February 05, 2008

Odd Thought on Marriage, Religious Life...

Why do we normally mean to exclude Holy Matrimony when we use the phrase "the religious life"? It was always fairly clear that marriage's real point according to Christianity was ultimately the same as "the religious life" only through another person, which certainly shouldn't exclude it from being religious. There used to be an old story about a monk who was told by God that so-and-so was holier than he is and went to find her only to discover she was a busy mother. If none of that was clear enough before, it has in our day become painfully obvious that marriage that means anything is now generally a religious thing...

Granted, one can have a concept of marriage that works ok through mere natural law. However, in the context one usually speaks of "the religious life", the person who would choose between "the religious life" and marriage probably should be choosing marriage for those God-related reasons. Thus I really don't see why we tend to use the phrase "the religious life" when we ought to be using some phrase along the lines of "single, consecrated life".



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still think it makes sense to call a baker a baker, even though there are many housewives who bake. The baker is distinguished from the housewife, not by an implied quality of baking, but by the plain fact that he does it full-time.

February 05, 2008 5:26 PM  
Blogger Theocentrica said...

So, between a nun and a housewife, the housewife isn't religiously serving God full-time?

I agree with that, Scott- in my family we've never referred to it as "the religious life" but just as "single" or "married."

Along those lines, someone mentioned to me the other day that Catholicism is really the only Faith that upholds a single life (not including that of a priest or nun) as a true vocation and not just a person who "didn't make it onto either boat"...

February 05, 2008 5:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Apostle says that the unmarried care for the things of the Lord, whereas the married care for the things of the world and pleasing the spouse. Because of this, he says, getting married is good, but not getting married is better.

It's a matter of priorities. A housewife can't put God first because she has duties to her husband and children here on Earth - a nun can (and hopefully does) put God first because she does not have other duties.

I know you think that raising a family can be a holy, spiritual thing, and I agree, of course, being a husband and father myself, but the difference is still there, and ought to be cherished, or at least respected, by all.

Besides, we should seek the lowliest titles for ourselves, and not concern ourselves with whether we're receiving the titles and praises we think we deserve. "After you've done everything, consider yourself as having done nothing." is wise advice.

February 05, 2008 6:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would you say that the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph were caring for the things of the world and pleasing the spouse?

February 05, 2008 6:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They most certainly were caring for the things of this world and their family, as they should have. Paul never said those were bad things. They are duties incumbent on all married people and parents. It would have been wrong of Mary to spend all her time in the Temple praying instead of caring for her family, "putting her hand to the spindle and distaff" and all the work that a family requires. It would have been wrong for Joseph to neglect his carpentry, reducing his family to beggary. But that doesn't make them religious.

We are perfect when we do the will of God, whether that involves the sublime heights of the religious life or the lowly valleys of domestic labour. But let's not say it's all flat.

February 05, 2008 7:03 PM  
Blogger Immortal Philosopher said...

Firstly I'd like to distinguish between "caring for the things of the world" and "looking after the things of the world." That's essentially what this argument is about. The housewife and working husband must look after their children and each other, in regards to happiness and holiness. That is their duty. However, what they should "care" about, i.e. what they should do that for, is God. God should be their source of energy and their motive and purpose for all of their daily activities, otherwise none of the "looking after" actions would be meritorious.


February 06, 2008 11:26 AM  

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