To His Wife


When I found this passage during my graduate studies, I wanted to use it if I were ever to marry. I lost the reference and pretty much forgot about it until a few months ago. On the occasion of Neil’s wedding, it popped back into my head that I should look for it again. I wasn’t even sure Tertullian was the author–and he was. The Latin original has a great quality of poetry about it. I wonder if it has ever been set to music. English translation follows.

Ad Uxorem II, 8:7-8

Quale jugum fidelium duorum
unius spei,
unius voti,
unius disciplinae,
eiusdem servitutis.
Ambo fratres,
ambo conservi;
nulla spiritus carnisue discretio,
atquin vere duo in carne una.
Ubi caro una,
unus et spiritus:
simul orant,
simul volutantur,
simul ieiunia transigunt,
alterutro docentes,
alterutro exhortantes,
alterutro sustinentes.

In ecclesia Dei
pariter utrique,
pariter in convivio Dei,
pariter in angustiis,
in persecutionibus,
in refrigeriis.
Neuter alterum celat,
neuter alterum vitat,
neuter alteri gravis est.
Libere aeger visitatur,
indigens sustentatur.
Elemosinae sine tormento,
sacrificia sine scrupulo,
quotidiana diligentia sine impedimento;
non furtiva signatio,
non trepida gratulatio,
non muta benedictio.
Sonant inter duos psalmi et hymni,
et mutuo provocant,
quis melius Domino suo cantet.
Talia Christus videns et audiens gaudet.
His pacem suam mittit.
Ubi duo, ibi et ipse;
ubi et ipse, ibi et malus non est.

To His Wife, book II, 8:7-8

What kind of yoke is that of two believers,
one hope,
one vow,
one formation,
one and the same servitude?
Brother and sister,
both companions in service,
no difference of spirit or of flesh;
yet truly “two in one flesh.”
Where the flesh is one,
one is the spirit.
Together praying,
together reverencing,
together fasting;
mutually teaching,
mutually exhorting,
mutually sustaining.

In the Church of God;
together they are found,
together at the banquet of God,
together in difficulties,
in persecutions,
in refreshments.
Neither conceals from the other;
neither avoids the other;
neither is a burden to the other.
Freely the sick are visited,
the needy relieved.
Alms given without consternation,
sacrifices made without question,
daily cares without hindrance:
no secret affection,
no trembling greeting,
no mute benediction.
Psalms and hymns resound between the two,
and they call forth
who shall better sing to their Lord.
Christ sees and hears such things and rejoices.
He sends his peace to them.
Where these two are, he himself is;
And where he is, evil is not.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Liturgy, spirituality. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to To His Wife

  1. Pingback: OCM 11: Of Desire, Preparation, and Celebration | Catholic Sensibility

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