By Richard Salbato


A good friend of mine, actually an adopted daughter, suggested an idea to me that she has been thinking about for years.  Once I had a clear vision of what she wanted to do, I realized that it would be, could be, one of the great ideas of the millennium.  I began to think of my own life and how I left home with no human tools to face the world or even to make good an sound judgments of my future.  Instead I was ruled by emotions and desires without any wisdom to make good and rational decisions in my life.  I thought back at when between the critical years of my life, 18 to 25 years, I made mistakes that stayed with me the rest of my life, destroying anything that would have made me happy and useful to the world.  Why did this happen to me?  Because when I should have been grown up, I was not.  When I was making adult decisions, I was using a child's brain.  I reflected on other people that I knew who did the same as I did.  Then I started looking at society as a whole and realized that almost everyone has done stupid things in these critical years between 18 and 25 that forced them into lifetime directions that they later wish had not happened.  As for me, because I spent so  much time fighting the mistakes I made in those years, I never had time to reflect enough to grow up.  In fact, I did not go from boy to man until I was 41 years old.  And maybe 51 before I went from man to gentleman.  And maybe I will never get rid of the remnants of my bad habits completely.


Why was I so unprepared to make major life long decisions at a time when I should have had the tools to do so?  Why are most people so unprepared?  Has it always been this way?  


To answer the second question first, "Yes and No!"  In times past (before 1941-See note 1 below) boys and girls between 18 and 25 did not make decisions about their lives at all, and this is not always a good thing.  Girls were told what they were going to do, and it they had good parents they could voice their objections or desires but in the end it was the parents who had the last word.  Boys were told that they were going to work in their father's business, or go to college or go in a seminary or whatever, and they had no choice in the matter.  A girl might be sent off to a convent with no vocation whatsoever, but at least it got her through those critical years without a life long catastrophe unless they remained in the convent without a vocation.  However, in those days the Mother Superior could usually see that there was no vocation. (See note 2 below)   If the parents decided that she should get married, they would interview any possible candidate and carefully chaperone any contact.  This was good with parents who cared about their children's own wants and desires but not for those who did not, and many people ended up in marriages or other life styles that they never wanted and never were happy in.


Also in some countries like England, America, China and Japan, girls were sent to finishing schools where they were taught the fine arts of being a lady: how to stand, how to walk, how to dress, how to eat properly with different classes of people, how to address different classes of people.  They were even taught how to give a look of approval or disapproval without insulting someone or bringing them to anger or pride.  Catholic girls were taught the more in-depth meanings of virtues and how they are designed to make you happy and wise, also how to look and act modest and chaste outside and inside.  In China and Japan girls were taught how to dress and act for husbands.


Men, depending on the age, were also taught in some form of finishing school.  In earlier years it became time to learn to hunt and shoot and sword fight and to protect the family.  Most often they would learn the trade of their fathers or uncles, banking, farming, or even the military.   In every case there was appropriate dress. All work was an art and should be treated as an art, the art of farming, the art of banking, the art of wood working.  All were taught to be brave, honorable, chivalrous, polite, and with religious teachers, gentle and kind.  


From Boys and Girls to Gentlemen and Ladies Today

(By Gentleman and Lady we mean Virtuous Men and Woman)


Today in most countries there is no training to bring boys of 18 years to men or gentlemen and nothing to bring girls of 18 years to women and then to ladies.  You might say that that is the job of the parents, but as a parent myself I can say that there are no good parents out there.  I was a boy parent at the age of 22 years.  I did not become a good parent until I was 42 years and by then I had already done harm to my children by my stupidity.  Even if I was a good gentleman by the time I was raising children, I would only be as good as my own knowledge and prejudices are.  My father was a racist and I did not follow his thinking, but then I was an excessive traditionalist Catholic and my children rightfully rebelled against that.  However, often we either follow the faults of our parents or go too far the other way.  Today, as I look back, I would like to have sent my children somewhere to undo the harm I might have done, and to teach them what I could not have taught them even before sending them off to college, work, military, convent or marriage.


It is usually the opposite of what the parents or the children want that is good for them.  Let me give you an example.  Suppose parents are very protective and permissive.  Would the parents and children want what is really good for them - something that would bring discipline and self confidence to their lives?  No!  Both the parents and the children would want what they have always known, someone to take care of my little baby.  Suppose the parents were strict and ordered, would they want for their children a kind and gentle future?  Not likely!  Sometimes the parents are extremely good but simply do not know what they do not know.  For example, my high-school friend was very smart - IQ of over 155.  He was not born smart, but his mother and father wanted him to be smart, so although tomato farmers, they taught him to read at the age of 4 years, and got him interested in higher math and science at the age of 10 years.  Yes! He did well and went on to teach law at one of the better colleges in America, but because he was just a farmer, he never fit in with the intellectuals because he never learned how to dress or act in front of the more "proper" people. 


Also there are things that parents just are not good at teaching children, like true love, the proper attitude towards sex, how to be happy in appearance even when you are not happy because you want others around you to be happy, the right time to share your problems and with whom, what inner secrets should you never tell to anyone, even a husband or wife.


There are things that most parents never thought of learning so they do not know how to teach their children, like how to pick a good college, a good convent, a good seminary, a good job, etc.  What a girl should do before looking for a husband and where will she find the right one for her!  Same with men.  Oh! I could go on and on with examples, but let me say just this.  This morning I saw a lady come into the coffee shop.  Not too good looking and yet attractive.  Not too young and yet appealing as a woman.  Not over dressed or sloppy but just nice to look at.  Why would a not too pretty, not too young, not too well dressed woman, attract attention?  Why do some men, even rather ugly men, get attention from everyone everywhere they go whereas others are left in the background?  The answer is "character" and not "caricature".


Building Character


Something new has started in the world.  It started in America with "Tennis Clinics" where people who were already pretty good at tennis could go away to a Tennis Clinic and get very good.  These clinics would last for one to three months and were intensive.  They did nothing except tennis - tennis inside classes, tennis instruction, tennis practice, and tennis corrections.  They eat, drink and sleep tennis for one to three months.  Since the tennis thing, other clinics have started up all over the world, football, baseball, music, dancing, and almost any kind of clinic you can think of except a "character clinic".  How many famous people do you know that are great tennis players but are in character an ass?   They are caricatures for sure and interesting as any caricature is - like Goofy or Donald Duck, but they do not have character.  OK! What do we do about it?


The Formation of Ladies


What is needed today is a clinic to form 18 year old girls into women and then form women into ladies.  Can this be done?  It would be hard considering that the very concept "lady" is taboo today for girls and women want to be men or at least "liberated" from being what they were born to be.  The formation of Ladies is not hard, but only if one wants to be a lady.  In the 21st Century are there any girls who want to be ladies?  Can it be done in this day and age?   What would they gain by being ladies?  Why not a formation for making boys into gentlemen?   I would like to address these questions before showing what can be done and how.


A few years ago it could not have been done because people were just into "woman's liberation" and it had not yet shown its fruits, but now women see that it was a false god.   Men also assumed that the "woman's movement" gave them more freedom for sex with whosoever they wanted.  But they too soon realized that this was not the best of life.  After almost two generations of people with huge psychological problems people are taking another look at life and want more than "liberation", they want "freedom".  


If women understood that being a lady ( a virtuous woman) would give them more friends, more love, more confidence - confidence in social things, and in practical things like bank accounts, wills, home care and work ethics, they would be eager to learn how to be virtuous. 


A lady knows how to live a healthy happy life, and gain a ton of honest respect from others, because she is truly free - from self consciousness, free from any fears of what others think, free from any social or real fears. 


People will say that she is a stunning beauty no mater what gifts God gave her at birth, and she is so refined that she will never feel uncomfortable around anyone and no one will feel uncomfortable around her - queen or mop woman.      


But what do we do about it?  The parents that are raising children today were raised in the liberation movement, which was really a liberation from virtues and it is virtues that make gentlemen and ladies.  My friend thinks that we need to have clinics that will train girls to face the world with the right tools.  I countered, "What about us stupid men?"   "Of course, that can come later, but if you have good women, they can develop good men, but men cannot develop good women." 


I thought about that for a long time.  She was right, men basically follow the virtues of women, but women do not follow the virtues of men.  So! ----------  What we need first is women with virtues, or ladies. After that men will want to be gentlemen in order to win over these ladies.  Then we can open a clinic for men and they will want to come to it.


The problem is that girls are not being properly formed either for the religious life or for starting a family.  The problems with the solution to this problem are:  Who do you invite to the clinic?  Who will teach them?  What will you teach them?  What should you expect out of them?  Where should you do this?  How long will it take?  What structure should it have?  How would you pay for it?  Should it be Catholic?  Should it be run by lay people or religious?  Should it be within the structure of a diocese or outside it?  How would you get this off the ground and started?  


These are the problems and problems are opportunities for great solutions and therefore success.  Now, I have some ideas about these problems that I will address in brief here, but the only reason I will be addressing them in this first article is that I will be getting feedback from my great reading public which over the years I have seen know a great deal more than I do about almost everything.  Then when I listen to them and use their advice I find myself looking smart.   This then is to tempt their minds to come up with the answers to these problems (opportunities).  I will start with some lame solutions in brief.  


Who do you invite to the clinic?

The answer at first is obvious from the above, 18 to 25 year old girls who have not already made major mistakes that cannot be easily corrected, like getting pregnant or married or addicted to something or in a cult.  But maybe we should also invite those who have been through the problems and are now free to start over, but do not know how.  Of course people should not come unless they want to, but the clinic should have the right to approve an applicant or not, because of the way this must be set up.  For this reason it must be a private clinic, and not public.      


Who will teach them?

As for me, who will teach is not the big problem.  My young friend, who will hate me saying this, will have to write a few books about the subject and then train people using these books, and they (these ladies) will do the teaching.  This is already being done and four have already joined the team. 


What will you teach them?

Although in a very practical way, the clinic will be teaching virtue, because virtue is the golden mean, that is to say, in what lies between excess and deficit. Hence the perfection of the virtues consists in rendering the movements of the appetitive powers conformable to their proper rule, which is reason, neither going beyond nor falling short of it.  It is excess or deficit that shows that someone is not a lady and it becomes obvious to anyone, although they do not always know why they do not consider someone a lady. 


Let me give an example with just one virtue - charity - and something that is visibly linked to charity, kindness, and how kindness in real life attracts people and makes people realize that this is truly a lady.  Someone who has true charity meets people with a true interest in the person and not in what appearance they are making.  They greet people with a smile and look into their eyes with interest in the person.  If introduced they make an effort to remember the name and truly want to know more about the person.  The question in a lady's mind is how can I make this person more at ease and happier at this moment.  She does whatsoever it takes to make the person comfortable and at ease.  The person may not know why but the person will say in the back of their mind, this is truly a good person and a lady.  The real reason for this perception is that the lady is visibly kind and interested in the other person and not in herself.  


What then are the virtues which need to be taught?  We know that the speculative intellectual virtues are wisdom, science, and understanding. The practical intellectual virtues are two, namely, art and prudence. The moral virtues are three justice, fortitude and temperance, but prudence must also be called moral. The subordinate species of temperance are: abstinence, (or moderation); sobriety, (or moderation); chastity, modesty.   The virtues annexed to temperance are:  continence (restraining concupiscence); humility (inordinate desires of one's own excellence);  meekness (checks inordinate anger);  The virtues annexed to fortitude are:  patience, munificence, magnanimity, (reaching out to great things =but not for honors), perseverance, (needed for this work) and the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity.


Girls will say that they want to learn how to dress, walk, look, act and talk like ladies, but it is in the virtues that one learns these things.  Yes! The clinic will teach every aspect of dressing for the right occasion and always like a lady but it is in learning the virtues that we see the value of the proper dress, walk, look, act and talk or otherwise it is just a false front and not the real thing, which will be discovered in time.  We are not talking about social snobs because no one likes them and they are never happy.   ( See Note 3)


We are talking about the true lady, who lives an ordinary life, but can meet with ease the Magi Kings or the Shepherd in the desert. A lady like Mother Teresa in the religious life or Alice von Hildebrand in the married life, who demand respect and attention no matter where they go in the world, fishing in a river or meeting a President or King.  Etiquette is making people at ease in any situation, it is eating with your hands at McDonalds, and eating with the proper fork in high society.  Only a snob would cut a hamburger with a knife and fork at a picnic but you might at a King's ball. 


Virtues are needed for the married life, the single life, Consecrated life - Private dedication, Order of Virgins, female Hermits, Secular Institutes, Active Congregations, and Cloistered Religious.   Virtues, especially that of prudence,  are also needed to discern and choose one of these ways of life. 


For those seeking the married life, they will be taught how to be a good wife and mother and how to (not find a good husband) but how to be someone that good husband material would want. 


For those seeking the single life, they will be taught how to be a good cell in the international family of society and to seek great things that can only be done in the single life.


For those seeking the consecrated virgin state - I think this should be a separate article.


For those seeking the religious life, they will be taught what it means to be a Bride of Christ and what formation they need before even seeking a convent.  Then they will be taught how to find the right convent for them.  (Another book needed)


Every aspect of being a lady will be taught, even to how to eat or clean or talk or walk or dress.  Just like I used to see boys go into boot camp and three months later come out men, so will this boot camp produce ladies and quickly.   Business people say: "Build a better mouse trap and people will beat a path to your door."  I say be a lady and the world will beat a path to your door. 


What should you expect out of them? 

I expect that they will be the world molders of the future, maybe even lady presidents of nations, but at least they will breed a generation of great children and maybe even found new religious communities. I expect them to be the special forces.


Where should you do this? 

The world always copies America, so America to start with.  A state where their is no liberal bishop to complain about that is going on.  Property that is big enough to house a large group and room to expand.  Maybe an abandoned convent, school or retreat house.  Something with a large kitchen, rooms and areas for relaxed recreation.


How long will it take? 

I have thought about this a great deal.  It cannot be done in less than three months but should not take longer than that.  However, maybe it should be done in three one month clinics to give the girls time to reflect on what they have learned.


What structure should it have? 

This will not be a convent or the military, so it should be loose to let people exchange ideas.  And except for the formal classes it should be very relaxed to make girls not yet formed feel at ease with what they are about to learn.  They must want to be ladies, so the ladies who are teaching should be instantly liked.  We only want what we like and admire.


How would you pay for it? 

I expect my friend (adopted daughter) to write and publish three books related to this subject before this happens, so some of the finance may come from this.  These books should generate some interest among those who could come up with some starting capital.  I expect 1.5 million will be needed to start and no one is going to give that much for a new project.  So a typical Financial Projection Spreadsheet will have to be generated and include already signed up applicants who can and are willing to pay for the clinic.  This means that the project will have to sell the idea ahead of the starting of the project.  If a bank or financial group sees it as a sound investment, the rest is easy.  I see it as going world wide. 


Should it be Catholic? 

I think it should be run by Catholics because the Church is the only institution that has really studied the virtues in a true and logical way.  But everyone, Catholic or not, should want to be virtuous ladies or to marry one.  Teachers - Catholics, yes!  But I would invite any and everyone who does not have the above encumbrances (divorced, addictions, etc.) to live a life of a virtuous lady or gentleman.


Should it be run by lay people or religious? 

The administration should absolutely be lay women and not religious.  They must be free to teach something that has not been taught for many years and not have to have the approval of some bishop or superior to do so.


Should it be within the structure of a diocese or outside it? 

In time everything that claims to be Catholic must be within the structure of a diocese for nothing should be done without the consent of the local bishop and this is the law of the Church.  However, there are Vatican guidelines for lay apostolates that if followed can keep every thing clean and Catholic even while a bishop observes and discerns if he wants it formally in his directory.  This is what I would recommend for a starter.  The bishop should be informed of everything from the start but his permission is not needed.


How would you get this off the ground and started?  

In a way I am getting this started now by writing this newsletter and I will continue to get other newsmedia interested in the need for this and let them do their thing.   At the same time the not yet founder has to write her three books and then go out on the radio and television selling her vision of this concept.  Something she would be very good at.  At the same time and even before the books are ready a web site must be up and running to dialogue with potential students and parents who see the value for their children.  Home school and parent run Catholic school organizations should be contacted to generate interest and future students.  Reservations two, three and four years in advance should be encouraged on the web site.  At the same time the financial work needed from above has to be done. 


Of course, the easiest thing would be for a parish to take this on as a project and then the costs would be very minimal.    But it should be a large parish with good facilities.  


Pray for its success.

This outline will be given to the Carmelite Convent in Coimbra where Lucia of Fatima lived and died so that they can pray for the success of this project and I ask everyone else who thinks this a good idea to do the same. 


See Newsletters:

The Art of Being Enchanting With Words

Are You Who You Want To Be?

What is a virtuous Lady?  Coming soon



Richard Salbato


Note 1

1941 was the first time that women were taken from their homes to work in the war factories while all the men were fighting overseas.  It became necessary for them to make their own decisions about life and for the first time in history something new came into the world - dating without a chaperone.


Note 2

It a huge catastrophe when a person is in a convent without a vocation.   In St. Alphonsus de Ligouri work The True Spouse of Our Lord Jesus Christ, he talks about what the nun is to do if she had no true vocation to begin with.  But he warns her that she will go to hell if she doesn't live up to her vows. 


Note 3  Proposed Studies

On the Spiritual Aspect of Formation - Prayer, Liturgy, Navigating the Modern Church, Apologetics, Apostolate of the laity, Sacred Scripture, lives of the Saints

On the Mental Aspect of Formation - Fine literature. Not going merely by emotions, but also by thinking a little. governing the household (this includes things like finances), the usefulness/harm of psychology and how we might use it well and detect falsehood,

On the Social and Cultural Aspect of Formation - civic responsibilities (includes a short introduction to politics), social skills (where one learns the facts about relating with the other race - men), appreciation for the fine arts,

On the value of Etiquette.

On the Practical knowledge of the things which build up the country: farms, factories, etc.

On the value of time management - law of expansion - all tasks expand into available time. 

On the vocation of Marriage - the purpose and ends of marriage, that marriage is a sacrament, the reasonableness of such an institution, etc.

On the vocation to the Consecrated Life

On the crisis in vocations - What is the heart of a vocation? Importance of awareness of options in the consecrated life and the knowledge of principles which will thereby allow one to discover if that path is being followed correctly and also whether it is for oneself.