Wedlock. By C. C. Martindale, Si. (Sheet and Ward, 2s. 6d.)
Reviewed by GERALD VANN, O.P.
Fr. Martindale, in these four Farm Street conferences, has again put us in his debt. His aim is not to present an exhaustive survey of the Catholic doctrine of marriage, but " to exhibit . . . a law regulating marriage in the whole of human history natural and supernatural alike," meaning by law, not "a mere exterior enactment," but "an interior principle of life, which makes a thing develop properly and become its true self."
It is this conception above all which, in these days of confusion between inner law on the one hand and external regulation or conventions on the other, needs clear statement : the rational grounds of the doctrine of indissolubility provide the necessary propaxieutic to an understanding of the supernatural character of Christian marriage.
From these rational considerations Fr. Martindale passes to an examination of the difficulties in the Gospel texts concerning indissolubility, and gives very clearly the answer to them. The hardness of Our I.ord's doctrine ("If the case of a man with his wife be so, it were better not to marry!") is then shown in its proper perspective, as part of the new economy of grace.
The last conference deals with the greatest sublimity: the magnum rnysterium, the Church the Bride of Christ, and the light which this sheds on what has gone before; and the picture is thus completed.
There are here and there phrases or emphases which one feels liable to misconstruction: the statement that the "fervent priest celebrates a more powerful Mass than a tepid one," for example, or the suggestion which almost seems to be made, in one place, that natural aptitude and compatibility are unimportant. But these are small matters in comparison with the positive value of the book: here as elsewhere Fr. Martindale, though not specially concerned with present-day difficulties, makes his argument clear and actual to the modern mind; and so provides an invaluable statement of the fact that the Catholic doctrine will never be grasped by a purely humanitarian approach.