by Rev. Michael Muller, 1884

She is Catholic, Because She Maintains All Truths. The Roman Church is universal, or catholic, as to doctrine. Her doctrine is the same everywhere. What she teaches in one country, she also teaches in another. Her doctrine in one place is her doctrine in another. There can be in the Roman Church no new doctrine, no local belief, no creed in which the whole Church has not been united--the Church uniting to condemn all variations from this belief. New discipline, new practices, new orders, new methods, may be adopted by the Church, according to the requirements of her work; but there can be no doctrine which has not existed from the beginning, as it was received from Christ and the apostles. A doctrine, to be truly Catholic, must have been believed in all places, at all times, and by all the faithful. By this test of catholicity, or universality, antiquity and consent, all questions of faith are tried and decided.

Doctrines and articles of faith may be newly defined, as, for instance, that of the Immaculate Conception or of the Infallibility of the Pope, but there can be no new doctrine. Novelty is a quality of heresy; for, though some errors may be very old, yet they are new as compared with the truth. In every case, the truth must first appear before its corresponding error. The denial of any truth supposes its previous assertion. Like the divine Founder of the Roman Catholic Church, her doctrine is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

The Church is unceasingly assailed by new errors, yet she always and everywhere is consistent with herself; she explains and develops her earlier definitions, without even the shadow of change appearing; she has declared, hundreds of times, that she can introduce no innovations, that she has no power to originate anything in matters of faith and morals, but that it is her right and office to maintain the divine doctrine as contained in Scripture and tradition. She has convoked nineteen General Councils, and in each pronounced a solemn anathema on all who in the least deviated from the faith. In all ages she has undergone the most cruel persecutions, because she maintains all truths, and for this very reason she will be persecuted to the end of the world. But rather than yield one iota of her doctrine, she is willing to make every sacrifice: she permits whole countries to leave her, her pastors to be murdered, her children to be imprisoned and exiled, rather than permit one tittle of the law to be abolished. See, for instance, what she has done and suffered in upholding the dignity of the sacrament of marriage,-- the corner-stone of society!

See the workings of Catholic and Protestant doctrines of marriage in society! Take the common instance of a man in whose heart there is a fearful struggle between conscience on the one hand, and blind, brutish passion on the other! His wife,--that wife whom he once loved so dearly,--has become hateful to him. Perhaps she has lost the charm of beauty which once fascinated his heart. Another stands before him--she is young, she is beautiful. Protestantism, like the tempter of hell, whispers in his ear: "Sue for a divorce. The marriage bond can be broken. Youth and beauty may yet be yours." And the voice of conscience, the voice of God, is stifled. Brutish passion conquers. Divorce is sought and obtained, and the poor wife is cast away, and left heart-broken and companionless. And the children of such a marriage,--who shall care for them? Who shall teach them the virtues of obedience and charity? How can they respect a divorced mother, an adulterous father? No, these children become naturally the curse of society. They fill our prisons, our hospitals, the brothels.

On the contrary, if that man is a Catholic, the holy Church speaks to him in solemn warning: "See!" she says, "you took that wife in the day of her early joy and beauty. She gave you her young heart before the altar. You swore before God and his angels to be faithful to her until death. I declare to you, then, that, at the peril of your immortal soul, you must keep that union perpetual. That union shall end only when you have stood by her death-bed, when you have knelt at her grave."

The Catholic Church has always regarded Christian marriage as the corner-stone of society ; and at that cornerstone have the pastors of the Church stood guard for eighteen centuries, insisting that Christian marriage is one, holy and indissoluble.
Woman, weak and unprotected, has always found at Rome that guarantee which was refused her by him who had sworn at the altar of God to love her and to cherish her till death. Whilst in the nations which Protestantism tore from the bosom of the Church, the sacred laws of matrimony are trampled in the dust; whilst the statistics of these nations hold up to the world the sad spectacle of divorces almost as numerous as marriages, of separations of husband from wife, and wife from husband, for the most trivial causes, thus granting to lust the widest margin of license, and legalizing concubinage and adultery; whilst the nineteenth century records in its annals the existence of a community of licentious polygamists within the borders of one of the most civilized countries of the earth, we have yet to see the decree emanating from Rome that would permit even a beggar to repudiate his lawful wife, in order to give his affections to an adulteress.

The female portion of our race would always have sunk back into a new slavery, had not the popes entered the breach for the protection of the unity, the sanctity, the indissolubility of matrimony. In the midst of the barbarous ages, during which the conqueror and warrior swayed the sceptre of empire, and kings and petty tyrants acknowledged no other right but that of force, it was the popes that opposed their authority, like a wall of brass, to the sensuality and the passions of the mighty ones of the earth, and stood forth as the protectors of innocence and outraged virtue, as the champions of the rights of women, against the wanton excesses of tyrannical husbands, by enforcing, in their full severity, the laws of Christian marriage. If Christian Europe is not covered with harems; if polygamy has never gained a foothold in Europe; if, with the indissolubility and sanctity of matrimony, the palladium of European civilization has been saved from destruction, it is all owing to the pastors of the Church. "If the popes,'' says the Protestant Von Miiller,--"if the popes could hold up no other merit than that which they gained by protecting monogamy against the brutal lusts of those in power, notwithstanding bribes, threats, and persecutions, that fact alone would render them immortal for all future ages."

And how had they to battle till they had gained this merit? What sufferings had they to endure, what trials to undergo? When King Lothair, in the ninth century, repudiated his lawful wife, in order to live with a concubine, Pope Nicholas I. at once took upon himself the defence of the rights and of the honor of the unhappy wife. All the arts of an intriguing policy were plied, but Nicholas remained unshaken; threats were used, but Nicholas remained firm. At last the king's brother, Louis II, appears with an army before the walls of Rome, in order to compel the pope to yield. It is useless--Nicholas swerves not from the line of duty. Rome is besieged; the priests and people are maltreated and plundered; sanctuaries are desecrated; the cross is torn down and trampled under foot, and, in the midst of these scenes of blood and sacrilege, Nicholas flies to the Church of St. Peter. There he is besieged by the army of the emperor for two days and two nights; left without food or drink, he is willing to die of starvation on the tomb of St. Peter, rather than yield to a brutal tyrant, and sacrifice the sanctity of Christian marriage, the law of life of Christian society. And the perseverance of Nicholas I. was crowned with victory. He had to contend against a licentious king, who was tired of restraint; against an emperor, who, with an army at his heels, came to enforce his brother's unjust demands; against two councils of venal bishops: the one at Metz, the other at Aix-la-Chapelle, who had sanctioned the scandals of the adulterous monarch. Yet, with all this opposition, and the suffering it cost him, the pope succeeded in procuring the acknowledgment of the rights of an injured woman. And during succeeding ages we find Gregory V. carrying on a similar combat against King Robert, and Urban II against King Philip of France. In the thirteenth century, Philip Augustus, mightier than his predecessors, set to work all the levers of power, in order to move the pope to divorce him from his wife, Ingelburgis. Hear the noble answer of the great Innocent III:

"Since, by the grace of God, we have the firm and unshaken will never to separate ourselves from justice and truth, neither moved by petitions, nor bribed by presents, neither induced by love, nor intimidated by hate, we will continue to go on in the royal path, turning neither to the right nor to the left; and we judge without any respect to persons, since God himself does not respect persons."

After the death of his first wife, Isabella, Philip Augustus wished to gain the favor of Denmark by marrying Ingelburgis. The union had hardly been solemnized, when he wished to be divorced from her. A council of venal bishops assembled at Compiegne, and annulled his lawful marriage. The queen, poor woman, was summoned before her judges, and the sentence was read and translated to her. She could not speak the language of France, so her only cry was, "Rome!" And Rome heard her cry of distress, and came to her rescue. Innocent III. needed the alliance of France in the troubles in which he was engaged with Germany; Innocent III. needed the assistance of France for the Crusade; yet Innocent III. sent Peter of Capua as legate to France. A council is convoked by the legate of the Pope; Philip refuses to appear, in spite of the summons, and his whole kingdom is placed under interdict. Philip's rage knows no bounds; bishops are banished, his lawful wife is imprisoned, and the king vents his rage on the clergy of France. The barons, at last, appeal to the sword. The king complains to the pope of the harshness of the legate; and when Innocent only confirms the sentence of the legate, the king exclaims, "Happy Saladin! he had no pope!" Yet the king was forced to obey. When he asked the barons assembled in council, "What must I do?" their answer was, "Obey the pope; put away Agnes, and restore Ingelburgis." And, thanks to the severity of Innocent III., Philip repudiated the concubine, and restored Ingelburgis to her rights, as wife and queen.

Hear what the Protestant Hurter says in his Life of Innocent: "If Christianity has not been thrown aside, as a worthless creed, into some isolated corner of the world; if it has not, like the sects of India, been reduced to a mere theory; if its European vitality has outlived the voluptuous effeminacy of the East, it is due to the watchful severity cf the Roman Pontiffs--to their increasing care to maintain the principles of authority in the Church."

As often as we look toward England, we are reminded of the words of Innocent III. to Philip Augustus. We see Clement using them as his principles in his conduct toward the royal brute, Henry VIII. Catharine of Aragon, the lawful wife of Henry, had been repudiated by her disgraceful husband, and it was again to Rome she appealed for protection. Clement remonstrated with Henry. The monarch calls the pope hard names. Clement repeats, "Thou shalt not commit adultery!" Henry threatens to tear England from the Church--he does it; still Clement insists, "Thou shalt not commit adultery!" The blood of Fisher and Moore is shed at Tyburn; still the pope repeats, "Thou shalt not commit adultery!" The firmness of the pope cost England's loss to the Church. It cost the pope bitter tears, and he prayed to heaven not to visit on the people of England the crimes of the despot; he prayed for the conversion of the nation; but to sacrifice the sanctity, the indissolubility of matrimony,--that he could never do; to abandon helpless woman to the brutality of men who were tired of the restraints of morality,--no, that the pope could never permit. If the court, if the palace, if the domestic hearth, refused a shelter, Rome was always open, a refuge to injured and down-trodden innocence.

" One must obey God more than man." This has ever been the language of the Church, whenever there was question of defending the laws of God against the powers of the earth; and in thus defending the laws of God, she has always shown herself Catholic. Oh, how sad would be the state of society were the popes, the bishops, and priests to be banished from the earth! The bonds that unite the husband and wife, the child and the parent, the friend and the friend, would be broken. Peace and justice would flee from the earth. Robbery, murder, hatred, lust, and all the other crimes condemned by the Gospel, would prevail. Faith would no longer elevate the souls of men to heaven. Hope, the sweet consoler of the afflicted, of the widow and the orphan, would flee away, and in her stead would reign black despair, terror, and suicide. Where would we find the sweet virtue of charity, if the popes, the bishops, and priests were to disappear forever? Where would we find that charity which consoles the poor and forsaken, which lovingly dries the tears of the widow and the orphan,-- that charity which soothes the sick man in his sufferings, and binds up the wounds of the bleeding defender of his country? Where would we find that charity which casts a spark of divine fire into the hearts of so many religious, bidding them abandon home, friends, and everything that is near and dear to them in this world, to go among strangers, among savage tribes, and gain there, in return for their heroism, nothing but outrage, suffering, and death? Where, I ask, would we find this charity, if the popes, the bishops, and priests were to disappear forever?

Let a parish be for many years without a priest, and the people thereof will become the blind victims of error, of superstition, and of all kinds of vices. Show me an age, a country, a nation, without priests, and I will show you an age, a country, a nation, without morals, without virtue. Yes, if "religion and science, liberty and justice, principle and right," are not empty sounds--if they have a meaning, they owe their energetic existence in the world to the "salt of the earth,"--to the popes, bishops, and priests of the Catholic Church.





The Sacrament of Matrimony:
Questions and Answers


by Rev. Michael Muller, 1884


Q. Who instituted matrimony?

A. God Himself.


Q. When did God institute matrimony?

A. When He gave to Adam in Paradise Eve for his wife.


Q. What life were they to lead?

A. They were to lead a godly life and live together in conjugal fidelity and love.


Q. Was matrimony always respected as a holy institution?

A. The greater part of mankind disregarded the sanctity of matrimony in the same proportion as they forgot God and His holy law.


Q. Who restored matrimony to its original state?

A. Jesus Christ, our blessed Redeemer.


Q. How did He do it?

A. By raising matrimony to the dignity of a sacrament, and by ordaining that marriage should subsist between one man and one woman only, and last until the husband or wife is dead.


Q. What are the words of our Saviour on this subject?

A. "I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, and shall marry another, committeth adultery; and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery," Matt. xix. 9; and "What God has joined together, let no man put asunder," v. 6.


Q. Why can the bond of marriage never be dissolved?

A. Because Jesus Christ never gave the power either to any ecclesiastical or civil authority to dissolve the bond of marriage.


Q. Are the husband and wife, then, always bound to live together?

A. For grave reasons they may obtain permission from ecclesiastical superiors to live separated from each other. They remain, however, always married until the death of either the husband or the wife.


Q. What follows from this?

A. That neither of them can validly contract a second marriage whilst the other party is alive.


Q. What does St. Paul write on this subject?

A. "To them that are married, not I, but the Lord, commandeth that the wife depart not from her husband. And if she depart, that she remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband. And let not the husband put away his wife." 1 Cor. vii 10,11


Q. How do we know that matrimony is a sacrament?

A. We know this--1. From St. Paul, who calls matrimony in the Church "a great sacrament." Eph. v. 32.


2. From the infallible teaching of the Church, which has always held that matrimony is a sacrament.

Q. What, then, is matrimony in the Church of Jesus Christ?

A. It is a sacrament by which two single persons, man and woman, are married to each other, and receive grace from God to comply faithfully with the duties of their state until death.


Q. How is this sacrament received?

A. The bridegroom and the bride declare before their pastor and two witnesses, that they take each other for wife and husband, whereupon the priest blesses their union.


Q. What are the duties of married people?

A. 1. They should always live together in peace and conjugal fidelity.

2. They should assist each other in leading holy lives.

3. They should bring up their children in the fear and love of God, and not have such servants in the house as might endanger their innocence.

4. The husband should be kind to his wife, support and cherish her. The wife should obey her husband in all that is just and honorable, and conscientiously manage the domestic concerns.


Q. What are the words of St. Paul on this subject?

A. "As the church is subje.et to Christ, so also let the wives be to their husbands in all things," that is, in all things that are just and honorable. "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the church and delivered himself up for it. For no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, as also Christ doth the church." Ephes. v. 24-29.


Q. What should married people bear in mind when they are tempted to break their conjugal fidelity?

A. 1. That by adultery they break the solemn contract they have made in the presence of God and of the Church.

2. That they break the most sacred bond by which human society is united and kept together.

3. That they disturb domestic peace, hinder the good education of their children, and destroy the happiness of the whole family.

4. That they expose themselves to the danger of falling into disgrace and misery, and all kinds of sins and vices, and even of being severely chastised, and at last rejected by God Himself.

Q. What should those bear in mind who intend to enter into the married state?

A. 1. They should not thoughtlessly make the promise of marriage.

2. They should be properly instructed and be free from impediments.

3. They should live innocently previous to their wedding.

4. They should enter the married state with a pure and holy intention.

5. Before they marry they should make a good confession.

6. If possible there should be celebrated for them the nuptial Mass, during which they receive Holy Communion and the nuptial blessing.


Q. Who make the promise of marriage thoughtlessly?

A. 1. All those who neglect to have previously recourse to God, and disregard His will, the advice of their confessor and of their parents, and the salvation of their own soul in the matter.

2. Those who in their choice care less for religion and virtue, than for temporal advantages; and,

3. Those who do not first consider whether they will be able to fulfil the weighty duties of the married state.


Q. Who will generally prove to be a bad husband?

A. 1. He who cannot support his wife and children.

2. He who is a free-thinker and a member of a secret society; and,

3. He who is addicted to gambling, drinking, cursing, and has no respect for his parents, brothers, and sisters.


Q. Who will generally turn out to be a bad wife and mother?

A. 1. She who is full of vanity and caprice, and is extravagant in dress.

2. She who is not pious, modest, industrious, and economical, and has not the requisite virtue, intelligence, and learning in religious matters in order to be able to give her children a Christian education.


Q. Are people bound to keep their promise of marriage?

A. Yes, they are; unless both parties voluntarily retract it; for either of them, for grave reasons, has a right to retract.


Q. What sin do those commit who receive the sacrament of matrimony with an unholy intention, or in the state of mortal sin?

A. They commit the sin of sacrilege, and, therefore render themselves unworthy of all the Divine graces and blessings.


Q. How many kinds of impediments to matrimony are there?

A. There are two kinds:

1. Such as render marriage null; for instance, consanguinity and affinity to the fourth degree, inclusively: spiritual relationship; a solemn vow of chastity: the fact of one of the parties not being baptized; likewise (in those places where the decree of the Council of Trent has been published) the fact of the marriage not being contracted in the presence of a priest duly authorized and of two witnesses, at least; and others.

2. Such impediments as render marriage unlawful as, for instance, the forbidden times, the simple vow of chastity, a promise of marriage to another person, mixed marriage, etc.


Q. What is understood by the forbidden times?

A. 1. The time between the first Sunday in Advent and the Epiphany of our Lord; and

2. The time between Ash Wednesday and Low Sunday; within which times the Church forbids the solemnizing of marriage, because they have been set apart for penance and prayer.


Q. Can the impediments of marriage ever be dispensed with?

A. The Church can dispense with some, when there are sufficient reasons, but not with all; on this subject the parties must consult their pastor.


Q. What should we think of mixed marriages, that is, of marriages which are contracted between Catholics and non-Catholics?

A. That the Church has always disapproved of such marriages, and never permits them, except on certain conditions.


Q. Why does the Church disapprove of such marriages?

A. 1. Because the Catholic party is exposed to great danger of either losing, or becoming indifferent to the faith.

2. Because the Catholic education of the children is generally deficient, and often even impossible.

3. Because the non-Catholic party does not acknowedge matrimony, either as a sacrament or as indissoluble, and will, therefore, easily apply for a divorce, and marry again, leaving the Catholic party in misery and distress.

4. Because, for that very reason, such a marriage never is a true emblem of the indissoluble union of Christ with His Church, which union should be represented in each Christian marriage.

5. Because the happiness of conjugal union depends, above all, on unity of faith.


Q. On what conditions does the Church permit mixed marriages?

A. On these--1. That the Catholic party be allowed the free exercise of his or her religion.

2. That he or she earnestly endeavor to gain, by persuasion, the non-Catholic consort to the true Church.

3. That all the children be brought up in the Catholic religion. (Briefs of Pius VIII., and Gregory XVI.)

4. A grave reason for contracting such a marriage.


Q. Is the Church obliged to make such conditions?

A. Yes, for otherwise she would either be indifferent to the eternal welfare of her children, or deny that she alone is the true saving Church.


Q. Can, then, a person never be permitted to contract a mixed marriage unless the Catholic education of the children be previously secured?

A. No; for such a marriage would be a grievous sin against the Catholic Church and the spiritual welfare of the children that may be born; wherefore the Church can, in no case, give her consent to it.


Q. Can parties consent to such a marriage?

A. By no means; and the parents who consent to such a marriage of their child, render themselves guilty of the same sin as the child, and incur a severe, responsibility before God.


Q. What should one do in the choice of a state of life?

A. He should, above all things, consult God and the salvation of his soul. If, after mature deliberation, he thinks himself called to the marriage state, let him prepare for it by prayer, good works, and especially by a good general confession, and be careful not to follow those who, by sin and vice, draw the curse of God upon their heads.


Q. Are all men obliged to marry?

A. Not at all; else, why should the Apostle say: "I say to the unmarried, it is good for them if they so continue, even as I." 1 Cor. vii. 8.


Q. Does not the same Apostle say, that, in order to avoid all lewdness, every man should have a wife, and every woman a husband?

A. He only wishes to say, that it is lawful for every man to have one wife, and not more, or else, he would not have added: "Art thou loosed from a wife, seek not a wife."


Q. The same Apostle writing to Timothy, says: "It behoveth a Bishop to be the husband of one wife."

A. The Apostle means to say that a widower who has been married more than once, ought not to be chosen Bishop.


Q. Does not God say to Adam and Eve, and in them to the whole Christian race, "increase and multiply"?

A. These words contain no command, but rather a blessing to render them fruitful.


Q. Does, the Catholic Church hinder any one from marrying?

A. No; she leaves every one free in this matter.


Q. Does not the Church forbid priests to marry?

A. She does; but she obliges no one to become a priest.


Q. What does the Church require of those who receive Holy Orders?

A. She requires them to observe the vow of chastity, which they voluntarily make to God.


Q. Why does the Church require the vow of chastity from those who enter into Holy Orders?

A. She does so, in order that her priests may acquit themselves of the functions of the sacred ministry with greater decorum and liberty.


Q. What says St. Paul on this subject?

A. "He that is without a wife, is solicitous for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please God. But he that is with a wife, is solicitous for the things of the world, how he may please his wife; and he is divided." 1 Cor. vii. 32, 33.


Q. Do we know of any faithful priest or Bishop who, in the primitive ages of the Church, married, after having received Holy Orders?

A. The enemies of our religion cannot mention one.


Q. What are the words of the sacred canon of the second Council of Carthage?

A. "We find it proper, that Bishops or priests, and all who are entrusted with the administration of the sacraments, should observe continence."


Q. Why did the council make this regulation?

A. "In order," says the council, " to observe what was taught by the Apostles, and what has always been practised by the Church."





Prayer of One About to Be Married

O Gracious Father, who dost bless us by Thy bounty, pardon us by Thy mercy, support and guide us by Thy grace, and govern us by Thy providence: I give Thee humble and hearty thanks for all the mercies which I have received at Thy hands in time past. And now, since Thou hast called me to the holy estate of marriage, be pleased to be with me in my entering into it and passing through it, that it may not be a state of temptation or sorrow to me by occasion of my sins or infirmities, but of holiness and comfort, of love and dutifulness, as Thou hast intended it to be to all that love and fear Thy holy name. Amen.






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