‘Best mama, best dada’: The spirit of Christmas is marriage
December 24, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — “The Virgin Mary is the best mama. St. Joe-vess is the best dada.”
That’s what my two-year-old son said, pointing at the statues when we set ourselves up in our church for Mass one Sunday. It was the Sunday when our priest, a hero who had provided the Mass all through 2020, homilized that the bonds of faith are stronger than the bonds of blood. Now, as I put together some thoughts for LifeSite for Christmas, I’m thinking about what my son said, and what Father said, and the Holy Family.
It seems as though the Holy Family was lonely on Christmas Eve. In Tomie dePaola’s Christmas book for children, Merry Christmas, Strega Nona, the old witch looks at the crèche in the village church and laments to the Christ Child, “You were all alone with your mama and Saint Joseph — all alone, just like Strega Nona is tonight.”
This is true to a point: the Holy Family was alone in its epoch, just as our less holy families are alone today in ours. Evil pressed Mary and Joseph and their newborn baby on all sides — a world choking on darkness, where mothers gruesomely sacrificed their children, men of influence spat on the institution of marriage, and sacralized prostitutes were revered as beacons of wisdom. So too our world — abortion, adultery, the worship of the reproductive system without the reproduction. There is nothing new under the sun.
But to harp on loneliness is to miss something important. It’s the same thing my son innocently overlooks when we go to Mass: the Virgin Mary is the best wife, and St. Joseph is the best husband. That’s how they could be the best mama and the best dada in the first place, and that’s why they were not alone, but together. Whatever unspeakable evils raged outside that stable on Christmas Eve, Joseph made himself a steadfast head and guardian of his household, and Mary submitted herself as helper and supporter to her groom. By repudiating the male cowardice and female rebellion of our first parents, these two spouses sanctified their home. They were not alone; they had each other, in a perfect union of chaste, self-giving love.
Satan despised that marriage, so the world, his domain, despises every such marriage. Today, the husband who stands up for the Faith and protects his household from idolatry and fornication and pornography and feminism earns seething hatred from a society that idolizes single mothers, worldly career women, and constant consumption. Wives who revere and submit to their husbands, who refuse to pay a stranger to raise their children, are mercilessly gaslighted, called brainwashed cult members with no will. Divorce is everywhere — everywhere, beloved by liberals and conservatives both, unlamented, un-condemned, enabled, accommodated in every religion, winked and nodded at, disgracefully, even in the Catholic Church. Separate, the world says constantly, so you can be free. Leave your husband. Leave your wife. Leave your children in daycare, public school, grandparents’ houses so you can be free, free, free to work, produce, contribute, consume.
The bonds of blood offer no protection from these evils. In fact, some of the most strident attacks against united spouses come from their respective families. Only an unbreakable bond of faith, the likes of which joined Joseph and Mary and Our Lord in the manger, confers that protection. A lot is said about how marriage requires hard work and dedication. For whatever reason, less is said about the flip-side of that coin: that marriage also requires the joy and happiness that inhere in husbands and wives unashamedly, unapologetically, un-self-consciously delighting in each other’s companionship and mutual mission.
For all the destruction they wreak, the tattooed feminist and the godless politician are not the primary enemy in our great battle. Nor are our allies the smiling think-tank and capitol personalities who solicit our allegiance. These smilers, too, champion divorce, sodomy, contraception, and every other evil made uncontroversial in our age. Our enemy is much closer — indeed, in our own houses. It’s the culture, on both sides of the political divide, that hates marriage, hates children, hates a husband and wife who take their God-given roles seriously and team up against it. Anyone who does not conscientiously fight this culture becomes it. Anyone who does, especially in this age, needs to seriously contemplate whether he’ll have the strength to accept martyrdom when it comes calling.
Don’t be misled: it’s a great honor and even a joy to fight this fight. Those spouses who embrace each other and defy the world will be reimbursed for their temporal suffering a thousandfold, in their relationship with God and with each other. Believe it or not, they will laugh.
What conclusion can I come to when I meditate on the best mama and the best dada, with their unbreakable bond of faith, at Christmas? It’s this: if you want to win the culture war, if you want to fight for innocent lives, you need to strive for the holiness of the Holy Family and fight for marriage first. Fight for your marriage first. If you rebel against your husband’s leadership, stop it. If you expect or allow anyone but your wife (and yourself) to raise your children, stop it. Remember Joseph, the best husband, and Mary, the best wife, and how they exemplified all the godly qualities laid out in Scripture for their respective states in life. Remember that God decided that the Good News could not come about except through a husband and wife, personally and jointly devoted to their newborn baby. Remember that marriage is a symbol of the perfect love of the Holy Trinity, is the image of that love, and that wherever people deface that image, they tread on the Godhead it represents and rain destruction down on themselves and their neighbors.
Think about this: in the two big “transgender kids in court” stories LifeSite covered, buried under all the lurid details about hormone poisoning and insane judges were two divorces. Contrast all the chaos that came out of those desecrated marriages with the image of enduring peace in Bethlehem on Christmas Day, when the years of Our Lord began. When it comes to restoring peace, no amount of activism or fundraising or voting will substitute for repairing and defending the marriages in our households, and then in our neighborhoods.
What is the Nativity? It’s the best mama and the best dada — the best wife and the best husband — bound not by blood, but by faith, with love so fierce that it begets. It is the Godhead expressed in the language of human life. It’s peace personified. Remember that this Christmas, and pursue it.