Do not be mismatched with unbelievers. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship is there between light and darkness? 2 Corinthians 14 Catholic RSV
One of my dear friends, a widow from the States, is pursuing the road to perfection. When we see each other once a year, we discuss everything we can in the few days we have to spare in our travels.
This woman, who I shall call Elizabeth, asked me a very excellent and perturbing question recently when we met up.
She said, and this is a paraphrase, “A woman cannot pursue this road to purification and perfection with a man, can she?”
I was taken aback, but she has a point. I do know of two women who have husbands who allow them to pursue perfection in their marriages. The husbands acknowledge that Christ comes first and is the True Bridegroom, and they are there to help themselves and their wives become saints.
My friend was dubious. I do not blame her. Elizabeth is very beautiful and was married twice. Both of her husbands died; one of a heart attack and one of cancer. I knew her second husband, a great Christian man, but not a Catholic. She said, “In my experience, all most men want is sex. I finally realised this, and will not marry again.”
Brave and focused woman. But, the question is real. And, disturbing. To find a male person who would not be jealous of Christ, who does not see that the real purpose of marriage is procreation, and the leading of each other to heaven, is almost impossible.
Many of my young female friends want to marry, but they cannot find holy men. They will settle for nothing less. Good! A marriage must be based on Christ and the goal of all Catholics-life everlasting.
When Christ is first in a marriage, this means that both partners have a relationship with Christ and with the Church. This means that they share Christ, not just themselves. Some men have spoken with me recently about being “yoked unequally”. By this they mean that they have decided to walk the road of perfection, but their wives are not in the same place. Being yoked unequally is something the Catholic Church needs to teach more clearly. One grows in a marriage so much more easily when there is an equal yoking. Much more pain accompanies an unequally yoked partnership, like a small oxen next to a larger one—not a good way to plough a field.
I can recommend three things. One, absolutely get a good, trad spiritual director. Two, be patient. As the man is the head of the spiritual family, it is easier to move the family to the right place through the husband. Three, read Scott Hahn. He had to wait for his wife on their journey.
Now, I want to morph into a problem which is obvious online and about which I wrote and others have written on this blog—the sin of curiosity. There are some orders of nuns and monks, contemplative orders, wherein the Abbot or Abbess is the one who reads the newspapers and then decides what the community needs to know and passes that information on–These leaders follow an ancient discipline which was set up most likely by St. Benedict. Why, you might ask? There are several reasons why news does not have to be known to everyone. In fact, in one of his talks on marriage and the role of the husband and wife, Fr. Chad Ripperger notes that even a man does not need to pay attention to the news, unless it has something to do with his life and that of his family, more than a half-hour a day. And, the husband can share what is necessary to his wife, who does not need to be burden with bad news.
Let me clarify this from the viewpoint of St. Benedict–the first point would be that there is a sin of curiosity, which means that one is seeking knowledge beyond one’s level in a community. Too often, we think we need to know everything.
Second, on top of the sin of being too curious, is the need for custody of the mind. St. James writes in his epistle.
“Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge, among you? Let him show, by a
good contestation, his work in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter
zeal, and there be contention in your hearts: glory not and be not liars against the
truth. 15 For this is not wisdom, descending from above: but earthly, sensual,
devilish. 16 For where envying and contention is: there is inconstancy and every evil
work. 17 But the wisdom that is from above, first indeed is chaste, then peaceable,
modest, easy to be persuaded, consenting to the good, full of mercy and good fruits,
without judging, without dissimulation. 18 And the fruit of justice is sown in peace,
to them that make peace.”
Notice the reference to bitter zeal–and contention–without custody of the mind, tongue, imagination, one can become a wind which causes the fire of uncharity to blaze. Justice is sown in peace, not in agitation. Curiosity leads to a false sense of self-righteousness. Please pray about the four cardinals virtues and re-read the post on demonic influences part two.
Both of these problems of unequal yoking and curiosity have to do with a lack of temperance. And, more importantly, a lack of not understanding one’s self. Without reflection and self-knowledge, a person can fall into an unhappy, contentious life. These present adult generations are not accustomed to reflection and prayer.
JMJ, pray for us!
God is good,