The Wonderful Things God Has Done For Us

From An Easy Way to Become a Saint by Fr. Paul O’Sullivan

God made us.

How little we understand these words. Many have never heard a worthy explanation of them.

Who made us is one of the first questions in the catechism. The brief answer is “God made us.” Satisfied with these few words, Catholics go on living all their long lives hopelessly ignorant of the immense truth, joy and consolation hidden in them.

As a result, they never even think of pouring out their most grateful thanks to the Almighty for this first infinite proof of love which He has given them. They take the gift of their creation for granted and have not the faintest idea of how much they owe to God for bringing them out of nothing and giving them a glorious existence. An existence which will never cease.

Why did God create me?

Simply because He loved me.

He saw me with all my poor weaknesses and defects. Yet He loved me that first moment with an infinite, personal love.

He could have just as easily created an angel like Saint Michael or a saint like St. Paul. But no, He created me, and since that moment He has never ceased loving me and will never cease to love me, unless I outrage and offend Him.

Even then He will take me back to His friendship, if I repent and ask His pardon. We can understand the wonderful love a mother feels when her firstborn baby is placed in her arms. The love of all the mothers who ever lived is not equal to the tenderness and love of God when He holds us in His “arms.”

He not only created us, but He created us from an infinite love.

How did He create us?

He created us with His own Divine hands. He did not depute an angel to bring us into being, but employed in making us with His omnipotent power, His divine wisdom, His most tender love.

How perfect a thing we must be, and we do not know it!

All the famous painters, before beginning their great masterpieces, sought with the utmost diligence to find a suitable model so that their work might be perfect. Then they labored assiduously, using the minutest care in the execution of the picture.

Almighty God, when creating us, also chose a model, the most perfect that even He could choose. That model was Himself. He made us to His own image and likeness! He made us like Himself!

Our likeness to God does not consist in a mere external resemblance, such as a photograph is of the person it represents. We are like to God in the very presence of our nature.

Our souls are spiritual, like God; they are immortal, like God; they will live as long as God lives, forever and forever.

They are beautiful, like God. How could they be otherwise since He, the Divine Artist, made them after the most perfect model.

We have two great faculties like those of God, our intellect and free will. He planted, too, in our inmost being, a craving for Him that nothing else can satisfy, so jealous is He of our love.

And for what destiny did He create us?

He made us for the highest destiny that was possible; He made us for Himself. He made us not to be His servants, but to be His own children, to be seated on thrones amidst the angels, in His presence, sharing his infinite and eternal happiness.

How wonderful is the story of our creation! How was it possible that, knowing all this, we do not love God?

Oh, dear reader, think about and meditate on the infinite love of God in creating you. Weigh well every word that you have just read, for in every word you will find cause for joy and consolation.

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“Few things have so powerful a determining effect upon a person’s subsequent life as the taste for and the habit of reading acquired in youth. Hence the necessity of conceiving a love for good reading, and of nursing the practice of it in the earliest years. Catholic young people are very fortunate, if they relish the reading of not only good, but of the best books, papers and magazines within their reach.” – Rev. Fulgence Meyer, O.F.M., 1927

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Wonderful spiritual books to read by Father Raymond! They are certainly timeless treasures!

The Man Who Got Even With God

A very moving account of one man’s spiritual transformation, and how God can make a saint of anyone.

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Burnt Out Incense

A moving history delineating the establishment of the Cisterians at Gethsemani, Kentucky, in 1848 to modern times. “The saga of Citeaux.”

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The Family That Overtook Christ

This book is the fascinating account of a family that took seriously the challenge to follow Christ… and to overtake Him. With warmth and realism, Venerable Tescelin, Blesseds Alice, Guy, Gerard, Humbeline, Andrew, Bartholomew, Nivard and St. Bernard step off these pages with the engaging naturalness that atttacks imitation. Here is a book that makes centuries disappear, as each member of this unique family becomes an inspiration in our own quest of overtaking Christ.

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Three Religious Rebels

They are known as men of silence and wonder, men of the strict observance of the rule. Modern day Trappists find their roots in a Cistercian mother that brought the spirit of St. Benedict back to the letter of the rule. This little “Saga of Citeaux” offers an insightful glimpse into the lives of 3 Rebellious Monks that brought new life to St. Benedict’s rule with the ideal of “simplicity, poverty and solitude”.

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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:

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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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A Beautiful and Happy Home

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What do you think makes a beautiful and happy home? How important is this?

Having a happy home is crucial to the spreading of our faith. To whom do we want to spread our faith? First of all, to our children. They need to see the deep and lasting beauty of our faith shining forth in our everyday lives, making our home beautiful and happy. Our faith should be an unspoken reality, the undercurrent in the everyday bubbling brook, that flows into every facet of our lives, without it being brassy or aggressive.

This happiness does not have to be unrealistic. Life is what it is and there are many days where the smiles don’t come as easy and nerves are rawer because of whatever is upsetting the apple cart at the time. These are opportunities too.

Father Curtis,  over this past weekend, said that if our kids see ONLY that life is perfect at home, if they grow  up wearing rose-colored glasses all the time, they are going to get quite a jolt when they enter into their own vocation and it is less than perfect…and it will be. So it is good that the kids see reality, too.

That being said, we need to create a home that is joyful and lovely, in amongst the “real”-ness.

J.R. Miller gives us a lovely analogy of moss on an old thatch of a ruin, comparing it to the love that surrounds and covers a multitude of sins and makes an imperfect home, with imperfect souls dwelling therein, a fortress of beauty and happiness.

SECRETS OF HAPPY HOME LIFE – J.R. Miller

Few things we can do in this world are so well worth doing as the making of a beautiful and happy home. He who does this builds a sanctuary for God and opens a fountain of blessing for men.
Far more than we know do the strength and beauty of our lives depend upon the home in which we dwell. He who goes forth in the morning from a happy, loving, prayerful home, into the world’s strife, temptation, struggle, and duty, is strong — inspired for noble and victorious living.

The children who are brought up in a true home go out trained and equipped for life’s battles and tasks, carrying in their hearts a secret of strength which will make them brave and loyal to God, and will keep them pure in the world’s sorest temptations.

We may all do loving service, therefore, by helping to make one of the world’s homes — the one in which we dwell — brighter and happier. No matter how plain it may be, nor how old-fashioned, if love be in it, if prayer connect it with heaven, if Christ’s benediction be upon it, it will be a transfigured spot. Poverty is no cross if the home be full of bright cheer. Hardest toil is light if love sings its songs amid the clatter.

“Dear Moss,” said the thatch on an old ruin, ” I am so worn, so patched, so ragged, really I am quite unsightly. I wish you would come and cheer me up a little. You will hide all my infirmities and defects; and, through your loving sympathy, no finger of contempt or dislike will be pointed at me.”

“I come,” said the moss; and it crept up and around, and in and out, till every flaw was hidden, and all was smooth and fair. Presently the sun shone out, and the old thatch looked bright and fair, a picture of rare beauty, in the golden rays.

“How beautiful the thatch looks!” cried one who saw it. “How beautiful the thatch looks! “said another. “Ah!” said the old thatch, “rather let them say, ‘ how beautiful is the loving moss!’ For it spends itself in covering up all my faults, keeping the knowledge of them all to herself, and, by her own grace, making my age and poverty wear the garb of youth and luxuriance.”

So it is that love covers the plainness and the ruggedness of the lowliest home. It hides its dreariness and its faults. It softens its roughness. It changes its pain into profit, and its loss into gain.

Let us live more for our homes. Let us love one another more. Let us cease to complain, criticize, and contradict each other. Let us be more patient with each other’s faults. Let us not keep back the warm, loving words that lie in our hearts, until it is too late for them to give comfort. Soon separations will come. One of every wedded pair will stand by the other’s coffin and grave. Then every bitter word spoken, and every neglect of love’s duty, will be as a thorn in the heart.

From Catholic Family Handbook, Fr. Lawrence Lovasik:

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“Be merry, really merry. The life of a true Christian should be a perpetual jubilee….A prelude to the Festivals of Eternity.”
-St. Theophane Venard

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Tids ‘n’ Bits

This post is just a hodge-podge. I have not used my camera as much in the past couple of months but I managed to eke out…..well, actually quite a few photos…in fact probably too many…. oh well…

First I’d like to share with you what our own Father Angelo VanderPutten is up to in Nigeria, Africa. He has been stationed there for, I think, 4 years now (he’ll correct me if I am wrong….he is not shy about correcting me)!

2 Videos right from Nigeria!

Fascinating, truly fascinating! Thank you for sharing, Father!

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Now our gallery…..

Virginia (my oldest daughter) is faithful at sending me pictures. It cheers my day to see something from any of my daughters and their families on my phone!

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Here is little Juliette who is 9 mos. old now. She has a very happy nature and is very cute and huggable!

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Polka dots! One of my favorites and here Virginia poses with her two daughters, Emma and Juliette (she has 7 children, oldest is 9). Virginia loves to sew for them. She had 4 boys before she had her first girl!

Emma and Juliette. Don’t ask about the butterflies….that’s normal, isn’t it?

Now that’s ONE HAPPY BABY!!!!

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Hannah counts the eggs from the chickens…

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Her egg-gathering apron!

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Just can’t take these young people and their wild parties! 😛

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This was the Saturday of the Winter Family Dance. We had to postpone it the first time because of an ice storm warning. The second time around drew a lot of youth from 6 surrounding states!

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There were all sorts of hairdos going on which is always a lot of fun! The attire for the dance was formal and everyone loves to dress up!

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A finished hairdo with one of Virginia’s handmade flowers….lovely! Lots of flowers available at my Meadows of Grace Shoppe!

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A couple photos of the dance….

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Our dear Father Allen…

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Theresa comes over to relax and “let her hair down”!

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Theresa is finally up and at ’em after many weeks of debilitating morning sickness. She is posing here with her aunt, my husband’s younger sister, Anna, who is expecting her twelfth!

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And here she is with her daughter, Sienna, who has a matching skirt made by a good friend from Maine!

Devin and Theresa….due in July.

A Valentine’s Tea Party at Colin and Z’s! (My son and daughter-in-law)

From Z to me on my phone along with this picture: “Our new crew members! 15 goats in all. So fun and exciting!!”

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We went to pick up Rosie who spent a week with the Sisters in Gower, MO. They are Traditional Benedictine Nuns and their complex is amazing!

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Sister Scholastica showed us the new building that is the Priest’s Retreat House. Many priests, a lot from the FSSP, come here either for a Priests’ Retreat or to spend a quiet time on their own.

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They built the 12 stairs too wide so they decided to put an Apostle on each step! 😀

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The priests’ bedrooms were upstairs and there is a little half door they can open at the end of the hall that looked down on the Blessed Sacrament in the Chapel. They can say good night to Jesus, if they wish… Beautiful!

The nuns singing during None.

Legos are a hit at Virginia’s home!

Reading is more of the “in thing” to do since Lent hit!

–Speaking of reading, I got myself a Kindle Paperwhite from Amazon over a year ago now and have just started using it! I already had quite a few books downloaded on Kindle but I had been using my phone to read them. I find that the Kindle is easier to read (they do something to the lighting to make it easier on the eyes) and I like that it feels more like a book. I know that’s a facade but, hey, it works! At least for me! I still like lots and lots of “real” books but this is great too and very portable.

Games are ALWAYS the “in thing” to do around here!

Pizza, volleyball, games on Fat Tuesday with Fr. Kodet!

February was a very sick month for us. The flu hit hard! We haven’t been this sick in a long time. Hubby actually missed 2 weeks of work! I was the only one it didn’t take down…..you know, those special “Mama Antibodies”! Our living room became a sick room. We brought the TV out and had a movie marathon…..Wives and Daughters, North and South, etc.

Dad gets a group hug! ❤

Opening a gift on my birthday. Another year older and, hopefully, wiser….

I’m very excited about my “Catholic Mother’s Traditional Advent Journal”! I got my first proof in and decided it needed some revamping so it should be ready by about Advent.. 😛

Both of my Advent books! Take a peek at my books on my Meadows of Grace Shoppe! (Advent books coming soon!)

Virginia has been working very hard on these three dresses for her daughter, Emma and the other 2 granddaughters (Virginia’s nieces) Sienna and Grace. Her Emma is doing the modeling. I think the story goes…Virginia saw some beautiful lace of different colors at a fabric store and felt this incredible urge to build a dress around it! And, of course, you can’t stop at one dress! After all, there are different colors of lace that have just got to be used!! 😀

The mothers will be seeing their daughter’s dresses for the first time on this post….Virginia just finished them yesterday! Aren’t they beautiful??

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The Sagacity of Sienna (our granddaughter)

Doesn’t she look precocious? Throughout the weeks I get a text here and there from her mother, my daughter, Theresa, with the latest on Sienna’s Sagacity (that means wisdom). I will share with you those texts below.

Texts from Theresa:

At the end of the Rosary Brendan wanted me (Mom) to do saints names. So I said, “St. Patrick, pray for us , St. Joseph,pray for us, St. Theresa, St. Adrian, St. Catherine of Sienna, pray for us!” Sienna pipes up, “St. Daddy, pray for us!” 😂

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Brendan to Mom: “Mom, Nini stuck her tongue out at me.”

Nini to Brendan(irritably): “Brendan, Mommy said just to ignore me!”

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Nini saw a pair of boots in a book and said, “I wish you guys could buy me these boots, I’m craving for them!”

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Nini said, “These would be good Godparents for our new baby … Jesus and all the disciples.”

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I (Mom) have 24 Catholic Kids Songs playing and Sienna said, “I love this music.” I said “Yes, it’s really fun.” She said, “No it is not fun, it’s Catholic!”

 

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“Life is messy, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Busy children trump an immaculate house any day of the week. Does it really matter that my carpet has a juice stain on it, or that my cupboard drawer no longer works because my son thought it was a stepping stool? Things can be replaced, but nothing can replace the feeling of ‘home’ that one gets when a house is bustling with children.” –Darlene Schacht, The Good Wife’s Guide
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Form in Your Child a Habit of Holiness

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Life becomes very busy. Let’s not forget that most important duty of teaching our children to love God above all things. We have them for only a few short years. Our influence is mighty and, with God’s grace, we can help our little people to make sanctity their goal. Mary Reed Newland reminds us of this important duty today…

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How to Raise Good Catholic Children   – Mary Reed Newland

It isn’t difficult to find opportunities for acknowledging the indwelling of the Trinity. For all it may sound affected when reduced to words on paper, it’s easy to find times when a child is alone with you, perhaps drying the dishes, making the beds, out in the garden with you planting the beans, when you can kneel down to his size and whisper, “Let’s be very still for a minute and think about the Holy Trinity in our souls, and let us love God very much.”

This is a very reasonable suggestion to a child, and if he has been taught, he will kneel and without any affectation say, “Holy Trinity, living in my soul, I love You very much. Please help me to love You more.” And he will return to planting his beans.

It’s such a little act, hardly enough to stir the surface of a minute, but it’s the one thing the Trinity awaits. God is bound by our own free wills; we must permit Him to move us, or He cannot.

But like the more mundane things — washing hands, brushing teeth, learning to say “please” and “thank you” — this will become a habit only if there is constant repetition. And there must be constant repetition, because the spiritual life is built upon this silent love of God.

This is the beginning of silence, and simplicity, and contemplation. This is the first tiny step toward union. This must be if there is to be any spiritual life at all.

God does the work, but He must have the opportunity. We can’t possibly reveal all His secrets to our children. We can’t illuminate their souls beyond the point of a kind of charting.

Grace does the illuminating, and through grace, they will discover the joy of a life lived in union with God. We work with grace toward this union when we teach our children to be still, to listen, to wait, to love.

We’re living at a time when love has been so defiled that to use the word in its Christian sense is to invite misunderstanding. People don’t get what we’re driving at when we talk of loving one another: it sounds much too unrestrained and, frankly, rather queer.

It has one meaning only, for most of the world, and that’s physical passion, with no understanding whatsoever that physical love is beautiful only when it imitates God’s love.

So it’s terribly urgent that we reveal to our children what love really is, who Love is, because they must love Him wildly if they are to protect themselves against the time when passion moves in and masquerades as beauty.

Physical passion is only one small fragment reflecting God’s love; and unless children recognize love as the source of serenity and peace and grace, they will be quite defenseless before the fragment that pretends to be the whole.

God will be loved by our children as much as we have permitted Him to be loved. In a strange way, He’s at our mercy, and so are they. In His love, He has brought them forth out of us, but He must wait for us to make Him known to them. And it’s God’s love — not brains, or brawn, or talent — that is the common denominator for all men.

A man is wise or a fool, safe or in danger, in proportion to his response to God’s love. If we’re tempted to doubt this, the lives of the child saints prove it over and over again.

Maria Goretti was poor, uneducated, the essence of simplicity. Heroic virtue, for her, was born of the love of God taught to her by a tired, overburdened mother to whom the intricacies of theological argument were as much a mystery as the geography of the moon.

But God and His love were not. They were as daily bread. Guided by the graces He sends to all mothers, she fed her child the best way she knew how. Obviously it could not have been better.

When they questioned this mother at her daughter’s canonization: “How does one go about raising a child who will be a saint?” her answer was simple. There was no secret available to her, she said, that is not available to all mothers. She merely taught her all she knew about God and His love, and His delight in a soul untouched by sin.

If an uneducated peasant woman can do it in the middle of a world reeking with hideous sin, we have little excuse for not doing it ourselves. Simplicity of soul is one of the prerequisites of sanctity, and it’s one of the things our children already possess.

We must be very careful not to contribute to the great cluttering up. We must make a heroic effort to rid our lives of all but one motive, that “impractical” spirituality of the saints, a life in union with God.

If this is the undercurrent of our existence, we can expect the spiritual training of our children to bear fruit. Without it, what they learn of God as children will be easily shoved aside when the world begins to make its noise in their ears.

We inherited Heaven at the Cross, and a way of life that should lead us all to sublime heights. Our obligation as parents is heavy: we must raise children who are in love with God.

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As your journey continues, your gathering of memories continues. Take the time to make sweet memories with the wonderful children in your life….

 

Dreams… Beautiful Girlhood

Lovely and inspiring, Mabel Hale reminds young women that what they think and aspire to will determine their happiness. It is a good reminder to all of us that the type of dreaming that inspires is a good thing…and to make sure our dreams are good, wholesome and worthwhile.

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Beautiful Girlhoodby Mabel Hale

Do you have dreams? I do not mean dreams when you are asleep, but those glorious ones that come when you are awake, where you are accomplishing the things you like to do, always succeeding in all your undertakings, dreams in which you taste the sweets of love and praise and beauty, where your upward way is lined with achievements, and failures are never known.

What a foolish question for me to ask a girl! I might as well ask if you eat or sleep. You would be just as natural a girl without doing either as to live without dreaming.

Dreams are as much a part of your youth as are your fair skin and sparkling eyes. It is impossible to think of a girl into whose life no bright dreams come. Such a life would be dark indeed.

Dreams have a large place in character building. In them the dreamer works out many problems and comes to decisions as to what is right and wrong in many changing circumstances.

If a girl will watch her dreams, she may know what kind of creature she is. If her dreams are of social conquests, fine clothes, and a life of gaiety, that is what she is in her heart, though her life may be ever so humdrum, she will never be happy till she gets these things she dreams of.

She is fitting herself to be satisfied with nothing but that of which she dreams. Her nature is being shaped to fit that kind of life. And how little such a life brings in real happiness! After the best that it can give is all devoured, the heart is left as empty and hungry as before. Such dreams are so much wasted time.

Perhaps her dreams are of romance and love, and she builds great castles in the air around that time in her life when one shall come who looks upon her as the best and most to be desired of all earthly creatures. She clothes him in the richest of garments and calls him in fine carriages, and he carries her to riches and luxury. She is all outside the plain life as she finds it. Her eyes are large and dreamy as she looks into the magical future to which she is coming.

Such dreams are foolish and silly, and never build up good, sound common sense. They unfit the girl for usefulness and make her unable to appreciate the good about her.

She will pass by true love with a frown of disgust while she is waiting for her love dream to come true. Such dreaming is not only wasting time, but is making soft and mushy the character.

Again, the girl’s dreams are of the time when she shall have a true lover, a husband, a home, and children. She looks ahead in her dreams and sees how she wishes to be a true wife, a good mother, and to fill the place honorably.

She, in her dreams, sees many of the very circumstances that have come up in the lives of men and women about her, and works out these problems, always with the thought of God and right.

She never allows herself to dream of being other than a true woman, behaving in a womanly way. Such dreams, if not carried to excess, are true character builders. A girl should look ahead to what she expects in life, and endeavor to fit herself to fill the place as it should be filled.

Yet again, a girl may allow her dreams to dwell upon things that are not pure, and she may sip of forbidden pleasures through her imaginations. It is possible for her to become vile in her heart with a mind as foul as the lowest character on the street, and yet live apparently a pure life, just by unclean dreaming.

Such a girl has all her guards down and will, when the temptation comes strong, fall into acts of sin as well as thoughts of sin. Such dreams are sinful in the extreme and cannot be found in the girlhood beautiful.

Other girls dream of success in business undertakings, or in some other chosen field of work. They not only dream, but set to work to make those dreams come true.

I will say that no girl has ever made a success at anything in which her dreams have not gone ahead to brighten the way before her. She has been able to dream dreams when the circumstances about her were all against their fulfillment. They have given her courage and strength by the way. Such dreams are always good.

And again, we find some girls who feel deep in their hearts a desire for usefulness in some special way in the world. They want to be nurses, or teachers, or missionaries, or gospel workers.

Every dream of theirs is of the day when they may be at these things. And, true to their calling, they endeavor to make their lives bend toward those ends.

Every glorious life lived unselfishly in toil on these chosen fields, is the fruit of these dreams. Without the dream the girl would never have undergone the work and hardship of preparation and service. Would that every girl had some such dream to beckon her on.

Why do girls dream? Because all life is before them, and they cannot but anticipate the future that awaits them.

Youth is the time for making ready, and why should a girl not try to get some idea of the thing for which she is making ready? She is like a person standing upon the shore watching her ship come in. What goes on around her is of little account; all her riches lie out there in the deep in that slowly approaching ship. So the girl stands and looks forward. All that has been in her life, and all that is now, are only passing and of little weight; her riches and joys lie in the ship just ahead.

Dream, my little friend, dream.

But guide your dreams lest they wander off into forbidden paths. And do not let your dreams consume time that should be given to present service.

The girl who sits and dreams of the good things she is going to do while she lets her mother overwork for lack of her help now, is making poor progress in the fulfillment of her dreams.

The girl who dreams of the time when she, a woman, will be kind and gracious to all, one who is loved for her thoughtfulness and gentle ways, and yet who gives place now to sharp words and impatience, is wasting her time. The only dreams that are worthwhile are those that can be, and are, worked out in practical, everyday life.

A girl will dream; she cannot help it. She may let her mind wander on, wasting the strength and power that might come from proper musings as the power of the waterfall is wasted till it is harnessed and put to work.

The true character builder harnesses her dreams and makes them work for her, building up pure ideals and a strong purpose to make those dreams come true.

Dream, but let the dreams be of usefulness and service, of purity and truth. Look away to the mountain heights, and, after looking, climb, climb, climb. Make your dreams come true. You can do it, if they are the right kind. God bless the girl with dreams.

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A good thing to remember!  “Although it is doubtless pleasant to feel assured that no microbe-producing speck can possibly lurk in any corner of the house, and to be certain that food and everything pertaining to it is perfect so far as cleanliness is concerned, there is a sense of insecurity and unrest in the abode of the over-particular woman which often develops into positive misery and discomfort. It is the sort of discomfort specially distasteful to the male portion of mankind.”
Annie S. Swan Courtship and Marriage And the Gentle Art of Home-Making, 1894

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The Family and the Cross

This is a beautiful meditation for Lent and well worth your time!

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by Rev. Msgr. Irving A. Deblanc, 1950’s

ASK MOTHERS AND fathers if they would like to become saints. Many apologetically answer, ‘Would that I had the time! I am too busy rearing the children, keeping house, making ends meet.

This recalls the days when some considered sanctity a luxury for the rich, who in being able to afford servants, could spend long hours in church and in prayer: they were often considered to be the holy ones.

Pope Benedict XV defined holiness as doing the will of God according to one’s state of life. In the state of grace and with the right intention, married people can become saints doing their everyday home work.

They often gain more graces with a dish cloth than with a Rosary, as one may sometime gain more graces getting up in the middle of the night to care for a baby than spending an hour in church. It is a matter of doing the right thing at the right time. Yes, but even more, it is fulfilling a sacramental vocation.

This cannot be said in the same sense about being a lawyer, or a secretary, or a farmer. Marriage is a vocation; it is holy; it is a sacrament; it is a means of going to heaven.

It is interesting that only three of the sacraments are entitled ‘holy: Holy Eucharist, Holy Orders, Holy Matrimony – not that the others are not holy but these are specifically designated.

As a priest gets graces when he hears confessions, preaches, reads his breviary, so a couple under the right conditions is flooded with God’s graces when they love each other, nurse a baby, teach the children. This because they too are fulfilling their vocation.

It is because more and more people see marriage as a vocation that we can hope for more and more saints among those living family life.

In Peru four natives have already been canonized and one beatified in a hundred years. In the U.S.A. so far we still have had no natives canonized. I am afraid we are not even remotely thinking in the direction of trying to be worthy to be a canonized saint.

Married couples are sometimes unaware that suffering is one of their great home-made tools for sanctity. It is looked upon as an annoyance, but Christian marital love necessarily involves suffering, for the essence of unity is not so much to enjoy each other, but to suffer together.

Still joy and suffering are not two sides of a unity called love. What was once desire before marriage becomes offering after marriage.

Some have described love as having three aspects: the digestive, the reciprocal, and the oblative. It is in the oblative sense, this self-giving and suffering that a couple purifies love.

Without these elements, love would die, for passion can only promise; love can keep that promise.

To refuse the call of self-immolation is the sin of obduracy and a rejection of love. One is then of no use to God, to society, to each other, or to oneself. To say no to this human impulse is to corrupt all one touches. It is the cult of selfishness.

The Cross can teach us to love our neighbor; it can teach us compassion. Three-fourths of us, it is said, need it, but there is a strange, unhappy feeling that in too many souls this ingredient is left out.

The Cross is our main tool of sanctity at home. Christian love understands the Cross if it is seen in the context of Heaven.

For pagans the Cross is a scandal. It absorbs them like whirlpools in a river at flood height. Suffering, however, must draw men outside of themselves. It is a reminder of Divinity itself. Not good in itself, the Cross can be priceless as a means of grace.

The bell rings in the life of every one of us and all of us are someday called upon to suffer. The non-Christian tries to escape suffering and he becomes hard and selfish. He seeks comfort only and his spiritual energy dries up, but he must learn to suffer or it will destroy him.

The egotist detaches himself from spiritual reality and becomes a hollow being-an empty body. Like the statue of Buddha, he looks down only at his own stomach and does not see the needy around him.

Not all can see the value of suffering. Suffering is often so inward, so hard to articulate. It has been a special mystery to all, especially pagans. Their many explanations have never been satisfactory.

The Stoic saw in suffering a test of sheer courage; he was completely indifferent to it. The Epicurean saw his answer in pleasure, and the Dolorist tried to delude himself and saw evil as good and actually exulted in that which diminished him. Others saw in suffering only a mere punishment.

A good Catholic makes friends with pain. He holds God’s gifts close to himself but always with open hands. When God allows us sufferings it is not to do us harm but to gather us into His arms.

Suffering never gags a Christian; upon it he sharpens his teeth. Like a cargo stabilizing a ship against storms, so suffering stabilizes us against the storms of passion.

Humanity will ever question suffering, as Job did so dramatically and so officially. But Job gave an answer. Pagan philosophers never learned it. Christ gave the answer for all times: suffering calls less for a philosophy, more for a living of it as worthwhile.

So vast was this question, says Paul Claudel, the great convert to Catholicism, that the Word alone could answer it, but He did so not by an explanation, only by His presence. This presence helped Mary who stood beneath the first Red Cross crimsoned by the blood of her Son; it helped Veronica who so lovingly held a cool, moist compress to the throbbing, fevered brow of Christ; it helped Simon of Cyrene, who later gave his life to serve others; this same Simon must have seen the pallid face of Christ among the poor and on every crumpled pillow where a sick man’s head lay.

We learn with St. Francis de Sales that the love of Jesus begins in the Passion. We learn with Bishop Neumann of the deep beauty of the Litany of the Sacred Heart – a prayer he vowed to say every day.

With St. Alphonsus we become more conscious of the Cross. It is constantly in his writing. When he saw a nail, a rope, a thorn, he thought instantly and tenderly of the Passion. The Cross returns us to the nothingness that we are and yet it lifts us into eternity.

In many churches of the country a large, special cross is carried in church for the Stations. There is no corpus on the cross; each person is reminded that he must replace Christ on the cross. He must learn how to suffer and why he suffers. He must be an extension of Christ.

Christ has plunged Himself into humanity and wants us to make Him real today. He wants us to continue His Redemption, but this is done not by writing a good book, or organizing well, or by a great oration.

One is a Christian when he or she represents Christ, witnesses Christ. Deeply we surrender our will, not with a mere external offering like that of Cain, but with an internal – external oblation like that of Abel – like that of Christ. The external gift is a symbol of the internal giving. We represent Christ so perfectly that we become a mystery to those around us.

In the everyday romance of the world we pierce our valentines with an arrow. The Sacred Heart is the first, true Valentine sent by the Father. But His love is pictured by a heart and a cross rather than an arrow.

His heart is not only the symbol of love but the Cross of hope. The Cross is not the symbol of death; it is the symbol of life. The Stations do not end with a dead Christ in the tomb, but a glorious, living Christ on Easter Sunday, and always in our tabernacles.

He is every city’s most distinguished resident who invites His best friends constantly to take up your Cross and follow Me. The Cross is Christ’s way of identifying Himself and His own. Christians realize it is a gift, not a curse for with Dante ‘sorrow remarries us to God.

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St. Francis de Sales on the company we keep: “Be very careful, therefore, dear reader, not to have any evil love, because you will in turn quickly become evil yourself.
Friendship is the most dangerous of all love. Why? Because other loves can exist without communication, exchange, closeness. But friendship is completely founded upon communication and exchange and cannot exist in practice without sharing in the qualities and defects of the friend loved.”

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Five Principles of Discipline

Thank you, Father Kelly, for such common-sense advice in a world where progressive methods are touted by the “professionals” and parents are berated for their old-fashioned ways when it comes to bringing up their children.

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Rev. Fr. George A. Kelly, The Catholic Family Handbook
No laws can be effective unless penalties are imposed when they are violated. So too with rules governing your child’s conduct: You will be unable to direct him properly unless he learns that undesirable conduct will cause more pain than it is worth.

The idea of disciplining a child is viewed with disfavor by some modern experts. In their progressive view, the child should be free to express himself, and “parents who hamper this self-expression hamper the development of his personality.”

Enough years have passed so that we can now examine the adult products of this progressive school of discipline, and we find that the general results are not good.

Children who are permitted to do as they please without a control system to govern their actions tend to become insufferably selfish, thoughtless of the rights and needs of others, and incapable of exercising the self-discipline which adults need to live harmoniously together.

Fortunately, the let-them-do-as-they-please school of child training is rapidly becoming passe. Most authorities now recognize that a child not only needs but also wants checks over his actions. Even in adolescence, the so-called “age of rebellion against parents,” youngsters have affirmed many times that they prefer to be guided by rules of conduct and expect to be punished for infractions. In fact, teen-agers often complain that their parents are not sufficiently precise in announcing what will and will not be allowed.

Since children vary so greatly in temperament, along with their parents, it is probably unwise to set down hard and fast rules of discipline. However, five general principles can be adapted to fit most circumstances.

1. Keep in mind what purpose your discipline is intended to serve. You should discipline your child mainly to instill in him proper methods of behavior and to develop his ability to control himself in the future.

This principle implies that you must subjugate your own personal feelings, likes and dislikes when exercising them might not serve a useful purpose.

To illustrate: A father has often slept late on Saturday mornings while his young children raced about the house making noise. Usually he merely rolled over in bed and put a pillow over his head to keep out the sounds.

One morning, however, he awakened with a headache while his children pounded their drums. His first impulse was to reach out from bed and spank them. But a second thought convinced him that his children were behaving properly in the light of their past experience, since they had no way of knowing that this was different from other Saturdays. Therefore, the father spoke to them reasonably, telling them that their noise disturbed him. If, after his explanation, they had continued to pound their drums, he could legitimately punish them to stress not only the importance of obedience but also that they must sacrifice their own interests for the good of others.

The child who knows that his punishment is dictated by his parents’ love for him will become a partner in the punishment–at least to some extent–because he realizes that it is for his own good.

That is why wise parents sometimes permit their youngsters to choose their own punishment when they have violated rules. The youngster who recognizes the need for punishment and who willingly accepts it takes an important step toward the goal of all his training–the disciplining of himself, a process which will continue until death.

2. Let the punishment fit the crime. In applying this principle, try to put yourself in the child’s place. A four-year-old girl was playing in a side yard with several boys of her age. A neighbor observed her exposing her sex organs to them and reported the fact to her mother.
The mother raced to the yard, grabbed the girl by the arm, dragged her into the house and beat her with a strap, raising welts upon her back.
This mother should have realized that her daughter lacked the experience to know that her action was not proper. Moreover, the punishment was entirely out of keeping with the offense. It was based on the mother’s own sense of shame and not that of the child. It was an exercise of hate–not of love.

What offenses call for physical punishment? In the view of most experts, very few. However, reasonable corporal punishment, sparingly used, can be more effective than some educators like to admit.

If a child’s actions might cause physical harm to himself or another, his punishment should be strict enough to impress upon him the dangers of his actions. For instance, a child of two does not understand why he should not play with matches or cross the street without an adult. If he reaches for matches or steps from the sidewalk, you might spank him because this is the only way he can learn a vital lesson.

The very young child measures good and bad in terms of his own pleasure and pain, and since most of his experiences are still on a physical level, physical punishment has its place. But wherever possible, love and affection should hold the foremost position. When your child resists the temptation to touch matches or cross a street unaided, use praise to assure him that he is doing the right thing. Spank him if nothing else works.

Some psychologists make much of the possible harm done to a youngster by physical punishment. But the Bible’s teaching that “He that spareth the rod hateth his son” (Proverbs, 13:24) indicates that physical punishment, as such, does not harm the child emotionally.

When it is accompanied by indications of hatred, it is undeniably wrong. But the parent who applies the rod in a calm way and as evidence of his desire to help the youngster’s development probably does not do lasting hurt.
On the other hand, some of the most brutal punishments–the kind that leave wounds for years, if not for a lifetime–come from words.

One little girl was never spanked by her father. But whenever she did things which he found objectionable, he shook his head and commented that she was certainly “a queer one.” The girl is now a woman of fifty, and her father has been dead thirty years, but his attitude still rankles deeply. She believes that it reflected his unwillingness or inability to understand her.

It should not be necessary to punish girls physically after they reach the age of twelve. Many teachers believe, however, that teen-age boys can be held in line by–and respect–authority exercised in a physical way. Girls usually respond more readily to deprivations of privileges–being denied permission to visit friends on weekends, to attend movies or watch television.

3. Punish only once for each offense. One advantage of corporal punishment which is often overlooked is that it usually “clears the air.” Once it has been applied, parents and child generally feel free to forget it and go on to other matters. When their punishment is less decisive, parents may tend to keep harping on the offense–and the child never knows when it is going to be thrown up to him again.

To apply this principle, make sure that your child thoroughly understands what his punishment will be. For instance, if you decide to deny him desserts for a week, tell him so at the outset; do not keep him wondering from day to day when the punishment will end. And do not harp on the offense after the punishment ends. Let him know that when he pays for his conduct he starts with a clean slate.

4. Be consistent. Your child deserves to know exactly what kind of conduct is tolerated, and what will be punished. Unless he knows this, he will try to find out how far he can go. If you tell him that he must be home at 8:30, he will be uneasy if he arrives at 9:00 and is not called to task for being late. Next time, he will be tempted to remain out until 9:30, and he will continue pushing the hour ahead until you step down firmly. If you berate him for arriving home at 9:00 after he returned at 10:00 the night before without comment from you, you will leave him thoroughly confused as to where the limits actually lie.

To be effective, your rules must also be fair. One child should not be punished for actions which another commits with impunity. In one family with seven children, all know that they will lose their allowances for a week if they are not at home for dinner at a designated time.

One evening one youngster came home late with the excuse that the bus was delayed. His mother said that she would not punish him. The father then insisted that the boy lose his allowance, because he knew that once any excuses were accepted, the parents would be besieged with them and the entire system of fairness for all would break down. As this example indicates, parents who do not apply rules consistently actually perform a disservice to the child.

5. Investigate before you punish. In order to discipline your child properly, you must necessarily know the facts in the case. Otherwise you do not know what purpose your punishment should serve. Parents may easily misinterpret a child’s action. Sometimes he does things which are wrong because no one has told him not to do them and he does not know whether they are approved or not. Be especially careful before punishing a child involved in a quarrel or fight with another. It is often difficult to find out who is at fault, since both children usually contribute to a squabble to greater or lesser extents.

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“Regularity in meals is another thing the wise housekeeper will insist upon in her abode. Regularity and punctuality, how delightful they are, and how they ease the roll of the domestic wheels! A punctual and tidy woman makes a punctual and tidy home.” -Annie S. Swan, Courtship and Marriage And the Gentle Art of Home-Making, 1894

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Expecting??……Again!!!???

A repost for Throwback Thursday to encourage you on your path of          Choosing Life….

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Have you had your well-meaning friends or maybe even your mother look at you in bewilderment when you tell them you are expecting…again?

Here is an excerpt from Motherhood and Family by Sister Mariel. S.S.S. It really causes you to wonder about the mentality??

“Lucy Smith is happily married to Jack and her mother likes him. Family relationships and attitudes have always been fair enough—until Lucy announced that her sixth baby was expected in due time.

“Oh, Lucille! Not again—so soon! Really…!”

Is it really respectable, Lucille, to have a sixth when the Joneses never have more than three?

Lucy, in consternation, wonders what in heaven’s name her mother thinks she should have done to keep up, or down, with the Joneses. And how will she take the advent of the seventh, eighth, and if-God-wills-it ninth grandchild? Mother never refers now to the coming baby any more cheerfully than she would speak of a coming World War III. But what would she have her daughter do? The nursery jingle comes to mind:

“Mother, may 1 go out to swim?”

“Why, yes, my darling daughter.

Just hang your clothes on a hickory limb.

But don’t go near the water.”

Mother, may I go out to swim in the ocean of God’s Love, trusting in His divine care, letting Him bear me up on the waves of His all-wise providence?

Why, yes, my darling daughter. By all means keep up the appearances. Make your Easter Duty and what-not. Get yourself and the children to Mass on Sundays and all that. But at the same time remember God helps those who help themselves. You simply have to give some consideration to the world and what it expects of you. Don’t sin exactly; but don’t go off the deep end on religion either. There is a happy medium, a nice compromise, somewhere. Find it.”

There are so many good Catholic mothers out there battling this scene and I have felt truly sorry for them.

You know, it is hard enough to be open to life when you are feeling overwhelmed….to want to do God’s will in spite of your natural inclination to give it a rest.

And then you have those well-meaning people in your life that Sister talks about. It would be one thing if it was just some worldly person off the street, but when it is those who are close to you…ouch!

You try to reassure them confidently that you know what you are doing….as the toddler is crying in your arms, your four year old is pulling on your skirt and the boys are wrestling in the background. Your hair is unkempt and you have circles under your eyes. You eke out a smile and tell them that you are very excited about it…..but it comes out kind of lame….probably because you feel like bending over the rose bush and throwing up… morning sickness, you know!

These people walk away asking themselves, “What is wrong with them? Don’t they know any natural ways to prevent this? Their lives are pandemonium already!”

And you look onward as they are getting into their nice new cars, going back to their homes to do….pretty much whatever they wish…..sigh.

Mothers….take heart!!! Your rewards will be so great for the sacrifices you are making! God is not outdone in generosity!

It will pay off.

We already know the spiritual benefits of being open to life or we wouldn’t be doing it. But there are many natural benefits too that God gives to mothers of large families.

One day, you will be able to have some of that freedom that you wish for now….and you will know you have earned it, which will make it very sweet! You might even be able to take a nap….gasp! Imagine that!

You will have your built-in babysitters, cooks and house cleaners. Your girls will be your friends (most of the time) and your boys will be……well, boys (hopefully they’ll cut the lawn for you and maybe even take out the trash!) Mine were usually working with their dad at an early age! 😀hammering-baby

And you will have so much more than that!! What can ever replace family….the joys and the love that goes along with it!?  All the sacrifices that you have experienced will be part of your strong bonding together!  You will suffer, laugh and celebrate together!

Such consolations will await you and you will look with pity at those who have the typical 2 kids through their own choice. They had no idea how to raise the kids and so they grow old and lonely as their kids quickly move on. Eventually these parents are put in a home because they are a burden….shudder.

So chin up, mothers! All good things come with pain and suffering…PAIN IS GAIN! Keep up the good work! God will reward you immensely!

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“If your large family brings ridicule from neighbors and even strangers, remember that you have a lasting treasure worth suffering for, and that the Lord called blessed those who suffer persecution for justice’s sake.” – Fr. Lawrence G. Lovasik. The Catholic Family Handbook

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Ash Wednesday and the Beginning of Lent

Happy Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent to all of you! May this season be very fruitful in our souls!

This post is excellent about Lent on the blog, The Catholic Gentleman. It will help to get you on track:

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“In my own experience, I often begin the Lenten season with the best of intentions. I imagine myself going into full monk mode, fasting and praying as ardently as one of the monastic fathers in the desert. And maybe for the first week I succeed through sheer strength of will. Then, just when I am feeling good about myself, everything falls apart and I come face to face with my own weakness…” Read more here….

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The Year & Our Children: Catholic Family Celebrations for Every Season

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It seems such a short time ago that we sought the Infant Christ at Bethlehem, adored Him, and were sure that we would never offend Him; and already on Septuagesima Sunday  in the Introit of the Mass He cries out with the weight of our sins: “The groans of death surrounded me and the sorrows of hell encompassed me….”

It is but three weeks before Lent when Septuagesima arrives, and this is a warning. We have sinned, and the time is coming when we must do penance.

When we are born, we are really very like Adam right after his sin, although there is this difference: we have been redeemed, and at that time, he was not.

We may do what he wished he could do. We may be born again in Baptism and start afresh, although in a fallen world, our souls now radiant with divine life burning there. Lent is the spanning of all that happened between Original Sin and Baptism.

It is the summing up and the climax of what started with Christmas.

The greatest of all mysteries is that God should love man so much.

When man sinned and forfeited his right to eternal life, and there was nowhere perfect obedience or flawless love in any man to merit Heaven, He became a man in order that He might pay the debts of the family He had chosen to join.

It is a kind of divine bargain They made, almost impossible to understand unless we put it in our own words.

It is as though the Father had said to the Son, “How can we work it out so man may still live with us forever as we planned?”

And as though the Son replied, “If there were but one perfect man, it could be done. One perfect sacrifice would pay their debt. One surrender of a man as perfect as Adam was when we created him. Alas, there is none.”

Then it is as though They gazed into one another with that Love that is the Spirit of both, and They knew how it could be done.

In Their gaze, a longing still burned for the creatures who had rebelled.

With a look of infinite love, the Father sent the Son and He became the Man. “0 happy fault, that merited so great a Redeemer.”

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Let him know you appreciate all the little things he does. It is easy to just expect things from him, with nary a thanks or a smile. This is not the way to nurture a relationship. Go the extra mile….always be grateful…..and let him know that you are! 
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