Painting by Sandra Rast

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

The best preservative against dangerous ambition in your children, is found in the supernatural notions and virtues which a Christian mother is careful to inculcate from the earliest dawn of reason in her children.

We insist once more upon it—the royal and rich poverty of Christ, of his Mother, and of his foster-father Joseph, must be made the theme of constant remark and praise in the homes of tradesmen and laboring men.

And, next to that, the mother must fill the souls of her little ones with that scorn and loathing of all dishonesty and untruthfulness, which will, with the ever-present aid of grace, render them incapable of telling a lie or wronging any person, no matter how slight.


A venerable lady, who died in November, 1870, in her seventy-second year, and who came of the best blood of England, wrote thus, in her last years, of her early training: “The dress of these days (about 1806) was very different to that which children have now. My white frocks were of lawn or Irish cloth, without any work or ornament; and when I went out, I used to wear a little green-baize coat. My food was also of the simplest kind, consisting principally of buttermilk and potatoes.”

The girlhood trained in these habits of simplicity and wholesome austerity led to a lovely womanhood, to a life of spotless devotion to duty, and to the exercise of these private graces and influences which enable a woman, ever living in the privacy of her home, to win the admiration, the respect, and the veneration of all who approach her.

We quote her words and her example to show how women were brought up in the days of our fathers, and how little difference, even in Protestant homes, the deep-seated Christian customs of so many preceding centuries allowed to prevail in the dress, the food, and all the external training of children in all classes.

Mothers in those days, who wished to do their duty conscientiously by their children, did not dream of having for them in the beginning any teachers but themselves. So was it with this lady’s mother; although prostrated by paralysis and consumption, she would daily teach her little girl.

“She taught me in all my lessons except French, but her weak health and bad headaches often prevented her hearing me, and many a time I had to stand outside her door waiting till I could be heard, which fretted me a good deal.

When the lessons went ill, I was sentenced to sit on the staircase till I was good, and the task perfect. I imagine that though my mother was most gentle, she was firm in her management of me.”

Some lady-friend having ” suggested my doing something because it would be pleasant”, my mother appealed to me, “I think my little girl has a better motive for it. What is it, Mia?” and “Because it is right,” was my reply.

The answer given by the child shows how early philosophers call “the moral sense” is developed in a child, in little girls especially, whose intelligence is so much more precocious than that of boys, and whose sense of right and wrong is much quicker and keener.

The sick, —hopelessly sick and infirm mother, here mentioned, while cultivating her child’s memory and understanding by teaching her the usual elementary branches, was careful to form her judgment by making her in all things act for a purpose, and to develop her moral sense by giving her in all she did the notion of duty, as her stimulant in doing both pleasant and unpleasant things.


 Duty is the fulfilling of an obligation toward one’s self, or toward another in compliance with His will, who being Creator and Lord has a right to bind our wills to do certain things and to refrain from others. Duty is always toward God, even when the immediate object of the action performed is only one’s self, or one’s neighbor.

The very duty of cultivating mind and heart, which regards every intelligent being, is a duty imposed by the Divine Will; so is the obligation to keep one’s soul and body free from every defilement. We own it to be a duty to learn, to know clearly and fully what concerns our condition, our profession, or the office we may hold in Church or State, and a corresponding duty to live up to this indispensable knowledge.

But Christian philosophy teaches us that in acquiring this knowledge, and in acting up to it. we are only doing what is due to Him who has an essential right to every thought and aim and act of ours.

Uprightness is the perfect performance of duty;—and uprightness, in its Christian and supernatural meaning, is the perfect discharge of duty in view of Him who is our Lord and Judge and final Beatitude. The firm look of the soul, in every act of duty or in the gratuitous generosity with which the sons of God go beyond what is of obligation —is upward to God.

CULTIVATE THIS SENSE OF DUTY in all your children. Make them understand that they are to do certain things most unpleasant, and to abstain from other things most pleasant, because it is right to do so; because it is their duty, because this is due to their great and good God.

Experience has taught that of all characters, in men as well as in women, the most trustworthy, the most honored, the most noble in the estimation of mankind, is the man or woman who always acts according to this sense of duty, and whom no love, no fear, no passion, or temptation can turn aside to do wrong,—that is, what is contrary to duty and conscience.

 If mothers will only accustom their children to act, not according to their inclinations, but in obedience to this sense of duty, pointing out what is right to do and what is wrong not to do,—they will buckle round them a suit of armor which will enable them to come victorious out of the terrible battle of temptation.

 And never was this noble sense of duty more needed than in our day,—when men think little of right or wrong, and a good deal of the surest and quickest road to success ;—and when, in the estimation of our public, success once attained makes the wrong right, while failure makes right itself wrong, and the sacrifice to duty foolish sentimentality.

True happiness hides from us whenever we go after it out of egoism or devotion to our own personal convenience. But it comes running to meet us whenever we put self aside and, embracing what is noble, devote ourselves to duty, virtue, the good of our neighbor, God. – Achieving Peace of Heart, Fr. Narcis Irala (afflink)

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The month of February is traditionally dedicated to the Most Holy Family.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I give You my heart and my soul.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, assist me in my last agony.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, may I breathe out my soul in peace with You.

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New! The Lenten Way of the Cross Picturesque and Prayer-Filled Cards with Handcrafted Wooden Card Holder ~ Family/Children Activity!

Help make Lent more meaningful for you and your family with the Lenten Way of the Cross Cards!

Follow along with your family and prepare your hearts for the Passion and Resurrection of Our Lord each year at Lent and Easter using these special picturesque and prayer-filled cards to help keep your mind and heart focused each day There are 41 cards in total.

Keep the cards in a visible spot in your home as a reminder to you and your children.

Comes with the handmade wooden card holder. Cards are approximately 7″ X 4 1/2″. (The wooden card holder is made with the wood from 100 year old pews that were made by boys in a Catholic School in the 1800’s! *While supplies last on this one).

You can look up more details on the Lenten Way of the Cross here.

Lenten Bundle!

This journal will lay out some simple activities in which your children will be doing their sacrifices and will have a tangible means of “counting” them for Jesus. You, Mom, will have a place to put a check mark if that the activity is remembered and completed for the day. This journal also includes a place for you to check off whether you are fulfilling your own personal resolutions…your Spiritual Reading, your Family Rosary, etc.

Available here.

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Taken mostly from the letters of the saint, this masterful work gives us the consolation he offered to parents on the deaths of their sons, to a lady on the death of her father, a wife on the death of her husband, and others mourning their loved ones. Throughout he gives reason to hope, and explains how much the thought of Heaven should console us, and how agreeable it will be to parents and friends to meet again and converse together in Heaven. (Click on image for more info.)

This treasure of spirituality beautifully explains God’s love for the sinner, how great His joy is upon the return of just one lost sheep, and how God’s mercy extends even towards the damned. St. Francis encourages us to conform ourselves to God’s will, and teaches us to abandon ourselves to the Lord who so desires our hearts.

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