Moral Briefs – Chapter LXXXII – Not Good To Be Alone

cover of the ebook 'Moral Briefs' by Father John Henry StapletonA man may come to discover that the state in which he finds himself placed, is not the one for which he was evidently intended by the Maker. We do not all receive the same gifts because our callings are different; each of us is endowed in accordance and in harmony with the ends of the Creator in making us. Some men should marry, others may not; but the state of celibacy is for the few, and not for the many, these few depending solely on an abundant grace of God.

Again, one may become alive to the fact that to remain in an abnormal position means to seriously jeopardize his soul’s salvation; celibacy may, as for many it does, spell out for him, clearly and plainly, eternal damnation. It is to no purpose here to examine the causes of, and reasons for, such a condition of affairs. We take the fact as it stands, plain and evident, a stern, hard fact that will not be downed, because it is supported by the living proof of habit and conduct; living and continuing to live a celibate, taking him as he is and as there is every token of his remaining without any reasonable ground for expecting a change, this main is doomed to perdition. His passions have made him their slave; he cannot, it is morally impossible for him to do so, remain continent.

Suppose again that the Almighty has created the state of wedlock for just such emergencies, whereby a man may find a remedy for his weaknesses, an outlet for his passions, a regulator of his life here below and a security against damnation hereafter; and this is precisely the case, for the ends of marriage are not only to perpetuate the species, but also to furnish a remedy for natural concupiscence and to raise a barrier against the flood of impurity.

Now, the case being as stated, need a Catholic, young, or a no longer young, man look long or strive hard to find his path of duty already clearly traced? And in making this application we refer to man, not to woman, for reasons that are obvious; we refer, again, to those among men whose spiritual sense is not yet wholly dead, who have not entirely lost all respect for virtue in itself: who still claim to have an immortal soul and hope to save it; but who have been caught in the maelstrom of vice and whose passions and lusts have outgrown in strength the ordinary resisting powers of natural virtue and religion incomplete and half-hearted. These can appreciate their position; it would be well for them to do so; the faculty for so doing may not always be left with them.

The obligation to marry, to increase and multiply, was given to mankind in general, and applies to man as a whole, and not to the individual; that is, in the common and ordinary run of human things. But the circumstances with which we are dealing are outside the normal sphere; they are extraordinary, that is say, they do not exist in accordance with the plan and order established by God; they constitute a disorder resulting from unlawful indulgence and wild impiety. It may therefore be, and it frequently is the case, that the general obligation to marry particularize itself and fall with its full weight on the individual, this one or that one, according to the circumstances of his life. Then it is that the voice of God’s authority reaches the ear of the unit and says to him in no uncertain accents: thou shalt marry. And behind that decree of God stands divine justice to vindicate the divine right.

We do not deny but that, absolutely speaking, recourse to this remedy may not be imperiously demanded; but we do claim that the absolute has nothing whatever to do with the question which is one of relative facts. What a supposed man may do in this or that given circumstance does not in the least alter the position of another real, live man who will not do this or that thing in a given circumstance; he will not, because, morally speaking, he cannot; and he cannot, simply because through excesses he has forgotten how. And of other reasons to justify non-compliance with the law, there can be none; it is here at question of saving one’s soul; inconveniences and difficulties and obstacles have no meaning in such a contingency.

And, mind you, the effects of profligate celibacy are farther-reaching than many of us would suppose at first blush. The culprit bears the odium of it in his soul. But what about the state of those – or rather of her, whoever she may be, known or unknown – whom he, in the order of Providence, is destined to save from the precariousness of single life? If it is his duty to take a wife, whose salvation as well as his own, perhaps depends on the fulfillment of that duty, and if he shirks his duty, shall he not be held responsible for the results in her as well as in himself, since he could, and she could not, ward off the evil?

It has come to such a pass nowadays that celibacy, as a general thing, is a misnomer for profligacy. Making all due allowance for honorable exceptions, the unmarried male who is not well saturated with spirituality and faith is notoriously gallinaceous in his morals. In certain classes, he is expected to sow his wild oats before he is out of his teens; and by this is meant that he will begin young to tear into shreds the Sixth Commandment so as not to be bothered with it later in life. If he married he would be safe.

Finally what kind of an existence is it for any human being, with power to do otherwise, to pass through life a worthless, good-for-nothing nonentity, living for self, shirking the sacred duties of paternity, defrauding nature and God and sowing corruption where he might be laying the foundation of a race that may never die? There is no one to whom he has done good and no one owes him a tear when his barren carcass is being given over as food to the worms. He is a rotten link on the chain of life and the curse of oblivion will vindicate the claims of his unborn generations. Young man, marry, marry now, and be something in the world besides an eyesore of unproductiveness and worthlessness; do something that will make somebody happy besides yourself; show that you passed, and leave something behind that will remember you and bless your name.