Daily Archives: January 4, 2011

“Why Marry?” A Catholic Vintage Booklet (& Some Personal Reflections)

Raffaello Sanzio, "Sposalizio della Vergine"

From the treasure trove of Lux Occulta, here is another vintage booklet that, if you take the 20 minutes to read it, will make you think.

The booklet is called Why Marry and, in a very English way, tries to explain not only to Catholics but, as it is clear from the text, to non-Catholics the beauty and sacredness of what Catholics call the sacrament of marriage.

The booklet, an English production rather than an Irish one as many other Lux Occulta booklets, is rather disconcerting at times. One is rather astonished at seeing disturbances at Mass described as a sort of “sweet music”, though the biscuit goes to the one with the nagging wife being “worse than the adulterous one” (no, you couldn’t sell this in Italy. Not even to women).

Apart from these strange – as I assume they are – British particularities, the booklet shines with a robust dose of common sense in explaining that the Marriage intended in the Catholic way, so apparently old-fashioned, is vastly superior to every alternative devised by lesser ecclesial communities, or by free-thinkers, or by cinema dreamers, or by the human desire for fast solutions.

The booklet is clearly intended to be read also from a non-Catholic audience because the sacramental aspect of the marriage, and the grace a Catholic expects from it, is duly mentioned but not really the focal point of the work. The focal point of the work is based on a very simple concept: that those who bind themselves for life think much harder before they contract their marriage, and fight much harder for its preservation after they’re married.

As a chap born in Italy from parents – and in a generation – which didn’t know divorce in living memory (nor abortion, come to that; nor a lot of other things), I can vouch personally and from the experience of countless relatives and family friends that this was exactly the case. This was the case to such an extent that I can’t easily explain to a contemporary Brit the deadly seriousness with which the generally so debonair, happy-go-lucky Italians went after the business – nay, the life work – of being married. I can’t, because the poor chap doesn’t have a frame of reference for such a behaviour and doesn’t know what it means when an entire society is structured in that way. To understand how it is, you must have lived it.

The same situation I see described in this booklet, where two worlds noisily collide: the young Catholic couple going toward the marriage with deadly seriousness and confident in the sacramental grace of the bond they are going to contract, and the “modern” (alas, all too modern) non-Catholic couple rapidly married in the Town Hall and just as rapidly dissolved at the first difficulty. A marriage, this last, easily broken because carelessly contracted and which must now be, for the sake of the offspring, re-invented and re-started (clearly with a different mentality) again.

The truth is harsh, but it’s true nevertheless: when you only have one go, you’ll pay much attention to what you do; and when this happens the chance of a happy marriage and serene offspring will be vastly increased.

Legalised divorce is a big mistake. A huge one. It destroys the house merely because the stairs are a bit slippery, or the kitchen at times cold. It creates a momentary solution to a problem, and it substitutes it with an often bigger, and an often permanent one. It is the triumph of the fire escape mentality over the constructive approach, the short-term door to a long-term pain. Besides, it creates an atmosphere or self-victimhood that goes beyond ludicrous (and no, it can’t be that there are millions of cruel, violent men out there; and no, extreme cases always make bad laws…).

Legalised divorce is like living in a house with a huge door in the reception room bearing the inscription “Exit Here In Case Of Discomfort”.

Ban on divorce is like living in a house with an inscription saying “Very Probably Your Only Chance”.

Which marriage is more likely to be well thought before the marriage, and successful thereafter?


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