Dignity of the Family in General

The Dignity of the Family in General

family praying

There is on this earth an institution which is the work of God himself. This institution is not only the very foundation of society, but is society itself, the corner-stone of all governments, the very basis of all progress and civilization. This institution, if preserved in its primitive purity, upholds the State, preserves the Church on earth and tills heaven with saints ; but if corrupted, this institution will be an abundant source of all kinds of miseries for society and State, for the Church and her institutions.

The traveler and naturalist seek with unflagging energy for the source of the Nile and other mighty streams, whose waters fructify the earth. With far more energy should we seek the fountain-head from which flows the living stream of either so much happiness or misery. Now, this fountain-head, this institution on which depends the weal or woe of the world, is the family.

The waters of a stream always partake of the nature of the fountain-head. If the latter is pure, the former will also be pure; if the source is poisoned, its waters also will be poisoned.

Let us take a country where the majority of the families are perverted in their intellect, corrupt in their hearts, and diseased in their very blood. Give to that nation the most reasonable laws, the most perfect government; adorn that nation with all the refinements of art  and civilization, and yet, withal, you will have but a demoralized society, slavish, selfish, cowardly, a painted harlot.

Take, on the contrary, a country where most of the families possess the whole truth without any admixture of error; whose hearts are pure, and whose blood is untainted, and you will find a country of sages, saints and heroes, a country great morally, physically and intellectually.

The stream that flows from so pure a source, rolls on majestically, bringing everywhere blessing and prosperity. And even should its waters in their onward course become defiled at times, they are soon renewed and purified by the limpid waters that flow continually from the pure fountain-head.

What is more beautiful, more touching than the spectacle of numerous families, the honor and strength of a country where, in the words of the Royal Psalmist, the children, like olive plants, press around the table : ” Thy children, (are) as olive plants, round about thy table. ” (Ps. cxxvii., 3.) It is a great blessing to the man that fears the Lord. “Behold, thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the Lord.” (Ps. cxxvii., 4.) Happy those families who consider their children a crown of glory rather than a burden. “Children’s children are the crown of old men.” (Prov. xvii., .6.) Children are the inheritance of the Lord to the just man, a numerous posterity is his reward. “Behold, the inheritance of the Lord are children.” (Ps. cxxvi., 3.)

Far as we should be from regarding this as a cause of impoverishment there is no wealth to be compared to it. It is a treasure without an equal, a living capital, that, labor will cause to fructify; it is a common fund of lights, of individual energies, which will produce a greater increase of happiness and prosperity for all. It is in this way that the seeds of really strong families are sown, families whose resources multiply in proportion to their hands, and which bury themselves in the soil of a land for ages, like those sturdy oaks which spread their vigorous roots around them. Instead of feeling isolated in the world, with no bond of affection and no real support, the children of these heaven-blessed families beget greater confidence in their very number: they encourage one another, they provide for one another in their places of business, the older ones look after the younger, and in the hour of adversity all come together to assist one another, thus verifying the words of the wise man : “A brother that is helped by his brother is like a strong city.” (Prov. xviii., 19.)

On the other hand, look at the sorrows and misfortunes that a solitary household is exposed to, from which joy has gone out with the children that should have been its ornament and its life, where neither brother nor sister ever exists to share their joys or their sorrows. When, unfortunately, death comes to strike down the only heir from the side of his father and mother (and God knows these afflictions are not of rare occurrence), what mourning, what desolation follows! In that forsaken home, bereft of every hope, there will no longer be happiness for any one. Death has entered its portals, and left inconsolable grief in its wake. A name become extinct, an inheritance passed into stranger hands; dreams of a future blasted forever; this is all that remains of that fragile existence upon which it was sought to build the edifice of the family. Oh! how divinely inspired is Holy Writ, when it beholds a reward and a blessing of heaven in a numerous family. “The Lord maketh to dwell in a house the joyful mother of children.” (Ps. cxii., 9.) How full of solicitude for man’s welfare does not the Church show herself when she tries to remove every too worldly care from his mind and repeats to him the words of our Lord Jesus Christ : “Seek first the kingdom of God and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matt, vi., 33.)

And what shall we say of the good that flows from the family to society? It is from the ranks of numerous families that the Church recruits her ministers with the greatest facility; that the country recruits its defenders; the faith its missionaries, and charity its heroes and martyrs.

By the services which they render to agriculture, commerce and manufactures, they become the most fruitful source of national wealth. Most assuredly, such services are entitled to all honor; and when, in addition to all this, the spirit of faith animates those truly patriarchal families, domestic happiness could not appeal under a more touching and more perfect form.

But woe to that country whose people have no longer a family to unite them, a fireside to defend, a cradle to shelter them, an altar where they may worship, an honored grave to guard their ashes. Woe to that country! In the hour of danger they shall find no manly arms, no brave hearts to defend her. They shall hear the discordant shrieks of her own unnatural children, thirsting for blood and plunder. She shall at length go down into the grave of oblivion, “unwept, unhonored and unsung.”

When you see increase from day to day the number of men and women without a home or family, then beware, for those are evil days. The man without a home or family is usually a man devoid of all hallowed affections, dissatisfied and dangerous. He finds himself alone in the world, and he accuses society of being the cause of his loneliness. He has no love for his countryman; he cannot love an abstraction. He has no past; he cares not for the future; he lives only for the present.

When poverty crushes him, when hunger devours him, he looks on himself as the innocent victim of an unjust and heartless society. Hence, all his plottings, all his thoughts, all his desires are against society. His arm is raised not to shield, but to stab those who possess more honors and more wealth than himself.

The man, on the contrary, who has a home, a family, is bound to society by a thousand claims of interest and affection. He has a father and a mother, he has a wife, he has children. He is bound to society by the past, present and future; he is bound by the altar and the cradle, by the family fireside and by the graves of his forefathers. There he stands a true hero, ready to defend all that is near and dear to him his home, his altar, and the green graves of his sires– ready to defend them as long as there is strength in his arm, or a drop of warm blood in his veins.

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