Jesus is Condemned…The Family and the Cross

Painting by Norman Rockwell

by Joseph A. Breig, 1950’s

Each of us is condemned to death. Let’s face it. There is no use in being afraid of facts. We may turn our backs, but the facts won’t go away. The sensible thing, the honest thing, and in the long run by far the pleasantest thing, is to see life clearly as it really is, to accept its conditions, and then to make the most of it.

Every parent, it seems to me, ought to make the effort of profoundly realizing that the moment a child is born, the child starts to grow away from its father and mother. The child, indeed, begins to die, even in the instant that it begins to live. By honest facing of such realities, we can make realities serve us, make them stimulate us rather than terrifying us into inaction-or wrong action.

It is simply a fact of family life that children are made to serve God, not to serve parents. And parents are made to serve God, not to serve children. These are happy facts; not unhappy facts. And understand, I am only trying to get the emphasis right, because it is the emphasis that is at the root of all happiness, and all true success.

Much of every child’s service of God will consist in being good to his parents. And much of each parent’s service of God will consist in being good to the children. But as I said, the emphasis must be right, because if it isn’t, we will all harm one another instead of helping one another.

Dreadful damage is done to children by parents who act on the unspoken assumption that children exist to serve parental comfort or parental ambitions. And dreadful damage is done to children who are allowed to grow up supposing that their parents exist to serve them. Corrosive family unhappiness is rooted in such errors.

We must get clear in our heads and hearts, from the beginning, that if God sends us a child, he sends us someone who is made to serve Him- to take up his cross and follow Christ. We ought not to shy away from that word…cross. God sends no cross that we cannot carry; and most of our crosses are small ones. The point is to trust Christ and follow Him; He will not let our backs be broken.

Now if you will face honestly the facts about your own destiny, then almost automatically you will rear your children to face honestly and bravely the facts about theirs. And if you do that, you will have prepared your children properly for life-for this life and life everlasting.

There is no sense in concealing from ourselves and our little ones that we are condemned to death by Adam’s sin; that the central fact of life is death, and that the life that achieves a good death is the only life worth the living, the only life that is successful.

Nor should we try to evade the fact that although we are condemned by inheritance to physical death, there is a truly terrible and hideously permanent death to which we can condemn ourselves-and to which nobody else can condemn us: the death of the soul.

Once we have faced those realities, there is nothing else that we need fear overmuch. Other condemnations, certainly, will come upon us. Pilate was a figure of the compromising and vacillating world. He was the incarnation of the timeserving of the world, as Christ was the incarnation of God who is infinitely just and good. God and the world faced each other in Christ and Pilate.

There will be Pilates in our lives and the lives of our children.

Time-servers will counsel cowardice, and condemn us if we reject it. The world sometimes will wash its hands of us if we follow Christ. Let it wash.

God forbid that we should be the Pilate type of parent, teaching cheap Pilatetry to our boys and girls! No; what we want is not over-protected youngsters, but youth prepared to face up to life, to face it with Christ and as Christ faced it. We do not want a young man or a young woman clinging to us when duty calls; we want the kind who will take us by the hand firmly, say good-bye, let go, and turn away into destiny. And we want to be the kind of parents who proudly watch our children go.

The world will often wash its hands of brave and just men. But Christ came to redeem everyone, including Pilate. What we want in our family life is the courage to join Christ in His work of Redemption; to be undisturbed when the world washes its hands, and to go on working serenely for the salvation of the very world that rejects us.

Parents and children must go away from one another in order that they may be forever united. It is the task of the Christian parent to turn the eyes and hearts of youngsters to God. And when that is done, we shall find that they have really been turned to us. But if we sentimentally make our children our own conveniences instead of God’s servers, we shall discover to our horror that we have lost them entirely.

As I said, it is a matter of emphasis. But the emphasis makes a difference as wide as the gulf between heaven and hell. Christ allowed Pilate to condemn Him not only that He might die for our redemption, but also in order to teach us that all things-including a Son’s love for His Mother and a Mother’s love for her Son-must yield to duty-to the will of God.

We are all condemned to death, but only so that death can open for us the door of life. The heart of a parent is burdened when a child answers God’s call to marriage or to religious life-but only in order that the same heart may later be proudly lifted to inexpressible happiness. That is the thing about the will of God-it demands of us only in order to give, heaped up, pressed down and running over; because God is infinitely good and infinitely wise.

And this is the great truth that we must convey to our children, both by word and example but above all by example- that life calls for courage and loyalty and devotion, and that the world’s opinion is a small thing. If the world has a good opinion of us, let us smile it away; and if the world has a bad opinion, let us smile that away too. What matters is not the world’s opinion and its nervous swinging between defense of us and condemnation of us. What matters is not Pilate’s judgment but Christ’s friendship; and the family which realizes that, has discovered the deepest secret of happiness and success.

From How to Raise Good Catholic Children, Mary Reed Newland:

There will be lives only if there are mothers, mothers who respond to their essential and divine vocation. “Give me, O my God, the grace through respect for You and for Your work, always to have a devotion to and a respect for life.. Grant me also the grace to be in Your Hands a not too unworthy instrument of Your creative power. Let me be ‘up-to-date’ whenever it is a question of enrolling a new name in the Book of Life.” – Christ in the Home, Fr. Raoul Plus, S.J., 1950’s

These graceful necklaces can be worn every day as a reminder of your devotion to your special saint. Get it blessed and you can use it also as a sacramental.Available here.

Love to Read? Take a look at My Book List for some great reading material!

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Lenten Smidgens

The Lenten Season

by Therese Mueller, Our Children’s Year of Grace, 1958

Daily Mass is the real “Lenten sacrifice,” and the studying of the daily Mass formula on the evening before is the best means to lead us the way the Church wants us to go. Work out together one or two thoughts that can be easily remembered the next morning and during the day.

Let us remember that the Church has two ideas woven into the Lenten liturgy: the preparation of the catechumens for baptism on Holy Saturday, and the reconciliation of sinners and their atonement. We prepare for the renewal of our baptism; we suffer with Christ for our sins; we are buried with him in penance so that we may rise with him to a new life in grace and glory.

The Sundays of Lent are meant by Mother Church as a pause on the hard way. They are a measure of relaxation and reward for our effort, in order to gather new strength for the coming week. Especially the “Midfast,” the Sunday Laetare, is full of joyous anticipation of a victorious Easter day, since in nature by that time the sun has already conquered the darkness and the cold, and spring has driven out winter. Let us foretaste the coming Feast, and let us rejoice that we have reached and conquered half of our steep way.

The Spirit of Lent

by Mary Reed Newland
The Year & Our Children: Catholic Family Celebrations for Every Season

The young and the old may not be bound by the fast, but they are bound by its spirit, each according to his capacity.

If we feel that it is unnatural to ask penances of children while they are still very young – penances within their reach – we forget that self-denial must be learned very young, that it is the forming of character, that the very grace of their Baptism flows from the Cross.

The end of the penitential seasons imposed by the Church is not mere performance.

The Church is a wise mother, who knows that the cutting away of self-will frees our souls for a more radiant love affair with Christ.

If we think of the penance without pondering its effect, we misunderstand it.

It is not over and done with the doing but will bear fruit, if it is done with the right spirit; not alone by the piling up of “treasure in Heaven” but by an increase in our taste for God, a change in the habits of our souls.

Our Lord tells us how to behave during Lent when He speaks to us in the Ash Wednesday Gospel (Matt. 6:16-21): When you fast, be not as the hypocrites, sad. For they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.

But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thy head and wash thy face, that thou appear not to men to fast, but to thy Father who is in secret; and thy Father, who seeth in secret, will repay thee.

Lay not up to yourselves treasures on earth, where the rust and moth consume, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up to yourselves treasures in Heaven, where. neither the rust nor moth doth consume, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.

For where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also.

So let us remember, when we choose something to give up: no moaning and groaning! Hypocrites (our Lord was talking about the Pharisees) make much of their performances because they want attention. That being their motive, He says, they already have their reward: attention.

There will be opportunities, before Lent is over, for us to attract attention; but so long as this is not our motive, we can accept and use whatever God permits to come to us.

A father will be asked by business associates why he, too, doesn’t order steak for lunch. One mother will be asked by fellow club-members why she doesn’t eat sandwiches and cake after their evening business meeting.

Some children will be asked why they say “No, thank you,” to proffered candies at school, to decline an invitation to a movie during Lent, or do not join with others to watch a television show.

These are the opportunities, with many more, to give reasons “for the faith that is in you.” It is as necessary to give an honest explanation if one is asked, as it is to keep quiet about it if one is not.

God chooses His own time and place to teach the lesson of good example; our part is merely the good example.

“Anoint thy head; wash thy face….” Be cheerful!

The Pharisees wore gloomy looks and long faces to indicate the great anguish their interior purifications cost them.

Not for us.

Our Lord suggests that we “anoint” our heads – that is, prepare ourselves as though we were going to a banquet.

Look cheery and bright even if it is Lent and we miss the between-meal snacks. Our Father in Heaven sees what it is costing us.

One of the Lenten resolves in our family was to omit from all conversation the familiar groan “I’m starving.”

Then He tells us to lay up our treasure in Heaven, because where your treasure is, there your heart is also.

The Second Sunday of Advent has just passed! There are approximately 30 more days left in Lent. I hope it is fruitful for all of us!

Maybe you are doing the Lenten Journal and working on the Crown of Thorns? Here are pictures and thoughts from a few years back….

Here, Rosie is preparing the Crown of Thorns made from unleavened bread dough. It will harden and the toothpicks (thorns) will be waiting to have a pretty silk flower topping it as the children do their sacrifices….

By Easter it will look lovely and the sacrifices the children made will live on forever….

We have no place to put a “bread” Crown of Thorns so we put the idea to paper. This is a big poster board that is mounted to the fridge. If it is a big sacrifice, the sharpies come out and a flower is drawn on a thorn. Three little sacrifices suffice for a flower, too.

Filling up! Interesting species of flowers, wouldn’t you say? What artists I have!

Virginia’s family also has a jar of beans. Every time a sacrifice is made a bean is put in the jar. At Easter, the beans will be replaced with jelly beans and divvied out between the kids.

This year, our friend from Minnesota, Paul, drew the Crown of Thorns for us. We are late getting started…..

Hopefully by the end of Lent, each thorn will have a flower drawn on it. One has to do 3 sacrifices to draw one flower.

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I have prepared this Lenten journal to help you to keep on track. It is to assist you in keeping focused on making Lent a special time for your family. We do not have to do great things to influence those little people. No, we must do the small things in a great way…with love and consistency…

Timeless words from the pen of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen inspire the heart and imagination as readers embark on a Lenten journey toward a better understanding of their spiritual selves. Covering the traditional themes of Lent–sin and salvation, death and Resurrection, sorrow and hope, ashes and lilies–these 50 passages and accompanying mini-prayers offer readers a practical spiritual program as a retreat from the cares and concerns of a secular world view.
If you enjoyed learning about holiday traditions in The Christmas Book, you are sure to love its sequel, The Easter Book. Father Weiser has here applied his winning formula to an explanation of the fasts and feasts of the Lenten and Easter seasons with equally fascinating results.

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Tidbits from Fr. Lovasik – Trust in God, Patience, Anger, Etc.

From The Catholic Family Handbook, Fr. Lovasik

Put your family ahead of your activities outside your home

Marriage demands companionship. The wish to be with the one loved is a sign of true love. To be satisfied being with each other only when this can hardly be avoided leads to taking love for granted.

So many people crowd their lives with too much activity and squeeze out of their schedule some of the things they would like to do or ought to do. They are doing many things that are good, but they are neglecting other things that are better and more important.

Perhaps this is because they lose sight of the primacy of the obligations arising from their family and home.

Your first duty is to your home and family. You have solemnly sworn an obligation to work for their happiness and salvation.

To be successful, families must be happy; and to be happy, the members must anticipate and fulfill the reasonable needs and desires of one another.

Trust in God

You are assured of God’s help. The Church teaches that through the sacrament of Matrimony, you and your spouse are assured of God’s constant help. Therefore, you must firmly trust in God.

In the next life, you may expect still greater blessings if on earth you have tried to build your home on the model of the Holy Family of Nazareth. God is never outdone in generosity.

If you serve Him as well as you can, you can be certain that He will bless you abundantly. If, on the other hand, you deliberately break His laws, you can be sure of depriving yourself and your family of His blessing.

The primary requisite for family happiness is union with God, who is the source of all happiness in this world and in the next. No one has such powerful means and more frequent opportunities of being united with God than a conscientious Catholic.

Keep in touch with God through the frequent reception of the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist and by much prayer. Work hard for your family and their happiness as if everything thing depended upon you. Pray to God and trust Him even more, because everything really depends upon Him.

Our Lord said, “Abide in me, and I in you…. Apart from me you can do nothing.””

Be patient

Patience is a powerful help in married life. It controls and restrains strains angry feelings and outbursts of anger. It is a mature virtue that shows superiority of intellect, practical wisdom in daily life, strength of will, and a good, humble, and benevolent heart.

The more spiritual progress you make, the more patient and gentle you will become. Patience procures for you love and influence. It attracts people to you and is of the utmost importance in the family, since you spend so much of your lives together.

Impatience, on the other hand, drives people away. It does no good and much harm, especially in the case of parents who are engaged in the rearing of children.

Impatience is certainly not the spirit of Jesus. In order to be patient, you must be prayerful and prepared for the inevitable unpleasantness in this life.

Although you will never be able to arrange matters so that there will be nothing to provoke you to impatience, you can live by the principle that there is no reason in the world for getting impatient.

Avoid being unjustly angry

Anger, which overrides the requirement of justice and charity, is a destroyer of family peace and happiness. There is such a thing as just anger, and even Christ became angry when He saw something wrong that deeply offended Him.

But anger is wrong when it is out of proportion to whatever occasioned it, when it becomes senseless fury, or when it accomplishes more harm than good.

In the family, you must practice forbearance, clemency, and patience, lest your children suffer from anger that runs wild. Anger is a homewrecker of deadly efficiency. It causes family members to lose respect for each other, and where respect is missing, love can hardly survive.

If you indulge in anger frequently, conditions get worse instead of better, because you are constantly seeking new, sharper ways of hurting others.

Anger leads to deep dislike and brooding hatred. This is the worst possible atmosphere in which to raise children. Giving in to anger was condemned by Christ. Outbursts of temper are contrary to the whole idea of charity that He preached.

There are occasions, however, when reasonable anger may be a forceful means of correction or the lesser of two evils. Scripture says, “Be angry, but sin not.”

You may be justly angry when your spouse suggests something sinful. In that case, you are directing your anger to the correction or prevention of sin, and your anger may be justified if it is held in reasonable bounds.

A short flurry of anger may at times be the lesser of two evils – for instance, if you are temperamentally inclined to hold a deep grudge for a long time unless you bring the matter into the open at the start and so end it.

A secretly nursed grudge may also be the cause of anger. A grudge is a permanent refusal to forgive a real or imaginary injury. As long as you hold a grudge, you are inviting anger, and you are in some degree responsible for anger in others.

This anger can be detected in your tone of voice, in the silence of your mood, and in the very atmosphere of your home. If you want to prevent explosions of anger in your home, do not permit grudges to last more than a day.

Correction of temper is mostly a matter of self-control. Hide your feelings of displeasure. Be silent when you feel like saying harsh words.

Cultivate a spirit of forgiveness and humility. You will seldom rejoice over your explosions of anger. But you will be glad that you did not say the things you wanted to say when you were angry.

“Holiness means happiness. Holy people are happy people at peace with God, with others, and with themselves.
There is only one requirement. You must do God’s will. This embraces various obligations and gives you corresponding rights and privileges.
This is the lesson of the Holy Family. The will of God must count for everything in our daily lives. Prosaic deeds done for God can lead to spectacular holiness.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were human, intensely human in the best sense of the word. They show us how our lives, too, should be human–truly warm and Godlike.” -Fr. Lovasik

 

 

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

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

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

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11 Ways to Keep that Love Alive

Some tips to take to heart to show your love to that important person in your life!

100 Ways To Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson (Used with permission)

  1. Know that marriage is like a long, slow walk together.

More a marathon than a sprint. So just keep walking. Together.

2. Communicate confidence in who he is and what he’s about.

So powerful in a man’s life. Your man needs to hear your cheers more than you might realize. And he probably needs to hear it louder and more often than might be evident. So speak words of belief and assurance that he has much to offer the world.

3. Throw a little surprise in there.

Every-once-in-a-while. Just for fun. Spice it up with something unexpected. I love the look on his face when I do something out-of-the-ordinary that he didn’t see coming. Surprise!

4. Timing can make all the difference in the world.

Discuss difficult things when you’re both rested – and fed. Often these simple things can determine whether the discussion will become a heated argument – or a profitable conversation.

5. Work together.

In the garage, the kitchen, the garden, or the barn. It’s always more fun with two. Find ways that you can join efforts to get things done. Help him out with his work, his chores, or Honey-do list. And then let him do the same for you.

6. Let him know what you need from him.

It might not be as obvious as you think it is. It’s easy to assume that he is aware of what you need – and that he’s choosing to ignore you – but it could be that he is simply oblivious. So give him the chance to meet your needs by spelling it out, slowly and lovingly, what you’d like from him.

7. Differentiate what you need… from what you want.

These two can be easily confused. But there is a difference – a big difference actually. Not that “wants” aren’t important, but they should come second to needs and are best kept in the “optional” category.

8. Welcome him into your world.

Don’t keep him at a distance. Encourage him to be a part of what you’re doing and how you think. Make your world a warm, welcoming place for him to be.

9. Give up your need to be right.

It’s not as bad as it sounds. Give it up and you’ll be glad you did. Being “right” is a highly overrated position.

10. Pray through problems.

Don’t work it out on your own. We can forget that if we are believers in Christ, then we are not left to figure out our problems by ourselves, in our own strength. No, we have an all-powerful, all-knowing God in Whom we can turn.

11. Convince him that he’s the man of your dreams.

And he’ll become that man.

“God has thus put into the hand of the parents at their own hearthstone, a power greater than that which kings and queens wield, and which must issue in either the weal or the woe of their children. It would surely seem to be worth while to make any sacrifice of personal comfort or pleasure—to transmit a legacy of holy memories which shall be through all the years, like a host of pure angels hovering over those we love, to guard and guide them.” J.R. Miller

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Lent – Maria Von Trapp

Elsie’s prayer by Sidney Harold Meteyard (1868 – 1947)

From Around the Year With the Trapp Family

Lent is primarily known as a time devoted to fast and abstinence. Our non-Catholic friends feel sorry for us because we have to watch our food. “Isn’t it an awful strain?”

But this is only one side of the season of Lent, and not even the most important one. First and foremost, these weeks between Ash Wednesday and Holy Saturday are set aside as a time of preparation for the greatest feast of the year, Easter.

We are not fasting in commemoration of Our Lord’s fast of forty days, but are imitating Him in his fast of preparation–preparation for His great work of Redemption. It is the same with us. Once a year we take forty days out of the three hundred and sixty-five, and we too fast in preparation: in preparation for the commemoration of our Redemption.

We all should get together and work toward the restoration of the meaning of Lent. People nowadays see in it just a gloomy time full of “must nots.” That is a great pity, because Lent is a solemn season rich in hidden mysteries. We must also keep in mind that Lent is only a part of the great Easter season, that it is for Easter what Advent was for

Christmas, and that Lent taken by itself would make no more sense than Advent without Christmas at its end. Therefore, we should let Holy Mother Church take us by the hand and lead us–not each soul alone, but the whole family as a group–away from the noise of the world into a forty-day retreat.

No other time of the year has been so singled out by the Church as this, in that a completely different Mass is provided for every single day, beginning with Ash Wednesday and continuing through the octave day of Easter; and again for the crowning feast of the Easter season, the eight days of Pentecost. If we keep the closed time as faithfully as our forefathers did–which means keeping away from all noisy outside entertainment such as cocktail parties and dances–then we shall find ample time for the imitation of Christ as it is outlined in every morning’s Mass.

The restoration of the season of Lent was begun in the year when the Holy Father gave back to us the Easter Night. As we now know that in this holiest of all nights we shall be permitted to be reborn in Christ, renewing solemnly, with a lighted candle in our hands, our baptismal vows, we understand more and more clearly the two great thoughts which the Church is developing throughout the whole of Lent: the instruction of the catechumens and the deepening of the contrition of the penitents.

Instruction and penance shall become our motto also for these holy weeks.

Instruction–this brings us to the Lenten reading program. The time saved through abstention from movies–and it is astonishing to find how much it is!–will be devoted to a carefully chosen reading program. Every year we should divide our reading into three parts: something for the mind, something for the heart, something for the soul.

Something for the mind: This should mean doing serious research. One year we might work on the history of the Church; another year on the sacraments; or we might carefully study a scholarly life of Our Lord

Jesus Christ; or a book on Christian ethics; or the Encyclicals of the Pope; or a book on dogma.

For the soul: This should be spiritual reading of a high order, from the works of the saints or saintly writers. For example, “The Ascent of Mt. Carmel,” by St. John of the Cross; “The Introduction to a Devout Life,” by St. Francis de Sales; “The Story of a Soul,” by St. Therese of Lisieux; “The Spiritual Castle,” by St. Teresa of Avila; “The Soul of the Apostolate,” by Abbot Chautard; the books of Abbot Marmion, and similar works.

For the heart: According to the old proverb, “Exempla trahunt,” it is most encouraging to read the biographies of people who started out as we did but had their minds set on following the word of Our Lord, “Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect.”

In other words, to read a well-written biography of a saint (canonized or not) will have the same effect on us as it had once on St. Augustine, who said, after watching saintly people living a holy life: “If he could do it, and she, why not I?”

But it has to be a well-written biography, that is, a book showing a human being in the round, with all his shortcomings that had to be overcome by faithful cooperation with grace–and not the old-fashioned hagiography in sugar-candy style with its doubtful statements, carefully stressing that the saint is born a full-fledged saint by describing how the holy baby refused his mother’s breast every Saturday in honor of the Blessed Mother (and, of course, the first words of these remarkable beings invariably must be a piously lisped “Jesus and Mary”).

These “saints” never made a mistake, never succumbed to temptation–in other words, their literary portraits are identical replicas of their statues in the show windows in Barclay Street and just as inspiring.

But we are lucky the worst seems to be behind us. A new school of writing of the lives of the saints has begun.

If every member of a family adopts this threefold reading program and comments on the books he has been working on, a great benefit will be flowing from one to the other as they exchange the spiritual goods obtained from their reading.

I remember how the enthusiasm of each reader made us exchange books after Lent was over. Years ago it began with the books of Henry Gheon first, “The Secret of the Little Flower,” followed by the other secrets of the saints.

Another year it was “The History of a Family,” with its background story of the most irresistible saint of our days, Therese of Lisieux. Recently we all found “St. Teresa of Avila,” by Marcelle Auclair, the best and most readable of all biographies of this great saint. After we had seen the great film, “Monsieur Vincent,” we were naturally interested in reading Monsignor Jean Calvet’s version of the saint’s life, “St. Vincent de Paul.”

There is no saying how much such an extensive reading program adds to the richness of family life, how many new topics are introduced, to be talked about during the family meals.

And one book that should certainly be read aloud during these days of the great retreat is the Holy Bible. It would be a good idea to lean, for one year at least, close to the selections the Church herself makes in the breviary of the priests. In another year one could take one of the prophets (Isaias during Advent, Jeremias during Lent), and go on from there until every book of Holy Scriptures has been read aloud and discussed in the family.

In this way we have read through the books of the Old and New Testaments more than once, and have found them an unending source of happiness and spiritual growth. Any family that has tried it will never want to give it up.

To set aside the “closed times” of the year for daily reading aloud is one of the most profitable uses of the time gained. As many questions will be asked, it will be necessary to obtain some source in which to find at least some of the answers. A commentary on the Holy Scriptures should be in every Christian house.

If the first thought recurring through the liturgy of Lent is instruction, the second is penance. To understand better what was originally meant by that word, let us go back to the beginning when the

Church was young and the zeal and fervor unbroken. Father Weiser, in his “Easter Book,” tells us about it:

“Persons who had committed serious public sin and scandal were enjoined on Ash Wednesday with the practice of ‘public penance.’ The period of the penance lasted until Holy Thursday when they were solemnly reconciled, absolved from their sins, and allowed to receive Holy Communion….

The imposition of public penance on Ash Wednesday was an official rite in Rome as early as the fourth century; and soon spread to all Christianized nations. Numerous descriptions of this ancient ceremony have been preserved in medieval manuscripts and, in every detail, breathe a spirit of harshness and humility really frightening to us of the present generation.

“Public sinners approached their priests shortly before Lent to accuse themselves of their misdeeds and were presented by the priests on Ash Wednesday to the bishop of the place. Outside the cathedral, poor and noble alike stood barefoot, dressed in sackcloth, heads bowed in humble contrition.

The bishop, assisted by his canons, assigned to each one particular acts of penance according to the nature and gravity of his crime. Whereupon they entered the church, the bishop leading one of them by the hand, the others following in single file, holding each other’s hands.

Before the altar, not only the penitents, but also the bishop and all his clergy recited the seven penitential psalms. [Psalms 6, 31, 37, 50, 101, 129, 142.] Then, as each sinner approached, the bishop imposed his hands on him, sprinkled him with holy water, threw the blessed ashes on his head, and invested him with the hair shirt.

Finally he admonished (“with tears and sighs” as the regulation suggests): “Behold you are cast out from the sight of Holy Mother Church because of your sins and crimes, as Adam the first man was cast out of Paradise because of his transgression.”

After this ceremony the penitents were led out of the church and forbidden to re-enter until Holy Thursday (for the solemn rite of their reconciliation).

Meanwhile they would spend Lent apart from their families in a monastery or some other place of voluntary confinement, where they occupied themselves with prayer, manual labor, and works of charity. Among other things they had to go barefoot all through Lent, were forbidden to converse with others, were made to sleep on the ground or on a bedding of straw, and were unable to bathe or cut their hair.

“Such was the public penance (in addition to the general Lenten fast) for ‘ordinary’ cases of great sin and scandal….For especially shocking and heinous crimes a much longer term was imposed.

An ancient manuscript records the case of an English nobleman of the eleventh century who received a penance of seven years for notorious crimes and scandals committed.

The duties of his first year of public penance consisted of the following details: he must not bear arms (a bitter humiliation for a nobleman of that time!); he must not receive Holy Communion except in danger of death; he must not enter the church to attend Mass but remain standing outside the church door; he must eat very sparingly, taking meat only on Sundays and major feasts; on three days of the week he must abstain from wine; he must feed one poor person every day from what he would have spent on himself.

The document closes with the words: ‘If, however, thou shalt have borne this penance willingly for one year, in the future, with God’s grace, thou shalt be judged more leniently.'” (Francis X. Weiser, “The Easter Book,” pp. 46f. New York, Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1954)

And Father Weiser adds a helpful remark. “These examples will make clear, perhaps, what an indulgence granted by the Church means in our time. An indulgence of seven years is the remission of temporal punishment for sins already forgiven to the extent of a seven years’ personal penance such as just described.”

After having seen what penance meant to our fathers in the faith, it will be interesting to see how much of it is still alive in our times.

The Lord is not a hard man, but in the words of the prophet Joel, “gracious and merciful, patient and rich in mercy, and ready to repent of the evil”. Believe Him to be gentle, kind, generous, and compassionate beyond the tenderness of the most devoted mother, and you will find your anticipations fall infinitely short of the truth. The one thing that He cannot bear is that you should mistrust His love. -Fr. Daniel Considine, 1950’s

Ash Wednesday homily…

Coloring pages for your children…..

Make a statement with this lovely and graceful “Little Lamb” handcrafted apron….fully lined….made with care. Aprons tell a beautiful story…..a story of love and sacrifice….of baking bread and mopping floors, of planting seeds and household chores. Sadly, many women have tossed the aprons aside and donned their business attire. Wear your apron with joy….it is a symbol of Femininity….”Finer” Femininity! 🌺 💗 Available here.

Do you need some good reading suggestions? Visit….

My Book List

Book List for Catholic Men

Book List for the Youth

Lent Lessons for Your Children….

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Painting by Kathryn Fincher

In The Year and Our Children, Mary Reed Newland talks about teaching our children valuable lessons during the grace-filled time of Lent.

One practice she did with her own children is the Lima Beans for sacrifices. The beginning of Lent each child had their own pile of different colored lima beans (they had colored themselves) so they could differentiate from each other’s lima beans. Every time a sacrifice was made they could put one of their own lima beans in the jar. When Easter came the number of lima beans was rewarded accordingly.

A sweet practice that would be fondly remembered by the kids as they grew into adulthood….

Some of her own thoughts as they journeyed through Lent:

The meditations for the Stations of the Cross are most fruitful if they relate to daily life some trial we are struggling with now.

For example, our Lord’s silence when He was condemned to death, when He was tormented by the soldiers, or when He fell under the weight of the Cross – this can be related to that commonplace of childhood: bickering.

Bickering is a form of verbal cannibalism.Usual situation - two brothers in conflict. Focus on front boy

The one who holds out longer with his pecking at another is victor, having reduced the victim to tears, goaded him to losing his temper, striking, or some other form of retaliation, which is all reported as an unprovoked injustice as follows:

“But I didn’t do anything. Nothing. I just said . .

“I just said” is himself far more culpable, usually, than the poor soul he has goaded beyond endurance.

There is no real remedy for this but silence on the part of victims.

Abstinence from it on the part of attackers is the perfect solution, of course, but if someone does start, silence will stop him.

This, however, is awfully hard on the one who is silent, because this is how bickering goes (as if you didn’t know):

“You pig. You took the biggest.”

“I did not, and I’m not a pig.”

“You are too.”

“I am not.”

“You are too. Pig!”

“I am not a pig. I’m not. I’m not a pig I’m not a pig I’m not a pig!”

“You are too. You are a pig you are a pig you are a pig.”

“I’m not I’m not I’m not.”

“You are you are you are.”

This could go on for an hour if Mother didn’t begin to froth at the mouth. Whereas the silent treatment winds up the conversation (if you can call it that) as follows:

“You pig. You took the biggest.”

“I did not. And I’m not a pig.”

“You are too.”

Silence. In other words, you are a Pig.

O cruel silence …

But children well understand that no one is really a pig; this is only a game to see who can make the other lose his temper first.

It is ugly and mean; and the winner is usually the older child because he knows the extent of the younger’s endurance.

Out of his own store of unavenged wrongs, he chooses this way to refresh a bruised ego. If we have taught them what our Lord said must be the very basis for our behavior, we have the point of departure.

“Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to me.”

Learning this, we know what we must know in order to put meditations on the Passion together with events out of daily life and discover how to use them.

Then we can see – and children can see it – that to provoke a brother or a sister is to provoke Christ; to be silent under provocation is to be silent with Christ.

It is not good to make such accusations while saying the Stations, but rather to connect the meditations with these real problems (names of particular children omitted), and return to the principles when we are on the scene of abuses that we must correct.

“You are teasing Christ when you tease your brother. It is the same. Whatsoever you do…” He said.

You torment him just for the fun of it the way the soldiers tormented our Lord.

Yet you really love him, as you really love our Lord.

Keep these things in the front of your mind during Lent, and try to bite your tongue when you are tempted to unkindness.

Each time you keep from saying something unkind, it is a triumph of grace, and our Lord will strengthen you with grace for the next time.

There are powerful graces coming to us during Lent, and we must try to use them to rid ourselves of our faults so that on Easter we can be free of them, like the newly baptized are free of Original Sin.

Impossible? Not really, although it will probably take a lifetime to do it. But it is the goal, and especially during Lent it is the spirit of the preparation: to be as those newborn, on Easter morning.

If we are spectators to such a moral victory, we must be sure to congratulate the hero. “Darling, I heard N. today when he called you a pig and tried to make you angry. It was wonderful, the way you didn’t answer back and only walked away.

You used silence the way our Lord used it, the way He wants you to use it. When you are silent in union with Him, you are growing in the likeness of Christ.”

When Dominic Savio was silent before an unjust accusation, he shamed the other boys into admitting their guilt.

This is often the effect of heroic efforts to reach out to Christ and bear hurts with Him. Grace is the invisible ingredient in all these struggles for perfection.

For every honest effort, one may put a bean in the jar. There are beans for all kinds of things: no desserts, no jumping for the telephone (a genius in our midst suggested this to eliminate violent jostling, wrestling, racing, leaping, and tugging – an excruciating discipline); no complaining about anything; doing chores promptly; no weekly penny for candy, and many more, including that magnificent and most glorious of all: coming when called.

All who do this are known as St. Theresas.

Actually, when you scan the long list of them, they amount to what spiritual directors call the “interior mortifications.”

Our mantel is bare this season except for the two candelabra with their twelve candles and the crucifix between them. Even the bread and the baking speak to us of Lent. Crosses of seeds decorate the bread (because when you see the seeds, you remember about “die so you may live”), and on biscuit crusts and meat pies, symbols of the Passion are cut.

“This art of housekeeping is not learned in a day; those of us who have been engaged in it for years are constantly finding out how little we know, and how far we are, after all, from perfection. It requires a clever woman to keep house; and as I said before there is ample scope, even within the four walls of a house (a sphere which some affect to despise), for the exercise of originality, organizing power, administrative ability. And to the majority of women I would fain believe it is the most interesting and satisfactory of all feminine occupations.” –Annie S. Swan  Courtship and Marriage And the Gentle Art of Home-Making (afflink)

Ember Days or Quatuor Temporas are a traditional time of harvest fasting “four times” per year asking God to give us holy priests for the harvest of souls. Dr Taylor Marshall explains the history and Catholic theology of Ember Days and then challenges Catholics to voluntarily take up the Ember Days asking Christ for holy clergy…

Meet Agnes, a fourteen-year-old Catholic girl, who is challenged to make a sacrifice. Will she cheerfully accept what she knows is God’s will in this situation? Your kids will enjoy this book and it will be one of those “helps” along the way that sweetly instills Catholic culture in your children!

We often don’t realize the impact of those lessons, those Catholic lessons, that are taught each day to our children. It is so much worth the effort! The signs of the cross, kneeling to say prayers, dipping fingers in holy water, laying fresh flowers at the statue of Our Lady, etc., etc. These are gold nuggets that will live on in your children’s lives. This is building Catholic Culture!
These stories are to help you parents with those little things…..They are story books from my new little series, “Catholic Hearth Stories”. I wrote them especially for my grandchildren….and am sharing them with yours.

Catholic Hearth Stories are tales filled with traditional, old-fashioned values. They are about everyday situations in the life of a Catholic family…Tales about home, friends, fun, sacrifice, prayer, etc. These are full-color books sure to capture the heart of your children.

Each book is about 35 pages of full-color pictures that tell a lovely Catholic story. The ages they are appropriate for are approximately 4 – 12 years.

Available here.

All 4 Catholic Hearth Stories available here.

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Celebrate the Faith with your kids all year round!

For over half a century, Catholic families have treasured the practical piety and homespun wisdom of Mary Reed Newland’s classic of domestic spirituality, The Year and Our Children. With this new edition, no longer will you have to search for worn, dusty copies to enjoy Newland’s faithful insights, gentle lessons, and delightful stories. They’re all here, and ready to be shared with your family or homeschooling group. Here, too, you ll find all the prayers, crafts, family activities, litanies, and recipes that will help make your children ever-mindful of the beautiful rhythm of the Church calendar….

In this joyful and charming book, Maria Von Trapp (from The Sound of Music) unveils for you the year-round Christian traditions she loved traditions that created for her large family a warm and inviting Catholic home and will do the same for yours.

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

With the help of Maria Von Trapp, you, too, can provide Christian structure and vibrancy to your home. Soon your home will be a warm and loving place, an earthly reflection of our eternal home….

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You Can Have a Happy Family (Conclusion) – Rev. George A. Kelly

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From The Catholic Family Handbook, Rev. George A. Kelly. 1950’s

Part One

Part Two

The Triangle of God, Parents and Child

It cannot be stressed too often that you can leave a heritage of good for centuries simply by leading a holy life as a parent.

For example, if you have six children, it is possible that within your lifetime you will have twenty-five or thirty grandchildren. They in turn may have more than 100 children, and within a century perhaps 1,000 lives will reflect your influence to some extent. If you have been a good parent, thanks to you they may be good Christians–your advocates in heaven. If you are a bad example, you may leave a large number of evildoers as your contribution to God and humanity.

As the Catholic Bishops of the United States pointed out in 1950 in their memorable formal statement, “The Child: Citizen of Two Worlds,” the first requirement of good Catholic family life is that the children must know God. However, as the Bishops emphasized, “there is a vast difference between ‘knowing about God’ and ‘knowing God.’ The difference is made by personal experience.

It is not enough that the child be given the necessary truths about God. They ought to be given in such a way that he will assimilate them and make them a part of himself. God must become as real to him as his own father and mother.

God must not remain an abstraction. If He does, He will not be loved; and if He is not loved, then all the child’s knowledge about Him will be sterile.

Where love is, there too is service. (‘If you love me, keep my commandments.’) That is Christ’s test and it must be applied to the child. He should be brought to see God’s commandments and precepts as guideposts which give an unerring direction to his steps. In this work, the Church, the family and the school all have a part to play.”

How can you teach your child to know God? First, by inspiring him to love and serve God by your own daily actions. He will be quick to imitate what he sees and hears at home.

If good example is not forthcoming, he will become confused by the contradiction between what you teach and what you practice. His confusion will be compounded when he goes to a school where religion is taught. There he will learn to reverence the name of God, but at home he may hear God’s name used irreverently in petulance and anger.

At school he will learn to get along with his fellow pupils, but at home he may be allowed to offend and wrangle with his brothers and sisters. At school he will be taught strict precepts of honesty and justice, while at home he may hear boasts of sharp business practices and clever evasions of truth.

Disturbed by these contradictions and torn by conflicting loyalties to home and school, he will lose confidence in his parents or teachers or both.

Only two courses are open to your child. He will be either God-centered or self-centered. Every young child seeks to satisfy every selfish whim. Training yours to consider God and others before he acts is one of the most challenging tasks you face. Here is where you can draw on the life of Christ.

If you teach your child to deny his selfish whims in imitation of the obedient and patient Savior, he will not only have a supernatural motive for his actions, but God will have a central place in his affections. Only then can he grow up to his full spiritual stature.

You can find joy in your children. While you should never forget that you are your children’s foremost teacher–and the most important influence they will ever know–your family life will lose its true perspective if you overemphasize the sacrifices you must make to educate them. For your joy in your children should outweigh by far any disadvantages they may cause. In them you will find your own happiness.

Your children give dimension to your love as a couple. Conjugal love, which can be selfish and isolated, takes a great stride with the birth of a baby. Many young mothers have said, “John and I did not really know what our love could grow to be until we held successive children in our arms.”

The greatest aid to your own maturity as human beings is the rearing of your children. St. John Chrysostom remarked, “Can there be a more responsible task than to mold the human spirit or form the morals of young people? I consider that man greater than any painter or sculptor who neglects not the molding of the souls of young people.”

In your children you will rediscover your own youth. Their growth process will rekindle your own sense of wonder and enthusiasm. Johnny asks, “Dad, why is the sky blue?” And Dad, who hadn’t cared, takes a new and longer look.

What have you to show for having lived, if not your children? At forty or fifty years of age, an adult generally reaches the limits of income and social standing. Yet parents continue to grow with their sense of fulfillment in the achievements of their children.

And as if these satisfactions were not enough, parents through their offspring have a grand opportunity to spread the faith. They are real missionaries in their own home. They can say at the end of their lives as Christ said of His Apostles: “Those whom Thou hast given Me, I guarded; and not one of them perished.” (John 17 :12)

There is no doubt that genuine Catholic family life is among the best family life to be found in the United States. For Catholic married couples are one of the few large groups in the country who have consistently sacrificed themselves to have more children.

And the large numbers of their children who, properly trained, have left Catholic homes to take up responsible roles in the armed services, corporate economic life, the labor movement, and the public offices of government, reflect credit on those parents and on the Church.

In the Catholic home there is that modern rarity–fidelity between husband and wife. There is great reverence for parents by the children, great protection of weaker members by the stronger, and a great awareness of the dignity and rights of every member of the family.

The Catholic woman has attained a height of respect and authority which cannot be found anywhere else, and the chief factor in her improvement has been the Church’s teaching on chastity, conjugal equality, the sacredness of motherhood, and the supernatural end of the family, in imitation of the Holy Family of Nazareth. But even as we uphold the Catholic woman as wife and mother, we also uphold the pre-eminent place of the husband and father in the home.

You must not forget that the vigor of your Catholicism rests on the stability and goodness of your family life. Of course, the Church knows better than anyone else that in proclaiming Catholic family ideals she is dealing with human weakness and the tendency to selfishness and sin.

Like a good mother, she also forgives and embraces those who momentarily betray those ideals. But unlike others, she will never admit that those weaknesses diminish or vitiate God’s place for fathers and mothers or call sin virtue or pretend that weakness is strength.

The reward for all your efforts is the Call of Christ on Judgment Day:

“Come, ye blessed of My Father.”

 
“I insist that it is every woman’s duty to know, or to acquire some practical knowledge of housekeeping, so that she may be ready for any emergency. Her fitness for it will be a perpetual source of satisfaction to her, for there is nothing more self-satisfying than to feel that one is capable; it gives confidence, strength, and self-reliance.”- Annie S. Swan, Courtship and Marriage And the Gentle Art of Home-Making, 1893
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Let’s keep our young girls engaged in the Faith! Let’s teach them how to be organized, how to prioritize, how to keep on top of, first, the Spiritual things in their life, and then the other daily duties that God requires of them!

Nothing is more valuable than this type of education…an education for life! That is where this journal comes in! It will give your girls a feel for keeping a To-Do List, with spiritual things at the forefront! What more could you want for them?

Let this journal help you along the way, Mothers! The girls will have 30 days of checklists, beautiful thoughts to inspire them for the day, some fun things…like drawing their day and other things to keep them focused.

This next 30 days will be invaluable to them…to learn life skills, to have the satisfaction of checking off the activities they finish, to learn to be thankful for the  good things God has given us, to offer up their day for someone in need, etc.

This journal is for girls 8 (with the help of Mom) to 16 years of age.

It is a beautiful journal, full of color and loveliness! Your girls will treasure it and be able to look back on it for inspiration and encouragement!

AVAILABLE HERE.

PACKAGE Specials!

Catholic Girl’s Journal and Women’s Gratitude Journal AVAILABLE HERE.

All 4 Journals Available here.

journals

With his facile pen and from the wealth of his nation-wide experience, the well-known author treats anything and everything that might be included under the heading of home education: the pre-marriage training of prospective parents, the problems of the pre-school days down through the years of adolescence. No topic is neglected. “What is most praiseworthy is Fr. Lord’s insistence throughout that no educational agency can supplant the work that must be done by parents.” – Felix M. Kirsch, O.F.M.

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Necessary advice to Catholic parents building a Catholic home. Reliable advice that is almost completely lost today, from people who know how it’s done. How to make it. How to live it. How to keep it. This book covers every aspect of Catholicizing your home–from spiritual matters like prayer and catechism to nuts and bolts topics like Keeping the Family Budget, Games and Toys, Harmony between School and Home, Family Prayers, Good Reading in the Home, Necessity of Home Life and much more

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The Single Vocation in the World/More Tea-Time With FF

by Fr. Dominic J. Unger, O.F.M., 1958, The Mystery of Love for the Single

There have always been enemies outside the Church who have attacked the celibacy of the clergy and denounced the perfect chastity of religious. With the defense of such single people we are not concerned directly, though much of what we say about chastity for the single in the world holds equally for the priests and religious.

Directly we are concerned with the vocation of men and women in the world who wish to live a life of perfect chastity in the single state. The legitimacy of this vocation has been attacked by those outside the Church. Even some Catholics seem to have had inaccurate, incomplete, and disparaging ideas on the matter.

We aim, therefore, to prove that it is lawful for people to remain in the world and live a single life of perfect chastity for the sublime purpose of attaining their primary end in life more easily and securely, thereby achieving a more complete and perfect personality, and ultimately for the purpose of obtaining a more perfect life of glory in heaven—all this for the greater honor and glory of Christ and God.

That such perfect chastity is quite legitimate is clear, first, from the fact that no one of less authority than Christ counselled it. He invited all those who feel capable of living that life to accept it when He said: “And there are eunuchs who have made themselves so for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. Let him accept it who can” (Matthew 19,12).

This invitation of Christ is general, it is not limited to priests or religious. His invitation implies that the vocation is difficult, but that it can be chosen freely by anyone who feels he can live it. And the reason He assigned for such a life is “for the kingdom of heaven’s sake.” Anyone may choose it for that reason, is Christ’s meaning; not merely those who for various reasons are barred from entering other vocations.

St. Paul, too, is warrant for the lawfulness of such a vocation of virginal love in the world. In his long and beautiful seventh chapter to the Corinthians about virginity and married life, he argues not only that this is a lawful vocation but that it is more perfect than the vocation of married life. For I would that you all were as I myself; but each one has his own gift from God, one in this way, and another in that. But I say to the unmarried and to widows, it is good for them if they so remain, even as I. (I Corinthians 7,7-8)

Later he explains: He who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please God. Whereas he who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife; and he is divided. And the unmarried woman, and the virgin, thinks about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy in body and in spirit. Whereas she who is married thinks about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.

Now this I say for your benefit, not to put a halter upon you, but to promote what is proper, and to make it possible for you to pray to the Lord without distraction. (1 Corinthians 7,32-35)

And he concludes: But she will be more blessed, in my judgment, if she remains as she is [namely, a virgin]. And I think St. Paul was speaking directly of women virgins, but his thoughts have equal force for men who live in perfect chastity. That is evident from the fact that he proposes himself as a model even for the women virgins.

In view of that clear teaching of Christ and St. Paul, it is not surprising that Holy Mother Church, who is herself the virginal Spouse of Christ, approved of this vocation from the very beginning, and protected it against the attacks of heretics and immoral persons. By her infallible authority she has declared that this vocation is better, in itself, than that of the married.

The Council of Trent made this statement: “If anyone says that the conjugal state is to be preferred to the state of virginity or celibacy, and that it is not better and more blessed to remain in virginity or celibacy than to enter matrimony, let him be condemned. (Session 24, canon 10).

Though the Council had religious and priests more in mind, its canon was meant also for men and women who live a life of virginity in the world.

In our own day Pope Pius XII, in a discourse on the vocation of woman in the modern world, praised the thousands who through the twenty centuries of the Church’s history have followed Christ’s counsel and freely renounced marriage to consecrate their services to humanity by prayer and penance, by every kind of work of charity toward children, the ignorant, the sick, the dying.

These remarks of the Pope do not refer exclusively to priests and religious. He praised those, too, who freely renounced marriage for the sake of a life of contemplation, of sacrifice and of charity. In regard to these, he said, one immediately thinks of a “vocation”; namely, that they have a true calling for that life from God.

Then, to encourage those who because of circumstances of war had to remain unmarried, he added that they, too, have a “vocation,” a call from God for their single lives, and their lives need not be useless for society. (Discourse, Oct. 21, 1945)

It would be quite erroneous to think that the Pope did not recommend a single life in the world except for those who were forced to remain unmarried. Such a deduction, as our analysis of the whole section shows, would be utterly false.

The Pope would never make such a primitive error in so important a matter of Christian living. He was speaking of a fact due to war conditions. He was not laying down an exclusive principle.

In fact, just before that he spoke of those who voluntarily choose such a vocation. For them it is a “vocation” without doubt. But it can be a “vocation,” he wished to explain, also for those who remain unmarried by force of circumstances.

Already prior to that discourse, on Holy Saturday, 1943, in an allocution to the Italian girls of Catholic Action, the Pope praised “the sons and daughters in the earliest Church, who freely renounced earthly nuptials for the love of Christ, consecrated all their powers to the duties of caring for souls, of Christian education, of charity, of foreign missions.”

He then spoke of those who were even martyred for their faith and purity. Only later does he mention religious. Those referred to earlier evidently include lay people who lived in perfect chastity, as is clear too from his speaking of the “earliest Church,” when there were no religious in the strict sense.

But the Holy Father gave a more solemn approval to the single life in the world in his encyclical On Holy Virginity, March 25, 1954. This document deals generally with virginity as lived by priests and religious, but many points apply equally to lay people who live in perfect chastity.

In one passage in particular he speaks expressly of lay people: But while such perfect chastity is the object of one of the three vows, of which the religious state consists, and while it is required of the clergy of the Latin Church in major Orders, and is demanded from the members of secular institutes; it, nevertheless, flourishes also among not a few who belong entirely to the laity.

For there are men and women who are not established in a public state of perfection, and still they abstain entirely from matrimony and the carnal pleasures by virtue of a resolve or a private vow, in order that they may more freely serve their fellow men and that they may unite their souls more easily and closely with God.

We have here an authoritative as well as an express approval of the single vocation even for those who are not forced into it but who choose it freely.

Virginal chastity in the world has, through the centuries, received at least implicit approval from the Vicars of Christ by the fact that they have beatified and canonized many men and women who lived this form of life. They have presented them to the whole world as models to be imitated.

A couple more questions were asked after my last “Tea-Time” and I thought it would be helpful to others to answer them here. They were asked in the comments so I thought the ladies wouldn’t mind if I put them on the post…

I have a question–what advice do you have for mothers with morning sickness? Our routine completely falls apart and my husband works hard to care for all the children and me all by himself. It is discouraging and very difficult for everyone. My moods during pregnancy also lower my quality as a mother. What spiritual advice would you give me? Thank you and I love your work!

I sent this question to my daughters and daughter-in-law. Here is the “thread” of answers:

“Father said it is a woman’s time of exodus.. You literally have to offer it up to God and do what you possibly can do to survive. Each day is just trying to get your basic prayers in. Like you said morning, night, rosary… Otherwise leave it in God’s hands…He knows what you’re going through. Unless there’s very specific areas which she could possibly work on I can’t think of how it necessarily would be helped…except by offering it up. Looking at our pregnancies a lot of times it is just survival. But somehow God seems to bless us and pull us through.”

“Exactly! That’s why I tremble in my boots thinking about pregnancy. I know I will be passed out, sicker than a dog, for 4ish months. You have to just live one day at a time and be grateful that you can have children. (Progesterone cream for mood swings.)”

“And depending on the man, it’s his time of exodus also. They definitely have to pick up a ton of slack and especially if he’s a good and caring man. Now that I am thinking of it, it just amazes me how good our guys are and how much they do to help us during that time!”

“I never suffered severe morning sickness so I can’t completely relate. But, like all things in life, the gifts, the crosses, we strive to accept them both with a joyful heart and offer them up to God. And allow ourselves LOTS of grace when the going is rough. God knows we can’t do it all, all the time. We demand so much of ourselves, always trying to be ‘perfect’ that we have a hard time truly letting God ‘handle the reins.’ Practically, you do what you can and let go of the rest. Focus on nutrition, supplements, rest, and if available and financially feasible, seek outside help when necessary. Never be too proud to ask for help!”

Question:  I follow your blog for quite some time and I enjoy it, it is like a breath of fresh air. I have a question: what would you advise to a single young woman who is alone, still waiting for soul mate, but I try to choose noble and more feminine jobs that would protect me from indecent behaviors. So I would like to hear your advice about possible jobs or your experience. Thank you very much and may God bless your family.

You are wise. There are jobs that are more feminine than others, and, if you have the choice, seek out the ones that help to build those qualities, rather than tear them down.

For myself, I worked in an office for the few years before I got married. I took quite a pay cut by quitting my one job to go to another. But I did not like the atmosphere in the government job I held. The women were very catty and unfeminine….and I was surrounded. So I vouched for the other job and was much happier…the money was not as important to me.

I think jobs where you help others….nursing home, nanny, etc. are very valuable. You are not only making a necessary income, but it is an apostolate, as you are working with souls. This brings out the feminine, nurturing side of a young woman, which is always good.

This being said, my girls go out on the job with their brothers and dad. They paint…which means they sand, they lift, they clean, etc. I’m not at the job with them but even though this job may not seem very feminine, the guys respect them, they wear their work skirts on the job and I am sure they work hard while being a lady. It can be done….

We may not have choices so God provides in our journey. Prayer always can change circumstances and put those more feminine choices in our paths.

You may have read this post: If You Want to Find the Right Person, You Must BE the Right Person, and it is not completely on topic to your question but it may be one you enjoy.

Often turn to Our Lord, Who is watching you, poor frail little being that you are, amid your labors and distractions. He sends you help and blesses your afflictions. This thought should enable you to bear your troubles patiently and quietly, for love of Him Who only allows you to be tried for your own good. -St. Francis de Sales

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

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

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The Heavenly Vision/My Day’s Journey

by Fr. Daniel Considine, 1950’s

The Heavenly Vision

Let us examine our own experience of God’s dealings with us in the past. We find bad habits of temper or uncharitableness or worse things installed within us. Turn back upon them the lamp of memory steadily, widely, so as to bring into view all attendant circumstances and light up God’s admonitions and inspirations as well as our own perversity.

Try to recollect how often the voice of conscience has striven to make itself heard, in gentle whispers first of all and then in loud remonstrance or remorse, until quelled at last it has seemed to die in sobs or in murmurs far away.

How many fires of noble purpose have been lit in our souls by stirring words or great examples, or suddenly, in the strangest fashion in most unexpected places or at most unlikely times by the Holy Spirit, who alone can touch the inmost heart, and afterwards have burnt low and then to ashes because you would take no pains to feed them!

St Paul says he was not disobedient to the heavenly vision. We indeed have no claim to such a wonder as wrought his conversion, but I believe that glimpses of the Unseen, and high impulses and yearnings for better things, not the work of imagination but of the God “in whom we live and move and have our being”, are not so uncommon as is often fancied in these days of ours, perhaps because there are so many lying spirits abroad just now trying to deceive us.

The Lord is not a hard man, but in the words of the prophet Joel, “gracious and merciful, patient and rich in mercy, and ready to repent of the evil”. Believe Him to be gentle, kind, generous, and compassionate beyond the tenderness of the most devoted mother, and you will find your anticipations fall infinitely short of the truth.

The one thing that He cannot bear is that you should mistrust His love.

My Day’s Journey

In what thoughts can I find inspiration and comfort at the beginning of each day? In God with us and therefore we with God. My day’s march has been carefully mapped out for me, “before Abraham was made”, in the Divine counsels, its windings allowed for, the ambushes of my enemies forestalled.

I may be quite assured against surprises or superior force, if only I leave myself unhesitatingly in the hands of God. And then what a fine thing it is, enough to stir one’s pulses at a suitable time and place, but true even when one is not in an enthusiastic mood, to know that the feeblest of us has a bit to do, a work to accomplish, under a commission, not signed by earthly emperor or king, but from the Sovereign of Heaven itself!

Further, every weary pace I count, if it so be that the way is long or tedious, is taken under the eyes of Him for whose sake I have begun the march and who will at its end give me a rich reward.

I can make for myself a Friend who will accompany me through my day, step by step, who can and will, if I do not fail Him, always guide me, always uphold me, in whom I can trust unreservedly, and who is so generous that while He has no need of me and I have every need of Him, He actually regards my leaning upon Him as a favor done by me to Him and is most anxious to reward me for obeying what is not only my duty but the dictates of my own interest and advantage.

To halt for a few seconds or minutes clear the head. Why should not the thoughts during my day’s work be only to rest in the thoughts of God, His goodness, our need of His assistance, or our fervent wishes for the welfare of those dear to us, and therefore our supplications for them to the throne of grace, be suitable at such times?

No painful effort, no strain would be needed or desirable. If after a little practice we were to find the attempt a strain, would not this alone prove to us how much we have yet to learn about the proper method of intercourse with God – how stiff and formal, inelastic and cold our own way is, so unlike the conversation of a child with his Father and therefore so unlike the model of prayer taught us by Our Lord Himself.

God is always at our elbow, God is always in our heart, God encompasses us on every side. He reads all our thoughts, He intimately knows every aspiration, every fear, every hope of our soul – He understands us without any need of our explanation, He can supply the answer to the problems which perplex ourselves.

Why do we not consult Him more, open our hearts to His love, lean on Him in our weakness, implore His succor in our wants? He has not shrunk from abasing Himself to earth in order to share my human toils and troubles and trials; and shall I refuse His Company, as far as I can, and deny my confidences and reject His Friendship?

If He loves to be with me, my answer must be, that I, above all, desire to love to be with Him.

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

Lent teaches us to love God and our neighbor more than our selves… to love our souls more than our bodies… to love our crosses. In a word, Lent helps us put charity in order and with charity… our wills… our hearts are perfected and made ready to reach the summit of the climb… Calvary.

Do you need some good reading suggestions? Visit…

My Book List

Book List for Catholic Men

Book List for the Youth

Tea Time With Finer Femininity and A Gallery!

The following are answers to a few questions that I have received lately…

Question: Please, if you could give me some advice about the Internet in the home. We are careful what we allow the children to have access to but now that one of my children has reached 18, he wants his own laptop for studying, etc.

How much freedom do you allow as your children get older?

I am going to tell you what we do….

Our kids don’t have smart phones until they are married, as a general rule. Rosie has one. She is older than any of our other children have been as a single. She is devout and responsible…so she has one. She was not too hyped about it…which is a good indication she could handle it. She was stuck in her room, very sick and listened to audio books. Thus, the smart phone (for the audio books).

I am very much on top of who is looking at computers. The password is only known by me, my husband and Rosie. The computer is in a high traffic area. I don’t leave it open when I go out. The kids know they have to wait until I get home. They are not clamoring for it because their life hasn’t included it in everything.

We have been strict. And we call the shots when the kids are older but still living in the home. We aren’t apologetic about that. It’s the way it is. The internet is such a dangerous tool so we feel it is important enough to monitor things closely.

Our boys are wary of the computer. They know how quickly people can fall….especially boys…but girls, too. We just have one boy (Angelo) at home and he has written a journal for boys. He was on the laptop a lot while he was doing that. But I could see it at all times and I kept a close eye on things. Don’t ever just “trust” your son. As good as he may be, he is human, has curiosity…and it is just one click away. Covenant Eyes and other such monitoring software are valuable. We haven’t done this. I have chosen to watch things closely. But I do believe it would be a very good thing to have.

So, my advice is…be strict. If they have to use the computer then do be diligent…and make sure they are, too. It takes work but there is nothing more important than the souls of our children.

(I have seen many guys around these parts have flip phones. They don’t trust themselves with a smart phone. These guys run businesses, do Ebay or Craigslist and could really use a smart phone. The convenience is not worth it to them.

My married boys all have smart phones now. It is up to them and their wives to monitor things. And they do. They are not perfect but at least they were old enough to make these decisions before they had the world…good and bad….in the palm of their hands!)

Question: Do you have pdf’s or downloads available for your Boy’s and Girl’s Journals?

Not at the moment. I will work on this. I need to make them black and white first. I will put it up on the blog here when I have that accomplished. I will also get the Gratitude Journal so that you can buy the download. I know many of you are from out-of-country and shipping is expensive for the physical book.

Question: Do you have your taste and smell back after Covid?

Very slightly. And some days not at all. It has been over 3 months so I had a chat with our local Catholic doctor. He said that Covid can cause nerve damage in that area. When you have nerve damage, it can take a year to heal. One of the best things to do with when it comes to nerves, is to work the area. So that is what I am doing. It is called “Sniff Therapy”. I tell you this so you can pass it along to anyone who wants to try it. Here are the four “smells” that are recommended in this article. They sit by my computer and I try to do it twice a day. (Lemon, Rose, Eucalyptus, Clove, in that order.) We’ll see….

Question: Our country seems to becoming more and more Communist. As lay people taking care of our families, what can do we do?

Our family recently went to the Convent in Gower and spent some Days of Recollection there. The good priest gave a sermon on Sunday about being under the “Thumb of Communism” and what we can do. Here was the four things he said:

  1. Holy Mass
  2. Divine Office
  3. Holy Rosary
  4. Devotion to the Holy Face

I found that last one interesting. Father said it is a devotion especially for Communism. We got the book about the Holy Face Devotion, called The Golden Arrow and we will be reading it.

Here is a lovely prayer to the Holy Face from my Little Flower Prayerbook:

Prayer of St Therese to the Holy Face of Jesus

“O Jesus, who, in Thy cruel Passion didst become the ‘reproach of men and the Man of Sorrows,’ I worship Thy divine Face. Once it shone with the beauty and sweetness of the Divinity; but now, for my sake, it is become as ‘the face of a leper.’

Yet, in that disfigured Countenance, I recognize Thy infinite love, and I am consumed with the desire of making Thee loved by all mankind.

The tears that flowed so abundantly from Thy Eyes are to me as precious pearls that I delight to gather, that with their worth I may ransom the souls of poor sinners.

O Jesus, whose Face is the sole beauty that ravishes my heart, I may not see here below the sweetness of Thy glance, nor feel the ineffable tenderness of Thy kiss, I bow to Thy Will—but I pray Thee to imprint in me Thy divine likeness, and I implore Thee so to inflame me with Thy love, that it may quickly consume me, and that I may soon reach the vision of Thy glorious Face in heaven.”

Amen.

Question: I feel so inadequate. I feel like I am not doing enough. It really stresses me out because I see my kids growing up and I know what big things they will face. I have got to do more spiritually in order to equip them….but I am tired. I have several children and life is busy and hectic. Do you have any advice?

Yes, I do. First things first. Let’s make a TO-DO List. No, not one of those lists that are telling you to clean the refrigerator, mop the floor and go to the grocery store. No, this is a “First Things First” List. Here’s how it could look (or something like this):

Morning Prayers

Mercy Chaplet (Or some other prayer for mid-afternoon to bring the family together…not too long…maybe a special litany or a different chaplet)

Family Rosary

Night Prayers

There, that’s not too long, is it? Get these done daily and they will give you the grace to handle the rest of life. Here’s a post to help with your Morning and Night Prayers. And then make sure your kids are saying their own Morning and Night Prayers. Get a little booklet to help your kids along when they are real small.

Then do the best you can for the rest of the day. We must be diligent with our daily duties but the spiritual is the most important and if you get that done, you are doing good. Rely on God for the rest.

I know that sounds simplistic but simple is best…and will help us to maintain that peace that is so crucial in the business of raising children. Well, and crucial for our own well-being and peace of mind! At the end of a hectic day, when we think we have not accomplished much, if we can look at that spiritual list and they are all checked off, you have done much!

Question: I am very worried about my children growing up in the world and in our country with the way things are going. How do you deal with these kind of thoughts?

I am going to quote a dad to answer this question:

Don’t feel sorry for or fear for your kids because the world they are going to grow up in is not what it used to be.
God created them and called them for the exact moment in time that they’re in. Their life wasn’t a coincidence or an accident.
Raise them up to know the power they walk in as children of God.
Train them up in the authority of His Word.
Teach them to walk in faith knowing that God is in control.
Empower them to know they can change the world.
Don’t teach them to be fearful and disheartened by the state of the world but hopeful that they can do something about it.
Every person in all of history has been placed in the time that they were in because of God’s sovereign plan.
He knew Daniel could handle the lions den.
He knew David could handle Goliath.
He knew Esther could handle Haman.
He knew Peter could handle persecution.
He knows that your child can handle whatever challenge they face in their life. He created them specifically for it!
Don’t be scared for your children, but be honored that God chose YOU to parent them! Teach them God’s love and to share it with everyone!
Rise up to the challenge.
Raise Daniels, Davids, Esthers and Peters! 💪🏼
God isn’t scratching His head wondering what He’s going to do with this mess of a world.
He has an army He’s raising up to drive back the darkness and make Him known all over the earth!!!
Don’t let YOUR fear steal the greatness God placed in them.
I know it’s hard to imagine them as anything besides our sweet little babies, and we just want to protect them from anything that could ever be hard on them, but they were born for such a time as this.

Just some thoughts from a dad who is rocking his sleeping baby and thinking about what a crazy day it has been in our country.

Alex Cravens

And now…A GALLERY!