Catholic Family Vignettes

A collage of literary snapshots from the life of a large traditional Catholic family


January 24, 2008

The Pin Cushion Queen

Life isn’t easy
For the Pin Cushion Queen
When she sits on her throne
Pins push through her spleen.

The Pin Cushion Queen, Tim Burton

Yesterday marks the beginning of a new adventure for the little ladies of the house: the joys of handwork.

Charlotte and Emily are six and four, respectively. With great delight I began teaching them the basics of handwork. We traced dotted lines, varying the lengths and spaces and then “sewed” them, with needle and thread. I was amazed at how quickly they caught on, particularly four year old Emily. Excitedly, they begged additional lessons, so we made plans to hold another class. That was today.

Once we finished with school, the boys sat down at table to begin their own project…the excavation of ancient ruins. What a mess! My dining room looks like an archaeological dig site, there is dust everywhere, but what fun!

The girls, who were more interested in the project that the boys were involved in, came to their sewing class reluctantly. Many tears from the four year old, as she tried to master the plastic canvas, which I thought would be an aid to her in explaining the “ins and outs” of sewing.

No…she had absolutely no patience for it. Charlotte had no difficulty in grasping any technique I showed her, and I began to lament that I had included Emily. Perhaps four is a bit young.

Throwing caution to the wind, I pulled out the fabric, needles and thread. A quick demonstration of a running stitch and the girls were set. Our first project: very small pillows for very small dollies. The pillows were finished very quickly and the girls couldn’t have been more excited. Emily was much more comfortable with the fabric, she even sewed a tiny button on her little pillow. Both girls were so very excited that three of their brothers asked if they, too, could join the adventure.

And so they did…

This evening amidst the dust, the pieces of thread, the scraps of fabric and resting upon the sofa which has, indeed, been turned into a pin cushion, rest five lovely little pillows in shades of pink and blue.

The delight of the children who have gained a new skill is quite sweet, never mind that mom was, for a time, a pin cushion. They are already making plans for pillowcases and marble bags.

I hope they enjoy the handwork. I only have one sewing machine…

The Feast of St. Francis De Sales

The world holds us to be fools; let us hold it to be mad.

Today is the feast of St. Francis De Sales. St. Francis is the patron saint of writers, authors, journalists, educators and is also the patron of Columbus, Ohio. My own devotion to St. Francis De Sales has grown over the years, but most particularly after reading one of his finest devotional works, Introduction To The Devout Life. It is, along with the Imitation of Christ, one of the most astounding instructional tomes. Were I only able to choose three books to “feed my soul”, I would choose Sacred Scripture, The Imitation of Christ and Introduction To The Devout Life.

Here are a few excerpts:

What is True Devotion?
The difference between love and devotion is just that which exists between fire and flame;–love being a spiritual fire which becomes devotion when it is fanned into a flame;–and what devotion adds to the fire of love is that flame which makes it eager, energetic and diligent, not merely in obeying God’s Commandments, but in fulfilling His Divine Counsels and inspirations.

(A personal favorite)
Undertake all of your duties with a calm mind and try to do them one at a time. If you try to do them all at once, or without order, your spirits will be so overcharged and depressed that they will likely sink under the burden and nothing will be done.

In all of your affairs, rely on the Providence of God through which alone you much look for success. Strive quietly to cooperate with its designs. If you have a sure trust in God, the success that comes to you will always be that which is most useful to you, whether it appears good or bad in your private judgment.

Think of the little children who with one hand hold fast to their father while with the other they gather berries. If you handle the goods of this world with one hand, you must also always hold fast with the other to your heavenly Father’s hand, and turn toward him from time to time to see if you are pleasing him. Above all, be sure that you never leave his hand and his protection, thinking that with your own two hands you can gather more or get some other advantage.

and this gem:
We can never please the world unless we lose ourselves together with it. It is so demanding that it can’t be satisfied. “John came neither eating nor drinking,” says the Savior, and you say, “He has a devil.” “The Son of man came eating and drinking” and you say that he is “a Samaritan.” It is true, Philothea, that if we are ready to laugh, play cards, or dance with the world in order to please it, it will be scandalized at us, and if we don’t, it will accuse us of hypocrisy or melancholy. If we dress well, it will attribute it to some plan we have, and if we neglect our dress, it will accuse of us of being cheap and stingy. Good humor will be called frivolity and mortification sullenness. Thus the world looks at us with an evil eye and we can never please it. It exaggerates our imperfections and claims they are sins, turns our venial sins into mortal sins and changes our sins of weakness into sins of malice.

an excellent reminder:
How displeasing to God are rash judgments! The judgments of the children of men are rash because they usurp the office of Our Lord, the just Judge. They are rash because the principal malice of sin depends on the intention and the counsel of the heart, and these are hidden things not known to human judges. They are rash because every person has things that could be judged, and, indeed, on which one should judge oneself.

On the cross our Savior could not entirely excuse the sin of those who crucified him, but he extenuated the malice by pleading their ignorance. When we cannot excuse a sin, let us at least make it worthy of compassion by attributing the most favorable cause we can to it, such as ignorance or weakness. We can never pass judgment on our neighbor.

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