I have been given many little treasures throughout the decades of my life. One of these is a little leather-bound (falling apart) book, Talks With Our Daughters by Sister Eleanore from 1925, and published by Benziger Brothers, printers to the Holy Apostolic See. I thought I would share some of the words from this little treasure here with you. I have not seen it anywhere else. I’m not sure it has ever been reprinted. The context is that this book was written for young ladies. Sister Eleanore was an educated woman with a Ph.D. who taught Catholic girls in school. She wrote a series of talks for their benefit. The language in Sister’s writing is somewhat formal, very much in keeping with other similar books of the day, but the message she shares is beautiful and timeless.
This first installation (Part 1) deals with giving girls an appreciation for their value and worth as unique individuals made by God. Sister gently challenges each to be her best self, and in doing so she offers an unique and unrepeatable gift to the world.
The quality of any race or people is determined more by its women than by its men. Men dominate in the wold of external activities, but emotionally they are influenced by women for good or for evil. Though the relations between men and women are freighted with illusion, out of this illusion come great virtues: chivalry, the magic of the home, and the hope of the nation. The teacher and friend of girls, therefore enjoys a privilege which brings with it a fearful responsibility. Along with their secular education, girls must be taught those religious principles upon which character is founded . The whole meaning of Christian living is contained in the two great commandments enjoining the love of God and the love of neighbor. It is the purpose of this little book to set forth in a series of talks some ways of observing these commandments in such manner as to aid the …girl, and perhaps others, in the development of character.
…Beauty, is not, as so many think, a mere external; it must come primarily and chiefly from within. Yet, it is possible so to permeate oneself with the beautiful that it becomes part of oneself, just as sunlight permeates air. There is no real difference between the air of the day and that of the night; yet the former is filled with light. In like manner is charming personality permeated with beauty of soul. In these days when the subtle powers of darkness have been loosed upon earth as never before, it is very necessary that the young woman face the light of truth and idealism and make her soul so clear and free from evil that this sunlight of beauty may shine through her being…
The first commandment of all is, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with thy
whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with they whole mind, and with thy whole strength.”
When the long twilight shadows creep from the west across the world and the children of day begin to drowse, perchance, sitting alone in your room, you fall into pensive mood. The gloaming hour, drifting slowly downward in its mantle of darkness to which the failing fingers of the day still cling, brings the brooding sky so near that you can almost look beyond it. Through your window you see the faint tracery of the leaves against the heavens and you watch the stars come one by one into the blue. Mayhap you reflect that among those millions of leaves and stars no two leaves and no two stars are exactly alike. Perhaps your soul travels on the swift wings of your imagination to the remotest corners of the world, passing over the millions of people who may be, as you are, dreaming in the solemn stillness of this sanctuary hour. Possible you are arrested by the thought that among all these people there are no two persons exactly alike. What then, of you?
Generation after generation has lived and died upon the earth; generation after generation will live and die upon the earth. but you have never before lived among men, and another you never will live among them in the years to come. How wonderful then, how important is this first and only YOU…
….You ask yourself, In what are you so wonderful and so important? Modest though you be you must answer that the reason is in your very self, because you are infinitely loveworthy. Long, long before the first star was set int he firmament, long before the earth brought forth its first green herb, you existed in the heart of your eternal Lover. Everlastingly He has seen you as you now dream in this twilight hour. Eternally, as a lover must, He has watched over you, has joyed in your happiness, has sorrowed in your sorrow, has rejoiced in your success, has lamented in your failure. ..What a Lover is He! …In human love there is always the danger of instability. If you love in a selfish manner, you fear that your dear one may prefer another before you, you fear lest at some time there be some lack of confidence between you, you face the possibility that your ideals may be disappointed by some weakness in the object you regard…If on the other hand you love unselfishly, you (may have) doubts of yourself…In your natural wish to fill the life of your loved one with sweetness, you (may) lament your impotence. But your divine Lover can do all these things for you.
At every dawning a throng of little joys…run out from under the throne of God to brighten your waking hours. Among them may be some little griefs, with rainbow wings, because they know that they shall be treasured for eternity when their sad work of the day is done. The joys would far outnumber the griefs even if you were the saddest of men…
…God made this only YOU, first for Himself, then for your own sake, and finally that you might be of service to others. Since he has made only one YOU, he has designed for you from eternity a special place in the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, there is a special human life on earth that you alone can live, and there is a particular work in the world which you alone can do…
…In this quiet hour of meditation…enter into yourself and study your strength, your weakness, your abilities, your incompetencies. ..
Your Beloved…wants others to share His bliss in you. He therefore gave you intelligence, beauty, charm, in a word., He made you lovable…Have you, perchance, spoiled God’s handiwork in you? Have you failed to keep your beauty of soul and mind and body? have you allowed selfishness to destroy your charm? Have you developed your mind at the expense of your heart…? Ask yourself these serious questions.
If happily you have kept and augmented your intelligence and beauty and charm, have you allowed others to share them with you? Do you spend yourself that others may have joy in you? there is in you hidden loveliness that no one else can ever possess. Are you going to your grave without letting others see it? If you do, you will have deprived them of something which none but you can supply. A leaf is only a little thing, and yet the first leaf to fall from the tree mars the summer beauty of the whole…If one heart fails to contribute its individual gift to the spiritual wealth of humanity, the loss is not only irreparable, but of everlasting consequence.
Will you occasion such a loss? You may do so if you fail to speak the little word of kindness that means so much, if you fail to do for others the little deeds of self-sacrifice. The only road to happiness is the road of self-sacrificing service. If you think of yourself, as you should, only in terms of eternity, what will the transient trials of a day mean to you? If you waste no time in brooding over your difficulties, you will have more time in which to overcome them. You will have also more time in which to help others in their troubles. As you look back over the day that has just gone, you will see that the truly happy moments have been those in which there was the least thought of self...Today has gone forever, but you can look forward to the morrow. Night unfolds the earth and your twilight hour is ended. you must go to your work or to your play or to your rest. May the spirit of this hour remain with you then and always!
-Sister M. Eleanore C.S.C.,, PhD
photo courtesy of APKDad
Open your door?
They got that.
Hold your coat so you can slide in?
Real men still behave like knights in shining armor and there are, despite some ideas to the contrary, still plenty around. Moms and dads are training their sons even as I type….
Here is my latest from Today’s Catholic News: Chivalry is not dead with Catholic men….
The Mister and I just had a romantic dinner in the basement, served by two little girls. The main course was Fisher Price peas and pizza, real water from a sturdy, plastic teapot and Cheez-Its. We were entertained by music playing on daddy’s cell phone and the evening ended with a rousing rendition of The Village People’s “YMCA”. Yes of course we danced with the waitresses.
Planning doesn’t create spontaneous family moments like these; so often these special moments just ‘happen’, when availability meets creativity and openness. Even if we were to have tried to design this quality evening, likely it wouldn’t have come off like the spontaneous one did. “Mommy! Daddy! Come downstairs! We have a surprise!” interjected itself into my husband’s and my evening like an unexpected kiss. Planning is all fine and dandy but you simply can’t blueprint everything in real life.
Unprompted, sweet, relationship-building moments that occur from spending a quantity amount of time with those we love form the basis of daily family life. We often hear the phrase “quality time” tossed about, as though it were separate from quantity time, and something to be aspired to independently from abundant hours, days and weeks. In reality, however, quantity time trumps the often aimed-for quality time any day, for ironically when opportunities are plentiful quality time appears, and takes care of itself.
One of the best gifts Catholic (or any) parents can offer their children is the generous giving of their time. In forty years, it won’t matter to a child that his dad earned more than enough to purchase a huge entertainment center for the basement if by doing so it meant his father’s absence in working weekends, evenings and other spare moments. The extra vacation, boat or address in a premier neighborhood means less to a child than backyard ball tosses with Dad on a regular basis or the daily relaxed interaction with a present and loving Mom.
Many parents must work long hours to provide necessities for their families. They are to be admired. But there is a prevalent notion in modern society that certain things are necessities when in truth they are not. We must distinguish between the two. Some parents fall into the trap of thinking their children need more things than they really do: electronics gadgets, the latest and greatest toy or in-style clothing. The truth is, so long as a child’s basic needs are met, he is generally happy and will thrive. Luxuries like 4-H membership, swim team involvement, baseball or dance class can be good and enriching, for sure, helping a child develop his or her particular talents, but their importance is significantly less than simple one-on-one attention that a parent offers to his child. As we all know, true happiness and the ability to become one’s best possible self comes from nurturing, love and attention, not stuff, even good stuff.
Giving time is a challenge for sure. Beds must be made. Meals must be cooked. Clothes must be folded and clutter put away. Money must be earned to provide basic needs. But nothing is more important than scooping up the little one tugging at your sleeve, hugging her and showing her the bird perched out the window, and listening to the expressions of the little thoughts on her mind.. When children arrive home from school one of the parents needs to be there, waiting, ready for that quality time that might pop up anywhere, at any moment. Nothing says love like our presence.
Yesterday, I was reading a science book about earthworms with my 8-year-old daughter. My girl begged to put on our boots and go into the garden to dig. She wanted to find worms to put in a glass jar and observe. I didn’t want to go. I was comfortable. I had a schedule. It was wet and icky outside. I am not a fan of worms. But I looked at my daughter, imagining the day she’ll leave for college. I wanted to give her another memory and another token of my love in this fast changing life of ours. I said ‘yes.’ We sloshed through the mud surrounded by misty air and the smell of the spring earth. My daughter tried to coax the worms, “Come on little guy” as she poked gently with a stick. We giggled. We sang a few songs. Quality emerged from quantity. Again.
We parents give our children many gifts. We work hard to provide safe homes for them. Good meals for them. Warm clothes and learning experiences. This is how we demonstrate unselfish love to our children. In our parental caring, however, we should remember: the gift of our time and ourselves is actually the most thoughtful and best gift of all.
Originally appeared in Today’s Catholic News and Integrated Catholic Life, May 2013
Please pray for Venezuela- for peace and freedom. This is what is happening- right NOW.
From Students for Students in Venezuela :
— WHAT HAPPENED IN VENEZUELA?
February 12th was the Day of The Youth in Venezuela, and students went out to the street to protest because of their decadent standards of living: hyperinflation, shortages of basic goods, extreme violence in the streets, outrageous insecurity(25,000+ homicides in 2013), among many other socioeconomic and political problems.
The government sent out the army and the national guard to dissolve the protests, and students were killed, hundreds were jailed or are missing, many are in hospitals injured and fighting for their lives.
The students kept protesting, they have been in the streets since Wednesday February 12th, and THEY ARE NOT GIVING UP! They want the illegitimate government that brought the country to its worst level of misery, out! They want the people of Venezuela to be able to start rebuilding the country so the youth can start hoping for a bright future again, so the Venezuelan people can live in peace.”
Editor’s note: I personally know a family involved. Shortages of basic goods such as toilet paper and milk is not uncommon. Guns are illegal, but thugs have access to them. Carjackings are rampant. Cars are tinted for safety, and the license numbers of cars are routinely engraved on the sides of cars because carjackings are so common. Genesis Carmona, 22 year old Miss Venezuela 2010 was brutally shot and killed Februry 18, 2014. In January, former Miss Venezuela, Monica Spear, was shot and killed with her ex husband in front of their five year old child in a brutal roadside robbery just west of Caracas.
With over 65 homicides per day, and one of the most dangerous capitals in the world. 90% of the murders are not prosecuted. These conditions lead students to protest.
PLEASE pray for this country and these people!
This video above was created by a 21 year old native Venezuelan girl. Read this : how a first time filmmaker alerted the world to the student protests in Venezuela.
“Previously she says she used YouTube “just to view random music videos”. Then on Thursday last week she attended class as usual in the school of marketing and telecommunications at the University of Florida. She and her fellow students were learning how to use Adobe Premier Pro. “I learned it in a day,” she says. Then the next day, “I woke up, and from 10am to 10pm I made the video. I skipped class and everything. Usually I am not good at technology. I don’t know how to check my computer for a virus. When I made the film, it was like God was moving my hands.“
This is the story of Genesis Carmona, the 22 year old marketing student and professional model (“Miss Tourism” of Venezuela) who was brutally killed by Venezuelan government officials/ police during student protests in Valencia yesterday-
22 year old Genesis Carmona, brutally murdered in a peaceful anti-government protest yesterday, courtesy of Voxxi
Last month, in January, another former Miss Venezuela, Miss Monica Spear, was shot and killed with her former husband in front of their five year old daughter on a roadside by thugs. This type of rampant murder is one part of what students are protesting against.
Photo courtesy of Liberty Voice
UPDATE: This picture below is from Valencia, Venezuela from THIS Twitter account:
Caracas Chronicles has up to date video footage of what has transpired in the last few hours. Warning: it is disturbing and not appropriate for young children. Language in the comments are also not suitable for youngsters.
The patroness of Venezuela is Our Lady of Coromoto
Catholics, please PRAY A ROSARY NOW to ask God for protection of innocent civilians and for this wounded country.
Those of other faiths, please pray in any way you see fit. We are united in asking God for protection for the people in Venezuela, particularly the innocent young who have done nothing wrong.
You may be interested in:
–Julia writes about her life inside Venezuela and offers an explanation and opinion here.
—The wife of jailed Leopoldo Lopez brings a statue of Our Lady of Coromoto to visit him.
—Why Venezuela’s chaos matters to us (Heritage Foundation)
And watch here where reporter Wolf Blitzer interviews Rubio about Venezuela and the accusation by Maduro that he is ‘craziest of crazies':
“I am … pointing out the human rights violations….we should be involved and care…they should be getting the same level of attention as what is happening in Egypt…Ukraine…this is actually closer to us ..we should put together a package of sanctions against these individuals who are committing these atrocities, these crimes…”
“We need to lead through our example….”
“Cubans get free and cheap oil from Venezuelans. their interest is keeping this regime in place…their benefactors. Cuba is (helping)repress activities…helping further terrorism around the world….”
Let us add our prayers for American lawmakers and leaders who have the courage to stand up for the freedom of Venezuelan citizens and for peace there! Please join me in praying an Our Father for their protection, wisdom, courage and strength during this difficult hour and desperate time of need for our South American neighbors.
Yes, you with the baby in your arms…
I see you, out there, sitting at your table, your desk, or your kitchen island, and I notice you are a little discouraged. You switched on the computer a few minutes ago to check your mail and a couple websites, the most exciting contact you’ll have with the outside world today, in between your hourly dates with your almost-potty-trained toddler in the bathroom and picking up Cheerios off the floor of the kitchen for the umpteenth time. You are disheartened, tired. Maybe you passed a mirror earlier today and thought to yourself, Where is that super-trim figure I had in college? Didn’t my step used to have a little more bounce? Why am I doing this?
You love your family with ferocity but you are just running out of steam. Your husband is working hard to allow you this privilege of staying home with your children, but sometimes it doesn’t feel like a privilege. You may even feel like it would be easier to get an outside job.
You may feel that you do the same thing over and over, and the days blur together. You have always held that moms should be present in the home during a child’s early years. You believed it with all your heart the day you got married and you believe it now. You want to be the best mom you can be, but somehow that rings a little hollow at the moment, as you break up a tussle between two preschoolers wanting the same Thomas the Tank Engine cover, quickly throw in some laundry and get back in the room with the little ones before someone gets hurt. Is this how it is supposed to go? You ask. You wonder.
May I offer something? I’ve been in your slippers. And that bathrobe. That torn bathrobe with Gerber’s best all over it and a tear next to the right front pocket. You know, that one you keep meaning to mend but also keep forgetting about… I would like to tell you something. In fact, I want to tell you a few things. So go get that coffee refill and meet me back here in a minute. Yes, you can fish the toilet paper roll out of the toilet first – I heard that scream too – and while you’re up set the little one in the swing for a few minutes… She’ll be okay. You need to hear this.
Are you back? Good.
As I was saying, in all sincerity, I’ve been in your slippers. I truly understand where you’re coming from. I’m on the other side of Babyhood now, with my oldest in his twenties and my youngest being school aged. Chin up, pretty mama. Here are a few things I want you to know:
1. What you do is important.
That’s right. Read it again. What you do is important.
I know it doesn’t seem important to be answering kids’ questions all day and reading the same books to your children over and over, or patiently responding to mishaps and unexpected spills as you cook and clean and love the little ones, but let me assure you that what you do might be one of the most significant things in the world. Let me explain.
Do you see those policy makers on TV, voting on bills, which will become laws? (Oops – Of course you don’t- you don’t have time to watch TV, but you’re smart and you can recall at least a few modern legislators, state-wide or national figures.). Think of them for a moment. Also think the teachers of today, the professors and other educators who, right this minute, are standing in a classroom, explaining a theory, proposing a philosophy, forming young minds. Recall too the modern doctors and scientists who make life and death decisions and ethical considerations. Think of how they, and others like them, affect and in essence because the way the world turns and moves. They make laws, form opinions, and establish protocol in institutions for good or for naught. They create society.
Now think of this: Someone once put these influential people to sleep at night; someone sang to them (or didn’t), read to them (or didn’t). Someone once stirred thoughts of goodness and justice (or evil and apathy) into their minds. Someone once introduced them to big ideas and learning and if they were lucky, God and faith, morals and truth. That someone most likely was their mother.
Poet Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Men are what their mothers made them.” Of course, free will comes into the picture, but a good mother can set a child on the right track, and it is more difficult for him to veer off onto the wrong path if she has set him straight. “Train the young in the way they should go; even when old, they will not swerve from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
Now, mama, look at that baby you just put in the swing, your little angel with sweet downy hair and a sleepy, milky smile or look at your toddler in his diaper who is dancing around the room. Your treatment of these children now and the way they see you interacting with them and others, the manners you use, the tone of your voice, the gestures you make, will be the model in their minds, their ‘default mode’ of thinking and behavior for the rest of their lives. Most likely what you model will affect how they treat others one day – their employees, employers, patients or constituents, and surely their spouses and their children. Their decisions will be rooted in what you provide and teach and demonstrate now.
Mama, your softness is important. Your sweet coos and songs to your children will help them feel loved and calm and know the gentleness of God Himself. Your firmness is important too – you must gently but surely hold your children accountable for their actions and help them overcome natural vices in order to reach the pinnacle of self-control and temperance. Your mind is important to them as well. It is through your thought and your expression of thought they will gain knowledge about the world around them, others, and God. The values you teach them, the stories you read to them, the words they hear you speak an the expressions they see you make are all very important to them and also to the world they will influence in years to come. Most importantly, your faith will be the foundation for their own faith. Your trust and belief in God will pave the way for their own acceptance of and love for Him.
Our nation depends on the work of the mothers in the previous generation. The future of the human race depends on mothers like you.
2. What you do is good.
Good is defined as “morally excellent; virtuous; righteous; pious”. Raising children well is good.
Have you ever been in a greenhouse? Greenhouses are warm and clean, perfect places for plants to grow. They are protective environments where no damaging insects can destroy the young, tender plants. When the plants are hearty and strong they can be safely transplanted outside the greenhouse. Your home is like a greenhouse. You control what comes in and what goes out. It is not just a protective place to keep out the harmful, but it is a place to let in the light and where it is warm and nurturing. Children without a good home may grow up fine, but chances are better for the ones who are tended to, cherished and cultivated. It is good to protect the vulnerable against harm. What you do as a mother is good.
3. What you do is beautiful motherhood
Artists create art; Musicians create music. You, as a mother, in cooperation with your husband and God the ultimate Designer created something more awe-inspiring and amazing that all the artwork and music combined. You created a human being with an eternal soul, the most amazing of all of creation. This child is bodily and spiritually beautiful. Train him well and he will be morally beautiful too. Enough said.
Now also remember two more things…
You’re not just teaching your children; they are also teaching you.
It’s kind of like continuing education without the diploma. As you tackle those piles of laundry from wet beds and baby spit ups you are developing fortitude. As you avoid caffeine and a favorite glass of wine while pregnant in order to give your unborn child the best possible start in life you are developing temperance. And when, at night your husband comes home, looks around at the mess and asks what you did all day and you hold your tongue and just smile sweetly, you are developing patience. And by the way there is nothing wrong with making a list for just such an occasion and handing it to him upon questioning – I’m just saying. Those nights you walk the floor for hours with a colicky baby will do more for your development of generosity than reading 25 books on the subject. So you see, you raise your children and your children raise you. It’s a win-win.
Take heart – it will get easier.
Well, kind of. The sleep deprivation and physical exhaustion will subside when the baby starts sleeping through the night and the toddler can make it without bathroom trips every few hours. You won’t be juggling nine things at once forever- I promise. There will be a day when the baby will stop crawling up your curtains and pulling down things from the shelf, thus making you feel like your whole morning is a marathon scooping- from- danger race. Your life will surely move out of the absolute fatigue stage and morph slowly in to the next one.
The next stage, as your children convert into pre-adolescents, then teens, then young adults, will have you hopping more mentally than physically. Now I will tell you that while it’s not nearly as bad as everyone portrays it to be, that next stage is not easy either, but at least you’ll get more sleep. Instead of trying to get them to go to bed you’ll be trying to get them to get up. But don’t worry about that now. Shrill alarm clocks never go out of style and will be there when you need them.
So, yes, dear tired mama, this is how it goes. You will be fine and your little ones will be better off for your sacrifices. Our country will even benefit, although it might have to wait 20 years.
Now, go splash some cold water on your face, add a dab of lip gloss and powder to lift your spirits if you want, and get ready for another tedious, difficult, wonderful, day. I hope by now you realize how important, good and beautiful your work as a mother really is.
So chop, chop!! Get moving! Time is short and you have much to do! You have some bodies to nurture, some souls to inspire and a nation to advance. No more stay-at-home-mom blues. Go build a culture – or maybe just a Lego tower for now – one thing at a time…
Prayer for the graces of Motherhood
Powerful is your intercession with God, Mary, for you are His mother.
Tender, too, is your love for us, for you are our mother.
Confidently, then, I come to you as a child, poor and needy, to seek your aid and protection.
In every trial of motherhood, I beg your aid.
For the grace of a happy delivery, I come to you.
For your holy assistance in guarding and directing each tiny soul with which God entrust me, I call to you.
In every sorrow that comes to me in my motherhood, I confide in you.
That I may have strength to bear cheerfully all the pains and the hardships of motherhood, I lean on you.
That the sweetness of motherhood may not through my neglect be embittered in later years by pains of regret, I trust in you.
That the will of God may always be fulfilled in me through each act of my motherhood, little and great, I beg your aid.
Never forsake me, dear mother, my hope, my consolation, my confidence, and my trust,
But ever be at my side to aid and protect me, your needy child. Amen.
Mother of love, of Sorrow, and of Mercy, Pray for us!
From “The Mother’s Manual” by A. Francis Coomes, a prayer book for all occasions suited to mothers can be purchased on Amazon or Free Catholic Shipping.
Here is my latest Today’s Catholic column from the first week in January. The topic is the (now post-) Christmas season and private suffering.
Related, is When Your Prayer Life is Dry and You Face a Huge Challenge, appearing both in Today’s Catholic and Integrated Catholic Life.
Awhile back, I wrote an article about my husband and Why I Make His Lunch. I thought you would like to know that while this was never my intention when beginning to make his lunch, I have enjoyed a happy result: he does really nice things back.
For example: I now wake up to hot, steaming, just-the-way-I-like-it coffee every morning. He makes me a pot of it before I am even awake, waiting for me. And he doesn’t even drink coffee.
When my children were really little, I never had to fill the car up with gas. (In fact, for years I didn’t even know where the gas latch was- true story!) As the children grew older and life got busier, I eventually learned to put gas in my car. I am happy to report however, that within the last year, the tank is always filled again and ready to go, and the car is washed. All I have to do is get in. I can’t tell you how nice that is not to have to worry about that!
What goes around comes around as they say. Or when you bless others, often they want to bless you back. It’s just the natural result.
While I started making my husband’s lunch for HIM, to show appreciation for HIM and to make his life easier and a little sweeter, I found that doing so actually made my life better too.
Have a happy day! And go do something nice for that man who put down his life for you. Start the cycle of blessing today.