Customs of Good Friday – Maria von Trapp

From Around the Year With the Trapp Family

On Good Friday Holy Mother Church gives her children a beautiful opportunity for a profession of faith: the adoration of the cross. Behind the priests and altar boys follows the whole congregation.
We remove our shoes when we go to adore the cross. Three times we prostrate ourselves as we come closer, until we finally bend over and kiss the feet of the crucified.
As we, the church choir, follow right behind the priest, we sing during the rest of the adoration. Our songs are the heartrendingly moving “Crux fidelis” by King John of Portugal, and Eberlin’s “Tenebrae factae sunt,” of such haunting beauty.

When the adoration of the cross is finished, the candles on the altar are lighted, the cross is most reverently taken up from the floor and placed on the altar, and a procession forms to get the Blessed Sacrament from the “Altar of Repose.”

During this procession the hymn “Vexilla Regis” is sung. And then follows a ceremony that is not a real Mass, although it is called the “Mass of the Pre-Sanctified.”
The priest consumes the Host that was consecrated the day before. On the anniversary of Our Lord’s death–the bloody sacrifice–the Church does not celebrate the symbol of the unbloody sacrifice.
After the official service is finished, the altar is stripped again. The tabernacle is left open, no vigil light burns in the sanctuary. But in front of the empty tabernacle lies the crucifix on the steps of the altar, and the people come all during the day for adoration.

In Austria another custom was added.

At the end of the official service the priest would carry the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance, covered with a transparent veil, and expose it on the side altar, where a replica of the Holy Sepulchre had been set up with more or less historical accuracy, with more or less taste, but always with the best of will.

Like the crèche around Christmas time, so the Holy Sepulchre on Good Friday would be an object of pride for every parish, one parish trying to outdo the other.
The people in Salzburg used to go around at Christmas time and in Holy Week to visit the Christ Child’s crib and the Holy Sepulchre in all thirty-five churches of the town, comparing and criticizing.
There would be literally hundreds of vigil lights surrounding the Body of Christ in the tomb of rock, which was almost hidden beneath masses of flowers.

There would be a guard of honor, not only of the soldiers, but also of firemen in uniform and of war veterans with picturesque plumed hats.
I still remember the atmosphere of holy awe stealing over my little heart when as a child I would make the rounds of churches. There in the Holy Sepulchre He would rest now, watched over by His faithful until Holy Saturday afternoon.

Here in America we have found another lovely custom: people going from church to church not on Good Friday but on Holy Thursday.
On that day, the churches are decorated with a profusion of flowers, as a sign of love and gratitude for the Holy Eucharist. The contrast with the bare churches the day after, on Good Friday, is all the more striking and gives a tremendous feeling of desolation.

Good Friday is a very quiet day with us.

There is little to do in the kitchen, since fasting is observed rigorously on this day.
We have no breakfast, and all that is served for lunch, on a bare table without tablecloth, is one pot of thick soup, “Einbrennsuppe,” which everyone eats standing up in silence. There is little noise around the house.

Talking is restricted to the bare essentials, as it would be if a dearly beloved was lying dead in the house.
As we are so privileged as to have a chapel in our house, we use the day when the holy house of God is empty and desolate to clean and polish all the sacred vessels and chalices and the ciborium, the monstrance, candlesticks, and censer.

The vigil light before the picture of the Blessed Mother in the living room is also extinguished, because on Good Friday Christ, the Light of the World, is dead.

From twelve until three, the hours of Our Lord’s agony on the cross, all activity stops. We sit together in the empty chapel before the cross and spend these hours in prayer, meditation, and spiritual reading. From time to time we rise and sing one or the other of the beautiful Lenten hymns and motets.

On Holy Saturday, a new stir of activity starts in the kitchen. Eggs are boiled in different pots containing various dyes–blue, green, purple, yellow, and red.

Every member of the household who wants to participate in this art takes some eggs to his or her room, after they have dried, to work on them in secret.

One takes some muriatic acid with which she etches the most intriguing patterns out of the colored foundation. It is quite popular in our house to etch the first line of Easter songs–staves, notes, and words.

Our cleverest artist sits with paint and brush, and under her fingers appear pictures of an Easter lamb, or of Our Risen Savior Himself, or of the Blessed Mother, or of the different patron saints of the family. Sometimes they turn out to be little gems.

Others fasten dried ferns or little maple leaves or other herbs around the eggs before they are boiled in dye. When these leaves are finally taken off, the shape of the flowers and herbs remains white, while the rest of the egg is colored. This is easily done and looks very pretty.

These eggs first appear on trays and in bowls on Easter Sunday morning at the foot of the altar for the solemn blessing of the food. Afterwards they will be distributed at the solemn Easter breakfast.

“The very presence of a woman who knows how to combine an enlightened piety with mildness, tact, and thoughtful sympathy, is a constant sermon; she speaks by her very silence, she instills convictions without argument, she attracts souls without wounding susceptibilities; and both in her own house and in her dealings with men and things, which must necessarily be often rude and painful, she plays the part of the soft cotton wool we put between precious but fragile vases to prevent their mutually injuring each other.” – Monseigneur Landriot, Archbishop of Rheims, 1872 -Loreto Publications

If you have trouble reading saint books and find the story lines boring, you need to try these!

We love these books and have had them on our book shelves for years! They are very well-written and make the saints come alive!

Louis de Wohl has the amazing capacity to take historic Catholic figures and breathe life into them by creating a novel around what their life might have been like.

They are meant for high school and adult level. Some of the books could have  adult content, for instance, St. Augustine’s life before conversion. Parents may want to read them first.

Louis de Wohl Historical Religious Novels

Beautiful Vintaj Brass Wire-Wrapped First Communion Rosary! Lovely, Durable…

Available here.





Our Lord Needs Our Help – Simon of Cyrene and the Cross

Simon of Cyrene Helps Carry the Cross by Joseph Breig, 1950’s

Now here is a strange thing. Here is a bewildering thing. Here is a downright dumbfounding thing. Christ the omnipotent, He who could say to a mountain, “Remove from here,” and it would remove – Christ no longer can carry His cross. Christ needs somebody to help Him to carry out His mission of salvation.

Christ is falling, Christ is fainting, Christ is failing. Christ needs an assistant; Christ the rescuer of all mankind needs rescuing. And in this moment of shattering drama, does God send an angel, or a prophet, a flaming personality such as John the Baptist? No, God sends a man of whom nobody ever has heard. God selects a chance passerby to lift Christ’s burden and to walk beside Christ on the way to Golgotha.

What mystery is this, that the most ordinary and casual onlooker is lifted to immortality, is chosen to lend his strength to the All-Powerful One when the All-Powerful One is helpless? Cannot the divine Christ, the healer of lepers, the giver of sight to the blind, the restorer of life to the lifeless, cannot He finish his work unless he is assisted by this Simon of Cyrene who has blundered onto the scene, and who, we may guess, has small taste for carrying crosses for condemned criminals?

Mystery it is indeed; mystery of mysteries. It is as mysterious, this incident, as St. Paul’s remark about filling up in his own body what is wanting in the passion of Christ. What can possibly be wanting in the passion of Christ? Although we know that God could have repaired fallen human nature by a simple act of His Will, yet He demands for our personal salvation an act of our will, a cooperation with His grace.

This is the mystery of human freedom, without which man is not really man at all. Man to be man must be able to make choices. Man to be what he is, the image and likeness of God, must distinguish between good and evil, and choose good. How else is man to have any dignity? How else is man to be like unto God? How else is man to be happy-for does not happiness consist in the knowledge that one has done the good that one ought to do, and avoided the evil that one ought to avoid? How can man share forever in the happiness of God unless he has identified himself with that happiness by freely choosing God and God’s way?

It is like asking whether any of us can enjoy the beauty of a sunset without ever having gazed upon a sunset, or the lilting joy of symphony music without having listened to it. What the conductor of an orchestra feels, we cannot feel without sharing, according to our capacity, in his experience. We cannot have any of his happiness in music without ourselves entering into music. Neither can we enter into God’s eternal joy without choosing for ourselves the cause of that joy, which is God’s goodness.

There are those who blindly complain about this; who would prefer that God force His happiness upon them without their doing anything to make themselves capable of it. But this is impossible. As well might we ask that we know the joys of love while refusing to love; or the pleasure of knowledge while declining to learn. If you do not know a single word of English, and resolutely refrain from acquiring any English, it would be foolish of you to complain because you cannot enter into the joy of reading Shakespeare in his own tongue. You are simply incapable, through your own choice, of sharing in the experience and the insights of Shakespeare.

Thus it is with God and man. Christ has opened the door; Christ has led the way; Christ has given us all the means for fitting ourselves for the happiness of heaven. But if we turn our backs, if we walk the other direction, if we reject the means, then we shall find that with respect to God’s happiness, we are like blind men trying to enjoy the sight of flowers, we are like the deaf wanting to listen to music, we are like paralyzed persons longing for dancing and the poetry of movement. We must do our part. We must lift a burden as Simon lifted; we must walk with Christ as Simon walked. We must fill up in ourselves, as St. Paul filled up, what is wanting of the passion of Christ.

The point is that what is wanting in the passion of Christ is my little bit, and your little bit. In one sense, Christ climbed alone to Calvary. In another sense, He climbed in the midst of a countless multitude of other climbers, each carrying his own little cross, his own little duty, his own contribution to the unselfish immolation of love. The passion of Christ took place at a certain time and in a certain place; but it extends backward to Adam and Eve, and forward to the last man and woman.

What we ought to see when we contemplate Christ’s sacrifice is not the sacrifice of Christ alone, but the sacrifice of Christ expanded into countless other hearts and souls. This is the meaning of the Mystical Body of Christ; this is the meaning of the Church. The Church is Christ saving all of us by enlisting our willing cooperation. The Church is Christ and you and I and a vast concourse of others, indomitably struggling upward and onward toward the death that is the opening into life everlasting. Every last one of us is, or ought to be, a Simon of Cyrene, walking through life with Christ, enduring bravely life’s vicissitudes and keeping our eyes always on the goal until it is achieved.

Unless the Simons do their part, the Simons cannot accomplish what Christ gave them the power to accomplish. All this is a mystery, and yet it ought to be as plain as a pikestaff.

Let us express it in this manner-the confessionals are always open, and guilt can be blotted out of our souls in an instant, but not if we will not enter the confessional. And even if we enter the confessional, nothing is accomplished without contrition. Nobody else can be contrite for us; we ourselves must turn from evil to embrace good. The instant we do that, we become capable of the life of God which is the life of love and goodness; we begin, in fact, to share God’s supernatural life on earth. We have a foretaste of eternal joys; we enter into an anteroom to heaven.

But as long as evil is what a man loves, then what he loves is not goodness, and he cannot know the happiness that comes of goodness embraced. To make a homely comparison, if I cannot abide the taste of olives, then olives cannot give me pleasure. If I want the pleasure that olives give, I must change. And if I am to share the happiness of God, then I must fit myself to be happy by God’s happiness; I must become like God. I must determine to be a Simon of Cyrene who will be ready to walk with Christ and not to turn away from Christ.

Simon might have been a lover of comfort who would have so weakened his body with self-indulgence and luxury as to have been incapable of lifting the weight of Christ’s cross. He was fit for Christ, when the test came, because his muscles were strong, and his soul willing. To each of us comes our moments of Simon-likeness, when we are called upon to do our bit in sharing the passion of Christ which leads to resurrection and glorification with Christ. It is our duty and our high privilege to be always prepared.

A mother holds her baby in her arms, looks up to God, and knows that she, by months of suffering and patience, has co-operated with Him in making and bringing into the world a little body housing a priceless soul. A father stands above his new-born son resting in the arms of his wife, and knows as he picks him up and weighs him tenderly that he has shared with God the Father His very fatherhood; for this mite of humanity, immortal in destiny, is truly his son. Mother and father together have co-operated with God in the astonishing creation of a human being. -Fr. Daniel A. Lord, 1950’s

A Finer Femininity Meditation for Lent

What happened to Veronica’s veil was simply an outward expression of what happened in Veronica’s soul. Are we “Veronica’s” in our everyday life? Do we seek to serve, to encourage, to listen….?

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




We Will Rebuild!

Yesterday, Catholics from all over the world watched in horror as the great Church of Paris, Notre Dame, was succumbing to flames! Over 800 years of Catholicism….the Masses, the Pilgrimages, the Benedictions and oh! so much more has taken place there!

Some of my own children have been there as they took part in the Chartres Pilgrimage… three times they visited the Cathedral…. a landmark of our Faith!

Some people have said, “Look guys, it’s only a Church. Christ is in our hearts.” And, of course, this is true…and a beautiful thing.

But, as Catholics, we know that this monument of generations of faithful Catholics, this House of God that Our Lord has resided in for centuries was more than “just a building.” It was a symbol of our Faith, standing erect and majestic, in spite of the troubles of the centuries that it has seen.

The secular news spoke of it….

“For generations, Notre Dame has been a place of pilgrimage and prayer, and, even as religion in France has declined for decades, it remained the beating heart of French Catholicism, open every day for Mass.” –

Notre Dame unveils some of the most coveted relics in Christendom. Among them is the Holy Crown, believed by many to be from the crown of thorns placed on the head of Jesus, and which the cathedral calls its “the most precious and most venerated relic.” Catholics have prayed with the Holy Crown for more than 16 centuries, according to the cathedral. -CNN

It was quite tragic to see and it reiterated what many of us faithful Catholics feel in our hearts about the Church these days:

I know that everyone has already said this, but the first thought I had seeing Notre Dame in flames is: This is a physical representation of what has already happened invisibly to the Church in France and in Europe. It seems the fire was caused by “renovation work,” just as the burning down of the liturgy, doctrine, morality, was caused by the “renewal” ….. -Peter Kwasnieski

Another quote, this time from The Catholic Gentleman:

My heart is broken. Today, we lost one of the most beautiful churches in the world. For 800 years in stood as a transcendent reminder of God’s presence among men. Built to house priceless works of art, holy relics, and above all the sacraments, it was made by a world that no longer exists, the world of Christendom in which the holy mysteries of faith permeated everything.

As I watched the images of one of the great landmarks of Christian Europe burning to the ground, I could not help but see a tragic metaphor for the Western church today. We are heirs to so much beauty, so much truth, so much faith. And what have we done? We have squandered it, rejected it, and collectively shaken our fist in God’s face, through bloody revolution and even more subtly through apathy. Rather than setting our eyes on heaven, like the great Gothic arches and rose windows invited us to do, we attempted to drag God down to us, to make him in our own image. We wanted him to accommodate our whims, our appetites, our sins. Plagued by horrific abuses, worldliness, and compromises, the church in the West, despite our veneer of respectability, is very much on fire. We have left our first love (Rev. 2:4), and we are reaping the tragic consequences. – Sam Guzman


I sent these words to my daughters and daughter-in-law as we were watching the fire unfold. Some of us were in tears, we all were heavy of heart.

My daughter-in-law wrote back….

A Message of Hope:

One of the reporters just gave an account of several horrible historical things like the Revolution and what this church has withstood over the ages and has SURVIVED!! He said, “Out of the ashes she will rise and RISE she will!” The power of our Christian faith will endure all. Have hope! Now if that isn’t inspiring,, I DONT KNOW WHAT IS!!!! That actually brought the tears on…

And it brought to mind….


This is what we have been working on throughout the years as we have seen the destruction of our Faith….the watering down of all the Church has stood for since Christ founded it.

We are rebuilding, from the inside out!

This is what we focus on here….learning about the Faith, the sacramentals, the saints, how to live the liturgy within the home and the significance of our relationships in rebuilding Catholic culture.

These things need to be taught and passed on because so much has been lost. These are the true treasures of the Church that we hold in our hearts and that we can live out in our everyday lives.

We are rebuilding Catholic Civilization from within…we parents, teachers, laborers, single men and women. We are renewing our Faith by educating ourselves on what has always been important as Catholics….what our Faith is truly about….And how we can live this out each day…in our families, our schools, our work places, our community.

We are heirs to so much beauty, so much truth, so much faith. We must not squander it.

Yes, Notre Dame will be rebuilt. But the real icon of our Faith is in us. And we have been rebuilding and will continue to rebuild. The Faith, our Catholic culture will come back but it is up to us.

This life is very short. Let us do what we can, with charity and zeal, to rebuild our beloved Catholic Faith!

The awesome sight within Notre Dame after the fire…



Questions/My Answers & A Gallery

I have had some ladies ask me questions that I have not had the time to answer. So I thought I would take this time to answer them here. Please forgive me for not getting right back to some of the questions. There are too many things to do and not enough time.


I would like to ask for advice…. because my family also believes that daughters stay at home until marriage. Would postponing a career still be wise if you’re still single after your twenties, yet feel that God is not calling you to religious life? Also, what if you are the youngest or one of few siblings, how would you keep yourself busy at home without young brothers and sisters?


I think one question to ask is…Does your daughter WANT a career instead of marriage? When you say a career, do you mean the time and money put into a college degree in order to pursue a particular field? Or do you mean a job for “something to do” or to earn some income until she finds Mr. Right?

We encourage our girls to find many things to keep them busy….in a more organic atmosphere. Helping the parish, volunteering (or being paid) at our little school, working for their siblings with the nieces and nephews all fall into the category of “organic”. They have also had jobs in our town close by, and this is a good chance for them to learn responsibility and how to handle the world…mind you, we are picky where they work. Once they get of age, though, this is their decision, but hopefully they will listen to our advice.

I do believe it is important, if they have a job, that they still live at home. They need our support….and I don’t think it is a valuable thing to live on their own (or with a friend) unless needed….(and there may be times when it is.) Too much independence is not necessarily a good thing. The world and its maxims pull and pull….

So back to your question…no, I don’t think college and a career are an answer to filling in time. There are so many fulfilling things that can help a young lady grow…spiritually and mentally….that she does not have to seek her fulfillment in a “career”.

As far as keeping busy at home….your daughter can learn a craft….and sell her wares. This is always exciting (well, not all the time…but when it’s not, then it’s called “character-building”). But to make something beautiful is therapy…and to sell it is satisfying!

Every girl has skills and talents that can be tapped into in order to fulfill her own life and bring joy to others. This must be cultivated! And then pray that the flowering of her vocation comes to fruition!

Charity is huge for the fulfillment of a young lady still at home. If she makes herself busy at the service for others, her inner happiness will grow. In turn, she will “turn heads” and Mr. Right may be just around the corner!

A beautiful balance of prayer, outside activity (whatever it may be…going to a community function, babysitting or cleaning house for someone, etc.), home chores, self-improvement (books, online classes, learning home-skills), and a fulfilling craft can fill up each day. When offered to God in the morning, it will serve her tremendously better than seeking a career.

On a side note – Yes, we need good nurses and good teachers. If your daughter wishes to pursue these noble careers, she should also be ready to leave it aside to raise her own children, should she get married.

Here’s a post to peruse that I wrote a while back.

If You Want to Find the Right Person…..You Must BE the Right Person



You mentioned in your second point (in the post, Raising Girls) that if the kids ever said no or struck you they would be swiftly punished. Can you elaborate on that?


I am not against spanking used with discretion, balance and without anger. So…if my child said no to me or struck me they could see, first off, through my expression, that I was horrified…this was no little thing, it is not acceptable, I am your mom and you DO NOT step over the line!

Then I would spank their hand or their leg. Nothing terrible. If they began to cry and kept it up, they were sent to the office (right off the kitchen) to calm down. When they were done, they could come out. For the most part, this lasted 1 – 5 minutes. I was always checking on them….and never left them in there too long…though I found that generally wasn’t a problem.

Consistency is important. I know there are strong-willed children out there that are difficult. Keep it up….your own consistency will pay off.

Remember….this consistency is not all about spanking.

There are other areas to be consistent. Are you letting them get away with being controlling and pushy throughout each day? If you have a child that gets very angry when he doesn’t get his way, take away the object that is desired….or some other consequence. This won’t be perfect with so many littles but keep trying. (Believe me, my consistency wasn’t perfect!)

It is important, too, that you are surrounding them with joy and love in between times. Then they won’t want to break friendship with you and will want to get over the “bump” in order to have that mutual bond. This doesn’t mean you have to be continually saying encouraging things, doing stuff with them, etc.. No. Just a general atmosphere of love and joy. Not easy. Not perfect. But something to strive for.

Pray for guidance from the Holy Ghost…and strength from Our Lady who sees it all.


In your post of Raising Daughters you did not mention about boys. Any tips?


Boys need men. When my boys were able to help their dad on his construction work, they were encouraged to work with him, in between schooling. In my estimation, the work becomes more important. Sitting in a desk for long periods of time as the boys hit puberty is not necessarily bad but they had better be wearing off some of that testosterone with some good, sweaty, self-fulfilling work!

Mom oftentimes has to take second fiddle as the boys learn to work. In other words, we begin to encourage them to take flight (in controlled circumstances) and don’t get personally offended when the men are their idols. They still love us, but they are learning to be men. And we have to let go of that control that we used to have, to a certain extent. Not that they don’t have to listen to us and do their daily duties, but it may become harder for them to listen to Mom. Insist on it, but don’t think that isn’t normal.

Encourage them in their hobbies…even if it means a mess. Oh boy! How many times have my boys made a mess in the yard working on something! It was irritating…but oh! so valuable!

Don’t let them spend time in their rooms besides sleeping and getting dressed. Technology? Well….pretty much nil! Boys are better off without it…unless highly monitored. Right now, my Angelo is working on painting a picture on the counter….watching a Bob Ross Youtube. But he is right here where we can see everything. He looks for airsoft guns on Amazon….but right in front of us. Never let them have at it with technology!

The hardest thing for me with my boys was letting go. As a homeschooling mom I had much control. With the girls, they still stuck pretty close by and listened, for the most part. The boys were much more independent and it was hard. Our oldest son was pretty much on his own by 17 years old and was building a wall for the monks in Wyoming by 18. He met his future wife there and ….well, that was it! Ouch! but it is what we have raised them, for, right?

So, my point in this is, encourage healthy and wholesome independence….not without respect for Mom and Dad, but just knowing that, when done the right way, it is a very good thing!

I know there is much more….purity (which is huge for a boy), work ethic, etc. It would make a long post and I am hoping that you are tuned in to this website because I do have lots of posts on this type of stuff. Look in the different categories (especially parenting) or put it in the search bar.

And now for the gallery that I wanted to put before you so you can see some progress in the Lenten Activities (and other stuff)….


Holy Week – Maria Von Trapp


According to an old tradition, the first three days of Holy Week– Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday–are dedicated to spring cleaning. In the days before the invention of the vacuum cleaner, this was a spectacular undertaking: sofas, easy chairs, and all mattresses would be carried out of the house and beaten mercilessly with a “Teppichpracker” (carpet-beater).

Walls were dusted, curtains were changed–a thorough domestic upheaval. There is little time for cooking, and meals are made of leftovers.

By Wednesday night the house looks spick and span. And now the great “Feierabend” begins. “Feierabend” is an untranslatable word. It really means vigil–evening before a feast, the evening before Sunday, when work ceases earlier than on any other weekday in order to allow time to get into the mood to celebrate.

“Feier” means “to celebrate,” “Abend” means “evening.”

From now on until the Tuesday after Easter no unnecessary work will be done on our place. These days are set aside for Our Lord. On Wednesday, with all the satisfaction of having set our house at peace, and after the dishes of a simple early supper are finished, we go down to the village church in Stowe for the first Tenebrae service.

In the sanctuary, a large wrought-iron triangular candlestick is put up, with fifteen dark candles. We take our places in the choir, and the solemn chanting of matins and lauds begins.

This is the first part of the Divine Office, which has been recited daily around the world by all priests and many religious since the early times of the Church.

In the cathedrals and many monasteries it is chanted in common. For the last days of Holy Week, it is performed in public, so to speak–not only in cathedral churches, but in any church, so that the faithful may take part in it.

We always consider this the greatest honor for us, the singing family, the greatest reward for all the trouble that goes along with life in public, that we can sing for all the Divine Offices in church.

Matins has three nocturnes, each one consisting of three psalms with their antiphons and three lessons. The first nocturne is always the most solemn one. We sing all the psalms on their respective “tonus”. We sing the antiphons, some in Gregorian chant, some from the compositions of the old masters such as Palestrina, Lassus, Vittorio.

The lessons were sung last year by Father Wasner, Werner, and Johannes.

In the second and third nocturne we only recite the psalms in “recto tono” in order not to make it too long. Some of the antiphons and all of the lessons, however, are sung.

After each psalm the altar boy extinguishes a candle, reminding us of how one Apostle after the other left Our Lord. Matins is followed by lauds, consisting of five psalms and antiphons which we recite. At the end of lauds there is only one candle left–the symbol of Our Lord all by Himself crying out, “Where are you, O My people!” And we, in the name of all the people, recite now the “Miserere,” the famous penitential psalm, while the altar boy is carrying the last candle behind the altar and the church is now in complete darkness.

At the end of the “Miserere” we all make a banging noise with the breviary books. This custom is quite ancient. It is supposed to indicate the earthquake at the moment of the Resurrection. After this noise, the altar boy emerges from behind the altar with the burning Christ-candle and puts it back on the candlestick. This is a ray of hope anticipating the glorious Easter night. (In Austria the Tenebrae service is called “Pumpernette,” or “noisy matins.”)

The congregation is following closely with booklets in which the whole service, which we sing in Latin, is given in English. This is the most moving evening service of the whole year. When we sing “Tenebrae factae sunt,” an awesome silence falls upon the whole church, and when we sing the famous “Improperia `Popule meus'” by Palestrina we all are moved to the depths.

Is there anything more heartrending than to listen to the outcry of the anxious Redeemer: “My people, what have I done to thee, or in what have I grieved thee, answer Me. What more ought I to do for thee that I have not done?”

On the morning of Holy Thursday, the Church in her service tries most movingly to combine the celebration of the two great events she wants to commemorate “Who lives in memory of Him,” Our Lord had said on the first Holy Thursday when He gave Himself to us in the Holy Eucharist; and, “Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me. Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”

This cry He uttered only a few hours later. Therefore, as the Solemn Mass begins, the festive strains of the organ accompany the chant of the Introit and Kyrie, and when the priest intones the Gloria, all the bells on the steeple, as well as in the church, ring together once more for the last time because, right afterwards, Holy Church, as the Bride of Christ, goes into mourning as she accompanies the Bridegroom through His hours of unspeakable suffering. The organ remains silent when she reminds the faithful in the Gradual: “Christ became obedient unto us to death, even unto the death of the Cross….”

The Gospel of this day tells of the lesson Jesus gave us in brotherly love and humility as He first washed the feet of His disciples, afterwards saying: “Know you what I have done to you? You call me Master, and Lord; and you say well, for so I am. If then I being your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another’s feet.

For I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so you do also.” Therefore, in all cathedrals and abbey churches the bishops and abbots go down on their knees on this day after Holy Mass and wash the feet of the twelve oldest members of their communities.

It is wonderful that in our days more and more parishes are adopting this beautiful custom, which brings home to us better than the most eloquent sermon that we should remember this word of Our Lord “For I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so you do also,” which should become increasingly the watchword in our daily life.

This is what the Church wants us to take home with us on that day the attitude of washing one another’s feet; and, because we Catholics have not awakened to this fact, we are rightly to be blamed for all wrong and injustice and wars going on in the world!

As Good Friday has no Mass of its own, but only the “Mass of the Pre-Sanctified,” an extra big host was consecrated by the priest during Mass on Holy Thursday, which is put into a chalice and covered up with a white cloth. This chalice is now incensed immediately after Mass and carried in solemn procession to the “Altar of Repose,” while the “Pange Lingua” is chanted solemnly.

This repository should remind us of the prison in which Our Lord was kept that terrible night from Thursday to Friday. Unlike that first night, where He was all alone after all the Apostles had fled, the faithful now take turns in keeping watch.

There is an old legend circulating in the old country, still fervently believed by the children, that all the bells fly to Rome on Holy Thursday, where the Holy Father blesses them; they return in time for the Gloria on Holy Saturday.

Another custom still alive in the villages throughout Austria is this: As the bell cannot be rung for the Angelus on these three days, the altar boys man their outdoor “Ratschen” (a kind of rattle looking like a toy wheelbarrow, whose one wheel grinds out deafening noise) and race through the streets, stopping at certain previously designated corners, lifting up their “Ratschen” and chanting in chorus:

Wir ratschen, ratschen zum englischen Gruss,

Den jeder katholische Christ beten muss.

(We remind you by this noise of the Angelus,

Of a prayer to be said by every faithful Christian.)

Needless to say, many a little boy’s heart waits eagerly for these three holy days. While he might be too young to understand the great thoughts of Holy Week, he certainly is wide awake to his own responsibility of reminding his fellow-men, “Time to pray!”

My son Werner is living with his family just a little way down the road. When his little boys, Martin and Bernhard, are big enough to shoulder the responsibility, their father will make them such an old-world “Ratschen” and their mother will teach them the rhyme going with it.

In the house also, the bells have to be silent. The bell rung for the meals or for family devotions is replaced by a hand clapper worked by the youngest member of the family, who announces solemnly from door to door that lunch is ready.

Holy Thursday has a menu all its own. For the noon meal we have the traditional spring herb soup (Siebenkraeutersuppe).

Spring Herb Soup





Leaf nettle

The mixture of the above herbs should total about 7 ounces. Whether bought at the market or picked, they should be washed well. Steam in butter with finely chopped onions and parsley. Press through a sieve into a flour soup and let it boil. You may put in one or two egg yolks, one to two tablespoons of cream, or 1/4 cup milk. You also may use sour cream.

Afterwards there is the traditional spinach with fried eggs. In Austria, Holy Thursday is called “Gruendonnerstag” (Green Thursday). Many people think that the word “gruen” stands for the color, but this is not so. It derives from the ancient German word “greinen,” meaning “to cry or moan.” Nevertheless, “Gruendonnerstag” will have its green lunch.

The evening of Holy Thursday finds us in our Sunday best around the dining-room table. Standing, we listen to the Gospel describing the happenings in the Upper Room. On the table is a bowl with “bitter herbs” (parsley, chives, and celery greens), another bowl with a sauce the Orthodox Jews use when celebrating their Pasch, and plates with unleavened bread (matzos can be obtained from any Jewish delicatessen store, but can also be made at home).

Unleavened Bread

1-1/2 cups flour              1 egg, slightly beaten

1/4 tsp. salt                 1/2 cup butter

1/3 cup warm water

Mix salt, flour, and egg (and butter). Add the water, mix dough quickly with a knife, then knead on board, stretching it up and down to make it elastic until it leaves the board clean. Toss on a small, well-floured board. Cover with a hot bowl and keep warm 1/2 hour or longer. Then cut into squares of desired size and bake in 350-degree oven until done.

Then comes the feast-day meal of a yearling lamb roasted, eaten with these bitter herbs and the traditional sauce. Each time we dip the herbs in the sauce, we remember Our Lord answering sadly the question of the Apostles as to who was the traitor: “He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, he shall betray me.”

Afterwards the table is cleared and in front of Father Wasner’s place is put a tray filled with wine glasses and a silver plate with unleavened bread. While breaking up portions of bread, he blesses the bread and wine individually and hands it to each one around the table and we drink and eat, remembering Our Lord, Who must have celebrated such a “love feast” many times with His Apostles.

This was the custom in His days; just as we in our time will give a party on the occasion of the departure of a member of the family or a good friend, the people in the time of Christ used to clear the table after a good meal and bring some special wine and bread, and in the “breaking of the bread” they would signify their love for the departing one.

The first Christians took over this custom, and after having celebrated the Eucharist together, they would assemble in a home for an “agape,” the Greek word for “love feast.” To share bread and wine together in this fashion therefore, was not in itself startling to the Apostles, but the occasion was memorable on this first Holy Thursday because it was Our Lord’s own great farewell.

As we thus celebrate the breaking of the bread around our table at home, we keep thinking of the words He had said immediately before: “A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you….”

Every Holy Thursday night spent like this knits a family closer together, “careful to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, one body and one Spirit…one Lord, one faith…” as St. Paul wrote to the Ephesians.


“Who shall blame a child whose soul turns eagerly to the noise and distraction of worldliness, if his parents have failed to show him that love and peace and beauty are found only in God?” – Mary Reed Newland, (afflink)


What happened to Veronica’s veil was simply an outward expression of what happened in Veronica’s soul. Are we “Veronica’s” in our everyday life? Do we seek to serve, to encourage, to listen….?


Coloring pages for Holy Week….




m of grace

Catholic Young Lady’s Maglet (Magazine/Booklet)!! Enjoy articles about friendship, courting, purity, confession, the single life, vocations, etc. Solid, Catholic advice…. A truly lovely book for that young and not-so-young single lady in your life! Available here.









The Black Sheep – Plain Talks on Marriage

by Rev. Fulgence Meyer, 1924, Plain Talks on Marriage

Lifeless Idols

There are parents who in regard to their children are very delinquent in the necessary vigilance. They are like the idols mentioned in the Bible: “They have mouths and speak not; they have eyes and see not; they have ears and hear not; they have noses and smell not; they have hands and feel not; they have feet and walk not” (Ps. 113, 6, 6, 7).

Their children practically do as they please, without let or hindrance of their parents. They go where and with whom they like. They stay out as long as they choose. They read whatever they fancy.

When, then, they become involved in some scandal, say the son or daughter becomes an unwedded father or mother, the parents throw up their hands in horror. They grow terribly indignant, and exclaim that they cannot understand why such a disgrace should ever have befallen their family.

But often they are more guilty than the child. They were mature in years and had the experience of life; had they watched properly and prudently over their children, their going and coming, and had they used kindness and firmness upon them according to their needs, the lapse would likely have been avoided. After it has taken place it is too late to wax indignant.

When the girl is in dire distress, and faces ostracism and disdain on the part of the cold and cruel world, and that from many apparently respectable people who in their private lives may be immensely worse than she has been, it is not the time for her parents to increase her mental tortures by apathy and severity, and thus perhaps to drive her to a worse crime than her first offense, namely to abortion and, possibly, suicide.

But then it is the part of sensible and conscientious parents to take her back to their hearts in warm and generous sympathy, forgiveness and love, and to tender her in her delicate condition every protection and assistance.

The Black Sheep

Of course, if without any recourse to sinful practices the matter can be kept secret, it must be done for the girl’s and the family’s sake. If it cannot be concealed, the girl and the family should bear the consequent disgrace with humble patience and resignation to God’s providence, and in the spirit of compunction and atonement for sin.

There are many worse sins done in public and in private, which the world does not visit with its scorn and excommunication, but which are nevertheless grosser and more damnable in the sight of God.

Whilst the parents are often as much or more at fault than the child that goes wrong, it must yet be admitted that sometimes the best parents, in spite of all their good efforts in the interest of their children’s education, are afflicted with a wayward child that brings shame upon the family and overwhelms the hearts of the parents with bitterness.

This is one of the mysteries of the inscrutable providence of God, which it is given us devotedly to adore, but never to fathom in this life.

Still it is good for all parents to remember that eternal vigilance is the price they are asked to pay for the welfare and felicity of their children.

In addition to this it is consoling for good parents of bad children to reflect that, even as the winter wheat that is covered with snow seems hopelessly dead and gone, but soon comes to view again under the sun’s glow, so, too, a boy or a girl that has grown bad, and appears to be desperately lost to virtue and to God, is of a sudden touched by God’s grace and the warmth of the parents’ love, and rises and thrives again unto goodness and holiness of life.

“I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament. There you will find romance, glory, honor, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves upon earth.” — John Ronald Reuel Tolkien

Photo: Solemn Mass of Exposition for the Forty Hours’ Devotion on March 12, 2013 at the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in London.

Photo credit: Charles Cole

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The Four Points of Prayer – A Little Mission Talk

For Throwback Thursday….

We went to a mission talk last week. It was on prayer and, even though I struggled to stay awake, I actually remembered the four points of prayer that Father talked about! 🙂

It was a short mission talk ….shorter than any mission talk I have ever attended…(and I still fought to stay awake…yipes!) …yet it touched me and so I thought I would share the four points with you, mixed with a little of my own thoughts.

IMG_3856The first point is confidence. We must pray with confidence!

God is our Father….why do we pray with hesitancy, expecting NOT to have our prayers answered? Confidence pleases Our Lord very much! This was a blessing for me to hear. Most of the time, when I pray, I don’t have the confidence that would be pleasing to Him. So I have revved it up and am working on really EXPECTING God to answer my prayers!

I told Vincent about the talk (he was working late, so he couldn’t attend) and we especially talked about the confidence part.

The next evening he told me he went to Mass that morning and prayed WITH MUCH CONFIDENCE for some financial stress to be relieved. By the end of the day he was quite astounded at the way God answered him so quickly!

So….let’s pray knowing that God will answer our prayers! We’re not always sure how, or what His timing will be, but He WILL answer them. Something so basic and yet we seem to forget it, don’t we?

The second point is Urgency.

This really spoke to me.  When we think of something to pray for, let us not put it off and think, well I will include that in our rosary this evening (which is a good thing, too) or I will remember it in my night prayers.

NO! Pray for it that second. Send those little prayers up to God like little shooting darts of loving petitions!

I thought this was awesome as there are SO many things and people to pray for, isn’t there? We can do it the instant we think of it and God listens to each and every one of those prayers! Wonderful!

The third point is Simplicity.

We don’t have to have elaborate prayers. God wants our prayers to be from the heart.

Those little heartfelt prayers of our own are dear to Our Lord.  And those potent and short ejaculations, like…… Jesus I trust in Thee…. Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like unto Thine….Sweet Heart of Mary, be my Love….. Sweet Heart of Jesus, be my Salvation…are very powerful!

The fourth point is perseverance.

Oh my! There are certain things in my life…..loved ones, especially…. that I have been praying about for years. A couple of the situations have not turned out well. Do we get discouraged? Well….yes. Is that right and good? No!

God, in His mercy, answers every prayer. Even though, with human eyes, things don’t look like they have turned out well, or our prayers seem like they have not been answered, we must keep praying.

This was good for me to hear. I know it in my head. I had to hear it again to get it back in my heart.

Confidence, Urgency, Simplicity and Perseverance! So simple, so profound!

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Coloring pages for your children…..



quote for the day5

By the design of nature, a father leans toward justice and severity; the mother toward mercy and leniency. Both these shadings of authority are needed for the rounded development of the child. Children need to see the father and mother working together, complementing each other, in bringing them up. Above all, it is important that they never be given grounds for “playing” their father and mother against each other. – Fr. Donald Miller, C.SS.R., 1950’s


book suggestions

Within these works, St. Alphonsus stresses the importance of the inner life; the ease with which we can converse with God; on how the eternal truths are revealed to us; the absolute necessity of prayer, and how all is eventually lost without prayer. He directs us as to how to talk with God; explains how God answers us; how God listens to the prayers of everyone, and shows us how to continually have God’s Presence with us throughout our day…

The Little Flower Prayerbook is a vintage manual of prayers combined with a treasury of St. Therese\’s spiritual writings that showcases the wisdom and contemplation she achieved in her short lifetime.

Originally published in 1926 A Carmelite Manual of Prayers is an introduction to the time-honored Carmelite prayers and devotions that St. Therese herself practiced during her lifetime.

Features Include: Morning and Evening Prayers, Acts of Faith, Daily Prayers Devotions for Confession and Benediction Extraordinary Form of the Mass Devout Exercises for Every Day of the Week Novena to Our Lady of Mount Carmel Scapular Devotions Spiritual Writings of St. Therese And so much more . . .

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High School and Secret Company-Keeping – 1955, Fr. Donald Miller, C.SS.R.


Too Young to Keep Company?


I am 14 years old, a sophomore in high school, and I have a boy friend who is 16. We go out together twice a week, sometimes more often. My mother tells me I’m too young to be keeping company like that, but all the kids are doing it. I can’t see that there is anything wrong with it. Is there?


Our answer to the above question must be directed chiefly to 14, 15, and 16 year-old high school girls who have not yet gone in for company keeping. (There are many such, despite our correspondent’s statement about “all the kids.”)

It is our sad experience that there is little use in talking to very young girls who already have their “steady” boy friends. Continue reading

Show Your Child How Nature Reveals God

Spring! What a beautiful time of the year to teach our children about Mother Nature and its workings in relationship to the Supernatural….

Illustration by Marcel Marlier (1930, Belgian)

by Mary Reed Newland, How to Raise Good Catholic Children

Sky, trees, sun, all of nature was created by God and serves Him perfectly, giving Him great glory. But nature study by itself teaches only an assortment of interesting facts. It can teach much more, if we would use it to teach as our Lord did and help our children to see the world as proof of God and His greatness and generosity.

For instance, one time our Lord said: Consider the ravens, for they sow not, neither do they reap, neither have they storehouse nor barn, and God feedeth them. How much are you more valuable than they!

He was talking to grown-ups at the time, telling them to be so detached that the sight of a flock of crows would remind them to trust their Father in Heaven. Continue reading

Breathing Life into Your Home

by Lisa Jacobson, Marriage Wisdom for Her

A wise woman breathes life into her home by choosing cheerful words over complaining ones.

It all started with a sigh. A sigh so natural to me that I never noticed it escaping my lips. A long heavy sigh. I was washing vegetables for the dinner salad. Celery, peppers, and carrots. The typical evening prep. Feeling behind and burdened by my day.

That’s when my husband walked into the room and asked, “Hey babe, how was today?” And then, “Why the big sigh?” He asked and so I answered.

And it went something like this: “The bickering kids, the avalanche of housework, the unanswered emails, the half-broken appliances, the errands that took longer than they should have, and the three medical bills that arrived in the mail. . . .” A long list of complaints, but nothing special. All the usual. Continue reading