I picked up a copy of George Tyrrell's "Hard Sayings" from a second hand shop and have been working my way through it. His prose style is floridly and bombastically Anglo-Irish and the book isn't universally edifying but it is sound. But some of the chapters have left me a bit disturbed because of their beautiful orthodoxy. For those of you that don't know, George Tyrrell was thrown out of the Jesuits and later excommunicated (but did receive the last rites) because of his "Modernist" views ..... it appears he fell foul of Cardinal Merry del Val ..... he died in 1909.
I retype some of his writing on marriage because I've rarely read such a good, pithy, defence of marriage from a Catholic writer. Had this been put before the Synod on Marriage, I doubt anyone could have put up a counter argument and remained a Catholic.
And so we see that it is precisely because woman has a soul to save, that she is a help fit and worthy of man; a help in the great work of saving the soul first of her husband and then of his children; and that marriage, as God intended it, is not merely a carnal union, but principally a joining of souls; that its end is not to replenish and overpopulate the earth with animals more canino, but to fill Heaven with saints; to multiply bodies for the sake of souls.
and there is more... this bit could have been written this year, it is darkly prescient...
[Parents should be] conscious and intelligent agents of Christ [in the] engracement and supernatural sanctification [of their children]...
Such being the type, the ideal of Christian marriage, what shall we say of the reality as we see around us in this de-Christianized country, where Catholics find it so hard, so impossible to keep mind or heart free from the infectious pestilence of unbelief, misbelief and moral corruption; a country where the true idea of a sacrament of any sort has been lost to the people at large for three centuries; where the nature of the Church and of her mystical union with Christ is wholly unknown; where the Catholic teaching concerning purity and chastity is simply ridiculed as Manichean in theory and impossible in practice; where the law of the land sanctions an adulterous remarriage of those who have been divorced, and permits marriages which in the Church's eyes are incestuous, null, and void; whose religion despises virginity and celibacy, and holds but lightly to the perpetuity or unity of Christian marriage.
Surely it is only too evident that Protestantism has done its work thoroughly; that it has first rationalised the notion of marriage and robbed it of all its mystical and spiritual import; then secularized what was a sacrament of the Gospel, and betrayed it into the hands of Caesar; and by these means has finally succeeded in degrading and profaning an institution on whose elevation and purity the whole fabric of true civilisation depends.
It seems to me like George Tyrrell, through being on the wrong side of the debate about the role of Thomism and Scholasticism fell foul of the Church's fear of Modernism and paid the price, and meanwhile whist thinking She was shoring up her defences against Modernism, Holy Mother Church was blind to the devil who used the near universally appalling teaching of Thomism that ensued after Pius X, to sneak in and assist in the havoc of the development of Nouvelle Theologie where grace and nature are confused and where all soundness and clarity are lost, and where God is so often reduced to sentiment..... I could get sad, if I let myself,... I may copy out some of his teaching on purity and chastity, it's brilliant.
(Incidentally, the book "Hard Sayings" has an "Imprematur" from Cardinal Vaughan, which is good enough for me.)