Vanity, Vanity, All is Vanity….. True Womanhood, 1894

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This article is a good reminder that, although we may not have the wealth that is talked about, we still must protect our hearts from the vanity of the world, and anything else that wants to eke its way into our hearts and be a stumbling block to being a gracious, loving and lovely Catholic woman! Put down the romance novels, the secular magazines and turn a deaf ear to the vain and worldly television shows. The devil uses these things to get a foothold into our lives and cause havoc wherever he can. We must fight for what is pure and good and holy….and it starts with our minds and what we are putting into it!

It is also a reminder that we must pray and ask God for guidance when choosing a spouse, as this unfortunate man must not have been taught!

How the selfishness and folly of a fashionable woman can make the most magnificent home intolerable.

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From True Womanhood, Rev. Bernard O’Reilly, 1893

We wish the reader to understand the term ” fashionable woman” in the odious or objectionable sense in which it is taken by the sound judgment of people of the world.

With “fashions” in so far as they are unobjectionable and mark the changes in dress to which even the best and least worldly persons in society—men as well as women—have to conform, we do not mean to find fault; this would be foreign to our present purpose and serve only to distract the reader unprofitably.

It will be seen by a glance at what we have to say, that our censure addresses itself to an exceptional class of wealthy women, whose number, unhappily, is increasing daily. The home of the wealthiest, we take it, no matter how splendid outwardly or how magnificent and luxurious within, can be at best but splendid misery, where unselfish and devoted love does not preside over the household, provide for the comfort of every person there, and minister to their happiness by the bright cheerfulness without which the most gorgeous furniture has no luster, and the electric warmth of affection, without which courtly manners are but a lifeless show.

Here is a man who has fought a hard battle with fortune, but has won it at last. Like true soldiers on every field, he has not cared during his long struggle for many comforts, —luxury was beyond his reach. But now that fortune lavishes her favors on him, he wishes to enjoy life in a home that shall be, he hopes, a paradise.

Would that many of our most thrifty and fortunate men, though never so upright and honorable, would remember the old pagan superstition about exposing one’s bliss to the eyes of the gods or flaunting one’s prosperity in the sunlight! The “loudest” wealth is never likely to yield unmixed or lasting felicity; this is better secured by quiet tastes, and the repose enjoyed in the shade and with the select few.

But our fortunate man has built and furnished a home so comfortable that only a companion who can be devoted to him is wanting to complete it. He has been attracted by a handsome face and a name without reproach.

Perhaps, on his part, there has been none of that romantic feeling to which the superficial world gives the name of love; but there is in his choice the hearty purpose of finding one who will love him truly, and to whose happiness he wishes to devote his fortune and himself.

She is a woman, young, indeed, and stainless, but selfish and vain; fond of dress, of admiration, of display, and who is anxious to wed a fortune large enough to permit her to gratify all her frivolous tastes.

Her husband had the ambition to succeed in business,—that ambition is now gratified; but he had other and nobler aims which he had to forego in the hard striving after wealth, and which now possess his soul.

He would fain cultivate his mind; he would indulge his taste for such of the fine arts as make home beautiful and home enjoyments more delightful.

In the wife’s family were several persons noted for their culture and scientific attainments; indeed, an accidental acquaintance with one of these had led to a first introduction to the woman whom he had made his bride, and in whom he hoped to find a perfect sympathy for the intellectual aspirations which served to brighten the future before him.

But the literary tastes and scientific pursuits of her relatives had been this woman’s aversion from girlhood; and her husband was not slow in discovering that there was not one particle of intellectualism in her composition.

Her honeymoon, instead of being spent in traveling, was taken up with an unbroken round of receptions and parties. Her powers of endurance, when the ball-room or the theater were concerned, seemed to be unlimited; but, once in her privacy, she seemed never to think that her husband wished to enjoy her companionship, or that she was expected to converse with him, to play or sing for him, or to make a single effort at being his companion for a single hour.

The afternoons were spent in the park, when her equipage had to outshine the richest, and her toilet was made to eclipse the most fashionable. The evenings, for the most part, were consumed in interminable sittings with her French maid, who decked her mistress out with incomparable art for the ball or the theater.

The bridegroom had hoped that this thirst for display and dissipation would be quenched by the unlimited indulgence of the first year of married life, and that after this necessary infliction he should have the quiet of his home and the sweet company of his young wife. Besides, his health could not stand the serious disturbance caused in his regular habits by late hours and this unnatural changing of day into night and night into day.

The second and third years of his matrimonial life found him disappointed, dispirited, and utterly miserable, with the certainty, moreover, of having bound himself for life to a woman who never could be a companion to him, who had neither head nor heart, nothing, in fine, to recommend her but a pretty face, like a painted mask covering an empty skull.

His beautiful home became intolerable to him; and there is no knowing what desperate or downward course the heart-broken man might have pursued, if he had not been asked by one of his wife’s relatives to accompany him on a scientific expedition to our Western territories.

This offer kindled once more his purest ambition; and, after limiting to a very generous amount the monthly expenditure of his young wife, he was glad to escape from his home and to seek knowledge and fame in the field of science.

She, meanwhile, had but one purpose in life, to dress. At the death of a distinguished fellow-citizen she literally spent three whole days and nights visiting the most fashionable warehouses and closeted with the most reputed milliners, to find out what style of hat and what dress she might wear at the funeral, so as to throw the whole of “Vanity Fair” into the shade.

When the springtide of that heartless beauty had passed away, it was already autumn for her. The complexion which was her only charm had been early ruined by the reckless and needless use of cosmetics, much more even than by her feverish life of enjoyment.

No splendor of dress could conceal the fatal decay, and no depth of paint could mask it. And with the consciousness of this premature decline, her fretfulness and peevishness made her intercourse intolerable, unrelieved as its dullness was by a single mental accomplishment, or a solitary conversational grace.

There are showy trees in our American forests whose brilliant flowers attract the eye in spring; but the flowers themselves are of an offensive odor, and they bear no wholesome fruit, while the wood itself is unfit for any useful purpose.

The husband, on his return from the West, sought relief from the dreariness of his home-life in the speculations of the stock-exchange, heeding little, if at all, the remonstrances of a wife he heartily despised.

When last heard of, his name was mentioned as one of many ruined by some sudden fall in railroad stocks. His house and furniture passed out of his possession, and he was left alone with poverty, obscurity, and a wife without head or heart or even beauty.

“I have seen on earth angelic and heavenly manners, admirable beauties in this world, insomuch that the remembrance charms and afflicts me; for all that I now behold seem but dreams, shadows, and smoke. Love, wisdom, merit, sensibility, and grief, formed, in weeping, a sweeter concert than any other ever heard on earth, and the hearers were so attentive to this harmony, that not a leaf trembled on the branches, such was the sweetness which pervaded all the air around.— Henelm Digby, 1848

“It is strange and amazing that those very women who are so delicate that the mere humming of a bee is sufficient to chase them from the most delightful garden of the world, should have the courage to introduce discord into their houses.”— La Moin, La Devotion Aisee.

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“The first duty of the wife is to study to be in every way she can the companion, the help, and the friend of her husband. Indeed on her capacity to be all this, and her earnest fulfillment of this threefold function depends all the happiness of both their lives, as well as the well-being of the whole family.” -Fr. Bernard O’Reilly, The Mirror of True Womanhood, 1893
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A Festival, A Day to Remember

by Theresa (VanderPutten) Byrne

Have you ever been so excited that when bedtime comes, you feel like you couldn’t possibly sleep a wink? When you finally fall asleep, it is a restless tossing and turning while your subconscious is still wide awake….

That was me, age 10, Friday night before the Farmers Market.

I lived and dreamed of the Saturdays that my dad and I would be up, before the rooster crowed, packing the trailer with baked goods, veggies and whatever else we planned to sell.

My sister, Virginia, and I had to take turns on Saturdays but she tended to like her rest more than the thrill of the open market, so many times I could convince her to stay home and let me take her place.

I could feel the excitement down to my fingertips, as we pulled into our selling spot among the other venders.

I was a born saleswoman and I loved people, so this was just ‘my cup of tea!’

I couldn’t understand my sister happily sleeping at home while all this was taking place, but I was glad to have taken her spot!

We would set up our tables and get ready; sales stared at 7:00 am sharp!

As the years passed I established quite a clientele for my baked goods. I hand-painted a sign that said,”Tweety’s Sweeties,” and many an old fellow would dream of Saturday and the fresh apple pies it brought!

I loved being in charge of our stand and my dad had time to wander and build relationships with other vendors, while I wheeled and dealed.

A couple of times we went and picked up trailer loads of watermelons, from the Ozarks, to add to our Saturday sales.

My younger brother got into hand-squeezed lemonade and we would put a big sign on him that said, “Follow me for fresh lemonade.” Then he would wander through the crowds of people and drum up business.

The Farmers Market manager ended up shutting down our superb advertising. I think other vendors were jealous at the amount of business this brown eyed lad brought in! haha

Good, good times! Good, good memories!

A few weeks ago when my Brendan excitedly told me about how Angelo, my youngest brother, was going to have booths and do a sale, all I could see was little me, just waiting for Farmers Market Day!

The day was set; the sale would take place at Grandma’s house. All the cousins were excited and we had two weeks to make our wares.

Devin, my husband, and Brendan decided on sling shots. (Devin makes a wicked sling shot!) They got to work, felling dead and overgrown branches, finding any limbs with a V shape. After trimming off extra leaves they had enough to make thirteen slingshots.

They let the wood dry and about a week later you could find us in our shop, the sander on and camo duct tape ready to go.

Devin cut to size, while Brendan and I sanded and then we all put them together.

This was a bigger task than it sounds but some great family memories were made.

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As the day of the sale approached, the kids’ excitement mounted. Just like Christmas, half the fun is preparing for it!

The day before the sale we picked blackberries and Sienna and I made honey blackberry muffins. We wrapped them and priced them at 25 cents apiece.

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Yay! The day of the sale had arrived!

At 5:45pm, on Sunday, the fun began. All the parents went traipsing down through the weeds, through some of Grandpa’s junk, down to the far side of my parent’s property. The boys had mowed a spot, set up little booths and a couple small tables for tired buyers….

(Ernie, looking frustrated because he’s last in line and going to miss the great deals! You snooze, you lose, Ernie!  :D  )

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My younger sister ran a concession stand with your choice of drinks, snacks and fruit.

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There was a booth of hand blacksmithed knives which were unique and priced to sell.

Then we had a couple booths with small toys and trinkets.

The ice cream lady was down the way and you could get a finger lickin’ cone for 50 cents!

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My Brendan’s slingshots sold like hot cakes and he brought in a whopping $6.00!

Sienna’s blackberry muffins spoke to the more health conscious buyers, with Grandpa being her best customer! She sold out and was shopping within ten minutes of opening!

A true girl, she spent every penny she had on her, while Brendan saved back the majority of his earnings.

My nephew, Toni, had set up a game with a bunch of empty shotgun shells on different levels. There was a starting time and by it a bucket of gravel. For 10 cents you got a minute of time to try and knock down all the shells.

You should have heard the laughter as the young (and old) guys tried to outdo each other!

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There was even a spot the boys had set up that, if you wanted to chat and chomp on your wares (or smoke a cigar) you could do it at their little outdoor coffee spot!

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When our coins ran low, hot and a little bug-bitten, we headed back up to the house.

No amusement park, fair, circus or the like, could have held a candle to the fun the kids and the parents had that day!

Without a doubt, this was a day to remember!

“To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today.”

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“Life is messy, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Busy children trump an immaculate house any day of the week. Does it really matter that my carpet has a juice stain on it, or that my cupboard drawer no longer works because my son thought it was a stepping stool? Things can be replaced, but nothing can replace the feeling of ‘home’ that one gets when a house is bustling with children.” -Darlene Schacht
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In Praise of UnMarried Women – Fr. Daniel A. Lord

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By DANIEL A. LORD, S.J.

Australian Catholic Truth Society 1950

Whatever literature may say about spinsters, and however much history may ignore them – except for outstanding spinsters like Elizabeth of England – the Church’s attitude toward unmarried women has been, from the first, one of reverence.

This I came to know when my faith emerged from mere youthful practice to intelligent study and appreciation. Among the Jews a spinster was merely an unfortunate girl not lucky enough to have won a husband for herself. Among the pagans she was usually the slave or bondmaiden, the grudgingly tolerated hanger-on in the house of her parents or her luckier married sisters.

With St. Paul all that was changed. He loved virginity, and he turned to the ministrations and loyalty – as many a parish has done since – of the splendid young and older unmarried women of his time. The legends of St. Paul and St. Tecla – whose name was the Greek word for pearl – are many and beautiful. Phoebe, to whom Paul sends affectionate messages, seems to have been one of the first consecrated Catholic virgins.

ST. PAUL SPEAKS

It was left for the great St. Paul, who could find for marriage no more appropriate comparison than that of the love which Christ bears for His Church (see Ephesians 5: 21-32), to speak almost the first words in praise of those who deliberately did not marry or who, for any good reasons, remained unmarried.

“But,” he wrote to the Corinthians, “I say to the unmarried and to widows, it is good for them if they so remain, even as I.” (1 Cor 7: 8)

Then he directs to men who remain unmarried and cherish their virginity strong praise that quite clearly he means for both men and women. For he continues: “I would have you free from care. He who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please God.

Whereas he who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife; and he is divided. And the unmarried woman, and the virgin, thinks about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy in body and in spirit. Whereas she who is married thinks about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.” (1 Cor 7: 32-34)

UNMARRIED SAINTS

This was an astonishing teaching to people who had regarded virginity as rather a futile thing and the unmarried girl as the object of a none too gentle pity. Yet instantly the early Church, which loved the virgin Christ and the Virgin Mary and the beloved virgin John, took to heart the good advice. It is noteworthy that the virgin martyrs of those early days were not nuns in any modern sense. They had in some cases taken the veil of virginity at the hands of Peter or of Paul, but they lived at home, served the poor in the big cities, and, save for their intense concentration on the love of God and their neighbors, lived, as we would say, in the world.

Such was the young Agnes, the older Agatha, Cecilia, and half a dozen others forced into marriage against their will and carrying to God through martyrdom the glory of their virginity. They had detached themselves from the love of any man to give their whole love to the greatest of the sons of men.

They cared for their houses and were devoted to their parents. They ministered to the poor and at dawn or at dusk went to the catacombs for Mass and prayer. They were saintly spinsters, if you wish, or spinster saints. True, the pagan world regarded them as abnormal and queer and fit only for death. The Christians loved them unforgettably.

GREAT CONTRIBUTION

Their contribution to the early Church is beyond computation. They lived the purity that was supposed to characterize the religion of the Savior. They did the good works that He had listed as sign and proof of His followers.

They were personally the great correctives for the abuses of marriage and for the corruption of morals. They demonstrated with shining and spectacular force that it was possible for married couples to remain faithful since normal girls with all the normal desires and impulses could remain pure while unmarried.

They led along paths of maidenly modesty other girls who could not accept a lifetime of virginity, until premarital purity made them worthy to be mothers of the little sons and daughters of our God and Father.

The Church has never forgotten those first unmarried saints, the models of the millions who were to be the most distinctive and unique contribution of Christianity to world morality. Christian marriage would never have been possible without them. Christian virginity got its pattern from their unforgettable acceptance of Christ’s new purity.

It is not at all an exaggeration to say that the unmarried Catholic woman of the present can look upon herself as the legitimate successor to these virgins and martyrs of earliest Christian times. She may be proud of that association and conscious of the possibility within her to repeat in our generation their great contribution to life, love, and the decencies.

REWARD

No doubt about it, the unmarried woman has the chance to win a reward exceeding great.

She is able daily to offer to God the beautiful perfume that is her virginal innocence. God loves her for that and honors her with the same kind of reverence that is due Mary. So do those of His followers who see life and measure values with a Christ-like eye.

If the cup of cold water given in Christ’s name wins eternal reward, what of the food and drink and clothes and housing that are provided by these generous women again and again and again?

May this saintly woman come very close to God. For there is no interfering love in her life. Those she loves, she loves unselfishly, almost without human reward but in the calm certainly that God is pleased by her life. “Whatsoever you do for the least of these my little ones, you do for me.”

The words of the Savior, tremendously reassuring, never fitted anyone more perfectly than they do Catholic teachers, Catholic nurses, Catholic businesswomen, and those sisters, daughters, and aunts who do and do and do – endlessly and without probability of repayment – for the sons and daughters of others – and of God.

The fine Catholic example of this kind of women has far more influence than she herself dreams.

Her laborious unselfishness is a constant rebuke to the greed and self-indulgence of the world. She is one of those unrecognized heroines whose work is never properly praised but is always effective to a degree that will be measured by celestial weights and measures.

She is a not unworthy successor of the holy women of the primitive Church who, with the Apostles and the doctors of the Church, taught a new way of life to humanity.

 VISION

Nor can we forget the bright and inspiring vision of St. John. There upon the mount that is Sion he saw the Lamb of God surrounded by the specially honored one hundred and forty-four thousand, a mystical number embracing the vast host of those who will be nearest the Savior in eternity. Their closeness to the Savior, Saint John explains by one simple statement: “For they are virgins.” (See Rev 14:4)

Lift up your eyes, you heroines called spinsters! The Savior of the world loves you most especially and has a place for you in eternity in His own immediate company. It is a glorious certainty.

And if a certain group of spinsters will permit me to bring them back from those sublime heights to a more immediately grateful person . . . I thank you . . . and you . . . and you . . . and you . . . and all you others with whom it has been my happy privilege to be associated in a common enterprise during these many years. I know your holiness. I have felt your unselfishness. I know your shining beauty.

Surely my life has been made rich and full by the fact that I have counted you among my friends and partners in a work for the unmarried Christ and the Virgin Mary.

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FF Quote for the Day
“Keep yourself at peace and in complete repose, never become upset and never trouble yourself about anything, forget the past, live as though the future does not exist, live for Jesus in every moment that you are living, or, better, live as though you have no life in yourself, but allow Jesus to live in you at His leisure; to walk thus, in all circumstances and in all encounters, without fear or worry as is becoming the children of Jesus and Mary; never think of yourself voluntarily; abandon the care of your soul to Jesus alone. Your soul belongs to Him. It is therefore up to Him to take care of it because it is His property. Generally speaking, banish all fear and replace this feeling with love; in all of this, act gently, sweetly, steadily, without haste, without anger. Walk in this fashion in all graciousness, abandonment and complete confidence.”-Fr. Jacques Philippe, Searching For and Maintaining Peace of Heart

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This graceful Vintaj necklace can be worn every day as a reminder of your devotion to this wonderful and saintly couple, Saints Louis and Zelie Martin (St. Therese, the Little Flower’s parents). Get it blessed and you can use it also as a sacramental. What better way to honor this couple who we can pray to for our marriage and for our family! Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin, Pray for us! Order here.
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This ‘n’ That, How ‘Bout a Chat?

This last weekend was memorable for my family. My husband, Vincent, and most of the children at home went on a chartered bus from Kansas to Oklahoma City with a bus load of 58 people from our parish to peacefully protest the black mass that was being held at the Civic Center in Oklahoma City.

Let me backtrack. Our parish started a Knights of Columbus Council committed to the Traditional Mass about two years ago. Many men of the parish are involved. I could go on with a list of what these men have done for our parish in helping the needy, boosting morale, being there to raise money and serve food at funerals, cooking, cleaning……It is truly amazing!

Our Council is named after Father Kenneth Walker who was murdered just over two years ago. He himself was a Fourth Degree Knight and his father, Tom Walker, is also a Fourth Degree Knight and belongs to our Council.

Back to the Protest…..The Knights of Columbus raised $2800.00 to charter the bus (that’s a lot of money for a small parish with lots of big families!) and, with singing and praying, the band of 58 Catholics made their way to do what they could to make reparation for this terrible outrage that was taking place on Our Lady’s Feast of the Assumption.

Below are some pictures of our group at the Protest. My husband is Grand Knight of our Council and had the special privilege of leading the Procession.

On the Bus:

My husband, Vincent:

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Grandsons, Edward and Antonio:

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Rosie and Margy with their dad.

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Gabe Bogowith, Tom Walker, Vince VanderPutten, John Doucette, John Dorsey:

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Hubby, Vincent, on the left, Mr. Tom Walker (Fr. Kenneth Walker’s dad) on the right:

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Processing with Our Lady:

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Yes, we CAN make a difference! “Adam Daniels, who led the Black Mass, said attendance at this annual black mass is usually low because people may be scared to attend. He said the Christian events held in response to his also keep attendance down.

‘When you have the whole Roman legion out there, how likely are they to come and buy tickets?’ he said.” -Fox News

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On another note here is a beautiful video of nuns taking the Veil in 1963:

 

And I think you will enjoy this one. *Note: Definition of a Millennial – a person reaching young adulthood around the year 2000….

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Take a peek at the gorgeous Spanish Mantillas, beautifully made in Spain, that I am now selling on my site here!!

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Loving and Thanking God – Raising Good Catholic Children

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The devil trembles when, in spite of your not wanting to, you get on your knees and pray!

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How to Raise Good Catholic Children, by Mary Reed Newland

Spiritual and temporal needs over with, children can turn to the joy that is simply loving God. “I love You, Blessed Jesus, and I love Your Blessed Mother.”

This must be the part He listens for the hardest. It’s really all He asks, because if love is there and a right disposition, with grace the rest will follow.

So we encourage children to say it over and over until their whole idea of God is bound inseparably to their love for Him. After the loving comes the thanking; one follows the other with ease.

“And thank You for . . .” each night a different blessing, from babies and books to lollipops and circuses — anything and everything — so that they will see that their world is full of blessings straight from the hand of God.

Gradually, as they grow older, the form of their prayers will change. If they attend parochial school and Sister recommends certain practices, we should help to put these into effect. They will learn formal prayers, prayers proper to each liturgical season, the family Rosary, the Stations of the Cross, Mass preparations, and much more.

But the approach of their prayers remains unchanged, the contrition, asking, praising, and thanksgiving are in all these, and if they understand, above all, that prayer is talking to God, the knowledge will never leave them.

Knowing all this, however, is still no guarantee that children will always want to pray. Would that all grown-ups always wanted to pray. But they don’t, and their own perversity is not always the reason.

Many times God allows it to be hard to pray, simply to school us in applying our wills, to teach us that the value of prayer does not depend on the amount of emotion we can whip up.

So when “Time for prayers” is greeted with moans and groans, it’s time to explain that saying prayers when you least want to, simply because you love God and have a kind of dry respect and a sense of obedience, is to gain the greatest merit for them.

Many times the saints had trouble getting excited about prayers, but they said them, because prayers were due and their value had nothing to do with how eagerly they went about saying them.

“But with so many people in the world praying, I get the feeling God can’t really be listening to me.” Here we can remind our children of how our Lord said that God counts even the hairs on our heads, and all the sparrows that fall.

It’s hard to understand, but we need not understand; we need only believe that every word and sigh and flick of an eyelash is watched and weighed and counted, and every word is heard as though we were the only one praying.

The morning offering can be a simple form of gathering up the day and all it will hold and giving it to God.

Our children say, “I offer You this day as a prayer of love and thanksgiving, and thank You for keeping me safe through the night. Please help me to be pure and good, and keep me safe from harm. Please help us all with our work.”

They can offer it for one or many intentions, or simply give it to Jesus and Mary and ask them to apply its merits as they wish.

The “safe through the night” isn’t meant to imply that dying in the night would be the horror of horrors, but to remind them of God’s watchfulness while we sleep and to teach that, if we have survived the night, obviously God’s will for us includes another day of work and play and prayer to be lived as best we can.

When the older children started catechism classes (we have no parochial schools in our town), Sister taught them the traditional Morning Offering; so now they like to say that. But whatever form of offering they use, the important thing is to think of it like the net that strained with many fishes but still did not break. It will hold all the good a child can say and think and do in his entire day and give him a wonderful sense of having used every minute.

Many times I have heard one or another of our children (who are really no more pious than other children) say, “There, now wiping the dishes is part of my prayers because I made my Morning Offering.”

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“Life is too short to spend it doing things that don’t get you where you want to go. For instance, if it’s important to you to read aloud to your kids, but you find yourself rarely doing that, you’ll feel the disconnect and it will discourage you. You’ll feel off track and out of sorts, but might not be able to put your finger on why.
Spend some time thinking about what you DO want in your life. Then make those choices each day. When you live intentionally and with purpose, it will make a tremendous difference in your life and the lives of those you love.” – Charlotte Siems

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Inspire and delight your children with these lighthearted and faith-filled poems. Take a peek at Amazon here.

Don't forget to sign up for the Giveaway for my book and the bracelet! I will pull the name from the hat Tuesday, May 10th!

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My Response is My Responsibility

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I listened to this podcast more than once and got much out of it so I wanted to share it with you!

Based on the Podcast My Response is My Responsibility by Emerson Eggerichs of Love and Respect Ministries

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Think about this phrase for a moment, “My response is MY responsibility”. This is a very powerful phrase!

There is the story of a time during WWII Nazi Regime rule. A Christian French man who had been harboring Jews had been captured. German soldiers brought him before an SS Soldier known as “The Torturer”. Surprisingly to those around him, the French man was at peace and it shone through his eyes and his face.

The SS officer was not impressed! Taking it as insolence, he yelled, “Get that smirk off your face!”

Others who had entered into his presence were terrified and showed it.

The SS soldier once again looked at the French man and screamed, “Don’t you know who I am??!!”

“Yes, I do,” said the French man, “You are called ‘The Torturer’ and you have the power to have me tortured. You also have the power to condemn me to death” There was a pause. “But you do not have the power to get me to hate you.”

This story shows so clearly the control we have to be free from sinful attitudes and responses within ourselves even under the most trying circumstances! Other people cannot control our inner world.

My Response is my Responsibility – this phrase can change our lives!

People may be able to control us physically but they cannot control our thoughts! People can treat us unkindly but they cannot control our spirit!

I can rule my own inner responses – this is a God-given right. No one can make me hate them.

Even the Gestapo, as worldly powerful as they seemed to be, could not rule over the French man’s inner realm.

How does a person get to the point where they are no longer ruled by other’s treatment of them?

We begin by realizing My response is my responsibility!

We don’t need to mope or pout. We don’t need to give the silent treatment or let the rage build inside of us until it comes out of our mouths like a faucet – remember it is your responsibility to control your inner thoughts, those nasty habits that have gotten so out of hand. Time to look them square in the eye and say – I don’t have to listen to you….I don’t have to respond this way!!

If we let others control how we respond, then they are the master of our emotions. If they are mean and unjust, we will be unhappy. What we are saying, then, is that we are a hopeless and helpless emotional victim to the moods and attitudes of others around us!

When we are around uncaring and mean-spirited people, there is no hope for us. We are at the whim of these negative people and we will have a rotten day!

This does not have to be our reality!

Are you frustrated with your husband? Do you blame him for your unhappiness? Do you say to yourself, “If he loved me properly, I would in turn respect him and all would be well?”

That is making your husband “Lord” of your emotions and happiness.

That kind of power should not be given to another human being.

If this is how we think, then when our husband treats us imperfectly (and he will, as he is an imperfect human being) then we are moody and grumpy; we snap at him, we let that black cloud settle over us. We resort to resentment and anger and depression.

Because our husband, whom we have given power to rule over our inner spirit, lets us down, we are depressed. He is responsible for our happiness!

Ok, so let’s step back….. are we saying we shouldn’t be affected at all by what other people say and do?

Let’s take an analogy. A doctor taps our knee with a little hammer and our leg involuntarily kicks out. This is known as a “knee-jerk” reaction, right?

What about road rage? When someone cuts us off, we emotionally get angry…. but are we saying that we cannot help ourselves when we cuss at the person, try to cut him off in return or other such offensive actions?

Though we have involuntary emotions, that, yes, are acceptable, there are some that cross the line….and we usually know when and what those emotions are.

If our anger is not righteous indignation, if it is unrighteous, and if it has become a habit because we have given into those emotions throughout our life, then this is wrong and needs to be turned around.

Each person tends to blame their own bitterness, harshness and contempt on the other person. We claim it is involuntary; the other person caused the anger…..

Please hear a simple and profound truth….people do not CAUSE us to be who we are, they REVEAL who we are. Ouch. My response is my responsibility. The Nazi did not cause the Frenchman to react in kindness; he revealed the kindness within him.

How many times through the day is our inner person revealed: Those times when the kids are tugging on our skirt and we snap at them “What do you want AGAIN!” Little Jill spills her milk and we look at her and say through gritted teeth, “You are the most careless child I have ever met!” Hubby comes home tired and sees no dinner being fixed and complains (maybe unjustifiably) and we yell at him and give him the silent treatment the rest of the night.

These dear ones don’t CAUSE our anger, they reveal it. We do not HAVE to react this way….no, we don’t.

In each of these instances, we blame Johnny, Jill and our hubby. We say to ourselves, “I would never blow my stack if everyone behaves! Life stinks!”

We choose to live under the delusion that life experiences cause us to be upset and angry. Although we would never voice that we are a victim, this is how we sometimes live.

Living this way, in victim mode, changes the nursery rhyme:

“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

Humpty Dumpty was pushed.”

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Let’s just blame humanity. I would be happy if it wasn’t for people! Sounds silly, doesn’t it?

We have unrealistic expectations and requirements that everyone else around us (and especially hubby, since he is a grown human being) needs to meet! He must…..be perfect.😛

We want to assign blame; there is something inside of us that wants to justify our bad behavior.

As Emerson points out, Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the serpent. The serpent didn’t have anyone to blame because he didn’t have a leg to stand on!😀

Our Lord says these things come from the heart of man. It is something within us that cause us to react in these unedifying ways. I have evil thoughts because I have chosen to think bad things. I have a hateful reaction because it is in my heart. I slander because it is in my heart to bad mouth people and the list goes on….

Our response is not another’s responsibility.

This message is challenging.

It is hard to face up to.

These challenges may be small, everyday things, but it can also be huge struggles and sufferings like the French man.

We do have freedom to respond with dignity.

Can I do this when my blood is boiling? Can I choose not to react angrily?

This idea of blaming someone else of my bad attitudes is inappropriate. This doesn’t mean that bad behavior is to be sanctioned. This doesn’t mean that the other person doesn’t have to deal with their issues. They do. But that’s a different matter than my response to him. This is what we are talking about here.

We must not think that if we respond with dignity and love, that we are letting the other person off the hook. We have to come to the point that we realize that we can speak what is true and NECESSARY. But we do so in a kind, loving and respectful way. This empowers us.

If we become uncorked, it does not help us to govern the situation.  Your husband will eventually close his spirit if you are continually “letting him have it”! He will not want to be around you. You will have no credibility with him.

You may win a battle here and there by coming unglued and blaming everyone, but eventually you lose the war. This is a painful reality.

Let’s begin to react properly. But we need to give ourselves some grace. This is a process. We may know it, but our application of it will not be perfect.

Like the French man, in a concentration camp who made it through….. He observed and came to these conclusions:

Our purpose as humans is not to seek power or pleasure but to seek purpose. No situation has the power to control us. 

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves!

Everything can be taken from a man except one thing, to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstances.

Between unloving or disrespectful behavior and my response, there is a space. In that space is that power to choose our response. In our response lie our growth and our freedom.

The one thing another can’t take away from me is the freedom to choose how to respond to what someone does to me.

Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, the freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.

Our great freedom is the freedom to choose our attitude.

The French man’s story really leaves the rest of us without excuse at some level. How in the world can I come uncorked when the person cuts me off in the road, or hubby is angry?

I do have a choice. Like the French man I can change my responses.

Remember, My Response is My Responsibility! Will I take this to heart?

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FF Quote for the Day
“Happiness in marriage must be earned. It is something you must work out for yourself, chiefly by forgetting yourself and serving others. No marriage is a success unless less you make it so, and that takes persistent effort and, still more, a constant and humble reliance on God.” – Fr. Lawrence G. Lovasik. The Catholic Family Handbook
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Inspire and delight your children with these lighthearted and faith-filled poems. Take a peek at Amazon here.

Don't forget to sign up for the Giveaway for my book and the bracelet! I will pull the name from the hat Tuesday, May 10th!

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The Lesson of the Holy Family

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1504625_334951156706901_9187559575446311706_nby Fr. Francis l. Filas, S.J., 1947

“When God in His mercy decided to carry out the work of man’s redemption, so long expected through the centuries, He arranged to perform His task in such a way that in its beginnings it might show forth to the world the august spectacle of a divinely founded family.

“In this all men were to behold the perfect exemplar of domestic society as well as of all virtue and holiness.

“A benign Providence established the Holy Family in order that all Christians in whatever walk of life or situation might have a reason and an incentive to practice every virtue, provided they fix their gaze on the Holy Family.” Thus did Pope Leo XIII write in 1892.

A divinely founded family…the perfect exemplar of all virtue and holiness…for all Christians in whatever walk of life.

“Why!” you say, “my family life is to make me holy? Did Pope Leo mean that ordinary people can be and should be saints? We who live in the world, who have to spend most of our time watching the budget and earning enough to support ourselves and our children?

Our ideals are subjected to continual battering by the un-Christian teachings and practices of so many of our neighbors. We can’t spend our whole day in prayer like the saints of old.

Evidently the Pope did not realize how ordinary we are. We try to live a good Catholic life, but we don’t deserve special credit for that. Holiness is something reserved for a few select laymen, for priests and religious, for monks and nuns in austere monasteries and convents.”

But the Pope did mean you–you and your husband or wife as well as your whole family. You can be and should be saints, for saints are those common-sense people who act according to their realization that all their happiness lies in obeying God’s law perfectly as it is shown them by the Church and by their conscience.

Holiness means happiness. Holy people are happy people at peace with God, with others, and with themselves.

There is only one requirement. You must do God’s will. This embraces various obligations and gives you corresponding rights and privileges.

God’s will in your regard is not something frightening and preternatural, brought down to you by angels amid trumpet blasts, thunder, lightning, and earthquakes.

No, it consists in the observance of the commandments, the frequent reception of the sacraments, and the practice of certain virtues in your everyday life. That is all. Call it homely, call it an everyday, ordinary, humdrum rule of life if you wish; but you can’t call it difficult and beyond your strength.

God’s grace is with you at every turn, sufficient and more than sufficient to help you serve Him.

Sometimes in your efforts you perhaps will fall out of weariness or discouragement; but you rise quickly, and trusting in God’s abundant grace, you go forward again.

Your goal must ever be the perfect love of God manifested in perfect love for His creatures, your “neighbors”–your husband or your wife, your children, your friends, all with whom you come into contact.

You look for inspiration to attain such an ideal. You ask for a proof to convince yourself that everyday joys can be the means to serve God perfectly; or on the other hand you are possibly too close to the earthly conditions of daily work attended with monotony, disappointment, worry, and fatigue.

This makes it hard to believe that in so ordinary a way you can become someone so extraordinary as a saint, known to God as His special image, His temple in whom He loves to dwell.

You want proof and inspiration? You wish to see everyday life made into a steppingstone to the very heights of heaven? Then you need only look at the Holy Family.

You must contemplate Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. They not only possessed human nature like yours, but they performed workaday tasks as you do. They ate and drank and slept and cleaned house and earned a living and prayed and had their neighbors just like you. Yet who were they?

They were Jesus Christ, God, Second Person of the eternal Blessed Trinity, who took to Himself a body and soul like ours: Mary, the blessed Virgin Mother of God, all-perfect, in whom there was never the slightest sin or imperfection; and Joseph, he whom Jesus called “Father,” the virginal husband of the Mother of God.

Have you ever stopped to do a little arithmetic in studying Christ’s life? Jesus had a tremendous mission to accomplish. He was to teach mankind the new and difficult law of brotherly love; He was to redeem us by means of intense suffering and a painful and disgraceful death; He was to found a Church that would last for all time as the only certain road to salvation.

Nonetheless, with such a task before Him, the Son of God spent ten times as much of His life in obscurity as in His public apostolate.

We are told of no miracles, no preaching, no teaching of the multitudes during that period.

There was merely a hidden and ordinary family life with two lovable persons as His intimate and chosen companions, Joseph and Mary.

No human being has ever been or will ever be holier than this husband and wife. Yet these two souls did not help Jesus in His preaching and teaching, for Joseph was already dead when Jesus left Nazareth to begin His career; and as far as we know, Mary stayed quietly at home during almost all of the Public Life.

Actually, then, Joseph and Mary gained their immeasurable holiness by offering Jesus the love of a father and mother in a true family, while Jesus in His turn tendered them the homage of a son. Could any lives have been more ordinary than those at Bethlehem, Egypt, and Nazareth–yet were any lives ever more holy?

This is the lesson of the Holy Family. The will of God must count for everything in our daily lives. Prosaic deeds done for God can lead to spectacular holiness.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were human, intensely human in the best sense of the word. They show us how our lives, too, should be human–truly warm and Godlike.

By this means we can be sanctifying ourselves more and more. The method is simple. Perhaps we have been following it all along without realizing the fact. At any rate, the leaders are set before us. All we need do is follow.

 

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“From our homes will come the leaders of our country and of the world. A sound economic and social life and enduring world peace will be built from the materials our families supply. You must make every effort to develop the quality of your home life. If you cherish spiritual values, you will bind together domestic ties, for, as a parent, you play a leading part in rebuilding the ideals of a nation through its home and civic life. To a large degree, you form human character.” – Fr. Lawrence G. Lovasik, The Catholic Family Handbook
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Loving Each Other in God – Christ in the Home

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Christ in the Home by Father Raoul Plus, S.J., copyright 1951

WE HAVE already seen that it is essential to advance as quickly as possible from a purely natural love to a supernatural love, from a passionate love to a virtuous love.

That is clear. No matter how perfect the partners in marriage may be, each has limitations; we can foresee immediately that at the point where the limitations of the one contact the limitations of the other, sparks will easily fly; misunderstandings, oppositions, and disagreements will arise.

No matter how much effort one puts forth to manifest only virtues, one does not have only virtues. And when one lives in constant contact with another, his faults appear quickly; “No man is great to his valet,” says the proverb. Sometimes it is the very virtue of an individual which seems to annoy another. One would have liked more discretion; one is, as it were, eclipsed. Two find their self-love irritated, in conflict.

Or perhaps virtues no longer appear as virtues by reason of being so constantly manifested. Others become accustomed to seeing them and look upon them as merely natural traits.

It is like the sun or the light; people no longer notice them. Bread by reason of its being daily bread loses its character of “good bread.”

Daily intercourse which was a joy in the beginning no longer seems such a special delight; it becomes monotonous.

Husband and wife remain together by habit, common interests, honor, even a certain attachment of will, but do they continue to be bound together by love in the deepest sense of the word?

If things go on in this way, they will soon cease to be much concerned about each other; they may preserve a mutual dry esteem which habit will render still drier. Where formerly there existed a mutual ardor, nothing more remains than proper form; where formerly there was never anything more than a delicate remonstrance, there now exists depressing wrangling or a still more depressing coldness.

Married persons must come to the help of weak human nature and try to understand what supernatural love is in order to infuse it into their lives as soon as possible.

Is not the doctrine of the Church on marriage too often forgotten? How many ever reread the epistle of the Nuptial Mass? Meditate on it? In any case, how many husbands and wives read it together? Meditate on it together? That would forearm them against the invasion of worrisome misunderstandings. Why not have recourse to the well-springs of wisdom?

There are not only the epistles. There is the whole gospel.

The example of Joseph and Mary at Nazareth is enlightening.

What obedience and cordial simplicity in Mary! What deference and exquisite charity in Saint Joseph! And between the two what openness of heart, what elevated dealings! Jesus was the bond between Mary, the Mother, and Joseph, the foster-father.

In Christian marriage, Jesus is still the unbreakable bond–prayer together, Holy Mass and Holy Communion together.

Not only should there be prayer with each other, beside each other, but prayer for each other.

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“Painful trials strengthen our faith and make it purer, more supernatural; the soul believes, not because of the consolation that faith gives it, not because it trusts in its feelings or enthusiasm, not even in the little it does understand of the divine mysteries, but it believes only because God has spoken. When the Lord wishes to lead souls to a more intimate union with Himself, He almost always makes them undergo such trials; then is the moment to give Him testimony of our faith by throwing ourselves, with our eyes closed, into His arms.” – Divine Intimacy

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Recollections and Theresa’s Tea Party for Princesses

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by Theresa (VanderPutten) Byrne

Yesterday is gone; Tomorrow may never come; Today is a gift; that is why we call it “The Present.”

Kneeling in front of my little Grandma VanderPutten’s casket, this past week, a flood of good memories fill my mind…

Grandma told us tales of adventure about her childhood. I especially remember the story of the time in the war when her family found refuge in a tiny chicken coop. They lived there for a time, surviving on animal feed that they had picked the mouse droppings out of.

I recollect the times Grandma and I would go out early with our buckets and harvest blueberries. While we worked she told me tales of being a young girl and when she fell in love with my Grandpa.

When I was younger I recall Grandma as a tough woman not prone to emotions or softness. As time passed she mellowed and I remember her often getting teary at another person’s sufferings.

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Grandpa and Grandma were blessed with many years together and with thirteen children. Nineteen years ago Grandpa passed away, after a long battle with cancer. Part of Grandma died that day but this feisty little Dutch woman lived on for many years.

In recent years Grandma got to were she loved to visit with the grandchildren and talk of the past and of God.

I remember it was her that got us started saying the Divine Mercy Chaplet every day.

In 2013 when I was struggling with mono, she would sit and cry with me over my sufferings but also because she was experiencing the onset of dementia…

She told me how scary it felt not to remember things and although she was offering it up, she felt very alone. She suffered much and was blessed much.

I felt a sense of peace kneeling there at her coffin. On a a bouquet of white roses read “Death is not the last sleep, but the final awakening”.

Life is short. We only have our loved ones here for a little while.

I know if I keep this thought ever present in my mind, I would be a much better wife, mother and friend.

It makes me think of a dear friend who always takes time for his nieces….not because they are the prettiest or smartest, simply because they are family and that makes them special to him.

He has inspired me and at the same time made me aware of what I would like to be to my nieces and nephews.

It seems the days fly by and I am so wrapped up in my own immediate duties, that often I don’t even take the time to let my nieces and nephews know I love them and that they are special.

With these thoughts in mind, I planned a TEA PARTY!!

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My three nieces were cordially invited, by my daughter Sienna, to a cousin’s Tea Party. We told them to wear their prettiest frocks and to come ready to be served by “Butler Brendan” (my six-year-old son).

It just so happened that my husband was home that day. Being of the same mind… to make lasting memories…. and also being the great guy he is, he dug out his own suit, tie and church shoes! Voila! We had “Butler Devin!”

As the girls started to arrive, our butlers escorted them from their carriages (dusty vans), addressing them as, “Princess Emma, Princess Grace and Princess Agnes.”

Princess Grace:

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Princess Emma:

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A couple of the girls looked rather shy but delighted! It was really fun to see the moms’ surprised faces at seeing hubby, dressed up, welcoming the girls to, “Rose Wood Cottage.”😀

Butlers Devin and Brendan poured tea and served the princesses scones, muffins, sandwiches and plenty of fresh berries. The girls were thrilled and made quite a pretty picture against our white lace tablecloth with a sprinkling of fresh rose petals.

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Once our ‘plump princesses’ had their fill of crumpets and tea, they gathered round for story time with “Grammy Rosalie” (a dear and special friend). I cleared and got the table ready for cookie decorating!

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We had made each princess a platter of sugar cookies. They each had their own butter cream frosting and sprinkles. We set to decorating… One or two did more eating than decorating, but we all had fun!

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 To end the outing we put on fun music and ‘Butler Brendan’ retired his tux and headed up the dancing.

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The tired but happy princesses were taken home, with platters of cookies for their families and good memories dancing in their heads.

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Doing this for the girls made me happy and also makes me want to invest more time in making lasting memories.

I had never heard of someone, at the closing of life, wish they had made more money or spent more time at the office. What I have heard is regrets… sorrow for not spending more time with God and with the people they love.

As the days fly by, I try to remember…..

Yesterday is gone; Tomorrow may never come; Today is a gift, that is why we call it ‘The Present.’

         NOW is where memories start!

 

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FF Quote for the Day

“Let us run to Mary, and as her little children, cast ourselves into her arms with a perfect confidence.” – St. Francis de Sales
Happy Feast of the Assumption!

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The Royal Way of Love

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From Searching for and Maintaining Peace, Fr. Jacques Philippe

All things considered, this manner of going forward, based on peace, liberty, confident abandonment to God, quiet acceptance of our shortcomings and even of our failures, why is this the way to counsel? Why is it more correct than seeking the will of God, which is done with preoccupation, scruples and a tense and restless desire for perfection?

Because the only true perfection is that of love and, in the first way of proceeding, there is more true love of God than in the second. Saint Faustina said: “When I do not know what to do, I question love, for love is the best counselor!”

The Lord calls us to perfection: Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect. But still, according to the Bible, the one who is most perfect is not the one who behaves in an irreproachable manner, but the one who loves most.

The behavior that is most perfect is not that which corresponds to the image that we sometimes form for ourselves of perfection, such as a comportment that is impeccable, infallible and spotless.

Rather, it is one where there is the most disinterested love of God and the least prideful pursuit of oneself.

One who accepts to be weak, small and who fails often, who accepts to be nothing in his own eyes or in the eyes of others, but who, without being excessively preoccupied with his situation, because he is animated by a great confidence in God and knows that his love is infinitely more important and counts ever so much more than his own imperfection and faults, this person loves more than one who pushes the preoccupation of his own perfection to the point of anxiety.

Happy are the poor in spirit for the Kingdom of God is theirs. Happy are they, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, who have learned to no longer make a drama of their poverty, but who accept it joyously because they put all their hope, not in themselves, but in God.

God Himself will be their wealth, He will be their perfection, their sanctity, their virtues. Happy are those who know how to love their poverty, because it is a marvelous opportunity for God to manifest the immensity of His Love and His Mercy. We will be saints the day when our inabilities and our nothingness will no longer be for us a subject of sadness and anxiety, but a subject of peace and joy.

This road of poverty, which is also the way of love, is the most efficacious for making us grow, for making us progressively acquire all of the virtues, for purifying us of our faults. Love alone is the source of growth, it alone is fruitful, and love alone purifies sin in depth: “The fire of love purifies more than the fires of purgatory,” Saint Therese of Lisieux tells us.

This approach, based on the joyous acceptance of one’s poverty is in no way equivalent to a resignation to mediocrity or an abdication of aspiring to perfection. Rather, it is the quickest and surest road to perfection because it puts us in the position of smallness, confidence and abandonment by which we are placed entirely in the hands of God Who can act in us by His grace and carry us Himself by pure mercy to the perfection that we, in no way, could achieve by our own strength.

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“How beautiful it would be if, during their evening prayer together, there could be a pause such as the one for the examination of conscience during which time a husband and wife would pray silently for the other, recommending to God all the other’s intentions sensed, guessed, and known as well as those that only God the Master of consciences could know. Even more beautiful would it be if they would receive Holy Communion together frequently so that each of them could speak more intimately to Our Lord about the needs of the other, begging not only temporal but spiritual favors for this cherished soul. ” – Fr. Raoul Plus, S.J., Christ in the Home

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