The marriage challenge often goes unattempted by women these days.
They have a God-given innate desire to start a family, but social expectations do well at convincing them to delay or to postpone marriage.
For what reason? For casual sex and for a shot at a career, to be frank.
Women are hesitant to take on the marriage challenge, because they doubt it will be worth it. As well, they are afraid of the commitment—the commitment they yearn for.
IT ALL GOES BACK TO WHAT LOVE IS
A friend of mine once told me he asked our head pastor at our Church how he decides which Mass each priest will cover on Sunday.
My friend asked him, jokingly, “So, Father, do you say, since you’re the pastor, you’ll cover the 11:30?” (referring to the latest Mass, meaning he would get to sleep in).
Our pastor replied quickly, “No. Being the pastor means looking for the closest hand grenade to dive myself onto.”
That, folks, is love. That is what conjugal (marital) love requires as well.
It reminds me of a popular movie scene that I imagine many of you will recall.
Remember the scene in Captain America where he dives on a grenade so as to protect the other soldiers?
In case you missed it:
MEN ARE CALLED TO LAY DOWN THEIR LIVES
It takes courage to face an oncoming attack. It takes fortitude to continue to fight, against all odds. It takes true charity to be willing to die to save another’s life.
These are traits of a dedicated soldier, and they should be the trait of every man, especially every father.
Men are called to lay down their lives for their women and children.
Few men will be asked to literally sacrifice their life, but that does not mean they cannot answer the call. Daily opportunities arise to be self-sacrificial, especially when answering the marriage challenge. Daily chances arise to demonstrate true love (that is, sacrificial love) to one’s wife and children.
WE NEED MORE WOMEN TO STRAP ON THEIR COMBAT BOOTS TOO
Women today continue to be told that the vocation to motherhood is something to be delayed, done in moderation, or to be avoided all together. They think that motherhood remains beneath the dignity of women and it subjects them to the domination of men.
They think if such an obstacle can be avoided, then happiness can be found. Try as they might, the happiness they seek in all the wrong places cannot be found.
Women, as well as men, cannot be happy until they practice charity. God gives them an innate desire and ability to practice charity by answering the marriage challenge and becoming a mother. So many, instead, run away from it.
So many people continue to hold a false understanding of what love is.
Love is not taking, using, and disregarding. Rather, love means selflessness, putting the other person ahead of yourself, and, ultimately, sacrifice.
Love requires sacrifice.
As Sacred Scripture says, “Love does not insist on its own way” (1 Cor 13:5), and “Loves bears all things… endures all things” (1 Cor 13:7).
Women can do tremendous good when they live out their vocation to motherhood with a sense of pride, accomplishment, and dignity. They are doing the work of God, forming souls to reside in Heaven someday.
Such work takes patience, endurance, and discipline. Not only are these attributes of true charity (1 Cor 13:4-8), but they are also necessary virtues for soldiers, especially soldiers for Christ.
WOMEN REJECT MOTHERHOOD, NOT FOR WHAT IT IS, BUT OUT OF FEAR
Reads Casti Connubii, Pope Pius XI’s papal encyclical:
“This, however, is not the true emancipation of woman, nor that rational and exalted liberty which belongs to the noble office of a Christian woman and wife.”
“It is rather the debasing of the womanly character and the dignity of motherhood, and indeed of the whole family, as a result of which the husband suffers the loss of his wife, the children of their mother, and the home and the whole family of an ever watchful guardian.
“More than this, this false liberty and unnatural equality with the husband is to the detriment of the woman herself, for if the woman descends from her truly regal throne to which she has been raised within the walls of the home by means of the Gospel, she will soon be reduced to the old state of slavery (if not in appearance, certainly in reality) and become as amongst the pagans the mere instrument of man” (75, emphasis added).
Ironic, is it not?
By rejecting the gift of motherhood, women have enslaved themselves, rather than set themselves free. Rather than embrace the one substantial biological difference from men—the ability to bear children—they have rejected this genius.
MARRIAGE IS A CRUCIBLE
Several times in the Bible, God says our faith and charity are tested like gold in a fire (Prov 17:3, Sir 2:5, 1 Pet 1:7).
Why does a goldsmith subject the precious metal to the hot fire? So as to burn off the impurities, of course.
Marriage attempts to do the same. After the procreation of children, the next purpose of the Sacrament of Matrimony is for the holiness of the spouses, to help each other get to heaven.
In marriage, each spouse’s imperfections quickly bubble up to the surface. The flaws then can be worked out. Although a painful process to be sure, sanctity is the reward.
If women, as a whole, are encouraged to delay or to skip marriage altogether, then they each miss a wonderful opportunity to grow in holiness. Thus, they may miss their ticket to Heaven.
After explaining that enemies of marriage falsely reduce the marital union to mere compatibility based on temperament, Pope Pius XI says such marriages are built on sand. They will not stand, once adversity beat down, because they are not built on true love.
“On the other hand,” writes the Vicar of Christ, “the house built upon a rock, that is to say on mutual conjugal chastity and strengthened by a deliberate and constant union of spirit, will not only never fall away but will never be shaken by adversity” (78).
Storms in life will come for all people, Christ promised us (Matthew 7:24-27). That certainly holds true for marriages as well.
Our ability to endure the storms will be determined by our ability to “endure all things” by practicing love. “Love never fails” (1 Cor 13:8).
“For many are called, but few are Chosen,” said Jesus (Matthew 22:14).
Fewer and fewer these days, it seems, are answering the marriage challenge.