A Few Thoughts from Maria Von Trapp


As parents, our very best efforts should be spent in making our Catholic Faith come alive in our own hearts and in the hearts of our families. Grace first, through prayer, then action! This living of the faith will be the foundation that our children will carry with them into their own families….

From Around the Year With the Trapp Family

Once I watched the transplanting of a full-grown tree. It was a big tree with a wide crown and it had come a far distance. The most amazing thing, however, was that the tree brought an enormous clump of dirt along, almost as big as its crown.

The gardener explained to me that grown trees cannot be transplanted as saplings are–the latter are taken out of the soil by the roots and put into their new place without minding it in the least.

“The roots of the grown tree wouldn’t take to a new environment, so we have to bring it in its own home-dirt.” And the old German gardener used the word “Heimaterde.”

A year later, on a very hot day, I passed through that town again. I remembered that tree and felt impelled to look it up. When I found it, it looked as if it had always grown there, holding out its wide branches protectingly over a group of people who enjoyed its cool shade.

When a whole family group has to be transplanted from one continent to another, it is very much the same.

When Hitler’s troops invaded our homeland, Austria, in 1938, my husband and I felt bound in conscience to save our children from yielding to the religion and philosophy of this neo-paganism, and this could only be done by transplanting the whole big tree.

The exciting story of this adventure–for every transplanting of a grown tree is an adventure–I have told in my first book, “The Story of the Trapp Family Singers.” Here I only want to write about one aspect of it.

When we finally reached the hospitable shores of this country, we arrived in New York City, the fourteen of us, possessing a total of four dollars.

Most of us knew no English and we had no relatives or friends on this vast continent. We were real refugees and we were really poor.

Or so we thought! Soon we were to discover the surprising news that although we had no money, we were not poor at all. The Heavenly Father, Who had done the transplanting, had left all the necessary dirt around the roots.

The inner environment of the tree, that part which is hidden from the eye, had not been touched: our family life, as we were used to living it around the year, went on undisturbed as before.

Every day found us gathered around the altar in the morning, then trying to find and live the Will of God as it showed itself in each particular day to each one of us until we met again together for evening prayer and blessing; then there would be Sunday, celebrated by manifesting more love of God and love of neighbor; and the weeks would pass, and the rhythm of the year of the Church, with all its moods and rich meanings–the happy expectancy of Advent, the fulfillment of Christmas, the sorrow of Lent and Holy Week, the glory of Easter and Pentecost–would become a powerful force in our daily life.

In this “school of living” Holy Mother Church teaches her children how to celebrate. In it one learns how to turn family days such as birthdays, anniversaries, baptisms, weddings, and even funerals into feasts celebrated in the Lord.

Storms, sometimes gale-size, may trouble the crown of the tree, but as long as its roots are firmly imbedded, the healthy tree will weather many a tempest.

And not only that! It will share its own well-being with all the ones who need its cool shade for protection from the heat of noon.

More and more often, friends who happened to drop in on our Sundays and feast clays would say afterwards “These lovely old folk customs of yours–couldn’t they be introduced in our homes too? They really are not necessarily Austrian or Polish or Italian–they are Catholic, which is universal.”

I realize of course that the customs that accompany our life are predominantly Austrian, and that other countries have developed other ways of sanctifying life, equally valid.

Still, our Austrian ones are an expression of a deeply Catholic feeling, and they have grown out of times and from people who found it natural to carry over their beliefs into the forms of everyday life.

I also realize that traditions cannot be simply imitated. But if some of my readers find hints that will make Catholic home life more warm and expressive of our religion, and above all that will bring children and parents closer together, in adolescence as well as in early youth, I will feel happy in the thought that the tree has been able to thank its new country, by passing on some of the strength it brought here with the earth around its roots.

It is wrong to strip our altars and our Churches of all the splendid display due to Our Lord. “The saints have always shown wholehearted zeal and resourcefulness in seeing to the beauty and tidiness of the house of God, because, as St. Thomas Aquinas teaches, it is necessary to take care first of the real Body of Jesus, then of His Mystical Body.” -Jesus, Our Eucharistic Love, http://amzn.to/2fS4n1R (afflink)

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Wire wrapping is one of the oldest techniques for making jewelry or rosaries by hand.

Frequently, in this approach, a wire is bent into a loop or other decorative shape and then the wire is wrapped around itself to finish the wire component making that loop or decorative shape permanent.

Not only is it quite beautiful but it makes the rosaries sturdy and durable.

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