Thursday, November 6, 2014

Servant Queen or Mistress Slave?

It's been a long time...
But nothing really changes here at The Sanctuary.

One day it is 'a chat with a saint', another day, it is 'reflections with a Pope'.

This is perhaps one of the hardest posts I have come up with so far on this blog.

Mac, thank you for this 'mission impossible' :-)
I always learn something from your 'missions impossibles'...

Full disclosure: I am an avid fan of marriage. (No surprise there, as I am a woman and women are more wont to indulge in this sort of nonsense than men :-)
But... just so that my position is clear, no, I don't mean what is commonly known as 'Marriage 2.0' or even 'Marriage 3.0'.

I am a fan of marriage as God intended it. This means, the coming together of a man and woman, each sccessfully weaned from Mother's breast and Father's shelter, to form a new union...permanently...with the intention of being open to new life, and striving together to not just coexist with said new life, but to actively shape this/these new life(ves) into the image of God.

It sounds like a mouthful, doesn't it, this biblical marriage lark?

But the principles behind what makes a marriage good are what makes us truly human, I have decided. Married or not, we all have the starter blocks within us to make good marriage partners, to other human beings, or to God himself.

As part of the local choir, my vocal cords are worn out practising for one of the biggest Masses in our parish calendar. The Deacon in our parish is getting ordained in 2 weeks, and we are going to sing our hearts out for him when he returns from the Big City to celebrate his First Mass here and we can all finally call him Father A_______.

We respect that he is going to say 'I do' to God. What a commitment!

Like Matrimony, 'Holy Orders' is a sacrament. A channel of Grace.
Just a thought: why isn't the 'divorce' rate of priests and nuns anything like the divorce rate of marriage? Anyone know what this rate is? I am pretty sure it is not 50%. More like 0.5%.
Why is this?
Is God a better marriage-partner than us mere mortals?
If so, why don't we just all marry God instead of another human being?

Silly thoughts aside, I remember hearing the following statement sometime in my teens, and it has stayed with me all my life:

"All mothers will go to Heaven."

On the surface of it, it seems like a very noble statement, doesn't it?

It wasn't until my adulthood that I realised how dangerous a saying this is...

For a start, can you guess that it was coined by a feminist? I am guessing you already did :-)
Forgive me: at 17, I didn't know what a feminist was.
Now I know.

This person didn't claim that all parents would go to Heaven.
Oh no.

In addition, (and here comes the dangerous part if you are a young, impressionable woman): no need for marriage prior to becoming a mother.
Motherhood is noble by virtue of its very being.
Not so, fatherhood, by the way, chaps. So sorry...

I remember having a niggling feeling over the years that something didn't quite add up.
Then one day, it came to me, clear as day.

If the above statement were correct, Motherhood would be one of the Catholic Church's seven sacraments. Motherhood would be a specific channel of Grace.

Um...let's see...

Holy Orders. Check.
Holy Matrimony. Check.
Baptism. Check.
The Eucharist. Check.
Confirmation. Check.
Penance. Check.
Anointing of the sick. Check.


Then I figured it out.

Feminist single mother making herself feel good about what she had done, and as Dalrock would put it, 'reframing' things to appease the hamster.
This was all it was.

Another rationalisation successfully debunked.
More to follow in the course of this blogging journey.

Why is all this important to me?

As the natural end-point of 'The Dating Game', or if one prefers, 'The SMP', marriage must be an important destination for most people (fair enough, not all people are called to marriage, I accept this), in order for the cohesive forces of society to function correctly.
Not the watered-down version we have today. Real marriage.
I think we all have some idea what that looks like. We see glimpses of it from time to time.
Sometimes in familiar circumstances. Our parents...grandparents, a cousin, an uncle, the neighbours.
Sometimes we find it in a feel-good film from 1976. :-)
Sometimes we find it in unexpected places.
But it exists. And it used to be commonplace.


When Mac asked me to read Pope Pius XI's Casti Connubii, I didn't know anything about this Papa Pius or his works.
But now that I do, I think I can feel another papal crush coming on :-)
By all accounts, Papa Pius lived up to his name alright.

He was apparently a 'no-nonsense' kind of man. After my own heart, it seems.

See, I think this quality is actually necessary in a Pope. The Pope must be the most fatherly man on Earth. he represents God the Father.
Reading through the lengthy Casti Connubii, Pope Pius certainly doesn't disappoint.
You can feel the patriach in him coming out in every word.
Which somehow leaves me with a sense of
Is this a feminine response to a Pope crush?
Am I idisyncratic in this regard?

Anyway, about Pope Pius, one fact about him stands out for me. It was he, who established the feast of Christ The King. In related news, his papal motto was "Pax Christi in Regno Christi" meaning"The Peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ."

This Pope is into the idea of Christ as King.

For some reason known only to my subconscious, I like this very much.

Perhaps a kind psychologist amongst you would like to elucidate as to why this appeals to me so much. :-) Or maybe I shall work it out for myself later on in my life.

Back on topic, Mac's wish was that I have a conversation with Pope Pius, much like I did with St. Jerome.
Your wish is my command, Mac :-)

Unlike my tête-à-tête with St. Jérôme, though, my reflection with Pope Pius is far easier. Pope Pius I already am in tune with. His encyclical's concepts I am already familiar with, even though I was never able to attribute them to him, until now, thanks to Mac.

I can already relate to Pope Pius as a friendly, approachable, grandfatherly figure. I already know he likes to be patriarchal. Which fits in nicely with me because I like patriarchal (older) men, and in little boys and young men, I already see 'patriachs in the making'.

So this one will be pleasant. :-)

Considering that where I am, it is snowing heavily now and it is starting to get dark, I am in appropriately sombre mood. Solemn enough for a conversation with the Venerable Pope Pius.

ST: Good evening, Pope Pius! Il Signore sia con te.
(Hey, he was Italian. Doesn't hurt to address him in his native tongue).

PP: E con il tuo spirito.
(I was a bit cheeky, but The Patriarch doesn't seem to mind my informal form of address. I think I'm in). :-)

ST: Papa Pius, I am about 84 years too late to discuss your Casti Connubii with you. Neither of  my parents was born when you wrote it. Indeed all my grandparents were children at that time.

PP: Better late than never, my child. How can I help you?

ST: May I take this opportunity to say that having read it in full, it is packed full of wisdom that I wish I had been aware of earlier.

PP: Good to know. I was entrusted by Our Lord, as successor to his right-hand man, St. Peter of Rome, to instruct His flock. I hope all of my writings were successful in this task, as guided by the Holy Spirit.

ST: Yes, Your Holiness. And I hope I understand its meaning correctly. I pray that the Holy Spirit will also guide me in deepening my understanding of your words.


ST: I see that you had good reason to write Casti Connubii at the time you did.

PP: I would say it was timely, yes.

ST: Interesting that it was my home country that caused all the bother.

PP: (Sigh). The Seventh Lambeth conference in 1930, in which the Archbishop of Canterbury along with the other Anglican bishops approved the use of contraception did indeed give me a headache, which was only relieved when I had finished the Casti Connubii. It was my duty to show the world, and in particular, my Christian brethren, indeed my Catholic protégés, a better alternative to what my Anglican friends were proposing. I had to show them 'of chaste wedlock'.

ST:  Casti Connubii, 'of chaste wedlock'. Do you believe, Papa Pius, that 'chaste wedlock' is the answer to our modern problems?

PP: That is not the right question to ask me. I shall answer the right question: We are all called to do what the Lord asks of us...

ST: And the rest takes care of itself...

PP: Exactly.

ST: I see. Casti Connubii is divided into four main sections: Sanctity of marriage, eugenics opposition, birth control and the purpose of sexuality and the evils of abortion.

PP: True.

ST: All of these topics are linked, of course. For example, 'failure' of birth control may lead to abortion, and one of the strategies of eugenics is abortion.


ST: May I ask you a specific question?

PP: Proceed, my child.

ST: You say in paragraph 3:

"Yet not only do We, looking with paternal eye on the universal world from this Apostolic See as from a watch-tower, but you, also, Venerable Brethren, see, and seeing deeply grieve with Us that a great number of men, forgetful of that divine work of redemption, either entirely ignore or shamelessly deny the great sanctity of Christian wedlock, or relying on the false principles of a new and utterly perverse morality, too often trample it under foot. And since these most pernicious errors and depraved morals have begun to spread even amongst the faithful and are gradually gaining ground, in Our office as Christ's Vicar upon earth and Supreme Shepherd and Teacher We consider it Our duty to raise Our voice to keep the flock committed to Our care from poisoned pastures and, as far as in Us lies, to preserve it from harm."

This is so true, that we the flock are confused, and The Church sometimes seems confused too. Heartening and depressing at the same time to realise that this was the case in 1930 too, not just in 2014.

PP: Every age has its unique problems. No era is free of bother. What was your question?

ST: My question relates to paragraphs 6 and 7 where you talk of the indissoluble bond of marriage:

"6. Yet although matrimony is of its very nature of divine institution, the human will, too, enters into it and performs a most noble part. For each individual marriage, inasmuch as it is a conjugal union of a particular man and woman, arises only from the free consent of each of the spouses; and this free act of the will, by which each party hands over and accepts those rights proper to the state of marriage,[4] is so necessary to constitute true marriage that it cannot be supplied by any human power.[5] This freedom, however, regards only the question whether the contracting parties really wish to enter upon matrimony or to marry this particular person; but the nature of matrimony is entirely independent of the free will of man, so that if one has once contracted matrimony he is thereby subject to its divinely made laws and its essential properties. For the Angelic Doctor, writing on conjugal honor and on the offspring which is the fruit of marriage, says: "These things are so contained in matrimony by the marriage pact itself that, if anything to the contrary were expressed in the consent which makes the marriage, it would not be a true marriage.
7. By matrimony, therefore, the souls of the contracting parties are joined and knit together more directly and more intimately than are their bodies, and that not by any passing affection of sense of spirit, but by a deliberate and firm act of the will; and from this union of souls by God's decree, a sacred and inviolable bond arises. Hence the nature of this contract, which is proper and peculiar to it alone, makes it entirely different both from the union of animals entered into by the blind instinct of nature alone in which neither reason nor free will plays a part, and also from the haphazard unions of men, which are far removed from all true and honorable unions of will and enjoy none of the rights of family life."

But the door is left open for 'but the marriage was not valid because of issues with consent!' by this one line:

 "These things are so contained in matrimony by the marriage pact itself that, if anything to the contrary were expressed in the consent which makes the marriage, it would not be a true marriage."

This very week, Papa Francesco considered reducing charges for annulments. This is confusing for the rest of us trying to understand the importance of the indissolubility of marriage. I know annulments are not the same as divorce, but should they be easy or hard?

PP: The Lord makes his laws very clear. Everything else is 'but for the hardness of their hearts'.


ST: Paragraphs 26-28 interest me, a woman, greatly. I feel like you are talking directly to my heart here:

"26. Domestic society being confirmed, therefore, by this bond of love, there should flourish in it that "order of love," as St. Augustine calls it. This order includes both the primacy of the husband with regard to the wife and children, the ready subjection of the wife and her willing obedience, which the Apostle commends in these words: "Let women be subject to their husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife, and Christ is the head of the Church."[29]
27. This subjection, however, does not deny or take away the liberty which fully belongs to the woman both in view of her dignity as a human person, and in view of her most noble office as wife and mother and companion; nor does it bid her obey her husband's every request if not in harmony with right reason or with the dignity due to wife; nor, in fine, does it imply that the wife should be put on a level with those persons who in law are called minors, to whom it is not customary to allow free exercise of their rights on account of their lack of mature judgment, or of their ignorance of human affairs. But it forbids that exaggerated liberty which cares not for the good of the family; it forbids that in this body which is the family, the heart be separated from the head to the great detriment of the whole body and the proximate danger of ruin. For if the man is the head, the woman is the heart, and as he occupies the chief place in ruling, so she may and ought to claim for herself the chief place in love.
28. Again, this subjection of wife to husband in its degree and manner may vary according to the different conditions of persons, place and time. In fact, if the husband neglect his duty, it falls to the wife to take his place in directing the family. But the structure of the family and its fundamental law, established and confirmed by God, must always and everywhere be maintained intact .

I like these paragraphs.

Paragraph 29 is a nice summary. I think the reason it is difficult to live out is that modern women have a sense of self-importance never-before-seen. We pray for humility to live out this instruction:

With great wisdom Our predecessor Leo XIII, of happy memory, in the Encyclical on Christian marriage which We have already mentioned, speaking of this order to be maintained between man and wife, teaches: "The man is the ruler of the family, and the head of the woman; but because she is flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone, let her be subject and obedient to the man, not as a servant but as a companion, so that nothing be lacking of honor or of dignity in the obedience which she pays. Let divine charity be the constant guide of their mutual relations, both in him who rules and in her who obeys, since each bears the image, the one of Christ, the other of the Church."

ST: Papa Pius, I note that you call liken divorce to 'a contagious disease or a river bursting its banks and flooding the land.'

PP: What analogy would you use for divorce?


ST: You stress the importance of selecting the right Partner for marriage, Papa Pius. Would you advocate Game for men looking for a wife?

PP: What kind of game do you mean?

ST (smile): Nevermind, Your Holiness.
To follow on from paragraphs 26-29, I once again note your specific instructions to women as to how we may conduct ourselves in marriage, in paragraphs 74 and 75. The bolded sentence is fundamentally striking to me, in both its directness and its simplicity.In many ways, I find it tragic that it is striking. But bear with me, Papa Pius, for I was born in the century after yours. Nothing you find 'normal' is 'normal' to me. I have to disengage from my reality to find 'normality'.

"74. The same false teachers who try to dim the luster of conjugal faith and purity do not scruple to do away with the honorable and trusting obedience which the woman owes to the man. Many of them even go further and assert that such a subjection of one party to the other is unworthy of human dignity, that the rights of husband and wife are equal; wherefore, they boldly proclaim the emancipation of women has been or ought to be effected. This emancipation in their ideas must be threefold, in the ruling of the domestic society, in the administration of family affairs and in the rearing of the children. It must be social, economic, physiological: - physiological, that is to say, the woman is to be freed at her own good pleasure from the burdensome duties properly belonging to a wife as companion and mother (We have already said that this is not an emancipation but a crime); social, inasmuch as the wife being freed from the cares of children and family, should, to the neglect of these, be able to follow her own bent and devote herself to business and even public affairs; finally economic, whereby the woman even without the knowledge and against the wish of her husband may be at liberty to conduct and administer her own affairs, giving her attention chiefly to these rather than to children, husband and family.
75. 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."

PP: I sympathise with you, my daughter. You are right, the words in bold are simple. Ask yourself this, and ask your fellow sisters to ask themselves this simple question:

Would you rather be a Servant Queen to your husband (as Christ was a Servant King to his Church), or would you rather be a Mistress Slave to everyone else?

Would you rather inherit a throne or buy a footstool?

The choice is yours. Free will is an intentional gift from God. Use it wisely, with discernment.

Read and internalise paragraphs 74 ad 75 again and again until you have memorised them. They are the building stones of your palace.

I bid you Farewell and the Peace of Christ The King.

ST: Goodnight, Papa Pius.

I had a lot more questions for Papa Pius. But I must do as he instructed. So whilst I focus on what is relevant to me, you may wish to find what is relevant to you, in this a most instructive encyclical.

Again, thank you Mac.

In case anyone is interested, more on Pope Pius XI here:


Anonymous said...

Spacetraveller -- and time traveller too! You've taken a meaty message and made it sizzle. -- Mac

Spacetraveller said...

Thank you Mac for the task!

Anonymous said...

Hi Spacetraveller, it's Mac again.

You're married?!! Does that mean that now you'll have less beta orbiters -- or more?
But what's a Spacetraveller without orbiters? :)

I think it's crucial that the Holy Father's message resonate with you as a married woman. After all, you have to live it. And you already are living it.

I think people underestimate the role of faith in human life. And I'm talking about faith very generically. Even on the very human level (not even the supernatural level) we often have to take things on faith.

For example, on-the-job training. When we begin a new job, we use our trainer's expert knowledge as if it were our own.

My experience is that after working the job for a few months, I see the principles behind what I first took on faith. i see the job from the inside out, so to speak. But that's because i practiced for months going on faith.

So it's good to hear that a married woman, a practicing Catholic, finds the pope's 84-year-old teaching sound!

You're in that positive feedback loop, right? Even as regards not just the natural but the supernatural ends of marriage: You've taken some of the "Chaste Wedlock" things on faith, things which you interviewed Papa Pius about. And having lived them, you've found them to be true, right?

Which increases your faith, right? Which makes you want to live these teachings more, right?

In general, that has been _my_ experience as a Catholic. Though I must admit having to be single and therefore chaste has been a long and horrible road.

But there the manosphere has helped: I don't blame God as much; we live in a time of great disorder between the sexes. And that's bound to mean lots of people with lots of suffering. And why should I be exempt? :)

It's too bad that the Papal Encyclical Style consists of run-on sentences! That gave you a challenge, didn't it. But you broke it down. Good.

I bet Pope Pius XI was even glad you interviewed him. He was writing to bishops (that's what an encyclical is -- a letter from the Bishop of Rome to his fellow bishops.) But I'm sure he appreciated you helping him reach the lay faithful too! :)

I misted up at this part of your dialogue with the pope:

ST: Casti Connubii, 'of chaste wedlock'. Do you believe, Papa Pius, that 'chaste wedlock' is the answer to our modern problems?

PP: That is not the right question to ask me. I shall answer the right question: We are all called to do what the Lord asks of us...

ST: And the rest takes care of itself...

PP: Exactly.

Spacetraveller said...


"But what's a Spacetraveller without orbiters?"

Hahahahaha, good one!

But it is I who is in orbit, Mac! :-)

To answer your question, yes, I am married. For just over a year.

This is what makes this post rather poignant for me.

How I wish I had read 'Casti Connubii' as part of my 'pre-Cana' classes!
But it's never too late (I hope).

I fully agree with you about faith. We all need faith just to get through life. If religion offers this faith for free, why not take it? Where else do we get such a gift in life?

Ah, thanks, I didn't know the definition of 'encyclical', lol. I honestly thought it is directed to the people (Oooops).

One of the reasons I am so pleased to see works like this encyclical, is that it is a very nice and secure feeling to know that a guide is available somewhere, to light up the dark alleys we have to navigate in life. Sure, we've got the Bible, but any other reading material from those who know the Bible better than I is most welcome :-)

As you know I am a naturally extremely curious person, and wish to know everything I can get my hands on. Even better if I can chew it over and over in my mind. Which is what I do each time I post about something on this blog. Mentally exhausting for me, but 1) I feel it is worth it! and 2) I thrive on such mental flagellation.
(Hey, I never said I was normal, lol).

I am no expert on marriage, of course, even though I am a fan.

I wonder: can the principles involved in living married life be applied to single life? I strongly believe so. In any case, what about our religious - priests and nuns, who are 'married' to God? They must have some way to live as though they are in an earthly relationship (with God), for it is not possible to live in the abstract, or in the theoretical all the time. In the same way, someone who is single and either doesn't ever want to marry, or may be in 'transition' from the single life to married life, also has the principles laid out for him or her as to how to live, I think.

AS you may remember, I mentioned somewhere on this blog that I entertained with the idea of going into religious life (briefly in my late teens). My husband very nearly became a priest. So you could say that we were both more interested in 'Holy Orders' than 'Holy Matrimony' at some point in our lives. For me, there was not much difference between the two! Bizarre, I know, but there we are...

This is slowly dawning on me as to why, for example, I find many nuns to be exceptionally maternal, even though they are not *physically* mothers. As a baby, I was often in a convent being babysat by nuns because my parents were friendly with a group of nuns. I can still feel their maternal love towards me to this day.
So in whatever circumstances we find ourselves in, I believe that God still expects a certain standard below which we may not fall. Hence my imagining that Pope Pius would sternly advise us to 'do as God asks of us', whatever that may be in our individual lives.

By the way, I found stills and a video of Pope Pius XI:

and his voice!!! (allegedly):

Anonymous said...

"To answer your question, yes, I am married"


For all the work you've done here in thoughtful and helpful entertainment for the blokes of the sanctuary, I wish you happiness and fulfillment. You deserve it.


Spacetraveller said...


Many thanks for your kind words. I very much appreciate them.

Question: do you also like choral music (as much as instrumental music)?
If so, than you would enjoy the next post!