It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make for him a helper…. this is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh, she shall be called woman, for she was taken out from the side of man… And the best-part? …be fruitful and multiply….
This image of the “Holy Family” an Illumination from the Spanish Book of Hours (1461) The British Library, recently caught my eye, and my heart, in lieu of all the bantering and bickering on ‘What is a family?’ ‘What is the purpose of marriage?’ ‘Who should be allowed to marry?’ etc. The below commentary from Pierre Marie Dumont was particularly beautiful to read. Beyond the argument for ‘making babies’ (albeit important) the better, more theological reason for marriage, is to mutually assist one another on the path to holiness, heaven and theosis. Clearly the man has need for the woman, and the woman has need for the man – and together their home is a domestic ‘church’, their table is an ‘altar’, their ‘congregation’ is their children – their objective is not hot-sex, or serving-self, but living in holiness, assisting one another on their mutual journey to union with God who both created marriage – and alone defines it.
“On the side of a small wooden chest, an open window reveals a slender flask. This precious vessel, through which light passes without breaking it, is a metaphor for the virginal womb of the Mother of God through whom the Light from Light passes without breaking her virginity. On the table a pear symbolizes the sweet and gentle sentiments of Mary. On the ground we see ants – humble workers in the shadows, industrious, honest, and sociable creatures that serve as models of Christian virtue. There are seven of them. Their sacred number reflects the mode of perfection depicted in the Gospel, inviting us to imitate the humility of the Holy Family.
“In the house at Nazareth, the family of Jesus offers a harmonious picture of domestic goodness. This goodness is a beatitude. It manifests the mystery of salvation that will be fulfilled in eternity, after having passed through suffering and death: Joseph planes a plank that evokes the wood of the cross, while Mary carefully hems a white linen shroud…
…come back tomorrow for the ‘rest of the story’ from Dumont.
+anaphora – laetare