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The Bond Until Death

The Bond Until Death

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE

By FULTON J. SHEEN PH.D., D.D., Lirrl)., LL.D.


By FULTON J. SHEEN PH.D., D.D., Lirrl)., LL.D.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Feb 20, 2013
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03/25/2014

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THE BOND UNTIL DEATHBy FULTON J. SHEEN PH.D., D.D., Lirrl)., LL.D.The moral universe alsoincludes a love of Godthrough love of creatures.The sacrament of matri-mony is the highest expres-sion of this love by whichhusband and wife are madetwo in one flesh. The verynature of love demands thatit be a permanent contractbreakable only by death.HE birth to a higherlife of God is achieved only by discipline. Individualdiscipline at its highest peak is the religious life.Social discipline in its most general form is matri-mony though there are few who think of it as such.It is a discipline because it demands of both husbandand wife loyalty, fidelity, and sacrifice, through sick-ness and health, joy and sorrow, poverty and affluenceuntil death do 'them part. Everyone knows that theChurch takes most seriously the words of our BlessedLord, "What therefore God hath joined together,let no man put asunder"; but there are few whoknow why she is so insistent on the sanctity of themarriage bond. She has two reasons for such em-phasis one drawn from the natural order and theother from the supernatural order.In the natural order, love is permanent and abid-ing. In the language of love there are only twothoughts: you alone and always. In the hieroglyphicso love there is only one symbol: two hearts cut andinterlocked in something stable and permanent, likean oak tree. In the history of love there is but onesupreme devotion: the love of offspring. It is a well-known observable fact that higher animals require a7 17* THE MORAL UNIVERSEmuch longer parental care than lower animals: thelower animals may therefore desert their offspringimmediately after birth. But with a human fatherand mother, the situation is quite different. Thechild has to be cared for not only physically, butmentally as well. The more things there are for thechild to learn, the longer the child must remain at
 
the natural school for learning them, and the longerhis teachers must postpone the dissolution of theirpartnership.In vain does one say that the function of teachingcan be fulfilled adequately by the state, for the statecannot be nurse in every nursery, nor the govern-ment the governess in every playroom. There is onlyone place where the human tradition can be de-veloped, and that is the home: there are only twopersons who can love those whom the state does notthink worth loving, and they are the father andmother. The moment we realize the child can attainthe full development of heart and mind and soulonly through the ministrations of those who love likeparents, and not through those who only superin-tend like the state, the more we see why the relationbetween the sexes must remain normally static andpermanent.Even when the education of the child has beencompleted and it grows into its own separate life,there develops in it a high sense of honor towardTHE BOND UNTIL DEATH 73those who brought it into being. Everyone realizeshow much he cost his parents in terms of care andsacrifice. Some, perhaps, never realize this completelyuntil they themselves have children. But in varyingdegrees all feel the need of "going back home" topay loving tribute to a kind father and lovingmother. The parents too in their old age, look totheir children whom the mother nourished with hersubstance, and the father with his labor, for a returnof that affection bestowed on them during theiryouth. Thus, the sense of honor in children whichmakes them conscious of the debt of love to theirparents, and the need of sympathy in parents whichmakes them crave the tribute of their children'saffection, equally suggest that only a union that deathalone can break can fully respond to the needs of thehuman heart.Such is the natural reason for the permanence of marriage. In the supernatural order the Church,after the manner of our Blessed Lord, takes hold of this permanent character of love in the order of nature, and elevates the promise "I do" to the dig-nity of a sacrament. The love which is always ex-pressing itself in terms of the eternal, and articulat-ing itself in such phrases as "till the sands of thedesert grow cold/' the Church seizes and refines byfinding a symbol of love more abiding still than eventhe sands of the desert. She goes to the most personal,
 
74 THE MORAL UNIVERSEpermanent, and unbreakable union o love the worldhas ever known, namely, the love of Christ forhuman nature, and during the solemnity of the nup-tial Mass reminds the young couple that they are tolove one another with the same indissoluble lovewith which our Blessed Lord loved the humannature which He took from the womb of the BlessedMother. That love which desires to express itself interms of the permanent the Church models on thegreat prototype of the marriage of God and man inthe Incarnation of our Lord and Saviour, JesusChrist. When God veiled the awful terror of Hisglory, descended into the flesh-girt Paradise of Mary,and assumed human nature, He assumed it not foran earthly life stretching from crib to cross, but per-manently and eternally through the risen life of Easter Sunday and the glorious ascension to the righthand of the Father.Now, since Christian marriage of flesh and flesh ismodeled upon the permanent marriage of God andman, the Church says that it too must take on forlife the character of permanence and indissolubility.As the womb of the Blessed Mother was the anvil of flesh upon which the divine and human natures of Christ were united under the Pentecostal flame of theHoly Spirit in the unity of the Person, so too thenuptial altar becomes the new anvil whereon twoloving hearts are fused and joined by a flame of theTHE BOND UNTIL DEATH 75Sacramental Spirit in the unity of the flesh. Certainlythis ideal of permanence is alone enough to trans-mute mere physical desire into something noblerthan a Freudian urge, elevate the permanency whichnatural love demands into an indissoluble bondwhich Divine Love solicits, and thrill young heartsto speak the words of Tobias: "For we are the chil-dren of saints, and we must not be joined togetherlike heathens that know not God/*Having reminded the young couple that theirunity is modeled upon the inseparable union of Godand man, the Church goes on to inquire what guar-antees they will give that their love will be as per-manent as their model, Jesus Christ. They may an-swer, "We will give our word." But the Churchresponds, "Nations have broken their word, humanlovers have broken their vows before. Can you notgive a better bond than this, that your love for oneanother will endure until death?" Then there comes

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