The Teaching of Divine Providence

An article that touches our hearts in these troubling times. Divine Providence will always see us through. Let us make sure we are keeping our priorities straight….our daily prayers, the Sacraments, coupled with our daily duties firmly adhered to each day….

 by Pope Pius XII, Dear Newlyweds

January 8, 1941 Vol. II, p.367

For you, dear newlyweds, the present hour is like the joyous time of seeding fields made ready with loving care.

Yet, however brightly your youthful innocence may sparkle, you have already learned enough in the school of experience and from a look at the world to know that the future lying before you, which we hope will be brimming with Christian happiness, will bestow upon you not pleasures and joys alone, and that, especially in these troubled times, it will not bring to pass without suffering your sublime mission of giving life to innocent children, gifts of heaven, of raising and instructing them in holy religion by word and example, destined as they are to be your own support and the bulwark of your country and to join you one day in eternal glory and happiness.

The farmer does not hesitate to face courageously the unpredictable eventualities of drought and frost, for he is aware that God’s merciful providence will be concerned for him and will not let fall those who serve and hope in Him, as he will not let starve the sparrows which swoop about the plow.

You too know that the Lord will not permit you to be tempted beyond your power (I Cor. 10:13) and that patience has “its perfect work” (James 1:2). Do not doubt therefore that in His infinite goodness He will suit the trials to your strength, or better still, to the strength and comfort which He Himself will give you through His grace; and this faith in Him which is the source of hope in your hearts today will still be the support of your work tomorrow.

But this should not make you forget that even in the darkest moments the future might hold for you, you will not be without consolations and satisfactions.

In the country, as you know, even winter does not pass without its joys. Is it not then that the family, dispersed during other seasons because of its work, regathers more frequently around the hearth? Is not this the time of long paternal and fraternal sessions during which hearts beat more in union with each other than ever, and, in conversations and silences more eloquent than words, souls probe each other more deeply and know each other more intimately in their affection and thoughts?

Is it not then that the past, the present and the future enliven the memories and conversations of happy families?

So too for you, dear sons and daughters, in the most difficult moments that might ever befall you, the haven of comfort and consolation will be just as great. Do not fear.

If, as strong and trusting Christians, you will accept afflictions too as coming from the Hands of God to perfect our virtue, these trials, instead of inciting reproach, complaints, discord and dissension, as unhappily occurs so often, will draw your hearts even closer together and will strengthen your love in sorrow, for love does not live without grief.

Then you will know each other, you will speak to each other and you will understand each other better, you will support each other more steadily in the steps of life’s journey. Then the love which joins you, tempered in the fires of tribulation, will definitely grow stronger; nothing will any longer avail to separate two souls which have so valorously suffered and carried together the cross in union with Christ.

These thoughts, which come from the heart as our paternal remembrance for you, may perhaps seem austere in these days of your happiness.

Yet in the light of the faith which has drawn you to us, they are the only source of true happiness, of that happiness which can only arise, exist or endure where the high purpose of this life is profoundly understood, accepted, loved; of a happiness less childish, less thoughtless, less frivolous, but more intimate, more solid and more secure since it is founded on the fullness of the Christian spirit which does not collapse before the winds of adversity and which makes joys and sorrows of this world the means of attaining a better life.

This is the spirit we ask of God for you, dear newlyweds, and for all those who are dear to you, while as a pledge of abundant graces and heaven’s gifts we impart, with all our heart, our paternal Apostolic Benediction.

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“Modern mothers have been relying on psychology books to interpret child behavior for so long now that if all the psychology books were burned to a crisp, few mothers could relax with the conviction that God’s love, the maternal instinct, and divine grace could take their place. What we all — little or big — want is God; if we do not realize it, however, we choose many ignoble things in His place. And if we want to teach children to be good with a goodness that’s lasting, we must teach them to be good for the love of God.”
Mary Reed Newland, How to Raise Good Catholic Children, 1954

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Patience With Our Own Faults and Imperfections

Picking ourselves up after we fall, not getting discouraged, not beating ourselves up……Father Jacques Philippe explains why this is fundamental to our climb in the spiritual life….

Searching For and Maintaining Peace by Fr. Jacques Philippe

When one has gone a certain distance in the spiritual life, when one truly desires to love the Lord with all his heart, when one has learned to have confidence in God and to abandon himself into His hands in the midst of difficulties, there remains for him, however, a circumstance in which he often risks losing his peace and tranquility of soul and which the devil frequently exploits to discourage and trouble him.

It concerns the vision of his misery, the experience of his own faults, the failures he continues to experience in such and such an area, despite his strong desire to correct himself.

But here also it is important to be aware that the sadness, the discouragement and the anguish of soul that we feel after committing a fault are not good and we must, on the contrary, do everything we can to remain at peace.

In the daily experience of our miseries and faults, this is the fundamental principle that must guide us. It is not so much a question of our making superhuman efforts to completely eliminate our imperfections and our sins (that which is, in any case, beyond our reach!), as it is a question of knowing how, as quickly as possible, to recapture our peace when we have fallen into sin or have been troubled by the experience of our imperfections, and to avoid sadness and discouragement.

This is not laxity, not resignation to mediocrity, but, on the contrary, a way in which to sanctify ourselves more rapidly. There are  a number of reasons for this.

The first reason is the fundamental principle that we have already mentioned many times: God acts in the peace of one’s soul. It is not by our own efforts that we succeed in liberating ourselves from sin; it is only the grace of God which attains this end. Rather than troubling ourselves, it is more efficacious to regain our peace and let God act.

The second reason is that this is more pleasing to God. What is more pleasing to God? Is it when, after experiencing a failure, we are discouraged and tormented, or when we react by saying: “Lord, I ask Your pardon, I have sinned again. This, alas, is what I am capable of doing on my own! But I abandon myself with confidence to Your mercy and Your pardon, I thank You for not allowing me to sin even more grievously.

I abandon myself to You with confidence because I know that one day you will heal me completely and, in the meantime, I ask You that the experience of my misery would cause me to be more humble, more considerate of others, more conscious that I can do nothing by myself, but that I must rely solely on Your love and Your mercy.” The response is clear.

The third reason is that the trouble, the sadness and the discouragement that we feel regarding our failures and our faults are rarely pure; they are not very often the simple pain of having offended God. They are in good part mixed with pride.

We are not sad and discouraged so much because God was offended, but because the ideal image that we have of ourselves has been brutally shaken. Our pain is very often that of wounded pride! This excessive pain is actually a sign that we have put our trust in ourselves – in our own strength and not in God.

Listen to Dom Lorenzo Scupoli whom we have already cited:

“A presumptuous man believes with certainty that he has acquired a distrust of himself and confidence in God (which are the foundations of the spiritual life and therefore that which one must make an effort to acquire), but this is an error that we never recognize better than when we have just experienced a failure.

Because then, if one is troubled by it, if one feels afflicted by it, if it causes one to lose all hope of making new progress in virtue, this is a sign that one has placed all his confidence, not in God, but in himself, and the greater the sadness and despair, the more one must judge himself guilty.

Because he who mistrusts himself greatly and who puts great confidence in God, if he commits some fault, is hardly surprised, he is neither disturbed not chagrined because he sees clearly that this is the result of his weakness and the little care he took to establish his confidence in God.

His failure, on the contrary, teaches him to distrust even more his own strength and to put even greater trust in the help of Him who alone has power: he detests above all his sin; he condemns the passion or vicious habit which was the cause; he conceives a sharp pain for having offended his God, but his pain is always subdued and does not prevent him from returning to his primary occupations, to bear with his familiar trials and to battle until death with his cruel enemies….

It is, again, a very common illusion to attribute to a feeling of virtue this fear and trouble that one experiences after a sin; because, though the uneasiness that follows the sin is always accompanied by some pain, still it does not proceed only from a source of pride or from a secret presumption, caused by too great a confidence one’s own strength.

Thus, then, whoever believes himself affirmed in virtue, is contemptuous toward temptations and comes to understand, by the sad experience of his failures, that he is fragile and a sinner like others, is surprised, as if by something that never should have happened; and, deprived of the feeble support on which he was counting, he allows himself to succumb to chagrin and despair.

This misfortune never happens to those who are humble, who do not presume on themselves and who rely only on God; when they have failed, they are neither surprised not chagrined because the light of truth which illuminates them makes them see that it is a natural result of their weakness and their inconstancy.

We cannot serve the flesh and the spirit; the two masters. What we are seeking to do is more important than what we seek to avoid. The positive aspects of the Kingdom are good works, piety, prayer and sanctity. Description of Heaven (the Kingdom) which is our goal. Our real life is the eternal life. Everything we do on earth is a merit or a demerit for that end. Discussion of peace. True love of self brings us to true love of God. What is true charity? The tranquility of order. Evil can never put men at rest. The peace of Heaven can exist on earth…

Coloring pages for your children…..

Need some inspiration? Visit these Book Lists for some great reading suggestions!

My Book List

Book List for Catholic Men

Book List for the Youth

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“WHY I LIKE TEACHING” – The Catholic Teacher’s Companion

Every mother and every father is a teacher. How important it is to have enthusiasm for this noble profession, in spite of the bumps, which inevitably follow our instructing footsteps.

What a legacy we leave behind!

This book was written at the turn of the 20th century for Catholic teaching nuns. It is called The Catholic Teacher’s Companion  – A book of Inspiration and Self-Help by Rev. Felix M. Kirsch, O.M.C. (1924). The lessons between the covers are valuable for parents, educators and all who work with children.

“WHY I LIKE TEACHING”

Our teachers may derive inspiration from the prize essay on this subject written by Mr. John Dixon, school superintendent of Columbus, Wisconsin:

“I like teaching because I like boys and girls, because I delight in having them about me, in talking with them, working with them, and in possessing their confidence and affection.

“I like teaching because the teacher works in an atmosphere of idealism, dealing with soul and heart, with ideas and ideals.

“I like teaching because of the large freedom it gives. There is abundance of room for original planning and initiative in the conduct of the work itself, and an unusual time margin of evenings, weekends, and vacations in which to extend one’s interests, personal and professional.

“I like teaching because the relation of teacher to learner in whatever capacity is one of the most interesting and delightful in the world.

Teaching is attractive because it i-poses a minimum of drudgery. Its day is not too long, and is so broken by intermissions, and so varied in its schedule of duties, as to exclude undue weariness or monotony. The program of each school-day is a new and interesting adventure.

“Teaching invites to constant growth and improvement. The teacher is in daily contact with books, magazines, and libraries, and all the most vital forces of thought and leadership, social and educational.

It is work that stimulates ambition and enhances personal worth. There is no greater developer of character to be found.

Also, teaching includes a wide range of positions and interests, extending from kindergarten to university, covering every section where schools are maintained and embracing every variety of effort, whether academic, artistic, industrial, commercial, agricultural or professional.

“There is no work in which men and women engage which more directly and fundamentally serves society and the state.

Teaching is the biggest and best profession in the state because it creates and molds the nation’s citizenship. It is the very foundation and mainstay of the national life.

“The true teacher is, and may well be, proud of the title, for his work is akin to that of the Master Builder, the creation of a temple not made with hands.”

In the following poem Mr. Louis Burton Woodward answers a question frequently asked but seldom as beautifully answered:

WHY I TEACH

Because I would be young in soul and mind

Though years must pass and age my life constrain,

And I have found no way to lag behind

The fleeting years, save by the magic chain

That binds me, youthful, to the youth I love,

I teach.

Because I would be wise and wisdom find

From millions gone before whose torch I pass,

Still burning bright to light the paths that wind

So steep and rugged, for each lad and lass

Slow-climbing to the Heights above,

I teach.

Because in passing on the living flame

That ever brighter burns the ages through,

I have done service that is worth the name

Can I but say, “The flame of knowledge grew

A little brighter in the hands I taught,”

I teach.

Because I know that when life’s end I reach

And thence pass through the gates so wide and deep

To what I do not know, save what priests teach,

That the remembrance of me men will keep

Is what I’ve done; and what I have is naught,

I teach.

To preserve and increase her first love for teaching the Sister must be on her guard lest her interest in her work be based on other than idealistic grounds.

It is only with an enthusiasm based upon these grounds that she will be able to bear the thousand disappointments that every teacher is heir to.

But with an abiding love for teacher all labor will be light: Ubi amatur, non laboratur; aut si laboratur, labor amatur—”Where there is love, there is no labor; or if there be labor, it will be a labor of love.”

The teacher imbued with deep-seated enthusiasm for her profession will not think of the school-room as a field to work in, but as a force to work with.

“The study of Religion should be a regular part of the curriculum and taught just as thoroughly as Reading, Writing, Arithmetic and other subjects.

The child gains a deep and reverent understanding of the principles of his faith, and practicing his religion becomes second nature to him.

Parents who believe that Sunday School instruction is adequate for a religious education would protest vigorously if their child were instructed only one hour each week in geography, history or some other subject of considerably less importance in the long view.” -Fr. George Kelly, Catholic Family Handbook https://amzn.to/2ovgHpU (afflink)

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Drawing on the experience of dozens of saints, Fr. Plus explains sure ways we can recollect ourselves before prayer so that once we begin to pray, our prayers will be richer and more productive; he teaches us how to practice interior silence habitually, even in the rush and noise of the world; and he explains each of the kinds of prayer and shows when we should and should not employ each.

We all pray, but few of us pray well. And although that’s troubling, few of us have found a spiritual director capable of leading us further along the path of prayer.

Fr. Raoul Plus, S.J., is such a director, and reading this little book about the four types of prayer will be for you like hearing the voice of the wise and gentle counsellor you long for but can’t find: one who knows your soul well and understands its needs.

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Envy and Jealousy – Monseigneur Landriot

Definitely a sin we need to be aware of and nip in the bud….

From The Sins of the Tongue by Monseigneur Landriot

ENVY AND JEALOUSY

“But if you have bitter zeal, and, there be contentions in your hearts, glory not, and be not liars against the truth. For this is not wisdom, descending from above, but earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and contention is, there is inconstancy and every evil work.” — St. James iii. 14-16.

The cause of envy and jealousy is found in the root of all bad passions of the heart; it is there they have their starting-point, and there they develop themselves until they poison our lives, words, and actions. And what fearful ravages they occasion in individuals, in families, and in social life!

The soul is devoured by an internal cancer, which causes acute suffering, and vitiates all the lawful enjoyment which the goods of nature and grace can bestow on it. It becomes suspicious, distrustful, and unjust; it sees evil in everything, until even the body also is attacked by the disease; the countenance grows pale and livid, and the whole constitution is often materially injured.

The character changes, and the best dispositions grow melancholy, morose, and unapproachable. Domestic peace is disturbed, and affection, which ought to be the life of the heart and the greatest blessing that those who are united by the ties of blood can enjoy, becomes only an occasion of jealousy, misunderstanding, and rancor.

Empires even have been shaken, or, at least, greatly disturbed by the violent shocks these passions imprint on everything with which they come in contact. That is the abridgment of our last discourse.

Today I will speak on these three points:

(I) the grievousness of this sin;

(2) the means of correcting it; and

(3) what we must do when exposed to envy and jealousy.

The sin of envy, when consented to in a serious matter, is one of the greatest faults that can be committed. And here, my children, I must be allowed to deplore the illusions which are so common even amongst religious persons.

You will scruple at not being a member of some confraternity, at not having said your beads, at not having gone to Communion on a certain day, and yet you never scruple having been gravely wanting in charity through envy, jealousy, and wounded pride.

The Holy Ghost says, “With a jealous woman is a scourge of the tongue which communicateth with all.”

Yes, truly; for just look at that saint-like person who, as St. Francis of Sales would say, seems like an Angel in church; consider her when she returns to her own house, and see how she contrives to dart forth venom on everyone who excites her jealousy.

Woe to anyone who is an object of mistrust to her, who is even an involuntary obstacle to her love of power! How she strikes and wounds them with the scourge of her tongue ! How she secretly lets fly little poisoned darts, which seem to leave no trace in their flight, but which would seriously endanger the moral life of a neighbor, if that life were not independent of those petty intrigues.

Then, like the woman mentioned in Scripture, she wipes her lips and says, “I have done no evil.”

This is a more usual case than you think, and has given rise to the saying of there being so much gall in the minds of religious people. It is a lamentable fact, against which I am forced to protest in the name of the Church, in order that Christian teaching may remain intact amidst the aberrations of man’s intellect, and that the world find in them no reasonable grounds for attacking religion.

“Many people,” says St. Cyprian, “regard the vice of envy as a trifling fault; but that is a grave mistake, for it is a diabolical sin.” St. Augustine gives to the sin of envy an epithet which it is not easy to translate into French, but it signifies cruel, horrible, hideous, enormous; he calls it ” a monstrous vice.”

And he teaches elsewhere, that nothing can be more contrary to charity ; that it is a Satanic vice, because the spirit of evil is composed of these two first principles of envy and pride; and that as the elect form the body of Christ, so the envious form the body of which the devil is the head; and that it is the vice which God most condemns.

The holy Doctor concludes thus — “May the Lord preserve the hearts of men, and still more the hearts of Christian men, from this plague, this scourge, this diabolical vice.”

St. Bonaventure exclaims, with many other holy Doctors whose words he cites — “Envy, thou inextinguishable fire, thou Satanic imposture, which art ever pursuing good, seeking to destroy it with thy pestilential flames, thy guilt is of a deeper dye than fornication or adultery.”

“Other failings, though grave, may be easily cured,” says Cassian; “but envy is like the basilisk spoken of by the Prophet, whose venom destroys the life of faith and the spirit of Christianity.”

“Now the works of the flesh are manifest,” says the Apostle; and amongst these sinful works he enumerates envy, jealousies, and the vices they beget. “Of the which,” he continues, “I have foretold to you that they who do such things shall not possess the Kingdom of Heaven — contentions, emulations, dissensions, and envy.”

Why such stern words and denunciations, my children? A little reflection will soon make you comprehend the reason. Charity being the first of Christian virtues, it necessarily follows that the worst vices are those which are most repugnant to it.

Now envy, and in a certain degree, jealousy, are the passions most directly opposed to charity; opposed to it in their own nature and in their consequences.

Envy is annoyed at the good of others; it is this good envy is in pursuit of; and it would willingly see others deprived of it, even though it should not get the good coveted for itself.

It may be said that it is God Whom it attacks in its brethren, for it is the Divinity which shines forth in them, since all our qualities, both natural and supernatural, come from God.

It is, in one sense, the sin most contrary to charity; it is the sin of Satan. Envy has yet another characteristic, which constitutes it in a special manner a diabolical sin — it rejoices at the misfortunes of others, and rejoices at them even when itself derives no advantage from them.

Evil brings happiness to the envious mind; yea, even the evil of a brother; and is not that the special character of the demon’s malice? Someone comes to tell the heart of envy that complete failure has been the only result of the enterprises and labors of such or such a one; so much the better, is the answer that rises to the lips! If it does not speak the words aloud, you may still be sure they are uttered fervently in the heart.

The envious woman hears that the reputation of one she dislikes is attacked in society, and if not seriously wounded, is at least blemished. This news to her is like a fresh, balmy breeze passing over the soul, which seems to bring it new life.

But all this delight which springs from the misfortunes of others, and this sadness whose origin is the prosperity of our brethren, are they not the two sentiments which bring us nearest in resemblance to the nature of the demons?

Envy has the melancholy talent of so altering the appearance of everything, that what is good is made to seem bad. In this manner the Pharisees asserted that our Savior wrought miracles through the power of the devil.

“Envy,” says Peter of Blois, “can embitter honey; wearied of the virtue of others, she maliciously tries to corrupt what is good in them, because she can find no trace of it in herself.”

What profound insight into human nature! Moralists call envy a serpent, because envy can turn even honey to poison, and the special quality of serpents is to shed into healthy veins the venom they possess themselves. This, too, is a quality of envy.

Your neighbor performs some actions inspired by the purest and most generous motives, and his conscience bears him witness in the sight of God that he has acted under the influence of the most sincere disinterestedness.

But he had not counted on a little serpent which was secretly playing the spy, hidden in the shade; the wicked reptile shoots his dart, and deposits his malignant venom. With him devotion means self-interest; charity, selfishness; disinterestedness, cupidity; in one word, honey is turned into poison. And what is still worse, he maliciously tries to corrupt what is good, because he finds no vestige of it in himself.

All this is quite natural: how can you expect that the proud man will believe in love of retirement; or how can you expect that he who knows of nothing beyond the ties of flesh and blood, can understand holy and sublime affection?

How can the egotist comprehend the self-devotion inspired by pure charity? Plato says that there must be something luminous in the eye in order to see light; there must be an innate sense of poetry in order to appreciate fine verses; and in the same way, there must be goodness in the heart in order to have faith in it.

These are the effects of envy; can there be anything more Satanical? “Envy has still other tactics,” says St. Basil;” for every virtue, having a vice bordering on its limits, into which it may fall through excess, the envious man makes a malicious use of this principle, abusing it to serve his own ends.

A firm and courageous person he calls rash and audacious, and the man of reserved character he reproaches with insensibility. He who conforms to the rules of justice is styled cruel, and the prudent man, a rogue.

Envy fastens in a special manner on all merit; the most virtuous men, and the holiest things all serve as a special aggravation to it. “Spanish flies,” says Plutarch, “prefer to attack the finest ears of wheat, and the best blown roses; and, in like manner, envy attacks good men, and those most distinguished by fame and virtue.”

“We may say that every species of merit is an offense to envy, as every kind of light hurts weak eyes.”

Look over the lives of great men and of saints, and you will find, my children, that not one amongst them escaped the shafts of envy; and amidst the causes of all the persecutions, more or less great, which they underwent, one of the chief was still envy.

“A shadow always accompanies the man walking in the sunshine,” says a philosopher; “so he who distinguishes himself above his fellow-men must expect to have envy as his companion on his journey.”

Do you begin to perceive, my children, all the heinousness of this vice? And, to complete the picture, listen to the fearful consequences of this deplorable passion.

“Envy,” says Bossuet, “conceals itself under every possible pretext, and takes pleasure in secret and treacherous schemes. Hinted slanders, calumnies, betrayal, every kind of fraud and deceit, are its work and portion.”

I do not, of course, mean to assert that the consequences of envy, carried to so great an excess, are very common. But in little spheres, as in great ones, they are less rare than you think, and envy is one of the chief causes of misunderstandings, hatred, calumnies, and perverse attacks on private life.

And besides this, is it necessary that a thing, in order to be gravely reprehensible, should reach its utmost limits? There may be much guilt, yet not the depths of iniquity of the prince of darkness.

Before envy and jealousy become grave faults, it is, moreover, necessary that we should give consent to them; and I particularly wish to add this explanation, in order to calm unfounded scruples.

Some characters are disposed to envy, others are inclined to jealousy. An idea takes possession of the mind, like an access of fever; the blood boils in the veins, but you blush at the feeling, and feel humiliated by it; you resist the temptation, and therefore there is no sin, even although the attack should be prolonged.

I will return to this subject, and speak of the means of correcting one’s self of that fatal passion.

“Let us ask God every day and in every prayer we ever say to make us love Him. Let us offer every good act we do that He may give us this, the greatest of all graces, His blessed love. In our morning prayers and evening prayers, in our Rosary, at Mass, in our Communions, let it be our first, our most earnest petition, that we may love God. Let us never say any prayer in which this is not our outstanding wish and intention.” – Rev. Fr. Paul O’Sullivan. An Easy Way To Become A Saint, 1943

Lent is early this year! 💜 ✝️
LENTEN JOURNAL…
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. Catholic culture is built on celebrating, in the home, the feasts, the seasons, the saints, the holydays….making them come alive in a beautiful and charming way…. Available here.

Author Mary Reed Newland here draws on her own experiences as the mother of seven to show how the classic Christian principles of sanctity can be translated into terms easily applied to children even to the very young.

Because it’s rooted in experience, not in theory, nothing that Mrs. Newland suggests is impossible or extraordinary. In fact, as you reflect on your experiences with your own children, you’ll quickly agree that hers is an excellent commonsense approach to raising good Catholic children.

Fr. Lawrence Lovasik, the renowned author of The Hidden Power of Kindness, gives faithful Catholics all the essential ingredients of a stable and loving Catholic marriage and family — ingredients that are in danger of being lost in our turbulent age.

Using Scripture and Church teachings in an easy-to-follow, step-by-step format, Fr. Lovasik helps you understand the proper role of the Catholic father and mother and the blessings of family. He shows you how you can secure happiness in marriage, develop the virtues necessary for a successful marriage, raise children in a truly Catholic way, and much more.

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How the Child Must be Made Acquainted With the Supernatural Order

From True Womanhood, Rev. Bernard O’Reilly, 1893

HOW THE CHILD MUST BE MADE ACQUAINTED WITH THE SUPERNATURAL ORDER

To inculcate on her children, as soon as their reason begins to dawn, that God is not only their Maker as He is that of the heavens above them and the earth around them, but also to them a true Father, who cares for them and gives them a right to the most magnificent of all inheritances, must be one of the Christian mother’s early cares.

Her own sense of piety, her womanly wit and instinctive knowledge of child-nature will teach her the best methods to be employed in order to let in by degrees, and one after the other, the beautiful and divine realities of the supernatural order,—of that kingdom of God, whose sovereign is true Father to us,—of that glorious world in which Christ and His Blessed Mother are central figures.

There are few households so poor but they can afford to have one or two sweet prints representing the mysteries of our Lord’s infancy and childhood, as well as a handsome crucifix, or, at least, a good print of the crucifixion.

It is well to reject the abominable daubs published in our large cities and “misrepresenting” every subject they profess to set before the devout mind.

The sweet pictures of the Blessed Mother and her Babe by Luini, or Fra Bartolomeo, and Crucifixions by such religious painters as Velasquez, cannot fail to produce a powerful impression.

There are good engravings of them, for which it would be well to pay a little more;—good chromos, like those published in London by the Arundel Society, are, unfortunately, beyond the reach of poor families.

Would that we had both in city and country parishes some sodality interested in seeing that the homes of the laboring classes were provided with such objects of religious art as would inspire reverence and piety in the beholder.

Nor must mothers forget to have a little statue or a print of the Angel Guardian; he is a friend to be known and loved early. It must be the part of the judicious mother to explain in due time to her little ones, when they are able to inquire about that heavenly Woman and her Babe, what relation they both bear to us.

Some mothers, we know, have in their nurseries “The Flight into Egypt” or the “Adoration of the Magi,” subjects which will naturally oblige the children to inquire about the birth of the Divine Babe, and the whole story of his birth.

When, precisely, parents can draw the affection of the child-mind to the story of the Passion, and the Crucifix, they alone can determine.

Some are averse to doing so before children are a little more advanced in years. Certain it is that they should be made acquainted with the sufferings of our Divine Benefactor before they emerge from childhood.

This point of time being left to the judgment of mothers, let us be firmly convinced that of all the vehicles of supernatural instruction and solid piety there is no one more efficacious than THE CRUCIFIX.

The Crucifix in Catholic households is not only the most eloquent and instructive of books for youth and old age; but it can also be made to speak divinely to the sense of childhood.

Children are all athirst for knowledge once they begin to speak and to be capable of instruction by word of mouth. Their mind and imagination are forcibly impressed by the figure of the Man of Sorrows nailed to the bitter tree.

They are quick to seize the reverence, the love, the worship with which a mother or a nurse looks upon this pregnant story of Love Crucified. Who is He? What brought Him there? What is He to us? What we owe Him, hope, and fear from Him, are lessons which a child may soon learn,—for they are questions which arise in his own mind, and to which he is impelled to seek an answer by a Prompter within him.

For Christian mothers should not forget that in the infant soul dwells the Divine Spirit, communicated in baptism, and never expelled thence save by voluntary mortal sin.

In the soul of every mother, too, who is in a state of grace, dwells the same Divine Instructor, prompting her to do her duty by her child, and pledged to aid her in her work.

“We’re terribly in danger all the time of taking God’s goodness too much for granted; of bouncing up to Communion as if it were the most natural thing in the world, instead of being a supernatural thing belonging to another world.” – Msgr. Ronald Knox, 1948

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book suggestions

To the modern mind, the concept of poverty is often confused with destitution. But destitution emphatically is not the Gospel ideal. A love-filled sharing frugality is the message, and Happy Are You Poor explains the meaning of this beatitude lived and taught by Jesus himself. But isn’t simplicity in lifestyle meant only for nuns and priests? Are not all of us to enjoy the goodness and beauties of our magnificent creation? Are parents to be frugal with the children they love so much?

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.

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Organization Tidbits for the New Year!

Organize your day with tips from Emilie Barnes!

101 Ways to Clean Out the Clutter

Don’t Delay Small Tasks

Do small chores as needed so they occupy the least amount of time possible. Put a shirt back on the hanger, repair the sag on the gate, replace that burned-out lightbulb, and put new batteries in your smoke alarm.

If you start taking care of the immediate tasks rather than save them for later, you’ll notice an amazing difference in your clutter problem.

The small stuff adds up to big projects later – don’t let them snowball.

As you go about your day today, pay attention to which tasks can be done immediately. The dishwasher can be loaded, the cereal box can be put in the cupboard, the dining table can be cleared so that it’s clean for dinner, and your  paid bills can be filed. Things are looking better already!

Be My Guest

Be a guest in your own home for a day. If you walk into your living room, what stands out? What looks messy? Inviting? Fun? This fresh inventory of your living room and each room in your house will awaken you to ways to clean out and cheer up your home.

I’d encourage you to have fun with this.

Do one room at a time and take a few notes about this “first impression” makeover. Then get ready to make a difference in that room.

What’s working? What’s pleasing? What draws your eye? Look for items that just don’t fit.

Most importantly decide the focal point for your room. What do you want people to see when they enter the room?

The focal point is the anchor – the center of gravity. Find that and you’re well on your way! Not a bad idea for every area of your life!

Little Tasks Take Little Time

Few of us have several hours to clean out our closets. The key is to use the 10 minute segments you do have to accomplish a small task or make a dent in a larger one.

For example:

Clean one shelf in your closet

Make an appointment with the dentist

Put in a load of wash

Make your shopping list

Answer a few emails.

You’ll declutter if you learn to do small tasks in small blocks of time.

Just Give It a Try

Is your accumulation of stuff burdensome? I can relate. Most women can. What many people don’t realize is how incredibly freeing it is to get rid of clutter. They hesitate because they just see the work involved, the logistics, the possible changes, and the future commitment to keeping a home clean.

They can’t envision the openness, the beauty, and the peace this change will offer them and their families.

Keep your eye on the prize – the sanctuary you will create when you remove the obstacles of clutter! If you’re new to this or hesitant to begin, don’t look at your house as a whole. Start with one room.

If you incorporate just a few of the suggestions in this book or ones you’ve gathered from magazines, you will see transformation. The results of your one room makeover will give you the energy and the desire to keep life simple and lovely.

Happy Ninth Day of Christmas! “There is nothing insignificant in the life which we live within our own doors. There is nothing which is without influence in the building up of character. Let no one think that the history of any day in the life of a home, is not recorded imperishably on the sensitive lives of the children.” -J.R. MIller

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Blank Journals for the New Year!



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All Things Contribute to the Good of Those Who Love God

from Searching for and Maintaining Peace by Fr. Jacques Philippe

-St. Francis de Sales:

All things contribute to good for those who love God

And, as a matter of fact, since God can and does know how to draw good from evil, for whom should He do it, if not for those who, without reserve, have given themselves to Him?

Yes, even sins, from which God by His goodness defends us, are reduced by Divine Providence to good for those who belong to Him. Never would David have been so full of humility had he not sinned, nor would Mary Magdalene have been so full of love for her Lord if He had not remitted so many of her sins. And never could He have forgiven her these sins if she had not committed them.

You see, my daughter, this great architect of mercy: He converts our miseries into grace and makes salutary medicine for our souls from the venom of our iniquities. Tell me, please, what could He not do with our afflictions, our sufferings and the persecutions that we endure?

If, then, you are ever touched by some unpleasantness, from wherever it may come, assure your soul that, if it loves God, everything will be converted to good. And although you may not see the means by which this good will happen to you, be assured that it will happen.

If God allows your eyes to be blinded by the mud of ignominy, it is to give you a clear vision as a way of honoring you. If God makes you fall, as He did with Saint Paul, whom He threw to the ground, it is to raise you up to His glory.

One Should Absolutely Desire God Alone, the Rest in Moderation

One should only want God absolutely, invariably and inviolably; but, regarding the means of serving Him, one should only desire them slowly and gently, so that if we are prevented from using them, we would not be greatly upset.

Trust in Providence

The measure of Divine Providence in us depends on the degree of trust that we have in it. Do not anticipate the unpleasant events of this life by apprehension; rather anticipate them with the perfect hope that, as they happen, God, to Whom you belong, will protect you.

He has protected you up to the present moment; just remain firmly in the hands of His providence and He will help you in all situations and at those times when you find yourself unable to walk, He will carry you.

What should you fear, since you belong to God Who has so strongly assured us that for those who love Him all things turn into happiness.

Do not think of what may happen tomorrow, because the same eternal Father Who takes care of you today, will take care of you tomorrow and forever. Either He will see that nothing bad happens to you or, if He allows anything bad to happen to you, He will give you the invincible courage to bear it.

Remain at peace, my daughter. Remove from your imagination whatever may upset you and say frequently to our Lord, “0 God, You are my God and I will trust in You; You will help me and You will be my refuge and there is nothing I will fear, because not only are You with me, but, also, You are in me and I in You.”

What does a child in the arms of such a Father have to fear? Be as a little child, my dearest daughter. As you know, children don’t concern themselves with many matters; they have others who think for them. They are strong enough if they remain with their father. Therefore, act accordingly, my daughter, and you will be at peace.

One Should Avoid Haste

You should treat your affairs with care, but never with hurry or worry. Don’t rush to your tasks, because any haste upsets your reason and judgment and even prevents you from doing well the very thing that you are hurrying to do….

When our Lord reprimanded Saint Martha, He said to her: ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and upset over many things. “You  see, if she had simply been caring, she would hardly have been troubled; but because she was worried and anxious, she becomes hurried and upset. And this is why our Lord reprimanded her….

Never is a task accomplished with impetuosity and haste done well…. Therefore, accept with peace all the tasks that come to you and try to accomplish them in order, one after the other.

Peace When Confronted by Our Faults

We must hate our shortcomings, but with a hate that is tranquil and peaceful, not with a hate that is fretful and troubled; and, yes, we must have the patience to see our shortcomings and to profit from a saintly abasement of ourselves.

Failing that, my daughter, your imperfections, which you see very acutely, will trouble you even more keenly, and, by this means maintain themselves, as there is nothing which sustains our defects more than a sense of anxiety and haste to eliminate them.

Gentleness and Peace in One’s Zeal Towards Others

0 my daughter, God has granted you a great mercy to have recalled your heart to the gracious support of others and to have poured the holy balm of sweetness of heart toward your fellow man into the wine of your zeal.

That’s all that you needed, my dearest daughter; your zeal was altogether good, but it had the defect of being a little harsh, a bit too urgent, a bit anxious and irritable. Now, it has been purified of these things; from now on it will be gentle, kind, gracious, peaceful and enduring. (Letter to a Mistress of Novices)

And Finally: Accepting, Without Becoming Troubled, Not Always Being Able to Maintain One’s Peace

Strive, my daughter, to maintain your heart at peace by being even-tempered. I don’t say maintain your heart at peace, but I say strive to do so. This should be your main concern. And beware of occasions for troubling yourself, because you cannot moderate so suddenly the ups and downs of your feelings.

These passages were translated directly from the French Oeuvres Completes, published by the Visitation d’Annecy. An English language version can be found in the book Serenity of Heart: Bearing the Troubles of This Life, Sophia Institute Press, 1997.

“We must live in the present moment. This is the only moment within our hands, the only one that can make us happy. The past exists no more; let us leave it to the Divine Mercy. And, though it does not yet exist, let us entrust the future to God’s loving Providence and live happily in the present.” -Fr. Narciso Irala, S.J., Achieving Peace of Heart http://amzn.to/2soEBXz (afflink)

Are you hungry to learn? Do you want to grow in your faith and improve in your vocation? Me, too! And I am hungry to have my children learn! Any help I can get I am grateful for and so I feel very blessed to have such an availability of the many resources on the web for Catholics to learn about the Faith! Take a look on this post, Sermons and Audios..

The Discreet Wife

 

Painting by Norman Rockwell

by Matthew L. Jacobson

The discreet wife soon discovers her influence with her husband soars, because his heart can trust her.

He may be a quiet accountant, a bold firefighter, an expert plumber, a smart lawyer, a good doctor, a successful salesman, or any number of other professions, but there is one need that transcends all of his character traits and career choices: He needs to be able to trust you with all of his heart.

He won’t use those words, but that’s his root concern.

Does he know, beyond any doubt, that you are completely trustworthy? Is he confident that, regardless of who you may be talking to, you will never betray his trust, divulge information he feels is sensitive, or reveal anything he would want to be kept between you and him? (Of course, this is not to be understood as ever suggesting that sin should be covered up.)

Are you a woman of discretion?

You have close female friends, and there are extended family relationships that are also close. You want to be open and transparent with them, don’t you?

You can be, but the woman of discretion never crosses the line when it comes to her husband’s privacy and other matters he doesn’t want to be discussed outside of his “inner circle,” which is you and him.

Be ready for challenge. There will be people in your life who will try to break down the wall of loyalty you have for your husband, feeling that because of the long-standing relationship you’ve had with them, it’s their right to be let in on every detail. Don’t let others dictate where that line of separation is.

Let loyalty and faithfulness to your marriage and to your husband’s wishes establish the line.

Regarding the trustworthy wife, the Bible puts it like this, “His heart safely trusts in her.” (Proverbs 31:11)

Are you a safe place for him? There’s no safety without trust, and without trust, there can be no true loyalty.

Life is a field of battle for a man. Regardless of his profession, he can only move forward with confidence if he never has to question that you “have his back.”

When your husband knows he is married to his most trusted confidant, your influence soars.

If you’ve not been discreet in the past, then you’ve damaged that trust. But take heart, it can be restored.

Go to your husband and ask him to forgive you, telling him he will never have to worry – ever – again.

If you’ve walked as a woman of discretion, your husband already trusts you but will still enjoy hearing you tell him that you are loyal and behind him 100%.

Every husband wants to be able to trust his wife implicitly. It’s in your power to ensure that his heart can safely trust in you.

Prayer:

Dear Lord, I pray that I increasingly become a mature, discreet woman. I pray that my husband feels a sense of security and complete trust in me. Help me to guard those things that he wants to be kept private and between only us. Help me always to be his trusted confidant, and prompt me by Your Holy Spirit if I ever begin to speak in a manner that would compromise his trust in me. In Jesus’ name, amen.

“Friendship needs to be invested in. It needs to be worked on and nurtured. Do that for your most important relationship, your marriage. Find things you both enjoy and do those things. Talk, laugh, work and play together. Know that marriage is like a long, slow walk together. More a marathon than a sprint. So just keep walking. Together.” -Lisa Jacobson https://amzn.to/2WbWlS1 (afflink)

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Epiphany: “Where is He That Was Born King of the Jews?”

A beautiful meditation on Epiphany….

by Father Daniel A. Lord

“Where is He that was born King of the Jews?”

The question, repeated a thousand times along their tedious way through the desert and sprawling villages and nomadic tribes and smug, white-roofed cities, was answered with shrugged shoulders and cynically turned backs, with significant touching of foreheads and frankly contemptuous laughter.

Undismayed, the Magi were drawn forward on their quest by the vague hope of finding a Child.

More than likely they dreamed of palace gates swinging wide to welcome them as grooms swept forward to catch their camels by their tinkling bridles and pages helped them to dismount.

Surely the child of a king would rest upon the softest down, under coverlets of purple damask. Hushed attendants might permit them a glimpse of newborn royalty between the crossed lances of sleepless sentinels. Yet even this glimpse would be reward enough, they felt, for their weary desert road, the tireless swaying of their camels and the night-long journeys in pursuit of a forward moving star.

For here was a Child tall enough to light a blaze in the heavens. In the ancient papyri written for a mighty Cyrus by a Jew named Daniel, they were assured that this was no ordinary child who was born under a flaming star.

Were they at first, even for an instant, bitterly taken aback? Did they almost turn away in disappointment from the dark mouth of this unguarded stable? Probably they caught up their silken gowns as they stepped through cattle pens and sheepfolds to the dark hill cave, unlighted except for the now motionless star.

But when they saw the Child, all of Christmas welled up in their souls. What did it matter that He lay, not on orient silk, but on crackling straw; that an exquisite maid and a dignified carpenter (strange contradiction, to their aristocratic minds, a carpenter with such poise and dignity) were His only courtiers; that the bleak walls of the stable, rough-hewn from the black earth of the hill, were bare of heraldic standards or banners of scarlet and gold; that no sentries flashed repelling swords to hold back intruders?

Faith swept them forward in its high tide. A Child they had come to seek. Yet in all the world there was no Child like this.

He wore His swaddling clothes as if they were Tyrian purple. He lay in a manger that seemed like a conquered world. He opened His tiny arms, and their circle was vast enough to embrace all humanity. He smiled, and the light of a new era dawned.

They had come to find a Child King who was to conquer and save the world. Naturally they had dreamed of a kingship proved by files of palace guards and fluttering choirs of nurses, by carved ebony and beaten gold upon his crib, and breathless statesmen adding his name to the line of royal ancestors — he the heir of their greatness and their petty crimes, their occasional acts of kingliness and their frequent baseness and stupid cruelty and criminal lust. They knew no other kings nor sons of kings than these.

They had not dared dream of a Child whose evident kingship made a palace out of a stable and a throne out of straw heaped for oxen. They had not wildly imagined a sovereign who could conquer because he was without weapons and who won His followers, not by the cold aloofness of power, but by the warm approachableness of His weakness and His love.

Before this Child of the poor these rich men eagerly poured the tribute of their gifts. Before this Infant who contained all that the world needed to save it, these wise men bent submissive knees.

Although the shepherds in their simple ignorance and the Magi in their deep wisdom were unaware of it, around the Child, from the very beginning, vortexed the complete drama of humanity’s best and basest emotions.

He had been welcomed, as every great benefactor of humanity is welcomed, with cruel indifference and rudely slammed doors. Yet, if the doors of earth were barred in His face, the gates of heaven broken open to welcome Him!

 Look for traits in his character to appreciate such as honesty, dependability, kindness, and love. When you appreciate these virtues you help him become a better man and strengthen your relationship. -Fascinating Womanhood https://amzn.to/2MUoQk3 (afflink)
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The Twelve Days of Christmas all in one place! Thank you, Catholics Know the Answer for these!

Feast of the Epiphany. A little story of the three wise men, now saints, & their faith that led them to the Christ child….

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The Three Kings

From Christian Feasts and Customs by Fr. Frank Weiser, 1950’s

In the High Middle Ages popular devotion turned to the Magi themselves on January 6. They are called “saints” for the first time in the writings of Archbishop Hildebert of Tours (1133).

In the twelfth century their veneration spread over all of Europe. The authorities of the Church did not prohibit this cult, and Epiphany acquired the popular name of “Feast of the Three Holy Kings” in most countries of Europe.

The name Magi is not a Hebrew word, but of Indo-European origin, and means “great, illustrious.” Saint Matthew mentioned the term without explanation because it was well known to the people of Palestine.

The Magi originated in Media (Persia), and their caste later spread to other Oriental countries. They were a highly esteemed class of priestly scholars, devoting themselves not only to religion but also to the study of natural sciences, medicine, mathematics, astronomy, and astrology. In several countries they were members of the king’s council.

Where did the Magi come from? Saint Matthew gives a general answer: “Wise men from the East.”

Speaking in modern terms, it could have been from any one of the countries of Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, or India. It has never been exactly determined from which of these countries they came.

History and Liturgy

Quite early in the Christian era a popular tradition conferred on them the title of “kings.” This tradition became universal at the end of the sixth century.

It was based on Biblical prophecies which described the conversion of the pagans and, although not referring to the Magi, were applied to their visit: The kings of Tharsis and the islands shall offer presents: the kings of the Arabians and of Sheba shall bring gifts. (Psalms 71, 10)

The kings shall walk in the brightness of thy rising. . . . They all shall come from Sheba, bringing gold and frankincense. (Isaiah 60, 3-6)

The Gospel does not tell us how many they were. The Christians in the Orient had an old tradition of twelve Magi. In early paintings and mosaics they are represented as two, three, four, and even more.

In the occidental Church a slowly spreading tradition put their number at three. It does not seem to have any historical foundation, but was probably based on the fact of the threefold presents.

Another reason for the number three was the early legend that they represented all humanity in its three great races.

Thus one of them was pictured as a member of the black race, and this choice seemed to be confirmed by the Bible: Let the great ones come forth from Egypt, let Ethiopia stretch out her arms to God. (Psalms 67, 32)

The book Collectanea et Flores, ascribed to Saint Bede the Venerable, records an earlier legend of their names and appearance: The first was called Melchior; he was an old man, with white hair and long beard; he offered gold to the Lord as to his king.

The second, Gaspar by name, young, beardless, of ruddy hue, offered to Jesus his gift of incense, the homage due to Divinity.

The third, of black complexion, with heavy beard, was called Baltasar; the myrrh he held in his hands prefigured the death of the Son of man.

There is an old legend that when many years had passed the Magi were visited by Saint Thomas the Apostle, who, after instructing them in Christianity, baptized them. They were then ordained to the priesthood and made bishops.

It is said that once more the star of Bethlehem appeared to them and reunited them toward the end of their lives. The city of Sewa in the Orient is given as the place of their burial.

The legendary relics of the Magi were brought from Constantinople to Milan in the sixth century. In 1164 Emperor Frederick Barbarossa obtained them from the archbishop of Milan and transferred them to Cologne.

Their shrine in Cologne was, and still is, the center of many pilgrimages.

“Were they at first, even for an instant, bitterly taken aback? Did they almost turn away in disappointment from the dark mouth of this unguarded stable? But when they saw the Child, all of Christmas welled up in their souls. A Child they had come to seek. Yet in all the world there was no Child like this.” -Fr. Daniel A. Lord, Painting by Corbert Gauthier http://www.corbertgauthier.net/gallery1.php

These books give us some lovely rhymes that can, and should, be committed to heart by your children. Not only will they provide all the benefits of reading and memorizing, but they will supply some simple reflections that will turn those little minds to what is most important in their life….their Catholic Faith…. Available here.

Hands Free Mama is the digital society’s answer to finding balance in a media-saturated, perfection-obsessed world. It doesn’t mean giving up all technology forever. It doesn’t mean forgoing our jobs and responsibilities. What it does mean is seizing the little moments that life offers us to engage in real and meaningful interaction. It means looking our loved ones in the eye and giving them the gift of our undivided attention, living a present, authentic, and intentional life despite a world full of distractions.

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. https://amzn.to/2T06u28 (afflink)

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