Pitfalls in Company-Keeping

Clean Love in Courtshipby Father Lovasik

PITFALLS IN COMPANY-KEEPING

by Father Lovasik342f0dcb04aa3dbd2581ab6cd68df21a

Passionate Kissing

Remember that a kiss is a sacred symbol, a sign of love that must not be carelessly or casually granted to chance companions and casual acquaintances. A kiss may be the occasion of physical excitement. It usually arouses passions and excites appetites that are connected with sex; when it does this and the pleasure is deliberately sought and consented to, the kiss becomes not merely a vulgar thing, but a positive sin.

MORTAL SIN:

 To indulge in passionate and prolonged kissing with the intention of arousing sexual pleasure is a mortal sin by reason of the sixth and ninth commandments. Mortal sin is involved when the kiss is a near danger of committing serious sin; for instance, when the persons concerned know from experience that even modest acts generally lead to a loss of control on the part of one or both. “Soul-kissing” might better be named “soul-killing.”

VENIAL SIN:

 If sensual pleasure has arisen and there was no intention of arousing it and no danger of consenting to it when aroused.

No SIN:

 To experience the so-called “thrill,” a feeling of joy. However, such kisses can easily prove a source of danger because they prepare the way for arousing the passions.

If you are truly in love and eligible for marriage, you do not sin by manifesting your love in a modest and moderate fashion by kissing and embracing, as long as there is reasonable assurance that you and your companion will control yourselves should passion be unintentionally aroused.

And yet even then you must be moderate. A brief kiss of pure affection when meeting and in parting is proper. But when your caresses, embraces, kisses are repeated and ardent even after physical passion has been considerably aroused, there is good reason to suspect that the affection you are manifesting is conjugal, that is, that it includes the physical sphere.

This would be seriously wrong. Perhaps more than ninety per cent of the vilest sins of impurity have had their beginning in such kisses. Therefore, since your caresses and kisses, though well intentioned, may quickly arouse passion and flame into lust, the wiser and safer course is to abstain from all physical contact which might lead to immoderation. Ardent kisses should be held at a high premium. They should be so priceless that only a husband given at the foot of the Altar has the price with which to buy them. This price is not gold. It is integrity. There your natural expression of love will be part of the holy Sacrament of Matrimony. You may then enjoy the human element of the passion of love in innocence and with the blessing of God.

If you are not engaged, it is unwise for you to indulge in kissing or in similar demonstrations of intimate love. Protect yourself and the young man you love by refraining from undue familiarities; they may soon become so, if not sinful now. If you are ready to grant unmaidenly privileges to a young man you lose just that much of his respect.

He will naturally conclude that you are ready to lend your lips and affection to anybody who comes along. Sensible men want the lips that have seldom been kissed. The path that leads to the ruin of women is paved with the kisses of men.

The thing that no money could have hired them to do, that no arguments could have persuaded them to do, they have been kissed into doing.

No girl is safe who easily permits men to kiss her. The “good night” kiss is especially fraught with danger. Too easily it becomes prolonged and passionate and leads to improper familiarities. Thus a pleasant evening two people have had together can be quickly spoiled.

Instead of feeling the joy of a good conscience, with precious memories of happy hours spent together, you will both know the pain of an accusing conscience and the loss of  peace of mind.

If you value your honor and virtue, you will either forego the good night kiss altogether or else you will engage in it with the reverence and respect with which you would want your own sister to be treated in this regard. Remember that God is the third party in all your company and that His eye is on you as you part.

Do not cheapen yourself by silly, light kisses. There is one answer you can make to a man s request for cheap kissing or “necking.” Ask him if he would like his own sister to kiss any man who happened to call on her. Ask him what he would advise his sister to do if she were in your place. Ask him if he would like to think that the girl he is going to marry some day had kissed a hundred men who were mere casual acquaintances. Modest womanly reserve commands respect and admiration!

“Petting” or “Necking”

If petting or necking is done in a way that arouses sensual pleasure in one or the other, and if these pleasures are consented to, it is a mortal sin.

Close contact of young bodies is intended by nature to arouse passions and passionate desires. Should these desires lead to intimate liberties and impure touches, they are serious sins.

Those who are engaged to be married are allowed no exemption from the law of God. They may make use of the non- passionate kiss and embrace, unless this leads to grave sin or temptation.

Even if petting and necking are mild enough not to be actually an occasion of sin, they are still vulgar, common, and dangerous. Never stoop to petting and necking, for it is unworthy of a decent girl.

Such actions as holding one another’s hands, sitting on one another’s lap, kissing freely, caressing, fondling, ,embracing, and other familiarities are very dangerous.

These things arouse emotions and passions that are improper and awaken thoughts, desires, and even actions that are positively indecent.

Permitting yourself to be led into serious temptations frequently ends in a fall. You cannot be too strict in these things. Break off associating with anyone who is inclined to this cheap form of lovemaking, for lust is usually behind it.

If sin is the price of a boy’s company, you are a lucky girl if you never see him again. He does not love you.

The reason why a young man will touch a girl impurely is simply and solely because he derives a sexual pleasure from it, a pleasure that he knows is sinful. Would he permit another to do the same with his own sister?

You will hear it said, “But everyone does it.” No matter how many people do it, it still is wrong because God forbids all impure thoughts, desires, words, and actions. There are many souls in hell today who said, “But everybody does it.”

Therefore, considering the passions of men, it is wrong and sinful to indulge in petting and necking. A girl who is free and easy in her manners, who drinks and smokes with men, and listens to and tells off-color stories; a girl who permits a man to indulge in familiarities and take liberties with her is the type of girl who commands little respect. She may be the kind of girl that men like to play with, but she is not the sort of woman they want for a wife and for the mother of their children. Experience shows that this type of girl seldom marries; and when she does, she almost invariably marries a good-for-nothing.

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“Kindness is like divine grace. It bestows on men something that neither self nor nature can give them. Kindness adds sweetness to everything. It makes life’s capabilities blossom and fills them with fragrance.” – Fr. Lovasik, The Hidden Power of Kindness

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Financial Distress? There Is an Answer…. The Infant of Prague

In the following excerpt the Infant of Prague is called the Patron of Financial Distress. Yes He is…and He helps in so many other ways, too!

After 30 years of here and there wishing for a lovely statue of the Infant of Prague, hubby ran across one at an estate sale! Imagine that! And with all the colorful gowns and 2 crowns! What a find!

It is not the statue, of course, that makes this devotion possible. It is our heart’s devotion, the prayers we say to Him…AND He does especially help with finances! Who, in their married life, doesn’t need help with finances at some time or other?

Here He is watching over things for the summer on top of our covered wood stove (bottom photo is this year.)  I go to Him for many things and when there is an urgent need (and I find that those come up often in a big family) I will do the 9 hour Infant of Prague Emergency Novena.

I am including that novena at the end of this post. We have so much amazing help at our fingertips….POWERFUL help! And that is why I am sharing this with you….we all need help. And many times, it can be financial…which is a true stress!

So….turn to the Infant of Prague in your needs. And if you can find a small statue somewhere (we have a smaller, very nice one that was given to us by a friend and that we use also…pictured below), spend the money on it, get it blessed and put it in a place of honor. He will take care of you!

Quote: “The more you honor me the more I shall bless you.”

Following excerpt From https://novena.com/2017/01/06/january-novena-app-situations-financial-distress-the-infant-of-prague/

Invoked against: Financial Distress
Explanation of imagery..
Crown: Jesus is King of the World
Raised right hand: blessing
Imperial Orb: The entire world is in his hand.

Honoring the Infant of Prague is a tradition that is kept in many homes throughout the world as some believe that it guarantees financial stability and abundance. There are several novenas to the Infant of Prague, one reflecting the intensity of an emergency situation, is to be done in one day’s time, the prayer said once every hour for nine hours in a row.

Devotion to Christ as a young child dressed as a king has its roots in the Carmelite order of Spain. According to tradition, in 1555, Saint Teresa of Avila gave a statue of the Christ child, dressed in actual royal robes to a noblewoman who was marrying into an aristocratic family in Bohemia.

Taking it with her to what is now the city of Prague, her daughter, the Princess Polysena inherited it. In 1623, Princess Polysenia was widowed and chose to devote the rest of her life to charitable causes.

When she saw the need that the poverty stricken Carmelite order had, she donated the statue to them, saying, “I give you my dearest possession. As long as you venerate this image, you will not lack anything.”

The monks credited this image with the immediate upturn of their fortunes. When they were forced out of their monastery due to a war in 1631, they left the statue behind and the invading army threw it in a rubbish heap.

Within seven years the Carmelites were back in their monastery in Prague, desperately attempting to rebuild it. One monk, Father Cyril, who had a particularly strong devotion to the Divine Infant found the little wax statue among the rubble. The only damage done to the statue was its crushed hands.

It was decided that the scarce funds the community had should go to more practical things than the repair of a statue. As the monks struggled to rebuild their former home and church, Father Cyril heard the words: “Have pity on me and I will have pity on you. Give me my hands and I shall give you peace.”

After the statue was repaired, the monks again displayed it in the main church. As the city of Prague suffered an epidemic, parishioners began invoking the little statue for aid. The quick answer to their prayers brought many in the surrounding region to seek help.

Gradually, the devotion spread to many other countries.

Today, the church in Prague built to hold the statue, Our Lady of Victory, is a site of pilgrimage with visitors from all over the world paying their respects to the Divine Infant.

Nine Day Novena to the Infant of Prague

O Infant Jesus, I run to You, begging You through Your Holy Mother to save me in this need (you may name it here), for I truly and firmly believe that Your Divinity can defend me. Full of trust I hope in You to obtain Your holy grace. I love You with all my heart, I am painfully sorry for my sins and on my knees I beg You, o Little Jesus, to free me from them.

My resolution is to improve and never more to offend You. Therefore, I offer myself to You, ready to suffer everything for You and to serve You faithfully. I will love my neighbour as myself from my heart for the love of You.

O Little Jesus, I adore You, o Mighty Child, I implore You, save me in this need (you can mention it here), that I may enjoy You eternally, with Mary and Joseph see You and with all the angels adore You.
Amen

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Concentrated Attention – Fr. Narciso Irala, S.J.

A little psychology today….

Fr. Irala, S.J. was a Jesuit and a Catholic psychologist at a time when, in general, they could be trusted. In this article he talks about the importance of concentrated attention to achieve goals…temporal and spiritual. It is from the book “Mental Efficiency Without Fatigue” by Fr. Narciso Irala, S.J.

Painting by Gregory Frank Harris

CONCENTRATED ATTENTION

Our attention is concentrated when we pursue a single idea to the exclusion of others, or when the lamp of our intellect is focused on one object or on a small group of objects.

Concentration, therefore, is the reaction of our whole being to an attracting event or treasure; it is the habit of paying attention without effort; it is the following of a straight road that leads to our destination without our being led astray by attractions on the bypaths. We arrive more promptly and almost without weariness.

In like manner, he who studies a book, performs manual work or plans a business deal and becomes totally absorbed in it, forgetting himself and everything else, will obtain surprising results without lasting fatigue. Concentration brings efficiency and joy which results in maximum efficiency.

Lack of concentration brings fatigue and disgust which results in minimum efficiency.

The wear of one or more hours of perfect concentration without hurry or anxiety can be repaired by relaxing the brow and the eyes for a few minutes, by receiving conscious sensations, by performing physical exercises, etc.

One day of well-ordered mental work of this type can be amply compensated by a night of peaceful slumber. In this manner it is possible to continue for months and years with no danger of exhaustion. Since we are following nature’s own wise laws, we shall strengthen rather than destroy our mental equipment.

Nor should we think that this continued labor will result in boredom; the opposite is, in fact, true. For the unity of the concentrated mind and the resultant intellectual enrichment are sources of real satisfaction.

“Joy,” says Aristotle, “accompanies every perfect act.” The root of Napoleon’s human greatness was probably his power of concentration. When he studied a problem, he became so absorbed in it that it seemed he had nothing else to do. Having solved one problem, having made one decision, Napoleon went on to study another.

He used to say: “When I want to sleep, I close every drawer and I sleep. When I want to interrupt an affair, I close its drawer and open another one.” In this way, Napoleon managed to do mental work for sixteen hours a day. He was extraordinarily efficient because the unity of his mind gave strength and constancy to his decisions.

This power of concentrating our attention on what we study or undertake is the main, though not the only, element influencing mental ability and human greatness.

Concentration: Root of Human Greatness

The better our concentration, the greater our achievement. This truth holds a most encouraging prospect for us.

I once knew a student who possessed a remarkable gift of concentration. He was “made” for mathematics, so much so that he would begin his studies right after breakfast. Hour after hour he remained oblivious of himself and of all sound or movement around him. So absorbed was he in that deep and delightful concentration that he heard nothing, not even the bells.

When he completed studies at the University of Madrid, he emerged as the most gifted student ever to have passed through those halls. That extraordinary distinction was largely the result of his remarkable powers of concentration.

Improving the Powers of Concentration

Once concentration is appreciated as the main factor in efficiency and happiness, whatever means are suggested in the course of these pages should help to increase this power.

  1. a) by removing causes of distraction and obsession;
  2. b) arousing our interest and enthusiasm
  3. c) making use of efficacious acts of the will;
  4. d) improving the functioning of the human organism—its nerves, muscles, blood, respiration.

Stages in the Pattern of Concentration

Concentration does not develop suddenly. It is usually preceded by an initial period of ‘adjustment’ in which nerves and muscles, perhaps previously overstimulated, gradually adapt themselves to the new task, while the mind, setting aside other thoughts, penetrates ever more deeply into the present object of its attention. This is quickly executed by normal persons.

Melancholic and maniacal individuals require a longer time to delve into a new concentration. This may be because former ideas or images tend to persevere longer in them than in normal persons.

There follows a second period of `warm-up’ as a temporary state of readiness induced by activity and followed by the depth of the attention in which, after the first inertia has been overcome and the nerves and muscles have been adapted to the task, the mind really enters into the matter and becomes absorbed in it.

This abstraction from all other things and this profound consideration of the present subject may reach different degrees, and in proportion to these will be our efficiency and our joy.

Many people become deeply interested and are able to concentrate smoothly for one, two, or more hours with a single act of their will. In many others, however, attention is spasmodic or explosive, sustained by repeated impulses—perhaps because their interest does not thoroughly overcome inertia or because the will of a perfectionist is imposing an exaggerated goal.

On the other hand, children as well as inconstant, weak and sick persons do not possess such prolonged attention. They need frequently to renew their interest or acts of will.

Later on we shall explain how even normal persons should interrupt their concentration every one or two hours or more frequently if they develop any tension. Thus fatigue is avoided or at least postponed.

In the third period (saturation) attention weakens, concentration requires a greater effort, and weariness or boredom begins to emerge. It is at this moment that an interruption or a change of the object of concentration is necessary.

Unless this is done, the fourth period (fatigue) will quickly set in. During this period efficiency gradually lessens and weariness increases, together with a lack of interest, inhibition; and the annoyance caused by effort.

Practice for Improved Concentration

1. Always have a motive, a concrete, feasible goal for your work. For instance: ‘I want to enrich myself with, or to discuss the ideas of, this chapter.’ Such a desire is excellent to enforce concentration if it can be realized in one or a few hours. It will lose its efficiency, however, if you have to read for hours or days, unless that desire is reinforced through repetition.

So, make it easier by tackling one chapter or paragraph at a time. Say, “I want to discover and learn every useful thought of this chapter.” With this concrete and realizable goal, your willing will be efficient, and attention will follow.

That is what we do when, while reading a book or article, we underline any interesting information or when we make resumes of helpful paragraphs.

2. Begin courageously, even though you experience neither pleasure nor progress. Concentration will follow as spontaneously as does sleep, and without your being conscious of it or having to make an effort. Just start under favorable circumstances. Music or moderate sounds, chewing or whistling help some persons, but not all.

3. Resist the curiosity of knowing what is taking place around you.

4. Arouse interest and enthusiasm for what you are doing.

5. If either weakness or fatigue makes it difficult for you to concentrate on a full page of reading or on a short lecture, try without strain to be truly attentive for shorter periods several times a day.

During these attempts, the single objective should be, positively to follow calmly the development of the idea rather than, negatively, to avoid distraction. If distractions do occur, make an effort to return once more to the subject matter.

Normal concentration may quickly be achieved by paying strict attention to half a page of reading or by paying attention several times during, say, a ten-minute period, then gradually increasing the length of the period of attention.

6. Do not drink alcoholic beverages to stimulate your attention or your organism. In spite of the widespread opposite opinion, alcohol is a depressant, not a stimulant. In the beginning, it is true, you may feel self-confidence and optimism about your own performance. This happens because alcohol reaches the highest centers first, and so you think your mental work is better than it is. But the delaying effects are mental depression and emotional irritability.

7. Coffee and tea are stimulating and safe for those who need a “lift.” Their effect does not come immediately and it may last for a few hours. However, sleep may be disturbed as a result of large doses, the pulse accelerated, muscular steadiness decreased, and tremor may set in.

Concentration in Prayer

In study or natural mental work, the measure of our intellectual happiness is established by two factors: our interest in the object or truth discovered; the clarity with which we see it.

In prayer or in other supernatural mental work, these two factors attain unlimited proportions. The object studied is God who is total Truth and Beauty, and the light of Infinite Wisdom is added to the smaller lamp of human understanding.

If we cannot attain true efficiency and satisfaction in study, reading, or thinking without full concentration, much less shall we be able to step forward and enjoy the unsuspected delights of conversing with God unless we give him our full attention.

The life of God within us often implies sudden shafts of supernatural light, waves of superhuman satisfaction, anticipation of heaven, touches of divinity. These are the inspirations which suddenly illuminate undreamed-of horizons and treasures with almost intuitive evidence.

These are the affections and consolations often experienced by saints and by people of good will when they make a retreat or truly recollect themselves in prayer —consolations surpassing all earthly joys, impossible to be understood by those who have not experienced them. These are also motives clearly perceived in prayer which attract the will and facilitate what is difficult.

In an effort to make this clear and simple we may use this formula:

Attentive prayer=Root of Sanctity

Or, using RC to represent “Result of concentration into the divine,” we may say, RC

Efficiency+joy=Limitless

Fatigue+distaste=Nil

The soul that is not sufficiently recollected remains unaware of these divine sparks and consolations; rather, God refrains from giving them when he foresees that, because of the soul’s dissipation, they will be neither noticed nor appreciated.

If only we could enter with our whole being into conversation with God! If only we were fully attentive to what we say to Him in a brief vocal prayer!

If we would only listen to what God wishes to say to us in the intimacy of our prayer! God speaks, as a rule, only in the most intimate part of our being; we shall hear Him only through perfect concentration.

PRACTICAL RECAPITULATION

Aids to Concentration

Appreciate concentration as root of human greatness.

Remove obstacles, such as noises, conversation, etc.

Arouse interest and enthusiasm.

Desire concentration, convinced that it is possible.

Undertake concentration in a secluded place.

Begin each chapter or paragraph with solid motivation.

Make use of the period of ‘enthusiasm’ or ‘depth.’

Interrupt in the period of ‘pre-fatigue.’

Overcome distractions and compulsions

And St. Francis De Sales says: “The measure of Divine Providence acting on us is the degree of confidence that we have in it.” This is where the problem lies. Many do not believe in Providence because they’ve never experienced it, but they’ve never experienced it because they’ve never jumped into the void and taken the leap of faith. They never give it the possibility to intervene. They calculate everything, anticipate everything, they seek to resolve everything by counting on themselves, instead of counting on God. -Fr. Jacques Philippe, Searching For and Maintaining Peace http://amzn.to/2u1NCTd (afflink)

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Organizing and Prioritizing – Emilie Barnes

I consider Emilie Barnes one of my mentors throughout my married life. I am very happy I stumbled upon her works in my search to become a better and more mindful housewife. She taught me how important the little things are…and how important it is to keep a semblance of order and beauty in our daily lives in order to lift the spirit and set our feet on the path of spiritual order and beauty.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her…

From Keep it Simple for Busy Women by Emilie Barnes

More of everything please

“More storage, more time, more money!” It’s the cry of most every frustrated homemaker!

There just never seems to be enough cabinets, cupboards, or shelves, enough time to get all our projects done, or enough money to do all we want to do. But stop! Is it really more that we need, or less?

Try rearranging your existing space. Look for wasted “air space” and organize more efficiently Things you use often should be in easy-to-access places. Save your difficult-to-reach places for what you seldom need.

Give one item away every day It’s tough, but it will give you more room and cut down on the “stuff” you have to manage.

Today, determine to think outside the box. Assume that you have plenty of everything, and think about how you can make your life less cluttered, less time-consuming, less costly.

The idea is to organize your life so that you have time for the important things. Remember that by using small amounts of time and resources faithfully, you can accomplish great things!

Simple Pleasures

It is the first mild day of March; Each minute sweeter than before… There is a blessing in the air… -WILLIAM WORDSWORTH

All these things

Unless you have unlimited resources, you can’t have everything. Here are a few tips to help you maximize what you do have.

Remember, the key is simplicity. If you want to save money and time on redecorating, try adding small, round end tables with table skirts and overdrapes to your living room. They’re much less expensive than most end tables, and the fabric will add color and interest to your room.

Buy in bulk when items are on sale. I receive so many catalogs that I now shop by phone. It’s amazing. Smart shoppers take advantage of clearance sales after Christmas, Easter, and the Fourth of July. You’ll find bargains galore during end-of-season season sales. Make a day of it with friends!

Above all, keep God’s comforting promise in mind as you trust Him for your needs: “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33 NASB).

Simple Pleasures

Hang out in the stacks at your local bookstore for a cozy evening. Buy a porch swing or hammock-and then use it. Be on the lookout for the first signs of each season

A Memorable Meal

Oh, how I long sometimes for the good old days, when our family gathered every night around the dinner table and shared events of the day. Life seemed a little less busy then and there weren’t so many options to keep us away from the ritual of evening meals. It’s sad to see family meals becoming a thing of the past for so many.

Tonight, buck the trend. Plan a memorable mealtime with family and friends. What makes a mealtime memorable? The attractive way you set the table says, “I care enough to do a little extra.”

A simple centerpiece can establish a mood, especially if it includes candles, creating a spirit of warmth at mealtime.

Obviously, food takes the starring role, so healthy, tasty fare is best! Think of Jesus – even He chose to share a special meal with His 12 disciples during His final hours. The fellowship with these dearest of earthly companions must have given Him great comfort as He prepared for the trials ahead.

Make the most of these times – they are times to cherish! And they nurture more than the body; they feed the soul and prepare us for living full, productive lives.

Simple Pleasures

Cooking is a bit like painting; strong herbs are reminiscent of oils; delicate ones, of watercolors. -MICHAEL GUERARD

Can We Make the Kitchen a Spiritual Place?

I might be walking on theological eggshells, but I think the answer is yes! There’s something about that room of the house that reveals – and sets – the tenor for the entire household.

Keeping kitchen clutter under control is the first step. It can be a frustrating task – but it’s not impossible. Starting with the cupboards closest to the sink, pull everything out. Wipe out the shelves and refresh them with contact paper.

For all the things you’re not using – either put them in a “throw away” bag, a “give away” bag, or a box marked, “kitchen overflow.”

Put the things you don’t use very often on the highest shelves. Items you use daily go back into the cupboards in easily accessible places.

What about gadgets and utensils? Put them in a crock and tie a bow around it. It looks cute and keeps your counters uncluttered.

What’s so spiritual about all this? The next time your husband or children need a hug or a listening ear, you’ll be ready, with the heart of the home under control.

Simple Pleasures

Create an herbal nosegay to scent your towels. Crawl into a warm robe for that first cup of coffee. Place a few roses in small bottles beside your bed.

Don’t Answer the Phone!

It couldn’t be simpler just don’t answer the phone! “But how can I just let it ring?” Here’s how…just let it ring. Or purchase an answering machine and let the “mechanical secretary” protect your time until you’re ready to make your calls.

There are only a few things in life that we can truly control, but we can control the phone. In our day, we’ve become slaves to the telephone – in our homes, our cars, and everywhere we go. The ringing phone triggers a knee-jerk reaction that compels us to answer.

Unfortunately, for just that moment, it also robs us of focus and, in a small way, disturbs our peace and tranquility.

How often does the phone ring just as you’re sitting down to dinner? Don’t answer the phone at mealtimes. Let your family know that they are much more important than the unknown caller.

Certainly, there are times when we need to answer the phone-but you decide when. Don’t let others control your life and alter your activities. You have the power to decide. It’s as simple as that!

Simple Pleasures

 People who live in cities need tranquility most. -CHRISTINE GUERARD

 

“The wise mother, having an eye to the future, will at once seek to initiate her daughter into the mysteries of housekeeping. Most young girls are interested in domestic affairs, and are never happier than when allowed to have their finger in the domestic pie; but in this as in other things a thorough grounding is the most satisfactory.” -Annie S. Swan, Courtship and Marriage And the Gentle Art of Home-Making, 1894

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  • make mealtimes feasts of thanksgiving and kitchen duty fun
  • establish traditions of celebration that allow joy to filter through to everyday life

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Liberty of Spirit – Light and Peace, Quadrupani

Benedictines of Mary, Gower, MO https://benedictinesofmary.org/

Light and Peace: Instructions for Devout Souls to Dispel Their Doubts
Christian liberty of spirit, so earnestly recommended by the saints, consists in not becoming the slave of anything, even though good, unless it be of God’s will.

Thus our purest inclinations, our holiest habits, our wisest rules of conduct, should yield without murmur or complaint to every manifestation of this divine will, in order that they may never become for us obstacles or impediments to good or the occasion of trouble and disquietude. By this means only can we perform all our actions with cheerful confidence and devout courage.

“I leave you the spirit of liberty; not that liberty which hinders obedience, for such is the liberty of the flesh, but that which excludes scruples and constraint…. We ask of God above all things that his name be hallowed, that His kingdom come, that His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

All this implies the spirit of liberty; for provided God’s name be sanctified, that His divine Majesty reign in you, that His will be done, the spirit desires nothing more.”(Imitation, B. III., Chap. XXVI.)*

St. Francis de Sales, speaking on this important subject, says: “He who possesses the spirit of liberty will on no account allow his affections to be mastered even by his spiritual exercises, and in this way he avoids feeling any regret if they are interfered with by sickness or accident. I do not say that he does not love his devotions but that he is not attached to them.”

A soul that is attached to meditation, if interrupted, will show chagrin and impatience: a soul that has true liberty will take the interruption in good part and show a gracious countenance to the person who was the cause of it. For it is all one to it whether it serve God by meditating or by bearing with its neighbor. Both duties are God’s will, but just at this time patience with others is the more essential.

The fruits of this holy liberty of spirit are prompt and tranquil submission and generous confidence. Saint Francis de Sales relates that Saint Ignatius ate flesh meat one day in Holy Week simply because his physician thought it expedient for him to do so on account of a slight illness.

A spirit of constraint would have made him allow the doctor to spend three days in persuading him, he adds, and would then very probably have refused to yield. I cite this example for the benefit of timid souls and not for those who seek to elude an obligation by unwarranted dispensations.

This matter is of such importance and a just medium so difficult to follow in practice, that it seems useful to transcribe the following passage from Saint Francis de Sales in its entirety, with the rules and examples it contains, in order that the proper occasions for the exercise of this virtue and its limitations may be well understood.

A heart possessed of this spirit of liberty is not attached to consolations, but receives afflictions with all the sweetness that is possible to human nature. I do not say that it does not love and desire consolations, but that its affections are not wedded to them…. It seldom loses its joy, for no privation saddens a heart that is not set upon any one thing. I do not say it never loses it, but if it does so it quickly regains it.

The effects of this virtue are sweetness of temper, gentleness, and forbearance towards everything that is not sin or occasion of sin, forming a disposition gently susceptible to the influences of charity and of every other virtue.

The occasions for exercising this holy freedom are found in all those things that happen contrary to our natural inclinations; for one whose affections are not engaged in his own will does not lose patience when his desires are thwarted.

There are two vices opposed to this liberty of spirit,—instability and constraint, or dissipation and servility. The former is a certain excess of freedom which causes us to change our devout exercises or state of life without reason and without knowing if it be God’s will. On the slightest pretext practices, plans and rules are altered and for every trivial obstacle our laudable customs are abandoned. In this way the heart is dissipated and spent and becomes like an orchard open on all sides, the fruit whereof is not for the owner but for the passers-by.

Constraint or servility is a certain lack of liberty owing to which the mind is overwhelmed with vexation or anger when we cannot carry out our designs, even though we might be doing something better. For example: I resolve to make a meditation every morning. Now if I have the spirit of instability or dissipation I am apt to defer it until evening for the most insignificant reason,—because I was kept awake by the barking of a dog, or because I have a letter to write, although it be not at all pressing.

If on the contrary I have the spirit of constraint or servility I will not give up my meditation even though a sick person has great need of my aid just then, or if I have an important and urgent dispatch to send which should not be deferred; and so on.

It remains for me to give you some examples of true liberty of spirit which will make you understand it better than I can explain it. But, before doing so, it is well that I should say there are two rules which it is necessary to observe in order not to make any mistake on the subject.

The first is that a person must never abandon his pious practices and the common rules of virtue unless it is plainly evident that God wills that he do so. Now this will is manifested in two ways,—through necessity and through charity.

I desire to preach this Lent in some little corner of my diocese; however, if I get sick or break my leg I need not give way to regret or inquietude because I cannot do as I intended, for it is evident that it is the will of God that I serve Him by suffering and not by preaching.

Or, even if I am not ill or crippled, but an occasion presents itself of going to some other place which if I do not avail myself of the people there may become Huguenots, the will of God is sufficiently manifest to make me amiably change my plans.

The second rule is that when it is necessary to make use of this liberty of spirit from motives of charity, care should be taken that it is done without scandal or injustice.

For instance: I may know that I should be more useful in some distant place not within my own diocese: I should have no freedom of choice in this matter for my obligations are here and I should give scandal and do an injustice by abandoning my charge.

Thus it is a false idea of the spirit of liberty that would induce married women to keep aloof from their husbands without legitimate reason under pretext of devotion and charity…. This spirit rightly understood never interferes with the duties of one’s vocation nor prejudices them in any way. On the contrary, it makes every one contented in his state of life, as each should know it is God’s will that he remain in it.

Saint Charles Borromeo was one of the most austere, exact and determined of men; bread was his only food, water his only drink; he was so strict, that during the twenty-four years he was an Archbishop he went into his garden but twice, and visited his brothers only on two occasions and then because they were ill.

Yet this austere priest when dining with his Swiss neighbors, which he often did in order to move them to amend their lives, did not hesitate to join them in drinking toasts and healths on every occasion and in doing so to take more than was necessary to quench his thirst.

Here is true liberty of spirit exemplified in the most mortified man of his time. An unstable spirit would have gone too far, a spirit of constraint would have thought it was committing a mortal sin, a spirit of liberty would act in this way from a motive of charity.

Saint Spiridion, a bishop of olden times, once gave shelter to a pilgrim who was almost dying of hunger. It was the season of Lent and in a place where nothing was to be had but salt meat. This Spiridion ordered to be cooked and then gave it to the pilgrim. Seeing that the latter, notwithstanding his great need, hesitated to eat it, the Saint, although he did not require it, ate some first in order to remove the poor man’s scruples. That was a true spirit of liberty born of charity.—Saint Francis de Sales.

Again, it is this Christian spirit of freedom that excludes fear and uneasiness in regard to all those things which God has not permitted us to know. It gives us a sweet and tender confidence as to the pardon of our past sins, the present condition of our souls and our eternal destiny.

It reminds us continually that although we have deserved hell, our divine Lord has merited heaven for us, and that it would be doing a great injury to His goodness not to hope for pardon for the past, assistance of divine grace for the present, and salvation after death. Finally, it teaches us to drown our remorse for sin in the ocean of the divine mercy.

I earnestly exhort you never to make indiscreet vows in the hope of thus increasing the merit of your ordinary works. One can attain the same end by many ways that are easier and less dangerous. Those who are guilty of this imprudence often run the risk of breaking their vows and of thus sinning gravely. And if they avoid this misfortune it is only at the expense of their peace of soul, sacrificed to a craven and unquiet servitude which is totally incompatible with the tranquility and confidence required in the great work of our spiritual perfection.

Many pious persons are too prone to advise obligations of this kind. If they do so to you, humbly excuse yourself by saying that you do not possess the extraordinary virtue requisite in order to fulfill them without disquietude.

Saint Francis de Sales disapproved of all the particular vows made by Saint Jane Frances de Chantal and declared them null. I have almost invariably found persons bound by such solemn obligations restless and agitated, and have frequently seen them exposed to the gravest falls.

Do not allow yourself to be misled by the example of some of the saints who made vows. Rarely is the desire to imitate certain extraordinary practices of theirs an inspiration of divine grace: rather is it a temptation from the devil inciting us to pride and temerity.

Saint Francis de Sales exclaimed: “Give me the spirit that animated Saint Bernard and I shall do what Saint Bernard did.” Let us apply ourselves, I repeat, to the imitation of those simple and solid virtues by which the saints attained sanctity, and be content to admire those supernatural acts that suppose it already acquired.

To bind one’s self by arbitrary vows without compromising salvation, three things are necessary: 1st. supernatural inspiration urging one to make them; 2d. extraordinary virtue so as never to violate them; 3d. unalterable tranquillity in order to preserve peace of soul in keeping them.

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It is wrong to strip our altars and our Churches of all the splendid display due to Our Lord. “The saints have always shown wholehearted zeal and resourcefulness in seeing to the beauty and tidiness of the house of God, because, as St. Thomas Aquinas teaches, it is necessary to take care first of the real Body of Jesus, then of His Mystical Body.” -Jesus, Our Eucharistic Love, http://amzn.to/2fS4n1R (afflink)

What does it take to be a holy family especially in today’s world where everything is anti-family? Dating? Courting? How do you prepare for marriage?

Do you need some good reading suggestions? Visit…

My Book List

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Painting by VLADIMIR VOLEGOV

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Impediments to Spiritual Progress – Counsels of Perfection

by Marie Spartali Stillman 1885

From Counsels of Perfection for Christian Mothers

My daughters, I seek an answer to a most important question: Why do we not advance? The subject is too broad to be treated in one chapter, so we shall divide it.

Here is the first answer: We do not advance because we are ignorant of the things we ought to know. We do not advance because our intelligence is not sufficiently enlightened, that is, we do not possess, in an adequate degree, the science of the things of God.

Are you fully aware of the importance of light in the spiritual life? If you ask me what relation there is between clear knowledge and progress in the matter of spirituality, I will tell one simple sentence: Knowledge always precedes love. Suppose, for example, that you have before you the most beautiful picture in the world; if you close your eyes so as not to see it, or if, on account of some distraction, you see it obscurely, will you love it? Never! It would be impossible for you to love it under these conditions.

Again, if after partly opening your eyes you close them again, or direct them towards some other object, will you love this picture? Perhaps, but how superficially! You have not sufficiently regarded the object before you; you are not well enough acquainted with it to admire it, to say nothing of loving it.

Let us apply this principle to our subject. However admirable and worthy of love God may be in Himself, and whatever admiration and love the things of God may merit, you will love God, and the things of God, only when you know Him and then in the measure in which you ought to know them.

Here I must anticipate a false interpretation of my words. From what has been said pray do not conclude, that spiritual progress is intended only for the learned, and that in order to strive for perfection, it is necessary to possess a mighty intellect and profound learning.

There are two kinds of knowledge. The one resides in the mind and consists in merely knowing one’s religion. This sort of knowledge is worth little or nothing. If it does not stimulate the heart and direct the conduct, it will be a source of condemnation.

The second kind of knowledge is that which is acquired by meditation, that is to say, by fixing the mind on the things of God and contemplating them seriously and profoundly; but above all, it consists in loving them. Now the poorest servant who knows neither how to read or to write is as capable of acquiring this knowledge as the most learned doctor.

Certain geniuses like St. Bonaventure, or St. Thomas, have possessed this knowledge in all its fullness, but a poor menial in their convent could have attained it as well as these princes of the Church. For example, it is related that a poor servant to whom St. Bonaventure had expounded the truth that I have just set forth, ran to every one whom he met, crying out in his excess of love: “Do you know that I can love God just as much as our great theologian, Brother Bonaventure?”

This humble servant loved God as much as the great Bonaventure, because he had acquired that knowledge of God which is founded on prayer and meditation.

My daughters, we are all capable of acquiring this knowledge, regardless of our degree of intellectual culture; and if your progress in the spiritual life has been slow or insignificant, it is due to the fact that you have not sufficiently known God nor the things of God.

Let us now consider the principal points of this knowledge. Do you reflect profoundly on your dependence upon that God who has given you life, who conserves it, and in whose hands you rest like a crystal globe which would break into a thousand pieces were that hand withdrawn?

How important it is for you to know your true situation relative to God, you must remember that he has every right over you, and that in relation to Him you have only duties!

How necessary it is for you to be convinced that His presence envelops you on all sides, that His eye follows you everywhere, and that nothing of your inmost life, thoughts, desires or affections, can ever escape that infinitely penetrating eye!

My daughters, do you consider well what your lives would be, what a great change they would undergo, if these fundamental truths were profoundly engraved on your minds? Do you not know that they would direct your conduct, and hold you unceasingly in your place relative to God?

Are you well acquainted with Jesus Christ? Do you meditate on His mysteries? Do you study that Heart which inspired all His actions? Are you convinced that the Incarnation, the Redemption and the Holy Eucharist are proofs of His love?

Do you center your thoughts especially on the Eucharist? Does It arouse an immense gratitude in you? Oh, if we had a profound knowledge of what the Eucharist really is, we should be astonished that the entire universe does not bow down in adoration before the tabernacle.

But alas! is not Jesus in the Sacred Host a stranger to many among you, my daughters? Is not the manner in which you treat Him after Communion a sad fulfillment of the words of St. John: “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not”?

Permit me to acquaint you with a very important subject for meditation. I refer to the supernatural life, the life of grace that is within you. The angels contemplate with ecstasy the marvelous operations of grace in your souls. They are astonished at the goodness of that God who gives to His creatures the treasure of all treasures, divine life. And do you ever give it a thought?

Seldom if ever do you reflect on the fact that grace has deified you, and yet more seldom do you center your eyes on those marvels of grace which are continually taking place in your souls.

How astonishing it is that you take so little pains to augment divine grace in your souls? How strange it is that you do not use all the prudence necessary to guard and protect this treasure.

My daughters, let us now make a serious examination of conscience, and be convinced that if we have not advanced in the spiritual life, it is owing to the fact that our knowledge of God and divine things has been very insufficient.

Let us promise our Lord that we shall strive to acquire this knowledge by serious meditation on all the great truths which have just been expounded. Let us strive to know God better, so that we may love Him more ardently.

Be sure to treat all alike. Nothing is so disrupting to home life as favoritism for one or the other child. The same measure for all! – Christ in the Home, 1950’s, Fr. Raoul Plus, S.J

Thank you so much for the prayers for my mom. She is still having a rough time so please keep her in your prayers! She loves to sit outside among her flowers and listen to the birds sing and feel the warm sunshine!

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

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

 

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Examination of Conscience – How To Raise Good Catholic Children

Teach Your Child to Pray: Examination of Conscience

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How to Raise Good Catholic Children, by Mary Reed Newland

The first thing, after “Dear Blessed Jesus,” or whatever children like to call Him best, is their examination of conscience, because it’s easier to settle down to a really good talk with God after we get our sins out of the way.

This is why the Mass starts with the penitential rite. The important thing about a child’s examination of conscience is that he be assured that his parents will not scold him if he reveals some carefully concealed guilt of the day.

His sins are sins against God, not his parents, and he will not hesitate to drag out the most jealously guarded secrets if he’s certain his parents understand that he’s confessing to God, not to them, and that they will resist the temptation to lecture.

For instance, in the summertime we have a problem called “dirt in the hair.” Every night the children turn up at bedtime with their heads gritty with topsoil. The culprit is conspicuous, if at all, only by his silence — until he examines his conscience.

“I poured dirt on everybody’s head because I felt like it.” The immediate reaction of any normally weary mother facing a lineup of shampoos is at least mild rage, but in the face of such a confession freely made, the only permissible comment is, “Are you really sorry?” to lead the self-accused to a sincere act of contrition.

“I am sorry, and please help me not to do it again.”

Here they learn to guard against presumption. The inclination is to vow solemnly that they will never do it again (O happy day!), but sanctity does not come that easily. Unless they beg for the grace to reform, they are apt to do it again and again.

Some days are quite good, and they will charge into night prayers loudly with, “I was very good today, God!”

With presumption again in mind, it is better to say something like, “I tried to be good today, but if I did anything to offend You, I am sorry. Please help me never to offend You again.”

Not all children are shouters at prayers, but we have had some who were, and their attempts to make themselves heard way off in Heaven certainly robbed their prayers, while not of sincerity, at least of privacy.

Learning that God is near, is here, is everywhere, and can hear even the whispered prayers and secret thoughts, is a wonderful discovery for shouters and non-shouters alike and, incidentally, covers one whole lesson in the catechism: Where is God? If God is everywhere, why don’t we see Him? Does God see us? Does God know all things? Can God do all things? Is God just, holy, and merciful?

The answers to all these questions can be learned in the course of the many interruptions to night prayers. “How can He hear me if I don’t even see Him? When did He come in? Did He come in the door? Can He come through the wall? Could He see a mouse in the wall? A mosquito on the ceiling? If I just think my prayers, can He hear them?”

If the question about God’s being just, holy, and merciful seems a bit difficult, it fits in when we explain that confessing the sins of the day is something entirely between them and God, and is the reason — when correction and punishment are a mother’s and father’s concern elsewhere — they do not belong at night prayers. One sins against God, who can already see the sin, and see the sorrow for it, and will reward a sincere confession with forgiveness and the grace to do better next time.

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“Religious have no need of particular friendships, but those living in the world need them as a mutual strength and aid in the many difficult passages that have to be crossed.
For those who live in the midst of the world and yet strive for true virtue, it is necessary to ally themselves to one another by a holy and sacred friendship through which they stimulate, assist and encourage each other toward good.Those who walk on level ground do not need to hold hands, but those who climb steep and slippery roads need to hold on to each other in order to progress more securely.” -St. Francis de Sales
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Come and visit Meadows of Grace for some good book suggestions…..

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A masterpiece that combines the visions of four great Catholic mystics into one coherent story on the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Based primarily on the famous revelations of Ven. Anne Catherine Emmerich and Ven. Mary of Agreda, it also includes many episodes described in the writings of St. Bridget of Sweden and St. Elizabeth of Schenau. To read this book, therefore, is to share in the magnificent visions granted to four of the most priviledged souls in the history of the Church.

In complete harmony with the Gospel story, this book reads like a masterfully written novel. It includes such fascinating details as the birth and infancy of Mary, her espousal to St. Joseph and her Assumption into Heaven where she was crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth.

For young and old alike, The Life of Mary As Seen by the Mystics will forever impress the reader with an inspiring and truly unforgettable understanding of the otherwise unknown facts concerning Mary and the Holy Family. Imprimatur.

He was called the man of his age, the voice of his century. His influence towered above that of his contemporaries, and his sanctity moved God himself. Men flocked to him–some in wonder, others in curiosity, but all drawn by the magnetism of his spiritual gianthood. Bernard of Clairvaux–who or what fashioned him to be suitable for his role of counseling Popes, healing schisms, battling errors and filling the world with holy religious and profound spiritual doctrine? Undoubtedly, Bernard is the product of God’s grace. But it is hard to say whether this grace is more evident in Bernard himself or in the extraordinary family in which God choose to situate this dynamic personality. This book is the fascinating account of a family that took seriously the challenge to follow Christ… and to overtake Him. With warmth and realism, Venerable Tescelin, Blesseds Alice, Guy, Gerard, Humbeline, Andrew, Bartholomew, Nivard and St. Bernard step off these pages with the engaging naturalness that atttacks imitation. Here is a book that makes centuries disappear, as each member of this unique family becomes an inspiration in our own quest of overtaking Christ.

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Feast of the Ascension – History and Liturgy

by Father Frank Weiser, Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Painting by Mark Keathley

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

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The Troubles of Life and The Fear of Being Without

Painting by Alfredo Rodriguez

from Searching For and Maintaining Peace by Father Jacques Phillipe
Searching for and Maintaining Peace

The most common reason for which we could lose our sense of peace is a fear caused by certain situations which touch us personally and in which we feel threatened, apprehensions in the face of present or future difficulties, fear of lacking something important, of not succeeding in such and such a project, and so forth. The examples are infinite and touch all sectors of our lives; health, family and professional life, moral life and the spiritual life itself.

In fact, in each instance, it concerns a good of an extremely variable nature, material goods (money, health, power) or a of a moral nature (human capabilities, esteem, the affection of certain people) or of a spiritual nature; goods that we desire or consider necessary and are afraid to lose or not acquire, or which we in fact lack. And the restlessness generated by this lack, or the fear of lacking, causes us to lose our peace.

Faced with such a situation, what, then, could allow us to remain always at peace? Human resources and wisdom, with their precautions, their expectations, their reservations and assurances of all sorts certainly will not suffice.

Who can guarantee himself the assured possession of any kind of good, whatever its nature? It is not by making certain calculations and preoccupations that one is going to find a solution. But who of you can add any time to your life by all his worrying? (Matthew 6:27).

Man is never assured of obtaining anything, and everything which he hold in his hands can easily slip from his grasp from one day to the next; there is no guarantee on which he can count absolutely.

And this is certainly not the way that Jesus teaches us. He says, on the contrary, whoever would save his life will lose it (Matthew 16:25).

One could even say that the surest way to lose one’s peace is precisely to try to assure one’s own life solely with the aid of human industry, with personal projects and decisions or by relying on someone else.

In what state of anxiety and torment does one place himself who thus seeks to save himself, given our powerlessness, our limited forces, the impossibility of foreseeing so many things and the deceptions that can come from those we count on.

To preserve peace in the midst of the hazards of human existence, we have only one solution; We must rely on God alone, with total trust in Him, as Your heavenly Father knows what you need (Matthew 6:32).

That is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, not about your body and how you are to clothe it. Isn’t life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Look at the birds of the sky. they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.

Are you not worth much more than they are? But which of you can add any time to your life by worrying?

And why do you worry about clothing? Look how the lilies of the field grow; they neither work nor spin; yet I assure you that not even Solomon in all his glory was robed like one of these.

But if God so clothes the grass of the field which is here today and thrown into the oven tomorrow will He not clothe you much better, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying,’What will we eat?’ or, ‘What will we drink?’ or, ‘What will we wear?’ It is the Gentiles who set their hearts on all these things. Your heavenly Father knows you need them. (Matthew 6:25-32).

Evidently, Jesus does not want to forbid us to do whatever is necessary to earn our food, to clothe ourselves and to provide for all our other needs. But He wants to deliver us from the worry that gnaws away at us and causes us to lose our peace.

Nevertheless, many are shocked by these words and do not fully welcome them; they are even scandalized by this manner of viewing things. Still, what useless suffering and torment they would save themselves, if they would only take seriously these words which are God’s, and words of love, of consolation and of an extraordinary tenderness.

Our great drama is this: Man does not have confidence in God. Hence he looks in every possible place to extricate himself by his own resources and renders himself terribly unhappy in the process rather than abandon himself into the tender and saving hands of his Father in heaven. Yet, how unjustified this lack of confidence is!

Isn’t it absurd that a child would thus doubt his Father, when this Father is the best and most powerful Who could exist, when He is the Father in heaven? In spite of that, it is in this absurdity that we most frequently live.

Listen to the gentle reproach that the Lord addressed to us through the mouth of Saint Catherine of Siena:

Why don’t you have confidence in me, your Creator? Why do you rely on yourself? Am I not faithful and loyal to you?

Redeemed and restored to grace by virtue of the blood of my only Son, man can then say that he has experienced my fidelity.

And, nevertheless, he still doubts, it would appear, that I am sufficiently powerful to help him, sufficiently strong to help and defend him against his enemies, sufficiently wise to illuminate the eyes of his intelligence or that I have sufficient clemency to want to give him whatever is necessary for his salvation.

It would appear that I am not sufficiently rich to make his fortune, not beautiful enough to make him beautiful; one might say that he is afraid not to find enough bread in my home to nourish himself, nor clothing with which to cover himself.” (The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena)

How many young people, for example, hesitate to give their lives entirely to God because they do not have confidence that God is capable of making them completely happy. And they seek to assure their own happiness by themselves and they make themselves sad and unhappy in the process.

This is precisely the great victory of the Father of Lies, of the Accuser: succeeding in putting into the heart of a child of God distrust vis-a-vis his Father!

It is, however, marked with this distrust that we come into this world. This is the original sin. And all our spiritual life consists precisely in a long process of reeducation , with a view to regaining that lost confidence, by the grace of the Holy Spirit Who makes us say anew to God: Abba, Father!

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“Painful trials strengthen our faith and make it purer, more supernatural; the soul believes, not because of the consolation that faith gives it, not because it trusts in its feelings or enthusiasm, not even in the little it does understand of the divine mysteries, but it believes only because God has spoken. When the Lord wishes to lead souls to a more intimate union with Himself, He almost always makes them undergo such trials; then is the moment to give Him testimony of our faith by throwing ourselves, with our eyes closed, into His arms.” – Divine Intimacy
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The saints have often praised the humility of Our Lady… unsurpassed by any saint. A Benedictine monk wrote in the 700’s: “Oh, truly blessed is Mary’s glorious humility! Blessed, I say, because she became the gate of paradise and was made the stairway to heaven! Surely, the humility of Mary is the heavenly stairway by which God came down to earth” (Ambrose Autpert in Mary in the Middle Ages, Gambero, p. 47). The saints have often noted that it was Blessed Mary’s humility that drew the Lord down from heaven to enter her womb. God finds humility irresistible and He will not be outdone in humility…

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Painting by Alan Murray

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