ST PAUL: “HUSBANDS, LOVE YOUR WIVES, JUST AS CHRIST LOVED THE CHURCH AND GAVE HIMSELF UP FOR HER.”
TRUE JOY FOR ALL WIVES: “LOSING HERSELF TO BRING TO LIFE THE PEOPLE SHE CARES ABOUT”
“When the Italian writer Costanza Miriano wrote a book on marriage she could not have imagined the kind of controversy it would cause across the Mediterranean in Spain. The country’s main Left-wing parties condemned the work, ‘Sposati e sii sottomessa’ (‘Marry him and be Submissive’), with some claiming that ‘it encourages violence against women’ and ‘degrades the image of woman’. Condemnation rolled from the Spanish parliament, notably from members of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) and the United Left (Isquierda Unida), and there were even attempts to ban the book.
The title, of course, is taken from St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians: ‘Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord, the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church.’ Costanza is a mother of four and a national television reporter… In the eyes of some non-Catholics, Miriano doesn’t look like a typical Catholic woman. She is tall, blond, athletic and always elegantly dressed…
COSTANZA’S BOOK SEEMS MERELY A PRETEXT TO ATTACK THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
Her first book was a great success in Italy, with more than 20 reprints. Yet it seems that almost no one protesting against the work in Spain has actually read the work, judging it merely on the basis of its title. She learned from a Spanish journalist who interviewed her that the main reason the book sparked protests is that it is published in Spain by Nuevo Inicio. The publishing house is owned by Archbishop Javier Martinez of Grenada, who has clashed repeatedly with the Spanish Left over abortion. So Costanza’s book seems merely a pretext to attack the Catholic Church.
THE BEAUTY OF TOTAL LOVE
Costanza is a clever, funny and humble woman who has written a book addressed to women who are scared of getting married, and also for wives who have forgotten the true meaning of Christian marriage.
‘Submission’ for the Italian writer, as for St Paul, does not mean slavery but service. ‘Men tend towards egoism,’ she says, ‘and women can overcome this negative inclination of men not by complaining, shouting or beating her fists, but by showing him the beauty of a total love, the sacrifice of his own selfishness.’
WOMEN ARE TO REGAIN THEIR VALUABLE POSITION IN SOCIETY
The book has earned plaudits at the Holy See. The Vatican’s semi-official newspaper ‘L’Osservatore Romano’ hailed it as a ‘little manual of evangelisation’. In the book, Costanza attempts to reassert the true value of woman in the world, starting from her role in the family. Her capacity to be ‘submissive’ corresponds to her ability to sustain the world by succouring and supporting her children and husband. Without women and their role of wife, mother and worker, the family – and therefore society – could not flourish. In order to rediscover this truth, Costanza argues, women need to focus on the service they are called to in marriage, ‘to be welcoming, but not because a man forces her, but because that’s what we love to do.
Even women who believe that abortion is a right, if they are mothers, and if you ask them what was the happiest day of their lives, do they not say: ‘When I became a mother’?’ Costanza asks. So what should women do to regain their valuable position in society and in the world, ‘losing herself to bring to life the people she cares about’? And what is a husband’s duty?
AND WHAT ABOUT A HUSBAND’S DUTY?
Costanza has written a second book, which should be published in Spain imminently. It’s called ‘Marry Her and Be Ready to Die for Her’. This nods, of course, towards another phrase of St Paul: ‘Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her.’
Costanza says: ‘At the bottom of every human being there is a sense of emptiness that is filled only by giving oneself completely to someone. This is the way to happiness.’ A wife submissive to a husband, ready to give his life for her: that’s the message of Costanza’s two books. Surely this is hardly an outrage to women.
Commenting on the negative reaction to her book in Spain, Costanza reflects: ‘Nobody is obliged to buy a book. You can find them stupid, poorly written, dishonest, but why ban them?’
The efforts to ban the book have, of course, backfired. Costanza has not only fought off attempts to restrict her free speech, but also has a new bestseller – this time in Spain – on her hands.”
– This article by Laura Gotti Tedeschi entitled “The world’s most ‘dangerous’ Catholic writer” was published in “The Catholic Herald” issue January 3 2014. For subscriptions please visit http://www.catholicherald.co.uk (external link).