What is submission?

Sarah asked, in this thread, what submission really is. There was some conversation and then Martha expressed genuine confusion. I turned to Fr. Lovasik, who time and again, can cut to the chase and bring clarity to weighty topics that tend to be muddied when they are viewed through the lens of today's society. In 1962, Fr. Lovasik quoted Ephesians 5:20-6:4 and then he had this brief elucidation:

This is a perfect solution to a major family problem. Let the wife be subject to her husband as if he were Christ. Let the husband love his wife as Chrsit loves the Church. If such a relationsip existed between husband and wife, they would be in harmony as the Church and Christ are--in perfect love and peace.

"Yes, but..." I hear you thinking. But my husband isn't perfect as Christ was. I can't submit to a man who isn't perfect. I might be smarter than he is. I might be better educated than he is. I might be more thoughtful than he is. I might be more religious than he is. How can I submit to him?

The Blessed Mother was conceived without sin. She lived a sinless life. The only other person on earth who lived such a life was Christ himself. And they both lived under the guardianship of Joseph. God didn't make a mistake there. He could have saved Joseph from sin before he was born, just the way that He saved Mary. But he didn't. He put a flawed man in charge. And then, it took a sinless woman to have the humility to truly submit to him.

So, the two sinless saints lived in perfect obedience to the imperfect man--the father, the husband, the clear head of the household. When we look at the model of true perfection in family life, the indisputably holy Holy Family, we see how to submit. We can clear out the clutter of our present society. We can quell the voices that tell us that the Bible didn't really mean that one is in charge of the other. Of course it did! Women are created differently from men. And we need to trust the Creator with His plan for the family. He knew you would be smarter than your husband. He knew that you would be more devout. And still He made him the man and you the woman and he told you "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." Genesis 2:18.

"But that's Old Testament," comes the protest. "Christ changed all that." No, he didn't. Mary was the new Eve. She perfected that. Christ deliberately came to live in the midst of the Holy Family. There, Mary was the model of humility. She was an inspiration to her husband. She was his helper, first and foremost, because she perfectly loved her Son, and she modeled for everyone--even Joseph--how to do that.

How do we submit? We ask ourselves, "What would Mary do?" I promise you she wouldn't pout, she woudn't connive, she wouldn't demand her own way. She would draw heavily upon the sacraments to live a life of gentleness and grace and perpetual blessing to her family. Always. Not just when Joseph was behaving like the model husband. Not just when he was as holy as she was. She was a blessing when he brought a bad day at work home to the dinner table. She was a blessing when he was demanding. She was a blessing when he was hungry and irritable and when he forgot to take out the trash. We are helpers fit for our husbands when we are inspirations to them. We are imitators of the new Eve, the Blessed Mother, when our homes radiate the peacefulness and the faith of the little cottage in Nazareth.

Put yourself in that little cottage. I cannot imagine Mary grumbling or complaining as she went about her daily round. I can't hear her muttering about the menial labor of yet another workshirt to wash. I can't see her arguing at Joseph's decision-making ability. "But Joe, I'm nine months pregnant! Get real. You want me to travel to Bethlehem on a DONKEY?! And you want me to trust you--a mere mortal of a man--to get me and this baby there safely? You're nuts. That's not prudent. And I know prudence because I know virtue better than you do."

Instead, she trusted God's plan for the family. She inspired her husband to holiness. She modeled for all of us, including him, a perfect love for her son. And she lived a life of humility and grace. That's submission.