If you want or require your children to have neat handwriting and learn the Faith at the same time, we are now offering the above four handwriting books in printed versions. They will be available to ship on 8/30. You may look through them and order them here. The free PDF versions to print yourselves are available there as well.
You all have learnt about Richard Coeur de Lion and about John Sansterre. But probably you did not notice that in their genealogy there is an Eleanor, sister to these two Kings. This Eleanor married Alphonsus of Castile, the warrior King who marched against and conquered 200,000 Moors. Eleanor’s little daughter was Blanche of Castile, the wife of Louis VIII Of France.
Perhaps you are wondering what I am coming to with all this history talk. Well, it just amounts to this. I want to show that my hero, Saint, and King, Louis IX of France, is some connection of ours; that we could have him in a well-worked-out genealogy and that is a satisfaction to me. Louis was grand-nephew to the knight-errant Richard and the worthless John; in his childhood he may have heard his grandmother relate the exploits of Coeur de Lion on the Crusade, thus making him long to do and dare something for the love of the Holy Land.
Blanche was a good mother, She was left Regent of the kingdom by the early death of her husband, and she reigned worthily. Louis was but twelve when his royal father died; he well repaid his mother’s care, for he became a model ruler and a Saint.
When you can, read Joinville’s Memoirs of Louis IX. Joinville was the greatest man in the kingdom after the King, and he loved him with all his soul. He tells all about his doings and his sayings; he accompanied him on the first Crusade; he sat by him when he gave judgment under the spreading oak; he saw his kindness to the poor, his sternness to the wicked, his compassion for the unfortunate. One time he heard him order a wealthy man, who was a blasphemer, to be branded on the mouth, to teach him to use his lips aright. Some blamed the King for ordering so terrible a punishment. Louis was surprised.
“Why?” he said, “I would willingly be branded to prevent such an outrage.”
Another man he fined so heavily that he lost almost all he possessed, because he had hanged three children for hunting rabbits. The money was employed to found Masses for the children’s souls.
Joinville saw the King cool and composed when bad news was brought to him. Once two assassins were found ready to murder Louis. He sent them courteously back to the master who had paid them. Again, Joinville, sitting at the Council Board with the young King, listened to his wise sayings. Things of world wide importance were discussed, and Louis took part in all that was said.
“He has the wisest and best head in the Council,” was Joinville s opinion.
A monarch made Louis a great present once. He brought him the crown of thorns from the Holy Land. Louis loved Our Lord with all his heart, and he was beside himself with joy at this most holy relic. How could he honour it enough? was his thought. To this very day we know how the great King honoured the sacred crown.
He built for it the most beautiful chapel that exists, one that you can see when you go to Paris, for it remains still to show the people of France how their greatest King reverenced the Passion of Our Lord.
Louis IX was no carpet knight. He could fight and win, and when he heard of the horrors that were being wrought in the Holy Land, he went to the church of St. Denis, and took the Oriflamme, the blessed standard of France, and set out for Palestine. He sailed from Aigues Mortes with his three brothers, his wife, and 120 large vessels, and numberless smaller ones. On board there were over 1,200 knights, and more than three times as many picked soldiers.
Louis fought like a hero, and was admired by his very foe for his prowess and his splendid honour. But he was taken a prisoner, and in chains won his enemies admiration a thousand fold more. “Never did we see so proud a Christian,” they said. By “proud” they meant one who held to his own principles, who stood his ground, and commanded their respect. They sought to terrify the King by an exhibition of racks and torturing machines. But he looked at them without concern. Their threats to punish and bruise and crush him brought no pallor to his face. Simply because he knew his fate was in God’s hands, and without His consent they could do him no harm.
A second time Louis sailed for the dear East. He stayed at Damietta, and caught the fever that was striking down hundreds of his men. For twenty days he burned with the fever of his disease, and then his end came. He was in a tent outside Damietta, in the stifling heat; but never a murmur escaped his lips. On the day of his death, about twelve o’clock, he raised his eyes to Heaven, and said:
“I will enter into Thy holy house, I will adore towards Thy holy temple, Lord!” At three he spoke again:
“Into Thy hands I commend my spirit.” Then the soul of the great hero, King, and Saint went to its eternal Home.
Source: Saints and Festivals, Imprimatur 1913
A coloring picture can be found below.
The following sermon is taken from the book titled, "Sermon Matter," by REV. FERREOL GIRARDEY, the same priest that wrote the book, "Popular Instructions on the Bringing Up of Children" that I have been sharing here.
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, with thy whole soul and with all thy strength." (Deut. 6. 5).
An ancient hermit, who had spent many years in solitude, in prayer, fasting and work, at last was seized with the desire of acquiring learning, that he might be able thereby to make greater progress in the love of God. He therefore left his solitude and betook himself to a celebrated university to attend the lectures of its famous professors. Entering one of the lecture halls crowded with students fromevery country, he took a seat among them. A renowned professor mounted the lecture-stand and began his lecture with these words :
"The question we shall discuss this morning is: Whether we should love God with our whole heart ?"
Hearing these words, the hermit, greatly astonished and scandalized, immediately left the hall, saying to himself :
"How strange and foolish that any one, especially a learned professor, should consider as a doubtful and debatable question whether we are bound to love God with our whole heart ! Why, do not the heavens, the earth and all creatures, and our very reason, our very heart clearly tell us, that we are bound to love God with our whole heart ?"
How well did that hermit reason ! Nevertheless, although everything in and around them plainly tell men that it is their sacred and indispensable obligation to love God with their whole heart, it is necessary to admonish, exhort, urge and entreat them, nay, to threaten even Catholics, to induce them to love God !
I. GOD HAS EVERY TITLE AND CLAIM TO OUR LOVE.
I. In the first place, He commands us to love Him with our whole heart. He is our Creator, the Sovereign Lord of heaven and earth, and it is, therefore, our most sacred, paramount and indispensable duty to obey Him in all things. And He insists that we should love Him.
"What doth the Lord ask of thee, unless that thou fear the Lord thy God, and love Him with all thy heart and with all thy soul? " (Deut. 10. 12).
This is the greatest and the first commandment (Mat. 20. 38). It is the greatest com mandment, with regard to its antiquity, for it was written in the heart of man from his very creation. It is the greatest, with regard to its necessity. Without the love of God, or charity, all good works, all penitential works, all virtues, are useless for man's salvation.
"If I have not charity, I am nothing, ... it profiteth me nothing" (i Cor. 13. 2 3)- With charity, with the love of God, even our indifferent actions contribute to our salvation. It is the greatest in extent, for it is binding on all mankind without exception; on the rich and on the poor; on the old and on the young; on the learned and on the unlearned; on the healthy and on the sick. No one is or can be dispensed from its obligation. It is the greatest in dignity, because it takes precedence over every other obligation, and its observance ennobles us more than that of every other duty.
It is like the gold among the other metals, like the sun among the other heavenly bodies. It is a gold that enriches us, a fire that inflames us, a sun that enlightens us. It is the greatest in duration, for it embraces all times, all ages and eternity itself. In heaven there is no faith, no hope, no self-denial, no penance, but only charity, the love of God. It is the greatest in the facility of observance. No reason, no pretext can dispense us from loving God, for it is always in our power to love Him, even in the last moments of our life. To love God we need no learning, no wealth, no good health, no fine clothes, no strength, no beauty, no fasting, for this commandment "is near thee, in thy mouth, in thy heart" (Deut. 30. 14). It is the greatest in sweetness. In fact, nothing is more delicious than the love of God, for as experience amply proves, it sweetens all hardships, all sufferings, all trials and crosses ; it sweetened the very torments of the martyrs (for instance, those of St. Laurence roasting on a gridiron), and is the ineffable happiness of the denizens of heaven! On the other hand, how fearful the punishment of those who do not love God, such as the foolish virgins, to whom God says :
"I know you not" (Mat. 25. 12); the reprobate, on the last day, will hear the divine Judge condemn them: "Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire" (Mat. 25. 41).
2. God is so great that heaven and earth cannot contain Him. He is infinitely powerful, infinitely wise. How well has He made all things, and how wonderful and perfect His Providence, His care of His creatures, and especially of mankind! Infinite is His goodness and mercy; infinite, His justice. Infinite the beauty of Him who has made so many and such beautiful things !
"He is," says St. Augustine, "infinitely more beautiful than all that He has made." God is so lovable, that in heaven eternity will not suffice to love Him as much as He deserves to be loved.
3. God is especially our God. "God is all ours," says St. Augustine ; "He seems to be God only to belong to us." Daily does He bestow innumerable favors and benefits upon us. He gives us for our use all that He has made; it is He who has given us all that we are and all that we have. It was for us that He made heaven and earth, the air, the water, the plants and animals on the earth, and everything that is useful and beautiful in nature. How great was the joy of the queen of Saba, when she visited Solomon. "Seeing the house and the order of those ministering, she no longer had consciousness" (3 Kings 10. 4, 5), that is, she was beside herself, or so greatly amazed as to find no words capable of expressing her astonishment. But how happy and grateful she would have been, had all these things been provided for her! But what was the palace of Solomon compared to the whole universe ! God can say to us : "Behold I have given you all things" (Gen. i. 29), for God does not need them for Himself. Let us briefly sum up God s gifts to us. He has given us our whole being, our life, our body, our soul, our senses and members and the use we can make of them; also our reason, our free-will, our heart. He has preserved our life every moment so many years, from so many dangers and sufferings. And what is still more, He has bestowed upon us the inappreciable gift of the true faith and made us His children, His heirs in the kingdom of heaven, and enabled us so often to gain victories over the enemies of our soul! And when we had offended Him repeatedly, instead of punishing us as we deserved, He has borne with us in all goodness and mercy, and forgiven us and restored us to His friendship and to all claims as His heirs in His heavenly kingdom.
Every moment of our life has been marked with special unmerited divine favors. What more could He have done for us than He has done? His love for us could go no further, for "thus hath God loved the world, as to give His only-begotten Son" (John 3. 16). And His divine Son, "Jesus Christ loved us and delivered Himself for us" (Gal. 2. 20), to frightful torments and a most cruel and shameful death to save us from our sins and the eternal torments they deserved! The Son of God loved us so much, that, although He is almighty, He cannot love us more than He has done, for, as He Himself says, "Greater love than this no man hath, than that he lay down his life for his friends" (John 15. 13) ; and Jesus laid down His
life to save us sinners, His enemies!
Should not we, who naturally love creatures on account of some good quality or slight perfection, of benefits conferred on us, of their affection for us, love above all, with our whole heart, God, who is infinitely perfect, who is our Creator, our Benefactor, our most loving Father, who has loved us from all eternity with infinite love; who has, at the price of His blood, of His very life, rescued us from hell, made us children of God, opened heaven for us and secured for us all the means we need to deserve and gain heaven! Hence we may truly say that he who will not love God deserves to be cast into the everlasting fire among the demons ! "If any man," says St. Paul, love not our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema "
( I Cor. 16. 22). Let us reserve all our love for God, and not for creatures, for, according to St. Augustine, "heaven and earth, and all that they contain, are constantly crying out to us: Love not us, but love God only.
II. HOW WE SHOULD LOVE GOD. We should love God 1. as our Lord, 2. as our God, 3. as our Saviour, for He is our Sovereign Lord and Master, the only true God deserving of all our love, and our Saviour, who gave His life to save us and merited heaven for us. "If I ask any one," says St. Gregory, "Do you love God ? he will surely answer, I do. That we possess some kind of love of God, is very probable. But not every kind of love is sufficient. We should, says the beloved disciple, "love not in word, nor in tongue, but in deed and in truth" (i John 3. 18) ; and we should love God as He requires us to love Him, that is, "with our whole heart, with our whole soul and with all our strength," nothing less than that will satisfy our obligation of loving God. We must love God above all things; more than ourselves, more than all creatures. To do this, we must be willing to sacrifice, if necessary, all things for His sake, and refer to Him. our thoughts, our words, our affections, our actions. God exempts from this law no part of our being; everything in us should be, as it were, permeated with His love. We may not love any one or anything in preference to God. Who loves God in this manner? Practically but few persons love Him thus. The commandment of the love of God requires that for His sake, 1. we be ready to make every sacrifice, 2, to undertake everything, and 3, to suffer all things.
I. In the first place, we are bound, whenever God demands it, through His commandments, through the requirements of our state or station in life, to give up, to sacrifice everything, for God is the Sovereign Lord and Master of all things. Listen to St. Paul enumerating the sacrifices the love of God requires of us : "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or persecution, or the sword? I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor might, . . . nor any other creature shall separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 8. 35-39). Let us ask ourselves these questions of St. Paul and answer them sincerely. If we really love God, we shall endeavor to avoid all that displeases Him, and to do all He requires of us. What displeases God? All that is sinful, and only what is sinful. When we truly love some one, we do all we can to please him and avoid all that might displease him. Therefore he who breaks any of the commandments of God is wanting in the love he owes to God. "He that keepeth My commandments," says our divine Saviour, " he it is that loveth Me.... If any one love Me, he will keep My word. . . . He that loveth Me not, keepeth not My words" (John 14. 21-24). (Enumerate various classes of sinners who break the commandments of God, to gratify their passions.) He who truly loves God longs to be in heaven to be with Him and share in His happiness. "If God were to propose to you," says St. Augustine, "to leave you forever on earth in the enjoyment of its goods, saying to you: You shall never behold Me in heaven, would you be satisfied with this arrangement, and not long to enjoy God in heaven? If such a proposition would please and satisfy you, it would be a sign that you have not really begun to love God."
2. The love of God requires us to be ready to undertake everything we can for the glory of God. Merely thinking or saying that we love God, merely transitory feelings of love for God, are no proof that the love of God dwells in us, for all this costs us nothing, demands no effort on our part. The true love of God is necessarily active, lively, courageous and capable of doing great, difficult things for God s sake. We must prove our love of God by acts, by daily acts ; by our combats against the world, the devil and our evil inclinations, our passions ; by our overcoming human respect. It must enable us to keep faithfully God's commandments and those of His Church, to fulfil the obligations of our state of life. Holy Scripture compares the love of God to a fire which burns and consumes everything sinful in us ; to a seed which grows up and produces good fruit; to a root which sends sap and life to every part of the tree, of the plant; to living water which quenches our thirst for heavenly things and disgusts us with everything earthly and sinful. The love which ceases to act, ceases also to exist. Faith and hope, although they may be inactive in us, may still exist. But there is no charity without good works ! To those who truly love God nothing is hard or impossible, but even the most difficult and disagreeable things become easy and agreeable. If this is true concerning natural love, it is still more so in divine love, as is fully proved in the lives of the saints.
3. He who truly loves God is willing to suffer all things for His sake. "Greater love than this no man hath, than to lay down his life for his friends" (John 15. 13). What the saints, for instance, Sts. Peter and Paul, the martyrs, suffered for the love of God! What can we bear for God's sake? What do we, indeed, bear out of the love of God! "He that loveth not, abideth in death" (I John 3. 14).
How many renounce the world and all things therein and consecrate themselves to God, to serve Him more faithfully, to save souls, to serve their neighbor in religious communities and hardships and continual sacrifices! No one on earth is happier than they. Hence St. Augustine exclaims : "Thou, O Lord, art that sweetness by which all bitter things are sweetened !" Jesus Himself tells us : "My yoke is sweet and My burden light" (Matt. n. 30).
"It is better for me" said St. Bernard, "to embrace Thee, my God, in tribulation, than to be in heaven without Thee."
Let us truly love God above all things, with our whole heart, in this life, and thus begin to do now on earth what we are destined to do in heaven for all eternity.
ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL
ABOUT three hundred years ago, a little girl was born in the quaint old city of Dijon, whom the world knows and loves now as ST. Jane Frances de Chantal.
The child grew up strong and healthy, but when she was about a year and a half old, her mother died, and she lost that loving care which no one else could quite supply. But Jane was well trained and taught, and had, from a very early age, a strong sense of right and truth. She was very much in her father's company, and, upon one occasion, was present whilst a visitor was saying that he did not believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. Jane was then not quite five years old, but she could not hear such words in silence, and, going up to him, exclaimed, "But we must believe that Jesus is in the Blessed Sacrament for He said so Himself, and if you deny it you are making Him a liar." The visitor was surprised and rather amused at his little opponent, and after vainly trying to puzzle her by difficult questions, he brought out of his pocket a parcel of sweetmeats by way of turning her thoughts to something else. The little girl received them gravely, and put them in her pinafore, but she walked straight up to the fire, and, putting them in it, said, "Look—that is how heretics will burn in the flames of hell, because they do not believe what Jesus Christ has said." Jane's favorite study was the Christian doctrine, but she also got on quickly with reading, writing, music, and needlework, and as he observed her industry and intelligence, her father gave her the best education which was possible in those times.
As her First Communion and confirmation drew near, Jane began to feel a great longing to find some way of giving herself to God's service—at times she wished she might be called to die as a martyr for the true faith, at other moments she thought of giving herself altogether to the care of the sick and dying, but always the desire was in her heart, although it was not immediately that it pleased God to show her the way in which she was to follow Him.
When Jane Frances (which was her name after confirmation) was about fifteen years old, her eldest sister married and went to live in Poitou, where the young girl visited her and became exposed to all the temptations of admiration, flattery, and vanity which exist in the
world; still she seems to have suffered no harm, for, as a safeguard, she put herself specially under the protection of the Blessed Virgin, and redoubled her prayers. At last her father wrote to her, desiring her return home, and it was upon her arrival at Dijon that she saw the Baron de Chantal, who was to be her husband.
She was married in 1592, and instead of giving herself up to pleasure, Jane spent the first months of her new life in great retirement, making her soul her chief care. When they had been married three months, the King of France summoned the Baron de Chantal to join him at Paris, so that Jane was entrusted with, the management of their property and of the household in their castle at Bourbilly. Although she felt some shrinking from the responsibility, as soon as her husband was gone, the young baroness set about fulfilling her duties carefully and well. She began by restoring the habit of having daily Mass in the castle chapel, fixing an early hour, so as to allow the servants belonging to the house and the farm to be present. Then, when breakfast was over, Jane would take her spinning-wheel, or her knitting, and, sitting amongst her maids, try to teach them the truths of their religion, and turn their thoughts to God; every evening she said night-prayers with them, and on Sundays and holidays went with them to hear Mass at the parish church. At that time it was the custom for all to join in singing during the Mass, and Madame de Chantal taught them during the week, taking particular pains with the "Credo." Thus the young baroness was the mainspring of her home, and she received her rich friends and neighbours kindly, and Bourbilly was spoken of everywhere as a model household. But it was amongst the poor that Jane Frances loved to be, and for them she had the sweetest smiles of welcome as they thronged the castle gates, and she would herself go down to the courtyard, helping to fill their: basins with soup, cutting bread, assisting the most helpless, speaking pleasant words to each and all. If she heard of any one kept at home by sickness, she would order a basket to be packed, and ride off with it herself to the cottages, where she was a most welcome visitor.
Madame de Chantal lost her first-born children almost immediately they came into the world, but one boy and three girls were spared to grow up, and over these she watched with the most loving care, offering them, at their birth, to God and the Blessed Virgin.
In the year 1601, there was a dearth of all kinds of food; numbers of the peasantry died from want, and those who were able to wander about in search of provisions might be seen eating weeds and nettles, or even the remains of birds and animals. The Baron and Baroness de Chantal did all that was possible to lessen the misery around them. Every day bread and meat were distributed in the courtyard, and people for twenty miles round came to be fed at Bourbilly. Some of them went and devoured their portions secretly behind the walls, returning a second time, but when this was found out, Jane could not bear to have them punished, saying, "My God, I am a beggar every moment at the door of Thy mercy, and what should I say if I were driven away by Thee after the second or third time?" Her husband allowed her to fit up part ofthe castle as an hospital for the sick, and particularly to receive those poor women who had little babies, to whose husbands she sent a pound of bread every day. But the servants of the castle began to complain loudly at all this generosity, declaring that their mistress would spend all her husband's money upon the poor; and when, at last, there was only one barrel of flour in the granary, they cried out more bitterly than ever against her charitable work.
The crowd was waiting at the castle gate when Madame de Chantal went to see with her own eyes the state of the provisions, but upon perceiving the solitary barrel, her heart filled with trust in God, aud she bade the servants heap up other barrels with the flour, and give liberally to the famishing poor, and for six months the household and the beggars at the gate were fed from that one barrel, which was still full when the next harvesttime came round. In the midst of this distress, the baron was taken ill, and his wife was so troubled that the fear of losing him was more than she could bear to think of. It was not God's Will that he should die from that illness, but after a short happy time of renewed health, he was killed by a terrible accident which happened when he was out shooting, from the discharge of the gun which his friend and companion was carrying. He was carried to the nearest cottage, and there a priest was soon by his side, and the baroness weeping over him in the most violent grief, but in spite of the care of his physicians, he died, after lingering for nine days, and Jane was left a widow with four little fatherless children to protect and guide.
At first she refused to eat or sleep, spending hours together before the Blessed Sacrament, forgetting everything in her bitter grief, but after a time, God aroused her from the violence of her first sorrow by the thought of her duty to her little ones and in her home. Now, her first action was to lessen the number of her servants, give her rich dresses for the use of the Church, and take that time which before had been rightly used for the entertainment of her husband and his friends, to be devoted to prayer, reading, visiting the poor, and the care of her children.
A great change took place in the soul of Jane de Chantal at this time—some interior voice seemed calling her to sacrifice, to a life more wholly given to God; and yet she could not entirely understand what was His Will regarding her, so she set herself to pray that she might find some one to guide her according to the Divine Spirit. About this time, God showed her, by a strange and unusual favour, who this future guide would be; for one day, as she was riding near a little woody copse, she saw, at some distance, a person who looked like a bishop, walking to meet her in his cassock, rochet, and biretta. His face, so calm and holy, brought a feeling of peace into her heart which she had never known before, while a thought came to her mind, sent by God, "This is the guide in whose hands you will place your conscience." Jane rode quickly to the spot, but no one was there, and it was not until the Lent of 1604, that during her visit to her father at Dijon, she saw, in the celebrated preacher, Francis de Sales, the director of her vision, whom God had given in answer to her prayer.
Madame de Chantals joy was very great, when, after her first interview with the holy bishop, she felt that every word he spoke came directly to her soul from God, and she begged him to guide her in the service of God, and teach her how to love and please Him perfectly. From this time Jane made a rapid but steady progress in holy things, and St. Francis, whose quick eye soon discovered her failings, her impetuous nature and inclination to disregard the convenience of other people, quietly led her to re-model all that needed improvement. Noticing the expression of grief upon her face, which had never left it since her husband's death, Francis bade her " be joyful for God's sake," and Jane immediately forced herself to look cheerful, and she soon found that the habit came naturally after a little effort, and went from her face into her heart. She had also been particular about her eating, but under her wise guide she now tried to take anything which was before her, without choice at all, and so she mastered completely any whims or daintiness.
More time than ever was given now to the poor, and with her own hands Jane would wash and dress the sick, and carefully patch their clothing, and very often on her return home, after a long and weary round of visits, she would find a group waiting for her, many with terrible wounds to be attended to. Once when the fever was raging round Bourbilly, Madame de Chantal was attacked by it, and her life was despaired of, but it occurred to her to make a vow to the Blessed Virgin, and immediately she got up and dressed, and was soon able to resume her duties amongst the poor.
But Jane still longed for a higher life; much as she tried to do, i t seemed to her nothing compared mth God's demands upon her, and although she struggled to quench her longing by thoughts of her duty to her children, her efforts were useless, for the fire which the Holy Spirit had enkindled in her heart would not be put out. At last she opened her heart to St. Francis de Sales, but he only spoke to her of "patience" nor could she win any other reply from him during a long time. But after about a year of waiting, Francis sent for her and told her that he had decided for her to enter upon the religious life, and he began to explain his plan for founding the order of the Visitation, which he felt sure was to be her future work. The only painful thing to be done was the parting from her father and her son, for Madame de Chantal had a heart which clung with intense love to her children. But when God calls, there can be no drawing back in 'one who is wholly devoted to Him, and Jane was prepared for any sacrifice which should unite her more closely with Him.
It was on the evening of St. John's Day that, with a beating heart and trembling lips, Madame de Chantal sought her father's room, to tell him that the time had come when she must leave all for God. As she was going to turn the handle of the door, she knelt down, asking strength for the task which was before her, and then entered and began to speak about her children and of her desire to leave Monthelon. M. de Freinyot replied that the girls would be going to school, and that the eldest was already betrothed, whilst he should take entire charge of the boy. But when Jane told him that there must be other changes, that it was she herself who must leave to follow out her long-delayed desire to enter religion, he burst into tears and remonstrated with her for thinking of doing so. From all sides objections came; she was accused of being unnatural and cruel to wish to leave her old father and forsake her children, and it was only God's grace in her soul which kept her firm and faithful in the path He called her to follow. When the time came for her to bid her relations
farewell, Jane went round the large salon in which they were assembled, saying something kind and affectionate to each, with her face calm, although her eyes were swimming in tears. Oelse Benigne, her boy, now fifteen years old, used every entreaty to persuade his mother not to leave them, and at last threw himself at full length before the door, so that she was forced to step over him to get to the carriage. Then the bitterness was over; it had been like the agony of death to the loving heart of the Saint, but God's strength had carried her through it without a wavering thought.
To follow Madame de Chantal through her religious life, would not be possible in a short history like this, but we must just glance at her now at Annecy amongst her novices, living in the sweetness of retirement and prayer. They were very poor, so that often the sisters had not even a candle to light the house, and once there was only three halfpence in the money-box, yet God always sent them help in their needs, and marvelously supported them. And so the institute flourished, and the number increased under the care of their wise mother and the guidance of St. Francis of Sales, and new convents were founded in other parts as time went on. Then, in 1622, the holy bishop died, to the great sorrow of Mother de Chantal, who had been guided by him so long. But although she had now to carry on his great work alone, to try and sustain in her daughters his spirit of strength and sweetness, she was prepared to rise above her own grief and bend submissively to God's Will.
Towards the close of her life, Mother de Chantal left Annecy to visit her convents in different parts, and during her stay in Paris, she was told by a Carmelite nun that her end was near. "0 my God, what good news!" replied Jane, quickly, and during the rest of the day she referred joyfully to these words. From Paris she went to Melun, and as she journeyed, felt more and more ill, and by the time she reached Moulins she felt convinced that she would die. On the morning of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, she got up at five o'clock with the rest of the nuns, but was seized with the shivering of fever; however, they could not persuade her to lie down until she had received Holy Communion and the Mass was concluded. Then she went to her bed, never again to leave it, for after a few days' suffering she died. At the last moment her confessor said to her:--"The Bridegroom is coming—He is here-- will you not go forth to meet Him?" To which she replied:-- "Yes, father, I am going. Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!" and with that sweet Name upon her lips, which she had loved so well in life, her eyes closed, and her happy soul rested for ever in God.
Source: Stories of the Saints for Children, 1874
"Lift up your hearts," the celebrant says in the Mass. ""We have them with our Lord," is the answer. Those words are spoken of our hearts and are said in our name. It behooves us, therefore, to have them above and to keep them there. It ought not to be a difficult thing for us to raise up our hearts, for we picture all that is great and noble as being up there above us. "What is the beauty of the earth compared to heaven?" St. Ignatius used to exclaim—the mere natural heaven, with its sublime secrets. What a fascination there is in the stars for great and small alike ! It is the mystery of the heavens that fascinates children, the unravelling of it that attracts the scientist.
If ever our hearts ought to be above, it should be on the Feast of our Lady's Assumption, when our Queen is taken up for her coronation. We may fancy to ourselves all that is lovely in this world, recall all the barbaric splendor of early times, or the magnificent pageant of modern days, and think of these rejoicings as something like our Mother's homeward going. But we feel in our hearts that it was not so, that our ideas and therefore our language fail altogether when we think and speak of Heavenly things. What we men do upon earth to honor each other is child's play compared to the honor awaiting us above. The fact of Mary's Assmnption is known by tradition only—tradition and common sense. We have the beautiful story of the eleven Apostles at the death-bed of the Immaculate Mother, of her burial at their hands, of the late arrival of St. Thomas, of the re-opened tomb, of the lilies springing from its emptiness to show where the spotless one had lain. No trace of Mary's remains has ever been found. No relics have ever enriched her loving children. And this because her Divine Son did not allow His Mother to see corruption. There was not within her the element of decay, for she had never been defiled by sin. Surely there is no miracle here; the miracle would have been had she followed nature's laws and seen corruption.
"Our nature's solitary boast" Wordsworth, the Protestant poet, calls Mary. And we look up to her and see her in her glory, triumphant over death and all things evil. We see her there body and soul, and hope rises in our hearts. One day we too shall see eternal glory, we poor frail creatures with war in our members and failure in our memories. We have but to fight to the last. Though we fail a hundred times a day we shall win in the end. There is no improvided death for those who fight; it is only for those who give up the warfare. So we look up into our Mother's face and praise her and congratulate her and rejoice with her, as one who has achieved grandly what we are striving after humbly. And we gain strength by the sight.
As the Church year passes we watch our Lord come down from Heaven, live as a little Child playing by His Mother's side; we see Him grow mature and preach to all men in the cornfields and in the streets of the towns; we see Him die a criminal's death. Then we adore Him at His Resurrection, at His glorious Ascension, and kneel with the Apostles and the Blessed Mother for that wonderful blessing that sends us home rejoicing. He died, but He left as a pledge of His love His own Mother to be our comfort and support. But her days of bliss came too. Like her Son, she passed through the portals of death; like Him, she went up body and soul into Heaven—He by His own miraculous power, she assumed by His.
This is why we have our hearts above—our human hearts. God is our only end, and Jesus our Way to the end. Mary by His side shows us our human nature in its perfection and lures us homeward, upward. And so poets have looked upon her and written of her beauty; painters
have imaged her forth, and saints have meditated upon her in wondering delight. It is good for us, too, to see one of our race in finished glory, in happiness complete, and to rejoice with her in her bliss.
Source: Manual of the Holy Catholic Faith, Imprimatur
"The Queen stood on Thy right hand in gilded clothing,
surrounded with variety." Psalm 44:11.
Some years ago the world was agog with the crowning of King George and Queen Elizabeth of England. All possible pomp and pageantry were called into play. Those were days of festivity and celebration. Music and color and song and parade honored the newly-crowned heads of the Empire. Around the world press and radio flashed details of the ceremonies. Britain had a king and queen.
But there was a reception and a crowning of a Queen some twenty centuries ago that far surpassed the most elaborate coronation ever held on earth. When the Immaculate Virgin Mary was joyfully received by Jesus into heaven and there crowned Queen of heaven and earth, as we recall in the seventh decade of the Franciscan Rosary, there was a celestial celebration that exceeded beyond compare any similar ceremony ever held in the courts of men.
"Open the portals! The Queen is approaching. Lift up, O eternal gates!" The choirs of heaven caroled her coming: "The Queen is coming. Here she comes."
The endless parade of the blessed crowded about the wide-open gates of heaven. There was tense expentancy, such as one finds along a line of march as a parade approaches. A roadway of clouds billowed the pathway from an uncorrupted grave to an incorruptible throne. At last, borne by angels, the lovely Lady arrives. It is the first Assumption Day. The heavenly throng gasps with admiration. The celestial singers burst into song. The angels hurry to and fro to catch a glimpse of her and to tell their companions of her beauty. Jesus waits at the open entrance, throws His arms about His Mother, leads her triumphantly and happily to the very throne of the heavenly Father, who leans forward and places solemnly and smilingly upon her beauteous head—the crown, as the Holy Spirit, heavenly Spouse of the Virgin Mother casts warmth and light upon the welcome newcomer.
Sweet scene of Mary's bliss! Who can measure her happiness? Who can count the throbs of joy in her heart: joy that now her lonesome life on earth without Jesus is over; joy that now she has Him, never again to lose Him; joy that now she can enjoy His company without the interruptions of earth or sense; joy that now she can help everyone on earth who is devoted to her Son; joy that she can now know the why and wherefore of many things that had happened to her here below; joy that she was forever to associate only with the good and pure and virtuous and kind; joy that now it is her turn, and it is in her power to show special kindness to all who had been kind to her while she walked this earth; joy that all the honor and all the praise and all the glory is given to her because of her Son; joy that the very crown she is wearing as the Queen of heaven and earth, is given to her because she is the Mother of Jesus, the Son of God; joy that an eternity is just beginning during which she can wrap herself in her Child and her Redeemer, even more closely than their lives had been entwined upon earth.
Happy hour and happy homecoming! Mary, we rejoice with you. We who still wander in this world, we who are weak and weary and all too worldly, we, however, who love to call you our Queen, who count upon your queenly protection, we, your children still upon this place of trial, we rejoice with you and with the angels and blessed and with the Holy Trinity. O newly-crowned Queen, now we have a Mother and Queen to look after us, a Mother most loving and a Queen most powerful. As with all your other joys, small as well as great, your going home, your being crowned, your being enthroned makes us happy. It makes those in heaven happy; it makes the heaven-hungry happy too.
Though bodily Mary was taken away from her children on earth, though bodily she seems far away, yet her leaving our planet must not make us lonesome. Rather, her Assumption and her Crowning should be to us a promise and an earnest of our own final glory with her. Her victory will be our victory. Until that day of triumph we will struggle on, knowing that
always a Queen Mother is waiting and watching.
Who minds the discomforts and weariness of travel when he is going home to his mother? Who minds labor, who minds burdens, who minds delays, who minds sacrifices, when he is making his way to the place where mother lives?
Boys coming home from years of service abroad, youths riding buses and trains from college or work in a distant city, children coming home from vacation, will put up with every kind of convenience in the assurance that sooner or later they will be there—with mother. That is how we feel about traveling on the roads of time, looking forward to meeting our heavenly Mother. Jesus and Mary are waiting to welcome us, waiting to receive us among the happy inhabitants of that heavenly home, waiting to reward us for the smallest service.
What joy that stirs up in our hearts! Look down, O Mother Mary, look down, O heavenly Queen, look down from the heights of thy glory, look down and be to us—and be to all—a loving Mother and a powerful Queen. Thank God for the joy that is yours today. Thank God for the happiness and hope it gives us to pray the prayer Christ Himself taught us, and then to salute thee ten times with your favorite greeting, the Hail Mary, as we think of your being received into heaven and crowned our Queen. Thank God everyone for this joyful Mother. Amen.
Source: Feasts of Our Lady, Imprimatur 1952
In the eastern Church this was so important and celebrated a festival that it was preceded by a week's fasting. In Rome the day was marked by an enormous procession, led by the pope, who went barefooted, carrying a painting of Christ from the Church of the Lateran to the Church of St. Mary Major, thus to commemorate the coming of Christ for his mother on Mary's death.
This is the greatest of our Lady's feast days, and one of the oldest of them. All the church's office of the day is filled with praise and acclamation of the Mother of God, who was raised from her grave, taken up body and soul into heaven, there to be made the queen of heaven. Gregory of Tours says:
"When the time came for the blessed Mary to leave this earth the apostles were gathered together from all lands: and having learnt that the hour was at hand they watched with her. Now the Lord Jesus came with his angels and received her soul. In the morning the apostles took up her body and placed it in the tomb. And again the Lord came and the holy body was taken up in a cloud."
Popular feeling, which had always linked our Lady's feasts with flowers, did not fail now. In this country the Assumption was marked by people taking huge bunches of herbs into the church to be blessed there. Flowers, plants and fruit were also blessed, as though this were the day of the garden, as distinct from the days of the fields of corn and the fodder crops. It is possible that herbs were much in evidence because of the epistle of the day:
"I was exalted like a cedar in Libanus and as a cyprus tree on Mount Sion. I was exalted like a palm tree in Cades and as a rose plant in Jericho, as a fair olive tree in the plains and as a plane tree by the water in the streets was I exalted. I gave a sweet smell like cinnamon and aromatic balm. I yielded a sweet odor like the best myrrh."
Is it possibly connected with this herb-offering that we call two herbs balm and myrrh in this country which have no resemblance whatever to the herbs mentioned in the Mass?
Few people have herb gardens now. Still, those who have might decorate the statue of our Lady with them, perhaps decorating the statue in the parish church in the same way. The Assumption might also be an occasion for praying for the flowers and plants and fruit of the ordinary garden. What is more, why could not those who have a garden send flowers to those who cannot grow them, or to city churches and convents where every flower has to be bought? And anyone who had no garden herself could always buy flowers and send or give them to some church or chapel for this first of Mary's feast days.
Source: A Candle is Lighted, 1945
A coloring picture for the children can be found below.
FROM his infancy, Cajetan, the son of Gaspar of Thiena, was called "The Saint," for even then he seemed free from the ordinary passions natural to mankind, and was of a mar- vellously sweet temper.
His mother had placed her little son under the special patronage of the Blessed Virgin, and Cajetan grew up with a tender love for the Mother of God, and a great devotion to the Passion of Christ. He was also accustomed to set Our Blessed Lord before him as a constant example in his own daily life, and
thus learned to be meek, pure, humble, and filled with charity towards all men. While giving much of his time to study, Cajetan found opportunity for daily prayer and devotion; and as he grew older he resolved to become a priest, and built a parochial chapel at Rampazzo, which those might frequent who were some distance from the parish church.
At twenty-eight years of age he went to Rome, and was made protonotary by Julius II, on account of his high rank. There was at that time in Rome a confraternity called "Of the Love of God," which Cajetan joined, for his whole heart sympathised with the object—the promotion of the Divine glory by the labours of those zealous men and women who were enrolled in it.
It was not then the custom to communicate more than four or five times in the year; but St. Cajetan urged that the soul stood in need of more frequent nourishment, and by his entreaty and example many pious persons became monthly communicants, while some even received the Holy Eucharist weekly. When about to offer up the Holy Sacrifice, the Saint could scarcely conceal his transports of love, and on one occasion it seemed to him that the Virgin Mother placed in his arms her Divine Son. Being compelled by the death of his mother to return to Vicenza, he there joined a confraternity somewhat resembling that Of the Love of God and his earnestness and zeal acted as a stimulus to many other souls, and so much did the confraternity increase, that its members were able to undertake the charge of a hospital of incurables.
In the very midst of all this work for God, the confessor of St. Cajetan commanded him to leave Vicenza and go to Venice, giving no reason for so doing but his own will, though his motive in thus acting was to secure a wider sphere of usefulness to his holy penitent. Without remonstrance or delay Cajetan left his native place, and soon became as valuable at Venice as Father Creno had expected; but when he had been there awhile, this wise director ordered him to Borne. The state of the Church in those days filled the heart of Cajetan with deep sorrow, and in order to reform the clergy he—in concert with other holy ecclesiastics— instituted an Order of regular clergy, who should take for a model the lives of the Apostles.
This Order was approved by Pope Clement VII in 1524, and Caralfa, the Archbishop of Theate (now called Chieti), was chosen as first general, and thus the priests were called by the name of Theatins. Their principal work was the preaching of the Gospel, the opposition
of error, the help of the sick, and the effort to bring people to a more frequent reception of the Sacraments. At first they dwelt in a house in Borne, but their number increased so rapidly that they had to take a larger house on Monte Pincio. Great suffering fell on the new Order at the time when the Constable Bourbon led an army against Borne, committing there the most horrible outrages. The Lutherans and other enemies of the Church composed this army, and were guilty of greater cruelties than even Goths or Yandals had been known to perpetrate.
The Pope and Cardinals were forced to retreat to the Castle of St. Angelo, and the house of the Theatins was almost destroyed, for these robbers had supposed that Cajetan had great treasures there; and when they were not found, he was scourged and tortured, in the hope of making him reveal where this wealth was concealed. He bore this cruel treatment without a murmur; but when the soldiers retired he made his escape with his companions and took refuge in Venice where a house and church were given them. The Bishop of Theate having fulfilled the term of his superiority, Cajetan was elected in his place for three years.
Being sent to found a house of the Order at Naples, the Count of Oppido wished to endow it with lands, but Cajetan refused.
"What security have you, good Father, that you will be able to obtain daily sustenance?"
asked the Count.
"But what security have you, my lord?" replied Cajetan.
"Oh, as for me, I trust that my farmers will pay their rent."
"But if the crops fail they will not be able to pay it . "
"We must trust God to give us the seasons," said the Count; whereat Cajetan smiled and exclaimed,
"So, so. It comes to trust in God as the root of all security." Still the Count hesitated, reminding Cajetan that though Venice was a large and wealthy city, Naples was poor; but the Saint had an answer ready for him.
"The God of Venice is the God also of Naples," he said. The zeal of Cajetan for souls was such that he was called in Naples "The soul-hunter." This zeal, this intense desire to bring men to know the love of God, made his sorrow at the sight of sin most keen, and especially did he grieve over the laxity of the clergy. One day, as he thought of these scandals, he had a vision of Christ bowed beneath the weight of His Cross, with tears and blood disfiguring His face, and as he gazed, he saw that Divine Master beckon him to approach, and He then laid the edge of the Cross on the shoulder of His servant. Cajetan felt as if its weight crushed him, and he understood how the evil in the Church was falling heavily and painfully upon the Saviour, (what must our dear Saviour be suffering today?) as one more of His many sufferings. Being worn out with trials, labour, and austerities, Cajetan knew that his end was approaching; but he could not be persuaded to lie upon a bed during his last sickness.
"My Saviour died on a cross, suffer me at least to die upon ashes," he said; his will was granted him, and lying on sackcloth strewn with ashes, he received the last Sacraments of the Church, and expired on the 7th August, 1547. His remains were laid in the church of St. Paul at Naples, and are there to the present day.
Source: Stories of the Saints, 1878
A coloring picture of St. Cajetan can be found below.
If one wishes to, today is the day to start a novena in honor of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
We are working on another handwriting book which we hope to have finished in time for the start of the school year. It will have 35 lessons each containing a picture, story and handwriting practice. It is a simple Life of Our Lord for Little Catholic Children. We will be putting this on our site as a free PDF download as well as offering a printed version. If this is something you might think would work for printing practice as well please leave a comment on this post. We look forward to using this with our own children as well as sharing it with you. A few sample pages are shown below.
We are also going to be offering printed versions of our other handwriting books and our menu planner.
Holy Mother Church dedicates the month of May to the Blessed Virgin Mary
The purpose of this website is to share the beautiful Catholic resources that God has so richly blessed us with. All texts unless they are my own words have their sources quoted, and most of them are in the public domain. Any educational items that I have made for or with my children are NOT TO BE USED FOR PROFIT, but are meant to be used for personal use by individuals and families. You may link to our site if you so choose.
A Saint for everyday and good reading at:
Visit our friends at St. Fiacre's for a good cup of tea!