How the Child Must be Made Acquainted With the Supernatural Order


From True Womanhood, Rev. Bernard O’Reilly, 1893


To inculcate on her children, as soon as their reason begins to dawn, that God is not only their Maker as He is that of the heavens above them and the earth around them, but also to them a true Father, who cares for them and gives them a right to the most magnificent of all inheritances, must be one of the Christian mother’s early cares.

Her own sense of piety, her womanly wit and instinctive knowledge of child-nature will teach her the best methods to be employed in order to let in by degrees, and one after the other, the beautiful and divine realities of the supernatural order,—of that kingdom of God, whose sovereign is true Father to us,—of that glorious world in which Christ and His Blessed Mother are central figures.

There are few households so poor but they can afford to have one or two sweet prints representing the mysteries of our Lord’s infancy and childhood, as well as a handsome crucifix, or, at least, a good print of the crucifixion.

It is well to reject the abominable daubs published in our large cities and “misrepresenting” every subject they profess to set before the devout mind.

The sweet pictures of the Blessed Mother and her Babe by Luini, or Fra Bartolomeo, and Crucifixions by such religious painters as Velasquez, cannot fail to produce a powerful impression.

There are good engravings of them, for which it would be well to pay a little more;—good chromos, like those published in London by the Arundel Society, are, unfortunately, beyond the reach of poor families.

Would that we had both in city and country parishes some sodality interested in seeing that the homes of the laboring classes were provided with such objects of religious art as would inspire reverence and piety in the beholder.

Nor must mothers forget to have a little statue or a print of the Angel Guardian; he is a friend to be known and loved early. It must be the part of the judicious mother to explain in due time to her little ones, when they are able to inquire about that heavenly Woman and her Babe, what relation they both bear to us.

Some mothers, we know, have in their nurseries “The Flight into Egypt” or the “Adoration of the Magi,” subjects which will naturally oblige the children to inquire about the birth of the Divine Babe, and the whole story of his birth.

When, precisely, parents can draw the affection of the child-mind to the story of the Passion, and the Crucifix, they alone can determine.

Some are averse to doing so before children are a little more advanced in years. Certain it is that they should be made acquainted with the sufferings of our Divine Benefactor before they emerge from childhood.

This point of time being left to the judgment of mothers, let us be firmly convinced that of all the vehicles of supernatural instruction and solid piety there is no one more efficacious than THE CRUCIFIX.

The Crucifix in Catholic households is not only the most eloquent and instructive of books for youth and old age; but it can also be made to speak divinely to the sense of childhood.

Children are all athirst for knowledge once they begin to speak and to be capable of instruction by word of mouth. Their mind and imagination are forcibly impressed by the figure of the Man of Sorrows nailed to the bitter tree.

They are quick to seize the reverence, the love, the worship with which a mother or a nurse looks upon this pregnant story of Love Crucified. Who is He? What brought Him there? What is He to us? What we owe Him, hope, and fear from Him, are lessons which a child may soon learn,—for they are questions which arise in his own mind, and to which he is impelled to seek an answer by a Prompter within him.

For Christian mothers should not forget that in the infant soul dwells the Divine Spirit, communicated in baptism, and never expelled thence save by voluntary mortal sin.

In the soul of every mother, too, who is in a state of grace, dwells the same Divine Instructor, prompting her to do her duty by her child, and pledged to aid her in her work.

“We’re terribly in danger all the time of taking God’s goodness too much for granted; of bouncing up to Communion as if it were the most natural thing in the world, instead of being a supernatural thing belonging to another world.” – Msgr. Ronald Knox, 1948

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To the modern mind, the concept of poverty is often confused with destitution. But destitution emphatically is not the Gospel ideal. A love-filled sharing frugality is the message, and Happy Are You Poor explains the meaning of this beatitude lived and taught by Jesus himself. But isn’t simplicity in lifestyle meant only for nuns and priests? Are not all of us to enjoy the goodness and beauties of our magnificent creation? Are parents to be frugal with the children they love so much?

For over half a century, Catholic families have treasured the practical piety and homespun wisdom of Mary Reed Newland’s classic of domestic spirituality, The Year and Our Children. With this new edition, no longer will you have to search for worn, dusty copies to enjoy Newland’s faithful insights, gentle lessons, and delightful stories. They’re all here, and ready to be shared with your family or homeschooling group. Here, too, you’ll find all the prayers, crafts, family activities, litanies, and recipes that will help make your children ever-mindful of the beautiful rhythm of the Church calendar.

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