society, he says we need a revolution in the home. Women have to go to work on equal terms with men, in every kind of industry and the professions; and with her exile from her natural place the family simply self-destructs. You may not learn a lot about the origin of the family in Engel's book, but anyone can learn about the origin of the women's liberation movement.

Listen to what he predicts:

With the transfer of the means of production into common ownership the single family ceases to be the economic unit of society. Private housekeeping is transformed into a social industry. The care and education of the children becomes a public affair. Society looks after all children alike, whether they are legitimate or not. This removes all the anxiety about the consequences. (He means pregnancy!) which today is the most essential factor that prevents a girl from giving herself completely to the man she loves. (He means any number of men she wants!)

We shall see in a minute what he means by love, but to continue:

Will not that suffice to bring about the gradual growth of unconstrained sexual relations, and with that a more tolerant public opinion in regards to a maiden's honor and a woman's shame? What will certainly disappear are all the features stamped upon marriage through its origin in property relations. These are, in the first place, the supremacy of the man, and secondly the indissolubility of marriage. The supremacy of the man in marriage is a simple consequence of his economic supremacy, and with the abolition of the latter will disappear of itself. Today it is already broken through at a thousand points. If only the marriage based on love is moral, then also only the marriage is moral in which love continues. But the intense emotion of individual love varies very much in duration from one individual to another, especially among men; and if affection comes to an end or is supplanted by a new passionate love, then separation is a benefit for both partners as well as for society. Only people will then be spared having to wade through the useless mire of a divorce case.

So you see what he means by love, and the new communist marriage based upon it; he means concupiscence, having no idea of married love at all.

But, one last word from him:

What can we now conjecture about the way in which sexual relations will be ordered after the overthrow of capitalist production? That is mainly of a negative character, limited for the most part to what will disappear, but what will there be new? That will be answered only when a new generation of men who never in their lives have known what it is to buy a woman's surrender with money or any other social instrument of power, a generation of women who have never known what it is to give themselves to a man for any other consideration than real love (Remember what he means by love!) or refuse to give themselves to their lover for fear of economic consequences (Remember that he means the fear of having children) - - when these people are in the world, when this new generation is in the world, they will care precious little what anybody thinks they ought to do. They will make their own practice and corresponding public opinion about the practice, and that will be the end of it.

The end of it indeed! He prophesied this a hundred years ago, and they are here. I mean inside the home itself, where according to the doctrine of the class struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeois, a wife is set against her husband. So whatever may happen to the political order, Christendom is killed from within. There has never been a war like this in history. We lost the War in Vietnam not only in the jungles and the universities with the demonstrations and all that, but quietly in the family, which had weakened to the point where a whole generation was destroyed. How can you win a war abroad if you lose it in the home? The foundation of civilization is the marriage bed and that is where the battle has now been pitched, right now, exactly as Engels predicted.

The first step in the process had already begun in Engels' day with the suffragette movement, which broke the unity of families and weakened the position of men as heads of households by giving women separate votes, converting the discourse between husband and wife from conversation to debate, preparing the way for what has happened in our time when women have entered what Engels called the socially productive workforce, competing for jobs against men, and driving the price of labor down so low it takes them both to meet the family budget. A house divided against itself cannot stand, and everywhere around us now the primary relation of love, strong as death, stronger than the ties of blood, has turned back again through the stages he described, to pairing marriage, and for some even to the herd.

Quousque irruitis in hominem? How long do you rush in upon man, as if you were thrusting down a leaning wall, and a tottering fence?

St. Robert Bellarmine says of these verses from Psalm 61, the first at Thursday Matins:

The Psalmist here turns to deplore the dreadful ruin of souls by the evil spirits through the agency of the various concupiscences. In truth nobody can calculate the numbers brought to ruin by the evil spirits through the agency of avarice, ambition, lust, anger, envy, and such evil passions. Full of indignation therefore against the evil spirits he exclaims: "How long do you rush in upon a man as if he were a leaning wall and a tottering fence, making war upon our poor fallen human nature so weak and corrupt that it may aptly be compared to a tumbling wall or a rotten fence.

In the famous poem by Robert Frost, as you may remember, the old New England farmer says good fences make good neighbors. Husbands and wives are the closest neighbors that there are, closer even than parents and children, because a man must leave father and mother and cleave to his wife, and the two become one flesh, but always with that happy fence between us, that one is man the other woman. As another farmer said, looking at the weeds in his cornfield: "An enemy has done this!"

Now, the origin of the family, private property, and the state is God; and the authors of their ruin aren't really Marx and Engels, who are instruments, but the evil spirits rushing in as upon a leaning wall and a tottering fence.

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The word "lady", in the old Germanic English, meant "maker of bread." And it isn't any accident that Bethlehem in Hebrew means "house of bread." A totalitarian attack is launched against the ladies of the world. What do you think, seriously, about the change from Mrs. to Ms., the extermination of the suffix " - man" in words like "fireman" and the like, the roles of men and women equalized and even reversed in novels, movies, TV shows, and songs, in fashion design, in color, shape, pattern. Everything feminine has been rushed in upon as a tottering fence. At the House of Bread there is no one home. Christ in all His little ones is now a latchkey child.


Washington, Associated Press:

The co-pilot of a US surveillance plane monitoring Soviet missile tests was temporarily blinded by a light beam that Pentagon officials believe was fired from a laser on board a Soviet ship. The Pentagon statement issued Friday said the incident occurred over the Pacific Ocean earlier this week as US forces monitored Soviet test firings of two missiles launched from Central Russia in the direction of Hawaii. The Pentagon said the woman copilot whose identity and rank were withheld recovered with no serious injuries

The worst is not that the Soviets are firing laser beams at us, but that girls are out there fighting them. Not that a woman can’t but that she is. What does this do to the imagination, the heart, the soul, of the next generation? What becomes of girls made by God in their nature to be their husbands helpmates and to bear and raise their children, whose influence, stronger than the moon's on the tide, attracts a man's rougher self to all the gentle, tender, soft, sweet, loving, moments that make love possible; first the husband and wife, then their children, and their neighbors, and from thence to God whose love is the natural law.

Over there, over there, . . . . the girls are coming! And the boys are nursing the babies! I never saw a cow who thought she was a bull, or a bull that thought he was a cow. Water doesn't flame like fire, and fire distill like the morning dew. Things in nature want to be themselves, and if moved seek their rest in what they are. And there is the rub: Engels denies these elementary facts. His philosophy of Dialectical Materialism posits a universe in total rebellion against what is.

He wrote another book more frightening in its way even than The Origin of the Family, called The Anti-Jury, in which he says all reality is contradictory process. Everything that seems to be, like water, fire, or woman, is both what it is and what it is not at the same time. This is really not new or revolutionary at all. It is the old argument again of the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus, who sitting by the river said; "Because the water flows I cannot touch the same river twice; therefore there is no river." But trees are moving too, and rocks are just slow rivers; therefore nothing ever really is. This philosophy is an attack on the existence of things, on God therefore, whose name is "He Who Is", and on His creation which exists because He made it what it is. This is not just atheism which claims the nonexistence of God, but anti-theism which asserts the right of non-existence over existence. It is Teilhard de Chardin's nonsensical evolutionary idea that God is the "Omega Point."

If that sounds confusing, take comfort at least in knowing that it is too much for the international communist movement too, which has never really understood what it means by Dialectical Materialism. The words can be said but the philosophy cannot be thought because it is a contradiction. How can you have motion unless there is a thing that moves? Philosophies of total flux deny experience, they deny what we call common sense. A river is a river; a rose is a rose. It is necessary to add however that though as philosophy it is sound signifying nothing, in the practical order Dialectical Materialism is fury. Those acting out its fiat have brought the whole of Christian culture down, especially in the United States behind what we thought were walls against the enemy. It is a paradox that Communism is not as far advanced in Russia as it is in the United States from the cultural point of view. And it is worth our while to ponder Engels' book because it accurately describes much of what has happened here.

When private property is taken as the end of human life, as it often is among us, and not as a means to the end of the good human life, it is true then that no one's place is in the home. If everything is measured by money, marriage really is the legal cloak of prostitution, as Marx and Engels said. There is a certain kind of man who thinks that the acquisition of property is the purpose of his life. He doesn't buy a house because he wants a home, but an investment. And if he pushes that view further he will look upon his wife as an investment too, and children as unnecessary expenses which he prevents.

It isn't any accident that since the 1960s especially, thousands of wives and children have fled homes such as this to go out on the road as they call it in their songs; whereas all of our songs have always been about returning home. Civilization has its roots in ancient pagan Greece where far wandering Odysseus, after all the tribulations of the wide world's road at last came home. And now, the wives and children flee, because it is true, as Engels said, that our houses have become a marketplace, and with all their labor saving devices even look like little factories. We are a nation of materialists who measure progress by a very gross national product, and happiness by money and success.

I am not suggesting that we surrender; it is not an option The first and last line of defense against the enemies of man is in the home; and the heart of the home which is the love of husbands and wives.

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 wives be subject to their husbands in all things.

Husbands, love your wives as Christ also loved the Church and delivered Himself up for it.

For a detailed disclosure of what St. Paul meant by a wife's subjection to her husband's love, read the Song of Songs. It is the perfect opposite of tyranny or any exploitation, so passionate it would be indiscreet to read it aloud in public, the Holy Ghost's post-Cana Conference, His own secret manual of married love, so intimate that I have taken other texts here, like this one:

How long do you rush in upon a man, as if you were thrusting down a leaning wall, and a tottering fence?

Vain are the sons of men, the sons of men are liars in the balances. . .

Liars in the balances, . . . St. Robert Bellarmine says of this difficult phrase that, conscious of the small number who would follow his advice, the Holy Ghost inveighs against the multitude of the wicked, saying:

The greater part of men are quite devoid of true wisdom though they apparently abound in it, but it is rather that wisdom designated by the scriptures as the prudence of the flesh; and therefore most men are vain, senseless, and imprudent, because they are liars in the balances, in false and fraudulent weights and measures.

You see, the word balances means the scales. Liars in the balances. Mendaces in stateris. Buying cheap and selling dear, skimming unjust profits, paying unjust wages, selling adulterated goods with false publicity and hype . . . he means Coke, potato chips, and shoddy workmanship; all those things that the Marxists exploit in attacking us within our homes and schools. And it's no wonder that boys and especially girls who see us putting profit over friendship and the arsenal of mixmasters and microwaves over home and hearth. It is no wonder that they long for imagined simple life of honest poverty, that they think the road will give.

The Holy Ghost exclaims:

If riches abound, set not your heart upon them. God hath spoken once, these two things have I heard, that power belongeth to God and mercy to Thee, O Lord, for Thou wilt render to every man according to his works.

The fight against Communism begins with the restoration of the family, and the restoration of the family begins with a rediscovery. The root of the whole thing is right here. St. Thomas Aquinas says that husbands and wives must be friends together. What an astonishing phrase! The greatest theologian in the history of the Church puts it so simply, like a child, so clear it's hard to see, like white on white: husbands and wives must be friends together. The enemy is always at the gates, but this time we have let him in. The simple fact is that husbands have sought their loves outside the home in money and success, and women have followed after them seeking the same things. We have not loved each other, nor been friends.

Lord, I know you have commanded it, to love thy neighbor as thyself, and wives and husbands are the closest of all possible neighbors, but isn't love simply a fact? You either have it or you have not. If you ask me to fast on Friday I will fast because that is something within my power to do, but how can I love what I do not?

Let's look at St. Paul's text again:

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. But if you bite and devour one another, take heed you be not consumed of one another. I say then, walk in the spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh; for the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh for these are contrary one to another, so that you do not the things that you would. But if you would live by the spirit you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are: fornication, uncleanness, immodesty, luxury, idolatry, witchcraft, enmities, contentions, wraths, quarrels, dissensions, sects, envies, murders, robberies, and such like, of the which I foretell you as I have foretold you. they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God. The fruit of the spirit is: charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, mildness, faith, modesty, continence, chastity.

As Engels' book was a blueprint for its destruction, this famous text of Galatians 5, is a blueprint for the restoration of the family.

A virtue is a habit, like knowing how to ride a bicycle. After all the struggles and the spills and the learning, what a mysterious moment it is in a child's life when all of a sudden he has the sense of balance and he rides. But note, the habit is not the same thing as its exercise; once a boy has learned to ride, all day long at school the habit waits as if it were asleep in his body and in his soul. When at three o'clock he climbs the seat it wakes up and he's off. Scholastic philosophers call this actual riding, the habit "in exercitu", the habit "in exercise." For us that word exercise has come to mean a toning up before the game, but exercitus in Latin means "an army in battle", as in the splendid phrase from the Te Deum: Te martyum candidatus laudat exercitus. The incandescent army of the martyrs praises Thee. Candidatus in that line is often translated as "white"; it means the white of the purest flame.

God gives us supernatural habits readymade. We don't have to acquire them in the painful way that we learned to ride a bike, but that same mysterious moment of discovery occurs. We suddenly get our balance and can do the thing we couldn't do before, like love, and joy, and being at peace. However, we shall not obtain the Kingdom of Heaven merely with the habit. These gifts and fruits, these infused habits, must be in exercitu; we have to ride the bicycle as it were, of our spiritual life and actually do these things. We must walk in the Spirit, St. Paul says, not sit or lie down.

Perhaps you remember the difference between cardinal and ordinal numbers from your school arithmetic – not just to count how many, those are the cardinal numbers, but to put them in order, the ordinal numbers, such as first, second, third, etc. In every ordinal enumeration there are two directions, down and up. From the beginning at the top, in this case God commanding, in the order of revelation; and the other from the bottom back up, us executing the commands back up to Him in the order of learning.

The way to restore the family is to bring to incandescent exercise the latent fruits of love in husbands and wives, which they have received as supernatural habits in the sacrament of marriage. They are strong as death, stronger than any poison, with which no family ever failed, even when the war outside was lost. The Holy Ghost has given us these twelve fruits of His love. Biblical manuscripts don't agree exactly on the number or the order, but St. Thomas in his commentary enumerates them in theological order, from charity to chastity, in a slightly different way than the Vulgate text that we use today.

From the point of view of us learning how to love, that is in the order of learning, as a practical exercise, let's take a look at the Twelve Fruits of the Holy Ghost in reverse, beginning at the bottom, where most of us really are, confronting the problem of chastity.

Chastity is the virtue “by which we withdraw ourselves from all unlawful desire.” By exercising the supernatural habit of chastity, we take the first real step immediately accessible to us, up the staircase to charity, the love of wife and husband as our closest neighbor and hence to God. Chastity, as St. Thomas defines it, here note well, is the resistance to all unlawful desire – reflect that that includes those things that make us “liars in the balances.” For example, in a marriage, women working when economy at home might do as well. It is against the natural law for women to engage in socially productive industry unless necessity demands it. According to the law of nature a woman’s place is in the home because by nature she is nurse and nurturer of children. Chastity is not just control of sexual desire, it is really the desire to be just what we really are and if we exercise this freedom from all unlawful desire then we shall be ready to mount the second step of continence which St. Thomas says is freedom from desire for even good and lawful, but unnecessary, things. This is the very difficult step St. John of the Cross describes in the first book of the Ascent of Mount Camel ending with the famous lines “In order to arise at having pleasure in everything, desire to have pleasure in nothing; in order to arrive at possessing everything, desire to possess nothing.” “Philosophical happiness,” Edmund Burke said, “is to want less, not to have more.” St. Thomas says that theological happiness is “to want absolutely nothing but what God wants.”

The third step up is modesty, which means doing things according to the mode like singing on pitch. In each of the Gregorian modes the scale is set upon a single note, the melody hovering and stretching above and below it but always with a kind of tension in relation to that note’s presence even when it is not at that moment being sung. Modesty is not only to dress according to certain specifications, but to dress with taste and tact, with a sense of the occasion. Not just dress, of course, but in every speech and action to say and do the right thing at the right time and the right tone of voice. Modesty means tact and tone towards self, demanding neither too much nor too little of yourself. Not to make your piety a burden to yourself and to your friend, but doing all with cheer, “cherishing fruits” not “swallowing pills” of the Holy Ghost .

Husbands and wives, if every day we would take a single one of these good habits and practice it the way you do a sport or a musical instrument, think what progress we would make in the interior life! Think what modesty could do in just a day, if husband and wives would think of each other as the mode or note of the Gregorian Chant. To make that person the attractive point of all one’s words and actions all day long, to make the day’s activities a melody that finds its rest in him or her.

Faith is taken here in the ordinary, not the supernatural sense. It means here fidelity, to be the kind of person one can trust. It means to be steadfast and true, by keeping promises and showing up on time.

The fifth step, meekness, curbs anger when our spouse and closest neighbor does us wrong.

The sixth step, longsuffering, is patience and waiting for the good that never seems to come although it has been promised, and we say “Lord, how long.” But if we practice waiting for the good, the waiting in itself, though painful, becomes a kind of good. St. John of the Cross, in perhaps his greatest poem, cries out “O dark more lovely than the dawn.”

The seventh step is goodness, which almost seems self-explanatory. It means to actively will the goodness of the other. Husbands and wives must each realize that, as Frank Sheed said, each has a destiny with God in eternity, and they must help each other to get there.

The eighth step, benignity, is the active desire of kindliness. Not only to be true, fair, and even tempered, but to passionately sympathize, to feel with the other person. I heard a widow far into her eighties just the other day say, when someone asked how much she missed her husband, “Not at all. We sympathized so closely that he’s here in everything I think and do.” That is benignity.

If we practice waiting for the good with equanimity (i.e., evenness of temper) we will be exercised to bear with evil when it comes, which it will. That is the ninth step, patience in the proper sense, related in the Latin to “passion” that is, to suffering as in the passion of Our Lord.

The tenth step up is peace, which St. Thomas says means not to be disturbed. It is achieved, he says, by fixing our desires upon a single object, not restlessly wishing upon a dozen others at the same time. Many a man is faithful to his wife in not desiring other women, but is not at peace with her because his heart is on his business or the football game, or the writing of a book. Peace is making her the apple of your eye. If there is music, sing it just for her, celebrate the dinner which she cooked in praise of her. Peace is singleness of purpose, such as servants have, “whose eyes are always on their mistress’ hand.”

If we practice peace, we shall arrive at the penultimate step, joy, which is rest in the possession of what we love, and the practice of joy is praise. There must be music in the home, not on the stereo, no matter how good, but as the old Irish Tenor, John McCormack, used to sing in his most famous song about a man whose wife had died “And all the ringing gladness of your voice, the words that made my lonely heart rejoice, you spoke; do you remember? All my heart still hears the distant music of your voice.”

You have to sing and play the instruments yourself and read poetry aloud, and really enjoy it. Yes, husbands and wives must do these things if they are to be friends together. Taking music now in the wide sense of anything artistic, tender, beautiful and sweet, it is a message sent to one you love, like a splendid cherry pie or a freshly ironed shirt.

Charity then, is the twelfth step, wherein St. Thomas says the Holy Ghost is given in a special manner, as in His own likeness, since He Himself is love. Caritas rises above dilectio and amor, to where we obey the novum mandatum: "Love one another as I have loved you." So by these steps, these fruits, we learn the love husbands and wives have in Him because the Holy Ghost is present in His gifts.

One last thought – you could make an honest complaint about all this: “These are really just pious platitudes and none relates in any real way to our actual marriages. Few of us will find this famous love, joy and peace, at least not for very long.” Well, if it is true that love is happiness, then we always seem to fail. But I have something for your consolation. Do you remember on the birthday or the wedding, just when you cut the cake? That is really the best moment, the eating always seems sort of a letdown. You expected who knows what, and it was cake. Love is not just cake. It is the moment just before. That’s the mystery of it, because all love is a waiting for something we don’t even know about yet. Especially the love of husbands and wives will always be a yearning and a sigh. This isn’t an argument. Perhaps you can take it as a thought to cheer your heart.







Last modified on Friday, August 1, 2014