Don’t Swear Like That! (Part Two) ~Fr. Daniel A. Lord

by Father Daniel A. Lord, Don’t Swear Like That!

Part One is here.

Asking for Good

God, Himself, if we could attribute to Him human emotions, should be amazed that His name is most frequently used, not to beseech blessings, but to invoke evil and misfortune. For one man who prays for the world’s salvation, half a dozen seem perfectly willing to consign themselves and all around them to eternal ruin.

‘Well, I’ll be damned!” is the commonest of imprecations. ‘Well, if it ain’t my old friend, Bill! Damn your hide anyhow!” is plain formula.

And “Get the hell out of here!” is said in seriousness almost as often as it is said in the spirit of sheer fun. Some fun!

Calling on God

Apparently there was never a time in history nor a parody on religion in which the people did not constantly call on God or the gods. Perhaps that is a kind of inverted proof of man’s closeness to the supernatural. The pagan nations, for instance, were eternally demanding the attention of their gods.

“By Jove!”, “By Venus!” “May Bacchus hear me!”- these were merely Roman equivalents for the “By Zeus!”, “As Aphrodite is my mistress!”, “As true as Pallas Athena hears me!” among the Greeks. Way back in Babylon and Egypt the men who were least likely to pray to the gods and goddesses were most likely to use the names of those gods and goddesses to testify that they were not offering a bad silver coin or that the mare they were selling did not have the spavin disease.

Reverence for His Names

Against this frivolous use of the gods’ names – a custom characteristic of pagandom – the Jewish religion protected the Holy Name of their God with the most solemn laws. Lest the name of the true God be used as carelessly as were those of Osiris or Astarte or Baal or Mercury, God’s proper name was never pronounced. Only the consonants without the vowels were printed, and in place of God’s sacred name another name was substituted.

Under the direct guidance of God Himself the Jews felt that His name was too holy a thing to be dragged around the stables of the racecourse, into the taverns of the village, under the feet of the mules and camels in the inn court, or on the rug spread to receive the gamblers’ dice. That name must be kept for prayer and solemn petition.

Hence God’s name was used only with the utmost reverence and directly toward God Himself. It was a potent name which, when invoked, drew to the speaker the attention of the creator of heaven and earth. It was a name so strong that cities fell at its sound. It was the word symbol for the omnipotent Maker of all things, the King of heaven and the Lord of Hosts.

So, let the pagans swear by Hercules if they wanted to. The one and only God of the Jews was no demi-deity, no mere deified hero, no human passion turned into a weakling god. If a Roman gambler called upon Mercury to give him a run of luck, it was because he regarded Mercury as a trickster who was not above loading the dice. If the name of Bacchus was tossed around the banquet table, it was taken for granted that the unsavoury god would have felt right at home with the other drunkards.

But to the Jews the name of their God was the name of the glorious Maker and Ruler of the universe. He was their Father, their gracious king. His name was their shield and protection in time of battle. His name was a word too sacred to be heard outside the holiest courts of the Temple.

Christ Speaks

Christ continued this command against the careless use of His Father’s name. He outlawed frivolous and purposeless oaths of all sorts. He bade His followers invoke upon one another only what was good and noble. Christ could see no possible parallel between the careless pagan’s crying out “By Jove!” to invoke that libertine of Olympus and the true believer’s swearing “By God!” and “By the Almighty!” – words which called upon the one true God to turn His attention to the affairs of men.

His Own Dear Name

The name of Jesus Christ should have for us the loveliest and most gracious of associations.

It is the name chosen by the Almighty for His Son. It is the name that Mary whispered over the crib of her Baby. When the shepherds and the Magi asked in wonder, ‘What is His name? Mary smiled and answered, “He is called Jesus.”

In that name demons were hurled from their victims. At that name hell itself trembled and the prince of evil knew that he had found his conqueror.

That name blends all our hopes: The name Jesus means our Saviour; the name Christ means the one anointed by God and intended to be our king and leader.

So throughout history the Church has cried out to the Trinity in the firm certainty that she would receive grace and power and light and strength when she asked favors. ” . . . through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.”

In the Name of . . .

There can be strength and meaning in the use of a name. There is the story of the general of the American Revolution who pounded on the doors of the British fort and demanded entrance “in the name of the Lord God Jehovah and the Continental Congress”. Ambassadors speak in the name of the countries they represent. Even the fairy tales pay tribute to the power of the name, for the evil genii of “The Arabian Nights were held captive in the name of Solomon, and gates were mysteriously opened when the name of a great spirit was spoken.”

Divine Power

So with divine authority Jesus Christ gave to His name tremendous power.

“Whatsoever you shall ask the Father in my name, He promised, that will I do.”

He reminded His followers that hitherto they had asked nothing in His name. Henceforth His name was to be a word strong enough in its utterance to open the gates of heaven and to touch the very heart of the eternal Father.

No wonder that the Apostles immediately began to preach and work miracles “in His name”. In His name they bade the lame man arise and walk, and he obeyed. In His name they faced the hostile multitudes and won them to truth. In His name they marched out to conquer the world of their day, and with no other power they won through to victory.

“Like Christ, we bend our hearts down to the lowly, the little ones. We wipe away tears, change diapers, put on band-aids, feed the hungry and many other menial, yet meaningful services. We are available for the powerless, not the powerful.” – Finer Femininity, Artist: Arthur John Elsley (1860-1952)

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Don’t Swear Like That! (Part One) ~Fr. Daniel A. Lord

by Daniel A. Lord, Don’t Swear Like That!

Part Two is here.

Slang?

Cursing and profanity have become so common that now they are often simply lumped together with slang.

Many a woman in confession startles the young confessor by saying, ‘I accuse myself of using slang words. Ten to one she does not mean such slang as ‘Cut it out!…Beat it, kid!…That’s just baloney!…What’s cookin’? She has in mind some sort of profanity, speech that consists of the sacred names of God, the places mentioned in Sacred Scriptures-hell, for obvious example-and those imperative verbs which in short compass include the ultimate ruin of the soul and its arrival in the place of eternal despair.

She means that she has taken very sacred, important, or terrible words and made them as common as the slang expressions she tosses about with the rest of her common-place conversation.

Pearls and Serpents

Whenever in my hearing a woman purposelessly and from casual habit swears, I think of the ancient parable or fable of the two sisters. One, you remember, was kind to the witch from the woods. The second, on the other hand, sullenly and insolently refused the witch the drink that she asked. So it happened that from the lips of the generous sister fell, with each word she spoke, a diamond, a ruby, or a pearl. (I don’t know which jewel corresponded to noun, verb, adjective.) When the selfish sister spoke, you will recall, each word brought from her mouth a toad, a frog, or a serpent.

All the fables have a remarkable element of truth about them. So when I hear gentle speech fall from the lips of a cultured woman, I think of the falling jewels. And when from red-accented lips falls a flood of cheap oaths and common vulgarities, I think, as all decent men must, of cascading vermin and reptiles.

The Man Curses

But the fact that oaths and curses are used by a man rather than by a woman doesn’t essentially change their sooty, smelly character.

Recently I was eating in the diner of an east-bound train. Into the diner walked a crowd of baseball players, members of an important eastern major-league team. Like most really outstanding athletes in private life, they were soft-spoken, quite, unobtrusive, and inclined to keep their champion strength under wraps. They took their places at tables in back of me and began low-voiced conversations.

Then into their talk was injected a new voice-loud, strident, aggressively profane. Every sentence was begun with the Holy Name or ended with an oath or a curse. I looked back, surprised that the manager travelling with the team would tolerate such speech.

Leaning on the table was a well-past-middle-aged sailor in the uniform of the lowest grade. Clearly he’d been to sea for long years. Clearly, too, he was the type that would end his career still second-class, without distinguishing stripes or marks. But to prove that, despite his obvious failure in the navy, he was full of superior manhood, he flooded the diner with oaths and curses and vulgarity that made everyone in the car shudder.

Can We Blame the War? Or the Army?

It would be comforting and soul-easing to blame on the war the increase of swearing among us. Probably all defective human conduct during the next generation will be blamed on the war. It’s such an easy ‘out. Swearing has been, of course, from time immemorial part of the soldierly swagger.

Yet, though many a soldier swears, has sworn, and on a battlefield and in camp will continue to swear, oaths and curses are not part of army issue or equipment. I remember being much impressed by a series of photographic posters got out by the army and navy academies for our future officers. One of these in strongest terms stated that swearing and evil language were utterly foreign to an officer and a gentleman.

A Slow Growth

Actually swearing as it exists today has nothing to do with the war. It has grown up along with the general loss of faith, which means that the words used in oaths and curses have come to mean next to nothing. It is part of the collapse of culture, which reached its depths in Germany and in Russia and in the foul language of the totalitarian armies.

Time was when only the commonest men in association with their ilk used that sort of language. Usually they got away someplace where no one else could hear their talk. Today such words have passed into the vocabularies of apparently cultured men-and whether or not women are present seems to make little difference.

Is Swearing Funny?

For some reason the world has decided that when a woman swears she runs a fair chance of being funny.

We expect, you see, gentle and lovely speech from women. Your dear old aunt Susie suddenly ripping forth a lusty ‘Damn! may seem laughable. On the other hand, you may to your horror decide that the precious old soul has gone mad. If there is laughter here at all, it is because a woman cursing or swearing seems so utterly out of place, so entirely out of character.

Too Easy

On the general principle that swearing is funny, all sorts of dramatic scenes today struggle for laughs through some one of the characters unexpectedly uttering a lusty ‘Hell! or ‘Damn!

Indeed, as the supply of really good comedians dwindled and the authors who could write funny lines and amusing situations disappeared, the producers on Broadway began to depend more and more on the use of the Holy Name for laughs and on round oaths to awaken sleeping audiences into startled guffaws. Some theatrical lightweights decided that a blistering oath was funny, even though most of the audiences don’t find them at all funny.

A Writer Accedes

It was the fine Irish Catholic actress, Una O’Connor, who once took matters into her hands on the New York stage. One of the most famous of the authors was producing a play, the climax of which came when the heroine, distraught, rushed about the stage, screaming the Holy Name.

Miss O’Connor listened as long as she could. Then she quietly approached the author.

‘I wonder, she asked, ‘if you have any idea how the use of the Savior’s name tears us Catholics to pieces. You are much too clever a writer to need to end a scene on a situation that will simply torture the nerves of a large section of your audience. Can’t you rewrite that scene and omit the name of the dear Lord?

The scene was rewritten-and vastly improved thereby.

A Meaningless Word

As a matter of fact, the constant use of the oaths and curses has resulted in their losing all meaning. The word damn means less than nothing to most people who use it or hear it. It has become a synonym for very, very much or a great deal. So a man can with amusing inconsistency be ‘damn hot or ‘damn cold. Even more ridiculously, though he can be ‘hot as hell, he doesn’t hesitate to announce that he is ‘cold as hell. The first is a pretty good term of comparison; the second is just about the world’s most slovenly comparison.

A man finds one thing ‘damn funny and another ‘damn sad. Lacking an adequate vocabulary to express degrees of feelings, he modifies everything by damn and compares everything to hell or the devil, thus achieving nothing more than proof of his poverty of speech and his total inability to handle the English language.

Even damn is incorrect. If he knew anything, he’d at least use the participle, damned, and not the verb, damn.

Cursing Can Be Terrible

As I announced in the beginning, it is not my intention to try to make clear the various forms of cursing; nor am I discussing the degrees of evil or sinfulness of various curses. What we are considering is how a Christian, a Catholic, ought to regard the use of profane language. For that matter, how should a cultured, educated person look at it?

Yet we cannot overlook the fact that there can be occasions in which, and peoples among whom, cursing might be something very terrible, a mortal sin in the very nature of the case. So, too, under such circumstances oaths can become significant and sinful.

Men have lifted their hands in an oath that called upon God to witness as truth the lies they told. In the middle of a road or in a market place, in some small fishing boat or in the smoking car of a train men have demanded that God come and stand sponsor for their evil speech, their slandering of character, some trivial thing that was unworthy of the notice of God.

Usually they were men of twisted faith, men who still believed in God but who could yet insult Him with demands that were sinful or beneath His consideration.

‘By God, man! I’m telling you the truth which I say this watch cost me twenty dollars. . . .Before the Savior, these goods are just as I guarantee them to be! . . .By Our Lady, he’s a liar! And I’m warning you.

By the Savior . . .

For most people, however, the use of the names of God and of Jesus Christ signifies little. Such usage is the sign of a complete lack of faith. God means nothing to them any more. Christ has lost all value in their eyes. So the Holy Names are tossed about in careless indifference.

Fanny Hurst established a custom for novelists years ago when she let her cheap characters use, not the full Holy Name, but merely the abbreviated form, “jeez”. Miss Hurst herself, when she used this, pointed out that the constant use of the name had completely dulled the users to any sense of its importance, or even to the meaning of the word they flung about.

But in somewhat the same way children have forgotten that “gee whiz” was originally a parody on Jesus Christ. For that matter, most origins are soon forgotten. How many realize that “hocus-pocus,” the magic formula used by magicians, originated in a Protestant parody on ‘Hoc est corpus meum?

“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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Roses Among Thorns: Simple Advice for Renewing Your Spiritual Journey

We all pray, but few of us pray well. And although that’s troubling, few of us have found a spiritual director capable of leading us further along the path of prayer.

Fr. Raoul Plus, S.J., is such a director, and reading this little book about the four types of prayer will be for you like hearing the voice of the wise and gentle counsellor you long for but can’t find: one who knows your soul well and understands its needs.

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One Heart, One Soul

The love between husband and wife is so close to the Heart of Jesus and the most beautiful love on this earth. It is worth striving for!

from Christ in the Home, Fr. Raoul Plus, S.J.

How happy are married persons who can say as Maurice Retour to his wife, “We love each other for our ideas. We see only God and we have become united in order to serve Him better.” Such is Christian love.

“We shall ask Christ, who sanctified marriage, to give us all the graces necessary for us. We pray with force but also with joy because we have great confidence in the future since both of us expect our happiness from God alone.”

And after Holy Communion which they both received on their wedding day they begged God “to make their mutual love always effect their personal sanctification, to bless their home by sending them many children, to keep in His grace themselves, their little ones and all who would ever live under their roof.”

Sometimes we hear it said that there are no examples of married persons living effectively the holy law of marriage as God prescribed it and Christ ratified it.

There are many. More than one might think. And, thanks be to God, there have been some in all ages.

In the time of the early Church, Tertullian, believing his death to be approaching, wrote two books entitled Ad Uxorem, “To My Wife.” In the last chapter of the second book he gives an unforgettable picture of marriage. One cannot meditate on it too often.

He extols the happiness of marriage “which the Church approves, the Holy Sacrifice confirms, the Blessing seals, the Angels witness, and God ratifies. What an alliance is that of two faithful souls united in a single hope, under a single discipline, under a similar dependence. Both are servants of the same Master. There is no distinction of mind or of body.

Both are in truth one flesh; where there is but one body, there is but one mind. They kneel in prayer together, they teach each other, support each other. They are together in church, together at the Banquet of God, together in trials, in joy. They are incapable of hiding anything from each other, of deserting each other, of annoying each other.

In complete liberty, they visit the sick and help the poor. Without anxiety about each other they give alms freely, assist at Holy Mass and without any embarrassment manifest their fervor daily. They do not know what it means to make a furtive sign of the Cross, to mumble trembling greetings, to invoke silent blessings.

They sing hymns and psalms vying with each other to give God the most praise. Christ rejoices to see and hear them and gives them His peace. Wherever they are, Christ is with them.

“That is marriage as the Apostle speaks of it to us . . . The faithful cannot be otherwise in their marriage.”

Oh, that we might fulfill this ideal in our marriage!

We must pray for it and really want it.

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“Friends have been defined as those between whom there need not be conversation. They are aware of each other’s presence, and that is enough.” – Fr. Leo Kinsella, The Wife Desired, 1950’s

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The Best Catholic Society ~ The Christian Home

Painting by Alfredo Rodriguez

by Celestine Strub, OFM, The Christian Home

The world today is full of reformers. Society, we are told, is sick with many ills, and a radical remedy is imperative if the utter breakdown of Christian civilization is to be averted. Yet, while the urgent need of reform is quite generally conceded, there is a wide divergence of opinions as to the proper means of bringing it about.

As Catholics, possessed of the divinely revealed truths that should regulate all human action, we know that many of the remedies proposed for the cure of social ills are inadequate, because they do not reach the root of the evil; and that many a well-meant reform movement is foredoomed to failure, because it is not based on the only true and solid foundation of all social reform; namely, the principle that there can be no real, permanent social justice and morality without private justice and morality; and that there can be no enduring private justice or morality without religion.

A Truism

So much is agreed upon among Catholics: religion and morality must form the basis of all true reform; and it is a truism to say that if all the individuals that make up society were morally good and religious, the ills that afflict society would disappear.

It is furthermore agreed among Catholics that the Catholic Church offers the individual all that is necessary for leading a good life. Why then do so many of her children fail? They have the true Faith; they have the Commandments, which tell them what they must do and what they must avoid; and they have the means of grace, prayer and the Sacraments, to help them to avoid sin and practice virtue. Why, then, are they not all morally good and religious?

The Sin of Adam

The fundamental reason is simply that they do not choose to be so. Sin is apparently so pleasant, at least for the moment, and the constant practice of virtue is so hard, that men often choose the former in preference to the latter. Even in Paradise, where all circumstances were so favorable, Adam and Eve abused their free will by disobeying God.

But in consequence of that first sin of Adam, there exists in all his descendants a strong inclination to evil, which makes the practice of virtue still more difficult. And added to all this is the example of the wicked world in which we live.

The Enemy Without

It is this latter, the bad example of the world around us, which forms the great obstacle to social reform even among Catholics. If man were merely an individual living by himself, he would have only the enemy within to fight against; but being a social being, destined by God to live in society with others, he has also an enemy outside himself-the evil example of many of those with whom he lives.

How to overcome this evil example is the great problem of social reform. It is easy enough to say that the bad example must be offset by good example; but how and where is the good example to be had?

Catholic Societies

Many there are who say that since it is mainly social attractions that lead Catholics into dangerous company and dangerous places of amusement, we must have our own societies, our own social agencies, club rooms and recreation centers, so that our people can satisfy their craving for company and amusement in a harmless manner.

While admitting that our people should be provided with ample opportunity for healthful and innocent recreation; while admitting, too, the importance and desirability of Catholic societies, both secular and religious, and attesting that, when properly conducted under proper auspices, such societies can do an immense amount of good, I am nevertheless of the opinion that it is not by means of these societies that social evils will be greatly reduced.

Let us have these societies by all means; but when we have established them and made them flourish, let us not imagine that our task is done. In all such societies something is wanting,’namely, the intimate daily association of the members in all the important affairs of life.

The Best Catholic Society

Happily, however, there is a society that has this all-important requisite; a natural society in which the great majority of men spend their lives; a society that is capable of exerting a lifelong influence on its members. That society, dear reader, is the family.

In the family we have all the essential things that man requires as a social being for his physical, moral and intellectual well-being and advancement. And since the family rather than the individual, is the unit of society, to reform society one must begin with the family.

Restore religion to its rightful place in the home; let religion direct, control and permeate the family life, and not only will the individual have the safeguard he needs against the evils of society, but society itself will be transformed. This, then, religion in the home, is to my mind, the best of all remedies for the reform of society; and the purpose of this little book is to explain the remedy and to induce all Christian families that can be reached to adopt it.

For the love of our Savior, Jesus Christ, we implore pastors of souls, by every means in their power, by instructions and catechisms, by word of mouth and by written articles widely distributed, to warn Christian parents of their grave obligations.

And this should be done not in a merely theoretical and general way, but with practical and special application to the various responsibilities of parents touching the religious, moral, and civil training of their children, and with indication of the methods best adapted to make their training effective, supposing always the influence of their own exemplary lives.” -Pius XI, Christian Education of Youth

What is our conversation like each day, especially with the members of our family? Do we continually talk about depressing news, do we regularly voice our negative opinions about the people and situations around us? Do we talk about our own sufferings and our needs in a complaining manner? How about a different approach? Let’s talk about the positive instead. If we are talking of people, let’s make the effort to only bring up the good. Want to talk about heroes? Our grandparents, parents, ordinary folk and how they have overcome obstacles would be a good testimony to your kids. We all have stories to tell….make sure they are bringing out the best in those who are listening! – Finer Femininity

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Prayer, Light & Peace (Part One)

Light and Peace, Quadrupani

PRAYER

Who can persevere the whole day in the praise of God? I will suggest a help. Whatsoever thou doest do well, and thou hast praised God. (S. Aug., on Ps. xxxiv., Disc. 2.)

Oh! what do I suffer interiorly whilst with my mind I consider heavenly things; and presently a crowd of carnal thoughts interrupt me as I pray. (Imit., B. III., c. XLVIII., v. 5.)

We ought to love meditation and should make it often on the Passion of our divine Lord, striving above all to derive therefrom fruits of humility, patience and charity.

If you experience great dryness in your meditations or other prayers, do not feel distressed and conclude that God has turned His Face away from you. Far from it. Prayer said with aridity is usually the most meritorious.

It is quite a common error to confound the value of prayer with its sensible results, and the merit acquired with the satisfaction experienced. The facility and sweetness you may have in prayer are favors from God and for which you will have to account to him: hence the result is not merit but debt. (Read the Imitation, B. II, c. IX.)

The very fact that we derive less gratification from such prayer, makes it all the more pleasing to God, because we are thus suffering for love of Him. Let us call to mind at such times that our Lord prayed without consolation throughout His bitter agony.

“All this trouble comes from self-love and from the good opinion we have of ourselves. If our hearts do not melt with tenderness, if we have no relish or sensible feeling in prayer, if we do not enjoy great interior sweetness during meditation, we are at once overwhelmed with sadness: if we find difficulty in doing good, if some obstacle is opposed to our pious designs, we give way to disquietude and are eager to conquer all this and to be free from it. Why?

Undoubtedly because we love consolations, our own comfort, our own convenience. We wish to pray immersed in sweetness, and to be virtuous that we may eat sugar; and we do not contemplate our Savior Jesus Christ, who, prone upon the ground, is covered with a sweat of blood caused by the intense conflict He feels interiorly between the repugnances of the inferior portion of His soul and the resolutions of the superior.”*—St. Francis de Sales.

The same teaching is given by another great master of the spiritual life: “We frequently seek the gratification and consolation of self-love in the testimony we desire to render to ourselves.

Thus we are disturbed about our lack of sensible fervor, whereas in reality we never pray so well as when we are tempted to think we are not praying at all.

We fear to pray badly then, but we should fear rather to give way to the vexation of our cowardly nature, to a philosophical infidelity, which ever wishes to demonstrate to itself its own operations—in fine, to an impatient desire to see and to feel in order to console ourselves.

There is no penance more bitter than this state of pure faith without sensible support. Hence I conclude that it is freer than any other from illusion. Strange temptation! to seek impatiently for sensible consolation through fear of not being sufficiently penitent!

Ah! Why not rather accept as a penance the deprivation of that consolation we are so tempted to seek?”*—Fénelon.

You will sometimes imagine that at prayer your soul is not in the presence of God and that only your body is in the church, like the statues and candelabras that adorn the altars. Think, then, that you share with those inanimate objects the honor of serving as ornaments for the house of God, and that in the presence of your Creator even this humble rôle should seem glorious to you.

“You tell me that you cannot pray well. But what better prayer could there be than to represent to God again and again, as you are doing, your nothingness and misery?

The most touching appeal beggars can make is merely to expose to us their deformities and necessities.

But there are times when you cannot even do this much, you say, and that you remain there like a statue. Well, even that is better than nothing.

Kings and princes have statues in their palaces for no other purpose than that they may take pleasure in looking at them: be satisfied then to fulfill the same office in the presence of God, and when it so pleases Him He will animate the statue.”*—St. Francis de Sales. 4. When you have not consciously or voluntarily yielded to distractions, do not stop to find what may have been their cause, or to discover if you have in any way given occasion to them.

This would be simply to weary and disquiet yourself unprofitably.

From whatever direction they come, you can convert them into a source of merit by casting yourself into the arms of the Divine Mercy.

St. Francis de Sales when asked how he prayed, replied: “I cannot say it too often—I receive peacefully whatever the Lord sends me. If he consoles me, I kiss the right hand of his mercy; if I am dry and distracted, I kiss the left hand of his justice.”

This method is the only good one, for as the same Saint says: “He who truly loves prayer, loves it for the love of God: and he who loves it for the love of God, wishes to experience in it naught but what God is pleased to send him.”

Now, whatever you may experience in prayer, is precisely what God wills.

St. Francis de Sales teaches us that merely to keep ourselves peacefully and tranquilly in the presence of God, without other desire or pretension than to be near him and to please him, is of itself an excellent prayer.

“Do not exhaust yourself,” he says, “in making efforts to speak to your dear Master, for you are speaking to Him by the sole fact that you remain there and contemplate Him.” *“Remember that the graces and favors of prayer do not come from earth but from heaven and therefore that no effort of ours can acquire them, although, it is true, we must dispose ourselves for their reception diligently, yet withal humbly and tranquilly.

We ought to keep our hearts wide open and await the blessed dew from heaven.

The following consideration should never be forgotten when we go to prayer, namely, that we draw near to God and place ourselves in His presence principally for two reasons. The first is to render to God the honor and the homage we owe Him, and this can be done without God speaking to us or we to Him, for the duty is fulfilled by acknowledging that He is our Creator and we are His vile creatures, and by remaining before Him, prostrate in spirit, awaiting His commands.

The second reason is to speak to God and to listen to Him when He speaks to us by His inspirations and the interior movements of grace…. Now, one or other of these two advantages can never fail to be derived from prayer.

If, then, we can speak to our Lord, let us do so in praise and supplication: if we are unable to speak, let us remain in his presence notwithstanding, offering him our silent homage; he will see us there, our patience will touch him and our silence will plead with him and win his favor.

Another time, to our utter astonishment, he will take us by the hand, and converse with us, and make a hundred turns with us in his garden of prayer.

And even should he never do this, still let us be content to know it is our duty to be in his retinue, and that it is a great favor and a greater honor for us that he suffers us in his presence.

In this way we do not force ourselves to speak to God, for we know that merely to remain close to him is as useful, nay, perhaps more useful to us, though it may be less to our liking.

Therefore when you draw near to our Lord speak to him if you can; if you cannot, stay there, let him see you, and do not be anxious about anything else….

Take courage, then, tell your Savior you will not leave Him even should He never grant you any sensible sweetness; tell Him that you will remain before Him until He has given you His blessing.”*—St. Francis de Sales.

“How beautiful it would be if, during their evening prayer together, there could be a pause such as the one for the examination of conscience during which time a husband and wife would pray silently for the other, recommending to God all the other’s intentions sensed, guessed, and known as well as those that only God the Master of consciences could know. Even more beautiful would it be if they would receive Holy Communion together frequently so that each of them could speak more intimately to Our Lord about the needs of the other, begging not only temporal but spiritual favors for this cherished soul. ” – Fr. Raoul Plus, S.J., Christ in the Home http://amzn.to/2sPR32w (afflink)

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Coloring pages for your children….
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Painting by Edward F. Gerhartz, 1965

The Awakening of the Will ~ Rev. Edward Barrett

Painting by Alfredo Rodriguez

Strength of Will by Rev. Edward John Boyd Barrett, 1915, Nihil Obstat, Imprimatur

THE AWAKENING OF THE WILL

It is not an easy matter to explain precisely what the “Awakening of the Will” means, and yet it is something very real and very important. It is not, of course, that first dawn of willfulness which occurs at a certain moment in child-life, and which ushers in manhood.

It is not a first but a second spring. It is the sudden acquisition at a later period of life of the sense of willing. It comes to some but not to all, and it is fully intelligible to none, save to those to whom it comes.

The “Awakening of the Will” resembles to some extent the dawn of the aesthetic sense. All men have, beyond doubt, a native sense of art. In few, however, is this sense wooed into actuality and developed.

Very few ever become true aesthetes, but these few find themselves at some time of their lives, and suddenly, in possession of the “sense.”

It bursts like a blossom. Thereafter, they taste, and feel and understand. Around them, and at their elbows throng the many, who never have tasted, and never will taste or feel or understand. The sense of willing is however in many ways different from the aesthetic sense.

It is in the first place a consciousness of a power to do rather than of a power to enjoy. It is accompanied by a feeling of achieving, rather than by a feeling of appreciating. It is a sense-thrill, springing from a knowledge of one’s power to act and to control.

It is not a keen delight in received impressions of symmetry, variety and beauty. It is rather the recognition of one’s self in possession of one’s own self-force. The phenomenon most closely connected with the sense of willing, is the will-feeling which has already been referred to.

Will-feeling accompanies every true will-act. When we make determined efforts to achieve a certain task, and when, so to speak, we are conscious of the steady heaving of the will in its straight, single purpose, we shall always find the will-feeling present.

As we grow accustomed to making will-efforts, and to guiding in this or that direction the force of our will, we become aware of a certain atmosphere of willing. It is unlike the atmosphere of thinking or imagining. It is an atmosphere which seems to be pregnant with energy, activity and control. It braces and tones one up. We feel more virile and more self-confident for having been in it.

It is the mental state of a brave soldier resolutely and undauntedly charging the enemy, or of an intrepid discoverer facing onward towards his goal—as did Columbus or Captain Scott.

When the will-feeling grows habitual, and when we live more and more in the atmosphere of willing which we have described, the coming of the will-sense, or the “Awakening of the Will,” is at hand.

The improved condition of the will seems to react on the whole body. We grow more alert, more strenuous and more energetic. Courage and power to achieve seem to be more firmly established within.

The pleasure we experience in exercising our will grows. We delight in making efforts. To control our actions has now a strange fascination for us. To accomplish a difficult task by sheer will-force now causes as a thrill of manly satisfaction. We feel ourselves more and more in possession of will-force, and at last, sooner or later, the “sense of willing” dawns upon us—and we experience the “Awakening of the Will.”

It is hard to put in words or even to lead people to suspect by mere description what this sudden grasping of the reality of the will means. It is intensely reassuring and vivifying to know and grasp the fact of the will willing within us. It resembles the joy we feel at suddenly coming to know that one has done something great, or has inherited some valuable possession. The treasure hidden within has been discovered by us, and we know that nobody can steal it, and that it is in our power to use it profitably.

We have said that few men use their will. By that we mean that few men act as if realizing the powers and limitations of their will and the best manner of putting it to work.

They use their will as a Dervish would use a baseball bat or a Malay would use a pair of skates. They misuse their will and break and wreck it. They handle the most perfect and delicate of all instruments with the crude roughness of ignorance. Or else they allow their will to lie dormant, “to rust unburnished, not to shine in use.” They live the lives of animals and their will is never awakened. And yet this “awakening of the will” is the very first task to which they should set themselves.

They should call into life and activity this all-powerful force, if they have any ideal in life or any high ambition. The “Awakening of the Will” must, however, come from within. It cannot come from without. No external treatment or influence can awaken a man’s will. He must do it himself, and for himself. His will by willing most stir itself to life.

It must be self-awakened, and it must keep itself awake by constant exercise. Such exercise will win health and vigor for the will.

Sometimes in a will-contest when things are going rather doubtfully and when we are in fear of giving in, a light suddenly breaks on us, and a new strength vibrates through us. We realize suddenly that we have a will and that it is there at work. “The will is there and the will can do it.”

The unknown mysterious something is at work and we confide in it. We feel and know that it is there and we pin our hopes to it. We have of a sudden become aware of the power and force of the will. Beyond question it is there. Beyond question it can achieve the task. Beyond question it is at work.

The “Awakening of the Will” means something very real. It marks the beginning of a new reign—the reign of the will. Spiritual vigor, will-force, energy and self-control characterize the new epoch. The will, always arbitrary and tyrannical, now rules with absolute sway. The sense of willing pervades one’s life and its course is guided by purpose. We are no longer like withered leaves “carried hither and thither by every wind that blows.” We guide through our will our destiny. We purpose and we achieve.

The “Awakening of the Will” is the outcome of long-continued effort. It is not won in a moment. It costs much. It means that a most powerful instrument for good or for evil is placed in our hands.

Henceforth there will be more intensity and earnestness in all that we do. Our resolutions will be deep and strong.

To summarize the foregoing explanation of the “Awakening of the Will,” it means three things:

(1) Consciousness of a new power. (2) Acquisition of a new habit. (3) Development of new resources.

It means, firstly, that we come to recognize ourselves as “forces” capable of achieving and controlling. It means, secondly, that we are now in a position to use our force, habitually directing and employing it with confidence and ease. It means, thirdly, that we come into possession of a mine, from which, if we work and develop it aright, we can draw untold riches.

You, mothers, must awaken them, foster them, direct them, raise them up to Him who will sanctify them, to Jesus; to Jesus, and to Mary, their heavenly Mother, who will open the child’s heart to piety, will teach it by prayer to offer its pure sacrifices and innocent victories to the divine Lover of little ones.-Pope Pius XII

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Motivate Your Child to Help With Work

You can listen to this post on the Spotify link above.

by Mary Reed Newland, How to Raise Good Catholic Children

It would be nice if the “work is play” stage lasted longer than it does. Children soon discover, however, that the wary in this world shy away from work, and now begins the real struggle.

Little girls who loved trying to make their beds, to run the vacuum or wash the dishes, discover that these are the last things they want to do. Then we can help them by emphasizing that work is prayer. This is the highest motive for work, and the best way to use it; and while it’s quite likely that we’ll have to remind them daily, it will help considerably, especially if we also remind them to pray for the grace to do their work well.

Even so, we must not neglect to fuel this not-so-roaring fire for work with common courtesy and much gratitude. It’s easy for harassed parents (I should know) to take refuge in complaints during these times. “I can’t do it all myself. You helped get it messy; now you help clean it up.” And if we’re convincing enough, or maybe just big enough and loud enough, we can get them to do what we want. But it will be reluctant help, probably accompanied by the private observation that Mother is, indeed, a stinker, and it will hardly make reverent prayer.

Such simple things make a difference! If the emphasis is moved from “You do it,” to “I will be so grateful if you will,” it’s much easier; and noone can resist the glow that comes with being thanked.

Sometimes we get the idea that thanks are not necessary when children have done something they were supposed to do. If we always thank them, and add to our thanks a reminder that God is praised by work well done, little by little (but it adds up) they learn to associate work with praise and prayer. Then one day it isn’t so necessary to them to be thanked.

So many times people contribute their services or their work and ask nothing in return except human appreciation, only to find that even that is not forthcoming. But if we have a right purpose in our work, knowing it can praise, be prayer, be the will of God for us at a particular moment, we can learn not to fret for lack of appreciation.

Show your child how his work can help Christ carry the Cross

This whole work affair would be much easier if children were naturally tidy. But they aren’t. Life is too full, they’re too busy tasting new experiences, to bother being tidy. They enjoy tidiness, but not the making of it; so it’s a lesson learned only through constant repetition.

It’s good to point out the effect of tidiness on the whole family. For a while, the carefree life is delicious. Away with work — today we’re free! But when things reach a state where nothing can be found in its right place and there isn’t a chair left to sit on, tempers begin to fly, and peace is out the window. Then it’s time to get things in order before we fly at each other’s throats.

Children are not so easily disturbed by untidiness as are adults, but they respond to it by becoming sloppier, more careless, and eventually more quarrelsome. They can learn that disorder is not only unattractive, but sours the family disposition, and that the spirit does respond when things are put in order.

“I don’t believe it,” one of the boys said when I told him that cleaning up the chaos in his room would make him feel better. Later he came down and said, “Gee, you were right.” Another time he helped to tidy a sick child’s room “because she’ll feel better if her room is tidy.”

These little lessons in order as a symbol of peace and well-being will help them in maturity when they must recognize really grave ills in terms of spiritual disorder. But, of course, the whole idea can be abused when tidiness becomes an end in itself.

Mothers of many children are rarely, if ever, able to achieve a very lasting order in their houses while their children are young. Would that their neighbors were not quite so critical of the confusion that must be in a house where a mother knows that love comes first, and then order.

Without the love, order is a tyrant that’s quite as able to destroy the family disposition as the loving struggle to achieve order can warm it.

Even when adults understand that work is prayer, obedience to duty is beautiful, and all of it service to God, we’re still loath to do the things we like the least. These are the moments and hours of work that bear a resemblance to the Cross.

There are other crosses, like suffering, betrayal, death, loneliness; but with work, it’s the fatigue, the pain, and even in tasks we love (such as caring for the sick, or for babies) there are moments of revulsion.

Putting off such tasks can destroy one’s whole peace of mind and ruin the beauty of an entire day. Done, the whole spirit sings.

Children can be made to perform the tasks that are most hateful to them as a matter of obedience, but we can help them make strides in obedience (without even mentioning it) if we show them how to use such work as a cross.

Simon of Cyrene, carrying Christ’s Cross with Him, is a great challenge to children and helps them to see how doing what is distasteful can really be carrying a cross. Especially during Lent and Advent, these lessons in work and the Cross can be put to good use.

“It feels so good,” John has said after finally getting out in the wind and cold to water the goats. “Now doing everything else is like nothing.” Nothing but the Cross will justify watering the goats to John.

Our teaching about the really difficult jobs will bear only as much weight as our own example, however, and my reminder about using the hateful work as a cross, doing it first instead of last, is so much prattle if the children see all the time that I am postponing a smelly washing.

So honesty with our own weaknesses will help us be patient and understanding if we wish to correct the same weaknesses in our children.

What all this seems to imply, and smugly, too, is that once on the track of work-is-prayer, children will hold the vision forever. Ha! I only wish that were true. The day comes when they say they don’t feel that work is prayer at all.

It doesn’t mean that all the teaching has gone with the wind. It isn’t really lost, but as they approach adolescence, these and many of the other lessons of early childhood are apt to be crowded out of the forefront of their minds by all the things that are new and different. What’s important is that we’ve put it there.

At this point, we have to work carefully and without seeming to press them to discover where these ideas have been filed. We have to reapply them constantly, usually in a far more mature manner than we’ve dreamed, and we have to be careful to transform parental pressure (even when it’s done nicely, it’s still pressure) into more of a mutual-assistance pact.

If children continue to lag and mope and groan, or try to duck out from under, it’s time for them to learn through more exacting, but prudent, discipline.

“Boys need that self-assured belief that they can do anything to grow into men of action and achievement—but they’ll never build that confidence if Mom and Dad never give them real responsibility. We have to give important jobs to our kids, and then we have to trust them and not worry about them messing up. It would certainly be easier for us to just do the hard stuff ourselves and let our boys play, but our goal isn’t to do what’s easy. It’s to raise men.” – Chasity Akiki

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🧹 A housekeeping schedule to give you some ideas and to tweak to suit your needs….(not to stress you out!)

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Penal Rosaries! Penal rosaries and crucifixes have a wonderful story behind them. They were used during the times when religious objects were forbidden and it was illegal to be Catholic. Being caught with a rosary could mean imprisonment or worse. A penal rosary is a single decade with the crucifix on one end and, oftentimes, a ring on the other. When praying the penal rosary you would start with the ring on your thumb and the beads and crucifix of the rosary in your sleeve, as you moved on to the next decade you moved the ring to your next finger and so on and so forth. This allowed people to pray the rosary without the fear of being detected. Available here.

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Spiritual Nuptials through Perfect Chastity ~ For the Singles

The Mystery of Love for the Single by Fr. Dominic J. Unger

Chastity for the single is necessarily a negative virtue; it is abstinence from the use of a faculty, from the use and enjoyment of sex.

But it is not merely negative, especially when it is deliberately chosen and willed for the more perfect end of undivided love for Christ. It has then a preeminently positive value: the love of and union with Christ.

Chastity, perfect and perpetual, is not merely a negation, an inhibition of powers, a non-exercise of sex, a fighting against temptations. It is something quite positive. It is as positive as love of Christ, which in fact makes it quite reasonable, quite intelligible.

 It does not make a person, or suppose that a person is, emotionless, or even without the passion of sex. Such a person would be abnormal. A chaste person is essentially normal in his passions and emotions.

Virginal chastity is full of love, full of the spiritual love of Christ. With this idea we enter into the realm of the mystic. Virginal love is mystical union with Christ, which results in being loved, protected, consoled, rejoiced by Christ.

 It is in no sense the mere ascetical endurance of a passionless existence. In its positive aspect especially, it is far superior to married love. Even for married people the ultimate end of their human love must be the mystic love of Christ. And often when marriage, from the point of human love, fails to satisfy, the married must seek spiritual satisfaction in supernatural love and mystic union with Christ.

Virginal love is as positive, too, as a consecration. The gold chalice with which a priest celebrates the Holy Eucharist may be used for no other purpose than consecrating the Precious Blood of Christ. The chalice was made sacred for that purpose alone; it was set aside exclusively for that use. That is certainly a pre-eminently positive use and purpose.

Through dedicated virginity or perfect chastity, in like manner, one sets aside as sacred to Christ the power of sex, in order that one’s entire person may be devoted to Christ’s service and love more completely. That is assuredly something positive.

We must note, however, that (every simile limps) the chalice which is consecrated for only the one purpose is itself used for that purpose, whereas in perfect chastity it is not the power of sex itself that is used. The power of sex is consecrated to Christ not to be used at all, in order that another faculty, that of spiritual love, may be more completely devoted to Christ and used to its fullest capacity.

Virginal love is as positive, again, as the Eucharistic Sacrifice itself. It is a sacrificing of the power of sex, in order that the power of love might be exercised in a more sublime and perfect fashion. It is the perfect communion of Christ with the soul through undivided love.

♥️ “We can change the world within our own families. We do not need heroic deeds, exceptional intelligence or extraordinary talents. Every day, our daily duties, our interactions with our family, our living out the Faith in the small ordinary things, will be the thread that weaves the beautiful rug that future generations will be walking upon and building upon….” Finer Femininity, Painting by Giuseppe Magni (1869 – 1956, Italian)

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Secretly Unfaithful ~ Pope Pius XII

Your marriage is a holy union. Protect it from the evil one’s subtle and cunning pitfalls that can come along the marital path (especially when we are weak or feeling alone).

From Dear Newlyweds by Pope Pius XII

SECRETLY UNFAITHFUL

The law of the Divine Redeemer, which is a law of love, also protects and preserves true love and true fidelity. It is a law of love which is not confined to the detailed and formal provisions of a code, but penetrates the spirit, the heart, to the point of excluding even the sin of desire (Mt. 5:27-28).

Could there be, then, despite appearances, a secret infidelity hidden in the most intimate recesses of the heart? Without doubt, for out of the heart, says Our Lord, come evil thoughts and other iniquities (Mt. 15:19). And yet this sin of secret infidelity is unfortunately so frequent that the world pays no attention to it and the lulled conscience grows used to it, like the spell of an illusion.

However, true fidelity which has as its object and foundation the mutual gift not only of the bodies of the wedded couple, but their spirits and hearts as well, opposes and overcomes every deceptive charm. Is it not perhaps true that the least infraction of this exquisite and ardent fidelity, leads sooner or later to breakdowns of married life and happiness?

With the wedding ring as its symbol, fidelity is truly a most delicate virtue! Before it was formulated and taught by Our Lord, it had been carved by the Creator in the depths of honest hearts, as exemplified by Job’s famous saying that he had made a covenant with his eyes to refrain from any impure look.

Compare such an austere restriction, which is the prerogative of any soul that is its own master, with the conduct of so many Christians washed from birth in the waters of regeneration and raised in the glowing light of the Gospel. Like children accustomed to regarding the anguish of maternal solicitude as an exaggeration, they smile at the moral anxiety of their mother the Church.

And yet she is not the only one to give thought to this; all serious persons, even those who are far from the Christian concept, utter a cry of alarm. Along the public roads, on the beaches, at entertainments, women and girls shamelessly expose themselves to impertinent and sensuous glances, to indecent solicitation and unseemly promiscuity.

How violently the passions are aroused under such conditions and encounters! With the exception of the final step, the descent into formal infidelity—supposing that by some miracle they do not go this far—what difference would there be between such habits and the conduct of those unfortunates who openly cast aside all shame?

Unless we blame the decline of their sense of morality, we cannot understand how honorable men tolerate the bold looks and familiarities which their wives and fiancées permit other men or how a fiancé or a wife who values her dignity could stand for the husband’s or fiancées taking such liberties and intimacies with other women. Who does not see the last dying flame of honest feeling revolt and rise up against such grave outrages to the holy fidelity of chaste and legitimate love?

But we have said enough concerning these regrettable and disconcerting debasements. In the order of the spirit and the heart, discernment between good and evil is even more delicate. It is true that there are natural tendencies, blameless in themselves, for which present living conditions offer easy and frequent outlets. Whatever danger they may sometimes present, they do not, of themselves, offend fidelity.

Nevertheless, we must warn you against any secretly sensual intimacies, against love that would be called platonic but which is all too frequently merely the prelude to, or discreet veil for, an affection less pure and licit.

As long as intellectual attraction is limited to sincere and spontaneous agreement on ideals, to the enjoyment and admiration of a soul’s grandeur and nobility, it is without reproach. Nevertheless, St. John of the Cross warns these same spiritual persons against deviations which could follow from this.

Imperceptibly, the proper order of things is often turned about, so that an honest attraction for a person, arising from a similarity in thinking, habits or character, reaches a point, by unconscious consent, where a person harmonizes and conforms his own views and ideas to the views and ideas of the one he admires.

At first, one gives ground on trifling questions, then on more serious subjects—on matters of a practical nature, on more intimate topics of art and taste, then in the truly intellectual or philosophical field, and finally on religious and moral doctrine, to the point of renouncing one’s own personal criteria so that one thinks and judges only under the other’s influence.

Principles are subverted, norms of living are abandoned. While the human spirit naturally, and often to the point of excess, proudly adheres to its own opinions, how can one then explain such an easy submission and complete subjection to the ideas of another?

But at the same time that the spirit in this way comes gradually to be modeled on that of a stranger, each day it becomes more alienated from the soul of its lawful husband or wife. To everything the husband or wife thinks or says, one begins to react with an irresistible instinct to contradict, with irritation, with scorn.

This feeling, unconscious perhaps but no less dangerous, indicates that the mind has been conquered and monopolized, that there has been delivered into the power of someone else the spirit which had been irrevocably given on the wedding day. Is this fidelity?

Guard against a subtle and misunderstood illusion. It could be that through the influence of a noble ardent soul, motivated by purest zeal, an intellectual attraction would become the dawn of a conversion; but more frequently than not it is dawn only. Rarely does the morning light brighten to midday.

On the other hand, how many in this way have lost their faith and their Christian perception! Illustrious examples, even though they are rare indeed, seem sufficient to reassure some who imagine themselves a Beatrice or a Dante. In many cases, however, it develops that in their twofold blindness they tread upon the slippery edge of the road and both fall into the ditch.

Even supposing that the spirit was not, as has been said, the “dupe of the heart,” the heart, blind in its own right, is the spirit’s companion and does not hesitate in its onrush to drag the spirit along as well. Once the spirit gives way, the heart yields, but not without becoming unfaithful to the person to whom it was given in the beginning in an indissoluble bond.

The world is content to proclaim as faithful the wife who has not physically committed a fault, to boast of her magnificent fidelity because, perhaps by heroic sacrifice, but only human heroism, she continues to live without love at the side of the husband to whom she had joined her life, while her heart, her whole heart, belongs definitely, passionately to another.

 More saintly and austere is the morality of Christ!

One may try to exalt the nobility of a pretended union of hearts chastely joined “as the stars and the palms,” to wrap this passion in the cloud of empty religiosity, which is only nonsense nourished by poetry and novels, not by the Gospel or by the Christian bond. They may try to fool themselves into continuing this love in lofty serenity, but nature, after original sin, is not so receptive to conceited aphorisms of deluded spirits. Fidelity was already violated by the illicit passion of the heart.

Young husbands and wives, guard against these illusions! Illumined by the Divine Light, under the protection of Mary, Mother Most Pure, love each other in a holy way, drawing ever closer your lives, your spirits and your hearts.

In a happy home, parents often hold firm against other allurements which tempt them to put the needs of their children in an inferior place. Such allurements include the desire for an overly active social life, the constant pursuit of pleasure in the form of commercial entertainment and the exclusive choice of hobbies (golf, cards, dancing clubs, etc.) from which children are excluded. -Fr. George Kelly, 1950’s

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Beautiful Wire Wrapped Rosaries! Lovely, Durable. Each link is wrapped around itself to ensure quality. Available here.

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Obedience to Events…A Stumbling Block?

From Father Jacques Philippe, Searching For and Maintaining Peace:

Finally, we shouldn’t forget the sort of obedience that may be the most important and the most overlooked: what might be called “obedience to events.” This notion obviously poses a difficult theological and existential problem.

“Obedience to events” does not mean falling into fatalism or passivity, nor does it mean saying that everything that happens is God’s will: God does not will evil or sin. Many things happen that God does not will. But he still permits them, in His wisdom, and they remain a stumbling block or scandal to our minds.

God asks us to do all we can to eliminate evil. But despite our efforts, there is always a whole set of circumstances which we can do nothing about, which are not necessarily willed by God but nevertheless are permitted by him, and which God invites us to consent to trustingly and peacefully, even if they make us suffer and cause us problems.

We are not being asked to consent to evil, but to consent to the mysterious wisdom of God who permits evil. Our consent is not a compromise with evil but the expression of our trust that God is stronger than evil.

This is a form of obedience that is painful but very fruitful. It means that after we have done everything in our power, we are invited, faced with what is still imposed on our will by events, to practice an attitude of abandonment and filial trust toward our heavenly Father, in the faith that “for those who love God, everything works together for good.”

To give an example, God did not want the treachery of Judas or Pilate’s cowardice (God cannot want sin); but he permitted them, and he wanted Jesus to give filial consent to these events. And that is what he did—“Father, not what I will, but what thou wilt.”

The events of life are, after all, the surest expression of God’s will, because there is no danger of our interpreting them subjectively. If God sees that we are docile to events, able to consent peacefully and lovingly to what life’s happenings “impose” on us, in a spirit of filial trust and abandonment to his will, there can be no doubt that he will multiply personal expressions of his will for us through the action of his Spirit who speaks to our hearts.

If, however, we always rebel and tense ourselves against difficulties, that kind of defiance of God will make it difficult for the Holy Spirit to guide our lives. What most prevents us from becoming saints is undoubtedly the difficulty we have in consenting fully to everything that happens to us, not, as we have seen, in the sense of a fatalistic passivity, but in the sense of a trusting total abandonment into the hands of our Father God. What often happens is that, when we are confronted with painful occurrences, we either rebel, or endure them unwillingly, or resign ourselves to them passively.

But God invites us to a much more positive and fruitful attitude: that of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, who, as a child, said: “I choose it all!” We can give this the meaning: I choose everything that God wants for me. I won’t content myself with merely enduring, but by a free act of my will; I decide to choose what I have not chosen.

St. Thérèse used the expression: “I want everything that causes me difficulties.” Externally it doesn’t change anything about the situation, but interiorly it changes everything. This consent, inspired by love and trust, makes us free and active instead of passive, and enables God to draw good out of everything that happens to us whether good or bad.

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Quote for the Day

“The desired wife has developed her personality before marriage and continues that development during marriage. By personality here I mean beauty of soul and all those qualities and accomplishments which go to make a person interesting and sought after. Personality will carry a girl a great deal further in life than physical beauty. In fact, without personality, beauty often tires one in married life. Some girls are born with physical beauty. None are born with personality. They must develop and cultivate it all the days of their lives.” – Fr. Leo Kinsella, The Wife Desired, 1950’s

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