My Mother – Fr. Bernard Vaughan, S.J.

by Father Bernard Vaughab, S.J., early 1900’s

I was only a little boy when we lost our mother. It was a loss I cannot think of even now, after half a century and more, without a shudder. To all of us she was the very ideal of everything that is lovely and holy.

We thought, and were brought up to think, that she was in every sense perfection. Hence her blessing was more to us even than her caress.

Well do I remember how we used to rush at her coming into the nursery to see who should be the first to kiss her hand with reverent devotion.

Then she would sit on the floor with half a dozen of us clinging to her, while she would give us her little crucifix and medals to venerate and fondle, or perhaps take out her watch, and placing it against the ear of one of us, would say, “Life is passing away just like that tiny ticking watch, but when the little heart stops beating here, we shall all know that God didn’t wind it up anymore because He wanted you home with Him for a never-ending holiday.”

Of course we used to kneel round her lap morning and evening to lisp after her our childlike prayers, and then were carried off, two in her arms, and others clinging to her skirts, to the chapel, where on great feasts we were privileged to kiss the altar-cloth, or even the altar itself.

Our mother reminded her children that, there in the Tabernacle, One who loved us more even than she did, was always abiding, ever ready to greet us when we went to see Him.

She loved her garden, but would have been shocked if the fairest flowers had been sent to her boudoir instead of to the chapel. She herself would gather nosegays for her children to place on our nursery altar or before the statue in her bedroom. When I look back it seems to me she could talk only about God, or the poor, or our father.

She made Heaven such a reality to us that we felt that we knew more about it, and liked it in a way far better even than our home, where, until she died, her children were wildly, supremely happy.

Religion under her teaching was made so attractive, and all the treasured items she gathered from the lives of the Saints made them so fascinating to us, that we loved them as our most intimate friends, which she assured us they most certainly were.

Our mother thought that it was her duty to teach her little ones in the nursery all manner of pious childlike practices, while the bigger children would often have to remind them not to forget God and His presence in their midst.

But it was of Our Lord’s Agony in the garden and His sacred Passion and Death that she never tired to remind us: “Look at those dear Five Wounds,” she would say; “fancy all that pain suffered, and all that blood shed, for you. You must never forget, no matter how long you live, to love more than anything on earth those Precious Wounds. If ever you are naughty and hurt God, it will be because you forget how much you have cost Him.”

What tricks and devices did we not resort to in order to be awake in the night nursery when, after dinner, Mother would pass from cot to cot blessing her children, crossing their hands upon their breast, and lulling them to sleep with such words as “Sweet Jesus, I do love Thee, Holy Mother of God, be a tender Mother to me, My good Angel, watch over me and keep me this night from all sin.”

It was not our mother’s practice to bring us any dainty from the dinner-table. We were never allowed to go down to dessert, our father thinking it might encourage greediness or undue fondness of food. We dined at our parents’ lunch and then were allowed to take what we liked.

I remember one day being offered some dish which I rejected with the incautious remark, “Thank you, Father, I don’t fancy it.” Should I live to the age of Methuselah I shall not forget how he turned upon me and in solemn voice said, “I do not wish any of my boys to indulge in fancies about food; fancies are the privilege of your sisters.”

On another occasion, when I had shown overmuch relish for some dish, my father reminded me that it was a poor thing to be a slave to any appetite or practice. Blushing to the roots of my hair, I ventured to retaliate, saying, ‘Well, Father, how is it that the snuffbox is brought to you every day at the end of dinner? — you always take out a big pinch.”

For a moment he was silent, and then made me fetch the box, and while in the act of tossing it into the fire he said, “There goes the box, and that is the end of that bit of slavery.”  His training was somewhat drastic, but it was a fine counterpart to that of the ever tender mother.

There were some fine customs which our father insisted on; for instance, that we should take our places with the village school children when they were catechized on Sunday afternoon in the chapel; and the chaplain was encouraged to be specially severe with us if we did not answer correctly.

Father liked us to give of what we had, and not merely our used-up toys, to the less well-off little ones, and nothing pleased him more than to see his children trudging off with their mother laden with good things for those who most wanted them.

When people expostulated with her for taking her children where they might catch something worse than a cold she would say, “Sickness would be a small price to pay for the exercise of this Christlike privilege — but God will take care of my children where my love fails.”

Her love of the poor was almost a passion, and but for her own children’s sake she would have parted with everything . Washing the bedridden, changing their bedding, sweeping their rooms, was the sort of thing in which she felt a real pride. Not even when she was very seriously ill would she call in any but the parish doctor, protesting that if he was good enough for her poorer sisters he would do very well for her.

As she herself could not seek perfection in the religious state, she strove to attain it in the sphere of life to which God had called her. I am told that she said the Divine Office daily, and when too ill to say it herself had it said for her. She died while Compline was being said in her room.

As a girl she had spent some considerable time in Paris receiving finishing lessons in drawing, painting, singing, and music, and nothing delighted us more than to gather about her in the round drawing-room, wild with joy, to hear her recite, or sing her own songs or hymns about Heaven as she accompanied herself on the harp. When our enthusiasm was thoroughly stirred she would pause to remind us that all this was but discord compared with what the rapturous music of Heaven would be. She was fond of whetting our appetites for Heaven.

In our mother’s time Courtfield was always so cheery, bright, and holy, that it used to be said in the county, “You nearly break your neck going, but more nearly break your heart leaving there.”

When I look back to those young days so crowded with life I cannot remember any quiet games entertaining us. Birds, dogs, other pets, and ponies were our chief delight. I fear we were dreadfully noisy, loving hare and hounds, blindman’s-buff, snapdragon, and above all theatricals, in which movement was a safety valve for what was called “the Vaughan spirits.”

On the Feast of Holy Innocents, when it was our custom to dress up in the habits of different religious orders, we used to hold high religious functions, and preach one another down till the result was a sort of pandemonium, ending in clouds of incense and a blaze of candles round the schoolroom statue, where we made peace.

I think I have sampled our early life fully enough for even an inordinate taste for childhood’s days, but I cannot end without referring to the irreparable loss that came upon us when God called our mother away. It was a catastrophe.

Personally I was too young fully to understand what had happened; what I do most vividly remember is going down to the library, where the blinds were drawn and everybody was in black.

I recollect my father’s grief-stricken countenance as, amid the sobs of his children, he called my eldest sister, Gladys, to his side, and, placing on her wrist my mother’s simple silver bracelet, with crucifix and medal attached, he told us that our mother had gone to Heaven and that the eldest girl must take her place.

I bit my lips, exclaiming internally, “She never shall with me.”

He said much more, but I did not quite understand what it all meant, or why everybody was crying. I felt sure, even if mother had gone to Heaven, she would somehow be back soon, for she was never away from us for long. It did not seem that one could possibly live without her.

Very gradually the reality of the loss came home to one, and then it seemed that nothing much mattered. We rarely spoke of mother because the mere mention of her name awakened feelings that could not be controlled.

Herbert even to the last was shy of speaking to me of her; sometimes when I ventured to plead for some of his reminiscences of her he would get red and hot, and after saying there was no one ever like her, he would turn to some other subject; and till shortly before his death he kept by him a tiny picture of :—

“That countenance in which did meet

Sweet records and promises as sweet.”

“We all carry two bags—each and every one of us—one is packed with virtue, the other our faults. I’m talking marriage here, when I say that somewhere between courtship and the seventh year many women have shifted their focus from one of adoration to fault finder. We start to analyze, dissect, and over analyze the faults that we find, hoping to reshape our husbands according to our version of the perfect man. Living in harmony requires patience on both sides as we work to rebuild our view of one another.” -The Good Wife’s Guide, Darlene Schacht

Painting by Robert Papp

November – The Month of the Holy Souls in Purgatory

The Suffering Souls are very powerful with God. You take care of them and they will be praying for you!
Novena for the Holy Souls in Purgatory

Prayer to Our Suffering Savior for the Holy Souls in Purgatory

O most sweet Jesus, through the bloody sweat which Thou didst suffer in the Garden of Gethsemane, have mercy on these Blessed Souls. Have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel scourging, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most painful crowning with thorns, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in carrying Thy cross to Calvary, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer during Thy most cruel Crucifixion, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the pains which Thou didst suffer in Thy most bitter agony on the Cross, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

O most sweet Jesus, through the immense pain which Thou didst suffer in breathing forth Thy Blessed Soul, have mercy on them.
R. Have mercy on them, O Lord.

(Recommend yourself to the Souls in Purgatory and mention your intentions here)

Blessed Souls, I have prayed for thee; I entreat thee, who are so dear to God, and who are secure of never losing Him, to pray for me a miserable sinner, who is in danger of being damned, and of losing God forever. Amen.

Written by St. Alphonsus Liguori this novena has prayers for each day which are followed by the Prayer to Our Suffering Savior for the Holy Souls in Purgatory

Little Girl’s Lovely and Lacey Crocheted Veils

Available here.

Women historically have been denigrated as lower than men or viewed as privileged. Dr. Alice von Hildebrand characterizes the difference between such views as based on whether man’s vision is secularistic or steeped in the supernatural. She shows that feminism’s attempts to gain equality with men by imitation of men is unnatural, foolish, destructive, and self-defeating. The Blessed Mother’s role in the Incarnation points to the true privilege of being a woman. Both virginity and maternity meet in Mary who exhibits the feminine gifts of purity, receptivity to God’s word, and life-giving nurturance at their highest.

You’ll learn how to grow in wisdom and in love as you encounter the unglamorous, everyday problems that threaten all marriages. As the author says: If someone were to give me many short bits of wool, most likely I would throw them away. A carpet weaver thinks differently. He knows the marvels we can achieve by using small things artfully and lovingly. Like the carpet weaver, the good wife must be an artist of love. She must remember her mission and never waste the little deeds that fill her day the precious bits of wool she s been given to weave the majestic tapestry of married love.

This remarkable book will show you how to start weaving love into the tapestry of your marriage today, as it leads you more deeply into the joys of love.

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support.

Encouraging Catholic Customs

This is a post on Catholic customs…a very important part of our spiritual walk with our families….

Just an aside….Advent is around the corner and it is always nice to be prepared. Many years I put off getting things together because there is so much going on! But if we can think a bit each day about this wonderful season that is approaching, the things we want to accomplish, what materials we will need, and get it together before that first Sunday of Advent (Dec. 2nd this year), we will breathe a huge sigh of relief.

If you have been following my site, you may have adopted some of the customs we talk about here. So, I am going to post this page from my Traditional Advent Journal to get you thinking. You can print it out as a checklist on what to get together before Advent arrives…

Digital version the Catholic Mother’s Traditional Advent Journal here.

  

From A Candle is Lighted, P. Stewart Craig

THE FAMILY

There is a whole school of thought that sniffs at the idea of encouraging Catholic customs in the home—or anywhere else, for that matter. Customs like the saying of the rosary together, the decorating of an altar in May seem to them too childish for consideration.

For them the doctrines of the Church are sufficient, without these extras. And indeed the doctrines of the Church are enough for anyone. They are like straight, unwinding roads that lead into eternity; only on either side of these roads are hedges and ditches and meadows and all sorts of flowers.

The ultra- catholic Catholic is not interested in these flowers or fields. Still, such things are to a road what Catholic customs are to the faith; they adorn it, enliven it, they help to keep one on the journey.

It is not strange that all sorts of devotional practices have sprung up round Catholicism, sometimes practices that may seem rather trifling until one realizes that customs cannot be worthless that have evolved from the faith of the people through many hundreds of years, sometimes through well over a thousand years.

What family is there that does not use certain sayings and phrases that have significance only for those belonging to the circle? What family exists that has no peculiar customs, nicknames, rites, birthday ceremonial that outsiders cannot be expected to appreciate?

I can remember an unfailing ritual that was observed among us as children when we ate porridge. First, you ate it all round the edge until half of it was gone and then straight across until the red and blue figure of Tom the piper’s son showed himself on the bottom of the plate, complete with pig and pursuing policeman.

Why we did that I have no idea and I doubt if anyone can account for the curious rites they observed as children. Those rites are not necessary for family life, but they adorn it and enliven it.

And since the Church is not an institution but a family that ranges from God and God’s mother and thence to the saints and thence to the souls in purgatory and from them to ourselves, is it astonishing that spiritual family rites and customs have sprung up?

It is surprising how few people think of this. But the parents who do enter into these spiritual family customs can give their children treasures, whose value they may not realize until eternity. And not only parents can do this, but anyone who works with young people and children, whether in school or clubs or any type of organization.

There is nothing forced in this idea: why does the church in her liturgy allot the various days to the honor of her saints, or to events in the lives of Christ and of Mary, if she does not wish us to celebrate them in some way?

These feasts are fixed, but the way they can be celebrated can vary—and does vary tremendously from place to place.

With the passing of time the festivities and the customs of the day have also changed, still the essence remains the same.

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“Bank holidays are a poor exchange for the feasts of the Church. It means that people’s noses are now kept much longer to the grindstone than they ever were in the days when the civil year was based on the liturgy.

It means too that a popular, vivid, visual way of teaching the faith has almost disappeared. Those who work with young people, in schools or any sort of youth organizations, or those with families of young children are the only ones who can ensure that this way of making religion real does not vanish completely.

Many of the Church’s feasts were celebrated in a childish, obvious even crude way. This ought to be a recommendation, rather than a drawback. When boys and girls drift away from their faith the reason almost always is that this faith has never been a reality to them. The popular celebrations that obtained so long in this country did indeed help to make the faith real then to those who took part; it could do so again.”

Visit Finer Femininity on Facebook. It is full of quotes and inspirations to brighten your day!

“These diapers that are changed daily, these meals that are cooked again and again, these floors that are scrubbed today only to get dirty tomorrow — these are as truly prayer in a mother’s vocation as the watches and prayers of the religious are in theirs.” -Mary Reed Newland, How to Raise Good Catholic Children http://amzn.to/2vBGgH7 (afflink)

If you would like to order this St. Andrew/Christmas Novena Chaplet click here. The novena starts the end of this month!! A very powerful novena, indeed! I will post more on this as it gets closer.

Prepare now for Advent and Christmas! This little Maglet (magazine/booklet) is full of inspiration and devotions for your Advent and Christmas Season! Check it out here.

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3 Maglets available here.

All 5 Maglets available here.

Here, Baroness Maria Augusta Trapp tells in her own beautiful, simple words the extraordinary story of her romance with the baron, their escape from Nazi-occupied Austria, and their life in America.

Now with photographs from the original edition.

Most people only know the young Maria from The Sound of Music; few realize that in subsequent years, as a pious wife and a seasoned Catholic mother, Maria gave herself unreservedly to keeping her family Catholic by observing in her home the many feasts of the Church’s liturgical year, with poems and prayers, food and fun, and so much more!

With the help of Maria Von Trapp, you, too, can provide Christian structure and vibrancy to your home. Soon your home will be a warm and loving place, an earthly reflection of our eternal home.This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support.

 

Without Me You Can Do Nothing

A beautiful articles that reminds us how important peace is to the soul and that in order to achieve it, we must realize, truly and deeply, that without God we can do nothing!

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Searching for and Maintaining Peace

by Father Jacques Phillipe (with permission)

In order to understand how fundamental it is for the development of the Christian life to strive to acquire and maintain peace of heart, the first thing of which we must be convinced is that all the good that we can do comes from God and from Him alone: Apart from Me, you can do nothing, Jesus said (John 15:5).

He did not say, “you can’t do much,” but, you can do nothing. It is essential that we be persuaded of this truth.

We often have to experience failures, trials and humiliations, permitted by God, before this truth imposes itself on us, not only on an intellectual level, but as an experience of our entire being.

God would spare us, if He could, all these trials, but they are necessary in order that we should be convinced of our complete powerlessness to do good by ourselves.

According to the testimony of all the saints, it is indispensable for us to acquire this knowledge.

It is, in effect, a necessary prelude to all the great things that God will do in us by the power of His grace.

This is why St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the Little Flower, would say that the best thing that God could have done in her soul was “to have shown her her smallness, her powerlessness.”

If we take seriously the words cited above from the Gospel of St. John, then we understand that the fundamental problem of our spiritual life becomes this. How can I let Jesus act in me? How can I permit the grace of God to freely operate in my life?

That at which we should aim is, then, not principally to impose a lot of things on ourselves, as good as they may seem with our own intelligence, according to our projects, etc.

Rather, we must try to discover the disposition of our soul, the profound attitude of our heart and the spiritual conditions that permit God to act in us. It is only thus that we can bear fruit — fruit that will last (John 15:16).

To the question, “What must we do in order to let the grace of God act freely in our lives?”, there is no unequivocal answer, no master key.

In order to respond to this question completely, it would be necessary to do an entire treatise of the Christian life in which one would speak of prayer (principally of meditation, which is so fundamental in this regard), of the sacraments, of the purification of our hearts, of docility to the Holy Spirit, and so forth, and of all the ways in which the grace of God could further penetrate us.

In this small work, we do not wish to address all these themes. We simply want to concern ourselves with one element of the response to the question posed above.

We chose to speak of it because it is absolutely of fundamental importance.

Furthermore, it is too little known and taken into consideration in day-to-day life for most Christians, even those who are very strong in their faith.

The essential truth that we wish to present and develop is the following: To permit the grace of God to act in us and to produce in us (with the cooperation, of course, of our will, our intelligence and our capabilities) all those good works for which God prepared us beforehand, so that we might lead our lives in the performance of good works (Ephesians 2:10), it is of the greatest importance that we strive to acquire and maintain an interior peace, the peace of our hearts.

In order to understand this, we can use an image (without exaggerating, as we should always avoid doing in making comparisons); but one that can be illuminating.

Consider the surface of a lake, above which the sun is shining. If the surface of the lake is peaceful and tranquil, the sun will be reflected in this lake; and the more peaceful the lake, the more perfectly will it be reflected.

If, on the contrary, the surface of the lake is agitated, undulating, then the image of the sun can not be reflected in it.

It is a little bit like this with regard to our soul in relationship to God. The more our soul is peaceful and tranquil, the more God is reflected in it, the more His image expresses itself in us, the more His grace acts through us.

On the other hand, if our soul is agitated and troubled, the grace of God is able to act only with much greater difficulty.

All the good that we can do is a reflection of the Essential Good, which is God. The more our soul is peaceful, balanced and surrendered, the more this Good communicates itself to us and to others through us.

The Lord gives strength to His people, the Lord blesses His people with peace, scripture says (Psalm 29:11). God is a God of peace.

He does not speak and does not operate except in peace, not in trouble and agitation.

Let us remember the experience of the prophet Elijah of Horeb: God was not in the hurricane, nor the earthquake, nor in the fire, but in the whisper of a gentle breeze (cf. 1 Kings 19)!

Often, we cause ourselves to become agitated and disturbed by trying to resolve everything by ourselves, when it would be more efficacious to remain peacefully before the gaze of God and to allow Him to act and work in us with His wisdom and power, which are infinitely superior to ours.

For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: By waiting and by calm you shall be saved; in quiet and in trust your strength lies, but you would have none of it (Isaiah 30:15).

Our discussion is not, it is well understood, an invitation to laziness and inaction. It is an invitation to act, even to act considerably sometimes, but under the impulse of the Holy Spirit, which is a gentle and peaceful spirit.

And not in a spirit of disquietude, agitation or excessive hurry, which is too often the case with us.

Our zeal, even for God, is often badly illuminated.

Saint Vincent de Paul, the last person anyone would ever suspect of being lazy, used to say: “The good that God does is done by God Himself, almost without our being aware of it. It is necessary that we be more inactive than active.”

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Do you love your kids? Do you want the very best for them? Then love your husband, respect him. Show it. It is the best gift you can give to your children!

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Excellent sermon! Lukewarmness is the enemy of fervent souls. ” Being lukewarm is a spiritual disease, where one gradually slips from fervor due to a lessening of effort in prayer and other crucial acts of piety. If he doesn’t correct this, he will prepare himself for mortal sin. The best remedy against lukewarmness is (i) devotion to Blessed Mary, (ii) obey a good spiritual director and (iii) recommit to the duties of ones state of life.”

Coloring pages for your children….

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

Baby Charlotte Update / Thank You!

UPDATE ON BABY CHARLOTTE:

When the doctor first came to us after Charlotte was born, she told us that the baby would probably not make it. When I asked her if there was any chance, she said that she believed in miracles…

Well, we have watched the miracle unfold!! All the results are in from the tests, including the MRI. All of them have turned out to be…perfectly NORMAL!!

Z is feeling “worlds better”, too (as she put it)!

We know the power of prayer and we have felt your prayers, encouragement and support along the way….and we are very grateful!

Colin and Z are getting a Triduum of Masses offered by Father VanderPutten in Nigeria for all of you and your intentions. God bless you!

November, Death and the Holy Souls / Baby Charlotte Update

Death is such a scary subject….especially for children. Often I pray that Our Lord will take away the unhealthy fear of death from all of us, my children, grandchildren, etc.

We had a dear boy in our parish drown in the Kansas River about ten years ago now. It was devastating to all concerned! What was truly heartrending was to see the dad on the bridge for weeks, praying, looking, pacing, because they could not find his body!

My kids were truly disturbed about this. Even though they knew that it was just his body, they thought of their dear friend still in that icy, cold and unfriendly river. That is when I had to come up with some simple analogy on how to deepen their understanding of death.

I told them that our bodies are like a suitcase. The real important stuff is what is inside, the suitcase is only holding what matters most ….the “feeling, understanding, spiritual” part of us.

Our friend’s soul is like what is inside that suitcase; it was the important part, and it had quickly flown to where it needed to be…..purgatory or heaven. It was not in the river. The suitcase was just the outer cover…..

That seemed to help. And it was a growing experience for all concerned.

On another note, did you know you receive a partial indulgence for a soul in purgatory on ANY day of the year that you pray the prayers for the Holy Father and a prayer for the dead in a cemetery? We pray the Eternal Rest Prayer every time we pass a cemetery but it is good to stop there, too, to gain the indulgence!

Pray for and to the Holy Souls in Purgatory! They are very powerful with God!

The Year and Our Children by Mary Reed Newland

The children had never been to a funeral before, nor attended a wake, nor had any personal acquaintance with death.

Then in November, the month of the dead, someone dear to our neighborhood hood left this life to go to God. They had prayed for her through a long illness. Their first concern was: “Did she go right to Heaven?”

Children always give you the point at which to start. A subject may have a dozen approaches, but the best one is by way of their questions.

We would like to have said, flatly, yes, she went right to Heaven. She had suffered much, uniting it to Christ’s suffering. She had lived a life of prayer and sacrifice, had received the last sacraments and the final blessing with its plenary indulgence.

Her last few months had been an excruciating trial, and she had lain weeks longing for death, accepting suffering, but ready to welcome death. She wanted to die on Saturday because it was our Lady’s day, and our Lady granted her wish. It would be easy to say yes, she is surely in Heaven.

But even when you think so, you can never say that you know. It is God’s secret, and no one here knows.

But there is comfort for the living in what we do know: how the Church prepares us for death; how she prays for us after death, and the real possibility that we may “go right to Heaven” if we try very hard.

Haven’t we just celebrated the feast of All Saints, the glory of those who did? True, some among them entered by way of Purgatory, but they are there in Heaven nevertheless, and they confirm us in high hope.

Death is a touchy subject. People who do not know the Church (and some who think they do) accuse her of being “too mournful about death.” Perhaps this is because she is so candid about man and his origin -dust. She knows he will return to dust.

She knows that he inherited Original Sin and is weak, that the Devil is clever; and she does not admit the impossibility of going to Hell.

She knows that Purgatory exists, and hurts, and that man was created for Heaven but may refuse to go there.

She admits what everyone must admit: that wherever he is going, there is only one way to go there: to die. Death is a doorway we must go through. How else can the spirit leave the body behind and enter eternity?

For Catholics, the idea of death ought not to be mournful. There is natural grief and loneliness for the bereaved families and friends, of course, but God mellows these with time.

If death is otherwise mournful as an idea, as something to think about – or avoid thinking about – it is because we look at it from the wrong direction. We should be seeing it as the middle step, not the final step: life, then death, then God.

It is God for whom we are created. By way of death. He is where we are bound. This was the spirit of our neighbor’s death. It accounted for the tranquility of her family’s grief, their hopefulness, their ready resignation. Entering their home, where her body was returned until time for the funeral, our children saw death for the first time as they knelt beside her and prayed.

“But, Mother” – this was in a whisper – “you said she might even be in Heaven with God. But she’s not. She’s here asleep.”

You see? You are sure you have made it clear about the body and the soul, and not until such a time do you discover that you haven’t. Not until such a time, either, do you see how truly the Church speaks of us as creatures with souls that will not die.

Our bodies are the least of us. We could not talk about this at the moment, but we did when we got home.

“That wasn’t her, dear. That was just her body. She has really and truly gone to see God and, we hope, to be with Him immediately in Heaven.”

How to explain this once and for all and put confusion to rest?

“You close your eyes.” He did. “Now think a thought about yourself.” He closed his eyes very tightly, and thought, and said, “I’m thinking about myself.”

“That is you, dear, that part that can think about itself, know who he is, say to me, `I’m thinking about myself.’ That is truly you, the you that will not die. Your body will die one day, and it will be carefully put in the ground, and the people will say, `He has gone to see God.’

They will be right. When our bodies finally die, the part of us that is soul and lives forever goes off to see God.”

“If she would make herself of all earthly beings the most delightful and necessary companion to her husband, she must study him,—his needs, his moods, his weak as well as his strong points,—and know how to make him forget himself when he is moody and selfish, and bring out every joyous side of his nature when he is prone to sadness.” -Rev. Bernard O’Reilly, The Mirror of True Womanhood. 1893

Baby Charlotte Update

From Z (yesterday): So the Drs. just came and spoke to us, they couldn’t do the MRI this morning cause she wouldn’t lay still! The little stinker kept squirming around. So they will try again this afternoon. EKG came back perfectly normal, eye exam perfectly normal, the EEG did show some abnormal activity but not necessarily seizure activity either. She will probably remain on the seizure medication even when she goes home. The MRI will tell us more so we still don’t have the whole the story yet. Time will tell. We will get to hold her in about an hr!!!!

On a side note: Z was admitted back into the hospital yesterday. The pain she was experiencing was enough to have the doctor put her on antibiotics for possible infection. She will not be able to see Charlotte for a couple days. Please continue to pray…Thank you!

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Reflections on Purgatory By Rev. F.X. Lasance. A Complete Prayer-book Including Special Prayers and Devotions in Behalf of the Poor Souls in Purgatory Imprimatur, 1922, 442 page book. Originally printed by The Benziger Brothers. A Rare and Unusual Book! It is hoped that this book will cultivate a special devotion to the holy souls in Purgatory. This devotion, while it solaces the Holy Souls, in whose behalf it is directly exercised, is eminently pleasing to God, and beneficial to ourselves. It is hoped that the “Reflections” contained in the first part of this little book will stimulate the pious reader to make frequent use of the prayers and devotions which are found in the second part for the solace of the suffering souls in Purgatory.

This is an excellent prayer book.

Originally published in 1908 by the venerable Benziger Bros., this book has everything–all the basic prayers, litanies and Order (now known as Extraordinary Form) of the Mass. It also has excellent meditations for Eucharistic meditation and prayers for reception of Holy Communion.

The distinguishing feature of this prayer book, however, is that it is chock-full with helpful meditations and inspiring quotes for living the full Christian life. Father Lasance was obviously a very wise man and a holy priest. -T. Berry

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A Little Talk on Obedience For Your Children / Baby Charlotte Update

I gave this talk to a group of girls. It would be a good thing to gather your children around and read it to them. 🙂

OR I can read it to them myself….

Today I am going to talk about the very vital virtue of obedience.

Stop to think about this for a moment.

Do you want to please God or do you want to please the devil?

I think that’s a pretty easy question for good Catholic children to answer and this is why I have chosen the virtue of obedience today. This virtue pleases Our Lord very much.

I am a wife and a mother. My first duty is to God. My second and very important duty is to be a good wife and a good mother. It is what God wants for me and I need to pray to become a better wife and mother, I need to read books that help me to become better and I need to avoid the things that may harm my path in being a good wife and mother.

You are children. You are different ages, it is true, and all of you have a first duty, like me, and that duty is to God.

Your second and very important duty is to love and honor your parents. You do this by being obedient. You need to listen to and obey your parents. You need to pray for this and avoid things and people that are obstacles in your path of being an obedient young lady.

Your parents love you very much. They are good parents. They are worthy of your obedience. Even if they were not you would have to obey them in everything but sin. You don’t have to worry about this part because your parents are good parents and will not ask you to sin.

Obedience is a virtue that Jesus loves very much! St. Augustine says it is the mother and root of all the virtues and St. Bonaventure says it is a ship in which one sails to heaven. When you die don’t you want to be on the ship that sails to heaven?

You are a young lady and obedience is very important to learn now. When you become a young woman and choose a vocation, whether it be the religious life or a wife and mother obedience is a very important virtue for both of these vocations.

The more you learn to be obedient now, the easier it will be later in life and the sweeter your life will be.

St. Francis de Sales says that he who is obedient will live sweetly and will be like a child in the arms of his mother, free from worry and from care. That’s a pretty awesome promise!

Even if you see faults in your parents (and you will see them because they are only human) you need to always show respect.

The fourth commandment does not say to honor a good or a perfect mother and father, it says to honor your mother and father. Period.

St. Thomas Moore was the Chancellor to the King. He had the second highest position in the country! He had his aging father living with him and when St. Thomas was called out on business of state, before leaving the house, he would get on his knees, kiss his father’s hand and ask him to bless him.

He was a grown man, he was Chancellor to the King and he still showed such love and respect for his father! How much more, as children, you need to show love and respect to your parents!

Think about Our Lady for a minute. When she was young she was happy, cheerful and she was obedient.

When Little Mary was out getting the water at the well or playing or doing an errand, her mother, St. Anne, would miss her because Mary made their home happy.

If you are gone does your mother miss you? Do you make your home happy? If your mother is glad and relieved when you are gone you have some work to do!

When the child Mary was called by St. Anne she came right away. She dropped whatever she was doing, no matter what it was and went to her mother.

This makes me think of the convent. Let’s imagine this.

The sisters are quiet. They work and they pray. Once a day recreation time comes. They get their sewing out and sit with the other sisters. They chat, they tell stories and they laugh. One of the sisters is telling a very interesting tale about her life when she was small. The sisters are all smiling and enjoying it. Suddenly the bell goes off to call the nuns back to work! The nun who was telling the story stops mid-sentence and does not continue. Oh, she so wanted to tell the rest of the story but she knew what obedience was. She lays down her sewing and goes back to work! What an example of wonderful obedience!!

When the child Mary was called in the morning, she jumped out of bed the very first time! It’s not a very good way to start the day if you lay in bed and make your mother call you more than once. I don’t think disobedience is a good way to start the day, do you?

Mary was not fussy about her food. She ate what was put in front of her.

St. Anne didn’t have to ask Mary to set the table. If Mary thought that it needed to be done, she offered to do it before she was asked.

Most importantly, and this is what makes obedience sweet, she did all these things with a smile….a cheerful heart. Why? To please God.

How many of these things that Mary did are you doing?

Do you come right away when your mother or father calls you? Do you jump out of bed the first time you are called? Do you eat what’s put in front of you without complaining? Do you offer to do things even before you are asked? And most importantly do you do them with a cheerful heart?

Obedience is not just doing your chores when you are told to, though that is very important. It is also the attitude of the heart.

When your mom or dad calls, you should answer respectfully. Be careful of the tone of voice you use. Make sure it is not impatient and rude. You should never show signs of an ill-mannered girl by sighing and rolling your eyes when your mom and dad are talking to you.

There is one quote in the Bible, and remember that the Bible is the Divinely-inspired Word of God, that has a very beautiful promise attached to it. The Bible says, “Honor your father and mother that you may live a long, full life in the land that God gives you.”  Who doesn’t want a long, full life??

And just remember your angel is always with you. He’s always helping you to be good and obedient. Do you pray to your angel? Are you listening to him?
You may have friends who are not obedient. They may tell lies and call names. They may make fun of people. You need to be a good example to help them. The very first way you can be a good example is to be obedient!

Is being obedient hard at times? You bet it is! Does it always makes sense? Is it always fair? No, sometimes it seems like it isn’t.
There is a special story about St. Francis of Assisi and the brothers at the friary. Even now, every year the brethren plant a cabbage in the garden and let it flower to remind them of this story. St. Francis told two young brothers to plant some cabbage plants upside down. One did, but the other knew better and planted his right side up. St. Francis asked the second brother to leave the monastery, for, he said, it had been a test of obedience, not of planting cabbages.
Then there is the story of St Therese of the Child Jesus. She was in the convent and her Mother Superior told her to go and water this branch….a branch that looked completely dry and dead! And she told her to water it every day!

Did that make sense to St. Therese? No, it didn’t. But she did it anyway. Every day you could see St. Therese out in the sister’s garden watering this twig. Maybe even some of the sisters were smiling to themselves because it seemed so silly.

One day St Therese went out to water it and was so surprised to see a beautiful bloom on that old, dead branch! Our Lord, to show His blessing and how pleased He was with her obedience, made that lifeless branch bloom for her!

So, no, obedience is not always easy. You must pray for grace each day. Don’t forget your morning and night prayers and don’t forget your rosary. God is good and gives us all things that are good for our souls. So if we pray for the virtue of obedience He will surely give it to us!

And if we are obedient life will be sweet!

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Here is a little prayer on obedience:

Dear Jesus, You are God’s Beloved Son and You obey Him completely, even if it meant giving Your life for all of us. Help me to live like You, trusting and obeying the will of the Father, through my parents each and every day. Help me increase my faith, that I may obey them quickly, fully and lovingly. Teach me to obey them for the right reason, which is simply because I love You.

You can print out this prayer card sheet, cut them out and give one to each of your children and all the children who visit, your neighbor children, the children you sit behind in church, etc.     😀

Obedience Prayer Card

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“I insist that it is every woman’s duty to know, or to acquire some practical knowledge of housekeeping, so that she may be ready for any emergency. Her fitness for it will be a perpetual source of satisfaction to her, for there is nothing more self-satisfying than to feel that one is capable; it gives confidence, strength, and self-reliance.”- Annie S. Swan, Courtship and Marriage And the Gentle Art of Home-Making, 1893 http://amzn.to/2slSTay (afflink)

Baby Charlotte Update

From Z (yesterday): We haven’t heard back on her EEG or EKG and the MRI will be done sometime later today but the Dr doubled her food intake so now she’s getting 24mls every 3 hours (for reference there are 30 ml in an oz.) She is all smiles and very content, she’s been sleeping most the morning. They took off the smaller EEG monitor to prep for the MRI so it’s lovely to see her with fewer wires and tape and such! I kissed her head and inhaled her sweet, baby scent.😍 And it’s obvious she’s in love with her daddy already.😊

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Drawn from Archbishop Sheen’s bestselling books, these 28 reflections will lead you day by day through the Advent season. Eloquent quotes are paired with beautiful Scriptures on the themes of the season―patience, waiting, gift, hope, humility, joy―and more. Spend a few quiet moments of each day with one of the 20th century’s greatest preachers, preparing your heart to receive the Savior of the world.

Prayers for use by the laity in waging spiritual warfare from the public domain and the Church’s treasury. The book has an imprimatur from the Archdiocese of Denver.

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Singing and Acting in the Family Setting / Baby Charlotte Update

From How to Raise Good Catholic Children by Mary Reed Newland

As a family we know very little about singing except how to sing. We have a modest collection of albums, and we can read music well enough to pick out tunes with one finger on the piano.

There’s the radio (pretty carefully supervised), and a little sheet music we’ve bought, and some we’ve been given.

Our friends who go to the Trapp Family Music Camp have sung for us the things they learned, and given us help with our attempt to interpret chant notation. And our school music supervisor, who teaches charming songs at school, gave us a lovely Huron Indian carol (which the neighborhood children are learning for the next carol sing).

Then there are the books of Christmas carols and the songs in Laughing Meadows, the Grailville song book, and there are many fine American folk songs recorded.

All these things satisfy the appetites of children for good songs, and vastly minimize the temptation to pick up the sophisticated and often very vulgar lyrics of popular music. Even in homes where radio and TV are carefully supervised, it’s futile to think children can be kept from hearing these tunes and memorizing the lyrics, but we can help them form judgments about singing in the same way as we can about dancing, by having them sing what is good to please God.

Several years ago, a popular recording star had youngsters all over the country singing with her, “Lover, it’s immoral, but why quarrel with our bliss?” And we wonder why youth centers with their supervised dances to such music as this don’t help as much as we had hoped to keep the barriers to moral danger intact.

A voice is a gift from God, and we can teach our children to listen not only to songs, but with reverent wonder to voices, and to judge whether the voice and the song are reflecting any of the glory due to God, who gave the gift.

Listening to fine recordings of great choral music can help them develop a sense of the anonymity which should mark group singing, where soloists are a distraction rather than an addition to all-together singing the praises of God.

And we discover now and then that fine operatic recordings communicate to them audibly ideas they have struggled to put into visual form.

Such is the Whistling Aria from Boito’s Mephistopheles. After debating which of the pictured forms of the Devil was probably most like him, hearing that eerie whistle dart about so diabolically left no doubt in their minds as to how he sounds and how fast he gets about.

When children sing all their songs for God and sing together often in our families, they’re creating, just as surely as when they use their hands to draw or their bodies to dance, and our homes are warmer and more full of love for the harmonies we’ve created with our voices.

Acting should be part of a child’s creative activity, too, because it’s such a happy way to learn, to develop his observation of the nature of simple things and explain in a combination of all the arts the many things children want to explain.

Little children love to act out spontaneously the things they see around them, like a chair, or a table, or a clock, or a cat; and little boys profit enormously from special occasions for indulging their animal spirits.

John does a magnificent imitation of a goat chewing her cud — more goaty than even the goats. When this is his contribution to a session of “What am I?” the screams and howls are lovely satisfaction for the goat in him and he behaves better in public for it — well, for a few days, anyway.

One year on Mardi Gras, we had family charades to describe what fault each one would give up for Lent. This is a good way to make fun of yourself, admit your weakness, and face up seriously to the kind of mortification that would be most important for you.

One child came in chewing on a thumb. Another slugged imaginary playmates with such abandon that we were moved to great compassion for the real playmates. Another carried a pillow and a dinner plate, symbols of the two daily chores most repugnant and most successfully avoided.

One grown-up came in jawing silently and wagging a finger this way and that, and another grown-up said, “Oh! I was going to do that!”

We were properly overcome to see our faults displayed publicly, and as not one act was greeted with any dissent, it was a penitent group who wagged their way to bed that night, well aware that Lent had come just in time.

Charades are never-ending fun for children; I’ve never heard them say they had too much of them.

Puppets they love, too, and they’re easy to make and use. Our easiest puppets have been hand puppets, made with stuffed socks, faces painted or embroidered, costumes designed from leftover scraps of material, yarn, beads, buttons — anything that’s around.

Our Puppet Show

We’ve had them for liturgical feasts, such as Epiphany, the three elegant Magis with jeweled crowns, oriental hairdos and robes, and for ordinary Punch and Judy shows, and one for Thumbelina, made with a really live thumb.

Our stage is an old threefold screen. We took each panel apart, slip-covered it with sprigged yellow calico, cut a square window in the middle panel for the stage and tacked gray flounces with red ball fringe across the top and sides for a curtain.

Rehinged so that the wings fold back, it’s easily stored away when not in use, and even portable when we want to lend it to other puppeteers. Friends of ours devised a stage with two deep flounces to tack across the top and middle section of a doorway, with a space open in between for the performers.

Even tiny children can maneuver hand puppets, and the illusion is so complete that all they need to do is wag the puppets to a folk song or a Christmas carol in order to carry their part in a family entertainment.

One of the reasons puppet shows are especially successful with small children is that they submerge their self-consciousness in the antics of a tiny little person they do not identify with themselves, and the laughter of the audience never seems to be directed at them — a puzzlement many small actors find it hard to understand when they appear in person.

Songs such as “Old MacDonald Had a Farm,” and “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” which the audience can sing with the puppet, are a great success.

Graduating from these to reciting nursery rhymes and little poems provides plenty of material for small fries who are not able to memorize lines of plays or carry on dialogues between two puppets at once.

Older children can write their own scripts and invent stage business that they’re sure is hysterically funny; for these it’s especially profitable to suggest tableaux and simple recitatives relating to the liturgical feasts.

“We can change the world within our own families. We do not need heroic deeds, exceptional intelligence or extraordinary talents. Every day, our daily duties, our interactions with our family, our living out the Faith in the small ordinary things, will be the thread that weaves the beautiful rug that future generations will be walking upon and building upon….” Finer Femininity

I was looking for a good family shot in my photos and ran across these ones. Z and kiddos

Baby Charlotte Update

It took 12 hours for the warming process in order to get Baby Charlotte up to normal body temperature.

Colin and Z were able to spend a good part of the day with Charlotte yesterday. They have not been able to hold her yet but it was lovely to see her little eyes open!

She had several tests done yesterday (a brain scan was one of them) and we are awaiting results.

Maybe today will be the day they can take their little bundle in their arms….

In case you missed the comment yesterday evening, here is a message from Z:

 I can’t express enough my heartfelt gratitude to you all for your love and prayers. They have meant so much to me and Colin. We don’t feel alone in this! Our baby Charlotte is so perfect and beautiful and strong, every moment with her is an honor and a joy. Thank you all for everything! You are in our prayers as well.

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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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The Saint of Modern Times – Christ in the Home / Baby Charlotte Update

A home ruled by the spirit of Christ is a happy home. It is also a school of virtue directed to spiritual transformation in Christ. But Christ does not force His entry into a home. He enters only by invitation. He remains only when evidently welcome.

It is the wise bride and groom who let Him know by their spiritual preparation for marriage that they want Him to accompany them from the altar of their vows into the home they are about to establish.

It is the wise husband and wife who let Him know they want Him always present by striving to put on His mind and to establish their family according to His principles. In such a home, husband and wife and children will enjoy gladness of heart, happiness in the fulfillment of duty, and intense union of souls.

The strength and honor of the family come above all from within, from union with Christ which gives power to manifest in daily living the beautiful family virtues of patience, energy, generosity, forbearance, cheerfulness, and mutual reverence with their consequent effect of peace and contentment.

This is an invitation to the married or those about to marry, to spend the interior effort required to unite them solidly in Christ and to make them worthy transmitters of the Christ-life to their family. It is an invitation to fulfill the high purpose of their marriage which is to help each other to sanctity and to rear saints for heaven; to possess Christ themselves as completely as possible and to give Christ to their children.

         Now sanctity is the result of personal cooperation with grace. It is no passive attainment. Equally true is it that spiritual truths and principles merely known but not realized are of little force in stimulating spiritual energy and effort

THE SAINT OF MODERN TIMES

       Formerly when people dreamed of sanctity or even of the interior life, they aspired to one thing only–to get away from the world, to go off to the desert, or at least to the priesthood or the religious state.

To become a saint in the world, to acquire a true and profound union with God in the world, to exercise oneself in the practice of complete abnegation, and to pursue perfection in the world seemed scarcely possible.

People are beginning to realize better that there is such a thing as sanctity in the world.

We honor those who follow a priestly vocation or a consecrated life in religion. They have chosen the better part which will not be taken from them.

But are we to conclude, therefore, that the laity, because they live in the world, because they have entered the married state, must be content with a cheaper view of perfection? Must they assume that the practice of the highest virtues is not for them? That they may not aspire to divine union and the secret joys of a valiant fidelity inspired by love?

Fortunately there are many who realize the falsity of such a conclusion. Saint Francis de Sales challenged the laity to strive for high sanctity.

“The world of today longs to contemplate the saint of modern times who will take his place beside the ancient and venerable figures of our history,” observes Rademacher, the author of “Religion and Life.”

“It demands the saintly man of the world who unites harmoniously in his personality all the aspects of a noble humanism established on correct values, entirely impregnated with a living faith, a strong love of God, and a supple, joyous participation in the life of the Church…

There ought to be even now on this earth a type of saintly employee, saintly merchant, saintly industrialist, saintly peasant, saintly wife, saintly woman of Christian culture and refinement.

The saint’s role in the world today is to be the pioneer of the new family, of the new State, of the new Society, of the new humanity, of the Kingdom of God which is always new.”

No profession is of itself an obstacle to holiness. No state of life is an obstacle; and marriage, if rightly understood, not only demands holiness but leads those who fulfill all its requirements to true sanctity.

In trying to picture what the saint of the next centuries should be, Foerster did not hesitate to write: “Just as in former times the saint was characterized by his courage to confess his faith and die a martyr, since he held faith to be his highest ideal for which he must be willing to suffer; just as the saint of the Middle Ages and even of our own day, has been characterized by virginity, since then and now, and especially in our times, it requires a struggle to conquer many temptations to preserve personal purity; so perhaps the saint of the centuries to come will be the perfect wife or husband, since the vital ideal for which we should willingly suffer today is the sacredness of marriage.”

There is much truth in these words. It may be thought that the age of martyrs is not so far distant as the author would have us believe. And consecrated virginity, thank God, continues to hold a strong appeal for many souls.

But is Foerster not pathetically correct in stating that saints in married life, in conjugal fidelity, are a crying need of our age to counteract the attacks on the family and notably the attacks on the indissolubility of marriage?

 

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“At a certain moment when going to confession to a Capuchin father, St. Therese came to understand that it was just the opposite: her “defects did not displease God” and her littleness attracted God’s love, just as a father is moved by the weakness of his children and loves them still more as soon as he sees their good will and sincere love.” -Fr. Jacques Philippe,The Way of Trust and Love, http://amzn.to/2fpXVzl Painting by Millie Childers

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Baby Charlotte Update

Z was discharged from the hospital yesterday and was FINALLY able to visit with  her baby. The photo is blurry, but  you get the picture! ❤

Last night many of us gathered at the church to take part in a Holy Hour for Baby Charlotte. These next few days will be very telling on how much, if any, damage was done.

They began the warming process at 5 p.m. last night and that is when we had the Holy Hour. If all goes well, Colin and Z may be able to hold their sweetie today.

Thank you for all the support. Z has been reading the comments on Facebook and here and is very grateful (and tearful)!

Also, thank you for the suggestions on accommodations for the family. They went home last night but are considering the Ronald McDonald House, depending on how this week goes.

Thank you SO MUCH for the donations!

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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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November, the Month of the Holy Souls, and No Discrimination / Baby Charlotte Update

Eternal Rest Grant Unto Them, O Lord….

Let us remember our beloved dead always, but especially this month dedicated to the Souls in Purgatory.

If we remember the dead, they will intercede for us. Their prayers are very powerful, indeed.

“By assisting them we shall not only give great pleasure to God, but will acquire also great merit for ourselves. And, in return for our suffrages, these blessed souls will not neglect to obtain for us many graces from God, but particularly the grace of eternal life.

I hold for certain that a soul delivered from Purgatory by the suffrages of a Christian, when she enters paradise, will not fail to say to God: ‘Lord, do not suffer to be lost that person who has liberated me from the prison of Purgatory, and has brought me to the enjoyment of Thy glory sooner than I have deserved.'” – St. Augustine of Hippo

Don’t forget to make a trip to the cemetery each day from November 1st to November 8th. You gain a partial/plenary indulgence (under the usual conditions) for a soul in purgatory on every day you do this!!

IMG_3169This is the little cemetery that is about a mile from our home. We are fortunate that we discovered it, tucked away, hidden and obscure. We have made many a trip there in November… getting stuck or slipping into the ditch, through rain, snow and biting winds,…..as we kneel to give relief to one of our faithful departed.

In these first days of November, there have been times we have been headed to bed, sometimes with PJ’s on, when one of the kids looked at us wide-eyed, “We haven’t gone to the cemetery yet!”

Out come the housecoats and slippers as we pile in the van to tear over to the little graveyard. The kids can’t bear the thought of a soul in purgatory, waiting all day to get relief, only to have us forget about them!! They know the value of a plenary indulgence for these souls!

And if we have a house-full of guests (not unusual), the whole menagerie joins us, piling into vans and cars, some scratching their heads wondering what the hubbub is about, and finding they learned something new about their Faith.

So, do remember the souls in purgatory. There are many other ways to give them relief, if we can’t make it to the cemetery. We should pray for them always but this is the month to really focus on them!!!!

One day we will be in their place……

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From The Year and Our Children, Mary Reed Newland

November is the month of praying for the dead; so this proposes discussion. We want the children to pray generously, boldly, not only for “our dead” but for all the world of the dead.

Strangely enough, this is their way if they are left to themselves. Rarely are they content with our conventional phrasing, “relatives and friends and all the souls in Purgatory.” They care about so many and want to name them by name.

I was icing a cake one day, and one of the boys was watching hungrily.

“Who’s he?” he asked, pointing to Paul Revere on the sugar package. So I told him the story of Paul Revere.

“Boy. He was pretty brave to do that. Is he dead?”

“Yes. That happened a long time ago.”

That night at prayers we listed our intentions and our dead, and he added, “And Paul Revere, in case he’s in Purgatory.”

Yes, Paul Revere, and Rudyard Kipling, because he wrote the Jungle Book, and the Just-So Stories, and Kenneth Grahame because cause he wrote Wind in the Willows, and Beatrix Potter for Jemima Puddleduck and Peter Rabbit.

They pray for Stephen Foster because they sing his songs, and all the ones who wrote their favorite music; for the Brothers Grimm, of course, and Hans Andersen.

Then there is Abraham Lincoln, and George Washington, and all the dead in the cemeteries (for whom we pray when we drive by cemeteries), and the dead in the newspapers, and the accident victims.

Add to these the bad dead, like Stalin and Hitler (whom they do not even know except from history books or, now and then, grown-ups’ conversation), and the dead who have died without Baptism, “because we hope they got baptism of desire,” also the dead of the terrible persecutions, and the bad Indians who martyred the Jesuits, the dead in our floods, and of course the dead who have no one to care about them or pray for them.

The listings could go on all night, just as the lists for All Souls Day could go on all day.

But this is good, because we don’t know about the dead. If they are in Heaven, our prayers will be used for someone else, and if they are beyond saving, our prayers will be used for someone else.

Always, we must remember how much God loves souls and how dearly He paid on the Cross in order to save them. Charity is not just for this world. It extends to the world where so many we have loved, and God has loved, must wait and endure purification, “as though by fire.”

Masses, prayers, sacrifices – all must be encouraged for the dead. Blessed John Massias used to sprinkle holy water on the ground, saying that it was an efficacious devotion together with prayers for the souls in Purgatory. His story Warrior in White, by Mary Fabyan Windeatt, is a good read-aloud aloud story for November.

In the Canon of every Mass, there is a special memento for the dead, so we can remind our children the night before and on the way in the morning to make their Mass intention for the dead. We can encourage them to sacrifice in order to give an offering for a Mass for the dead.

We can remind them after they have been to confession that for the few moments it takes them to make the Stations of the Cross or to recite the Rosary before the Blessed Sacrament and pray for the intention of the Holy Father, there is a plenary indulgence applicable to the souls in Purgatory.

We can faithfully attend Forty Hours’ devotion, parish Holy Hours, or whatever devotions our parish holds by which we may give praise and honor to God and succor to the dear dead.

Above all, let us not fail to teach our children that death is one of the punishments of Original Sin. It was not part of God’s original plan.

If Adam had not committed Original Sin, we would have gone to God in some other way. Now we go through death.

We receive the gift of human life from God at conception and the gift of sacramental life from Christ at Baptism. Death is our opportunity to give life, our life; not merely to lie helplessly and let it be taken from us, but to offer Him with a willing heart this life we received from Him.

We are free to make it our own surrender, in order to go to Him and glory.

An interesting tidbit:

Poland does not celebrate Halloween, but Poland sets its cemeteries ‘on fire’ and – believe me – those cemeteries are the most beautiful places to be at the beginning of November.

1st November- All Saints’ Day and 2nd November – All Souls’ Day are days when almost everyone visits graves of their family members. The gravestones are decorated with colorful chrysanthemums in full bloom (in Poland those flowers are associated with this particular occasion) and millions of grave candles (zniczy), which symbolize the presence of God and reminds of the prayer that has been said in a moment of reflexion for those who passed before us.

This Christian celebration of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day roots in a belief that there is a powerful spiritual bond between those in heaven and the living.

Those days are national holidays in Poland. This special time of the year creates a very melancholic atmosphere full of spiritual contemplation about those who are not with us in this world anymore.

If you are planning a trip anywhere in Poland at the beginning of November – make sure to have a look at how beautiful and full of light are Polish cemeteries.

 

“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.” -Catholic Family Handbook, https://amzn.to/2LJ48Vu (afflink)

Update on Baby Charlotte:

She is very stable, hardly needs any oxygen support. She gained a little weight because she was not peeing. She is peeing well now, so kidneys are working. Today at 5 pm they will start the warming process, which takes 12 hours. After that she will have testing and be monitored. If things look good at that point, Colin and Z will be able to hold her.

Mom is in pain and her blood pressure is quite high at times but then goes back down. They are planning to release her today, if all is well. Colin and Z are looking into somehow getting accommodations close by so they wouldn’t have to travel in order to be with Charlotte. (They live about 35 minutes away from the hospital).
Thank you for the prayers… please keep them coming! ❤️

Auntie Theresa with Charlotte

They are starting to bring the baby’s temperature up today at 5:00 p.m. This is crucial and will tell more of what to expect. We are going to start a nine hour novena to the Infant of Prague at 9a.m. CST. if anyone would like to join. (Praying this prayer throughout the day at any time is efficacious!)

If you would like to help monetarily you can go here.

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All Souls’ Day – Maria von Trapp

Toward the end of the year, on November 2nd, the Church sets a day aside which is devoted to the suffering souls in Purgatory.

Just as we turn to our big sisters and brothers, the saints, to intercede for us at the throne of God, the poor souls are also turning toward us “Have pity on me, have pity on me, at least you, my friends, because the hand of the Lord has touched me” (Job 19:21; Office of the Dead).

Helpless in themselves, since the purification they are undergoing is passive suffering, they can be helped by us. We can pray for them. We can offer up sacrifices and good works with the desire that God may accept them and, seeing in them the prayer and suffering rise from the Mystical Body of His only Son, hasten the delivery of those souls whom He deems worthy and ready for such help.

On the day of “all the faithful departed” the Church reminds her children to listen to the message of the Scriptures in her liturgy and to do some thinking and meditating on Purgatory and the holy souls there.

We know Purgatory is a realm of twilight, so to speak–an in-between darkness and light, a place of regret and longing. Of the suffering which is undergone there, we are told that it is bitter and great, that it surpasses all imaginable suffering here on earth as an ocean surpasses a little puddle.

A knowledge of Purgatory we find already in the Old Testament.

Two hundred years before Christ Judas Machabeus “making a gathering…sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection, (for if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead); and because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them.

It is, therefore, a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from their sins” (II Macc. 12:43-46).

All Souls’ Day is a solemn day for families. We mothers must tell our children again about the Communion of Saints, which functions in the same way as life in a large family, where each member depends on the others.

In this case, the poor souls depend on us. They depend on our love, but love does not consist in words only, it consists in deeds. The sooner the little ones learn to understand this, the better it is for their whole life.

On All Souls’ Day they will be encouraged to bring little sacrifices, to say special prayers. They will be told about the “thesaurus ecclesiae,” the golden treasure chest of Holy Church filled with the atoning sacrifice of Christ, the merits of the Blessed Virgin, of the saints–canonized and uncanonized–into which we may delve.

It was given to Peter to bind and loosen, and his successor, making use of that very power, sets the conditions under which this can be done. One such disposition is the “toties quoties” indulgence each time we visit a parish church on the second of November and say six “Our Fathers,” six “Hail Marys,” and six “Glorys,” we may gain a plenary indulgence applicable to the poor souls.

All Souls’ Day is also the date when we remind our children that on the solemn day of their baptism the Church lit the baptismal candle and said: “Receive this burning light and see thou guard the grace of thy baptism without blame. Keep the Commandments of God so that when the Lord shall come to call thee to the nuptials, thou mayst meet Him with all the Saints in the heavenly court, there to live forever and ever.”

This baptismal candle of our children we should wrap reverently and keep in a special place together with our own. If, as happened to us, these candles are no longer in the family (we could not take along such things from the old country), one can take candles blessed on Candlemas Day, tie the names of each child to a candle, and keep them in a special place. This is what we did.

Only Johannes, being born in this country, has his own original baptismal candle.

On All Souls’ Day we take the candles out and look at them and remind each other to light our candle for any of us in case of sudden death, as a symbol that we want to die in our baptismal innocence, that the light which was kindled at that solemn moment has not been extinguished voluntarily by us. It is always a solemn moment when the children are called to think of their parents’ death.

In the old country the great event of the day used to be the visit to the cemetery.

First I have to describe an Austrian cemetery. Out in the country every village has its cemetery around the church; bigger towns have them on the outskirts.

Every grave is a flower bed at the head of which is a crucifix, sometimes of wrought iron, sometimes carved in wood. Occasionally there are also tombstones.

Families take care of their graves individually. People who have moved elsewhere will pay the cemetery keeper to do it for them.

The German word for cemetery is “Gottesacker,” meaning “God’s acre.” In the summer it looks like a big flower garden.

People are constantly coming and going, working on their graves, or just praying for their loved ones.

On anniversaries you will see vigil lights burning and on All Souls’ Day every grave will have its little vigil light as a token that we do remember.

People will flock out to the cemeteries in the early evening because it is such a sight–those many, many flames and all the mounds covered with flowers. Slowly one walks up and down the aisles, stopping at the graves of relatives and friends to say a short prayer and sprinkle them with holy water.

When the father of our family died several years ago, we started our own old-world cemetery. Soon one of his children followed him and now there are two flower-covered mounds under the large carved-wood crucifix.

The lanterns are lit not only on the anniversaries and on All Souls’ Day, but every Saturday night. A hedge of “rosa multiflora” encircles this holy spot. Inside the hedge there is a bench and we often sit there in the peace and quiet of our little acre of God.

 

A very valuable sermon for this All Souls’ Day. Learn about Purgatory… Why is it needed? How long will one be there? What is it all about? Can we avoid it? Learn about the Sabbatine Privilege!

“A woman’s role is supportive, and she is to be her husband’s helper, confidant, counselor if need be, friend and one of his greatest allies. You should be more than willing to make your man feel important, appreciated and admired.” -Fascinating Womanhood http://amzn.to/2qjprOY (afflink)

Don’t forget (Nov. 1 –8) ! Go to a cemetery, say a prayer for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, an Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be for the Pope, receive Holy Communion, go to confession within 20 days, and you will gain a Plenary Indulgence for one soul each day…. (Assuming no attachment to venial sin; thus a partial indulgence)…which means they will be released from Purgatory and will enter the Gates of Heaven! Those Souls will not forget about you…it comes back full circle! Get your children out there!

Requirements for obtaining a plenary indulgence:

*Do the work while in a state of grace

*Receive sacramental confession within 20 days of the work (several plenary indulgences may be earned per reception)

*Receive Eucharistic communion (one plenary indulgence may be earned per reception of Eucharist)

*Pray for the pope’s intentions (Just state that you are “praying for pope’s intentions,” followed by an Our Father and Hail Mary)

*Have no attachment to sin (even venial) — i.e., the Christian makes an act of the will to love God and despise sin. This simply means “true resolve” to avoid this sin from now on.

Advent Calendars…

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