"God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him."
(1 Jn 4:16)

Friday, February 27, 2009

On the Education of Children

A friend and I were speaking with each other at a park yesterday and I shared that our pastor had included a wonderful quote in our bulletin recently (he always does, but this one really spoke to me and it is from one of my favorite saints). It is so good in fact that I printed it out and hung it on my refrigerator.

Does it not strike you as a surprising fact that Catholic parents so often do what is asked of them from merely human motives and that everything about their homes tends to nourish luxury? They tell them how such and such a man of obscure birth has made himself famous by his eloquence or has acquired great riches and has married an heiress, that he has built himself a magnificent house and lives envied by all. Such examples are held up to the children, but the parents never think of talking to them of those who are great in the kingdom of heaven. If anyone else tries to speak of these things, the parents stop them as though they would spoil everything by such talk.

There are mothers who take great care of their daughters' health but little of their conscience. Far from forbidding them foolish or even bad books, indecent dresses, undesirable friends, indecent pictures, plays, and dances, they allow them these things and even sometimes force them upon their children. Do not such parents know that spiritual fornication is a crime among Christians; that a look may kill a soul and that a bad desire or thought is enough to rob children of innocence and grace? Some mothers think that when they have brought a child into the world they have no further duty toward it. Yet marriage was instituted and is blessed only that children may be brought up in the fear and love of God. If only parents would take the trouble, what could they not do for their children! If you do not bring up your children well, what do you do? It is the only thing you have to do; it is this that God requires of you, for this that He established Christian marriage; and it is on this that you will be judged. You reply that you have amassed a fortune for your children. Did God ask that of you? At judgment He will say: Give me an account of this soul that I confided to your care. What has become of it? It was the field, the vine that the Lord left in your hands to be cultivated. Have you brought up your children to lead holy lives? What have you taught them? Are they good? Do they fear God? Are they well instructed? Many parents will not know what to answer to these questions. They do not even know if their children are good or bad, well or ill-instructed.

St. Claude de Colombiere (1680)
On the Education of Children

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Meaningful Gifts

Today, we received some very thoughtful gifts from my dad. All of them are wonderful, but three of them are very special.

The first is a holy card printed in remembrance of a relative's (Elisabeth Gautier) First Communion and Confirmation on 5 Juillet 1906 or July 5, 1906. This is for my youngest. If I am reading the note on the card correctly, then I met Elisabeth Gautier's daughter (my paternal grandmother's cousin) in Switzerland several years ago. She made us (us includes my brother, my uncle, and a maternal great aunt) a delicious lunch. After lunch, we all went for a walk in the Swiss Alps. I am now wondering whether a crucifix with an ivory corpus which hangs on one of our walls originally belonged to Elisabeth Gautier or to her daughter.

The second took my breath away. I don't know whether it belonged to my paternal grandmother, but I do know that she had an incredible devotion to the saint I am about to mention. It is a small leather bifold. On the outside is imprinted, "Je veux Passer mon Ciel a Faire du Bien sur la Terre." (I will spend my Heaven doing good upon Earth.) On the inside right is a picture of St. Therese. On the left is written "Coton qui essuya les ossements de Ste. Therese de l'Enfant-Jesus 27 mars 1923." (Cotton that wiped the bones of St. Therese of the Child Jesus March 27, 1923.) There is a red thread cross with some cloth underneath it. I have told my Therese that this will be hers when she is older. Curious about the date, I did a Google search and found that St. Therese's body was transferred from the public cemetery to the Carmel on March 26, 1923. It is also the year that St. Therese was beatified.

The third was a holy card and medal from Lourdes celebrating the 150th anniversary of Mary's apparition to St. Bernadette, 1858 to 2008. I do not need to mention who gets this.

I have been trying to call my dad to thank him, but the phone has been busy. I will be trying again in the morning.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Little Mother

This is what I often see on Sunday mornings when I am trying to get everyone, including myself, ready for Mass. I usually ask one of my older children to hold their sister, but Theresa somehow ends up doing so. The irony is that when Theresa first heard that she had a baby sister she was disappointed and told her aunt, "I really wanted another brother." When she came to see her sister in the hospital, her tune changed and she said to me, "I am so glad that the baby is a girl. I never knew that girl babies were so cute." She has been glued to her little sister ever since. God is good!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Family Visit

My sister-in-law, niece, and nephew from Colorado recently visited us. I set my children loose with the camera and this was one of my favorite photos that they took.

Monday, February 16, 2009

History Books

If anyone is checking the vendor page of the Northwest Catholic Family Education Conference, they will see Heritage History listed. This company is focused on "Putting the Story back into History, with traditional tales from long-ago." I have been enjoying browsing their well-organized website and I am looking forward to purchasing some of their products at the homeschool conference. I am also very interested in listening to some of their audiobooks when they are released.

The owners have provided families with an incredible number of old history books. Having witnessed firsthand how much one of my children likes talking about history (all absorbed from reading books), I have to say that I support Heritage History's reasons for developing the website:
We have developed the Heritage History website with the specific intention of doing our small part to help redirect the modern focus of history from its current degraded position as fodder for historians and social scientists, to its former and more elevated purpose as entertainment.

That history can be very instructive we do not deny. That it must be instructive, and that its primary purpose is to instruct, is the modern impulse that we seek to oppose.

When a modern young person wants to evade the oppressive necessity of thinking important and constructive thoughts, he escapes to his comic-books, fantasy novels, or video games for a bit of aimless fun. He would not dream of picking up a history book for a bout of irresponsible escapism, as his grandfathers and great-grandfathers did before him. Yet this is precisely the state of affairs that Heritage History hopes to help change. We seek to promote, not so much the study of history, as the enjoyment of History.

By making available "old-fashioned" history, as it was enjoyed as a pastime rather than studied as a subject, Heritage-History hopes to repair some of the damage to its
reputation inflicted by "social studies", and reawaken the interest of a new generation.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


I am enjoying learning about Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima. On the old calendar, these Sundays served "as a time of transition for the soul, which must pass from Christmas the stern penance of the sacred forty days of Lent." (Around the Year with the Trapp Family, p. 101) Maria Trapp offers the following advice about "Little Lent":
In these weeks of the pre-Lenten season, the mother of the family has much to teach her children. She will introduce them to the meaning of the color of violet in church. She will prepare them for the forty sacred days of retreat, and will help them to formulate their Lenten resolutions, which should be written on a sheet of paper and placed on the house altar. It is important that Lenten resolutions do not use the negative approach only, such as, "I won't do this" and "I won't do that." They should start positively, with "I will use these three books" (this as soon as the child can read); "I will use the time I save by abstaining from television for this and this...." "I will use the money I save by not going to the movies for alms given to...."
It is a precious time, a time for the mother to introduce her children to the three ancient good works -- prayer, fasting, and giving of alms -- with which we can atone for our sins. It will take root in young hearts never to be forgotten. (p. 102)
I am thankful for the time that I am being given to prepare myself and my family for Lent.

What are we doing?

We hung our Stations of the Cross.

We are looking for our violet cloth to put in our prayer area (I misplaced it after Advent and might need to make another one).

I have our Divine Mercy CD ready. The children and I say the Divine Mercy Chaplet each day during Lent.

I need to buy toothpicks for our crown of thorns. On Ash Wednesday, my family and I place toothpicks in a grapevine wreath, purchased from Joann Fabrics, in order to make Christ’s Crown of Thorns (the number of toothpicks is determined by the number of children in our family multiplied by 40 and can be painted brown) . The Crown of Thorns is placed in the center of our dining room table. During dinner, the children tell us of a good deed or of something they have offered up for Christ and then they pull a thorn (toothpick) out of the crown and place it in a glass dish that is located on the table. On Easter morning, the children find the crown decorated with beads, flowers, or Easter eggs (we have done all three over the past ten years) and the glass bowl full of Easter eggs. Our children really enjoy seeing how they can transform Christ’s Crown of Thorns into a true crown.

I have been thinking about Lenten resolutions and have mentioned to the children that they should be doing the same.

I am debating whether to use My Path to Heaven: A Young Person's Guide to the Faith with the children or simply have them read it. I am thinking about what other books I can recommend to the children during Lent (suggestions are welcome).

Inspirational Books for Mothers

Every once in a while, I find it beneficial to read a book about parenting or motherhood. Over the years, I have read (and sometimes reread) several that I really like. These books include:

Around the Year with the Trapp Family by Maria Augusta Trapp

Children and Parents by Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

On Christian Marriage (Casti Connubii) by Pope Pius XI

Great Wives and Mothers by Rev. Hugh Francis Blunt

How to Raise Good Catholic Children or We and Our Children: How to Make a Catholic Home by Mary Reed Newland

The Mirror of True Womanhood by by Rt. Rev. Monsignor Bernard O'Reilly, D.D., L.D.

Please Don't Drink the Holy Water! by Susie Lloyd

Pope Pius XII Speaks to Mothers (Allocution of Pope Pius XII 'DAVANTI A QUESTA’) translated by Canon G.D. Smith

The Privilege of Being a Woman by Alice von Hildebrand

Raise Happy Children: Teach them Virtues by Mary Ann Budnick (and the other books in this series)

The Saints and Our Children by Mary Reed Newland

Your Labor of Love by Agnes M. Penny

I will update this list if I think of additional books that fall into this category.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Stress Free Driving

Today, I used the GPS for the first time and it actually works. Not only does it work, but it made for a very relaxing drive for me and my children. It was well worth the $90 (thanks to an instant rebate) that my husband spent at Costco to buy it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Educating for Eternity

Each month, I receive Catholic Heritage Curricula's Educating for Eternity e-newsletter and I am always thankful that I do. I usually look forward to Theresa Johnson's letter, as it always offers a little something to consider, encouragement, or information on how we might improve our homeschool. This month, I was happy to read:

Lord, carry us through the fast…that as we observe it by bodily discipline, so we may be able to fulfill it with sincerity of mind.
—Collect for Friday after Ash Wednesday

Some thoughts about 'free' online schooling

Dear CHC Family and Friends,

We homeschool because our heart's desire is to provide a loving, intimate setting that simply cannot be duplicated outside the home. If we weren't seeking an education with a more 'personal touch,' to improve upon standard classroom offerings, we wouldn't be homeschooling!

'Free' online schooling is not only impersonal, it is secular. When our Holy Faith is 'added on,' it is just that: an add-on, rather than the core of our very existence. That, too, is why we homeschool, to provide an education steeped in the Reason behind all knowledge, and the Goal of all knowledge. Through online programs, the secular indoctrination that we had ought to avoid is right within our walls.

Sitting stiffly in front of a computer monitor also runs counter to the nature of all young things. Why is it that we delight in the gamboling of lambs and kittens, but insist on anchoring young children to chairs for the better part of the day? While table work has its place, homeschooled children may be educated on a rag rug in a cozy corner, at the edge of mama’s bed, or even in the tub! Read the rest...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Adding Years to my Life

Yesterday, my husband gave me an early St. Valentine's gift, a gift that will add years to my life, a gift that fellow parishioners made us aware of when they loaned us theirs a few weeks ago. What is this marvelous gift? It is something which will most likely make me confess fewer sins in the confessional. It is something that will make my children feel relaxed in the car. It is something that will allow me to drive to First Friday Mass, a literary club meeting, or a Little Flowers' meeting without getting lost. It is something that will prevent my eldest from calling her father on the cell phone and saying, "Mommy is on this street and this street. How does she get to this location? Oh wait, now she is on this street and this street..." It is a GPS with Text-to-Speech.

Monday, February 09, 2009


Explanation of Septuagesima from our parish's Sunday bulletin:

Today marks the beginning of the season of Septuagesima. From the Latin meaning seventy the Church has traditionally used this time as a liturgical preparation for Lent, effecting a transition from the joyful sentiments of Christmas to the somber penitential season of Lent. The next three Sundays are respectively called Septuagesima (70), Sexagesima (60), and Quinquagesima (50), and are so named because in the early days of Christianity many communities began the Lenten fast fifty, sixty, or seventy days before Easter in order not to have to fast every day of the forty. Violet is worn on Sundays, the Gloria omitted, and the joyful Alleluia will not be heard at any Mass until the Easter Vigil. This is a good period for us all to reflect on our spiritual progress since last Easter and, in turn, begin consideration of a suitable penance for Lent.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

What Constitutes an Emergency?

Patrick: "Mommy, Mommy, it's an emergency! It's an emergency!"

Mommy (heading to the kitchen to see): "What's wrong?"

Patrick: "Daddy's been taking some of the goldfish to work."

Monday, February 02, 2009

Good Night

Daddy (to the older children): "Good night, sleep tight, see that the bed bugs don't bite."

Finnian: "Good night bugs. Don't bite me."

Mommy: "The bugs won't bite you."

Daddy: "The bugs won't bite you, but the hippopotamus might."

Finnian: "Good night bugs. Bugs won't bite me. Good night hippopotamus. Hippopotamus won't bite me. Good night hippopotamus. Hippopotamus won't bite me. Good night butterfly. Butterfly don't bite me."

Mommy: "The butterfly won't bite you. Butterflies don't know how to bite. They only give kisses."

Daddy (taking Finnian's hand): "That's right, butterflies won't bite you. They only give kisses like this."

Finnian: "Good night butterflies. Butterflies won't bite me."
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