Question from anonymous on 6/16/2011:
My husband has been attending a local SSPX chapel exclusively for over 2 years. I and our 7 children (ages 3-19) attend a local solid Catholic parish, in obedience to the pope. My husband just told me that, against my will, starting this Sunday he will begin taking the kids with him to his Mass. He doesn’t believe that I (“just” a wife) have the authority to forbid this. I am so lost – I don’t know what to do. Any advice is appreciated. Thank you.
Answer by Colin B. Donovan, STL on 8/3/2011:
First off, this is a fundamentalist view of the authority of a husband, an authority which comes from human nature and the created distinction of male and female. It is a created analogy to the order within the Holy Trinity, which begins with the Father, proceeds to the Son and unites both in the Holy Spirit. If we were divine the world would function just fine with natural authority alone, but we are fallen, limited creatures, prone to self-justification of our sins. This should make every person in authority circumspect about when and how it is exercised. In God what unites is not mere will, but loving will. The Son knows that the Father’s will is the always the wisest and the most loving, and therefore does not His own will but the will of the Father. The Holy Trinity is thus a perfect communion in which justice and love, authority and obedience, are perfectly realized and can never be in opposition.
Not so with fallen creatures. And so Christ came to fulfill and perfect justice, and redeem authority, so that by grace it might achieve what the Father intends, and which the Trinity lives. Toward that end, He told the apostles that their leadership should be one of servanthood, not lordship, and He, who is truly Lord and God, served them. This is the Christian model of the relationship of authority and obedience.
St. Paul in Ephesians 3:14-15, referring to the Divine natural order lived in communion, states that the Father (pater) is the source of all fatherhood (patria). Some translations say “families,” which seems a weaker affirmation, thought the paternal root remains. Later in Eph 5:21-30, he affirms this natural order, but as situated within the supernatural order of a leadership of love. For a Christian, specifically one in a sacramental marriage, this is the only way to live the Faith in marriage – not simply as a natural family unit, but as a supernatural one.
Finally, it is odd to speak so adamantly of husbandly authority when the divine authority of the pope and the bishop is being ignored. No one can be obliged to sin, even under the color of authority, and although he may be subjectively guiltless of sinning against the obedience he owes to the Church’s proper pastors, or of not remaining in perfect communion with the Church, he cannot obliged you to violate your conscience and the far more reasonable position that the Church is where the Pope is, not where the SSPX is. As the ancient Latin axiom states, it, “Ubi Petrus ibi ecclesia, et ibi ecclesia vita eternal” (Where Peter is there is the Church, and where the Church is there is life eternal).