"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
+++ We shared this wonderful book with you all last August and it is such a wonderful title so we thought we would bump this post up. It is a great title to read in May (the month of Mary) and also makes a great Mother's Day gift, a book for the heart of every mother. +++
In a day and age where every lady dreams of her knight in shining armor and struggles to find him. When doors are not normally opened for ladies by gentleman and when women generally want to be equal with men this book is as fitting (or even more so) today as it was in 1877 when it was written.
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
THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT
By: Dom Gueranger Impr. 1867
This Sunday, called, from the first word of the Introit, Laetare Sunday, is one of the most solemn of the year. The Church interrupts her Lenten mournfulness; the chants of the Mass speak of nothing but joy and consolation; the Organ, which has been silent during the preceding three Sundays, now gives forth its melodious voice; the Deacon resumes his Dalmatic, and the Subdeacon his Tunic; and instead of purple, Rose-coloured Vestments are allowed to be used. These same rites were practised in Advent, on the third Sunday, called Gaudete. The Church’s motive for introducing this expression of joy in to-day’s Liturgy, is to encourage her Children to persevere fervently to the end of this holy Season. The real Mid-Lent was last Thursday, as we have already observed; but the Church, fearing lest the joy might lead to some infringement on the spirit of penance, has deferred her own notice of it to this Sunday, when she not only permits, but even bids, her children to rejoice!
The Station at Rome, is in the Basilica of Holy Cross in Jerusalem, one of the seven principal Churches of the Holy City. It was built in the fourth century, by the Emperor Constantine, in one of his villas, called Sessorius, on which account it goes also under the name of the Sessorian Basilica. The Emperor’s mother, St. Helen, enriched it with most precious relies, and wished to make it the Jerusalem of Rome. It was with this intention that she ordered a great quantity of earth, taken from Mount Calvary, to be put on the site. Among the other Relics of the Instruments of the Passion which she gave to this Church, was the Inscription which was fastened to the Cross; it is still kept there, and is called the Title of the Cross. The name of Jerusalem, - which has been given to this Basilica, and which recals to our minds the heavenly Jerusalem, towards which we are tending, - suggested the choosing it as to-day’s Station. Up to the fourteenth century, (when Avignon became, for a time, the City of the Popes,) the ceremony of the Golden Rose took place in this Church; at present, it is blessed in the Palace where the Sovereign Pontiff happens to be residing at this Season.
The blessing of the Golden Rose is one of the ceremonies peculiar to the Fourth Sunday of Lent, which is called on this account Rose Sunday. The thoughts suggested by this flower harmonise with the sentiments wherewith the Church would now inspire her Children. The joyous time of Easter is soon to give them a spiritual Spring, of which that of nature is but a feeble image. Hence, we cannot be surprised that the institution of this ceremony is of a very ancient date. We find it observed under the Pontificate of St. Leo the Ninth (eleventh century); and we have a Sermon on the Golden Rose preached by the glorious Pope Innocent the Third, on this Sunday, and in the Basilica of Holy Cross in Jerusalem. In the Middle Ages, when the Pope resided in the Lateran Palace, having first blessed the Rose, he went on horseback to the Church of the Station. He wore the mitre, was accompanied by all the Cardinals, and held the blessed Flower in his hand. Having reached the Basilica, he made a discourse on the mysteries symbolised by the beauty, the colour, and the fragrance of the Rose. Mass was then celebrated. After the Mass, the Pope returned to the Lateran Palace. Surrounded by the sacred College, he rode across the immense plain which separates the two Basilicas, with the mystic Flower still in his hand. We may imagine the joy of the people as they gazed upon the holy symbol. When the procession had got to the Palace gates, if there were a Prince present, it was his privilege to hold the stirrup, and assist the Pontiff to dismount; for which filial courtesy he received the Rose, which had received so much honour and caused such joy.
At present, the ceremony is not quite so solemn; still the principal rites are observed. The Pope blesses the Golden Rose in the Vestiary; he anoints it with Holy Chrism, over which he sprinkles a scented powder, as formerly; and when the hour for Mass is come, he goes to the Palace Chapel, holding the Flower in his hand. During the Holy Sacrifice, it is fastened to a golden rose-branch prepared for it on the Altar. After the Mass, it is brought to the Pontiff, who holds it in his hand as he returns from the Chapel to the Vestiary. It is usual for the Pope to send the Rose to some Prince or Princess, as a mark of honour; sometimes, it is a City or a Church that receives the Flower.
We subjoin a free translation of the beautiful Prayer used by the Sovereign Pontiff when blessing the Golden Rose. It will give our readers a clearer appreciation of this ceremony, which adds so much solemnity to the Fourth Sunday of Lent. “O God! by whose word and power all things were created, and by whose will they are all governed! O thou, that art the joy and gladness of all thy Faithful people! we beseech thy Divine Majesty, that thou vouchsafe to bless and sanctify this Rose, so lovely in its beauty and fragrance. We are to bear it, this day, in our hands, as a symbol of spiritual joy; that thus, the people that is devoted to thy service, being set free from the captivity of Babylon, by the grace of thine Only Begotten Son, who is the glory and the joy of Israel, may show forth, with a sin cere heart, the joys of that Jerusalem, which is above, and is our Mother. And whereas thy Church seeing this symbol, exults with joy, for the glory of thy Name;- do thou, O Lord! give her true and perfect happiness. Accept her devotion, forgive us our sins, increase our faith; heal us by thy word, protect us by thy mercy; remove all obstacles; grant us all blessings; that thus, this same thy Church may offer unto thee the fruit of good works; and walking in the odour of the fragrance of that Flower, which sprang from the Root of Jesse, and is called the Flower of the Field, and the Lily of the Valley, may she deserve to enjoy an endless joy in the bosom of heavenly glory, in the society of all the Saints, together with that Divine Flower, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, world without end. Amen.”
We now come to the explanation of another name given to the Fourth Sunday of Lent, which was suggested by the Gospel of the day. We find this Sunday called in several ancient documents, the Sunday of the Five Loaves. The miracle alluded to in this title not only forms an essential portion of the Church’s instructions during Lent, but it is also an additional element of to-day’s joy. We forget for an instant the coming Passion of the Son of God, to give our attention to the greatest of the benefits he has bestowed on us; for under the figure of these Loaves multiplied by the power of Jesus, our Faith sees that Bread which came down from heaven, and given life to the world’[ St. John, vi. 33]. The Pasch, says our Evangelist, was near at hand; and, in a few days, our
Lord will say to us: With desire I have desired to eat this Pasch with you [St. Luke, xxii. 15]. Before leaving this world to go to his Father, Jesus desires to feed the multitude that follows him; and in order to this, he displays his omnipotence. Well may we admire that creative power, which feeds five thousand men with five loaves and two fishes, and in such wise, that even after all have partaken of the feast as much as they would, there remain fragments enough to fill twelve baskets. Such a miracle is, indeed, an evident proof of Jesus’ mission; but he intends it as a preparation for something far more wonderful; he intends it as a figure and a pledge of what he is soon to do, not merely once or twice, but every day, even to the end of time; not only for five thousand men, but for the countless multitudes of believers. Think of the millions, who, this very year, are to partake of the banquet of the Pasch; and yet, He whom we have seen born in Bethlehem, (the House of Bread,) He is to be the nourishment of all these guests; neither will the Divine Bread fail. We are to feast as did our fathers before us; and the generations that are to follow us, shall be invited as we now are, to come and taste how sweet is the Lord [Ps. xxxiii. 9].
But observe, it is in a desert place, (as we learn from St. Matthew, [St. Matth, xiv. 13]) that Jesus feeds these men, who represent us Christians. They have quitted the bustle and noise of cities in order to follow him. So anxious are they to hear his words, that they fear neither hunger nor fatigue; and their courage is rewarded. A like recompense will crown our labours, - our fasting and abstinence, - which are now more than half over. Let us, then, rejoice, and spend this day with the light-heartedness of pilgrims, who are near the end of their journey. The happy moment is advancing, when our soul, united and filled with her God, will look back with pleasure on the fatigues of the body, which, together with our heart’s compunction, have merited for her a place at the Divine Banquet.
The primitive Church proposed this miracle of the multiplication of the loaves as a symbol of the Eucharist, the Bread that never fails. We find it frequently represented in the paintings of the Catacombs and on the bas-reliefs of the ancient Christian tombs. The Fishes, too, that were given together with the Loaves, are represented on these venerable monuments of our faith; for the early Christians considered the Fish to be the symbol of Christ, because the word Fish in Greek, is made up of five letters, each of which is the initial of these words: Jesus Christ, Son (of) God, Saviour.
The Greek Church, too, keeps this Sunday with much solemnity. According to her manner of counting the days of Lent, this is the great day of the week called, as we have already noticed, Mesonestios. The solemn adoration of the Cross takes place to-day; and breaking through her rule of never admitting a Saint’s Feast during Lent, this mid-Lent Sunday is kept in honour of the celebrated Abbot of the Monastery of Mount Sinai, St. John Climacus, who lived in the 6th century.
On celebrating Mothering Sunday....
There seem to be many small traditions for this 'Catholic Mother's Day'. Visit our 2011 Mothering Sunday post here
. The first week of March we also shared about Lent with the Von Trapp family
which contained a bit about how they celebrated Laetare Sunday.On this day we plan a special meal of some sort, no certian traditional recipes just something we enjoy. Last year we made Simmel Cookies and this year I'm not sure yet if we will do the Simmel Cookies or the Simmel Cake but which ever we do we will be adding them them the Mothering Sunday Prayer Cards.What are you doing on this 4th Sunday of Lent? Please leave us a comment!
Around the Year with the Von Trapps ; Lent
By Maria Von Trapp
Lent is primarily known as a time devoted to fast and abstinence. Our non-Catholic friends feel sorry for us because we have to watch our food. "Isn't it an awful strain?" But this is only one side of the season of Lent, and not even the most important one. First and foremost, these weeks between Ash Wednesday and Holy Saturday are set aside as a time of preparation for the greatest feast of the year, Easter. We are not fasting in commemoration of Our Lord's fast of forty days, but are imitating Him in his fast of preparation--preparation for His great work of Redemption. It is the same with us. Once a year we take forty days out of the three hundred and sixty-five, and we too fast in preparation: in preparation for the commemoration of our Redemption. We all should get together and work toward the restoration of the meaning of Lent. People nowadays see in it just a gloomy time full of "must nots." That is a great pity, because Lent is a solemn season rich in hidden mysteries.
We must also keep in mind that Lent is only a part of the great Easter season, that it is for Easter what Advent was for Christmas, and that Lent taken by itself would make no more sense than Advent without Christmas at its end. Therefore, we should let Holy Mother Church take us by the hand and lead us--not each soul alone, but the whole family as a group--away from the noise of the world into a forty-day retreat. No other time of the year has been so singled out by the Church as this, in that a completely different Mass is provided for every single day, beginning with Ash Wednesday and continuing through the octave day of Easter; and again for the crowning feast of the Easter season, the eight days of Pentecost.
If we keep the closed time as faithfully as our forefathers did--which means keeping away from all noisy outside entertainment such as cocktail parties and dances--then we shall find ample time for the imitation of Christ as it is outlined in every morning's Mass. The restoration of the season of Lent was begun in the year when the Holy Father gave back to us the Easter Night. As we now know that in this holiest of all nights we shall be permitted to be reborn in Christ, renewing solemnly, with a lighted candle in our hands, our baptismal vows, we understand more and more clearly the two great thoughts which the Church is developing throughout the whole of Lent: the instruction of the catechumens and the deepening of the contrition of the penitents. Instruction and penance shall become our motto also for these holy weeks.
Instruction--this brings us to the Lenten reading program. The time saved through abstention from movies--and it is astonishing to find how much it is!--will be devoted to a carefully chosen reading program. Every year we should divide our reading into three parts: something for the mind, something for the heart, something for the soul. Something for the mind: This should mean doing serious research. One year we might work on the history of the Church; another year on the sacraments; or we might carefully study a scholarly life of Our Lord Jesus Christ; or a book on Christian ethics; or the Encyclicals of the Pope; or a book on dogma. For the soul: This should be spiritual reading of a high order, from the works of the saints or saintly writers. For example, "The Ascent of Mt. Carmel," by St. John of the Cross; "The Introduction to a Devout Life," by St. Francis de Sales; "The Story of a Soul," by St. Therese of Lisieux; "The Spiritual Castle," by St. Teresa of Avila; "The Soul of the Apostolate," by Abbot Chautard; the books of Abbot Marmion, and similar works.
For the heart: According to the old proverb, "Exempla trahunt," it is most encouraging to read the biographies of people who started out as we did but had their minds set on following the word of Our Lord, "Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect." In other words, to read a well-written biography of a saint (canonized or not) will have the same effect on us as it had once on St. Augustine, who said, after watching saintly people living a holy life: "If he could do it, and she, why not I?"
If every member of a family adopts this threefold reading program and comments on the books he has been working on, a great benefit will be flowing from one to the other as they exchange the spiritual goods obtained from their reading. I remember how the enthusiasm of each reader made us exchange books after Lent was over. Years ago it began with the books of Henry Gheon first, "The Secret of the Little Flower," followed by the other secrets of the saints. Another year it was "The History of a Family," with its background story of the most irresistible saint of our days, Therese of Lisieux. Recently we all found "St. Teresa of Avila," by Marcelle Auclair, the best and most readable of all biographies of this great saint.
After we had seen the great film, "Monsieur Vincent," we were naturally interested in reading Monsignor Jean Calvet's version of the saint's life, "St. Vincent de Paul." There is no saying how much such an extensive reading program adds to the richness of family life, how many new topics are introduced, to be talked about during the family meals. And one book that should certainly be read aloud during these days of the great retreat is the Holy Bible. It would be a good idea to lean, for one year at least, close to the selections the Church herself makes in the breviary of the priests. In another year one could take one of the prophets (Isaias during Advent, Jeremias during Lent), and go on from there until every book of Holy Scriptures has been read aloud and discussed in the family. In this way we have read through the books of the Old and New Testaments more than once, and have found them an unending source of happiness and spiritual growth. Any family that has tried it will never want to give it up.
To set aside the "closed times" of the year for daily reading aloud is one of the most profitable uses of the time gained. As many questions will be asked, it will be necessary to obtain some source in which to find at least some of the answers. A commentary on the Holy Scriptures should be in every Christian house. If the first thought recurring through the liturgy of Lent is instruction, the second is penance. To understand better what was originally meant by that word, let us go back to the beginning when the Church was young and the zeal and fervor unbroken.
Father Weiser, in his "Easter Book," tells us about it: "Persons who had committed serious public sin and scandal were enjoined on Ash Wednesday with the practice of "public penance." The period of the penance lasted until Holy Thursday when they were solemnly reconciled, absolved from their sins, and allowed to receive Holy Communion....The imposition of public penance on Ash Wednesday was an official rite in Rome as early as the fourth century; and soon spread to all Christianized nations. Numerous descriptions of this ancient ceremony have been preserved in medieval manuscripts and, in every detail, breathe a spirit of harshness and humility really frightening to us of the present generation. "Public sinners approached their priests shortly before Lent to accuse themselves of their misdeeds and were presented by the priests on Ash Wednesday to the bishop of the place. Outside the cathedral, poor and noble alike stood barefoot, dressed in sackcloth, heads bowed in humble contrition. The bishop, assisted by his canons, assigned to each one particular acts of penance according to the nature and gravity of his crime. Whereupon they entered the church, the bishop leading one of them by the hand, the others following in single file, holding each other's hands. Before the altar, not only the penitents, but also the bishop and all his clergy recited the seven penitential psalms. [Psalms 6, 31, 37, 50, 101, 129, 142.] Then, as each sinner approached, the bishop imposed his hands on him, sprinkled him with holy water, threw the blessed ashes on his head, and invested him with the hair shirt. Finally he admonished ("with tears and sighs" as the regulation suggests): "Behold you are cast out from the sight of holy mother Church because of your sins and crimes, as Adam the first man was cast out of Paradise because of his transgression." After this ceremony the penitents were led out of the church and forbidden to re-enter until Holy Thursday (for the solemn rite of their reconciliation).
Meanwhile they would spend Lent apart from their families in a monastery or some other place of voluntary confinement, where they occupied themselves with prayer, manual labor, and works of charity. Among other things they had to go barefoot all through Lent, were forbidden to converse with others, were made to sleep on the ground or on a bedding of straw, and were unable to bathe or cut their hair. "Such was the public penance (in addition to the general Lenten fast) for "ordinary" cases of great sin and scandal....For especially shocking and heinous crimes a much longer term was imposed.
An ancient manuscript records the case of an English nobleman of the eleventh century who received a penance of seven years for notorious crimes and scandals committed. The duties of his first year of public penance consisted of the following details: he must not bear arms (a bitter humiliation for a nobleman of that time!); he must not receive Holy Communion except in danger of death; he must not enter the church to attend Mass but remain standing outside the church door; he must eat very sparingly, taking meat only on Sundays and major feasts; on three days of the week he must abstain from wine; he must feed one poor person every day from what he would have spent on himself. The document closes with the words: `If, however, thou shalt have borne this penance willingly for one year, in the future, with God's grace, thou shalt be judged more leniently.'" (Francis X. Weiser, "The Easter Book," pp. 46f. New York, Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1954) And Father Weiser adds a helpful remark. "These examples will make clear, perhaps, what an indulgence granted by the Church means in our time. An indulgence of seven years is the remission of temporal punishment for sins already forgiven to the extent of a seven years' personal penance such as just described."
After having seen what penance meant to our fathers in the faith, it will be interesting to see how much of it is still alive in our times. The first day of Lent is Ash Wednesday. As we are summoned into church we find the program all laid out for us. Following the example of the people of Nineveh, who did penance in sackcloth and ashes, the Church wants today to humble our pride by reminding us of our death sentence as a consequence of our sins. She sprinkles our head with ashes and says: "Remember, man, that thou art dust, and unto dust shalt thou return." The ashes used have been made from burning the palm from the previous Palm Sunday. These ashes belong to the very powerful sacramentals (such as Epiphany water or candles from Candlemas Day). The four prayers preceding the blessing of the ashes are so beautiful and so rich in meaning that they should be read aloud and discussed in the family circle on Ash Wednesday night.
In our time, when "how to" books are so popular, the Gospel seems most appropriate to instruct us on how to fast: "At that time Jesus said to His disciples, `When you fast, be ye not as hypocrites, sad, for they disfigure their faces that they may appear unto men to fast. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward, but thou, when thou fastest, anoint thy head and wash thy face that thou appear not to men to fast but to thy Father Who sees in secret, and thy Father, Who sees in secret, will repay thee.'" It is interesting to remind ourselves that fast and abstinence are such ancient practices that they are much older than the Catholic Church, as are ashes and haircloth as means of penance. The pages of the Old Testament are filled with references to sackcloth and ashes (Jonas 3 :5-8; Jeremias 6:26; 25:34; Judith 9:1).
The ancient notions about fast and abstinence compare to our modern Lenten regulations as a Roman chariot compares to a modern sports car. Let us, first of all, straighten out what is fasting and what is abstinence. The first has to do with the quantity of food that can be taken, and the latter refers to the kind of food. In ancient times fasting really was fasting. The first meal was taken after vespers, and vespers were sung at sundown as evening prayer of the Church. Abstinence in the old times (and the old times reached almost to the days of our grandparents) meant that nothing was eaten (or kept in the house) which comes from animals: no meat, no fish, no lard, no milk, butter, cheese, cream. The Lenten fare consisted exclusively of vegetables, fruit, and a bread made of flour and water and salt. For our generation the law of abstinence means that all meat of warm-blooded animals and of birds and fowl and the soup made thereof is forbidden. It leaves free the wonderful world of seafood and the meat of other cold-blooded animals such as frogs, turtles, snails, etc.
The fast means that we are allowed one full meal every day and two other meals which, if put together, do not exceed in quantity the full meal. When I inquired once why the law of fast and abstinence is so much more lenient for us than it was for previous generations, I was told that modern man is much too frail to undergo the awful rigors of the ancient practice. After all, have we not experienced two world wars in our generation which have weakened our constitutions? That seemed to make perfect sense to me until just recently.
I got infected by a neighbor of ours in Stowe with the popular preoccupation of which is the best diet. Together we searched through a library of books, one more interesting than the other, the sum total of all them most confusing and astounding, however. Among other things I learned that almost all the ancient and modern sages of the science of "how to live longer and look younger" (they all boast of a tradition going back into the gray dawn of time with the yogis of India) agree on several points: (1) We are all over-eating--we should eat much less. (2) We are all eating too much meat, which sours our system, and we absolutely have to abstain from meat for longer or shorter periods every year. (3) If we could adapt ourselves to a diet of raw vegetables and fruit and whole-wheat bread, that would be the ideal. (4) And now I could hardly believe my eyes when I read, not once, but in several places, that it would do simply miracles for our constitution if we only would let ourselves be persuaded to undergo a period of complete fast. (One authority suggests three days, others a week, ten days, up to thirty, forty, and even sixty days!) I cannot help but think sadly: Woe if the Church ever had dared to make such a law or even give only a slight hint in the direction of undergoing a complete fast--for the love of God! Obviously, modern man, after all, is not too frail to undergo the awful rigors of ancient fast and abstinence.
The constitution of man seems not to have changed at all, then. What has changed are the motives. While the early Christians abstained from food and drink and meat and eggs out of a great sense of sorrow for their sins, and for love of God took upon themselves these inconveniences, modern man has as motive the "body beautiful," the "girlish figure," the "how to look younger and live longer" motive. These selfish motives are strong enough to convince him that fasting is good for him--in fact, it is fun. We ought to be grateful to these modern apostles, whether from India, Switzerland, Sweden, or Wisconsin, because their teaching shows that Holy Mother Church is equally interested in the spiritual welfare of her children and in their physical health. It also should make us better Christians. It should be absolutely unbearable to us to think that there are thousands of people around us who pride themselves on rigorous feats of fast and abstinence for motives as flimsy as good looks, while we cannot bring ourselves to give up a bare minimum. And so it might not be a bad idea after all, in fact a very modern one, to go back to the practice of former days and clear our house during the last day of Carnival of every trace of meat and butter and eggs, fish and lard and bouillon cubes, and spend six wholesome weeks in complete harmony with the health-food store around the corner: eating fresh fruit salads, drinking carrot juice, reveling in the exceeding richness of the vitamins we find in raw celery, fresh spinach, and pumpernickel.
I have repeatedly read now that there is absolutely nothing to it to undergo a complete fast. One can even continue one's occupation, and afterwards (the afterwards can be after thirty days, I was assured) one feels newly born and twenty years younger. All right, if this is so, let us not be so soft any more. What can be done "To feel twenty years younger" must be possible for our own reason: "that our fasts may be pleasing to Thee, O Lord, and a powerful remedy." (Post Communion, Ash Wednesday). Today we do eat too much--we eat too may things at one meal; we eat much too much meat; we consume an unhealthy amount of strong liquor and too much coffee and tea, which are bad for our nerves; and (this is perhaps our deepest conviction) the bread we can buy in stores is not the daily bread we pray for in the "Our Father," but something on the line of soft, tender sponger rubber, white sponge rubber. It has made us return to the dark rye bread, the home-made rye bread we used to have in Austria. All our guests rave about it, and so we want to share our recipe with others.
Dark Rye Bread
4 cups medium rye flour
1/2 tsp. caraway seed
2 cups regular white flour
1 cake yeast, or 1 package dry
1 tbsp. salt yeast
4 cups warm water
Dissolve yeast in 1 cups warm water until it starts to rise and make bubbles. Pour this on the flour. Add three more cups of warm water to the flour and stir until fluid is all soaked up. Then knead (with your own hands) until it is a firm, fairly stiff dough. Put in warm place to rise, covering it with a cloth. After two hours or more (depending on temperature of the room), the dough should rise to twice the size. Punch it down and knead for about 10 minutes again. Cover it up and let it rise again until not quite double the size. It will rise in a short while (1/2 hour to 3/4 hour). Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Then put dough upside down on a flour-sprinkled cookie sheet. Make holes in the dough with a knitting needle (or something similar) while in the hot stove. Leave there for an hour, then "wash" the bread: take it half way out and brush it freely with water. Push back into oven for another quarter hour, turning heat down to 300 degrees F. Then take it out. Makes 1 loaf.
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And here we should not forget that the pretzel, which is now quite popular at our parties, goes back to the early times when only bread made of flour and water, with a little salt, was allowed during Lent. In order to make it a little more appealing, it was first shaped in the form of a ring and a cross in memory of the Cross of Our Lord, and later it took on the present-day shape of two arms crossed in prayer.
It is said to have been used in the monastery schools of the medieval abbeys as a prize for the pupils and that the name comes from the Latin word "pretiolum". In Austria, southern Germany, and Poland, on St. Joseph's Day, March 19th, a man would go around and sell pretzels on the streets and the people would eat them for lunch, together with a "Josephi beer," a special dark, very malted beer.
In the middle of Lent comes the Sunday Laetare
, also called "Rose Sunday." It is as if Holy Mother Church wants to give us a break by interrupting the solemn chant of mourning, the unaccompanied cadences and the use of the violet vestments, bursting out suddenly in the word "Laetare" ("Rejoice"), allowing her priests to vest in rose-colored garments, to have flowers on the altar and an organ accompaniment for chant. It is also called "Rose Sunday" because on that day the Pope in Rome blesses a golden rose, an ornament made of gold and precious stones. The Holy Father prays that the Church may bring forth the fruit of good works and "the perfume of the ointment of the flowers from the root of Jesse." Then he sends the golden rose to some church or city in the world or to a person who has been of great service to the Church.
Only recently I discovered that this Sunday used to be known as "Mothering Sunday."
This seems to go back to an ancient custom. People in every city would visit the cathedral, or mother church, inspired by a reference in the Epistle read on the Fourth Sunday of Lent: "That Jerusalem which is above, is free, which is our Mother." And there grew up, first in England, from where it spread over the continent, the idea that children who did not live at home visited their mothers that day and brought them a gift. This is, in fact, the precursor of our Mother's Day. Expecting their visiting children, the mothers are said to have baked a special cake in which they used equal amounts of sugar and flour (two cups of each); from this came the name "Simmel Cake," derived from the Latin word "similis", meaning "like" or "same." Here is the recipe: Simmel Cake
(Click for Printable PDF... blog authors addition, also visit here for the Simmel Cookie Recipe
3/4 cup butter
1/3 cup shredded lemon & 2 cups sugar orange peel
2 cups flour
1 cup currants
4 eggs almond paste
1/2 tsp. salt.
Cream the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Sift the flour and salt and add to the first mixture. Dust the peel and currants with a little flour and add to the batter. Line cake tin with waxed paper and pour in half the dough. Add a layer of almond paste and remaining dough. Bake at 300 degrees F. for one hour. Ice with a thin white icing, flavored with a few drops of almond extract.
And every evening in Lent, we sing a Lenten hymn--two of our favorite ones are given here. O HEAD ALL SCARRED AND BLEEDING
Original melody by Hans Lee Hassler, 1601. Used in this form by J.S. Bach in the "St. Matthew Passion." Translation, Henry S. Drinker.
1. O Head all scarred and bleeding, And heaped with cruel scorn! O Head so filled with sorrow, And bound with crown of thorn! O Head that was so honored, So lovely fair to see, And now so low degraded! My heart goes out to Thee.
2. Thou countenance so noble, Yet now so pale and wan, Which all the world should honor, Now foully spat upon. No more Thine eyes are shining, That once did shine so bright, Ill-usage and maligning, Affliction, shame and spite. OPEN, O HARD AND SINFUL HEART!
Test, Angelus Silesius, 1637; melody, 1638.
1. Open, oh hard and sinful heart, God will return to heed you. Think of His pain and bitter part, Let not more guilt impede you. He who to penance is inspired, Shall then in truth be living. The sinner's death God ne'er desired, His mercy is forgiving.
2. Open your eyes, believe, be wise, With God there's no pretending. Your sorry soul in danger lies Of death and pains unending. Come back, come back, O wayward one, Shake off the sins that bind you. Surely God's own almighty Throne Plentiful grace will find you.
3. Open your heart, your God behold, With outstretched hands so tender, On the dread cross in grief untold His life for you surrender. A trembling rends the hardest stone, Sun, moon and stars are darkened. Are you unsoftened, you alone, Have you to Him not harkened?
In the middle of Lent comes the Sunday Laetare, also called “Rose Sunday”. Holy mother Church gives us a break during the middle of Lent on this Sunday changing from violet vestments to Rose. Laetare comes from the first words of today’s mass, “Rejoice, O Jerusalem!” This Sunday traditionally was known as Mothering Sunday which our American Mother’s Day is derived from. Typically it was to visit the “mother church” of the diocese on this day. A traditional dessert baked on this day is Simmel Cake, Simmel coming from the word similar meaning a like. This cake typically has traditional amounts of sugar and flour. I wanted to turn this traditional cake into cookies so they could be given as gifts to several mothers. Once this creation was done I placed them in a clear plastic cup and wrapped some rose colored tissue paper around them and tied it off with a lavendar bow. Included with the cup was a gift tag featuring our Blessed Lady printed from Holy Reflections free printable holy cards
next I glued a short history of Laetare Sunday on the back ( the file is below if you would like to use it.) Saint Patrick watches over our Mothering Sunday treats as he and Saint Joseph are our Lenten Saints that guide us in these 40 days of prayer and fasting. Hopefully you had a blessed Mothering Sunday! (Find files for the Simmel Cake Recipe and Simmel Cookie Recipes below.)
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