This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

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Two-fold purpose of the family

After establishing the primacy of the family in Catholic tradition, we can emphasize that the importance of the family rests on its dual purpose: 1) It exists to fulfill the divine command to continue the race—“Be fruitful and multiply.” 2) It meets the basic human need of a close community in which love is paramount.

It must be remembered, however, that while both functions are essential, they must be kept in the order just given. Slight deviations in first principles are responsible for grave deviations in their applications. The propagation of children is the first purpose of marriage; conjugal and parental love is the second. This is but a consistent application of the principle set forth at the beginning of this study, that grace presupposes nature, and that the higher things in life require at least a bare minimum of the lower. Regardless of how noble the emotionally and personally edifying aspects of the marriage relationship might be, its natural basis is prior and is the foundation which cannot be removed without undermining the whole thing.

Moreover, we should note that the family is a biological necessity for mankind even more so than animals, whose offspring often need little to no support before reaching developmental independence. Man’s higher vocation implies a greater natural dependence in order for that vocation to develop, and this development occurs within the family.

This specific call to domestic life, as opposed to the simple act of reproduction, is a peculiar need for mankind. St. Thomas declares that: “The human male and female are united, not only for generation, as with other animals, but also for the purpose of domestic life, in which each has his or her particular duty.”[1] And he tenderly amplifies the same point elsewhere: “Before it has the use of its free-will, [the child] is enfolded in the care of its parents, which is like a spiritual womb.”[2]

If the importance of the family has not been made undeniably clear from what has already been said, then we need only meditate on the fact that Christ Himself remained concealed within this spiritual womb until the age of thirty, and it was only then that he began his public ministry. If it was deemed proper that the Savior should make full and good use of this institution, then we should probably not underestimate its formative power.

[1] ST I, q. 92, a. 2.

[2] ST II-II, q. 10, a. 12.

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