Gentleness….Beginning With Ourselves

I live around a world of women who have a purpose and an ideal.

We are striving to be noble women. You are most likely one who is doing the same. We are intent on living up to our vocation and making the best of it. We roll up our sleeves and get it done!

We are always on the lookout on how to improve ourselves, our family and our spiritual lives.

We look up the most healthy ways to feed our children. We get a goat, we buy coconut oil, we start a kombucha mushroom. One child has to be gluten free and you need to give up your beloved dairy because it affects the baby. On your limited one-spouse income, you eke out enough to buy books with recipes and tips. You gather your dimes to buy some nut flour and some almond milk.

We have to feed the family so we soak our flour the night before and make bread. We try to use all fresh ground whole wheat flour but it doesn’t rise very good so we break down and end up using some white, feeling nervous we may be doing an injustice to our family.

We search around for grass-fed beef but find it too expensive so we buy it from Aldi’s and feel like we are missing out. We make up our mind to raise chickens only to realize it costs more than its worth.

Then there’s the baby….the problem of his daily bread and his daily bottom.We invest in cloth diapers or sew them ourselves. We get a Happy Grinder and grind all his food right from the table! We’re happy about our solicitousness!

We try hard to be the best wife we can be, feeling we lack terribly in areas. We come to the conclusion that living with a person is not easy. We pick up books that have been recommended…..only to be too busy to read them.

We get up each morning and make ourselves kneel down before we hit the floor running….only to find our mind isn’t only running, it’s motorcycling! Yikes, that was fruitless. 😛

You get the picture. That may not be your scenario but you have your own, don’t you?

Whew! Always this pressure…..Do you feel it?

These nagging doubts that you are not measuring up…..do you have those?

Stretching and reaching for that ideal…..Do you live up to it?

Of course we don’t.

We are women with faults and failings.

We have days when we are exhausted and all we find ourselves doing is waiting to snatch that one-eyed little nap on that ever-illusive couch!  We are irritable when hubby asks us to do something. We are impatient when our toddler continues to ask for things when we have given him everything he could possible want.  PMS, pregnancy and post-partum blues threaten the little bit of equilibrium we seem to have.

Does this sound familiar to you? At the end of the day, do you take out that baseball bat and proceed to give yourself a good thrashing?

In my experience, that is not the answer. Besides, it hurts….ouch. It actually makes things worse. We draw more flies with honey than with vinegar, and that includes how we treat ourselves.

At the end of the day, you need to first and foremost be patient with yourself….look back on the day and see the energy you DID EXPEND for your family. If your intention is to be a good wife and mother, and if you are giving it your sincere effort, that is huge and you need to be thankful for that. Be thankful that you desire to do and be better. These are incredible gifts you give to your family, in spite of the nitty-gritty details in between.

Did you get tripped up during the day? Of course you did….that’s where the act of contrition each night comes in and then leave it in your Mother’s hands. Tell her you want to be better. Ask her to help you. Of course she will help you. She loves you and knows what it is like to be a mother. She’s not standing there with a baseball bat. She is smiling at your efforts and extending her hand to help you with the rest.

Those times when you were impatient and yelled at the kids….give them to her, ask her to help you to do better. Those moments when you snapped at hubby….lay them at Our Lord’s feet and ask Him for grace. They understand, they know we are only human beings, wrought with frailty and well….humanness.

A huge part of being a Child of God is child-like confidence in Him…in His love and His understanding of our fallen human nature.

The Little Flower teaches us well:

“Theresa of Lisieux was known for falling asleep during prayer hours in the chapel but she noted that ‘God loved her even though she often slept during the time for prayer’. The Church would recognize a profound and valuable teaching in ‘the little way’–an awareness of one’s limitations, the wholehearted giving of what one has no matter how small the gift.”

Discouragement knocks the breath out of us, it paralyzes us.

Sometimes….oftentimes…we are our own worst enemies. Let’s give ourselves a break. Learn to accept and love ourselves so we can pass that love and acceptance on to others. Our Lord does that for us, we can at least do the same for ourselves.

In my many readings, I often ran across the thought….you need to fill your own cup so you can have some to give to others. I never understood it….I was on “Super Mom Overdrive” doing all of the above and more.

As time went on I began to realize how very important this is. It is not a bad thing to give yourself a break….it is a good thing. Stand back, take a deep breath and realize that God loves YOU. Does that sound too simplistic?…well, do you really understand what that means? He loves you as the individual woman that you are….with your personality, all your strengths and yes, even your sins.

Our Lord knows we are trying and He gives us His Hand to help us along the way. We need to reach up and take it, smile and say “Help me, Lord, to be the woman, wife and mother you created me to be…..”

BGA man does not expect his wife to neglect important duty in his behalf. He is aware of the demands of her life and wants her to give each responsibility the attention it requires. He does not want his children to suffer neglect. And he knows she is entitled to other interests and diversions. But, he doesn’t want to be less important. And he doesn’t want to be regarded as a convenience, a paycheck, an escort, a social asset, a ticket to security. He would like to feel that she married him for him, and not as a means of filling her needs or reaching her objectives. -Helen Andelin, Fascinating Womanhood http://amzn.to/2wzXAzO (afflink)

 

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Finer Femininity is a small publication compiled to inspire Catholic women in their vocations. It consists of uplifting articles from authors with traditional values, with many of them from priests, written over 50 years ago. These anecdotes are timeless but, with the fast-paced “progress “of today’s world, the pearls within the articles are rarely meditated upon. This little magazine offers Catholic womankind support and inspiration as they travel that oftentimes lonely trail….the narrow road to heaven. The thoughts within the pages will enlighten us to regard the frequently monotonous path of our “daily duties” as the beautiful road to sanctity. Feminine souls need this kind of information to continue to “fight the good fight” in a world that has opposing values and seldom offers any kind of support to these courageous women. Inside the pages you will find inspiration for your roles as single women, as wives and as mothers. In between the thought-provoking articles, the pages are sprinkled with pictures, quotes and maybe even a recipe or two…

Here is a marriage blueprint that every woman can follow. Happy marriages do not just happen, they are made. It takes three parties to make a good marriage; the husband, the wife, and the Lord. This book is concerned with helping the woman to become the wife desired and therefore loved that every man worth having wishes to find and keep.<P> This book sold over a quarter of a million copies shortly after its publication in 1951, and it was read by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. It is a practical manual. It should be read by every woman considering entering the matrimonial state and also by those women who are already married. It can also be read by men who may wish to see what a real challenge it is for a woman to live up to their expectations and how grateful they should be if they are blessed to find the woman of their desires…

Armed with Barbeau s wisdom, you’ll grow closer to your wife and to your children, while deepening your love for God. You’ll be able to lead your family to holiness amidst the troubles and temptations that threaten even the best of families today: infidelity, divorce, materialism, loneliness, and despair.

The Father of the Family makes good fathers and good fathers are the secret to happy homes….

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Hounds of the Lord….or Poodles? Tidbits from Fr. Daniel Considine, S.J.

Hounds of the Lord – or Poodles?

What are you doing for God? People examine their consciences at night to see if they have offended God. But have you loved God? Served God? Conquered yourself? Helped your neighbor?

“Oh no, but I have avoided distractions-and to do so I say as little prayers as possible.”

You have joined that Association for helping your neighbor? ‘Oh no, I find it distracts me, and gives occasion to me to go into a passion.’

It is much better to do good, and be guilty of faults, than not to do good and commit fewer faults.

St. Mechtilde thanked God for preserving her from the temptations to which the poor fathers who preached were subject.

The saint had belonged to a great family in the world, and Our Lord said to her: ‘My daughter, you must have noticed, when your father’s hounds came in from the chase, how they were all covered with mud and froth, etc., and your mother would never have suffered them in the drawing-room. Yet poodles were there. Which of them were the better dogs? Which did the master of the house value most?’ . . . Those who give themselves up to the service of God might well have contracted little stains, even mud, blood, etc., but they are of much greater worth than those who, sleek and clean, have been sitting at home doing nothing.

How shall we avoid an accumulation of debt for venial sin? A person who tries to work for God will have a much smaller debt than one who leads a negative, colorless life. What about sins of omission?

What are you going to answer when you realize for the first time the good you might have done in the world, and have not done? Everyone has his own place in the world, and acts and reacts on others: we are all members of one family.

A sin of omission is not fulfilling that mission which God has given us to do. Remember the man who had only one talent and hid it in the ground. What a hard judgement he had! God has given us all a talent.

You say you have nothing to do in the world? It is very odd that God should have put you here with nothing to do. You needn’t start another Religious Order. There is always work to be done.

You may be perfectly certain you are not in the world for nothing. If it’s only to make your home happy, and bear the trials God sends you, – that’s not only avoiding evil, it’s doing good.

Am I growing into that stature God intended for me? That is a very home question for us all to ask ourselves. Why have I not exerted a better influence? Am I falling short of God’s purpose in creating me?

Venial sin makes the soul very languid. Rheumatism and gout don’t kill, but they make life extremely uncomfortable.

When we have habits of venial sin which we take no pains to correct, exactly the same sort of effect is produced in the soul as rheumatism and gout produce in the body; they take the zest out of life.

I am speaking of definite habits of venial sin. Our spiritual life flows sluggishly, and we find it difficult to move and progress.

With toothache and earache you get angry and cross, not with people, but with the pain. In venial sin you won’t read ‘that pious twaddle,’ you find that pious people bore, long prayers, meditation, impossible – why can’t they leave me alone!

Some pronouncement of the Church or the Holy Father-that also annoys us, everything is wrong, because your spiritual blood is in a bad condition. We see things discolored when in venial sin.

There is no happiness in the thought of God. The truth is, you are not in a fit state to get good out of it.

Interior Stillness of the Soul

If God calls a soul to prayer, it more and more withdraws itself from the outer world. Even in the midst of outward stress there must be an interior stillness of the soul, where God dwells. . . .

If you want the gift of prayer you must pay the price. You must possess your soul in quietness.

If you set your heart on anything, it takes possession of you, you are penetrated by its atmosphere.

The spirit of prayer withdraws us into the inner and secret atmosphere of the heart. A person may be exceedingly busy, yet there may be still that quietness of the spirit necessary to prayer.

You need not give up the most troublesome and onerous line of life, but if you desire to set your heart on God, there must be quietness from the noise of the world. So will you be with God and God with you.

It is not impossible for a person to be apparently deeply interested in what is before him, and yet be recollected in God, for God is always with you, and if you will keep a corner for Him, He will be with you in a special way, and keep you in His presence.

It is not the solitude of the Himalayas that makes prayer. The essence of prayer is the company of Our Lord. The more we understand that He is everywhere present, that He is within us, that we are always in the presence of God, the more easily we pray.

There is no peace of soul so great as that given by the thought of the presence of God. Whether you think of it or not, He is always there. If you want to learn, ask Our Lord to teach you to pray.

‘But who am I that I should ask so great a thing?’ You are only one of those for whom Our Lord laid down His life, and of whom He is always thinking, day and night – to whom He gives Himself every morning in the Holy Eucharist.

So I do not see where the impertinence of the request comes in. Ask Him: He will like nothing better.

Waste of Time

We throw time away through want of order. When asked to do anything for God, or to make time for our spiritual duties, a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, for instance, we have no time, because we are stupid in the art of making arrangements. It is a great pity we have not more system in our lives.

How much time is lost in useless regrets; I have made a fool of myself -even done something wrong-wasting time instead of going back straight to God with an act of contrition. Never go back on the past.

Stop thinking over something foolish you have done or said and regretting it. When a thing is done, let it be done. We are very poor creatures, and there is nothing so wise as to live in the present.

Another fruitful waste of time is daydreaming: holding imaginary conversations, or fancying ourselves in positions where we play a very satisfactory part. It softens the mind.

Another is fussing. Fussing never saved time. A very celebrated surgeon, on the point of performing a critical operation, is said to have addressed the students about him with: ‘Now, gentlemen, don’t let us hurry, because we have no time to lose.’

There are some people who are never quite self-possessed-always in a flurry. You know the saying, ‘If you want a letter answered, write to a busy man.’

These people hurry to Mass, hurry to meditation, hurry to breakfast, hurry all day long. A saint couldn’t remain a saint under those conditions. Hurry is an enemy to the interior life.

The worst thing after sin is to have too much to do. Some day we shall say, ‘If only I had not lived in that continual fuss.’

The saints lived large days. One characteristic of them is always calm and peace. There may be union with God in the midst of great distractions, but that is not the ordinary way. Don’t let it be said of you as of someone, ‘He seemed to have lost a quarter of an hour in the beginning of the day, and to be all day chasing it.’

Before meditation, give yourself a moment’s pause. . . . God doesn’t cease to be in heaven because you have got a bad piece of news. You’ll never get great holiness unless there is calm: holy people are able to recollect themselves.

“While the procreation of the race is the primary purpose of marriage, it also fosters the love and devotion of husband and wife. It answers man’s craving for intimate companionship, sympathy, understanding, and lasting friendship. It enriches the personality of man by increasing his unselfishness and deepening his capacity for love, friendship, and sacrifice.” – Fr. Lawrence G. Lovasik. The Catholic Family Handbook http://amzn.to/2xj8SZs (afflink)

Coloring pages for your children:

 

Do you need some inspiration? For some great book suggestions visit My Book List…

 

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The Time After Pentecost – The Sundays

From Our Children’s Year of Grace by Therese Mueller, 1955

The field has been prepared (pre-Lent), the seed has been sown (Lent), we experienced the glorious resurrection of the dead grain (Easter), we witnessed its growing, and at the “fullness of maturity” the Spirit of the Lord came to it in the fruitfulness of pollen, (Pentecost).

Now we are patiently waiting and watching for the growing and ripening of the fruit, for the great day of harvesting with Christ in his glory.

Mother Church’s colors are green, as the fields and the meadows, strewn with the white flowers of virginity and the red ones of martyrdom.

Like the land-man Mother Church keeps on praying for sunshine and rain, for the best for the souls and bodies of her children, that they may ripen full and fair, worthy to be gathered into the eternal barns.

Sunday after Sunday she leads her children to the fountain of eternal life, so that they may eat and drink their daily need of grace and divine help toward the final goal.

Each Sunday is a “Little Easter,” a re-enactment of the great mystery of resurrection from death, of new life out of the supreme sacrifice.

With our brothers from the early days of the church we must stress, concentrate on the one highfeast, celebrated over and over again on “the first day of the week,” we must make it the center of our religious life as well as of our recreation (re-creation!!) in the spiritual as well as the physical sense.

To give ourselves, our life and love, our sorrow and cares, our soul and body, our wishes and fears into the hands of the Father– “through Christ our Lord”–that is what we are expected to do and in return we will be filled with the abundance of Christ’s grace and love and perfection.

We will be transformed over and over again into “other Christs,” we will be united with him, who gloriously overcame suffering and death, who is awaiting us to give us part in his glory, after we share his suffering here on earth.

As we make each Sunday a “little Easter,” let us give to each Saturday something of the spirit of “Holy Saturday”; an atmosphere of happy preparedness and peaceful expectation of the coming day of the Lord. That is a real family task and worthwhile to work for.

Whenever I am lonesome for the home of my childhood, it is the “air” of the “Sunday Eve” I am longing for; the smell of soap and wax and fresh linen, of a simple one dish meal mixed with the promising odor of the cake for the morrow, the tip-toeing through the “best rooms,” locked for us children during the week.

“Moses take off your shoes, the place you are standing on is holy” my father used to say, often with a smile we did not see–to us it was just too true. It was as if the whole house was alive with the expectation of something great and beautiful– almost as wonderful as the Sunday itself!

Let us try to “steal” some hours from the approaching Sunday to make our minds and soul ready, to “tune in” as the church bells of my home town did, spreading peace and happiness over the roofs of the old city–as Mother Church does, when she anticipates Sunday with the Vespers on Saturday evening.

It is up to us to create a new “Sunday cult,” an atmosphere in which our children will grow up to a deeper, more religious understanding of the day of the Lord.

A nation can be no stronger than its families are, and they can be at their best in the country. And when to this natural strength we add the crowning glory of the Catholic Faith, when we strive to bring Christ to the countryside, and the land to Christ, we are certainly exercising a great apostolate. -An Australian Dominican Sister, 1950’s, Painting by Eugenio Zampighi

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In this joyful and charming book, Maria Von Trapp (from The Sound of Music) unveils for you the year-round Christian traditions she loved traditions that created for her large family a warm and inviting Catholic home and will do the same for yours.

Mary Reed Newland wrote numerous beloved books for Catholic families, but The Year and Our Children is her undisputed masterpiece. Read it, cherish it, share it, put it into practice and give your kids the gift of a fully lived faith, every day and in every season.

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Guidance for Stepparents – Rev. George Kelly

Painting by Edmund Adler (1876 – 1965, Austrian)

From The Catholic Family Handbook, Rev. George Kelly, 1950’s

One of the disservices which ancient fairy tales have done to the cause of modern life is to place the positions of stepmother and stepfather in disrepute.

In the popular belief, the typical stepparent is often a person of vicious temperament who treats her stepchildren brutally. In fact, however, stepparents often provide their stepchildren with wholesome care and affection which natural parents sometimes fail to give.

In homes broken by the death of a parent, the possibility that the survivor may remarry and thus give the children the guidance of a second father or mother should not be overlooked.

When a widower with children marries a widow with children, the result–surprising to some pessimists–is often a truly stable home, steeped in religious values, which spreads its benefits to every member of the household.

Sometimes, however, it is difficult to achieve satisfactory adjustments between the two parents in such a marriage, between each parent and his or her stepchildren, and among the stepchildren themselves.

To make such a marriage work for the benefit of both adults and children, the parents in particular must exercise more patience, tolerance and humility than might be required in a union of two childless persons.

For instance, loyalties to the lost parents have been established. Most family units have different standards of conduct and different ways of doing things. Through trial and error and an intimate knowledge of their own children, the different parents may have adopted different techniques of discipline.

Children of the two-family units may be approximately the same age and a natural competitive situation may exist between them. Such factors must be reconciled if a marriage between stepparents is to achieve its greatest mutual benefit.

If the prospective husband and wife recognize the typical problems inherent in marriages of this kind and constructively plan solutions, a harmonious merger will be achieved more readily. Basically, they should work for five key objectives:

  1. Unity of the new family unit.

Just as husband and wife become one in marriage, so, too, should the separate families. They can be joined together through emphasis upon family prayer, family attendance at Mass and reception of the sacraments, and recreation in which all members of the family can participate.

  1. Uniform rules for all the children.

An agreement between husband and wife on the upbringing of their children is essential to all marriages, but doubly so in a union of stepparents. Unless the adults agree on how to discipline the children, the father’s child will tend to side with him while the mother’s child follows her guidance. As a result, the family will be split in practice.

  1. A spirit of compromise.

No two families develop the same way of doing things, and often it would be difficult for even an objective viewer to state which way is better.

In his motherless home, one father permitted his preschool children to remain up late at night. He reasoned that they could spend more time with him in the evening and could make up their lost sleep in the morning.

In her fatherless home, however, a mother kept her children on a rigid schedule and required them to complete their night prayers and be in bed by 8:30 P.M.

When the families were united, one procedure obviously had to change. In this case, the father realized that since his children now had a mother, they should follow the schedule best suited for her. Many similar differences must be ironed out in a union of this kind.

  1. Unqualified love and fairness.

A new stepmother must face the possibility that her new children may reject her at first out of a mistaken sense of loyalty to their natural mother. A new stepfather may face similar rejection.

However, given clear indications of the new parent’s love, the children will respond in time. This response will be made easier if parents treat their own children and their stepchildren with strict equality.

Children are quick to sense favoritism; if they believe that they are being discriminated against, and by one who seeks to replace their departed father or mother, the antagonism may be intensified. This condition probably is more responsible than any other for legendary tales about the cruelty of stepparents.

  1. Firm discipline.

The average child will be tempted to discover exactly to what extent a new parent means what he says. This experimentation is probably necessary. Few children feel secure unless they clearly understand what they may and may not do with impunity.

A new stepparent must therefore avoid a tendency to be too lenient in disciplining a child. For while kindness is always necessary, firmness is equally so.

The stepchild who breaks a rule should be told why it is necessary to punish him, so that he cannot justifiably conclude that the punishment is unfair.

One parent’s disciplining of a child should be fully upheld by the other parent, of course. Stepchildren need constant confirmation of the fact that mother and father now are in complete unison and are both motivated by love for him and constant concern for his welfare.

Challenges and problems facing a stepparent are usually greater than those which confront natural parents. Yet the rewards are greater too.

For a stepparent can bring love and guidance of a special kind to children who would otherwise be without it; and the love which the children will bestow in return will be a source of comfort throughout the parent’s life.

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Author Mary Reed Newland here draws on her own experiences as the mother of seven to show how the classic Christian principles of sanctity can be translated into terms easily applied to children even to the very young.

Because it’s rooted in experience, not in theory, nothing that Mrs. Newland suggests is impossible or extraordinary. In fact, as you reflect on your experiences with your own children, you’ll quickly agree that hers is an excellent commonsense approach to raising good Catholic children.

Fr. Lawrence Lovasik, the renowned author of The Hidden Power of Kindness, gives faithful Catholics all the essential ingredients of a stable and loving Catholic marriage and family — ingredients that are in danger of being lost in our turbulent age.

Using Scripture and Church teachings in an easy-to-follow, step-by-step format, Fr. Lovasik helps you understand the proper role of the Catholic father and mother and the blessings of family. He shows you how you can secure happiness in marriage, develop the virtues necessary for a successful marriage, raise children in a truly Catholic way, and much more.

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Practice Necessary to Acquire the Spiritual Life – Brother Lawrence

from The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence

 

1. The most holy and necessary practice in our spiritual life is the presence of God. That means finding constant pleasure in His divine company, speaking humbly and lovingly with Him in all seasons, at every moment, without limiting the conversation in any way. This is especially important in times of temptation, sorrow, separation from God, and even in times of unfaithfulness and sin.

 

2. We must try to converse with God in little ways while we do our work; not in memorized prayer, not trying to recite previously formed thoughts. Rather, we should purely and simply reveal our hearts as the words come to us.

 

3. We must do everything with great care, avoiding impetuous actions, which are evidence of a disordered spirit. God wishes us to work gently, calmly, and lovingly with Him, asking Him to accept our work. By this continual attention to God, we will “resist the devil and cause him to flee” (James 4:7).

 

4. Whatever we do, even if we are reading the Word or praying, we should stop for a few minutes — as often as possible — to praise God from the depths of our hearts, to enjoy Him there in secret.

Since you believe that God is always with you, no matter what you may be doing, why shouldn’t you stop for awhile to adore Him, to praise Him, to petition Him, to offer Him your heart, and to thank Him? What could please God more than for us to leave the cares of the world temporarily in order to worship Him in our spirits?

These momentary retreats serve to free us from our selfishness, which can only exist in the world. In short, we cannot show God our loyalty to Him more than by renouncing our worldly selves as much as a thousand times a day to enjoy even a single moment with Him.

This doesn’t mean you must leave the duties of the world forever; that would be impossible. Let prudence be your guide. But I do believe that it is a common mistake of spirit-filled persons not to leave the cares of the world from time to time to praise God in their spirits and to rest in the peace of His divine presence for a few moments.

 

5. Our adoration of God should be done in faith, believing that He really lives in our hearts, and that He must be loved and served in spirit and in truth. Believe that He is the most independent One, upon Whom all of us depend, and that He is aware of everything that happens to us.

The Lord’s perfections are truly beyond measure. By His infinite excellence and His sovereign place as both Creator and Savior, He has the right to possess us and all that exists in both heaven and earth. It should be His good pleasure to do with each of us whatever He chooses through all time and eternity. Because of all He is to us, we owe Him our thoughts, words and actions. Let us earnestly endeavor to do this.

 

6. We must carefully examine ourselves to see which virtues we are in most need of, and which we find the hardest to acquire. We should also take note of the sins that we most frequently fall into and what occasions often contribute to that fall. It is in our times of struggle with these areas that we can go before God with entire confidence and remain firm in the presence of His divine Majesty.

In humble adoration, we must confess to Him our sins and weaknesses, lovingly asking for the help of His grace in our time of need. In this way, we will find that we can partake of all the virtues found in Him, even though we do not possess one of our own.

Do you need some good reading suggestions? Visit My Book List…

 

NOW AVAILABLE! The Catholic Girl’s Traditional 30-Day Journal!

Let’s keep our young girls engaged in the Faith! Let’s teach them how to be organized, how to prioritize, how to keep on top of, first, the Spiritual things in their life, and then the other daily duties that God requires of them!

Nothing is more valuable than this type of education…an education for life! That is where this journal comes in! It will give your girls a feel for keeping a To-Do List, with spiritual things at the forefront! What more could you want for them?

Let this journal help you along the way, Mothers! The girls will have 30 days of checklists, beautiful thoughts to inspire them for the day, some fun things…like drawing their day and other things to keep them focused.

This next 30 days will be invaluable to them…to learn life skills, to have the satisfaction of checking off the activities they finish, to learn to be thankful for the  good things God has given us, to offer up their day for someone in need, etc.

This journal is for girls 8 (with the help of Mom) to 16 years of age.

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“Lord, Help me to be a good wife. I fully realize that I don’t have what it takes to be one without Your help. Take my selfishness, impatience, and irritability and turn them into kindness, long-suffering, and the willingness to bear all things. Take my old emotional habits, mindsets, automatic reactions, rude assumptions, and self-protective stance, and make me patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled. I am not able to rise above who I am at this moment. Only You can transform me.” – The Power of a Praying Wife

 

The Assumption! by Maria Von Trapp

Happy, Happy Feast of the Assumption! Make sure you do something a little special today to remind your children what a special day it is! For inspiration see this post.

From Around the Year with the Trapp Family

The day of the Assumption, August 15th, is the oldest and most important of all the feast days of the Blessed Mother.

In the old country it is also known as “Great Flower Day.” All the women and girls come to church on this day with their arms full of neat bundles of herbs, which they put down in the sanctuary at the Offertory procession.

On this feast day the Church blesses the herbs immediately preceding Mass. The priest, standing before the altar and facing the people, pronounces a long and solemn blessing at the end of which the herbs are sprinkled with holy water and are incensed.

There are special herbs which traditionally have to be included. Days before the feast the people are collecting them in the meadows and woods. Every family sends one such bundle to be blessed.

Afterwards it will be kept in the corner at home near the picture or statue of the Blessed Mother.

In cases of sickness a leaf is dropped into the food of the patient and during heavy thunderstorms one of the herbs is put into the fire on the kitchen stove–it is a sacramental and is meant to protect us in body and soul.

The connection between the feast of the Assumption and the blessing of herbs is told in an old legend.

When Mary the Mother of Jesus felt that her end was drawing near, she sent her guardian angel to summon the Apostles, who had gone out into the world to preach the Gospel of her Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

When they received the summons, they came in a great hurry and were just in time to witness the happy death of their dear Mother. Everyone had come except Thomas. He was three days late.

When he heard that the Blessed Mother had been resting in the tomb for days, he cried bitterly and pled with the Apostles to open the tomb once more and let him glance at the beloved features.

The other Apostles yielded to his plea, but as they opened the tomb, they found it filled with flowers, which gave out a heavenly scent. On the place where they had laic the body there was only the shroud left–the body had been borne up to heaven by the angels, where it was joined by the holy soul of the Mother of God.

According to the legend, all the flowers and herbs on earth had lost their scent after Adam and Eve committed the first sin in the Garden of Eden. On the day of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother, however, the flowers were given back their scent and the herbs their power to heal.

Looking for a fun craft with the little ones today? Take a look at this post!

 

“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!

 

A sermon for this wonderful feast day!

Your children can celebrate with these coloring pages!

Are you blessed by this site? Consider donating today. Our benefactors are remembered in our daily, family rosaries….

book suggestions

Lovely book, worth the time and money! This book will inspire you with ways to live the Liturgy within your home!

In this joyful and charming book, Maria Von Trapp unveils for you the year-round Christian traditions she loved traditions that created for her large family a warm and inviting Catholic home and will do the same for yours….Mary Reed Newland wrote numerous beloved books for Catholic families, but The Year and Our Children is her undisputed masterpiece. Read it, cherish it, share it, put it into practice and give your kids the gift of a fully lived faith, every day and in every season….

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Feast of the Assumption!

I find this very inspiring and a good reminder to do SOMETHING special for this wonderful Feast Day of Our Lady….tomorrow, August 15th!

It is somewhat long but an easy read and will give you lots of encouragement to build some memories with your kids!

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From the book The Year and Our Children by Mary Reed Newland:

“Now what,” I asked, “shall we do for the Assumption besides having a procession?”

“A tea!” That was Peter. He’s for teas. It was Peter who thought up having the Mad Tea Party that time.

And a tea seemed like a good idea this time, what with an afternoon procession and a blessing and flowers and mint and things.

We called the Hobsons.

“We’re inviting you to a tea,” we said, “in honor of Our Lady’s Assumption, with a procession and a Blessing of Herbs and Flowers.”

“Oh, fine,” said the Hobsons’ mother. “We’ll wear our organdies. We always wear our organdies to teas.”

This promised to be very interesting since there are only two Hobson girls (their mother and Ginny) and the rest are boys.

At least, at the time that was how matters stood. There are now three Hobson girls. Anne Marie has been added.

Then we decided that we should have something special for our procession during which we would give the Blessing of Herbs and Flowers (in the new ritual it is called simply the Blessing of Herbs).

The blessing is traditionally given on August 15, perhaps because of the legend that the Apostles found flowers in the tomb where they had laid Our Lady; or perhaps because the Church wanted to Christianize the pagan custom of gathering herbs for medicines at this time of year.

At any rate, the legend about the flowers in her tomb and St. Thomas doubting is sufficiently popular to merit a telling, just so that everyone will get it straight that it is a legend. It goes like this (with many variations).

Our Lady fell asleep at last after the years of living with St. John and waiting for Heaven, and all the Apostles were gathered about her bed. Except St. Thomas. He was off in India preaching the Gospel and couldn’t get back on time, although an angel is supposed to have told him to hurry.

The other apostles carried her body to the tomb and laid it there, and sometime afterward they discovered that it was gone. They naturally concluded that it had been taken to Heaven (as indeed it had).

Then St. Thomas came home; and when they went out to meet him and to explain, he would not believe. He would not believe, the legend says, until he had seen for himself. So they took him to see where they had laid our Lady’s body and in its place were flowers.

Looking up, St. Thomas saw her going up to Heaven; and to convince him at last, an angel brought the girdle she had fastened about her robe and dropped it to Thomas.

It is a pretty story and parts of it are true, but frankly we doubt that St. Thomas had doubts again. You don’t do that sort of thing twice, not after our very Lord said to you, “You are a doubting Thomas. Come here.”

What is true is that Our Lady fell asleep. The word death is not used for Our Lady, because death is the consequence of Original Sin and a punishment for sin, and Our Lady was without the slightest taint of sin.

She would not, need not, have died, but merely waited for her divine Son to will that it was her time for Heaven, and then yield up her soul. We would have accomplished it this way instead of through death if God’s original plan had been permitted to unfold.

But instead of God’s original plan, we had Adam’s Original Sin, and that is how death came in its stead.

Mary was assumed into Heaven. At the end of Masses and after Benediction, when we say the Divine Praises, we add in praise of our Lady: “Blessed be her glorious Assumption,” which is what we celebrate today.

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Now back to our procession. With recollections of the magnificent banners and wall-hangings of our Grailville friends, a banner seemed in order – but one that we could design and execute in a reasonable time.

One day, for a special project, we shall work out a more elaborate hanging, with wools and velvets, sateens, yarns, chain stitch, feather stitch, bands and borders; but this day we had little or no time to spare.

So it was off to the linen trunk in the storeroom to see what treasures we could find. We found a small linen guest towel of bachelor’s-button blue, embroidered with cross-stitch roses, simple and nice. It made us think of the Mystical Rose.

And we found a white linen cloth, heavy as a butcher’s apron but fine as fine and bleached white with many washings and sunnings. Added to these were a length of white rickrack and a half-skein of white yarn, and our materials were complete.

We sewed a decorative M of the rickrack over the roses on the blue linen towel. We cut an oblong of the white linen large enough to double-hem the edges and leave a border of about one and a half inches of white around the blue.

We mounted the blue towel on the white linen, sewing it across the top only. We divided the white yarn into three hanks, braided it into a rope and tacked it across the top of the banner with equal lengths to hang loose down either side.

Next, John went up to the woods and cut a new shoot of oak about an inch in diameter and skinned the bark off. He sawed a two-foot length for our cross-piece, and we bound the banner to this, with white yarn at four places across the top.

Another length of oak about three feet long was the standard and we bound our cross-piece to it. There was our banner! It took about an hour, with children and Granny helping, before we had it finished and the threads and shreds swept up off the dining-room floor.

The next item was the Ritual, that slim black book the priest carries about when he gives the blessings, and a valuable addition to family life.

Then Stephen remembered something and ran into the study. Confetti! For over a year, we had saved a package of confetti, waiting for a feast of suitable magnitude before using it.

Feast days had come and gone, of magnificent magnitude, but we forever forgot the confetti. This was the day for it! Then we sat down, more or less, to await the arrival of our guests in their organdies.

As none of the Newland sprouts knows an organdy from a hole in the wall, there was wild anticipation.

At last they drove up, but in picture hats and blue espadrilles, in honor of Our Lady.

Also bearing with them a peach chiffon pie they had made to honor her and indulge all present, with a crown of sliced peaches decorating it.

We explained immediately that these were not organdies. Philip stood admiring them, nevertheless, as they dismounted from the station wagon. A three-year inventory of knowledge stored in his hard little head was clearly being examined for some clue to this apparel. Finally, he recognized the costumes. “`You look real nice in your cowboy hats and your bedroom slippers.”

The Hobsons thanked him graciously. After general clamor for a few minutes, customary as families assemble for any great event, we had a short discussion of Our Lady’s Dormition and Assumption with a clear explanation of the legend about the flowers at her tomb.

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Then we started out in this order: Stephen with banner. Mrs. Hobson with pewter mug of holy water and aspergill. Mother with Ritual. Ginny with confetti. A quick shift of aspergill to Peter as Mrs. Hobson picks up John Archer, who is afraid of goose and goats. Various additional children.

Arranged at last, we started with the flowerbed by the house where there is tansy, thyme, marigold, and an unidentified herb that will be a mystery until our herb lady comes back and identifies it.

The blessing begins beautifully with Psalm 64 which has wonderful passages in it for children. As we had just recovered from the fringes of a hurricane which, in turn, had put an end to our drought, these lines had special and eloquent meaning.

They shout and sing for joy. Alas, our procession seems to be one part reading and blessing, and one part shouting and singing for joy.

No loss: their joy is in the Lord, and if they are too little to stand still very long, psalms or no, let them shout and sing for joy.

This is the making of many memories and impressions, a mixture of blessings and sun and sky and happiness and family and home and our Lady Mother Mary; this is one of the joys of being a Catholic.

After a Gloria, the blessing continues, the leader reading the versicles, the others responding:

Leader: The Lord will be gracious.

All: And our land bring forth its fruit.

Leader: Thou waterest the mountains from the clouds.

All: The earth is replenished from Thy rains.

Leader: Giving grass for cattle.

All: And plants for the service of man.

Leader: Thou bringest forth wheat from the earth.

All: And wine to cheer man’s heart.

Leader: He sends His command and heals their suffering.

All: And snatches them from distressing want.

Leader: 0 Lord, hear my prayer.

All: And let my cry come unto Thee.

Leader: The Lord be with you.

All: And with thy spirit.

Then follow three prayers of blessing, the first of which reads:

Let us pray. Almighty, everlasting God, by Thy word alone Thou hast made Heaven, earth, sea, all things visible and invisible, and hast adorned the earth with plants and trees for the use of men and animals.

Thou appointest each species to bring forth fruit in its kind, not only to serve as food for living creatures, but also as medicine to sick bodies.

With mind and word, we earnestly appeal to Thine ineffable goodness to bless these various herbs and fruits, and add to their natural powers the grace of Thy new blessing. May they ward off disease and adversity from men and beasts who use them in Thy name.

Through our Lord, Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever. Amen.LowerFarmHouse(3)

We proceeded down to the vegetable garden and sprinkled the dill, and thence off to the brook, where the wild mint flourishes, singing “Mary, We Greet Thee” all the way (that is the Salve Regina in English).

Down along the brook is a magic place, with mint thick and tangled and wild grape and small willows and a hidden bed of forget-me-not.

We sprinkled that, and the flame flower far inside a thicket by a private stream of its own. Then we went further down to the place for sitting on banks and dangling feet. And here, with a story while tasting mint and other wild leaves that were not quite so delicious, everyone took off shoes and went wading, and the smallest ones sat down in the water in their clothes.

Then at last we threw the confetti. It was a glorious sight floating on the brook, sun dappling the water, sounds of children, sounds of water, smell of mint, everyone laughing and splashing, all for the honor and glory of our Lady.

Then back home, to the pie with the Mary-crown on it and the spiced tea with orange and clove (because Holy Scripture says that Mary is like sweet spices and aromatic balm”‘):a lovely end to a day that had started with the whole family at Mass and Holy Communion.

The fathers had pie saved for them in the refrigerator. Processions like this are a particularly motherish kind of thing. These things that take fussing and patience and holding hands while walking with very little people with incredible slowness are things mothers were especially well made for.

Lucky for mothers who have sunny afternoons to teach such beautiful truths and to make such beautiful memories as these of “her glorious Assumption”!

But suppose you live in the city, and there is no brook and no pasture, no wild mint or forget-me-not, or goose or garden or herbs to be blessed – what then?

Still, I would not give in. Somehow I would find a way to make a family celebration and a happy memory of the Assumption.

For some people, a trip to the nearby botanical gardens would be a lovely event for the afternoon. There are many more herbs there than in backyard gardens, and often there are also true Mary-gardens.

You could take along the Ritual, or the words to the blessing copied out of it, and a little bottle of holy water; and when you were alone together for a while, read the blessing over some small patch of fragrance somewhere out of the way where you disturb no one.

Or if there were friends in the country or the suburbs, I would plan a visit with them, a sharing of foods for a picnic supper and a procession to bless their flowers and herbs.

Or if there were no way to go anywhere, I would make it a celebration around the evening meal in the city apartment.

I would buy a pot of flowers, or a few cut flowers from a pushcart, and go to the grocer’s for some herbs. Celery, chives, parsley, endive, lettuce, and chicory are some of the common salad herbs we use all the time, without thinking of them as herbs.

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Mint for iced tea is another herb we use; so I’d find some of that. Then, when all the other dishes were ready, before mixing the salad or putting the mint in the tea, I’d have my family gather together around these lovely things and have the father or the oldest grown-up read the Blessing of Herbs, right in my own city apartment; or in my own room over my tray, if I lived all alone.

For dessert there would be spiced peaches or pears, and I would use cinnamon to spice them because Scripture says that our Lady is like the smell of sweet cinnamon.

The juice drained off any canned or stewed fruit, brought to a boil and then left to simmer a while with a little extra sugar and a stick of cinnamon, quickly prepares spiced fruit.

Do it the day before, then let it get nice and cold in the refrigerator. I would bring out a book from the library with reproductions in it of the early Christian masters – Italian, French, Flemish – and explain to my family the meanings of the fruits they used as symbols and have my children search for them in pictures. Libraries, encyclopedias, and bookshops will help you find information on symbols.

To decorate a city apartment for the feast, a banner such as described can be used without the standard; or a group of the fruits may be arranged in a bowl, or cut out in simple patterns from bright fabrics or old felts, sewed in a garland around a decorative M on heavy unbleached muslin or linen, or arranged in a group surmounted by an M and used as a center decoration on the table or a hanging on the wall behind it.

Children may make such a banner of colored construction paper and paste, cutting the fruits from paper, silhouette-fashion, and mounting them.

These symbolize only a few of the glorious virtues with which God adorned His Mother. Perhaps it is the most obvious thing in this feast that evades us most successfully.

We are so accustomed to understanding its meaning that we fail to understand it with impact: we will see her womanly, motherly, virginal, presence in Heaven.

This is the great triumph. A creature, child of Adam and Eve, flesh and blood like ourselves, not divine, has so dignified our race by her obedience that we are now adopted sons of God and heirs of Heaven.

And we will see her. Children always put it so well.

I asked them if they understood what Assumption – to be assumed into Heaven – meant. “Yes. Her whole self went to Heaven. Not one crumb was left.”

Only someone who lives with children and knows their language would understand.

They will say, “I love you so much I could eat you up.”

That is why “not one crumb was left” has such eloquent meaning.

Another said, “You mean our Lady is really in Heaven. And when we see her, it will be more than just her soul, but her real face, and her real hands, and her really real smile!” And it will be beautiful. There is a hint of it in her Mass: “The daughter of the King comes in, all beautiful: her robes are of golden cloth.”

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The wife’s immediate responsibility however is toward her husband. She is his minister, his eye, his hand, his head and heart, in applying his wealth or the produce of his industry to the ends for which God wills it to be employed. -Fr. Bernard O’Reilly, True Womanhood 1894 http://amzn.to/2t7GyVt (afflink)

Excellent! (and short) sermon! “St. Alphonsus Liguori is known as the Most Zealous Doctor of the Church. Let us listen to and reflect upon twelve of the Moral Doctor’s teachings that lead to sanctity. ‘O Mary, Mother of God, pray to Jesus for me and make me a saint.'”

This book gives us some lovely rhymes that can, and should, be committed to heart by your children. Not only will it provide all the benefits of reading and memorizing, but it will supply some simple reflections that will turn those little minds to what is most important in their life….their Catholic Faith…. Available here.

 

 

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Catholic Education in the Home (Part Three – Conclusion)

This is Part Three of an excellent article! It was given the Nihil Obstat in Australia in 1955. The name of the Dominican sister was not included.

The article has many things to ponder and take to heart!

Part One

Part Two

ON EARTH THE BROKEN ARC. . . . . . .

I know some may be tempted to think that all this talk of beauty and art is too impractical, too much far away from the business of everyday life – or that the country home cannot do much about it. But a Catholic should never let himself think like that. He should know that to be a complete person, means to be able to see and to feel, to imagine and even to create what is beautiful.

I cannot go into this any further, much as I would like to. I shall say just this:- the home can do more in this matter than the school. Like love for our Holy Faith, appreciation of the fine and lovely things of life comes from constant association with beautiful things themselves and with people who have a genuine love and understanding of them.

So it is for parents to help their children in this vital matter. Simplicity, neatness, color, brightness, and good taste can make the house and garden lovely without great expense. A few really good pictures by great artists can help to form the children’s taste.

There are, for example, so many of Our Lady by artists such as Fra Angelico, Botticelli and Raphael, that it seems a shame to have instead, ones that are unworthy of Our Lady’s beauty and dignity.

A good book for helping children to understand art has a significant title, Pictures to Grow Up With.

Children take great notice of pictures in the home and I know I can recall vividly all the pictures in our home. Hence the importance of having lovely ones and of encouraging the children really to look at them – and to make their own, to draw and paint and make things.

Much of a child’s future happiness and goodness depends on what the home and the school have done to help him to discover and develop his special creative powers, his capacity for making something beautiful

RESPONSE TO POETRY

It seems harder to discover what can be done at home to foster a love of poetry. There are collections of works by genuine poets (i.e. not just writers of verse for children) which are produced in such a way as to captivate the attention – such as the Adventures in Poetry series by Mary Daunt, or The Blackbird in the Lilac, by James Reeves or an Australian Adventures in Poetry, edited by Donald McLean, and Gospel Rhymes, published by Sheed and Ward.

If these could be read aloud and talked over, it would be a good beginning. The attitude of the adults to poetry has a great deal to do with the child’s response to it.

MUSIC -TO UPLIFT OR DEGRADE?

To develop appreciation of good music is both easier and harder – easier because modern people will listen more readily to music than to poetry; harder because so much music is heard that is utterly worthless, if not vulgar and degrading.

Positive efforts are always best in this as in all education. You can find ways of knowing what is good; and by wise choice of radio programs and the playing of records of good music the home can set up right standards for the children before their taste has been spoilt.

If it is at all possible, some members of the family who have the gift should learn to play the piano or other musical instruments. They can then give great joy to the others.

I could say much more, but I daresay you are thinking that I have said enough. Still I think you will see from the above, that one of the defects of the education of girls, especially of those who are going to be home-makers in the country, is that it is too similar to a boy’s education.

Training in art and music, in subjects such as history and great literature, in all that would make for good taste in dress, speech and home decoration and management would do more to fit a girl to be a Christian mother and the mistress of a Christian home.

EDUCATION FOR RURAL LIVING

And so I come to my final point – what the country home can do to educate the child for rural living.

An American writer on the “Forward to the Land movement”, expressed the value of rural living thus:-To live a decent, human life a man needs space for family living, a good environment for bringing up children, one where children are welcome, the possession of property so that the family can have both independence and responsibility, and a chance for genuine community living, for true neighbourliness.

Only the country can give all this. A nation can be no stronger than its families are, and they can be at their best in the country. And when to this natural strength we add the crowning glory of the Catholic Faith, when we strive to bring Christ to the countryside, and the land to Christ, we are certainly exercising a great apostolate.

This is the ideal and the vocation we wish to hand on to our children. They will learn it best by living it, by being given an active share in it, while still young. If the chance to be truly responsible for what one does is one of the values of rural living, then the rural home must give each child jobs to do which he must do with faithfulness and responsibility.

It is not enough that he sees, what is easily seen on a farm, that the feeding of animals, the watering of plants, the milking of cows, the gathering of eggs, the preparing of meals cannot be put aside for another day. He must share that responsibility if he is to experience the joy of a job well done.

The jobs should not be burdensome to the child, but they should be really necessary jobs, and the child should be really responsible for doing them.

Anyone who has had much to do with modern children, would realize their need for a sense of responsibility, and for acquiring a spirit of work and a respect for its dignity. At the same time the children will learn from sharing the family work to care for things with reverence and detachment, to use them properly – a very valuable lesson that is so hard to teach to the child who has to spend his growing years in a flat or in a few rented rooms.

COMMUNITY LIFE

True neighborliness or the spirit of genuine community living is really an extension of a sense of responsibility. It is living a truth that, as members of the Body of Christ we are almost as responsible for the goodness and happiness of others as we are for our own. We are all one in Christ. Someone has put it thus: ‘The countryman retains in his very fiber the knowledge that God’s answer to “Am I my brother’s keeper?” is an emphatic “Yes.”

Children should not only see the genuine concern which their parents have for the troubles of others and their readiness to give help; they should have their share in helping.

Picnics and parties and games together are the joyful side of neighborliness; children need this, and the more serious side as well. As they grow up in the more spacious country environment, they can learn the meaning and value of quietness, serenity and solitude; but they should realize that they are never isolated, no matter how far away the nearest homestead.

From their parents, too, children learn to take an active part in parish functions and entertainments, to give time and energy to supporting movements such as the Rural Movement, or any movement or club that is working to help the Catholic boy or girl to be, in time, an intelligent and contented member of a country community.

SENSE OF VALUES

A parent’s surest means of developing in their children this intelligent appreciation of a rural way of life, is by giving them a happy home life with parents and children sharing their interests and fun. Nothing can replace the value of that in any child’s life, but it is particularly true of the country child’s life, who at some time or other will be tempted by the seeming enchantment of city life.

It can be a very strong temptation, but parents who have realized that their vocation in life is to educate their children in God’s way, will not be found wanting. Their own love for each other and for God, is the strongest foundation of happiness in the home, and that is one reason why they will keep to themselves any differences or disagreements that may arise between them.

They will realize that the special home virtues of unselfishness, bearing with one another, gentleness, generosity and modesty will not come without prayer and personal effort.

Each of these would be worthy of a talk on its own, but unselfish courtesy and modesty are needed by the child of today to a degree that is almost frightening-courtesy because it means a real concern for the feelings of others, a deep respect, a reverence for the person of others-and reverence, we are told, is fast disappearing from our world.

Good manners is the outward showing of courtesy and good-mannered children have good-mannered parents; that is the only certain way.

This is true also of modesty – a person’s sense of reverence for himself, his own person. Here, the father has a tremendous responsibility for the modest manliness of his sons and their respect for women; and the mother must know that her girl’s womanly modesty and purity depend largely on hers.

A girl nowadays, at least in the city, needs this virtue to an heroic degree, so great are the temptations to unbecoming dress and behavior.

Yet Catholic women, who knew how to dress smartly and modestly, and had the courage of their convictions, could start a revolution in this matter.

THE HOME OF A SAINT

To end my talk, I want to quote the words of our Holy Father, the Pope, spoken when he was canonizing St. Maria Goretti, the twelve year-old martyr of purity. She was, he said, “the fruit of a Christian home with its old simple method of education, a home where one prays, where the children are brought up in fear of God, in obedience to parents, in the love of truth and self-respect, accustomed to be satisfied with little, and to give a helping hand.”

It was a country home, and Maria was a country child, who learnt early the meaning of sharing fully in the joys and sufferings of a family – the give and take of a family life.

I have always loved the ideals of country life, and have loved teaching children from country homes. That is why I am glad and honored to speak to you today, to get to know a little of those who make it possible for children to be truly childlike.

City children have their own lovableness and perhaps a greater need of our work, but I often find myself longing to give them the tremendous benefits of growing up in the country – and that is why I think every effort should be made to establish in the country, colleges and schools that are fully Catholic and truly rural in ideals.

Our Lady was the mistress of a little village home in Nazareth; Jesus was a little village child. I know their loving spirit will guide every step the country child takes on his way to heaven.

“For years, while raising children, a mother’s time is never her own, her own needs have to be kept in second place, and every time she turns around a hand is reaching out and demanding something. Hence, a mother raising children, perhaps in a more privileged way even than a professional contemplative, is forced, almost against her will, to constantly stretch her heart.” -Fr. Rolheiser, OMI

“This is the book that traditionally minded Catholic family women have been looking for. Long out of print, this rare jewel is destined to become the favored spiritual guide for Catholic wives and mothers. Msgr. Landriot gave these conferences over 100 years ago but they are as relevant to us today as the Gospels. Think of this book as a practical guide for women who want to achieve sanctity in the home.” Check it out at Loreto Publications here.

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Beautiful Handcrafted Religious Necklaces with Vintaj Charm!

Available here.

 

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Catholic Education in the Home (Part Two)

This is Part Two of an excellent article! It was given the Nihil Obstat in Australia in 1955. The name of the Dominican sister was not included.

The article has many things to ponder and take to heart!

Part One is here.

Part Three is here.

NURSERY OF SAINTS

In truth, the family circle is the nursery of saints as of sane, human beings. There the child finds the love, security and guidance which are his greatest needs.

It is by loving and being loved that persons grow as persons. It is in the family that relationships are essentially personal and each person is valued as a person.

So we look to the family to preserve that form of society, that way of life which respects the personality, the unique value in God’s eyes, of every human being.

The mothers who humbly strive to open the eyes of the children to the truths of the first chapters of the catechism are doing a work of incalculable, irreplaceable value.

Maybe that is the vocation of the country family – to keep alive a sane view of life by educating their children to be, as Fr. Gerald Vann expresses it,’creative personalities who will share the redemptive work of Jesus Christ through their lives, their work, their homes and their love.

If ever you get the chance read the stories of Saints Pius X and John Bosco, Saints Therese and Maria Goretti, you will realize how close is the connection between good homes, nobility of character and sanctity.

VOCATIONS

You will understand too, why vocations to the priesthood and the religious life come usually in the good home; and with grateful love you will encourage the children who want to serve God in this great way.

I am afraid I have too little time to deal adequately with the three other aspects of educative work in the home. But, as a Dominican, I must speak at least briefly, on the parent’s share in developing in each child a deep respect for the things of the mind, for the work of the human intellect.

The work of the intellect is to grasp truth, to grasp the meaning of things as they are in the reality of their own being, to come always nearer to seeing things as they must be in God’s sight.

It may be the Divine Knowledge of God as He has revealed it to us, or the natural knowledge of the universe He has created, or the world of ideas by which the human mind strives to understand the purpose of existence-why the world is, what we are, what are our real powers, what are the relationships between things and men and the unseen world.

Whatever it be, the unspoilt human intellect seeks this knowledge and yearns for it, because even when it does not know it, it is always seeking the greatest reality, God, the source of all Truth.

The modern world has little taste for this thirst for truth. Too often, insensitive and blind to the inner meaning of things, it asks only Of what use are they to us? Is there any money in it for us?

It degrades everything by commercializing it. It scorns those who have no material gain to show for all their study. There is nothing wrong with putting our knowledge to practical use.

The Holy Family at Nazareth had to do so daily. The grave mistake is to forget the higher value of knowledge, to let our minds be tainted by the materialistic outlook around us; even sometimes to encourage our children to adopt this attitude. That is why I am dwelling on a point that may at first, seem to have little to do with education in the home.

THE COUNTRY HOME

I can see in country life and the country home great possibilities for keeping alive a right love for knowledge. I can sense a danger too in the fact that parents are often dependent on non-Catholic schools for the outside education of their children.

There is bound to be confusion and conflict in the child’s mind, if the ideals and standards of value differ, especially if one held that man, not God, was the measure of Truth.

The home must therefore deliberately set itself to correct this, to give the child the right meaning of truth and knowledge.

For this the country child has the great advantage of living from his earliest days in close contact with natural things, with things that have come straight from the hand of God.

Everything that is, is more than it is, and the child can gain real knowledge from the company of living and growing things.

Natural things exert an almost incredibly strong influence on the child mind, which can surrender its whole being so fully to what it sees and loves- a fleet of ducklings on a pond, a calf on its rickety legs, a moonlight walk to turn off the windmill, the tall trees always in their place, the ride round the thirty-acre on the Massey-Harris pulled by eight strong horses.

GOD’S PURPOSE IN ALL THINGS

Experiences such as these things can hardly fail to give real knowledge and at the same time to guard and guide the spirit of the child, giving it a sense of true peace and true grandeur which it need never lose.

In your own minds, now perhaps you are seeing again what used to give you a special joy or comfort, reassurance or inspiration. The meaning and purpose of these natural things is something a child can understand, and at the same time he is led, almost, unawares, to see God through them. Thus is developed a sense of wonder at the mystery of being that could be a most precious possession for life.

This power to see the creatures of God as the symbols of His goodness and beauty, if rightly developed, is a means of enabling the child to enter more fully into the spirit of the liturgy, that is, the Church’s public worship of God.

It would help him to see the significant way in which flowers and candles, oil and wine and bread and water are used in the Sacrifice of the Mass and in the Sacraments.

And though I cannot dwell on the thought now, it would be worth your while to think deeply about the educative value of the Church’s liturgy, all Her ways of giving worship to God, and bringing man to God. This seems a long way from so-simple-seeming a subject as the study of nature; but all real knowing has such far-reaching effects.

READING

By encouraging children to read and to reflect on what they read, parents can also strongly influence a child’s attitude to learning. But the books must be worth reading, for you cannot develop a taste for what is good, nor the power to seek and find the beauty or truth of what is written if the book is of poor quality.

There is now a great wealth of good books for children and young people. It would be difficult to over-estimate the value of helping your children to love reading.

Some great educators do not hesitate to state that the test of the well-educated person is the quality of his reading. Can he really read a great book? If you could bring back to your home the custom of reading aloud to your children (or their reading to you) and of letting them try out their powers of thinking and discussing with you, you might help to make Australia a land of genuine culture.

But the right book is the important thing and it is your responsibility to do all you can to get them, plenty of them-Saints’ books, Nature books, stories, fairy and folk tales, stories of real life. But remember there is a world of difference between a genuine fairy story as found in Hans Andersen’s Tales or Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books and some pixie story by Enid Blyton.

Before I leave this problem of developing a deep respect for the things of the mind perhaps I could mention the right attitude to take towards the children’s progress in their studies.

A Catholic parent should never be tempted to ask-What is the good of all this study of poetry or history or Latin-it won’t help you to get a job-nor is it wise to use, as a spur to urge children to work, the argument that they will not get on in the world.

Again, keep always in mind the truth that children differ very greatly in natural gifts and aptitudes. One of the greatest lessons we have to learn in life is to accept ourselves as we are and our children have to learn it too. What is needed is to find what one can really do and do it as perfectly as we can.

SUCCESS IS NOT ENOUGH

How much more sane and balanced is the personality of the child who is not for ever being harried by unfair comparisons with what other children can do. Often we are so anxious for the success of our children that we forget the harm we may be thus doing to their characters their attitude to life. Rather should we train our children to rejoice sincerely in the gifts and success of others.

When I come to consider what it means to have given a child a love and appreciation of what is beautiful in life, in art, in music, in literature, I could wish I had a poet’s power to convey in a few words, a whole world of meaning.

It is indeed fatally easy to think we have educated a child when we have trained him to think, to acquire masses of useful information, to do many useful things. We could do all this and leave his inner spirit untouched or dulled.

Someone has written that modern education has produced a world, completely out of tune with beauty, unaware of it, and incapable of seeing it, reverencing it or producing it.

The ugliness of much that we see in big cities – advertisements on hoardings, factory buildings, radio programmes, comic strips and popular songs and dance music, that are utterly empty of all loveliness and graciousness – These are evidence of wide-spread disregard for beauty, and, to quote a great Catholic writer, Jacques Maritain, “The dismissal of beauty is a dangerous thing for humanity.”

It would scarcely be too much to say that in dismissing or belittling what is beautiful we are dismissing God. For God is Beauty as well as Truth and Goodness, and ‘all the beauty we can see is but an addition to the store through which we become aware of God.

(To be continued…)

We are called to be great Apostles of Love in our ordinary, daily life. We are Christ’s Hands and Feet as we wipe noses, feed hungry little ones and change diapers with an attitude of service and love. When we are cheerful to those we rub shoulders with each day, when we kindly open our door to those who enter into our home, we are taking part in Christ’s Apostolic Work. “Jesus was an Apostle in the stable of Bethlehem, in the shop of St. Joseph, in His anguish in Gethsemane and on Calvary no less than when He was going through Palestine, teaching the multitudes or disputing with the doctors of the law.” – Divine Intimacy, Painting by Morgan Weistling http://amzn.to/2p0dxg8 (afflink)

Lovely reviews from Amazon on my book, Cheerful Chats for Catholic Children:  Thank you, Dear Ladies!

“Love it! Love it! Love it! A grace filled book that gives young children a faith perspective, more of a God’s eye view if you will, of daily events.All the ups and downs of life are considered in relation to Christ and His Blessed Mother. My own grandchildren love hearing these tales every night. The stories give them hope, security and understanding.”

“I’ve long been wanting a book on various virtues to help my children become better Catholics. But most books focused on the virtues make being bad seem funny or attractive in order to teach the child a lesson. I’ve always found them to be detrimental to the younger ones who’s logic hasn’t formed. This book does an awesome job in showing a GOOD example in each of the children with all the various struggles children commonly struggle with (lying, hiding things, being grumpy, you name it.) But this book isn’t JUST virtue training… it’s also just sweet little chats about our love for God, God’s greatness, etc…

And the best thing of all? They are SHORT! I have lots of books that are wonderful, but to be honest I rarely pick them up because I just don’t have the time to read a huge, long story. These are super short, just one page, and very to the point. The second page has a poem, picture, a short prayer and a few questions for the kids to get them thinking. It works really, really well right before our bedtime prayers and only takes a few minutes at most.

If you like “Leading the Little ones to Mary” then you will like these… they are a little more focused on ALL age groups, not just little ones… so are perfect for a family activity even through the teenage years, down to your toddler”

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Hands Free Mama is the digital society’s answer to finding balance in a media-saturated, perfection-obsessed world. It doesn’t mean giving up all technology forever. It doesn’t mean forgoing our jobs and responsibilities. What it does mean is seizing the little moments that life offers us to engage in real and meaningful interaction. It means looking our loved ones in the eye and giving them the gift of our undivided attention, living a present, authentic, and intentional life despite a world full of distractions.

With his facile pen and from the wealth of his nation-wide experience, the well-known author treats anything and everything that might be included under the heading of home education: the pre-marriage training of prospective parents, the problems of the pre-school days down through the years of adolescence. No topic is neglected. “What is most praiseworthy is Fr. Lord’s insistence throughout that no educational agency can supplant the work that must be done by parents.” – Felix M. Kirsch, O.F.M. https://amzn.to/2T06u28 (afflink)

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