By John Preiss
As a single person, looking for a special person to spend the rest of his/her life with, often the single person reflects only on one’s own needs and desires. As Catholic Christians, however, we should focus on spiritual attributes, not only physical qualities and personalities.
As I examine my own thoughts at that point in life, I can remember praying to find that special person. As a non-Catholic at the time, I do recall my love for Jesus being strong. Unlike so many young people today, I did know what I was looking for in a spouse. I felt confident through patience and prayer that God would lend lead me to her. God did, in fact, lead me to her. We have been married for almost four years now. We have a son just over two years of age. We are expecting another child.
My wife is an extraordinary person. She is devout in her faith and in all her duties as a homemaker. I see in her the proper role of femininity. Most women today have lost their femininity because of the women-liberation movement. Today there are women working in construction jobs, or as auto-mechanics, etc. Years ago people would never have dreamt of such work for women. These women have lost their femininity in their attempt to be equal to men. They feel they can do whatever a man can do. These women in fact are unhappy because they are not living their natural role of femininity.
Recently I was looking at old photographs from the fifties. I noticed all the women were wearing dresses. In society today, the women liberated from true femininity tend to look down on wearing dresses while in previous years, most women wore dresses. A modestly dressed woman brings out her femininity and beauty.
Young men prefer feminine dress
This is but one aspect that attracted me to my wife, her femininity consistently manifested in her dress. It was a great relief to find a girl who believed that modest dress in a feminine way was important. I believe most young men, when put to the test for their honesty, and not under social pressures, would admit that they prefer women dressed in a feminine modest manner.
I live near the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament and Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Hanceville, Alabama. The Shrine is rightly strict about modesty in dress. But I see an unhealthy number even of elderly women who visit here wearing blue jeans and tennis shoes. As a young person I was exposed to this all my life. I thought nothing of it until I started reading books on femininity and masculinity and experienced what a good Catholic family should be. I married into such a Catholic family.
Not only women but children are dressing immodestly today, both in public and often at Mass where our Lord is present in the Holy Eucharist. It is difficult for a young man to stay focused and pure even at Mass when a young woman walks into church wearing immodest clothing. They have lost the sense of modesty. Both young and older parents need to monitor at all times what their children wear. Men and boys should also dress modestly when attending Mass. Sundays should reveal our best dress of the week. Dressing modestly and well for Mass reflects our faith that Jesus is present in the Eucharist and that He perpetuates His Sacrifice of the Cross.
If the President of the United States was coming to town and speaking at a convention dinner, to which you were invited, would you wear shorts, a T-shirt or a mini-skirt? I don’t think so. Yet, in the house of God many ignore His Real Presence by the way they dress. Why do people act this way? It is because faith in the Real Presence of Jesus and the perpetuation of His Sacrifice of the Cross at every Holy Mass has been lost, or has been seriously weakened. G.K. Chesterton would say to this: “What’s wrong with the world!
Holy Eucharist and Holy Matrimony
Together with a weakening of faith in the Sacrament of the Eucharist there has been a weakening of faith in a proper understanding of the Sacrament of Matrimony. Pope John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio pointed out the importance and connection of Holy Eucharist and Holy Matrimony. A good faith understanding of the reality of the Holy Eucharist as Sacrifice and Sacrament and a devout reception of the Eucharist is essential to a good marriage.
Many Catholics do not realize what is important to have a successful marriage. They appear oblivious to the precise roles of the husband and wife. Why? They have not had role models to follow. Too many priests are failing to educate married couples properly before marriage and to preach accurately on the duties of the married state..
The divorce rate is extremely high. In some areas it is at least 60 %. What are the causes? Both husband and wife are working. Often a working mother comes home tired, impatient and aggravates the children who have not been taught discipline. They’ve been at a day care center with other screaming, aggravated children. The tired working mother then also screams at the children.
And the husband? After a stressful work day he comes home to screaming children, an aggravated wife, a home without peace. He says he is going to a sporting event, or fishing. He gets away because he cannot handle the pressures and tensions from the children or his wife.
A confusion of roles is the cause here. Mothers should be at home giving love and care for her children, not working away from home. With careful planning and some wisdom in the handling of money, and not being saturated with the spirit of materialism against which the Pope has spoken so often, it should not be necessary for both to work. Her role is to be at home with her children and to make a loving home for her husband as well as the children. She should welcome him home with joy as would the children also in imitation of the mother.
When the woman extends herself into the work force it introduces some masculine characteristics into her life; it robs her of her femininity. The woman as the heart of the home is thus disturbed. God had a plan in creating the family. He gave separate roles to the husband and to the wife as revealed at the beginning of creation. The woman is the heart of the home and the man is the head of the home.
Prepare girls to be homemakers, not Working Mothers
A woman in the home develops feminine characteristics, such as love, patience and domestic arts and crafts. She has the opportunity in her home to acquire the charm of true womanliness. When she rejects this role and enters the man’s world she loses her charm and loveliness and develops a sense of hardness. When a woman shares the burden of earning a living for the family, she takes on a masculine role. She wants to succeed in the world but she loses her femininity needed for true motherly qualities.
Many men are the motive behind the working woman. They feel they need the extra income so they can buy more material possessions and encourage their wives to work away from the home. They often end up making unwise spending decisions, attain more material possessions, but the quality of home life, love, peace and unity, is lost.
Today, the working woman is at an all time high. There is pressure on young girls to attend college so they can have a career. If only parents would guide them in the preparation to be good wives, mothers and women with feminine and pure qualities which is the vocation for most women. Most women never use their college education. In college a good percentage end up in serious sin of premarital sexual relations. A study in recent years revealed that over ninety percent of girls sent to college lose their virginity. Do parents realize they are sending their daughters into near occasions of sin when they send them to college? Is a college education necessary to be a good wife and mother? Parents who prepare their daughters for a career rather than marriage and motherhood will be held accountable.
The vocation of most women is motherhood. Guiding girls to prepare for a working career is harmful when attention should be given to prepare them to be full-time homemakers. When one is fully focused on doing a job one does well. When one integrates other jobs into your main work one’s primary duty suffers. It is the same with being a wife and mother. If a women is focused on her God-given role as wife and mother, then as the beating heart of the home she will do well and be happy.
The husband has the dutiful role of shielding his wife from the pressures of the world so she can perform her God-given role more perfectly. It is not God’s plan for the woman to divide herself into separate worlds as mother and provider. She has a full time job as the caretaker of love in the family. She should not be engaged in the worries of the man’s world.
It is sad to see women trying to be masculine. Many women have accepted the belief that femininity is degrading to women. The mass media has convinced women that they can not be successful or fulfilled unless they have a career outside the home. This attitude when accepted destroys the lives of many otherwise good women. It can destroy the peace and tranquility of women.
A look at various magazines and television also communicates the message to girls and women: if you are young, you dress immodestly and if you are older you dress in a non-feminine manner. The multitude of people have been desensitized over the years by the media so that true Christian values and roles have been forgotten.
How to change the non-feminine trend
Good Catholic parents should educate their children to the proper roles of men and women. They should carefully monitor their clothing. Growing children will probably try to convince parents that being modest is not in style. You must help them discover in-style feminine clothing.
I feel sorry for young gentlemen who have just gone to confession for impure thoughts. When they come out and turn the corner they often see girls and women dressed in mini-skirts, or low-cut blouses, sleeveless clothing, etc. Immodesty is everywhere, the media, billboards, etc. It is the silent road to hell that crushes the morality of our people.
Mother Church present the Blessed Virgin Mary as the example for modesty. This does not mean wearing the style of clothing she wore. But all should look to Mary for the prayerful protection of modesty and purity. Teach youth to ask Mary’s intercession and for guidance and understanding. When girls and women dress modestly they regain their dignity. They then become an examples to girls and women around them.
For a wife to be holy she must be obedient to God’s Word and obey her husband. One of the most widely misunderstood concepts of marriage today is that of submission. Many women think they should have an equal role in authority in marriage or even more than their husbands. They think that wives who submit to their husbands should become more “enlightened.” But it is they who should be “enlightened.” The wife who resists her husband’s authority will lack peace in the home and have many problems with the children who like her will rebel against authentic Catholic Christian principles.
The biblical presentation of the wife submitting to her husband is such a beautiful concept and God’s own teaching. Consider those liberated career women? Their very faces seem to have a scow. Premature lines from stress of job and lack of peace in the home is seen in their faces. They seem bitter and they do not appear feminine or happy.
The women I know who are submissive to their husbands are happy and there is order and peace in their homes. The husband is happy and the children are a joy to both of them. God wants us all to be happy. He knows one will not be happy unless one lives the life as God designed our role to be. Women who think submission to their husbands is a life of a silent slave or as one who has no input into the marriage are totally missing the message of submission.
Submission is when the wife lives here God-given role for the better of her family. That role is to be obedient to her husband, care for the children, be a good home-maker who makes the home a happy place. She has the primacy of love in the home. She is not stressed out with worry and work to increase material values for the home. She lets the work and worry of support of the family to her husband. She does not interfere in his business or work. She is happy to see her husband come home for the evening. She is happy to have him at home when he has free days from work. He is happy to be home because his wife lives her the God-intended role as a home-maker for the family. She contributes greatly to harmony in the home. Her husband returns to a peaceful home.
The couple of a happy peaceful home can cope with whatever problems come their way. They put God and His Church first. The children have a living example of how to treat people of authority. They are being prepared to enter a good marriage themselves one day. In this way couples have a more fulfilling life as God intends.
I am not suggesting that couples following God’s plan for marriage will be without great trials. A couple getting married doesn’t realize all the problems that will be theirs in married life. Great tragedies may strike their family. Consider this one. They may lose a growing child by death. Statistics report that many couples have divorced after losing a child. But if they have built their marriage as God intended then both will grieve together and help one another carry this tremendous trial. Both will realize that the mother and the father will grieve differently.
Each one will have their good days and bad days after such a tragedy. The grieving will come as waves, sometimes intense, other times less so, even for years. Then they will help one another at the proper times focus that the child is alive in Christ, now and for all eternity. They will recognize that the child, whom they brought into the world as partners with God, now has everything they could have hoped for their child. They have one in heaven whom they call upon to pray for them. They recognize that they will see their child again and their joy will then be full, as Christ said. Without denying the grieving they will consider that they have a saint in heaven. They can still smile, gradually enjoy things together and remember this member of their family is still alive, having reached its final goal, even before its parents. Grieving together in Christ can make their family stronger and remind all of their final goal.
When there is a successful marriage, carrying one another’s burdens, even as heavy as the death of a child, when husband and wife are truly one in Christ, as God’s word calls for, then they will help one another. Couples who have become one will come closer to God whatever the problems that may come, even in tragedies as great as death. At the time of great trials special grace from God is needed, and it will be granted, when both are open to the grace of Holy Matrimony. The above thoughts are based on Ephesians 5:21-33.