​The Story of Pure Love: Armando and Martha 

17 08 2017

22yrs Armando Valladares, a young journalist was working at his desk at a newspaper company when soldiers came to ask him to publish a communist propaganda supporting the new government of Fidel Castro. 

 He refused knowing full well that there would be consequences. He didnt have to wait long.  Armed soldier stormed his residence at night and arrested him. 

 For refusing to support communism, Armando was sentenced to 30 years in prison. He was arrested in the middle of the night and transferred to a notorious prison where hundreds of enemies of communism were beaten on a regular basis. 

But it was in this prison that Armando received a miracle in the form of a woman he met. She was one of the daughters of fellow prisoner and her name was Martha. 

They fell in love when they met, and began to write each other in secret. 

Years of communicating together deepened their love for one another. 

When the communist tried to force Armando to enroll in a compulsory reeducation program, Armando and his companions again refused. 

As a punishment, he spent 8 years in a special solitary confinement, with no windows, and no light coming in, only a small hole for his wastes. 

After 10years, the communist tried another technique, promising him freedom if only he could sign a document praising communism.

 But instead of signing his name, Armando, took the document and started writing poetry at the back. The guards tried to stop him but he changed tactics, writing with his blood instead on the back of onion skins which he smuggled out to Martha.


As the holocaust survivor, Victor Frank once said, “A man can endure any how a long as he has a why” From then on, nothing the soldiers did could hurt him anymore. 

His love for Martha broke down the prisons walls as he wrote poem to her using his own blood, and fresh breeze of love lifted him high, carrying him towards the sun.

Martha fled to the United State, and published thr peoms which became a bestseller raising a campaign against what Castro’s government was doing to her beloved. 
Amnesty international and other human rights group caught on and pressed the Cuban government for his release. 

Terrified of his growling fame the communist tried an old police trick to shatter his unshakable love for Martha.

They told him that Amnesty groups had dropped name from their list of prisoners of war, and that Martha had abandoned him. 

He responded in a serene and cheerful way saying, Now I know for certain that my Martha is succeeding in getting me out.”

He was right; a short time later, he was released from the prison where he had spent 22 years, unbroken, defending his own conscience,  and the dignity of every man to live in the freedom of theirs. 

His 22 years of unbroken resistance to tyranny demonstrated that man is capable of withstanding great evils when he loves and he is loved by another.

On his release from prison, he was finally united with his sweetheart Martha and he was caught on camera showering her with kisses right front and center before the flashing lights and world media. They got married soon after,  a crowning perseverance of love. 






Did Jesus Permit Divorce? By Kelvin Ugwu

18 07 2017

​*CATHOLICS AND PROTESTANTS: ON MARRIAGE, DIVORCE, AND THE BIBLE*

Because of Chinaka’s awesome response, I had an experience last weekend that has prompted me to write this. I got into a debate with some Protestants pastors, at first I did not know their intention was to mock Catholic teaching when they asked, “Did Jesus permit divorce? Can there be any situation in which a Christian can be allowed to divorce his or her spouse?”

My answer was clear: “Christ never permitted divorce, and there is no situation that allows one to divorce his or her spouse once the marriage is valid.”

Then, their reply got me thinking: “You Catholics make me laugh. Christ gave an exception that in the case of adultery, divorce is permissible. This is why I keep saying it, Catholics are idol worshippers. It is a secret cult. They do not follow the bible, they follow their silly tradition. Stop misleading people with your lies.”

Those words sincerely got me worried because of the people it came from. I really do not understand why some persons hate the Catholic Church with passion, or should I say, why it seems to some people that any teaching coming from the Catholic Church is not only wrong but evil.

So, let me ask you the same question that I was asked. Did Jesus permit divorce?

If you are ready, follow me let us explore the bible to find the answer together.

This whole misunderstanding is coming from Matthew 19:9 where it seems Christ gave an exception for divorce: “Whoever divorces his wife except for unchastity and marries another commits adultery.”

The exceptive clause, “EXCEPT FOR UNCHASTITY” is the major issue here. Simply put, unchastity is a good reason to divorce one’s spouse.

You may want to ask, what constitutes ‘unchastity?’ We shall get to know soon.

We all remember that the New Testament was originally written in Greek. (Even my grandmother knows this.) The Greek word for unchastity is “PORNEIA.” The Protestants argue that this Greek word “porneia” means adultery. This is why if you read the Protestant New International Version of the Bible, Matthew 19:9 is translated thus:

“I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, EXCEPT FOR MARITAL UNFAITHFULNESS, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

For most Protestants, though marriage is meant to last a life time, but adultery justifies divorce and remarriage. This is because they interpreted the Greek word “porneia” or “unchastity” as adultery. This is not so with Catholics.

Catholic biblical scholars believe that it is wrong to translate the Greek word “porneia” as adultery. In the Catholic New American Bible, Matthew 19:9 is translated thus:

“I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.”

Here, the exceptive clause is: “UNLAWFUL MARRIAGE.”

If you read King James Version of the bible, the translation for PORNEIA is even more interesting. It translates Matthew 19:9 thus:

“And I say unto you, whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for FORNICATION, and shall marry another committeth adultery.”

Here, the exceptive clause is Fornication. And fornication is the sin of two unmarried people having sexual intercourse. If either person is married or both are married to other people, the sin is called adultery. Following this translation, the only way that a couple could commit fornication is if they were never really in a Christian marriage to begin with.

Many recent translations of porneia in Matt 19:9 used “sexual immoralities.” That still begs the question on what sexual immoralities could mean.

In all these, what really is the correct translation for the word PORNEIA? Is it the Protestants’ adultery, the king James’ fornication, or the Catholics’ Unlawful marriage? Even if porneia is to be seen as unchastity or sexual immoralities, what constitutes unchastity?

The answer to the above questions can be better clarified using the bible. 

I will give you two examples: Matthew 15:19 and Mark 7:21-22.

Matthew 15:19 “For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, ADULTERY, UNCHASTITY, theft, false witness, blasphemy.”

Mark 7:21-22, “From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, UNCHASTITY, theft, murder, ADULTERY, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.”

Pay attention to this: Adultery and unchastity are both prohibited in the texts above. If you read the Greek text, it is “porneia” that is translated as unchastity, in some bible it is translated as sexual immorality. While the Greek word “moicheia” is translated as adultery. Therefore, from these passages we can see that porneia does not mean adultery as that would be an unnecessary repetition.

The word for adultery in Greek is ‘moicheia.’ If the author of Matthew 19:9 felt that Christ was talking about adultery, he won’t have used ‘porneia’ which means unchastity.

If you read Act 15:28-29, the Apostles addressed the gentiles prohibiting four things:

“For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain 

(1) from what has been sacrificed to idols, and (2) from blood and 

(3) from what is strangled and 

(4) from unchastity. 

If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.” RSV (inserted numbers, mine)

Take note of (4), still talking about Porneia or Unchastity. These four prohibitions above were coming from a deep rooted Jewish tradition found in Leviticus 17 and 18.

If you read it through, you will discover that in chapter 18, what the Jews mean by unchastity or Porneia was explicitly explained. It was simply an incestuous marriage. Having sexual intercourse with close relative was greatly forbidden, not to talk of marriage. For the Jews, marriage of this nature is unlawful. This was what Christ was referring to in Matthew 19:9. It is a reference to an unlawful and thus invalid marriage. It is not reference, as Protestants view it, to a specific act committed during a legitimate “life-long marriage.

Jesus’ teaching on divorce was revolutionary. Remember that it was to answer the Jews who thought that one can divorce his wife for some reasons that made Jesus to give the answer he gave. If Jesus permitted divorce, what then makes his teaching different from the one Moses taught the Jews in the OT.

If Christ’s teaching on divorce was that simple, how can one explain the surprise that surrounded the disciples when they responded in the next verse?

Matthew 19: 10, “(His) disciples said to him, ‘If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.'”

The truth is, if there is anyone who is faithfully following the bible, give it to the Catholic Church. Quote me anywhere.





For Husbands:20 Lessons from Bible on how to Love your Wife 

23 06 2017

​╔════  🚨   💎   🚨 ════╗

            *Love  Your* 

   *”Own Beautiful Wife”*
  🔹Don’t shout at your

       wife when you are

       talking. It really 

       hurts her. 

       *Proverbs 15:1*
  🔹Do not speak evil 

       of her to anyone. 

       Your wife will become

       who you call her. 

      *Gen. 2:19*
  🔹Do not share her love

      or affection with another

      woman.

      It is called Adultery.

      *Matt. 5:28*
  🔹Never compare your

       wife to another woman.

       If the other woman was

       good for you, God would

       have given her to you.

      *2 Cor. 10:12*
  🔹Be gentle and 

       accommodating. She

       has sacrificed so much

       to be with you. 

       It hurts her deeply

       when you are hash

       and irritating. 

       Be tender.

       *Eph. 4:2*
  🔹Hide nothing from her.

       You are now one and

       she’s your helpmate.

       Let there be no secret

       you are keeping 

       from her.

       *Gen. 2:25*
  🔹Do not make negative

       comment about her

       body. She risked her

       life and beauty to carry

       your babies. She is a

       living soul not just

       flesh and blood. 

       *Proverbs 18:22*
  🔹Do not let her body

       determine her worth.

       Cherish and appreciate

       her even till old age.

       *Eph. 5:29*
  🔹Never shout at her

       in the public and in

       private. If you have

       an issue to sort with

       her, do it in the privacy

       of your room.

       *Matt. 1:19*
  🔹Thank and appreciate

       her for taking good

       care of you, the kids

       and the house. It is

       a great sacrifice she

       is making.

       *1 Thesso. 5:18*
  🔹All women cannot

       cook the same way;

       appreciate your 

       wife’s food.

       It is not easy to cook

       three meals a day,

       365 days a year 

       for several years.

       *Pro. 31:14*
  🔹Never place your 

       siblings before her.

       She is your wife. 

       She is one with you.

       She must come 

       before your family.

       *Gen. 2:24*
  🔹Invest seriously in

       her spiritual growth. 

       Buy books, tapes and

       any material that will

       edify her *&* strengthen

       her walk with God. 

       That’s the best thing

       you can do for her.

       *Eph. 5:26*
  🔹Spend time with her

       to do Bible study 

       and pray.

       *James 5:16*
  🔹Make time to play

       with her and enjoy

       her company.

       Remember when you

       are dead, she’s gonna

       be by your grave but

       your friends may be

       too busy to attend

       your funeral. 

       *Ecc. 9:9*
  🔹Never use money

       to manipulate or 

       control her. All your

       money belongs to

       her. She is a joint heir

       with you of the 

       grace of God.

       *1 Pet. 3:7*
  🔹Do not expose her

       weakness. You will be

       exposing yourself too.

       Be a shield around her.

       *Eph. 5:30*
  🔹Honour her parents

       and be kind to her

       siblings.

       *SOS. 8:2*
  🔹Never cease to tell

       her how much you

       love her all the days

       of her life. Women

       are never tired of

       hearing that.

       *Eph. 5:25*
  🔹Grow to be like Jesus.

       That’s the only way

       you can be a good

       and godly husband.

      *Rom. 8:29*

     *SAVE A HOME TODAY,* 

              *PASS IT ON* 

TO ALL MEN PLEASE
LIKEWISE TO ALL WOMEN.





How I  Empower  my Wife for effective control of my Home by Stan Ekezie

22 06 2017

In order to show my kids who is in charge, I have had to overrule my wife’s decision a few times on almost every aspect of our family life, not in a malicious way though. Just enough to show the kids that I am in charge and my consent or refusal on any issue is final. 

Even when she says no, the kids will file an appeal with me, I will tell my wife to let them go, and even when she disagrees with me, she will still consent, telling them that if your dad says it’s ok, she can’t say otherwise. She always tried to maintain the hierarchy of leadership so the kids can see and learn. Kudos to her. 
One day, I overheard the kids plotting to go to the cinema. 

The youngest one told them to tell mummy  first. 
“I know she will say no, then we can ask daddy and tell him mummy said no. He will most certainly always say yes and then mummy must obey;  she won’t have a choice.”
I was flabbergasted! She was just 11 years old at the time.  It suddenly dawned on me that I had been played, beaten hands down by my own kids. So when they came to ask my permission, I told them it was up to their mum and whatever she says is final, I can’t do anything about it. The look of shock on their faces was priceless. 
From then on, I became the parent who didn’t have absolute powers anymore, we became a team, she did the vetting because she is more thorough and hands-on, she knew each of them more deeply than I did, it was harder to play her. Once she has vetted, she will recommend approval or disapproval and I will act accordingly issuing the final approval or rejecting the appeal. All the things they used to get away with when I was solely in charge became more difficult or impossible. 
The moral of the story is simple, empower your wife for effective control of your home, we are too busy battling to make a living, we can’t multitask, however women were created with the capacity to multitask, they can be successful at work and at home. An empowered woman will be respected by your children thus making it easy for her to teach and mentor them. 

The kids will pick up the slightest signs of disrespect and subjugation of your wife and build on it, this may make it more difficult for her to properly groom them in your mostly unavoidable absences from home. We should always ensure that our wives are not ridiculed or subdued before the children, a wife should be seen as a strong and indispensable component of the family unit. 

The kids must see and know that we love and respect their mother and will support all her decisions. They must know that the house is hers, and that getting favours from daddy is dependent on mummy’s approval. Total authority should rest on her especially if she is a homely and virtuous mother. She knows the kids better than you, she shares a special bond with them and will punish them without emotions when they do something wrong. Ensure that the kids especially your daughters see her as the final say in almost all their affairs,  her decisions concerning them whether we like it or not will always tow the line of reason. Most daughters won’t like their mum until they become adults, because she loves them and punishes them with the same amount of passion when they err.

I believe intelligent and powerful women make better wives and most especially mothers. I’d rather have a well accomplished woman mentor my kids than a subdued and voiceless woman, the later can only transfer her bitterness and frustration to the kids. A powerful and accomplished woman boosts her daughters’ confidence and gives them a befitting role model.





 Marriage and being In-love by C. S Lewis 

16 06 2017

Why must I remain married when I am no longer in love? Here is another answer by C. S Lewis 





The War on Children: CSE exposed,  explioting children! 

6 04 2017

​This video is worth 20 min of your time. 

Comprehensive sex education (CSE) is an aggressive attack on children’s  minds. We should join hands and STOP it. 

http://www.comprehensivesexualityeducation.org/act-now-2/stop-cse-petition/#

 





My Advice to Wives: Marry Him and Be Submissive by Costanza Miriano

19 02 2017

MARRY HIM AND BE SUBMISSIVE    – TANbooks 2016

AMAZONMARRY HIM

https://www.tanbooks.com/index.php/marry-him-and-be-submissive.html

 

About “Sposala e muori per lei”

It is a playful reflection on the differences between men and women, the different languages they speak, the different ways they think (a man does just one thing at a time, women so many!). Whereas women tend to take control of the relationship (which is the point they have to work on), men tend to be selfish, to doze off on the couch and they don’t pay attention to what women say. The woman should be a mirror for his man, she should give him a beautiful idea of himself, encourage him and show him all the possible good so that he can find the strength to give up his life for her and for the children.

As men usually do not like to get any advice, especially from their wives, at the end of each chapter you will find a sort of gift to give to your man to make him understand the message of the chapter: being a real man, being authoritative, being a good father, being courageous.

 

 

 A chapter of the book 

Dear Margherita,

I had intended to come to your wedding with a beautiful letter for you  – Holy Cow, I am the maid of honor! I’m amongst the first characters in the closing credits, the time has come for me to take the scene and to come prepared. At your wedding, at least, since to my wedding, spiritually well-prepared as I was, I was (not) combed and made up, like always – apart from a white eye-shadow that my sister had forced me to buy – and late, as I had gone for a run two hours earlier, and taken by an unstoppable burst  (fit) of laughter and cheerfulness that didn’t turn exactly out in me being at my best in the some ten pictures uncle Gianfranco remembered to shoot.

If nothing else, you had Guido wear his tie, a really considerable undertaking. “Why did you wear your cape?”, Lavinia asked his father, disconcerted by this fresh article of clothing. The rest of the family, on the other hand, arrived stylistically unprepared to the princely event of your nuptials; I didn’t find the time to write to you, nor had I provided a flawless outfit for me or for the kids, who, God knows why, are always stained with chocolate, with one shoe untied, pants which happen to be too long or too short, and a torn sock showing a peeping bruise on the knee. Anyway, tattered and ragged as we are, the six of us all came there, and on time even, as I had to sit next to you. It was a celebration full of divine grace and precious hints, even if my girls will especially remember it for your lace train worthy of a local Cinderella, our unbeaten fashion icon.

From that day onwards, I can hear them whispering to each another, “This is for when my prince comes and marries me,” while they give out plastic tiaras and earrings. To be honest, the boys especially remember that fatal day because that was the day of the Roma F.C. vs. Sampdoria soccer game, which cost the “maggica” the Premier League Championship that year. What can you do with them? They are male, the basic model. Despite it, they are not rednecks, at least not yet. Bernardo is a model student, he can’t get less than an A at school, a little soldier always ready to carry out orders. Tommaso, a little less precise (at home he’s also known as the drain man), the other year, i.e. in the fourth grade, had called me at night to ask me when the Teheran Conference was held – a historical episode totally unknown to me, as the latest historical fact I knew was the fall of the Western Roman Empire. And, a few evenings ago: “Mom, what is dialectic materialism? I’m calling Dad if you’re not sleeping now” – I tried to scare him while I frantically browsed the Philosophy section of the encyclopedia or the History handbook that I learned to keep close at hand, together with the fundamentals – like the West wing DVDs or mother Speranza’s novena – ever since I began perceiving my flawless ignorance (a Flaiano quote). If I catch him in front of the Pc, it’s easier for me to find him reading news on the Visigoths than playing Texas Hold’em. But, belonging to the male gender, he also has an almost universal taint. His brain turns dumb when he sees a rolling ball. I know men who can be defined as normal, even as special as the one I married, that undergo a mutation at the starting whistle of a game and they instantly turn without batting an eyelid, from the violent films of Sam Peckinpah to La Signora in Giallorosso – a talk show on a local Rome tv -, from a re-reading of Dostoevsky’s The Idiot to Big Mario’s radio, losing any restraint. I’m only telling you, so that you can get ready, as you took one of the same species for yourself, and not for a weekend getaway, but for all of your life, until death do you part. Exactly because of this, I really care about giving you my real wedding gift, much more precious than the other one, the one that arrived on time, at least. It is the secret for a holy wedding, which is the same as saying a happy one. The secret is for a woman, in front of the man she chose, to make a step backwards. And, as you know me well, you also may well know this is not in my nature at all, being one who took for herself the motto of my grandpa, the Colonel: “Wall or no wall, three steps forward”. I believe I represent one out of seven or eight cases on a world scale of people who hit a car while going for a run: I got a concussion, she was pretty dented. Unfortunately, I would like to fill the story with epic details, but no, she wasn’t an Aston Martin, just a Fiat Punto. Anyway, I’m not exactly a docile person, but I have turned to one I believe, I hope, because I think this is what being a spouse means: to embrace, first of all. And you know that I, just like anybody to say the truth, don’t like losing. I’ve been more than competitive at school, at university. Even more in sports: the only “break” I would grant myself, from when I was studying during the seventh grade until my pregnancies. Some fifteen miles running between a Homer and an Eschilo, just to clear my mind a little bit. And then, in the years when we lost touch, you don’t know that when I was preparing some marathon I could even go running at three in the morning, when I was supposed to be at the editorial office at five for the tv news. I left home in shorts in a city that is not mine (Rome), in the dark, and it even seemed normal to me, even when I met an all-naked mad man in front of the altar of the Unknown Soldier, who, seeing me, probably asked himself, in turn, who that crazy woman was. And even now, being a lady almost turning 40 (enough of the “boys” after their forties) and running when I can without preparing races, if someone passes me – even a pigeon – something still gets to me. But when it comes to life as a couple, you have to compete in the opposite way: wall or no wall, two steps backwards. And you must do it even when you don’t understand why, when you’re intimately convinced you have good reasons. In that very moment, perform an act of trust towards your husband. Get out of the logic of the world, “I want to get the better of him”, and enter the logic of God, who put at your side your husband, that saint who bears you after everything, and who, incidentally, is also a handsome guy. And if something he does is not fine with you, it is God Himself you have to confront, to begin with: get down on your knees, and most time you’ll solve anything. Luigi is the way God chose to love you, and he is your way to heaven. When he says something, then you must listen to him as if God was talking to you. With full discernment, clearly, in wisdom and cleverness, of course, because he is a creature, but with respect, because he often sees more clearly than you do. Our vocation, whatever it is, is always to make us happy. As Pavel Evdokimov says, the Russian Orthodox theologian, if the objective end of the wedding is generating children, the subjective end is to generate ourselves. Margherita is not fully herself without Luigi! Can you realize how great, invaluable a thing you have in your hands? In this enterprise you just started, with the grace of God, you will generate yourself. “But how do you do that?” you asked on the phone some thousand times. Do I have to let him have the better of me even when he’s wrong? I say yes. In the first place because it seems to you that he’s wrong, and if, as we were saying, he’s the one who leads you to your wholeness, to your completeness, it is exactly when he thinks different from you that you have to open up to him, and embrace him. It is exactly then that what he tells you has a precious meaning to you, it adds something, it makes you whole, has you grow, lets you make a shift. If you just embrace what corresponds to you, to what you think, you are not married to a man, but to yourself. While you must submit yourself to him. When you two must choose between what you like and what he likes, choose in his favor. And this is easy. When there’s a decision to take, and after you weighed the pros and cons the answer is still not clear, trust him, and let him have the last word. And this is a little difficult sometimes. When, of your positions, it seems to you that his is completely wrong, for the two of you, even for the kids, maybe, still keep trusting his clearness of mind. This may seem to be an unbearable effort. You will be afraid, because abandoning your beliefs is scary. But you’re not jumping into the void, you’re jumping into his arms.

Nice words, aren’t they? When you read them you could think I’m an angelic creature, but really I have just read and listened to good words. I’m not sure if I’ve been able to live them in real life. Not always all of them, for sure. But I let my husband take a look at what I’m writing you, and he didn’t show any strong or loud protests. Not even blowing a raspberry.  That’s something. I would even say he likes the idea of submission elevated to the rank of a theory. “Are you done with the bath, my lovely dear?” he asked me yesterday evening. He is Roman, unfortunately, and he always finds a way to put an end to my lyric bursts.

You’ll see, I can swear on it, a man cannot resist a woman who respects him, recognizes his authority, who makes a sincere effort to listen to him, to let aside her own way of seeing things, who tramples on her ever-biting, teasing, failure-highlighting tongue (we’re very good at that, no doubt), who accepts to walk on paths that are extremely different from those she would naturally choose, just out of love.

Day by day, he will start asking you what you think, what to do, which way your family should go. And this respect you achieve through respect, this devotion through submission. This is why, having finally won my husband’s respect, I now feel ready to calmly explain to him how greatly beneficial it would be to build a walk –in  closet in our bedroom (the first benefit would be that I wouldn’t have any more piles of black t-shirts down there, and I wouldn’t, believing I had lost them all, buy seven more next season).

And even when the fruits seem to be late (I won’t have my wardrobe closet), we Christians must know they are ripening. We are happy in hope, aren’t we?

We know what happens to us is not to be measured on the world’s meter. We know any suffering, even a little one – you don’t have the same idea, you wouldn’t have planned that thing, you wouldn’t have picked that vacation or that evening – produces sometimes mysterious, yet never lost, fruits, if accepted with love. “Let those things causing you suffering be held more dear to you than the Hermitage,” St. Francis used to say, he who would have spent any minute at the Hermitage of the Prisons, in the sweetest, continuous prayer, while he accepted to stay amongst people who did not understand him, friars included, sometimes.

 And you know we don’t stand mortification for mortification’s sake, we are not austere ones, for sure: we like chatting about our interior Castle and of the latest nuance of the Chanel nail polish, the unobtainable dove gray, reading the Dialogue of the Divine Providence and gossiping – in acclaimed bad faith – of Carla Bruni’s short neck (divine justice exists). We like mortification just in sight of a wider good, and this good is embracing your husband, therefore generating a new self. May I confess, then, without you feeling offended, that when you tell me he makes you angry it always seems to me that it’s all about silly things? They’re just little stings to your pride, little attempts at your too weak self-esteem. When you know who you are and how much you are worth – a lot, trust those who know and love you – you are not afraid of some criticism. True, you’re not a skilled cook yet, nor a perfect landlady. What’s the problem if he tells you so? Tell him that he’s right, and you are going to learn. Seeing your sweetness and humbleness, your attempt at conversion, he will convert, too. Without speeches, but seeing himself through you. You’ll feel like you’re losing months and years, to exercise patience for an endless time with Luigi, to be in an away game whose score is never zero, but it’s not like that. No gesture of love will go lost, none of your steps backwards will miss to be transformed into a step forward for the two of you, no useless word unuttered will be regretted. It’s a difficult and perhaps inexhaustible path. You’ll feel like you’re the one who gives the most – we fit the victim’s role very well, just an instant and we dress up like housewives in the Fifties, round skirt, hair set and all- but are you really sure? He’ll probably feel he’s the one who walks the longer distance to meet you, too. I believe in these cases you do not measure who gives more, but who can give more. Even if now you feel like a martyr. Balances can change infinite times during a lifetime. And then, you believe you love him the way he wants, but maybe you are loving him the way you want. You write him little notes, while he would like you to do something concrete for him: inviting his mother to dinner, for instance. You want a bunch of flowers, and he tells you that he loves you by going to buy an octopus and cherry tomato pizza. Speak his language, that of concrete gestures, and he’ll learn to speak yours, that of the love declarations down on his knees with violins playing. You complain about the fact he doesn’t speak, but where have you been living till now? Don’t you know a man only issues a statement when has the need to give you useful and pertinent information? It took me a couple years, but I eventually renounced dragging my husband into a whole series of conversations, like those involving the sentimental life of human beings. But if I really want to talk to him, it is sufficient for me to emit a very sharp, and most probably wrong, opinion, on the 4-4-3 formation of Roma F.C. soccer team, or the war in Afghanistan, to have the certainty to obtain an answer.

It is a continuous effort of elasticity, and it may also seem to you that you gave a lot, while in fact you remained in your selfishness. For instance, I would always like a house full of people; my husband, also known as “add a place to your table”, lays a claim to the etymology of his name (he who lives in the forest), and he’d rather emigrate to the woods than share companage and double the cheerfulness. The balance is quite difficult to reach, and it requires tolerance on both sides. Measuring who moves towards the other is pretty hard, also because in the meanwhile we have added four more places to the table, and those are permanent: lunch and dinner, on a daily basis.

When in doubt, anyway, please obey. Subdue yourself in full trust. To make another example, in my view, everything is to be planned, so we can squeeze in as many appointments as we can, like pinball: the more goals we achieve, the more points we score. In my husband’s view, on the other hand, the best ideas happen in boredom, in the void, and I must admit that sometimes it works; it happens, just because we have three spare hours, that we randomly watch together “Luci della ribalta” or the undergrounds of san Clemente, or we have an endless football game including all of us three girls, who sometimes leave the field to pick flowers, or that we invent new games, even if the most popular remains the dear old “tell me you’re fat if you dare”. Let’s also say that from time to time planning has its own reasons, if you consider pediatricians dentists parties little friends catechisms matches competitions, but I am beginning to be a little more flexible, the supreme quality of any wife and mother. You will need, in fact, much more flexibility, when not only your husband, but also your children, will rotate around your capability of embrace. Their wellbeing, their serenity will at least partially rely, at least hopefully until they’re on their own (how many more years to come?), on your capability to absorb their bad moods, whims, tiredness, discontent. I don’t know why, but this is a privilege that remains all ours. Our children give their worst with us, and this is well-known. On the other hand, who do you vent to your anger to, if not to whom you know is going to love you after you’re done? With whom do you put down any mask, any restraint, and you display the whole catalogue of your deepest degradation, if not with whom will never abandon you (like your best friend from college, which would be me, by the way, and viceversa)? “Look, now I need to complain a little bit”: we both know it, now. When the phone calls open that way, you just have to listen, be noisily quiet, to sympathize with conviction, to admire exaggeratedly and absolutely not to give bright suggestions. Because on those moments one doesn’t want a solution, but just energetic and little wordy pat-pats on the shoulder.

Here, kids learn this roughly on their third minute of life: we will always embrace them, and so the overflowing diaper, the not-given candy or the homework that’s too hard – according their age- invariably translate into a reprisal to us, under the disguise of whims, long faces, cries, various insults (my latest is “fascist colonel,” I just got it a short while ago). Sometimes I try and say, “Kids, I’m going out to get some cigarettes”, but nobody believes me, probably because I don’t smoke. If I may risk forseeing the future, even Luigi will take advantage of your soft structure – even if you weigh 110 pounds, you’re soft inside – to utter his opposition to all the annoying sides of human existance, which, in some mysterious way for you but all-evident to him, will all be traced back to you. Don’t worry. It’s nothing, it will pass in the end. Try to embrace him even in those moments. He doesn’t want a solution, either; he wants you to encourage him, to tell him you appreciate what he does, and, if I may say so, for how I know your husband and a decent set of samples of the same species, to allow him to withdraw like a prehistoric man into his cave, which often takes the more technological form of a computer screen, but in substance it doesn’t change: the hunter’s rest. And don’t complain with him. Call me or some other friend, a female one, warn us in advance not to care too much about what you’ll say, and start groaning a bit. Never do it with him, because if you complain, a man (I don’t know why, whether he’s a psychiatrist, a philosopher, or a manologist of any sort) will try and find a practical solution. He’ll offer to prolong the nanny’s working hours or to take longer breaks, when you just wanted him to say it’s all working just fine as it is, that you are an admirable, unbeatable heroine. And don’t begin, I know you, to ask yourself  if you were wrong, if he was really the right one for you…this is the devil’s doing – whose meaning comes from dia ballein, to divide. He wants to divide: us from ourselves, ourselves from God, and us from the person we swore loyalty to. It’s not you who went wrong, nor him. It is just that embracing is our charism, guiding and supporting is theirs. And I don’t even think there are cultural differences, I don’t know, see the manologist above. But I have a super dear friend of mine who lives in Germany, a genius, a superlative head. I hadn’t heard from her in a while, and every now and then I happened to imagine her life, completely different from ours, a couple with interchangeable roles, he pushing his stroller and she going to a meeting or planning the week. I called her on her birthday, and I found out she had decided to stay at home and be a mom, archiving her degree in electronic engineering. Moreover, we ended up sharing every single word on family dynamics, hers and those of a Bulgarian percentage of her Teutonic friends with whom she confronts, in greatly envied (by me) mornings drinking tea or in afternoons set in parks that I imagine to be tidier than my living room. And apart from the fact that where she is the streets are clean and the pink car parking spots (for moms) are respected, we didn’t notice any other noteworthy difference between us. Dear Margherita, what else can I say? I promise I will watch over you, over your happiness which you will have to start building now, even if I invite you to find more powerful guardian angels than I am. Unfortunately, I’m just a couple years ahead of you in life, and I keep getting the same things wrong, with the junk trade of someone in her twenties, constantly looming over me. In exchange then, you may also help me explain to my girls that the story of the prince arriving and saving you needs a bit of reworking…

Never in my life would I have imagined reconsidering the highly boring sermons released, completely free of charge, by the greengrocer of the holiday village, Mrs. Pots (her real name, not a nickname due to her cylindrical physical conformation). Not even the pearls of wisdom strung one after the other by the little women taking fresh air along the street with my grandmother, in the evening. To us little chicks, dealing with wearing make-up for the first time and purposefully slipping shoulder straps – you only need a little jerk with your shoulder – they launched disapproving looks, and sighs foreseeing the worst possible future for us. The image of the woman they evoked in their speeches, strong and silent, capable of holding up the whole family like a wheel hub does with its spokes seemed less plausible to me than Sigourney Weaver playing the role of Ripley in the 80’s movie Alien. I wasn’t capable of supporting myself, let alone supporting someone else.

Then, luckily, you grow up, or at least you try, and I’m sorry neither of my grandmothers had the chance to meet my four kids, all of them now grown up, very dirty but safe, and without too many stitches. Grandma Gina would have found something to say nevertheless, since I forgot how to crochet and I could improve my domestic economy skills: “My mom is very good at warming up frozen food”, Bernardo told a friend once, to convince him to stay over for dinner. But they would have appreciated their report cards, especially the French professor, and their pietas: “I’m going to be a saint when I grow up  – Lidia told me once – maybe saint Therese Delilah.

I often think of them, to the women of other generations, when I see women in search of identity and are therefore suffering because of it. They didn’t have to try too hard, they already had a role, they had already been given one. Something that may have protected them, made their personal research less difficult. They didn’t look unhappy to me, and if they were they kept it for themselves. If I had spoken to them about obedience, they would have understood me.

Now, instead, I have a few Christian friends with whom we can discuss our ideas on marriage. Because if we share these reflections with our “worldly” friends, either they insult us or they pity us, or they invite us to ask for a quick psychiatric consult. You can expect this. The strange thing is that even between the Christians, if you start talking about submission they think you are joking. “No. Sorry. What do you mean? You are being ironic, aren’t you?”

There were already few of us Christians – not that they didn’t warn us, with the story of the salt and the yeast – and what more, sometimes we don’t even make a great effort to get far from the Vulgata, not meaning saint Jerome’s, in this case, but the common mentality that emphasizes freedom, self-determination, one’s own will as the highest and only untouchable values. Talking about submission raises disapproval, disconcert, rebellion, irritation, even disgust. And not only for the original sin that has us hate the idea of obeying someone apart from ourselves, but even for this autarchic culture in which we are all immersed, even as Christians. And we would be those who had been told to serve others, to put ourselves in the last place. Saint Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, explains how we serve one another in the couple: “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands.” Not even the priests dare say this anymore, afraid of  being lapidated by us females. But I’ve personally seen in the life of those who wanted to try it, that this is the way to salvation. Not the heaven that hopefully awaits us, but salvation even in this life, that is peace, a matrimonial life full and fulfilling. A life that also non-believers should perhaps try and experience. Because, as Paul explains a few lines later, what happens next is this: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her… Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”.

It may also be true that all happy families look similar – who could ever contradict Tolstoj – but even among those unhappy I cannot see a huge degree of fantasy: betrayals, arm wrestling, subtle proofs of strength, measurement of the forces on the field, “I did more,” “no, I did,” “let’s call a judge.” As usual, the only really new word on the subject comes from God. When we talk – in a low voice, to avoid lynching – about submission we must exit the language of the world, which reads everything in the perspective of dominion, of power. Our king is on a cross, but so he won against the only unbeatable enemy, i.e. death. Therefore we must also exit the logic of power, turning it totally upside down. First of all, because submission is not out of depreciation, you don’t choose it because you think you’re not worth it. Moreover, the fruit of the woman’s choice is the fact that the man will be ready to die for it. When St. Paul tells women to accept this submission, he doesn’t think they are inferior at all. Actually, we owe it to Christianity for the only real great re-evaluation of women. The greatest of all creatures is a woman, to begin with. And Jesus honored women so much that he also scandalized people. He first revealed Himself after the Resurrection to them; who knows, maybe the males were all gone to the stadium, since it was Sunday. “Basically, St. Peter was a sucker before the Holy Spirit”, my son summarized once, with a slightly colored vision, yet theologically sound.

The submission that Paul is talking about is a gift, and a free one as any other; it would be a duty, otherwise. It is a spontaneous gift of oneself, out of love. I renounce my selfishness for you. And if we really want to speak in terms of greatness or smallness, of strength or weakness, of power, it is better to remember that “he that is greatest among you, as he that doth serve”. This measures the greatness of a person.

“Let the most intelligent use his intelligence”, said my mom when we were little, hoping by this noble call to raise good sentiments in the three of us siblings, when we would beat each other up for very valid reasons such as the choice of a TV channel or the conquest of a bicycle.  Just for the record, her call never worked. A woman doesn’t need to feel diminished by this invitation of St. Paul; on the contrary. The problem is that, during many centuries and along with many cultures, we have been “held down,” not in this perspective of a free and spontaneous gift, but under the logic of power and strength. So talking about obedience still touches somebody’s nerves. Feminism, in this sense, had the credit to bring forward instances of justice, when there was very little justice (and in many non-Christian cultures there’s still very little of it). The only thing is that it gave the wrong answers, and it produced a lot of unhappiness. There is a new slavery in women who believe to be liberated while they probably are aiming at the wrong target. But I also know many women – like those of the generation before us – who naturally obey to their husband, because that’s in the order of things, the woman is for the man. “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you,” Genesis says. There’s a hidden spark here, a way to happiness. Already here, on this earth. So the woman obeys because she can listen, not because she undervalues herself. The humble is someone who knows who he is, which are his riches and his weaknesses. Even if one thing is to know it, another is somebody who tells you, so guys, I’m taking this opportunity to invite you not to speak about the distressing repetitiveness of my menus too much, nor do I find strictly necessary to call me doctor flatbelly in a high tune in front of everybody. Anyway, when a woman subdues herself not to be crushed but to embrace, she also points the way to the man, and the whole family. The woman precedes the man, who needs to be embraced. With such a woman, who is loyal, who doesn’t play the rival, who doesn’t want to take control of everything, to dominate, who doesn’t even behave like a sissy, a man can be fertile.

Loving in the first place, but also in the last place. We also perform the duty to keep loving, to maintain the fire lit in the house. A faithfulness which can also become essential when love – which is not only a feeling but a commandment in the first place, demands a strong, steady decision. It takes a strong decision, for instance, not to leave the marriage when you are betrayed. Warning: the reading of what follows is strictly forbidden to my husband, and the noble words that follow apply to any wedding but mine.

But even a woman who is betrayed has a possibility to defend her love, which is in a serious life-endangering condition: she can remain faithful and keep on loving. It is a terrible storm, but not a shipwreck. It is a vase that breaks, and that will not be new anymore, but even if the signs of where it’s been glued are visible, it will hold until the end. We as women also defend life this way, bringing its flag high even when everything seems lost. To forgive doesn’t mean to forget what happened. It is not refusing to look at the face of grief. It is not refusing to give it its importance because in the end the good and the bad are undistinguished. It is not indifference. It is deciding to stem disorder, and to let the good win. The women who manage it are the stronger, the most capable of love, their shoulders are wider, they are able to perform the miracle you need to overcome a betrayal. The same cannot be said for men, because a man and a woman love in a different way: the woman with a specific love, capable of understanding originality. Man is fragile, and not always capable of understanding the differences between women. Only these, in the most painful, entangled and despaired situations can proclaim hope and stay up on their feet to give courage again to everybody. But even without getting to the real, consumed, enacted, betrayal, to a menace of death to the relationship, there are many possible small betrayals. There is by necessity a stage when habit takes off a little shine.

Even Robert Redford’s – non the wrinkly director of Sundance, but the legendary man who made himself in the Great Gatsby – wife, probably, seeing him wandering about the house in underpants and unmatched socks, clinging to the remote control in front of a Lakers match, would be tempted to start exchanging messages with the young and good-looking greengrocer from West Hollywood.

Even in these cases love works if you make a decision, and you don’t follow your emotions, your needs, your instinctual part. How sad is the most, the very most of contemporary films and books: a lamentation on nothingness, a boring tautology, a demonstration that obeying your own selfishness you are unwell, you are disquiet and never satisfied. All grains of wheat refusing to fall in the soil. Celebrations of “I’m not like that,” or “I don’t feel that way.” Wojtyla told the couples he went camping with during summer: don’t say “I love you,” but, “I participate with you in the love of God.” A very different kind of music.

Costanza Miriano

“Sposati e sii sottomessa” (Vallecchi 2011 – Sonzogno 2013)

info sposatiesiisottomessa@gmail.com

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For the english version Zelinda Davolio. THANKS!
Visit her website https://costanzamiriano.com/about/english-version/
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=og48h85r564
 
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