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HOW TO MAKE YOUR HOUSE A HOME
Family Liturgy and Religious Practices
by Rev. Bernward Stokes O.F.M.
Family Life Bureau National Catholic Welfare Conference
Nihil Obstat: JOHN BAPTIST SCHUNK, O.F.M., Censor Deputatus
CYPRIAN DE GRAAF, O.F.M., Censor Deputatus
Imprimi Potest: DAVID TEMPLE, O.F.M., Minister Provincialis
Nihil Obstat: EDGAR SCHMIEDELER, O.S.B. Censor deputatus
Imprimatur: +PATRICK A. O'BOYLE
Archbishop of Washington
SEPTEMBER 24, 1955
This publication deals with what has become the most popular subject
for study in the far-flung family life movement that has developed
under the guidance of the N.C.W.C. Family Life Bureau over the past
quarter of a century, namely, religious practices suited to the
family circle. There are listed and described in it literally
hundreds of ways and means of making the Catholic home what St. John
Chrysostom called it, a church in miniature.
The content of the book is of profound importance to the Catholic
family life of the day. At the same time it is so simply set forth
that even a child could understand it.
There are other publications that deal with religious practices for
the family circle. But this one is outstanding among them for the
thoroughness with which it covers the entire field.
"How to Make Your House a Home" contains an elaborate study club
outline. This should make it particularly attractive to the thousands
of Mr. and Mrs. clubs, parents' groups, mothers' circles, married
couples' clubs and youth groups throughout the country.
Here is a first rate medium for helping us to heed our bishops' plea
to rout secularism from out homes, to put Got back into our family
Father Bernward Stokes has performed a great service to the family
cause by writing this publication. May literally millions of
Catholics contribute further to that most inviting and worthy cause
by making zealous use of it.
Feast of the Assumption
EDGAR SCHMIEDELER, O.S.B., Ph.D.
Several years ago a Catholic family, the Trapp Family, fled from
Austria and came to the United States. Since that time they have
supported themselves by giving concerts. Their beautiful voices have
made a great impression on the people who flocked to hear them, but
an even greater impression was made by their obvious interdependence
and wonderful family spirit. They were more than a choir--they were
also a model family.
After the concert the spectators were left with the feeling that the
Trapp family had something which they didn't have. Some might have
asked themselves, "How did they get their spirit? How could our
family become like theirs?"
Families like that of the Trapp's do not happen by chance. They are
molded over the years by living the Christian life in full. A full
Christian life is one in which the members work, play and pray
together--and thus achieve a mutual trust and love.
Two things are necessary to make your family like that of the
Trapp's. The first is the will to succeed. The second is a knowledge
of what to do.
In the following pages we will try at least to indicate an approach,
a practical approach, to a full Christian and Catholic family life
through what might be called the FAMILY LITURGY. In other words, we
will try to point out how your family prayer life may be centered
around the spirit of the liturgical life of the Church by giving
examples of how certain other families, such as the Trapps', have
already accomplished this.
Some of the examples which you will find in the following pages will
appeal to you--some you may not be able to use. But if you
incorporate at least a few of these practices into your family, they
will serve as a great step forward toward bringing your family closer
to the ideal. They will help you to make your HOUSE A HOME!
THE FAMILY AND THE CHRISTIAN YEAR
I. ADVENT AND CHRISTMASTIDE
The word "Advent" means coming or arrival, and is the name given to
that period of the liturgical year in which we prepare for the coming
of Our Lord. It is a period of purification so that we will be ready
to receive Jesus on Christmas. The coming of Christ is threefold--as
He came in time, His coming into our hearts now, and His final coming
in the general judgment. The four Sundays of Advent are to remind us
of the ages before the birth of Christ in which men eagerly awaited
the often-promised Messias. They represent the four ages of the Old
Law: (1) the time from Adam to Noe, (2) from Noe to Abraham, (3) from
Abraham to Moses, and (4) from Moses to Christ.
If we wish to live in the spirit of the Church, Advent should be for
us and for our family a time of longing for Christ, for His grace and
His love. This longing should go hand in hand with a spirit of
penance which will prepare us for Christ's coming; and we should try
to obtain something of the faith and love of the Blessed Virgin
Practices for Advent
THE ADVENT WREATH: One of the most meaningful Advent customs is that
of the Advent Wreath. It is made by winding twigs of evergreen, pine,
cedar, or holly around a wire or wood hoop to which have been
attached four candleholders (or holes in which to insert the
candles). The wreath is then hung with four ribbons, or may be placed
flat to form the centerpiece on the dining-room table. Candles may be
red or white and the ribbons should be of similar colors.
The wreath represents eternity; the candles divide it into the four
periods from the creation up to the coming of Christ (cf. above). The
lighted candle is symbolic of Christ "the splendor of eternal light"
who comes "to enlighten them that sit in darkness."
The wreath should be hung on the eve of the first Sunday of Advent,
with the whole family gathered around it. It might be good to have
the mother light the first candle then give that privilege to other
members of the family on the next three Saturdays. One candle is lit
the first Saturday, two the second, etc. After the candle has been
lighted, the head of the family, if possible, reads the prayer for
the blessing. The following prayer may be used:
Father: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All: Who hath made heaven and earth.
Father: Let us pray: O God, by whose word all things are sanctified,
pour forth Thy blessings upon this wreath and grant that we who use
it may prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ and may receive
from Thee abundant graces, through Christ our Lord.
Then the father sprinkles the wreath with holy water. The above
prayer should be followed by the orations proper to the Sunday (which
may be found in your Missal). After the prayers the family sings
some of the traditional Advent songs, especially the Rorate Coeli.
It is a good idea to have all of the family help make the wreath, but
the children especially should have a hand in it. For further
information see the little leaflet "Advent Wreath," published by the
Altar and Home Press, Conception, Mo.
THE ADVENT CANDLE: This is an old German custom. A large candle,
which symbolizes the Blessed Virgin Mary from whom came the Light of
the World, is placed in a white silk-covered candlestick. The candle
is to be put on the home altar, and is lighted when the family
gathers for their evening prayers every day during Advent.
THE PENITENTIAL ASPECT: The Church emphasizes the need for penance to
help us to prepare for the coming of Christ on Christmas. The
positive side should be stressed. Fr. Westhoff suggests that
mother and some of the older girls make clothing or similar articles
to be given to the poor. Father and the boys might use their time to
produce some simple toys or to patch some old toys for the same
purpose. It would be an excellent idea to have your parish priest
bless your gifts with the Church's blessing before you give them
For the children, the old custom of "making acts" should be
re-established in our homes. "Being good" is too abstract for
children to understand. Some of these "acts" might be to help mother
with the housework, help with the dishes cheerfully, and many other
little things. Have the children make little acts of self-denial such
as giving up candy, or better, do something they have to do anyhow,
but have them do it as a gift to the Christ Child. They might say
some extra prayers or go to daily mass (with the family if possible)
and receive Communion.
A LETTER TO THE CHRIST CHILD: In many of our neo-pagan (and some
Christian) families there is a custom of having the children send a
letter to "Santa" asking for special gifts for Christmas. Among the
German people there is a similar, but much more Christian custom. On
the first Sunday of Advent the children write their Christmas letter
to the Christ Child. The child tells Jesus his secret wishes and also
tells Him what he is going to do for Jesus during the Advent period.
Before going to bed, the child places the letter on the window sill
for Jesus to take to Heaven. If the child has been good, the letter
is taken away the first night. Sometimes the children have to wait
for two or more days before the letter disappears. When this happens
it is a sure sign that Jesus is not completely pleased with them and
wants them to work harder to be good. If all goes well, Jesus and His
angels put all requested good things under and on the tree on
Special Features During Advent
ST. BARBARA, DEC 4: Another German custom is that of St. Barbara's
Twig. Every member of the family puts his "St. Barbara Twig" (a small
cherry or peach branch) into water so that it will have blossoms on
Christmas day. The child whose branch has the most blossoms on
Christmas is supposed to be Mary's favorite. The vase or glass
containing the St. Barbara Twigs may be placed on the family altar.
ST. NICHOLAS, DEC. 6: This is a great day in German homes. St.
Nicholas pays a visit in person and brings the demon "Krampus" along
with him. St. Nicholas asks each child how good he has been and tells
him to work hard for Jesus during Advent. He tells him to be very
careful about his prayers and warns him to be obedient.
Good children receive gifts of candy and nuts, etc., but Krampus
tells the bad ones that if they don't mend their ways he will take
them with him. The children promise to be good, and after some
growling and rattling of his chains, Krampus has to leave. St.
Nicholas gives the "bad" children some candy and nuts also.
If it seems to be impossible to introduce this custom in our country,
we could at least tell the children the story of St. Nicholas and
show them that Santa Claus is really St. Nicholas. We might also tell
them that St. Nicholas was a Bishop "just like our Bishop is". This
will help to instill in the children a love and respect for the
THE CHRISTMAS SEASON
PRACTICES FOR CHRISTMAS
CHRISTMAS EVE SUPPER: The Slovaks call Christmas Eve "Stedry Vecer,"
or "Generous Eve." It is the occasion for what they call the
"Generous Supper." During the Vigil of Christmas a rigid fast is
kept--many eat nothing up till the time of the supper. This custom is
more than a mere supper; it is a family reunion. There are few things
that would keep any member of the family away. In fact, some people
travel many hundreds of miles to be present with the family. The
supper is held rather late in the evening, so there is no need for
anyone to be late. The head of the family says a special grace. Then
a special Christmas wish is given in which God's blessing is called
down upon the family in general, for health, success, peace and good
will. A prayer is next said for the holy souls, especially for those
of the family who had died during the previous year.
The first thing eaten is the "Oblatky," a rather large oval-shaped
wafer which is to remind the family of the "Bread that came down from
heaven". The head of the family, the father, passes out one wafer at
a time after putting a little honey on it. Each member of the family
receives one. The honey represents the goodness and gifts of God.
If the family knows of someone who is very poor or has no place to
go, they invite him to the supper also. Any such guests and any
servants of the house eat with the family and are treated as a member
of the family.
Among the Polish people the Christmas Eve supper is very much like
that of the Slovaks. Supper is served when the first star is seen in
the sky. Since in many of the homes no food of any type is served
during the day, everyone, but especially the children, look forward
to the appearance of that first star. Under the table cloth some hay
is placed in memory of the Manger where Jesus lay.
Instead of individual wafers, the Polish family serves the "Oplatek".
This is a large wafer or cake similar to the Oblatky. It represents
Christ and is divided among all the family present. Before the
Oplatek may be eaten, all dissensions, quarrels and misunderstandings
that may exist between family members must be done away with.
No beggar or stranger may be refused admittance to the supper: he may
be Christ in disguise. After supper the gifts are exchanged and
Christmas hymns are sung until time for the Midnight Mass.
IRISH CHRISTMAS CANDLES: In Irish homes on Christmas Eve three large
candles are lighted in the living room and three smaller candles in
each window. Also, the door of every Irish home is left unlocked on
Christmas Eve so that the Holy Family will be able to enter.
MIDNIGHT MASS: Christmas day should start with Midnight Mass or at
least an early Mass and Communion. This is the official coming of the
Christ Child for which we have been waiting all during the Advent
period. Show the children the Infant Jesus in the Nativity scene in
church and remind them that, although the infant in the crib is only
a statue, Jesus is really present up on the altar (and in their
THE CHRISTMAS TREE: There is a beautiful symbolism in the traditional
Christmas tree which is so popular in our country. The tree
represents the long period of waiting for the coming of the Christ,
Who is represented by a star or some other shining ornament at the
top of the tree. The ornaments, candles and lights represent His
gifts and graces to us. This meaning of the Christmas tree should be
made clear to all the children of the family--they will love the
element of mystery they find here.
In Germany and in many other countries, candy, cookies and nuts are
hung on the branches. The children love this. These articles
represent good things which can be eaten as well as looked at.
Therese Mueller suggests that the best time to put up the tree is on
Christmas Eve, and not before. All of the symbolism points to the
Nativity of Our Lord and premature erection of the tree and crib
takes something from the meaning of these things.
THE CHRISTMAS CRIB: Over seven centuries ago St. Francis of Assisi
popularized a beautiful idea. He thought it would be a great help to
his devotion and that of the people if they could see a
representation of the Nativity scene at the Christmas Mass. His idea
caught. Before many years had passed, the Christmas crib was a
feature of most churches and many homes during the Christmas season.
Today in our country this beautiful practice, especially in the
homes, has been going the way of many of our Christian customs. It
should be reinstated. You do not have to go to great expense to make
a Nativity scene. If it is impossible to purchase a regular crib-set
you can make your own. The stable can be made out of a box. Straw or
grass and pieces of evergreen will help to set the stage. A small
statue of the Blessed Mother can be obtained reasonably (or made out
of cardboard for that matter). Make a small straw bed and leave it
empty until Christmas morning. After Midnight Mass lay in it a tiny
Christ Child. For the Baby Jesus you can use a baby doll which can be
obtained at the five and ten cent store for a few cents. If you can
get (or make) a statue of St. Joseph, shepherds, lambs, etc., do so;
but the main thing is the Mother and Child. Let the children help you
make the Crib. Even if you buy one of the regular sets, it might be
well to get a set of cut-outs for the children. They will love to put
it up in their room.
In German homes, candles for each member of the family are placed
around the crib. They are lit from a large candle which represents
the Christ Child. The significance is that all the love and light in
the family comes from Jesus Who is the "Light of the world." In these
families, all the members kneel in adoration and sing the hymn
A CHRISTMAS PLAY: A play is one of the best ways to impress upon the
minds of the whole family, especially the children, the beauty and
importance of the Christmas season. Of course, if there is only one
child in the family a play is an impossibility, but if there are
several, even only two, they could depict the Christmas scene. There
should be no worry about costumes--the less stage props and costumes
the better, because then there is more real piety and love in the
play. In fact, simplicity is the ideal.
: Speaking of plays, it is a good idea to reintroduce
(if you live in the Southwest) the beautiful community play of Los
Pastores. This is a Mexican Mystery Play about the Incarnation of Our
Lord. Members of the community are chosen for the parts of St.
Joseph, The Blessed Virgin, the Infant, the Three Kings, a good angel
and a bad angel. Singing and dancing go on throughout the whole play.
The story is about the coming of the shepherds and the coming of the
Kings. The entire drama lasts for only about an hour. After Los
Pastores is over, the people of the neighborhood (who, by the way,
are dressed as shepherds) sing, dance and eat together. There is no
reason why this beautiful play should be restricted to the Spanish
Speaking people. The script can be obtained in English and any
national group would enjoy taking either an active or passive part in
the production of the play. The songs are simple and truly beautiful.
The play will help the whole neighborhood get into the spirit of
(the inns): This Mexican custom is really a Christmas
novena, begun on Dec. 16, which is acted out. Nine homes or families
in the neighborhood are selected in advance to represent the
"posadas" or inns. Each night of the novena the families taking part
form a procession and make a pilgrimage to one of the inns. They
carry candles and sing hymns depicting the story of Mary and Joseph
traveling to Bethlehem. Songs are sung at the door of the "inn". On
each of the first eight nights the family of the "inn" sings a little
song which indicates that there is no lodging for the Holy Family,
and Mary and Joseph are sent away. But before they go, the whole
procession, singing, passes through the rooms of the home. On the
last night the procession is admitted to the house in which a
Christmas crib with a manger has been set up. In many places
refreshments have been made a part of the evening's ceremonies in all
nine houses. This practice of "Las Posadas" makes the preparation for
Christmas more real.
GIVING OF PRESENTS: The custom of giving presents on Christmas, or on
Epiphany as with the Italians, has a religious significance which is
often overlooked. The gifts which are given represent the gifts of
the three Wise Men to the Christ Child. The giving of gifts should
also help us to remember that for the love of the Infant Jesus, we
should love one another. Some parents have their children give
Christmas gifts to the Christ Child in the form of little sacrifices
and acts of love. Why Our Lord is usually left out of the present
exchanging is a mystery. He has given us all and we should make some
return. It's His birthday.
Therese Mueller has this to say about the giving of gifts:
"As far as Christmas gifts are concerned, let us emphasize their true
meaning, now so generally forgotten: overpowered by God's generosity
in giving His only-begotten Son as the Redeemer of mankind,
Christians feel urged to imitate in a limited manner God's great love
and liberality by spreading happiness among relatives and friends
through gifts. Only if our gifts--small though they be--are borne along
on a wave of true charity will they be worthy to lie beside the crib,
which represents the real Gift, the Gift of all gifts, without which
we should still be sitting in darkness and in the slavery of Sin."
In a footnote on the same page she adds, "Thus we can easily get rid
of the `white lies' about `Santa' or the Angels entering the home at
night with the presents. It is the Christ Child who presents our
family with the abundance of grace and happiness and peace, it is His
love that urges us to find means to represent in visible and tangible
form His great gift of Himself to us, so that we may to some extent
understand the great mystery of the Incarnation. Certainly, let us do
all in our power to surround this entire season with the mystery
proper to Christmastide, but let us abstain from telling our children
so-called pious lies. Too often they undermine the children's
confidence in the words of their parents and they can never do
justice to the great mystery to which we are trying to introduce
CHRISTMAS CARDS: The custom of giving Christmas cards was a beautiful
custom and still is if one is fortunate enough to find a dealer who
carries religious cards. In many parts of our country an effort is
being made to induce shopkeepers to get in a supply of real Christmas
cards--cards which have something to do with Christmas. It might be
well to make a point of asking the shopkeeper, "Do you have any
religious Christmas cards?" If the answer is "no", or "the dealer
does not carry that type of card", ask the salesman to tell the
dealer that his customers want religious cards. Remember, the dealer
is interested in the money angle--the customer furnishes the money
and you are the customer.
CHRISTMAS PIE: Many families have the custom of baking a mince pie
for the Christmas dinner. In pre-reformation England, these Christmas
mince pies were made in oblong form, representing the manger in which
Christ was born. Sometimes a little figure of the infant Jesus was
placed in a slight depression in the crust. Thus the pie was served
as an object of devotion as well as part of the Christmas feast. The
Puritans claimed that the custom of eating Christmas pie was "an
abomination, idolatry, superstition, and a popish observance";
consequently it was condemned at the same time as the Puritans
condemned Christmas itself. Needless to say, the condemnation didn't
last long, and the pie was soon back on the Christmas tables. You
might tell the children the meaning of the Christmas pie when you
place your mince pie on the table on Christmas.
ST. STEPHEN, DEC. 26: A popular Christmas custom in Britain is Boxing
on the feast of St. Stephen, Dec. 26. It originated because in
medieval times the priests would empty alms boxes in all churches on
the day after Christmas and distribute the gifts to the poor. In
imitation of this Church practice, the workers, apprentices, and
servants kept their own personal "boxes" made of earthenware in which
they stored savings and donations throughout the year. At Christmas
came the last and greatest flow of coins, collected from patrons,
customers, and friends. Then, on the day after Christmas, the box was
broken and the money counted. This custom was eventually called
"boxing" (giving and accepting presents). Each present is "boxed",
and the day of present-giving is "boxing day."
A similar custom prevailed in Holland and some parts of Germany.
Children were taught to save their pennies in a pig-shaped
earthenware box. This box was not to be opened until Christmas, and
consequently was called the "feast pig." From this custom, we now
have our piggy banks.
FEAST OF ST. JOHN THE APOSTLE, DEC. 27: In some churches, after the
convent or parochial Mass, wine is blessed in honor of St. John (RR.
p. 384). If the custom is not held in your church, the pastor would
probably be happy to bless a bottle for you. The wine is served in
the home before the main meal. The father lifts the cup toward the
mother and says: "I drink you the love of St. John." And she answers,
"I thank you for the love of St. John." Then the mother turns to the
eldest child and says, "I drink you the love of St. John." The
ceremony continues from one to another including any guests and
servants. This practice takes its origin from the fact that St. John
was the apostle of love, and in the legend that at one time poisoned
wine did not affect him.
FEAST OF THE HOLY INNOCENTS, DEC. 28: In convents, novitiates and
schools, the youngest member becomes "superior" for the day on the
feast of the Holy Innocents. This should be a great day for the
children. Therese Mueller suggests that we allow the youngest
child decide what is to be sang, prayed, eaten and played on this
day. Surely, it would emphasize for the children their importance to
Christ and His Church.
NEW YEAR'S EVE: In the mind of the Church, the last day of the year
should be dedicated to thanking God for all the blessings which He
has given us, but especially for the gifts and blessings of the past
year. If there are services in your parish church on New Year's eve,
you might take the whole family to thank God in union with the other
families of your community. If it is impossible for you to assist at
the parish services, you should have a little thanksgiving service at
home, a part of which might be the singing of the Church's hymn of
thanksgiving, the "Te Deum Laudamus" (in English--Holy God We Praise
In German homes the family gathers around the Christmas Tree on New
Year's eve to thank the Infant Jesus for all the blessings which have
been bestowed on their home. Around nine o'clock the father brings
home a large "Pretzel" (we could use coffee-cake) and mother makes
some coffee. Before the family eats the little thanksgiving supper,
all the children thank their parents for all that they have done for
them and ask God to bless them for the new year.
FEAST OF THE HOLY NAME OF JESUS, JAN. 2 (or Sunday between the 1st
and 6th): On this day you might incorporate into your prayers some
special prayers of reparation to Jesus for the blasphemies against
His Holy Name. The Church has granted an indulgence of 7 years for
the recital of the Litany of the Most Holy Name. The feast of the
Holy Name is a good time to explain the meaning of the monogram "IHS"
to the children.
THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD
The name "Epiphany" means "manifestation". The underlying meaning of
the feast may be found in the Introit of the Mass: "Behold the Lord
the Ruler is come: and the Kingdom is in His hand, and power, and
dominion." On this day the Church commemorates the coming of the Wise
Men or Magi, the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan and the first miracle
of Christ at the marriage feast in Cana, but the coming of the Wise
Men is emphasized.
MYSTERY PLAY: During the Middle Ages this day was celebrated with
much pomp and ceremony. The lives of the three Wise Men were
dramatized. They were first pictured as Magi or Wise Men, members of
a respected priesthood, then as counselors of a king, skillful
astrologers, and finally as kings with their offerings of gold,
frankincense and myrrh. In reality, not much is known about them, but
what is known was dramatized. Although in our country there are few
parish mystery plays, there is no reason why the children could not
be able to give a simple representation of this beautiful story.
Katherine Byles says that "if the children are old enough they will
take great pride in writing out the parts for the different
characters. If the family is too small, join with one of two other
THE CRIB: On Epiphany the figures of the three Wise Men are placed by
the crib. In many places the figures of the Wise Men are placed at
some distance from the crib either on or soon after Christmas and
moved progressively closer each day. If you do not have the necessary
figures, you might allow the children to cut out some figures of
kings and camels from Christmas cards and set them up. If the
children are allowed to do this, the feast will have special meaning
for them, because they will feel that they have added materially to
the spirit of the day.
BLESSING OF CHALK: Blessed chalk is distributed to the people in some
churches, especially in Europe. The chalk is taken home and is used
to mark the year and the initials of the three Magi over the door of
the house (e.g.: 19 + C + M + B + 55) to remind all who enter and
leave through the main door that they also must be ready to leave
all, if necessary, and follow Christ. It might be added also that
this is a beautiful act of faith.
BLESSING OF BREAD, SALT, AND EGGS: In some places in Europe, bread,
eggs and salt are taken to the church on this day to be blessed. In
sections of Germany incense is taken also. These things are blessed
after the morning service and may be taken home to be eaten with the
holiday meals. In Germany, the bread and eggs are given to the poor,
the salt is retained at home as a reminder that the people, as
Christians, are to be "the salt of the earth," and the incense is
burned at the family altar to remind the whole family that, just as
the house is filled with the odor of the incense, so should charity
bind together all of the members of the family with Christ.
BLESSING OF GOLD, FRANKINCENSE (AND MYRRH): In many churches there is
a custom of blessing gold, frankincense and sometimes myrrh on the
feast of the Epiphany. The gold is to be offered for sacred vessels
in the parish, the incense is taken home to be used as noted above.
The blessings of all these things, the chalk, bread, gold, etc., may
be found in the Roman Ritual. If these customs are not in practice in
your parish, you might ask the priests to introduce them.
BLESSING OF WATER ON THE VIGIL OF EPIPHANY: In some places water is
blessed on the Vigil of Epiphany and is then given to the faithful to
use in their homes, and also for the sick. Unlike the above
blessings, however, this blessing is reserved to the Bishop or to his
delegate. It is a beautiful, but rather long ceremony which may be
found in the Roman Ritual.
BLESSING OF THE HOME ON THE FEAST OF THE EPIPHANY: The blessing of
the home is often given by pastors, either individually or if the
parish is so large that this is impossible, from the church steeple
in the four directions. If there is no blessing of houses in your
parish on Epiphany, the father may go through the various rooms of
the home sprinkling the "water of the three kings," which was
described immediately above, or with ordinary holy water if the other
has not been blessed. As the various rooms are sprinkled, the father
reads the prayer:
Bless, O Lord, almighty God, this home so that in it there may be
health, chastity, victorious strength, humility, goodness and
mildness, obedience to God's laws, and acts of thanks to God the
Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, and may this Blessing remain upon
this house, and upon all who dwell in it. Through Christ Our Lord,
Amen (RR. p. 390). If the pastor is going to bless the homes from the
church, the father of the family should perform the above ceremony
for his home at the same time, but without reading the prayer.
TWELFTH NIGHT CAKE AND KINGS: This is an old English custom, and one
about which there is very little written. In reality it is an
Epiphany party. Each child in the family or neighborhood brings a
small gift to the party, and all form a procession and lay their
gifts at the crib under the Christmas tree. For refreshment a cake
(the traditional 12th Night Cake) is baked in which are hidden three
dried beans. The children who get the beans in their piece of cake
receive a crown and are the "th night Kings" during the remainder
of the party. The kings distribute the gifts to all the children and
select the songs and games.
The Crowns: These may be easily made of colored paper. Take a piece
of stiff paper about three inches wide and 24 inches long. Cut
diagonals in the top section of the strip so as to leave points for
the crown. The ends may be glued together or tied with a ribbon.
Pearls and other gems of cut paper may be added for effect.
12th Night Cake:
1 cup shortening 6 beaten egg whites
2 2/3 cups sugar 1/2 tsp. salt
5 tsp. baking powder 2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups milk
Cream shortening and sugar. Add milk alternately with sifted dry
ingredients. Fold in beaten egg whites. Add vanilla. Bake in three
nine-inch greased layer tins in a moderate oven (375 degrees) for
about 30 minutes.
On the feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary
(Candle-mas), in many parishes, each member of the family takes his
candle to the church to have it blessed. The candles are blessed
before Mass, and there is usually a Candle-mas procession in the
church. If there is an expected child or godchild, candles are
blessed for them also.
At home on the evening of Candle-mas day a private procession may be
held. Each person carries his own lighted candle, and all go through
the house singing and praying, led by the father of the family.
Before the procession through the rooms the father says the prayer:
Hear thy people, O Lord, we beseech Thee, and grant us to obtain
those things inwardly by the light of grace, which Thou grantest us
outwardly to venerate by this annual devotion.
The candles which are blessed on this day may be used often, during
days of sickness, sorrow, temptation; also on all feast days,
anniversaries, etc., and when Holy Communion is brought to the sick.
In German homes on the evening of this feast, every member of the
family lights his new candle during the recitation of the joyful
mysteries of the Rosary before the crib. After the Rosary, the father
cuts the branches from the Christmas tree, one for each child, and
the children are able to eat the candy and nuts, etc. which were tied
When the religious feasts are celebrated in this way, i.e.,
procession in the home, etc., one may be sure that they will never
bore the children--in fact, they will hardly be able to wait until
the next one.
II. THE LENTEN SEASON
Therese Mueller likens Lent to spring: "Spring occupies a very
important place in the life of the tiller of the soil; as far as man
is concerned, spring decides what the crop will be. Similarly in the
life of grace, Lent holds an almost decisive position. (Lent is but
another word for spring). The more carefully we put away the deeds of
winter, the 'dead' deeds, the deeper we plow in order that the new
seed may find a well-prepared soil enriched with the good deeds of
fasting and prayer, the more shall we enjoy the vigorous plants that
will spring up and the abundance of the harvest . . . Just as Nature
renews herself every spring, so during the Church's spring we are
encouraged to begin anew with the catechumens. We prepare for the
renewal of our baptism, we suffer with Christ for our sins, we are
buried with Him so that we may also arise with Him to a new life of
grace and glory."
PRE-LENT: In Catholic communities (e.g., New Orleans, La.) the three
days prior to Ash Wednesday are considered carnival days, days of
plenty of food, fun, and pleasure. It is a good idea to keep this
practice, moderately at least, in our homes during this period. As
Therese Mueller says, "It is good psychology to experience and enjoy
what we intend to 'give up' and helps much in a right start for
Lent." It might be noted also that, in the mind of the Church,
the Sundays of Lent are to be used as "pauses" to help us prepare for
the next week's labors.
TUESDAY-BEFORE-ASH-WEDNESDAY PROCESSION: In many places a procession
is held in the home before Ash Wednesday. The members of the family
move silently through the house, gathering all the last year's palm
from the pictures and crucifixes. Then each piece of palm is
carefully burned as a symbol of the dust to which we all must some
day return. The children will love to be allowed to burn their own
piece of palm--it will be for them an expression and confirmation of
the Lenten resolutions which they have made.
LENTEN RESOLUTIONS: As was mentioned above, the sacrifices which are
made during Lent and Advent should not be merely negative--giving
things up. One might suggest to the children that they make secret
offerings to Jesus which will be known only to Him and to them. St.
Therese of the Infant Jesus, when she was a child, made use of some
"sacrifice beads." All that is needed is a string of about 10
beads, (a medal at one end is helpful) and something to move from one
bead to the next, for example, a small rubber band. Every time the
child does something for Jesus, she moves the marker to the next
bead. Soon, like St. Therese, she will be "putting her hand into her
pocket a hundred times a day to count her sacrifices."
Eventually, the child will "graduate" to the stage of doing all for
the love of Jesus, with or without beads.
PALM SUNDAY: On Palm Sunday another procession through the house is
held while every room is decorated with pieces of the blessed palm.
During the procession, suitable hymns or psalms are sung. After the
palms have been placed in each room, a small cross of palm is made
for everyone to wear during Holy Week. This represents the fact that
if we wish to be victorious with Christ, we must carry our cross in
patience with Him.
Maria Trapp tells us that at their home in Vermont there is a custom
for the whole family to go all over their property (they live on a
farm) and place blessed palms in every section so that each unit of
meadow, orchard, garden, etc. receives its blessing.
There is another custom in the Trapps' part of the country which
takes place on Palm Sunday. Little bouquets of spruce or fir and palm
leaves are prepared. Each bouquet is tied around a stick about three
feet long and decorated with colored ribbons. These are taken to the
church and blessed. They serve as a sacramental, and are meant to
keep away the influence of evil spirits. They are used to draw down
God's blessings on the year's crops and are meant to serve as
protection against fires, floods, etc.
HOLY WEEK: During the first three days of Holy Week, Easter
housecleaning takes place in many Catholic communities. This is more
than just another secular custom. Its purpose is to prepare the house
for the blessing by the priest on Holy Saturday, and is an outward
sign of the inner newness of soul of the family. This meaning should
be made clear to the children so that they may help prepare the house
for the Church's blessing. By Wednesday of Holy Week the cleaning
should be finished, and the remainder of the week should be
considered as semi-holidays.
HOLY THURSDAY: The Trapp family which we mentioned above, because
they live on a farm, call the members of the family to dinner and to
prayers by a bell. On the last three days of Holy Week they imitate
the Church in her use of a hand clapper. The youngest child has the
honor of solemnly announcing the meals and devotions, using this, by
no means silent instrument. At noon of Holy Thursday they have the
traditional spring herb soup and fried eggs. For the evening meal,
all of the family dress in their Sunday clothes for a solemn
celebration in honor of the Blessed Sacrament. "At the father's place
are specially made hot-cross buns and a cup of wine for every member
of the household. Making the sign of the Cross over the first bun
while breaking it, he hands it, together with a cup of wine, to the
mother, and then down the line to all the others in the same way. The
family waits, standing, until the father has blessed bread and wine
for every one. Then they sit down and slowly eat and drink `in His
memory,' while the father reads the Gospel of the Last Supper."
After this ceremony is over, the traditional Easter Lamb is served.
Later in the evening the whole family go to the church to take turns
at keeping Christ company.
Among the Mexicans, there is a custom of going on pilgrimage on foot
to as many churches as possible to visit the Blessed Sacrament on
this day. Although it might be impossible for us to imitate them in
this, we should if possible, take the children to visit Our Lord in
"His prison" in one or two churches.
GOOD FRIDAY: In the Trapp home on Good Friday, fasting is rigorously
observed. There is no breakfast. For lunch there is only a pot of
thick soup standing on the bare table. Everyone eats his share while
standing. There is little talk and no unnecessary noise. During the
whole of Good Friday there are no lights lighted in the house, even
the small vigil light before the picture of the Blessed Mother in the
living room is extinguished. From twelve to three all activity around
the house stops and the whole family sits around a cross and spends
these hours in prayer, singing Lenten hymns and in spiritual
If possible, the family should spend the hours from twelve to three
o'clock at the parish church. During the latter part of Holy Week
(Wed. through Sat.) it is a good idea to take the whole family to the
special services--Tenebrae, Mass of the Pre-Sanctified, etc. These
services are very beautiful and full of meaning.
HOLY SATURDAY: Early Holy Saturday morning the Trapp Family joins the
other people of their community at the church for the blessing of the
new fire and other ceremonies. From the new fire a lantern is lighted
and taken home, and from the lantern is lighted the vigil light which
stands on the family altar. This light is guarded throughout the
year; it should never be allowed to go out until the next Good
Friday. Needless to say, the Light represents Christ, the Risen Light
of the World. Some of the blessed faggots from which the fire was
lighted are also taken home. These are burned during heavy thunder
storms as protection against lightning.
BLESSING OF THE HOME WITH EASTER WATER: Some of the Easter Water, the
blessing of which takes place during the ceremonies at the church on
Holy Saturday, should be brought home and regarded as a symbol of the
family's renewal in Christ. There should be another family procession
on the evening of Holy Saturday during which all of the rooms and
members of the family, including any servants and friends, are
blessed. The remainder of the blessed water may then be placed on the
As the rooms are sprinkled, the father may read the following prayer:
Graciously hear us, Holy Lord, Almighty Father and Eternal
God, that, even as You protected the homes of the Hebrew
people leaving Egypt by means of the destroying angel;
which homes were stained with the blood of a lamb (which
prefigured our Pasch in which Christ was immolated); so may
you in the same manner condescend to send your holy angel
from heaven that he may guard, foster, protect, visit, and
defend all the inhabitants of this dwelling. Through the
same Christ Our Lord. Amen.
RENEWAL OF BAPTISMAL VOWS: In the evening of Holy Saturday there is a
family renewal of the vows of Baptism. The baptismal candles should
be displayed at the home altar. Then everyone recites the prayers of
the renewal of the vows. This is followed by a song of thanksgiving
for having received the gift of life. Then every member of the family
is blessed with the new Easter-water. After this the procession may
take place. If you live on a farm, the procession may go through the
various sections that they may be blessed also.
EASTER EGGS: The custom of having Easter eggs is very widespread, so
much so that the Christian meaning has been all but forgotten. Of
course, these Easter eggs are symbols of the Risen Christ. As a chick
breaks the shell when it is hatched and begins life, so Our Lord
comes forth living from the tomb. Consequently, it is a good custom
to paint figures of Christ, the Easter Lamb, etc. on the colored
eggs. Many of the other symbols which the Church uses in her liturgy
may be used also.
BLESSING OF FOODS: In some places the blessing of special Easter food
takes place on Holy Saturday. Among the Slovaks a basket containing
lamb meat (which of course signifies Jesus, the Lamb of God), boiled
eggs, dyed and plain, Pascha (a special Easter bread), and other
foods, is taken to the church in the afternoon where the priest
blesses it, using the prayer:
Bless, O Lord, this creation that it may be a means of
salvation to the human race, And grant that, by the
invocation of Thy Holy Name, it may promote health of body,
and salvation of soul in those who partake of it, through
Christ our Lord.
The food is then taken home and eaten for breakfast on Easter Sunday,
Monday, and Tuesday.
Among the Polish people the same custom is practiced, but the main
foods blessed are an egg which is broken and shared by all on Easter
Sunday morning, and a lamb moulded of butter or pastry. This
butter-lamb and blessed Easter egg have a place of honor on the
festive Easter table.
In Rome on Holy Saturday there is an old custom which is still in
practice. A fresh table cloth is spread on the table in the dining
room and on it are laid out the Easter meal, including the uncooked
Easter Lamb which is decorated with flowers, eggs, wine, fruit, and a
large traditional cake called "pizza". These are sprinkled with holy
water, and are given a special blessing by the priest.
III. THE PASCHAL AND PENTECOSTAL SEASON
The Paschal season opens with the Feast of Feasts, Easter. On this
day the Risen Christ has conquered death and has opened to us the
gates of heaven which were closed by the sin of our first parents.
Through His resurrection we have become children of resurrection. His
victory over sin, death, and the grave has been made our victory
DECORATIONS: In the mind of the Church, Easter should hold the
highest place in the lives of the faithful. For this reason, even the
decorations of the home are important, especially for the children.
The whole house should feel the effect of this decorating, but
especially the home altar and the dining room. The many symbols of
the Church's liturgy may be made use of. If they are understood they
will be very effective. An explanation of many of the liturgical
symbols is given in most of the books on the Liturgy. Most Catholic
religious goods stores carry one or the other of these books.
Probably the mother's main concern will be with the "centerpiece."
Here she may use the various blessed articles of food, or as is the
custom among the Polish people, she may make a centerpiece of
flowers, etc., in the form of a lamb.
FAMILY PRAYERS: During Easter and the Octave of Easter, special
Easter prayers and songs should be sung. If the family gathers around
the family altar, on which the baptismal candles are placed and
lighted, and chant or sing some of these songs, for example, the
exultet, Regina Coeli, etc., a beautiful and impressive Easter
devotion will result.
During the main meal of the family, in some places there is a custom
of having the father intone the "Alleluia" instead of saying the
regular grace. The other members of the family in turn repeat three
times: "Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia." This is kept up during the
whole octave of Easter. "Alleluia" means "Glory be to Him Who Is."
THE ROGATION DAYS
These are the days of prayer and sacrifice that aim to appease God's
anger aroused by our sins, and to implore His blessings for ourselves
and that He might increase the crops. These days fall on the feast of
St. Mark (April 25th), and on the three days preceding the feast of
the Ascension. The days are especially important in farming parishes,
and our families should join in the community procession in which the
Litany of the Saints and other prayers are chanted, followed by the
Rogation Day Mass in the parish church. On these days it is good to
repeat the Litany with the whole family at the home altar in the
In the Introit of the Mass of the Ascension, the Church tells us, "O
clap your hands, all ye nations, shout unto God with the voice of
joy." Thus we are to rejoice that Our Lord, the King of all creation
has returned to His rightful place at the side of His Father.
Monsignor Martin B. Hellriegel suggests that a mystery play be
dramatized in the church in honor of this great feast. Most probably
there will be nothing like this taking place in your parish, but
since most mystery plays are very simple, it would not be beyond the
ability of your family (or several families together) to have a short
play in honor of the Ascension. At least the "Veni Creator" should be
sung in Latin or in English during or after the family night prayers;
and it would be a good idea to explain it carefully, verse by verse,
to the children.
Pentecost is not just one of the Sundays after Easter. It is one of
the two greatest feasts on the Church calendar. It is the feast of
the Holy Spirit, the birthday of the Church, and the anniversary of
our confirmation. In Europe and elsewhere, Pentecost is a day of
rejoicing, fairs, and merry-making in general. This day would be a
good time for at least several of the parish families to get together
for an "outing".
The home altar should be carefully decorated. Red should predominate,
and a representation of a dove or some other symbol of the Holy
Spirit should have the place of honor.
In the evening, the whole family might come together for a renewal of
their confirmation. The following is suggested for the simple renewal
All: Sing the hymn "Veni Creator (Come Holy Ghost).
Father: Reads the Lesson from the Mass of Whitsunday (Acts 2-1-11)
and the Lesson from the Mass of Whit-Tuesday (Acts 8:14-17).
All: Sing a hymn.
All: (Prayer commemorating the Reception of Confirmation):
Thanks be unto Thee, O my God, for all Thy infinite
goodness, and, especially, for the love Thou hast shown
unto me at my Confirmation.
I Give Thee thanks that Thou didst then send down Thy Holy
Spirit unto my soul with all His gifts and graces.
May He take full possession of me for ever.
May His divine unction cause my face to shine.
May His heavenly wisdom reign in my heart.
May His understanding enlighten my darkness.
May His counsel guide me.
May His knowledge instruct me.
May His piety make me fervent.
May His divine fear keep me from all evil.
Drive from my soul, O Lord, all that may defile it.
Give me grace to be Thy faithful soldier, that having
fought the good fight of faith, I may be brought to the
crown of everlasting life, through the merits of Thy dearly
beloved Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Father: Confirm, O God, that which Thou hast wrought in us, from Thy
holy temple which is in Jerusalem.
All: Say the Credo and the Our Father (standing).
All: Sing a hymn in honor of the Pope.
THE MONTH OF MARY--MAY
During the month of May, many families try to keep some fresh flowers
on the family altar in front of a picture or statue of the Blessed
Virgin. It might be a good idea to let the children take charge of
the flowers, changing the water each day and putting in fresh flowers
as often as possible. During the month especially (all the year if
possible) the Rosary should be recited by the whole family--as a
family unit. If there is not time to say the whole Rosary, at least
one decade should be said.
(The faithful who perform privately their devotions to the Blessed
Virgin Mary, may gain: An indulgence of five years on any day of the
month, a plenary indulgence, if they perform such devotions daily
through the entire month, provided that they are lawfully hindered
from taking part in public devotions (S.P.Ap., Dec. 16, 1935).
MAY DAY: On this day one might have a simple ceremony of "crowning"
with flowers, the statue of the Blessed Mother if the family has one.
This is a very impressive ceremony for the children. Not long ago,
May Day was a day of joy and parties in honor of Our Mother Mary.
Today, May Day is a Communist anniversary. We should make a special
effort to celebrate the day for its original meaning. Try to go to
Benediction. Have a party. (For children, a party is having ice cream
and perhaps cake or cookies.)
THE TIME AFTER PENTECOST
The time after Pentecost is the period which represents the working
of the Holy Spirit in the Church until the end of time. The feasts
which occur at this time sum up the redemptive love of God. These
feasts are feasts of faith--each of them commemorates a mystery of
our Holy Faith.
THE SUNDAYS: Therese Mueller says that, for her, Sunday during this
period is a little Easter, as it were, that Sunday is the center
point of the family recreation (re-creation) as well as of the family
religious life. Each Saturday has something of a Holy Saturday
atmosphere of expectation about it. The meals on this day, in the
home of her youth, were simple. There was a cake-for-the-morrow odor
about the house. "Moses, take off your shoes, the place you are
standing on is holy" her father used to say, often with a smile the
children did not see--to them it was just too true. "It was as if the
whole house was alive with the expectation of something great and
beautiful--almost as wonderful as the Sunday itself."
FEAST OF CORPUS CHRISTI: This is the feast of Our Lord hidden in the
Blessed Sacrament. In a way it is much like that of the feast on Holy
Thursday, but without the restrictions of Holy Week. In most places a
procession is held in and near the church in which Our Lord is
carried in honor, accompanied by singing, praying, and by children
scattering flowers. At home in the evening the little ceremony of the
blessing of hot cross buns and wine, and the reading of the Gospel of
the Last Supper might be held.
FEAST OF THE SACRED HEART: This would be a fine time to make the
Consecration to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus if the family has not
already made it. A picture or statue of the Sacred Heart is put in a
conspicuous place in the home, or in the place of honor on the family
altar. The altar should be decorated carefully--this is a good task
for the children. In the evening the whole family gather there before
the altar on which a number of candles (the baptismal candles may be
used) are lighted as symbols of faith and love of the members for the
Sacred Heart of Jesus. The father will then slowly and clearly read
the consecration while the other members of the family repeat it
after him, sentence by sentence, or better, if each person could have
a copy of the form of consecration, all might read it together. Any
form of consecration may be used. The official form for the private
devotion of the Enthronement is as follows:
O Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Thou didst reveal to the
blessed Margaret Mary Thy desire to rule over Christian
families; behold, in order to please Thee, we stand before
Thee this day, to proclaim Thy full sovereignty over our
family. We desire henceforth to live Thy life, we desire
that the virtues, to which Thou hast promised peace on
earth, may flower in the bosom of our family; we desire to
keep far from us the spirit of the world, which Thou hast
condemned. Thou art King of our minds by the simplicity of
our faith; Thou art King of our hearts by our love of Thee
alone, with which our hearts are on fire and whose flame we
shall keep alive by frequently receiving the Holy
Eucharist. Be pleased, O Sacred Heart, to preside over our
gathering together, to bless our spiritual and temporal
affairs, to ward off all annoyance from us, to hallow our
joys and comfort our sorrows. If any of us has ever been so
unhappy as to fall into the misery of displeasing Thee,
grant that he may remember, O Heart of Jesus, that Thou art
full of goodness and mercy toward the repentant sinner. And
when the hour of separation strikes and death enters our
family circle, whether we go or whether we stay, we shall
all bow humbly before Thine eternal decrees. This shall be
our consolation, to remember that the day will come, when
our entire family, once more united in heaven, shall be
able to sing of Thy glory and Thy goodness forever. May the
Immaculate Heart of Mary and the glorious Patriarch St.
Joseph vouchsafe to offer Thee this our act of
consecration, and to keep the memory thereof alive in us
all the days of our lives.
Glory to the Heart of Jesus, our King and Our Father!
An indulgence of seven years is granted when the family makes this
consecration for the first time before a likeness of the Sacred
Heart. A Plenary indulgence is granted under the usual
conditions. If the family has already made this act of
consecration, they might renew it on this day, using the above
prayer, and they will gain an indulgence of three years, and a
plenary indulgence under the usual conditions.
After the act of consecration has ended, all will arise, and every
member of the family will sign the written formula which the father
used while reciting the consecration. This document will be kept
amongst the family treasures, as proof of the devotedness of the
family to the Heart of Jesus.
A FAMILY HOLY HOUR IN HONOR OF THE SACRED HEART: Father Mateo,
C.SS.CC. is the inspiration behind this Nightly Holy Hour of
Adoration at home. This Holy Hour is an answer to the need of
generous souls who desire to live more perfectly the spirit of the
Enthronement, and who wish to do more (we might say much more) for
the Most Sacred Heart. "This divine project of familial and social
reparation has succeeded far beyond Fr. Mateo's hopes. Battalions
have gathered around him under the banner of the Sacred Heart. They
have entered into the fray to help conquer the world for Him by their
hidden apostolate. Whole families have joined to spread the Kingdom
of love." The families who practice this custom may be divided into
two groups: "First, those who promise to make the Holy Hour before
the Image of the King of Love, on the eve of the First Friday, or
some other day at their choice, once a month. It might be that the
parents and children--all--assemble for this purpose at the most
favorable hour, often from eight to nine p.m., or even later, to join
in this Nocturnal Hour of Reparation and Love.
"A second class that is more generous and, consequently, smaller,
consists of families who organize a Night of Adoration at Home. This
is done preferably on the eve of the First Friday, in families,
fervent families that are sufficiently large enough in numbers to
adore from eleven p.m. to five a.m."
FEAST OF CHRIST THE KING: In a very true sense, this is the feast
which commemorates the whole purpose of our lives--to give worship to
the Trinity through and with Him Who is the cause of our creation.
God made us in order that we might give Him honor by being the
servants of His Son. The Church wishes us to honor Christ the King in
a special manner. She has granted us an indulgence of seven years for
making a private novena or triduum during the three or nine days
immediately preceding this great feast. Of course, if there are
services in the Church during this time it would be best for the
whole family to attend, but if the devotions are to take place at
home, the members might say the Litany of the Sacred Heart and recite
the following prayer:
O Christ Jesus, I acknowledge Thee to be the King of the
universe: all that has been made is created for Thee.
Exercise over me all Thy sovereign rights. I hereby renew
the promises of my Baptism, renouncing Satan and all his
works and pomps, and I engage myself to lead henceforth a
truly Christian life. And in an especial manner do I
undertake to bring about the triumph of the rights of God
and Thy Church, so far as in me lies. Divine Heart of
Jesus, I offer Thee my poor actions to obtain the
acknowledgment by every heart of Thy sacred Kingly power.
In such wise may the kingdom of Thy peace be firmly
established throughout all the earth. Amen (Plenary
indulgence once daily under the usual conditions).
THE FEAST OF THE ASSUMPTION OF OUR LADY: Therese Mueller describes a
beautiful ceremony which takes place on the feast of the Assumption
of the Blessed Virgin Mary: "On a rural vacation in my childhood I
learned how great a feast Assumption Day is--should be, and I
bitterly regretted that I was a child of the city where no one seemed
to know about the blessing of wild herbs and flowers in memory of the
'lilium convallium', the lily of the valley (as the Canticle of
Canticles calls the Bride of God.) For days the children had hunted
through the hills and fields to find the traditional number of
wild-flowers (from twenty to forty species) which they carefully
bound into a big bouquet. When before the High Mass the herbs were
lifted by their proud owners--to catch at least one drop of Holy
Water--it was as if hills and woods and fields had entered the church
to testify about the empty grave of Mary. And before dusk the
families had distributed the blessed herbs between house and stables,
pantry and fields and gardens so everything was united in the
blessing that flowed down from the Blessed One made Queen of Heaven.
"Are we of the city too proud to admit our poverty and how much we
are in need of this beautiful sacramental? Will we be humble enough
to bring the fruits of our garden, our find of wild flowers from
backyards and vacant lots to the blessing at church?"
THE FEAST OF ALL SAINTS: Truly, this is the feast of our families. It
is the feast of our family in two ways. First, we are members of the
Mystical Body of Christ. Each Saint in heaven is as much our brother
and sister as are the other children of our earthly fathers.
Secondly, every one of our families (all the way back to Adam) who
has passed away while he was a friend of God is either a Saint, or
will be one. On this day (and the rest of the year, for that matter)
there is no reason why we should not tell them that we love them and
ask their help.
In many families, the litany of the Saints, is either said or sung,
on this day during the evening prayers at the family altar. Some
families recite a made-up litany of all the patron saints of the
family members--as a private devotion. You might make this a part of
your evening prayers each day.
Among the Louisiana French, during the days preceding All Saints' Day
each family cleans, whitewashes or paints the tombs at the church
cemetery, prepares artificial flowers and designs wreaths to place on
the tombs. Sometimes chrysanthemums and dahlias are used. In the
afternoon or All Saint's day a procession of all the families takes
place around the cemetery. The priest leads the procession. During
it, the Rosary is recited, and is continued while the blessing of the
graves takes place. The ceremony ends with a sermon and the singing
of the "Libera me."
THE FEAST OF ALL SOULS: This is the day on which the Church in a
special manner fulfills the precept of praying for the souls of all
the faithful departed. She tells us that on this day especially, "it
is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that
they may be loosed from sins" (2 Mach. 12:46).
Many of the Louisiana French families, on the vigil of All Souls'
day, light a candle for each member of the family who has passed
away. The candles are placed on the graves, and an all night watch is
held at the grave site by the living members of the family.
In many places in the Southwestern United States, the people of
Mexican extraction spend a week in careful preparation for All Souls'
Day. They make wreaths and crosses of real or paper flowers of all
colors, to be used in the decoration of the graves of their deceased
relatives. Early in the morning of All Souls' Day the Mexican
families flock to the cemetery. Most of them will spend the whole day
there. In the afternoon the parish priest leads the recitation and
singing of prayers of the ritual at the graveside. After that, as
many individual graves are blessed as is possible. At night, these
cemeteries are a beautiful sight--each grave has its quota of burning
candles. Our good Mexican people do not forget their spiritual
fathers either--each grave of a departed priest is remembered by his
ex-parishioners. Often his grave receives more tapers than do the
individual family plots.
FOR THE CHILDREN'S INSTRUCTION: You might show the children pictures
of deceased relatives and point out to them that maybe these people
are saints of God. Tell them that the "maybe" means that they might
not have loved God enough and because of this are waiting in
Purgatory until the time comes that they can go to Him. Tell the
children that, if we ask God, He will let our relatives come to Him
sooner. Even if there is no ceremony taking place, such as was
described above, it is a good idea to take the children to visit the
graves of the departed members of the family. It will be of great
interest to the children, and will give you a splendid opportunity to
explain that the body has to remain in the grave while the soul goes,
we hope, to God; to explain about Purgatory, the last Judgement and
many other doctrines.
Therese Mueller suggests that on All Souls' Day, or on the
anniversary of the death of someone in the family, a table be
prepared for the administration of the last anointing; that the rite
of extreme unction be prayed and explained to the children. She
suggests that the family say the prayers for the dying for some
person dying without the priest, or for some member of the family who
may die a sudden death. She says that this is a good time to tell the
children about our own last wishes; about the psalms and hymns which
we would like to have prayed at our deathbed.
IV. THE FAMILY AND THE SACRAMENTS
Among Mexican families, one of the highest honors that one can
receive is that of being chosen to be the sponsor of a child. This
explains why the sponsors go to such expense and trouble (usually the
sponsor furnishes the celebration which commonly takes place in grand
style; and it is not unusual for sponsors to travel the distance, for
instance, from Mexico City to Tucson, Arizona for a baptism). The
sponsors have to save over a long time to meet the expense.
Consequently, children often are not baptized until they reach the
age of one or two years.
The parents of the child take great care in selecting the sponsors
because the relation between the children and their sponsors is very
serious and lifelong. "Padrino" and "Madrina" are the special
designations of the sponsors--the words mean "second father" and
"second mother." Often the sponsors are chosen outside of the
immediate family. When someone of another family is chosen for this
honor it brings the families closer together.
The importance of a Padrino and Madrina is brought out by the fact
that many of the Mexican people in the Southwest are more accurate in
remembering the names of their godparents than those of their
parents. Such is the case usually when the child was raised away from
home, which is not an uncommon occurrence.
Usually the parents do not go to the baptismal ceremony--the sponsors
take the child. Sometimes the padrinos will give a short formal
speech when they return the child to its parents. The celebration on
the day of baptism lasts all day and into the night. Chocolate, cake,
and beer are the common food and drink served on such occasions.
The same custom is to be found among the Italians, with slight
BAPTISMAL NAME: Another custom among the Mexicans is the naming of
children. According to strict custom, the child is named after the
Saint of the day. Consequently a boy will often bear the name of a
woman Saint, e.g., Margarito, Mario, etc.
ANNIVERSARY OF BAPTISM: In many places there is a custom (which
should be introduced, or reintroduced in our country) of celebrating
the baptismal days rather than, or in addition to, the birthdays. On
these days there should be a celebration at which, besides the
immediate family, the godparents should attend. If they are not able
to come, they should at least send a letter. If the child is small,
one might tell him about his baptism as though it were a story.
Later, when the child is more able to understand, one might explain
the actions, symbols and ceremonies which the Church uses.
RENEWAL OF BAPTISMAL Vows: In the evening of the anniversary of a
person's baptism, there is a renewal of Baptismal vows. One could use
either a modified form of the ceremony which was mentioned above
under the feast of Holy Saturday (p. 21) or use the beautiful little
ceremony found in the pamphlet, "A Renewal of Baptismal Vows."
BAPTISM GIFTS: Just as the Church uses meaningful and impressive,
visible symbols, so we should do when giving a baptismal gift. For
example, we might give the person a bible, a book about his patron
saint, a holy-water font for his room, or any other such gift. As was
mentioned above when Candlemas was discussed, many people give the
child to be baptized a baptismal candle and the white baptismal robe
which symbolizes innocence and sanctifying grace. This baptismal
candle may be kept and later made to serve as a First Communion
candle, later as the bridal candle, and finally, as the death candle
of the individual. All these things should be kept for the child. On
the anniversaries of his baptism they should be exposed on the family
altar, and later, when the child has grown up and is about to
establish his own family, they should be given to him permanently.
Confirmation signifies that the child has become a man spiritually.
It also signifies that he is ready to give his life if need be for
the Faith--he has become a soldier of Christ. Consequently the family
should recognize the child's new dignity. Confirmation should receive
much more attention than it does. Therese Mueller suggests that on
this day the child be given his own room, or desk, or care of the
family altar. She says further that some families use this
opportunity to give the child the things he received at his baptism,
or some useful gift. This is another good day for a party.
INFANT CONFIRMATION: The custom of infant Confirmation among the
Mexicans is so widespread that many families will take their children
hundreds of miles to have them confirmed when infant confirmation is
not allowed in their own diocese. It is so traditional with these
people that they have great difficulty in understanding why the
custom does not prevail everywhere. As in Baptism, it is a great
honor to be chosen a sponsor, although the relation between the
sponsor and the child is not as great. The godparent gives the child
a gift on the occasion.
The Slovaks have a beautiful custom which shows their respect for the
other members of their families. Before leaving to go to confession,
the father, mother, and all the children ask each others' pardon for
any offenses or arguments. They say to each other, "Forgive me if I
have offended you in any way." The response is, "May God forgive
Among the Portuguese a similar custom prevails. Before going to
confession the children perform what for some must be almost a heroic
act of humility. They kneel before their parents, and recalling their
little failings against them, ask their forgiveness and blessing.
INTER-SPOUSE CONFESSION OF FAULTS: Fr. Carre says that many
married couples who say their night prayers together often ask a
priest whether, after their evening examination of conscience, they
should confess one to another, the sins which each committed during
the day. He says that he thinks it is a very good and helpful
practice if they restrict the confession to those faults only which
they committed against each other, for example, irritation,
impatience, selfishness, and so forth. The other sins, he says, are
between the sinner and God through the priest.
THE HOLY EUCHARIST AND THE MASS
Among the Portuguese the main family events are occasions of the
family assisting at Mass and receiving Communion as a body. Such
events are ordinarily the First Communion of one of the family, a
confirmation, a marriage or death, and some anniversaries. Sometimes
the Paschal Communion is received collectively by the whole family.
Family Communion during the past few years has been on the increase
in the United States as a whole also. Like many other practices that
we have indicated, it has been encouraged by the Family Life Bureau,
N.C.W.C., and by many diocesan directors of family life throughout
the country. This is a custom which should be promoted in all our
parishes. It emphasizes the fact that the family is a religious unit
as well as a social and financial one.
FOR THE CHILDREN: Therese Mueller says that we should stress the
privilege aspect of Mass attendance when we explain the Mass to the
children. If this is done, going to Mass will become something
ardently to be desired. Before each Mass, especially on Sundays, the
theme of the Mass should be explained. This explanation should be
simple and varied--new ways of explaining the parts of the Mass
should be used if possible. There is an explanation of the spiritual,
historical and liturgical aspects of each season and of all the
Sundays and major feasts to be found in many missals. One which might
be given special mention is "The St. Andrew's Missal" which may be
obtained at most Catholic book stores. There are also many moderately
priced books to be found on this subject.
FIRST HOLY COMMUNION: Liturgically speaking, this is the day when the
child takes part in the Mass in a complete sense for the first time.
The parents must realize the great importance of the event and strive
to prepare him as well as possible. The primary duty of giving this
instruction lies with the parents--they should not give up this great
privilege without good reason. The preparations should not be limited
to the buying of new clothes. Nor should the day be more secularized
than is necessary. It must be remembered that the more emphasis
placed on clothes, food, gifts and amusements, the less importance
the child will place on the religious aspect of this great occasion.
The climax of the day should be the Communion Mass. The real reason
for the family feast should be made clear to the child-the family is
rejoicing because one of its members is bringing Christ Himself home
for the first time.
The reason gifts are given on First Communion day is to emphasize the
day's importance to the child. For this reason it is better to have
all of the family help to purchase one single worthy gift, such as a
statue for the home altar, than many trinkets which will soon be
damaged or lost.
The celebration should be carefully worked out. It should be solemn
and reverential, but also joyful. The celebration should be centered
around the child, not the grownups. It should also include a general
family thanksgiving (a few songs such as "Holy God We Praise Thy
Name", "To Jesus, Heart all Burning", would not be out of place)
immediately after the family returns home from the Communion Mass,
and another in the evening.
Among the Mexican people, the First Holy Communion is the most
important celebration in a child's early years. It is the occasion
for a great family celebration such as that held on the day of
Baptism (see p. 30). Sponsors are selected similar to those in
baptism and confirmation. The relationship between these sponsors and
the child, however, is not very strong.
Marriage is truly the turning point in the lives of most people. They
face new situations and have to look at the world from a new
viewpoint--from the viewpoint of the heads of families. In a sense
marriage is similar to the sacrament of holy orders. Once the person
makes his vows, he is bound for life, or until the death of his
spouse. For this reason both the courtship customs and the marriage
customs are very important. If a person goes into the sacrament of
marriage blindly, he may end up as an apostate because of his
renouncement of his marriage vows, just as a person who goes into the
sacrament of holy orders runs the risk of apostasy if he receives
orders without prayerful preparation.
MEXICAN CUSTOMS: Courtship, according to strict Mexican custom, is
greatly restricted. Courtship is expected and required to take place
at the home of the girl's parents. If the couple are going to go
somewhere, one of the girl's sisters or her mother accompany them.
This custom is fast disappearing in the Southwestern United States.
Of course, the older people who were raised in the strict Mexican
tradition try to keep up the old customs, but they meet with little
After the engagement (which may be a private affair or a family
party) the couple have to find sponsors--padrinos and madrinas.
Sometimes there are as many as fifteen couples used as sponsors.
First of all, there are the two witnesses required by church law.
Then come the "padrinos de arras"--of the coins; next the "padrinos
de lazo"--of the cincture; "padrinos de los cojines"--of the
cushions; maids of honor, flower girls, and so forth.
Thirteen coins are used in the ceremony. The coins are presented by
the groom to the bride as a sign that the man is giving to his bride
all that he possesses and with the promise that he will use it for
her support. These coins (las arras) are kept by the couple for life.
The cincture (el lazo) is similar to that which the priest wears at
Mass. It is placed by the padrinos de lazo over the bridal couple
after the Gospel of the Mass and is removed by them after the
Communion of the Mass. Of course, it represents the binding tie of
After the marriage, the bride usually goes alone to the altar of the
Blessed Virgin in the church to pray for help during her married
life, and leaves her bridal bouquet there on the altar. Sometimes the
bouquet is placed on the main altar of the church. This is also
observed today in not a few parishes of the United States.
With the Italians, as with the Mexicans, the preparations for
marriage are carried on with a good deal of seriousness and
formality. The Blessed Virgin is the ideal which men and women are to
strive for. Thrift, housekeeping knowledge, and the ability to face
responsibilities are emphasized. In many places a High Mass is a
THE RUSSIAN GERMANS: Among the Russian Germans in Ellis County,
Kansas, when a young man wishes to take a wife, he asks two of his
friends to act as "Freiersmaenner" (matrimonial agents) for him. He
goes with them to the home of his intended bride and the
"Freiersmaenner" present their client's case. This little ceremony is
a mere formality--usually the matter has already been settled by the
boy and girl. However, marriages are not planned without the parents'
advice and consent. Usually the engagement period is short. On the
wedding day, the groom and his attendants walk to the home of the
bride. There, the young man and his future bride will kneel on a
white cloth to receive the blessing of the girl's parents. From the
bride's home the entire group will walk to the parish church for the
Nuptial High Mass which is attended by all the friends and relatives
of the bridal couple.
NUPTIAL BLESSING: This is one of the greatest of the Church's
sacramentals. Its importance is indicated by the fact that it has
been incorporated into the Nuptial Mass--with the exception of the
consecration of the Holy Oils, no other blessing is so intimately
associated with the Canon of the Mass. Since the ceremony and prayers
are easily found in English, there is no reason to give them here. We
might add that every Catholic couple should receive this blessing if
Donald Attwater mentions that he "heard of a couple who, in their
early years but after their marriage, were converts to Catholicism.
At the celebration of their silver-wedding (25th) anniversary they
received their nuptial blessing during the course of a solemn Mass,
in the presence of their children and grandchildren."
CONJUGAL RELATIONS: In this country, most of us have been affected by
the puritanical ideas which surround us. What God has made and
decreed is good, and it says in Sacred Scripture, ". . male and
female He created them. And God blessed them, saying: Increase and
multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it" (Gen. 1:27ff). As man
and woman--which includes their sexual relationship to each
other--our first parents are the images of God, and as man and
woman--in sexual union--does He bless them that they may populate the
earth. This is the true view and foundation of conjugal relations.
In an article in the Catholic Digest, a Doctor mentioned that,
although he had an adequate knowledge of the functions and purpose of
sex from his medical school studies, he never had any special
knowledge of the morality of marriage relations. Here is indeed a
MARRIAGE ANNIVERSARIES: Wedding anniversaries in a Catholic home
should be primarily religious feasts and consequently should be most
fittingly observed by the whole family attending Mass together and
receiving Holy Communion as a body. In the evening the mother and
father might renew their marriage vows before the family altar, and
in the presence of the whole family. This would be a good opportunity
to explain to the children the meaning and beauty of a truly
Christian and Catholic marriage.
THE BLESSING OF JUBILEE WEDDINGS: Liturgically speaking, it is quite
lawful and proper to celebrate the 25th or 50th anniversary of a
marriage in the Church. Although the entire blessing for this (see
below) is nowhere prescribed, it is altogether in harmony with the
Official Ritual of the Church. Father Joseph Wuest, C.SS.R.,
gives an outline for such a ceremony in his little work entitled
"Matters Liturgical". Since there may be difficulty in finding a
proper ceremony, Fr. Wuest's is included here:
1. The couple come to the altar, or to the communion rail. The
celebrant in surplice and white stole, or wearing the
vestments prescribed for the celebration of Mass, excepting
the maniple, after an appropriate address, makes the couple
renew their resolution of continuing to live, with God's
grace, until death in their marital union.
2. The couple having joined their right hands, the priest
blesses them, saying: "Benedictio Dei Omnipotentis Patris
(+) et Filii et Spiritus Sancti, descendat super vos et
maneat semper. R. Amen.
Antiphon. Ecce sic benedicetur homo, qui timet Dominum.
Psalm 127. Beati omnes, etc.
Antiphon. Ecce sic benedicetur homo, qui timet Dominum.
V. Domine, exaudi orationem meam.
R. Et clamor meus ad te veniat.
V. Dominus vobiscum.
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.
Omnipotens sempiterne Deus; respice propitius super hos
famulos tuos, ad templum sanctum tuum pro gratiarum actione
laetos accedentes, et praesta, ut post hanc vitam ad
aeternae beatitudinis gaudia (cum prole sua) pervenire
mereantur. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
(Then the priest sprinkles them with Holy Water in the usual manner.)
3. The Mass of the day may be said, or a Votive Mass of the
Blessed Virgin Mary, if the rubrics permit. At the
conclusion the "Te Deum," with the Versicle and Prayer "pro
gratiarum actione" may be added.
EXTREME UNCTION; DEATH AND BURIAL
The sacrament of extreme unction should be explained to the children
as was suggested under the section on "All Souls Day" (p. 29).
Among the French in Louisiana, death in the family is accepted calmly
and with resignation among the educated people. But in the families
of lesser education, times of death call for loud lamentation. In the
homes, all clocks are stopped at the exact hour of death. Mirrors are
turned toward the wall, or are covered. Water found in vases is
thrown out. All during the wake, candles are kept burning. The
funeral takes place 24 hours after the death of a person. Mourning,
which ranges from full black to half-black and white or blue,
depending upon a person's relationship to the deceased, is expected
to be worn. Mourning is kept up in the immediate family for some
For a while the members go nowhere. Later, when they do visit again,
they go only to those places where there is no music. This period of
mourning lasts from one year to three months, depending upon the
degree of relationship.
At the burial, some of the people have the custom of dropping a
handful of earth upon the lowered casket after the Sign of the Cross
has been made over it.
No matter how poor a family may be, they will always have a Mass said
for the departed person on the anniversary of his death. Many of the
tombstones are adorned with pictures of the deceased--these are in
shadow--boxes with small statues, crucifixes or some other holy
object, or are attached to the cross. When speaking of the deceased,
the Louisiana French always say "Defunct" (deceased) before the
person's name out of respect.
Among the Mexicans, it is expected that all the relatives of the
deceased be on hand and remain at the home through the night of the
wake. Coffee and cookies are served to the women, drinks are
available for the men. The church ceremony is that which is found in
the Roman Ritual, but all during the services sobbing and weeping
will be heard. This continues all the way to the grave. It reaches
its pitch when the body is placed in the grave, but will cease
immediately when the priest begins to intone the prayers at the
graveside. When the coffin is in the grave and the cover is in place
the priest will throw a spadeful of dirt on it, making the sign of
the Cross. After this, each person present will take a handful of
dirt, kiss it, and throw it on the coffin also. Speeches often
follow--sometimes these go on indefinitely.
THE FAMILY AND SACRAMENTALS
HOLY WATER: Holy water may be blessed by the priest at any time, but
it usually is blessed before the principal Mass on Sunday. In most
churches it is kept in a large container in the back of the church so
that the faithful will have no trouble in obtaining it. Each family
should have at least one holy water font. As we have seen in the
foregoing pages, many of the ceremonies call for the use of this
sacramental. Also it is used in some families for blessing the
children before they go to bed. This practice, by the way, will help
to remind the parents to keep a supply on hand.
SIGN OF THE CROSS: The Sign of the Cross is a symbol of our belief in
the Most Blessed Trinity. It should be made before and after prayers,
before making decisions, in times of danger, etc. Among the Mexicans,
the Sign of the Cross is greatly reverenced. A child may be only a
few days old when the mother first takes his little hand in hers,
forms a cross of his thumb and forefinger, and makes him go through
the motions necessary for the "persignarse." The persignarse is the
Sign of the Cross which is made at the beginning of the Gospel at
Mass. With the thumb and forefinger crossed, the hand touches the
forehead, making the four points of the Cross there; the same is done
on the lips, and finally on the breast. As the sign of the cross is
made, the following words are repeated: "Por la senal de la Santa
Cruz, de neustros enemigos liberanos Senor Dios Neustro" ("By the
Sign of the Holy Cross deliver us from our enemies, O Lord"). After
this the regular Sign of the Cross is made: "En el nombre del Padre y
del Hijo y del Espiritu Santo. Amen" ("In the name of the Father and
of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen"). This latter is called the
"santiguarse," which means blessing yourself. "Persignarse" means to
sign yourself. Both of these Signs of the Cross are used together.
After they are completed, it is the custom to kiss the cross formed
by the thumb and forefinger.
In a Slovak home the Sign of the Cross is made, and God's help is
asked before every undertaking. The mother of the family never begins
to slice bread until she has, with the knife, blessed it with the
Sign of the Cross. We might well emulate these people.
STATUES AND CRUCIFIXES: No Catholic home should be without a statue
of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Blessed Mother, or some other
statue for the home altar, if the family can afford it. The statue
does not have to be large and costly, but it should be blessed by the
priest. Statues help to remind us to focus our attention on the basic
truths of life.
The Crucifix should be found in every Catholic home no matter how
poor the family is. In the early days of Faith, the heads of the
family spent their spare time in carving a family Crucifix. Some of
these are very beautiful and have been handed down from generation to
generation, and are still in use. It might be a good idea to take up
this custom again--something beautiful may result.
The family Crucifix, whether purchased or made, should be placed in a
prominent place in the home. Since it expresses Christ's love for
us--His Redemption of us--it should have the place of honor. One
might fittingly place it over the family altar. It should, of course,
be blessed by the priest.
PICTURES: The Church has since the earliest days used pictures in
teaching the truths of the faith to her children. One of the best
things about the use of pictures in instruction is that they help to
form the will and the correct use of the imagination. In our secular
civilization we can see the effect of the use of pictures--the
popularity of the motion pictures and picture magazines prove it to
us. What they do to secularize our culture and to make it less
God--conscious, we could do to achieve the opposite result. For this
reason there should be several religious prints in each home--one in
each room, if possible.
One does not have to pay high prices for good pictures. There are
several companies which specialize in the reproduction of the works
of the masters. Many of the pictures which are for sale in our
religious goods shops are both too costly and too sentimental. Better
results are to be obtained by acquiring a good reprint at an
inexpensive price and a frame from the five and ten cent store.
How to teach children from pictures: Katherine Byles gives the
following points to remember in telling a child the story of a
1. Know the subject. Read it up in the Bible or in a Life of Christ.
2. Make a list on a paper of the main points (characters, events,
3. Use your imagination and when you are telling the story of the
Visitation, for instance, say such things as: `Our Blessed Lady had
walked miles. Think how tired she must have been. Even if she
traveled part way on a donkey's back, she must have been worn out,
for riding on a donkey is not like driving in a car....'
4. Learn the important words in stories. Children appreciate the
wonderful poetic speech of the Bible, and nobody could improve on our
Lady's speech in the Visitation story when she says: 'My soul doth
magnify the Lord.'
5. Bring the story home to the children if possible. In the case of
the Visitation you can say: `We must do as the Blessed Lady did.'
Then suggest a visit to see Mrs. ----, who needs help or comfort or
sympathy or congratulations."
Remember when pictures are blessed by the priest, they are
BLESSED CANDLES: Several times in the above pages we have mentioned
various uses for blessed candles. They may be used on the family
altar, in times of sickness and storm, for feast days, and so forth.
It might be mentioned here, though, that the candle is rich with
meaning. The wax represents the Body of Christ; the wick, His Soul;
the flame represents His Divinity. The lighted candle also may
represent the Gospel of Christ, His Church, or Christ Himself, the
light of the world. It is a symbol of our faith. There is an
interesting article on the use made of blessed candles to be found in
the Jan. 26, 1947 issue of "Orate Fratres," Vol. XXI, No. 3, entitled
"Candlemas Day in a Negro Parish." It is well worth reading.
WEDDING RING: Most of us do not look upon the wedding ring as a
sacramental, but it is definitely so. In the Diocese of Westminster,
England, for example, a hundred days indulgence may be gained by
married couples who kiss the blest ring and recite with contrite
heart the prayer: "Grant us, O Lord, that loving Thee, we may love
each other and live according to Thy holy law."
THE FAMILY AND BLESSINGS
BLESSING OF THE HOME: The blessing of the home was mentioned under
both "Epiphany" and "Holy Saturday" (see pp. 15 and 20), but the
Church does not restrict the blessing of homes to these days. Since
the home is a "little church," it should be blessed when a family
moves in for the first time. When the priest gives the blessing for a
new home he prays God to give to all who dwell within "the abundance
of the dew of heaven, and food of the fatness of the earth," and that
He let "their desires and their prayers find fulfillment in Thy
BLESSING OF THE BRIDAL CHAMBER: When a new home is blessed, the young
family should ask the priest to bless the bridal chamber. The words
used for the blessing are very beautiful and full of meaning. The
priest asks God's blessings in the following prayer:
"Bless, O Lord, this bed chamber. Let all who dwell in it
stand firm in Thy peace and may they persevere in obedience
to Thy will; may they see many years and a numerous
posterity and finally attain to the kingdom of heaven.
This beautiful blessing has been almost universally neglected in our
country. It should be reintroduced to help combat the evils of the
BLESSING OF EXPECTANT MOTHER AND CHILD: There is hardly a time in the
life of a woman which is more trying than the period of pregnancy.
Often she is deprived of the Holy Mass. Often she is fearful. The
Church knows this and asks God that, "by the obstetric hand of Thy
mercy her infant may happily see the light of day, and being reborn
in holy baptism forever seek Thy ways and come to life everlasting."
Then the Church asks that God's holy angels "may preside to keep them
in peace, and that God's blessings may be ever present."
CHURCHING OF WOMEN: As soon as the mother is able, and after the
child has been baptized, she and her child go to the church to give
thanks to God for His gift to her of a son or daughter. The Church
rejoices with her by sending a priest, vested in surplice and stole,
to greet the mother at the church door, bless her with holy water,
and lead her with the stole to the altar where together they praise
God and offer prayers for both the mother and child.
In some countries, the women of the neighborhood go to the church
with the mother and child. This is fitting, because the birth of a
child is, or should be, the occasion of rejoicing for the community
as well as the individual family. Any priest, with the permission of
the parish priest, may perform the ceremony, but the parish priest
must if it is requested of him.
If the mother wishes that a mass be said on the occasion of receiving
this blessing, it is quite becoming that one of the five Votive
Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary should be celebrated in
BLESSING OF CHILDREN: There is a special blessing for children which
takes place in church at a special service for the children. This
usually takes place on Christmas or on the feast of the Holy
Innocents. There is also a blessing for children which may be given
by the priest when he visits the home. For the sick children the
Church has yet another blessing. The prayers for these are very
beautiful. For example, one of the prayers for the visitation of sick
children is as follows:
O God, to Whom all things grow, and by Whom they are
strengthened when grown, stretch forth Thy hand upon Thy
servant who is sick at a tender age: that recovering the
vigor of health, he may arrive at the fulness of years, and
always give unto Thee a faithful and grateful service all
the days of his life. Through Our Lord....
It might be added that if it is impossible for a priest to visit the
sick child, the parents may say the prayers in his stead.
In the Philadelphia Archdiocese there is a custom according to which
the archbishop personally blesses every individual infant brought to
the church at a special announced time. This blessing is given at the
Cathedral and also at six other centrally located churches in the
diocese. Each mother receives a card containing a prayer of
dedication as she enters the church. All of the mothers recite the
prayer together. Due to the great number of children at each service,
the short form, i.e., the ordinary blessing, is used, not the special
blessing for infants.
THE PARENTAL BLESSING: In an address before the sixteenth annual
convention of the National Catholic Conference on Family Life in
1949, the Rt. Rev. Archabbot Ignatius Esser, O.S.B., recalled an
incident that was very striking. He said that several years
previously there was a headline in our Catholic papers which read,
"Bishop Kneels for Mother's Blessing." He continued, "It was the Most
Reverend F. T. Roch, D.D., Bishop of Tuticurin, India. He met his
mother at the railroad station and there, in the presence of a
multitude of people, he `knelt before his mother to receive her
blessing, and the grand old lady placed her wrinkled hands on the
head of her illustrious son and blessed him'."
Many of our fathers and mothers do not know that they have this
privilege. In our times, especially in this country, the custom has
fallen into disuse. This is one custom which by all means should be
fostered. There should be no difficulty in reintroducing it. Young
parents will find that, if the practice is started early in their
family life, there will be no trouble in keeping it up. And the
parents of older families will surely not refuse to bless their
children, even if grown-up, if they ask the blessing of them.
How it is done: Archabbot Esser suggests that the parents place their
hands on the head of the kneeling child and say: "I bless you, my
child, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy
Spirit." Then they make the Sign of the Cross upon the forehead with
the thumb of the right hand. If all of the children are blessed at
the same time, the parent simply traces a cross over them while the
words are pronounced. He says that other appropriate words may be
used. They may be varied to suit any occasion. A letter to an absent
son or daughter might include a "God bless you, my child." Also, the
parents, when they are at the point of death, should give their last
blessing to their children.
The importance of this blessing was brought out by St. Ambrose when
he said: "You may not be rich; you may be unable to bequeath any
great possessions to your children; but one thing you can give them;
the heritage of your blessing. And it is better to be blessed than to
It is not too much out of place to mention here that one should ask
the priest's blessing whenever he visits one's home or when one
OTHER BLESSINGS: The Roman Ritual is rich in blessings for all
occasions and a great variety of things. In an earlier age of faith,
the people wished that everything they used be dedicated to God. This
is as it should be. Here we have space to mention only a few of the
many blessings of the Church which are yours for the mere asking. If
you live on a farm, the Church has a blessing for everything from the
home itself to the farm machinery, a possible airplane, electrical
generating plant, and animals. There are blessings for good crops and
against gnats and other insects.
If you live in the city, you may have any of the things you work
with, or use in daily life, blessed--even the typewriter. Libraries,
streetcars and boats may be blessed. The last-mentioned blessing, by
the way, is given with much ceremony and celebration in several parts
of the United States each year, for example, in St. Augustine,
Florida, and in Santa Barbara, California. In short, there is hardly
anything which the Church will not consecrate to God for you if you
VI. OTHER PRACTICES FOR THE FAMILY
THE HOME ALTAR: The home altar should be one of the most important
places in the home. It doesn't have to be on a grand scale; an old
table, even a reconstructed packing box would do. But it should be
kept neat and clean, and there should be some fresh flowers on it if
possible. Over the table one might have a religious picture. The
prints which were mentioned on page 39 and which may be changed
according to the season, might be the best. On the altar itself one
might place a cloth. If the children are allowed to make or stitch
it, they will feel that they have done something "personal" for Our
Lord. A statue or crucifix might also be placed on the altar. A few
candles and a vigil light may be kept on the altar to be used at
least on special occasions. As Therese Mueller says, "What is Sunday
night prayer without candles!" In some homes a niche may be found for
the home altar.
A HOME GROTTO: If the family is fortunate enough to have a large
backyard, or if it lives in the country, it is a good idea to make a
small grotto in the garden and get a statue of Our Lady or of the
Sacred Heart for it. If it is impossible to obtain a statue, a
picture would do. The grotto could be planned over a long time, and
the whole family could help in its construction and care.
SCRAP BOOK FOR THE CHILDREN: Katherine D. Byles lays great stress
on the use of scrap books for children. She says that children love
to collect things and spend many hours at this task. In our time a
great many children collect pictures of movie actors and actresses in
all stages of dress and undress. There should be no reason why this
"picture collecting" can not be turned into a useful and proper
channel. One might get a good, strong scrapbook, some paste, and a
few old Catholic calendars. This should be all the children need to
FAMILY SINGING AND MUSIC: Family singing is another practice which
Katherine Byles stresses. She says: "Family singing is a
thrilling experience to children. Psychologists today talk much about
the value of community singing. Schools and colleges have glee clubs
and the large cities have choral societies. Singing in a crowd
produces friendliness and creates a bond of union among people.
Leaders who get crowds together for a song festival certainly help to
produce good feeling. Why then should not the family make use of this
age-old custom to strengthen the bonds that unite its members? God
gave us singing voices, and certainly children love to sing. In
school, songs and hymns are taught. Encourage the children to sing
them at home too. Make it a rule to sing all you can with them."
Mrs. Byles also mentions the use of Gregorian chant. Some may laugh
at the idea of children singing in chant, but some of the simplest
and most beautiful music written is in Gregorian; for example, the
"Dies Irae," the "Magnificat," and many other hymns. Most of these
chants may be found in English at our Catholic book shops-and for
only a small sum.
PLAYS: Children love to act out their religion, and some of the
truths and stories of our Faith can be best remembered by acting them
out. Happily the practice of family plays is one which is becoming
more general. We should help the children to act out as many
religious plays as possible, especially on big feasts such as
Christmas, Epiphany, Good Friday, and some of the other Feasts of Our
Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the various Saints. If they wish,
the children may write their own script. Once they get started, they
will have little trouble. Scripts may also be purchased at a
If the children wish to dress up (and they usually will), they may
use bed spreads or couch covers. The children will most probably do
no damage to them, and they involve no expense.
FAMILY PRAYER, SPIRITUAL READING, ETC.
FAMILY PRAYER: One of the most beautiful of Christian family
traditions is that of family prayer--of the family praying as a unit.
Wherever it is observed, the children are left with profound memories
which they will carry with them for life. But just what should the
family prayers consist of? They should be liturgical, short, varied,
appropriate, and (one of the most important points) IN GOOD, CLEAR,
Donald Attwater makes this suggestion: "One of the family might
read aloud a scriptural lesson from the Mass of the day (Gospel and
Epistle on alternate days; when some common lessons occur frequently,
substitute others); then say together the 'Nunc dimittis' or 'De
profundis' for the dead; then the father, or senior present, might
recite the Collect for the day, one or two more at choice for
particular mercies or thanksgivings from the 'Orationes Diversae' in
the Missal, and finally one 'Visit, we beseech Thee, O Lord, this
house and family,' from Compline."
If one has a home altar, that would be the best place for the family
prayers. If one recites the Rosary for family prayers, one should
take care to make the meditations on the various mysteries. It is so
easy to be careless.
THE DIVINE OFFICE, OR LITTLE OFFICE OF THE B.V.M., FOR THE LAITY: The
recital of the Divine Office, the official prayer of the Church, is
gaining ground in the United States. Of course, we have far to go
before we can equal the Ages of Faith. In earlier times there were
many who recited the Divine Office daily. In fact, as may be seen
from the formation of the Office and from the choice of prayers and
lessons, originally it was meant to be Catholic in the full
sense--universal--for the use of both the clergy and of the faithful
The greatest advantage of the breviary is that it is not merely
private prayer; it is liturgical. That is, it is the prayer of the
Church, chosen by Her for the daily praise of God. The greatest part
has been taken directly from the Sacred Scriptures. Not a small part
is formed by extracts from the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, in
which these great men explain for us the different seasons and their
mystical application. Lastly, there are prayers, antiphons and
lessons which have been composed under the direction of, and in
accordance with the traditions of the Church.
There are obstacles to the widespread use of the Divine Office by the
laity--it is long, and many of our people just do not have the time
to say all of it. It is in Latin and most of us speak and understand
only English. Finally, the books cost too much. Each of these reasons
is indeed enough to discourage most of us. But if it is impossible to
find time to recite the whole office, why not recite at least a part,
for example, Lauds and Prime in the morning, Vespers and Compline in
the evening, or other parts as you may wish. They may be found in
English in some of the Missals which may be purchased at your
Catholic book store.
Many of the laity read the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin
instead of the Divine Office. It is composed of some of the same
prayers as the larger Office, but is much shorter. This also may be
obtained at the Catholic book store.
Benziger Brothers, publishers, have recently put out an edition of
the whole Divine Office in English. It is a good edition, but is
rather high priced. If you wish to read the Office as it is read by
the clergy (in Latin), I suggest that you write to ORATE FRATRES, St.
John's Abbey, Collegeville, Minnesota. They may be able to obtain a
used set for you gratis. You might ask your pastor if there is an old
set around the rectory which is not used any more.
As Therese Mueller says, there may be too many obstacles to the
re-establishment of this custom. But one can keep the recital of the
Divine Office in mind as the ultimate goal.
THE FAMILY ROSARY: The Family Rosary is a beautiful custom which is
dear to the heart of many peoples. The Rosary is dear also to the
heart of Our Blessed Mother, as was shown in a special way at Fatima.
But there are some dangers which must be taken into consideration.
The main part of the Rosary devotion is the meditation on the fifteen
mysteries, and meditation is much more than a mere recital of the
name of the next mystery.
Among the Irish, the "trimmings" or intentions take as long as does
the Rosary itself. These are prayers for the honor of God, for
thanksgiving, for members of the family who happen to be away from
home, and especially for the members of the family who are abroad.
This custom brings out the "oneness" which should be found in every
The Louisiana French who live in towns or cities have adopted the
practice of having all the families living in the same block gather
at least once a week for the community recitation of the Rosary. This
is another custom which is gaining ground in other parts of the
During October: October is the month of the Rosary. The family should
make a heroic effort to say the beads together every night, but if
they find it impossible, they should say them at least two or three
SPIRITUAL READING: Every book which is written on the spiritual life
emphasizes the necessity of spiritual reading for the formation of a
truly spiritual Christian. The main purpose is to help us do things
and to look upon things as Christ Himself did. Spiritual books, if
read correctly, will do this for us. There should be at least some
Canon Leclercq in his excellent little book, "Marriage A Great
Sacrament," says: "Spiritual books, books of meditation, writings
about the search for perfection should be read slowly, in small
portions, and in a thoughtful way. There is no form of reading better
suited to reading aloud, with the reader and his hearers thinking
together. Couples who share the same desire to live the Christian
life will naturally read the same books and will read them together,
commenting on them together and thus laying the foundation of a
For the Children: Of course we all know that the primary duty of
educating the children in their religion rests upon the shoulders of
the parents. Family spiritual reading can do much to lessen this
Katherine Byles, whom we have quoted several times above, gives us
this advice: "Once we begin to read about Christ, and to get our
children to read about Him, we may begin to discover that some of the
children have difficulty in reading. Often a child is bored with
reading, not because of the book, but because he does not know how to
read easily . . . Reading spiritual books is a wonderful help to
goodness; and poor readers are deprived of this help. It is folly to
delay in relieving any boy or girl of this handicap. We had better
start at once, and see what can be done to remedy the situation."
Supposing that the children are normal readers for their age, what
should they read? The "Pro Parvulis Book Club," the offices of which
are in the Empire State Building on 5th Avenue and 34th Street, New
York City, N. Y., has lists of books suitable for all ages of
children. It will give this information to inquirers.
READING AT TABLE: Donald Attwater gives an example of this custom: It
was once my privilege to live for a time with a family at whose
principal meal, in the evening, while the first course was being
served and eaten, two of the children read aloud respectively the
Epistle and Gospel for the day, and the father then read the morrow's
entries from the Roman Martyrology; in English, of course, and all
present made the liturgical responses, 'Thanks be to God,' etc. It
was never omitted, even if Protestant or infidel guests were present
(who were invariably impressed), and the amount of good talk that
this reading led to was prodigious."
A DISCUSSION CLUB OUTLINE
1. Discuss the four bonds of married life: the work bond, the play
bond, the love bond, and the prayer bond.
2. Discuss the season of Advent from the spiritual viewpoint compared
to the pre-Christmas helter-skelter activity.
3. What is significant about the four ages of the old law?
4. Are the Advent Wreath and Advent Candle "old fashioned" and as a
result unappealing to our modern age?
5. Should the advent penance be kept on an individual or should the
suggested family basis be used? Is there not a danger of mere
externalism and no true spontaneity?
6. Who was St. Barbara? St. Nicholas?
7. How can we "de-commercialize" and "re-Christianize" Santa Claus
for our children?
8. How can the Christmas Mass and Communion be made the principal
family event over this season?
9. Discuss methods to make the Christmas crib less a matter of
routine and more a matter of mystery as you set it up each year.
10. How possible is a neighborhood play with all the children
roundabout? This is an excellent opportunity to influence
11. Christmas gifts and the Mystical Body have much in common. There
is a spirit of giving summarized in the message: From the Christ in
me to the Christ in you. How can such a spirit be actualized.
12. The problem of commercialism, naturalism, materialism, secularism
has undoubtedly affected modern Christmas. There is a danger here for
both adults and children. How can this false philosophy be met and
13. What is the danger of so-called pious lies and fables? How may
they affect a child's confidence in his parents?
14. Nor every "religious" Christmas card is by that very fact a real
Christmas card. Discuss the deplorable situation of much so-called
"sacred art" and its relation to true art.
15. New Year's Day is in dire need of "re-Christianization." What
could be done to encourage Mass and Communion? A more family-spirited
New Year's Eve celebration?
16. With football games--the bowl games--dances, etc., New Year's Day
loses its spiritual character. Children, of course, do not wish to
miss any of these events; yet they need to learn the art of
sanctifying the profane. How can this be done?
17. The Holy Name feast is an excellent opportunity to dissuade
blasphemous speech on the family level? But how?
18. Is an Epiphany mystery play feasible for your neighborhood? Could
a person use puppets?
19. The Gospel accounts of Epiphany and baptism are very rich in
thought. How can a father suggest these ideas of "witnessing" Christ
to his small children? Teen-agers?
20. How important is the blessing of the home? Could this not be
joined to the consecration to the Sacred Heart?
21. Candle-mas and purification--could this not be a day of
re-consecration, particularly of children and mothers? What about
22. What about the pre-Lenten carnival? A little pleasure?
23. Examine the history of the forty hour devotion and the notion of
reparation behind it for the excesses of the carnival.
24. How reasonable would some family mortification be for a Lenten
resolution? What about the example of parents in this regard? Is
there not a glaring difference in the child's mind between what he
learns at school and what he sees at home?
25. Holy Week--can there be some intensification in the study of our
religion during this time . . . particularly through a real grasp of
26. Could there be a family Holy Hour before the repository? How
about an organized family group present there continually whose
members are drawn from the entire parish?
27. Good Friday-why can this not be a city-wide holiday? At least for
the ? Some organized lay activity would be necessary.
28. Is it possible to take a group of children to the ? If
not, is there not some home service that might be a substitute?
29. How can a family, as a family, get the most from the new Easter
vigil service? Does this not pose problems for families wherein the
father works hard on Holy Saturday, the children are not used to
staying up so late, etc.?
30. What can be done to Christianize the modern set-up over Easter
eggs, Easter cards, Easter clothes, etc.? Can something be worked out
on a city-wide level? Parish-wide? Neighborhood?
31. Easter eggs ought to produce a spirit of real charity and they
offer a very tangible means to make children learn charity at an
early age. Could they not be given to some poor family nearby?
32. How can the idea of the mother's or father's blessing be brought
back to the modern family without any notion of "piety" creeping in?
Many teen-agers now would be embarrassed over some of the ideas
presented in this pamphlet. How may a satisfactory explanation be
33. How busy is your parish priest? Could he visit your home to bless
it or the food or the children some time over the paschal season? It
is the parents who must make the first overture.
34. Farm families should be interested in the Rogation Days. Could
some special procession be worked out with your priest?
35. Ascension Day is a holy day of obligation. Often it means nothing
more than Mass. What can be done to make it a real feast day?
36. Can Pentecost be kept as it ought to be, since so little is known
about the Holy Spirit? What does devotion to the Holy Spirit actually
mean? Why is Portugal so devoted to this feast?
37. What is solid devotion to Mary? How does She become a positive
influence in a family? Was the comment of the Presbyterians in Los
Angeles (1955) true as regards Catholic worship of Mary?
38. Are May altars only for children? What do they imply for adults?
39. What about the Rosary? Is it hard to recite? Why? Is it
monotonous? If so, why? Why is the Church so insistent on this
particular devotion? Tell the Fatima story.
40. How can May Day be kept in a Catholic way in counterdistinction
to a Communistic way?
41. How can Sunday be the time of family re-creation if there is no
family Mass? There are Holy Name Sundays, Altar Society Sundays,
Children's Mass. But is there a family Mass? If not, can something be
done about it?
42. Can the Corpus Christi procession be a "must" on your family
schedule? It will take place on a Sunday morning. What about a family
43. Why is the Sacred Heart so popular today? What does the feast
mean? What do we honor? How did the feast start? What does Pius XI
mean by devotion and expiation? What value have the first Fridays?
44. What spirit should pervade a home consecrated to the Sacred
Heart? Is such a home not expected to be different? How does this
spirit stifle any such spirit as that of "Keeping up with the
45. What are indulgences? What are the conditions necessary to gain
them? What advantage do they have for the poor souls in purgatory?
46. Who is Fr. Mateo? What is his aim? How modern is his approach?
47. What does the feast of Christ the King entail? What does it mean
to have Christ as our King? What is the relation between Church and
Stare? What about toleration?
48. Why was the Assumption so long an undefined dogma? What caused
the definition in 1950?
49. What are the special difficulties presented by city life in
regard to family liturgy? List them and study them and offer
solutions to the problems they evoke.
50. Can Halloween be sacramentalized? What connection does it have
with All Saints Day? What does devotion to the Saints mean? What
advantage does it have? What about reading lives of the saints? Where
can you find some good lives of the saints?
51. Who are the Poor Souls in purgatory? What does the Church teach
regarding our assistance to them? Why should we have them in mind?
What about our loved ones? Are there not many who are forgotten?
Could not something be done on a family basis to honor the deceased
members of the family?
52. What is the Christian concept of death? Why is it joyful? What is
final perseverance? Why must we pray for it? What is Purgatory?
53. What about anniversary Masses for members of the family who have
died? What are Gregorian Masses?
54. What is the value of extreme unction? What articles are necessary
for a sick call set? What should the members of the family know about
the last wishes of the mother and father?
55. Nowadays are Godparents a mere formality? How can they be better
incorporated into a family?
56. How can the day of baptism be celebrated? How about a family
reunion? What about the anniversary of one's baptism? Could this
anniversary supplant birthdays? What is meant by a renewal of
57. What are some gifts particularly appropriate for a baptism? With
Catholics should not the day of baptism be similar to a baby shower?
58. What is confirmation? What does it effect in the soul of a man?
Why is it important? What relationship does it bear to martyrdom? Is
martyrdom its main concern?
59. Study the ritual for confirmation. What does the indwelling of
the Holy Spirit within the soul mean?
60. Can confession day be a family concern, or is it better to leave
it entirely to individual initiative?
61. What is required for a good confession on the part of the
penitent? What is sorrow? What is the purpose of amendment? What sins
do we have to confess? What is a general confession? Is it practical?
What are venial sins? How should we confess them? Should we confess
all of them or select one or the other venial sin?
62. What do you think of inter-spouse confession of faults? Does it
nor engender openness and understanding?
63. How should a Catholic family celebrate first Communion day of one
of its members? Should not the Sacred Banquet be just as family-wide
as the ordinary banquet? How feasible is family Communion Sunday?
64. How can we explain the Mass to our children? Are there any
helpful books? What about the problem of teen-agers today who feel at
times too big for religion?
65. Why is the missal so valuable? What advantages does it have over
other forms of prayer during Mass?
66. What is frequent Communion? What fruits does it produce for the
soul? Why does the Church stress frequent Communion?
67. What is the relationship between marriage and the Mystical Body?
What is the mystical symbol of sex? How can these ideas be given to
68. Have the ideas of marriage, courtship, sex, dating, etc., changed
because of modern times? Are all changes consequently bad? Is the
axiom--it wasn't the way we used to do it--a valid one? How can
paganism and secularism be counteracted by positive means?
69. The family and sex instruction is today a vital issue. What
should the family--the mother and the father--do in this regard? How
young should children be when they hear about the facts of life? What
about parental example?
70. Can the custom of a consecration to the Blessed Virgin on the
part of the bride be renewed today in American families?
71. What about Nuptial High Masses? What is the nuptial blessing?
72. Discuss the symbolism of marital relations in reference to the
Divine Mysteries? How can there be a common understanding in this
regard among man and wife?
73. What are Christian Family Guilds? Parents' Clubs? Married
Couples' Clubs? Are there any in your parish? City? How can you
interest others to attend? Write the Family Life Bureau, N.C.W.C.,
74. What about wedding anniversaries and jubilees? Should not Mass be
the main point of the day? How can they be made a family affair?
75. When a person dies, why does the Church urge that the relatives
have Masses offered for his or her soul? What is the Christian value
of mourning? What is Christian resignation? Hope? Joy?
76. What are sacramentals? How should they be made a part of family
life? Do you keep holy water in your home? Explain all the mysteries
in the sign of the cross.
77. Should a Catholic home "advertise" its Catholicism by having a
crucifix in the parlor? Should there be crucifixes in the bedrooms?
What about a picture of the Last Supper in the dining room?
78. Demonstrate how you can teach children the mysteries of faith
through the use of pictures. What about Catholic comic books? Color
79. What are good pictures of saints? What are "sentimental" pictures
of saints? What is good Catholic art?
80. Discuss the symbolism of a candle. Why are candles appropriate
reminders in a home?
81. Mention a list of articles in the home that can receive the
blessing of a priest. Is your pastor too busy to visit your home and
bless these things? What about the blessing of pregnant women, the
churching of women, and the blessing of children?
82. What is a parental blessing? How can the custom be revived?
83. What is meant by a home altar? Is this not a growing "must" for
the sincerely Catholic home? Will it not help to further family
84. How can short plays, songs, music be developed along Catholic
lines among the children of today's world? How can there be a
continuity between similar school activities and home activities?
85. What is the value of Catholic education? How can the relationship
between teacher (nun) and parents be furthered?
86. What about the family Rosary? The neighborhood Rosary? What is
the Little Office of the Blessed Mother? What are Third Orders or
Oblates and the family?
87. What is spiritual reading? Where can one find appropriate
religious books? What is meditation? How can one begin to practice
it? Can it be done on the family level?
88. What about prayers before and after meals? In public? What about
morning and night prayers? Other family prayers in common?
1. Cf. Strasser, B., (Bruce:
Milwaukee, 1945) pp. 59-70.
2. Ibid., p. 71 (ft. nt.)
3. Cf. Ibid., p. 70-72.
4. Cf. Schmiedeler, E., (Family
Life Bureau) p. 22.
5. Cf. .
6. Cf. Mueller, T., (Liturgical Press:
Collegeville, Minn.) p. 15.
7. Ibid., p. 17-18.
8. Weiser, Francis X, (Harcourt, Brace & Co.,
N.Y.), quoted by , Dec., 1950.
9. Ibid., Jan., 1952.
10. Cf. Mueller, T., (Pio Decimo
Press; St. Louis, Mo.) p. 17.
11. Byles, K.,
(Paulist Press, N.Y.) p. 9.
12. Cf. , Jan. 1, 1953, V. 8, n. 9, p. 9.
13. Berger, F., , quoted by ,
Jan. 1, 1953, v. 8, n 9, p. 9.
14. Mueller, T., , p. 19-20.
15. Cf. Mueller, T. , p. 94.
(Kenedy & Sons: N.Y., 1919) p. 38.
17. Cf. Piat, S., OFM., (Kenedy & Sons: N.Y.,
1947) p. 215.
18. Schmiedeler, op. cit., p. 32.
19. Ibid., p. 33-34.
20. Ibid., p. 34.
21. Ibid., loc. cit.
22. Hellriegel, M. B., in , v. 15, p. 301.
23. Spellman, F. Card., AEd.
O'Toole, N.Y.) p. 102.
24. Cf. Hellriegel, M. B., op. cit., p. 304.
25. Mueller, T., , p. 38.
26. St. Pope Pius X, Rescript in own hand, May 19, 1908, exhib. June
15, 1908. If you wish, you might make this act of consecration on the
Feast of Christ the King, and the Act of Reparation on today's feast.
This is probably more in keeping with the mind of Holy Mother Church
because in 1925, the Holy Father assigned the Act of Reparation to
the Feast of the Sacred Heart and transferred the Act of Consecration
to the feast of Christ the King. The main thing, however, is to make
the Act of Consecration sometime--either today or later.
27. Cf. Forrest, M. D., (Paulist Press. N.Y.).
28. Clarke, J. P., (McClory:
Trowbridge, Ill., 1930) p. 61ff.
29. S. P. Ap., Nov. 21, 1936.
30. Mueller, T., , p. 41.
31. Cf. Mueller, T., , p. 15.
32. Cf. (Maryhouse, 2024 16th Ave., S.,
Minneapolis (4), Minn.)
33. Cf. Mueller, T., , p. 12.
34. Carre, A., (Newman Bookshop:
Westminster, Md.) p. 47.
35. Cf. Mueller, T., , p. 7.
36. Cf. Attwater, D., in , v. 7, p. 355.
37. in , Oct. 1949, p. 68ff.
38. Wuest, Fr. J., (Fred. Pustet, N.Y., 1942) p.
526, n. 796.
39. Byles, K., op. cit., p. 40ff.
40. Cf. ibid.
41. Ibid., p. 36.
42. Attwater, D., in , v. 7, p. 353.
43. Leclercq, J., (Clonmore & Reynolds,
Ltd.: Dublin 1951) p. 153.
44. Byles, K., op. cit., p. 26.
45. Attwater, D. in , v. 7, p. 354.