4) The Third Aspect
This is a portion of a larger essay which I hope to print. It is for the purpose of instructing men, especially those pursuing the consecration of their purity. Scroll to the bottom for previous segments.
The Third Aspect
When I say “our women” I am implying a level of ownership which denotes the essence of paternity. Up until this point, I have written many words which are offensive to many people, whether conservative or liberal, Catholic or non-Catholic, holy or unholy. I do not intend to make any apology for that, nor now, when I say that women are possessed by men in the same way that children are possessed by women, men are possessed by society, and society is possessed by God. The explanation of this is long and, while exciting, far outside the scope of this essay which purports only to deliver practical help in understanding and dealing with women. For now, if your passions arise within you, simply tell yourself that you are reading something from one hundred years ago in a traditional Catholic country, and who is to be surprised that I hold the same opinion on things as everybody everywhere at every time?
That having been established, let us, in a reasonable and organized manner, encompass these two categories and address them in parts. The reason for this is very simple. If you know a woman to be of a certain temperament, and you additionally know her to be at a certain level of corruption or perfection, then you are a very clever person, and you still have no idea how to treat her. The information which you are lacking you might not even think about in concrete terms, but you are certainly factoring it in, and because it is undefined, it is likely to be very slippery and cause trouble. This information is how you might be related to this particular woman.
Categories of Relationships
There are two main categories. The first are strangers and the second are those attached to you in one way or another. This second category further breaks down into three: daughter, sister, or mother. These are not literal categories, but rather symbolic, and as a simplification of the shades and degrees of obligation and relationship, they rest upon a simple piece of advice: If you must have a woman in your life, treat them as your daughter, sister, or your mother. Do not treat them as your neighbor, nor your wife, nor your friend, for all three of these make it much more difficult to interact with them virtuously. If you cannot place them into one of these three, then you ought to take them out entirely and place them into the category of stranger.
Strange women are nothing but a danger. As with all strangers, you are obligated by justice and charity to treat them a certain way, but there is no reason to expose your treasures to them. No matter what their temperament or virtue, even if they be the best women on Earth, perfect saints, you ought to never treat them with anything but coldness or polity. The way which good people usually treat other people they do not like is the correct way to treat strange women. Do not engage in any superfluous conversation, do not seek out their company, do not solicit their opinions or emotions. Say, “Hello, how are you?” and if they should say, “I am doing bad,” then say, “Well, I am sorry to hear that,” and move on if you can. If they ask you how you are doing, respond with no more than two words, or the minimum dictated by decorum.
It is difficult to determine with which category to begin. It may be that most nonexpendable women fall into either of the three categories: if you are a student or a young man, for instance, you will encounter many older women worthy of respect, whom you honor highly while also protecting them from the things unfit for their sex. If you are a married father, you will encounter many good women, the wives of friends, who are valuable influences upon your sons and daughters. But this essay was requested by a venerable older man, one in the authority of instructor of the youth, and so it seems just and prudent to begin with this category.
A daughter is a woman who comes into contact with you at a generally lower age (unless you are a priest) and certainly a position of submission. This is a woman whose soul is open to you in one way or another, and in the most vulnerable sense. As always, the best mode is to reject all these sorts of obligations, responsibilities, or temptations to pride, because they are most dangerous. There is a reason humility is the most oft-recommended virtue: it is the first, the last, the easiest, the most penetrating, and the safest. St. Anthony once looked out upon the world and saw snares and traps laying everywhere, and asked the Lord how anyone might save their souls, and the answer was humility. So why seek out these things or assume it is your role to save a soul, when you can barely save your own? Really you cannot save your own, nor can you do anything good at all. Take a lesson from St. Joseph, who pursued nothing but obscurity, silence, and solitude, despite being the most capable son of David ever born of two of Adam’s progeny. And when he was given our Lady, he may have accepted it, but when it was clear that She was to bear our Lord, he attempted to put her away quietly. Was this shame? No! It was humility. A just man, if he had believed that adultery took place, under the law, would have had her stoned. He sought to put Her away quietly because he was a just man with a just estimation of himself and his own qualifications in being the father of this Son, and he was the most virtuous man who ever lived.
So if St. Joseph never sought to direct a soul, why should we? What do we think we have to offer that he did not? He possessed all of the virtues in the most eminent degree imaginable short of the Blessed Mother. All other saints are inferior to him. Far from seeking the intimacy of anybody or any authority, he feared simply to enter into the married state, the most natural, common, and lowest of Sacramental states because he feared for his own soul.
Hence how we should be about daughters. And if they are given to us? Beg God every day for mercy, and direct their souls with fear and trembling. As soon as possible, find them a superior director. Get them married to a virtuous man or into a good convent. That is what daughters desire from a father anyways. The father is charged to create their world for them, and it principally consists in one of those.
I have been talking about women already Catholic and not natural daughters. Natural daughters remain the obligation and burden of their fathers for eternity, and if they should enter a convent or marry, the father’s obligation does not end towards them. He simply receives some help.
For women not Catholic who are put under your just authority for one reason or another, the situation is far simpler and therefore should prompt much gratitude towards God (after it has been resisted for a satisfactory period of time). Simply direct them towards the Catholic Church and particularly towards a good priest as much and as fast as possible. Many people resist this, and no wonder the merit of the Church being as limited as it is in our age, but that does not change the benevolence of it. Nor is it the case that failure in bringing them to the Sacraments describes imprudence on your part. If it should bring alienation, then you have received a great gift of security to your soul; if it should bring persecution, then you have received good merit in Heaven; and if it should bring success, then you will be happy and shall have to keep an eye out for pride.
Sister is a category that comprehends a wide range of women. If you are a fool, it will contain many women, and whenever a new woman comes into your life, you will treat them as a sister. The reason this designates you as a fool is because you have obviously ignored the repeated advice I have given you about resisting women coming into your life. Rather than being the default category, it is the category that should receive the women whose virtue and necessity you are secure about, but whom you cannot command nor whose command you are obligated to comprehend. The first woman who might enter this category is your own wife.
Now, there is no doubt that there is some gray area between daughters and sisters. This should not be surprising, because for all of history, a woman’s older (and even younger) brothers were an authority over her, charged with a solemn duty to protect her. This is seen in Genesis with the ravishing of Jacob’s daughter. There is a certain respect which a sister owes to you analogous to what a wife owes her husband, in the sense that, though it ought to be expected, it cannot be. Rather, because we cannot control them, a wife more than any other woman (the most intimate companion) is one of the least likely to obey her own husband. With this in mind, we ought to pursue every opportunity to prepare for this for the growth of our own virtue. Those without wives can use it as the extreme example to best prepare for this category of women who do not have the clear picture in order to respect you, because the position is so undefined for them.
Meekness is an incredible virtue which astounds and confuses me. It is a sister to humility and patience, the former from whence it proceeds and the latter which it produces. But it must also be intricately related to hope, that most mysterious of virtues, shrouded over by more obscurity than even charity when it is called love. Does anyone understand hope without practicing it?
But here is our Savior, a Man of perfection, full of greater virtue than all other models, even the untouchable Blessed Virgin, His Mother. No man ever was more capable. And He comes to His Own Bride, losing all His Dignity so He might be with Her, pleasing Himself never but by necessary prayer to the only greater love, His Father, and this very minimal. Expending Himself completely, day after day, bearing every shout of complaint with tranquillity, even the jostling importunities, eager to do so even before His time, appearing in the Temple long before His Consummation of His Love, that He might see Her and do what? Tend to Her wounds, heal Her little complaints, alleviate Her passing sufferings, comfort Her afflictions, instruct Her ignorance. What is this good Bridegroom’s reward? She betrays Him. She spits upon Him, mocks Him, sells Him to His enemies, lifts not a finger to help Him, waits coldly to see if He might help Himself. Do I speak of an age ago? No, I speak of today, in the Church, at the Tabernacle. I speak of the Blessed Sacrament. She expects Him to prove Himself to Her. What! What proof of what? His love? His patience? His goodness? No, She desires from Him power.
And what does He say? She stands before Him for hours, and He complains never of His pains but three things: His sorrow is great, He thirsts for Her love, and He misses His Father. But all other complaints are kept silent, and this is meekness. What wonder! Does He not tell Her that She is the one to be tested and proved, that it is Her role to obey, that She is very unjust to Him? No. He does not look to Her, but only to His Father, Who seeing this loving silence, saves Her of Whom He would not complain. And this heavenly merit is His only consideration, this Hope, sovereign, that does not give eye to natural causes but only supernatural.
This, then, is the model and the instruction we have from our fearsome Lord of how to treat those women who belong to us. They presume equality, and we silently merit it for them. It is beyond me.
There is a final category of which very few men partake, despite all of the protestant building signs on Mother’s Day. This lack is not the fault of us, except of course in that sense that we deserve everything which we reap, but this is a poignant curse upon our land.
How many men have a good mother? All good men will claim it, if only to fulfill the Fourth Commandment. And here is something upon which we have amazingly not touched. The Fourth Commandment is: Honor thy father and thy mother, that thou mayest be longlived upon the land which the Lord thy God will give thee. This is the first and only commandment where God Himself writes a temporal reward into the commandment. Longlived, and that perhaps is for what we are looking when we attempt to live in peace with women.
This commandment in the head of “father” contains all things from God the Father to the local traffic officer, which is to say, we are to honor all authority, as St. Paul expounds it. It is therefore a very fitting (in fact perfect) first commandment of those directed towards our neighbor, for it begins with reference to that subject of the previous three commandments, namely God, which informs the remaining instructions on charity, and proceeds from there to the first neighbor any man has, which is in fact his mother.
How do we honor our mother? If it is the same workings as with the head of “father”, then it is much more encompassing than this single woman who gave us our first home. But the problem is how easy it is to wander into error, and begin to speak of the environment or the earth or other foolish things that have very little to do with motherhood and much to do with paganism and money.
So what is it? Blessed Mother pray for us. I am tempted to speak entirely of Her, and perhaps I should, except for the fact that I have already spoken of Her and maternity in the preceding chapter, and I do not want to sell you something second-hand. No, let us speak of the practical and imminent.
I am thinking of a specific older woman. She is the mother of a priest who died last year, a saintly man, and I spoke with her several times during his final sickness, after his surprising death, at his funeral, and afterwards. She was very tranquil. Her spirit simmered sweetly, and she spoke of him if asked, but otherwise seemed only to speak of whatever she was asked. Now, I compare this to another older woman whom I saw at the funeral of her son, who the entire time wailed and grieved until her other sons had to restrain and rebuke her. Between these two, it is clear which one acted the good mother, and in fact, both endured a similar persecution with their sons before the deaths and handled it very differently. One continually pitied him and presented him with the unjustness of his situation, while the other continually encouraged him and engaged in all his labors. To speak more of this would be immodest and imprudent.
What do we do with women like this? The same as with the Blessed Mother, I think. We admire them from afar, we do not approach them unless necessary, for fear of offending their impeccability, and we study their virtue. We receive from them whatever they are willing to give, and we offer to them whatever they are willing to receive.
In portrayals of knights and chivalry— or similar things such as cowboys—, the dedication to women is very rarely overlooked. The mistake, the satanic corruption, is that this usually is related to some very random woman and inspired by affection arising only from lust, no matter how it is painted up. And we know this because the man pursues her as wife or concubine. But in reality, most all of the chivalrous Orders were dedicated to a single Woman— that is, the Blessed Mother. The reason this is rarely portrayed is because it is rarely understood. The artist is full of his own passions and usually cannot comprehend the knight. “A poet will put up with anything so long as a woman is promised at the end. It hardly matters which woman.” But the love of the Mother is the love of virtue, and in this at least, we can be unrestrained.
So long as you have discerned correctly that this woman ought to be in your life at all.
Thus for the third aspect. Let us now proceed to a bit of penance and reparation for myself towards you.