Sleep and Counsels of the Night….

As I sat with drooping eyes editing this article, I marveled at Msgr.’s beautiful description of sleep…not only did I marvel, but I went to bed before finishing the article!

There was a time in my life when sleep would not come. I had been very ill and so, while others were enjoying the refreshment of sleep, I was alone for hours….days and days in a row, struggling for some longed-for shuteye! Since then, I have been very grateful for what most of us take for granted….blessed sleep!

Monseigneur touches on the beauty of sleepless nights also… ’tis a very good article.

Painting by Domenico Fetti

From The Valiant Woman by Monseigneur Landriot

FIFTH DISCOURSE Sleep and counsels of the night.. .

She hath risen in the night. (Prov. 3 1 : 1 5)

Children, The valiant woman resembles a ship in its beauty, grace, and strength. Like her, too, she has numerous sails, which she varies according to time and circumstance; and in her are also to be found all the resources of an alert, intelligent mind, which she knows how to combine in a thousand different ways, and in such a manner as never to run counter to the wind; but by tacking prudently to compel it to oppose no longer the course of her vessel, and even to accelerate her progress.

She does not seek to force her way violently through the billows, but prefers to follow their movement, rising and falling with them, and balancing herself on the waters, oscillating more or less rapidly, it is true, but still always with a gentler motion than would be the shock of rough, precipitate rushing onwards in a direct line.

Should storms rage furiously, her anchors are let drop into the sea, and become her safeguards against the fury of the waves. These anchors are confidence in God, fixed principles deeply imbued with a Christian spirit, and great firmness of character.

Our beauteous bark is also provided with a mariner’s compass, to direct her course amid the obscurity of the night, to point out the surest path through dangers, and to correct the wanderings of a disordered imagination.

She is also fitted with stout, strong masts, to bear up and sustain all the ropes and sails which ordinarily compose the fittings of a vessel.

Let this ship be launched with a careful steersman and an able captain, and furnished with a correct and minute chart of the seas they sail in; let her internal accommodations be well appointed, without luxury, but with comfort tempered by simplicity, and she will pass safely through the dangers of the ocean, and return home laden with rich merchandise.

This, then, my children, is a true symbol of woman’s life, as appropriate as it is beautiful; and we studied it closely at our last meeting. Our task in the two following instructions will not be such an easy one; nevertheless, we will undertake it, even at the risk of stranding our bark.

Its matter is naturally suggested by the words of the text — “She hath risen in the night.” Let us, then, consider sleep and the questions pertaining to it. We shall commence the subject in today’s, and conclude it in next month’s lecture.

The life of man is a constant warfare, an arduous trial, and a long struggle, in which his strength becomes exhausted. How often at the end of the day are we tempted to cry out with the Prophet — “Why is light given to him that is in misery, and life to them that are in bitterness of soul?”‘

An ever-fatherly providence foresaw this daily weariness and fatigue, and provided for us a renovating bath each night, from which we seem to derive new life.

After a profound, sweet sleep, man rises again, imbued with the strength and vigor of youth. His body is full of life, his heart is refreshed, the air seems lighter, and his chest more dilated to inhale it.

Sleep, says the great English poet —

. . . Knits up the ravell’d sleeve of care:

The death of each day’s life, sore labor’s bath,

Balm of hurt minds, great Nature’s second course,

Chief nourisher in life’s feast.

An ancient philosopher said that sleep assured the success of medicine; that it was the deliverer of captives, the desire of sick, the comfort of the afflicted, repose to the mind, the universal habit of rich and poor, and the longing of each returning night.

Thence this exclamation of the ancient choruses – “O Sleep, thou who ignorest pain and care, come to us with all thy charms; thou king of calm and happiness, thou healer of men!”

Nothing is truer than this description of the salutary influence and beneficent action of sleep. Without it the prescriptions of physicians would be of no avail, and the worn-out body be impervious to all the power of their art.

A good night will often effect more than all the visits of the most skillful doctors; but this truth, drawn from experience, does not take from the practical utility of medical science.

Sleep brings temporary freedom, at least, to the captive. It releases him from the exigences of his organs, from the prison of his body; he hears no more the cries and continual demands of those jailers we call the senses; he lives in another world.

It is true that in the morning he must return to his chain, but after a good sleep , even that seems lighter, and the prisoner himself feels stronger to bear it.

Are you ill? Ill rather in mind than in body? Call sleep to your aid. It will drown your cares in its peaceful depths; and even though you should encounter them again, rising above the waters, at least there will have been a wholesome interruption of them, by which suffering is deprived of its most painful attribute — continuity.

Sleep is the wealth of the poor, as it is of the rich man: indeed, I would even call it the special inheritance of the poor.

He sleeps better because he has worked harder, and nature, always just, repays him more abundantly. He sleeps better because he lives more temperately, and his stomach is therefore less charged with those fumes which mount to the brain, agitate the nerves and the blood, and turn into an oven the refreshing bath which Providence has prepared for us.

Sleep is a gift which seems ever new and never produces satiety, if used in moderation. We weary of everything, even of what is best. We quickly tire of dinner-parties, balls, amusement, conversation; but each recurring evening the thought of our bed is an ever-smiling apparition, and no vision of cooling bath amid the fiery heats of summer can give more pleasure.

Saint Chrysostom has left us a reflection on sleep, which is replete with charm and love and Christian poetry — “When mothers wish to put their little ones to sleep, they take and rock them gently in their arms, then hide them away under curtains, and leave them quiet. So does Providence spread darkness as an immense veil over the world, and invite men to rest from their labors.”‘

The Grecian philosopher also says that night brings wisdom to the wakeful, and that sleep is the image of death.

Have you ever sleepless nights? Do not fear them over much, for perhaps that is the hour when God will speak to you. During the day, the soul is drawn away by exterior objects. She sees and hears nothing; her ears are spell-bound by the sirens who surround her. How can she distinguish the words of true wisdom?

The voice of God, says the prophet, is heard when the night is in the middle of her course. The clouds break, the serene light of truth appears to us: we behold it, and its beams are so bright and searching that we can no longer doubt.

We have not always the strength to follow this divine light, but it is still something to have seen it. The vision of it is a seed deposited in the soul, which may become developed in some unexpected circumstance.

Night brings counsel, says the proverb. It brings counsel, because it calms down many things, and then the soul, in the stillness and quiet of nocturnal reflection, can form wiser resolutions.

Night will bring all the more counsel if you charm the hours of sleeplessness by thought of God. Prayer is the night-lamp which should ever be beside us, that when we wake, it may speak to us of heaven.

I know not what mysterious harmony exists between night and prayer, but the saints have ever held it to be the best time for prayer. One would say that the dew of heaven chose the same hours to fall on souls in which the terrestrial dew gathers to refresh plants.

At night all is silent; the noises of earth have ceased; peace reigns around, and then the soul discerns her God more clearly, and can converse with Him in those mysterious and familiar colloquies which recall the loving intercourse of two friends who have met, apart from the crowd , in order to converse more freely together.

Wonderful intercourse of the soul with her God! It is part of the life of the saints. All the tenderest and deepest emotions of the heart love the shroud of mystery!

And thus, when all creation is covered by the veil of night, and the soul alone is waking in the divine light, what ineffable happiness, what exquisite pleasure to converse with God, to lay before Him all the secrets of our hearts, to receive His holy inspirations, “to speak to Him face to face, as a friend is wont to speak to his friend.”

Try to partake sometimes, my children, of this divine ambrosia of night; it is the most delicious banquet for the heart, the brightest light of the soul.

“Night,” says Saint Clement of Alexandria, “is styled by the Greeks the good counsellor, because then the soul, disengaged from the empire of the senses, retires within herself, to listen attentively to the inspirations of wisdom.”

May providence ever grant you the blessing of good nights! If, however, sickness or grief should ever come to destroy your rest, then do I wish you, in all fatherly affection, a result similar to that which is so well described by a celebrated woman.

“He (God) was the chief object of my thoughts by night as well as by day, because for a long time past my infirmities have rarely permitted me to sleep more than an hour and a half together, and have often forced me to leave my bed fifteen or twenty times in the night, and to walk about my room the greater part of the time.

The benedictions which God showered on those bad. nights, as the world calls them, are indescribable.”

It is of such delicious moments that Saint Ambrose says, “These are the excellent nights, the luminous nights full of stars.” Happy the souls who rise to contemplate them!

“To protect your youngster from evil forces outside the home will require much patience and application. There are so many sources of possible moral harm that you will have to be constantly alert. Your constant concern will be reflected, however, in your child’s wholesome development. Eternal vigilance is the price of sanctity.” – Fr. George Kelly, The Catholic Family Handbook, Painting by Marcel Marlier

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The Chief Work of Every True Father Among Men is to Create a Home


by Father Bernard O’Reilly, True Men as We Need Them

It is clear, from all this, that after the salvation of one’s own soul, which must underlie the aims, thoughts, and actions of every Christian man, what is chiefly to be the end of every true father’s efforts, is the building up and sanctifying of a home; or the maintaining and perfecting it in all honor, peace, prosperity, and happiness, where it exists.

This is, in God’s design and under His expressly declared will, the first and chief object of a true man’s solicitude.

Thus, while the divine Architect of the universe, conjointly with the angels who are the ministers of his fatherly providence over us, and with all true men who are laboring in conformity to the divine will—is preparing in heaven a dwelling-place for all his faithful children, more magnificent than human intelligence can conceive of—even so must you, beneath His eye, blessed and aided by him and his Angels, set about rearing your home or making of it the image here below of that House of God on high.

Your House of God, where, in the words of St. Bernard, all shall be “Truth, and Love and Eternity”—truth in your faith and your life, charity in your dealings with your household and all outside of it, and eternity so far as you can secure it, in the independence gained for your dear ones, in the spirit of faith and honor which you bequeath to them, in the very homestead itself which is to be a lasting center for their children’s children.

Make the Earthly Home Like the Heavenly

Nor, in the place of Him who, true Father as He is, knows no acceptation of persons, is this primary and all-important duty of providing, maintaining, and brightening the family home, the exclusive duty of the great and the rich.

There is not a poor laboring-man, who makes it his care to procure shelter, food, and raiment for his dear ones, that is not obliged to aim at having his own home for them, and of making that home an image of heaven.

There is not a youth who takes on himself the responsibilities of husband, who binds to his own lot the young wife of his choice—who does not thereby bind himself to separate her from the whole world, to give her a home of her own, where she shall be sole mistress and queen.

Whether you be of high or of low degree, a man of wealth or a poor man depending on the earning of each day, whether advanced in years and with much experience of life’s difficulties, or just setting your foot on the path—be earnest in your resolution to work in building up your home, and with it the honor and happiness of a family, and sing in your heart as you begin the effort of each new day and hour!

This is the Golden Rule of life for all of us, men of the world, or ministers of God’s sacraments, to set our hands earnestly and joyously to the joint work God appoints us to do— To build up True Christian Homes!

Christian Homes, the Great Need of the Age

The teaching and guidance of the priest are intended also as a help to fathers of families—from those who rule States, to those who are the lowliest and poorest. The help of the governing classes, in their turn, as well as of the wealthy, is, by the law of Christian charity, due to their dependent and fortuneless brethren.

So that the whole effort of religion and of the most favored members of the social body, should aim at assisting the poor man to create for himself a home, and to adorn it with all the best virtues of fatherhood.

This is the need of the age. We must have true Christian fathers and true Christian homes. Socialism and Communism present a frightful caricature of the helpful brotherly love which is the soul and the bond of unity in all States obeying the law of the Gospel.

The earnest and successful labors of the directing classes to inculcate parental duty, to practice and enforce the sweet home-virtues, and especially to aid the laboring-man in securing for himself the privacy and the sanctities of home-life, constitute the only efficacious corrective to the pestilential errors of communistic declaimers and conspirators.

The Creation of the Home a Joint Labor

The charity which we thus urge upon the men of our day is not the exercise of a new virtue, nor the application of a new remedy to social evils unheard of till now.

The very birds of the air, the very insects in the field would teach mankind how to make of the creation of the home a joint labor, and a labor of love as well. To be sure, we know that it is the special part of a man to provide a home for his companion and their children, as well as to labor for its support and to watch over its security.

We are here talking not only of the house which shelters the family, but of the love which brightens and warms it, and of all the admirable virtues that should make its chief ornament.

Even in the building up of the material walls, the poor man’s wife will have to be most frequently his loving assistant, while in all the affections and virtues that make it a paradise, both have to contribute a generous share.

“Many times God allows it to be hard to pray, simply to school us in applying our wills, to teach us that the value of prayer does not depend on the amount of emotion we can whip up. So when ‘Time for prayers’ is greeted with moans and groans, it’s time to explain that saying prayers when you least want to, simply because you love God and have a kind of dry respect and a sense of obedience, is to gain the greatest merit for them. Many times the saints had trouble getting excited about prayers, but they said them, because prayers were due and their value had nothing to do with how eagerly they went about saying them.” -Mary Reed Newland, How to Raise Good Catholic Children (afflink)

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Laetare Sunday to Palm Sunday – Maria Von Trapp

Maria von Trapp brings to us the lovely customs of Lent that enrich a Catholic home and make the Faith fully alive to all….

From Around the Year With the Trapp Family, 1955

In the middle of Lent comes the Sunday Laetare, also called “Rose Sunday.” It is as if Holy Mother Church wants to give us a break by interrupting the solemn chant of mourning, the unaccompanied cadences and the use of the violet vestments, bursting out suddenly in the word

“Laetare” (“Rejoice”), allowing her priests to vest in rose-colored garments, to have flowers on the altar and an organ accompaniment for chant.

It is also called “Rose Sunday” because on that day the Pope in

Rome blesses a golden rose, an ornament made of gold and precious stones.

The Holy Father prays that the Church may bring forth the fruit of good works and “the perfume of the ointment of the flowers from the root of

Jesse.” Then he sends the golden rose to some church or city in the world or to a person who has been of great service to the Church.

Only recently I discovered that this Sunday used to be known as “Mothering Sunday.” This seems to go back to an ancient custom. People in every city would visit the cathedral, or mother church, inspired by a reference in the Epistle read on the Fourth Sunday of Lent: “That

Jerusalem which is above, is free, which is our Mother.”

And there grew up, first in England, from where it spread over the continent, the idea that children who did not live at home visited their mothers that day and brought them a gift.

This is, in fact, the precursor of our Mother’s Day. Expecting their visiting children, the mothers are said to have baked a special cake in which they used equal amounts of sugar and flour (two cups of each); from this came the name “Simmel Cake,” derived from the Latin word “similis”, meaning “like” or “same.”

Here is the recipe:

Simmel Cake

3/4 cup butter                1/3 cup shredded lemon &

2 cups sugar                       orange peel

2 cups flour                  1 cup currants

4 eggs                        almond paste

1/2 tsp. salt.

Cream the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Sift the flour and salt and add to the first mixture. Dust the peel and currants with a little flour and add to the batter. Line cake tin with waxed paper and pour in half the dough. Add a layer of almond paste and remaining dough. Bake at 300 degrees F. for one hour. Ice with a thin white icing, flavored with a few drops of almond extract.


Passion Sunday To Holy Saturday

The liturgy follows Christ’s early life step by step. At Christmas season we learn of the birth in the stable, the adoration of the shepherds, the slaughter of the innocents, the flight into Egypt, the adoration of the Magi, and finally the return from Egypt.

Then we meet Our Lord again at His baptism, we accompany Him into the desert on his fast, and we go with Him for the first and second years of His public life, we listen to His parables, we admire His miracles, and we unite our hearts with Him in His life of toil and missionary love for us.

Now four weeks of instruction have passed. We have followed Our Lord in His apostolic ministry and we have reached the moment when, together with Holy Mother Church, we shall contemplate the sorrowful happenings of the last year (during Passion Week) and the last week (during Holy Week) of His life on earth.

We can feel the hatred of Christ’s enemies growing day by day. On Good Friday we shall witness once more the most frightening of all happenings, foretold by the prophets and even by Our Lord Himself, the bloody drama of Calvary.

The purpose of Passiontide is to call to our memory the persecutions of which Our Lord was the object during His public life and especially toward the end. If Septuagesima season acts as a remote preparation for Easter, and Lent the proximate one, the last two weeks of Passiontide are the immediate preparation.


When the children were still very small, I said to them on the way to church on a Passion Sunday morning, “Now watch and tell me what is different today in church!” On the way home they said eagerly that the statues and crosses on the altars were covered with violet cloth.

“And why don’t we do it at home, Mother? Shouldn’t we cover the crucifix and statues in the living room and in our bedrooms, too?”

As I had no good reason to offer against it, we bought a few yards of violet cloth the next day and did at home what we had seen in church. In the following years we were ready for the covering ceremony on Saturday before Passion Sunday.

The older ones among the children also had noticed that the prayers at the foot of the altar were much shorter and that there was no “Gloria Patri” after the Introit and the Lavabo.

To let the children watch for such changes in the liturgy makes them much more eager than if they are told everything in advance.

Promptly, when we came in our evening prayers to the “Gloria Patri,” a warning, hissing “Sssh” from the children’s side made us aware that “Gloria Patri,” even if only in family prayers, should be omitted for these holy days of mourning.

I am sure it would be the case in every family, as it was in ours, that the children are the ones who most eagerly want to carry into the home as much of holy liturgy as they possibly can.

For instance, when I answered their question as to how the ashes are obtained which are to be blessed on Ash Wednesday, telling them that the blessed palms from the previous Palm Sunday are burned, they asked a most logical question “But, Mother, if you burn a blessed object, aren’t the ashes already blessed? And if so, shouldn’t we burn all the blessed palms around the place too and sprinkle the ashes over the garden?” And so we did!

After we had established this as a firm family custom, I read that this is done in many places in the Austrian Alps, only there the people strew the ashes not over the garden but over the fields.


Then comes the week which is called in the missal “Hebdomada Major”–our “Holy Week” in which we accompany Our Lord day by day through the last week of His life, as it is told in the Gospels. First we join Him in His triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

As soon as the Church had been freed by the Emperor Constantine in the fourth century, the Christians began to celebrate Palm Sunday in a very dramatic way in Jerusalem.

On the very spot where it had happened, the holy texts were read: “Rejoice, daughter of Sion, behold Thy King will come to thee….”

The crowd spread their garments on the ground, crying aloud, “Blessed be the King Who cometh in the Name of the Lord.” The bishop, mounted on an ass, would ride up to the church on the Mount of Olives, surrounded by a multitude carrying palms and singing hymns and joyful anthems.

From Jerusalem this re-enactment of Christ’s solemn entry into His holy city came to Rome, where the Church soon adopted the same practice. The ceremony, however, was preceded by the solemn reading of the passage from Holy Scriptures relating the flight from Egypt, thus reminding Christ’s people that Christ, the new Moses, in giving them the real manna, is delivering them out of the Egypt of sin and nourishing them in the Eucharist.

Around the ninth century the Church added a new rite. The palms, which the people would hold in their hands when they accompanied their bishop, were solemnly blessed.

We have already witnessed several of these specially solemn blessings, on Epiphany, on Candlemas Day, on Ash Wednesday. Again these texts are so rich in beautiful thoughts for meditation that families should read them together–not only read them, but read them prayerfully.

From Rome the idea to re-enact Our Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem spread all over the Christian world. In medieval times the faithful and the clergy met at a chapel or a wayside shrine outside of town where the palms were blessed, and from there moved in a solemn procession to the cathedral.

Our Lord was represented either by the bishop riding on an ass or, in some places, by the Blessed Sacrament carried by the king or, in other places, by a crucifix carried ahead. In some Austrian villages the figure of Christ sitting on an ass, carved in wood, is carried.

The Christian people had an unerring instinct for the efficacy of those solemnly blessed sacramentals, and just as they carried home Epiphany water and holy candles, they also would bring home with them blessed palms.

In the old country this was quite an elaborate function of “the liturgy in the home.” As we did not have real palms growing in Austria, we used evergreens and pussy willows, which at that time were the first children of spring.

Like all other Austrian families living in the country, we made as many little bouquets as there were divisions on our grounds–one for the vegetable garden, one for the orchard, one for the flower garden, one for each pasture, and one for each field. Each of these little bouquets was fastened to a stick about three feet high.

Besides, there were many single twigs of pussy willow which would be placed behind pictures all around the house. These bouquets were gaily adorned with colored ribbons or dyed shavings from the carpenter shop.

The children carried them into the church and vied with each other, during the blessing, as to who held his stick highest to get most of the holy water sprinkled on it. Then bouquets were carried in a liturgical procession and afterwards were brought home.

In the afternoon the whole family would follow the father throughout the house and all over the grounds and he would place in the middle of every lot one of those sticks carrying the blessed bouquets as a means of protecting his property against the influence of evil spirits, against the damage of hail storms and floods.

While the family would proceed from lot to lot, they would say the rosary. We would alternate between decades of the rosary and the chants of the day, “Pueri Hebraeorum” and “Gloria, laus et honor.” On

Easter Sunday the family would revisit these sticks, bringing along little bottles filled with Easter water (holy water blessed solemnly on Easter morning). These little bottles would be tied to sticks, thus adding another sacramental.

Quote from The Year and Our Children by Mary Reed Newland


“Your joy in your children should outweigh by far any disadvantages they may cause. In them you will find your own happiness.” – Rev. George A. Kelly, The Catholic Family Handbook. (afflink)


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The Mirror of True Womanhood

A very beautiful book, worthy of our attention. In it, you will find many pearls of wisdom for a woman striving to be the heart of the home, an inspiration to all who cross her path. You will be inspired to reconsider the importance of your role of wife and mother! Written by Rev. Bernard O’Reilly in 1894, the treasures found within its pages ring true and remain timeless…


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Self-Pity and the Cross


Those afflicted with self-pity have often debased the concept of “carrying the Cross.” They have made it a sniveling idea. Their sighs and tears and pietistic postures make it appear that they are being terribly put upon, and are bearing dreadful and unfair burdens with fantastic heroism. This sort of thing does indeed invite derision from scoffers like the communists, with their taunts about “pie in the sky” and about religion being the opium of the people.

This is a penalty which true religion has had to pay for its kindness and patience with the weakest and most self-centered of its adherents. And men – that is, men as distinguished from women – must accept a large part of the guilt for this distortion of the noble and manly idea of taking up one’s cross and carrying it courageously and cheerfully.

Far too many men have left religion to women and children; and what result could have been expected but that religion would come to appear feminine and sometimes almost childish? Women and children would not be women and children if they behaved like men. The fault is not theirs; the fault is men’s for not having been religiously manly.

The carrying of the cross, rightly understood, is the manliest idea in the world. In the final analysis, it is the only manly idea. No man is a real man who shirks crosses. But this does not mean that a man – or a woman or a child – should go around with up cast eyes like a plaster saint, making a great show of self-conscious patience under intolerable tribulations. The plain truth is that most of our tribulations are rather easily tolerable if only we will not magnify them out of all proportion with our own theatricals.

The trouble with far too many of us is that we go through life as if we were writing, producing, directing, starring in, and ourselves being the audience for a melodrama about ourselves.

Some people can make a Broadway production out of a headache and a Shakespearean tragedy out of a smashed fender on their automobile. They are victims of self-dramatization and of a frantic sentimentalism.

There are folks who will mourn the loss of a dog as if they had lost their immortal souls. These are the people who, as Chesterton remarked, spell the word dog backward. They make a dog their god; and if the dog dies, they behave as if the light had gone out of the sky and the future had turned to unrelieved despair.

To point this out is not being anti-dog or anti-anything. It is merely one of a thousand handy examples of the exaggeration of an ordinary sorrow into a thing too terrible to be borne.

There are women who will become unfit to live with for weeks if a vase is broken. There are men who are inconsolable if their alma mater loses a football game. There are people who smash what ought to be a happy marriage because the wife wants to sleep instead of getting up for breakfast, or because the husband prefers reading books to dancing.

We could multiply examples endlessly, but what we are talking about is those unfortunate human beings who have never outgrown being spoiled children, who have never learned to come to terms, realistically and good-naturedly, with life as life actually is.

The Christian concept of carrying the Cross is simply a nutshell description of an honest, mature and religious outlook on life. It is a simple fact that even the longest life is short. Even the most atrocious suffering must end. Even the most poignant sorrow is comparatively brief.

The truth is that life and everything in life are merely means to an end, to a purpose, to an achievement. And the achievement is nothing short of an eternity of such happiness as cannot possibly be described because it is far beyond the power of the human mind to realize or to imagine.

When facts like those are firmly grasped and profoundly understood by the soul, then you have a man who is a man, or a woman who is a woman. You have a person who can put everything in a right perspective. You have somebody who is prepared to carry any cross because he knows that he is walking toward a fulfillment that will make everything, in retrospect, seem small.

And this kind of person will not snivel over his crosses. He will not enlarge his crosses in his own mind until they tower like skyscrapers and increase in weight until they crush him.

The manliness, the magnificent manliness, of Christ is little appreciated. Christ knew from the instant of His conception what the climax of His life would be. He knew that his task was to live the most burdened life in all human history, and to die the most sorrowful death.

But never did Christ have one instant of self-pity or self-glorification. He went at the work of living and of redeeming in the way that a real football star goes about the labor of driving toward the goal posts for a touchdown.

The player can see his objective, and it is his objective that is ever uppermost in his mind. He is hardly aware of the bumps and bruises and weariness he endures on his way to the last stripe on the field. And that was the kind of manliness that Christ had.

Christ took up His cross because He had a job to do. He embraced it because it was the way to the eternal glory for which He had been born. And that is the attitude that each of us should have toward the crosses that come our way as the years pass.

Does one of your children die? Well, death is something for which each of us is born; it is a thing that is ever present in every life. What is really important is not the time of death, but the kind of death. Any good death at any time, any death in the love of God, is an everlasting triumph.

Of course you sorrow if a child dies; but you do not, if you are a grownup Christian man or woman, elevate your sorrow into a religion forevermore. You do not make your sorrow a kind of idol to be worshipped each day that you live.

You take up the cross, you carry it manfully, and by your courage and cheerfulness you make it smaller and smaller until it is very light. After all, each passing day, if you have the true view of life, brings you closer to the endless reunion with your child in unthinkable happiness.

It is properly the task of men to make religion a thoroughly manly thing. Oh, religion is womanly, too, and it is childlike. True religion is universal; it embraces every one.

But religion is not what it ought to be unless it is manful also; unless it is firmly embraced and profoundly encompassed by real men who see life honestly and see it whole, and refuse to shrink from it or run away.

Carrying the cross, truly, is nothing else than living bravely with the right motives and the right kind of love of God and fellowmen.


A good Catholic woman learns quickly that to love is to hurt….They go hand in hand. Her life is spent spreading love and gathering crosses. And when God allows her sufferings she understands it is not to do her harm but to gather her into His arms.


Great reading suggestions on My Book List….




Natural and Supernatural Virtues (And the Winner Is….)

This is an excerpt taken from a treasure of a book published in 1924 called The Catholic Teacher’s Companion – A Book of Inspiration and Self-Help.

Our dear friend, Mary, passed away a year ago this month (it was a sad Lent) and eventually a couple of garage sales and then an auction was held to sell the things from her estate. Mary had a treasure trove of lovely Catholic finds….statues, books, pictures, etc. The money raised from these sales, Mary bequeathed to many Catholic charities…

I found and bought this particular leather-bound old book and am sharing some of it with you today. It spoke to me…as we are all teachers, whether it is of our own children, those around us or a teacher in an actual school.

It was originally written for teaching Sisters….


Even with the best of intentions and hardest of efforts, the teacher cannot expect to remove from her pupils all dangers temptations. Dangers to faith and morals surround them on all sides.

The best service that the teacher can render to her pupils in regard is to train their conscience so that will always have with them a trustworthy guide to warn and advise them in every situation.

Only by equipping them individually for dangers that they must face alone and individually, can she prepare them for the battles of the present age, that lacks so many of old-time safeguards of virtue and innocence.

The first requisite is that the pupils be imbued with a strong, living faith in the personal God.

They must learn to realize vividly and habitually that God reigns supreme, that we depend upon Him for all that we are and have, and that He is in supreme control of the most trifling event. They must be habituated to adjudge everything in accordance with the will of God, and hence they must be taught very carefully how they may and must distinguish between the good and the bad.


Blessings upon the teacher who succeeds in training her pupils to make a daily examination of conscience! But in making the examination of conscience the pupils must not be content with asking themselves about the sins committed during the day, but must make it a rule to ascertain the causes as well as the occasions of their sins.

Consequently they must ask themselves: Why is it that I lacked the strength to overcome this or that temptation? What should I have done to gain the strength needed to overcome the danger?

Instead of abusing her pupils for their faults and mistakes, the teacher should show them the causes of the failings and instruct them about removing these causes. In this way the children will learn to realize the danger in time, and thus be better able to avoid the danger.

But to instruct the children properly, the teacher must herself possess a well-trained conscience. A teacher with either a lax or a scrupulous conscience cannot train her pupils to have just the proper kind of tender conscience.


What the world needs urgently today for healing of its moral and social ills, is self-denial. The teacher has a further reason for training her pupils to acquire this virtue since it is essentially necessary for contented living.

If the teacher considers the dreadful increase crime, suicides, and venereal and mental diseases, she will realize that the school faces momentous task in equipping the child for the world, in which the temptations to self-indulgence are alarmingly on the increase.

Some school-men expect salvation from physical culture and sex hygiene, but the Christian ideal of education is vastly superior to the Spartan. A youth may be an athlete, and yet a moral coward.

The teacher must train the will of the child to desire only that which is pleasing to the Lord, and to shun all that is contrary to the will of God.

But such training is impossible without constant acts of self-denial. The teacher should closely observe her pupils so as to discover their inclinations for good or bad. She may often ponder on Herbart’s warning: “The smallest fault may grow large through habit, and the smallest desire if unchecked may grow into an overwhelming passion.”

Fortunate the pupil whose teacher is wont, in the moment of struggle, to encourage him with the words: “Force yourself, child, force yourself.” Such a word of encouragement suggests to the child that victory is possible, that he can overcome his laziness, his stubbornness, his selfishness, and thus trains him to habits of self-denial—the safeguard of righteousness.

The order and discipline of the school will break the self-will of the child and incline his will toward the good. Obedience demands self-control, but is self-denial only when rendered willingly.

The teacher must make it plain to the child that he can do what he earnestly wills to do. She may say to him: You can be attentive; you can pray devoutly if only you will make up your mind earnestly to that effect: given this good will, you must concentrate your mind, control your wayward fancies, guard your eyes, and put away distractions.

The School Sister may be encouraged in these efforts by considering Cardinal Newman’s eloquent exposition of the power of the will:

Why is it that we, in the very kingdom of grace, surrounded by angels, and preceded by saints, nevertheless can do so little, and instead of mounting with wings like eagles, grovel in the dust, and do but sin and confess sin alternately?

Is it that the power of God is not within us? Is it literally that we are not able to perform God’s commandments? God, forbid! We are able.

We have that given us which makes us able. We are not in a state of nature. We have had the gift of grace implanted in us. We have a power within us to do what we are commanded to do.

What is it we lack? The power? No; the will. What we lack is the real, simple, earnest, sincere inclination and aim to use what God has given us, and what we have in us.

I say, our experience tells us this. It is no matter of mere doctrine, much less a matter of words, but of things; a very practical plain matter.

When a man complains that he is under the dominion of a bad habit, let him seriously ask himself whether he has ever willed to get rid of it. Can he, with a simple mind, say in God’s sight, “I wish it removed?”

A man, for instance, cannot attend to his prayers! His mind wanders; other thoughts intrude; time after time passes, and it is the same.

Shall we say, this arises from want of power? Of course it may be so; but before he says so, let him consider whether he has ever aroused himself, shaken himself, awakened himself, got himself to will, if I may say so, attention.

We know the feeling in unpleasant dreams, when we say to ourselves, “This is a dream,” and yet cannot exert ourselves to will to be free from it; and how at length by an effort we will to move, and the spell at once is broken; we wake.

So it is with sloth and indolence; the Evil One lies heavy on us, but he has no power over us except in our unwillingness to get rid of him. He cannot battle with us; he flies; he can do no more, as soon as we propose to fight with him.

There is a famous instance of a holy man of old time, who, before his conversion, felt indeed the excellence of purity, but could not get himself to say more in prayer than “Give me chastity, but not yet.”

I would have every one carefully consider whether he has ever found God fail him in trial, when his own heart had not failed him; and whether he has not found strength greater and greater given him according to his day; whether he has not gained clear proof on trial that he has a Divine power lodged within him, and a certain conviction withal that he has not made the extreme trial of it, or reached its limits.

Grace ever outstrips prayer. Abraham ceased interceding ere God stayed from granting. Joash smote upon the ground but thrice, when he might have gained five victories or six. All have the gift, many do not use it all, none expend it. One wraps it in a napkin, another gains five pounds, another ten.

It will bear thirty-fold, or sixty, or a hundred. We know not what we are, or might be. As the seed has a tree within it, so men have within them angels.

More willpower is the need of the hour. Without self-denial there can be no persistent diligence, no serious study. Real progress is out of the question if the schoolroom is turned into a playroom.

The pupil must learn by precept and practice that no virtue is possible without self-denial, and must be trained to regard his favorite fault as his greatest enemy and one that must be conquered at all costs.

The pupil must learn even in his early years that it is cowardly and disgraceful to give way to temptation, and that it is a high honor to oppose it, and to gain the victory over one’s lower nature.

If  he will habituate himself to practice self-denial for the love of God, he will not find it too difficult to overcome sinful curiosity, to control his moodishness, his anger, stubbornness, greed, and envy.

He will learn to be obliging, to love work, to rise promptly in the morning, to be agreeable in play, and so forth.

It is not difficult to induce children to practice small acts of self-denial, for after each such act they have the sweet reward of the approval of their conscience—a token that God rewards each act with new graces and new strength.

“Who shall blame a child whose soul turns eagerly to the noise and distraction of worldliness, if his parents have failed to show him that love and peace and beauty are found only in God?” – Mary Reed Newland, (afflink)

Thank you, once again, for all your kind and encouraging comments on the Giveaway post! And now….


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Lent Lessons for Your Children….


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In The Year and Our Children, Mary Reed Newland talks about teaching our children valuable lessons during the grace-filled time of Lent.

One practice she did with her own children is the Lima Beans for sacrifices. The beginning of Lent each child had their own pile of different colored lima beans (they had colored themselves) so they could differentiate from each other’s lima beans. Every time a sacrifice was made they could put one of their own lima beans in the jar. When Easter came the number of lima beans was rewarded accordingly.

A sweet practice that would be fondly remembered by the kids as they grew into adulthood….

Some of her own thoughts as they journeyed through Lent:

The meditations for the Stations of the Cross are most fruitful if they relate to daily life some trial we are struggling with now.

For example, our Lord’s silence when He was condemned to death, when He was tormented by the soldiers, or when He fell under the weight of the Cross – this can be related to that commonplace of childhood: bickering.

Bickering is a form of verbal cannibalism.Usual situation - two brothers in conflict. Focus on front boy

The one who holds out longer with his pecking at another is victor, having reduced the victim to tears, goaded him to losing his temper, striking, or some other form of retaliation, which is all reported as an unprovoked injustice as follows:

“But I didn’t do anything. Nothing. I just said . .

“I just said” is himself far more culpable, usually, than the poor soul he has goaded beyond endurance.

There is no real remedy for this but silence on the part of victims.

Abstinence from it on the part of attackers is the perfect solution, of course, but if someone does start, silence will stop him.

This, however, is awfully hard on the one who is silent, because this is how bickering goes (as if you didn’t know):

“You pig. You took the biggest.”

“I did not, and I’m not a pig.”

“You are too.”

“I am not.”

“You are too. Pig!”

“I am not a pig. I’m not. I’m not a pig I’m not a pig I’m not a pig!”

“You are too. You are a pig you are a pig you are a pig.”

“I’m not I’m not I’m not.”

“You are you are you are.”

This could go on for an hour if Mother didn’t begin to froth at the mouth. Whereas the silent treatment winds up the conversation (if you can call it that) as follows:

“You pig. You took the biggest.”

“I did not. And I’m not a pig.”

“You are too.”

Silence. In other words, you are a Pig.

O cruel silence …

But children well understand that no one is really a pig; this is only a game to see who can make the other lose his temper first.

It is ugly and mean; and the winner is usually the older child because he knows the extent of the younger’s endurance.

Out of his own store of unavenged wrongs, he chooses this way to refresh a bruised ego. If we have taught them what our Lord said must be the very basis for our behavior, we have the point of departure.

“Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to me.”

Learning this, we know what we must know in order to put meditations on the Passion together with events out of daily life and discover how to use them.

Then we can see – and children can see it – that to provoke a brother or a sister is to provoke Christ; to be silent under provocation is to be silent with Christ.

It is not good to make such accusations while saying the Stations, but rather to connect the meditations with these real problems (names of particular children omitted), and return to the principles when we are on the scene of abuses that we must correct.

“You are teasing Christ when you tease your brother. It is the same. Whatsoever you do…” He said.

You torment him just for the fun of it the way the soldiers tormented our Lord.

Yet you really love him, as you really love our Lord.

Keep these things in the front of your mind during Lent, and try to bite your tongue when you are tempted to unkindness.

Each time you keep from saying something unkind, it is a triumph of grace, and our Lord will strengthen you with grace for the next time.

There are powerful graces coming to us during Lent, and we must try to use them to rid ourselves of our faults so that on Easter we can be free of them, like the newly baptized are free of Original Sin.

Impossible? Not really, although it will probably take a lifetime to do it. But it is the goal, and especially during Lent it is the spirit of the preparation: to be as those newborn, on Easter morning.

If we are spectators to such a moral victory, we must be sure to congratulate the hero. “Darling, I heard N. today when he called you a pig and tried to make you angry. It was wonderful, the way you didn’t answer back and only walked away.

You used silence the way our Lord used it, the way He wants you to use it. When you are silent in union with Him, you are growing in the likeness of Christ.”

When Dominic Savio was silent before an unjust accusation, he shamed the other boys into admitting their guilt.

This is often the effect of heroic efforts to reach out to Christ and bear hurts with Him. Grace is the invisible ingredient in all these struggles for perfection.

For every honest effort, one may put a bean in the jar. There are beans for all kinds of things: no desserts, no jumping for the telephone (a genius in our midst suggested this to eliminate violent jostling, wrestling, racing, leaping, and tugging – an excruciating discipline); no complaining about anything; doing chores promptly; no weekly penny for candy, and many more, including that magnificent and most glorious of all: coming when called.

All who do this are known as St. Theresas.

Actually, when you scan the long list of them, they amount to what spiritual directors call the “interior mortifications.”

Our mantel is bare this season except for the two candelabra with their twelve candles and the crucifix between them. Even the bread and the baking speak to us of Lent. Crosses of seeds decorate the bread (because when you see the seeds, you remember about “die so you may live”), and on biscuit crusts and meat pies, symbols of the Passion are cut.

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“This art of housekeeping is not learned in a day; those of us who have been engaged in it for years are constantly finding out how little we know, and how far we are, after all, from perfection. It requires a clever woman to keep house; and as I said before there is ample scope, even within the four walls of a house (a sphere which some affect to despise), for the exercise of originality, organizing power, administrative ability. And to the majority of women I would fain believe it is the most interesting and satisfactory of all feminine occupations.” –Annie S. Swan  Courtship and Marriage And the Gentle Art of Home-Making (afflink)

Meet Agnes, a fourteen-year-old Catholic girl, who is challenged to make a sacrifice. Will she cheerfully accept what she knows is God’s will in this situation? Your kids will enjoy this book and it will be one of those “helps” along the way that sweetly instills Catholic culture in your children!

We often don’t realize the impact of those lessons, those Catholic lessons, that are taught each day to our children. It is so much worth the effort! The signs of the cross, kneeling to say prayers, dipping fingers in holy water, laying fresh flowers at the statue of Our Lady, etc., etc. These are gold nuggets that will live on in your children’s lives. This is building Catholic Culture!
These stories are to help you parents with those little things…..They are story books from my new little series, “Catholic Hearth Stories”. I wrote them especially for my grandchildren….and am sharing them with yours.

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

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

Available here.

All 4 Catholic Hearth Stories available here.

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Teach Your Child to Love Obedience


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From How to Raise Good Catholic Children by Mary Reed Newland

Obedience is another problem that demands honesty from parents as well as from children. It’s practically impossible to explain obedience to a very small child. He has to learn it through restrictions and moderate punishments.

But along about four (and a wild age it is), he’s capable of considering obedience as a real, although intangible, virtue.

The ideal way of introducing him to the idea of obedience is the story of the Boy Christ in the Temple. It’s perfect because it was an occasion when Jesus was not doing something that was wrong, but something contrary to the wishes of Mary and Joseph.

Then, if we relate it to the Fourth Commandment, “Honor thy father and thy mother,” we can show him how, even to Jesus, who was God, the commandment applied. His perfect obedience in returning to Nazareth to be “subject to them”  is something to ponder, and we can tell the story in terms of their own lives — deciding what chores He probably helped with, what His town was like, His routine (like ours) of work, meals, prayer, play, and rest.

And when we read St. Luke’s words, “And Jesus advanced in wisdom, and age, and grace, with God and men,” we can help them to see that obedience is not just rules to obey, but the way to wisdom and grace.

Like everything else, however, it has to be repeated and repeated.

One of the big troubles is that we’re always demanding obedience now and not then. Our own inconsistency is often more confusing and blameworthy than children’s willfulness, and if we are entirely honest, we have to admit that many times we abuse obedience by demanding it in things where it is not entirely reasonable.

It’s good to remember why we want them to be obedient. We’re used to thinking of it in terms of living in a society where there are laws to be respected, with obedience at home as training for obedience in the world.

But we don’t really want to teach them these things just so that they will stay out of jail! We want them to love obedience, because in obedience to duly constituted authority, they’re obeying God, from whom comes all authority.

And obedience in all things is the way to peace. It’s one of the least understood of all the virtues (especially in adult life), one of the least loved, and I think it’s the most beautiful — because it covers everything, and perfect obedience can grow only out of love.

When our children are in a nice, quiet mood and we’re talking about things in general and get around to saints, one of the things they love most to hear is how St. Thérèse loved obedience so perfectly that if she were writing when the bell rang, she would put her pen down and go, not even stopping to dot an i.

And for a while — say, a few hours — we have utterly lovely obedience in our house because everyone is imitating Thérèse.

Obedience is not usually so lovely, however. It’s dull, no fun, and very, very hard. This is as it should be. We aren’t going to grow strong by doing things that are easy.

So we can remind children that even Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane, wept and sweat blood at the thought of the obedience asked of Him. And He asked His Father to take away the hard thing He was supposed to do. But then He said, “Not my will, but Thine,” because more than all other things, He loved doing the will of His Father.

Later, when the story of His Passion and death was written in the Gospels, it was written: “He was obedient unto the end.”

So if there has been disobedience, there must be a punishment, and like the Lord High Executioner, we must try to make the punishment fit the crime.

Depriving children of privileges is about the best way, because it gives them time to reflect about what they might have been doing if they hadn’t been disobedient. And when it’s time to punish, there must be the understanding that the punishment is retribution made to God as well as to parents.

It helps to have it explained. “You see, dear, mothers and fathers have to be obedient to God’s will, too. It would be easier, sometimes, to let you do what you want. Much more pleasant for you and less trouble for us. But God has given you to us for a while on earth, and because He wants you to be a saint, we must try to teach you all the things that will help you be a saint. Obedience is one of them.

When you’re big, you’ll have people you’ll have to teach — maybe children, maybe other grown-ups. How will you teach them obedience if you don’t know what it is yourself? How will we ever be saints if we are disobedient?

“Every time you obey, it makes it that much easier to obey the next time, because your soul is forming the habit and you’re using the graces God sends to help you with obedience. You can learn to love obedience if only you will work at it and pray about it.

Remember the obedience of our Lord when He was only twelve, quite near your own age. Pray to Him, and ask Him to help you. He can teach you to love obedience.”

Our John is much given to lamenting in the middle of a punishment, “Now things aren’t nice anymore. Everything’s spoiled.”

Precisely. It started with Original Sin, and everything but everything, was spoiled, beginning with man’s sanctifying grace all the way through the order in nature.

Disobedience has only one function: to spoil everything. There is a difference between disobedience and “not paying attention,” and it’s very easy to fall into this trap and hand out punishment when it really isn’t due.

Disobedience is a form of rebellion. Not paying attention is a very human weakness (which, I grant you, needs correction, but doesn’t belong in this class).

There is a story told of Susanna Wesley that helps us remember this. She had asked one of her many children again and again to do something, and the child, absorbed in something else, failed to do it. When she asked again, her husband said to her, “Susanna, I have heard you ask that child to do that nineteen times already. How is it you have the patience to ask him the twentieth?”

And she replied, “But at last he has done it; so you see, if I had not asked the nineteen times, he would not have done it the twentieth.”

It takes that discernment to tell the difference between disobedience and inattention, and that kind of patience. No wonder Susanna Wesley was famous for being a good mother.

Then there are temper tantrums. Not all children have them, although all lose their tempers from time to time.

What we’re concerned with here is children given to consistent displays of temper (a subject on which I’m an authority). Many times a temper tantrum is just another way of trying to obtain attention, and for the very young, the best method is to ignore them. Usually leaving them alone to carry on without an audience is more effective than trying to reason.

But if it continues (and there are children who come dangerously close to harming themselves in a fit of temper, banging their heads on the floor, and so forth), a firm hand is called for.

“If you want your husband to trust you with his heart as he once did, it’s important to practice self-control, hold your tongue, and replace criticism with kindness. Listen when he talks and make an effort to show him respect.” -Darlene Schacht
“The truth is, the less you communicate your complaints, negative thoughts, and criticisms to your husband, the better your intimacy will be, and the stronger your marriage.” – Laura Doyle

Thank you, Thank you for all the kind and encouraging words on my Giveaway post. Please know it is very much appreciated! ❤

Finer Femininity Giveaway!

Don’t forget to sign up for the Giveaway by making a comment on this post.

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Finer Femininity is a small publication compiled to inspire Catholic women in their vocations. It consists of uplifting articles from authors with traditional values, with many of them from priests, written over 50 years ago. These anecdotes are timeless but, with the fast-paced “progress “of today’s world, the pearls within the articles are rarely meditated upon. This little magazine offers Catholic womankind support and inspiration as they travel that oftentimes lonely trail….the narrow road to heaven. The thoughts within the pages will enlighten us to regard the frequently monotonous path of our “daily duties” as the beautiful road to sanctity. Feminine souls need this kind of information to continue to “fight the good fight” in a world that has opposing values and seldom offers any kind of support to these courageous women. Inside the pages you will find inspiration for your roles as single women, as wives and as mothers. In between the thought-provoking articles, the pages are sprinkled with pictures, quotes and maybe even a recipe or two.


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Chaperones Again? – Fr. Daniel A. Lord



Chaperones Again? Fr. Daniel A. Lord, 1950’s

“What are you trying to do, Father? Re-establish the chaperone idea?” said Sue.

“Gosh,” groaned Dick, “I can’t see it! Me taking a girl out with a spinster aunt trailing along behind us?”

“This isn’t Spain of the seventeenth century.”

“You might as well bring back swords and flowing cloaks.”

Father Hall’s clear, honest laughter relieved the tension.

“You know me well enough,” he said “to be sure that I’m not trying to thrust anything – chaperone, duenna, swords, flowing cloaks – on either of you. But I’m willing to make the two of you a little bet, which unfortunately I may not live to collect. I’ll bet that you put some kind of chaperonage back when you, Sue, are a mother, and you, Dick, are a father.”

When You Have Children

They looked at him, half in doubt, half in agreement.

“You see, you are going to remember the temptations that you saw unchaperoned youth encounter. You’re going to think of the dangers you yourselves ran. You’re going to recall how your contemporaries, boys and girls from good homes with fine family traditions, went more than a little wild when they were turned loose and had nothing to protect them but their honor and their common sense.

The result of all this recalling is going to be – or I miss my guess and lose my bet – that you’ll decide not to let your beloved sons and daughters run risks like those your contemporaries ran.

Here’s a very modern young man who thinks that it’s quite all right conveniently to run out of gas on the top of a shady hill. In a few years he marries. Many years later his charming daughter is at the dating age. A young man comes calling in a coupe. What do you want to bet that dad will think a couple of times before he allows daughter to go off with the young man – alone?

Here’s a very modern young woman who has had to suffer being bothered by some slightly rough youth who just can’t keep his hands where they belong. In time she marries and has a fine young boy. Comes the day when the boy wants to take a girl out on a picnic – alone.

I’ll be willing to double my former bet that the mother does a lot of thinking before she says, ‘Perfectly all right, my dear.’”

Trust, But —

“I have never conducted anything for young people – parties, conventions, outings, pilgrimages – without providing most careful supervision. That’s because I remember the temptations of youth. That’s because I love youth.

I can honestly say that the supervision I have provided has never been even slightly obtrusive or annoying. I know that it has never cut down anyone’s legitimate fun the least bit.

The fact is that I love youth, you young people, too much to increase your problems in life by placing you where temptation might be easy and its gratification simple.

And though we have, in the main, taken you youngsters at your word and trusted you, I wonder how far you will trust your own children, since you know what you know of the general trustworthiness of your associates.”

Neither Dick nor Sue spoke. Dick was concentrating elaborately on a large block of chocolate cake that needed undivided attention. Sue was diligently stirring a cup of chocolate, in which the sugar had long since dissolved beyond any further need of rotary motion.

Your Pledged Word

“Then the answer is chaperones?” Sue said, at last, in a question.

“As you yourselves will probably solve it later, yes. Though don’t get me wrong about that. I’m not thinking about a gaunt female with a mantilla over her head and a look on her face that would sour milk.

But that’s not the immediate question. I’m thinking less of chaperones and duennas than of you.

You young people made us promises. How have you kept them? You were proud to believe. Are those things true? We fulfilled our part of the bargain.

We said, ‘All right, then; you’re trustworthy, all of you. We can count on you boys to protect the girls. We can be sure that you girls will set high ideals for the young men you go with. We hereby abolish the chaperone.’

We did our part. So what?

Well, if I were a young person. I should consider myself bound by an implicit contract. If in a war a gentleman officer who is a prisoner gives his word not to try to escape, his guards are removed; he would consider it the most frightful breach of honor to try to escape.

Any honorable person who is party to a contract breaks his neck if it is necessary to fulfil his part of the agreement.

It’s Up to You

“Well, we accepted your words; we told you that we had faith in you, and we settled back to watch all of you make good. Shouldn’t you be ashamed of yourselves if you fall short of our faith? And shouldn’t you consider that young man or woman who failed a real traitor to youth?

I hate to think that the graceful, beautiful figure of the chaperone has disappeared from our parties and receptions. Let’s hope that you’ll have sense enough to be glad when some older person is willing to be with you when you are having a good time.

But it seems to me that on the unchaperoned occasions which constitute most of your social life right now the whole problem is on your shoulders.

You said that you young men were chivalrous. Fine. Then make good.

You said that you young women were pure and decent and knew how to take care of yourselves. Splendid. But do more than just say these things; prove them.

You said with all the emphasis of youthful honesty that you didn’t need anybody to watch you, that you could be good and could stay good on your own. That’s a large order. You had better be doing all you can to prove that you are not liars or the worst type of self-deceivers.

Not Fooling Us

“You see, while we oldsters are a trustful lot, we’re not blind. And when you think you’re fooling us, the plain fact is that you are fooling yourselves.

The young man who says, ‘I don’t need any chaperone,’ when he really means, ‘I don’t want to be annoyed with having to look out for a chaperone,’ isn’t fooling us. We know why he dislikes chaperones. And you know why, too.

The young woman who says, ‘Chaperones are obsolete – we girls know how to take care of ourselves’ – may be telling the truth. I’d like to think that she is.

If what she really means is, ‘Chaperones are a nuisance – we would get into hot water if one of them saw what we are doing,’ it doesn’t take us long to catch on. She’s kidding only herself.

But the result is that a lot of decent young men and pure young women who probably don’t need chaperones to watch over them are going to suffer for the scamps who use the absence of a chaperone to get away with murder.

The whole mass of young people must bear the reputation of the liars and the treaty breakers, who have used the repeal of the chaperone as a repeal of the laws of common decency and human safety.

When It’s Your Turn

“Some day when you, Sue, are a mother and you, Dick, are a father, and your youngsters sally forth into the darkness, you’ll follow them with yearning heart and the winged angels of prayer.

If the chaperone hasn’t been reinstated by that time, you’ll do your share of worrying, too. That will be a bit of the balancing of accounts with your mother and your dad, who worry about you out of their deep love for you.”

This is my own repost about chaperones. Before some may jump all over it, I do realize this is much out-of-vogue and not for everyone. Also, circumstances may not allow. Our oldest son was working at a monastery when he met his future wife. Their courtship was away from us. There were times they couldn’t get a chaperone and did without…

In the past year, I saw a post on Facebook, with many people agreeing, how damaging chaperoning can be. All I can say, is good thing I didn’t read it before we tried it!

And I do think it has to be done with the right attitude. Kindness, joy and a spirit of love means a lot. Not seeing sin in every corner….but, all around, that everyone knows  it is ultimately done for the good of the couple.

That being said…It has worked wonderfully for our family (though it can be very inconvenient on both sides).

Courtship is a precious and precarious time.DSC_0105

There is one thing that we have done in our home that has paid great dividends. I know that everyone has their own dynamics in their home. But we started this at the beginning of our first child’s courtship season and have found it to be very beneficial. It’s called “chaperoning“.

Now, this may seem a somewhat antiquated approach. We don’t mind that. We have tested the waters and after marrying 5 (6 since this was written) of our children off, we know of the benefits.

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The married children will attest to it, too, and appreciate, in hindsight, all the effort put into having a little kid brother and sister with them. It has kept them from temptations and helped them to focus on the important things….like getting to know one another!

Don’t get us wrong. They have time to talk and get to know one another. But it is usually in our home while the family is doing other things. The couple will sit outside on the swing, or sit and talk on the couch. We are not breathing down their necks.sep 027 But if they decide to go for a walk, or want to go to dinner…..they will have someone tagging along… (not necessarily right with them)!

They use the phone, too, to talk and get to know one another.

It can get pretty annoying, I am sure. And I let the couples know that it is annoying to the chaperone, too, so it goes both ways and not to complain! But in general, it is accepted and they do not murmur! In fact, they are very grateful and know that it is a big effort on everyone’s part to ensure the purity and beauty of their courtship period.November 2012 in MO 189

Devin and Theresa chatau 071

And when they walk away from that wedding, hand in hand, with no little kid tagging along, they are one happy couple!!!!

Colin & Z's Wedding Pics 506

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“True love gives strength of character and assists in the acquisition of self-control. It never takes advantage of another for the sake of personal gratification. To preserve bodily integrity before marriage, a young man must also possess some knowledge of women. Good and pure-minded women inspire respect and make the task of a young man easy, for he will have no difficulty in keeping the right distance.” – Father Lovasik, Clean Love in Courtship (afflink)

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Little Crosses+++ Rev. Daniel Considine, S.J.


Little Crosses – Fr. Considine, 1950’s

Suffering which comes to us from God is best; and that comes to us through our circumstances, our surroundings, ourselves, and those we live with: these come from God, being permitted by Him. They are the warp and woof of our spiritual life.

Some big thing may come to us on Monday or Tuesday,and we say, ‘Oh, I took that very well, I am getting on,’ but what about Wednesday, and Thursday, and the rest of the week?

The spiritual life is a growth: we don’t grow on odd days. If you want to become solidly virtuous, your life from moment to moment gives you occasions of bearing lovingly for God’s sake any amount of suffering.

People forget to sanctify the daily little crosses of life; they must be big and marked with a red cross, that we may recognize they come from God. But we can’t get away from these little crosses and mortifications, they are woven into our life-a clear sign they come from God.

Someone slights you, or speaks unkindly of you, and you get over it in a week, and think yourself very virtuous: God wants you so to overcome your pride that you should not be affected by it at all.

Do we receive crosses as a great deal less than we deserve? Do we take them in a spirit of resignation, and a sense of their justice? Shouldn’t we eliminate a good many altogether if we did this?

Our limitations, of nature, position, intellectual gifts, are very real mortifications and crosses; but if we have some realization of what we have deserved for our sins, we shan’t be lost in admiration of our patience, but we shall accept them quite naturally, and bear them as brightly and cheerfully as we can.

There is nothing so good for the education of character as having something to bear. It brings out all that is best in us. If I have all I can desire, excellent food and lodging, and no cares and anxieties, what is there to try my temper? What is there to admire in me, if I am amiable and cheerful under these circumstances?

We admire those who, in spite of difficulties, bear their burdens cheerfully and unselfishly, thinking of others’ sorrows rather than their own.

How then shall we carry out what we believe of the value of suffering into our daily life, and let it, as it ought, bring out what is great and noble in our characters? We must have a harder ideal, and profit by the difficulties of life.

Wouldn’t it be well to act upon what we acknowledge in theory to be excellent? Our good God desires us to have happiness in His service. Often you will see that the heavier the cross, the lighter is the step, and the more cheerful the countenance with which it is borne.

Why let yourself be so easily disturbed? What are you worrying about?

You are not living with saints and angels, you are not one yourself. It is a blessing to be rid of the crosses coming from my own fault, but those that God sends, accept them gladly. God allows natural laws to create difficulties, and then helps us to overcome them.

Have absolute confidence in God.



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


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Jesus is Condemned…The Family and the Cross

Painting by Norman Rockwell

by Joseph A. Breig, 1950’s

Each of us is condemned to death. Let’s face it. There is no use in being afraid of facts. We may turn our backs, but the facts won’t go away. The sensible thing, the honest thing, and in the long run by far the pleasantest thing, is to see life clearly as it really is, to accept its conditions, and then to make the most of it.

Every parent, it seems to me, ought to make the effort of profoundly realizing that the moment a child is born, the child starts to grow away from its father and mother. The child, indeed, begins to die, even in the instant that it begins to live. By honest facing of such realities, we can make realities serve us, make them stimulate us rather than terrifying us into inaction-or wrong action.

It is simply a fact of family life that children are made to serve God, not to serve parents. And parents are made to serve God, not to serve children. These are happy facts; not unhappy facts. And understand, I am only trying to get the emphasis right, because it is the emphasis that is at the root of all happiness, and all true success.

Much of every child’s service of God will consist in being good to his parents. And much of each parent’s service of God will consist in being good to the children. But as I said, the emphasis must be right, because if it isn’t, we will all harm one another instead of helping one another.

Dreadful damage is done to children by parents who act on the unspoken assumption that children exist to serve parental comfort or parental ambitions. And dreadful damage is done to children who are allowed to grow up supposing that their parents exist to serve them. Corrosive family unhappiness is rooted in such errors.

We must get clear in our heads and hearts, from the beginning, that if God sends us a child, he sends us someone who is made to serve Him- to take up his cross and follow Christ. We ought not to shy away from that word…cross. God sends no cross that we cannot carry; and most of our crosses are small ones. The point is to trust Christ and follow Him; He will not let our backs be broken.

Now if you will face honestly the facts about your own destiny, then almost automatically you will rear your children to face honestly and bravely the facts about theirs. And if you do that, you will have prepared your children properly for life-for this life and life everlasting.

There is no sense in concealing from ourselves and our little ones that we are condemned to death by Adam’s sin; that the central fact of life is death, and that the life that achieves a good death is the only life worth the living, the only life that is successful.

Nor should we try to evade the fact that although we are condemned by inheritance to physical death, there is a truly terrible and hideously permanent death to which we can condemn ourselves-and to which nobody else can condemn us: the death of the soul.

Once we have faced those realities, there is nothing else that we need fear overmuch. Other condemnations, certainly, will come upon us. Pilate was a figure of the compromising and vacillating world. He was the incarnation of the timeserving of the world, as Christ was the incarnation of God who is infinitely just and good. God and the world faced each other in Christ and Pilate.

There will be Pilates in our lives and the lives of our children.

Time-servers will counsel cowardice, and condemn us if we reject it. The world sometimes will wash its hands of us if we follow Christ. Let it wash.

God forbid that we should be the Pilate type of parent, teaching cheap Pilatetry to our boys and girls! No; what we want is not over-protected youngsters, but youth prepared to face up to life, to face it with Christ and as Christ faced it. We do not want a young man or a young woman clinging to us when duty calls; we want the kind who will take us by the hand firmly, say good-bye, let go, and turn away into destiny. And we want to be the kind of parents who proudly watch our children go.

The world will often wash its hands of brave and just men. But Christ came to redeem everyone, including Pilate. What we want in our family life is the courage to join Christ in His work of Redemption; to be undisturbed when the world washes its hands, and to go on working serenely for the salvation of the very world that rejects us.

Parents and children must go away from one another in order that they may be forever united. It is the task of the Christian parent to turn the eyes and hearts of youngsters to God. And when that is done, we shall find that they have really been turned to us. But if we sentimentally make our children our own conveniences instead of God’s servers, we shall discover to our horror that we have lost them entirely.

As I said, it is a matter of emphasis. But the emphasis makes a difference as wide as the gulf between heaven and hell. Christ allowed Pilate to condemn Him not only that He might die for our redemption, but also in order to teach us that all things-including a Son’s love for His Mother and a Mother’s love for her Son-must yield to duty-to the will of God.

We are all condemned to death, but only so that death can open for us the door of life. The heart of a parent is burdened when a child answers God’s call to marriage or to religious life-but only in order that the same heart may later be proudly lifted to inexpressible happiness. That is the thing about the will of God-it demands of us only in order to give, heaped up, pressed down and running over; because God is infinitely good and infinitely wise.

And this is the great truth that we must convey to our children, both by word and example but above all by example- that life calls for courage and loyalty and devotion, and that the world’s opinion is a small thing. If the world has a good opinion of us, let us smile it away; and if the world has a bad opinion, let us smile that away too. What matters is not the world’s opinion and its nervous swinging between defense of us and condemnation of us. What matters is not Pilate’s judgment but Christ’s friendship; and the family which realizes that, has discovered the deepest secret of happiness and success.

From How to Raise Good Catholic Children, Mary Reed Newland:


There will be lives only if there are mothers, mothers who respond to their essential and divine vocation. “Give me, O my God, the grace through respect for You and for Your work, always to have a devotion to and a respect for life.. Grant me also the grace to be in Your Hands a not too unworthy instrument of Your creative power. Let me be ‘up-to-date’ whenever it is a question of enrolling a new name in the Book of Life.” – Christ in the Home, Fr. Raoul Plus, S.J., 1950’s


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