The Quest of Happiness/Fraternal Charity – My Prayer Book, Fr. Lasance

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From My Prayer Book, Father Lasance

The Quest of Happiness

The human heart craves and seeks unceasingly for happiness in this life. Many find but a small measure of happiness because they lose sight of their eternal destiny — the object of their creation — which is to know God, to love Him, to serve Him, and to be happy with Him.

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself ” (Matt. xxii. 37, 39).

The whole law depends on these two commandments; so Our Lord Himself assures us. The fullest measure of happiness even here on earth is attained by harmonizing one’s conduct with the commandments of God, by doing well one’s duties to God and man; for this means the possession of a peaceful conscience, a clean heart, a sinless soul; and this is essential to happiness; hence, St. Ignatius prays: “Give me, Lord, only Thy love and Thy grace; with these I shall be rich enough; there is nothing more that I desire.”

To be in the state of grace — to have God’s love — that is essentially necessary to true happiness.

“Si Deus pro nobis, quis contra nos?” “If God be for us, who is against us?” (Rom. viii. 31.) The end of man’s creation is to glorify God. But in promoting God’s glory we are at the same time promoting our own things and makes all that is bitter sweet and savory.” – St. Teresa

The perfection of charity is attained by self-renunciation, by entire mortification, by purity of heart and total abandonment to God.

Our Lord says: “Learn of Me”; “He that followeth Me walketh not in darkness”; “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matt. viii. 34.

Father Buckler, speaking of charity, the essence of perfection, asks: “How are we to follow Christ?” And he replies: “The answer is that Our Lord’s way is the way of perfect love.

He is the divine Lover of God and of men. For the love of God and of men He became incarnate, lived on earth, taught the law of love and the life of love, suffered for love and died for love; sent down the Spirit of His love upon the Church, to be the ruling power of our lives and actions, by the charity of God poured forth into our hearts (Rom. v. 5), and left us the marvelous gift of Himself, to the end of the world, in the mystery of love on the altar, wherein He dwells as the divine Lover in the midst of those He loves — working with us, nourishing and perfecting His life of love in the souls of men. ‘Be ye followers of God,’ says St. Paul, ‘and walk in love, as most dear children’ (Eph. v. 2).”

It is by charity that we follow Our Lord in the way of perfection.

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Fraternal Charity

Our happiness depends to a great extent on our observance of the law of fraternal charity: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” and of the golden rule announced by our blessed Savior: “As you would that men should do to you, do you also to them- in like manner” {Luke vi. 31). In doing good to others we become like to Christ, of whom we read in the Gospel that “He went about doing good to all.”

“This commandment we have from God,” says the disciple, whom Jesus loved, “that he, who loveth God, loves also his brother” (1 John iv. 21). And St. Paul observes. “He, who loveth his neighbor, hath fulfilled the law” (Rem. xiii. 8).

What Shakespeare says of mercy, pertains also to charity and kindness: “It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven; it is twice blessed; it blesseth him that gives and him that takes.” We reap what we sow.

Kindness begets kindness.

Man can scarcely enjoy a sweeter satisfaction than that which results from good deeds generously performed or a kind word unselfishly spoken. “Happy is he, who has charity for everyone,” says the Blessed Egidius of Assisi; “Happy is he, who performs great services for his neighbor, yet does not trouble about receiving anything in return.”

Our deeds of disinterested charity are recorded in the Book of Life. On the great day of recompense, our blessed Savior will say: “Come, ye blessed of My Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave Me to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me to drink; was a stranger and you took Me in; naked, and you covered Me; sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me; . . . As long as you did it to one of these little children you did it to Me” (Matt. xxv. 34-36).

“In charity,” says St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi, “we must be cheerful and prompt, knowing that by serving our fellow-creatures, we serve God in His members, and that He regards a service done to our neighbor as done to Himself.”

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“Lord, Help me to be a good wife. I fully realize that I don’t have what it takes to be one without Your help. Take my selfishness, impatience, and irritability and turn them into kindness, long-suffering, and the willingness to bear all things. Take my old emotional habits, mindsets, automatic reactions, rude assumptions, and self-protective stance, and make me patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled. Take the hardness of my heart and break down the walls with Your battering ram of revelation. Give me a new heart and work in me Your love, peace, and joy. I am not able to rise above who I am at this moment. Only You can transform me.” -The Power of a Praying Wife

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Reflections on the Holy Family

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Fr. Francis Filas, S.J., 1947

“WHEN God in His mercy decided to carry out the work of man’s redemption, so long expected through the centuries, He arranged to perform His task in such a way that in its beginnings it might show forth to the world the august spectacle of a divinely founded family.

“In this all men were to behold the perfect exemplar of domestic society as well as of all virtue and holiness.

“A benign Providence established the Holy Family in order that all Christians in whatever walk of life or situation might have a reason and an incentive to practice every virtue, provided they fix their gaze on the Holy Family.” Thus did Pope Leo XIII write in 1892.

A divinely founded family…the perfect exemplar of all virtue and holiness…for all Christians in whatever walk of life.

“Why!” you say, “my family life is to make me holy? Did Pope Leo mean that ordinary people can be and should be saints? We who live in the world, who have to spend most of our time watching the budget and earning enough to support ourselves and our children?

Our ideals are subjected to continual battering by the un-Christian teachings and practices of so many of our neighbors. We can’t spend our whole day in prayer like the saints of old.

Evidently the Pope did not realize how ordinary we are. We try to live a good Catholic life, but we don’t deserve special credit for that. Holiness is something reserved for a few select laymen, for priests and religious, for monks and nuns in austere monasteries and convents.”

But the Pope did mean you–you and your husband or wife as well as your whole family. You can be and should be saints, for saints are those common-sense people who act according to their realization that all their happiness lies in obeying God’s law perfectly as it is shown them by the Church and by their conscience.

Holiness means happiness. Holy people are happy people at peace with God, with others, and with themselves.

There is only one requirement. You must do God’s will. This embraces various obligations and gives you corresponding rights and privileges.

God’s will in your regard is not something frightening and preternatural, brought down to you by angels amid trumpet blasts, thunder, lightning, and earthquakes.

No, it consists in the observance of the commandments, the frequent reception of the sacraments, and the practice of certain virtues in your everyday life. That is all. Call it homely, call it an everyday, ordinary, humdrum rule of life if you wish; but you can’t call it difficult and beyond your strength.

God’s grace is with you at every turn, sufficient and more than sufficient to help you serve Him.

Sometimes in your efforts you perhaps will fall out of weariness or discouragement; but you rise quickly, and trusting in God’s abundant grace, you go forward again.

Your goal must ever be the perfect love of God manifested in perfect love for His creatures, your “neighbors”–your husband or your wife, your children, your friends, all with whom you come into contact.

You look for inspiration to attain such an ideal. You ask for a proof to convince yourself that everyday joys can be the means to serve God perfectly; or on the other hand you are possibly too close to the earthly conditions of daily work attended with monotony, disappointment, worry, and fatigue.

This makes it hard to believe that in so ordinary a way you can become someone so extraordinary as a saint, known to God as His special image, His temple in whom He loves to dwell.

You want proof and inspiration? You wish to see everyday life made into a steppingstone to the very heights of heaven? Then you need only look at the Holy Family.

You must contemplate Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. They not only possessed human nature like yours, but they performed workaday tasks as you do. They ate and drank and slept and cleaned house and earned a living and prayed and had their neighbors just like you. Yet who were they?

They were Jesus Christ, God, Second Person of the eternal Blessed Trinity, who took to Himself a body and soul like ours: Mary, the blessed Virgin Mother of God, all-perfect, in whom there was never the slightest sin or imperfection; and Joseph, he whom Jesus called “Father,” the virginal husband of the Mother of God.

Have you ever stopped to do a little arithmetic in studying Christ’s life? Jesus had a tremendous mission to accomplish. He was to teach mankind the new and difficult law of brotherly love; He was to redeem us by means of intense suffering and a painful and disgraceful death; He was to found a Church that would last for all time as the only certain road to salvation.

Nonetheless, with such a task before Him, the Son of God spent ten times as much of His life in obscurity as in His public apostolate.

We are told of no miracles, no preaching, no teaching of the multitudes during that period.

There was merely a hidden and ordinary family life with two lovable persons as His intimate and chosen companions, Joseph and Mary.

No human being has ever been or will ever be holier than this husband and wife. Yet these two souls did not help Jesus in His preaching and teaching, for Joseph was already dead when Jesus left Nazareth to begin His career; and as far as we know, Mary stayed quietly at home during almost all of the Public Life.

Actually, then, Joseph and Mary gained their immeasurable holiness by offering Jesus the love of a father and mother in a true family, while Jesus in His turn tendered them the homage of a son. Could any lives have been more ordinary than those at Bethlehem, Egypt, and Nazareth–yet were any lives ever more holy?

This is the lesson of the Holy Family. The will of God must count for everything in our daily lives. Prosaic deeds done for God can lead to spectacular holiness.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were human, intensely human in the best sense of the word. They show us how our lives, too, should be human–truly warm and Godlike.

By this means we can be sanctifying ourselves more and more. The method is simple. Perhaps we have been following it all along without realizing the fact. At any rate, the leaders are set before us. All we need do is follow.

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Meditating on Scripture

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Excellent helps for meditation!

From Thirsting for Prayer by Fr. Jacques Philippe

Here we are in touch with the very ancient tradition of lectio divina, reading Scripture with the aim of finding God and opening ourselves to what He wants to tell us through it here and now.

Lectio divina can take different directions and various forms. At present I am speaking of it as a method of prayer.

Times and the Best Time

The best time for lectio divina is the morning if that is possible. One’s spirit is fresher and better disposed then, normally less loaded with cares and concerns, than at the end of the day.

Psalm 90 says, “Satisfy us in the morning with thy steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.”

And the book of Isaiah says, “The Lord … provides me with speech. Each morning he wakes me to hear, to listen like a disciple” (Is 50:4).

Another advantage of doing the lectio divina in the morning is that this testifies that the most urgent thing in our lives is disposing ourselves to listen to God. This practice also establishes us, right from the start of the day, in an inner attitude of listening. That enables us more easily to preserve the attitude of availability throughout the day and so perceive more readily the calls that God may make to us.

That said, this advice is obviously not set in stone. Clearly, many people do not have the opportunity for it in the morning and can only do it at some other time of day. That won’t prevent God from speaking to them if they are thirsty for Him.

Which passage should we take for meditation?

There are all sorts of possibilities. We can meditate on a text continuously (one of the Gospels, a Letter of St. Paul, or another book from the Bible) day after day. I know a married layman with a family who, every morning, spends time in prayer based on the Word of God. He has spent two or three years on St. John’s Gospel.

However, the advice I give people who are beginners in this field is, on the whole, to do their lectio by taking the passages that the Church gives for the Readings of Mass each day. That has the advantage of putting us in harmony with the life of the universal Church and the liturgical times and seasons, and preparing us for the Eucharist if we are going to participate in it.

Furthermore we will have three different well-chosen texts (the First Reading, the Psalm, the Gospel), which reduces the risk of being confronted with passages that are too dry or hard to interpret.

It is very rare for at least one of the three passages not to speak to us. Often, too, doing lectio divina while looking at several different passages together helps us grasp the profound unity of Scripture.

When reading the Bible it is a great joy to discover how often passages that are very different from one another in style, date of composition, content, etc., can, when brought together, reveal new harmonies and shed light on one another.

When interpreting passages of Scripture, the wise men in the Rabbinic tradition loved to bring out the richness of their meaning by “stringing necklaces” whose pearls were verses taken from different parts of Scripture— the Torah, the Prophets, Psalms, and Wisdom literature.

This is what Jesus himself did for the disciples after his Resurrection, as we see in St. Luke’s Gospel (Lk 24:27, 44). The tradition of bringing together different passages to illuminate one another has been continued by all the Fathers of the Church and spiritual commentators up to the present day.

How exactly should we go about it?

As I have already emphasized, the fruitfulness of lectio divina depends on our inner attitudes and not the effectiveness of some particular method. Therefore it is important to not begin by starting straight in on the Scripture passage but only after having taken sufficient preparation time to enter into the appropriate dispositions of prayer, faith, and desire.

Following are some steps that might be taken in doing that. As with every time when we start to pray, we should begin by recollecting ourselves, putting ourselves in God’s presence. We should leave aside our worries and concerns; the one thing necessary for us, as for Mary of Bethany, is to sit at our Lord’s feet and listen to His words.

To do that, we need to situate ourselves in the present moment, which we sometimes have great difficulty doing. When necessary, we do well to use the resources of our body and sensations for this purpose.

Sometimes it is beneficial to begin with a physical preparation before starting to read: close our eyes, center ourselves in our bodies, relax (loosen our shoulders and any tense muscles), become aware of our breathing and breathe gently but deeply; feel the contact of our bodies with the material world around us—the contact of our feet with the ground, our bodies with the seat, arms with the table, hands with the Bible or missal we are going to use for our reading.

The first contact with the Word should be a physical contact. Touching it is already a form of listening. St. John speaks of “That which … we have … touched with our hands, concerning the word of life” (1 Jn 1:1).

Once we feel relaxed, connected with our body, centered on the present moment, we should turn our heart toward God, to thank Him in advance for the time He is granting us in which He will contact us through his Word.

We should ask Him for light, beg Him to open our minds to understand the Scriptures (Lk 24:45) as He did for his disciples, and, above all, ask Him that this word may truly visit us in depth, convert our heart, lay bare the ways we compromise with sin, enlighten us and transform us where we need it today, so that we may be more fully in tune with God’s plan for our life. We should ask Him to stir up our desire and will for all this.

When we are ready—and do not hesitate to take time over this, because it is essential—we can open our eyes and begin to read the passage we have chosen for the lectio divina. Read slowly, applying mind and heart to what is read and meditating on it.

But realize that “meditating” in the biblical tradition (e.g., Psalm 1, “Blessed is the man who meditates on the law of the Lord day and night”) means not so much reflecting as murmuring, repeating, ruminating.

To begin with, it is more of a physical activity than an intellectual one. When a verse attracts our attention we should not fear to repeat it over and over again, because it is often through such rumination that it will release its deep meaning, what God wants to say to us today through that verse.

Of course, the intelligence also has a part to play. We can question the passage. What does it tell me about God? What is it telling me about myself? What good news does it contain? What specific invitation for my life can I find in it?

If a verse seems obscure, we can consult notes or a commentary, but we should avoid turning the time of lectio into a time of intellectual study. We should not hesitate to dwell at length on a verse that takes on a particular savor for us and to enter into dialogue with God based on what it is saying to us.

The lectio should become prayer—giving thanks for an encouraging verse, invoking God’s help when a passage invites us to a conversion that we find difficult, etc.

At certain times, if the grace is given us, we can stop our reading and remain in an attitude of more contemplative prayer, simple wonder, and admiration at the beauty of what God makes us discover through the text.

A verse may, for instance, convey a deep sense of God’s gentleness or his majesty or his faithfulness or the splendor of what he does in Christ, and it invites us to contemplate that and give thanks for it.

The ultimate goal of the lectio is not to read miles and miles of texts, but to lead us as far as possible into the attitude of contemplative wonder, which nourishes our faith, hope, and love. That is not always given, but when it is, we should be able to interrupt our reading and content ourselves with a simple loving presence before the mystery revealed to us in the text.

In what has just been said, we can see the four stages of the lectio divina in the tradition of the Middle Ages: Lectio (reading), Meditatio (meditation), Oratio (prayer), and Contemplatio (contemplation).

These are not so much successive stages to be followed in just that order as they are particular modes of doing lectio divina. That is all the more apparent from the fact that, while the first three involve human activity, the fourth is not something we can do at will: it is a gift of grace, which we should desire and welcome but which is not always granted.

Moreover, as I said earlier, there may be times of aridity and dryness, as in any kind of prayer. We must never get discouraged—one who seeks will always end by finding.

It is difficult for a child to be better than his home environment or for a nation to be superior to the level of its home life. -Fr. Lovasik, The Catholic Family Handbook

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The Home of the True Man – Fr. Bernard O’Reilly

From True Men as We Need Them by Fr. Bernard O’Reilly, 1894

Paradise, As Realized in the Home of the True Man

Oh! hail, my roof-tree and threshold of my home, How glad I saw thee!

Social Importance of the Sanctities of Home Life

The Catholic Church attracts those who love the simplicity of natural manners, by the harmonies of a restored creation…

The Catholic Religion is not presented to us as separated from nature, but in conjunction with it forming a grand whole, fostering all the domestic affections with manhood, gentleness, liberality, and all the virtues which conduce to the happiness of Home, banishing not more the luxuries which militate directly against the social state in general, than the false notions of spirituality which would interfere with the free action of the natural relations.

For, as a recent author says, the beauty, peace, unity, and truth of life repose on that religious equilibrium which protects the flesh against the pride of the spirit, and the spirit against the invasions of the flesh…

In truth, nothing is so natural as Catholicity—nothing so full of heart—nothing so favorable, therefore, to all the sweets of Home.

Virgins and boys, mid-age and wrinkled elders, soft infancy that nothing can but cry, all are in the secret of its charm. —Kenelm Henry Digby

Let it not be thought that we dwell at too great a length upon this notion of Home, and all the duties and charities inseparably connected with home-life.

When one looks abroad upon the nations which once constituted Christendom, and examines seriously the causes of social and political prosperity or decay, this great fact stands forth as evidently as a bright beacon-light in the darkness over a dangerous reef:

The strength or weakness, the vitality or decadence of nations, is to be measured by the purity of their home-life, by their sacred regard for Home, its authority, and its sanctities.

Take any one people among whom Home—from that of the sovereign or chief magistrate to the lowliest and poorest citizen—is protected by law, manners, and a wholesome public opinion, against everything calculated to loosen or to weaken the sacredness of the marriage tie, the rights of parental authority as sanctioned by the Christian law and immemorial custom, or the duties of filial love and reverence— and you will find the nation distinguished for private worth, political honesty, and an enlightened love of freedom.

Abuses there may and will be in the administration of the best human institutions; but where the homes of a nation are sincerely and thoroughly Christian, public corruption must find a certain and most effective remedy in a public opinion fed by the purity and honesty of private life.

The labor bestowed on describing the Home as it ought to be, and as it still is in many Christian lands, is surely a labor well bestowed, and the pains taken to make the description of home-life so enchanting, that all may feel its charm, must assuredly be blessed of God, the Author of our nature and the unwearied promoter of its highest welfare.

Guard Inviolable the Sanctity and Privacy of the Home

In the magnificent new countries in America, Asia, and—it may be—Africa, which Providence throws open to the thrifty and over-crowded populations of Europe, it is free to every man worthy of the name, to build up a home of his own.

It was, and is still, the boast of the freeman living under the common law of England and these United States, that his home was his castle, all his own in its length and breadth, and as high as the heavens.

It must be the fault of a degenerate race, neglectful of never-to-be-abdicated rights, if the inviolability of their homes and the hallowed privacy of family life, are surrendered into the hands of the policeman or given up to the lawless curiosity of the public press.

At any rate, no one may deny that it is free to every willing and true-hearted man to create for himself a home as happy, as honored, as lasting as those visited in the present or past ages by God’s richest blessings.

Every such home should be one founded on God-given love.

“No man or woman,” says a Catholic writer, “has ever felt true love without feeling a desire to become better, and to thank God for His having given therein a foretaste of the joys of heaven.”

“Where faith (says Digby) has stamped its character on the maiden’s heart, where man is reminded of the graces of her whom he delights to serve, woman’s divine air and her countenance, her words and her sweet smile, can so separate him from all evil influences, that no obstacles upon the road to truth will be able to detain his feet from pressing forward to embrace it; and then hand in hand he is led to his second home, where love and truth made one with it, will remain with him thenceforth forever.”

This is the only sure foundation of the Home—a true mutual love hallowed by the blessing of Him who made the human heart, and tempered by the fear of His dread majesty.

“The woman was given a different assignment, that of helpmeet, mother, homemaker. We apply the word helpmeet to mean the role of the wife as she offers understanding, encouragement, support, and sometimes help. Since she is biologically created to bear children, her role as a mother is unquestioned. Her homemaking role is assumed: She must nurture her young and run the household, to free her husband to function as the provider.” -Helen Andelin

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My Response is My Responsibility

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Always a good reminder. For Throwback Thursday….

I listened to this podcast more than once and got much out of it so I wanted to share it with you!

Based on the Podcast My Response is My Responsibility by Emerson Eggerichs of Love and Respect Ministries

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Think about this phrase for a moment, “My response is MY responsibility”. This is a very powerful phrase!

There is the story of a time during WWII Nazi Regime rule. A Christian French man who had been harboring Jews had been captured. German soldiers brought him before an SS Soldier known as “The Torturer”. Surprisingly to those around him, the French man was at peace and it shone through his eyes and his face.

The SS officer was not impressed! Taking it as insolence, he yelled, “Get that smirk off your face!”

Others who had entered into his presence were terrified and showed it.

The SS soldier once again looked at the French man and screamed, “Don’t you know who I am??!!”

“Yes, I do,” said the French man, “You are called ‘The Torturer’ and you have the power to have me tortured. You also have the power to condemn me to death” There was a pause. “But you do not have the power to get me to hate you.”

This story shows so clearly the control we have to be free from sinful attitudes and responses within ourselves even under the most trying circumstances! Other people cannot control our inner world.

My Response is my Responsibility – this phrase can change our lives!

People may be able to control us physically but they cannot control our thoughts! People can treat us unkindly but they cannot control our spirit!

I can rule my own inner responses – this is a God-given right. No one can make me hate them.

Even the Gestapo, as worldly powerful as they seemed to be, could not rule over the French man’s inner realm.

How does a person get to the point where they are no longer ruled by other’s treatment of them?

We begin by realizing My response is my responsibility!

We don’t need to mope or pout. We don’t need to give the silent treatment or let the rage build inside of us until it comes out of our mouths like a faucet – remember it is your responsibility to control your inner thoughts, those nasty habits that have gotten so out of hand. Time to look them square in the eye and say – I don’t have to listen to you….I don’t have to respond this way!!

If we let others control how we respond, then they are the master of our emotions. If they are mean and unjust, we will be unhappy. What we are saying, then, is that we are a hopeless and helpless emotional victim to the moods and attitudes of others around us!

When we are around uncaring and mean-spirited people, there is no hope for us. We are at the whim of these negative people and we will have a rotten day!

This does not have to be our reality!

Are you frustrated with your husband? Do you blame him for your unhappiness? Do you say to yourself, “If he loved me properly, I would in turn respect him and all would be well?”

That is making your husband “Lord” of your emotions and happiness.

That kind of power should not be given to another human being.

If this is how we think, then when our husband treats us imperfectly (and he will, as he is an imperfect human being) then we are moody and grumpy; we snap at him, we let that black cloud settle over us. We resort to resentment and anger and depression.

Because our husband, whom we have given power to rule over our inner spirit, lets us down, we are depressed. He is responsible for our happiness!

Ok, so let’s step back….. are we saying we shouldn’t be affected at all by what other people say and do?

Let’s take an analogy. A doctor taps our knee with a little hammer and our leg involuntarily kicks out. This is known as a “knee-jerk” reaction, right?

What about road rage? When someone cuts us off, we emotionally get angry…. but are we saying that we cannot help ourselves when we cuss at the person, try to cut him off in return or other such offensive actions?

Though we have involuntary emotions, that, yes, are acceptable, there are some that cross the line….and we usually know when and what those emotions are.

If our anger is not righteous indignation, if it is unrighteous, and if it has become a habit because we have given into those emotions throughout our life, then this is wrong and needs to be turned around.

Each person tends to blame their own bitterness, harshness and contempt on the other person. We claim it is involuntary; the other person caused the anger…..

Please hear a simple and profound truth….people do not CAUSE us to be who we are, they REVEAL who we are. Ouch. My response is my responsibility. The Nazi did not cause the Frenchman to react in kindness; he revealed the kindness within him.

How many times through the day is our inner person revealed: Those times when the kids are tugging on our skirt and we snap at them “What do you want AGAIN!” Little Jill spills her milk and we look at her and say through gritted teeth, “You are the most careless child I have ever met!” Hubby comes home tired and sees no dinner being fixed and complains (maybe unjustifiably) and we yell at him and give him the silent treatment the rest of the night.

These dear ones don’t CAUSE our anger, they reveal it. We do not HAVE to react this way….no, we don’t.

In each of these instances, we blame Johnny, Jill and our hubby. We say to ourselves, “I would never blow my stack if everyone behaves! Life stinks!”

We choose to live under the delusion that life experiences cause us to be upset and angry. Although we would never voice that we are a victim, this is how we sometimes live.

Living this way, in victim mode, changes the nursery rhyme:

“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

Humpty Dumpty was pushed.”

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Let’s just blame humanity. I would be happy if it wasn’t for people! Sounds silly, doesn’t it?

We have unrealistic expectations and requirements that everyone else around us (and especially hubby, since he is a grown human being) needs to meet! He must…..be perfect. 😛

We want to assign blame; there is something inside of us that wants to justify our bad behavior.

As Emerson points out, Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the serpent. The serpent didn’t have anyone to blame because he didn’t have a leg to stand on! 😀

Our Lord says these things come from the heart of man. It is something within us that cause us to react in these unedifying ways. I have evil thoughts because I have chosen to think bad things. I have a hateful reaction because it is in my heart. I slander because it is in my heart to bad mouth people and the list goes on….

Our response is not another’s responsibility.

This message is challenging.

It is hard to face up to.

These challenges may be small, everyday things, but it can also be huge struggles and sufferings like the French man.

We do have freedom to respond with dignity.

Can I do this when my blood is boiling? Can I choose not to react angrily?

This idea of blaming someone else of my bad attitudes is inappropriate. This doesn’t mean that bad behavior is to be sanctioned. This doesn’t mean that the other person doesn’t have to deal with their issues. They do. But that’s a different matter than my response to him. This is what we are talking about here.

We must not think that if we respond with dignity and love, that we are letting the other person off the hook. We have to come to the point that we realize that we can speak what is true and NECESSARY. But we do so in a kind, loving and respectful way. This empowers us.

If we become uncorked, it does not help us to govern the situation.  Your husband will eventually close his spirit if you are continually “letting him have it”! He will not want to be around you. You will have no credibility with him.

You may win a battle here and there by coming unglued and blaming everyone, but eventually you lose the war. This is a painful reality.

Let’s begin to react properly. But we need to give ourselves some grace. This is a process. We may know it, but our application of it will not be perfect.

Like the French man, in a concentration camp who made it through….. He observed and came to these conclusions:

Our purpose as humans is not to seek power or pleasure but to seek purpose. No situation has the power to control us. 

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves!

Everything can be taken from a man except one thing, to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstances.

Between unloving or disrespectful behavior and my response, there is a space. In that space is that power to choose our response. In our response lie our growth and our freedom.

The one thing another can’t take away from me is the freedom to choose how to respond to what someone does to me.

Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, the freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.

Our great freedom is the freedom to choose our attitude.

The French man’s story really leaves the rest of us without excuse at some level. How in the world can I come uncorked when the person cuts me off in the road, or hubby is angry?

I do have a choice. Like the French man I can change my responses.

Remember, My Response is My Responsibility! Will I take this to heart?

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FF Quote for the Day
“Happiness in marriage must be earned. It is something you must work out for yourself, chiefly by forgetting yourself and serving others. No marriage is a success unless less you make it so, and that takes persistent effort and, still more, a constant and humble reliance on God.” – Fr. Lawrence G. Lovasik. The Catholic Family Handbook
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 Who can resist those little ditties, those lovely little sing-song verses called Nursery Rhymes!
Songs and rhymes for young children have been passed down from generation to generation. They are fun, children love them, and they provide a warm, nurturing experience for the whole family.
Nursery Rhymes can be very valuable in a child’s reading development. They are short and easy to repeat and they become some of the child’s first sentences. They also help the child practice the rhythm of language….pitch, volume and voice inflection.
Our own children grew up learning and repeating Nursery Rhymes. It was very enjoyable and it was an easy way to teach the children the use of rhythm and rhyme.
How much more meaningful those little poems would have been if there had been more depth in the considerations behind each little verse! That is where this book comes in. It gives us some lovely rhymes that can, and should, be committed to heart by your children.
Not only will it provide all the benefits of reading and memorizing, but it will supply some simple reflections that will turn those little minds to what is most important in their life….their Catholic Faith.
It is important that young children learn to memorize through verse. Research shows children learn more in their first eight years than they do in the rest of their lives. This is a powerful time to teach them.
So, parents, here is a teaching tool that can help! Encourage your children to learn the poems in this book. Let them peruse the pages and look at the pictures. You will find that it will be a meaningful experience for all!

Inspire and delight your children with these lighthearted and faith-filled poems. Take a peek here.

Don't forget to sign up for the Giveaway for my book and the bracelet! I will pull the name from the hat Tuesday, May 10th!

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If you purchase items through my affiliate links, I receive a small commission but your price doesn’t change. Thank you for your support.

 

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True Knowledge…

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

A good girl has no need to be sad because of her want of opportunity to acquire worldly knowledge.

“But, Father, how can a poor girl like myself be said to be in a good condition of life? I have never had an opportunity to get much learning.

This, you must confess, is a great hardship, and it seems to me to stand in the way of leading a good life and getting to heaven, which you say is the very thing we all live for. What have you got to say to that?”

I say that, on the one hand, true wisdom does not consist in human science or knowledge, or in knowing a great variety of things, and on the other, that the want of such knowledge does not make us ignorant.

If you know a few things, such as the truths contained in the Apostles’ Creed, namely, that God has created you to be happy for ever, that Jesus Christ loved you so much as to lay down His life for you, and that the only true happiness is to be found in seeking first of all “the kingdom of God and His justice”; and if this knowledge has sunk deep in your heart, so that it comes first to mind and directs your actions to God, you are very wise and very learned.

The man who has read a thousand books, if these simple things have not sunk as deep in his mind as in yours, is not so wise and learned as you are.

For example, a learned man hears a sermon, and understands the meaning of every word and of all the ideas, so that he can talk about it to the wonder of every one, but nothing of it all has any practical effect on him.

You, on the contrary, scarcely get the full meaning of a single sentence, and all long and hard words fly over your head, but you notice some saying of our Lord Jesus Christ, perhaps this: “Learn of Me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and you shall find rest for your soul.”

It makes a deep impression; you often recall it to mind; it makes you mild and gentle, and more and more so during your whole life.

You have understood that sermon better and learned more than that man did. You have got more in that sentence than whole piles of books contain.

The fathers of the desert, with only the Scripture, or, maybe, only some sentences of it that they knew by heart, but which they kept in mind, and felt deeply and acted out, became so wise and prudent that learned men took long journeys on purpose to get their advice on important affairs.

They spoke with such truth and force that their words penetrated the hearts of thousands who came to listen to them.

Knowledge of worldly things often fills the soul with so many distracting ideas that it is difficult to take in the meaning of divine things.

The good girl, who really desires to love God, will be taught by God Himself how to do it. She will hear the principles of wisdom taught in the church, and from the lips of others, and God will constantly whisper them to her heart, so that she will become very wise.

So Thomas a Kempis, speaking in the person of our Lord, says: “I am the one who teaches how to despise worldly things; to be tired of that which must pass away; to seek that which is eternal; to be wise in regard to eternal things; to fly from honors; to endure scandals without sin; to make one put all his hope in Me; to desire nothing that does not lead to Me, and to love Me in preference to everything else.”

Sublime wisdom! What is all knowledge of all science compared to this?

God, “who resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble,” will give you this wisdom if you desire it. Improve what opportunities you have for learning to read and acquiring useful knowledge; but remember that the want of learning and opportunity will not stand in your way if you are truly desirous to be united to God.

He can in abundance make up for all such deficiency, and He will do so, for He is goodness and love itself.

Well, then, on all accounts you see that your condition in life is a most advantageous one. I hope you will consider it so, and never allow yourself to murmur at it.

Be full of joy and thankfulness, and determine by a good life to get from it all the advantages that the Savior of the world has intended it should afford you.

Our Catholic Faith is our mainstay. It is what we live and die for. It is the foundation of our personal life and of our family life. Without it, life is an empty shell. Protect it, nurture it.

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Before Embarking – Christ in the Home

From Christ in the Home by Fr. Raoul Plus, S.J.

Whoever desires to marry ought to prepare himself for that great step:

–First of all, by preserving chastity.

–Then, by praying much for his future home and family.

By preserving chastity: Whoever cannot see the need for this will not be likely to understand the need for anything. But one must be able to see the need for more than this, to desire more.

The practice of purity in its entirety involves not only the avoidance of serious wrongdoing harmful to the integrity of the body but also whatever sullies imagination, thought or desire.

Consequently questionable companions, flirtations, and imprudent reading are out of the question. Custody of the eyes is essential. Death enters in through the windows of the body. Eve and David both sinned through their eyes.

For certain temperaments, such vigilance demands great generosity. No one can deny it.

“The good is more difficult than the evil,” wrote Paul Claudel in response to Jacques Riviere who had explained that to remain pure was difficult. “But there is a return. The good opens up before us incomparable horizons because it alone is in keeping with our reality, our nature, our life and our vocation. This is particularly true where love is concerned. How ridiculous the romantic fever of a purely fleshly love seems to me!”

Sensing the old classic objection in his correspondent, Claudel took the offensive:

“As for the emotional cramping Christianity imposes upon you, I can scarcely understand what you mean. When you speak of sins, I suppose you refer to sins of the flesh, because I cannot imagine that you have any tendency to drunkenness, avarice, acts of violence or similar things.

“The first answer to your difficulty is that when we become Christians, it is not for our pleasure or personal comfort, and further, if God does us the honor of asking sacrifice of us, there is nothing to do but consent with joy.

“The second answer is that these sacrifices amount to very little or practically nothing. We are still living in the old romantic idea that the supreme happiness, the greatest interest, the only delight of existence consists in our relations with women and in the sensual satisfactions we get from them.

But we forget one fact, the fact that the soul, the spirit, are realities just as strong, just as demanding as the flesh–even more so; we forget that if we accord to the flesh everything it demands, we shall do so with the consequent loss of other joys, other regions of delight which will be eternally closed for us.

We shall be draining a glass of bad wine in a hovel or in a drawing room and be unmindful of that virginal sea which stretches out before others under the rising sun.”

How splendidly Shakespeare has expressed the same thoughts:

What win I, if I gain the thing I seek?
A dream, a breath, a froth of fleeting joy.
Who buys a minute’s mirth to wail a week?
Or sees eternity to get a toy?
For one sweet grape who will the wine destroy?
Or, what fond beggar, but to touch the crown,
Would with the sceptre straight be strucken down?
(Rape of Lucrece, Stanza 31)

This is also what Saint Augustine has written in his own
epigrammatic style:” momentaneum quod delectat, aeternum
quod cruciat:.
One instant of pleasure, an eternity of
suffering….”

Let me examine my own soul. Have I come to marriage entirely chaste? Chaste in body? Chaste in thought? Chaste in heart?

If my answer is Yes, then I must thank God. It is a choice grace.

If my answer is No, then what can I do to make reparation, to obtain from God the grace of entire fidelity to my duty, from now on?
In addition to the preservation of chastity, the person aspiring to marriage has a second great duty–to pray much.

An old proverb wisely states, “Before embarking on the sea, pray once. Before leaving for war, pray twice. Before marrying, pray three times.”

And this necessity of praying more before marriage than before a voyage or a battle is evident for several reasons.

Consider the risk of associating oneself closely with a creature who has many limitations; with a creature about whom one knows very little particularly in the matter of shortcomings, since during the period of courtship and betrothal one unconsciously does everything not to reveal himself; with a creature whom one loves with all one’s heart but who possesses not only lovable traits, but also faults which can cause suffering; with a creature who can bestow the greatest joy, but who can also unfortunately inflict the deepest pain.

Furthermore, in order to bear joys as well as possible trials, do we not need much help from God? And to obtain this help, must we not pray much?

Another reason for the necessity of such prayer when one desires to establish a home is that from a union once sanctioned by the Church and consummated there is no possible withdrawal.

It is a choice which is definitely established. For two changeable human beings to dare to bind themselves to each other forever in a relationship so intimate as the realities of marriage, is not God’s sustaining help a prime requisite? And to obtain this help is it not necessary to pray much?

Has my life before marriage been one of sanctification and of prayer in preparation for my marriage? Or have I confided solely in the human merits existing on both sides and neglected to place under God’s protection the union I was about to contract?

If I have been neglectful, I must make up for it now. There is still time.

If, on the contrary, I prayed much before my marriage, I may not leave off earnest prayer now that I am married. The greater the place God holds in my life, the greater can be my assurance that my home shall be supernaturally happy and, without a doubt, humanly happy as well.

“To you, O Mary, my good Mother, I confide my marriage and my home. It seems that marriage is the means of sanctification destined for me by God as it is for the chosen soul whom you have given me.

Together we shall do our best to glorify God–this is our firm resolution.

Bless us, help us, strengthen us. Sailors call you Stella Maris. Be for us, too, the Star of the Sea and keep us safe throughout our crossing; we put under your care our vessel and its crew. You shall be the Queen on board ship.”

 

Prayer to the Archangel Raphael for a Marriage Partner:

Glorious Saint Raphael, Patron and lover of the young, I feel the need of call­ing to you and of pleading for your help. In all confidence I open my heart to you to beg your guidance and assistance in the important task of planning my future. Obtain for me through your intercession the light of God’s grace so that I may de­cide wisely concerning the person who is to be my partner through life. Angel of Happy Meetings, lead us by the hand to find each other. May all our movements be guided by your light and transfigured by your joy. As you led the young Tobias to Sara and opened up a new life of happi­ness with her to holy marriage, lead me to such a one whom in your angelic wisdom you judge best suited to be united with me in marriage.

Saint Raphael, loving Patron of those seeking a marriage partner, help me in this supreme decision of my life. Find for me as a help‑mate in life the person whose character may reflect some of the traits of Jesus and Mary. May he (she) be up­right, loyal, pure, sincere and noble, so that with united efforts and with chaste and unselfish love we both may strive to perfect ourselves in soul and body, as well as the children it may please God to en­trust to our care.

Saint Raphael, Angel of chaste court­ship, bless our friendship and our love that sin may have no part in it. May our mutual love bind us so closely that our future home may ever be most like the home of the Holy Family of Nazareth. Offer your prayers to God for the both of us and obtain the blessing of God upon our marriage, as you were the herald of blessing for the marriage of Tobias and Sara.

Saint Raphael, Friend of the young, be my Friend, for I shall always be yours. I desire ever to invoke you in my needs. To your special care I entrust the decision I am to make as to my future husband (wife). Direct me to the person with whom I can best cooperate in doing God’s Holy Will, with whom I can live in peace, love, and harmony in this life, and attain to eternal joy in the next. Amen. 

In honor of Saint Raphael: Our Father. Hail Mary. Glory Be.

Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us!

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….

Review: “I’ve long been wanting a book on various virtues to help my children become better Catholics. But most books focused on the virtues make being bad seem funny or attractive in order to teach the child a lesson. I’ve always found them to be detrimental to the younger ones who’s logic hasn’t formed. This book does an awesome job in showing a GOOD example in each of the children with all the various struggles children commonly struggle with (lying, hiding things, being grumpy, you name it.) But this book isn’t JUST virtue training… it’s also just sweet little chats about our love for God, God’s greatness, etc…
And the best thing of all? They are SHORT! I have lots of books that are wonderful, but to be honest I rarely pick them up because I just don’t have the time to read a huge, long story. These are super short, just one page, and very to the point. The second page has a poem, picture, a short prayer and a few questions for the kids to get them thinking. It works really, really well right before our bedtime prayers and only takes a few minutes at most.
If you like “Leading the Little ones to Mary” then you will like these… they are a little more focused on ALL age groups, not just little ones… so are perfect for a family activity even through the teenage years, down to your toddler.”

If you purchase items through my affiliate links, I receive a small commission but your price doesn’t change. Thank you for your support.

 

How to Instill Obedience

Painting by Edmund Adler 1876-1965

By Rev. George Kelly,1950’s, The Catholic Family Handbook

You can teach your child to obey if you proceed in the proper way. Most youngsters want to remain on good terms with their parents and will do what they are told to maintain that relationship.

Their disobedience often is due either to their ignorance of what is expected of them or to their desire to test whether the parents mean what they say.

Obviously, your child’s misbehavior through ignorance of what you expect of him is not a deliberate attempt to circumvent your will and cannot be considered disobedience; and if he is promptly punished for stepping beyond the limits of conduct you have set, his experimental disobedience will cease abruptly.

Many childish actions that may seem to be disobedient are actually not that at all.

A mother asked if her ten-year-old daughter would like to set the table. The girl said that she would not. The mother shook her head, remarking that the child was truly disobedient. The mother was mistaken: her daughter merely gave an honest reply to a question.

When you want your child to obey you, tell him plainly that he must perform a specific action. Only then can you justifiably expect him to do as you say.

If you ask him if he would like to do something or if you merely discuss a possible action without making your position plain, he may reasonably conclude that he may follow a course other than the one you advocate.

Children should not be slaves, to be ordered about at a snap of the finger.

They must often be allowed freedom of choice, and should be permitted to raise reasonable and respectful objections if they feel that your instructions are not altogether correct.

In doing so, they merely exercise a prerogative of individuals with minds of their own. But when an important issue arises and they must obey without questioning or quibbling, let them know that you expect strict obedience.

As children grow older, they can be appealed to more and more by reason than by stern orders.

A soft approach–suggesting or requesting, rather than commanding–is usually more effective.

If you create a home atmosphere of mutual confidence and loving trust, the need to issue strict commands should diminish almost to the vanishing point by the time your youngsters enter their late teens.

How are parents to provide for the Catholic home schooling for their children? First, the principal and most fundamental way is by living strong Catholic lives. All the academic verbiage and planned pedagogy are useless. Only persons who have God’s grace will He use as the channels of His grace to others, and no one, but no one, cheats here. -Fr. John Hardon, S.J.

Father gives a talk to parents on raising children in the faith & ways to protect yourselves & your family….

Beautiful and durable, these wire-wrapped, Vintaj First Communion Rosaries would make a very special gift! Each loop is wrapped around itself to ensure quality. Available here.

If you purchase items through my affiliate links, I receive a small commission but your price doesn’t change. Thank you for your support.

 


One Abandons Oneself to God or Not At All

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from Searching for and Maintaining Peace: A Small Treatise on Peace of Heart

Relative to the question of abandonment, it is useful to make an observation.

In order that abandonment might be authentic and engender peace, it must be total. We must put everything, without exception, into the hands of God, not seeking any longer to manage or “to save” ourselves by our own means: not in the material domain, nor the emotional, nor the spiritual.

We cannot divide human existence into various sectors: certain sectors where it would be legitimate to surrender ourselves to God with confidence and others where, on the contrary, we feel we must manage exclusively on our own.

And one thing we know well: all reality that we have not surrendered to God, that we choose to manage by ourselves without giving carte blanche to God, will continue to make us more or less uneasy.
The measure of our interior peace will be that of our abandonment, consequently of our detachment.

Abandonment inevitably requires an element of renunciation and it is this that is most difficult for us. We have a natural tendency to cling to a whole host of things: material goods, affections, desires, projects, etc. and it costs us terribly to let go of our grip, because we have the impression that we will lose ourselves in the process, that we will die.

But that is why we must believe with all our hearts the words of Jesus, that law of “who loses gains,” which is so explicit in the Gospel: whoever would save his life will lose it, while whoever loses his life for My sake will find it (Matthew 16:25).

He who accepts this death of detachment, of renunciation, finds the true life. The one who clings to something, who wishes to protect some domain in his life in order to manage it at his convenience without radically abandoning it into the hands of God, is making a very bad mistake: he devotes himself to unnecessary preoccupations and exposes himself to the gnawing sense of loss.

By contrast, he who accepts to put everything into the hands of God, to allow Him to give and take according to His good pleasure, this individual finds an inexpressible peace and interior freedom.
“Ah, if one only knew what one gains in renouncing all things!”, St. Therese of the Child Jesus tells us.

This is the way to happiness, because if we leave God free to act in His way, He is infinitely more capable of rendering us happy than we ourselves are, because He knows us and loves us more than we can ever know or love ourselves.

St. John of the Cross expresses the same truth in other terms: “All things were given to me from the moment when I no longer sought them.”

If we detach ourselves from everything and put them into the hands of God, God will turn them to us a hundredfold, from this day forward (1 Maccabees 10:30).

 

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quote for the day55

“The difference between this child and that one is often largely a matter of what he saw in and heard from his parents. His religious response, his sense of honesty, his ability to play with other children and be unselfish toward them, his attitude toward books, his appreciation of the beautiful, his sense of what is right and what is wrong, his quick apprehending of the charming and noble, his ready reaction to music that is good, his approval of heroism and his rejection of evil and cheapness – all these things need to be established in the child’s mind by the parents, who alone can deeply and strong-rootedly establish them!” – Fr. Daniel A. Lord, 1950’s

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wildflowerline

sermon recommendation

What is purity? Why is it important? How do we grow in this virtue?

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Coloring pages for your children….

Seven Days of Prayer to Our Lady for Your Marriage

Who knows the heart of a woman better than our Mother, Mary? She will help to heal all things through Her Son.

Monday:

Blessed Mother, help me to be a good wife today. Please help me to be kind, long-suffering and willing to bear all things. Please take my old habits, my erroneous ways of thinking and change them into patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Please help me to show my husband today that he is number one in my life, even if I do not feel it.

Tuesday:

Dear Blessed Mother, please help me to know myself, especially in regard to my husband. I pray that you will help me not to be unloving, critical, angry, resentful, disrespectful or unforgiving. Please help me to put all those aside and forgive him. Please help me to be an instrument of peace in our marriage today.

Wednesday:

Dear Blessed Mother, please help me to be my husband’s helpmate and companion, his friend and his support. Please help me to make my home a beautiful place for him to come home to. I pray that I can take care of myself and stay attractive to him. Please help me to be a creative and confident woman, one that he can be proud to say is his wife.

Thursday:

Blessed Mother, please help me to not expect so much of my husband. Please help me to seek your Son to fulfill areas of my life where my husband cannot. Please help me to accept him today just as he is and love him for who he is.

Friday:

Dear Blessed Mother, today I would like to especially pray for my husband and all his needs, spiritual, physical, financial and emotional. You know what they are so I leave that in your hands. I pray that he will be open to receive our Lord’s grace in order to be a strong and godly husband and father.

Saturday:

Blessed Mother please help my husband and I to be a team and to work together. Please bring unity between us so that we can labor together in harmony. May we become like-minded in our faith, towards one another and in raising our children.

Sunday:

Blessed Mother, please help my husband and I to be more and more committed to you and to your Holy Catholic Church. Please help us to grow in faith and to pass that faith onto our children. May it permeate every aspect of our life so there is no question Who we put first in our lives so our children see this and learn from it. Thank you for our Faith, may we never take it for granted.

Some are called to religious life, others to the priesthood and others to marriage. Marriage is not the state of life of non-calls! Marriage is a vocation, an invitation from God, a specific road of sanctification. If you do well in this regard, you will see that no one should marry because “all marry”, consciously marry those who understood marriage as a vocation…the way that God has called that person to live holiness. – Christian marriage. Ecclesiae. From o lar edifcado

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If you purchase items through my affiliate links, I receive a small commission but your price doesn’t change. Thank you for your support.