The School Bell is Ringing….Are You Ready?

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My “Getting Ready for School” post….

You’re kidding me, right?? But I’m still waiting for the relaxing days of summer vacation?? And it’s over?

That’s my feelings this year. It has been a busy summer and I keep waiting for that one week…just one week where we can just drift through…doing nothing!

Anyway, it is time and that is why I am reposting this article. I really don’t mean to get your feathers ruffled!

Actually I love school days, too. The schedule can be a beautiful thing….it’s all in the attitude. So….Let’s Get Ready!

The School Bell is Ringing….Are You Ready?

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Painting by Jim Daly

With school just around the corner and so many responsibilities and things to accomplish, we may get a little nervous on how we are going to pull it all off.

I know, for me, summer time is so full, my days are bursting, that I truly wonder how I am going to “fit” school back in with all its demands.

I find my life goes in spurts. I am organized for a time, then it slips through my fingers for awhile. I have learned not to get discouraged, trusting that, with grace, I will get it together again. So I know what works for me and I know what doesn’t. Floundering does not work. 🙂 It is always good to have a plan.

The following are a few things that help me along the way not to get too stressed. Maybe a point or two might work for you, too.

1. Make your list. If you are feeling overwhelmed you may think that writing it all down will make you feel more burdened. That’s not how it works. When you can get it down on paper, you can sort and prioritize. Those lowest on the “essential” list can be put on the next day so you can slowly work at getting them all done. If you don’t get it done the next day, continue to add it to the next one. Checking each thing off gives you a sense of accomplishment and energizes you!

2. Keep the house picked up. My corners aren’t always great but if you were to walk into my house at a given time, it would be generally clean….unless we decided to go play volleyball instead of doing the dishes right away (priorities, you know. 🙂 )

3. Go to Bed. 🙂 If I can go to bed and get up at consistent hours, it helps a lot. It’s important for the kids to do the same. Summertime is a season of later bedtimes. We loosen up the night time schedule and relax for a spell. It is quite refreshing….for a time.  I notice how much it affects the next day, these inconsistent and later schedules. That’s okay for a while during the summer but you wouldn’t want to do that during school days. So regularity on getting to bed is important.

4. Wake up at a consistent time, earlier than the family, if you can. With the demands of young children, and the lack of sleep that goes with that, this isn’t always possible. At times like those, we need to just offer it up. That being said, nothing helps me more than getting up before everyone else, getting my prayers said, and doing other duties before the family gets up. It gets me started on the right foot.

5. Plan Your Meals! Okay this one I am not very good at but, Wow! does it take the stress-load off!! I have periods in my life when my girls are taking over the meals so it is hard for me to get back in the swing of things when they are occupied with other life things. But it makes such a huge difference! So if you can get it together once a week to plan those meals, DO SO! It will make a positive impact on your week!

6. Get yourself fully dressed first thing, right down to your shoes. This will help you to get motivated to accomplish things right off in the morning.  I also wash my face with cold water first thing in the morning. I started that 2 years ago when we had the drought. It was a waste of water to leave the tap running until it got warm, so the cold water did the job and now I like the “pick me up” it gives me. Try it! 🙂For Always - 2zxDa-b25d - print

So…what kind of things make me feel more organized and on top of things:

!. Number one for me is sticking to my “Spiritual List”, starting with morning prayers and then the other simple spiritual things on that list throughout the day.   If I can check each of those off then I feel like I have accomplished the most important duty and can have the focus and grace to accomplish the other ones that fill up my day.

2. If I haven’t already got an ongoing chore list for the kids (better if it is made the night before) so they know what they should be doing, I make a quick one in the morning for each child. Then everyone knows what they should be doing and you don’t have to have your mind going in all different directions trying to figure out what needs to be done and who needs to do it! The kids are able to tackle their jobs and have the satisfaction of checking it off each time it is accomplished! (Mom….don’t forget to inspect those chores!)

3. Keep the house picked up. (I know, I talked about this already.) Don’t get obsessive about it, especially if you have young children, but periodically through the day get everyone to help with a “pick-me-up”. When you can look at a clean table and a generally clean house, it invigorates and at the same time relaxes you. It’s easier to focus on the next thing to be done.

4. Delegate. Remember, you are the supervisor. Of course, supervisors get their hands dirty, too, but if there is something that you can delegate, do. It helps the children to grow into responsible adults.

5. Don’t listen to negative self-talk. Don’t analyze it, just don’t listen to it. Period. It will bring you down and make you sluggish in accomplishing what you need to get done. Instead, look at your list and do the next thing, say a prayer, grab a book and read it, spend some time with the kids. It’s not worth listening to the rubbish that goes on inside your head.

6. DON’T feel sorry for yourself!! If you have lots to do, thank God for it. He will help you accomplish it….one step at a time. There are many lonely people in this world, many trapped in their addictions, many sad and discouraged because of broken relationships. Learn to thank God for what you DO HAVE and all the wonderful things you GET TO DO each day. Sometimes it just takes an attitude change. He never gives us more than we can bear. Believe it!

7. One last tip….a little self-care goes a long way. When you need a break, grab some coffee and a piece of your Trim Healthy Mama Lemon cake….sit down at the table and  since you don’t want to share it with anyone because of all the expensive ingredients….and they just eat whatever anyway…..put a towel over your head! Surely, they won’t notice?

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“Hospitality is so much more than entertaining-so much more than menus and decorating and putting on a show. To me, it means organizing my life in such a way that there’s always room for one more, always an extra place at the table or an extra pillow and blanket, always a welcome for those who need a listening ear. It means setting aside time for planned camaraderie and setting aside lesser priorities for impromptu gatherings.” -Emilie Barnes. Simple Secrets to a Beautiful Home
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Finer Femininity is a small publication compiled to inspire Catholic women in their vocations. It consists of uplifting articles from authors with traditional values, with many of them from priests, written over 50 years ago. These anecdotes are timeless but, with the fast-paced “progress “of today’s world, the pearls within the articles are rarely meditated upon. This little magazine offers Catholic womankind support and inspiration as they travel that oftentimes lonely trail….the narrow road to heaven. The thoughts within the pages will enlighten us to regard the frequently monotonous path of our “daily duties” as the beautiful road to sanctity. Feminine souls need this kind of information to continue to “fight the good fight” in a world that has opposing values and seldom offers any kind of support to these courageous women. Inside the pages you will find inspiration for your roles as single women, as wives and as mothers. In between the thought-provoking articles, the pages are sprinkled with pictures, quotes and maybe even a recipe or two.
The Wife’s Maglet, Young Lady’s, Sunshiny Disposition, True Womanhood and The Heart of the Home During Advent and Christmas…..Available here.

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  • Establish simple systems that save time and money and gain peace of mind
  • Organize the home’s problem areas–kitchen cupboards, crowded closets, home offices, and more
  • Reclaim precious time for family and friends

Filled with inspiration, encouragement, and tried-and-true tips, this book is a must-have for every woman!

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What Will Your Child Do in Life?

by Fr. George Kelly, The Catholic Family Handbook, 1950’s

Not long ago, newspapers told the story of a twenty-seven-year-old man who had shot and killed his father. In prison, the man defiantly explained why he had done it.

Throughout his life, he had been interested in teaching as a career. But whenever he mentioned his aspiration, his father ridiculed it and told him that he must enter the family business. After completing a college course in business administration at his father’s dictation, the young man was placed at work in the family store.

It was evident that he was not equipped to do the kind of sales work necessary for success in the business, but his father drove him on with ridicule. Finally, he could stand it no longer and in frustrated rage performed the deed which shocked the public everywhere.

Like most occurrences which reach print, this was an extreme case. Few men kill their fathers because of differences over their careers, and few fathers callously demand that their children pursue vocations unsuited to them. Yet this story serves the useful purpose of pointing out that parents should give intelligent and sympathetic consideration to their child’s ambitions.

Another moral of the tragedy cited is, of course, that every person should decide his own course in life.

A consistent objective of his training as a child, adolescent, and young adult should be to enable him ultimately to be completely free in the sense that he can make his own decisions and accept complete responsibility for them.

Thus he alone should choose his life work, because its success or failure will depend upon him only. He alone has the intimate knowledge of his talents, motives and aspirations required to make a choice and to succeed in what he chooses.

But while your child must in the final analysis select this vocation by himself, you can help him to determine what his objectives should be.

Indeed, as a conscientious parent, you must do so. You must take a part in formulating standards which will guide him regardless of whether his future station, in the eyes of the world, is high or low.

Your child will often ask you what you want him to be when he grows up.

By your answers, you can implant ideals which will serve as his own guideposts. Moreover, you can help him recognize the importance of high objectives by your own daily conduct.

A father will strongly influence his son’s choice of a life work by his attitude toward his own occupation; by the respect he shows to priests, brothers, doctors, teachers and others who give of themselves to serve mankind; by his own attitudes about the monetary rewards of work and the things that money will–and will not–buy.

Likewise, a mother will influence her son and daughter by the amount of cheer she radiates as she does her daily household tasks; by the way she greets the nuns at school, whether it be with deference or indifference; by her attitudes toward neighbors and acquaintances with greater or fewer material possessions than she has.

Any worthy vocation should fulfill three requirements.

  1. It must help your child save his soul. At the very least, it must not, by its nature, constitute a hazard to salvation.
  2. It should serve mankind in some constructive way. As an extreme example, the young man who inherited a large sum of money and decided to devote his life exclusively to his own pleasure could hardly be said to have a worthy objective. Nor could the young woman who hoped to marry and practice artificial birth control so that she could lead a social life unhampered by the responsibilities of parenthood.
  3. The work should be within his capabilities. The youth who is helped to select a kind of work in which he has a reasonable chance of making progress is also more likely to achieve his first and second objectives as well.

It is worth noting carefully that this listing of basic objectives omits such goals as wealth, glory, power and similar allurements. For implicit in this listing of worthy objectives is the teaching of Jesus:

“For what does it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, but suffer the loss of his own soul?” (St. Matthew 16:26)

The emphasis is on true and lasting values–“treasures in heaven, where neither rust nor moth consumes, nor thieves break in and steal.” (St. Matthew 6:20) The Bible teaches us that “covetousness is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10) and that it is “easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” (St. Matthew 19:24)

Not only does an ambition to achieve wealth for its own sake violate Our Lord’s repeated teachings; it is not even suitable as a worldly ambition. One can search in vain for the man whose riches have brought even earthly happiness; the rich who achieve the serenity of those less favored financially usually do so only by using their wealth to serve others.

When you encourage your child to keep these three objectives constantly before him, you do not limit his number of choices in any substantial way. He can achieve all of his great goals–attain salvation, perform tasks which benefit mankind, and properly use his God-given talents–in either the religious or secular life.

“Sometimes the wife is tied to her mother’s apron strings and is emotionally immature. She refuses to shoulder the normal responsibility of a wife and mother.

Some married women harm their homes, their husbands, their children, and themselves by too much external activity: organizations, societies, luncheon groups, clubs, and civic committees.

Birth control is a cause for too much social life. A childless or almost childless home can drive women to expend their God-given energies for motherhood on vain external affairs.

Other causes are too much wealth and, therefore, too much leisure, so that even mothers of sizable families can hire people to do most of their work; and the appeal of social prominence.”

-Fr. Lawrence G. Lovasik. The Catholic Family Handbook https://amzn.to/2PDpph1 (afflink)

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Self-Conscious Sue and the Ice Cream Social

A little story to remind us that the more we forget self, the happier we become….

by Leane VanderPutten

It was a lovely afternoon with the branches of the trees swaying in the breeze. Suzi was looking out the window as she was wiping the last of the dishes.

Tonight was the Ice Cream Social. All the young people in their parish, the neighboring parish and maybe even some out-of-towners would be there. There would be ice cream, games, a live band. It should be fun. The weather was mild and lovely.

But Sue’s brow was furrowed. She wasn’t thinking of the ice cream, the games or the weather. She was annoyed with herself…Why did she have to be so self-conscious around people? Why couldn’t she be more relaxed and comfortable? She knew others could tell she was self-conscious, and that made it worse.

While the outgoing, smiling girls made the boys and their comrades feel comfortable, Sue’s gestures were stiff…awkward…which made others feel awkward, too. So she was subtly avoided.

And tonight would be the same. Yes, Sue wanted to go, but she knew what would happen…again. She would struggle the whole evening pretending she wasn’t self-conscious. You can only fool yourself and others for so long.

She knew Charles would be there, too. She respected and liked Charles. He had an easy-going way about him. He was head of the Altar Servers, was religious, yet not with an air of fake piety.

Charles was genuine and liked by many. Tonight, once again, she would look on, wistful as the crowd gathered around him, chatting, laughing and having a good time.

It was hard on her.

And that’s why her brows were furrowed.

Her mom noticed. “Something wrong, dear?“

Sue winced. She didn’t really want to talk about it. It wasn’t something that could be solved by talking. She had learned that in the past.

Her mom sensed the reticence to talk and, not wanting to pry, said a little prayer for her daughter as she went to fold the rest of the clothes. She knew her daughter struggled with these things…

Sue finished the dishes and went to get dressed for the Social.

As she was passing the coffee table, she noticed a book perched on the corner. It was called “Quotes of Wisdom”. She went over and fingered the pages.

“Mom must have just got this book,” she thought.

She didn’t have much time but she opened it up and her eyes fell upon a quote by C.S. Lewis.

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself. It is thinking of yourself less.” She heard this quote before but this time was different. It struck a chord with her.

It’s true, she thought. She went to these parties, thinking of herself…how awkward she was, how shy she felt, how she wished she was like so-and-so or how she yearned Charles would pay attention to her.

Something clicked in Sue this time. “I’m going to do this party different,” she thought. “I’m going there and I’m going to think of others. I’m going to offer a hand to the hostess if she needs help. I’m going to notice if anyone is in need, or feeling awkward like I do, and be extra friendly to them. If I end up in a conversation I’m going to ask questions about them and let them talk.”

Sue’s heart was feeling lighter. As she was getting ready for the party, though, she began to slip back into her worry-mode. “What about this…. “What if I….”, etc.

Whoa! She stopped her thoughts. She mentally gathered those worries and fears in her arms, imagined herself looking into the tender and loving eyes of her Blessed Mother and laid those burdens at her feet.

“Please take care of them, my Mother!“

She threw on her wrap, said goodbye to her parents and walked the short way to the Social.

All through the evening she could feel herself wanting to hide or found herself slipping into self-condemning, intimidating thoughts. She would stop herself each time and leave them at Our Lady’s feet. It helped. It wasn’t easy or perfect, but she knew things were different this time.

And as the evening was coming to a close she actually had a small number of smiling friends form a bit of a circle around her.

Sue looked at her watch. It was late, she knew she had to get home. She finished helping the hostess cleanup.

She went to the closet to get her light wrap she had brought. All of a sudden, a hand reached up and took the wrap from her.

“Let me help you.“

She turned. It was Charles.

“Thank you.“. She said, her eyes sparkling.

As she dashed off into the night, the breeze playing through her hair, she looked up into the starry night and whispered another heartfelt “Thank you!”

Thought for the day…..

Father Irala from Achieving Peace of Heart:

No one who lives for himself alone lives as fully or produces as much as he who lives for others and does good for others.

When you are dominated by your unconscious mental activities, you lead a negative life which is colored by a sickly egoism.

You are always thinking of your own troubles and finding ways to lessen them. You can find no time to busy yourself with others or do any positive and progressive work. You see the enemy everywhere and are wholly taken up with fleeing from him.

Such a person lives, as Fosdick puts it, as if in a room lined with mirrors. Wherever he looks he sees himself.

But when he busies himself with others, several of these mirrors are changed into windows through which he can see other faces, other lives and other more pleasant landscapes.

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Love is the Best Counselor – The Royal Way of Love

From Searching for and Maintaining Peace, Fr. Jacques Philippe

All things considered, this manner of going forward, based on peace, liberty, confident abandonment to God, quiet acceptance of our shortcomings and even of our failures, why is this the way to counsel? Why is it more correct than seeking the will of God, which is done with preoccupation, scruples and a tense and restless desire for perfection?

Because the only true perfection is that of love and, in the first way of proceeding, there is more true love of God than in the second. Saint Faustina said: “When I do not know what to do, I question love, for love is the best counselor!”

The Lord calls us to perfection: Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect. But still, according to the Bible, the one who is most perfect is not the one who behaves in an irreproachable manner, but the one who loves most.

The behavior that is most perfect is not that which corresponds to the image that we sometimes form for ourselves of perfection, such as a comportment that is impeccable, infallible and spotless.

Rather, it is one where there is the most disinterested love of God and the least prideful pursuit of oneself.

One who accepts to be weak, small and who fails often, who accepts to be nothing in his own eyes or in the eyes of others, but who, without being excessively preoccupied with his situation, because he is animated by a great confidence in God and knows that his love is infinitely more important and counts ever so much more than his own imperfection and faults, this person loves more than one who pushes the preoccupation of his own perfection to the point of anxiety.

Happy are the poor in spirit for the Kingdom of God is theirs. Happy are they, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, who have learned to no longer make a drama of their poverty, but who accept it joyously because they put all their hope, not in themselves, but in God.

God Himself will be their wealth, He will be their perfection, their sanctity, their virtues. Happy are those who know how to love their poverty, because it is a marvelous opportunity for God to manifest the immensity of His Love and His Mercy. We will be saints the day when our inabilities and our nothingness will no longer be for us a subject of sadness and anxiety, but a subject of peace and joy.

This road of poverty, which is also the way of love, is the most efficacious for making us grow, for making us progressively acquire all of the virtues, for purifying us of our faults. Love alone is the source of growth, it alone is fruitful, and love alone purifies sin in depth: “The fire of love purifies more than the fires of purgatory,” Saint Therese of Lisieux tells us.

This approach, based on the joyous acceptance of one’s poverty is in no way equivalent to a resignation to mediocrity or an abdication of aspiring to perfection. Rather, it is the quickest and surest road to perfection because it puts us in the position of smallness, confidence and abandonment by which we are placed entirely in the hands of God Who can act in us by His grace and carry us Himself by pure mercy to the perfection that we, in no way, could achieve by our own strength.

“How beautiful it would be if, during their evening prayer together, there could be a pause such as the one for the examination of conscience during which time a husband and wife would pray silently for the other, recommending to God all the other’s intentions sensed, guessed, and known as well as those that only God the Master of consciences could know. Even more beautiful would it be if they would receive Holy Communion together frequently so that each of them could speak more intimately to Our Lord about the needs of the other, begging not only temporal but spiritual favors for this cherished soul. ” – Fr. Raoul Plus, S.J., Christ in the Home

The Valiant Woman

by Monseigneur Landriot, Archbishop of Rheims,
Translated from the French by Helena Lyons

“Long out of print, this rare jewel is destined to become the favored spiritual guide for Catholic wives and mothers. Msgr. Landriot gave these conferences over 100 years ago, but they are as relevant to us today as the Gospels. This book is a guide for women who want to achieve sanctity in the home. Reading this book is the best thing you could do for your husband and children, as well as for yourself. This book was published to help women to raise and keep their families Catholic.” – Loreto Publications

Do you need some good reading suggestions? Visit…

My Book List

Book List for Catholic Men

Book List for the Youth

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Do You Believe in the Devil?

from Helps to Happiness by Father John Carr, C.SS.R.

Do you believe in the Devil?—You suppose you do, you say. For God’s sake mind yourself!

We talk a lot about the Devil. He supplies us with nouns, adjectives, adverbs, verbs, interjections when we indulge in explosive or breezy talk, or wish to drive home a point.

Artists, too, have been busy with him. We all know that goatish-looking creature complete with horns and tail; or that fire-breathing dragon; or that monstrous serpent with very evil eyes—all wearing the dark, sinister-looking green favored by his portrait painters.

It is all a feeble effort to express the inexpressibly wicked; but it can mislead, and the Devil asks for nothing better than that it should.

That he should be just the “painted devil” to frighten “the eye of childhood”; that he should not be taken seriously, but be looked on more or less as a joke; that he should not be believed to be there at all—all this leaves him an open field.

For he hates publicity of any sort. In a word, he hates to be shown up. Let us show him up. Though his “name is Legion, for we are many,” as he tells us, we will keep him in the singular.

We must know then, in the first place, that this Devil is a person, an individual with an intellect, as much a person as you or I.

We must know, in the second place, and we must never forget it, that he is an angel—yes, I said an angel—a fallen one, but an angel still; degraded and despoiled of supernatural gifts, it is true, but retaining his angel’s nature, with its tremendous though perverted powers.

We know his past; he fell from light to darkness, from love to hatred, from bliss to woe, from an eternal heaven to an eternal hell created especially for him.

The intelligence of this evil spirit and his knowledge of men and things gathered through the ages are truly formidable. He knows mortal man well by this: every chink in his amour, every weakness of his heart.

He knows to a nicety what weapon to draw from his well-stocked armory and how best to use it.

Then, behind all this vast power and experience is the driving-force of a hatred for God and for all who would be God’s, and an envy, beside which human hate and envy, even at their worst, are feeble things.

But the Devil has not everything his own way. Though mighty, he is not almighty, as his power falls infinitely short of God’s. His hatred and his longing for our ruin fall infinitely short of God’s love and yearning for our blessedness.

Though near us, he can never get as near as God and never a hairs-breadth nearer than God allows him. And never, never can he force our will to say “Yes” while we want to say “No.”

At the same time the Devil can do much—far, far too much. Occasionally, in the case of great Saints who are interfering greatly with his activities, he comes out into the open, declares himself, tries to terrorize, and even uses violence.

But for the ordinary run of us he remains a hidden foe, working on our imagination, kindling our sensual nature, telling us pleasant lies (he is the Father of them and was so from the beginning), and setting traps of all sorts for our soul.

As his program is immense, and as he knows “he hath but a short time,” he often adopts simpler tactics: he tempts men and women to tempt others. In the giver of bad example, for instance, in the teller of the immoral story and in the seducer, he has most effective agents, who leave him free for further mischief elsewhere.

Such is this Devil whose name we so freely use and whose picture often just raises a smile.

How are you to deal with him, you ask? Pray that you may always recognize him at once and see the cloven hoof, even though it wear the most civilized-looking boot or the daintiest shoe.

Then, don’t argue with him. You are no match for him, and his logic is devastating. Not that he has reason on his side, but his cunning is devilish (we’ll borrow an adjective from him this once).

Then, there are sacred Names he hates to hear, Names that recall his worst defeats: Let him hear them—again and again and again.

In a word, when the Devil tempts you to sin yourself, or to help him in his dirty work by tempting others, then you may—without any violation of charity or any breach of the proprieties—send him literally, unequivocally—above all, wholeheartedly and unhesitatingly—to HELL.

“The Devil exults most when he can steal a man’s joy of spirit from him. He carries a powder with him to throw into any smallest possible chinks of our conscience, to soil the spotlessness of our mind and the purity of our life. But when spiritual joy fills our hearts, the Serpent pours out his deadly poison in vain.” – St. Francis of Assissi

Excellent sermon Spiritual fly swatters, binding prayers, etc.

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This is a unique book of Catholic devotions for young children. There is nothing routine and formal about these stories. They are interesting, full of warmth and dipped right out of life. These anecdotes will help children know about God, as each one unfolds a truth about the saints, the Church, the virtues, etc. These are short faith-filled stories, with a few questions and a prayer following each one, enabling the moral of each story to sink into the minds of your little ones. The stories are only a page long so tired mothers, who still want to give that “tucking in” time a special touch, or pause a brief moment during their busy day to gather her children around her, can feel good about bringing the realities of our faith to the minds of her children in a childlike, (though not childish), way. There is a small poem and a picture at the end of each story. Your children will be straining their necks to see the sweet pictures! Through these small stories, parents will sow seeds of our Holy Catholic Faith that will enrich their families all the years to come!

This revised 1922 classic offers gentle guidance for preteen and teenage girls on how to become a godly woman. Full of charm and sentiment, it will help mother and daughter establish a comfortable rapport for discussions about building character, friendships, obedience, high ideals, a cheerful spirit, modest dress, a pure heart, and a consecrated life.

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If You Want to Find the Right Person…..You Must BE the Right Person

by Leane VanderPutten

Have you found Mr. Right yet?

If you haven’t then look at it as a blessing! You still have time to become the person God has meant you to be…right where you are at. Let’s face it, if you want to find Mr. Right, you need to become MISS Right first.

If you expect him to be upright, chaste, kind, loving, putting his religion first, then you need to be those things.

Our inner happiness NOW should be a requisite for settling down into a life-long relationship that will require the utmost of virtue. What are you doing to work on that each day?

I remember when I was a young lady of around 20. I had a dear friend, Kay, who was like another mother to me at the time. She asked me what my goal was in life. I told her I wanted to be a wife and a mother of a large family. She looked at me and matter-of-factly said, “Well, get to it!”

I knew what she meant. I needed to roll up my sleeves, learn to become a better cook, learn the womanly arts, learn to give, to love and, most important, grow in my spiritual life! Don’t let any day go by without moving forward. Do not become stagnant!

You also need to rid your life of stumbling blocks that may be slowing you down in your growth of virtue.

What kind of movies are you watching? Are they the kind that you would want your potential spouse to be watching? What about your future kids? Would you want them watching those shows? Those are things we need to think about. We need to make those sacrifices NOW. God blesses these efforts a hundredfold.

Music? Ah…MUSIC! I love music just like the rest of them (ask my kids). I grew up listening to what was on the radio. Back in my day we didn’t have the many choices we have nowadays. We just listened to the latest pop. In my estimation, it wasn’t great…..it wasn’t horrible.

There are lots of good choices out there. Clean up your act. Think about it next time….is this stuff bringing me down? Would I want my kids to be listening to it?

I’m not a stick-in-the-mud mom. I love music, I love dancing. But you had better know what NOT to listen to. There are a lot of grey areas. Pray, listen and be ready to sacrifice. We can still have fun, listen to fun music without it being displeasing to God.

What about your friends? Do they inspire you? Are they a good example? In general, are they on the same path as you? You may think that your presence in their life, even though they are not on the same path as you are, is going to make them a better person. Pray about that one. Oftentimes, the opposite happens and they bring us down. We need to end friendships that take us away from our goal in life….living to please God. We become like the people we associate with.

There are so many things young ladies can be doing to make their lives full in the interim when they are waiting for Mr. Right.

Read good books. There is nothing like an inspiring book to help us make some changes that will make us a better person. Always have a book in progress that is teaching you something worthwhile.

Show more charity in your home…obedience to your parents and kindness towards your siblings. One day you will be making a home of your own. Start practicing the virtues now within your own family circle.

Learn the womanly arts. Sew, cook, crochet. So much fun…and so satisfying!! Take lessons if need be. God gave us a creative nature…..let’s build on that! And you have time right now, when you are single!

Frequent the sacraments more often. Pray, listen to sermons, do your spiritual readings. This needs to be the foundation of your life. We can busily do everything else but if we do not have the grace behind it, we are building our house on a foundation of sand.

There is so much good to be done, so much to learn and so many people to love. Your inner happiness does not have to depend on finding the right man. That happiness needs to be nurtured NOW…..and a good side benefit from that is you will be more appealing to that one good man out there that is keeping his eyes open for an excellent wife and mother of his children!

quote for the day55

“Home should not be just a place. Rather, it must be THE place. All else should be ‘outside.’ Home should be the center of activities and interests. It was built for births, courtship, marriage, and death. It is maintained so that children might grow, trained by precept and example – so that they will develop spiritually, mentally, and emotionally, just as they do physically.”
– Fr. Lawrence G. Lovasik. The Catholic Family Handbook

🌸💝The Catholic Young Lady’s Maglet (Magazine/Booklet)!! Enjoy articles about friendship, courting, purity, confession, the single life, vocations, etc. Solid, Catholic advice…. A truly lovely book for that young and not-so-young single lady in your life! Available here.

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M of Grace

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

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

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

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

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An Intelligent Choice of a Mate – Fr. Lovasik

This article is for the single folk out there…and for parents of young adults (this is always good information for parents so we can instruct our children properly).

This book is an excellent choice to help one on the path to choosing a good mate.

Solemn engagement of my daughter and son-in-law with Fr. VanderPutten

Clean Love in Courtship by Father Lovasik

Be on your guard against elements which make for separation and divorce. One of the chief causes of these disorders is that the couple discovers after marriage that they are mismatched; they have little in common. They are uncongenial in temperament and disposition; they differ in moral character and in religious outlook, in culture and tastes.

Association loses its charm; boredom sets in and finally leads to aversion. Test yourself to find out if you are really called to married life with this particular person. As soon as you realize that such a union does not and cannot appeal to you, gently discontinue the courtship regardless of consequences.

It is better to part as friends in good time than to be compelled either to live together very unhappily for life, or to separate as enemies later on. After all, it is the purpose of courtship to learn this very thing. Courtship should be entered upon with a deep sense of responsibility and mutual respect.

Intelligent choice of a mate must not look only to mutual physical attraction, but more so to harmony of tastes, feelings, desires, aspirations, and of temperament. It must weigh spiritual more than physical values.

What has begun as a mere sex intimacy is not likely to end in a happy marriage. In courtship you must also be honest and honorable towards your partner.

Reveal yourself and your family and personal stature with sincerity and truth to the extent to which he or she has the right to this information. However, there are certain things of a family or personal nature one need not and must not tell, such as personal repented sin. They are best left buried and forgotten.

No one except God should ever know of past sins. As soon as you know that a person has no prospect whatever of marrying you, you are in duty bound to discontinue receiving his attentions.

After you are engaged to be married, you can no longer keep company honorably with others, as long as this engagement holds. Listen to the wise voice of the ancient Church which has seen millions of young couples through happy marriages and has only their earthly success and eternal happiness at heart.

The Catholic Church warns you in advance that you will pay a heavy penalty for negligence, haste, and rashness in choosing a partner.

Before she admits candidates to the priesthood, she requires them to spend long years in training and discipline, meditating all the while on the seriousness of the step they contemplate.

Yet, Holy Orders imposes no obligation of greater duration than that imposed by matrimony.  Refrain from beginning to keep regular company too soon. If you begin to do so at sixteen or seventeen years, you expose yourself either to the danger of a premature marriage with its frequent mistake of poor choice or you court the hardly lesser evil of an immoderately long courtship with the attendant disadvantages.

You tie yourself down to one person and thus lose the social advantages and contacts that will have a great influence upon your later life. You expose yourself in a special way to temptations against chastity, because this love affair may be a very prolonged one, and the danger of violating chastity increases as the affection is prolonged.

If you begin “to go steady” while you are a student, you will find it almost impossible to do justice to your studies. Since courtship limits your interest to a single person, it should not be undertaken until you are in a position seriously to consider marriage in the not too distant future.

This presupposes that you have attained the age to understand the great responsibilities of marriage and that you have enough financial resources to establish and maintain a home.

Marrying in haste nearly always means repenting bitterly at leisure. Do not prefer to be sorry to being certain.While the Church warns against courtships of undue brevity, she likewise counsels against those of excessive length.

No hard and fast rule can be laid down determining the exact length of courtship. It should be of sufficient duration to allow young people to learn the character and disposition of each other quite well.

This can usually be done in a period ranging from six months to a year. Ordinarily regular company-keeping should not be protracted much beyond a year. Aside from the obvious moral dangers involved, long courtships are undesirable because they often end in no marriage or in an unhappy marriage.

Grievous injustice can be done to the girl if the man terminates the courtship after monopolizing her attention for several years, and depriving her of other opportunities. Courtship is not the end but the vestibule leading to the great Sacrament.

There will be some things, of course, that very soon they will not want to do for her..dull, dreary things, fetching, cleaning, carrying. But these also they must be trained to do. The mother will often want to save time and trouble by doing them for herself, but if she does she will hurt her children’s character. She must train them young to work for others, to be unselfish, to give. -Dominican Nun, Australia, 1950’s www.finerfem.com

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

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

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In the Park – What a Baby Is

A beautiful meditation for you today….

From Mind the Baby by Mary Perkins, 1950’s

AT LAST we are safely in the park, Jonjo and Thomas Edmund and I. Jonjo abandons his tricycle and runs over to watch the big boys playing football. Thomas Edmund bounces up and down in his stroller with wild impatience to be out and doing.

I lay the bag of necessities, apples and cookies and cleansing tissue, down on the bench; lift Thomas Edmund out and set him down on his two unsteady feet. He staggers around for a moment, looks at me questioningly, and then makes for the nearest pile of leaves under a big tree.

The autumn sun shines low and warm on yellow leaves and grass. Mothers and children, tricycles and carriages are dotted here and there in the golden haze.

Jonjo’s cries of joy come reassuringly over the stubble; he has been invited to join a “football game,” conducted by a kindly-looking man with two other four-year-olds. He will be well taken care of: I can sit down on the bench in peace and watch Thomas Edmund.

There he stands, such a small little boy, surrounded by such a lot of bumpy grass and overshadowed by such a very big tree. There are only twenty-five inches of him, from the top of his yellow head to the soles of his business-like brown shoes; but obviously he is the focal point of all this scenery–and not only to a mother’s eye, for that man and woman over there are watching him just as intently as I am.

Why is it that however beautiful a landscape may be, a baby in it is always the center of attention? What is a baby anyhow that people should stop and smile at him–even the most improbable people, such as crotchety old gentlemen and cross young ladies?

“What is man that Thou art mindful of him, or the son of man that Thou visitest him?” If God is thus mindful of a Thomas Edmund, it is no wonder that we pay some attention to him… “Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels and crowned him with honor and glory.”

Perhaps it is because God’s making of a baby is still so evident and still so unspoiled that we all stop to look.

But only “a little lower than the angels”? It must take a great deal of humility in an angel to recognize that he is only a little higher in the scale of creation than a small human being like Thomas Edmund; let alone to acknowledge that God has crowned that funny round yellow head with such honor and glory of baptismal grace that our son is, in super-nature if not in nature, the very equal of the angel.

Look at the little-less-than-angel over there, gazing in wonder at a squirrel running up and down the tree-trunk–Thomas Edmund Ryan, a human creature and a child of God; by nature akin to the ground and the grass and the tree and the squirrel, and to his guardian angel, and by

Baptism made a partaker of the divine nature. What a span of reality in one small being!

He is sitting down now, his fat legs wide apart, his small back straight and sturdy (if only we grownups could sit like that!) turning a twig over and over in his square little hands, examining it from all angles, chewing it now and then, and occasionally uttering a loud “Aii!” of admiration.

“Man is a creature composed of body and soul, made to the image and likeness of God.” …I can see Thomas’ square little body, I can feel its weight in all my aching muscles.

But what about his soul; how do I know that he has one? By faith, yes; but surely even common sense could perceive that small boys are moved by a different kind of vital force than are stones and bushes and squirrels. No squirrel ever showed such scientific, sustained and impersonal curiosity about a nut as Thomas Edmund is devoting to that twig.

He looks up, throws the twig away with a royal gesture of satiation, staggers to his feet and with immense difficulty leans over and picks up something else.

“Oh Tom, what have you got now? Let Mummy see.” He trots over to me obediently (for once) and holds out a large yellow leaf. My goodness, what a beautiful big leaf! He pushes it at me insistently until I take it and admire it, grabs it back again and sits down, plunk, at my feet to enjoy his treasure with every appropriate and inappropriate sense.

“No, not in your mouth, Tom.” He looks up rather hurt; then slowly and thoughtfully tears the leaf to shreds and picks up each piece in turn to examine it again more thoroughly.

Well, anybody with any perception could see Thomas Edmund’s soul shining out of his eyes. But, sentiment aside, surely one can find proofs in all his actions of the existence of a human soul.

People who think that babies are merely little animals must never have observed either animals or babies. A puppy will bring you a stick to throw for him; he may even bring you a treasure he thinks you want him to retrieve for you; but he would never bring you a leaf to admire with him, and insist on your admiring it. He would never offer you part of his dog biscuit, as Thomas so often offers me pieces of his cookies.

You can keep a dog happy quite easily, with the right kind of food and exercise and play and companionship, but nobody on earth can keep an eighteen-month-old baby happy all the time.

For the baby wants everything in sight, and that is because he is made to want everything beyond sight, and that is because he has a human soul (I must try to remember this chain of reasoning the next time Thomas Edmund is being quite unbearable with all his wants).

Tom’s human soul is now moving him to some new enterprise. He is on his feet again, making for his brother’s abandoned tricycle. He pushes it over, bracing all his small muscles and grunting with the effort.

When it finally falls, he looks at his achievement with awe and says “Oh!” Then he pushes one of the pedals to make the front wheel turn around, with all the earnestness of a scientist in his laboratory. Yes, it really turns; and, what is still better, it keeps on turning. “Ai!” says Thomas Edmund, looking up at me to be sure that I am sharing his excitement, “Ai!”

But how does all this show that a little boy is made to God’s image and likeness in a special way in which grass and trees and squirrels are not? Because God knows and loves and is happy in Himself, Infinite

Truth, Infinite Goodness and Infinite Happiness, and He has made Thomas

Edmund able to know truth and love goodness: the truth and goodness of wheels and cookies, the truth and goodness of ideas and actions.

He has given him powers of knowledge and love which He has also raised and strengthened by grace so that Thomas Edmund will be able to know and love God Himself and to be happy in His own happiness.

Then again, God is a Person–a “Who,” not merely a “What”; and He has made Thomas Edmund also a “Who,” in His image. We were told in college that a “person is an independent substance of a rational nature”–and anyone who has ever watched a baby busy with his own affairs realizes just what that definition means.

Nobody could have any doubt that Thomas over there is a great deal more than a “What”; that he is a “Who” all of his own, in his fine independence and self-hood a small created reflection of the infinite independence and of-Himself-ness of God.

But there is a more appealing way than this in which our Thomas shows that he is in God’s image. Little as he is, he already wants to share with people he loves his small happinesses in cookies and leaves and turning tricycle wheels.

“God is love,” Holy Scripture tells us. He made everything because of love, out of His overflowing generosity, so that He might communicate His perfections to things according to the designs of His wisdom, so that some of His creatures might even come to share His own life and happiness.

And so, little Thomas Edmund, made to His image, made to love and to give himself to God and men in love, already wants to share what is most his own, his joy (even though he clings desperately to more material possessions, especially those he shouldn’t have, like matchboxes!).

What about Thomas Edmund’s body in all this? The catechism doesn’t say, “This likeness is entirely in the soul.” It says “chiefly in the soul.” But what likeness to the infinite God can one possibly find in that funny square little body?

I remember a glorious prayer said at a Bishop’s consecration, when his special episcopal gloves are blessed: “Almighty God, who gave man, made to Your image, hands remarkable for their separation into fingers, as an organ of intelligence for correct workmanship; which You commanded to be kept clean so that the soul might be worthily carried in them…” Here the liturgy fills out the catechism’s bare statement: the organs of our bodies are made to be the expressions and instruments of the powers of our souls, which are made to God’s image.

Tom’s small fat hands, which are now so carefully investigating the inner workings of the tricycle-wheel, such dirty little hands, covered with oil and earth, are made to be the instruments of his intelligence, so that he may make things rightly, according to his likeness to God the Maker. (Should I try to keep them cleaner than I do? Since our souls are carried in our hands, it is no wonder we look at people’s hands to see what kind of people they are, or that a handshake is such a communication of personality, or that there is a whole science of deducing character from handwriting!)

Thomas Edmund has now managed to wrench the seat off the tricycle, has somehow got to his feet with it, and is staggering off proudly with his prize. Need I take it away from him? No, he can’t do much harm to it, or it to him; and a tricycle seat is such a fine red and silver object to carry around.

Surely the uprightness of that small figure shows something of God’s image too, or at least that he is made to “seek the things that are above.”

Now he is sitting down again and digging hard in the dirt with the shaft of the seat, as if to point out that he is made to the image of God, the Ruler of the universe, who commanded man to “subdue the earth” as well as to cultivate it. Thomas Edmund certainly looks as if he were trying to subdue this particular section of ground–such fierce determination is on his face as he digs!

The little lord of the earth looks up from his digging, scrambles to his feet and rushes over to me, with an appealing look in his dark brown eyes.

What’s the matter? He snatches the bag off the bench beside me and starts to investigate it. Oh, a cookie. You’d better let me get it out. He grabs the cookie, gives it a big crunch, and goes back slowly to his digging.

What an odd thing is a human being, dependent on crackers and milk and meat and vegetables for his soul to have a chance of developing; yet so independent of such sustenance that his soul will go on existing for all eternity without it (and his body too, for that matter, after its resurrection, by the grace of God): so much a part of all this scenery and yet so separate and so different.

When you begin to think about everything that a human being is, you realize what wise men mean when they tell us to know ourselves as the first step to knowing God. How justly will Thomas Edmund be able to say, when he knows enough to say it, “I praise Thee because I am made so wonderfully.”

For if he were simply a human being, that would be amazing enough to praise God for, but his humanness is, after all, only the foundation, the prerequisite for what he really is, for (if one may dare so to call it) his divineness.

“O God, who so wonderfully built up the dignity of human substance and still more wonderfully refashioned it…” What new actuality was added to Thomas Edmund when he was born again of water and the Holy Spirit?

A baptized baby does not look different from an unbaptized one (though his mother certainly feels some difference when he comes back fresh from the Holy Font).

You can’t tell which of all these children playing here in the park are baptized and which are not. Yet the ones who are live by a different kind of life and are infinitely more alive than the ones who have not received baptism.

Thomas Edmund over there thoughtfully grinding the grubby remains of his cookie on the tricycle seat, is not only a human child, He is God’s child. And God did not simply adopt him at baptism, did not merely say that from then on He would consider Thomas Edmund as His child. He actually gave him a share in His own life; He made him His child in-deed.

Nor is Thomas Edmund simply one more child of the Eternal Father; he is somehow a new version or expression or realization of God’s only-begotten Son, of Christ our Lord.

He became God’s child by being incorporated in Christ. He received the life of a son of God in and through God’s Only Son.

When God the Father sees that little boy playing there on the grass, He sees him in His Son and He sees His Son in him. Christ our Lord is continually pouring His life into the members of His Mystical Body–so much so that whatever I do to or for Thomas Edmund, I do to and for Christ Himself.

(Dear Lord, forgive me for all the times when I get so angry with him, when his yelling annoys me beyond endurance, when I am just too tired to attend to him cheerfully. Help me to remember that it is You I am taking care of in him, and to do it better.)

And God the Holy Spirit is always dwelling in Thomas Edmund as His temple–a very funny little temple for the Spirit of Love and Joy–so that I am not just washing or feeding or clothing my own child; I am taking care of the temple of God.

The little dwelling-place of the Blessed Trinity is now trying to climb up on the tricycle. Oh woe, of course he didn’t get the seat back where it belongs. He lets out a wild yell of terror and frustration; the tricycle falls over with him, and he lies howling on the grass.

Poor Thomas Edmund! The world is still a valley of tears, even for the children of God; and it is only by many tribulations, many falls and frustrations of all kinds, that we enter into our inheritance of God’s kingdom.

When Christ our Lord was a baby, He must have fallen off things too, and cried as babies cry, so why should we expect to have our children walk any smoother road than the one He walked Himself…

But here is Jonjo at last, demanding his apple and cookie. “Look, dear, be a nice boy, give Tom a ride on your bicycle and cheer him up.”

Jonjo mounts his steed; I put Thomas Edmund on the back (the yells have stopped as soon as he sees a ride in prospect); and they set out, bumping over the stubble, Thomas Edmund hugging his brother hard and singing a little tune of joy.

Two little human creatures, two children of God, two other Christs, two temples of the Holy Spirit riding off together on a red and silver tricycle. Come on, boys, let’s go home.

“The parent who loves his children and takes pleasure in training them in right conduct gives the best possible testimonial to marriage. On the other hand, the parent who constantly complains about his physical, financial or emotional burdens breaks down his youngster’s vision of marriage as a worthy state in life.” – Rev. George A. Kelly http://amzn.to/2yxKIes (afflink)

 

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The back of the flower has a clip that easily opens and holds firmly. Ribbon flowers are an excellent alternative to real flowers and will look fresh and beautiful forever! Available here. 

 

The rosary, scapulars, formal prayers and blessings, holy water, incense, altar candles. . . . The sacramentals of the Holy Catholic Church express the supreme beauty and goodness of Almighty God. The words and language of the blessings are beautiful; the form and art of statues and pictures inspire the best in us. The sacramentals of themselves do not save souls, but they are the means for securing heavenly help for those who use them properly. A sacramental is anything set apart or blessed by the Church to excite good thoughts and to help devotion, and thus secure grace and take away venial sin or the temporal punishment due to sin. This beautiful compendium of Catholic sacramentals contains more than 60,000 words and over 50 full color illustrations that make the time-tested sacramental traditions of the Church – many of which have been forgotten since Vatican II – readily available to every believer.

“The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Published 80 years ago, this Catholic classic focuses on the Christian family and uses as its foundation the1929 encyclical “On Christian Education of Youth” coupled with the “sense of Faith.” Addressing family topics and issues that remain as timely now as they were when the guide was first published, “The Christian Home” succinctly offers sound priestly reminders and advice in six major areas…

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Mrs. Maria VanderPutten, R.I.P. – Love, Life and a Legacy

July 29th marked the four-year anniversary of the death of Mrs. VanderPutten, my mother-in-law. Like all good mothers, she laid down her life for her family. Please spare her a prayer, if you will.

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Two weeks ago, Mrs. Maria VanderPutten, my mother-in-law, went to her Eternal Reward.

She suffered a fall, was taken to the hospital and the doctor gave her 24 to 48 hours to live due to a blood clot on the brain. The physician’s timing was right and now she is gone…..

Although Mom had been suffering with severe dementia for the last two years, her death was unexpected to us. Physically she was frail but she still seemed reasonably healthy, as far as we knew.

I remember the first time I met my future mother-in-law. Vincent and I, with a friend who was the chaperone, traveled from North Dakota (a Catholic Shrine where we had been working and courting) to the Missouri Homestead where the big and boisterous VanderPutten family lived. There were 13 children – 10 boys, 3 girls – and most of them still lived at home. They worked, prayed, and played on their 80 acres with gusto!

Mrs. VanderPutten impressed me from the moment I met her. She was a small but feisty woman who worked hard to keep her home fires burning. From sunup to sundown, she was cooking, cleaning, gardening, taking care of her flowers, telling stories, teaching the Faith, singing, praying.

At prayer time, she led everyone in the songs….many of them Latin.

She told stories of the saints, the end times, the war, the Olde Country (she was from Holland), the Catholic Traditions that she missed so much….

I remember Vincent telling me that she immigrated to Canada from Holland. I also remember him telling me that she was intent on NOT marrying a Dutch farmer.

John VanderPutten was also in Canada. He didn’t frequent the bars or the night spots. He worked hard and then went home. But he was 29 years old and wanted a family of his own. He asked the priest if he had to go to places like these to find a wife. The priest told him, “John, just keep doing what you are doing and pray. God will provide.”

He went to work on a door at a customer’s home. A babysitter was there….her name was Maria….it was a set-up by a friend. They sat and played cards together. The rest is history…..and he was a Dutch farmer who had also immigrated! Just what the Divine Matchmaker ordered! 😀

Their wedding picture:

Mr. VanderPutten was a supervisor of a very successful construction firm in California. They would go on vacation every year. One year they went to Europe with all their nine children for 3 months! John made very good money.

John and Maria knew the value of raising kids Catholic. And they saw the lifestyle in the city, in California, was not conducive to a wholesome atmosphere for raising children.

So, they left everything they had – job, worldly possessions….packed what they could into one vehicle and decided to move somewhere in the country where they could raise their children peacefully…..raise them Catholic, inside and out.

As they traveled around the U.S. they came to a sign in Ohio that read “Apple Cider, Free Samples”. They stopped to get a drink of the freshly pressed juice and John asked the old man if he would be willing to sell his farm to him. The old man hesitated, but only for a moment, and then said that he would. John wrote him out a check for $30,000 and they all moved into the 2 story, run-down old farmhouse that night and began pressing cider to sell the next day!!

Ah! Such Faith and Such Vision. What a willingness to do whatever it takes for the sake of their children’s souls! Talk about seeing the bigger picture!

Fast forward many years, more children……the final destination was FairPlay, MO, living on a beautiful farm with 80 acres where the family worked hard on the land growing melons and other vegetables and fruit to sell to the public…..

Though the season for Truck Farming was busy, working hard each day in the scorching heat for many hours, I remember the pleasant evenings of ice cream and conversation.

I also remember the winters, when things slowed down. Everyone still had their chores. Firewood had to be cut, goats were milked, meals were made, etc. But in between times there was skating, playing board games, lively discussion….

Maria was a strong woman. She was not afraid of sacrifice. And she taught her kids not be afraid of it either. Sympathy was not handed out freely.  I remember Father VanderPutten saying that she would make a meal once a week that, on purpose, tasted lousy just to teach the kids how to sacrifice. Now, I think he was saying that tongue-in-cheek but the gist of it was….if it didn’t taste good….all the better, now you could offer it up!!

If the weather was hot (and it got HOT in Missouri) don’t expect to find comfort at Maria’s. Yes, she had a fan, but AC was out of the question.

November would roll around, cold weather had set in for a time and all the neighbors had been using their heaters, furnaces, etc.  Maria used……a sweater, leggings under her skirt, maybe a scarf….. She hadn’t even started a fire yet in the old wood stove!

Haha…….a difficult place to visit! At least at night when you had a dozen or so kids in tow that you are trying to get to sleep!

But during the day….Ah! It was beautiful, those acres in Missouri! Rolling hills, ponds, goats, horses, raspberries, blackberries, cantaloupe, watermelon……

And so many blueberries!! My husband had planted 2 acres of blueberries when he was working, single and still lived at home. When he decided to move and get married he gave the blueberry patch to his parents.

They had a U-Pick Patch for many years and Maria was out there picking with the rest of them, in the heat, dripping sweat. She pruned, watered and looked after the berries with pride. She looked after the Selling Stand. She made jam, pies and many other dishes with the berries.

When we went there for blueberry-picking time, the kids would have a certain quota they had to pick before they could play. And it was not an easy quota. They all started early so as not to have to pick in the heat of the day. It didn’t matter if you were 5 years or 15 years old….you picked. With plastic ice cream bucket hanging on a string around the waist, you picked with a vengeance! And woe to you if you  just jumped around from juicy looking clump to clump, from bush to bush. You would be admonished quickly and told to “Clean each bush!!” Were you feeling sick in the heat, no matter. Were you tired…tough! You got it done because you disliked those dreaded words….“You sure are lazy!”

Good memories….

Our son Giuseppe (Sep) with his grandma about ten years ago:

Mom and I visiting….

As I mentioned, these last couple of years have been hard for Maria. She knew she was getting dementia and it terrified her. And for the last many months she has not been with us mentally. It has often made me think of St. Louis Martin, St. Therese the Little Flower’s father, who suffered the same thing at the end of his life. It was his and the family’s greatest cross.

And now Maria is gone….a blessed relief for her. If she isn’t already, she will hopefully soon be with her beloved husband, who died about 18 years ago now, and with her very best friends, Jesus and Mary.

She was always, to me, a wonderful example of Strong Faith, Quiet Courage, and a great Fidelity to her Family. She leaves quite a legacy behind her – 13 children and over 100 grandchildren and great-grandchildren! We will miss her.

Good-bye Mom, Rest in Peace…..

 

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FF Quote for the Day

 
Wherever we are we touch others’ lives. From the moment we get up we are on a mission to spread His love to those around us. We have such an important role. Let’s never forget that when the tedium of life tends to overwhelm us.
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📚🌺 Review: These books have been such a blessing to our family! The little poems and nursery rhymes are so much fun but yet have so much depth to them. They cover so many aspects of the faith; saints, the Sacraments, the commandments, virtues, and more. My daughter is always asking for me to read them to her. We are actually using them on a daily basis with the hopes to learn many of them by heart. These are a wonderful tool to have in the home to teach the faith to little ones! Highly recommend! Available here.

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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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“Cafeteria Catholics” by Father Kenneth Walker, FSSP, R.I.P.+

Father Walker, FSSP, R.I.P.+

In the mind of God there is a principle that governs all things in the universe. This principle is called the eternal law. All other kinds of law have a part in the eternal law, and among these is natural law. “Natural law is nothing else than the rational creature’s participation in the eternal law.” (ST I-II, Q. 91, A.2, Resp.)

All men are born with reason, so all men are called to participate in the natural law. “The natural law is written and engraved in the soul of each and every man, because it is human reason ordaining him to do good and forbidding him to sin.” (CCC 1954)

God does not change, and the fact that eternal law does not change follows from that. Since natural law wholly participates in the eternal law, it is immutable as well. Therefore, natural law, being permanent and immutable, is an objective reality which can decide the morality of an action.

All men have the recognition of the natural law, which is called synderesis. Men may choose to obey the voice of their synderesis, but since man has freewill, he can also act against it. Then how does this apply to people who have their own morals, and what does this have to do with the moral teachings of the Church?

The moral teachings of the Church are based on the Divine Revelation of the moral (or natural) law. “To the Church belongs the right always and everywhere to announce moral principles, including those pertaining to the social order, and to make judgments on any human affairs to the extent that they are required by the fundamental rights of the human person or the salvation of souls.” (CCC 2032)  These moral teachings are fundamentally unchangeable, for they come from the basis of the natural law.

The moral teachings of the Catholic Church cannot be wrong, for the Church’s infallibility “extends to all those elements of doctrine, including morals, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, explained or observed” (CCC 2035). Those who are being taught by the Catholic Church must follow these elements of doctrine. They are the means by which Catholics will receive the truth.

There can only be one truth, which Christ testified to, and being that these moral teachings partake of this one truth, only these moral teachings are the correct ones.

Catholics who pick and choose what moral teachings they will follow are not justified in doing so, for, as Catholics, we believe in certain moral teachings laid down by Christ through the Church. If we do not follow these teachings, we stray from the path of heaven.

Yet even those who are partially ignorant of the Church’s teachings may not be held blameless in their actions. It is possible that they could have taken the time to find out more about the Church.

Since the moral teachings of the Church follow from the natural law, all men are taken into consideration. “The natural law, present in the heart of each man and established by reason, is universal in its precepts and its authority extends to all men.” (CCC 1956)

This does not mean that all men are responsible to know the teachings of the Church, for not all know of the Church, but they are responsible for leading a moral life in accordance with the natural law.

It is through the Church, though, that we learn natural law in its correct form. “The precepts of natural law are not perceived by everyone clearly and immediately. In the present situation, sinful man needs grace and revelation so moral and religious truths may be known by everyone with facility, with firm certainty and with no admixture of error.” (CCC 1960)

Therefore, all Catholics are obliged to find out the moral teachings of the Church at the times when they are not sure. They cannot just follow their own standards. It therefore depends a lot on what they know, and what they judge through their conscience.

One of the most difficult things to obtain in the spiritual life is a conscience fully developed in right judgment. When one eventually accomplishes this task, it is much easier to proceed in the moral life. “A good and pure conscience is enlightened by true faith, for charity proceeds at the same time from a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith.” (CCC 1794)

For those who have not acquired a right conscience, and instead have an erroneous conscience, they will have a mistaken idea of what is right or wrong on many moral issues.

For example, a person with a right conscience knows that he must obey his superiors in all things as far as their authority reaches. On the other hand, a person with an erroneous conscience may not see a reason for a particular order, and so not obey it.

Most of the time, an erroneous conscience is the effect of selfishness, pride, or some other serious habitual sin. It leads one into a state of the soul that is difficult to overcome. So, keeping in mind these different states of conscience people can have, are Catholics who pick and choose which moral teachings they will follow in good conscience?

Before giving an answer on whether these Catholics are in good conscience or not, it would be good to elaborate on what is meant by “good conscience”.

Being in good conscience does not necessarily imply a right conscience; it simply means that one follows what his conscience tells him.

One must follow his conscience if he does not wish to sin, but this does not mean that his action is always morally good. It is possible for the action to be objectively wrong.

For example, if a father may give food to the poor, but his children go hungry, is he justified in giving away this food? No, but he may have thought that since the poor are hungrier than his children, he was right in doing so.

The fact that he is a father means that he must support his family, and this should be a higher priority to him than feeding the poor, even though this act of charity is still good theoretically.

The point, though, is that Catholics must be on their guard and be able to judge between what is right and wrong in a given situation. So, “good conscience being defined, it must be decided whether a Catholic who chooses his own moral standards is in good conscience or not.

A person judges by what they know, and Catholics are obliged to know their faith. A Catholic who picks and chooses which moral teachings he will follow is either going against his conscience by deliberately ignoring the fact that he must know his faith, or simply does not know that he must know his faith.

A man is able to make some judgments on moral issues by looking at natural law. A Catholic who follows his own moral standards goes against natural law, so he must know deep down in his heart that there is something wrong in the way he is practicing his faith.

Since he is “Catholic”, he must at some time in his life been introduced to some of the moral teachings of the Church. The ones who are least culpable are those who were taught so little about the faith that nothing morally concrete was ever formed in their minds.

Most Catholics, though, are informed enough to get this idea. Therefore, depending on their knowledge, the vast majority of those Catholics who do choose their own moral teachings to follow are not in good conscience.

“Life is too short to spend it doing things that don’t get you where you want to go. For instance, if it’s important to you to read aloud to your kids, but you find yourself rarely doing that, you’ll feel the disconnect and it will discourage you. You’ll feel off track and out of sorts, but might not be able to put your finger on why.
Spend some time thinking about what you DO want in your life. Then make those choices each day. When you live intentionally and with purpose, it will make a tremendous difference in your life and the lives of those you love.” – Charlotte Siems

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