2004 August/Mirror of True Womanhood Ch8

How Woman’s Selfishness Ruins the Home

Eugene’s mother had studied Henrietta’s disposition carefully, and read clearly in her son’s sad and thoughtful face how it fared with him and his wife. In her first visits to her daughter-in-law she discovered the whole truth; but with admirable tact she not only concealed the grief she felt, but forced herself to praise every thing she saw in Henrietta’s management, feigning to see in the single servant’s handiwork the result of the mistress’s housewifery. She feigned to believe that the latter superintended in person her kitchen, pantry, and laundry, and would go to help Henrietta there, forcing the other thereby to see how every detail of domestic economy should be managed; she had the choicest and most fragrant flowers brought from her own house to Eugene’s and made his favorite sister, Margaret, plan and dispose them where they should best thrive and be most ornamental, culling a little bouquet of the most delicate for Henrietta’s own room, and another for the dinner table, as if it were a matter of course. Music was Henrietta’s sole accomplishment, and Eugene, himself a proficient on the violin, was gifted with a voice of uncommon power and sweetness. His fond mother purchased his favorite songs, and wished to hear the young people play and sing together on the very first evening she and her husband spent with them. But Henrietta pretended a headache, and would neither sing nor play. Nor, for months after their union, could she be coaxed to sit at his piano. The other pious industries of her mother-in-law were equally unavailing; she never set her foot in her kitchen, though not born far above her cook, nor ever busied herself with any one of the household duties. Her one servant had to do every thing or to let it alone.

More than that: she hated Eugene’s mother and his sisters for their very virtues, and took the very first opportunity of telling her husband that she hoped his mother would stay at home and keep her daughters there, as she did not intend to allow any one to teach her what she had to do in her own house.

And so the clouds gathered and grew darker above that little home, which had been unhallowed by the blessing of Him who should ever be first and middlemost and last in the thoughts and designs and affections of those who call themselves his children. The gulf which had been opened by the young wife’s utter selfishness between her husband and herself grew wider day by day. His spirit dropped, his business was neglected; his first babe was born in his father-in-law’s house, whither his wife persisted in going some weeks before her illness. To her husband’s home she never returned! In his turn, Eugene found its solitude intolerable, and sought solace and distraction elsewhere. Happy had it been for him if he had betaken himself in his darkest house to the light an warmth of his mother’s hearth! He yielded to far different attractions; and soon the house to which he had taken his bride was closed, and, like a forsaken dwelling in a valley inundated, it was swept away with all his substance by the ill fortune which ever follows fast on the heels of ill conduct. The wretched young man migrated to California, where he soon perished, broken in heart and energy; while his wife continued in her parent’s home to nurse her idle regrets, and to accuse the dead of the ruin and the misery which were of her own making.


Chapter VI
The Wife In The Christian Home

Man first enters on the forest of life from the paternal house, where, if the will of God were done on earth as it is in heaven, the divine commandments would be known and dear and familiar to all; for the precept was thus given: Thou shalt tell them to they children, and thou shah meditate upon them sitting in thy house, and walking on thy journey, sleeping and rising. And thou shalt bind them as a sign on thy hand, and they shall be and shall move between thy eyes. And thou shalt write them in the entry and on the doors of thy house.

Such is the ideal of the Catholic home; and wherever this type is realized, it is evident that its members are even already in possession of the truth and of the blessed life which constitute the pledge of the supreme good of man. KENELM DIGB Y, compitum.

The Church, among her solemn benedictions, had one for every dwelling-house, being the same for that of the poorest man and for the wealthiest, for the lowliest cottier on his little plot of ground, as well as for the royal palace. Just as she lovingly blessed and guarded near her temples the bodies of her children without distinction of rank, even so she was desirous of hallowing by her prayers every spot in city or in country where her dear ones were born and reared, and where she would have God’s angels live with them as their unseen guardians, companions, and helpers.

“We send up our supplication to Thee, O God the Almighty Father (one form of blessing begins) in behalf of his dwelling, of all who live therein, and of all things within it; praying that thou do bless and sanctify it, and fill it with all good things. Grant them, O Lord, plenty from out the earth, and fulfill their desires in thy mercy. On our entering this house, therefore, do thou deign to bless you sanctify this abode as thou didst vouchsafe to bless the houses of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: and within these walls let the angels who behold thy light abide, to guard this home and its inmates.”

Another ancient benediction added: “Abide ye in peace in your home: may the Lord grant you rest and peace and comfort from all your enemies round about! May he bless you from his throne on high, as you rest or walk, sleeping and waking; and may your family flourish to the third says in another form of blessing: “Bless, O Lord, God Almighty, this house, that in it may abide health, chastity, victory, fortitude, humility, goodness and meekness, the fullness of the law, and thanksgiving toward God the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost.”

In the design of God’s fatherly providence, as well as in the intention of the Church, the Christian family-home is a place “blessed and sanctified,” over which, with its inmates, angels keep watch and ward. This divine protection and angelic watchfulness secure “peace,” and safety from all surrounding dangers; the blessing is fruitful in “health” of body and soul, in that purity of life which renders the inhabitants of the home worthy of being the fellow-servants and citizens of the angels, in victory over self, in that fortitude which ever strengthens man to bear and to forbear, in that humility which keep s us like little children in presence of the Divine Majesty, in “goodness and meekness,” in the loving accomplishment of the law which is only the expression of his will, and in devout gratitude toward Trinity of Persons whose blissful society in the life to come is to be the completion and reward of the home-life sanctified and made most happy by every duty fulfilled.

In thus setting forth the sanctity of the Christian home, and the exalted nature of the duties and the virtues which should adorn it, we are only endeavoring the recall men’s to those “ancient paths” from which modern free-thinking would lead the young generation to stray.

Angels Guard The Catholic Home

It is for every father, who is by the divine law of nature, king in his own family, to consider well the truth here presented to him, and to conceive of his own little kingdom the pure and lofty notion, which is that of the divine mind as well as the mind of the Church. When a father, though never so poor, firmly believes that his little home and his hearth-stone are a thing so precious and so holy that God will have “his angel keep, cherish, protect, visit, and defend it, and all who dwell therein,” he, too, will lift up his eyes and his heart to that Father over all and most loving Master, and exhort himself daily and hourly “to walk before Him and be perfect.”

But it is to his companion, – the queen of that little kingdom, the wife, – that it is most necessary to have high and holy thoughts about the sacredness of her charge, the obligations incumbent on her, the incalculable good which she can do, and the many powerful helps toward its accomplishment the All-Wise and Ever-present is sure to multiply under her hand.

To every true man and woman now living there is no being on earth looked up to with so pure, so deep, so grateful, so lasting a love, as a mother. Let us look at our mother, then, in that dear and holy relation of wife which she bears to him who was for use in childhood the representative of the God “of whom all paternity in heaven and earth is named.”

Woman’s Duties As Wife

The first duty of the wife is to study to be in every way she can the companion, the help, and the friend of her husband. Indeed on her capacity to be all this, and her earnest fulfillment of this threefold function depends all the happiness of both their lives, as well as the well-being of the whole family. Hence the obligation which is incumbent on parents providing for the establishment of their children, – to see to it, so far as is possible, that the person chosen to be a wife in the new home should be a true companion for their son, a true helpmate in all his toil, and a faithful friend through all the changes of fortune.