Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Grace of the Moment

How many invaluable moments are lost
because we are not looking?
While visiting with a few friends one afternoon, I became aware of a singular presence.  Pausing, I looked around.  The sight that met my eyes was as commonplace as it was disturbing: the phones were getting more attention than the babies.

That picture was vividly ingrained into my memory: mothers kneeling over their babies, focused not on beautiful faces and little toes but on the tyrannical screens they held in their hands.

The first feeling I had was one of great sadness.  How many invaluable moments are lost because we are not looking?  A baptized child is the image of God.  Looking into it's eyes we can see a soul so sublime, it is like an angel.  What on earth is more precious than this?  The joy of motherhood is of marvels and innocence.

And grace?  This gift of God that comes to us through the Sacraments also surrounds us in everything.  Being in a state of grace allows us to see the truths of nature.  As St. Thomas says, "Grace perfects nature."  So we gaze upon a baby and understanding it's spiritual perfection we ask, who is like unto God?

Smartphones are opposed to grace.  By their humanistic nature they are purely secular and functional.  Furthermore, they disrupt and exploit what is hidden and sacred and effectively obscure divine providence.  The soul suffocates without breathing in the surroundings of grace!  Living on phones, our eyes are closed to the grace of the moment.

Our smartphones betray us.  They become our friends and then our oppressors.  The relationship turns into a war of dominion.  Or perhaps, "No man can serve two masters."

What on earth is more precious than this?
The joy of motherhood is of marvels and innocence.
Painting by Giuseppe Magni
I began to desire an omnipresent God.  I wanted His benevolence to totally envelop me.  It is not enough to ask for grace.  We must seek grace in the moment, totally abandoning ourselves.  I felt an intense love for the idea of living on grace.  After all, as many of the saints have said, "Everything is grace."

I never again want to be the mother who chooses the smartphone.  Indeed, what is it worth if it rivals a priceless child with an eternal soul?  Considering this, I was immediately overwhelmed by so many treasures.  Supernatural light shone through my kitchen windows, my children's eyes in a way that made the lights from my smartphone darken.  And finally gratitude was not hindered by distraction.

"For where thy treasure is, there is they heart also.  The light of thy body is thy eye.  If thy eye be single, thy whole body shall be lightsome.  But if thy eye be evil thy whole body shall be darksome.  If then the light that is in thee, be darkness: the darkness itself how great shall it be!  No man can serve two masters.  For either he will hate the one, and love the other: or he will sustain the one, and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and mammon.  Therefore I say to you, be solicitous for your life, what you shall eat, nor for your body, what you shall put on.  Is not the life more than the meat: and the body more than the raiment?" (Matt 6:21-25)


Monday, November 26, 2018

A Weekend In Feminine Dress: Beatrice

Welcome to A Weekend In Feminine Dress on The Catholic Lady Blog!  This is where I post pictures of a modest, feminine outfit to encourage women in the apostolate of femininity.  Thanks for visiting!  If you have photos to share, please contact me at:

We had a great (very long) day on Thanksgiving visiting our families and it was amazing!  I hope you had a very happy Thanksgiving too!

I get to share a picture of Beatrice with you all today!  She is my wonderful helper.  She's only almost six and I find myself depending on her tough go-getter attitude!  Today my husband took the older children to the zoo and they loved it.  I had to stay home because I have a bad cold (but I don't love the zoo anyway so it worked).  When people ask what we have been doing, I just say school!  It takes up all our time but I actually really enjoy teaching them.

Beatrice is Wearing:
Dress and Shirt- The Children's Place (hand me downs)


Thursday, November 8, 2018

Catching Excellence

Notre-Dame Cathedral Paris, France.
Who is not affected by the splendor of a beautiful cathedral?  The stained glass windows magically dazzle light throughout the church.  The myriad shades of glass cast shadows that tease our dimmed intellects with the infinite meanings of Creation.  The overtones seem to rise up until they reach God.

Impossible to bask forever in this heavenly place, we return to the less glorious modern world.  The contrast begs the question: considering that we are more educated and industrious than ever before, why can't we create things as stunningly beautiful as the stained glass windows of Notre-Dame?

The fine things of life fade as our spiritual eyes darken.  "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," is an error of relativism held by those who do not believe in sin.  In fact, St. Thomas Aquinas taught the opposite, that beauty is objective and has four attributes: truth, goodness, oneness and symmetry.  And St Paul also directs, "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever modest, whatsoever just, whatsoever holy, whatsoever lovely, whatsoever of good fame, if there be any virtue, if any praise of discipline, think on these things." (Philippians 4:8)

Sarris Candies Canonsburg, PA.
Interestingly, the cathedral feeling followed me recently into a candy store.  The chocolate castle on display was overwhelmingly intricate and strangely analogous to the stained glass windows.  "What is this principle?" I wondered.  Then a sign inside the candy store enlightened me,

"Perfection is not obtainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence."

This quote by American football coach Vince Lombardi reveals a powerful understanding of vocation and culture.  The process of "catching excellence" is not easy.  It requires endless refinement by human discipline and Supernatural grace.  But when successful, we are capable of reaching heights like the Cathedral of Notre-Dame.

This is also true in reverse.  Without the motivation of excellence, people become less likely to behave ethically.  For example, pagan environmentalists complain about plastic.  They are right that the overuse of plastic puts chemicals and waste into our systems.  Furthermore, plastic is ugly.  But they do not seek the origin of pollution.

American football coach Vince Lombardi said, "Perfection is not obtainable,
but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence."
We don't care about environmental responsibility because we don't have moral responsibility.  Morality naturally disposes us to like reality and authenticity.   Plastic on the other hand is representative of life without consequences.  We do not want to look beyond the moment or admit the spiritual- let alone temporal- repercussions of everything.  It is this selfish mentality that pollutes the planet.

Excellence is only obtained by high caliber ethics.  It is when the spiritual part of man overcomes the slavery of concupiscence.  This life of chasing perfection and taking it seriously is the Catholic way.  In the words of St. Francis de Sales,

"Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly."

Monday, November 5, 2018

A Weekend In Feminine Dress: All the Way from Hungary

Welcome to A Weekend In Feminine Dress on The Catholic Lady Blog!  This is where I post pictures of a modest, feminine outfit to encourage women in the apostolate of femininity.  Thanks for visiting!  If you have photos to share, please contact me at:

Today I am excited to share a photo sent to me all the way from Hungary!  This is Anna, a beautiful example of modesty and elegance.  I think it is hard for women to feel alone in the apostolate of femininity.  As our priest said this week about the Gospel, "We must strive to be the ten good men!"

So thank you ladies for being my encouragement!  And thank you so much Anna for your inspiring picture!


Thursday, November 1, 2018

Halloween or All Saints Day: A Serious Question

Happy All Saints Day!  I am very curious to know how your family celebrates.  Please share in the comments!


For most, Halloween evokes cozy gatherings, graciously distinguished by the crisp Fall air and gorgeous colors of the season.

Our family has trick-or-treated and contributed to candy baskets, surrounded by the magical glow of jack-o-lanterns and the delight of neighborhood children.  But as Halloween becomes more secular and dark, the lights flicker and we are left with an empty feeling!  Reluctant to throw out the happy customs of my childhood, I try to rekindle the good atmosphere for the children: recall the Saints and pray for the dead.  But finally I am convinced that this pagan feast has gone back to it's origins.  Indeed, an analysis of modern Halloween determines that it has two significant qualities: egotism and Satanism.

It is sad to see the children dressed as monsters, devils and every ugly, evil and perverted thing.  Does this bother people?  Or does it give parents some kind of warped pleasure to see our children in these costumes?  Perhaps imbibed with a party mentality and not believing in the Spiritual world, we even think it is "cute" to abuse the child's innocence in this narcissistic way.
Does it give parents some kind of warped pleasure to see our children in these costumes?

Halloween costumes crossed the line to inappropriate awhile ago.  Ridiculously extravagant costumes for children and adults replace the old sheets and plaid shirts from dad's closet that satisfied the children of the olden days.  Immature and spoiled millennials hesitate to leave behind such indulgent fun.  Media and video games feed our attraction to false-reality.  Accustomed to horror films, we embrace the pagan and demonic Halloween.  The stores are filled with violent, monstrous, immodest, perverted and blasphemous costumes!  Some say it is a joke.  But if God is real, then evil is dangerous.  This confusion mocks our Faith.  Can a Catholic tolerate this desecration of holy truths?

Thankfully family and home is full of potential for restoring the Catholic spirit to feast days!  So this year we took the example of many good families and focused on All Saints and All Souls.  We had a small Halloween party for the children on Oct 31.  We spent the evening lighting jack-o-lanterns which reminded us of the supernatural, playing a few games and praying the Rosary for the faithful departed.  The children dressed up or told a story about a Saint and we enjoyed guessing who they were.  I do not want to dampen the healthy excitement of my children, only ensure that the feast days are appropriate and just.

Cemetery decorated for All Saints Day in Poland.

In Poland, All Saints Day and All Souls Day are national holidays.  And in a Catholic spirit, these feast days trump Halloween.  The cemeteries are decorated with flowers and votive candles and on the night of November 1st and 2nd the people go around visiting and praying for the dead.  Those who have seen these celebrations tell me that the ambiance is not at all scary but festive and bright.  How comforting to a Catholic soul!  Since my husband and I both have significant Polish blood in us we thought we should honor these beautiful customs.

And so along with the faithful, we visited the cemetery after All Saints Day Mass this year.  It was truly a soothing balm over the secular emptiness of Halloween.  And what a holiday spirit we felt as we stood not in the street with demons and pagan revelers but in the crisp Fall air of a consecrated graveyard, able to perform a work of mercy for the souls who depend on it, thanks to the traditions of the Catholic Faith.

We have an obligation to think of our family members who have left us marked with the sign of Faith.  Yet despite the graphic reminders of the dead at Halloween, do we remember to pray for them?  This is how the Church triumphant, suffering and millitant work together, united in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and especially in the ceremonies of All Saints and All Souls Days.

The Church encourages the custom of visiting the cemeteries to pray for the dead from November 1 through November 8 making it possible for us to obtain each day a plenary indulgence for the poor souls in purgatory.
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