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Manners Toward God ~ Fr. Daniel A. Lord

Manners Toward God by Fr. Daniel A. Lord

Sometimes we reserve our beautiful manners for our chance acquaintances and keep our crudeness for our constant and truest friends. We are scrupulously polite to those we have just met, and we are almost rude to our own families. Somehow, wrong as this is, it is so natural and almost inevitable.

And for God? It would almost seem that our very worst manners are reserved for Him. Does it seem strange to talk of manners toward God? Why should it? If royalty is approached with punctilious good manners, certainly we owe good manners to Him who is the highest royalty.

Yet at Sunday Mass, that beautiful reception which the King gives to His subjects, that great banquet at which the Father entertains His family, our manners are often appalling.

Before the priest has finished the last Gospel, we bolt for the aisles and jam in a mad bargain-day struggle for the door. The beautiful dignity with which ladies and gentlemen go from a distinguished house, the quiet and calm leave-taking which marks a well-bred family, even the affectionate farewells of children to their parents, give place to a wild rush for the door of the church. We turn rude backs upon the priest, who leaves the sanctuary to the noisy accompaniment of hurried shuffling feet.

If you dislike a yawn as much as most of us do, you probably feel that it is the most offensive of bad manners. Recognizing that it is an affront to the person with whom we are talking, we choke it back with fierce de-termination, stifle it at the risk of exploding, and apologize abjectly when it escapes despite our struggles.

Just why should one feel that almost uncontrollable desire to yawn at prayer? Perhaps it comes from the fact that we pray so badly. Things badly done almost inevitably lead to boredom, and boredom is the prelude to yawns.

Now prayer, if you look at it rightly, is conversation with God, and that means that yawning at prayer is yawning in God’s face. The deep courtesy at the moment of presentation to a king or queen, the practiced bow of fencers before an engagement, are gestures of the beautiful-mannered.

The old-fashioned bow which once passed between the ladies and gentlemen has become nothing but a memory, but even though it seems archaic, it continues dear to romantic hearts.

Fine manners put into a greeting between friends something of the poetry of motion; the lady’s bow, with its deep and graceful movement, and the gentleman’s bow, hand on heart, made a bodily gesture of dignity and grace. The beautiful greeting of friend toward friend has disappeared everywhere except in the Catholic Church.

There the genuflection before the altar keeps something of the beautiful dignity and grace which marked the now old-fashioned bow. For, rightly made, the genuflection is extraordinarily beautiful. It is worthy of the King to whom it is made, and expresses in a single movement deep respect, readiness to serve, and adoration.

But it is beautifully done all too infrequently. The bob which makes one think of a cork bouncing on the water, the knee smashing heavily into the floor, the furtive duck of the head which seems to protect and disguise a bad attack of rheumatism, the right knee placed so far behind the left that the body bends forward in the most ungainly of quarter-circles — these are hardly genuflections of grace or beauty or even dignity.

Good manners require that our gesture of greeting to the King should be made with deference and with all the grace of which we are capable.

Careful speech, accurately enunciated, with words used in the full resonance of their vowels and the clear-cut accuracy of their consonants, is an unfailing source of delight. It marks the trained speaker, who recognizes that language has strength and fullness and uses it for all it is worth.

It is part of the charm of a well-bred lady, who plays with words and makes them sound like music. Careful speech is a sign of the well-mannered and a compliment they pay to their well-bred friends.

And yet our prayers slip through our lips so fast that the words tangle together in a jumble of sound that ruins beauty and even destroys sense.

The exquisite cadences of the Our Father and the angelic music of the Hail Mary are lost when the words are jumbled together in a sound not unlike a gargle and strongly suggesting the rumble of distant trucks over a rough pavement.

Manners are shown in speech not less than in gesture. We dislike slovenly speech in others and we do not use slovenly speech with those we love. Yet who of us but knows how ill-mannered he is when he speaks to God?

And yet, of all the people who ever lived, who was ever so beautifully mannered, so courteous, as our Savior? Though He Himself was the guest at the wedding feast, with beautiful tact He supplied the wine with which to make others merry.

He was the gracious host to the multitudes at the feast of the loaves and fishes. He never entered a house without bringing to it the charm of His presence and the blessings from His hands.

Zaccheus, Lazarus, Peter, Mary and Martha welcomed Him to their homes, but found that their hospitality was repaid with grace beyond the measure of what they had given.

He was merciful and considerate even to those who were merciless and inconsiderate to Him. They say that manners are passing away. Manners are too beautiful a thing to be allowed to slip from our lives. The world would be a desperately ugly place without well-mannered people. Certainly good manners are far too beautiful to be allowed to pass from our dealing with God. We cannot be ill-bred in dealing with the King.

“The need for admiration is manifest in the young boy. He doesn’t realize this, but it is part of his makeup. When his parents observe his manly qualities and express their admiration, it builds his confidence and helps his growth into manhood, encouraging all the potential within him. Equally important is the kindly feelings it awakens toward his parents, creating a bond of love between them. When he feels close to them he is fortified against youth problems which lie ahead. Because this acute need is not understood by many parents, admiration is sadly lacking. Some young men survive a life of correction without praise, but many don’t. There are sad casualties along the way. Some who could have become shining lights fall by the wayside.” -Helen Andelin

“It often struck me that if cleanliness is next to godliness, cheerfulness is a near relation. The cheerful are truly benefactors of the world in which we move…”

Penal Rosaries! When you want to carry something smaller than a full rosary!

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.

Consoling Thoughts of Saint Francis de Sales (Set )

Souls who seek guidance on their journey will need look no further than the master of spiritual direction himself, St. Francis de Sales. Among his many works, the Doctor of the Church addressed the most difficult issues in a soul’s course: spiritual and physical trials, death of loved ones, and darkness, all covered in the Consoling Thoughts of St. Francis de Sales Set.

Volumes included in this set of four are:

Readers of Consoling Thoughts will experience firsthand why St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622) is known to history as the Gentle Saint. St. Francis was Bishop of Geneva and a tireless preacher, who yet made time to correspond with numerous souls who wrote him for his insight and guidance. His Consoling Thoughts are compiled from these letters as well as from his other spiritual works.

Available here.

The Sermons of St. Francis de Sales

Available here.

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