From My Prayer Book by Fr. Lasance
In the Catholic Church, in the Catholic religion, the family finds its firm support, its sure safeguard and shield. For this Church alone fearlessly preaches at all times and in all places that in which consists the sole safeguard and support of the family, namely, the sacredness of the family, the indissolubility of marriage, the sanctity of matrimony as an institution ordained by God, as a religious contract, and a holy sacrament.
The family, or matrimony, is an institution ordained by God. Human beings, like plants and the lower animals, are, according to the all-wise designs of God, intended to propagate themselves until the end of time.
But man is an incomparably higher being than a plant or an animal; he is endowed with reason, free will, and immortality. God has consequently placed the manner in which the human race is to be continued on a high level.
He created woman especially, and gave her to the first man as a helper, uniting the two in the closest companionship. Thus did He call the first family into existence and hallow the continuation of the human race. And thus it devolves upon human beings to educate their offspring and to perpetuate family life. In the animal world no such thing exists; there is to be found no family life, properly so called, and no education.
For the family as ordained by God is the nursery of Christendom which fills the earth with true believers, one day to complete the number of the elect in heaven. Thus the family stands like a tree in the garden of God, its fruits being good children.
Impress firmly upon your mind the truth that the family is no mere human invention, but an institution ordained by God.
The Church has always pronounced marriage “a holy state, appointed by God,” thus emphatically refuting the false teaching of certain heretics who regarded marriage as an evil thing.
In the second place the safeguard of the family consists in understanding marriage as a religious contract. Marriage is a contract because it, like every other contract, is based upon the agreement and consent of two contracting parties.
It is, however, a religious contract, essentially distinct from every merely civil contract. The marriage contract is indissoluble according to divine law — moreover, the marriage contract imparts special, supernatural graces, which no other contract does. This contract is concluded before a minister of the Church, who imparts a special blessing at the nuptial Mass.
The Christian family maintains its exalted position owing to the fact that marriage is regarded as a sacred institution, as a holy sacrament.
We know marriage to be a sacrament, because the infallible Church teaches us that it is such, and commands us to believe this as a divinely revealed doctrine. And the following proofs may be adduced in support of this doctrine.
St. Paul expressly terms the union of a man and a woman in the marriage state a sacrament, when he says: “This is a great sacrament, but I speak in Christ and in the Church.”
Marriage as a sacrament is like to the mystic union which exists between Christ and the Church. As the union of Christ with the Church is a sacred bond so is marriage between Christians.
Tradition shows us that the Catholic Church has always regarded marriage as a sacrament. The Fathers teach us that Christ was present at the marriage in Cana to show that He raised marriage to the dignity of a sacrament. St. Augustine says: “The superiority of marriage among Christians consists in the sanctity of the sacrament.”
And it is easy to perceive from a purely natural point of view how useful and appropriate, nay more, how necessary it was that Jesus Christ should elevate marriage to the dignity of a sacrament.
Marriage is of the greatest importance for the whole human race. This state of life has very many weighty and permanent duties and burdens. On this account married people need special graces, and they receive them through Christ’s raising marriage to the dignity of a sacrament.
Thus we see that the safeguard arid “shield of the Christian family consist in regarding marriage as an institution ordained by God, as a religious contract, a holy sacrament. The Christian religion, the Catholic Church, is the only sure foundation for this security and protection.
The profanation and desecration of marriage, divorce, the disintegration of family life, and the moral deterioration of society are the evils of the present day. Therefore, my dear child, be ever on your guard against careless, worldly views of family life.
To The Holy Family
Jesus, whose almighty bidding
All created things fulfill,
Lived on earth in meek subjection
To His earthly parents’ will.
Sweetest Infant, make us patient
And obedient for Thy sake;
Teach us to be chaste and gentle,
All our stormy passions break.
Blessed Mary! thou wert chosen
To be Mother of thy Lord;
Thou didst guide the early footsteps
Of the great Incarnate Word.
Dearest Mother! make us humble;
For thy Son will take His rest
In the poor and lowly dwelling
Of a humble sinner’s breast.
Joseph! thou wert called the father
Of thy Maker and thy Lord;
Thine it was to save thy Savior
From the cruel Herod’s sword.
Suffer us to call thee father;
Show to us a father’s love;
Lead us safe through every danger
Till we meet in heaven above.
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