Home Sacramentals

We pray the rosary here in the cold winter months. Our “home altar”. Gemma just happened to be in the background of this photo. 🙂

by Father Arthur Tonne, The Big Book of Catholic Sacramentals

“Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that built it.” – Psalm 126:1.
Van Meter is just a small town in Iowa, but it boasts one of the finest rural homes in the entire state. It is the home built in 1940 by Bob Feller, pitching ace of the Cleveland Indians.

Although Fire-ball Feller was only 22 years old at the time, he already had made enough money to put up a $25,000 home for his father, mother and younger sister.
The building boasts every modern convenience–electrical equipment of all kinds, ventilating and heating systems, venetian blinds, casement windows, plenty of cupboards and drawers, ceiling-high bookcases, and especially an all-metal, all-electric kitchen.

There are gadgets galore, like a floor switch to call the maid, musical chimes, and an electric eye which automatically opens the garage door when a car comes up the driveway. All these conveniences are for the physical comfort of those who live there. They make house-keeping easier. They save time and energy.

Desirable and helpful as such gadgets are, we cannot help thinking that homes would be much more precious if the same effort were taken to provide spiritual helps and spiritual equipment.

From the material standpoint the home of Bob Feller is ideal. What is needed to make a home ideal from the spiritual standpoint?

The sacramentals of the home are varied and numerous. They help make home a holy place. They are not essential, but they contribute to spiritual health and vigor. Some of these sacramentals will receive a more complete treatment on other Sundays.

How make our homes holy?
1. There are several blessings for a home. One is given on the Epiphany, one on Holy Saturday. There is a common blessing that can be given a home at any time, and another special blessing for a new home.
The common blessing includes sprinkling the rooms with holy water, offering several short Bible verses, and reciting an appropriate prayer.
The blessing for a new house begs God to grant to those who live therein “the abundance of the dew of heaven, and food of the fatness of the earth, and let their desires and their prayers find fulfillment in Thy mercy.”

2. Of the numerous blessings of individuals we will speak on other Sundays. Let me merely mention them:
a. The Church blesses an expectant mother.
b. She blesses the mother after childbirth.
c. She blesses small children.
d. She has a blessing for an older child.
e. And still another for sick children.

3. Prayers in the home are important sacramentals:
a. Family prayer is the most helpful religious practice in the home. At some time each day parents and children should pray together. Some do this right after the evening meal, right at the table or kneeling beside it.
b. Individual morning and evening prayer should be an everyday practice. Let father and mother give the example and the reminder to their children.
c. Meal prayer should never be omitted. In addition to thanking God for the food and asking His blessing upon it, the meal prayer serves as a point of pause and spiritual refreshment in a busy day. It is good for the body as well as the soul.

4. Let me mention some other family devotions:
a. The Rosary does not take too long. Try it and discover the peace and powerful helps it will bring your family.
b. There are devotions for different seasons of the year; a crib at Christmas; a May altar; Sacred Heart prayers during June.
c. Remembering the feasts of patron saints of the different members of the family in some way, however small, is an inspiring practice.
d. Some little family celebration at spiritual milestones like First Communion, Confirmation, graduation from a Catholic school, is inspiring.

5. Each member of the family should have a prayer-book and a Rosary. Best of all is a missal. Keep these in a respectable place. Both children and adults should have medals, scapulars, Sacred Heart badges, and whatever helps spiritual life at home.

6. A Catholic home is marked with religious furnishings and adornment.
a. There should be a crucifix in every bedroom at least.
b. Somewhere in every home there should be at least one picture of our Lord and of our Blessed Mother.
c. There should be holy water, and, if possible, a holy water fount which is kept clean and filled, and honored with regular, reverent use.
d. There should be blessed candles.
e. There should be all the necessary equipment if a priest is called to bring Holy Communion or to assist the dying.
f. Many homes have a little altar, which serves as the center of family prayer, the meeting place for spiritual practices like the Rosary, May devotions, and Sacred Heart devotions.

Bob Feller’s home for his parents and sister may be ideal from the physical and material standpoint. Many a home is ideal from that viewpoint. But all too many homes are poorly equipped, miserably arranged from the spiritual standpoint.

The sacramentals will help to bring the thought of God into your little kingdom of love–your home. Do make yours an ideal home by using the sacramentals of Mother Church. Amen.

“Most women I know are busy. There are times when we take on too much. I’ve been there, and I’ll venture to guess that many of you have as well. That’s when it’s time to step back and take an inventory. Sit down and decide what needs to stay and where you need to cut back. Doing this means that we must be willing to make some sacrifices whether personal or financial in order to keep faith and family as our top two priorities, in that order.” Darlene Schacht, The Good Wife’s Guide, Painting by Marina Chulovich (1956)

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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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It’s the Little Things…..

It’s the little things that can often make or break a marriage….those little courtesies, kindnesses and the respect we show to one another. The following is a few of those meaningful courtesies and a few thoughts that will add life to your relationship.

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From 100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson

Enjoy the man he is.

Don’t compare him to anyone else. There is little more destructive than hoping he’ll become like someone he isn’t – whether said aloud or thought silently in your heart. Instead, make the most of his own unique qualities.

Don’t be surprised when faced with a trial.

It’s not something to tip-toe around, but something to walk through. So walk through it together. At some point, either he or you – or both of you – will encounter a serious bump in the road. Maybe even a serious bump in your relationship. Trials come in life and marriage, so prepare yourself for the possibility.

Be quick to admit when you’re wrong.

Don’t waste a minute holding on to your pride. Okay, so I’ve been terrible at this one. I just hate to be wrong! But what a silly way to live – and to love. So if you’re wrong? Just say so and get it over with. It’s not as bad as it might first sound.

Never leave off with the romance.

And it doesn’t have to look like it does in the movies (I actually like our way even better). Maybe it’s simple, sweet things – like a walk in the park or sipping tea on the porch. Make for a regular date-night that means just the two of you, talking and enjoying each other.

Be sweet to him.

He’ll always be glad for a little of that. There’s such strength found in sweetness. And something not commonly found in our harsh world today. Be that refreshing, soul-stirring voice in his ear. (Song of Solomon 2: 14)

Care about your appearance.

Not out of vanity, but in making an effort to put forth your best. Freshen up a bit when before you see him. Slip on that lovely blouse he often compliments you on. Brush out your hair and pretty-up a bit.

Protect your marriage.

Set up safeguards together to keep things and people from harming what you’ve got. If you have something you treasure? You watch over it and are willing to defend it. This doesn’t mean you are necessarily insecure, paranoid, or controlling. This simply means that you care deeply about your marriage and recognize that we live in a wicked world and you have an Enemy who would seek to tear it apart.

Speak well of him to others.
Never put him down or make a slight. Emphasize his strong points and all the many things you appreciate about him. Never let anyone doubt you’re his biggest fan. He’ll be grateful to you for this.

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“The Crucifix on the wall, the pictures of Our Lord and His Mother – the loveliest you can afford – the little shrine with lights and flowers – these unceasingly speak to your little ones of God’s love and His Beauty, preparing them for that friendship with God, that willing, personal submission to Him that is true freedom and happiness.” -Dominican Nun, Australia, 1954, Painting by Ferdinand Georg Waldmuller

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Loving Our Neighbor as Ourselves

sacredheartfrom Light and Peace, Quadrupani

1. Our divine Lord has said that His disciples should be known by their love one for another. This Christian virtue of charity makes us love our neighbor in God, the creature for the sake of the Creator. Love of God, love of our neighbor,—these virtues are two branches springing from the same trunk and having but one and the same root.

2. Assist your brethren in their needs whenever you can. However, you should always be careful to consult the laws of prudence in this matter and to be guided by your means and position. Supply by a desire to do good for the material aid you are unable to give.

3. When your neighbor offends you he does not cease on that account to be the creature and the image of God; therefore the Christian motive you have for loving him still exists. He is not, perhaps, worthy of pardon, but has not our Savior Jesus Christ, who so often has forgiven you much more grievous offenses, merited it for him?

4. Observe, however, that we can scarcely avoid feeling some repugnance for those who have offended us, but to feel and to consent are two distinct and widely different things, as we have already said. When Religion commands us to love our enemies, the commandment is addressed to the superior portion of the soul, the will, not to the inferior portion in which reside the carnal affections that follow the natural inclinations.

In a word, when we speak of charity the question is not of that human friendship which we feel for those who are naturally pleasing to us, a sentiment wherein we seek merely our own satisfaction and which therefore has nothing in common with charity.IMG_3412 IMG_3417

“Charity makes us love God above all things; and our neighbor as ourselves with a love not sensual, not natural, not interested, but pure, strong and unwavering, and having its foundation in God…. A person is extremely sweet and agreeable and I love her tenderly: or, she loves me well and does much to oblige me, and on that account I love her in return. Who does not see that this affection is according to the senses and the flesh?

For animals that have no soul but only a body and senses, love those who are good and gentle and kind to them. Then there is another person who is brusque and uncivil, but apart from this is really devout and even desirous of becoming gentler and more courteous: consequently, not for any gratification she affords me, or for any self-interested motive whatever, but solely for the good pleasure of God, I talk to her, aid her, love her. This is the virtue of charity indeed, for nature has no share in it.”—Saint Francis de Sales.

The literal and exact fulfillment of the evangelical precept is often found impracticable. How, we say, is it possible to have for all men indiscriminately that extreme sensibility we feel for everything that touches us individually, that constant solicitude for our spiritual or temporal interests, that delicacy of feeling that we reserve for ourselves and for certain objects specially dear to us?

—And yet it is literally au pied de la lettre, that our Lord’s precept should be observed. What then is to be done? An answer will be found in the following passage from Fénelon, and we shall see that it is not a question of exaggerating the love of one’s neighbor, but of moderating self-love, and thus making both the one and the other alike subordinate to the love of God:

“To love our neighbor as ourselves does not mean that we should have for him that intense feeling of affection that we have for ourselves, but simply that we wish for him, and from the motive of charity, what we wish for ourselves. Pure and genuine love, love having for its sole end the object beloved, should be reserved for God alone, and to bestow it elsewhere is a violation of a divine right.”

5. But although it is forbidden us to show hatred or to entertain it voluntarily against the wicked and those who have offended us, this is not meant to prevent us from defending ourselves or taking such precautions against them as prudence suggests.

Christian charity obliges and disposes us to love our enemies and to be good to them when there is occasion to do so; but it should not carry us so far as to protect the wicked, nor leave us without defense against their aggressiveness. It allows us to be vigilant in guarding against their encroachments, and to take precautions against their machinations.

6. Always be ready and willing to excuse the faults of your neighbor, and never put an unfavorable interpretation upon his actions. The same action, says Saint Francis de Sales, may be looked upon under many different aspects: a charitable person will ever suppose the best, an uncharitable one will just as certainly choose the worst.

“Do not weigh so carefully the sayings and doings of others, but let your thought of them be simple and good, kindly and affectionate. You should not exact of your neighbor greater perfection than of yourself, nor be surprised at the diversity of imperfections; for an imperfection is not more an imperfection from the fact that it is extravagant and peculiar.”

7. It is very difficult for a good Christian to become really guilty of rash judgment, in the true sense of the word,—which is that, without just reasons or sufficient grounds he forms and pronounces in his own mind in a positive manner a condemnation of his neighbor. The grave sin of rash judgment is frequently confounded with suspicion or even simple distrust, which may be justifiable on much slighter grounds.

8. Suspicion is permissible when it has for its aim measures of just prudence; charity forbids gratuitously malevolent thoughts, but not vigilance and precaution.

9. Suspicion is not only permissible, but it is at times an important duty for those who are charged with the direction and guardianship of others. Thus it is a positive obligation for a father in regard to his children, and for a master in regard to his servants, whenever there is occasion to correct some vice they know exists, or to prevent some fault they have reasonable cause to fear.

10. As to simple mistrust, which should not be confused with suspicion, it is only an involuntary and purely passive condition, to which we may be more or less inclined by our natural disposition without our free-will being at all involved. Mistrust, suspicion, rash judgment are then three distinct and very different things, and we should be careful not to confound them.

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“We often live with this illusion. With the impression that all would go better, we would like the things around us to change, that the circumstances would change. But this is often an error. It is not the exterior circumstances that must change; it is above all our hearts that must change.” -Fr. Jacques Philippe, Searching For and Maintaining Peace, http://amzn.to/2oqVOv8 (afflink)

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Mixed Marriages/A Trinity of Love – Clean Love in Courtship, Fr. Lovasik

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From the little book Clean Love in Courtship by Father Lawrence Lovasik

Mixed Marriages

The nature and purpose of marriage demand true piety and virtue in both parties in order that they may assist and sanctify each other. There can be no true unity of mind and heart if they differ in this most essential matter of religious belief.

The Church law says ‘‘The Church most strictly forbids mixed marriages everywhere.” (Canon 1060.) Thus she implicitly forbids courtship between Catholics and non-Catholics.

When the Church does permit mixed marriages by granting special dispensation, it is only with reluctance and under certain well-defined conditions.

The divine law forbidding these marriages when there is proximate danger to the faith of the Catholic party or their children cannot be dispensed by any human authority whatsoever.

Experience has proved the following facts about mixed marriages:

I. One of the great barriers to unity of mind and heart is difference in religion.

II. Mixed marriages have been and continue to be the cause of an alarming and ever-increasing number of fallen-away Catholics.

III. The majority of the children of mixed marriages are either not reared in the faith or early lose their faith.

IV. The modern non-Catholic’s attitude toward marriage is so different from the Catholic’s attitude that mixed marriage almost invariably leads to serious disagreement between the man and the woman, particularly about birth control, Catholic education, religious practices.

V. A non-Catholic can always end marriage in divorce, which is in complete opposition to Christ’s law. But marriage for the Catholic is a lifelong contract. Christ so ordained it, and the Catholic so regards it.

VI. If the Catholic in a mixed marriage is faithful to his religion, he is extremely lonely; he feels isolated from his partner, and he finds it almost impossible to explain the situation to the children.

VII. Marriage itself presents enough problems without adding the problems that are created by religious differences. Since the possible marriage with a non-Catholic, grand, noble and honorable though he or she be, presents so many strong dangers to the faith of the Catholic concerned, you must be careful to tell your confessor at once of the hazardous courtship.

This should be done in order to obtain advice. If you insist on marrying a non-Catholic, you should take the person to the priest, at least six weeks before the marriage that there may be ample time for the necessary instructions.

Though the non-Catholic does not intend to become a Catholic, he must at least know what his future partner believes, what promises must be made, the nature of marriage, its duties, responsibilities, and privileges.

Catholics should marry their own kind. Conversions before marriage are often more or less pretended and are seldom the fruit of sincere conviction. Those who embrace the Catholic religion merely to obtain a certain partner in matrimony usually are no credit to it.

There are exceptions, but experience shows that very few mixed marriages develop fortunately for both parties. Nine out of every ten Catholics who contract a mixed marriage do it to their own and their children’s serious detriment.

If you are prudent and eager for peace and happiness, you will resolutely prefer the single life to any kind of mixed marriage.

A Trinity of Love

Love, courtship and marriage are part of a divine plan. The flame of love that burns in the bosom of sweethearts is kindled by no human hands, but by a spark from the love that is eternal and divine.

It is God’s perfect gift to man. If you have always loved, prized and guarded purity and innocence as your most precious personal possession, your wedding day will be a truly happy day.

If you have prepared for marriage by a courtship characterized from beginning to end by a high mutual esteem, ideal love and devotion, angelic purity and unfailing self-restraint, begotten by the fear as well as the love of the Lord and a tender, reverential regard for one another, then you will taste the sweetest happiness that God grants to man in this vale of tears when the priest binds you in the deathless union of the Sacrament of Matrimony.

Then God will bless your union with that most wonderful of all His gifts, a little angel inhuman flesh. You will understand the fair romance and the sweet mystery of life when that baby binds your hearts still more closely together in a blessed trinity of love.

You are not only husband and wife, but mother and father. You will love each other with a love as strong as life itself.

In that sanctuary of the home, a tabernacle of holy love, you come as near to that celestial paradise as you ever can on earth.

 

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

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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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Life Together is Difficult – Christ in the Home

Beautiful and important insight from Fr. Plus….

From Christ in the Home, Fr. Raoul Plus, S.J., 1950’s

Marriage is not an easy vocation. It requires great virtue of husbands and wives.

Personal experience reveals how true that is; those who cannot claim this personal experience can, in any case, accept the statement of psychologists who observe, “Marriage is the most difficult of all human relations, because it is the most intimate and the most constant. To live so close to another person–who in spite of everything remains another person–to be thus drawn together, to associate so intimately with another personality without a wound or without any shock to one’s feelings is a difficult thing.”

According to an old saying, “There are two moments in life when a man discovers that his wife is his dearest possession in the world–when he carries her across the threshold of his home, and when he accompanies her body to the cemetery.”

But in the interval between these two moments, they must live together, dwell together, persevere together. “To die for the woman one loves is easier than to live with her” claim those who ought to know. And how many women could claim similarly, “To die for the man one loves is easier than to live with him.”

They must bear with each other.

A French journalist while visiting Canada stopped for a time at Quebec. “You have no law permitting a divorce in the case of husbands and wives who do not understand each other?” he questioned.

“No.”

“But what do those married persons do whose discontent is continual and whose characters are in no way compatible?”

“They endure each other.”

How expressive an answer! How rich in meaning! How expressive of virtue which is perhaps heroic! They endure each other.

This is not an attempt to deny the delights of married life, but to show that more than a little generosity is required to bear its difficulties.

In “The New Jerusalem” by Chesterton, a young girl is sought in marriage. She opposes the proposal in view of differences in temperament between herself and the young man. The marriage would certainly be a risk; it would be imprudent.

Michel, the suitor, retorted to this objection in his own style: “Imprudent! Do you mean to tell me that there are any prudent marriages? You might just as well speak of prudent suicides . . . A young girl never knows her husband before marrying him.

Unhappy? Of course, you will be unhappy. Who are you anyway to escape being unhappy, just as well as the mother who brought you into the world! Deceived? Of course you shall be deceived!”

Who proves too much, proves very little. We can, however, through the exaggeration find the strain of truth. “Michel” is a little too pessimistic. He makes a good counterpart to those who enter into marriage as if in a dream.

“Marriage,” wisely wrote Paul Claudel–and he gives the true idea–“is not pleasure; it is the sacrifice of pleasure; it is the study of two souls who throughout their future, for an end outside of themselves, shall have to be satisfied with each other always.”

LOVING EACH OTHER IN GOD

We have already seen that it is essential to advance as quickly as possible from a purely natural love to a supernatural love, from a passionate love to a virtuous love.

That is clear. No matter how perfect the partners in marriage may be, each has limitations; we can foresee immediately that at the point where the limitations of the one contact the limitations of the other, sparks will easily fly; misunderstandings, oppositions, and disagreements will arise.

No matter how much effort one puts forth to manifest only virtues, one does not have only virtues. And when one lives in constant contact with another, his faults appear quickly; “No man is great to his valet,” says the proverb.

Sometimes it is the very virtue of an individual which seems to annoy another. One would have liked more discretion; one is, as it were, eclipsed. Two find their self-love irritated, in conflict.

Or perhaps virtues no longer appear as virtues by reason of being so constantly manifested. Others become accustomed to seeing them and look upon them as merely natural traits.

“There is nothing more than that missing for him or her to be different.” It is like the sun or the light; people no longer notice them. Bread by reason of its being daily bread loses its character of “good bread.”

Daily intercourse which was a joy in the beginning no longer seems such a special delight; it becomes monotonous.

Husband and wife remain together by habit, common interests, honor, even a certain attachment of will, but do they continue to be bound together by love in the deepest sense of the word?

If things go on in this way, they will soon cease to be much concerned about each other; they may preserve a mutual dry esteem which habit will render still drier. Where formerly there existed a mutual ardor, nothing more remains than proper form; where formerly there was never anything more than a delicate remonstrance, there now exists depressing wrangling or a still more depressing coldness.

Married persons must come to the help of weak human nature and try to understand what supernatural love is in order to infuse it into their lives as soon as possible.

Is not the doctrine of the Church on marriage too often forgotten? How many ever reread the epistle of the Nuptial Mass? Meditate on it?

In any case, how many husbands and wives read it together? Meditate on it together? That would forearm them against the invasion of worrisome misunderstandings.

Why not have recourse to the well-springs of wisdom? There are not only the epistles. There is the whole gospel.

The example of Joseph and Mary at Nazareth is enlightening.

What obedience and cordial simplicity in Mary! What deference and exquisite charity in Saint Joseph! And between the two what openness of heart, what elevated dealings! Jesus was the bond between Mary, the Mother, and Joseph, the foster-father.

In Christian marriage, Jesus is still the unbreakable bond–prayer together, Holy Mass and Holy Communion together.

Not only should there be prayer with each other, beside each other, but prayer for each other.

 
“Enjoy the man he is. Don’t compare him to anyone else. There is little more destructive than hoping he’ll become like someone he isn’t – whether said aloud or thought silently in your heart. Instead, make the most of his own unique qualities.” – Lisa Jacobson, 100 Ways to Love Your Husband http://amzn.to/2sk0lEa (afflink)

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“We live in an age characterized by agitation and lack of peace. This tendency manifests itself in our spiritual as well as our secular life. In our search for God and holiness, in our service to our neighbor, a kind of restlessness and anxiety take the place of the confidence and peace which ought to be ours. What must we do to overcome the moments of fear and distress which assail us? How can we learn to place all our confidence in God and abandon ourselves into his loving care? This is what is taught in this simple, yet profound little treatise on peace of head. Taking concrete examples from our everyday life, the author invites us to respond in a Gospel fashion to the upsetting situations we must all confront. Since peace of heart is a pure gift of God, it is something we should seek, pursue and ask him for without cease. This book is here to help us in that pursuit.”

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The Pupils’ Success – The Catholic Teacher’s Companion

This excerpt is a lesson for all educators…including, and especially, mothers and fathers. There aren’t many schools nowadays that are reputable (there are some, indeed), so mothers and fathers have had to take much of burden of educating their children, especially in their religion. Take heart, your reward will be great in heaven!

Some readers may be tempted to restrict the idea of the pupils’ success to what is seen on the night of the school commencement. But we have in mind the school commencement merely as the scene whence the graduates must pass to the larger stage of the world to play their parts.

The Rev. Daniel A. Lord, S.J.,  has brought out vividly the part that the Sisters play in both phases of the pupil’s success:

Back stage, hot in heavy habits that were never designed for work among canvas wings, the Sisters, tired, flushed, but happy, watched the end of their year’s work.

The next day they too were to leave; some for the motherhouse, some for the summer courses at Catholic colleges, all eventually for the annual retreat.

The curtain dropped for the last time, and the boys and girls surged out to greet happy relatives, some with a quick good-by to their teachers, others thoughtless and forgetful of all except that for them school was at an end and they were free.

Yet, though few children came to thank them, and fewer still of that seething audience gave a passing thought to the Sisters backstage, all that was epitomized in the entertainment just concluded, and the diploma just conferred was credited by a higher Power to them.

Because of their patient drilling some boy would rise higher in life. Later on some girl would come with the man who loved her, to seek out the Sister who had kept her feet straight in her youthful days.

Some boy in the grip of temptation would remember her insistent lessons of loyalty to God and put sin ruthlessly behind him. Perhaps in some distant day a wanderer from the faith of his fathers would on his deathbed murmur the act of contrition she taught him, and by that childhood prayer open for himself the gates of eternal bliss.

And perhaps before God’s altar some young priest, in the full tide of his newly-received priesthood, would pause at the Memento to whisper the name of the nun whose lessons and prayers had first turned his eyes toward the service of the Sanctuary.

Her work, unrecognized, unappreciated, but heroic with the heroism of patient unselfishness and devotion to a high ideal, is one of the loveliest things in the Church today.

She is the greatest asset of Catholic education. I crave your thanks for the teaching Sister.

The Rev. Robert Schwickerath, S.J., relates an incident of the life of Father Bonifacio, a distinguished Jesuit educator, who for more than forty years taught the classics.

One day he was visited by his brother, a professor in a university, whom he had not seen for many years. When the professor heard that the Father had spent all the years of his life in the Order in teaching Latin and Greek to young boys, he exclaimed:

“You have wasted your great talents in such inferior work! I expected to find you at least a professor of philosophy or theology. What have you done that this post is assigned to you?”

Father Bonifacio quietly opened a little book, and showed him the list of hundreds of pupils whom he had taught, many of whom occupied high positions in Church or State, or in the world of business.

Pointing at their names, the Father said with a pleasant smile:

“The success which my pupils have achieved is to me a far sweeter reward than any honor which I might have obtained the most celebrated university.”

 Father Schwickerath justly adds to this account that “not all teachers have the consolation of seeing their pupils in high positions. It happens that the best efforts of a devoted teacher seem to be lost on many pupils. Even this will not discourage the religious teacher.

He will remember that his model, Jesus Christ, did not reap the fruit which might have been expected from such a Master. Not all that He sowed brought forth fruit a hundredfold, not even thirtyfold. Some fell upon stony ground, and other some fell among the thorns, and yet He went on patiently sowing.

So a teacher ought not to be disheartened if the success should not correspond with his labors. He knows that one reward is certainly in store for him, the measure of which will not be his success, but his zeal; not the fruit but his efforts.”

It is the prospect of this reward that inspires the devoted service of our Sisters.

Not long ago, in distant Algiers, an American tourist visited the lepers’ colony out of pure curiosity. These poor lepers were cared for by a Community of Sisters. The man was attracted by one of these self-sacrificing women because of her youth, beauty, and refinement, and to his surprise he learned that she was an American girl.

Being introduced to her, he said: “Sister, I would not do this work for $10,000 a year.”

“No,” said the Sister, “nor would I do it for $100,000 nor a million a year.”

“Really,” said the stranger, “you surprise me. What, then, do you receive?”

“Nothing,” was the reply, “absolutely nothing.”

“Then why do you do it?”

The Sister lifted the crucifix that was pending from her rosary and, sweetly kissing it, said, “I do it for the love of Him, for Jesus who died for the love of them and for the love of me. In the loathsome ulcers of these poor lepers I see the wounds of my crowned and crucified Savior.”

For the rest, we believe that the very choicest reward will be meted out to the School Sisters for that portion of their work that to human seeming is generally in vain. Our School Sisters may gain honor from their talented pupils; they will earn their bread (in a certain sense) by training the vast body of mediocre children; but they will merit heaven by the patient labors they devote to the dullards in their schools.

A holy house is one in which God is truly King; in which He reigns supreme over the minds and hearts of the inmates; in which every word and act honors His name. One feels on entering such a house, nay, even on approaching it, that the very atmosphere within and without is laden with holy and heavenly influences. -True Womanhood, Rev. Bernard O’Reilly, 1894 https://amzn.to/2PsM94w (afflink)

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

Available here.

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)

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support.

The Blessedness of Labor

Fitting for Labor Day….

Painting by Sheri Dinardi

GUIDE for CATHOLIC YOUNG WOMEN by Rev. George Deshon, 1863

“Why was I not born a lady?” says the poor girl who has to work hard for a living. “There are the ladies, with little or nothing to do, amusing themselves all day, and enjoying all the good things of life, while poor I must drudge the whole blessed day, from early morning till late at night, for a living, and a scant one at that. I wish the Almighty had placed me in some better condition of life than the one I am in!”

My good girl, you who talk in that way, you do not know what you are saying. Instead of complaining of the good God, if your eyes could only be opened to see things as they really are, your heart would leap for joy, and your tongue would praise Him that you have not been made a lady, or anything, but just what you are.

For the truth is, your condition of life is one of the very best in which God could place you, and it is a great privilege for you to be in it rather than in any other.

Let us look into it, and see how this is. 1 dare say you remember that among almost the first words of the little Catechism, the question is asked: “For what were we created?”

The answer to it is: “To learn to serve and love God in this world in order that we may be happy forever with Him in the next.”

Ah, this lets us into the whole secret! We were not created to be rich, to live without work, to live in fine houses, and wear fine clothes, and ride in elegant coaches, and have, what folks are apt to call, a fine time of it.

No, it was for nothing of all this, but to learn to love and serve God during this life, in order to earn heaven, and prepare ourselves to be happy forever with God.

This is the reason why the rich are so often unhappy, in spite of all their money and splendor.

They are just living for riches and pleasure, instead of to please God, and they cannot find any real satisfaction in such a life. God will never let us have any real happiness unless we live in order to please and love Him.

It is true, a rich man or woman can serve God and be happy, but it is difficult, for riches and honors and pleasures steal away the heart, and cause Him to be forgotten. And when God is forgotten what enjoyment can there be of life?

What is over and above our necessary and suitable clothing will bring but little satisfaction.

It only feeds an idle vanity, destroys contentment, and fills us with desires for a thousand things that never satisfy us when they are supplied.

We are always the worse for it when we eat or drink much more than is necessary for us; we lose our appetite, our health and our strength, so that the body becomes a burden, and life a misery.

All the money or honor in the world cannot ensure health or contentment of mind.

Then there is death, in the midst of our earthly enjoyments, always staring us in the face. Our friends are cut down around us, and we know not the day or the hour when our turn will come.

But we know very well that when it does come, we must be torn away, whether we will or no, from everything in this world which we have set our hearts upon.

Can we have any enjoyment in such a life as we have here, unless it is grounded on peace with God? Unless we carry out the blessed intentions which God had in creating us, namely, that we should love and serve Him?

And, then, think of that vast eternity which stretches away beyond, after this life is over.

How small and mean everything here is in comparison with it! What difference will it make to us when we are once in the presence of God, clothed with glory and honor, with white garments and the palm of victory in our hands, with no sorrows, sighs, or tears to be feared any more forever; — what difference will it make whether we had a little more or a little less on this earth? Why, this whole life will seem a small speck in the grand ocean of eternity.

In short, in considering any state or condition, the principal thing is, to take into account the advantages it holds out for securing a holy and pious life, so that we may come safe through all the trials and temptations of this world to our only true home in heaven.

In this view, I do not know any among the ordinary conditions of life as good and desirable as that of a life of service or of daily labor.

A life of labor has always been considered, by spiritual persons, most favorable to the soul.

To have nothing which we are obliged to do may seem very fine to our worldliness and love of ease, but it is most dangerous. You know the old saying: “The devil finds work enough for idle hands to do.” It is most true. Idleness opens the door for the worst temptations.

Suppose you had pretty much all your time to do what you pleased with, how likely it is that a great part of it would be misused! Habits of idleness would be formed, your time would hang heavy on your hands, and you would not know what to do.

You would seek for amusement: you would soon be altogether taken up with it, and your whole life would become one given up to the world and to wickedness. You would indeed stand a great chance of going straight down to perdition.

The labor of the hands is, then, a source of blessing. It furnishes a great help to spending life in innocence. It fills up our time with holiest industry, while it leaves the soul free to raise itself from time to time to God.

The labor of the hands is not like that of the head. Head work fills the mind, and takes up its attention, but hand work leaves the mind in a great measure free.

St. Anthony was taught this by an angel from heaven. One day when he felt tired by uninterrupted prayer, and unable to continue it, he grieved over it before the Lord, and begged to be instructed how to get over this trouble, which was a hindrance to his salvation.

After his prayer he went out of his cell, and saw a person, the exact image of himself, seated at work making mats out of palm leaves. The saint perceived it was an angel who took this form and acted in this manner to make him understand how, by going from work to prayer, and from prayer to work, he could cheerfully and surely work out his salvation.

The old hermits of the desert all understood this. They did not dare to be idle, but made baskets, cultivated the ground, spent all their time in labor or prayer, and so worked out their salvation in the utmost security.

We cannot have the life of these old hermits of the desert over again nowadays, but, outside the wall of the convent, whose life is most like theirs?

That of the good girl who earns her own living at service, or at some other honest employment. She it is who enjoys, more than any others that I know of, the advantages which these old saints coveted so much — who can spend her days in work and prayer, and thus keep off the evil one, and work out her salvation with comparative ease.

Do not then complain of labor, but rejoice, and thank God that He has given you not a life of idleness, but honest and continual labor. Tt is a very great favor of His love, as you will see, when this body of the flesh falls away, and you stand on the other side of eternity.

 

“A man wants a woman who will place him at the top of her priority list, not second but first. He does not expect his wife to neglect important duties in his behalf. He is aware of the demands of her life and wants her to give each responsibility the attention it requires. He does not want his children to suffer neglect. And he knows she is entitled to other interests and diversions. But, he doesn’t want to be less important.”

Helen Andelin, Fascinating Womanhood 

CATHOLIC HEARTH STORIES!

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We often don’t realize the impact of those lessons, those Catholic lessons, that are taught each day to our children. It is so much worth the effort! The signs of the crosses, kneeling to say prayers, dipping fingers in holy water, laying fresh flowers at the statue of Our Lady, etc., etc. These are gold nuggets that will live on in your children’s lives. This is building Catholic Culture!

The following two books are to help you parents with those little things…..They are story books from my new little series, “Catholic Hearth Stories”. I wrote them especially for my grandchildren….and am sharing them with yours.

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

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

Celine’s Advent: Take a walk through Advent as Celine and her family prepare for the coming of the Baby Jesus at Christmas! You will enjoy celebrating the beauty of the season with Celine as she helps her mom with the special traditions and activities that make the liturgy come alive in their home! Her “peanut gallery” consists of a mouse named Percy and some charming and delightful Christmas Angels! They are sure to capture your heart!

Joseph and the Bow Shoot: Meet Joseph, a Catholic boy who wants to enter the Parish Bow Shoot but doesn’t have a bow. How does he overcome this obstacle and what lessons does he learn along the way?

Two Tea Parties and a Sacrifice: Meet Agnes, a fourteen-year-old Catholic girl, who is challenged to make a sacrifice. Will she cheerfully accept what she knows is God’s will in this situation?

Brendan, The Seafarer: It’s Brendan’s birthday and he is fighting pirates, steering ships and wielding swords! He learns of St. Brendan, the Navigator and the pious Christopher Columbus. Life is a nautical adventure for him! Will his daydreaming cause him trouble? What lessons does he learn?
There is a “peanut gallery” in this book….a turtle named Ollie and a seahorse named Sherman and other sea creatures that make their appearance now and again and have their own chats among themselves!

Available here.

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Joyful Service!

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Joy! It is such an important ingredient when raising a family! There will be something (terribly) missing and your children may be tempted to jump ship….if there is no joy. Why would they want what you have….your religion, your way of life…..if you don’t have joy? It’s something worth praying for and striving for! Father Considine may help us today!

Rev. Daniel Considine, S.J., 1950’s

St. Paul says, ‘Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice.'( 1 Phil. iv. 4.).

If we want to serve God, joy should be not only an element; it should be the staple of our life.

Our difficulties are so great, our enemies so many, that unless we are supported by joy, we shan’t do what God wants us to do. It is a point of great consequence.

There is a sort of impression that in the service of God there ought to be a certain sobriety, an earnestness-yes, sadness, which makes the distinction between the service of the world, and the service of God; and that those who serve God must expect more tribulation and uneasiness of mind. Entirely false.

St. Paul, speaking under the dictation of the Holy Spirit, says, ‘Rejoice, again I say, rejoice.’ If we think the ideal of a religious person is to be sad, it is quite wrong; it is the direct opposite to the truth.

We are never so much fitted to cope with the difficulties of the spiritual life as when we are in joy. Often, when difficulties are to follow, God strengthens souls by an extra dose of joy. He expands the heart, and fills us with more faith and hope and love, and so makes us ready to overcome our enemies.

Read carefully the Acts of the Apostles: no one can read them without being struck by the spirit of buoyancy and exaltation that fills and pervades them; one might almost call it high spirits.

The Apostles carried their lives in their hands; they were scourged, and came forth from their severe flogging full of joy, rejoicing they were found worthy to suffer for Our Lord. We certainly then can’t be doing wrong in making our lives lives of joy.

This matter bears on our daily life. Is this our view? We are so apt to think others have so much to make their lives happy. ‘They ought to rejoice.’ The question remains: does God mean ME to rejoice in Him? Don’t evade the difficulty by saying, ‘Oh, it’s some sort of spiritual joy which I don’t understand: ordinary joy I can’t feel.’

‘What is meant if not real joy, real happiness, and if you don’t feel the service of God produces this, there is something wrong with you.

It is a very common error-that God sends us trials for their own sake. Looking on pain and trouble as good things is not a sound view. It does us harm by making us think God takes pleasure in seeing us suffer.

The greatest possible happiness to be got out of life is in the service of God. God doesn’t like to see us cry, even though it is good for us. It pains God for me to suffer pain- that is a lovable and TRUE view of God. To think of the Passion as God heaping torments on His Son is Jansenist.

Taking our lives as they are, and being happy in them, is a true way to perfection.

Very few crosses are DIRECTLY sent by God. God permits them, but they come from someone, or something else, or from ourselves- being disappointed in something we had aimed at. We should cut down our estimate of what God really sends us very considerably.

What does He want of me? He wants you to take your life as it is, bearing your trials and disappointments as quietly as you can. Empty lamenting over things not being as they ought to be, must be eschewed.

The way to make things better is not to be doleful, but happy and cheerful. ‘Your joy no man shall take from you . . .’ (I John xvi. 22).

Our life is as it is: in that I am to find the material for serving God. Supposing even my trials are my own fault really-the results of my own actions staring me in the face.

If I can’t put it to rights, let me be sorry for what is wrong and go on cheerfully. Start afresh. The service of God is from hour to hour and from day to day. If things are going contrary, it is a pity to be thinking we have great crosses and trials, and bemoaning ourselves: the way to do work for God is to be full of happiness. . . . No heart was ever so tender as the Heart of Our Lord; He couldn’t see a person weep without wanting to stop their tears.

Then how am I to account for my life being so full of misery?-Is it all as I think? If the fault is in me, it is hard to put it all on God.

You don’t think your temper, for instance, comes down straight from God? God respects our free will. Should we like to be milksops in God’s service? One of Our Lord’s favored servants prayed to Him to take away certain faults of temper in her Superior. ‘Not at all,’ Our Lord answered her, ‘they are very good for you, and for her too. She is so sorry for them. I love her all the more.’

We need not be dissatisfied because we have no special trial; bearing with our wretched bodies and souls is the staple of our service to God. ‘Traffic till I come.’ (Luke xix.13). Bear the cross and all your difficulties well – don’t make much of them.

We ought to be ashamed to run like children with a hurt finger for sympathy and consolation in every little trouble. God loves His own as the apple of His eye. Bear all then in love and patience for His sake.

We must get out of our heads the idea that we can only be religious by being miserable. If you will think of God as difficult and unapproachable, – if you are afraid of Him, and think He is high and haughty, and far away from you, you won’t love Him.

One of the ruses of the devil, whenever we fall short of the highest standard, is to tell us: ‘You art not one of those chosen souls who are called to love God.’

You must think of Him as one who knows our poor craven natures. He knows it all seems flat and monotonous, and that you feel weary of well-doing. It will all pass: Our Lord hasn’t abandoned you.

Hold on – it will all come right again. When we are unfaithful, to believe that Our Lord will give us up, that is utterly false. We can never love Our Lord as we should, if we think He remembers things against us. Remember the way He behaved towards His Apostles.

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No one likes to be taken for granted. In any human relationship a little sign of appreciation goes a long way. Life does not have to be a hard pull uphill all the time. To know that someone, especially the one we love, values our efforts sends us off with our heads in the clouds. The wife who is wise enough to show her husband appreciation for all his efforts will keep his heart fixed upon her. – The Wife Desired, Fr. Leo Kinsella http://amzn.to/2rtUpb9 (afflink)

“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.

Through these small stories, parents will sow seeds of our Holy Catholic Faith that will enrich their families all the years to come!”

Available here.

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Transported Together – Christ in the Home

Painting by Jesus Helguera

from Christ in the Home, Fr. Raoul Plus, S.J.

We are not considering the word “transported” in its emotional and rapturous sense, not as a paroxysm of exaltation, but rather in the sense of an ascent in a vehicle toward a determined destination.

Marriage is a trip for two. A trip. They travel ahead, enjoying mutual happiness on earth even as their destination gets nearer; and farther on, over there, up yonder, they shall both have the happiness of paradise.

Do I have my destination, our common destination, sufficiently before my eyes . . . sanctity here below, then death; then in the next life, the reward for our mutual efforts on earth?

How quickly we slip along hardly noticing our advance; I am scarcely aware of having started on the way. How distant the end seems; it escapes my sight; I am all taken up with what is right before me; I can’t see the forest for the trees.

Am I advancing? In sanctity? In union with God? In patience? In purity? In charity? In generosity?

How many questions? Am I really asking them of myself? And if I am, how must I answer them if I want to be honest?

But I am not alone. This is a trip in company with others. We are several; we are two not counting the children.

How do I conduct myself toward this company, my co- travelers?

How do I act toward the partner of my life?

A recent “before and after” cartoon gave a series of pictures indicating changes in attitude toward one’s life companion: During the engagement period, the young man is holding the umbrella very solicitously over his fiancee’s head with no regard for the rain pouring down on him. Shortly after marriage, he holds the umbrella between them so that each receives an equal share of the raindrops. A long time later in marriage, the husband is no longer concerned about his wife; he holds the umbrella over his head and lets his wife get soaked to saturation.

Is that a reality or only an accusation? Selfishness so quickly regains its empire. It is not always bad will; inattention, perhaps, plain and simple. Yes, but isn’t even that too bad?

What happened to all the little attentions of courtship and the honeymoon days? Those countless delicate considerations? The constant thought of the other?

There is the root of much suffering especially for the wife who is keener, more affectionate, more sensitive; she thinks she is cast off. She lets it be known on occasions. Oh, not bluntly, but with that subtle art she has for allusions, implications, and expressive silences.

She might upbraid: “If you were in such a situation, if you were with such and such a person, I am sure you would be so obliging, so engaging, so attentive. But it is only I. Consequently you don’t have to bother, isn’t that so?”

And, little by little, bitterness creeps in. It was nothing at all to start with. They made something– matter for friction.

I know a priest who wanted to preserve until he was at least eighty all the freshness of his priesthood: “I shall never let myself get used to celebrating Holy Mass.”

I should be able to say the same thing in regard to the sacrament I have received, the sacrament of marriage: “I will preserve my love in all its freshness. I shall remain considerate, delicately attentive. I shall do everything in my power to travel forward together not only in peace but in light and mutual joy.”

Never weary in cheering your family with your smile. It is not enough to avoid depressing them; you must brighten them up and let their spirits expand. Be especially vigilant when the little ones are around. Give them the alms of a smile, hard though it be at times. What a pity when children have to say, “I don’t like it at home.” – Christ in the Home, Fr. Raoul Plus, S.J. http://amzn.to/2rHXstq (afflink)

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Available here.

A must-read for the married and those considering marriage! This guidebook to finding a happy marriage, keeping a happy marriage, and raising happy children has been out of print for over 50 years…until now! From the master of the spiritual life, Raoul Plus, S.J., it contains loads of practical and spiritual advice on family life. Have you been looking for a handbook on marriage and raising children that is based on truth? You’ve found it!

The saints assure us that simplicity is the virtue most likely to draw us closer to God and make us more like Him.

No wonder Jesus praised the little children and the pure of heart! In them, He recognized the goodness that arises from an untroubled simplicity of life, a simplicity which in the saints is completely focused on its true center, God.

That’s easy to know, simple to say, but hard to achieve.

For our lives are complicated and our personalities too. (We even make our prayers and devotions more complicated than they need be!)

In these pages, Fr. Raoul Plus provides a remedy for the even the most tangled lives.

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support.

True Friendship – Fr. Gerald Kelly, S.J.

A very good analysis of true friendship (in marriage and otherwise)…..

From Chastity, A Guide for Youth by Fr. Gerald Kelly, S.J., 1940’s

It has been our experience with many young men and women who read the manuscript of this book that at first some were strongly inclined to balk at our description of friendship. Their idea of a friend had always been: “1 like him and he likes me.” and they were displeased on finding that that notion could not always square with the qualifications on which we insist.

After considerable argument on our part and further consideration on theirs, they have generally come to the conclusion that we are correct. It is essential to keep in mind from the beginning that we are talking about true friendship, not about a mere emotional fascination, or blind passion, or a companionship of mere convenience which is struck up today, is carried on pleasantly fora time, and then dies of its own weight.

Real friendship differs considerably from these things. A companionship may be styled a real friendship only when it possesses these three qualities:

1) It is morally helpful to both parties; 2) There is a genuine basis of agreement between the parties; 3) Their mutual love is characterized by a spirit of self-sacrifice.

A few words about each of these qualities will lay a solid foundation for the first part of this book. For the time being it is well to omit any special application to love between the sexes.

These three qualities distinguish true friendship wherever it is found, whether between persons of the same sex or of different sexes. The qualities have not been chosen arbitrarily or at random; they are given here as the result of long and serious study of the real meaning of friendship, and with the confidence that any thoughtful reader will agree with the enumeration.

Morally Helpful

To put this negatively, it means that a companionship is not a true friendship if it leads to sin, to troubles of conscience, to a lowering of ideals, to a weakening of faith, to neglect in the practice of one’s religious duties. Such harmful moral effects violate the most elemental idea of real friendship.

Friendship is founded on mutual respect, and it is impossible to have a sincere respect for one who has the influence of poison on the soul. True love seeks the good of the beloved, and this good is never found in sin.

Friendship should have a positive influence for moral good. The appreciation of the worthiness of the friend should inspire one to a similar worthiness. It lifts up; it brings both nearer to God; it is a union in Christ.

An intimate companionship is bound to influence both parties, and only a good influence is worthy of friendship. There should be mutual help to avoid sin, and mutual inspiration to the practice of virtue.

This does not mean that in forming our friendships we must consciously strive for moral betterment, but it does mean that we should not consciously prolong a companionship that we recognize as morally evil.

It does not mean that both friends must be equal in virtue, but it does mean that both should have an appreciation of and a willingness to practice virtue and that at least their influence on each other is not a hindrance to the practice of virtue.

You can have a blind attachment for a person who leads you away from God, but you cannot have a genuine love for such a person. “I love you, so let’s go to hell together,” is language that simply does not make sense, whether expressed by word or action; whereas the contrary, “I love you, so I want to take you to heaven with me,” is full of meaning.

Agreement

This point may seem too obvious for discussion, for we are accustomed to think of friendship in terms of common interests, common taste, similar likings, and so forth.

The friend is one to whom we go for sympathy, encouragement, helpful advice, and inspiration; he is one with whom we can share joy and sorrow; he is, in fine, another self.

All these things imply a very special kind of agreement. Obvious though it may seem there are a few points about the agreement of friendship that may well be recalled here. The agreement, for instance, is genuine, not artificial. In this it differs greatly from mere fascination.

If you have a strong emotional attachment to another, you will often note that it prompts you to like just what he likes, to want to do just what he wants, to think about things just as he thinks about them, yet all the while, if you are honest, you know deep down in your heart that the whole similarity is artificial, that this is not your ordinary way of living and thinking, and that it cannot last.

To know if the agreement of real friendship exists, one has to decide if there exists between oneself and one’s friend a basis for lasting harmony. This does not mean that both most have exactly the same natural likes and dislikes. That kind of similarity may even be destructive of true, lasting friendship, because it makes things too easy, limits the beneficial interchange of views, and reduces incentive to mutual self-sacrifice dangerously close to zero.

The ideal agreement of friendship implies the ability to work together harmoniously, with wholesome agreement on big and fundamental things and agreeable compromise in the lesser things.

Differences of opinion and taste should be points of enjoyable mental contact and intercommunication, and not occasions for the breaking of the friendship. Normally there must be some compromise, some mutual yielding in regard to personal likes and dislikes, in friendship.

Few people can be intimate over a long period of time and always have the same desires at the same time or always be naturally pleasing to each other. There must be compromise, mutual yielding in such small things as how to spend an evening or how to decorate a room; there must be mutual overlooking of small faults and mutual respect for divergent opinions.

But the compromise has to be limited to accidentals. It cannot enter the sphere of conscience. It cannot include such fundamental things as Creed, Moral Code, Method of Worship.

At least fora Catholic, compromise in these latter things would violate the first rule of friendship. That is a difficulty often brought out at the time of a mixed marriage. The non-Catholic is sometimes of the opinion that he is being dealt with unjustly when he is asked to promise to allow the children to be brought up as Catholics.

In reality, it is the only way that the case could be solved without an immoral compromise, for non-Catholics generally agree on the principle that one Christian religion is as good as another, whereas it is part and parcel of a Catholic’s faith that his is the one true Church. He could not conscientiously allow his children to be brought up in any other church, whereas most non-Catholics can do that without violating their consciences.

The wider the field of intimacy and harmony among friends, the richer and more extensive is their friendship. Thus, all other things being equal, two saints enjoy a richer friendship than do ordinary people because their capacity for mutual sharing is more profound.

So, too, all other things being equal, a friendship between two good Catholics is richer than a friendship that exists between a Catholic and a non-Catholic, for the simple reason that the former have a much larger field of common interests and a much deeper bond of common sympathy.

But, whatever be the scope of their mutual intimacy, friends should always realize that they can and should keep their friendship vital and make it richer by a constant striving to reproduce in oneself the good one finds in the other. And this really brings us to the third quality of friendship.

Self-Sacrifice

It is not mere poetry to say that true friendship involves a blending of souls. In any blending process, each element gives up something of itself, of its own individuality, and thus contributes to the common result.

Friendship is the result of an analogous union of souls –each gives his best to the other. In practice, this giving of one’s best means sustained self-sacrifice. Friendship cannot endure without it.

St. Ignatius, speaking of friendship between God and the soul, gives these two simple signs of the love of friendship:

First, it shows itself by deeds rather than words.

Secondly, if one friend has good things, he wishes to share them with the other.

These are good norms for human friendship, too; they indicate the quality of self-giving that is the salt of all friendship. To keep this from being too theoretical, it is well to look at some of the many practical ways in which self-sacrifice plays its part in keeping friendship alive.

For example, there are the compromises already mentioned. Each compromise requires a certain gracious “giving in,” and the willingness to do this is incompatible with unyielding selfishness.

When you have known a person for a long time, especially when you associate with him intimately, you begin to notice small defects that you may not have perceived at the beginning; sometimes, because of changing moods, these defects begin to “get on your nerves.” These moments can be fatal to friendship unless one resolutely crushes the inclination to concentrate on them and make much of them.

Or again, suspicions and jealousies may arise in the mind. The loyalty necessary for friendship demands that such things be banished.

A friend should be a resort in time of trial, one who can give sympathy and encouragement, one who has a willing ear for both troubles and pleasures. Often enough it is not difficult to exercise these good offices of friendship, but sometimes it happens that you are in a contrary mood just when your friend needs help. You would much rather talk about yourself.

At these times, the readiness to fulfill the duties of a friend cheerfully requires great self-sacrifice.

Again it happens that at the beginning of friendship, both are quite spontaneous in performing little kindnesses and courtesies; but the familiarity of friendship has a tendency to blunt this spirit of thoughtfulness. Yet such thoughtfulness in little things must be kept up, and doing so requires constant self-discipline.

Finally, each friend should be a moral inspiration to the other; and there in no doubt that the day-in and day-out attempt to be worthy of the other, to be a help to the other, makes constant demands on one’s self-love.

The foregoing examples give some indication of how friendship is a perpetual and mutual self-giving. This need of self-sacrifice may be summed up in a few words: there must be patience with defects, rejection of suspicions, constancy in service, a real desire and a genuine effort to understand each other–in fine, the practice of the golden rule by both parties, especially in bad moods, disagreements, and misunderstandings.

In themselves, these occasions of difficulty are small, arising out of the fact that we human beings have many imperfections. But constancy in facing them and cheerfully overcoming oneself in them requires a high quality of love.

A Rational Love

After the explanation of the three qualities of friendship, it should be evident that the love of friendship is not mere emotionalism or sentimentality or sense appeal. It is a rational love, a human love.

We human beings differ from animals in that our minds can see the good and that we can freely direct our affections towards that good. There may or may not be much external notation in our love; our hearts may or may not beat violently; but the essential thing, the fundamental thing, the human thing is that the head must also be used.

Friendship is basically a love of the mind. One sees the goodness, the character of the friend, and upon this basis one strives for union.

Perhaps we should add here that in speaking of friendship we have been considering the ideal. Of course, in any definite friendship the qualities we have outlined admit of progress, and it may be that in the beginning they are present only very imperfectly.

But they ought to be present at least in some degree; otherwise the friendship can hardly be called true.

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

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