The Mirror of True Womanhood
Fr. Bernard O'Reilly, D.L., 1877


"Who is not struck with beholding your lively faith, your piety full of sweetness and modesty, your generous hospitality, the holiness wh ich reigns within your families, the serenity and innocence of your conversation?"----St. Clement, Pope and Martyr, First Epistle to the Corinthians

We are about to describe the sacred sphere within which God has appointed that true women should exercise their sway, that most blessed kingdom which it is in their power to create, and over which the Author of every most perfect gift will enable them to reign with an influence as undisputed as it may be boundless for all good. The home of the Christian family, such as the Creator wills it to be, and such as every true woman can make it, is not only the home of the wealthy and the powerful, but more especially still that of the poor and the lowly; for these constitute the immense majority of mankind, and must ever be the chief object of His care, Who is Father and Lord over all. From Him spring the laws which regulate all the sweet duties of family life, and the graces which enable the members of a household to make of their abode a paradise.

Hence it is, that when the Author of our nature deigned to become man, and to subject Himself to these same laws and duties, He chose not a palace for His abode, nor a life of wealthy ease while upon earth, but the poor home of an artisan, and the life of toil and hardship which is the lot of the multitude. It was a most blissful design worthy of the infinite wisdom and goodness. The human parents He chose were of royal blood, that the highest on earth might learn from Joseph and Mary how holiness can exalt princes to nearness to God, and how the most spotless purity can be the parent of a regenerated world. And He made all His human virtues bloom in the carpenter's home at Nazareth, in order that the poorest labourer might know that there is not one sweet virtue practised by the God-Man, Jesus, which the last and hardest driven of the sons and daughters of toil may not cultivate in their own homes, though never so poor, so naked, or so narrow.

So, dear reader, standing on the shore of the calm and beautiful lake of Galilee, near which our Lord was reared, let us see His humble home and His home-life reflected therein, as in a most beautiful mirror; and with that Divine image compare our own home, and the life with which we study to adorn it.

There is nothing here below more sacred in the eyes of that good God Who governs all things, and will judge all men in due time, than [the family home].



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