Preparing for Pentecost – Maria von Trapp

Ascension Thursday was yesterday, May 13th. Pentecost Sunday is on May 23rd. 

The following is a lovely excerpt from Maria von Trapp’s Around the Year with the Trapp Family. It is an excellent way to prepare your family’s hearts for the coming of the Holy Ghost! 

On Ascension Day begin the nine days of waiting and preparing, together with the Apostles and Mary, the coming of the Holy Ghost.

These are the days when families should discuss the “Gifts of the Holy Ghost” and the “Fruits of the Holy Ghost” evening after evening.

As I look back over the years I marvel at how different these discussions were every year, always full of surprises, partly because there were different people participating–guests of the family or new friends of the children–who do not ordinarily hear the workings of the “Gifts of the Holy Ghost” discussed around the family table.

We devote one whole evening to each one of the gifts. First is the Gift of Knowledge, offered to help us in our dealings with inanimate and animate created nature, with things and people.

It teaches us to make use of them wisely, and to refrain from what is dangerous for us. As we consider a typical day, we discover that this gift is needed from the very moment of awakening, when we have to part from the created thing “bed.”

The younger ones discover that the Gift of Knowledge helps them to remember that they have to make use of such created things as the toothbrush and the shower. In fact, there is hardly a moment of the day in which we do not have to make decisions about using something or dealing with somebody, and when we do not need the immediate help from the Holy Spirit to carry us safely through the day.

The second evening is devoted to the Gift of Understanding, which is extended to us for the understanding, with mind and heart, of revealed truth as we find it in Holy Scripture and the liturgy, and in the breviary.

This gift we need for our hours of prayer and meditation. It fulfills the Lord’s promise: “The Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things” (John 14:26).

The third evening is devoted to the Gift of Counsel, which helps us to distinguish, in every moment of our life, what is the will of God. This gift we also need when someone turns to us for advice.

It is most necessary to parents and teachers, priests, and all persons in authority. But above all it should help us to make the right choices in everyday life–even in such minor matters as “Should I do my homework now or later? Should I see this movie or not?”

The Gift of Fortitude helps us to overcome our own will. This may start with such seemingly small matters as jumping out of bed the moment we had intended to do so; with giving up smoking or candies and cookies for certain times; with keeping silence when we might have a sharp answer ready; with doing little things for others at the cost of our own comfort; and it may lead to the ultimate test–aiding us in joining the thousands of contemporary martyrs who are called to lay down their life for God. Again, a gift that is needed throughout the day!

The Gift of Piety does not sound particularly attractive, until we realize that it infuses our hearts with a special kind of love, directed toward everything belonging and related to God all persons consecrated to His service–the Holy Father in Rome, bishops and priests, missionaries, nuns, and lay brothers–and all things set aside for God only, such as church and altar, chalice and monstrance, vestments, and the sacramentals in our home–rosaries, holy water, medals.

This precious gift also makes us eager to devote time to the service of God. It helps overcome morning laziness when it is time for Mass. It makes us want to visit our hidden God once in a while in church. In other words, it instills the interest for the supernatural in our souls. How could we do without it!

When we come to the Gift of the Fear of the Lord, there is always someone to raise the argument “This I don’t understand. That is the spirit of the Old Testament, of the chosen people who were trembling before Jehovah so that they said to Moses, `You go up the mountain and talk with Him–we are afraid.’ But the New Testament teaches us to say `Our Father,’ and Our Lord says, `I don’t call you servants any more, I call you friends!’ One isn’t afraid of one’s father or one’s friend! What do I need the Gift of Fear for?”

It is then that something very tender and beautiful comes to light. If a person loves another one very much, you may often hear him say: “I’m afraid to wake him up, he needs his sleep”; or, “I’m afraid to disturb him.” In other words, love is afraid to hurt the beloved one.

The Gift of Fear should lead us to a state of mind which makes us afraid to sin because it would hurt Him.

The Gift of Wisdom, finally, seems to sum up all the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, just as charity sums up all His fruits. If we ask throughout all our days for the other Gifts of the Holy Ghost and cooperate with them, if we examine our conscience every night about the use we made of them–wisdom will grow in our hearts.

This wisdom has nothing to do with ordinary human intelligence, with knowledge learned in schools and from books. One doesn’t even have to be able to read and write in order to become wise.

Once in a while one meets an old lay brother or lay sister, an old farmer in the country, or some bedridden person, who may not be learned in the eyes of the world, but may impress us deeply by a true wisdom expressed in all simplicity.

At the end of the seventh day we have all renewed our conviction that we cannot lead a truly Christian life without the special aid of the Holy Ghost, that we have to ask for it as we start each day, and be faithful to it as we go through the day. Children, with the generosity of young hearts, are remarkably responsive to this suggestion.

The eighth day of the novena is dedicated to the “Fruits of the Holy Ghost” as they are enumerated in St. Paul–especially the first three love, peace, and joy.

On this day we always call to mind the admonition of one of our dearest friends, Reverend Father Abbot, to take the word of Our Lord literally, that “by their fruits thou shalt know them.”

In every individual soul, in every family or community we should watch whether the fruits are the fruits of the Holy Ghost, whether love, peace, and joy prevail.

On the last day of the novena we meditate together on the two great hymns, “Veni, Sancte Spiritus” and “Veni, Creator Spiritus.”

Through our previous discussions, these texts are seen in a new light, and the repeated “Veni, veni” (“Come, Holy Ghost, come”) really rises from longing hearts. And when, during High Mass on Pentecost Sunday, priest and community kneel down at the solemn text of the Gradual, “Veni, Sancte Spiritus,” we feel the miracle of the first Pentecost repeated in our hearts, filled by the Holy Ghost in response to the intensity of our “Veni.”

In the old country, ancient Pentecost customs are still alive. On the

Saturday before Pentecost Sunday the young men go out with long whips, cracking them with special skill to produce a noise called “Pfingstschnalzen.”

This is followed by “Pfingstschiessen,” done with the same ancient guns that are used for shooting on Easter and other festivities.

In some valleys people walk barefoot up into the mountains through the dew, calling for the Holy Ghost. In the Alps, cattle decorated with wreaths and garlands are sent up to the high pastures, accompanied for a little way by most of the villagers.

Many of the old churches throughout the Alps have a hole in the ceiling above the altar through which, on Pentecost Sunday, during High Mass the “Holy Ghost dove” is let down into the church.

On Ascension Day, the statue of the Risen Lord is lifted on wires after the Gospel to disappear in the same opening, which brings the mystery of the day very close to all children, big and small. In some parishes the Risen Lord, at the end of the Mass, sends gifts down from heaven–apples and cookies and candies for the children, and flowers and green branches for the grownups, and everybody tries to take at least a leaf or a petal home.

This brings us to the end of the holy Paschal season. The octave day of Pentecost, known as Trinity Sunday, is dedicated to the Blessed Trinity. While in the first centuries the Easter Communion had to be received on Easter Sunday, the Church later extended “Easter Time,” which now begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Trinity Sunday.

Once a family has celebrated the year of the Church faithfully from the First Sunday in Advent, feasting and fasting together, until the fullness of the Holy Ghost crowns their efforts throughout the days of Pentecost, it will be a very happy family indeed.

He has ascended…yes, He is gone. And yet He is ever nearer. We need not run hither and dither to find happiness. “The Kingdom of God is within us”. Let us listen for His Voice. 🌸🌺

 

 

Penal Rosaries!

Penal rosaries and crucifixes have a wonderful story behind them. They were used during the times when religious objects were forbidden and it was illegal to be Catholic. Being caught with a rosary could mean imprisonment or worse. A penal rosary is a single decade with the crucifix on one end and, oftentimes, a ring on the other. When praying the penal rosary you would start with the ring on your thumb and the beads and crucifix of the rosary in your sleeve, as you moved on to the next decade you moved the ring to your next finger and so on and so forth. This allowed people to pray the rosary without the fear of being detected.

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To the modern mind, the concept of poverty is often confused with destitution. But destitution emphatically is not the Gospel ideal. A love-filled sharing frugality is the message, and Happy Are You Poor explains the meaning of this beatitude lived and taught by Jesus himself. But isn’t simplicity in lifestyle meant only for nuns and priests? Are not all of us to enjoy the goodness and beauties of our magnificent creation? Are parents to be frugal with the children they love so much?

The renowned spiritual writer Dubay gives surprising replies to these questions. He explains how material things are like extensions of our persons and thus of our love. If everyone lived this love there would be no destitution.

After presenting the richness of the Gospel message, more beautiful than any other world view, he explains how Gospel frugality is lived in each state of life.

“This book calls on Christian men to man up and fight for our faith, it is an excellent read. Should be required reading in every Christian school in the nation, the book is written for young men, usually the teenage years and is refreshingly unapologetic in its exhortation for young men to stand up for what they believe.” -Chris M. https://amzn.to/30SZbh9

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Feast of the Ascension – History and Liturgy

by Father Frank Weiser, Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs

On Thursday of the sixth week after Easter ( forty days after Easter Sunday ), the Church celebrates the Feast of the Ascension. According to the Bible, on that day the Lord commissioned His Apostles to preach the Gospel to all nations; then, having blessed them, “He was lifted up before their eyes, and a cloud took him out of their sight” ( Acts 1, 9).

ORIGIN • The feast is of very ancient origin. As a mere commemoration of the event it certainly dates from apostolic times, since he Bible expressly mentions the day and its happenings. However, it seems that the Ascension was not celebrated as a separate festival in the liturgy of the Church during the first three centuries, but was included in the Feast of Pentecost.

The first one to mention it as an established and separate feast is Eusebius, Bishop of Nicomedia (341) At the end of the fourth century it was universally celebrated in the whole Roman Empire. Saint Augustine (430) attributed its origin to the Apostles themselves, probably because by his time it already was of such high traditional standing that it ranked with the greatest liturgical celebrations. He mentions as “solemn anniversaries” of the Lord the “Passion, Resurrection and Ascension, and the coming of the Holy Spirit.”

In the Greek Church, Saint Gregory of Nyssa (394) and Saint John Chrysostom (407) preached sermons on Ascension Day, which proves that at the end of the fourth century the feast was well established in the East, too.

From those early centuries the festival has remained a holyday of obligation up to this day.

CELEBRATION OF THE FEAST • As with the other feasts of the Lord, the early Church celebrated not so much the memory of the historical event of Christ’s ascension, but its theological significance. Saint John Chrysostom expressed it in these words: Through the mystery of the Ascension we, who seemed unworthy of God’s earth, are taken up into Heaven. . . . Our very nature, against which Cherubim guarded the gates of Paradise, is enthroned today high above all Cherubim.”

A similar thought is expressed in the words of the festive Preface in the Mass: “Christ was lifted up to Heaven to make us sharers in His divinity. ”

Perhaps the same theological aspect, in preference to the merely historical one, explains the interesting fact that in Jerusalem the earliest celebration of Ascension Day (in the fourth century) was not held on the Mount of Olives (although Saint Helena had built a splendid basilica there ), but in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, as if the end of Christ’s visible presence on earth would have to be honored in the very place of its beginning.” By the eight century, however, the Ascension feast in Jerusalem was solemnly kept on the Mount of Olives.”

PROCESSION • From the very beginning of its observance as a separate festival, the Ascension had a distinctive feature in the liturgical procession which went outside the city, and usually to the top of a hill, in imitation of Christ’s leading the Apostles “out towards Bethany” (Luke 24, 50).

In Jerusalem it was, of course, the original path that Christ took to the summit of the Mount of Olives. In Constantinople the suburb of Romanesia, where Saint John Chrysostom had preached his sermons on the Ascension, was chosen.

In Rome, the pope was crowned by the cardinals in his chapel after the morning service, and in solemn procession conducted to the church of the Lateran. From there, after the Pontifical Mass, toward noon, the procession went to a shrine or church outside the walls. The Epistle of the Ascension was read and a prayer service held.

This custom of the procession was introduced as a fairly universal rite in the Latin Church during the eighth and ninth centuries, but finally was replaced by the nonliturgical pageants of the High Middle Ages.

The only relic still extant in our present liturgy is the simple but impressive ceremony in every Catholic Church, after the Gospel of the Mass has been sung, of extinguishing the Easter candle.

In some sections of Germany and central Europe, however, semiliturgical processions are still held after the High Mass. Preceded by candles and cross, the faithful walk with prayer and song through fields and pastures, and the priest blesses each lot of ground.

ASCENSION WEEK • The Feast of the Ascension received an octave only in the fifteenth century. Before that time, the Sunday after the Ascension was called in the Roman books “Sunday of the Rose” (Dominica de Rosa).

On that Sunday the popes preached and held the solemn service at the church of Santa Maria Rotonda (the Pantheon), and, in token of the Lord’s promise that He would send the Paraclete soon, a shower of roses was thrown from the central opening of the church immediately after the pope’s sermon.

Even today, the Mass of Sunday is mainly devoted to the thought of the coming Feast of Pentecost. In the Epistle, Saint Peter describes the greatest gift of the Holy Spirit, the virtue of charity (1 Peter 4, 7-11); and, in the Gospel, Christ promises to send the Paraclete (John 15, 26-16, 4).

In the Greek Church this Sunday forms the Feast of the Three Hundred and Eighteen Holy and Godly Fathers of Nicaea. It is a solemn commemoration of the great council of 325 in which the Arian heresy was condemned and Mary’s title as “Mother of God” was unanimously confirmed.

Some hermits and ascetics in the early centuries claimed (against the general practice of the Church) that from Ascension Day on they could and should return to their penitential exercises and fasts, because Christ was with the Apostles for only forty days.

Thus the Octave of the Ascension was turned by them into a period of fasting and penance. The Council of Elvira (about 303) condemned this claim and insisted on the universal practice of keeping the time of joy (without fast and penance) up to Pentecost.

NAMES • All Christian nations have accepted the liturgical term of “Ascension” for the feast (Ascensio in Latin, Analepsis in Greek). The German word Himmelfahrt has the same meaning (Going up to Heaven). The Hungarians have a popular term, “Thursday of the Communicants” (Aldozo esiitortok), because in past centuries Ascension was the last day for receiving the annual Easter Communion in that country.

A second liturgical title is used in the Byzantine Church: “Fulfilled Salvation” (Episozomene in Greek, Spasovo in Slavonic). This term signifies what Saint Gregory of Nyssa expressed in one of his sermons: “The Ascension of Christ is the consummation and fulfillment of all other feasts and the happy conclusion of the earthly sojourn of Jesus Christ.”

FOLKLORE ASCENSION PLAYS • During the tenth century some dramatic details were added to the liturgical procession on Ascension Day in the countries of central and western Europe.

In Germany it became a custom for priests to lift a cross aloft when the words Assumptus est in coelum (He was taken up into Heaven) were sung at the Gospe1.

From the eleventh century on, the procession was gradually dropped in most countries and in its place a pageant was performed in church. These “Ascension plays” have never been accorded official approval or liturgical status by the Roman authorities.

By the thirteenth century it had become a fairly general custom to enact the Ascension by hoisting a statue of the Risen Christ aloft until it disappeared through an opening in the ceiling of the church.

While the image, suspended on a rope, moved slowly upward, the people rose in their pews and stretched out their arms toward the figure of the Savior, acclaiming the Lord in prayer or by hymn singing. Hundreds of reports in old books from the fourteenth to the seventeenth centuries contain vivid descriptions of this ancient custom.

One of the most charming examples is the Ascension play of the Bavarian monastery in Moosburg, recorded by the priest and poet Johann von Berghausen (1362).

In the center of the church, directly underneath an opening in the ceiling, a platform decorated with colored cloths and flowers was erected. On this platform stood a little tent, open at the top, which represented the Mount of Olivet. Inside the tent was placed a statue of the Risen Christ, holding high the banner of victory.

A strong rope that hung down from the ceiling was fastened to a ring on top of the wooden image. After Vespers (in the afternoon), a solemn procession moved from the sacristy to the platform. It was led by two boys in white dresses. They impersonated angels; on their shoulders they wore wings and on their heads little wreaths of flowers.

They were followed by a young cleric who represented the Blessed Virgin, “dressed in the robes of holy and honorable widowhood.” To his right and left walked clerics enacting Saint Peter and Saint John.

Behind them came ten other clerics in Oriental gowns; they were barefoot, and on their foreheads they carried diadems inscribed with the names of the Apostles. The altar boys and priests, vested in festive garb, concluded the group.

In front of the platform, the deacon sang the Gospel of Ascension Day, and the choir intoned the antiphon, “I ascend to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” (John 20, 17).

The priests then venerated the image of Christ with inclinations and incense. Finally, while the choir sang Ascendit Deus in altum, alleluia (God rose on high), the statue was slowly pulled aloft.

As it rose higher and higher, a few figures of angels holding burning candles came down from “Heaven” to meet the Lord and to accompany him on his journey.

From a large metal ring that was suspended below the opening, there hung cloths of silk representing clouds. Between these “clouds” the image of the Savior slowly and solemnly disappeared. A few moments later, a shower of roses, lilies, and other flowers dropped from the opening; then followed wafers in the shape of large hosts.

The schoolchildren were allowed to collect these flowers and wafers, to take them home as cherished souvenirs.

Father Berghausen explains this custom as follows: “The little ones collect the flowers which symbolize the various gifts of the Holy Spirit. The wafers indicate the presence of Christ in His Eucharistic Body, which remains with us, under the species of bread, to the end of time.”

While the congregation stood with eyes raised to the ceiling, the two “angels” intoned the final message of Ascension Day, which predicts the triumphant coming of the Lord on the clouds of Heaven, for the great judgment at the end of the world: “Why do you stand looking up to heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, shall come in the same way as you have seen him going up to heaven” (Acts 1, 11). The celebration was concluded with solemn Benediction.

OTHER CUSTOMS • It was a widespread custom in many parts of Europe during the Middle Ages to eat a bird on Ascension Day, because Christ “flew” to Heaven. Pigeons, pheasants, partridges, and even crows, graced the dinner tables.

In western Germany bakers and innkeepers gave their customers pieces of pastry made in the shapes of various birds. In England the feast was celebrated with games, dancing, and horse races.

In central Europe, Ascension Day is a traditional day of mountain climbing and picnics on hilltops and high places.

It is difficult for a child to be better than his home environment or for a nation to be superior to the level of its home life. -Fr. Lovasik, The Catholic Family Handbook

Painting by Mark Keathley

What is the typology of the Ascension for us? What is the significance of it and the events leading up to it?

“Why do you stand there looking up toward heaven?” He hasn’t left us. Sermon on the feast of the Ascension with quotes by St Augustine….

Blessed Mother Graceful Religious Pendant Sets….Wire-Wrapped, Handcrafted

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A wonderful book showing how the angels have visited people innumerable times in the past, how they do so today, and would do even more if we asked them. Also, how they prevent accidents, comfort us, help us, and protect us from the devils. Contains many beautiful stories about St. Michael, St. Raphael and St. Gabriel; plus, angel stories from St. Gemma Galgani, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. John Bosco, etc.

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A very optimistic book showing how an “ordinary” Catholic can become a great saint without ever doing anything “extraordinary”–just by using the many opportunities for holiness that to most people lie hidden in each day. Written with an assurance of success that is totally convincing and infectious. Many easy but infallible means of reaching great sanctity.

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Tidbits for Your Day: Spruce Up/Declutter, Etc. – Emilie Barnes

365 Things Every Woman Should Know

Hobbies:

When you’re passionate, your enthusiasm is contagious!

When you get involved in an activity or a project that you really love to do, you suddenly get out of yourself. You may be volunteering with at risk children, helping the elderly, coaching a sports team, teaching knitting, or creating memory books-whatever you’re excited about doing is worthwhile.

One author said, “Every hobby teaches you something.” What are you learning?

 Spruce Up!:

If you’re spending more time in your kitchen but enjoying it less, it’s time for a few changes.

• If space is part of the problem, store pots on a hanging rack.

• Put “like items” together, such as spices and oils.

• Use baskets to keep things organized.

• Spruce up your kitchen window with some glass shelves and plants.

• You can brighten any kitchen by painting the ceiling white.

• Why not install wonderful under-cabinet task lights? What a difference they can make. Or perhaps add a lamp for soft lighting.

 De-Clutter:

If you’ve got that cluttered or claustrophobic feeling, you’ve come to the right place.

Here’s a great guideline: For every purchase you bring into the house, something else has to go.

With a new blouse or shirt, out goes an older one. A new table? Out goes the former one. These items are great for a garage sale.

Life can get very complicated, and stuff seems to accumulate. Then that “bunched in” feeling occurs.

So the next time you purchase an item, give a like item away or set it aside for a garage sale. Become a giver!

 A Woman of her Word:

Today I encourage you to do what you say you’re going to do. We get into trouble when we don’t keep our promises.

And sometimes we’re not even aware we’ve made a promise. We say, “I’ll call you tonight” or “I’ll get back to you to set a date for lunch,” but don’t follow through.

Does this sound familiar? Get out of the habit of offering to do things you might not do.

Your friends would rather not hear an “I will do” statement if it’s not going to happen.

A friend of mine says, “It takes so little to be above average.” And she’s right!

Develop a reputation for being a woman who does what she says. Your life will have more meaning and people will enjoy being around you.

 Gratitude:

A little “thank you” goes a long way. Never take anything for granted. When you do something courteous for your husband, use it as an opportunity to remind him that he’s loved.

Say, “This is just another way to show that I love you.” This may sound terribly old-fashioned, but be willing to treat that guy of yours like a king …so he will treat you like a queen.

Build your husband up in your children’s presence. It is up to you to assure he is a hero in their eyes. They should know why he works so hard….and that it is the reason for the roof over their heads and the food on the table. That time when Dad arrives home needs to be a highlight in their day! -Finer Femininity

 

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  • establish traditions of celebration that allow joy to filter through to everyday life

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Keeping Up Appearances

Oh, for the Wisdom of the “Back-Thens” (a term used by my children for the good ol’ days!) This particular excerpt is from 1893!

from Courtship and Marriage and the Gentle Art of Homemaking, 1893

In these very words (Keeping up Appearances) lurks a danger likely to beset our young couple, on the very threshold of their career. All eyes are upon them, of course; their house and all it contains, their way of life, the position they take up and maintain, are, for the time being, topics of intense concern to all who know them, and to many who do not.

There is no doubt that we need to go back in some degree to the simpler way of life in vogue in the days of our grandmothers; that pretentiousness and extravagance have reached a point which is almost unendurable.

We are constantly being informed by statistics which cannot be questioned that the marriage rate is decreasing; and we know that in our own circles the number of marriageable girls and marriageable youths who for some inexplicable reason don’t marry is very great.

What is the reason? Is the age of romance over? Is it impossible any longer to conjure with the words love and marriage in the garden of youth? Or is it that our young people are less brave and enduring, that they shrink from the added responsibility, care, and self-denial involved in the double life?

My own view is that this pretentiousness and desire for display is at the bottom of it; that young people want to begin where their fathers and mothers left and that courage is lacking to take a step down and begin together on the lowest rung of the ladder.

I have heard many young men say that they are afraid to ask girls to leave the luxury and comfort of their father’s house, and to enter a plainer home, where they will have less luxury and more care; and though I grant that there are many girls who would shrink from the ordeal, and who prefer the indolent ease of single blessedness to the cares of matrimony on limited means, yet have I been tempted sometimes, looking at these young men, to wonder in my soul whether it was not they who shrank from the plain home and the increased responsibility marriage involves.

The salary sufficient for the comfort and mild luxury of one is scarcely elastic enough for two. It would mean giving up a good many things; it would mean fewer cigars, fewer new suits, and fewer first nights at the theater,—in fact, a general modification of luxuries which he has begun to regard as indispensable; and he asks himself, Is the game worth the candle?

His answer is, No.

And so he drifts out of young manhood into bachelor middle age, passing unscathed through many flirtations, becoming encrusted with selfish ideas and selfish aims, and gradually less fit for domestic life. And all the time, while he imagines he has a fine time of it, he has missed the chief joy, the highest meaning of life.

The conditions of modern life are certainly harder than they were. Competition in every profession and calling is so enormous that remuneration has necessarily fallen; and it is a problem to many how single life is to be respectably maintained, let alone married life.

Then the invasions of women into almost every domain of man’s work is somewhat serious in its consequences to men. A woman can be got to do a certain thing as quickly, correctly, and efficiently as a man; therefore the man goes to the wall.

While we are glad to see the position of woman improve, and the value of her labor in the markets of the world increase, we are perplexed as to the effect of this better condition of things on the position of men.

The situation is full of perplexities, strained to the utmost. There is no doubt whatever that this improvement in the position of woman, the increased opportunities afforded her of making a respectable livelihood, has had, and is having, its serious effect in the marriage market.

A single woman in a good situation, the duties of which she has strength of body and strength of mind to perform, is a very independent being, and in contrast with many of her married sisters a person to be envied.

She has her hours, for one thing; there is no prospect of an eight hours’ day for the married woman with a family to superintend.

Then she, having earned her own money, can spend it as she likes—and has to give account of it only to herself; and she is free from the physical trials and disabilities consequent upon marriage and maternity.

If you tell her that the sweet fullness of married life, its multiplied joys, amply compensates for the troubles, she will shake her head and want proof.

Altogether, the outlook matrimonial is not very bright.

Now, while we deplore, as a serious evil, hasty, improvident, ill-considered marriages, and hold that their consequences are very sad, we would also, scarcely less seriously, deplore that over-cautiousness which is reducing the marriage rate in quarters where it ought not to be reduced,—our lower middle-class, which is the backbone of society.

There is no fear of a serious reduction in other quarters: where there is no responsibility felt, there is none to shirk; and so, among the very poor, children are multiplied, and obligations increased, without any thought for the morrow, or concern for future provision.

There is a very supreme kind of selfishness in this over-cautiousness which is not delightful to contemplate, the fear lest self should be inconvenienced or deprived in the very slightest degree; and all this does not tend to the highest development of human nature, but rather the reverse, since the spirit of self-denial and self-sacrifice is one of the loveliest attributes of human character.

“Kindness is infectious. One kind action leads to another. Our example is followed. This is the greatest work which kindness does to others– that it makes them kind themselves.” – Fr. Lawrence Lovasik, Kindness – The Bloom of Charity

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The rosary, scapulars, formal prayers and blessings, holy water, incense, altar candles. . . The sacramentals of the Holy Catholic Church express the supreme beauty and goodness of Almighty God. The words and language of the blessings are beautiful; the form and art of statues and pictures inspire the best in us. The sacramentals of themselves do not save souls, but they are the means for securing heavenly help for those who use them properly. A sacramental is anything set apart or blessed by the Church to excite good thoughts and to help devotion, and thus secure grace and take away venial sin or the temporal punishment due to sin. This beautiful compendium of Catholic sacramentals contains more than 60,000 words and over 50 full color illustrations that make the time-tested sacramental traditions of the Church – many of which have been forgotten since Vatican II – readily available to every believer.

“The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Published 80 years ago, this Catholic classic focuses on the Christian family and uses as its foundation the1929 encyclical “On Christian Education of Youth” coupled with the “sense of Faith.” Addressing family topics and issues that remain as timely now as they were when the guide was first published, “The Christian Home” succinctly offers sound priestly reminders and advice in six major areas…

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How To Be a Good Mother – Rev. George A. Kelly

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Close to Mother’s Day is a good time to think about motherhood.

Timeless advice from a very smart priest!

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The Catholic Family Handbook – Father George Kelly

In view of the many social evils resulting from the decline in the father’s influence, one of the most important functions the modern mother should perform is to help maintain or restore the father’s position of authority in the family. In doing so, you will fulfill your own role as a wife and mother to a greater extent than is possible when you permit your husband to be the lesser figure.

This was the secret of the success of olden fathers. Even though they worked twelve hours a day, their dominant role in the home was guaranteed and protected by the mother.

You can make your greatest contribution to your family as the heart of your home–not its head. From you, your children should learn to love others and to give of themselves unstintingly in the spirit of sacrifice. Never underestimate the importance of your role. For upon you depends the emotional growth of your children, and such growth will better prepare them to live happy and holy lives than any amount of intellectual training they may receive.

Most of us know persons who have received the finest educations which universities can bestow, who yet lead miserable lives because they have never achieved a capacity to love.

On the other hand, we also know of men and women whose intellectual achievements are below normal but whose lives are filled with happiness because their mothers showed them how to love other human beings.

It follows that in helping your child to satisfy his basic emotional needs to love and be loved, you give something as necessary as food for his full development. So do not be beguiled by aspirations for a worldly career or by the desire to prove yourself as intelligent as men or as capable in affairs of the world as they.

The father must always remain a public figure. The mother is the domestic figure par excellence. In teaching your child the meaning of unselfish love you will achieve a greater good than almost any other accomplishment of which human beings are capable.

You are the most important person your child will ever know. Your relationship with him will transcend, in depth of feeling, any other relationship he probably will ever have–even the one with his marriage partner.

As noted above, from you he will learn what true love really is. From the tenderness you show and the security you give, you will develop his attitudes toward other human beings which will always remain with him.

However, his dependence on you begins to wane soon after birth–and continues to wane for the rest of your life. In his first years, naturally, he will rely upon you almost entirely–not only for food, but also to help him perform his most elementary acts.

But soon he learns to walk and to do other things for himself; when he goes to school he can dress himself; when he reaches adolescence and strives for the freedom that adults know, he will try to throw off his dependence so violently that you may fear that you have lost all hold upon him.

Your job is to help him reach this state of full and complete independence in a gradual fashion. And your success as a mother will depend to a great extent upon the amount of emancipation you permit him as he steps progressively toward adulthood. Therefore you should try to judge realistically when your child truly needs your help and when he does not.

If you can reach the happy medium wherein you do for your child only what he cannot do for himself, you will avoid dominating him or overindulging him.

The dominant mother makes all decisions for Johnny and treats him as though he had no mind of his own; the overindulgent mother will never permit her Mary to be frustrated in any wish, or to be forbidden any pleasure her little heart desires.

The overindulgent mother may do without the shoes she needs to buy a doll for her Annie; she may stop what she is doing to help Johnny find the comic book he has misplaced; she may eat the leftovers in the refrigerator while she gives the freshly prepared food to her children.

The overindulgent mother is a common character in literature. Probably every American woman has seen movies and television programs, and has read stories in magazines and newspapers, in which these defects were pointed out.

Yet every new generation of mothers seems to practice the same extreme of behavior. Some excuse themselves by saying that they want to give their children every advantage in life.

Such an intention is laudable, perhaps, but the method is impractical. If you want to do the best for your child, let him develop so that he can face life on his own feet. Overindulging him denies him his right to develop his own resources and thus defeats the purpose of your mission as a mother.

Someone once remarked in jest that as part of her education for motherhood, every woman should visit the psychiatric ward of an army hospital. If you could see the countless examples of mental disorders caused largely by the failure of mothers to sever the apron strings to their child, you could easily understand why–for the sake of your child’s emotional self–you must make it a primary aim to help him to develop as an independent person.

Priests and psychiatrists often see problems from different angles, yet they display striking agreement in pinpointing other kinds of maternal conduct which do great harm to the child. Their advice might be summarized as follows:

Don’t be an autocrat who always knows best. Your child may have his own way of doing things, which may seem to be inefficient or time-consuming. Have patience and let him do things his way, thus giving him the opportunity to learn by trial and error.

Don’t be a martyr. Naturally, you must make sacrifices. But do not go to such extremes that your child feels guilty when you deny yourself something which rightfully should be yours, in order to give him what rightfully should not be his.

A typical martyr worked at night in a laundry to pay her son’s way through college. Before his graduation, he asked her not to appear at the ceremony–he said she would be dressed so poorly that he would be embarrassed.

Don’t think you have the perfect child. Some mothers, when their child receives low grades, appear at school to determine, not what is wrong with him, but what is wrong with the teachers.

When such a mother learns that her son has been punished for disobedience, she descends upon the school officials and demands an apology. By her actions she undermines the child’s respect for all authority–including her own.

You will probably be on safe ground, until your child is canonized at St. Peter’s, if you conclude that he has the same human faults and weaknesses that you see in your neighbors’ children.

Don’t use a sickbed as your throne. The “whining” mother feigns illness to attract sympathy and to force her children to do as she wills. Who would deny the last wish of a dying person? In this vein she often gets what she wants–for a while. The usual, final result, however, is that her children lose both sympathy and respect for her.

Don’t be a “glamor girl.” Motherhood is not a task for a woman who thinks that ordinary housework–preparing meals, making beds, washing clothes–is beneath her.

Of course, mothers should strive to maintain a pleasing appearance, but they should also realize that they are most attractive when they are fulfilling the duties of their noble vocation.

You would embarrass your family if you insisted on acting and dressing like a teenager; and, if you adopted a demeaning attitude toward household tasks, you would teach your children that motherhood and its responsibilities are unworthy of respect.

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“In the Catholic home there is that modern rarity–fidelity between husband and wife. There is great reverence for parents by the children, great protection of weaker members by the stronger, and a great awareness of the dignity and rights of every member of the family. The Catholic woman has attained a height of respect and authority which cannot be found anywhere else, and the chief factor in her improvement has been the Church’s teaching on chastity, conjugal equality, the sacredness of motherhood, and the supernatural end of the family, in imitation of the Holy Family of Nazareth.” – Rev. George A. Kelly, The Catholic Family Handbook

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The Mirror of True Womanhood

A very beautiful book, worthy of our attention. In it, you will find many pearls of wisdom for a woman striving to be the heart of the home, an inspiration to all who cross her path. You will be inspired to reconsider the importance of your role of wife and mother! Written by Rev. Bernard O’Reilly in 1894, the treasures found within its pages ring true and remain timeless…

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The Faults and Shortcomings of Others that Threaten to Rob Our Peace

This is from the small, but excellent book Searching for and Maintaining Peace: A Small Treatise on Peace of Heart by Father Jacques Phillipe. Our priest made this book available to all of us a few years ago and I am very grateful as it is an excellent meditation on how important peace of heart is in the spiritual life. It is full of practical advice on how to avoid the pitfalls and work toward keeping that most necessary quality of peace in our hearts!

From Father Philippe:

I stated that disquietude, in the face of some evil that threatens or overcomes our own person or those who are dear to us, is the most frequent reason why we lose our interior peace.

And the response: confident abandonment into the Hands of God, Who delivers us from all evil, or Who, if He allows it, gives us the strength to endure it and makes it turn to our advantage.

This response will remain valid for all the other causes for losing our peace, with which we will now interest ourselves and which are specific cases.

Nevertheless, it is good to speak of it because though abandonment may be the sole rule, the practice of abandonment takes diverse forms according to what is at the origin of our troubles and our anxieties.

It often happens that we lose our peace not because suffering affects us or threatens to affect us personally, but rather because of the behavior of an individual person or group of persons who hurt us or preoccupy us.

It is thus something that is not directly ours – but which, nonetheless, concerns us – that is in question: for example, the good of our community, of the church or the salvation of a particular person.

A woman is perhaps distressed because she does not see a much desired conversion of her husband being realized. A superior of a community may lose his sense of peace, because one of his brothers or sisters does the contrary of that which he expects. Or, more simply, in every day life, one becomes irritated, because one close to him behaves in a way that he imagines he should not behave.

How many nervous tensions are due to this type of situation! The response is the same as previously indicated: confidence and abandonment. I must do what occurs to me relative to aiding others to improve themselves, peacefully and tenderly, and put everything else in the Hands of the Lord, Who knows how to draw benefit from all things.

But, relative to this, we would like to express a general principle that is very important in our daily spiritual life which is the point at which we usually stumble in the cases cited above. In addition, its area of application is much larger than the question of patience when confronted with the faults of others.
Here is the principle: not only must we be careful to want and desire good things for their own sake, but also to want and desire them in a way that is good. To be attentive not only to that which we want, but also to the way in which we want them.

In effect, we very frequently sin in this fashion: we want something which is good, and even very good, but we want it in a way that is bad. In order to understand, let us take one of the examples mentioned above.

It is normal that the superior of the community should watch over the sanctity of those in his care. It’s an excellent thing and conforms to the will of God. But if the superior gets angry, irritated or loses his peace over the imperfections or the lack of fervor of his brothers, this is certainly not the Holy Spirit that is animating him.

And we often have this tendency. Because the thing that we want is good, even seeing as desired by God, we feel justified in wanting it with that much more impatience and displeasure if it is not realized. The more a thing seems good to us, the more we are agitated and preoccupied to realize it!

We should, therefore, as I have said, not only verify that the things we want are good in themselves, but also that the manner in which we want them, the disposition of heart in which we want them, are good. That is to say that our wanting must always be caring, peaceful, patient, detached and abandoned to God. It should not be an impatient wanting, hurried, restless, irritated, etc.

In the spiritual life it is often there that our attitude is defective. We are no longer among those who want bad things that are contrary to God. Instead, from now on we want only those things that are good, in conformity with the will of God. But, we want them in a manner that is still not “God’s Way,” that is to say the way of the Holy Spirit, which is caring, peaceful and patient.

We want them in the human way, tense, hurried and discouraged if we do not immediately achieve the desired goal.

All of the Saints insist on telling us that we must moderate our desires, even the best of them. Because, if we desire in the human way that we have described, that will trouble the soul, make it uneasy, destroy its peace and thereby disturb God’s actions in it and in others.

This applies to all things, even to our own sanctification.

How many times do we lose our peace because we find that our sanctification is not progressing rapidly enough, that we still have too many faults. But this does nothing but delay things!

St. Francis de Sales goes so far as to say that “Nothing retards progress in a virtue so much as wanting to acquire it with too much haste!”

To conclude, let us keep this in mind: as far as all our desires and our wishes are concerned, the sign that we are in accordance with truth, that our desire is in accord with the Holy Spirit, is not only that the thing desired is good, it is also that we are at peace.

A desire that causes us to lose peace, even if the thing desired is excellent in itself, is not of God. It is necessary to want and desire, but in a free and detached way in abandoning to God the realization of these desires, as He desires and when He wishes.

To educate our own heart in this sense is of great importance for our spiritual progress. It is God who converts us and causes us to grow, not our nervousness, our impetuosity and our impatience.

teal_parchment_paper_background_1800x1600“It is difficult for a child to be better than his home environment or for a nation to be superior to the level of its home life. In fulfilling its double purpose – the generation and formation of children – the home becomes a little world in itself, self-sufficient even in its youngest years. It is vital that you, as a mother or father, make of your home a training ground in character-building for your children, who will inherit the world’s problems. Home is a place in which the young grow in harmony with all that is good and noble, where hardship, happiness, and work are shared.” – Father Lawrence G. Lovasik, Catholic Family Handbook http://amzn.to/2sDb6hw (afflink)

Time is something that we do not have a lot of and is gone right when we use it. Many waste time, which is not a virtuous thing to do. What is our goal?

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

 

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Notable Quotes/New Grandbaby!

Some inspiring quotes for your day…..

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“It is wrong to deny one’s self all diversion. The mind becomes fatigued and depressed by remaining always concentrated in itself and thus more easily falls a prey to sadness. Saint Thomas says explicitly that one may incur sin by refusing all innocent amusement. Every excess, no matter what its nature, is contrary to order and consequently to virtue.” – Light and Peace, Quadrupani, 1795

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“Dear Girls, contemplating the final leap, I want you to understand that you can afford a great deal less to be careless after marriage than before; because you have now to keep the husband you have won. Men like what is bright and cheerful, and pleasant to behold. So far as you are concerned see that you are never an eyesore. Even if you have your own work to do, there is no necessity why you should be a dowdy or a slattern. Even a cotton dress clean and daintily made can be as becoming to you as a robe of silk and lace.” -Courtship and Marriage and the Gentle Art of Home-making, Annie S. Swan, 1894

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“Christian humility does not lower, it elevates; it does not cast down, but gives courage, for the more it reveals to the soul its nothingness and abjection, the more it moves it toward God with confidence and abandonment.” – Divine Intimacy, Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.

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“Children must not feel that because of their littleness, their prayers lack power. Because of their stunning purity and their childlike love, their prayers are probably far more powerful than our own. We should encourage them to pray boldly and should point out all they can accomplish by uniting their prayers to Christ’s prayers for all men. This gives them the soundest, most mature, and most inspiring reason for acquiring habits of prayer.”
-Mary Reed Newland, How to Raise Good Catholic Children

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“The first area that you must succeed in, since you are a woman, is in the home, in the roles of compassionate wife, diligent mother, and successful keeper of the home. Yes, the key to your happiness lies within your own four walls. To reach these goals you may have to go beyond the call of duty…go the second mile, doing more than is asked or expected. ” -FW

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The truly religious wife finds God at Mass and from Him receives the strength to become the ideal helpmate to her husband. She does not leave God at church but keeps Him with her every minute of the day in every nook and cranny of her home. Each menial, repetitious task she must perform is a work of love for her husband and children, and through them, a work of love for her Creator. – Fr. Raoul Plus, S.J. 1950’s

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“Lord, You know my weakness; every morning I make a resolution to practice humility, and every evening I acknowledge that I still have many failures. I am tempted to be discouraged by this, but I know that discouragement also has its source in pride. That is why I prefer to put my trust in You alone, O my God. Since You are all-powerful, deign to create in my soul the virtue for which I long”. – St. Therese of the Child Jesus

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St. Francis de Sales gives us some words of warning on the company we keep: “Be very careful, therefore, dear reader, not to have any evil love, because you will in turn quickly become evil yourself.
Friendship is the most dangerous of all love. Why? Because other loves can exist without communication, exchange, closeness. But friendship is completely founded upon communication and exchange and cannot exist in practice without sharing in the qualities and defects of the friend loved.”
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“Although it is doubtless pleasant to feel assured that no microbe-producing speck can possibly lurk in any corner of the house, and to be certain that food and everything pertaining to it is perfect so far as cleanliness is concerned, there is a sense of insecurity and unrest in the abode of the over-particular woman which often develops into positive misery and discomfort. It is the sort of discomfort specially distasteful to the male portion of mankind.”
Annie S. Swan Courtship and Marriage And the Gentle Art of Home-Making, 1894

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“The many troubles in your household will tend to your edification, if you strive to bear them all in gentleness, patience, and kindness. Keep this ever before you, and remember constantly that God’s loving eyes are upon you amid all these little worries and vexations, watching whether you take them as He would desire. Offer up all such occasions to Him, and if sometimes you are put out, and give way to impatience, do not be discouraged, but make haste to regain your lost composure.”
― St. Francis de Sales

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Congratulations to David and Margy!!

It was an extremely long and arduous labor, with two trips to the Birth Center and finally one to the hospital, but Margy was able to deliver naturally and they are both very happy!

Welcome Sean David (Sean is Celtic for John), 6lbs., 8 oz.!

First Photo after Baby is Born

Sweet little one. His head was swollen and bruised because of the long birth process. But it is already looking much better!

Through a little miracle I was able to visit in the hospital. We were all happy to see each other and ooo and ahhhh over baby! (And discuss the details of a labor that started Sunday night and ended Wednesday morning! The midwife said baby was transverse arrest meaning the side of the head, instead of the top, was on the cervix. Margy did exercises during labor to change that.)

Margy and Baby

David is so relieved. He was the best “Dad Coach” I have ever seen!

Avila holds her cousin.

Grandpa and Gemma admire him.

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Set of all 20 Children’s Saints Lives

For ages 10 and up. Great stories of the saints for youth that are easy to read; yet extremely edifying and instructing! We all need good examples how to live a good Catholic life — these books will not overwhelm or turn off those who need them most.

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How to Make and Keep Friends (Part Two) – Rev. George A. Kelly, The Catholic Youth’s Guide

by Rev. George A. Kelly, The Catholic Youth’s Guide to Life and Love

Part One is here.

The Golden Rule

I mentioned that wanting to be liked is an innate human instinct. Human beings at all times and under all conditions throughout history have spent much thought trying to learn how to make and to keep friends.

In our own century, researchers by the hundreds have made all sorts of scientific investigations to learn the same thing. And here’s a striking fact. Today’s scientists come up with various answers phrased in different ways. But at the root of their findings is something which was discovered thousands of years ago. No matter how you say it, it all adds up to the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you expect them to do to you.

If you want to have a friend, be one. Give friendship and you’ll receive it. And that’s the whole secret.

Ruth, Edith and Ellen were friends. Two sometimes went places without a third, and there was a wonderful opportunity for the two to gossip about the absent one. But they were loyal to each other—they were true friends. Suppose they hadn’t followed this principle?

When Ruth and Ellen got together, they might have ripped Edith to shreds, finding fault with how she dressed and acted and with what she thought about various phases of life. But sooner or later, Ruth and Ellen would have suspected that if such conversations went on behind Edith’s back, why wouldn’t they go on behind their own?

In other words, the Golden Rule would have been suspended and one of the real bases of friendship—loyalty—wouldn’t exist. Only by giving their absent friend the same consideration they’d want for themselves could the girls insure that they, in turn, wouldn’t be talked about behind their backs.

Sympathetic understanding is another “must” for friendship. When something troubles them—a disagreement with their parents, some problems about growing up—your friends must feel that they could discuss it with you. You wouldn’t have to agree with their viewpoint necessarily, but you’d have to listen calmly and sympathetically. You wouldn’t ridicule them because of their feelings, and you certainly wouldn’t run around spreading the news told to you in confidence.

Again, the Golden Rule.

 Wouldn’t you feel burned up if someone you thought was your friend ridiculed you after you confided in him? You want your friends to be reliable.

Say that you plan to go to a football game but suddenly find that you can’t get the admission charge. But your friend has a lot of money. You probably feel you have a right to try to borow some. Suppose you’re refused in the pinch? You’d probably write him off your list, because you’d have helped him if the tables were turned. But he’s not following the Golden Rule. Hence he’s not your friend.

Friendship also consists of many thoughtful little acts which come under the heading of good manners. They’re covered by the Golden Rule, too. Suppose vou agree to meet a classmate at a movie theater at two o’clock. You wait an hour and he doesn’t arrive. You phone him and he can’t give a good reason for standing you up. You probably decide that you’ll never make another appointment with him. You just can’t trust his word. Scratch him from your list. And if you want to keep your other friends, remember never to pull the same stunt.

Applying the Golden Rule isn’t hard: It’s safe to say that things that irritate or antagonize you would irritate or antagonize someone else if you did them.

On the other hand, kind and friendly acts that are done for you, you too can do for others. Just as you do, they’ll consider them as acts of friendship. The conclusion is obvious.

Make mental notes of actions by other boys and girls which you find annoying. Don’t do them. At the same time, note the courtesies, acts of kindness, and other actions done to please you. Do them to others.

By this simple procedure—by always doing for others what you’d have them do for you—you will find the key to lasting friendships with both boys and girls.

Four rules to help you make friends.

As I’ve mentioned, many studies have been made to determine what boys and girls like and dislike about each other. It shouldn’t be surprising that they all agree that the basic qualities of character that boys like in other boys are the same ones they like in girls. The qualities girls like in other girls are the ones they like in boys. Conclusion? Cultivate those qualities that you want in your friends, and you’ll have a personality that appeals to other boys and girls.

What are these qualities? You could compile the list yourself by considering what you’d like a friend to be.

Always try to be pleasant and cheerful. You’ve often heard the old saying, “Laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone.” Yes, you have problems sometimes that get you down. So does everyone. But they’re your problems. You don’t have to spread them to everybody who comes into contact with you.

Make sure that you cultivate your own sense of humor. Did you ever make a wise-crack you thought was pretty good, only to have it go right over your listener’s head? You probably thought your companion could use a sense of humor. After a few experiences, you’d probably want to run the next time you saw this person coming.

Don’t put on airs. Ever meet a snob? He wants everyone to know he’s something special—not one of the common people. He’s either richer or smarter or more of a man of the world than the rest of you, and he never misses a chance to tell you so. Of course, after a while, he doesn’t get many chances. Everybody avoids him like the plague.

Be natural. Maybe you do have talents above the average. Maybe you brilliantly planned it so that God would give you more brains or that your parents would have much more money. Be modest about it. (Boys especially seem to resent a girl who tries to appear overly bright. A high school newspaper once carried this line, “A brainy girl is always brainier than she seems because a brainy girl has more brains than to seem brainy.”)

Be well-mannered. Ever been embarrassed by a companion who was loud-mouthed when he should have been quiet; discourteous when he should have been polite; slovenly when he should have been neat? Most people want only a few experiences with a character like that. Then they look the other way when they see him coming.

You don’t have to memorize every rule of Emily Post’s, but you should know what conduct is suitable in what place. And if you don’t know, try to remain as inconspicuous as possible.

These rules are just examples of the Golden Rule in operation—doing to others what you’d like to have them do to you. Follow them, and you’ll develop cheerfulness, naturalness, and consideration for others, the qualities which top every survey made to determine what boys and girls like in their friends.

In addition to honesty, sincerity, and the other characteristics listed above, boys want something extra in girlfriends and girls want something extra in boys.

At this point, I hear a romantic-minded reader: “Three cheers for the extras!” These important extras can be summed up in two sentences. Boys are attracted to girls who are girls—who have the feminine qualities males expect in a woman. Girls want boys to be men—to possess qualities which are distinctly masculine in nature.

A boy considers a girl’s personality on the basis of what he knows about women. Naturally he admires his mother most of all. He has a definite preference for her qualities—her willingness to listen to his problems, her sympathy with his ambitions, her self-sacrificing and loving nature.

He doesn’t like the tomboy type. He doesn’t like the girl who wears harsh make-up, uses harsh language, or acts in other ways different from the young lady she should really be. Why? Because she’s not at all like his ideal of womanhood, his mother.

In the same way, girls draw their main ideas about men from the ones they’re in closest contact with—their fathers. And so girls want boys who are thorough, decisive—leaders. They want a man, not an imitation of one.

God meant men and women to be different in their natures. If He had intended them to be alike, He could have created just one sex and called it a day. Instead, He gave men the qualities to provide for the family unit. He gave women qualities to do well the job of bearing and educating children.

As a result, women generally are more idealistic, more romantic, more emotional. Men are more logical, more decisive.

When a boy seeks feminine qualities in a girl, therefore, he’s only doing what is natural. The girl who seeks masculine qualities in a boy makes the choice which nature intended.

So if you wonder what it takes to make and keep friends, always remember these major points: obey the Golden Rule; be yourself, and develop the qualities of the sex God made you.

🌺🌺Take time to smell the roses in this wonderful month of May, the month of Mary! Take a walk with your children, garden together, pick a bouquet, look at the stars…. Another spring is upon us, a time to enjoy God’s creation as it unfolds its beauty all around us! 🌸🌸Our Lady, Cause of our Joy, pray for us!

Illustration by Heather Stillufsen, Rose Hills Designs

Penal Rosaries!

Penal rosaries and crucifixes have a wonderful story behind them. They were used during the times when religious objects were forbidden and it was illegal to be Catholic. Being caught with a rosary could mean imprisonment or worse. A penal rosary is a single decade with the crucifix on one end and, oftentimes, a ring on the other. When praying the penal rosary you would start with the ring on your thumb and the beads and crucifix of the rosary in your sleeve, as you moved on to the next decade you moved the ring to your next finger and so on and so forth. This allowed people to pray the rosary without the fear of being detected. Available here.

This booklet contains practical advice on the subjects of dating and choosing a spouse from the Catholic theological viewpoint. Father Lovasik points out clearly what one’s moral obligations are in this area, providing an invaluable aid to youthful readers. Additionally, he demonstrates that Catholic marriage is different from secular marriage and why it is important to choose a partner who is of the Catholic Faith if one would insure his or her personal happiness in marriage. With the rampant dangers to impurity today, with the lax moral standards of a large segment of our society, with divorce at epidemic levels, Clean Love in Courtship will be a welcome source of light and guidance to Catholics serious about their faith.

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A Frank, Yet Reverent Instruction on the Intimate Matters of Personal Life for Young Men. To our dear and noble Catholic youths who have preserved, or want to recover, their purity of heart, and are minded to retain it throughout life. For various reasons many good fathers of themselves are not able to give their sons this enlightenment on the mysteries of life properly and sufficiently. They may find this book helpful in the discharge of their parental responsibilities in so delicate a matter.

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How to Make and Keep Friends (Part One) – Rev. George A. Kelly, The Catholic Youth’s Guide

Father Kelly stresses this old adage that all of us must keep in mind, and especially our youth who are in such a vulnerable time of their lives….You become like the people you associate with.

by Rev. George A. Kelly, The Catholic Youth’s Guide to Life and Love

Eugene Guilbert, a researcher who to find out what teenagers think about certain subjects, once made a survey to learn how youngsters regard companions as an influence in their lives. He discovered what you probably already know—that you often value your friends’ opinions more than you value those of your parents or teachers. What’s more, you know what effect your companions can have on you.

Three out of every four boys Gilbert interviewed told him that companions were the worst influences in their lives. Two girls out of three said the same thing. Of course, if companions can be such a strong evil influence, they can also be a strong influence for good.

Choose Your Friends Wisely

If you stand aside and watch groups of boys and girls as they arrive at a movie theater or some other place, you’ll notice that the members of a particular group dress pretty much alike. Girls in one group wear white bobby socks and two-tone sport shoes with rubber soles. Boys in another crowd wear their hair cut in a certain way, flapping shirts, and the same kind of slacks or dungarees. Clothing is only one way in which teenagers conform.

You and your friends probably do the same things—listen to the same television programs, enjoy the same singers, like the same foods. That conformity is natural. Most adults also choose friends with similar tastes and interests.

My point is that if the interests of your group are good, you will be helped by belonging to it. If the interests are bad, you will be hurt. There’s nothing new about this.

They were saying, “Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you what you are,” hundreds of years before the invention of bobby socks. The group you join will have much more to do with your future than you probably imagine.

A boy I’ll call Danny moved into a new section of town just before entering high school as a freshman. He got to know a group of youngsters who were interested in having good times and “thrills” and cared little about school work.

Danny had been a good student in grade school, but his new group thought it sissy to waste time on homework. And although he could average eighty without hitting the books too hard, he knew that his pals would call him a grind. So he became perfectly content just to get passing marks.

Soon Danny and his friends began doing things they knew their parents disapproved of—just for the sake of doing them. They sneaked smokes before school every day, drank beer on the sly, went to see movies on the condemned list.

When they were old enough to drive, they borrowed a parent’s car and thought it was smart to see how long they could keep their foot pressed to the floor board on a highway leading into town.

Despite his good mind, Danny barely got by in high school. When he graduated, he only wanted to do what others of his group were doing—get a job, buy a car and live happily ever after. He got a job, and then a car. He had great fun for a few months. Then the thrill wore off. The job became boring and unchallenging.

Now Dan is twenty-three. Classmates who were in other groups have graduated from college and are getting jobs which offer bright futures. Dan sees this and realizes that his future would now be much more promising had he chosen his pals with care.

The most interesting part of the story is that Danny’s younger brother, Eddie, has just entered high school. No parent watches over his son as carefully as Danny does over Eddie. He says he won’t let his brother make the same mistake he did.

Any priest or teacher probably could cite dozens, if not hundreds, of other examples proving that your companions can be good or bad for you. A typical tale: Five boys were close friends throughout their high school days. Each proved to be a good influence for the others. Now all are college graduates and have found careers which will help them serve God and man to the best of their abilities. One is a priest, another a lawyer. Two are scientists and the fifth is an industrial designer. The four laymen are married to wonderful Catholic women, and to see them and their families together is a real inspiration.

If you’d taken each of these men at the age of fourteen and placed them in entirely different groups, they probably wouldn’t have turned out as well.

If you want to take a spectacular shortcut to success in your life, therefore, just remember this principle: associate with boys and girls who’ll help bring out the best—not the worst—of which you’re able.

“Everybody does it!” But you don’t have to! This point is almost equally important. You don’t have to do everything your pals do. We’ve all got our own minds and souls and so can’t excuse ourselves because “everybody’s doing it.”

There may come a time when your buddies may think of doing something you and they shouldn’t do. That’s when you’ll just have to take your stand. You needn’t work up a fever wondering how to get out of the project. It’s easy when you know how and when you try it.

Sally, Anne, Grace and Margaret planned to go to a movie together. One film had been heavily advertised and left no doubt that it was loaded with suggestive sex. It was classed as unsuitable by the Legion of Decency, and Margaret’s mother in particular had told her not to see it.

“Let’s go anyway,” Anne said. “Our mothers will never find out.” Two girls shrugged their shoulders, indicating that they’d go along with her.

Finally Margaret spoke. “I don’t want to lie to my mother. Let’s go somewhere else.” After a long discussion, the group agreed to attend a different theater.

Later, Sally took Margaret aside and said, “I’m glad you spoke up. I was afraid to say anything, but I’d have been ashamed to see that movie.”

Just because some in the crowd don’t object to a suggestion that’s off the beam doesn’t mean they approve of it. They may be too timid and want somebody with more gumption to talk for them. You needn’t be a soap-box orator, and you needn’t deliver a sermon. If you stand up for what you know to be true the others will respect you for it. They may not admit it, but in their hearts they know that you’re right.

The Art of Friendship

Psychologists say that all of us feel a great shock when we discover that some people don’t like us. We may talk about others and let the world know that we’d be happy if they’d leave our lives permanently. There may even be some people we can’t stand the sight of. It’s okay for us to feel that way, we reason, but it feels like a knife in our back when someone feels that way about us.

This desire to be liked is universal. It’s probably one of the strongest we have. And like most innate desires, it can be used to good advantage or to bad.

To good: when we’re willing to sacrifice our own selfish interests to keep the good will of someone we admire.

To bad: when we’ll do anything to avoid having someone angry, or seeming to be angry at us—as when a girl lets a boy paw her because she’s afraid he won’t date her again if she stops him.

There are two ways to be liked. Sometimes we get them confused. The first way is to be liked for something we do or some talent we have. That’s popularity.

The second way is to be liked because of our character and personality. That’s a deeper, more permanent kind of liking. It’s friendship. You can be popular and you can have real friends—people you can count on if you ever get into a serious jam. But you can also be popular without having friends and you can have real friends without being popular.

Let me explain. A boy I’ll call Johnnie had one of the best physiques I’ve ever seen. In high school, he made all the teams he could possibly go out for; in his sophomore year, he was the varsity halfback in football, high-scoring forward in basketball, star hitter in baseball. He was one of the most popular boys in his class. -Wherever he went, four or five others trailed behind, but he wasn’t really close to anyone. He had no friends whom he could really confide his troubles to, or who’d tell their problems to him.

During the second football game of his junior year, Johnnie broke his leg in a scrimmage. The doctor said he’d have to give up sports that year and probably the next year, too. As soon as Johnnie was no longer the star athlete, there was no reason for other boys and girls to flock around him. Before long, he was just another student—and he hadn’t one real friend.

I’m convinced that when Johnnie fractured his leg, he got a break in more ways than one. Some persons spend almost their entire lives without realizing that there’s a difference between popularity and friendship, and that while the first is nice, the second is the real thing. Johnnie learned in one lesson.

It may surprise you, but some beautiful women fall into Johnnie’s category. They’re so attractive and charming that men are too afraid of being outclassed to be at ease in their presence. The girls never get a chance to become truly friendly.

On the other hand, many boys and girls without outstanding talents, who probably couldn’t be elected to a class office, have many real friends who would give them real and sincere help whenever they need it.

I can’t give much help in advising you how to be popular. If you’re good at sports or are an outstanding musician and can entertain at parties, or if you have striking good looks that make the opposite sex anxious to be seen with you, you probably will be popular. However, I can pass along some thoughts to help you make and keep friends.

St. Francis de Sales on the company we keep: “Be very careful, therefore, dear reader, not to have any evil love, because you will in turn quickly become evil yourself.
Friendship is the most dangerous of all love. Why? Because other loves can exist without communication, exchange, closeness. But friendship is completely founded upon communication and exchange and cannot exist in practice without sharing in the qualities and defects of the friend loved.”

What are things that make people always look negative on things? Family, politics, the state of the Church are areas that can do that. What do we do about that to keep from being negative?

Beautiful, Unique, Handmade Mother’s Day Gifts at Meadows of Grace here.

A must-read for the married and those considering marriage! This guidebook to finding a happy marriage, keeping a happy marriage, and raising happy children has been out of print for over 50 years…until now! From the master of the spiritual life, Raoul Plus, S.J., it contains loads of practical and spiritual advice on family life. Have you been looking for a handbook on marriage and raising children that is based on truth? You’ve found it!

The saints assure us that simplicity is the virtue most likely to draw us closer to God and make us more like Him.

No wonder Jesus praised the little children and the pure of heart! In them, He recognized the goodness that arises from an untroubled simplicity of life, a simplicity which in the saints is completely focused on its true center, God.

That’s easy to know, simple to say, but hard to achieve.

For our lives are complicated and our personalities too. (We even make our prayers and devotions more complicated than they need be!)

In these pages, Fr. Raoul Plus provides a remedy for the even the most tangled lives.

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Month of May, Month of Mary!

Happy Month of May! What an incredible blessing to have a Mother like Mary…a powerful advocate for our needs! Let’s remember throughout the day to think of her, to take her hand and have her lead us through each seemingly unimportant happening….she cares very much!

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Divine Intimacy: Meditations on the Interior Life for Every Day of the Liturgical Year

The heart of every Christian turns spontaneously toward his heavenly Mother, with a desire to live in closer intimacy with her and to strengthen the sweet ties which bind him to her. It is a great comfort on our spiritual way, which is often fatiguing and bristling with difficulties, to meet the gentle presence of a mother.

One is so at ease near one’s mother. With her, everything becomes easier; the weary, discouraged heart, disturbed by storms, finds new hope and strength, and continues the journey with fresh courage.

“If the winds of temptation arise,” sings St. Bernard, “if you run into the reefs of trials, look to the star, call upon Mary. In danger, sorrow or perplexity, think of Mary, call upon Mary.”

There are times when the hard road of the “nothing” frightens us, miserable as we are; and then, more then ever, we need her help, the help of our Mother. The Blessed Virgin Mary has, before us, trodden the straight and narrow path which leads to sanctity; before us she has carried the cross, before us she has known the ascents of the spirit through suffering.

Sometimes, perhaps, we do not dare to look at Jesus the God-Man, who because of His divinity seems too far above us; but near Him is Mary, His Mother and our Mother, a privileged creature surely, yet a creature like ourselves, and therefore a model more accessible for our weakness.

Mary comes to meet us during this month, to take us by the hand, to initiate us into the secret of her interior life, which must become the model and norm of our own.

We must consider Mary in the concrete picture of her earthly life. It is a simple, humble picture, which never leaves the framework of the ordinary life common to all mothers; under this aspect, Mary is truly imitable.

Our program for the month of May, then, will be to contemplate the grandeurs of Mary, that we may be stimulated to imitate her virtues.

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The mother who holds the Blessed Virgin as her model develops the love and patience which nurture the spiritual and emotional growth of her children. – Fr. George Kelly, The Catholic Family Handbook

The month of May is a great month of devotion to the Blessed Mother. In this Fr.  goes over the Motherhood of God & examines the heresy of Nestorianism that attacked this truth….

Visit My Book List for some great reading suggestions!

Book List for Catholic Men

Book List for the Youth