Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Frugality in Marriage part 3

We are discussing how frugality in marriage differs from the counsels of poverty for a religious. The main difference would be that married people live in the world and have families -- either just the couple or, normally, one or more children -- and so thus one has both more distractions and more legitimate necessities than, say an austere monastic order. So here are Father Dubay's next three features or descriptors of Christian married life.

Fourth is Challenging the World.

This seems to be aligned with Secular Signs and Value Motivation in some ways. We certainly don't want to be caught skimping on something truly good that the world has recognized by natural reason. We want to be careful of our health just as an unbeliever would be, since our bodies are temples. We want to educate our children well, since our belief says proper education is our primary task as parents (and education encompasses surroundings, habits and true ideas, not just academic skills and content). We want to be exemplary citizens, "rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar's", do our share to conserve the natural environment properly. And so on.

But since our "lights" are different, our judgments will be different in some regards. A couple might generously choose to bring another child into the world even knowing it might be subject to an auto-recessive disease, or when the mother is of advanced childbearing age, or the family is living from paycheck to paycheck. This might seem foolish to one's neighbor but in fact might be wise in the eyes of God.

We might face difficulties and some limitation of academic advantages in homeschooling in order to receive what we consider greater advantages, though those advantages seem insignificant to someone else.

We might endure poverty and discrimination because of our faith -- not so much in the USA, but certainly elsewhere and through history.

Our faith is going to require us, at times, to be a "sign of contradiction". If we are doing it right this is probably inevitable. Of course, we don't want to stand out by truly "doing it wrong" -- so we should try to be careful wherever the "world" has a real case. We are "in the world, but not of it."

Fifth is Focusing on Beauty

I really liked this one and that was what reminded me of Charlotte Mason because of her emphasis on beauty, especially through nature study, but also through art, music, literature and even graceful elegant physical movement.

Father Dubay writes:

Laymen can do the Church and the world an immense favor if in their lives they replace consumerism with a concern for genuine beauty and so form their children.
To me this goes back to Joy, one aspect of which is often brought on by intense appreciation of a beautifully expressed idea, a spectacular natural scene or a great work of an artist or musician. Such experiences (CS Lewis attributes his conversion to an intense recognition of Joy) can be like heralds, evangelia, as Tolkien said in On Fairy-Stories.

Sixth is Saintly Radicality

Here Father Dubay provides for those married couples who have gone beyond the ordinary call of duty in regard to frugality and voluntary poverty. He mostly relies on examples, eg of St Margaret of Scotland, mother of eight, who ate little, slept little, spent much of her life serving the poor people in her kingdom (yet I believe I read she also worked to bring culture and learning to a then mostly primitive and rude country, back then).

St Philip Neri, before he recognized his call to be a priest, lived in an attic, ate sparingly, and spent many hours in prayer.

An early family of saints is the family in 2 Maccabees with mother of seven sons who were all gruesomely martyred for refusing to eat swine's flesh in violation of the Lord's commands. Though pre-dating Jesus, they are celebrated as saints in the Church calendar (August 1). The tyrant Antiochus tried to bribe the youngest son with promises of riches and honors if he only obeyed, and he also tried to get the mother to add her persuasions. When allowed to speak to her youngest and only surviving son the mother said to him, "mocking" their tormentor:

My son have pity upon me, that bore you nine months in my womb, and gave you suck three years, and nourished you, and brought you up unto this age. I beseech you, my son, look upon heaven and earth, and all that is in them, and consider that God made them out of nothing, and mankind also: So you shall not fear this tormentor, but being made a worthy partner with your brethren, receive death, that in that mercy I may receive you again with your brethren.
That is saintly radicality. Not everyone is called to undergo such things but on the other hand, not everyone gets a chance to say and do something that rings like a bell through history.

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