With inspiring and beautiful words, Rev. O’Reilly compares the role of womanhood in the home to the fire and warmth of the sun, which, were its light to go out, all would wither and die.
He talks about the how the “springs of true joy” will flourish in our homes if we have certain virtues flourishing within its four walls. In this short piece he talks about the first and most important virtue, faith.
From True Womanhood
The most learned men of modern times agree in saying, that the sun’s light and warmth are, in the order established by the Creator, the sources of all vegetable and animal life on the surface of our globe.
They regulate the succession of seasons, the growth of all the wonderful varieties of tree and shrub and flower and grass that make of the surface of the earth an image of Paradise.
They give health and vigor to the myriads of animals of every kind that live in the air or in the waters or on the dry land, and to which, in turn, the vegetable world furnishes food and sustenance.
The very motion given to the rain in falling, to the rivers in their course, to the oceans and their currents, comes from that sun-force, as well as the clouds which sail above our heads in the firmament and the lovely colors which paint them.
Nay, there is not a single beauty in the million-million shades which embellish the flowers of grove or garden or field, or clothe, at dawn or noontide or sunset, the face of earth and heaven, which is not a creation of glorious light, the visible image of His divine countenance in whom is the source of all splendor and life and beauty.
Even so, O Woman, within that world which is your home and kingdom, your face is to light up and brighten and beautify all things, and your heart is to be the source of that vital fire and strength without which the father can be no true father, the brother no true brother, the sister no true sister, since all have to learn from you how to love, how to labor lovingly, how to be forgetful of self, and mindful only of the welfare of others.
The natural affection by which the Creator of our souls draws to each other husband and wife, and which, in turn, they pour out on their children and receive back from these in filial regard and reverence, is the very source of domestic happiness.
We cannot estimate too highly this holy mutual love which knits together the hearts of parents and children.
It is as necessary to the peace, the comfort, the prosperity, and the bliss of every home, as the dew and the rain and the streams of running water are necessary to the husbandman for the fertility of the land he cultivates and the growth of the harvest on which depend both his subsistence and his wealth.
Let the dew and rain of heaven cease to fall on the fairest valley, let the springs of living water be dried up all over its bosom, and the rivers which brighten and fertilize it cease to flow but for a few seasons, and it will be like the vale of death, forsaken of every living thing.
Do you wish, O reader, to learn how the springs of true life, of true love and joy, may flow, unfailing and eternal, within the little paradise of your home?
Then weigh well the words of the great Martyr-Pope placed at the head of this chapter:
“Who is not struck with beholding your lively faith; your piety full of sweetness and modesty; your generous hospitality; the holiness which reigns within your families; the serenity and innocence of your conversation?” ST. CLEMENT, Pope and Martyr.
These point out the virtues and qualities which should adorn every household in which Christ is worshiped : a lively faith, a piety full of sweetness and modesty, a generous hospitality; holiness of life, serenity and innocence of conversation.
Let us examine together how much there is in every one of these.
We need not send to a great distance for one of those men famed for their skill in discovering hidden and plentiful springs of water beneath the surface of the ground.
Their mysterious knowledge and the use of their magic wand are useless here. For, here we have seven pure and exhaust-less wells of living water, created for our home by the Maker of all things, and placed ready to our hand for every need.
And, first of all, is a lively faith. We Christians are given that eye of the soul which enables us to see the invisible world, as if the veil which hides it were withdrawn. God becomes to us an ever-present, most sweet and most comforting reality.
The great patriarch, Abraham, was bidden, in his long exile, and as a sure means of bearing up against his manifold trials, to walk before God, that is, to have God ever present before the eye of his soul.
This sense of the Divine Majesty as a vision always accompanying us in our every occupation, in labor as well as repose just as the pillar of cloud went with the Israelites in their journeying toward the Promised Land gives wonderful light to us in our darkness and difficulties, cheers us marvelously in distress and adversity, lightens the hardest labor and the most intolerable burden, imparts a divine strength in the hour of temptation; for, what can we not undertake and accomplish, what enemy can we not resist and put to flight, when we feel that His eye is on us, that we have him there face to face, that His arm is ever stretched out to support and to shield us, and that all the love of His fatherly heart sweetens the bitterness of our struggle, and rewards our generosity in overcoming all for his sake?
Joseph and Mary at Nazareth were privileged above all human beings to behold that Wisdom which created the world living and laboring daily beneath their humble roof, and growing up into the successive perfection of holy infancy, boyhood, and manhood, while concealing his quality from the surrounding multitude, and revealing only to a few like themselves his Godhead and his mission.
It is certain, that he practiced all the virtues and fulfilled all the duties of his age and station in the way best fitted to glorify his Father : he was enlightening the world, sanctifying himself, and marking out the path of life as truly for every one of us, during these long and obscure years of his abode in Nazareth, as when his teaching and his miracles drew around him all Galilee and Judea.
And what an eloquent lesson was there, exemplifying that “life of faith,” without which the existence of the Christian man or woman is barren of all supernatural merit!
Christ, in the helpless years of his infancy and boyhood, when his life was one of entire dependence and submission, glorified and pleased his Father by solely seeking his good will and pleasure in obeying those appointed his earthly parents, and in accomplishing the obscure duties of his age.
This lesson Mary and Joseph were not slow to learn and to practice. They read in the rapt charity with which their worshiped Charge offered to the Divine Majesty every day and hour and moment of these golden years of humility and toil, this all-important law of life for the children of God: ‘ That the value of what we do does not depend on the greatness or publicity of the work accomplished ; but on the spirit of love toward the Father with which it is undertaken and carried out ; and that the pure purpose and offering of the heart is what God prizes above all else.
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“When we hold that tiny bundle in our arms for the very first time, a flood of hopes and dreams emerges like a great blue whale cresting to spout his spray into the air. But somewhere in the day-to-day busyness of life, encouraging words can get lost among the to-dos and not-to-dos. We need to take a fresh look at motherhood and recapture the commitment to be the great encouragers along a child’s journey toward adulthood.” -Sharon Jaynes, The Power of a Woman’s Words (Painting by William-Adolphe Bouguereau)