"You cannot think that the buckling on of the knight's armor by his lady's hand was a mere caprice of romantic fashion. It is the type of an eternal truth- that the soul's armor is never well set to the heart unless a woman's hand has braced it; and it is only when she braces it looselh that the honor of manhood fails." - Ruskin
Thomas Foley, Bishop of Chicago in 1877 said: This work is "fitted for our times. It will be of vast service to many mothers and daughters in the Church, by showing them how they may practically conform their lives to the bright pictures of womanly virtue you have so felicitously portrayed."
This wonderful book, The Mirror of True Womanhood, was written by Rev. Monsignor Bernard O'Reilly. It covers so many beautiful topics involving true womanhood with Mary as our shining example. From home-life, a woman's love, supernatural virtues, a living faith, hospitality, making our homes a paradise, biblical examples of virtuous women, stewardship, resourcefulness, spirit of charity, education of our children, childhood, building religious character, city life vs. farm life, generosity, formation of boys and girls in childhood, Christian idea of service, social duties and many, many more topics!
This book is chalk full of real life examples about woman and how they mold the men of the world and how they inspire virtue in the home. Today woman think that their power lies in working and providing an income, in making their way in the world. This book shows in so many ways how special the woman is that molds the world though the children she raises, the home that she keeps and the husband that she loves and honors.
One of the most impressive stories in this book (so far, as I haven't finished reading it yet) is about St. Margaret, Queen of Scotland. Because she was so full of virtue, love of God and charitableness she would never allow anyone to leave her table without first saying the meal prayer at the end of the meal. It was not uncommon for people to get up and leave after they were done. Instead of using her queenly authority she, in a more delicate way, provided those finished with their meal with plenty to drink until everyone had finished their meal. In this way she was able to insure that all gave their thanks to God in a most charitable manner.
There are several secular and Protestant books on the market, even a few Catholic ones, that try to show how a woman is head of the house and how she influences her family and even beyond with her womanly talents. One of the more famous biblical quotes for this sort of topic is also stated in this book: "Who shall find a valiant (brave-hearted) woman? ... The heart of her husband trusteth in her... She hath sought wool and flax, and hath wrought by the counsel of her hands... She hath tasted and seen that her traffic is good: her lamp shall not be put out in the night... She hath opened her hand to the needy, and stretched out her hands to the poor. She shall not fear for her house in the cold of snow." - Proverbs xxxi. This book far exceeds those other books in explanation and its so thoroughly Catholic that it would be hard for any other book to compare to this one.
Mirror of True Womanhood, is one of those books that holds its place in every Catholic home's library, as a wonderful wedding gift, a gift for any young lady, for any mother-to-be as well as one that should be read over and over again. There is true beauty in womanhood and it has its own special place. Not a place that is the same as man's but is different yet equal in importance. The same author has also written a book for men titled "True Men as We Need Them." I imagine it is equally fitting for men in our times. These two books can be found in ebook version online for free.
Download them here:
Mirror of True Womanhood True Men as We Need Them