Mother’s Milk – Pope Pius XII

by Pope Pius XII and Cardinal Mindszenty

To the very noble mission of transmitting life, another equally important, primary, integral and complementary mission is added; that is, the rearing of the offspring.

In fact, whereas by generating one gives life, by educating one gives life in a superior, more complete and more perfect degree, because all the faculties which constitute human nature and dignity are perfected in the children.

The first educators are therefore the parents. And as God willed them to be united in the physical generation, so He has destined them to collaborate in the grandiose work of education.

Thus when the child is born he already finds himself in the best educational environment, entrusted to his best educators, who possess through the marvelous dispositions of Divine Providence irreplaceable abilities to carry out their beneficent work.

The mother possesses sweetness, patience and delicacy; the father, strength, ardor and frankness.

Although this work of education must be carried out harmoniously by both parents, nevertheless each one has certain specific duties… In the words of Pope Pius XII: “To the woman God has reserved the labor of childbirth, the pains of breast-feeding and of the early upbringing of children, for whom the very best of care at the hands of strangers will never mean as much as the affectionate solicitude of maternal love.”

The first physical development of the child takes place during the delicate period of nursing and leaves indelible traces even in the adult man.

Speaking, therefore, of the very delicate question of maternal milk, Pius XII said to the Women of Catholic Action: “Many of the moral characteristics which you see in the youth or the man owe their origin to the manner and circumstances of his first upbringing in infancy: purely organic habits contracted at that time may later prove a serious obstacle to the spiritual life of the soul.

And so you (mother), will make it your special care in the treatment of your child to observe the prescriptions of a perfect hygiene, so that when it comes to the use of reason its bodily organs and faculties will be healthy and robust and free from distorted tendencies.

This is the reason why, except where it is quite impossible, it is most desirable that the mother should feed her child at her own breast.

Who shall say what mysterious influences are exerted upon the growth of that little creature by the mother upon whom it depends entirely for its development! With breast and smile she feeds body and soul of the tiny angel that heaven has sent her!”

Instead of consuming mother’s time, this practice eliminates the need for bottles, sterilizing, and formulas.

In his masterpiece, The Mother, Cardinal Mindszenty writes: “The following proposition is always true and always sound: ‘God Himself has prepared the mother’s milk for the infant. His wisdom has placed in this milk all the nourishing ingredients which are necessary for the child.

Divine Providence fills the mother’s breasts, and she carries this sweet burden and has no relief until she nurses the child. Mother’s milk is truly a masterpiece of the Creator.’ “

Therefore every mother should feed her child at the breast, if this is at all possible. This is also greatly beneficial to her. By feeding the child she regains her health sooner. Nursing the child will calm her nerves and her entire physical condition will be improved.

It is a blessing for the mother to nurse her child. She retains her youthfulness. It ennobles her, gives her a finer and purer disposition.

“Mother’s milk is of great benefit to the child. Not only does it contain nutritive material, but also the best medicine. It builds up resistance against many children’s diseases. It is more valuable than any other food. It is so delicious that the infant sucks its finger, or some other object, expecting the milk to flow from it.

It is particularly helpful to its tiny, frail organs. Moreover, this intimacy of mother and child is a great blessing. Never again will she be so closely united to her child.

Her body, her soul, her desires and longing, her hopes and fears, will never be imparted to the infant so easily and naturally as at the time of feeding.

The suckling child can thrive only on the soil which is the breast of the mother. Be it ever so valuable, no artificial means employed can ever take the place of mother’s milk.

However, in case a mother cannot feed her little one, then artificial feeding becomes necessary.

“The laws of nature, established by God, have a nobility of their own which some supposedly famous people forget. However, Madame Curie, discoverer of radium and twice winner of the Nobel Prize, did not disdain to nurse her children in spite of her work.

The most beautiful example of all is Mary, who fed the infant Jesus at her breast.

“The woman of faith knows that she ‘babysits’ for God. It is a wonderful thing to become a mother. It is far more wonderful and much more difficult to rear and educate one’s children correctly and well. In fact, it is not only a question of feeding the body, but also that of nourishing the soul…”

“Painful trials strengthen our faith and make it purer, more supernatural; the soul believes, not because of the consolation that faith gives it, not because it trusts in its feelings or enthusiasm, not even in the little it does understand of the divine mysteries, but it believes only because God has spoken. When the Lord wishes to lead souls to a more intimate union with Himself, He almost always makes them undergo such trials; then is the moment to give Him testimony of our faith by throwing ourselves, with our eyes closed, into His arms.” – Divine Intimacy

A very powerful sacramental, indeed! Get yourself one, get the special St. Benedict blessing put on it by a priest and then wear it!

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Here, Baroness Maria Augusta Trapp tells in her own beautiful, simple words the extraordinary story of her romance with the baron, their escape from Nazi-occupied Austria, and their life in America.

Now with photographs from the original edition.

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

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

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Our Difficulty in Believing in Providence

I know you are feeling it….we all are. Remember….

Searching for and Maintaining Peace by Father Jacques Phillipe

The first obstacle is that, as long as we have not experienced concretely the fidelity of Divine Providence to provide for our essential needs, we have difficulty believing in it and we abandon it.

We have hard heads, the words of Jesus do not suffice for us, we want to see at least a little in order to believe!

Well, we do not see it operating around us in a clear manner. How, then, are we to experience it?
It is important to know one thing: we cannot experience this support from God unless we leave him the necessary space in which he can express himself. I would like to make a comparison.

As long as a person who must jump with a parachute does not jump out into the void, he cannot feel that the cords of the parachute will support him, because the parachute has not yet had the chance to open.

One must first jump and it is only later that one feels carried. And so it is in the spiritual life: “God gives in the measure that we expect of Him,” says St. John of the Cross.

And St. Francis De Sales says: “The measure of Divine Providence acting on us is the degree of confidence that we have in it.”

This is where the problem lies.
Many do not believe in Providence because they’ve never experienced it, but they’ve never experienced it because they’ve never jumped into the void and taken the leap of faith.

They never give it the possibility to intervene.
They calculate everything, anticipate everything, they seek to resolve everything by counting on themselves, instead of counting on God.

The founders of religious orders proceed with the audacity of this spirit of faith. They buy houses without having a penny, they receive the poor although they have nothing with which to feed them. Then, God performs miracles for them. The checks arrive and the granaries are filled.

But, too often, generations later, everything is planned, calculated. One doesn’t incur an expense without being sure in advance to have enough to cover it. How can Providence manifest itself?

And the same is true in the spiritual life.

If a priest drafts all his sermons and his talks, down to the least comma, in order to be sure that he does not find himself wanting before his audience, and never has the audacity to begin preaching with a prayer and confidence in God as his only preparation, how can he have this beautiful experience of the Holy Spirit, who speaks through his mouth?

Does the gospel not say,… Do not worry about how to speak or what you should say; for what you are to say will be given to you when the time comes; because it will not be you who will be speaking, but the Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you (Matthew 10:19)?

Let us be very clear. Obviously we do not want to say that it is a bad thing to be able to anticipate things, to develop a budget or prepare ones homilies. Our natural abilities are also instruments in the hands of Providence!

But everything depends on the spirit in which we do things.

We must clearly understand that there is an enormous difference in attitude of heart between one, who in fear of finding himself wanting because he does not believe in the intervention of God on behalf of those who lean on Him, programs everything in advance to the smallest detail and does not undertake anything except in the exact measure of its actual possibilities, and one who certainly undertakes legitimate things, but who abandons himself with confidence in God to provide all that is asked of him and who thus surpasses his own possibilities.

And that which God demands of us always goes beyond our natural human possibilities!

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

The past three days Rosie and I spent some days of recollection at the Benedictines of Mary at Gower, Missouri….Praying for our nation especially. It was a beautiful time.

The nuns are well aware of what is going on in our country and lifting everything up in prayer through their holy, sacrificial lives.

Mother Abbess has a message for us all…Please share.

Dear Friends,

Many have asked our prayers during these days, and many propose earthly solutions. There is one that was given from heaven centuries ago: the Most Holy Rosary. Our Lady came to remind us of this at Fatima, and asked for the Consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart. In the last century, anticipating the fulfillment of this request, the Bishops and families of Portugal consecrated themselves and their nation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. They were thus spared from both the Spanish Civil War and World War II.

Many Consecrations have been neglected in the past, and freedom has consequently suffered.

On this First Saturday, or as soon as possible, let all heads of households Consecrate themselves and our Nation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary; all others present need only say the ejaculation “Jesus, Mary, I trust in you,” and then follow the Solemn act with the recitation of the Rosary.

As the Angel of Peace told the children at Fatima, “The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to the voice of your supplication.” May their Hearts grant us peace, and bless and strengthen each one of us.

In the Heart of Mary,
Mother Cecilia, Abbess

 

 

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The Happiness of Family Life – My Prayer Book

See you next week. Rosie and I are off to Gower to spend 3 Days of Recollection with the Benedictines of Mary. We will be praying for the election results! Please say this prayer often in the next coming days….

From My Prayer Book, Fr. Lasance

The sphere of woman’s activity, especially in the class for which I write, is preeminently the home. The object to be kept in view in a girl’s education, whether she be brought up at home or in a boarding-school, is to fit her for domestic life, to give her a love of domesticity, founded on the fear of God.

This you, my daughter, must seek to acquire; in order that later on, in whatever position you may find yourself, whether you live with your parents, take a situation as housekeeper, or preside over a household of your own, you may for the love of God lead a life of self-sacrificing devotion, unseen and unnoticed, working to promote the welfare of the family, the maintenance of religion and good principles.

Let us consider the conditions requisite for happiness in the family. Beginning at the foundation, I wish to show in the first place that the happiness of family life is based upon religion.

A young wife who was passionately fond of reading novels said to her husband: “How tiresome it is that novels always come to a conclusion when once people are married.”

“My dear child,” the husband replied, “that cannot be otherwise, for if the story were carried on further it would be one of disenchantment.”

That is true in many cases!

How many young persons find themselves bitterly disappointed very soon after their marriage! Wherefore is this the case? Why do they see their brightest hopes vanish like a mirage in the desert? It is because so many newly married couples do not build their hopes of happiness on the firm basis of religion and piety.

Foolish indeed it is to say, as too many do: “One can do very well without religion.” Is this true? Can one do without religion? One can accumulate money and property, indulge in sensual pleasures, and lead a riotous, dissipated life.

But without religion no one can enjoy that sweet heavenly peace of which the children of this world are wholly ignorant, and that joy which is abiding even amidst sorrows and trials.

Yes; a true religious spirit must prevail. One often hears persons say: “Certainly, religion is necessary, but it is quite possible to be religious without believing everything taught from the pulpit, or being so pious or so scrupulous in matters of religion.”

As a rule such persons look for a cloak to hide their laxity or lukewarmness. Religion and morals, faith and practice are not to be separated. Do not allow yourself to be deceived by language such as theirs.

Fathers and mothers may indeed parade their civic righteousness and virtue before the world, but unless their conduct is inspired by faith and true piety as the guide of their life, their family happiness lacks a firm footing, a sure foundation. Only too many examples of this are to be met with in daily life.

Families in which no time is found for prayer, for obligatory attendance at church, for the instruction of the children; where only temporal affairs and material prosperity are considered to be of importance, where gold is eagerly sought after, and higher interests are ignored; in such families true happiness cannot be found, though riches may abound, with a superfluity of all good things; even though the palatial mansion is furnished in the most luxurious style, and its inmates are clothed in silk and satin and adorned with glittering gems and precious jewels.

There is another important point to be remarked. Even the happiest family life is and must ever be a life of sacrifice. It is difficult to realize that this is the case when one sees how young people marry nowadays, imagining themselves to be entering an earthly paradise where their days will be spent in pleasure and enjoyment, and their path will be between the hedges of roses, roses without thorns!

How different is the reality found to be, with its cares and crosses, labors, and sorrows! What a spirit of self-sacrifice must the various members of a family possess if peace and happiness are not to be altogether lost!

Religion alone is able to impart to them this spirit of unselfishness, of self-renunciation and sacrifice. It alone will enable them to persevere in that spirit until death. Hence we see that in this case also the peace and happiness of every family must be built upon the foundation of religion.

And in yet another case this is true. If family happiness is to be complete it is essential that the children should be well reared; without religion this is impossible.

The infidel father who entrusted the education of his children to Religious because it was, as he said, a perfect hell to believe in nothing, confirmed this truth in a striking manner. An unbeliever pronounced unbelief to be a hell upon earth. This saying proclaims with a loud voice that the education of youth is a very serious thing.

In regard to this subject St. John Chrysostom thus expresses himself: “What grander task can anyone have than that of guiding souls, of training the young? I esteem him who understands how to mold and educate youth more highly than the painter, the sculptor, and every other artist, whoever he may be.”

But where, in what family, do we find that true and wise system of education which is so important a factor in family happiness? There only where the spirit of religion and piety pervades the house, rendering it a temple in which God dwells.

Only parents who possess this spirit of faith can train their children in Christian obedience, and inspire them with a horror of vice. They alone will seek assistance from God and remind their children of His presence who regard Him as the real Master of their house, and who model all their thoughts and actions, their words and works, according to the commands of His holy religion.

Now, my dear child, thank God from the bottom of your heart if He has given you parents such as these; parents who lay the greatest stress upon faith, upon religion and piety, and make every effort to bring you up or cause you to be brought up in the right way. No greater benefit could possibly be bestowed upon you!

Parents who act thus lay the foundation of happiness for their family both in time and in eternity; they bear in mind the truth of these lines:

If on Faith’s firm basis founded,

By the fear of God surrounded,

Fast as a rock thy house shall stand,

Dreading no storm or hostile hand.

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This is an excellent prayer book.

Originally published in 1908 by the venerable Benziger Bros., this book has everything–all the basic prayers, litanies and Order (now known as Extraordinary Form) of the Mass. It also has excellent meditations for Eucharistic meditation and prayers for reception of Holy Communion.

The distinguishing feature of this prayer book, however, is that it is chock-full with helpful meditations and inspiring quotes for living the full Christian life. Father Lasance was obviously a very wise man and a holy priest. -T. Berry

Quite possibly the most comprehensive (pre-Vatican II) Prayerbook of the Roman Catholic rite. This is a veritable treasure-trove of prayers, containing both familiar standbys, and many that one would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere.
At 1227 pages, it is remarkably compact and easy to carry.

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November, Death and the Holy Souls / Baby Charlotte Update

Death is such a scary subject….especially for children. Often I pray that Our Lord will take away the unhealthy fear of death from all of us, my children, grandchildren, etc.

We had a dear boy in our parish drown in the Kansas River about ten years ago now. It was devastating to all concerned! What was truly heartrending was to see the dad on the bridge for weeks, praying, looking, pacing, because they could not find his body!

My kids were truly disturbed about this. Even though they knew that it was just his body, they thought of their dear friend still in that icy, cold and unfriendly river. That is when I had to come up with some simple analogy on how to deepen their understanding of death.

I told them that our bodies are like a suitcase. The real important stuff is what is inside, the suitcase is only holding what matters most ….the “feeling, understanding, spiritual” part of us.

Our friend’s soul is like what is inside that suitcase; it was the important part, and it had quickly flown to where it needed to be…..purgatory or heaven. It was not in the river. The suitcase was just the outer cover…..

That seemed to help. And it was a growing experience for all concerned.

On another note, did you know you receive a partial indulgence for a soul in purgatory on ANY day of the year that you pray the prayers for the Holy Father and a prayer for the dead in a cemetery? We pray the Eternal Rest Prayer every time we pass a cemetery but it is good to stop there, too, to gain the indulgence!

Pray for and to the Holy Souls in Purgatory! They are very powerful with God!

The Year and Our Children by Mary Reed Newland

The children had never been to a funeral before, nor attended a wake, nor had any personal acquaintance with death.

Then in November, the month of the dead, someone dear to our neighborhood hood left this life to go to God. They had prayed for her through a long illness. Their first concern was: “Did she go right to Heaven?”

Children always give you the point at which to start. A subject may have a dozen approaches, but the best one is by way of their questions.

We would like to have said, flatly, yes, she went right to Heaven. She had suffered much, uniting it to Christ’s suffering. She had lived a life of prayer and sacrifice, had received the last sacraments and the final blessing with its plenary indulgence.

Her last few months had been an excruciating trial, and she had lain weeks longing for death, accepting suffering, but ready to welcome death. She wanted to die on Saturday because it was our Lady’s day, and our Lady granted her wish. It would be easy to say yes, she is surely in Heaven.

But even when you think so, you can never say that you know. It is God’s secret, and no one here knows.

But there is comfort for the living in what we do know: how the Church prepares us for death; how she prays for us after death, and the real possibility that we may “go right to Heaven” if we try very hard.

Haven’t we just celebrated the feast of All Saints, the glory of those who did? True, some among them entered by way of Purgatory, but they are there in Heaven nevertheless, and they confirm us in high hope.

Death is a touchy subject. People who do not know the Church (and some who think they do) accuse her of being “too mournful about death.” Perhaps this is because she is so candid about man and his origin -dust. She knows he will return to dust.

She knows that he inherited Original Sin and is weak, that the Devil is clever; and she does not admit the impossibility of going to Hell.

She knows that Purgatory exists, and hurts, and that man was created for Heaven but may refuse to go there.

She admits what everyone must admit: that wherever he is going, there is only one way to go there: to die. Death is a doorway we must go through. How else can the spirit leave the body behind and enter eternity?

For Catholics, the idea of death ought not to be mournful. There is natural grief and loneliness for the bereaved families and friends, of course, but God mellows these with time.

If death is otherwise mournful as an idea, as something to think about – or avoid thinking about – it is because we look at it from the wrong direction. We should be seeing it as the middle step, not the final step: life, then death, then God.

It is God for whom we are created. By way of death. He is where we are bound. This was the spirit of our neighbor’s death. It accounted for the tranquility of her family’s grief, their hopefulness, their ready resignation. Entering their home, where her body was returned until time for the funeral, our children saw death for the first time as they knelt beside her and prayed.

“But, Mother” – this was in a whisper – “you said she might even be in Heaven with God. But she’s not. She’s here asleep.”

You see? You are sure you have made it clear about the body and the soul, and not until such a time do you discover that you haven’t. Not until such a time, either, do you see how truly the Church speaks of us as creatures with souls that will not die.

Our bodies are the least of us. We could not talk about this at the moment, but we did when we got home.

“That wasn’t her, dear. That was just her body. She has really and truly gone to see God and, we hope, to be with Him immediately in Heaven.”

How to explain this once and for all and put confusion to rest?

“You close your eyes.” He did. “Now think a thought about yourself.” He closed his eyes very tightly, and thought, and said, “I’m thinking about myself.”

“That is you, dear, that part that can think about itself, know who he is, say to me, `I’m thinking about myself.’ That is truly you, the you that will not die. Your body will die one day, and it will be carefully put in the ground, and the people will say, `He has gone to see God.’

They will be right. When our bodies finally die, the part of us that is soul and lives forever goes off to see God.”

“If she would make herself of all earthly beings the most delightful and necessary companion to her husband, she must study him,—his needs, his moods, his weak as well as his strong points,—and know how to make him forget himself when he is moody and selfish, and bring out every joyous side of his nature when he is prone to sadness.” -Rev. Bernard O’Reilly, The Mirror of True Womanhood. 1893

Baby Charlotte Update

It was this time of the year last year that we were going through a traumatic time, wondering if our dear little Charlotte (and her mom, Elizabeth..Z for short) were going to make it. I know most of you remember. Here are some photos of that time….

Here is our son, Colin, shortly after we had been told that Charlotte had a very slim chance of making it. It was such a trying time! And we still weren’t sure of Z’s condition as she was in having emergency surgery.

Charlotte had to be put on 72 hours of a “cooling method” so her brain would not swell. Then it was a slow warming process and monitoring her in the ICU. A scary time, indeed!

Charlotte just had her first birthday on All Saints’ Day! Isn’t she precious?! Z and I talked about how grateful we were for all the love, support and prayers you sent our way! We felt the love, believe me! Thank you!

Praying for the elections today!! God bless America!

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Reflections on Purgatory By Rev. F.X. Lasance. A Complete Prayer-book Including Special Prayers and Devotions in Behalf of the Poor Souls in Purgatory Imprimatur, 1922, 442 page book. Originally printed by The Benziger Brothers. A Rare and Unusual Book! It is hoped that this book will cultivate a special devotion to the holy souls in Purgatory. This devotion, while it solaces the Holy Souls, in whose behalf it is directly exercised, is eminently pleasing to God, and beneficial to ourselves. It is hoped that the “Reflections” contained in the first part of this little book will stimulate the pious reader to make frequent use of the prayers and devotions which are found in the second part for the solace of the suffering souls in Purgatory.

This is an excellent prayer book.

Originally published in 1908 by the venerable Benziger Bros., this book has everything–all the basic prayers, litanies and Order (now known as Extraordinary Form) of the Mass. It also has excellent meditations for Eucharistic meditation and prayers for reception of Holy Communion.

The distinguishing feature of this prayer book, however, is that it is chock-full with helpful meditations and inspiring quotes for living the full Christian life. Father Lasance was obviously a very wise man and a holy priest. -T. Berry

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

All Souls’ Day – Maria von Trapp

Toward the end of the year, on November 2nd, the Church sets a day aside which is devoted to the suffering souls in Purgatory.

Just as we turn to our big sisters and brothers, the saints, to intercede for us at the throne of God, the poor souls are also turning toward us “Have pity on me, have pity on me, at least you, my friends, because the hand of the Lord has touched me” (Job 19:21; Office of the Dead).

Helpless in themselves, since the purification they are undergoing is passive suffering, they can be helped by us. We can pray for them. We can offer up sacrifices and good works with the desire that God may accept them and, seeing in them the prayer and suffering rise from the Mystical Body of His only Son, hasten the delivery of those souls whom He deems worthy and ready for such help.

On the day of “all the faithful departed” the Church reminds her children to listen to the message of the Scriptures in her liturgy and to do some thinking and meditating on Purgatory and the holy souls there.

We know Purgatory is a realm of twilight, so to speak–an in-between darkness and light, a place of regret and longing. Of the suffering which is undergone there, we are told that it is bitter and great, that it surpasses all imaginable suffering here on earth as an ocean surpasses a little puddle.

A knowledge of Purgatory we find already in the Old Testament.

Two hundred years before Christ Judas Machabeus “making a gathering…sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection, (for if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead); and because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them.

It is, therefore, a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from their sins” (II Macc. 12:43-46).

All Souls’ Day is a solemn day for families. We mothers must tell our children again about the Communion of Saints, which functions in the same way as life in a large family, where each member depends on the others.

In this case, the poor souls depend on us. They depend on our love, but love does not consist in words only, it consists in deeds. The sooner the little ones learn to understand this, the better it is for their whole life.

On All Souls’ Day they will be encouraged to bring little sacrifices, to say special prayers. They will be told about the “thesaurus ecclesiae,” the golden treasure chest of Holy Church filled with the atoning sacrifice of Christ, the merits of the Blessed Virgin, of the saints–canonized and uncanonized–into which we may delve.

It was given to Peter to bind and loosen, and his successor, making use of that very power, sets the conditions under which this can be done. One such disposition is the “toties quoties” indulgence each time we visit a parish church on the second of November and say six “Our Fathers,” six “Hail Marys,” and six “Glorys,” we may gain a plenary indulgence applicable to the poor souls.

All Souls’ Day is also the date when we remind our children that on the solemn day of their baptism the Church lit the baptismal candle and said: “Receive this burning light and see thou guard the grace of thy baptism without blame. Keep the Commandments of God so that when the Lord shall come to call thee to the nuptials, thou mayst meet Him with all the Saints in the heavenly court, there to live forever and ever.”

This baptismal candle of our children we should wrap reverently and keep in a special place together with our own. If, as happened to us, these candles are no longer in the family (we could not take along such things from the old country), one can take candles blessed on Candlemas Day, tie the names of each child to a candle, and keep them in a special place. This is what we did.

Only Johannes, being born in this country, has his own original baptismal candle.

On All Souls’ Day we take the candles out and look at them and remind each other to light our candle for any of us in case of sudden death, as a symbol that we want to die in our baptismal innocence, that the light which was kindled at that solemn moment has not been extinguished voluntarily by us. It is always a solemn moment when the children are called to think of their parents’ death.

In the old country the great event of the day used to be the visit to the cemetery.

First I have to describe an Austrian cemetery. Out in the country every village has its cemetery around the church; bigger towns have them on the outskirts.

Every grave is a flower bed at the head of which is a crucifix, sometimes of wrought iron, sometimes carved in wood. Occasionally there are also tombstones.

Families take care of their graves individually. People who have moved elsewhere will pay the cemetery keeper to do it for them.

The German word for cemetery is “Gottesacker,” meaning “God’s acre.” In the summer it looks like a big flower garden.

People are constantly coming and going, working on their graves, or just praying for their loved ones.

On anniversaries you will see vigil lights burning and on All Souls’ Day every grave will have its little vigil light as a token that we do remember.

People will flock out to the cemeteries in the early evening because it is such a sight–those many, many flames and all the mounds covered with flowers. Slowly one walks up and down the aisles, stopping at the graves of relatives and friends to say a short prayer and sprinkle them with holy water.

When the father of our family died several years ago, we started our own old-world cemetery. Soon one of his children followed him and now there are two flower-covered mounds under the large carved-wood crucifix.

The lanterns are lit not only on the anniversaries and on All Souls’ Day, but every Saturday night. A hedge of “rosa multiflora” encircles this holy spot. Inside the hedge there is a bench and we often sit there in the peace and quiet of our little acre of God.

 

A very valuable sermon for this All Souls’ Day. Learn about Purgatory… Why is it needed? How long will one be there? What is it all about? Can we avoid it? Learn about the Sabbatine Privilege!

“A woman’s role is supportive, and she is to be her husband’s helper, confidant, counselor if need be, friend and one of his greatest allies. You should be more than willing to make your man feel important, appreciated and admired.” -Fascinating Womanhood http://amzn.to/2qjprOY (afflink)

Don’t forget (Nov. 1 –8) ! Go to a cemetery, say a prayer for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, an Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be for the Pope, receive Holy Communion, go to confession within 20 days, and you will gain a Plenary Indulgence for one soul each day…. (Assuming no attachment to venial sin; thus a partial indulgence)…which means they will be released from Purgatory and will enter the Gates of Heaven! Those Souls will not forget about you…it comes back full circle! Get your children out there!

Requirements for obtaining a plenary indulgence:

*Do the work while in a state of grace

*Receive sacramental confession within 20 days of the work (several plenary indulgences may be earned per reception)

*Receive Eucharistic communion (one plenary indulgence may be earned per reception of Eucharist)

*Pray for the pope’s intentions (Just state that you are “praying for pope’s intentions,” followed by an Our Father and Hail Mary)

*Have no attachment to sin (even venial) — i.e., the Christian makes an act of the will to love God and despise sin. This simply means “true resolve” to avoid this sin from now on.

Advent Calendars…

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The History of All Souls’ Day

The history of our great feasts is always interesting…

by Frank Weiser, Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs, 1958

COMMEMORATION OF ALL THE FAITHFUL DEPARTED HISTORY

FOLKLORE RELIGIOUS CUSTOMS

 The custom of decorating graves and praying in cemeteries is general in all Catholic countries, both Europe and America. On the afternoon of All Saints’ Day or the morning of All Souls the faithful visit each individual grave of relatives and friends.

Sometimes the congregation, led by the priest, walks in procession to the cemetery. There they pray for all the holy souls in front of the cemetery chapel, then the priest recites the liturgical prayers for the dead and blesses the graves with holy water. Afterward the families separate to offer private prayers at the graves of their loved ones.

During the week preceding All Saints crowds of people may be seen in the cemeteries, usually in the evening after work, decorating the graves of their dear ones with flowers, tending the lawn, and spreading fresh white gravel around the tombs.

Candles, protected by little glass lanterns, are placed around the graves or at the foot of the tombstones, to be lighted on All Saints’ eve and left burning through the night. It is an impressive, unforgettable sight to look upon the hundreds and often thousands of lights quietly burning in the darkness and dreary solitude of a cemetery.

People call them “lights of the holy souls” (Seelenlichter).

 To visit the graves of dear ones on All Souls is considered a duty of such import that many people in Europe will travel from a great distance to their home towns on All Saints’ Day in order to perform this obligation of love and piety.

It is an ancient custom in Catholic sections of central Europe to ring the church bells at the approach of dusk on All Saints’ Day, to remind the people to pray for the souls in purgatory. When the pealing of these bells is heard, families gather in one room of their home, extinguish all other lights save the blessed candle (kept from Candlemas Day), which is put on the table.

 In the rural sections of Brittany four men alternate in tolling the church bell for an hour on All Saints’ Day after dark. Four other men go from farm to farm during the night, ringing hand bells and chanting at each place: “Christians awake, pray to God for the souls of the dead, and say the Pater and Ave for them.” From the house comes the reply “Amen” as the people rise for prayer.

In most countries of South America All Souls’ Day is a public holiday. In Brazil people flock by the thousands to the cemeteries all morning, light candles and kneel at the graves in prayer. The deep silence of so many persons in the crowded cemetery deeply impresses the stranger.

In Puerto Rico, people will walk for miles to the graves of their loved ones. The women often carry vases of flowers and water, for they know they can get no water at the cemetery to keep the flowers fresh. They wear their best clothes as they trudge along in the hot sun. Whole truckloads of people will arrive at the cemetery if the distance is too far to walk.

The priest visits each grave and says the prayers for the dead as the mourners walk along with him. Sometimes the ceremony lasts for hours and it is near midnight when the tired pastor visits the last graves.

Among the native populations in the Philippines, a novena is held for the holy souls before November 2. In places where the cemetery is close to the town, candles are brought to be burned at the tombs and prayers are said every night.

During these nine days the people also prepare their family tombs for the great Feast of the Souls. Tomb niches and crosses are repainted, hedges trimmed, flowers planted, and all weeds are removed from the graves.

On the evening of All Saints’ Day young men go from door to door asking for gifts in the form of cookies, candy, and pastry, and they sing a traditional verse in which they represent holy souls liberated from purgatory and on their way to Heaven. In Poland, and in Polish churches of the United States, the faithful bring to their parish priest on All Souls’ Day paper sheets with black borders called Wypominki (Naming) on which are written the names of their beloved dead.

During the evening devotions in November, and on Sundays, the names are read from the pulpit and prayers are offered for the repose of the souls. The Church has not established any season or octave in connection with All Souls. The faithful, however, have introduced an “octave” of their own, devoting the eight days after All Souls’ to special prayer, penance, and acts of charity. This custom is widespread in central Europe. People call this particular time of the year “Soul Nights” (Seelenniichte).

Every evening the rosary is said for the Holy Souls within the family while the blessed candle burns. Many go to Mass every morning. A generous portion of the meal is given to the poor each day; and the faithful abstains from dances and other public amusements out of respect for the Holy Souls. This is a deeply religious practice filled with a genuine spirit of Christian charity which overshadows and elevates the unholy customs of ancient pagan lore.

PRE-CHRISTIAN ELEMENTS

 Our pagan forefathers kept severer “cult of the dead” rites at various times of the year. One of these periods was the great celebration at the end of the fall and the beginning of winter (around November 1). Together with the practices of nature and demon lore (fires, masquerades, fertilty cults ) they also observed the ritual of the dead with many traditional rites.

Since All Saints and All Souls happened to be placed within the period of such an ancient festival, some of the pre-Christian traditions became part of our Christian feast and associated with Christian ideas.

 There is, for instance, the pre-Christian practice of putting food at the graves or in the homes at such times of the year when the spirits of the dead were believed to roam their familiar earthly places. The beginning of November was one of these times.

By offering a meal or some token food to the spirits, people hoped to please them and to avert any possible harm they could do. Hence came the custom of baking special breads in honor of the Holy Souls and bestowing them on the children and the poor. This custom is widespread in Europe.

“All Souls’ bread” (Seelen-brot) is made and distributed in Germany, Belgium, France, Austria, Spain, Italy, Hungary, and in the Slavic countries. In some sections of central Europe boys receive on All Souls’ Day a cake shaped in the form of a hare, and girls are given one in the shape of a hen ( an interesting combination of “spirit bread” and fertility symbols). These figure cakes are baked of the same dough as the festive cakes that the people eat on All Saints’ Day and which are a favorite dish all over central Europe. They are made of braided strands of sweet dough and called “All Saints’ cakes” (Heiligenstriezel in German, Strucel Swiateczne in Polish, Mindszenti Kaldcska in Hungarian ).

 In western Europe people prepare on All Souls’ Day a meal of cooked beans or peas or lentils, called “soul food,” which they afterward serve to the poor together with meat and other dishes.

In Poland the farmers hold a solemn meal on the evening of All Souls’ Day, with empty seats and plates ready for the “souls” of departed relatives. Onto the plates members of the family put parts of the dinner. These portions are not touched by anyone, but afterward are given to beggars or poor neighbors.

 In the Alpine provinces of Austria destitute children and beggars go from house to house, reciting a prayer or singing a hymn for the Holy Souls, receiving small loaves of the “soul bread” in reward. There, too, people put aside a part of everything that is cooked on All Souls’ Day and give meals to the poor.

 In northern Spain and in Madrid people distribute and eat a special pastry called “Bones of the Holy” (Huesos de Santo). In Catalonia All Souls’ pastry is called Panellets (little breads ).

 All Saints and All Souls

In Hungary the “Day of the Dead” (Halottak Napia) is kept with the traditional customs common to all people in central Europe. In addition, they invite orphan children into the family for All Saints’ and All Souls’ days, serving them generous meals and giving them new clothes and toys.

In Brittany the farmers visit the graves of their departed relatives on Jour des morts (Day of the Dead), kneeling bareheaded at the mound in long and fervent prayer. Then they sprinkle the grave with holy water, and finally, before leaving, pour milk over the grave as a libation “for the holy souls.” In every house a generous portion of the dinner is served before an empty seat and afterward given to the hungry.

LEGENDS

 Many other customs of the ancient cult of the dead have survived as superstitions to this day. The belief that the spirits of the dead return for All Souls’ Day is expressed in a great number of legends and traditions.

In the rural sections of Poland the charming story is told that at midnight on All Souls’ Day a great light may be seen in the parish church; the holy souls of all departed parishioners who are still in purgatory gather there to pray for their release before the very altar where they used to receive the Blessed Sacrament when still alive.

Afterward the souls are said to visit the scenes of their earthly life and labors, especially their homes. To welcome them by an external sign the people leave doors and windows open on All Souls’ Day.

 In the rural sections of Austria the holy souls are said to wander through the forests on All Souls’ Day, sighing and praying for their release, but unable to reach the living by external means that would indicate their presence. For this reason, the children are told to pray aloud while going through the open spaces to church and cemetery, so the poor souls will have the great consolation of seeing that their invisible presence is known and their pitiful cries for help are understood and answered.

LITURGICAL PRAYER

O God, Creator and Redeemer of all the faithful, grant to the souls of Thy servants departed the remission of all their sins, that through our devout prayers they may obtain the pardon which they have always desired.

HALLOWEEN DRUIDIC ELEMENT

 Unlike the familiar observance of All Souls, Halloween traditions have never been connected with Christian religious celebrations of any kind. Although the name is taken from a great Christian feast (Allhallows’ Eve), it has nothing in common with the Feast of All Saints, and is, instead, a tradition of pre-Christian times that has retained its original character in form and meaning.

Halloween customs are traced back to the ancient Druids. This is attested to by the fact that they are still observed only in those sections of Europe where the population is wholly or partly of Celtic stock.

In ancient times, around November 1 the burning of fires marked the beginning of winter. Such Halloween fires are kindled in many places even now, especially in Wales and Scotland.

 Another, and more important, tradition is the Druidic belief that during the night of November 1 demons, witches, and evil spirits roamed the earth in wild and furious gambols of joy to greet the arrival of “their season”—the long nights and early dark of the winter months. They had their fun with the poor mortals that night, frightening, harming them, and playing all kinds of mean tricks.

 The only way, it seemed, for scared humans to escape the persecution of the demons was to offer them things they liked, especially dainty food and sweets. Or, in order to escape the fury of these horrible creatures, a human could disguise himself as one of them and join in their roaming. In this way they would take him for one of their own and he would not be bothered.

That is what people did in ancient times, and it is in this very form the custom has come down to us, practically unaltered, as our familiar Halloween celebration: the horrible masks of demons and witches, the disguise in strange and unusual gowns, the ghost figures, the frightening gestures and words, the roaming through the streets at night, the pranks played, and finally the threatening demand of a “trick or treat.”

The pumpkin “ghosts” or jack-o’-lanterns with a burning candle inside may well be a combination of the demon element and the Halloween fire. These pumpkins are found all over central Europe at Halloween,

All Saints and All Soul: in France, southern Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the Slavic countries. So is the custom of masquerading and “trick or treat” rhymes, at least in the rural sections where ancient traditions are still observed.

ROMAN ELEMENT

 In those countries that once belonged to the Roman Empire there is the custom of eating or giving away fruit, especially apples, on Halloween. It spread to neighboring countries: to Ireland and Scotland from Britain, and to the Slavic countries from Austria.

It is probably based upon a celebration of the Roman goddess Pomona, to whom gardens and orchards were dedicated. Since the annual Feast of Pomona was held on November I, the relics of that observance became part of our Halloween celebration, for instance the familiar tradition of “ducking” for apples.

Many of us have blood relations—grandmothers, aunts and uncles, and parents—who have died and are likely in purgatory. We should be praying for their souls out of love for them. But even if we have no dead relatives that we know of, the souls in purgatory are still our spiritual brothers and sisters. We are related by baptism into Christ, and this familial relationship should spur us to act on their behalf.-The Catholic Gentleman https://www.facebook.com/TheCatholicGentleman/
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A Special Feast Day – All Saints’ Day!

A reminder that All Saints’ Day, November 1st, is just around the corner! I hope you all have something special planned! 🙂

ALL SAINTS’ DAY

by Mary Reed Newland, The Year and Our Children available at Sophia Institute Press

The feast of All Saints is one of the greatest of all the feasts because it celebrates what could have been impossible. The Cross is a tree that bears fruit.

This is the feast of its harvest. The celebrations of the mysteries in the life of our Lord are glorious, and there is no detracting from them. But He was God.

This day we celebrate the perfecting of human nature, by grace pouring from the side of Christ on the Cross, through His Church and His sacraments, remaking men after their despoiling in the Garden.

Aside from all the lofty things to be said about the saints and to the saints on this day, we want our children to understand in the marrow of their bones what the principal idea is: “We are so glad for you. Now pray, so we’ll be there too!” And they must add to this and to every feast an endless “Thank you, Lord Jesus, for making it possible.”

Why We Should Know the Saints

The Gospel of John tells us, “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God: to them that believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”128

Each succeeding feast gives us a new understanding of this. We have been “born of God.” We must know the saints because we can learn from them how to receive His will, to love it, to act on it, to use the power He has given us to become the sons of God.

Here, we are His adopted sons separated from Heaven by life in the flesh. That part of us that He made in His own image and likeness is detained a while, in the body. It is being tried.

The saints went through the trials too, and with the help of His grace, they overcame them. They are in glory now, sons united at last with their Father. This is the greatest of His mercies.

He loved us before the creation of the world and planned for us to be in eternity with Him. When sin spoiled the plan, He perfected it – if one can say that – with the Incarnation. He became a man and spent Himself to devise the means for our perfection. The saints used it. We must too.

The antiphon from Vespers for this feast says what we want to say:

O ye Angels and Archangels, Thrones and Dominions, Principalities and Powers, Virtues of Heaven, Cherubim and Seraphim, ye Patriarchs and Prophets, holy Doctors of the Law, Apostles, all Martyrs of Christ, holy Confessors, Virgins of the Lord, Hermits and all Saints:

Intercede for us.

“It is always springtime in the heart that loves God.” – St. John Vianney

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

Mary Reed Newland wrote numerous beloved books for Catholic families, but The Year and Our Children is her undisputed masterpiece. Read it, cherish it, share it, put it into practice and give your kids the gift of a fully lived faith, every day and in every season.

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The Saints – Maria Von Trapp

What a blessed feast is All Saints’ Day! And it is just around the corner….

This is so inspiring! Who needs Hollywood or Fairy Tales (not that we don’t like fairy tales….we do!) But we MUST pass this information down to our kids. We must make the saints come alive in their hearts! This is for real! This is the ammunition your kids will take with them when they are facing the world, the flesh and the devil!

Not only that, this is what Catholicism is about. It is a treasure of beauty and Tradition… stories held out to us that are not just stories, but that are the thread that ties us to our Catholic Heritage….the Golden Thread. Let’s not be the ones to sever it! Let’s make it ever stronger! Our poor world needs us and it is these little things we implant in our children’s hearts that will bring Catholicism back to our families, to our society, to our Beloved Church and to the world!

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by Maria Von Trapp

I don’t know what I would have done without the saints in bringing up our large family.

Long before our children could memorize the Apostle’s Creed and pronounce, “I believe in the Communion of Saints,” they were already participating in it.

Very early they had learned that the Communion of Saints is one large, happy family whose members have one thing in common: they want to go to heaven.

Some of them, like ourselves, are still living here on earth, working hard to reach the goal. Very many, however, have already reached it. These are our big sisters and brothers, the saints.

And there is still another group. As Our Lord has said once that nothing unclean can enter the Kingdom of Heaven, most of the souls, after they leave the body in death, are not found ready and have to be purified in Purgatory from the last stain of sin.

Even while suffering, these souls are happy because they know that, for them, time with its great dangers is over and soon they will be forever united with their Lord and God.

“Be ye perfect even as your Heavenly Father is perfect,” says Our Lord, and “This is the will of God–your sanctification,” explains St. Paul. We mothers cannot begin early enough to make it seem quite natural to our little ones that we all–they and we–must strive to become saints just like….And this is where our big sisters and brothers enter in. The most precious thing about the saints is that they were not born that way.

They had their faults just as all of us do, and they had to work hard to overcome them. Some of them were quick-tempered like St. Peter or St. Francis de Sales; some even lied and stole and cheated their mother, as St. Augustine tells us about himself; some were quite wicked, like St. Paul or Mary Magdalene; others were meek and mild from the beginning, like little St. Therese and Dominico Savio.

We parents could learn from the great eagerness with which the children take to certain TV programs or movies with Hopalong Cassidy or other popular performers that every young soul is a hero-worshipper.

Children simply need someone to look up to, to imitate. Well, there is no Hollywood hero who could not be easily outdone by one of the saints. Among that very large number of our big sisters and brothers who “made it” there is one for every kind of child.

There are the Old Testament saints. Some of their stories are more exciting than all of Grimm’s fairy tales. Think of the stories of Abraham when he goes up the mountain to sacrifice his only son; of King David and King Solomon; the prophet Jeremiah; Daniel in the lion’s den; and Tobias with his friend, Raphael; not to forget our saintly first parents, Adam and Eve, whose feast the Church celebrates on the vigil of the birth of Our Lord, December 24th.

There are the stories of the holy women–Judith, Ruth, and Esther; that exciting adventure story of Joseph in Egypt; and the harrowing tale of Job on the dunghill.

Then there are the New Testament saints–all the Apostles and the holy women. There are the many heroes from the time when Christianity was an underground movement the martyrs of the first centuries, especially the young ones–the boy Tarcisius, who was killed as he was carrying the

Blessed Sacrament secretly to the prisoners in Rome, the girls Agnes and Philomene and Cecilia.

There are rich saints like King Louis of France and Queen Elizabeth of Hungary and Queen Margaret of Scotland.

There are poor saints like Francis of Assisi and Benedict Joseph Labre. There are saints who were sick most of their lives, like Lydwina. There are saints who were famous for their jokes and laughter, like Philip Neri and Don Bosco.

When we turn the pages of one of the books with a daily story about one of the saints, we find that there were holy boys and girls, holy mothers and fathers, holy lawyers, doctors, slaves, popes and priests, farmers and swineherds, tailors and bakers–just “holy everybody,” as one of our children once said.

My husband had once taken great pains to tell a beautiful fairy tale to the children. When he had finished, the oldest asked, “Is all of that true, Father?” Slightly embarrassed, he had to admit that it was not, whereupon the child said, “Why did you tell us, then?”

Often afterwards, when we came across tales of saints who had spent their lives sitting on a column, such as Simon the Stilite, or who flew through the air like Joseph of Cupertino, we would say that as a story this equaled any fairy tale but had the added advantage of standing the crucial test, “Father, was that true?”

First of all a child must be acquainted with his own patron saints, whose names were given to him at his baptism. Later on he will also learn about the patron saints in his immediate family, and in a large family like ours this will amount to a great number of stories.

Then, by and by, as the child grows up and hears more about these big sisters and brothers, he will add some of his own liking.

I told my children always to look for saints who had the same troubles and the same faults as they did and then to ask his or her intercession. He must know how it is.

Whereupon one day one of the little ones said to me, “Mother, I know now why you choose St. Peter as your favorite saint. He could get so mad that he once even cut somebody’s ear off!”

Throughout the centuries Christian people have adopted this same policy.

They have searched in the lives of the saints and have chosen certain ones as patrons for certain ailments.

There is, for instance, a group of fourteen saints particularly famous for their prompt intercession in special cases, known as the Fourteen Holy Helpers (Fourteen Auxiliary Saints). Here is the list, together with the attributes by which they are characterized in painting and sculpture.

(1) St. George (April 23rd), soldier-martyr. Always represented with the dragon he strikes down. He is invoked against the devil, and together with St. Sebastian and St. Maurice he is the patron of soldiers.

(2) St. Blaise (February 3rd), bishop, carries two candles crossed; he is invoked against diseases of the throat.

(3) St. Erasmus (June 2nd), martyr. His entrails are wound around a windlass. He is invoked against diseases of the stomach. Patron of seafarers.

(4) St. Pantaleon (July 27th), bishop. He is recognized by his nailed hands. Invoked against consumption. Together with St. Luke and Saints Cosmas and Damien, patron of doctors.

(5) St. Vitus (June 15th), martyr. He is recognized by his cross. Invoked against St. Vitus’ dance and the bite of poisonous or mad animals.

(6) St. Christopher (July 25th), bears the Infant Jesus on his shoulder. Invoked in storms and against accidents in travel.

(7) St. Denis (October 9th), bishop, holds his head in his hands.Invoked for people who are possessed by a devil.

(8) St. Cyriacus (August 8th), martyr, wears deacon’s vestments.Invoked against diseases of the eye.

(9) St. Acathius (May 8th), martyr, wears a crown of thorns. Invoked against headache.

(10) St. Eustace (September 20th), martyr, wears hunting clothes and is shown with a stag. Invoked against fire–temporal and eternal. Patron of hunters.

(11) St. Giles (September 1st), hermit, is recognized by his Benedictine habit and his hind. Invoked against panic, epilepsy, madness, and nightmares.

(12) St. Margaret (July 20th), martyr, keeps a dragon in chains. Invoked against pains in the loins. Patron for women in childbirth.

(13) St. Barbara (December 4th), martyr, is recognized by her tower and the ciborium. Invoked against sudden death. Patron of artillery men and miners.

(14) St. Catherine (November 25th), martyr, is shown with a broken wheel. Invoked by students, philosophers, orators, and barristers as “the wise counselor.”

In the old country, a picture of the Fourteen Holy Helpers is to be found in many a little wayside shrine or impressive pilgrimage church, such as Vierzehn-Heiligen in Bavaria.

It cannot be stressed enough that perhaps the most important books in the home, after Holy Scriptures, are those dealing with the lives of the saints.

Besides the classic Butler, there are other collections. We always liked Omer Englebert’s “The Lives of the Saints,” (New York, David McKay Co.) which gives the story of several saints for every day, thus providing one with many “true stories.”

Looking through those “Lives” becomes more and more fascinating as we realize the many links uniting these people of long ago with us in the twentieth century.

To my amazement I discovered that there is a patron saint for practically every profession–though we have to distinguish between saints appointed by the people themselves and others appointed by Rome. Thus the Holy Father, Pius XII, named St. Michael the patron of policemen, St. Albert the Great as patron for scientists, St. Alphonse Liguori as patron of Confessors, and St. Catherine of Siena as patron of nurses.

He appointed Our Lady under her title of the Immaculate Conception as patroness of the soldiers of the United States, while his predecessor, Pius XI, made St. Therese of Lisieux patron of all missionaries, St. Aloysius patron of all young people, the famous Cure of Ars, St. Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney, the patron of parish priests.

What I myself like best of all is that Rome appointed Our Lady of Loreto the patroness of aviators (obviously because she steered successfully the holy house of Nazareth through the air and had it land in Loreto, Italy, where it has been venerated since the Middle Ages).

Besides these “appointments” of patron saints, there are many chosen by the people.

I never could find out why St. Anthony of Padua (June 13th) has to find lost objects for everybody around the globe or why St. Matthew (February 24th) is the patron of repentant drunkards.

With other saints it is easy to see why some incident of their life or death was taken up by the people as indications that they should be invoked in special cases.

Good St. Anne is the patron saint for mothers-in-law and domestic troubles; St. Florian (May 4th), who was a Roman soldier condemned to death as a Christian and drowned in the River Enns in Austria, is universally invoked to extinguish fires, obviously with the help of the water hallowed by his death; St. Bartholomew (August 24th), who was skinned alive, was made patron for all tanners and butchers.

It is easy to see why the Holy Innocents (December 28th) are the patrons of choir boys and foundlings but rather hard to fathom why St. Margaret (July 20th) cures kidney diseases.

One of our children made a list once, “in case we need it,” of saints to be invoked for special illnesses. Here it is:

Against fever–St. Hugh (April 29th)

Against epilepsy–St. John Chrysostom (January 27th)

Against burns and poisons–St. John the Evangelist (December 27th)

Against inflammations–St. Benedict (March 21st)

Against cough and whooping cough–St. Blaise (February 3rd) Against consumption–St. Pantaleon (July 27th)

Against cold–St. Sebaldus (August 19th)

Patron of all the sick and dying–St. John of God (March 8th)

One of our boys got interested in patron saints for special professions.

Here is his little list:

St. Jerome–patron of students (September 30th)

St. Isidore–patron of laborers (May 10th)

St. Ives–patron of lawyers, jurists, advocates, notaries, and orphans

(May 19th)

The “Four Crowned Martyrs”–patrons of masons and sculptors (November

8th)

St. Francis de Sales–patron of writers (January 29th)

St. Gomer–patron of the unhappily married (October 11th)

St. Gregory the Great–patron of singers (March 12th)

St. Cecilia–patroness of musicians (November 22nd)

St. John the Baptist–patron of tailors (June 24th)

St. Paul–patron of rope-makers (June 30th)

If there are girls and boys in a family and one of the boys has made a list of various saints for different professions, the girls simply have to make a list of patron saints, too. Ours found patron saint for animals:

Bees–St. Ambrose (December 7th)

Pigs–St. Anthony the hermit (January 17th)

Dogs–St. Rochus (August 16th)

Horses–St. Leonard (November 6th)

Asses–St. Anthony of Padua (June 13th)

Birds–St. Francis of Assisi (October 4th)

Fish–St. Anthony (June 13th)

And once in a while somebody would come running with a special discovery.

“Mother,look! We have enough girls in our family. I found a patron saint to obtain male children: St. Felicitas (July 10th)!”

“Mother, do you think Aunt Susan knows there is a saint of old maids–St. Catherine of Alexandria (November 25th)?”

They also found that St. Gaston is the patron of children who learned to walk very late, and they discovered a few very valuable saints for weather.

If you want rain, pray to St. Odo; if you want sunshine, pray to St. Claire. But the head of the heavenly weather department is of course St. Peter.

And so it goes. If the children in a family become sufficiently interested in their big brothers and sisters, the saints, to start making such lists and finding out about the respective feast days, it is just as if one of their grown-up sisters were getting married and the new in-laws taken into the family.

Their birthdays and feast days are noted down, the enlargement of the family circle is celebrated, and this, each time, is a happy occasion.

While close relations are kept up with a great many of the saints, some of them are singled out by the Church to be celebrated in a special way.

There is, for instance, St. John the Baptist, whose feast is celebrated on the twenty-fourth of June. We learn that as far back as the eighth century bonfires were being lit in honor of the precursor of Christ–the “Johannesfeuer”–as a special solemnity.

In the old world, the young people of the villages and towns take kindling wood up the mountains or outside of town to some beautiful spot on a river bank. Before it is lit a few words point out the significance of this fire at the height of the year, at the beginning of summer when the nights are shortest; and the symbolism of fire and light in relation to that radiant figure, the Baptist. “He was a burning and a shining light: and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light” (John 5:35).

When the flames are leaping up, everybody present joins in singing one of the old songs of the occasion.

When the fire is burning low, everyone leaps over it–boys and girls holding hands and leaping by twos. Then they settle down around the fire for the fire-watch until the last spark has died out.

Soon afterwards, on June 29th, we celebrate the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul.

The badge of St. Peter is the cock, in memory of the “thrice-crowing” of that animal.

As St. Peter is the “Great Fisherman,” his feast day is celebrated in many seacoast towns with great festivity.

Boats are decorated with garlands and ribbons. There are races, and the chief dish is fish, of course.

In our extensive traveling throughout many countries over three continents we have come across many a saint who is very famous locally but of whom we otherwise might never have heard. One day in the year is set aside to remember them all–the ones whose names are mentioned in the calendar and the multitudes who stand around the throne of God. This is All Saints’ Day, on November 1st.

In the Epistle, St. John tells us about the vision he had of the “great multitude which no man could number, of all nations, and tribes, and peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and in sight of the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands,” singing praise to God.

The teaching of Our Lord in the Gospels tells us what makes a saint a saint “Blessed are the meek…Blessed are they that mourn…Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice…Blessed are the merciful…Blessed are the clean of heart…Blessed are the peacemakers…Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake….” Nothing is so encouraging as to consider, on All Saints’ Day, those millions and millions around the throne of God who followed this teaching.

Like St. Augustine before her, our Martina, when she was still quite little, said once on All Saints’ Day, “As I think of it, Mother, if all those people could do it, why not we!”

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“God has so constituted us, that in loving and caring for our own children—the richest and best things in our natures are drawn out. Many of the deepest and most valuable lessons ever learned, are read from the pages of a child’s unfolding life. The thought of our responsibility for them, exalts every faculty of our souls. In the very care which they exact, they bring blessing to us.” J.R. Miller

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Need a little help this Advent? The Catholic Mother’s Traditional Advent Journal will help you stay focused and on track as you guide your family through this wonderful season by making the Liturgy come alive in your home! Available here.  Advent Package available here.

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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The Wife Desired, – Humor, Humility, Companion, 1950’s, Fr. Kinsella


From The Wife Desired   by Fr. Leo Kinsella, 1950’s

HUMOR AND HUMILITY

Since humility is the foundation for all virtue, it is not surprising that it is the requisite for a sense of humor. Humility is the proper and correct appraisal of ourselves. We are the creatures of God. Of ourselves we are nothing. Whatever we are or have is from Him and His.

Because we are able to see ourselves in proper perspective, we are able to laugh at ourselves as well as at others. Our foibles and fancies and past blunders are a source of amusement to ourselves as well as to others.

We are not completely unremunerated comediennes. I have never forgotten the scene of a small boy crying with a banana in his mouth and a loaf of bread under his arm. Too many of us go through life in this comic fashion, sad-eyed-Sams with God’s blessing all about us.

On the other hand many wonderful people keep their cheerfulness with one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. If sick people can remain cheerful, how ashamed the rest of us should feel for being wet blankets.

The real difference between a gloomy Gerty and a cheerful person is that the latter is tuned into the harmony of God’s never ending and always new symphony. The gloomy Gerty is out of tune and full of static, a nuisance to herself and to all within earshot.

We must admit that there is an undertone of tragedy to real humor, as is evidenced in the works of Dickens. However, a sense of humor is productive of a cheerful attitude toward life. The living are more attractive than the dead.

The interested wife is interesting because she is animated to the joy of living. Joy appeals to all. The joyful wife is a pleasure to her husband. She is a pearl of great price. The wife who has a sense of humor will make a much more stable wife as well as a much more lovable and desired one. She is safeguarded against many repelling characteristics.

Conceit and a sense of humor do not get along together very well. Adolph Hitler was not famous for a sense of humor, nor are any of the other tyrants, who plague the world.

Some people are perfectionists. They want to do things perfectly all the time. Because of their aim they are in a dither with themselves and others too frequently.

A wife who is a perfectionist must watch herself. Unless she be on guard, she can easily commit one of the mortal sins of marriage by nagging her husband. A sense of humor will temper this tendency and save her from becoming a veritable shrew.

Possessing a sense of humor the wife is prevented from getting too excited over the idiosyncrasies of her husband. She can see the amusing side of things and thus is saved from many heartaches.

Besides, because she is humble, she is less sensitive. Consequently, it is hard for anyone to hurt her. She will have little temptation to go around brooding over real or imagined slights. For the give and take of every day life with her husband she is well equipped.

THE WIFE DESIRED IS A COMPANION TO HER HUSBAND

 The wife desired is the companion of her husband. Hand in hand they walk through life sharing their joys and sorrows. Together they stand against the world. They have secrets shared with no one else. Their union goes beyond that of friendship, for in it are found the little intimacies of lovers.

Together they meet life fortified with each other. Their hearts leap for gladness in the merry month of May of their lives. In the grey December their sorrows are softened with the comfort of carrying each other’s burden.

No pain can equal the pain of the loss of each other. Their loneliness when death takes the other has no counterpart in this vale of tears.

Marriage is a partnership in the business of living. Just as most phases of life are specialized, so marriage itself is specialized. To the husband fall certain obligations, to the wife others. He must bring home the bacon. She upholds her end of the bargain by being the queen of the home. “As the sun when it rises upon the world in the high places of God. so is the beauty of a good wife for the ornament of her house.” Ecclus. 26, 21.

In this chapter we consider a number of aspects of married life which may seem to have little or no reference to companionship. A girl contemplating marriage and especially the phase of companionship which it brings may wonder what sewing, cooking, and housework can have to do with companionship. The answer in a nutshell is that, unless the wife takes care of her end of the bargain, there will be little companionship.

If the husband is irresponsible and does not support the family, how can there be the normal companionship of marriage? Likewise, if the wife is remiss in the specialized chores which are her lot in life, she will make a very poor companion.

In other words, the husband’s support of the home and the wife’s cooking and housework are the basis upon which it is possible for them to build a companionship without which marriage is a bleak affair.

As we have already said, marriage is a partnership, and companionship is the reward beyond reckoning for those who accomplish the duties befalling them as partners in a glorious enterprise.

Suppose that a young lady married a man unequipped for and irresponsible about his obligations. After a few days of honeymoon–he did not have the cash for a more extended one– they returned to live with her parents. He had a few more days of freedom, she understood, before getting back to his job.

The first day or two passed well enough: but then she became worried. As she busied herself about the house under mother’s watchful eye, her man seemed unconcerned about the future.

As the days went by, his naps on the davenport became more frequent and prolonged. She could not hide her anxiety any longer, so she asked him whether he was going back to his job soon. “What job?” he frowned up at her. It did not seem that he had a job at the time, but, like Micawber, he felt that one might turn up soon.

To be sure, a wife in this position would be in for a very difficult marriage. I have seen very many men of this type–lazy, selfish, irresponsible, and as well prepared for marriage as a jackrabbit.

Occasionally, he will be a very likable individual. He is good natured and easy going and dances like a gigolo–a wonderful fellow with whom to pass a holiday at the lake, but not a man to settle down within the partnership of marriage.

Let us return to the wife. After all, she is our wonderful subject. Again we can imagine the opposite case in which the wife was delinquent.

The husband was a fine, responsible young man. He was industrious and had saved money for his marriage. In fact, he had bought a home albeit with a fat mortgage. After ten days of honeymooning they returned to their little home. He had several more days vacation before returning to work. It was summer, and they were going to make the most of it at the beach.

The wife suggested the first day that, instead of wasting time in the kitchen, they have a sandwich and milk shake on their way. They could thus have more time at the beach. The husband thought it was a good idea.

On the way home in the middle of the afternoon the wife mentioned that Aunt Susie wanted them over for dinner that night. Remember Aunt Susie? She went all out for us in the generosity of her wedding present. Splendid. Aunt Susie’s it was.

The next day and the next it was the same story–clever maneuvering away from the kitchen. By now the husband wondered why he did not save construction costs on the home by eliminating the kitchen.

This poor little wife could just about manage to boil water. She had never cooked a thing in her life and did not evidence any concern for the future.

Although these two imaginary cases are extreme, do not think that they are out of this world. One would think that a girl would pride herself on being able to cook, to sew, and to keep house. Sometimes an over efficient and fussy mother keeps her daughter from having a chance to learn these things.

More often her inefficiency indicates an indolent and even selfish girl. She prefers to let her mother spoil her by waiting on her hand and foot, while she ensconces herself on a sofa with a book and bonbons.

Of course, many of these girls rise to the occasion with their marriage and learn to be efficient wives in respect to the home. The love of her husband and children does the trick.

The worst offenders in this important phase of marriage are those who stagnate after marriage and lose interest in their homes.

One instance comes to mind in which the husband would come home from work and wash several days’ dishes and tidy up the kitchen. He had hoped to shame his wife into a realization of her position. She merely laughed at him.

She was slovenly in the care of her child. When she got around to changing the baby’s diaper, she was more than likely to throw it into a corner to remain there for some distant future reference.

This woman did little more than visit her girlfriends all afternoon and gossip with them. She flounced into the home a few minutes before her husband’s return from work.

Her preparation of dinner consisted of opening a can of beans, unwrapping some cold cuts, and placing on the table a loaf of chaff and straw dust commonly called bread by a generation unfamiliar with the joys of eating homemade bread.

Had this woman married another Okie it is possible that they could have been happy. Not many people can live in a pigsty like this and be contented.




True Americanism is the belief in the freedom of man as a divine derivative. For that reason if we wish to keep pure Americanism we must keep our religion. To this is to be added the important fact that dictatorships, such as the Communistic, regard man only as a stomach to be fed by the State, or as a tool to amass wealth for the State. Put men on that level and they need no religion, any more than animals need religion, or a monkey wrench needs liturgy. -Ven Fulton J. Sheen, Painting by Jack Sorenson
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In With God in Russia, Ciszek reflects on his daily life as a prisoner, the labor he endured while working in the mines and on construction gangs, his unwavering faith in God, and his firm devotion to his vows and vocation. Enduring brutal conditions, Ciszek risked his life to offer spiritual guidance to fellow prisoners who could easily have exposed him for their own gains. He chronicles these experiences with grace, humility, and candor, from his secret work leading mass and hearing confessions within the prison grounds, to his participation in a major gulag uprising, to his own “resurrection”—his eventual release in a prisoner exchange in October 1963 which astonished all who had feared he was dead.

Powerful and inspirational, With God in Russia captures the heroic patience, endurance, and religious conviction of a man whose life embodied the Christian ideals that sustained him…..

Captured by a Russian army during World War II and convicted of being a “Vatican spy,” Jesuit Father Walter J. Ciszek spent 23 agonizing years in Soviet prisons and the labor camps of Siberia. Only through an utter reliance on God’s will did he manage to endure the extreme hardship. He tells of the courage he found in prayer–a courage that eased the loneliness, the pain, the frustration, the anguish, the fears, the despair. For, as Ciszek relates, the solace of spiritual contemplation gave him an inner serenity upon which he was able to draw amidst the “arrogance of evil” that surrounded him. Ciszek learns to accept the inhuman work in the infamous Siberian salt mines as a labor pleasing to God. And through that experience, he was able to turn the adverse forces of circumstance into a source of positive value and a means of drawing closer to the compassionate and never-forsaking Divine Spirit.

He Leadeth Me is a book to inspire all Christians to greater faith and trust in God–even in their darkest hour. As the author asks, “What can ultimately trouble the soul that accepts every moment of every day as a gift from the hands of God and strives always to do his will?”

A Catholic Halloween Party – Mary Reed Newland

Mary Reed Newland relates how her family spent Halloween night. I am impressed on how our Catholic heritage is brought into it. I think you will enjoy it! And, if you are like us and only celebrate All Saints’ Day, you can take some of her ideas and make it part of your Feastday party…..

Prayers and Party Fun Together by Mary Reed Newland, The Year and Our Children

Our family’s Halloween parties are now planned around the custom of begging for soul cakes. Among the neighborhood children who attend, Catholics together with non-Catholics, there is no one who is not intrigued to learn the stories of these customs and join in the prayers and the fun.

Frying doughnuts is a big undertaking, but this one time of the year we have a doughnut session – the day before Halloween.

Soul cakes need not be doughnuts, but we like to tell Mrs. Berger’s story; and this, of course, leads to much tasting to see if one does think of eternity at every bite.

Other refreshments for the party are natural treats – apples, nuts, popcorn – all perfect companions to the soul cakes. Next, costumes. Saint costumes have been much in vogue in our circle since the rediscovery of Christian Halloween. These are lots of fun to make, but if you are having non-Catholic children who do not know about patron  saints, a full course on the subject is not possible before the party.

You might suggest that these come as some departed soul, one of those from  eternity who come to warn the living to mend their ways. This gives much leeway and justifies the inevitable cowboys and space cadets. Cowboys do eventually depart, I am confident, and space cadets look as though they already have.

A rhymed invitation tells everybody that this is a real party and keeps enough of the familiar Halloween ghostliness to enhance the rest, which sounds a bit unfamiliar.

Our invitation goes like this:

Come to keep vigil on All Hallows Even,

With Monica, Jamie, Peter and Stephen,

With John, Philip, Christopher, dressed up like souls;

Bring berries of red to help ward off the ghouls.

Come knock at the door and beg for soul cakes,

Pray hard for the souls, for the prayers that it takes

To speed them to Heav’n go too often unsaid,

And who prays for poor souls will ne’er want for bread.

This hints at what is going to happen. Followed by a telephone call or a note to the mothers of the guests, it gives everyone time to get the “feel of it.” This is important. If it isn’t clearly explained how they will beg at the door and say a prayer for the dead, the party will disintegrate right there with the “gimmes.”

The berries of red and their use have their origin way back when holly and evergreens bearing red berries were used to remind the Christians of the blood of Christ and the burning love of Mary for her Child.

It is not hard for country children to find a spray of red berries, but even in the city, there is bittersweet on sale at the street corner; or if you live near a barberry hedge, you might prevail on the owner to let you have a sprig – and to show your goodwill, tell him that it is a wise way to ward off witches.

An old witch patrols the lawn at our house this night, riding a broomstick and fleeing in fright from the groups of guests, terrified at the sight of the berries. Barred from the house by these berries (some of which are combined with autumn leaves and fastened to the front door in a swag), she has to be content to hoot and screech, pop out from behind trees; and when the time comes, bade by what she knows is the truth, she gives directions for begging at the door:

I am forced to tell ye this, miserable dearies, whether I would or no; so mark it well. If ye pray for the dead, they are released sooner from their torment of waiting in Purgatory and sped on the wings of light to their eternal reward. So go and knock and the woman will open to your knock, and sing as loud as ye can: `A soul cake, a soul cake, a prayer for a soul cake!’

She will bear on her arm a basket of cakes and tell ye for whom ye are to pray. And may ye all choke on every crumb and find praying and eating at one and the same time as miserable as the torment I endure forever riding hungry on my broomstick!

Everyone is delighted by her useless malice, and finds that simultaneous praying and eating is not difficult. Better yet, bade by the woman of the house, they pray before they eat (much more respectful).

They pray for grandfathers and grandmothers and aunts and uncles and cousins and friends and all the souls in Purgatory. The Catholic children and the non-Catholic children say together for their dead the one prayer they share in common, the Our Father; and after the voices of the Catholic children have died away, the rest continue with “for Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.”

This, incidentally, was appended to the Our Father long before the so-called Reformation; it is one of those liturgical additions that was eventually dropped for the sake of purity. Knowing this helps eliminate some of the irritation Catholics feel when hearing it. It is not something the Protestants dreamed up just to be difficult.

Around the house to the various doors (because we live in the country, we must confine our party to one house), and then inside for the celebration. In the city, children could go to several houses close together, or to several apartment doors.

The old witch, spying one door without red berries, makes a last appearance, cackling and greeting the guests from behind the puppet show. She shakes the children’s hands with a wet glove and presses an ice cube in each unsuspecting palm, whereupon they shriek and scream and pile through the door into the living room to duck for apples, chase them on strings, eat popcorn and soul cakes, and drink cider.

If there are many small children, plan the party for them – and let the older children help give it. If there are more older children, it is best to plan the party for them. Sometimes it will work both ways, but more often than not, widely divergent age groups do not combine successfully for parties because the same games and entertainments do not appeal to both.

If you have both small fry and older children, you might plan with the mothers of the neighborhood to hold two parties – one for little children at one house, one for older children at another.

For very small children, ducking for apples, apples on strings, refreshments, and the chance to make noise and antics in their costumes can be nicely gathered up and rounded off by reading one or two stories.

If they have come in saint costumes, the outstanding standing game can be telling your saint’s story – after the others have guessed who you are.

For older children or even adults, “A Trayful of Saints” is a good game. On a tray, place a dozen or more objects that symbolize familiar saints.

For example: key- St. Peter; flower – Little Flower; rose – St. Rose of Lima; dog – St. Dominic; bird – St. Francis of Assisi; cross – St. Helena; crown – St. Elizabeth of Hungary; eagle – St. John the Evangelist; shell – St. James; Sacred Heart – St. Margaret Mary Alacoque; kitchen utensil – St. Martha; half coat (paper cut-out) – St. Martin of Tours.

Go slowly from one guest to another, giving them time to memorize what is on the tray. Then pass out paper and pencils and have them list what they remember, and what saint they think they symbolize.

Charades depicting outstanding events in the lives of the saints are always fun at such a party, and ghost stories are in order when the apple-ducking is done and people are sitting around the fire.

“And you, too, must stand by your convictions at the cost of things you love. An ideal is worth little if it is not worth wholehearted, honest effort. Nothing is more pitiful than a woman whose mind admires purity and right, yet whose will is too weak to choose them and whose life is blighted by sin and mire about her. Be true, be noble, aim high, and God will give you strength to keep your ideals.” – Mabel Hale, Beautiful Girlhood, Painting by Gregory Frank Harris

Many lovely handmade items at Meadows of Grace!

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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