Customs of Good Friday – Maria von Trapp

From Around the Year With the Trapp Family

On Good Friday Holy Mother Church gives her children a beautiful opportunity for a profession of faith: the adoration of the cross. Behind the priests and altar boys follows the whole congregation.
We remove our shoes when we go to adore the cross. Three times we prostrate ourselves as we come closer, until we finally bend over and kiss the feet of the crucified.
As we, the church choir, follow right behind the priest, we sing during the rest of the adoration. Our songs are the heartrendingly moving “Crux fidelis” by King John of Portugal, and Eberlin’s “Tenebrae factae sunt,” of such haunting beauty.

When the adoration of the cross is finished, the candles on the altar are lighted, the cross is most reverently taken up from the floor and placed on the altar, and a procession forms to get the Blessed Sacrament from the “Altar of Repose.”

During this procession the hymn “Vexilla Regis” is sung. And then follows a ceremony that is not a real Mass, although it is called the “Mass of the Pre-Sanctified.”
The priest consumes the Host that was consecrated the day before. On the anniversary of Our Lord’s death–the bloody sacrifice–the Church does not celebrate the symbol of the unbloody sacrifice.
After the official service is finished, the altar is stripped again. The tabernacle is left open, no vigil light burns in the sanctuary. But in front of the empty tabernacle lies the crucifix on the steps of the altar, and the people come all during the day for adoration.

In Austria another custom was added.

At the end of the official service the priest would carry the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance, covered with a transparent veil, and expose it on the side altar, where a replica of the Holy Sepulchre had been set up with more or less historical accuracy, with more or less taste, but always with the best of will.

Like the crèche around Christmas time, so the Holy Sepulchre on Good Friday would be an object of pride for every parish, one parish trying to outdo the other.
The people in Salzburg used to go around at Christmas time and in Holy Week to visit the Christ Child’s crib and the Holy Sepulchre in all thirty-five churches of the town, comparing and criticizing.
There would be literally hundreds of vigil lights surrounding the Body of Christ in the tomb of rock, which was almost hidden beneath masses of flowers.

There would be a guard of honor, not only of the soldiers, but also of firemen in uniform and of war veterans with picturesque plumed hats.
I still remember the atmosphere of holy awe stealing over my little heart when as a child I would make the rounds of churches. There in the Holy Sepulchre He would rest now, watched over by His faithful until Holy Saturday afternoon.

Here in America we have found another lovely custom: people going from church to church not on Good Friday but on Holy Thursday.
On that day, the churches are decorated with a profusion of flowers, as a sign of love and gratitude for the Holy Eucharist. The contrast with the bare churches the day after, on Good Friday, is all the more striking and gives a tremendous feeling of desolation.

Good Friday is a very quiet day with us.

There is little to do in the kitchen, since fasting is observed rigorously on this day.
We have no breakfast, and all that is served for lunch, on a bare table without tablecloth, is one pot of thick soup, “Einbrennsuppe,” which everyone eats standing up in silence. There is little noise around the house.

Talking is restricted to the bare essentials, as it would be if a dearly beloved was lying dead in the house.
As we are so privileged as to have a chapel in our house, we use the day when the holy house of God is empty and desolate to clean and polish all the sacred vessels and chalices and the ciborium, the monstrance, candlesticks, and censer.

The vigil light before the picture of the Blessed Mother in the living room is also extinguished, because on Good Friday Christ, the Light of the World, is dead.

From twelve until three, the hours of Our Lord’s agony on the cross, all activity stops. We sit together in the empty chapel before the cross and spend these hours in prayer, meditation, and spiritual reading. From time to time we rise and sing one or the other of the beautiful Lenten hymns and motets.

On Holy Saturday, a new stir of activity starts in the kitchen. Eggs are boiled in different pots containing various dyes–blue, green, purple, yellow, and red.

Every member of the household who wants to participate in this art takes some eggs to his or her room, after they have dried, to work on them in secret.

One takes some muriatic acid with which she etches the most intriguing patterns out of the colored foundation. It is quite popular in our house to etch the first line of Easter songs–staves, notes, and words.

Our cleverest artist sits with paint and brush, and under her fingers appear pictures of an Easter lamb, or of Our Risen Savior Himself, or of the Blessed Mother, or of the different patron saints of the family. Sometimes they turn out to be little gems.

Others fasten dried ferns or little maple leaves or other herbs around the eggs before they are boiled in dye. When these leaves are finally taken off, the shape of the flowers and herbs remains white, while the rest of the egg is colored. This is easily done and looks very pretty.

These eggs first appear on trays and in bowls on Easter Sunday morning at the foot of the altar for the solemn blessing of the food. Afterwards they will be distributed at the solemn Easter breakfast.

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“The very presence of a woman who knows how to combine an enlightened piety with mildness, tact, and thoughtful sympathy, is a constant sermon; she speaks by her very silence, she instills convictions without argument, she attracts souls without wounding susceptibilities; and both in her own house and in her dealings with men and things, which must necessarily be often rude and painful, she plays the part of the soft cotton wool we put between precious but fragile vases to prevent their mutually injuring each other.” – Monseigneur Landriot, Archbishop of Rheims, 1872 -Loreto Publications

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If you have trouble reading saint books and find the story lines boring, you need to try these!

We love these books and have had them on our book shelves for years! They are very well-written and make the saints come alive!

Louis de Wohl has the amazing capacity to take historic Catholic figures and breathe life into them by creating a novel around what their life might have been like.

They are meant for high school and adult level. Some of the books could have  adult content, for instance, St. Augustine’s life before conversion. Parents may want to read them first.

Louis de Wohl Historical Religious Novels

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Handcrafted First Communion Rosary available here.

First Communion Handcrafted Kanzashi Flowers for Easter available here.

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Good Friday Activities and a Prayer

For those mothers who cannot make the Triduum services because of little children and duties at home, here are a few things to get your creative mind going…

And a beautiful Good Friday prayer following…..

The Year & Our Children: Catholic Family Celebrations for Every Season3f3c661740ec49fcc74520e0bc4afb08
For the hours spent at home by those who cannot get to the rites of Good Friday, it is good to plan special activities in order to help all keep a spirit of recollection. With many little children, silence is almost impossible, but as they grow older, they begin to cooperate.

Friends of ours have had their children make the garden of Joseph of Arimathea outdoors, separately, on Good Friday. They used whatever they could find at hand – stones, mosses, sticks, acorns.

(My interjection – We talked about a Resurrection Garden today and here is a Pinterest page with many interesting ideas for one.)

A drawing project will keep Peter occupied. Having said the Stations of the Cross during Lent, he applies himself seriously to illustrating them.

(Another Pinterest page here for the coloring pages.)

Rereading the passages about the Passion will keep another child busy, read out of Scripture or from a favorite life of Christ.

(Here is a good translation for the Passion.)

For a boy who is fidgety and must be active, a solitary chore that is a penance is better: perhaps cleaning the goat stalls or spreading hay and manure from the goose’s pen on the garden.

I know many mothers who, because they must be at home with their babies during this time, save a task that especially tries them.

Each has his or her way of best spending the hours of Good Friday, but it will work out most successfully if the program for the day is well planned.

Perhaps one of the tasks for several of the children can be copying Psalm 21 to be used at night prayers this evening. Our Lord quoted the first line of it from the Cross. It prophesied Christ’s Passion and death and our salvation: “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me….”

This was the great prayer of our Lord on the Cross. The family may divide itself and read the lines alternately.

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Divine Intimacy: Meditations on the Interior Life for Every Day of the Liturgical Year

images“O Christ, Son of God, as I contemplate the great sufferings You endured for us on the Cross, I hear You saying to my soul: ‘It is not in jest that I have loved you!’

These words open my eyes, and I see clearly all that Your love has made You do for me. I see that You suffered during your life and death, O Man-God, suffered because of that profound, ineffable love. No, O Lord, it was not in jest that You loved me, but Your love is perfect and real.

In myself, I see the opposite, for my love is lukewarm and untrue, and this grieves me very much.

O Master, You did not love me in jest; I, a sinner, on the contrary, have never loved You except imperfectly. I have never wanted to hear about the sufferings You endured on the cross, and thus I have served You carelessly and unfaithfully.

Your love, O my God, arouses in me an ardent desire to avoid anything that might offend You, to embrace the grief and contempt that You bore, to keep continually in mind Your Passion and Death, in which our true salvation and our life are found.

O Lord, Master, and Eternal Physician, You freely offer us Your blood as the cure for our souls, and although You paid for it with Your Passion and Death on the Cross, it cost me nothing, save only the willingness to receive it.

When I ask for it, You give it to me immediately and heal all my infirmities.

My God, since you agreed to free me and to heal me on the one condition that I show You, with tears of sorrow, my faults and weaknesses; since, O Lord,  my soul is sick, I bring to you all my sins and misfortunes.

There is no sin, no weakness of soul or mind for which You do not have an adequate remedy, purchased by your death.

All my salvation and joy are in you, O Crucified Christ, and in whatever state I happen to be, I shall never take my  eyes away from Your Cross.” (St. Angela of Foligno)

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“One secret of a sweet and happy Christian life is learning to live by the day. It is the long stretches that tire us. We think of life as a whole, running on for us. We cannot carry this load until we are three score and ten. We cannot fight this battle continually for half a century. But really there are no long stretches. Life does not come to us all at one time; it comes only a day at a time.” -My Prayer Book, Father Lasance http://amzn.to/2mwR5u6 (afflink)

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This book, The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, has great meditations on the Passion of Our Lord!
“The book that inspired the blockbuster film, The Passion of the Christ. Faithful to the Biblical account of the Passion, it fills in many hitherto unknown details. Edifying, inspiring, surprising, and heart-rending, Emmerich’s descriptions of our Lord’s Passion will melt a heart of stone. This book is the best on the Passion we have seen. It also wonderfully portrays the Blessed Mother’s role in our redemption. Includes a short biography of Sr. Emmerich. A great book for the whole family! Impr. 404 pgs, PB. “

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Holy Week – Maria Von Trapp / And the Winner Is…..

According to an old tradition, the first three days of Holy Week– Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday–are dedicated to spring cleaning. In the days before the invention of the vacuum cleaner, this was a spectacular undertaking: sofas, easy chairs, and all mattresses would be carried out of the house and beaten mercilessly with a “Teppichpracker” (carpet-beater).

Walls were dusted, curtains were changed–a thorough domestic upheaval. There is little time for cooking, and meals are made of leftovers.

By Wednesday night the house looks spick and span. And now the great

“Feierabend” begins. “Feierabend” is an untranslatable word. It really means vigil–evening before a feast, the evening before Sunday, when work ceases earlier than on any other weekday in order to allow time to get into the mood to celebrate.

“Feier” means “to celebrate,” “Abend” means “evening.”

From now on until the Tuesday after Easter no unnecessary work will be done on our place. These days are set aside for Our Lord. On Wednesday, with all the satisfaction of having set our house at peace, and after the dishes of a simple early supper are finished, we go down to the village church in Stowe for the first Tenebrae service.

In the sanctuary, a large wrought-iron triangular candlestick is put up, with fifteen dark candles. We take our places in the choir, and the solemn chanting of matins and lauds begins.

This is the first part of the Divine Office, which has been recited daily around the world by all priests and many religious since the early times of the Church.

In the cathedrals and many monasteries it is chanted in common. For the last days of Holy Week, it is performed in public, so to speak–not only in cathedral churches, but in any church, so that the faithful may take part in it.

We always consider this the greatest honor for us, the singing family, the greatest reward for all the trouble that goes along with life in public, that we can sing for all the Divine Offices in church.

Matins has three nocturnes, each one consisting of three psalms with their antiphons and three lessons. The first nocturne is always the most solemn one. We sing all the psalms on their respective “tonus”. We sing the antiphons, some in Gregorian chant, some from the compositions of the old masters such as Palestrina, Lassus, Vittorio.

The lessons were sung last year by Father Wasner, Werner, and Johannes.

In the second and third nocturne we only recite the psalms in “recto tono” in order not to make it too long. Some of the antiphons and all of the lessons, however, are sung.

After each psalm the altar boy extinguishes a candle, reminding us of how one Apostle after the other left Our Lord. Matins is followed by lauds, consisting of five psalms and antiphons which we recite. At the end of lauds there is only one candle left–the symbol of Our Lord all by Himself crying out, “Where are you, O My people!” And we, in the name of all the people, recite now the “Miserere,” the famous penitential psalm, while the altar boy is carrying the last candle behind the altar and the church is now in complete darkness.

At the end of the “Miserere” we all make a banging noise with the breviary books. This custom is quite ancient. It is supposed to indicate the earthquake at the moment of the Resurrection. After this noise, the altar boy emerges from behind the altar with the burning

Christ-candle and puts it back on the candlestick. This is a ray of hope anticipating the glorious Easter night. (In Austria the Tenebrae service is called “Pumpernette,” or “noisy matins.”)

The congregation is following closely with booklets in which the whole service, which we sing in Latin, is given in English. This is the most moving evening service of the whole year. When we sing “Tenebrae factae sunt,” an awesome silence falls upon the whole church, and when we sing the famous “Improperia `Popule meus'” by Palestrina we all are moved to the depths.

Is there anything more heartrending than to listen to the outcry of the anxious Redeemer: “My people, what have I done to thee, or in what have I grieved thee, answer Me. What more ought I to do for thee that I have not done?”

On the morning of Holy Thursday, the Church in her service tries most movingly to combine the celebration of the two great events she wants to commemorate “Who lives in memory of Him,” Our Lord had said on the first Holy Thursday when He gave Himself to us in the Holy Eucharist; and, “Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me. Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”

This cry He uttered only a few hours later. Therefore, as the Solemn Mass begins, the festive strains of the organ accompany the chant of the Introit and Kyrie, and when the priest intones the Gloria, all the bells on the steeple, as well as in the church, ring together once more for the last time because, right afterwards, Holy Church, as the Bride of Christ, goes into mourning as she accompanies the Bridegroom through His hours of unspeakable suffering. The organ remains silent when she reminds the faithful in the Gradual: “Christ became obedient unto us to death, even unto the death of the Cross….”

The Gospel of this day tells of the lesson Jesus gave us in brotherly love and humility as He first washed the feet of His disciples, afterwards saying: “Know you what I have done to you? You call me Master, and Lord; and you say well, for so I am. If then I being your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one manother’s feet.

For I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so you do also.” Therefore, in all cathedrals and abbey churches the bishops and abbots go down on their knees on this day after Holy Mass and wash the feet of the twelve oldest members of their communities.

It is wonderful that in our days more and more parishes are adopting this beautiful custom, which brings home to us better than the most eloquent sermon that we should remember this word of Our Lord “For I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so you do also,” which should become increasingly the watchword in our daily life.

This is what the Church wants us to take home with us on that day the attitude of washing one another’s feet; and, because we Catholics have not awakened to this fact, we are rightly to be blamed for all wrong and injustice and wars going on in the world!

As Good Friday has no Mass of its own, but only the “Mass of the

Pre-Sanctified,” an extra big host was consecrated by the priest during

Mass on Holy Thursday, which is put into a chalice and covered up with a white cloth. This chalice is now incensed immediately after Mass and carried in solemn procession to the “Altar of Repose,” while the “Pange

Lingua” is chanted solemnly.

This repository should remind us of the prison in which Our Lord was kept that terrible night from Thursday to Friday. Unlike that first night, where He was all alone after all the Apostles had fled, the faithful now take turns in keeping watch.

There is an old legend circulating in the old country, still fervently believed by the children, that all the bells fly to Rome on Holy

Thursday, where the Holy Father blesses them; they return in time for the Gloria on Holy Saturday.

Another custom still alive in the villages throughout Austria is this: As the bell cannot be rung for the Angelus on these three days, the altar boys man their outdoor “Ratschen” (a kind of rattle looking like a toy wheelbarrow, whose one wheel grinds out deafening noise) and race through the streets, stopping at certain previously designated corners, lifting up their “Ratschen” and chanting in chorus:

Wir ratschen, ratschen zum englischen Gruss,

Den jeder katholische Christ beten muss.

(We remind you by this noise of the Angelus,

Of a prayer to be said by every faithful Christian.)

Needless to say, many a little boy’s heart waits eagerly for these three holy days. While he might be too young to understand the great thoughts of Holy Week, he certainly is wide awake to his own responsibility of reminding his fellow-men, “Time to pray!”

My son Werner is living with his family just a little way down the road. When his little boys, Martin and Bernhard, are big enough to shoulder the responsibility, their father will make them such an old-world “Ratschen” and their mother will teach them the rhyme going with it.

In the house also, the bells have to be silent. The bell rung for the meals or for family devotions is replaced by a hand clapper worked by the youngest member of the family, who announces solemnly from door to door that lunch is ready.

Holy Thursday has a menu all its own. For the noon meal we have the traditional spring herb soup (Siebenkraeutersuppe).

Spring Herb Soup

Dandelions

Chervil

Cress

Sorrel

Leaf nettle

The mixture of the above herbs should total about 7 ounces. Whether bought at the market or picked, they should be washed well. Steam in butter with finely chopped onions and parsley. Press through a sieve into a flour soup and let it boil. You may put in one or two egg yolks, one to two tablespoons of cream, or 1/4 cup milk. You also may use sour cream.

Afterwards there is the traditional spinach with fried eggs. In Austria, Holy Thursday is called “Gruendonnerstag” (Green Thursday). Many people think that the word “gruen” stands for the color, but this is not so. It derives from the ancient German word “greinen,” meaning “to cry or moan.” Nevertheless, “Gruendonnerstag” will have its green lunch.

The evening of Holy Thursday finds us in our Sunday best around the dining-room table. Standing, we listen to the Gospel describing the happenings in the Upper Room. On the table is a bowl with “bitter herbs” (parsley, chives, and celery greens), another bowl with a sauce the Orthodox Jews use when celebrating their Pasch, and plates with unleavened bread (matzos can be obtained from any Jewish delicatessen store, but can also be made at home).

Unleavened Bread

1-1/2 cups flour              1 egg, slightly beaten

1/4 tsp. salt                 1/2 cup butter

1/3 cup warm water

Mix salt, flour, and egg (and butter). Add the water, mix dough quickly with a knife, then knead on board, stretching it up and down to make it elastic until it leaves the board clean. Toss on a small, well-floured board. Cover with a hot bowl and keep warm 1/2 hour or longer. Then cut into squares of desired size and bake in 350-degree oven until done.

Then comes the feast-day meal of a yearling lamb roasted, eaten with these bitter herbs and the traditional sauce. Each time we dip the herbs in the sauce, we remember Our Lord answering sadly the question of the Apostles as to who was the traitor: “He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, he shall betray me.”

Afterwards the table is cleared and in front of Father Wasner’s place is put a tray filled with wine glasses and a silver plate with unleavened bread. While breaking up portions of bread, he blesses the bread and wine individually and hands it to each one around the table and we drink and eat, remembering Our Lord, Who must have celebrated such a “love feast” many times with His Apostles.

This was the custom in His days; just as we in our time will give a party on the occasion of the departure of a member of the family or a good friend, the people in the time of Christ used to clear the table after a good meal and bring some special wine and bread, and in the “breaking of the bread” they would signify their love for the departing one.

The first Christians took over this custom, and after having celebrated the Eucharist together, they would assemble in a home for an “agape,” the Greek word for “love feast.” To share bread and wine together in this fashion therefore, was not in itself startling to the Apostles, but the occasion was memorable on this first Holy Thursday because it was Our Lord’s own great farewell.

As we thus celebrate the breaking of the bread around our table at home, we keep thinking of the words He had said immediately before: “A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you….”

Every Holy Thursday night spent like this knits a family closer together, “careful to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, one body and one Spirit…one Lord, one faith…” as St. Paul wrote to the Ephesians.

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“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, http://amzn.to/2mTKR3w (afflink)

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Thank you to all of you for the lovely comments and encouraging words on the Giveaway post. It is much appreciated and it is always great to hear from you!!

For those who subscribed to Finer Femininity since the Giveaway, I did add your name twice to the “basket”!

And now, the winner is….

blmaluso!!!

I have sent you an email! Congratulations!!

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Visit my Meadows of Grace website for beautiful handcrafted Traditional Rosaries!

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Jesus Meets His Blessed Mother – The Family and the Cross

The Family and the Cross – Jospeh Breig

It is utterly impossible for any human being to come within a mile of appreciating fully the sacrifice made by Mary when she gave her divine Son for our salvation.

God alone can understand it. We cannot, because in order to do so we would have to be as pure as Mary, as totally sinless as she, and equally capable of love. We are not.

But there is one thing that we can understand and appreciate, and that is that neither Mary nor Christ sniveled when they met while He was on His way to crucifixion.

Jesus was wounded infinitely more, and Mary immeasurably more, than any one of us possibly can be, but they did not indulge in self-pity or in recriminations against God for appointing them to carry so dreadful a burden. Christ is God, and as God He perceived clearly and completely why He was going to His death, and what incalculable good He was accomplishing.

Christ is man, and as man He was intolerably laden with our sins.

But Mary is human only; and as a woman we salute her and boast of her.

In the hours of Christ’s Passion, she did indeed give mankind something of which to be proud forevermore. She is one of us, who are less than the angels; but she earned a place unthinkably higher in eternity than the place of the highest and holiest angel.

The poet who called Mary ‘our tainted nature’s solitary boast was inexpressibly more right than he could possibly have realized. Not any of us can ever grasp with our minds the fullness of Mary’s nobility and dignity.

No honor that we can pay to her, save only the divine honor which belongs to God alone, is too much honor. Because of her, a representative of our human race is enthroned in the highest place possible for any creature. One of our own is Queen of Heaven, Mother of God, co-Redeemer with Christ, and co-Ruler of the everlasting kingdom.

Unless we understand something about Mary, we cannot understand much about the Passion of Christ. Christ’s physical sufferings, dreadful though they were, were small and superficial compared with his psychological and spiritual agony.

If we cringe at the thought of the tortures inflicted upon Him, if our hearts ache at the sight of the beatings and piercings, then we ought to feel utterly broken in the presence of his invisible torments.

They were invisible, but they become visible to the eye of one who meditates upon Mary. For Mary’s passion was entirely psychological and spiritual; it was completely invisible, yet so terrible that had Christ’s sufferings been merely of the body and not of the soul at all, then Mary’s agony would have been an agony more frightful than His.

We cannot begin to see into the depths of what Jesus sacrificed for us until we turn our minds into the heart of Mary to perceive what she endured in contributing to our redemption. It is not enough to say that Mary suffered the equivalent of death. She suffered more and worse than the equivalent of death.

Death has its bodily terrors, but the most terrible terror of death is the rending apart of a creature in his deepest depths; it is the separation of body and soul, compared with which nuclear fission is a mild and slight division.

Now the agony of Mary was an agony incomparably more dreadful than the rending of a man’s being by death. What death tears apart is an arrangement of nature; and that is a frightful tearing. But it is as nothing compared with the forcible separation of total love from total love.

And that was what happened when Our Lady was separated from her Son. Mary’s whole matchless being, capable of unthinkably greater love than any other creature, was utterly in love with her Son.

To be separated from her Son, to see her Son reviled and wounded, was for her worse than an eternal succession of physical deaths. Indeed, it is impossible to understand how Mary’s physical heart endured the sight of the tormented Christ without physically breaking and bringing on bodily death.

I personally would speculate that her heart was miraculously preserved from breaking.

However that may be, what Mary endured was of the type of what Christ endured in the Garden of Gethsemane, when His human nature was so inexpressibly tormented by His horror of sin that He sweat blood.

It does not seem to me that Our Lady’s body, unless divinely sustained, could have survived the spiritual and psychological torture she endured in seeing her Son led to execution in unthinkable suffering. I think that God’s intervention must have been necessary to keep her from dying on the spot when she met Jesus on His way to Calvary.

We approach now the depths of this matter. For not only did Mary endure a million deaths upon millions of deaths, but she never for a moment doubted God and God’s goodness. Not for an instant did she rebel. Not even remotely did she allow her faith to be shaken. Her will never turned the tiniest fraction of an inch from her utter consecration to God and to God’s inscrutable purposes.

In the midst of a spiritual agony which ought to have shaken the universe into chaos, she freely gave her Son for our redemption. She gave Him back to the impenetrable purposes of God from Whom He had come to her. She made, willingly, indomitably, and with a courage that makes the mind reel, the incomparably, most supreme sacrifice of which it is possible for any created being to be capable.

Mary gave absolutely everything, she sacrificed all, she held nothing for herself, because her all, her everything, was Christ.

And as I said, she did not snivel. She indulged in no theatrics. Not once did she cry out that this was too much, that she could not stand it, that to ask this of her was asking more than flesh and blood could endure.

There on the way to Calvary, two beings of unthinkable nobility looked into each other’s eyes and faced squarely, without the slightest retreat or deviation, the most awful duty of which it is possible to conceive.

Christ and Mary had a work to do. They had a world to save. They had a spiritual family to bring forth in unutterable anguish. Upon them fell the grinding, crushing labor of giving birth to the children of God who are to share with God His own divine life and happiness forever and forever.

That was their task, the task of Jesus and Mary; and although it meant for each of them such suffering and rending as is utterly outside the grasp of the human mind, they proceeded to it bravely, without the slightest outcry of protest.

This indeed was nobility. This indeed was royalty. Christ and Mary did not shrink from, nor complain about, taking up your burden and my burden and everybody’s burden.

They simply took up the burdens without question because they loved not themselves and their comforts, but God and their fellowmen.

And this is what we must try to learn from them – the hidden merciful designs of God, which come out of His infinite love and wisdom, not for our destruction, but for our perfection and glorification.

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For the guys: “The bright husband will never relinquish the prerogative of being a gentleman. Thoughtfulness is his watch word. A kindness here and a consideration there go a long way to promote companionship with his wife. The opening of a car door for her, helping her with her coat, seating her at table, these and a dozen other little actions evidence his tenderness for her. She is precious to him, so he surrounds her with attentions.”

-Fr. Leo Kinsella, 1950’s http://amzn.to/2nypip6

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You will find this book fascinating! Rev. Ronald Knox puts down his intimate thoughts about the Mass….and he puts it in simple, readable language, as his audience was a group of school girls! It will give much meditation on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass….from the Introit to the Last Gospel!

From more info read the reviews on Amazon here.

The Mass in Slow Motion

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Sign up for the Giveaway Here! I will announce the winner tomorrow!

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Is It Time to Talk to a Priest?

Two short anecdotes today on why a priest may be qualified to give marital advice and then what qualifications to look for in a priest.

by Daniel A. Lord, Questions I’m Asked About Marriage

What right has an unmarried priest, bound by the vows of celibacy, to give advice and counsel on marriage?

Do you recall the story of the literary critic who was taunted because he who had never written a novel had the presumption to criticize novels and novelists? The critic’s answer was brief but to the point: “I don’t know how to lay an egg, but I do know how to tell a good omelet from a bad one.”

A priest is remarkably well-equipped to discuss marriage problems, for:

1.The fact that he himself is unmarried permits him to view marriage without prejudice or bias.

2.In his own field the priest is in a position somewhat analogous to that of a physician or a lawyer. The success of a physician does not depend on his having had the disease that he is trying to cure in his patient.

The success of a lawyer does not depend on his having been in a difficulty similar to the one from which he is trying to extricate his client.

Quite the contrary. Both the physician and the lawyer are experts. Each has been trained in his professions. The healthier the physician, the better fitted he is to care for his patient; the more law-abiding the lawyer, the more able he is to satisfy his clients.

And the priest, who is trained to handle the problems that arise from human relationships, has the right to give advice and counsel on marriage, because:

A.His knowledge of moral theology shows him all angles of love and marriage as they have presented themselves in all ages and as they have been interpreted by the Church.

B.His studies in pastoral theology have trained him in the sympathetic approach to and understanding of human relationships.

C.His reading of professional priestly journals keeps him currently informed on the newest thought and developments in this field.

3.His priestly experience gives him a very decided advantage. Many people, married and single, tell him of their problems and difficulties and often of the solutions which they themselves have worked out. Innumerable people come to him to talk to him, to consult him, to work out with his advice their life vocations.

4.The priest has another decided advantage: He can draw on the rich experience of Holy Mother Church, who for twenty centuries has been deeply concerned with human happiness and with the promotion of all that makes life less difficult and more satisfying.

Every resource of the Church is at the priest’s command, and those who seek his advice and counsel are thereby benefited.

When a priest gives advice or counsel on love or marriage, he is not offering his private judgment on these matters; he is speaking with the age-old, world-wise experience of the Church of Christ.

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From Light and Peace, Quadrupani

When choosing a director, be careful to select one who has the necessary qualifications. He should be not only virtuous, but prudent, charitable and learned. St. Francis de Sales gives the following opinion on the subject:

“Go,” said Tobias to his son, when about to send him into a strange country, ‘go seek some wise man to conduct you.’ I say the same to you, Philothea. If you sincerely desire to enter upon the way of devotion, seek a good guide to direct you therein.

This advice is of the utmost importance and necessity. Whatever one may do, says the devout Avila, he can never be certain of fulfilling God’s will, unless he practice that humble obedience which the saints so strongly recommend and to which they so faithfully adhere.

And the Scriptures tell us: ‘A faithful friend is a strong defense: and he that hath found him, hath found a treasure: … a faithful friend is the medicine of life [5] and immortality: and they that fear the Lord shall find one.’ (Ecclesiasticus, c. VI, vv. 14-16.)

But who can find such a friend? They that fear God, the Wise Man answers—that is to say, those humble souls who ardently desire their spiritual progress.

Since it is so essential, then, Philothea, to have a skillful guide in the devout life, ask God fervently to give you one according to His Heart, and rest assured that when an angel is necessary to you as to the young Tobias, He will give you a wise and faithful director.

In fact, the selection once made, you should look upon your spiritual guide more as a guardian angel than as a mere man. You place your confidence not in him but in God, for it is God who will lead and instruct you through his instrumentality by inspiring him with the sentiments and words necessary for your guidance. Thus you may safely listen to him as to an angel sent from heaven to lead you there.

To this confidence, add perfect candor. Speak quite frankly and tell him unreservedly all that is good, all that is evil in you, for the good will thus be strengthened, the evil weakened, and your soul shall thereby become firmer in its sufferings and more moderate in its consolations.

Great respect should also be united with confidence and in such nice proportion that the one shall not lessen the other: let your confidence in him be such as a respectful daughter reposes in her father, your respect for him such as that with which a son confides in his mother. In a word, this friendship, though strong and tender, should be altogether sacred and spiritual in its nature.

‘Choose one among a thousand,’ says Avila: “among ten thousand, rather, I should say, for there are fewer than one would suppose fitted for this office of spiritual director. Charity, learning and prudence are indispensable to it, and if any one of these qualities be absent, your choice will not be unattended with danger.

I repeat, ask God to inspire your selection and when you have made it thank Him sincerely, and then remain constant to your decision. If you go to God in all simplicity and with humility and confidence, you will undoubtedly obtain a favorable answer to your petition.”

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The truly religious wife finds God at Mass and from Him receives the strength to become the ideal helpmate to her husband. She does not leave God at church but keeps Him with her every minute of the day in every nook and cranny of her home. Each menial, repetitious task she must perform is a work of love for her husband and children, and through them, a work of love for her Creator. – Fr. Raoul Plus, S.J. 1950’s, The Wife Desired (afflink)

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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)

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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.

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Learning Detachment is Very Hard

From How to Raise Good Catholic Children by Mary Reed Newland

Encourage Your Child to Love the World Rightly

No one can teach you detachment. It’s something you must learn by yourself. And learning it is very hard, because perfect detachment is final death to self. It’s being so caught up in God that, like a star that has no light but the light it reflects from the sun, life has no other meaning but as a reflection of the honor and glory of God.

But that isn’t what most people think of when you say detachment. They think it means being disinterested and aloof, walking on the clouds, feeding on airy nothings and paying no attention to what’s on the ground, and they decide that people who talk about detachment belong lumped together in a combination of the absentminded, the poetic, or those rare and peculiar creatures, the contemplative religious.

This just isn’t true. The more people grow in Christian detachment, the more they’re concerned about all things and all other people — but these things and these people in relation to God.

St. Paul said, having arrived, “Now I live, not I, but Christ lives in me.”

That is detachment. But to propose detachment for children looks like asking the impossible. It isn’t.

Pope Pius XII said, “In the kingdom of grace, there are no children; all are adults.” And when you understand that detachment is the end of all this knowledge and love of God we’re trying to give our children, we ought to hope that it will be inevitable.

Dom John Chapman wrote that we receive first the knowledge of God and the Faith, then we make it solid in us by the use of our reason (thinking about it and, with the help of parents and teachers, using it in daily life), and then: “By grace, this becomes a passion.” So detachment is there, waiting at the end of it all.

Of course, children don’t become easily detached, but neither do grown-ups; so that doesn’t mean a thing.

Because it’s a thing you have to learn painfully, it takes a long time. But we can help our children form a detached vision, or at least set them on the path; and it starts with the simple things that fill the world around them, building up to all the human relationships, both at home and in society.

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“The Sacrament of our marriage will impart to us the graces necessary to keep our good resolutions. How few understand this Sacrament! How few prepare themselves for it and expect to receive from it the graces it can give to those who seek them worthily.” – Fr. Raoul Plus, S.J., Christ in the Home http://amzn.to/2lPopMH (afflink)
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Don’t forget to sign up for the Giveaway by leaving a comment on this post!

I will announce the winner this Monday, April 10th!

You will get a beautiful Kanzashi Ribbon Flower made by my daughter, Jeanette, and a matching wire-wrapped bracelet made by moi. Beautiful Peach for Spring!

You will also get my Spring Maglet, A Sunshiny Disposition!

 If you also subscribe to Finer Femininity during this week I will automatically add your name twice.

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Nobility of Soul – Louis IX, King of France

from True Men as We Need Them – Rev. Bernard O’Reilly

Who does not know with what incomparable tenderness and solicitude the canonized Louis IX, King of France, was reared and educated by his mother, Blanche of Castile, deemed herself, by those who knew her best, to be worthy of a place among the saints?

She had come of too heroic a blood not to value in her son the chivalrous virtues and qualities which should grace a Christian king. She saw to it during her regency, that he received an intellectual training quite extraordinary in an age when persons of high rank set but little store on literary attainments.

Louis was an accomplished scholar and statesman, as well as a peerless knight and commander. What, however, distinguished him above all others, was his perfect Christian character.

To form this in her boy, the God-fearing queen would entrust to no one but herself his instruction in the truths of religion, and his training to the practice of every virtue necessary to a Christian sovereign.

“God knows, my son,” she would often say to him, as he nestled near her heart, while a mere child, or sat near her in boyhood, “God knows I love thee as well as ever mother loved her dearest. Yet would I rather see thee at any moment stretched a corpse at my feet, than know thee guilty of deadly sin.”

How the docile child retained through all his eventful and heroic life, the molding then given to his character, we shall have more than one occasion to judge ere the end of this book.

And remembering in after-years all the pains taken for this purpose by his admirable parent, Louis was fain to bestow on his children the same loving labor.

“Before he lay down in his bed,” relates his intimate friend and biographer, “he was wont to have his children brought to him, and related to them the actions of good kings and emperors, and told them to take example by such men.

And he likewise set before them the deeds of bad princes, who had lost their kingdoms in consequence of their licentiousness, rapacity, and avarice.

‘I remind you of these things,’ he would say, ‘that you may keep your souls free from them, and draw not on yourselves the divine wrath.’

He also made them learn their prayers to Our Lady, and made them recite their Hours twice a day, to accustom them thereby to assist at the Hours (in the church), when they should have come to govern their own lands.” (De Joinville, Life of St. Louis, King of France, ch. xv.  The “Hours” spoken of here are the Canonical Hours for the recitation of the Divine Office in cathedral or collegiate churches. It was then customary for all who could do so to assist at these, or to recite them in private from their “Book of Hours.”)

Nor, in thus dwelling on the formation of character, and recalling again and again the qualities which enter into chivalry, do we for a moment wish it to be understood that our every word is not addressed to the popular masses much more than to those whom wealth, or birth, or position place at the head of the community.

It is most especially the laboring classes in town and country that we are anxious to see “generous and devoted, faithful, and indifferent to their own selfish interest, full of high honor, and not aiming to follow the erring multitude.”

The chivalry which is the very spirit of true Christian manhood, is not the character of a social class, or the distinctive quality of the highly born, or the result of the special training given to a privileged few.

The generosity, the self-sacrificing heroism, which are its primary virtues, have ever been found in the poorest and lowliest, as well as in the foremost in rank and honor.

“I can give you privileges and fiefs,” said a Christian emperor to a favorite who begged to be ennobled, “but I cannot make you noble.”

The nobility of soul, which we here hold up to your admiration, is the joint product of God’s grace and your own generous cooperation.

Parents can and do contribute greatly toward the creation of this nobility of soul and conduct; it is, however, under God, the result of one’s own fidelity to the divine Voice ever speaking in conscience, to the divine Light ever showing steadily the path of duty and honor, and to the impulse of the Divine Spirit urging the babe of the beggar as well as the son of the prince to aim high, and do nobly, and be in all things true to the light and the truth within them.

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Love and friendship are the remnants of the earthly paradise. In this vale of tears, when we encounter so many difficulties, to have people you can call friends is such a joy, such a comfort, such a gift. –Dietrich von Hildebrand, Man, Woman, and the Meaning of Love: God’s Plan for Love, Marriage, Intimacy, and the Family

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If you subscribe to Finer Femininity your name will be added twice to the “basket” for the Giveaway!

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Beautiful handcrafted Kanzashi hair accessories for Spring, First Communion, or Easter here!

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Lenten Smidgens and an Easter Giveaway!

Lent is passing quickly! Here we are, less than 2 weeks away from Easter! I hope it is going well for you and these last 2 weeks are fruitful.

Below are some photos of our doings and then a Giveaway at the end of the post. Don’t forget to sign up by making a comment here on this post!

Rosie is preparing the Crown of Thorns made from unleavened bread dough. It will harden and the toothpicks (thorns) will be waiting to have a pretty silk flower topping it as the children do their sacrifices….

By Easter it will look lovely and the sacrifices the children made will live on forever….

We have no place to put a “bread” Crown of Thorns so we put the idea to paper. This is a big poster board that is mounted to the fridge. If it is a big sacrifice, the sharpies come out and a flower is drawn on a thorn. Three little sacrifices suffice for a flower, too.

Filling up! Interesting species of grandifloras, wouldn’t you say? What artists I have!

Virginia’s family also has a jar of beans. Every time a sacrifice is made a bean is put in the jar. At Easter, the beans will be replaced with jelly beans and divvied out between the kids.

My dear mother is on the far right as a bridesmaid for her best friend many years ago. My mom is 80 years old now and doing well. She’s a Naturopathic doctor and still sees clients at her home. She’s amazing!

She is one of my dearest and best friends!

Devin and Theresa and their family pose on their new land! They are very excited about it and hope to build in the future!

Virginia’s new haircut! Lovely!

Virginia’s been very busy sewing these Easter dresses for her two little girls. Oh and I mustn’t forget the crocheted hats with the handcrafted flowers! Does this surprise you? Me neither. Yawn. Just another day in Virginia’s boring life with 7 children, oldest is 10. 😛 Aren’t they lovely!?

Our beautiful (inside and out) daughter-in-law, Elizabeth, with our grandson, Isaac. What a smile!

Z (Elizabeth) did a lovely St. Joseph’s altar for their family….

Our son, Colin, poses after a hard day’s work!

This is what happens when Margy is tired of being “holed up” in the sewing room/office. She likes to be where the action is and so drags everything out to perform her sewing miracles!

It was very special to go and visit my dear friend, Mary’s, cousin, Paula, who was here just for a week for Mary’s funeral, etc. And the treasure of this visit (well, there were two very special treasures) was that we were able to visit in Mary’s home, just as Mary had left it. It brought back a flood of good memories…a little hard, but still very special.  Here is the Tribute to Mary if you haven’t read it.

The other treasure of that visit is that Paula gave us a Rosary made by Mary. Besides all the talents Mary had, she was a master Rosary-Maker. Isn’t it beautiful?! It is very precious to me! ❤

New grandbaby, Rita Mary!

Baptism…Colin and Z are Godparents. Father Kodet is our very good priest. He really is amazing. He is always ready to help, to encourage, to be at the forefront of activities and sports for the kids, to lead meetings….whatever it takes. We are so grateful for him!

I feel so very blessed that hubby found this deal at an Estate Sale. I have wanted one all my life….the beautiful statue of the Infant of Prague with His many outfits that match the the colors of the Liturgical Year. Here He is , in his Purple Lenten robes…

Here is His garb for Laetare Sunday.

He will wear red from Palm Sunday to Good Friday. If you look up the statue you will find it rich with history and with miracles. I remember well, in Powers Lake, ND, many years ago, the good sisters reverently and gingerly dressing the Infant in the chapel for the different seasons of the Church. Like I said, I feel blessed!! 🙂

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Here is the Giveaway! It will be just in time for the recipient to get it for Easter!! I will announce the winner this Monday, April 10th!

You will get a beautiful Kanzashi Ribbon Flower made by my daughter, Jeanette, and a matching wire-wrapped bracelet made by moi. Beautiful Peach for Spring!

You will also get my Spring Maglet, A Sunshiny Disposition!

Just leave a comment here on this post and I will enter your name. If you also subscribe to Finer Femininity during this week I will automatically add your name twice.

Subscribe here!

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Make your kitchen a place of warmth! “Wherever I’ve lived, the kitchen has always seemed to be the place where warmth and love reign. Family and friends are drawn there like chickens to their roosts. Of all the rooms in our home, the kitchen is the place of comfort, the preferred gathering place for shared conversations and the teamwork of preparing good meals for and with each other.” – http://amzn.to/2ndp5bu Emilie Barnes (afflink)

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Are You Critical? – Jesus Falls the First Time

Painting by Adolf Lachman

Article by Jospeh Breig, 1950’s

THE FATHER WHO has never reached the heights in business, industry or a profession is often the loudest in condemning his son for not making a brilliant record in school. The mother who bores all her friends stiff is not infrequently the first to criticize her daughter for not excelling in social graces.

To put the same thought into other words, you can usually depend on the man who never played football to denounce the mistakes of the team he is watching; and the chap who couldn’t throw a k ball to save his soul will tell everybody in ten thousand words what is wrong with the pitching in the big leagues.

The fellow who isn’t trying-who isn’t even playing- is often the first to criticize the fellow who is. And this small and mean and annoying human practice extends into the field of our relations with our Creator. The irreligious man-the chap who never goes to church- delights in reciting the faults and sins of religious people. This is a peculiarly simpleminded form of hypocrisy, because it ignores all the complexities of human nature, and the almost endless complications of the struggle for sanctity.

It is also almost a dead giveaway We cannot ever really judge anybody, but we may be sure that there is something wrong with the spiritual life of the man or woman who is quick to find fault and slow to praise. Often there is something very wrong with that person’s psychological life, too. He is trying to build himself up by tearing the other fellow down. He may not realize this, but more often than not it is a deep-seated cause of his critical attitude.

Another profound cause is lack of charity -that is, of love of God and fellowmen. Whoever really loves the other chap will be instant in recognizing and mentioning his virtues and achievements, and slow to speak of his sins and failures. When the other fails, he will either help him to his feet, or look the other way. He will not point a finger and shout at the crowd to draw attention to the fallen figure. If he does, he is not at all like God; and to be like God is our business.

We would all be in a frightful position if we were to be treated by God as most of us treat one another. Christ was asked point-blank by St. Therese, the Little Flower, whether her faults displeased Him. His answer was no. What other answer was possible? Sin alone displeases God; and faults are not sins. Faults are simply failures due to the fact that we are human beings and not angels. A dish may slip from our fingers and shatter, simply because we are human. Nothing of the sort could happen to an angel.

But men are not angels. It is of paramount importance that we realize this fact, and behave accordingly. I have heard of parents whipping children because they accidentally smashed something around the house. To the Christian soul, that sort of thing is sickening. And why is it sickening? Because the Christian soul is moved by love of God and neighbor; and love does not indulge in ill-tempered injustice.

But what of those who exaggerate and over-punish not merely the mistakes and faults, but the sins -the real sins-of others? The damage that they can do to the spiritual life is incalculable. They can discourage people who are striving for holiness. They can even cause people to stop trying altogether. In that case, they run the frightful risk of being responsible, in large part, for the loss of an immortal soul.

Let the irreligious and the carping man scoff and scorn all he pleases; the fact remains that most of us achieve holiness not by soaring in a jet-like flight, but by falling and rising, falling and rising, stumbling and getting up and going on. Only a foolish person is shocked by the sins of others. The wise man knows that wounded human nature will fall. He expects it to fall. He is never surprised by its falls. He is not specially concerned over its falls; what he cares about, chiefly, is spurring others to keep on trying.

Christ carrying the cross to Calvary is a picture of the ordinary spiritual life. Spiritually, Christ could not fall; being God as well as man, He could not be like us in that. But in all else He was like us. His body, like ours, could grow weary, could collapse under a burden. But when Christ fell under His cross, He did not stay down; He struggled to His feet and went on.

The true Christian is like that in his spiritual progress. He does not run to the heights; he staggers, he weaves, he falls, he rises, he struggles, he fails, but he never gives up. Those who stand scoffing at him are like those who stood hooting at Christ walking the way of the cross. But no decent man wants to be like the hooters. The decent man wants to be like Simon of Cyrene; he wants to lift part of the burden, and encourage the burdened one to go on, and to go on going on until at last he achieves success.

Where else than in the family do we have a better right to demand that everybody be like Simon of Cyrene? If a husband and wife cannot be helpful to each other, and to their children, to whom can they be of service? If they carp and nag, if they scoff and find fault, if they exaggerate every fault and sin to the proportions of final failure, will not they destroy the spiritual life in that home, and with it the happiness that ought to be present?

It is the duty of parents to be Simons of Cyrene. Simon did not ask whether Christ was guilty or innocent. That was not his concern. His task was to help somebody who needed help. And it is likewise the task of fathers and mothers to take up the burdens of their children, to lead the way forward and upward, and always to encourage and never to discourage. Children will sometimes be guilty; but guilty or innocent, they have the right to be able to turn with confidence to their parents.

This confidence is something that parents must earn. They must earn it day in and day out, beginning with the moment when their little ones are taking their first faltering steps. Children are entitled to know from long experience that no matter how far they may fall, in no matter what depths they may become mired, they can be sure that when they turn to their parents, they will be received with understanding and sympathy, and will be helped.

The parent who thus rears his children will reap a hundred rewards, heaped up, pressed down and running over, because his children will love him, will respect him, and will almost certainly, immediately or later, try to measure up to the measure of his love for them.

But the youngster who is nagged and accused and berated, whose every fault and failure is magnified from a mole hill into a mountain-or from a mountain into a mountain range-can hardly be expected to rise up and call his parents blessed. In fact, he can hardly be expected to rise at all, once he has fallen, because he has received little but hooting from those who ought to have cheered him on.

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“A man feels ‘successful’ when he knows his woman is behind him – no matter what his other accomplishments may be. He needs to know that she believes in him…That she thinks he’s a terrific husband (not perfect – just terrific). A first-rate guy. And, if there are children, that he’s a fine dad too….That she thinks the world of him, even though he might mess up or make mistakes.” – Lisa Jacobson http://amzn.to/2lMKF9Q 100 Ways to Love Your Husband

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