"And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him. saying:
Take not a wife of the stock of Chanaan."--GEN. xxviii. 1.
by Fr. Lambing, 1891
St. Paul, in writing to the Romans and enumerating the principal points of the divine law for their instruction, concludes with the word: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (Rom. xiii. 9). Upon no precept of the divine law does our Saviour so strongly insist as upon that of fraternal charity. He has even made it the distinctive characteristic of His followers. "By this," He tells them, "shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another" (John xiii. 35). But although He has enjoined this precept so strictly, and has commanded children not only to love, but, much more, to honor their parents, He has not explicitly commanded parents to love their children. Nor need we wonder at this, for the law of nature has stamped affection for children so deeply on the hearts of parents that it is impossible for them not to love them. Even in the animal creation the love of offspring is the strongest passion.
But while parents cannot help loving their children, their love may not be, and indeed in many cases is not, properly directed. They love, but not always in and for God. Some permit the temporal well-being of their children to engross their whole attention, while others are too indifferent. Some, again, have a good intention, but do not sufficiently realize that their children are the gift of God, and are merely lent to them, as it were, to be trained for His heavenly kingdom. It is not enough for parents to do well, their efforts must also be directed to a proper end. Should they make a mistake, it is frequently too late when discovered for them to correct it, or to ward off the evil consequences of it. This is especially true of those affections which sometimes spring up between Catholics and non-Catholics, and which too often ripen into mixed marriages. Hence the importance of parents paying the greatest attention to this, and adopting such measures in time as will effectually prevent the evil of a mixed marriage in their families. To aid you in this good work I shall speak to you to-day on the duties of parents in relation to mixed marriages. The principal of these are,--
I. To have a correct idea of the holiness of the marriage state, and to impress it deeply on the minds of your children;
II. Never to prefer their temporal to their spiritual welfare;
III. To instruct them early, and ground them deeply in their religion;
IV. To guard them prudently and vigilantly against contracting too intimate an acquaintance with non-Catholics; and,
V. To pray God earnestly and perseveringly to guard them against the evil of a mixed marriage.
and to impress it deeply on the minds of your children.
No subject has engaged a larger share of the solicitude of the Church than the Sacrament of Matrimony, because in nothing else are the passions so likely to usurp the place of reason and religion in the direction of young persons. Scarcely does a Council meet, scarcely does a bishop issue a pastoral letter, but some disciplinary question relating to Matrimony enters into it. Advice is given, warnings are uttered, or abuses are sought to be corrected. And why? Because, on the one hand, the young have not been sufficiently trained to control their passions and subject them to the dictates of reason and religion; and, on the other, they have not been taught to entertain a correct idea of the sanctity of Christian marriage. While nothing could be further from the mind of the Church than to give the young an acquaintance with what a certain class of licentious and unprincipled writers would seek to teach them, and which would only tend to frustrate the lawful ends of matrimony and make it a means of gratifying the sensual appetite with impunity; nothing on the contrary could be further from her intention than to see young persons rush blindly into that holy state without a knowledge of its sanctity, the obligations it imposes, and the graces with which it is enriched.II. Never to prefer their temporal to their spiritual welfare.
You are strictly bound, I need not tell you, as Christian parents, to conceal from your children much that relates to your state of life; but at the same time there is much that prudence and a sense of duty requires you to acquaint them with, although not until they are approaching the age of maturity (Titus ii. 4, 5). Your conduct should at all times be a lesson impressing upon their minds your sense of the holiness of your state of life, the mutual harmony and forbearance that should exist between the husband and wife, and the example they should be to each other in self-control, in charity, and in the exact performance of the duties of religion and their state of life. The silent example of Christian parents is the most salutary lesson they can impart to their children; and when they feel it a duty to admonish them, as they will from time to time, their words will carry a weight with them that will have its effect. Let them engrave on the minds of their children the words of the archangel Raphael to the young Tobias: "They who in such a manner received matrimony, as to shut out God from themselves and from their mind, and to give themselves to their lust, as the horse and mule, which have not understanding, over them the devil hath power" (Tob. vi. 17). A second duty is:
We are frequently pained, in reading the lives of the saints, at seeing the persistence with which their misguided parents so often oppose them in their wish to consecrate themselves entirely to God. How much had not these poor children to endure; how long and severe their struggle! In many cases it was not until God Himself interposed by a special judgment that the blindness and obstinacy of the parents were at length overcome. How short-sighted are those parents who prefer to see their child wedded to a sinful man--perhaps a Protestant or an infidel-rather than consecrated to the All-holy God; yet we have the same blindness daily before our eyes, although in a different form. You, Christian parents, are not strangers to it; perhaps some of you are among the guilty. It is natural for parents to study to promote the temporal welfare of their children; it is also natural for them to wish to see them well matched, as the phrase has it; but the true Christian must be guided by the principles of religion, and not by those of interest or worldly wisdom. You should seriously ponder the words of our Divine Redeemer: " What doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul? Or what exchange shall a man give for his soul?" (Matt. xvi. 26). How many parents prepare the way for mixed marriages by sending their children to the infidel schools, because they are thought to be more respectable in the opinion of worldlings! How many permit their daughters to associate with those who are not of the faith, because they are regarded as more wealthy or fashionable! How many not only allow, but even encourage their children to marry those who are not of the fold of Christ, because they imagine that by that means the wealth and standing of their families will be enhanced in the eyes of the world!
Woe to such parents, who prefer the gifts of Mammon to the gifts of God, and who trifle with the faith, the happiness, and the eternal salvation of their children for the sake of filthy lucre. What will they be able to answer an angry God when He calls them to account for bartering those saving truths, which He sent His Divine Son on earth to deliver and establish at the price of His sacred blood and cruel death, for wealth, which they can hope to possess at most for a few years, or for so-called respectability, which is based on the sin of Lucifer? The true faith is the legacy which Jesus Christ has left to the world; it is the pearl of great price for which the martyrs willingly exchanged life itself in the midst of the most cruel torments; for which millions of generous souls have voluntarily sacrificed all things; with which nothing on earth can be brought into comparison. If you endanger that, you are guilty of a grievous sin and an unpardonable folly; if you lose it, you lose all for time and eternity.
Let this be your rule, Christian parents, never to prefer the temporal to the spiritual welfare of your children; and never to endanger their faith for any human consideration. Remember that your conduct will not influence them only, but through them will influence their children for generations. Do not then, I entreat you, call down the malediction of heaven upon your ashes for untold years in their silent rest. Never forget the words of our Divine Redeemer, so replete with heavenly wisdom: " What doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul? Or what exchange shall a man give for his soul?" (Matt. xvi. 26). But there are other considerations which parents who are really alive to the true interests of their children, will not fail to make use of, among which one of the most powerful is,--
deeply and firmly in their religion.
Of all the means of preventing mixed marriages there is none more effectual than this of instructing the young in the knowledge and practice of their religion from their tender years, so that it will grow up with them and become, as it were, a second nature, according to the words of the Holy Spirit: "A young man according to his way, even when he is old he will not depart from it" (Prov. xxii. 6). The years of childhood are those in which the deepest and most lasting impressions are made; and, in the language of Sacred Scripture: "It is good for a man, when he hath borne the yoke from his youth" (Lam. iii. 27). And when the teaching of parents is confirmed by the silent force of their good example, it is seldom that a son or daughter disregards them in any important matter at any period in life. Instruction and example are guardian angels, as it were, attending them from the cradle to the grave. If, then, you want your children to grow up firm in their attachment to the Church, and free from the danger of contracting marriage with non-Catholics, let it be your constant study to instruct them in their religion and to accustom them to strict discipline. Remember the words of the wise man: "Hast thou children? instruct them, and bow down their neck from their childhood" (Eccles. vii. 25). But owing to the temptations by which they are surrounded when they are out of your sight, you must not fail to make use of such other natural and supernatural means as are calculated to avert the dread evil of a mixed marriage. Hence another important duty is,IV. To guard them prudently and vigilantly against forming
too intimate an acquaintance with non-Catholics.
Our Divine Redeemer, in sending His Apostles to teach all nations, said to them: "You are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world; therefore the world hateth you" (John xv. l9); and never did this antagonism between the children of God and the children of the world assume a more dangerous or insidious form than at the present time. While the children of God are laboring to preserve their attachment to the truth, those of the world are receding further from its light, and are burying themselves more and more hopelessly in the darkness of error and unbelief. As of old with the wise of this world, so it is at present. "They became vain in their thoughts, and their foolish heart was darkened. For professing themselves to be wise, they became fools" (Rom. i. 21, 22). But as the curiosity of Eve made her the victim of the wiles of the serpent, so does the curiosity and waywardness of many young persons in our days expose them to the same danger. And what adds to their peril is the little regard too many of them have for parental and ecclesiastical authority, and the confidence they have in their own wisdom.V. To pray Gad earnestly and perseveringly to guard their
Hence a most important duty devolves upon parents of keeping a vigilant watch over them, lest they make a false or dangerous step that cannot be retraced. "The Father," says the Holy Spirit, "waketh for the daughter when no man knoweth, and the care of her taketh away his sleep when she is young, lest she pass away the flower of her age" (Eccles. xlii. 9). And happy are the parents who have watched successfully! How many, alas, in this degenerate age are forced to cry out with the Eternal Father: "I have brought up children and exalted them, but they have despised me " (Isaias i. 2). What could be more painful or humiliating to parents than to see a son or daughter who has attained the age of maturity despise their authority and that of the Church, marry a non-Catholic, and become the parent of children that may not be trained up in the true faith?
Yet parents themselves are not always free from blame. They some times know their son or daughter is contracting an intimacy with a non-Catholic, yet they do not raise a warning voice until it is too late. Perhaps they feel themselves flattered by the attention a rich or well dressed Protestant is paying their daughter; or they imagine there is time enough, and that they can arrest the evil whenever they see fit. But they discover their mistake when it is too late, and lament their inability to avert a misfortune which if taken sooner might easily have been prevented. Beware then, Christian parents, of permitting such intimacies, and on no account encourage them, no matter what the temporal advantages may seem to be. Nothing can compensate for the risk of your children's faith. But "Unless the Lord keep the city, he watcheth in vain that keepeth it" (Ps. cxxvi. 1); hence it is incumbent on parents as an imperative duty,
children against the evil of a mixed marriage.
When we consider the unlimited power and efficacy which our Divine Saviour has been pleased to promise infallibly to the prayers that are offered with the proper disposition to His Eternal Father in His name, it is surprising and painful to witness the indifference of so many Christians in regard to it. But for no person is prayer more necessary than for parents; for while others have to care for the salvation of their own souls only, parents have to labor also for the salvation of their children. Learn then, Christian parents, to have recourse to God by frequent. fervent, and persevering prayer that He may dispose the hearts of your children to receive and profit by instruction, and that He may direct them in the important matter of choosing a partner for life. And as they approach the period in life when the thought of making such a choice naturally engages their attention, let your prayer be redoubled that an affair in which the honor and glory of God are so deeply concerned, but in which the passions are so likely to intrude, may be directed by His holy grace. Never advise your children without first praying that your advice may be according to the will of God and may be accompanied by His benediction; and if you see any danger of a false step on the part of any of them, oh, then let your prayers be offered with all possible earnestness. Pour out your soul before God night and day with our Divine Redeemer: "Holy Father, keep them in Thy name, whom Thou hast given me" (John xvii. 11). God loves to be importuned, and He frequently gives in a moment what for a long time He denied. Beseech the guardian angels and patron saints of your children to watch over them with special care, and do not forget to have recourse to Mary and Joseph, whom God so miraculously directed in the choice of each other, that the prayers of those who were united in the holiest bond may guide your children in their choice and sanctify them in the union into which they are about to enter.
You are now aware, Christian parents, of the important part which God and His Church expect you to play in preventing the dread evil of mixed marriages. You have learned some of the means by which they may be averted; study to employ them. Instil into the minds of your children by word and example the sanctity of the married life, and the dispositions with which they should enter into it. But in your solicitude for their welfare never prefer their temporal to their spiritual advancement, rather be mindful of the words of Christ: "Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matt. vi. 33). Instruct them early and ground them deeply in the knowledge of their religion. Guard them vigilantly and prudently against the many temptations by which they are surrounded in the matter of choosing a partner for life, and pray God earnestly and perseveringly that His blessing may sanctify and seal your efforts. If you sedulously perform your part as good Christian parents, you will have the consolation of seeing your children the parents of good Catholic families, and in the world to come your glory will be increased by the society of those whom you so carefully trained up for the kingdom of heaven. Amen.
"We have not hearkened to Thy commandments, nor have we observed nor done
as Thou hast commanded us, that it might go well with us."--DAN. iii. 30.
These words are taken from the prayer which the three holy youths of the Jewish captivity offered to God from the midst of the fiery furnace into which they were cast by command of King Nabuchodonosor for refusing to worship the golden statue that he had erected at Babylon. The prophets of God had foretold centuries before the evils that would befall the chosen people if they would refuse to obey the laws which had been divinely imposed upon them. But with that waywardness which always characterized the Jewish nation they transgressed, and were in consequence led into captivity. By the river of Babylon, far from their native land and the holy city and temple, the good lamented their sad lot, and endeavored by the austerity of their lives to move God to mercy; while the wicked plunged still more deeply into sin, and called down upon themselves a yet greater measure of the divine vengeance.I. Her duties to herself;
How aptly may not the words of their sacred text be applied to those who have entangled themselves in the meshes of a mixed marriage. They have not hearkened to the divine command which required them to use their liberty to marry "only in the Lord," but have contracted alliances for which the Church, in the words of her Sovereign Pontiffs, has a "horror," and which she "abominates" and "detests." They have united themselves with the enemies of God, and hence it is not well with them here, and we have only too great reason to fear that it will not be well with many of them hereafter. For, like the Jews in the captivity, while a few study to observe the divine law as far as their circumstances will permit, the many, unfortunately, appear to think little of the sin they have committed, but estrange themselves yet more and more from God. Hence, before concluding this series of sermons, I shall address a few words of advice and admonition to those who have already contracted such marriages, on the manner in which they should live in order to avert as much as possible from themselves and their children the evil consequences of the imprudent step they have taken. I shall suppose, as is perhaps most commonly the case, that the wife is the Catholic; and shall arrange what I have to say under the three following heads:
II. Her dulies to her husband;
III. Her duties to her children.
I. Her duties to herself.
It is not my intention to speak of those general laws that should regulate the conduct of all married persons, but only of those particular rules which the circumstances of a mixed marriage give rise to. First among these must be reckoned the duty of seeing that there is nothing in the marriage contrary to the laws of the Church, as far as those laws are applicable to a marriage of this kind. It frequently happens that a Catholic marrying a non-Catholic, having by the very act violated a great law of the Church, pays little attention to her other precepts. How often, for example, do we find a Catholic marrying without acquainting her pastor of the fact, or procuring the necessary dispensation, or going before a civil magistrate or an heretical minister, or marrying a person without knowing for certain whether he had been married before or not. If there are any irregularities of this kind, it is the strict duty of the Catholic to apply without delay to her pastor, either in the confessional or out of it, and have the error, whatever it is, corrected. It must be done some day, and the lapse of time will only add to the difficulty. Do not fear, the good priest is animated with the charity of his Divine Master, and though he hates the sin, he will yet be only too happy to welcome back the repentant sinner.II. Her duties to her husband.
St. Paul, writing of the early Christian women who preferred marriage to virginity, said: "She shall have tribulation of the flesh"; and however true this is of married women in general, it is tenfold more true of those who have contracted a mixed marriage. They should then understand the difficulties in which they have involved themselves, which are neither few nor trivial. In no other-position in life, perhaps, can there be so little true happiness. You who have married non-Catholics are bound to love, cherish, and live in the most intimate relations with a man who differs essentially from you on the most important question that can engage the human mind--the relation between you and your God. There can be no real sympathy at any time, much less when sickness or trials make you long most ardently for it. In the arduous duty of training up your children you are not only alone, but are obliged to act contrary to the convictions, and frequently also contrary to the commands of him whom most of all you should love and cherish; and you will be forced to see yourself fail, at least partially, in the most important matters. Under the most favorable circumstances a sense of loneliness and a weight of individual responsibility will be your daily bread. I could say much more, but will not, for I do not call these trials to your mind with a view of discouraging you, but rather to nerve you for the struggle in which you are engaged, and which, willingly or unwillingly, you must continue through life. Your first duty, then, is to recognize the difficulties of your situation, and to make use of such means as will enable you to pass successfully through them.
Surrounded thus by difficulties, and deprived in a great measure of human aid and consolation, you must learn to lean more and more upon God. And although you will doubtless meet with obstacles, sometimes insurmountable, in attending Mass, receiving the Sacraments, and complying with your other religious duties, you must not permit yourself to grow remiss. You owe it to yourself to be faithful in the use of these means of grace, for you, more than others, stand in need of them. You owe it to your non-Catholic partner, for you have solemnly promised to do all in your power to reclaim him from the error of his ways; but you owe it especially to your children, for their religious training devolves exclusively on you, and you must conduct it, as I have said, amid the greatest difficulties. Beware then of permitting yourself to grow careless, as too many unhappily do, who neglect the salvation of their own souls and those of their children, and who, so far from laboring for the conversion of their erring partners, rather confirm them in their unbelief. How terrible will be the account they must one day render to God!
Be no less on your guard against permitting yourself to frequent Protestant churches, either from curiosity or servile compliance with the wishes of your husband. Remember how Eve was led into sin by curiosity, who, as the Scripture narrates, "saw that the tree was good to eat, and fair to the eyes, and delightful to behold, and she took of the fruit thereof and did eat " (Gen. iii. 6), and by so doing brought countless evils upon the whole human race to the end of time. Under no circumstances can it be lawful for you to take part in heretical worship, or to do or say anything that would approve of it. Resist every temptation of this kind with promptness and determination, remembering the words of the Holy Spirit: "He that contemneth small things shall fall by little and little" (Eccles. xix. I).
But what is to be done if your husband forbids you to go to Mass and receive the Sacraments, or to pray at home, or would try to force you to disregard the days of fast or abstinence, as unfortunately happens too often? Ah, you should have thought of this before you made the fatal step of marrying out of the Church, and should have listened to those who tried to dissuade you from it. But now it is too late, and you must make the most of your trying situation. But, for your consolation, I will say that no creature can come between another and God. He has imposed on all mankind the obligation of adoring and serving Him, and a human law or command that would conflict with this duty is not and cannot be binding in conscience. While you should carefully avoid all contention and disputes, you must yet insist upon maintaining those rights which God has given you. Far too many Catholics married out of the Church surrender too easily, and yield without a protest at the first intimation of displeasure on the part of their husbands. Being but indifferent Catholics, as all are who contract a mixed marriage, they neither know the value of these means of grace and the need they have of them, nor understand the true nature of their obligation to obey the laws of the Church. If they afterward attempt to recover their rights they generally find it impossible. In the particular cases that may arise, have recourse to your pastor for advice and direction. And at all times pray to God that He would protect you in the dangers by which you are surrounded; for although you have acted contrary to His holy will in uniting yourself with one of His enemies, yet He never despises the prayer of the humble and contrite heart, and He will enable you to work out your salvation.
The Catholic wife has also special duties to perform toward her erring husband; one of the conditions on which the Church insists in every mixed marriage, and from which she never does and never can dispense, being, in the words of Pope Pius VIII., that the Catholic is "required to use every effort to withdraw the other from error." This is a duty that is unfortunately too generally neglected. Let us hope that you at least will not be found among the remiss. You are strictly bound to labor for the conversion of your husband, and if you fail to do so you are guilty of grievous sin, because it is a grave command. The most effectual means to this end will be the faithful fulfilment of your own religious duties, and the showing in the holiness of your own life the beauty of the religion to which you would win him. Example is more convincing and less obtrusive than argument, and as the continual dropping of water wears away the hardest rock, so the silent force of example will in the end make its impression on the most obdurate heart. But your example, bear in mind, is not merely to extend to the discharge of your religious duties. If the injunction of our Divine Saviour is binding upon all Christians, much more is it binding upon you to "so let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven" (Matt. v. 16). You are to show in your daily life the influence of your religion, in your devotion to the duties of your state, in gentleness of temper, in the control of your tongue,--a most important matter,--by your patience, by never casting your husband's religion into his face, and by the many other ways in which the influence of religion shows itself in the outward conduct.III. Her duties to her children.
And do not fail to have recourse to God by fervent prayer. Remember the promises our Divine Redeemer has made to humble, persevering prayer. Call to mind and be encouraged by the example of such holy women as St. Monica, who in prayers and tears besought of God the conversion of her husband and son for many years before she had the happiness of seeing them embrace the true faith. If your prayers are as earnest and persevering as hers they will be equally efficacious. And consider the motives that should prompt you to pray: the greater harmony that will prevail in your family; the ease with which you will be able to fulfil your religious duties; the facility with which you will train up your family; the happiness you will enjoy in seeing him whom you love most upon earth a member of the true Church; and the consolation it will afford both you and him at the hour of death.
Study your religion, moreover, so as to be able to give your husband such explanations as he may desire from time to time. But carefully avoid disputation and argument on religious questions; it will as a general rule be productive of more harm than good, will embitter his feelings and prompt him to resist. But calm, well-timed conversations on matters of religion will not be out of place, and may be productive of much good; and if the force of your example has disposed him to listen favorably, your efforts may go far toward securing his conversion, and not only his conversion, but your own salvation also, according to the words of St. James: "He who causeth a sinner to be converted from the error of his way, shall save his soul from death, and shall cover a multitude of sins " (v. 20). Besides, you have solemnly promised to use every effort to withdraw him from his errors. The better to do this, study especially by every gentle means to withdraw him as much as possible from heretical influences, whether it be that of friends or of books and papers, and try and induce him to read Catholic books. In the particular cases that may arise from time to time, seek the advice and direction of your confessor, who will be sufficiently acquainted with your circumstances to speak to the purpose.
But the most important of all your duties are those which you owe to your children; and this for various reasons. As to yourself, you acted with a free will and at a time when your character was formed and your judgment ripe; and the same may be said of your husband. But it is not so with your children. God gives them to you in their infancy, He intrusts the moulding and forming of their religious and moral character to your hands; and He will hold you responsible before His dread tribunal for the manner in which you fulfil this most important duty. Let us, however, consider these duties in detail, mindful of the promise which both you and your husband made at the time of your marriage, that, according to the conditions and in the words of the Vicar of Jesus Christ, who alone on earth is divinely empowered to grant dispensations for such marriages, "the children of both sexes, to issue from the union, should be brought up exclusively in the sanctity of the Catholic religion." It was upon this condition that you were married, and had you or either of you refused to promise its fulfilment, the Church would never and could never have permitted your union. No law, human, ecclesiastical, or divine, can ever free you from this obligation.
But let us go still further into detail, and trace out these duties from the beginning. I must commence by warning you against a dreadful evil unhappily not uncommon at the present day, and must tell you plainly that, no matter what may be your trials or the difficulties you meet with in the education and training of your children, you cannot under any circumstances have recourse to any unnatural or unlawful means to prevent you from having a family. There is nothing that can justify such a course of conduct. The law laid down by our Divine Redeemer in regard to the absolute necessity of Baptism, that, "unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God " (John iii. 8), imposes upon you the sacred duty of having all your children baptized in the Catholic Church--if necessary even by stealth,--and of preventing them from being baptized in an heretical sect. And the reception of this Sacrament must not be deferred for an unreasonable and unnecessary length of time. The life of a new-born infant is very frail, and little is required to extinguish the vital spark; and what could be a more painful thought, or what a greater crime in a mother, than that a child of hers should through her fault die, or be in danger of dying, without the hope of ever seeing God?
According to the solemn promise you made at the time of your marriage, and according to the clearest dictates of reason, you are strictly bound to raise all your children without exception in the Catholic religion. You dare not consent, nor, as far as you are able to prevent it, permit such a division of the family as would allow the boys to follow the religion of the father and the girls that of the mother. And here in the training of your children is where you will meet with the greatest difficulty. Would to God you had been sensible of it in time; but you had eyes and saw not, you had ears and heard not, when your friends and those who had your welfare sincerely at heart sought to deter you from so perilous a step,--perilous to yourself, and more perilous to the children whom God might give you. O God, how the evils of a mixed marriage multiply as we advance and study it in detail! Then you must see that your children are prepared at the proper time and in the proper manner for the reception of the Sacraments of Penance, Confirmation, and the Holy Communion, and God grant that you may be able to do so; but your task will not be an easy one, nor will your success be perfect. You are also bound to use every effort to prevent your children from being sent to the infidel public schools; nor is this likely to be accomplished without difficulty. Yet it is a most sacred duty, and cannot be neglected without sin. And under no circumstances can you permit them to attend the Protestant Sunday-school, take part in their excursions, or read the papers and books which are so liberally distributed where there is hope of causing a Catholic child to apostatize from the faith.
In addition to all this, you must, as your children grow up, sedulously make use of the means which I have pointed out to all parents of guarding their children against the danger of contracting a mixed marriage. Finally, in those peculiar circumstances which will occasionally arise, and in which you will stand in need of the advice of a friend in whom you can place entire confidence, have recourse to your confessor, candidly state your case to him, ask his advice, and having received it, follow it as closely as you are able.
Such, then, are some of your duties to yourself, to your husband, and to your children. Endeavor to fulfil them carefully, for much, very much, depends upon you. Be faithful in the discharge of your religious duties and do not permit yourself to grow remiss, and show by the holiness of your life the beauty of the religion you profess. Be mindful of the solemn promise you made when you were married, to use every effort to withdraw your husband from his errors. But, oh, be faithful to the sacred trust confided to you in the education and training of your children, and do not be disheartened by the obstacles that may stand in your way; for how could you bear the thought that any of those to whom, under God, you were instrumental in giving life, should be raised up ignorant of His holy law, enemies of His Church, or be in danger of being eternally separated from Him? Study to be able to say with your Divine Redeemer at the dread tribunal of God: " Of those whom Thou hast given me, I have not lost any one" (John xviii. 9).
But I cannot conclude this series of discourses without again reminding you all of the solemn manner in which mixed marriages have been condemned by God Himself in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament; by the Church in all ages in the declarations of her Popes, her Councils, her Fathers, Theologians, and Bishops; and by the dictates of reason and the lessons of experience. I have also pointed out to you some at least of the principal causes which lead to this dreadful evil, as well as the duties of all Christians in relation to it, so that none among you can plead ignorance. There was a time when the smallness of the Catholic population offered a palliation, if not an excuse, for the disorder of mixed marriages, but that time is now happily past in almost every place, and to contract a mixed marriage at present must be looked upon as a wilful disregard of the known will of God and His Church, and a daring and inexcusable risk of one's eternal salvation and the salvation of many yet unborn. Let those, then, who are tempted to so great a sin as the contracting of a mixed marriage seriously consider how much they would be at variance with the spirit of their religion, how much such an act would expose themselves and their families to eternal ruin, how great would be the scandal, how great the devil's triumph, if they should unhappily yield. But if they resist such a temptation they will fulfil the will of God, they will act in harmony with the spirit of their religion and the dictates of right reason, will aid in opposing a great disorder, and will merit a special blessing from God. "Blessed are they who hear the word of God, and keep it." Amen.
Prayer for the Conversion of my Spouse
O Mary, Mother of Perpetual Help, thou knowest so well the great value of an immortal soul. Thou knowest what it means, that every soul has been redeemed by the Blood of thy Divine Son; thou wilt then not despise my prayer, if I ask from thee the conversion of N._____ , my spouse, who is rapidly hurrying on towards eternal ruin. Thou, O good, merciful Mother, knowest well N._____'s irregular life.
Remember, then, that thou art the refuge of sinners, remember that God has given thee power to bring about the conversion of even the most wretched sinners. All that has been done for N._____'s soul has been unsuccessful; if thou dost not come to N._____'s assistance, (he/she) will go from bad to worse. Obtain for N._____ an effectual grace that (he/she) may be moved and brought back to God and (his/her) duties. Send N._____, if necessary, temporal calamities and trials, that N._____ may enter into (himself/herself), and put an end to (his/her) sinful course.
Thou, O most merciful Mother, hast converted so many sinners at the intercession of their friends. Be moved also by my prayer, and bring this unhappy soul to true conversion of heart. O Mary, help; O Mother of Perpetual Succor, show that thou art the advocate and refuge of sinners. So I hope, so may it be.
A Mother's Prayer in the Morning
Most merciful God ! Thou hast given me this day, that I may serve Thee and work out my salvation by the faithful discharge of my duties. Assist me then with Thy grace: Above all, assist me that I may fulfill today the most important and most sacred duties which I owe to my children with care and fidelity, and especially that I may go before them with the light of good example. Bless whatever I may do or say on this day for their education.A Mother's Prayer in the Evening
Take, O God! my children under the protection of Thy love and grace. Shield them from danger, and keep them far from all evil! Preserve them from sin! Fill their tender hearts with Thy holy love! Awake and incite them with Thy grace, that they may serve Thee faithfully, and grow in virtue and grace before Thee as they grow in age. To you, holy guardian angels, and to you, Saints in heaven whose names my children bear, I recommend them ; take care of them, pray for them. Amen.
Thanks be to Thee, O my God and Father! for all the graces and favors which Thou hast graciously bestowed to-day upon me and upon my children. All good gifts proceed from Thee. Thou rulest over us with mercy. Woe to me, that I am so ungrateful and have so often offended Thee, the best of Fathers! Mercifully pardon me, especially for the sins which as a parent I have this day committed! . . . . . . . . . . . . *
What can I do, except to ask for mercy? Be Thou merciful unto me! Oh, that I may recognize more and more the sanctity of my vocation, and fulfil its duties perfectly! Yes, O Lord, I have resolved to do so. I renew my promise to Thee. Hasten to help me with the riches of Thy grace. Inflame my heart more and more with Thy holy love, and with true charity for my children, so that I may be always filled with holy earnestness in the education of my children, and in whatever regards their true welfare. Father, I commend to Thee my children during this night. May Thy hand defend them during their night's rest, drive far away from their place of rest the enemy of men; let their holy angels be near to them. Do not permit the night to become for them an occasion of sin; preserve them in innocence and unsullied purity! Holy Virgin, St. Joseph, ye holy angels, and all ye Saints in heaven, I recommend my children to you. Amen.
* Do not omit. Christian mother, to examine your conscience in the evening, if it be only for some minutes, especially whether you have faithfully performed your duties during the day. Was your example such as to be worthy of imitation? Have you said or done anything that could have given scandal to your children? Have you had as careful an eye over your children as you should have had? Have you permitted them to rove about unguarded? Have you brought them to church, to school? Did you take it to heart to give them useful instruction; to remind them of God, and of higher things? Have you reminded them of their faults? Have you admonished, warned, and punished them according to duty? Have you, in doing this, given way to anger and impatience, and punished them beyond measure? Have you taught them to say their prayers and insisted on their doing so; on their loving God and man; on their being truthful, obedient, peaceable, industrious, lovers of cleanliness and order? Do you pray for them as you should? Be sorry if you have committed faults; ask God's pardon, resolve and promise our Lord to be more faithful on the morrow.
A Father's Prayer in the Morning
O Lord, Thou hast granted me this day, that by fulfilling my duties to thee I may work out my salvation. Assist me then with Thy grace. Grant above all that I may fulfil the most important and holy duties, my duties towards my children, and that in particular I may afford them a good example. Bless all that I may say or do this day for their instruction and edification.A Father's Prayer in the Evening
And my children, O Lord, take them under the protection of Thy love and grace; guard them in dangers, and protect them from all evil. Preserve them from sin; fill their young hearts with Thy holy love; animate and strengthen them with Thy grace, that they may serve Thee faithfully, and that as they increase in age they may increase in virtue and grace.
Ye guardian angels and patrons of my children, I commend them to you; take charge of them and pray for them. Amen.
Thanks be to Thee, O God and Father, for all the graces and favors which Thou hast this day bestowed on me and on my children. All good gifts come from Thee. Thou rulest over us mercifully. Alas that I have been so ungrateful, and have offended Thee the best of fathers! Pardon mercifully! Forgive me my neglects of the duties of my vocation. . . What can I do but beseech Thy grace? Be gracious to me! May I still more and more understand the sacredness of my paternal duties, and fulfil them! Yes, O Lord, it is my firm purpose. I promise Thee anew. Come with Thy precious grace to my assistance; inflame my heart evermore with Thy holy love and with love for my children, that filled with holy fervor I may bring them up for Thee and for eternal life.
For this night, O Lord, I commend them to Thee. May Thy hand protect them in their nightly rest; drive away the enemy from their place of sleep; may thy holy angel be near them. O do not permit that night may be an occasion of sin to them; preserve them in innocence and in immaculate purity!
Holy Virgin, St. Joseph, ye holy angels and elect, I commend my children to thy care. Amen.
* Do not omit, Christian father, to examine your conscience in the evening, if it be only for some minutes, especially whether you have faithfully performed your duties during the day. Was your example such as to be worthy of imitation? Have you said or done anything that could have given scandal to your children? Have you had as careful an eye over your children as you should have had? Have you permitted them to rove about unguarded? Have you brought them to church, to school? Did you take it to heart to give them useful instruction; to remind them of God, and of higher things? Have you reminded them of their faults? Have you admonished, warned, and punished them according to duty? Have you, in doing this, given way to anger and impatience, and punished them beyond measure? Have you taught them to say their prayers and insisted on their doing so; on their loving God and man; on their being truthful, obedient, peaceable, industrious, lovers of cleanliness and order? Do you pray for them as you should? Be sorry if you have committed faults; ask God's pardon, resolve and promise our Lord to be more faithful on the morrow.