Keeping the House – The Gentle Art of Homemaking, 1894, Annie S. Swan

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This is a gentle reminder to all mothers to make sure we are teaching our girls the basics of domesticity. It is also a nudge to young, single women,  to roll up their sleeves and do what it takes to learn the basics of homemaking so they can step into marriage with somewhat of a knowledge of how a house is run, etc.

From Courtship and Marriage and the Gentle Art of Homemaking  by Annie S. Swan, 1894

Making the home and keeping the house are two different things, though closely allied. Having considered the graces of mind and heart which so largely contribute to the successful art of home-making, it is not less necessary that we now devote our attention to the more practical, and certainly not less important, quality of housekeeping.

Ignorance of the prosaic details of housekeeping is the primary cause of much of the domestic worry and discomfort that exist, to say nothing of the more serious discords that may arise from such a defect in the fitness of the woman supposed to be the homemaker.

For such ignorance, or lack of fitness, to use a milder term, there does not appear to me to be any excuse; it is so needless, so often willful.

Some blame careless, indifferent mothers, who do not seem to have profited by their own experience, but allow their daughters to grow up in idleness, and launch them on the sea of matrimony with a very faint idea of what is required of them in their new sphere.

It is very reprehensible conduct on the part of such mothers, and if in a short time the bright sky of their daughters’ happiness begins to cloud a little, they need not wonder or feel aggrieved.

A man is quite justified in expecting and exacting a moderate degree of comfort at least in his own house, and if it is not forthcoming may be forgiven a complaint.

He is to be pitied, but his unhappy wife much more deserves our pity, since she finds herself amid a sea of troubles, at the mercy of her servants, if she possesses them; and if moderate circumstances necessitate the performance of the bulk of household duties, then her predicament is melancholy indeed.

To revert again to our Angelina and Edwin of the comic papers, we have the threadbare jokes at the expense of the new husband subjected to the ordeal of Angelina’s awful cooking.

At first he is forbearing and encouraging; but in the end, when no improvement is visible, the honeymoon begins to wane much more rapidly than either anticipated.

Edwin becomes sulky, discontented, and complaining; Angelina tearful or indignant, as her temperament dictates, but equally and miserably helpless. The chances are that time will not improve but rather aggravate her troubles, especially if the cares of motherhood be added to those of wifehood, which she finds quite enough for her capacities.

True, some women have a clever knack of adapting themselves readily to every circumstance, and pick up knowledge with amazing rapidity.

If they are by nature housewifely women, they will triumph over the faults of their early training, and after sundry mistakes and a good deal of unnecessary expenditure may develop into fairly competent housewives.

But it is a dangerous and trying experiment, which ought not to be made, because there is absolutely no need for it.

It is the duty of every mother who has daughters entrusted to her care to begin early to train them in domestic work. A Wise woman will take care to show her young daughters, as time and opportunity offer, every secret contained in the domestic répertoire.

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“When the results of life are all gathered up—it will probably be seen that the things in us which have made the deepest and most lasting impressions in our homes and upon our children—have not been the things we did with purpose and intention, planning to produce a certain effect—but the things we did when we were not thinking of training or influencing or affecting any other life!” -J.R. Miller

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Sharing Our Creativity

Being creative is something that we love to do here!

We all have some sort of creativity within us. Oftentimes it lays dormant because of busy lifestyles, lack of ambition, finances, etc.

This post is meant to encourage you to pick up that needle, that paintbrush, pick that bouquet for the middle of your table, get your camera and go out in nature to take a photo, etc. These things bring joy to the one who is creating and joy to the recipients! It doesn’t have to take a degree, lots of money or tons of time.

I think it is very important to bring back to life the creativity that God has given us! Don’t let your lifestyle get so busy that you don’t squeak in a little something, just a moment or two where you can let those creative juices flow! It is like therapy to a weary soul!

These past few months we have done some creating around here. I love the beauty of such innovative things and so…. I take pictures!!

Some of my girls are not creative in the way you would think of creativity. I tell you this because there are many ways to express ourselves….baking, a lovely dinner, a beautiful garden, etc. It’s not all about a needle and some yarn….Find your niche and begin your innovative path!

Here’s a picture of me with all of my girls. They are all so unique and very special! They have creative streaks, every one of them, expressing  them in different ways. I don’t have pictures of each one’s “streaks” but I have included some of them here.

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You are familiar with Virginia (far left) and her lovely masterpieces. She is like King Midas….everything she touches turns into something beautiful! Here are some of her latest creations:

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Just the other day I took a picture of her mantle…bursting with Creativity!

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And here are some sweet handmade outfits:

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A wreath and a lampshade for the newlyweds (her brother and new sister-in-law):

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Theresa, third from the left, has her own type of creativity.  She loves to bake and makes beautiful cakes for others. Here is her sourdough bread. Most of us struggle to get the sourdough right, she gets it right every time!IMG_3186

Her little family just moved and she has decorated her home and is preparing her flower beds….

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IMG_3225 IMG_3221 IMG_3224IMG_3194 Rosie (4th from the right in the picture) is the landscaper around here and she does a beautiful job! Here she is working away in the rain.

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A picture of her in the flowers and a lovely bouquet!

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Hannah (2nd from the left) loves to sing (she has a lovely voice) and she bakes some beautiful bread!

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Margy (2nd from the right) loves to paint and crochet! Here are some of her latest projects:

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Jeanette (3rd from the left) does some beautiful crocheting and kanzashi flowers! She and Virginia made the fascinators for a friend’s wedding coming up this weekend.

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I have been busy, too. Here is my messy end of the table. I clear it off about once a week and apologize for it the rest of the week. (My girls like a clean table).😛

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I tackled a big project this winter, after Christmas. I crocheted a baptismal gown for Jeanette’s upcoming baby.  I found it hard to stick to it but I kept plowing away at it. I carried it wherever I went so I could “stitch a few” on the go.

 

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I usually have a rosary in the making, too. Here are some of my new rosaries at http://www.meadowsofgrace.com:

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Oh and I forgot Margy’s other talent…..she is very creative when it comes to making people feel  special:

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And last but not least, here is Gemma’s (far right in the photo) poem she wrote:

If I were president I would say,

“Do good always and please obey.”

I would stop abortions and Planned Parenthood;

So our future would look bright, and hopefully good.

Yes, if I were elected President Gemma,

I would turn things around with no dilemma.

So you watch out, it might happen one day!

When I’m elected president all the people will say,

“Oh no! There’s a darn VanderPutten in the White House!

I better sneak out of America as quiet as a mouse.”

But I’d catch them by the tail, and tell them what is right.

I’m gonna turn this country ’round, without one bad person in sight!

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Gardens are places of life, growth, rebirth. Working with plants and soil is a therapeutic experience to our stressed-out lives. You don’t have to have acres of land or an emerald thumb in order for gardening to be part of your life. Your garden can flourish in whatever space and time you have to give it.” – Emilie Barnes

 

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Regarding Decisions; Is it the Devil?

The devil goes about seeking whom he may devour. If he doesn’t get you by tempting you with evil, he will try to discourage you by making you over-scrupulous. Such wise words are the following from Father Jacques Philippe and St. Francis de Sales:

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From Searching for and Maintaining Peace, Fr. Jacques Philippe

It is important also to know well how to distinguish those cases where it is necessary to take time to discern and to decide, when it is a matter of decisions, for example, that affect our entire lives and the opposite cases where it would be stupid and contrary to the will of God to take too much time and too many precautions before deciding, when there is not much difference between one choice and another.

As Saint Francis de Sales said, “If it is normal to weigh gold ingots with care, when it comes to small coins it is enough to make a quick evaluation.”

The devil, who is always seeking to disturb us, makes us ask ourselves, even in making the smallest decision, whether it is truly the will of the Lord or not to do thus and who creates unease, scruples and remorse of conscience for things that really aren’t worth the trouble.

We must have a constant and profound desire to obey God. But this desire will be truly in accord with the Holy Spirit if it is accompanied by peace, interior freedom, confidence and abandonment and not if it is a source of trouble which paralyzes the conscience and prevents one from deciding freely.

It is true that the Lord can permit moments where this desire to obey Him causes real torment. There is also the case of persons who are scrupulous by temperament; this is a very painful trial from which the Lord never totally delivers them in this life.

But, it is still true that normally we must strive to advance along our path in such a fashion, in internal freedom and peace. And to know, as we have just said, that the devil tries passionately to trouble us.

He is crafty and uses the desire we have to do God’s will to disturb us. One must not let him “take advantage” of us. When one is far from God, the adversary tempts him with evil: he attracts him to bad things.

But when one is close to God, loves Him, desires nothing but to please and obey Him, the devil, while he tempts him still with evil (this is easy to recognize), he tempts him even further by good.

This means that he makes use of our desire to do good to trouble us. He does this be making us scrupulous, or by presenting us with a certain good that we must realize but which is beyond our present strength, or which is not what God asks of us – all to discourage us or to cause us to lose our peace.

He wants to convince us that we are not doing enough or that what we are doing we are not really doing for the love of God, or that the Lord is not happy with us, etc.

He would make us believe, for instance, that the Lord is asking such and such a sacrifice of us that we are incapable of doing, and this will trouble us greatly. It creates all sorts of scruples and worries in the conscience which we should purely and simply ignore, while throwing ourselves into the arms of God like small children.

When we lose peace for reasons similar to those we just mentioned, let us tell ourselves that the devil must be involved. Let’s try to regain our calm and, if we cannot do it by ourselves, we should open up to a spiritual person. The mere fact of speaking to another person will generally be enough to make our confusion disappear completely and to bring back our peace.

Regarding this spirit of freedom that should animate us in all our actions and decisions, let us conclude by listening to Saint Francis de Sales:

“Keep your heart open and always in the hands of Divine Providence, whether for great things or small, and obtain for your heart more and more the spirit of gentleness and tranquility. (Letter to Mme. de la Fléchère, 13 May 1609)

The word that I spoke to you so often was that you should not be too particular in the exercise of virtues, rather that you should pursue them briskly, openly, naively, in an old-fashioned way, with liberty, sincerity and grosso modo. It is because I fear the spirit of constraint and melancholy. It is my wish that you should have a large and open heart on the way to our Lord. (Letter to Mme, de Chantal, 1 November 1604)

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“The Holy Family lived in a plain cottage among other working people, in a village perched on a hillside. Although they did not enjoy modern conveniences, the three persons who lived there made it the happiest home that ever was. You cannot imagine any of them at any time thinking first of himself. This is the kind of home a husband likes to return to and to remain in. Mary saw to it that such was their home. She took it as her career to be a successful homemaker and mother.”
-Fr. Lawrence G. Lovasik. The Catholic Family Handbook

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Who Is Right?

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“Why hasn’t anyone told me this before?”

That is exactly what one woman said at our last Finer Femininity meeting. Our meeting was on the subject of “Who IS right?” when it comes to marital conflict.

It was very enlightening and I wish to pass some of it along to you.

Mr. Eggerichs (from Love and Respect Ministries) explains that when faced with conflict with our spouse, one person is not right and the other person wrong. No, we are just different.

We have different tastes, different preferences, different backgrounds…..we see things from different perspectives. Makes sense, right?

So why do we try so hard to prove we are right when in conflict? We are not talking moral issues here, we are talking about the day in, day out conflicts we have with living so closely, so intimately with someone…..our spouse.

He gives the example of a husband and wife discussing the decorating of the interior of the home. The man wants a big overstuffed leather couch and a display of all his hunting trophys hung in the living room. The woman wants the floral, Victorian couch and loveseat and would prefer not having the trophys in the living room, wanting to decorate with silk flower wreaths and candles. Who is right? Well…neither one is wrong. They just see things through different eyes.

Many of the conflicts we run into each day are just a matter of perspective. Knowing this, we can try to stand back and see his point of view. That doesn’t mean we have to always squelch our own desires, but we need to ask ourselves how important it is for us to push our viewpoint. Sometimes it may be important enough, often it is not.

Mr. Eggerichs also said that when a man and woman are in conflict, the man tends to stonewall (shut down) and the woman tends to move toward the man, wanting to communicate and work it out (oftentimes sounding disrespectful).

We tend to see his reaction of shutting down (I don’t want to talk about it, just drop it) as very unloving. But, and this is the part that was very interesting to learn, research has shown that when a man is in conflict and his heart rate gets to 99 beats per minute or above, he goes into “fight or flight” mode. Instinctively he knows he needs to back off or he’ll attack.

So, ladies, when your husband shuts down and doesn’t want to talk about it, he is actually doing the chivalrous thing. He does not want to fight, so he walks away from it.

“Further research at the University of Washington also revealed that of those who stonewall or pull back during marital conflict, 85% are men, whereas only 15% are women. In other words, women generally move forward to talk so they can resolve the problem. And while you don’t mean to be critical, you can come across that way at times. This criticism is interpreted by your husbands as disrespect, which escalates the conflict for him. Most men will then pull back because they believe it is the honorable thing to do. They know that if they don’t withdraw, they will likely escalate the conflict and may possibly get out of control. This withdrawal feels unloving to his wife who is more verbal and is moving towards him to connect and resolve the conflict. So although he pulls back to protect her, she labels him as unloving. No wonder things get crazy!” – Emmerson Eggerichs

This is important to remember next time a conflict comes up. A husband’s deepest felt need is for respect. During conflict, he needs to feel his wife’s respect. We need to watch our tone, looks, words and actions, that they do not come off as disrespectful, even if we are feeling it.

Does this take work? Is it hard? Is it worth it? Yes, yes and yes!

Remember this: Our Lord never said it was going to be easy. But He did say He is with us every step of the way. Our marriage is the most valuable thing we have on this earth, besides our Faith. So it is worth the struggle to overcome ourselves on a daily basis.

We don’t have to be a doormat….no. We need to be strong and dignified, but we must also give until it hurts. Wives and mothers know this, we experience it regularly.

The men have their own work to do in the relationship but we pray and leave that part up to God. We can only change ourselves.

We will turn to Our Lady and ask her, next time we get upset about something, to first decide if it is important enough to bring up to our husbands. If it is, let us ask for the grace to talk about it at the right time (not when we are tired and cranky), and then, not to come across disrespectful.

Let us ask her to help us to see his side, too, and to realize, if he does stonewall, it is not because he wants to be unloving.

Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom. pray for us!

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quote for the day2

“Like a knife, the tongue has a sharp, powerful edge that can either be used to heal or destroy. A knife in the hands of a skilled surgeon brings healing and life, but a knife in the hands of a felon brings death and destruction. Like the surgeon, we can study how to use our mouths to bring life to those around us. But it’s not easy, and the tongue is difficult to control.” – Sharon Jaynes, The Power of a Woman’s Words

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Age Differences, Approval of Divorce, Drinking on Dates, Questions for Young People – Fr. Donald Miller, C.SS.R.

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Age Differences for Marriage

Problem

“Does ten years’ difference in age make happiness in marriage difficult? I am twenty years old and I have been going with a man who is thirty.
My parents are furious about this, saying that I cannot possibly be happy with a man so much older than myself.
He wants to marry me, and I am in love with him, but I am all confused because of my parents’ attitude.
They read The Liguorian like I do, and if you answer my question in it, maybe it will do some good. I know I will surely consider what you have to say.

Solution

All other things being favorable to a happy marriage, ten years of difference in age, especially at your particular ages and when the man is the older person need not be an obstacle to your happiness in marriage.
We know of many happy marriages with as much and more difference in age between the man and the woman.

Note the condition, however, that all other things must be favorable to a happy marriage. Are you quite sure that the only objection your parents have to this marriage is based on age? I can think of some circumstances that could make the age difference important.

For example, if the man is not of your faith, I would be very slow to tell you that age makes no difference. You are young enough not to need to rush into this marriage as if it were your last chance; indeed, if the age difference were even less, I could give you many arguments against the possibility of happiness in such a marriage.

If this man is ten years older than you are, he will almost certainly be very uninclined to take seriously your religion, as you must want any prospective husband to take your religion seriously; he may even be inclined to dictate to you about religion.

If there were any evidence of such a possibility, and your parents may be able to see that better than you can, I know that any responsible Catholic would advise you against the marriage.
Another example: If your thirty year old friend has succeeded in drawing you into habits of sin, you have a very poor chance of happiness in marriage with him.

This would be a sign that he has grown to thirty without acquiring habits of virtue and self-control, and it is not likely that he will acquire these things after you marry him.

But if you are both Catholics, truly in love, and both eager to avoid sin and aware of the serious responsibilities of marriage, I would say that you may, with excellent prospects of happiness, think of marriage.
May this statement convince your parents of what their attitude should be.

Approval of Divorce Before Marriage

Problem

“I am engaged to a non-Catholic man, and the other day he mentioned (for the first time) the fact that he believes in divorce.
He said that he did not expect our marriage ever to break up, but that he was convinced that when any marriage did not turn out to be happy, the persons should be allowed to separate and made free to try marriage with someone else.

As a Catholic, I know that true marriage has to be permanent, and that there can be no such thing as a valid marriage after a divorce.
My question is: Do you think I can take a chance on marrying a man with the views expressed above?”

Solution

The chance you take in marrying such a man is very great.
As a matter of fact, if he were to apply his thought about divorce directly to your own marriage, and expressly to state that he was not entering into a permanent and indissoluble union, but into one that could be dissolved by divorce if and when he wished to have it dissolved, your very marriage would be invalid.
His very consent to marriage in that case would be vitiated.

However, if he did not expressly apply his approval of divorce to your marriage, but actually consented to take you as his wife “till death”, the marriage would be valid.
But it would still be one in which your chances of happiness and security would be very meager.
There is nothing more essential to happiness in marriage than an exclusion of even a theoretical approval of divorce.

The man who approves of divorce for unhappy marriages can, after a few years of married life, think of a hundred reasons for saying that his marriage is unhappy.
He can be attracted to a new face. He can rebel against the expense of raising his own children. He can accuse his wife of having faults he never knew of before marriage. He can get into a rage over some fancied grievance and stalk out of the house forever.

Also, a man who approves in general of divorce, will almost surely approve of other things (birth-control, for example) that are contrary to God’s laws and to the conscience of a Catholic.
My advice would, therefore, be that if you cannot succeed in changing his general attitude about divorce, you should not take a chance on marrying this man.

The natural law concerning divorce and remarriage, and concerning other crimes against marriage, is not too difficult to explain, and many non-Catholics accept the explanation and agree with it once it is given.
But if your boyfriend does not accept the explanation or refuses to agree with it, don’t take a chance with him.
It is the wife who pays most, in a marriage in which the husband has doubts about indissolubility.

On Drinking on Dates

Problem

“I go around with a group of young people (we are all in our late teens), and most of them like to take a drink.
So far I have held out against this because my mother doesn’t want me to drink.
But my boyfriend, and the other couples we go with, keep urging me to join them. They say that they don’t over-do it, and that there is no danger of my over-doing it in their company.

They tell me that if I am afraid of it, I am just the one who may become an alcoholic some day.
What do you think of drinking on dates? Most of the time they drink beer, but sometimes one of the boys brings a pint of whiskey along when we go out together.”

Solution

You could do nothing better than to continue to solve this problem for yourself on the basis of the wishes and commands of your mother.

Certainly, apart from everything else, you are right in thinking more of the importance of your mother’s wishes than of the arguments offered you by your drinking friends.
Apart from the angle of obedience, there is no doubt that it is exceedingly dangerous for teen-agers to drink on their dates.

First of all, because you are at an age when such stimulants to good feeling and a good time are least necessary.
If you acquire the habit of drinking now, when you could have such a wonderful time without it, you may find that a little later in life, when problems and responsibilities face you, you may not be able to get along without it.
It is not necessary to over-do drinking in your youth to become dependent on it. And the chances of your becoming an alcoholic are far greater if you drink in your teens than if you were to wait until you reached a greater degree of maturity.

It is also dangerous to make drinking a part of your dates because there is a definite connection between the effects of alcohol even in moderate quantities, and the relaxing of your moral convictions.
By usually going out with other couples, you are warding off some of the dangers that attend company-keeping. But you will not always go out with a group. If you drink with the group you will probably drink with your boy-friend when you are on a date alone with him.

On every date you need clear vision of good and evil and undeviating control of your will. Drink lessens both. It has been responsible for many a girl’s grief in the past.

Don’t let it hurt you, by not letting it touch you.

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“Boys and girls must be taught as tiny tots to love modesty. Even though they are too young to sin, they can and ought to be impressed with the beauty of modesty. Training in modesty is pre-eminently the function of the home, to be begun from earliest childhood.” -Archbishop Meyer of Milwaukee, Dressing With Dignity, Colleen Hammond

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The Quest of Happiness/Fraternal Charity – My Prayer Book, Fr. Lasance

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From My Prayer Book, Father Lasance

The Quest of Happiness

The human heart craves and seeks unceasingly for happiness in this life. Many find but a small measure of happiness because they lose sight of their eternal destiny — the object of their creation — which is to know God, to love Him, to serve Him, and to be happy with Him.

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself ” (Matt. xxii. 37, 39).

The whole law depends on these two commandments; so Our Lord Himself assures us. The fullest measure of happiness even here on earth is attained by harmonizing one’s conduct with the commandments of God, by doing well one’s duties to God and man; for this means the possession of a peaceful conscience, a clean heart, a sinless soul; and this is essential to happiness; hence, St. Ignatius prays: “Give me, Lord, only Thy love and Thy grace; with these I shall be rich enough; there is nothing more that I desire.”

To be in the state of grace — to have God’s love — that is essentially necessary to true happiness.

“Si Deus pro nobis, quis contra nos?” “If God be for us, who is against us?” (Rom. viii. 31.) The end of man’s creation is to glorify God. But in promoting God’s glory we are at the same time promoting our own things and makes all that is bitter sweet and savory.” – St. Teresa

The perfection of charity is attained by self-renunciation, by entire mortification, by purity of heart and total abandonment to God.

Our Lord says: “Learn of Me”; “He that followeth Me walketh not in darkness”; “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matt. viii. 34.

Father Buckler, speaking of charity, the essence of perfection, asks: “How are we to follow Christ?” And he replies: “The answer is that Our Lord’s way is the way of perfect love.

He is the divine Lover of God and of men. For the love of God and of men He became incarnate, lived on earth, taught the law of love and the life of love, suffered for love and died for love; sent down the Spirit of His love upon the Church, to be the ruling power of our lives and actions, by the charity of God poured forth into our hearts (Rom. v. 5), and left us the marvelous gift of Himself, to the end of the world, in the mystery of love on the altar, wherein He dwells as the divine Lover in the midst of those He loves — working with us, nourishing and perfecting His life of love in the souls of men. ‘Be ye followers of God,’ says St. Paul, ‘and walk in love, as most dear children’ (Eph. v. 2).”

It is by charity that we follow Our Lord in the way of perfection.

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Fraternal Charity

Our happiness depends to a great extent on our observance of the law of fraternal charity: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” and of the golden rule announced by our blessed Savior: “As you would that men should do to you, do you also to them- in like manner” {Luke vi. 31). In doing good to others we become like to Christ, of whom we read in the Gospel that “He went about doing good to all.”

“This commandment we have from God,” says the disciple, whom Jesus loved, “that he, who loveth God, loves also his brother” (1 John iv. 21). And St. Paul observes. “He, who loveth his neighbor, hath fulfilled the law” (Rem. xiii. 8).

What Shakespeare says of mercy, pertains also to charity and kindness: “It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven; it is twice blessed; it blesseth him that gives and him that takes.” We reap what we sow.

Kindness begets kindness.

Man can scarcely enjoy a sweeter satisfaction than that which results from good deeds generously performed or a kind word unselfishly spoken. “Happy is he, who has charity for everyone,” says the Blessed Egidius of Assisi; “Happy is he, who performs great services for his neighbor, yet does not trouble about receiving anything in return.”

Our deeds of disinterested charity are recorded in the Book of Life. On the great day of recompense, our blessed Savior will say: “Come, ye blessed of My Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave Me to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me to drink; was a stranger and you took Me in; naked, and you covered Me; sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me; . . . As long as you did it to one of these little children you did it to Me” (Matt. xxv. 34-36).

“In charity,” says St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi, “we must be cheerful and prompt, knowing that by serving our fellow-creatures, we serve God in His members, and that He regards a service done to our neighbor as done to Himself.”

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Vulnerability

IMG_0312This is such a lovely quote reminding us that though life hands out its hard times, even at the hands of others who are close to us, the solution is not to build formidable walls around our hearts.

No, we must forgive and keep on loving, even with the fear of knowing we may be hurt again. Of course we will. Wasn’t Our Lord? Did He stop loving?

Lord, help me to keep on loving.

“Many of us find life hard and full of pain. The world treats us meanly and roughly. We suffer wrongs and injuries. Other people’s clumsy feet tread upon our tender hearts. We must endure misfortunes, trials, and disappointments.

We cannot avoid these things, but we should not allow the harsh experiences to deaden our sensibilities, or make us stoic or sour. The true aim of living, is to keep our hearts sweet and gentle amid the hardest conditions and experiences.

If you remove the snow from the hillside in the late winter, you will find sweet flowers growing there, beneath the cold drifts, unhurt by the storm and by the snowy blankets that have covered them.

Just so, should we keep our hearts tender and sensitive beneath life’s fiercest winter blasts, and through the longest years of suffering, and even of injustice and wrong treatment. That is true, victorious living.” ~ J.R. Miller

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

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Peace in Making Decisions

Are we struggling with decisions in our lives? Does our desire to know exactly what is the right thing to do paralyze us into doing nothing? This wonderful excerpt by Father Jacques Philippe will give us peace of heart, knowing that our intentions, our good will, is sufficient to please Our Lord, even if we sometimes mess up in our decisions.

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From Searching for and Maintaining Peace, Fr. Jacques Philippe

Often we torment ourselves excessively regarding our decisions. As there is a false humility, a false compassion, we can also say that, concerning our decisions, there is sometimes that which one could call a “false obedience” to God. We would like always to be absolutely certain of doing God’s will in all of our choices and never to be mistaken. But, there is, in this attitude, something that is not exactly right for a variety of reasons.

For one thing, this desire to know what God wants sometimes hides a difficulty in enduring a situation of incertitude. We want to be released from having to decide by ourselves. But, frequently, the will of the Lord is that we do decide for ourselves, even if we are not absolutely sure that this decision would be the best.

In effect, in this capacity to decide in incertitude, in doing that which seems to us best without spending hours equivocating, there is an attitude of confidence and abandonment: “Lord, I have though about it and prayed to know Your will. I do not see it clearly, but I am not going to trouble myself any further.

I am not going to spend hours racking my brain. I am deciding such and such a thing because, all thing carefully considered, it seems to me the best thing to do. And I leave everything in Your hands. I know well that, even if I am mistaken, You will not be displeased with me, for I have acted with good intentions.

And if I have made a mistake, I know that you are able to draw good from this error. It will be for me a source of humility and I will learn something from it !”

And I remain a peace.

For another thing, we would love to be infallible, to never be wrong, but there is a lot of pride in this desire and there is also the fear of being judged by others. The one, on the contrary, who accepts peacefully the idea of being wrong from time to time and accepts that others know it manifests true humility and a true love of God.

On the other hand, let us not have a false idea of what God requires of us. God is our Father, good and compassionate, Who knows the shortcomings of His children, the limitations of our judgement.

He asks of us goodwill, the right intentions, but in no way does He demand that we would be infallible and that all of our decisions would be perfect! And additionally, if all our decisions were perfect, this would, without doubt, do us more harm that good! We would quickly take ourselves for supermen.

To conclude, the Lord loves him more who knows how to decide for himself without equivocating, even when he is uncertain, and who abandons himself with confidence to God as to the consequences, rather than the one who torments his spirit unceasingly in an effort to know what God expects of him and who never decides.

Because, there is, in the first attitude, more abandonment, confidence and therefore love, than in the second.

God loves those who make their way with freedom of spirit and who don’t “split hairs” too much over the details. Perfectionism doesn’t have much to do with sanctity.

Visit Finer Femininity on Facebook

26058e5bbdfbb2b7bb0b13780f78b20e1436662Inspire and delight your children with these lighthearted and faith-filled poems. Take a peek at Amazon here.

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

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

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T-Shirt Makeovers – A Look at Revamping T-Shirts!

A repost for your Saturday…..

I’ve introduced you to Virginia before. She’s our seamstress around here.Devin and Theresa chatau 060DSC_0071

Virginia has been delving into the art of T-Shirt makeovers! It’s pretty neat that, for pennies on the dollar, you can go to your local Goodwill,  pick out a t-shirt from the multitude hanging on the racks, and transform it into an integral and lovely part of your wardrobe!

There are  ingenious ways to use simple t-shirts that are too tight, too big, too low or just too plain! We want to share with you some links and some photos of  creative ways used to enhance your wardrobes.

Here is Gin’s Pinterest Page if you would like to follow along on her journey.

Here is a tutorial on Shirring. You will see what can be done with this technique in our picture gallery.

This is a Sizzix machine and here is a tutorial on using one. The price is variable on these machines (depending on what quality you want) so one doesn’t have to invest a ton in it. Virginia uses hers to cut shapes out of material (examples in the gallery) and she also uses it on scrapbooking paper to make some lovely flowers on top of my rosary/jewelry boxes.IMG_3637 IMG_3638

Before you look at our little gallery I have one more website to share that I just stumbled on. It is called Tea Rose Home. You may notice that her home page has interior decoration projects but stop and look at some of the side links!! This woman has some wonderful tutorials on makeovers from Thrift Store purchases…tutorials on making a ruffled t-shirt out of two simple t-shirts, a t-shirt makeover with some lovely simple flowers, a pleated pretty shirt with buttons,  a fabric flower and revamping a sweater into a “garden of flowers” cardigan! There is more so have fun with this site…I think you will get much inspiration from it!

Do you have any favorite websites to share to help us along our sewing venture? We’d love to hear about them!

The following gallery has examples of Virginia’s projects that maybe can inspire you to try some yourself. Lately I have been the lucky recipient of most of these makeovers, so my t-shirts that have been sitting too long in my drawer have come to life once again!  Click on the first picture to view gallery.

The End of Love? – Christ in the Home, Fr. Raoul Plus, S.J.

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A CERTAIN essayist makes this appalling statement: “What a sad age this is in which one makes his First Holy Communion to be through with religion, receives his bachelor’s degree to be through with studying, and marries to be through with love.”

Let us omit the first two statements from this consideration and take up the third.

Is it true that for some, marriage is the end of love? That statement can be taken in different ways.

Some think that before marriage one can play at love. Then when the senses have been dulled, one shall try to find a companion for himself. “Youth must pass,” people say condescendingly on observing the looseness of young men. There are even certain pseudo-moralists who advise young girls not to marry before “deliberately having their fling as well as the boys”–advice which unfortunately some of them do not fail to follow.

This is an odious concept of love and marriage or of preparation for it. I certainly want none of it.

Again there are those who think that love is all well and good before marriage. As for marriage itself, it is first and foremost an investment. The problem is not so much to marry someone for whom one experiences a strong attraction, but rather to realize a good business deal. It is not the person one seeks, but the name, the status, the fortune. There is nothing of love in this. No, indeed, it is all a matter of interest: a concept equally as odious as the first, equally repellent.

What the author of the statement probably meant is that before marriage, the young man and woman are all fire and flame, and perhaps for a short time after marriage.

Soon, or at least comparatively soon after marriage, they no longer speak of love. They have become two under the yoke–two bearing the necessary restraints of their united existences.

Gone is the enchantment of betrothal days or of the early days of married life. There is nothing left but the grayish prose of humdrum existence with an individual of whom one has made a god or a goddess–a person who is after all only a poor creature.

–A man, “a poor man who eats, drinks, wears shirts and drawers, and who loses his buttons,” as someone jokingly described him. “A man who will never be able to find anything in a dresser or clothes closet; who will never appreciate the cooking or the menu; who at night throws his clothes in a heap on a chair and the next morning complains that the creases in his trousers are not pressed in well enough; a man who formerly seemed like a knight, a magician, a prince charming, and whose bold gestures so commanding yet so delicate thrilled the heart and stirred one’s whole being, causing one’s imagination to crown him with the aureola of perfection,” and who now . . .

–A woman, a poor creature indeed, perpetually thirsting for caresses even at the most inappropriate times; a woman who has foolish notions, headaches, fits of humor; who manifests a flare for spending which can never resist the appeal of any show window, particularly if there is an interesting clearance sale on; a woman who wants a wardrobe capable of ruining the most industrious man, the wealthiest husband–a poor sort of woman, indeed!

Is it not because of all these things, at least partially because of them, that Our Lord wanted to make marriage a rite giving divine graces–a sacrament?

Perhaps we have exaggerated the poetry of conjugal life; let us not now exaggerate the prose of life together.

As a preparation for this prose, which is always possible and often very real even in the most successful marriages, I shall aim to sanctify myself in the practice of charity and patience.

ONE ONLY BEING

“LOVE seeks to escape through a single being from the mediocrity of all others.” This is the definition one author gives of love.

It is not a matter of reviewing all human beings with whom one comes into contact as if they were on parade, so that with methodical, rational, and cold discernment one might pick out the chosen man or woman. It is not a selection; the object of one’s desire attracts at once; it is just he or she; all the rest do not exist. As one writer put it, “Love is monotheistic.” There is no need at all of overthrowing idols; one pedestal alone stands, bearing the holy representation that the eyes feast upon and toward which the heart turns with an irresistible
impulse.

Oh, the incomprehensible power of the heart in love promptly to divinize the poor reality it has chosen! Nothing else exists for it any longer! In the play “Asmodee,” by Mauriac, the heroine Emmanuelle, who had thought of religious life until she met Harry with whom she fell deeply in love at first sight, goes so far as to declare:

“You know when I used to hear a person say of someone, “He is everything for me,” I did not know what that meant. I know now. Our pastor tells me that husbands and wives love each other in God. I can’t understand that. It seems to me that if Harry were some day to be everything for me, then there would no longer be any room in my heart or in my life for anyone, not even for God.”

Aside from this particular example of Emmanuelle, there is some truth in those words; they emphasize a well-known fact.

How many young girls during their engagement period, how many young wives in the months following upon their marriage, neglect the spiritual, overwhelmed as they are with human happiness!

Previous to that time, all their love, all the need they felt for giving themselves was directed to divine realities. Their capacity for tenderness was showered upon Jesus and Mary; it was fed in Holy Communion.

Now another object engages all their concern. They must be vigilant that their piety does not diminish. Their needs have increased; it is not the time to decrease their cultivation of holiness.

Doubtless, and above all in the case of a married woman, some spiritual exercises will not be possible; for example, daily Holy Mass and Holy Communion in certain cases will have to be sacrificed through fidelity to duty in their new state. But piety itself must not diminish as it so often does in a period of human happiness.

It is essential in the midst of marital joys, and above all in the joys preceding marriage or following immediately upon it, to strive to preserve a sense of balance and of true values.

Love of God does not operate exactly as the attraction of creatures. In the one case, it is a question of an invisible reality; in the other, of a sensible reality. This last, even though closer and more accessible, never eclipses the first. Esteem as divine what is divine, and do not knowingly divinize or, more correctly speaking, transfigure to excess a creature, no matter how rich its gifts.

Remain if possible always in truth. Realize that God alone is God, and that every created being has its limitations. Strive to make your limitations and your mediocrity as little felt as possible and generously pardon the limitations and mediocrity of your companion for life.

The earth shall never be anything but the earth; it is untimely to try to make it heaven.

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