The Happiness of Family Life ~ My Prayer Book


From My Prayer Book, Fr. Lasance

The sphere of woman’s activity, especially in the class for which I write, is preeminently the home. The object to be kept in view in a girl’s education, whether she be brought up at home or in a boarding-school, is to fit her for domestic life, to give her a love of domesticity, founded on the fear of God.

This you, my daughter, must seek to acquire; in order that later on, in whatever position you may find yourself, whether you live with your parents, take a situation as housekeeper, or preside over a household of your own, you may for the love of God lead a life of self-sacrificing devotion, unseen and unnoticed, working to promote the welfare of the family, the maintenance of religion and good principles.

Let us consider the conditions requisite for happiness in the family. Beginning at the foundation, I wish to show in the first place that the happiness of family life is based upon religion.

A young wife who was passionately fond of reading novels said to her husband: “How tiresome it is that novels always come to a conclusion when once people are married.”

“My dear child,” the husband replied, “that cannot be otherwise, for if the story were carried on further it would be one of disenchantment.”

That is true in many cases!

How many young persons find themselves bitterly disappointed very soon after their marriage! Wherefore is this the case? Why do they see their brightest hopes vanish like a mirage in the desert? It is because so many newly married couples do not build their hopes of happiness on the firm basis of religion and piety.

Foolish indeed it is to say, as too many do: “One can do very well without religion.” Is this true? Can one do without religion? One can accumulate money and property, indulge in sensual pleasures, and lead a riotous, dissipated life.

But without religion no one can enjoy that sweet heavenly peace of which the children of this world are wholly ignorant, and that joy which is abiding even amidst sorrows and trials.

Yes; a true religious spirit must prevail. One often hears persons say: “Certainly, religion is necessary, but it is quite possible to be religious without believing everything taught from the pulpit, or being so pious or so scrupulous in matters of religion.”

As a rule such persons look for a cloak to hide their laxity or lukewarmness. Religion and morals, faith and practice are not to be separated. Do not allow yourself to be deceived by language such as theirs.

Fathers and mothers may indeed parade their civic righteousness and virtue before the world, but unless their conduct is inspired by faith and true piety as the guide of their life, their family happiness lacks a firm footing, a sure foundation. Only too many examples of this are to be met with in daily life.

Families in which no time is found for prayer, for obligatory attendance at church, for the instruction of the children; where only temporal affairs and material prosperity are considered to be of importance, where gold is eagerly sought after, and higher interests are ignored; in such families true happiness cannot be found, though riches may abound, with a superfluity of all good things; even though the palatial mansion is furnished in the most luxurious style, and its inmates are clothed in silk and satin and adorned with glittering gems and precious jewels.

There is another important point to be remarked. Even the happiest family life is and must ever be a life of sacrifice. It is difficult to realize that this is the case when one sees how young people marry nowadays, imagining themselves to be entering an earthly paradise where their days will be spent in pleasure and enjoyment, and their path will be between the hedges of roses, roses without thorns!

How different is the reality found to be, with its cares and crosses, labors, and sorrows! What a spirit of self-sacrifice must the various members of a family possess if peace and happiness are not to be altogether lost!

Religion alone is able to impart to them this spirit of unselfishness, of self-renunciation and sacrifice. It alone will enable them to persevere in that spirit until death. Hence we see that in this case also the peace and happiness of every family must be built upon the foundation of religion.

And in yet another case this is true. If family happiness is to be complete it is essential that the children should be well reared; without religion this is impossible.

The infidel father who entrusted the education of his children to Religious because it was, as he said, a perfect hell to believe in nothing, confirmed this truth in a striking manner. An unbeliever pronounced unbelief to be a hell upon earth. This saying proclaims with a loud voice that the education of youth is a very serious thing.

In regard to this subject St. John Chrysostom thus expresses himself: “What grander task can anyone have than that of guiding souls, of training the young? I esteem him who understands how to mold and educate youth more highly than the painter, the sculptor, and every other artist, whoever he may be.”

But where, in what family, do we find that true and wise system of education which is so important a factor in family happiness? There only where the spirit of religion and piety pervades the house, rendering it a temple in which God dwells.

Only parents who possess this spirit of faith can train their children in Christian obedience, and inspire them with a horror of vice. They alone will seek assistance from God and remind their children of His presence who regard Him as the real Master of their house, and who model all their thoughts and actions, their words and works, according to the commands of His holy religion.

Now, my dear child, thank God from the bottom of your heart if He has given you parents such as these; parents who lay the greatest stress upon faith, upon religion and piety, and make every effort to bring you up or cause you to be brought up in the right way. No greater benefit could possibly be bestowed upon you!

Parents who act thus lay the foundation of happiness for their family both in time and in eternity; they bear in mind the truth of these lines:

If on Faith’s firm basis founded,

By the fear of God surrounded,

Fast as a rock thy house shall stand,

Dreading no storm or hostile hand.

The Agony

“If I ask, my Father will send Me twelve legions of angels.”

Poverty was a favorite theme with Jesus. “Do not lay up treasures on earth,” He said, in His first sermon; “and the people heard him gladly,” because they were poor.

He grieved openly over the rich, young man, possessed by his possessions. He told the pointed tale of a fool who dreamed of bigger barns on his deathbed. He praised the widow, who put her last penny into the temple treasury.

And what He preached, Jesus practiced.

The night before He died, He renounced an army of glorious angels, His possession by right, and entered upon His passion, (as he had entered the world) in utter poverty.

In these meditations, dear Lord, help me to understand why You speak of poverty as a blessing.

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This is an excellent prayer book.

Originally published in 1908 by the venerable Benziger Bros., this book has everything–all the basic prayers, litanies and Order (now known as Extraordinary Form) of the Mass. It also has excellent meditations for Eucharistic meditation and prayers for reception of Holy Communion.

The distinguishing feature of this prayer book, however, is that it is chock-full with helpful meditations and inspiring quotes for living the full Christian life. Father Lasance was obviously a very wise man and a holy priest. -T. Berry

Quite possibly the most comprehensive (pre-Vatican II) Prayerbook of the Roman Catholic rite. This is a veritable treasure-trove of prayers, containing both familiar standbys, and many that one would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere.
At 1227 pages, it is remarkably compact and easy to carry.

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