Courtesy Calls Again
Judith Fife Mead & Marian Therese Horvat
What courtesy is - and how to establish it in the Catholic home!
Another book on etiquette? No, Courtesy Calls Again is much more than that.
The cover shows a picture of Queen Astrid and King Leopold of Belgium being greeted by a gentleman at the Brussels World Exhibit of 1935
It presents the virtues essential to the practice of an authentic courtesy.
It examines and debunks myths that have shaped our American culture – the cowboy, the pioneer woman, the big boy, the ‘spontaneous man’ and the ‘natural man.’
It offers practical advice on how to establish courteous relationships in the home. How should a husband and wife treat each other and give correct example for their children? Why should a father treat his sons and daughters differently? What does a mother do to train her children well? How do parents avoid a child-centered home?
The essential elements of sound Catholic relationships in the family unit are presented here. A new American home becomes possible – serious, hierarchical, harmonic and joyful.
J.F. Mead and M.T. Horvat present models and customs from the rich treasury of Catholic tradition – and challenge us to respond to the urgent call to courtesy.
Format: Paperback, 152 pp.
Publication Date: 2009 (A-25)
What People Are Saying
* "It should be read in every traditional Catholic home!" - Fr. Vidko Podrza
* "I believe that this book should be a framework in re-establishing common decency
and courtesy" - Mr. J.B. Voice of Catholic Radio
* "The perfect gift for every newlywed or young Catholic couple!" - Mrs. C.K.
* "Courtesy Calls Again is a response to a call: reminding us that to have a soul substantially united to a body demands from us to seal every single bodily posture, every single word, every single physical action with spirituality." (more) - Alice von Hildebrand
* "At last! A book that addresses some key issues of the cultural malaise with clear and serious precision. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and have passed it on to my husband. It should foster some lively conversation.
"To your readers: My recommendation is to give this little book, Courtesy Calls Again, your immediate attention. Read it; practice what it teaches; teach it to others, and begin the reclamation of the true Catholic spirit of christian politeness.
"Like the fragrance of a lovely flower, Lady Courtesy beckons us - each one - to embrace our Catholic heritage, cast off the intolerable libertine yoke that has choked off proper modes of conduct and reclaim the art of gracious living.
"Dr. von Hildebrand was right. Marian T. Horvat and Judith Fife Mead have made a fine contribution. This refreshing little book is a gem.
* " I recently finished your book Courtesy Calls Again by Judith Fife Mead and Marian Therese Horvat. It is an extraordinary book. Thank you for taking the time to write and publish this critical book. I plan to purchase it for newly engaged or newly married women. I wish I could afford to purchase it for all my friends and family for Christmas. Perhaps on Mother's Day.
"I wish I could have found a book like this when my girls were younger. Fortunately, they are still at home. My husband is now reading your book.
"Warmest regards, D.H. "
* "I would like to send my deep appreciation for the publishing of Courtesy
Calls Again. It is timely in that it desperately needs to be read by
all Catholics concerned with the present, nightmarish state of manners and customs
we find ourselves in. I would be pleased to hear of further works regarding
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
CHAPTER I: THE VIRTUE OF COURTESY
- Understanding courtesy
- Aims of this work
- The apostolate of courtesy
CHAPTER II: AMERICAN MYTHS AND MODELS
- Humility – accepting our place in the social hierarchy
- Justice – giving each one the treatment he deserves
- Charity – respecting ourselves and others
- Blessed Raymond de Lull’s book of chivalry
CHAPTER III: THE HUSBAND AND THE WIFE
- the myths
- The Natural Man
- The Spontaneous Man
- The Big Boy
- The Cowboy and the Pioneer Woman
- The Puritan Model
- The Individualist
- Egalitarianism – the root cause
CHAPTER IV: THE FATHER AND HIS CHILDREN
- Courtesy between the husband and the wife
- Mutual respect for high reasons
- Appreciation shown by small gestures and words
- Dealing with the other’s defects
- Confidence demands loyalty
- The role of familiarity
- Ceremony, a requirement for harmony
- Cermony calls for good manners
CHAPTER V: THE ROLE OF THE MOTHER
- A father, not a buddy
- The father and his son
a. Signs of respect
b. Give your son stability
c. Choose your son’s companions
d. Respect for the marvelous
e. The role of sacrifice
f. Instilling the spirit of fight
g. Avoid the good life mentality
h. The sense of duty
i. Treatment of women
j. Be objective and observant
k. The sense of honor
l. Be the spiritual head of the family
- The father and his daughter
a. Establish a stable and secure environment
b. Consistent acts of courtesy
d. Chastity and morality
e. Encourage your daughter’s feminine spirit
CHAPTER VI: AT THE TABLE
- Tenderness and vigilance
- An adult-centered home
- A serious and genuine affection
- Direct the tendencies toward the marvelous
- Seeing God in nature
- Exercise your authority
- A consistent firmness
- Mothers and sons
a. Guard against overindulgence
b. Ask your son to make sacrifices for you
c. Avoid inordinate praise
- Mothers and daughters
a. Understand your daughter
b. Fostering a spirit of generosity
c. Prepare your daughter for a work at home
d. A love for beauty and disgust for the vulgar
e. Cultivating refinement
f. Curbing romanticism
g. Neither overindulgence nor excessive severity
- Recourse to Our Lady
CHAPTER VII: THE ART OF CONVERSATION
- Slowing down and eating together
- A good ambience
- The basic table setting
- The formal table setting: the glassware
- The formal table setting: the silverware
- A few extras
- Serving the meal
- Seating at the table
- Beginning the meal
- Some basics of table manners
- The courses – starting with appetizer and soup
a. The salad course
b. The main course is served
c. Dessert and coffee
d. Clearing the table
- An extra advantage of good table manners
CONCLUSION: COURTEOUS OR BARBARIAN
- Setting the tone
- Topics of conversations
- Lessons in life
- When and how to make corrections
- Young children eating apart
- Some Do’s and Don’ts in conversation
Christian Civilization started as a reaction in the religious sphere. With stunning rapidity after Vatican II, centuries-old traditions had been toppled: The Mass had been rewritten and translated into English, the altars turned around, habits and cassocks abandoned, statues and novenas thrown out, organ and Gregorian chant replaced by guitars and soft rock, Sunday dress downgraded to casual everyday clothing.
After the first shell-shock produced by these radical changes, concerned Catholics began to organize and act in response to the progressivist revolution that seemed intent on the very destruction of the Church. This resistance continues to grow with a dynamism and zeal that the progressivists lack and envy.
Many American supporters of this restoration began to realize that the fight they were making for Catholic tradition should extend beyond the religious sphere. It was not enough to restore the Tridentine Mass if the persons who assisted at it were wearing blue jeans and tank tops, listening to rock music at home, and
becoming accustomed to the vulgarities and immoralities of modern entertainment and environments.
These persons, many of them young parents raising families, began to comprehend that the ceremony, hierarchy, and order that they longed to see restored in the Church were also missing in American families, schools, and other institutions. They understood that their fight had to extend further – into the cultural arena.
To make a complete cultural counter-revolution would demand restoring and re-civilizing almost all fields of social and cultural life.
Some of these thoughtful Catholics, disillusioned with the myths of the modern world, began to delve more deeply and question the egalitarian myths of America. They looked back in History for a more civilized time as a model to follow. They found that American families and society in general were much more cultured before the Second World War, and even more so before the First Great War. Why? Because at those times they were open to the European cultural influence – that of England,
France, Italy, Spain, and Germany, for example.
Insofar as we Americans were open to this healthy influence of the wholesome remnant of Christian Civilization, we expressed some of that spirit by showing ourselves to be well-bred, distinguished, polite, and respectable. To the degree that we rejected those salutary manners of the past, we lost our dignity, self-respect, and seriousness.
The United States became the country of spontaneity and the casual lifestyle. Instead of the civilized people of a great country, we became crass and childish. In the name of joviality and having a good time, almost everything turned to joking, vulgarities, and outright immorality.
Is it possible to restore that good European influence when today Europe itself has adopted the American way of life and followed our crass culture? The answer is still uncertain. By taking the lead in the restoration, perhaps we will give Europeans the courage to reject the bad models we have spread. In any case,
the desire for such a restoration is in the air.
This desire has inspired concrete action in the basics of living. Growing numbers of parents are choosing to home-school their children or establish alternative Catholic schools. They are teaching the Baltimore Catechism and studying the History of the Church and Christian Civilization. They are turning off the television in their homes and eschewing the unwholesome entertainments
They are seeking out the sound Catholic customs and traditions of the past and transmitting them to their children in order to build a different and better future. What is more, they have begun to understand that the Revolution has destroyed a whole way of being and acting – of dressing with distinction, of conversing and speaking with politesse, of carrying oneself and behaving in a dignified way in the family and in society. They are realizing that courtesy and good manners have an important role to play in a Catholic restoration.
Admiring the courtesy of the past, they have begun to grasp a much broader and richer meaning of sacrifice. Maintaining good Catholic customs requires sacrifice.
It is not easy to continually repress what is vulgar, rough, and even offensive in so many of man’s impulses. It is easier to slouch on the floor than to sit properly on a sofa or chair. It takes self-control to reflect before speaking, rather than to say whatever comes to mind regardless of the feelings of others. It demands
effort to dress properly for every occasion and according to the dignity befitting one’s state in life.
How much more convenient it is to wear blue jeans and open shirts to Mass and work, jogging clothes to restaurants and theaters, shorts and t-shirts to shopping centers. The world around us is moving rapidly toward tribalism, a neo-barbarian way of thinking and living. A turnaround in our own lives is not only possible, but essential. It is the way we must begin to effect the restoration of an authentic Catholic culture.
To be civilized demands both discipline and virtue. Looking toward a brighter tomorrow, a new generation is showing itself willing to make the sacrifices necessary for a life of distinction and refinement. They are responding in a positive way to the ubiquitous call to courtesy that is again beginning to sound.
Frequently, acquiring courtesy is mistakenly confused with learning artificial conventions. A parent cannot simply enroll a youngster in a six-week etiquette class to learn courtesy. Certainly the child will learn some basic directives on which fork and knife to use at a formal dinner, but courtesy encompasses much
more than mere conventions.
Courtesy cannot be reduced to a set of rules and table manners to be memorized so that little John or Mary can be selfconfident on public occasions. One does not pull good manners out of a drawer like a pair of gloves to be worn at a formal event. Then, when the evening is over, back they go into the box until the next social affair. The utilitarian concept of manners as a means to get ahead in life is not the Catholic courtesy that is being addressed in this small book.
A real return to courtesy requires a broader understanding. Courtesy demands that one show consideration and respect for others. This consideration for others is not an empty formality. It is a consequence of the Catholic mentality that sees in one’s neighbor a person who deserves to be treated with seriousness and respect because he was made in the image and likeness of God and was redeemed by the infinitely precious Blood of Christ.
Courtesy encompasses politeness, of course. Well-bred persons should not contradict others in conversation or be clownish. Basic politeness prohibits a guest from criticizing the food or amenities provided. Addressing one’s superiors or elders with respect should be second nature to the well-mannered young man or woman. But, courtesy is more than that.
Courtesy is an excellence of the human convivium (the way of living together with others), an excellence in the way of being and acting. Pope Pius XII notes that this excellence in being of a genteel man or woman reflects a refinement of thought, feeling, soul, and conscience that was inherited from one’s forebears and
ceaselessly nurtured by the Christian ideal. (1)
It is, he states, an excellence that manifests itself in the “dignity of one’s entire bearing and conduct,” a dignity, moreover, “that is not imperious, but permits distances to appear in order to inspire in others a higher nobility of soul, mind, and heart.”
Lastly, he stressed, this excellence reveals itself above all by a superior morality, a righteousness, honesty, and probity that informs every word and every deed. (2)
This is the spirit of courtesy we hope to impart to our readers.
1. Pius XII, Allocution to the Roman Patriciate and Nobility, 1945, in Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites in the Allocutions of Pius XII (York, PA: Hamilton Press,1993), pp. 73-74.
Aims of this work
Chapter I of this work, as a prelude to the more practical guidelines to be set out, presents three important virtues that are prerequisites to the practice of courtesy: humility, justice, and charity.
Perhaps the most challenging chapter of this book is the second, which examines some of the American myths that have fostered egalitarian and erroneous ways of conduct in opposition to the courteous behaviors of the past. Unless we set aside these myths that have generated the modern, casual lifestyle, we cannot
become the courteous individuals we should be.
The first place that courtesy must be practiced is within the family. The tone of society is set by the tenor established in the lives of families inside their homes. Therefore, chapters III, IV and V look at the ways proper relationships should be established inside a Catholic family.
How should a husband and wife treat each other and give correct example to their children? What should be the way a father acts with his children? How should a mother train her sons and daughters? By answering these simple, elementary questions, we present the essential elements of sound Catholic relationships
within the family unit.
Chapters VI and VII offer some guidelines on proper table manners and the art of conversation in the home.
Much more could be written on the subject, but we have confined ourselves to these topics with the hope that, in this case, less will be more. That is to say, more people will be encouraged to read our small manual if it does not become an encyclopedia on manners. Our aim is not to present every rule of etiquette, but,
rather, to encourage our readers to adopt a more refined, hierarchical, and serious way of being.
If this work on courtesy in the family is well-received, we hope in the future to offer another manual that deals with courtesy in relationships with others in society.
The apostolate of courtesy
We face here an objection sure to be raised: “What makes you experts on this subject?”
We do not presume to establish ourselves as prototypes of gentility. We are writing this book because we have received insistent requests from several good friends to do so. We searched for a Catholic book dealing with the topic that we could recommend, but we did not find any material that adequately addressed the errors specific to our days.
Therefore, we took up the task of writing this book as a work of apostolate. We present to our readers a model that we are also trying to follow. The good model we hope to transmit is the excellence of Catholic courtesy – the superior fruit of Christian Civilization that still survived in the West until the Cultural
Revolution of the ‘60s.
We have always felt a profound admiration for the goodness, truth, and beauty reflected in the Catholic social order. Comparing our society to that from days past, we became aware that “Lady Courtesy” was inviting us to follow her. Later we realized that this same Lady was inviting more and more people along the same route. This book, then, is an answer to her call.
Our own transformations are far from complete. Habits and spirits that bear the imprint of distinction and perfection cannot be acquired from one day to the next. Often it takes an entire life time. But what man alone cannot do, God most certainly can accomplish. He can speed up this process and, with the help of His
grace, change us.
We are certain that if we go to Our Lady – with humility and admiration for our glorious past Christian Civilization – she will transform us and make us what we should be. She will give us what we need to become the builders of a new Civilization, the citizens of the Reign of Mary that she promised at Fatima.
This call to courtesy that falls on open ears indicates that its spirit is far from being dead. It is like the plants under the winter snow that lie dormant. When the thaw comes, we see that much of nature is alive. The seeds germinating beneath the snow sprout and become the harvest of tomorrow. It is the promise of a new
Let us pray that we will correspond to the graces Our Lady is giving in anticipation of the restoration of the Catholic Church and society – and that the thaw will not be too much longer in coming.
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