“The tree is known by its fruit,” says our Lord in the Gospel (Mt 12:33).
If our prayer is genuine, it will bear fruit: it will make us humbler, gentler, more patient, more trusting, etc. It will bring all the “fruits of the Spirit” little by little to flower in our lives.
St. Paul gives a list in the Letter to the Galatians: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentle ness, self-control …” (Gal 5:22–23).
Above all, genuine prayer will make us love God and our neighbor more. Charity is the fruit and the ultimate criterion of every prayer life. “If I have not love, I am nothing,” asserts St. Paul forcefully (1 Cor 13:1–3).
Without wishing to deny the absolute priority of this criterion (though I would ask: is it possible to measure the degree of our love?), I believe that for practical purposes we won’t go wrong if we take peace as the criterion.
People’s prayer lives can be said to be basically “on track” if they experience them as a place of quiet, a place where they find peace. They can say:
My prayer isn’t wonderful, I’m far from being one of the great mystics, I often have distractions and times of dryness; most of the time I don’t feel very much, and I certainly don’t claim to have reached the pinnacle of the spiritual life.
Despite that, I recognize that for me, the fact of keeping these regular appointments with our Lord is producing an effect of inner pacification. This peace is not something I always feel with the same intensity, but it is often the result of my times of prayer.
These times of prayer enable me to be more tranquil, more confident, to stand back from my problems and worries, and not be so traumatized by the difficulties that weigh me down …
And I feel that this peacefulness, this objectivity about my worries, is not the fruit of my reflections or any psychological efforts I may make, but comes as a gift, a grace.
Sometimes it comes quite unexpectedly: I might have every reason to be stressed, and suddenly my heart receives a sense of tranquility that I know very well is not produced by myself. It comes from Someone else… .
If we think carefully about this, we see that it could not be otherwise: God is an ocean, an abyss of peace. If our prayer is sincere and really brings us into communion with Him, part of that divine peace cannot fail to be transmitted to us.
In God there is an intensity of life whose power we cannot begin to measure: “The Lord your God is a devouring fire” (Dt 4:24). And at the same time, there is in God a gentleness and peace of infinite depth, which is at least in part bestowed upon our hearts when we hold ourselves in humble openness to Jis presence.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28); “The peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:7).
This gift of inner peace is a precious one, because in this aura of peace love can grow. This peace makes us ready for the work of grace and facilitates our discernment of situations and decisions that need to be taken.
Obviously it is not always experienced in the same way; it is normal for us to have ups and downs in this area, to go through times of trial in which we find ourselves filled with worry and cannot easily rid ourselves of it.
But my statement remains true: if, taken altogether, in the long term, we experience our prayer life as a habitual source of inner peace, it is a very good sign.
On the other hand, in the absence of that experience we should ask ourselves some questions. This is a sign that we are not praying enough or that our inner dispositions are not what they should be.
In such cases it seems to me necessary that we open our hearts to a spiritual companion or guide. I would add in conclusion that one of the most valuable fruits of prayer is purity of heart. Prayer contains a great power of inner purification.
In prayer, the heart is calmed, simplified, and redirected toward God. What is a pure heart, if not a heart entirely turned toward God, in the trusting desire to love him truly and do his whole will?
“You cannot teach what you do not know yourselves. Teach them to love God, to love Christ, to love our Mother the Church and the pastors of the Church who are your guides. Love the catechism and teach your children to love it; it is the great handbook of the love and fear of God, of Christian wisdom and of eternal life.” -Pope Pius XII
As summer wanes, the gardens are ripe with flowers, the Mary Garden is peaceful and lovely. Come, take a short walk with me….
– Hello Father. Sorry for being so late but I had to wait for the babysitter to come so that I could leave the house. I am glad to be able to come tonight for our little talk.
– Well, the subject I want to talk to you about is one of the most important in the spiritual life. It is how we can and even should profit from our faults. I believe that a good understanding of this question is a tremendous help in order to maintain peace of soul and make progress in union with God.
– But, Father I thought that our faults were an obstacle on the way to perfection. What kind of profit can I draw from my weakness which causes me to fall everyday into so many sins of impatience? What sort of advantage can I obtain from my negligence which causes me to miss so many opportunities of little sacrifices?
Let me ask you one question: Have you made up your mind never to offend God deliberately? Are you sincerely seeking to obey His will in fulfilling your vocation of wife and mother?
If the answer is yes, then your faults should not be a source of sadness but an occasion to practice humility. St Theresa of the Child Jesus used to say: “I do not grieve in seeing that I am weakness itself. On the contrary, it is in this that I glory, and I expect each day to discover in myself new imperfections.”
She also wrote ” What does it matter to me to fall each moment? By that I feel my weakness and therein I find great profit. My God, you see what I can do if You do not carry me in your arms!”
We have to realize that everything is either willed or permitted by God. In the designs of His providence, even our faults ought to serve for our sanctification. Alas, many good souls do not know how to cope with their defects. They are quickly discouraged at the sight of their misery, instead of making an act of humility.
St Paul says: “All things work together for the good of them that love God,” Yes, everything and St Augustine adds “even our sins”.
– I must admit, Father, that I often get frustrated at myself. I make good resolutions, and I cannot seem to be able to keep them! The other day I was pretty happy because I had found the time for a little bit of spiritual reading. I had also succeeded in remaining in the presence of God for most of the day.
And then in the evening, the twins started to fight in their room and I completely lost my temper with them. I yelled and screamed so loud that the neighbors next door must have heard me!
After this I felt so ashamed and angry with myself that I got depressed. When my husband came home, I am afraid he did not feel like talking to me since he saw that I was in a bad mood.
– Yes this is a good example of how the bad use we make of our faults does more damage to us than our faults themselves. Alas, it is our self-love which causes us to act this way.
I have myself the same problem. We priests also have to overcome our pride. You see, we should not get upset when we fall! I think we should rather be surprised that we do not fall more often.
We should also thank God for all the faults from which He preserves us. Let us not become troubled and agitated when we see ourselves so imperfect. We should always keep our peace of soul.
When we happen to commit a fault we should turn to God with humility and ask His forgiveness. And then we must never think about the fault again, until the time comes to mention it in confession.
– So you think it may be pride, Father, when I get discouraged at the sight of how little progress I make in the spiritual life?
– Yes, it is possible that your self-love causes you to desire to be exempt from imperfections and so you get upset when you realize that you are still committing many little faults every day.
God wants us to be humble. He needs this disposition in our souls in order to communicate to us His grace. This is why He often allows us to plagued with defects.
I think that, if we were to become perfect all of a sudden, it would make us very proud and it would cause our ruin.
God is a great and wise Master. Let Him do as He likes. He will not fail in His work of the sanctification of your soul. We should resolve never to willfully do anything that displeases Him.
But if, despite our goodwill, we fall into faults, let us rejoice in the humiliation into which these faults throw us. Once again, we should profit from our faults in order to destroy our self-complacency and give glory to our dear God.
– So Father, you think that my defects do not offend Our Lord? It really bothers me sometimes when I come to confession and I have the same faults to confess every month!
– I know your soul and I think that many of your faults are not deliberate. Let me take two examples. First Mrs. So-and-So is a real gossip and in the past when both of you were on the phone, you talked about your neighbors in an unkind way. So you perfectly know that she is an occasion of sin.
If one day you go ahead and call her on the phone and indulge in an uncharitable conversation, there is no doubt that you have committed a venial sin and hurt the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Second, Mrs. Such-and-Such is your good friend and one day she comes to visit you. During the conversation you both tell bits of news that you have learned about people (without previous malicious intention).
After she has left you realize that some of the things you revealed to her were unnecessary and may have caused such a person to decrease in her esteem. Well, it was not a deliberate sin on your part, but a fault of weakness.
Tell God that you are sorry and your act of humility will make up for whatever negligence there may have been and give glory to Him.
– Well, Father, I will follow your advice and ask Our Lord to give me humility of heart. if I see some good in me, I know it is from God and I will thank Him for it. If I see some evil, I know it is from me. I will not get discouraged but I will profit by it so as to humble myself.
– Good! And always remember what I told you before about the way of spiritual childhood. St Theresa teaches us to make ourselves as small as we can in our own eyes.
Look at little children. They often fall on the ground. But they do not hurt themselves because, so to speak, they never fall from any great height.
So also little souls. Their wounds are never very serious and they are healed as soon as they are wounded. Far from being a hindrance in the way of perfection, the experience of their faults makes them humble and is therefore an advantage.
St. Paul said “It is my weakness that makes all my strength.” Let us pray to God so that we may receive the grace of being like little children in His sight, humble and confident.
I will announce the winner next Tuesday, June 22nd! (Moving it to WEDS. JUNE 23RD as I have a GALLERY going up tomorrow! SO YOU HAVE AN EXTRA DAY TO ENTER! 🙂 )
“The desired wife has developed her personality before marriage and continues that development during marriage. By personality here I mean beauty of soul and all those qualities and accomplishments which go to make a person interesting and sought after. Personality will carry a girl a great deal further in life than physical beauty. In fact, without personality, beauty often tires one in married life. Some girls are born with physical beauty. None are born with personality. They must develop and cultivate it all the days of their lives.” – Fr. Leo Kinsella, The Wife Desired, 1950’s https://amzn.to/2w4nX08 (afflink)
Review: Catholic Mother Goose is a ‘one of a kind’ treasure for young and old alike! Little minds will be captivated by the beautifully colored and illustrated pages. Throughout the nursery rhymes, children will learn the lessons of kindness, unselfishness, the efficacy of suffering and the value of prayer! They will become more familiar with the lives of the Saints, St. Therese, St. Francis, etc. and their great love for Jesus and Mary. These beautifully written poems will plant the seed for good literature and a love for reading for years to come. This is how we make our Catholic faith and culture come alive for our children! This book is a must!
Catholic mothers everywhere are looking for innovative ways to teach their children the basic truths of our Faith. There is so much out there to offer to those mothers on this journey…..so much in the way of the latest software, latest videos, etc.
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Here is a book that fulfills that need…The Catholic Mother Goose, Volume Two! It is a 140 page fun-packed book, vibrantly full-color, filled with brand-new nursery rhymes that have a touch of our Catholic Faith peeking through the rhythmic lines.
My Catholic Mother Goose Volume One has touched many lives and now you can purchase Volume Two that will have a new and lasting impact! Available here.
Catholic Mother Goose Volumes One and Two available here.
A book of your favorite litanies….
Chosen by God for the incomparable vocation of spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and foster father of Our Lord Jesus Christ; St. Joseph received magnificent divine graces and favors not granted even to the Old Testament Patriarchs. Known as the most humble of men; St. Joseph received from Almighty God the authority to command both Our Lady and the Son of God Himself; and in Heaven he continues to have great intercessory power with God.
The Divine Favors Granted to St. Joseph shows how this greatest of the Patriarchs is the patron of all Christians and how wonderfully he answers prayers; plus; it gives many of the ways of honoring him and many prayers to request his intercession. One of the finest books on St. Joseph; it will surely inspire the reader with a profound devotion to this great “Patron of the Universal Church.” Impr. 176 pgs;
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This is from the small, but excellent book Searching for and Maintaining Peace: A Small Treatise on Peace of Heart by Father Jacques Phillipe. Our priest made this book available to all of us a few years ago and I am very grateful as it is an excellent meditation on how important peace of heart is in the spiritual life. It is full of practical advice on how to avoid the pitfalls and work toward keeping that most necessary quality of peace in our hearts!
From Father Philippe:
I stated that disquietude, in the face of some evil that threatens or overcomes our own person or those who are dear to us, is the most frequent reason why we lose our interior peace.
And the response: confident abandonment into the Hands of God, Who delivers us from all evil, or Who, if He allows it, gives us the strength to endure it and makes it turn to our advantage.
This response will remain valid for all the other causes for losing our peace, with which we will now interest ourselves and which are specific cases.
Nevertheless, it is good to speak of it because though abandonment may be the sole rule, the practice of abandonment takes diverse forms according to what is at the origin of our troubles and our anxieties.
It often happens that we lose our peace not because suffering affects us or threatens to affect us personally, but rather because of the behavior of an individual person or group of persons who hurt us or preoccupy us.
It is thus something that is not directly ours – but which, nonetheless, concerns us – that is in question: for example, the good of our community, of the church or the salvation of a particular person.
A woman is perhaps distressed because she does not see a much desired conversion of her husband being realized. A superior of a community may lose his sense of peace, because one of his brothers or sisters does the contrary of that which he expects. Or, more simply, in every day life, one becomes irritated, because one close to him behaves in a way that he imagines he should not behave.
How many nervous tensions are due to this type of situation! The response is the same as previously indicated: confidence and abandonment. I must do what occurs to me relative to aiding others to improve themselves, peacefully and tenderly, and put everything else in the Hands of the Lord, Who knows how to draw benefit from all things.
But, relative to this, we would like to express a general principle that is very important in our daily spiritual life which is the point at which we usually stumble in the cases cited above. In addition, its area of application is much larger than the question of patience when confronted with the faults of others.
Here is the principle: not only must we be careful to want and desire good things for their own sake, but also to want and desire them in a way that is good. To be attentive not only to that which we want, but also to the way in which we want them.
In effect, we very frequently sin in this fashion: we want something which is good, and even very good, but we want it in a way that is bad. In order to understand, let us take one of the examples mentioned above.
It is normal that the superior of the community should watch over the sanctity of those in his care. It’s an excellent thing and conforms to the will of God. But if the superior gets angry, irritated or loses his peace over the imperfections or the lack of fervor of his brothers, this is certainly not the Holy Spirit that is animating him.
And we often have this tendency. Because the thing that we want is good, even seeing as desired by God, we feel justified in wanting it with that much more impatience and displeasure if it is not realized. The more a thing seems good to us, the more we are agitated and preoccupied to realize it!
We should, therefore, as I have said, not only verify that the things we want are good in themselves, but also that the manner in which we want them, the disposition of heart in which we want them, are good. That is to say that our wanting must always be caring, peaceful, patient, detached and abandoned to God. It should not be an impatient wanting, hurried, restless, irritated, etc.
In the spiritual life it is often there that our attitude is defective. We are no longer among those who want bad things that are contrary to God. Instead, from now on we want only those things that are good, in conformity with the will of God. But, we want them in a manner that is still not “God’s Way,” that is to say the way of the Holy Spirit, which is caring, peaceful and patient.
We want them in the human way, tense, hurried and discouraged if we do not immediately achieve the desired goal.
All of the Saints insist on telling us that we must moderate our desires, even the best of them. Because, if we desire in the human way that we have described, that will trouble the soul, make it uneasy, destroy its peace and thereby disturb God’s actions in it and in others.
This applies to all things, even to our own sanctification.
How many times do we lose our peace because we find that our sanctification is not progressing rapidly enough, that we still have too many faults. But this does nothing but delay things!
St. Francis de Sales goes so far as to say that “Nothing retards progress in a virtue so much as wanting to acquire it with too much haste!”
To conclude, let us keep this in mind: as far as all our desires and our wishes are concerned, the sign that we are in accordance with truth, that our desire is in accord with the Holy Spirit, is not only that the thing desired is good, it is also that we are at peace.
A desire that causes us to lose peace, even if the thing desired is excellent in itself, is not of God. It is necessary to want and desire, but in a free and detached way in abandoning to God the realization of these desires, as He desires and when He wishes.
To educate our own heart in this sense is of great importance for our spiritual progress. It is God who converts us and causes us to grow, not our nervousness, our impetuosity and our impatience.
“It is difficult for a child to be better than his home environment or for a nation to be superior to the level of its home life. In fulfilling its double purpose – the generation and formation of children – the home becomes a little world in itself, self-sufficient even in its youngest years. It is vital that you, as a mother or father, make of your home a training ground in character-building for your children, who will inherit the world’s problems. Home is a place in which the young grow in harmony with all that is good and noble, where hardship, happiness, and work are shared.” – Father Lawrence G. Lovasik, Catholic Family Handbook http://amzn.to/2sDb6hw (afflink)
Time is something that we do not have a lot of and is gone right when we use it. Many waste time, which is not a virtuous thing to do. What is our goal?
Do you need some inspiration? For some great book suggestions visit My Book List…
Our present life is always something good, for the Creator has endowed it with a blessing He will never cancel, even though sin has complicated things.
“God saw that it was good,” the Book of Genesis tells us. For God, “seeing” means not merely taking note but actually conferring reality. This fundamental goodness of life is also expressed by Jesus: “Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”
Sometimes, though, it isn’t worry that causes us to focus on the future, but the hope of something better or happier.
It may be a very specific event, like a reunion with someone we love or coming home after a long, tiring journey.
Or it may be less well-defined: the time when things will go better, circumstances will change, life will be more interesting.
At present, we tell ourselves, we don’t really have a life, but later we will “live life to the full.”
There is nothing wrong with that, but it does contain a certain danger. We may spend our whole lives waiting to live. Thus we risk not fully accepting the reality of our present lives.
Yet, what guarantee is there that we won’t be disappointed when the long-awaited time arrives? Meanwhile we don’t put our hearts sufficiently into today, and so miss graces we should be receiving. Let us live each moment to the full, not worrying about whether time is going quickly or slowly but welcoming everything given us moment by moment.
To live today well we also should remember that God only asks for one thing at a time, never two.
It doesn’t matter whether the job we have in hand is sweeping the kitchen floor or giving a speech to forty thousand people. We must put our hearts into it, simply and calmly, and not try to solve more than one problem at a time.
Even when what we’re doing is genuinely trifling, it’s a mistake to rush through it as though we felt we were wasting our time.
If something, no matter how ordinary, needs to be done and is part of our lives, it’s worth doing for its own sake, and worth putting our hearts into.
LIVING IN THE PRESENT INSTANT:
Be docile and pliable in the hands of God. You know what you must do to achieve this.
Keep yourself at peace and in complete repose, never become upset and never trouble yourself about anything, forget the past, live as though the future does not exist, live for Jesus in every moment that you are living, or, better, live as though you have no life in yourself, but allow Jesus to live in you at His leisure; to walk thus, in all circumstances and in all encounters, without fear or worry as is becoming the children of Jesus and Mary; never think of yourself voluntarily; abandon the care of your soul to Jesus alone, etc.
It is He who takes the soul by force; it belongs to Him. It is therefore up to Him to take care of it because it is His property. Do not fear so much the judgment of such a tender Master.
Generally speaking, banish all fear and replace this feeling with love; in all of this, act gently, sweetly, steadily, without haste, without anger. Act as if you were dead when the need is there.
Walk in this fashion in all graciousness, abandonment and complete confidence. The time of this exile will end and Jesus will belong to us and we to Him.
Then each of our tribulations will be a crown of glory for us that we will place on the head of Jesus, because all glory is His alone.
“Think of the Queen of Heaven and Lady of the World as humble housewife at the same time that she is mother and caretaker of God’s Son. It makes me sigh of tenderness, fills me with goodwill and love for the small and great chores of the home. How fragrant would be the robes that this pure lily washed. How tasty would be the food her delicate hands prepared. From her holy lips, not a whisper, no complaint or claim, only praise and sweet words. A life of worship and continuous obedience, in the freedom of those who choose to love – were she to kneel in prayer or clean the floor.” -Veronica Mendes, A Mulher Forte
Coloring pages for your children. Click on individual picture to get fullsize.
Need some great reading suggestions? Visit My Book List here.
The last reason that we are going to examine and which frequently causes us to lose our sense of peace is lack of certitude, the troubling of conscience that is experienced when it is necessary to make a decision and we are not able to see clearly. We are afraid to make a mistake that may have disturbing consequences, we are afraid that it may not be the will of the Lord.
Situations of this type can be very painful and certain dilemmas truly agonizing. The general stance of abandonment and confidence of which we have spoken, this approach of putting everything into the hands of God which enable us to avoid “dramatizing” anything (even the consequences that our errors might engender!) will be particularly precious in these situations of incertitude.
We would like, however, to make a few useful remarks for conserving our interior peace when making decisions.
The first thing to say (and this is in complete harmony with what we have said up to this point) is that, faced with an important decision, one of the errors to avoid is that of being excessively hurried or precipitous. A certain deliberation is often necessary in order to properly consider things and to allow our hearts to orient themselves peaceably and gently toward a good solution.
Saint Vincent de Paul made decisions that were presented to him after mature reflection (and above all prayer!), in such a way that some people who were close to him found him too slow to decide. But, one judges a tree by its fruit!
Before making a decision, it is necessary to do what is appropriate to see the situation clearly and not to decide precipitously or arbitrarily. We need to analyze the situation with its different aspects and to consider our motivations in order to decide with a pure heart and not in an effort to serve our personal interest. We need to pray for the light of the Holy Spirit and the grace to act in conformity with the will of God and, if necessary, to ask the advice of people who can enlighten us relative to the decision.
In this regard, we must know that everyone will encounter, above all in the spiritual life, certain situations where one would not have sufficient light, would be incapable of making a necessary discernment or of making a determination in peace, without recourse to a spiritual advisor.
The Lord does not want us to be self-sufficient and, as part of His pedagogy, He permits that sometime we find ourselves in the impossibility of finding enlightenment and peace by ourselves; we cannot receive them except through the intermediary of another person to whom we can open up.
There is, in this opening up of the heart relative to questions that we ask ourselves or dilemmas that we try to solve, a disposition of humility and trust which greatly pleases the Lord and frequently renders harmless the traps that the enemy sets there to deceive or trouble us.
Regarding this interior peace, which is so precious and of which we have spoken so much, we know that at certain moments in our lives we cannot find it by ourselves without the help of someone to whom we can open our souls.
Saint Alphonsus Liguori was an unparalleled director of souls, but with regard to that which concerned his own spiritual life, he was very often incapable of orienting himself without the aid of someone to whom he opened himself and toward whom he was obedient.
Having said that, it is important to know one thing. Whatever the precautions (prayer, reflection, advice) that one uses to obtain enlightenment before making a decision and in order to be sure of doing God’s will (it’s a duty to take these precautions, because we do not have the right, above all in domains of importance, to decide lightly), one will not always receive this light in a clear and unambiguous manner.
Confronted with a specific situation, we ask ourselves (and we must always do this!): “What must I do? What is the Lord’s will?” We will not always have a response!
When we make this effort at discernment and search for God’s will, often the Lord speaks to us in diverse ways and makes us understand in a clear way how we must act. Then we can make our decision in peace.
But, it may happen that the Lord does not respond to us. And this is completely normal. Sometimes, He simply leaves us free and sometimes, for reasons of His own, He does not manifest Himself.
It is good to know this, because it often happens that people, for fear of making a mistake, of not doing the will of God, seek at any price to have an answer.
They increase their reflections, their prayers, they open the Bible ten times looking for a text in order to obtain the desired enlightenment. And all this is troubling and disquieting more than anything else. We do not see things more clearly for all that; we have a text, but we don’t know how to interpret it.
When the Lord leave us thus in incertitude, we must quietly accept it. Rather than wanting to “force things” and torment ourselves unnecessarily because we do not have an evident response, we must follow the principle that Saint Faustina offers us:
When one does not know what is best, one must reflect, consider and take counsel, because one does not have the right to act in incertitude of conscience. In incertitude (if the incertitude remains) one must tell oneself: whatever I do , it will be good, provided that I have the intention to do good.
That which we consider good, God accepts and considers as good. Don’t be chagrined if, after a certain time, you see that these things are not good. God looks at the intention with which we begin and He grants the reward according to this intention. It is a principle that we must follow. (Divine Mercy in My Soul: The Diary of the Servant of God, Sister Faustina Kowalska).
For the guys: “The husband’s first duty, under God’s service, is to his wife. He must give himself to her as she has left all to follow him. His must be—from his bridal hour to his dying day—one long, uninterrupted, most loving and unstinted service to her. He must, every day that he rises, set her image higher in his heart; reverence her more, seek to have others know her worth better, and show her greater honor.” – Rev. Bernard O’Reilly, True Men as We Need Them, 1894 http://amzn.to/2yWw0j5 (afflink)
Coloring pages for your children…
From the Author … Treasures, however great and precious, are never appreciated until examined, counted over, and summed up. Hence it is, dear reader, that by many there is formed no due estimate of the holy and awful Sacrifice of the Mass. Though the greatest treasure which glorifies and enriches the Church of God, it is still a hidden treasure, and known to few. Ah, if this jewel of paradise were but known, who would not give up all things to obtain it! http://amzn.to/2tRWKyn
An article that touches our hearts in these troubling times. Divine Providence will always see us through. Let us make sure we are keeping our priorities straight….our daily prayers, the Sacraments, coupled with our daily duties firmly adhered to each day….
by Pope Pius XII, Dear Newlyweds
January 8, 1941 Vol. II, p.367
For you, dear newlyweds, the present hour is like the joyous time of seeding fields made ready with loving care.
Yet, however brightly your youthful innocence may sparkle, you have already learned enough in the school of experience and from a look at the world to know that the future lying before you, which we hope will be brimming with Christian happiness, will bestow upon you not pleasures and joys alone, and that, especially in these troubled times, it will not bring to pass without suffering your sublime mission of giving life to innocent children, gifts of heaven, of raising and instructing them in holy religion by word and example, destined as they are to be your own support and the bulwark of your country and to join you one day in eternal glory and happiness.
The farmer does not hesitate to face courageously the unpredictable eventualities of drought and frost, for he is aware that God’s merciful providence will be concerned for him and will not let fall those who serve and hope in Him, as he will not let starve the sparrows which swoop about the plow.
You too know that the Lord will not permit you to be tempted beyond your power (I Cor. 10:13) and that patience has “its perfect work” (James 1:2). Do not doubt therefore that in His infinite goodness He will suit the trials to your strength, or better still, to the strength and comfort which He Himself will give you through His grace; and this faith in Him which is the source of hope in your hearts today will still be the support of your work tomorrow.
But this should not make you forget that even in the darkest moments the future might hold for you, you will not be without consolations and satisfactions.
In the country, as you know, even winter does not pass without its joys. Is it not then that the family, dispersed during other seasons because of its work, regathers more frequently around the hearth? Is not this the time of long paternal and fraternal sessions during which hearts beat more in union with each other than ever, and, in conversations and silences more eloquent than words, souls probe each other more deeply and know each other more intimately in their affection and thoughts?
Is it not then that the past, the present and the future enliven the memories and conversations of happy families?
So too for you, dear sons and daughters, in the most difficult moments that might ever befall you, the haven of comfort and consolation will be just as great. Do not fear.
If, as strong and trusting Christians, you will accept afflictions too as coming from the Hands of God to perfect our virtue, these trials, instead of inciting reproach, complaints, discord and dissension, as unhappily occurs so often, will draw your hearts even closer together and will strengthen your love in sorrow, for love does not live without grief.
Then you will know each other, you will speak to each other and you will understand each other better, you will support each other more steadily in the steps of life’s journey. Then the love which joins you, tempered in the fires of tribulation, will definitely grow stronger; nothing will any longer avail to separate two souls which have so valorously suffered and carried together the cross in union with Christ.
These thoughts, which come from the heart as our paternal remembrance for you, may perhaps seem austere in these days of your happiness.
Yet in the light of the faith which has drawn you to us, they are the only source of true happiness, of that happiness which can only arise, exist or endure where the high purpose of this life is profoundly understood, accepted, loved; of a happiness less childish, less thoughtless, less frivolous, but more intimate, more solid and more secure since it is founded on the fullness of the Christian spirit which does not collapse before the winds of adversity and which makes joys and sorrows of this world the means of attaining a better life.
This is the spirit we ask of God for you, dear newlyweds, and for all those who are dear to you, while as a pledge of abundant graces and heaven’s gifts we impart, with all our heart, our paternal Apostolic Benediction.
Finer Femininity is taking an extended sabbatical from Facebook.
I am on MeWe if you would like to follow me there. This platform is a lot like Facebook but respects the privacy and the free speech of the user. Here is the link to my FF MeWe Page. Each day I add tidbits to inspire you on yourjourney. Come and be a part of our community!
“Modern mothers have been relying on psychology books to interpret child behavior for so long now that if all the psychology books were burned to a crisp, few mothers could relax with the conviction that God’s love, the maternal instinct, and divine grace could take their place. What we all — little or big — want is God; if we do not realize it, however, we choose many ignoble things in His place. And if we want to teach children to be good with a goodness that’s lasting, we must teach them to be good for the love of God.” Mary Reed Newland, How to Raise Good Catholic Children, 1954
Saint Rita of Cascia Religious Pendant and Earring Set…Wire-Wrapped, Handcrafted. Get it blessed and use it as a Sacramental. Available here.
The entire collection of twelve Books of Saints St. Joseph Picture Books, packaged in a handsome and sturdy slipcase….
Treasury of Novenas contains over 40 popular Novenas specifically arranged in accord with the Liturgical Year on the Feasts of Jesus, Mary, and many favorite Saints. By acclaimed author Rev. Lawrence G. Lovasik, S.V.D., this book has a rich, gold-stamped brown Dura-Lux cover and is an excellent collection of Novenas for private devotion.
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When one has gone a certain distance in the spiritual life, when one truly desires to love the Lord with all his heart, when one has learned to have confidence in God and to abandon himself into His hands in the midst of difficulties, there remains for him, however, a circumstance in which he often risks losing his peace and tranquility of soul and which the devil frequently exploits to discourage and trouble him.
It concerns the vision of his misery, the experience of his own faults, the failures he continues to experience in such and such an area, despite his strong desire to correct himself.
But here also it is important to be aware that the sadness, the discouragement and the anguish of soul that we feel after committing a fault are not good and we must, on the contrary, do everything we can to remain at peace.
In the daily experience of our miseries and faults, this is the fundamental principle that must guide us. It is not so much a question of our making superhuman efforts to completely eliminate our imperfections and our sins (that which is, in any case, beyond our reach!), as it is a question of knowing how, as quickly as possible, to recapture our peace when we have fallen into sin or have been troubled by the experience of our imperfections, and to avoid sadness and discouragement.
This is not laxity, not resignation to mediocrity, but, on the contrary, a way in which to sanctify ourselves more rapidly. There are a number of reasons for this.
The first reason is the fundamental principle that we have already mentioned many times: God acts in the peace of one’s soul. It is not by our own efforts that we succeed in liberating ourselves from sin; it is only the grace of God which attains this end. Rather than troubling ourselves, it is more efficacious to regain our peace and let God act.
The second reason is that this is more pleasing to God. What is more pleasing to God? Is it when, after experiencing a failure, we are discouraged and tormented, or when we react by saying: “Lord, I ask Your pardon, I have sinned again. This, alas, is what I am capable of doing on my own! But I abandon myself with confidence to Your mercy and Your pardon, I thank You for not allowing me to sin even more grievously.
I abandon myself to You with confidence because I know that one day you will heal me completely and, in the meantime, I ask You that the experience of my misery would cause me to be more humble, more considerate of others, more conscious that I can do nothing by myself, but that I must rely solely on Your love and Your mercy.” The response is clear.
The third reason is that the trouble, the sadness and the discouragement that we feel regarding our failures and our faults are rarely pure; they are not very often the simple pain of having offended God. They are in good part mixed with pride.
We are not sad and discouraged so much because God was offended, but because the ideal image that we have of ourselves has been brutally shaken. Our pain is very often that of wounded pride! This excessive pain is actually a sign that we have put our trust in ourselves – in our own strength and not in God.
Listen to Dom Lorenzo Scupoli whom we have already cited:
“A presumptuous man believes with certainty that he has acquired a distrust of himself and confidence in God (which are the foundations of the spiritual life and therefore that which one must make an effort to acquire), but this is an error that we never recognize better than when we have just experienced a failure.
Because then, if one is troubled by it, if one feels afflicted by it, if it causes one to lose all hope of making new progress in virtue, this is a sign that one has placed all his confidence, not in God, but in himself, and the greater the sadness and despair, the more one must judge himself guilty.
Because he who mistrusts himself greatly and who puts great confidence in God, if he commits some fault, is hardly surprised, he is neither disturbed not chagrined because he sees clearly that this is the result of his weakness and the little care he took to establish his confidence in God.
His failure, on the contrary, teaches him to distrust even more his own strength and to put even greater trust in the help of Him who alone has power: he detests above all his sin; he condemns the passion or vicious habit which was the cause; he conceives a sharp pain for having offended his God, but his pain is always subdued and does not prevent him from returning to his primary occupations, to bear with his familiar trials and to battle until death with his cruel enemies….
It is, again, a very common illusion to attribute to a feeling of virtue this fear and trouble that one experiences after a sin; because, though the uneasiness that follows the sin is always accompanied by some pain, still it does not proceed only from a source of pride or from a secret presumption, caused by too great a confidence one’s own strength.
Thus, then, whoever believes himself affirmed in virtue, is contemptuous toward temptations and comes to understand, by the sad experience of his failures, that he is fragile and a sinner like others, is surprised, as if by something that never should have happened; and, deprived of the feeble support on which he was counting, he allows himself to succumb to chagrin and despair.
This misfortune never happens to those who are humble, who do not presume on themselves and who rely only on God; when they have failed, they are neither surprised not chagrined because the light of truth which illuminates them makes them see that it is a natural result of their weakness and their inconstancy.
We cannot serve the flesh and the spirit; the two masters. What we are seeking to do is more important than what we seek to avoid. The positive aspects of the Kingdom are good works, piety, prayer and sanctity. Description of Heaven (the Kingdom) which is our goal. Our real life is the eternal life. Everything we do on earth is a merit or a demerit for that end. Discussion of peace. True love of self brings us to true love of God. What is true charity? The tranquility of order. Evil can never put men at rest. The peace of Heaven can exist on earth…
Coloring pages for your children…..
Need some inspiration? Visit these Book Lists for some great reading suggestions!
All things contribute to good for those who love God
And, as a matter of fact, since God can and does know how to draw good from evil, for whom should He do it, if not for those who, without reserve, have given themselves to Him?
Yes, even sins, from which God by His goodness defends us, are reduced by Divine Providence to good for those who belong to Him. Never would David have been so full of humility had he not sinned, nor would Mary Magdalene have been so full of love for her Lord if He had not remitted so many of her sins. And never could He have forgiven her these sins if she had not committed them.
You see, my daughter, this great architect of mercy: He converts our miseries into grace and makes salutary medicine for our souls from the venom of our iniquities. Tell me, please, what could He not do with our afflictions, our sufferings and the persecutions that we endure?
If, then, you are ever touched by some unpleasantness, from wherever it may come, assure your soul that, if it loves God, everything will be converted to good. And although you may not see the means by which this good will happen to you, be assured that it will happen.
If God allows your eyes to be blinded by the mud of ignominy, it is to give you a clear vision as a way of honoring you. If God makes you fall, as He did with Saint Paul, whom He threw to the ground, it is to raise you up to His glory.
One Should Absolutely Desire God Alone, the Rest in Moderation
One should only want God absolutely, invariably and inviolably; but, regarding the means of serving Him, one should only desire them slowly and gently, so that if we are prevented from using them, we would not be greatly upset.
Trust in Providence
The measure of Divine Providence in us depends on the degree of trust that we have in it. Do not anticipate the unpleasant events of this life by apprehension; rather anticipate them with the perfect hope that, as they happen, God, to Whom you belong, will protect you.
He has protected you up to the present moment; just remain firmly in the hands of His providence and He will help you in all situations and at those times when you find yourself unable to walk, He will carry you.
What should you fear, since you belong to God Who has so strongly assured us that for those who love Him all things turn into happiness.
Do not think of what may happen tomorrow, because the same eternal Father Who takes care of you today, will take care of you tomorrow and forever. Either He will see that nothing bad happens to you or, if He allows anything bad to happen to you, He will give you the invincible courage to bear it.
Remain at peace, my daughter. Remove from your imagination whatever may upset you and say frequently to our Lord, “0 God, You are my God and I will trust in You; You will help me and You will be my refuge and there is nothing I will fear, because not only are You with me, but, also, You are in me and I in You.”
What does a child in the arms of such a Father have to fear? Be as a little child, my dearest daughter. As you know, children don’t concern themselves with many matters; they have others who think for them. They are strong enough if they remain with their father. Therefore, act accordingly, my daughter, and you will be at peace.
One Should Avoid Haste
You should treat your affairs with care, but never with hurry or worry. Don’t rush to your tasks, because any haste upsets your reason and judgment and even prevents you from doing well the very thing that you are hurrying to do….
When our Lord reprimanded Saint Martha, He said to her: ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and upset over many things. “You see, if she had simply been caring, she would hardly have been troubled; but because she was worried and anxious, she becomes hurried and upset. And this is why our Lord reprimanded her….
Never is a task accomplished with impetuosity and haste done well…. Therefore, accept with peace all the tasks that come to you and try to accomplish them in order, one after the other.
Peace When Confronted by Our Faults
We must hate our shortcomings, but with a hate that is tranquil and peaceful, not with a hate that is fretful and troubled; and, yes, we must have the patience to see our shortcomings and to profit from a saintly abasement of ourselves.
Failing that, my daughter, your imperfections, which you see very acutely, will trouble you even more keenly, and, by this means maintain themselves, as there is nothing which sustains our defects more than a sense of anxiety and haste to eliminate them.
Gentleness and Peace in One’s Zeal Towards Others
0 my daughter, God has granted you a great mercy to have recalled your heart to the gracious support of others and to have poured the holy balm of sweetness of heart toward your fellow man into the wine of your zeal.
That’s all that you needed, my dearest daughter; your zeal was altogether good, but it had the defect of being a little harsh, a bit too urgent, a bit anxious and irritable. Now, it has been purified of these things; from now on it will be gentle, kind, gracious, peaceful and enduring. (Letter to a Mistress of Novices)
And Finally: Accepting, Without Becoming Troubled, Not Always Being Able to Maintain One’s Peace
Strive, my daughter, to maintain your heart at peace by being even-tempered. I don’t say maintain your heart at peace, but I say strive to do so. This should be your main concern. And beware of occasions for troubling yourself, because you cannot moderate so suddenly the ups and downs of your feelings.
“We must live in the present moment. This is the only moment within our hands, the only one that can make us happy. The past exists no more; let us leave it to the Divine Mercy. And, though it does not yet exist, let us entrust the future to God’s loving Providence and live happily in the present.” -Fr. Narciso Irala, S.J., Achieving Peace of Heart http://amzn.to/2soEBXz (afflink)
Are you hungry to learn? Do you want to grow in your faith and improve in your vocation? Me, too! And I am hungry to have my children learn! Any help I can get I am grateful for and so I feel very blessed to have such an availability of the many resources on the web for Catholics to learn about the Faith! Take a look on this post, Sermons and Audios..
A repost for Throwback Thursday. Reading this again makes me want to try harder to live in the now….to make time for the priorities. When we are on our deathbed, it won’t be how much we have accomplished, how clean our house is or how many Christmas cookies we baked…. It will be: Do I go to the door to greet my husband when he comes home? Do I take the time to listen to him? Did I take time out to look and listen when the kids were talking to me? Did I read them a bedtime story? Did I make sure they said their prayers? These are the priorities.
A lot of the women I know are very busy. They have a God-given gaggle of children, many of them young. They are up night and day, doing the things that mothers lovingly….and sometimes not so lovingly (but always trying)… do.
Many of us can’t change the fact that we are busy….and really, we wouldn’t want to. But we must take time to smell the roses along the way….we must take the time to BE.
One of my favorite books is Achieving Peace of Heart which was written by a Jesuit priest and Catholic psychologist in a day when these could be trusted. He helped so many people and his main theme and way of recovery for small anxieties right through to mental disorders….his way of teaching the secret to happiness…was living in the present moment.
“In conscious life there is a lack of clear consciousness, or of adequate response to impressions received. A victim of this escapes from reality and from society into egocentrism. He neither lives in nor enjoys the present; he does not pay full attention to what he sees or hears. He lives in the past or the future, far away from his physical location, wrapped up in sadness, scruples, or worries…..” Fr. Narciso Irala, Achieving Peace of Heart
And an excerpt from the book Hands Free Life – Rachel Macy Stafford: “Although we’ve been led to believe that our fondest memories are made in the grand occasions of life, in reality, they happen when we pause in the ordinary, mundane moments of a busy day. The most meaningful life experiences don’t happen in the ‘when,’ they happen in the ‘now.’ This concept is not earth shattering, nor is it something you don’t already know. Yet we still continually put off the best aspects of living until the conditions are right.”
So….we need to consciously practice pulling ourselves back to the NOW until we become experts at it! We need to quit thinking so much of what we have to do….running, running, running. Let’s do the job we are doing, let’s do it well, let’s think about living each moment IN the moment. This takes some effort, it takes a mindfulness that may try to elude us…. but we mustn’t let it. We need to begin to show up for life.
This mindfulness will help us with our family life.
When those little…or big…. feet come running up to us and their eyes peer into ours, let’s take the time to really listen and look at them. Let’s BE…..for them.
So what if we are mopping the floor and want to get it done NOW! Let’s put the mop aside and spend that 5 minutes listening to the latest escapade of what happened when Johnny tried to climb the tree or Susie tripped over her skip rope. Those 5 minute snatches can mean so much to them…..and to us.
When hubby comes home from work, let’s take the time to stop what we are doing and greet him with a smile and a kiss. Isn’t he worth it? Yes, he is worth it. If he wants to talk about his day, let’s try to stay focused and listen. It won’t take much of our time and it sure is a lot more important than getting those clothes off the line….we can do it later.
When 14 yr. old Jenny wants to tell us about how her book ended, or about the movie she watched (Ugh! Don’t you dislike listening to someone retell a movie??), let’s listen….not just listen….let’s hear.
Whether we are married or single, no matter what our life occupation is, we must take time for our loved ones. This doesn’t change no matter what walk of life we are in.
We want to be able to go to bed at night knowing that we have spent some time putting first things first….our husbands, our children, our siblings, our parents, our friends.
The people in our lives are so important….much more important than any chore or deadline we may think we have. We can get back to that. Let’s just be there for them. Let’s live in the present…..the NOW….for us, for our families.
So, for today, we will work on doing what we are doing….doing it well….and embracing those “distractions” and “interruptions” with patience and love. Let’s walk with a peace, the peace of doing God’s will in the moment and not letting our mind wander too far away from the NOW. Let us BE…it’s up to ME!
The Important Things- Leane VanderPutten
(based on “Keeping Track of Life Manifesto” – Rachel Macy Stafford)
Not the skin-deep beauty of face and figure
Not the fullness of our bank account
Not the speed at which I get my housework done
Not how nice my vehicle is
Not the cleanliness and beauty of my house
Not the number of chores I do each day
Not the events on my calendar
Not the number of church functions I am involved in
Not the text messages or emails I feel I need to respond to
Instead….I’m paying attention to the important things in life
I am going to live in the present, I am going to BE
for the hugs
for the conversations
for the exchange of laughter to heal my anxious soul.
I am finding happiness in living for the NOW
In the sit-down moments after meals
In the raucous joy of children and grandchildren
In the exchange of knowing looks that come between my husband and I
I’m living for the NOW
By taking the Hand of my Lord
Looking at Him when I feel frenzied
When I feel worried and disillusioned
So I may be present for those I love
By basking in each moment as I pause along the way
I’m living for the NOW
Because I know that there are more important things than accomplishing each task on my list.
Because I don’t want to miss a childhood, a wedding, a friendship
Because I want to be able to lay my head down at night knowing I have connected with those things that matter most…..
Because when my life is at its close it can be said, “You have run the race, you have fought the good fight.” and I will be remembered, not for what I have accomplished, but for HAVING LOVED WELL…..
Share interests together. As many as possible. See how you can join him in his hobbies and invite him to share in yours. Even if you don’t both enjoy the same things, at the very least you can be interested and enthusiastic about what interests him. And then look for activities that you can both learn to enjoy together as well. Start something new if you have to.
Check out my book, Cheerful Chats for Catholic Children here! 🙂
Review (Thank you, Natalie!):
“I’ve long been wanting a book on various virtues to help my children become better Catholics. But most books focused on the virtues make being bad seem funny or attractive in order to teach the child a lesson. I’ve always found them to be detrimental to the younger ones who’s logic hasn’t formed. This book does an awesome job in showing a GOOD example in each of the children with all the various struggles children commonly struggle with (lying, hiding things, being grumpy, you name it.) But this book isn’t JUST virtue training… it’s also just sweet little chats about our love for God, God’s greatness, etc…
And the best thing of all? They are SHORT! I have lots of books that are wonderful, but to be honest I rarely pick them up because I just don’t have the time to read a huge, long story. These are super short, just one page, and very to the point. The second page has a poem, picture, a short prayer and a few questions for the kids to get them thinking. It works really, really well right before our bedtime prayers and only takes a few minutes at most.
If you like “Leading the Little ones to Mary” then you will like these… they are a little more focused on ALL age groups, not just little ones… so are perfect for a family activity even through the teenage years, down to your toddler.”
Why do we call Christmas songs carols? And is the Christmas tree a pagan symbol? Were there really three kings? These questions and so many others are explored in a way that is scholarly and yet delightful to read. Enjoy learning about the history of the many Christmas traditions we celebrate in this country!
Why do we wear our best clothes on Sunday? What was the Holy Ghost Hole in medieval churches? How did a Belgian nun originate the Feast of the Blessed Sacrament? Where did the Halloween mask and the jack-o’-lantern come from?
Learn the answer to these questions, as well as the history behind our traditional celebration of Thanksgiving, in this gem of a book by Father Weiser.
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“Peace on earth.” We should seek for the things which make for peace. It is easy to misunderstand others, even our dearest friends. One may hold a penny before his eye—so that it will shut out all the beautiful sky, all the blue and all the stars. It is easy, too, to make little offenses grow large—as we brood over them, until, held up before our face—they hide whole fields of beauty and good in the lives of our friends!
An unpleasant word is spoken thoughtlessly by someone, and we fret and vex ourselves over it, lying awake all night thinking of it, and by tomorrow it has grown into what seems an unpardonable wrong that our friend has committed against us!
But Christ’s way is different—He turns the other cheek. He forgives, He forgets, He blots out the record—and goes on loving just as before—as if nothing had happened!
The Christmas spirit teaches us to deal in the same way with those who injure us. Life is too short to mind such hurts, which ofttimes are as much woundings of our own pride or self-esteem—as real injuries to us. In any case, heavenly love ignores them.
One says, “The hurts of friendship, of social life, of household familiarity—must be ignored, gotten over, forgotten—as are the hurts, the wounds, the bruises, the scratches of briers or thorns on our bodies!”
If we would make it really Christmas in our own hearts—we must learn to forget ourselves, and to think of others. We must stop keeping account of what we have done for other people—and begin to put down in place, what other people have done for us.
We must cease thinking what others owe to us—and remember what we owe to them; the best we have to give to life and love. We must give up chafing about our rights—and begin to rejoice in giving up our rights and doing our duties.
Someone says that the best thing about rights is that they are our own—and we can give them up. We must no longer sit on little thrones and expect people to show us honor, attention, and deference, and to bow down to us and serve us—but, instead, must get down into the lowly places of love and begin to serve others, even the lowliest, in the lowliest ways. That is the way our Master did.
We must make Christmas first in our own heart—before we can make it for any other. A grumpy person, a selfish person, a tyrannous and despotic person, an uncharitable, unforgiving person—cannot enter into the spirit of Christmas himself, and cannot add to the blessing of Christmas for his friends or neighbors.
The day must begin within—in one’s own heart. But it will not end there. We must be a maker of Christmas for others—or we cannot make a real Christmas for ourselves. We need the sharing of our joy—in order to gain its real possession. If we try to keep our Christmas all to ourselves, we will miss half its sweetness.
There would seem not to be any need at the Christmastide to say a word to urge people—to be kind to others and to do things for them. Everybody we meet at this season, carries an armful of mysterious bundles. For weeks before the happy day, the stores are thronged with people buying all sorts of gifts. To the homes of the poor—baskets by hundreds are sent, with their toys for the children. The spirit of giving is in the very air. Even the churl and the miser are generous and liberal, for the time. Everybody catches the spirit of giving, for once in the year.
But this is not the only way to do good, to help others. In a story, a good man says, “It’s very hard to know how to help people when you can’t send them blankets, or coal, or Christmas dinners.” With many people, this is very true. They know of no way of helping others, except by giving them material things. Yet there are better ways of doing good—than by sending food or clothing. One may have no money to spend—and yet may be a liberal benefactor. We may help others by sympathy, by cheer, by encouragement.
A good woman when asked at Thanksgiving time for what she was most grateful, said that that which, above all other things, she was thankful for at the end of the year—was courage. She had been left with a family of children to care for—and the burden had been very heavy. Again and again she had been on the point of giving up in the despair of defeat.
But through the cheer and encouragement received from a friend—she had been kept brave and strong through all the trying experience. Her courage had saved her. It is a great thing to be such an encourager—there is no other way in which we can help most people—better than by giving them courage. Without such inspiration, many people sink down in their struggles and fail.
To many people—to far more than we think, life is very hard, and it is easy for them to faint along the way. What they need, however, is not to have the load lifted off, or to be taken out of the hard fight—but to be strengthened to go on victoriously. The help they need is not in temporal things—but in sympathy and heartening.
So far as we are told—Jesus never sent people blankets to keep them warm, or fuel for their fires, or Christmas dinners, or toys for the children. Yet there never was such a helper of others—as He was! He had the marvelous power of putting Himself under people’s loads—by putting Himself into peoples lives. There is a tremendous power of helpfulness in true sympathy, and Jesus sympathized with all sorrow and all hardness of condition.
Jesus loved people—that was the great secret of his helpfulness. He was a marvelous helper of others—not by giving material things—but by imparting spiritual help. Its is right to give gifts at Christmas—they do good, if they are carefully and wisely chosen and are given with the desire to do good. But let us seek to be helpers also in higher ways.
We can help greatly by being happiness makers. Someone says, “Blessed are the happiness makers. Blessed are those who remove friction, who make the courses of life smooth, and the fellowship of men gentle.” There is far more need of this sort of help—than most of us imagine. We think most people are quite happy. We have no conception of the number of people about us who are lonely, and find their loneliness almost unbearable at such times as the Christmastide.
Perhaps nearly everyone of us knows at least one person who will have no home on next Christmas Day, but a dreary room in itself, it may be—but made more dreary by the absence of home’s loved ones. You do not know what a blessing you may be to this homeless one—if you will in some way put a taste of home into his experience even for one hour on Christmas.
Jesus has told us how near these lonely ones are to him. He knew what it was to have no place to go at the close of the day—when the people scattered off, everyone to his own house leaving him alone, with no invitation to anyone’s hospitality and no place but the mountains to go for the night. Then he tells us, that if we open our door to a stranger and take him in—it is the same as if we had opened the door and taken in Jesus himself. He is pleased, therefore, when, in any loving way, we make Christmas a little less lonely for some homesick one.
A word may be said, too, to those who will be alone on Christmas, who are away from their homes, or have no longer any home. There is a way in which they can do much to make the day brighter for themselves. Though no taste or touch of human fellowship and friendship be their that day—they need not grow disheartened. George Macdonald says, “To be able to have the things we want—that is riches; but to be able to do without them—that is power.” This is then the lesson of loneliness—to gain the victory over it.
One of the problems of life, is to live independently of circumstances and conditions. Paul said he had learned in whatever state he was, therein to be content. The secret was in himself. He carried in his own mind and heart—the resources he needed.
No matter how bare his life was of comforts, or how full of trials and sufferings—the peace and joy within were not disturbed. It may not be easy for the lonely ones, lacking the companionship and fellowship of home and its happiness, to go through a Christmastide, as if nothing were lacking. Yet there is a way to overcome in great measure, the lack of fellowship. Much can be done by thinking of others who are lonely, and doing what we can to carry cheer to them.
In doing this—we will forget our own lonely condition. Then we can turn our heart-hunger toward Christ—who is always willing to give us his joy.
“Be a kind wife. Kind words can have such a powerful impact on your marriage. Speak gentle, thoughtful things to this man you love.” -Lisa Jacobson
The Catholic Boy’s Traditional 30-Day Journal!
Dear Catholic Boys,
I wish to inspire you to a greater life of virtue. In order to lead a life of virtue and piety, you need to work on having good, daily habits….habits that will become second nature to you.
Let me tell you a little secret to success in forming these daily practices in your life…It is in having order in your life. This Journal will help you gain that order by staying on track and focused each day.
This Catholic Boy’s Traditional Journal will encourage you on your journey. It will help you to accomplish goals on a daily basis. You will be checking off your spiritual activities, your chores and the other things you should try to get done each day as a good, Catholic boy.
It also has a place to write down things you are thankful for, the people you wish to pray for and other important parts of your day. These good routines will carry you through your life.
My hope for you is that, after you are finished this journal, you will have an idea how to pattern your life with good daily practices.
Start now! Form those good habits! Draw from this journal an outline of what can be your own To-Do List for the rest of your life!
Author Mary Reed Newland here draws on her own experiences as the mother of seven to show how the classic Christian principles of sanctity can be translated into terms easily applied to children even to the very young.Because it’s rooted in experience, not in theory, nothing that Mrs. Newland suggests is impossible or extraordinary. In fact, as you reflect on your experiences with your own children, you’ll quickly agree that hers is an excellent commonsense approach to raising good Catholic children.
Delicious Christmas teas…. I love this brand of tea! What a great Christmas gift idea!
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